The Miami Herald
Jun. 27, 2002

Argentine violence leaves two dead


  BUENOS AIRES - Two demonstrators were killed and more than 90 other people were injured as protesters tried to block access routes to this capital in
  the most violent confrontations since the December street protest that toppled Argentina's last popularly elected president.

  Officials of President Eduardo Duhalde's beleaguered government conceded that Wednesday's violence -- in which 173 people were arrested -- marked a
  serious setback for the government. There also were other demonstrations around the country.

  In recent weeks, the government had succeeded in negotiating with protesters to prevent demonstrations from turning violent, they said.

  ''We have not had one single wounded since Dec. 20,'' presidential spokesman Eduardo Amadeo said, referring to the night Fernando de la Rúa was
  forced out of power by street riots that killed 27 people. ``But today the protesters refused to talk with us, so we didn't have anyone to negotiate with.''

  Amadeo said the government had intelligence information that the protesters were planning to ''choke the city'' by cutting-off all access roads, and they
  were planning widespread acts of violence, including destruction of store windows and businesses. ''We decided that we would not let them cut off the
  city,'' he said.

  The demonstrations took place as Argentina's Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna was in Washington, D.C., trying to obtain emergency loans this country
  desperately needs to revert its worst financial crisis in memory. Officials said Lavagna had made significant progress in his talks.

  Wednesday's protests began when several hundred demonstrators, many carrying banners and chanting slogans criticizing the government and the
  International Monetary Fund, blockaded a bridge that connects Buenos Aires with the southern industrial suburb of Avellaneda. As police and national
  guardsmen advanced to dislodge them, the protesters, some armed with slingshots and gasoline bombs, fled, smashing shop windows, overturning cars
  and burning a bus.

  Spokesmen for a local hospital said the two victims were both men in their early 20s who had died of gunshot wounds. Masked protesters claimed police
  had fired on them from rooftops and the streets, but police Commissioner Mario Migin said his men were armed only with nightsticks and weapons that
  fired plastic bullets and tear gas canisters.

  Protesters were members of several leftist-anarchist groups. Police sources said the protesters were led by the most violent group called Teresa
  Rodríguez, named after a woman who died in a previous street protest.

  This report was supplemented with Herald wire services.