BUENOS AIRES – Argentina was the scene of marches, honks and the sound of banging pots and pans in several cities on Saturday against the expropriation of agro-export company Vicentin by the government of Alberto Fernandez.
Thousands of people gathered around the Obelisk monument of Buenos Aires, many on foot and others in their cars carrying Argentinian flags amid the COVID-19 epidemic lockdown, to demand that the state back down with the expropriation of the company, originating in the province of Santa Fe.
The protests began a few weeks ago in the province when the government announced the decision, and there were also demonstrations on Saturday, which coincided with the Day of the Flag. Other places such as Cordoba, Resistencia, and Salta joined the protest.
On June 8, Fernandez announced the intervention and his decision to send Congress a bill to expropriate the agro-export company founded almost 100 years ago.
On Friday, the government endorsed an alternative project by Santa Fe Governor Omar Perotti to intervene in Vicentin without expropriating, and consists of using the “Inspeccion de Personas Juridicas de Santa Fe” (an entity which controls the legality, registration and supervision of the institutional life of civil and commercial entities) to manage the company and carry out its rescue.
The demonstrations were convened on Saturday over social media, although entities from the agricultural sector and associations such as Campo Mas Ciudad called on people to gather “in defense of property” and say “no to expropriations.”
In the past weeks, the measure of intervening in the company to later expropriate has also been criticized by the opposition.
“They are not going to expropriate me,” read one of the messages on an Argentine flag in Buenos Aires where people who preferred to protest without leaving home joined the demonstration banging saucepans from their balconies. Those protesting from cars also carried flags.
The city, along with the rest of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area, is currently the main focus of coronavirus infections in Argentina.
On Saturday, Fernandez said on the radio that if the magistrate who takes the cause of the bankruptcy of Vicentin says no to Perotti’s proposal, the only possible way is “that of expropriation.”
“There is no way back,” defended the head of state, who asserted that they cannot leave the current shareholders of Vicentin “in charge of the company” because they are “the cause of the problem.”
Vicentin requested preventive bankruptcy in the past with a debt estimated at about $1.35 billion. Among its creditors are 2,600 agricultural producers, public banks led by the state-owned Banco Nacion, and a committee of foreign creditors led by the International Finance Corporation.