Argentines march in mass protest at government policies

Aerial shot of protesters in Buenos Aires Thousands of protesters surrounded Buenos Aires's landmark obelisk during Thursday's march

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Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, in protest at the government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Opposition activists used social networks to mobilise the march, which they said was one of the biggest anti-government protests in a decade.

Those gathered said they were angry at rising inflation, high levels of crime and high-profile corruption cases.

President Fernandez was re-elected by a landslide to a second term in 2011.

Her approval ratings have since dropped and protests against some of her policies have mounted.

Official figures say inflation is at 12%, but analysts say it is probably much higher.

Argentine press reaction

Clarin: "Last night was a protest by the hurt, the disgusted, the humiliated and the offended... the ruling party has lost the street. And without the support of the street, authoritarianism can become ferocious, but it will always be a neutered authoritarianism."

La Nacion: "There was a silent Argentina vastly critical of the government. This country, previously hidden ... came out into the open yesterday with a size and breadth unprecedent in history. The history of demonstrations will be written differently from now on."

Pagina 12: The protesters and their signs have shown their favourite slogans to be "No" and "Stop". That may be enough to get people together to protest, but it does not articulate a force with the potential for government.

The International Monetary Fund warned Argentina in September that unless it produced reliable growth and inflation data by December, it could face sanctions.

Global crisis

Protesters also voiced their objections to restrictions introduced last year, and further sharpened this year, on the purchase of dollars, which have made it harder for Argentines worried about inflation to trade in their currency.

The government says the slowdown of the Argentine economy is the fault of the global financial crisis rather than its policies.

Supporters of President Fernandez say the protests are driven by people from the middle and upper class worried about losing their privileges.

They point to policies supporting the poor, such as cash payments to the unemployed, as the real achievements of her government.

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