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NEW BATTLE IN BUENOS AIRES

by IMC Argentina Sunday, Dec. 30, 2001 at 5:52 PM

Hurried report while we continue to breath tear gas.

-What time is it?

-Its 2:15Am

Yes, we look at each other and we understood that we had to remember that time for the rest of our lives. We were standing in the gates of the Government House, an ornate pink palace also known as the Casa Rosada, symbol of Argentinean power. Never in the past had a mobilization gotten there.

And in that way.

Where to start if not there? How to sort all the mixed emotions, so many images, so many events?

We ask for apologies for this report, written with the acid taste of the gases still on our noses. We hope to be able to sort all that we lived this day.

While it was still eleven in the evening, we were walking on San Juan Ave and Boede, we could hear some pots been beat against the balconies. Behind we had left a building with people looking down making noise. The cars went by honking their horns and their in front, a couple of blocks, you could see families that blocked just a piece of the avenue.

We continued walking, until a friendly car takes us to the congress, place were people were atoconvocating. Autoconvocated, lets say it clearly, it means that nobody had called for the manifestation. A groups of neighbors had organized a "cacerolazo" (the beating of house pots) in Almagro, and maybe in some other neighborhoods, but no one had called to march towards the congress.

Now we were there, and we were thousands. Again the pots, the steps filled with people, complete families protesting and making noise.

What did they want?. That Grosso leave the government, the resignation of the supreme court , that they give back the deposits. But also more that this. The motto was "that everyone left, that no one remained" is still everyone's favorite; it was the one most cheered, again today, with the new government. Its not about one or another dark figure in the halls of power; its about a 'click', of something that broke very deep inside and is not going to be cured with one or two resignations, or with an election.

The rumor begun to spread and later became a cheer; "the people are going to the Plaza de Mayo and nobody is going to take us out" An spontaneous column of thousands, that gets lost in Mayo Ave. goes decisively forward. In front an Argentinean flag, and in every step we take we seem to be more.

We race in front to see it get there, and again we prove that we were more, thousands and thousands entering the Plaza de Mayo.

And people continue to get there, and the mothers get there (mother of the disappear during the last military dictatorship 1976-82), and the "motoqueros" get there (people on motorcycles), who are giving an ovation in memory of the last protest were they played a heroic role and some lost their lives, the fallen had their tribute, the best one they could have.

First a photographer spoke. Then, a grandfather said he wanted to enter by force to talk with the president. Later, the youth. Five minutes later, at 2:15 AM exactly, it was all of us.

The barriers gave in immediately, and the police had to move to the side, there we were; at the gates of the Casa Rosada, that from now on has nothing sacred about it. We entered the gates, in the hall before going inside, singing what everyone wanted; for everyone to leave, that no one remained. We saw faces with emotion, surprised faces, curious people that looked from behind and that went forward just to touch it, feel it theirs.

People were angry; the news that Grosso had resigned went by like a lightning, but it only help to raise the spirit; many wanted to repeat the same of last week; that everyone left, that no one remained.

From Moyano, to the radicals, going thru Menem and Rodriguez Saa everyone was a protagonist of the songs "without peronist, without radicals were going to live better", was also one tuned song.

And now? The question was answered, once again, by the police. They did it in such a fashion that it later serve them to present it as an act of personal defense: the sent two cops "to dissuade" the whole multitude. Obviously, the crowed didn't receive them too well, and from not been "dissuaded", the tear gas and rubber bullets begun. The two policemen, fat and big, were the sacrifice of the "law enforces" to start the repression.

With the first gases the mass of people begun to run, thru Diagonal Norte and thru Ave. de Mayo. An important group remained in Plaza de Mayo, and another one of thousands in Ave de Mayo. The great majority of the people went towards the Congress. (We stop here to emphasis the following: the mobilization divided in three parts, maybe four parts , and still it remained been big) The Plaza de Mayo crowd holds, by Ave. de Mayo barricades are put up. Some let their anger out on the banks, sings, bus stops.

From the balcony of a rich hotel, men in tuxedos look down the scene and make gestures. A youth starts screaming to them "Bourgeois sons of bitches!" and the gestures multiply. A small anecdote: a bottle of cider is thrown with good aim, and hits one in the mouth opportunely.

In the Plaza de Mayo the situation is becoming more tense. The majority of the people are going towards the Congress, and everyone decides to go there.

In the Congress a show of bonfires on the steps. We don't remember to ask for the time . The more decisive enter, and begin to pull things out to feed the bonfire, until the entrance of the congress becomes one. They say that inside, deep inside, there's also people taking staff out. They take out a bust, and someone screams not to throw it. People struggle over it until one manifestant takes it and ceremonially throws it in the fire.

The infantry, minutes before, had been overflowed. Then once again the gases begun, just as the bust went down. Now there more, and it appears that the water tank is coming. People retrieve, while a strong group of people resists. They leave, thru Callao, a bit running, but immediately walking; it brings plessure to the cops when they make you run, they fell bigger, it disorganizes us. The scream not to run is generalized.

Now everyone retrieves and some scream to the tribunals, to the tribunals!. They want to go for the Supreme Court Justice, the same placed two years back in an agreement between the peronist and the radicals. No one runs now; we make bonfires, little barricades. Other show no mercy towards the banks.

The police advances toward us again. The air becomes unbreathable, and in one second they appear from every direction. We turn, we have no other way. We go thru dark streets and in every corner, in every single one of them trucks appear, gases and civilian cars appear with rubber bullets. it's an ambush.

We get out how we can. There's no possibility of refuge and its hard to organize resistance. All of us, every single one, throws anything they can to obstruct the police way. We turn and once again the ambush. A small group of us remain, trapped in one block. Cars make way for us and take us out. Thru the streets were in people are still running. The police operation goes six or seven blocks around, that at this time they seem without end.

We get out, finally. The sun begins to come out and the phones begin to ring to see how everyone is doing. Until now the news reports three detained, but a half an hour from the end everything is hard to tell. It seems like history doesn't give you a breath. Lets not give it one.

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