In the sweltering heat of Saturday morning, around 200 people gathered together outside the US Embassy in Buenos Aires to show their support for women and other marginalized groups all over the US and the rest of the world, following Donald Trump’s inauguration as president on Friday. Whilst the crowd was mostly made up of US citizens, activists from Argentina and further afield also turned up to offer their solidarity; there were people of all ages present, and not just women.
With a squadron of Buenos Aires police officers on standby and the Palermo Bosques acting as a scenic backdrop, Argentina’s answer to the Women’s March on Washington ensued peacefully. The aim of the demonstration, according to its participants, was to send a potent message to Trump and the US Congress that the rights of women and minority social groups must be respected.
However, although the protest was intrinsically anti-Trump, the messages shared among the group were not of negativity and resentment, but instead they were predominantly messages of female empowerment, encouragement and impetus to fight for change. Many carried signs that read “Love Trumps Hate” or similar, and countless individuals mustered up the courage to stand on a tree stump and share their thoughts with the crowd.
Talking to The Bubble, Machteld, an exchange student from Amsterdam, described her emotions at the demonstration as “excitement, power and love. Fear is not part of my narrative.” Demonstrating her sense of positivity, she added: “This is bigger than just the US presidency – this has basically started a new women’s movement and, for that, I’m so glad. This is a new chance for everyone to reengage with the discussion all over the world.”
Carrying a sign that read “Spread Love”, the 20-year-old student explained: “I don’t want the focus to be on Trump because I think his messages are spreading a lot of hate, particularly his rhetoric about women. We are not primarily women; we are human beings. We are not primarily pretty; we have skills and abilities. He needs to know that at least 50% of the world is feeling incredibly oppressed by his rhetoric.”
Some sources have estimated that nearly 2 million people turned out in different cities across the world to protest in women’s marches on Saturday. Clélia Hammou, a French national living and working in Argentina, explained to The Bubble the importance of having sister marches around the globe for her: “[Trump’s presidency] is a global problem, not just concerning the US. The US is so influential in our world and if we don’t take action in other parts of the world, nothing will change. Everyone needs to fight.”
Argentine Natalia Saralegui, who was attending the Buenos Aires march on behalf of the activist NGO Las Piqueteras, described that making a stand in Argentina was particularly necessary this weekend as “this is the country of the Ni Una Menos movement, fighting for women. When there are advances made in women’s rights, so many other areas are revolutionized too. Women are an engine for change. The fight of intersectional feminists reflects the fight of millions of people from marginalized groups.” Las Piqueteras are campaigning for an international women’s strike on International Women’s Day in March, similar to the one that Argentina observed in October of last year.
Natalia was one of many participants on Saturday who drew a link between the political situation in the US and in Argentina. “Macri’s government is an ally of Trump’s – for us, a good relationship between our president and a man who hates women and hates immigrants is a bad sign,” she added.
Of course, it was not just women who participated this weekend, despite what could be inferred from the event’s name. Noah David, born in Argentina but a USA resident for the last 15 years, told me his reasons for attending: “I’m an American citizen; I think it’s important to show that there are straight white men in this world who believe that all human beings have worth and who absolutely do not support an American president who allows for this systematic disenfranchisement of huge populations of the country.”
“You can already see the way he speaks about women’s bodies, the way he treats women in public, his lack of remorse for complete abuse. It’s hard to imagine a minority group that won’t be affected by this,” he said in dialogue with The Bubble.
One campaigner, identifying herself simply as “Citizen” of the USA, wanted to send a message to the international community: “To the people of France and Europe, please do not let this happen in your countries. All countries have problems; you can diagnose the problems but this isn’t the solution. Trump is a bigger problem. It’s like setting your house on fire because you have termites and then you have no house… So let’s get an exterminator for the problems but don’t do this to your country. Find your Bernie Sanders.”
As for me, I left the march in a group with three other women. We had got no more than 50 meters down the road before we were catcalled.