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Argentines bang pots and pans to protest at government


Several thousand Argentines protested against the government of President Cristina Fernandez by banging pots and pans in front of the presidential palace in Buenos Aires late yesterday.

Pot-banging protests are highly symbolic in Argentina, stirring memories of the street demonstrations staged by angry savers, housewives and students during a devastating economic and political crisis of 2001/02.

The protesters, who gathered in the downtown Plazo de Mayo square after receiving messages on social networks, complained about double-digit inflation, a virtual ban on purchases of foreign currency by savers and crime.

"We're fed up of the corruption and crime," said Joaquin Cuneo, 21. "Some of things they do are okay, but they're getting a lot wrong."

High inflation, capital flight and slowing economic growth are prompting Fernandez to pursue increasingly off-beat economic policies.

Less than a year since she won easy re-election, polls have shown a decline in her approval ratings in recent months despite broad support for the renationalisation of the country's biggest energy company, YPF.

She has dismissed anger over the restrictions on dollar purchases, saying only a few Argentines are affected and urging them to save in the local peso currency instead.

Several smaller pot-banging protests also took place in middle-class neighbourhoods yesterday, local television said.

The last time so-called "cacerolazos" were staged against Fernandez's government was during a bitter conflict in 2008 that saw Buenos Aires residents take to the streets in sympathy for farmer protests against a tax increase on soy exports.