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An account of Wednesday's action at the Argentine Consulate.
At midday on Wednesday, January 9, about 30 local anti-capitalist and global justice activists converged on the Argentine Consulate on Michigan Avenue in Chicago's Loop. The protest was a response to calls to action from Argentina, where thousands of people have taken the streets since mid-December to demand self-determination. Calls that went out over Argentina Indymedia, as well as other venues, suggested that activists around the world go to the Argentine consulates in their cities and attempt to occupy them, or demand that the representatives of the current Argentine government, who do not have a mandate from their people, vacate the consulates.

While supporters gathered in the street in front of 205 N. Michigan, a group of protesters took the elevators to the 42nd floor and filled the hallway outside the doors of the Consulate. The Consul was waiting at the door to greet protesters as they emerged from the elevator, accompanied by a camera crew and several independent reporters. A 45-minute dialogue, in Spanish and English, ensued between the Consul and several of the protesters, becoming heated at times.

To challenges such as, "When will government employees in Argentina be paid?; "When will political prisoners be set free?;" and "When will popular elections be held?" the Consul simply responded that she represented the Argentine people, and that corruption in the government there was a thing of the past. Protesters in turn demanded to know why, if the government had the trust of the people, the people have been taking over the farms and factories, and demanding that the ruling bodies step down.

This stand-off ended when protesters negotiated with the Consul to allow one IMC journalist and a camera operator inside the consulate, to make sure that the group's demands were communicated to the Argentine government. Protesters watched through the glass doors as the Consul, under the eye of the camera, placed a phonecall to inquire on the status of political prisoners (all of whom had been released, she'd earlier claimed - to the skepticism of the protesters). The protesters' list of demands was also typed on to official government stationery and faxed to Argentina while the two people allowed inside watched.

These demands were:

- End Argentina's subservience to the International Monetary Fund and Neo-liberalism

- Justice for Argentines killed by State authorities

- An end to the killing

- The release of all imprisoned protesters

While the group waited outside the Consulate doors several Chicago Police officers appeared, along with building security, but no incidents with the police ensued. Protesters were, however, quickly silenced by cops and security guards during the few moments in which clapping and chanting broke out. Several protesters carried pots and pans, banging on them with spoons to express solidarity with the Argentine people. This was an adoption of the Latin American "Cazerolada" tradition that has been employed by the Argentine demonstrators in recent weeks.

When the reporter and camera person finally emerged, a copy of the faz of demands in hand, protesters filed into the elevator with a final round of clapping, chanting, and pot-banging. Some also sang a traditional Argentine football chant/protest song that urges bravery and resistence on the part of the people. The exuberant chanting continued into the building's lobby and out into the street.

This action resulted from an emergency meeting concerning the situation in Argentina, which took place late last week, and at which the list of demands was agreed upon. This meeting, in turn, followed from a visit several activists made to the Argentine Consulate two weeks ago. At that first visit, the activists' parting words were to inform the Consul that, if things in Argentina did not improve, they would be back in greater numbers. These were the protesters' parting words again today.



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