Dozens of people attacked the vehicle carrying Argentine President Alberto Fernández in the southern province of Chubut on Saturday (13) with kicks and stones. He was on a visit to assess the damage caused by the forest fires that hit the area.
Fernández gave a press conference ahead of the incidents, in which he said he had visited to “listen to the people” and announce aid to those affected by the fire.
Leaving a community center in the town of Lago Puelo, Fernández had to be protected by a human corridor from the advance of the demonstrators towards the presidential party.
TV footage shows the president running to his car and protesters banging the window for several minutes, as first lady Fabiola Yañez tries to get up to watch and someone demands that she remain seated.
Protesters interrupted the passage of the vehicle carrying Fernández, hitting and throwing stones that broke the window, as seen in footage from the TN network and the Clarín newspaper.
With a weak police presence, the crowd managed to block the vehicles accompanying Fernández for several minutes, even hurling themselves at the presidential van. Once the space was cleared, the cars drove out at high speed among the demonstrators.
According to the Clarín newspaper, the demonstrators were protesting against mining projects in the province of Chubut and also against the district governor, Mariano Arcioni.
Former Fernández president and ruling predecessor, liberal Mauricio Macri, has repudiated the attack. “Violence is never the way. I repudiate what happened today in Chubut during the president’s visit. Any difference must be resolved through dialogue,” Macri said on Twitter.
This Saturday, Fernández traveled through the region of the fires that left one dead, 11 missing, dozens of evacuees and more than 200 houses destroyed by the flames that struck this week the region of forests and lakes of Argentina’s Patagonia.
The fires, allegedly intentional according to authorities, began earlier this week, hitting the towns of Lago Puelo, El Bolsón, El Maitén, Epuyén, Futaleufú, El Hoyo and Las Golondrinas, near the foot of the Andes.
“There are 1,500 hectares of native forest consumed,” Civil Defense said.
The charred corpse of a rural worker, missing since Tuesday, was found in the town of El Maitén, according to local authorities.
“The fire affected more than 200 houses and there are still 11 people left, whose whereabouts are unknown,” Environment Minister Juan Cabandié told reporters, updating the number of missing people, who were 15 Wednesday.
In the provinces of Chubut, Río Negro and Neuquén, affected by the fires, dozens of brigadiers are operating with the support of 12 fire trucks, three fire hydrants and two helicopters to contain the flames.
According to the minister, “the intentionality of the fires manifests itself from the simultaneity at the start in seven places, which, in a period of three hours, had a fire. It was very planned”.
Fires devoured tens of thousands of hectares in Argentina last year. They were caused intentionally, mostly for speculative plantation or real estate purposes, according to the Department of the Environment.
The flames this week caused enormous damage, lamented the minister. “There is no water in Lago Puelo, Epuyén, El Maitén or Las Golondrinas. There is no electricity,” Cabandié added.