The Situation in Argentina at the End of May

Out with the IMF, Out with Duhalde and the Governors
For a Constituent Assembly in the Nation, the Provinces, and Municipalities
For a National Strike and Picketer’s Roadblocks to Counter the “Groggy” Government

To give Labor Standard readers some idea of the present stage of rapidly changing developments in the potentially revolutionary situation in Argentina, we reprint the following edited version of an article from the May 23 issue of Prensa Obrera, weekly newspaper of the Partido Obrero (Workers Party) of Argentina. For more information, see the PO web site.

Under pressure from the IMF and the banks on the one hand, and a popular rebellion on the other, Duhalde’s government is on the brink of collapsing. The war among the capitalist mafias, along with a wave of roadblocks, demonstrations, and strikes, has neutralized him. The [welfare payments] “program for male and female heads of household,” his ace in the hole, intended to muster a personal base in the midst of the political crisis, has burst into a war among PJ clans to control its distribution. [PJ is the Partido Justicialista, or Justicialist Party, the main Peronist party, to which Argentina’s current president, Duhalde, belongs.]

To survive, the government is willing to further attack workers and to allow the most outrageous economic disorganization to run rampant. Firings are on the rise, the cost of basic goods has increased by over 40%, wages have dropped to 150 Lecops, while existing job plans and food rations are being ignored.

That’s what’s in stock for the people.

But the banks, which confiscated the savings of the people, have received “help” to the tune of 18,000 million pesos from the Central Bank. And the State [i.e., Duhalde’s government] has used millions of dollars to rescue the Galicia Bank first and is now doing the same for banks “abandoned” by their French owners.

Exporters have declared a virtual strike in paying taxes, betting on a higher dollar! There are no dollars for small savers. Instead, there are dollars for the banks and for exporters.

This is the prospect the capitalists are offering the working class in this crisis. Moving ahead in this war on the people, they now propose early elections. Those who want to overthrow Duhalde are flirting with the popular vote, but have a worse offensive in mind that entails giving the banks the chance to buy the country for spare change.

Those who want Duhalde to stay, conceal the fact that the solution entails a hyperinflation that will decimate debts, deposits, and wages. The war among the capitalist mafias will lead to conspiracies and coup d’etats.

Either one way or the other, the crisis can only get worse. The governors are claiming that even if they fire over 300,000 government employees, they won‘t be able to meet IMF deficit reduction demands, given the sharp drop in tax collections.

But the people are on the move and maturing to end this state of affairs. Buenos Aires province teachers are fighting for their salaries, given the cutbacks that have erased 30 to 50% of their wages. Ensenada is on strike, teachers in Escobar have blocked the Pan-American Highway, many school councils have been taken over and “autoconvocatorias” [grass roots organizations] are on the rise. Rio Negro teachers are on strike again. Municipal employee strikes are spreading, as salaries are not being paid nationwide.

Roadblocks multiply. [For example] on Route 3, in Jujuy, in Pilar, during the day of struggle called by the Bloque Piquetero Nacional [National Picketers Caucus] for May 23.

Mechanical workers in Cordoba are meeting in a general assembly, following mass firings and factory shutdowns.

Popular Assemblies will march to a “cacerolazo” [pot bashing] at Plaza de Mayo on May 25.

Even the “fake” leaders of the dissident CGT and CTA, following a lengthy truce, demonstrate that they can no longer contain popular pressure. But their leaders have not broken with their politics: Moyano called on workers to mobilize “against the model,” not against the government, at his weak Plaza de Mayo mobilization; De Gennaro calls on workers to strike on May 29 to demand that “the government change course.” [It is our understanding that the main trade union federation, the CGT, is controlled by the Peronists and tends to support the government. The “dissident CGT,” led by Moyano, is also Peronist and tends to differ with the government in only minor ways. A third union federation, the CTA, led by De Gennaro, consists mostly of public employees and is influenced by Maoist and other radical tendencies.—Labor Standard.]

Worker and popular mobilizations demand, more than ever before, a solution to this capitalist catastrophe. The Congress of Polo Obrero [Workers’ Pole] and the Bloque Piquetero Nacional issued such a call to the nation, revealing the non-viability of the politics of consensus.

The call is for: bread, jobs, housing, out with Duhalde and the IMF, nationalization without indemnification of the banks and of foreign trade, organization of a general strike, and self-mobilization [of the workers and their allies among the population].

In this scenario, the Bloque Piquetero and the Aníbal Verón Steering Committee of Unemployed Workers [Coordinadora de Trabajadores Desocupados Aníbal Verón] are calling for a Second National Assembly of Workers to take place on Saturday, June 8, a call that [the neighborhood assembly of] Barrios de Pie has agreed to debate, along with many [other] Popular Assemblies. The Congress of Polo Obrero has called on CCC and FTV-CTA [Maoist-led “class struggle” currents around the dissident trade union federation CTA] to break with the government and to join this struggle.

The government is in countdown. Let’s make it face a national picket, another December 19 and 20 “to kick’em all out.” Out with Duhalde, out with the governors, dissolve Congress and all legislative bodies. The Popular Constituent Assemblies should govern in the nation, provinces, and municipalities. 

Christian Rath