Calm returns to Argentine provinces after looting and violence


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Calm returned Friday to more than a dozen Argentine provinces wracked by looting and violence that left 13 dead and 200 injured and caused millions of dollars in property losses.

The chaos in 20 provinces during the past week resulted from strikes called by police over wages, leaving many cities with no police protection. More than 2,000 stores, mostly supermarkets, were looted and many were burned down.

Houses and apartment buildings in some cities were also attacked by armed gangs. A business group estimated property losses at nearly $100 million.


Disturbances continued in provinces such as Tucuman, where the police strike was called off Wednesday. There and in other provinces, police received raises of up to 50% of their previous wages.

High levels of violence were reported in Cordoba province. In northern Tucuman province, a 16-year old boy was shot and killed during a confrontation between armed groups. Deaths were also reported in Jujuy, Chaco and Entre Ríos provinces

Sources said residents fear of attacks, especially at night, because armed groups continue to circulate in some cities. Salta and Entre Ríos provinces were still without any provincial police protection on Friday.

Isolated looting began more than a week ago, then spread across the country Monday. At first the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner tried to minimize the situation and blamed the provincial governors. But officials later acknowledged the seriousness of the crisis and sent federal police to patrol in several provinces.

Isolated instances of violence have also been reported in suburbs of Buenos Aires, the capital. A merchant was shot to death Dec. 4 in the Glew suburb as he tried to protect his store from looters.

On Friday, cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich announced a salary raise for federal police and said that units sent out to substitute for provincial police will be given special compensaton.

Special correspondent D’Alessandro reported from Buenos Aires. Special correspondent Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this story.