Since October, when President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had surgery to remove a blood clot in her head, Argentina has been on tenterhooks as people worried about the president’s future, who might be secretly running the country in her stead and mounting evidence that the country is once again headed toward economic collapse.
In the most alarming sign of what the future may hold, police officers in Cordoba province went on strike in December to protest their low pay. With no one walking the beat, impromptu gangs formed. Riots then erupted across the country, including in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. In all, more than 1,000 stores were looted, and as a result, many store owners simply refused to open for business.
Before the riots flagged, a heat wave led to overloaded power grids, subjecting many residents of Buenos Aires and other cities to a prolonged blackout. Utility companies have avoided maintenance of power lines because of low electricity rates mandated by the government in one of its efforts to offset high inflation.