Argentinians protest ‘VIP vaccine’ scandal

By Aitor Pereira

Buenos Aires, Feb 27 (efe-epa).- The streets of Buenos Aires on Saturday were the epicenter of nationwide protests against the Argentinian administration in the midst of a ‘VIP vaccine’ scandal after it emerged that dozens of people, including ministers and government representatives, skipped the queue.

Protests took place in several parts of the country, the largest of them in the capital, where the protesters packed the emblematic Plaza de Mayo, in front of the presidential office Casa Rosada, and other areas of the city center.

“There was a VIP vaccine for the people of La Campora (pro-government political youth group) and the poor old men who are dying were not given them. They were robbed of it, and there is no other excuse. That’s why we came to protest, so that everyone resigns,” demonstrator Carlos Alberto Moreno told EFE.

In the central square of Buenos Aires, citizens and personalities of the opposition gathered, such as deputy Mario Negri, president of the Radical Civic Union bloc and the interblock Together for Change in the Chamber of Deputies, who highlighted the “indignation” experienced by the population.

“People may have mobilized out of indignation, because many things have been done in the State, and it is true that vaccines were lacking, but what has been present in abundance is political immorality in the government,” he said in statements to the TN channel.

Negri added that “the families of the 10,000 Argentinians that have died since the vaccination drive may think that they could have been saved if they got a shot.”

Personalities from other fields also attended, such as actor Luis Brandoni, a well-known critic of the government, who called the scandal “shameful.”

“(We are) once again peacefully protesting to express the republican aspirations that the majority of Argentinians have,” he said.

Attendees also protested other issues, such as corruption, especially concerning Vice President Cristina Fernandez, who has court cases pending in this regard, as well as problems around pensions .

Last week, several personalities close to the government were found to have received the vaccine, skipping the order of priority.

As a result, Health Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia had to step down and was replaced by Secretary of Access to Health, Carla Vizzotti.

The government released a list of 70 people who were part of this irregular vaccination, among which were former president Eduardo Duhalde and his family, and Ambassador to Brazil, Daniel Scioli.

The list also included members of the government such as Foreign Affairs Minister Felipe Sola and Economy Minister Martin Guzman, although they fall into the “strategic personnel” category, which according to the government’s plan is the last of the seven priority groups for access to the vaccine.

An investigation has been opened into the incident by the country’s justice system, which President Alberto Fernandez described as ridiculous during his recent visit to Mexico.

“The fact is serious enough for a minister of the stature of Gines Gonzalez Garcia to step down, but let’s end the antics (…). There is no crime for vaccinating someone who skipped the line,” he said.

On Saturday, President Fernandez posted a series of tweets urging his supporters to call off their pro-government demonstrations scheduled for Monday, on account of the pandemic.

“I ask that we continue to lead by example and that this time each of you follow my message remotely. From their homes or from their places of work. The pandemic still attacks us. We take care of our neighbor even if others do not,” he wrote.

Argentina, with the third highest number of Covid-19 cases in Latin America after Brazil and Colombia, has recorded more than 2 million total infections and 51,000 deaths. EFE-EPA


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