Tens of thousands of Argentines rallied in the streets of the country's biggest cities on Thursday to protest President Cristina Fernandez's policies, including a virtual ban on foreign currency purchases.
The rallies were organized through social media and not by any one political party. Demonstrators' mainly criticized the currency controls, crime rates and a potential bid by Fernandez to reform the constitution so she can run for a third term.
"There's inflation, crime and an abuse of power. It's time Cristina listened to us," said Roberto Madrid, an office worker who joined the protests in Buenos Aires.
Local television showed rallies in other cities, including Rosario, Cordoba and Bariloche. Similar protests were held in June, but they were not as widespread.
Thousands of people gathered in the Plaza de Mayo square, outside the presidential palace in Buenos Aires. Some of them banged on pots and pans, stirring memories of the street demonstrations staged by angry savers, housewives and students during a devastating economic and political crisis in 2001-2002.
"No to the constitutional reform" and "Yes to freedom" were some of the slogans seen on signs that protesters carried through the streets.
Protester Mario Blanco complained about the increasingly onerous currency controls. "This is a violation of private property," he said. "I can do what I want with my money."
Fernandez's policies have effectively spawned multiple exchange rates, which threaten to depress investment in Latin America's No. 3 economy and exacerbate inflation that is already estimated at about 25 percent a year.
The Peronist president's bastion of support lies in the working-class outskirts of Buenos Aires. She won a landslide re-election in October, but her approval ratings have since fallen due to an economic slowdown and mounting capital and trade controls.
Under the constitution, Fernandez cannot run for a third consecutive term in 2015. But local media report her allies in Congress may try to reform the country's charter to change this. The government has not confirmed any such plan.
Fernandez has dismissed anger over the restrictions on dollar purchases, saying only a few Argentines are affected and urging them to save in the local peso currency instead.
(Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Additional reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Editing by Stacey Joyce; Writing by Hilary Burke)