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LATIN AMERICAN HOPE: Viva intifada in Argentina!

As a region rocked by neoliberal exploitation and government corruption, Argentina embodies the hope for an alternative world as the country has witnessed a massive bottom-up grassroots struggle for self-determination since the economic crisis that hit in 2001. What we have seen develop in Argentina the past two years is a strong movement based on direct democracy with rejection of corporate and state institutions that has stirred up much interest and inspiration for social justice advocates all over the globe.

This month, thirteen Virginians traveled to Buenos Aires as part of a delegation with The People United to learn about the struggles in Argentina, to meet people involved and create strong bonds of international solidarity. [Read the press release] IMC reporter Jason Guard has published two accounts on his encounters in Buenos Aires. His first story delves into his arrival to the capital, People United discussions and the group’s visit to a neighborhood assembly. [Read Guard’s first account] His second story describes the group’s visit to a collectively run breadstick factory and meetings with the workers of the factory. [Read Guard’s second account] Richmond Queer Space Project organizer Sasha Vodnik is also traveling along with the delegation and has published two accounts with photos on visits to the Brukman factory and unemployed workers co-ops. [Read account 1] [Read account 2]

The People United delegation returns soon, but they have planned a few events for people to come and learn about Argentina and to share their experiences of international solidarity. [Check out the events!]

Argentina was once a poster child for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund as those institutions loaned billions of dollars during the 1990s to make the country ripe for foreign investment and privatization of national companies. Like most situations involving international loan- sharking, paying back the interest on these loans alone forced the government to drastically cut its social spending. While Argentina mounted debt, a recession ensued, leaving Argentine financial ministers constrained by IMF rules that prohibit increased government spending to alleviate the disaster created by the selling out of Argentina to global economic interests.

Unemployment and poverty skyrocketed, leaving Argentina on the precipice of economic failure toward the end of 2001. IMF policies forced the government to implement a 13 percent slashing of government employee salaries and state health care. Social unrest reached a boiling point on December 19 and 20 when thousands of Argentines took to the streets of the capital, banging on pots and pans, mobilizing together to demand an end to government corruption with the cry of “QUE SE VAYAN TODOS!” (All of them must go!) [Read about the rebellion]

Since then, the popular uprising has forced the resignation of four presidents and the people looking to themselves to create solutions for their problems. Workers reoccupy factories abandoned by bankrupt owners to operate production collectively, neighborhoods gather in assemblies to address grievances, plan cultural and political activities to participate in the future of their city, people extensively use bartering to trade goods and services while unemployed workers (piqueter@s) continuously take to the streets to call attention to their situation.

But the plight of Argentina remains dire as 58 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and 44 percent are unemployed. A new president, Nester Kirchner, poses as a liberal while harshly responding to protests. The government seems intent on preventing another uprising like that of December 2001 as the country wallows in crisis. Despite recent setbacks, the peoples’ movements remain strong but face obstacles to their growth and sustainability. While many can speculate on the future of Argentina, it is important to remain educated about its story. [Read Z-Mag’s archive on Argentina]

*Information compiled from Z-Magazine, Left Turn and Crisis and Resistance in Argentina, a zine compiled by Jenny Schoeckemoehl.
[ Argentina IMC | Left Turn ]



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