enormous mass mobilization of workers and the poor in Argentina, driven to
desperation by the crisis of the capitalist economy, forced the resignation of
President De la Rua on December 20 and cancellation of the state of siege.
government’s declaration of a state of siege had only prompted a greater mass
outpouring. The rulers were forced to back down, a sign of a potentially
mobilized working class fought to preserve its democratic rights at the same
time that it asserted its right to survive, to ensure that its fundamental needs
for food, clothing, and shelter be met.
The Peronist opposition party in Parliament seems poised to take over
the leadership of the country. But a continued mass mobilization, in which the
workers and the poor organize themselves independently in order to press their
demands, is the only way to be sure that the needs of the vast majority will be
addressed and acted on.
As an indication that there are organized forces for a continued
mobilization and independent assertion of working-class needs, we reprint below
a December 20 declaration by the organization ATTAC-Argentina.
Before that, our contributing editor Charles Walker has the following
update to his informative article of December 20, “Rebellion in Argentina”:
As De la Rua fled the palace in a helicopter,
he no doubt hoped that the protesters would leave the streets. But some
protesters had other ideas. “We want them all out, not just De la Rua, but all
of the political leaders. This is a wakeup call: we’re fed up with this
country’s political class,” one said. Another told the press, “The past
few days were ugly, but many more are ahead.”
The International Confederation of Free Trade
Unions (ICFTU) sent a message of solidarity, but some protesters might have
thought the union officials’ hopes were naïve. “We at the ICFTU fully
affirm our support for the strike action carried out by our affiliated member,
CGT. We hope that the government, in whatever form it may take, will finally
begin to pay attention to the needs of the workers and the social costs of
mismanagement.” The ICFTU also stated that while it deplores violence, “the
anger of the people is a comprehensible reaction to the continued pursuit of
The editors of the New York Times (Dec. 21) gave their own ominous opinion: “Argentina will most likely have to devalue its currency and pass through even rougher economic times before it can begin a recovery.” That’s because, say many analysts, devaluing the nation’s currency means instant bankruptcy for countless Argentines and many of the biggest businesses. The Times editors also knowingly implied that if the masses spurn the prospect of “rougher economic times,” then military repression might follow. “It is a painful process, and one that can be managed only if political stability is restored and maintained, and if the army stays out of politics.”
by ATTAC-Argentina: “We
Will Continue the Mobilization”
Will Continue the Mobilization”
[The following is a slightly edited version of a
statement posted on the Internet December 20, just before the resignation of
Argentine President De la Rua.]
is ATTAC? ATTAC is a coalition of unions, farmers, and
intellectuals that was started in France and now has groups in many
countries — including in Argentina. It has become the most public face of the
antiglobalization movement in much of Europe. (ATTAC stands for Association for
the Taxation of [Financial] Transactions for the Aid of Citizens.) Founded in
1998 by Bernard Cassen and Susan George of the socialist monthly Le Monde
Diplomatique, ATTAC began as a campaign for the implementation of the
so-called Tobin Tax, the proposal by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Tobin
to tax all speculative financial transactions.]
more background information on Argentina, see the web site of International
Viewpoint (IV), publication of the United Secretariat of the Fourth
International, a worldwide organization of socialist and labor activists. Go to:
http://www.3bh.org.uk/IV/ and type
Argentina in the search field. IV has carried several important
articles on Argentina during the past year.]
We are participating in a significant popular
mobilization. The time came when the popular movement took the leadership, and
the militants of ATTAC took part in the mobilizations in public places and other
areas, with [people banging with sticks on pots and] pans. [The popular movement
is] playing a role which cannot be delegated to others.
The people said NO to the state of siege and massively
mobilized to repudiate the government's economic policy and to demand the
resignation of the economic minister as well as a change in his policies of
famine and misery.
The popular fight forced the resignation of [economic
minister] Domingo Cavallo. Tens of thousands of people mobilized after hearing
the announcement of the state of siege. There is an attitude supporting civil
disobedience, asserting the democratic rights that were ridiculed by the
administration of [President] De la Rúa.
We mobilized to demand major changes to intolerable
social conditions, against policies which gave priority to the payment of the
foreign debt over the satisfaction of needs arising from Argentina's immense
poverty. There are 2.5 million people without work and 14 million poor, of whom
5 million are indigent. These were the conditions in which thousands of the
hungry threw themselves into the country’s supermarkets. The repressive
response of the government cost the lives of at least 7 people [now reportedly
more than 20].
ATTAC-Argentina joined with these popular protests,
along with other initiatives that have been developed lately, including the
blocking of roads and streets, and the popular consultation [referendum]
organized last weekend, in which 3 million voted in favor of a guaranteed right
of employment, the establishment of a $380 monthly stipend for unemployed heads
of families, and universal allowances for people younger than 18 and older than
A lifting of the state of siege and a battle against
any attempt to weaken political freedoms.
An end to repression, the release of the people who
are being held, and withdrawal of the pending charges.
Suspension of all payment of interest and principal
related to the foreign debt.
Support for all mobilizations and meetings, like
those of the CTA today in the Plaza of the Congress, starting at 1400 hours (2
pm), and the Association of the Mothers of the Plaza, starting at 1530 (3:30
pm). Attend all demonstrations with [pots or] pans in hand.
Rejection of the 2002 budget submitted to the
Parliament; and the working out of an alternative which is not based on the
“zero deficit” framework.
Cancellation of the special powers which have been
granted to the executive.
A change from the prevailing economic policy to one
that meets the needs of the population.
Opposition to speculation and the promotion of an
equitable distribution of society’s riches.
Continuation of the popular mobilization.