Looting Across Argentina Sparks Blame Game Between Government and Milei

The Buenos Aires Province government confirmed that 94 people were arrested for “encouraging acts of vandalism”, while presidential spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti blamed the Libertarian candidate

Looting Across Argentina Sparks Blame Game Between Government and Milei
By Belén Escobar (EN)
August 23, 2023 | 02:45 PM

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Buenos Aires — Several shop owners throughout Argentina have been forced to close their doors over the last 48 hours due to widespread looting, particularly in the Greater Buenos Aires area, with no less than 94 people arrested and facing criminal charges in that province. On Tuesday, Presidential spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti blamed Javier Milei and his party, La Libertad Avanza, for allegedly inciting the incidents.

Social leader Raúl Castells, for his part, will face a federal lawsuit for having confessed on live television to encouraging such criminal behavior in several provinces.

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Alleged incidents of looting in provinces including Mendoza and Córdoba have gone viral on social media platforms, while Judge Gabriela Persichini of the Buenos Aires province district of San Martín yesterday confirmed that a Día brand supermarket was robbed and vandalized in the town of José C. Paz, prompting an investigation.

The judge explained that significant damage was done at the store, and stated in an interview with LN+: “The police arrived, and they were pelted with stones and bottles. They had to request reinforcements, and five more patrol cars were dispatched.”


On the other hand, Sergio Berni, Buenos Aires Province Security Minister, reported in an interview with TV station C5N that 36 individuals were arrested for “inciting acts of vandalism” in the province and pointed to a “massive campaign” on social media.

However, this Wednesday afternoon, Buenos Aires Province Governor, Axel Kicillof, stated that the number of detainees had risen to 94 for the same reason.

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The Federal Government’s Stance

National Security Minister Aníbal Fernández, for his part, said that the events were not part of “a coincidence” and emphasized that the looting was “not spontaneous.” In statements to the press on Wednesday, he announced the government has set up a “specific” task force to address the looting. “We will look for ways to be present everywhere,” he assured, while also questioning: “They are seeking a conflict.” The minister did not refer to any specific culprits.


The national government’s expressions came after the Presidential spokesperson, Gabriela Cerruti, posted a video on social media in which she claimed that “since Friday,” rumors of looting began circulating in via chat platforms and social media accounts linked to Libertad Avanza, the movement led by presidential hopeful Javier Milei. “This caused people to panic, rush to stores, tell people there will be looting, and so the merchants closed up shop. Then, they post images of these merchants closing on social media, saying, ‘See, there’s looting!’,” she explained.

“This is an operation orchestrated by Javier Milei’s people, aimed at generating destabilization and uncertainty,” criticized the official, who received an immediate response from the libertarian vice-presidential candidate, Victoria Villarruel.

Castells Under Investigation

Raúl Castells, a social leader, was denounced before federal courts on Wednesday for inciting looting during a live TV interview on Tuesday night, in which he admitted to making calls to encourage such criminal acts.

The complaint was lodged by Republicanos Unidos leaders Yamil Santoro, Juan Martín Fazio, María del Rosario Cisneros, and Facundo Sapienza. Federal Court 6 in Comodoro Py will now decide if Castells is responsible of “committing theft.”

“People are going out to look for food, and if they can’t find food, we, who are the ones calling for this, and are telling them to take whatever they can, even if it’s just to exchange for food, without stealing money or breaking anything,” he had stated in a conversation with Crónica TV.