Anti-G20 protesters march against capitalism, abuse of activists

Buenos Aires, Argentina – Anti-capitalist and other protesters are marching through the Argentine capital Buenos Aires on Friday against the G20 summit.

Local activists fear the atmosphere will be tense due to how Argentine security forces have responded to other large protests in the city. 

The march began at 3pm local time (18:00 GMT) and protesters will follow an historic route through the city centre, ending in the square outside Congress.

They are protesting against the G20’s failure to adequately address a broad range of issues, including climate change, poverty and hunger. 

“This G20 won’t talk about migration, austerity and the adjustment measures we’re facing here in Argentina and that are being applied in Europe,” said Daniel Catalano, secretary-general of ATE Capital, an Argentine trade union.

“They won’t talk about poverty. They won’t talk about climate change, they won’t talk about how to improve the quality of life. They’re going to talk about how to divide the wealth of the majority and the wealth of nature,” he told Al Jazeera before the protest. 

Catalano said major international issues such as these should be discussed at the United Nations, not at gatherings like the G20.

Also high on the protesters’ agenda is the economic crisis in Argentina and how it is affecting ordinary people.

“This circus that has kicked off in Buenos Aires today isn’t tackling improving the lives of the vulnerable or the oppressed in this country,” said Carlos Ortega, general-secretary of social security union SECASFPI. 

Activist deaths

Several social groups have voiced concerns about extrajudicial killings and other persecutions of activists in advance of the summit. 

Two activists from the Popular Confederation for Economy Workers (CTEP) were killed the week before the summit. Rodolfo Orellana was shot during a land occupation in the outskirts of Buenos Aires and Marcos Soria was shot in a separate incident in the city of Cordoba. 

Organisations including Confluence G20 IMF Out and police brutality monitoring organisation Correpi have said the police were responsible for both killings.

A spokesperson for the Buenos Aires Provincial Ministry of Security told Al Jazeera that “an investigation is under way.”

“The issue of who fired the shot and what weapon they used is under investigation because initial impressions suggest that it was a low-calibre weapon and the police force don’t use those,” the spokesperson said.

The death of activist Santiago Maldonado sparked protests across Argentina [File: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters]

Cordoba Provincial police had not responded to Al Jazeera’s request for comment at the time of publication. 

Argentine protesters are also demanding justice for Santiago Maldonado, who disappeared while police were dispersing a protest in Chubut province in August 2017. Three months later, his body was found in a river. His death prompted protests across the country. 

On Thursday, Judge Gustavo Lleral declared Maldonado’s case closed, concluding that he had drowned. 

Meanwhile, the Argentine Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People also told Al Jazeera that it rejected the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman because of his role in the bombings of Yemen.

The group also highlighted the involvement of the United States and the United Arab Emirates in the Yemen war.

“Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed and have the population has been left on the brink of famine,” the organisation said in a statement emailed to Al Jazeera.

Several activists said they were concerned the protests could end in confrontations with the police. Protests in December 2017 against cuts to pensions ended in clashes, as did protests over the budget in October.

Organisers said it was hard to estimate how many people would attend the march on Friday because the closure of public transport in the city would make it difficult for people to get there. 

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