Thousands gather to celebrate 30 years of democracy in Argentina
People gather at Plaza de Mayo square in front of the Government House during an act commemorating the 30th anniversary of the return to democracy in Argentina in Buenos Aires on Dec. 10, 2013 [AFP]

Thousands of people on Tuesday celebrated Argentina's thirtieth anniversary of return to democratic rule, voicing some satisfaction though it has been a bumpy ride.

"Achieving democracy was anything but easy. Today, 30 years later, this is really a day to celebrate," said Laura Bernstein, 35, a supporter of President Cristina Kirchner's government.

The South American nation of 41 million, populated mostly by descendants of immigrants from Italy and Spain, was under military dictatorship as recently as 1983.

Argentina has been rocked this week as at least nine people were killed in provincial cities where police out on strike pushing for better pay sent people brazenly looting supermarkets and shopping centers.

"We regret the vandalism of these destabilizing elements," singer-songwriter Teresa Parodi said at an outdoor commemoration ceremony.

Kirchner, Argentina's first democratically elected woman president and recovering from surgery for a brain hemorrhage, met with ex-presidents to mark the day.

One of them was Adolfo Rodriguez Saa. His disastrous one-week government in December 2001 was long enough for him to declare the biggest default in Argentine history -- more than $80 billion dollars, sparking a major financial crisis.

Some of the country's achievements since the return of democracy have been civil reforms such as a divorce law and legal same-sex marriage; and its prosecuting more than 1,200 people who were behind state-sponsored terrorism.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]