I have no idea what the actual number is, but a few different students of mine told me that ALL of the protesters were paid to be there. Then another person told me that that's what the people who hate Cristina/Kirchner say, but that some people are there to say "F.U." to El Campo.
I'm guessing that some-to-many of the Congreso protesters received some form of government aid, but I would have no idea how to prove that.
Of course these people are paid, in addition transportation, hotels, and meals are often covered as well. This is not a secret, there are literally thousands and thousands of people involved. These people are hired like movie extras when they need a really large crowd. The piqueteros are a different catergory as they are paid as full time employees. I believe they are paid about $2,200 pesos a month. You have to apply with them like a job and be hired. You just can't show up and start recieving the money. It sounds like a pretty sweet deal if you can get it (don't know if they take ex-pats). Basically you have no regular duties or hours to keep. You only have to be available for the occasional meeting. I'm told they do check attendance and the money is cut if you don't show. You must also be willing to go to demonstrations and attend political speeches. My guess all this is at most just a few hours a week, however they do have their busy periods such as the just ending problem with the farmers. Of course at least some of these people are available to break a few heads when called upon. Keeping control of the streets and intimidating the population is the ultimate objective of the regime. Kind of reminds me of what went on in Germany back in the thirties.
Fortunately for Argentina all the threats and imtimidation didn't work during the farm crisis. My guess is a lot of the extra money that would have come with the retentions would have been used along the same lines, i.e. more payments to more people to increase the regimes hold on power.Nice to know that the tax revenues here are put to such a productive use.
Sorry, forgot to mention that government offices close early on the days they are having a big do, government employees are told to attend if they want continuation of their paychecks. This is another method used insure large crowds.
Stan Expat hit the nail on his head, although the amount of peso$ one gets depends on many factors. I've heard many stories by people from BA province that were 'asked' to come if they want to keep their plan trabajar (200 pesos a month). They travel in ran down colectivo's, and if they're lucky they'll get a choripan.
An item about the demonstrations on La Nación website was very illustrative: they asked a girl on the plaza de mayo if she agreed with the governments politics, she said "no". The reporter asked here why she'd come to the plaza then... She answered with a certain tone of irony in her voice "because I came..."