Around 200 people gathered in Columbus Circle yesterday afternoon to protest against Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for her handling of a broad range of issues, including the economy, security, freedom of speech and private business. Kirchner is staying at a hotel nearby for the 67th United Nations General Assembly this week.
The action was organized on Facebook in solidarity with similar protests in Argentia earlier this month, and asked for all Argentines in New York to show up near Central Park at 5pm sharp.
Argentines are not known for their punctuality; still, at the set time, there were around 150 people holding signs and clapping.
Most of the signs were in English in order for other New Yorkers to understand what was going on. "We don't want another Venezuela" was one of the most popular messages. People also asked for the president to hold a press conference in order to have their questions answered.
Tomas Perez Alati stood proudly with the Argentine flag around his neck and two signs that read, "Cristina: were you able to change dollars for your trip? I couldn't" and "Cristina: Could you lend me some of your U$70,000,000???"
His first message was a clear attack on restrictive government measures that prevent people from changing pesos to dollars. The second message refers to Fernandez de Kirchner's personal wealth, which rose to $70,000,000 since the beginning of her first term in 2007.
Perez Alati, a law student at Fordham University, moved to New York three months ago, and although he longs to go back to Buenos Aires at some point, he does not see himself doing so while Fernandez de Kirchner is in power. "The problem is the model that the country wants to implement," he said in Spanish. "It's Venezuela's Chavism in it's maximum expression. A model that generates poverty and insecurity."
After two hours, police forced protestors to leave Columbus Circle and they marched with their pots, clapping and signs toward the Mandarin Oriental Hotel where Fernandez de Kirchner is staying.
"We were all saying enough," said Perez Alati about the message they were trying to push through with the protest. "Enough of them [politicians] robbing us, enough of them lying to us, enough of violence, of impunity… enough injustice already!"
The Facebook group posted a 'thank you' note to all those who supported the action: "We want to thank all of you who attended the protest, which exceeded our expectations, also we want to thank those who supported us from afar. Let's keep fighting for the freedom and progress of our country, wherever are!"