Pot-Banging Protests Erupt Anew in Argentina Against Economic Measures

More than 1,000 demonstrators returned to the capital's streets late Friday night in a pot-banging protest against government handling of a deep economic crisis.

The protests, which have become a weekly ritual, began noisily but peacefully as demonstrators lingered past midnight.

Riot police with plastic shields guarded the president's offices in the Government House, but there were no immediate incidents reported as Argentines angry over a banking freeze and price hikes banged on pots and pans for hours.

"Give us our dollars back!" read one of the many signs lofted in the crowd that gathered on the grasdsy knoll on the Plaza de Mayo. Others shouted anti-government slogans and chants of "Thieves, return our money!"

Popular anger still runs high over a Dec. 1 banking freeze that has locked up the hard-earned savings of millions of Argentines. Meanwhile, price hikes and worries about a devalued peso have many on edge.

The protest dragged as jobless workers, some with their faces masked by T-shirts, locked arms on the Plaza, vowing to stay through the night.

Meanwhile,a similar demonstration by about 1,000 people was reported in the neighboring city of Rosario, some 100 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. The TN television network reported some windows broken in minor incidents during the protest there.

Argentina is now withering under nearly four years of recession that have lofted unemployment rates above 18 percent. The country has defaulted on its massive $141 billion public debt and President Eduardo Duhalde, in office since Jan. 2, has devalued the peso nearly 40 percent.

The economy minister has signaled Argentina will require some $23 billion in bailout funds, but no negotiations have begun with the IMF, which is demanding a credible economic rescue plan first.