Patricia Bullrich was not going to give up her role and for several hours she managed to transfer to the street the tension that was experienced inside the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday. More than an operation, the security minister deployed a repressive circus around the Congress. According to organizers, the prefecture, gendarmerie and federal police deliberately and forcefully confronted a group of militants and leftist groups – approximately seven thousand people – who had gathered to reject the omnibus bill’s treatment. The reductions could have been reduced to at least a few lanes through negotiations at the intersection of Entre Ríos and Rivadavia, but the forces decided not to designate a negotiator and at about 6:30 p.m. they moved forward. First they surrounded them, then they surrounded them – with fire hydrants and a whole parade of motorized vehicles – and finally they attacked them. He threw pepper spray directly into the eyes of several protesters, including national deputy Alejandro Vilca, who had left the premises with his block comrades minutes earlier. Later, hundreds of self-organized people arrived at the plaza carrying utensils and homemade signs denouncing the government’s accommodation. Some of them were arrested during a subsequent hunt by the PFA late at night. At the time of going to press, there were at least six prisoners – two men and four women, one of them a member of the UCR – and all under the classic intimidating figure of “resistance to authority”. Juan Grabois and his Patria Grande Front also joined in solidarity against the “disproportionate intimidation of peacefully organized citizens”.
“When the prefecture advanced through Entre Ríos we were blocking two routes. This took us by surprise, some of us were sitting on the asphalt. When I tried to get up they were already with me. We tried to retreat, but they still kept attacking,” Celeste Fierro, an MST lawmaker from Buenos Aires, told Pagina/12.
Fierro received the same blow as Wilka: pepper spray directly in the eyes. The deputy who was the victim of the repression on Rivadavia for the second time said this through: “When we saw the pictures of the operation it seemed too much for us and we decided to go down from the chamber to support the mobilization, which was also quite good. ” Calm. As soon as I stepped onto the road, they started moving forward. I shouted at them “I’m the deputy, stop” but there was no point. Under the shields they hit me with sticks and at one point I got pepper spray. Shameful, as was what was happening inside the facility.”
Vilka added that the scene reminded him of the blows that the Federal Reserve had given to several delegates in December 2017 during the repression of the mobilization to reject Mauricio Macri’s pension reform. He said, “Adjustment never stops without repression.” Bullrich, then as now, was the territory’s minister.
In that turn, the first detainee of the day also fell, a protester of Chilean origin who did not belong to any organization. Also, in the interim, the PFA took on a group of retired women who demonstrate every Wednesday at the Deputy Annexe. Some faced disintegration. “We were scared, they had never pressed us like this before,” said Nancy from the Coordinating Table of Retirees and Pensioners.
Stick and circus
Various picket groups from Polo Obrero, MST, Barrios de Pie and FIT took part in the mobilization, as well as self-organized groups from the culture, CONICET and human rights sectors. Some people had the idea of creating a kind of open radio on the street, but it did not last long. The demonstration started in the afternoon and ended late at night. Organizers estimate that about seven thousand people marched during the several-hour mobilization period.
At times, the operation led by Bullrich went far beyond the protesters. After the repression, a scene from Dantesque described what was happening: a cordon of federal police, gendarmes and prefects surrounded a group of militants in the square. More than a hundred men in uniform, next to each other, formed a kind of Indian line which, like Corralito, tried to surround them on the sidewalk. Several militants managed to get inside and made fun of the ridiculousness of the situation. At that time, the image of a Gendarmeria inspector with a liberal inscription was already circulating on the militants’ cell phones.
“Patricia was only looking for one thing and that was to make a hit to create a circus, there was no reason for what was done,” a top Buenos Aires official told this media. The city police were – once again – relegated to the background in their own jurisdiction.
Congress’s Grabois said, “People did nothing. An operation was carried out to spread fear. So that people do not unite. We do not want fear and we will remain where we should be.”
From 8 pm onwards, a group of self-organized people occupied the corners adjacent to the Congress. With casseroles in hand and homemade signs, hundreds of people came to denounce the session. “I am very angry at how they are selling us the country,” protested Alicia, who came to Congress with her colleagues from the Almagro Assembly, formed in 2001. “This is an attack on sovereignty,” Victoria said. A young surgeon from Tucumán who works in the private sector and is “proudly trained at a public university.” Most of the thoughts of those who self-organized were along the same lines: they were there to defend what they considered to be won rights that were under threat under the new government.
When the Gendarmerie began to retreat, many people began to celebrate. Force trucks escorted by the PFA began passing through Rivadavia. It looked like a military parade, and they received a corresponding salute. He shouted at them, “I knew/I knew/that the police/cared about/race.”
At that time, there was already a commotion on the road and the PFA took action and detained four women. “I sat on the floor to sing the national anthem and they took me away,” one of them told C5N. Around midnight, another person was arrested. “My name is Sebastian Alejandro Moreno,” he said before being put into the patrol car.