Desperate, Argentines make long lines to get savings from banks

Having the memory of past crises, where many lost their money by freezing deposits, Argentines prefer to save their money

People walking through the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

People walking through the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina. / Via REUTERS

Reuters | Marina Lammertyn

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Leer en español: Desesperados, los argentinos hacen largas filas para sacar ahorros de los bancos

Argentines formed long lines in front of banks in Buenos Aires from an hour before their opening, waiting to be able to withdraw their savings, after the government arranged exchange restrictions to deal with the financial crisis that hits the country.

"I took my money from the bank as a precaution, I think it is a time where we are taking many surprises. Tomorrow we can wake up and see that everything changed, I prefer to be cautious and not regret it later," said Catalina Pedace, an employee and university student 25, at the exit of a bank in downtown Buenos Aires.

Used to economic disasters and losing their savings, Argentines are able to smell a crisis at a distance and the measures announced by the Government were, for many, an alert signal.

"The instability and the little information generate fear, and I think that many of us are acting because of that fear generated by not knowing what could happen," Pedace added.

In the crisis of 1989/1990 and 2001/02, many savers lost their money by freezing and confiscating deposits, memories that were still alive in the streets of the financial center of Buenos Aires.

The overwhelming victory of the center-left opposition in primary elections on August 11, which anticipated a triumph in the October presidential elections, caused financial instability in a country already hit by high inflation and the growth of poverty.

Also read: Economic uncertainty grows in Argentina due to crisis

The result left neo-liberal president Mauricio Macri, the favorite candidate of the markets, with little chance of being reelected and triggered a collapse of investor confidence and the local currency.

"This influx of people is fundamentally attributable to the new scheme of measures that have been happening in the financial system," a spokesman for an important Argentine bank told Reuters.

At the doors of several banks, customers complained about the long lines to withdraw money from their accounts and also problems of digital banking systems, which sometimes prevented operations.

"Nothing is going on, all the systems fell down. There is a mess of people in the center (in the banking area) who cannot walk," Pablo Ferro, a 41-year-old lawyer who insisted on restarting the phone, told Reuters. Run your bank's mobile application.

Total deposits of banks in dollars fell from $ 35,245 million before the primary elections to $ 31,551 million on August 27, according to the latest Monetary Report of the Argentine Central Bank, prior to the limits on the purchases of currency imposed by the central bank.

Also read: Argentina limits foreign exchange purchases and transfers abroad

"I have no dollar deposits. I have savings in dollars that are not deposited because two years ago I began to smell this situation a little badly, but it worries me and I am sorry to see all these people outside the banks waiting to be reimbursed deposits, "said Liliana Ibarra, a 60-year-old retiree.