What is a cacerolazo you might wonder? Wikipedia provides the following:
Cacerolazo or cacerolada: a form of popular protest practised in certain Spanish-speaking countries – in particular Argentina – which consists in a group of people creating noise by banging pots, pans, and other utensils in order to call for attention.Not sure how many in the interior of the country will participate in this organized but innocuous form of protest. I've heard the folks in Bs. As. do it up big. Interesting concept, no?
One of the largest cacerolazos occurred in Argentina in 2001, consisting largely of protests and demonstrations by middle-class people who had seen their savings trapped in the so-called corralito (a set of restrictive economic measures that effectively froze all bank accounts, initially as a short-term fix for the massive draining of bank deposits). The corralito meant that many people who needed a large amount of cash immediately, or who simply lived off the interests from their deposits, suddenly found their savings unavailable. As court appeals were slow and ineffective, people resorted to protest in the streets.
As the Argentine peso quickly devalued and foreign currency fled the country, the government decreed a forced conversion of dollar-denominated accounts into pesos at an arbitrary exchange rate of 1.4 pesos per dollar. At this point the unavailability of cash for people trapped in the corralito compounded with the continuous loss of value of their savings, and the unresponsiveness of the appeal authorities (minor courts and the Supreme Court itself) further angered the protesters.
The first cacerolazos were spontaneous and non-partisan. While in Argentina most demonstrations against government measures are customarily organized by labor union activists and low-level political recruiters among the lower classes, and often featuring an assortment of large banners, drums and pyrotechnic devices, cacerolazos were composed mostly of spontaneously gathered middle-class workers, housewives and professionals, who used not to be involved in grassroots political action of any kind.
After a time, however, the cacerolazo became an organized phenomenon, often of a violent nature, directed against the banks. Many of them were attacked, their facades spray-painted, their glasses broken, their entrances blocked by tire fires, or even their facilities occupied by force at times.
In order to avoid further violence, especially with the deadly December 2001 riots still fresh in the memories of Argentinians, the government decided not to use active police force against the cacerolazos unless absolutely necessary, and to restrict most police presence to barricades in critical spots, a policy that was followed also with piquetero marches of unemployed people asking for state welfare and jobs.
Isolated cacerolazos also featured during the apagón ("blackout") of September 24, 2002, to protest against increases in public service fees requested by the providers.
As the financial and macroeconomic conditions became more stable, the government loosened the restrictions on the withdrawal of deposits, and the cacerolazos died out.
Even if people in my town haul out their pots and pans to join in, not sure anyone will hear them over the 14 bands that will be playing around the city, celebrating the annual Festival de Jovenes. We're expecting thousands of young people to descend on the city for the day-long, city-wide party on the same day as the protest.
We never talk politics here; that's not why we came. But I have always had a healthy interest in the political process and am finding it fascinating to see how a different system functions, and thought it might interest others as well.