“Welcome to Hell” was the sign that welcomed world leaders on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg last year. With over 476 police officers reported injured, at least 186 protesters arrested and 225 detained, Hamburg experienced an influx of riots, rallies and protests over this three-day period from anti-capitalist protesters despite the 20,000 police officers deployed throughout the summit.
While most protests were peaceful, an estimated 6,000 activists were involved in the street violence, with violent protesters (otherwise known as the “Black Bloc”) masking their identities with dark clothing and scarves. They were accused of carrying out planned criminal acts, such as the vandalization of cars and buildings. Police responded with further aggression using tear gas, pepper spray, and water cannons in an attempt to repress the crowd.
Admittedly, last year’s events don’t inspire optimism regarding the reaction of the citizens of Buenos Aires to the G20 summit this coming Friday, but with a pre-empted expectation on what is to come, there is a greater chance of minimizing this violence; the Argentine police force’s main priority.
With the current economic climate in Buenos Aires, a city facing a 45.5 percent inflation rate according to October’s records, security is always a fear that surrounds the city, with near-daily (and sometimes, violent) riots and protests. With this popular unrest, a rise in crime and an increase in aggression is a clear consequence of the instability of the city, with the excuse to protest becoming more frequent.
Just two days ago, an attack on the Boca Juinors bus by River Plate fans led to a clash with police outside of the stadium as tear gas and rubber bullets were fired before the anticipated Copa Libertadores final between the two teams. Not only did this reflect the current unrest penetrating Buenos Aires, but has also led to doubts about the capability of the Argentine police forces to protect the world leaders who are soon to enter the country.
Yet, with current protestors and demonstrators across Buenos Aires beginning to assemble, plans for 22,000 police forces and 700 ministry agents have been employed to guard the city. In a statement published by Reuters, “Argentina vowed on Tuesday to crack down on any anarchists and anti-capitalist protesters who try to disrupt next week’s group of 20 gathering in Buenos Aires, saying it was working with foreign governments to identify and block entry to potential troublemakers.”
However, in a clear statement issued by Amnesty International just yesterday, they affirmed that Argentine authorities must respect the rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly during the G20 summit, urging the police force to abide to the international standards on the use of force. The organization stated:
“Authorities must rise to the occasion and send a very clear message to security forces to ensure that respect for the right to protest prevails over a repressive approach that could lead to excessive use of force…While Argentina must guarantee the security of the leaders at the Summit, this cannot be used as an excuse to ignore the rights to life and physical integrity of protesters.”
They went on to further state that while officials should do all they can to avoid the use of force, it is possible that they may have to use it, but only in a way that is “legitimate, necessary, and proportionate.”
With the summit now just four days away, protesters have announced two planned demonstrations to take place this Thursday, November 29th (10 AM-11 PM) and Friday, November 30th (3 PM), in both the Plaza Congreso (Av. Entre Ríos and Av. Rivadavia) as well as an unconfirmed location, with predictions of the second demonstration surrounding the Obelisco.
The epicenter of anti-G20 activities will take place at Plaza Congreso, where an event organized by the MST (Movimiento Socialista de los Trabajadores) and the Anti-Capitalist Network will be held. Friday will involve a march in an unannounced area of the city. In addition to the counter-summit that took place last week exposing an ideological and political contrast to that of G20, more protests are expected leading up to and during the three-day summit, but these have not be disclaimed to officials.