Argentina: Two Sides of a Country that was Completely Paralyzed for a Day.By: Carlos Aznárez
Lately, there’s a struggle been two distinct models in Argentina and other Latin American countries. The first one is promoted mainly by those who plunder the country in complicity with external agents linked to multinational companies in the US and EU. The other arises from the social and political vindications of those in need, of workers, students, and small and medium-sized companies.
This division explains the debates that dominated Argentina last Thursday, as the country was completely paralyzed by a workers’ strike. Streets were unusually calm for a working day. No trains, buses, nor taxis on the streets–not even planes worked that day. Meanwhile, Mauricio Macri was inaugurating what’s known as the Mini-Davos Forum (the Latin American version of the World Economic Forum), which was a clear sign of the fact that the he only rules for the richest. In fact, he expressed his joy over the fact that in the the elitist neighbourhood/bubble of Puerto Madero, “everyone was working”.
Outside the doors of this playground for rich people, there were protests, signs and chants, which proved things were not as smooth as the President pretends they are. Outside was the strike of hundreds of thousands of workers.
Those who really create value, from dusk till dawn, stopped everything. With accumulated rage due to the massive layoffs, tax increases, lack of salary renegotiations, and the permanent abuse from businesspeople, bureaucratic unions and government officials. Everyone stopped so that the world can realize that Macri lies, as do media outlets Clarín, La Nación and Todo Noticias, his personal allies.
They striked because of the suffering that is caused to families who can’t make it till the end of the month, who eat only once a day, for those who are being sieged and invaded by police, like last week when at a children’s soup kitchen police evicted, tortured and pepper-sprayed boys and girls.
That is the reality we want to change, but their handicap is that they have patience and peaceful ways. Macri does not want to understand when they say to him “Stop Repressing”. On the contrary, emboldened by the recommendations of his Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and Security Secretary Eugenio Burzaco, he intends to stop the social protestors through repression, heavy-handed policies and the deployment of thousands of security officials who are trained to persecute the weakest.
On the day of the strike, there was a massive deployment of police agents that seemed to be armed for war. Against whom? Against those who protest without weapons.
Thousands of policemen surrounded the people who were blocking the Panamericana highway and Pueyrredon Bridge, attacked the protesters, used violence against car drivers and even destroyed a car. They did it under the orders of Bullrich and Burzaco, whithout any sort of reason to justify it. Just to disciplinate, to show wh’s boss. But those who fight and resist will not give up for fear of receiving a punch or breathing the toxic air of a gas bomb; they will be preparing themselves for the next time, reluctant of any proposal that tells them to accept the injustice that’s being dealt from above. “We are tired of handling provocations,” they think.
Finally, a few words for the leaders of the three branches of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), who, at a press conference, made it clear that they didn’t endorse the roadblocks at all, and that the sole responsibility for the consequences of this decision was of social movements and left-wing organizations. Disrespecting the humble people that carried out the active strike instead of staying at home—like the people of the Central of Workers of the Popular Economy, whos, among others, marched through La Boca, blocked the Avellaneda Bridge and protested in La Matanza, La Plata and Marcos Paz. Or like the workers of the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Left, the Labour Party or the Dario Santillán Popular Front, and many others who stood in defense of their rights. They were betrayed again by the “heavyweights” of syndicalism. It is clear that there is little to expect from this syndical coalition, although this doesen’t mean that there’s noone inside the CGT who’s willing to fight Macri’s neoliberalism.
This contrasted with the stance of the CTA (Argentine Central of Workers), whose definitions about the strike and their total commitment to it truly reflected their discourse on the necessity of building and constructing a struggle plan.
We say it again: “Macri: Stop It”, because the poorest are angry and the richest are willing to betray and unstabilize. This Thursday there was real evidence that Autumn can get really hot.