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Argentines Line Up for Cash

December 29, 2001

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ Cash-hungry Argentines took to the streets banging pots and pans in a noisy outporing of discontent Friday night, demonstrating against a month-old banking freeze limiting cash withdrawals.

The spontaneous outburst marked the second such display of anger by Argentina’s struggling middle class since a similar protest a week ago helped topple the presidency of Fernando De la Rua.

It came hours after Argentines flooded banks, forming long lines and shouting for their money after the government eased a five-day banking holiday that had shut off most routine financial transactions.

``End the freeze!″ many of the protesters shouted Friday night, calling for an end to bank withdrawal restrictions. Many beat pans on balconies and entered the streets with children in tow.

One demonstrator, Maria Luisa Lerer, 64, said anger over the banking restrictions and a failed attempt to overturn them in the courts stoked the protest. Some 1,000 people gathered outside the government palace and on street corners in rejection of government economic policies.

``We want our money. They are robbing the people,″ said Lerer. ``This is unjust!″

A deep-rooted economic crisis is fueling rising tension among depositors as a days-old government maintains a freeze imposed Dec. 1 limiting bank cash withdrawals to $1,000 a month.

Hoping to ease social tensions that saw 26 people killed in riots last week, the government is also preparing to out a third currency that is leaving many Argentines skeptical.

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