Between December 19-21, 2001 a massive popular rebellion overthrew the incumbent President De la Rua amidst the greatest street battles and highest casualties (38 protestors were assassinated) in recent Argentine history. Major demonstrations and street blockages took place throughout the rest of the country, in an unprecedented alliance between the unemployed, underemployed workers and a substantial sector of the middle class which had just been defrauded of its savings.
In quick succession three Congressional aspirants who sought to replace De la Rua were forced to resign. From December 2001 to July 2002, the burgeoning popular movements were a power in the streets and a visible presence in all provinces, blocking highways as well as the major boulevards of Buenos Aires and provincial capitals.
It is estimated that up to 4 million persons participated in demonstrations out of a potentially active population of 30 million (Argentina’s total population is about 38 million). Numerous writers on both sides of the spectrum spoke of a “pre-Revolutionary situation”, they wrote of “dual power” between the “piqueteros”, neighborhood assemblies” and the “occupied factories” on the one hand and the existing state apparatus.