FpV lawmaker injured after clash with Border GuardsTuesday, June 21, 2016
Flag Day celebrations overshadowed by violence in Rosario
Kirchnerite lawmaker injured by Border Guards amid violent melée after president’s address
President Mauricio Macri again opted to deliver a public speech behind a tight security cordon yesterday as he addressed students at the National Flag Monument in Rosario, as Argentina marked the 196th anniversary of the death of its independence hero Manuel Belgrano — the creator of the famous albiceleste national flag.
But as Argentines enjoyed themselves, a cloud fell over the holiday, which was overshadowed by sporadic reports of violence.
Speaking alongside Socialist Party Santa Fe Governor Miguel Lifschitz, Macri outlined key targets of his administration including the “goal of defeating drug-trafficking” — a reference to the crime-riddled city in Santa Fe but also to the recent arrest of former most wanted murder suspect Ibar Pérez Corradi, who has been tied to ephedrine trafficking operations.
Violence marred the event, which saw Macri speak for a few minutes before an expectant crowd, as anti-government protests against recent hikes in utility rates were broken up by Border Guard and Federal Police officers and one participating Kirchnerite legislator suffered head injuries in the mêlée.
Eduardo Toniolli of the Victory Front (FpV)-affiliated Evita Movement suffered cuts and bruises to his scalp after protesters clashed with border guards who were surrounding the National Flag Monument where Macri gave his speech.
Protesters grouped under a cross-party organization opposed to austerity measures had attempted to access the cordon before the National Flag monument where Macri delivered his speech on the traditional National Flag Day, watched by some 5,000 school students attending from across Argentina.
Reports of violence between demonstrators and the Border Guards surrounding the monument surfaced during the day, prompting FpV legislator Norma López — who participated in the protest — to denounce the violence and apparent attack on Toniolli on Twitter.
“Eduardo Toniolli was wounded by Border Guards as we marched with the multisectoral protest,” López wrote, alleging that Border Guards targeted protesters.
“We were (standing) peacefully at the intersection and they aimed the water cannon towards the people! For shame,” she said.
During his speech, Macri chose to focus on the primary social and security targets set by his administration, describing how the government was redoubling efforts against organized drug-trafficking following the arrest of so-called “triple murder” mastermind Pérez Corradi in Brazil on Sunday.
“Our objective is to defeat narcotrafficking that brings so much pain to Rosario and the rest of the country,” he said, going on to encourage the student audience to “work together to build the Argentina that we all dream of.”
The president referenced his sweeping economic reforms, which he suggested had already returned Argentina to the global stage.
“We have discarded economic problems that would not let us grow, we have returned to the world to make our contribution,” Macri said in praise of his 6-month-old administration.
“We want to seize opportunities that present themselves to grow and create jobs,” he added.
As the demonstrators, protesting the controversial utility hikes affected by Macri’s government after it opted to remove previous government subsidies of water, gas and electricity bills, attempted to access the monument where he was speaking, Macri acknowledged that the government still “lacked much” in terms of its progress towards stated goals of “zero poverty” and lower inflation.
However, he also expressed his belief that the current policies instituted by his government would pay off in the long term.
“We’re still lacking a lot, but we are on the right path. We know that this time we are going to achieve, by taking small steps,” Macri said.
Herald with Télam, online media