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Security Official in Argentina Punched, Kicked at Protest

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Protesting bus drivers punched, kicked and threw rocks at the top law enforcement official of Buenos Aires province Monday, unleashing a level of violence rarely seen in the demonstrations that are common around Argentina’s capital.

The protesters were angry about a fellow bus driver who was slain during a holdup in the city early Monday at age 65, just weeks from retirement. They were blocking a highway outside the capital to demand a crackdown on crime when Berni arrived by helicopter to address them.

As TV cameras followed him, Berni approached the protesters, who began shouting insults. Suddenly, protesters attacked with punches, kicks and rocks as the minister tried to block the blows. Visibly injured and bleeding, Berni was backed against a wall where several police officers and even some demonstrators tried to protect him.

“I’m here facing the consequences,” the minister said, while protesters yelled “liar” because they said he had failed to adequately combat crime, which ranks among the top concerns of Argentines ahead of presidential elections scheduled for later this year.

Police officers ended up removing Berni from the scene even as the minister protested that he did not want to leave. Berni has become well known in Argentina for his cinematic appearances at social protests, earning him the nickname “Super Berni.”

Berni later spoke to journalists and said he had skull and cheekbone fractures, and that doctors would be deciding whether he needs surgery. But he made light of the injuries — saying they were “least important thing” — and that he would not file charges against any of his attackers.

“I think the wound in the heart hurts more, knowing that a resident of Buenos Aires, whom one has the obligation to protect, was murdered, than all the physical blows one receives,” Berni said.

Berni vowed to track down the perpetrators in the slaying of the bus driver, Daniel Barrientos.

Source : ABCNews