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Chaos, riots, looting as police go on strike in Argentine city (VIDEOS)

Published time: December 04, 2013 14:08
Edited time: December 04, 2013 18:14
Looters leave a supermarket in Cordoba, Argentina, on December 3, 2013.(AFP Photo / STR)

Looters leave a supermarket in Cordoba, Argentina, on December 3, 2013.(AFP Photo / STR)

At least 130 people were injured and one killed following mass looting and vandalism by gangs of youths, who took over several parts of Cordoba City in Argentina. The lawlessness was a result of the police going on strike over low pay.

A young man around 20 years old has died from a gunshot wound to his chest, reports. More than 50 people who took part in the looting have been detained. Twelve of the 130 who were wounded sustained their injuries from firearms.

After the news of the strike broke Tuesday, looters quickly appeared in the streets, going primarily for the supermarkets and small stores, which rapidly shut their doors. Targets included clothing stores, sporting goods, toy stores, bike shops, and branches of cell phone companies. Local media termed the city 'virtually paralyzed'.


Sticks and stones were used as windows were smashed and goods were looted. Armed gangs of youths on bikes, including women, incapacitated traffic.

On Wednesday bus services and other public transport stopped operating, citing fear of crime and passengers being mugged. Bank also closed for security reasons. "Until there are cops on the street, do not go," instructed Alfredo Penaloza of local tram union, Unión Tranviarios Automotor (UTA).


In the ensuing confusion, there were “rumors of a riot at the Bower San Martin prison, but nothing has been confirmed yet,” Alerta 24, a Twitter user, reported.

Benjamin Blanch, vice-president of the Chamber of Supermarkets in Cordoba, spoke to local media, telling them that there was “immeasurable theft” going on. The authorities have “lost count of the number of people affected,” he said.

The governor of Cordoba Province, Jose Manuel de la Sota, put the blame on law enforcement, whose members gave an ultimatum to make authorities accept their wage proposal. De la Sota was traveling in Panama , bound for Colombia, and interrupted his vacation in order to settle a new wage.

Authorities have negotiated a 52 percent rise in salary with law enforcement, which numbers about 6,000 officers in the area.

Workers clean a looted a supermarket on December 03, 2013 in Cordoba.(AFP Photo / Irma Montiel)

The police chiefs held an emergency meeting around midnight to try and find a solution to the conflict, but negotiations failed again. A raise was reached later on Wednesday. 

De la Sota told String3 radio he may be "forced" to apply "warnings and suspensions to exemptions or layoffs."

De la Sota was on a trip to Colombia when the unrest started, and returned to Argentina to take charge and pull the region out of the crisis. “We repeat – send the Gendarmerie into Cordoba at once. What is happening in the city requires urgent attention,” he said earlier on his Twitter account, appealing to Buenos Aires to send reinforcements.

Later in the day, Argentine authorities sent two thousand gendarmes in the province, according to an announcement made by Security Secretary, Sergio Berni. He stated that the riot police were being dispatched to cope with the "moment of helplessness, the product of political uncertainties."

The President’s Cabinet Chief, Jorge Capitanich, previously said that the province must resolve the situation on its own, though the federal government is monitoring the situation.

“We can’t interfere in a matter of provincial jurisdiction related to a salary protest,” Capitanich told reporters in Buenos Aires. “It’s very easy to govern transferring responsibilities to others.”

Cordoba City is one of the oldest in Argentina, its population numbering 1.5 million. The province heavily depends on manufacturing and agriculture for its subsistence and has become rich from it.

However, the province has faced repeated delays and cutbacks in financing from the federal government. As a result, it has been plagued by continuous social and political strife, as well as financial troubles.

Looters leave a supermarket in Cordoba, Argentina, on December 3, 2013.(AFP Photo / STR)

Comments (19)


Viva Hoffmann 20.12.2013 04:02

Are you kidding? Robert Michael Balloid? In the nineteen seventies the military were kidnapping people in the streets, putting them in concentration camps, torturing and killing them, for offenses such as a 16 year old girl lobbying for free bus tickets for students, or a guy I know lobbying for a Union! Black areas of the USA indeed! In Black areas of the USA police dogs were used on children who dared go to a "white" school and let's not forget about the lynchings. Oh well, I guess you never heard of slavery either.


Tim Dans 17.12.2013 23:47

Robert Michael Balloid 05.12.2013 16:39

I would expect more from Argentinians, they are civil people. I would expect this in Black areas of the USA or Africa, not Argentina.


Yo u can't say that... You need to know the history of Argentina's Economic difficulties. I have lived there for a year (1992-93). They are much nicer people but when it comes to money issue. It have been ongoing problems for years and years.


Argentimer 10.12.2013 23:02

Politics is big business in Argentina. People are bribed to vote and much of the population has become accustomed to mixing politics with rewards. Argentina is a great country, an abundant country, but after years of looting its institutions have become ineffective. The people in these photos are probably on "planes" (welfare), which are linked politically. They are not developing themselves as fully-functional members of society. They line up for a monthly handout. At the same time small businesses are taxed out of existence to pay for this. No society can retain its dignity for long in that condition.

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