On February 28, various Argentine human rights activists, social organizations and political leaders strongly condemned the hatred expressed by the country’s opposition forces during Saturday’s anti-government demonstrations.
On February 27, the supporters of the opposition right-wing parties held anti-government demonstrations in different parts of Argentina, capitalizing on the scandal over VIP-vaccinations or vaccinations carried out outside of protocol. In the capital Buenos Aires, the protest was held in front of the presidential palace, Casa Rosada, in Plaza de Mayo and provoked widespread repudiation from social sectors.
At Casa Rosada, the political group Young Republicans organized a protest action in which they hung and placed dozens of mortuary bags, stuffed in the form of corpses, outside the government’s headquarters. The protesters labelled bags with names of government officials and well-known human rights activists, whom they protesters accused of having received “VIP” treatment in the vaccination process. Young Republicans is part of the Republican Union, an internal current of the right-wing Republican Proposal (PRO) party that is chaired by former security minister Patricia Bullrich.
One of the bags bore the name of Estela de Carlotto, the president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, a human rights organization that has been at the forefront of the struggle demanding justice and reparation for the cases of enforced disappearances, torture, murder, systematic theft of newborns and other crimes against humanity committed by the state during the last military dictatorship.
90-year-old Carlotto denied having been vaccinated outside the protocol as she was accused and said that “what moves us, Grandmothers, is love. But if one analyzes it, it hurts, it hurts to think that there are Argentinians who have this ruthless bitterness and what they did makes me sorry for them more than anything else.”
President Alberto Fernández also rejected the act of hatred through a tweet. “This regrettable action only shows how the opponents conceive the Republic. Let us not be silent about such an act of barbarism,” wrote Fernández.
La forma de manifestarse en democracia no puede ser exhibir frente a la Casa Rosada bolsas mortuorias con nombres de dirigentes políticos. Esta acción lamentable solo demuestra cómo muchos opositores conciben la República. No callemos ante semejante acto de barbarie. pic.twitter.com/nFsgEHKMs7
— Alberto Fernández (@alferdez) February 27, 2021
The Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice against Oblivion and Silence (HIJOS) organization also expressed their “total and firm rejection” of the “morbid demonstration of the enjoyment of the death of the political adversary exhibited by the militants and supporters of Juntos por el Cambio (a coalition of right-wing political parties).”
The rejection was joined by statements from Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH), Memory, Truth and Justice Meeting, and several others from various parties, political leaders and trade unions.
Saturday’s protests were called for by the opposition to reject the “VIP vaccinations” scandal that broke out in Argentina on February 19, after a renowned journalist Horacio Vertbisky reported that his “friend” Ginés González García (former health minister) had helped him get vaccinated without a turn.
After the scandal, President Fernández asked García to resign because “what he did was unforgivable.” The government also revealed a list with the names of 70 people who received the vaccine at the request of the health ministry. To avoid irregular vaccination, the ministry set a new transparency protocol that includes a vaccination card and collection of information to keep track of all applied vaccines.
Many pointed out that the opposition where it governs has had similar conduct with regard to granting privileges to elites. Rather than raising concrete demands on how to avoid unjust vaccine distribution, which has been accounted for in the government’s control mechanisms mentioned above, they took advantage of the scandal to mobilize against the government and promote messages of hate and threats.