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On the conflict of the countryside in Argentina

category argentina / uruguay / paraguay | economy | press release author Wednesday April 09, 2008 11:49author by Comisión - Red Libertaria de Buenos Airesauthor email redlibertaria at riseup dot net Report this post to the editors

Red Libertaria believes that this conflict is nothing but a struggle between the bourgeoisie inside the model inaugurated by Duhalde and continued by Nestor and Cristina Kirchner and we point to the fact that workers will continue to be laid off whoever wins, until we organize and stand up to fight for our own demands and conquests. [ Castellano]

The boom of the countryside and export-tariffs

With international prices at an all-time high, the countryside does not stop beating records for harvests and earnings. This is why they have withstood the export tariffs with no complaints since 2002. They knew that in this way they were paying the cost of sustaining and strengthening the government so that nobody kicks the table and they can do business quietly[i]. What did piss them off was the limits on export volumes or being forced to guarantee that food would not be lacking from the supermarkets and that they would not try to price them as they would in Europe, the US or China. To this they answered with a claim for compensation in the form of subsidies (which mainly end up in the coffers of the biggest enterprises of the sector, like Sancor and la Serenisima, Molino Cañuelas, Molinos Río de la Plata, and Aceitera General Deheza, among others) and price rises, which they have been gradually imposing over recent years (to the point that some products are now more expensive in dollars than they were in 2001). In this way, "filling the pot" gets more and more complicated and meat, milk and vegetables become inaccessible luxuries for the workers. To this problem of the model of the new convertibility (one of many), the government has to answer because of the political cost of not doing so and in order to do it, it needs money. Money that in part it expects to raise with the rise in export tariffs.

Who sustains the model? And who suffers its problems and disputes?

It is us, the workers, with our salaries of hunger paid after never-ending workdays (not just for the field workers but for all workers). This is the key of their competitivity that they are celebrating so much. And it is we with taxes over noodles, rice, polenta, sugar, oil, with taxes like the IVA[ii], from which more than a third of the national budget comes (and which goes back to the businessman in the form of thousands of millions of pesos in subsidies, between them the subsidy of gasoil[iii], and with the complete orientation of public policies in their favor). Even more, the lack of food strikes first and more strongly to the poor because there is no money with which to pay the price rises of speculators, hoarders and all kinds of opportunists, and because many cannot buy in quantity to have a reserve because they live with just enough for the day[iv].

Who is on the pickets and who is at the negotiation table?

It is clear that on the pickets there are the owners and tenants of land but also the workers and neighbors of the small country towns, out of fear for the loss of jobs and money because of government measures. But at the negotiation table they neither pinch nor cut, and in fact are used by those who have all the winning cards. It is the big ones who sit down and negotiate caring for their interests first and foremost even when they are the least prejudiced (in a certain way even benefitted as the small ones will have to sell or rent their land to them)[v].

The right stalks in the shadows

The right is using the countryside demands to hit the government and unite not only as an opposition but as an alternative raising those demands and joining theirs with them. Sectors coming from radicalismo[vi] but the cassette of always about corruption and authoritarianism (Carrio, Lopez Murphy), the neoliberals (Macri, Fundacion Libertad), groups linked to the dictatorship of March 76 and the last military mutinies (Cecilia Pando, Breide Obeid), marginal groups of Nazis, unsatisfied businessman, etc.

Cristina tries to polarize, divide the countryside and strike with the apparatus

The government challenges and attacks talking of 4*4 picket lines and golpist cacerolazos[vii] and says that the rise in export tariffs is designed to favor the workers (so that food is not lacking or increasing in price), to protect the environment (reducing the destruction of the monte and the eviction of indigenous and peasant communities, stopping the advance of soy monoculture) and other nice-sounding lies. The best argument to discredit their promises is their 5 years in government, which leaves no doubt as to their policies. They try to convince us that against this move we should close ranks behind them forgetting their policies of salaries so low as to have to apply cosmetics to official statistics so that it is not so evident[viii]. They try to dissolve the pickets with vague and indefinite promises which would aim to differentiate (and thus divide) the big from the small, as if some were the bad guys and the others the good guys of the movie. They clear the way to the loyal troops, their apparatus, to mobilize and confront. And so we see Moyano[ix] with the truckdrivers' gang threatening to drive over anyone who stands in front of him and D`Elía[x] clearing the Plaza de Mayo of protestors against the government. They are the same ones that attacked the students of the EMBA in Quilmes or the UBA in the Faculty of Medicine[xi], the Subway[xii], Dana[xiii] and bus line 60 workers[xiv], the human rights groups that was demanding the freedom of political prisoners in Rosario in 2005[xv].

Anarchist have to set forth a position over urgent and actual matters debating against the government, businessman and media, talking to the youth and workers who become politized in this process, trying to stop them from choosing sides between competing bourgeois factions and instead develop a class perspective with political independence in the struggle for their own demands. Because of this, from the Red Libertaria we say:



[i] This was just after December 2001 when hundreds of thousands of Argentineans took to the streets in protest at economic policies and repressive measures against the unemployed as one of its most potent sectors and a mushrooming of popular assemblies in many neighborhoods. This popular struggle ended up with tens of deaths of protestors and the toppling of president De La Rua and many interim governments until Duhalde, a long-time strongman of the peronista Partido Justicialista in one of the most densely-populated and impoverished districts, took power.
[ii] Impuesto al Valor Agregado, Added Value Tax, a tax on consumption paid by the end consumer. It is set at 21% for most product.
[iii] The most commonly-used fuel in the countryside Works.
[iv] For example, 1 kilogram of meat is around 20 pesos, around 80% of the workers earn salaries of less than 1,500 pesos a month.
[v] This can be seen both with wheat and milk which due to previous protests now receive subsidies, but most of these end up in the hands of the more concentrated agro-industries instead of the milk producers or wheat farmers.
[vi] Radical Civic Union is a political party that claimed a political opening for the integration of the lower off layers of the upper class and the middle class (small bourgeois both farmer and industrial, white collar employees and certain industry workers). Most of its support base went away to peronismo and all they have left is a hypocritical critique of corruption and authoritarianism in the government.
[vii] It is hilarious to compare itself with Salvador Allende and the middle- and upper-class mobilizations that prepared the road for the military coup of Pinochet.
[viii] This has been widely denounced and the government has answered, changing the way it measures several key statistics without making the changes available for public and scientific scrutiny and by firing technicians from the Institute that elaborates this statistics.
[ix] Leader of the CGT, the main Workers Unions Central, linked to paramilitary gangs in the years preceding the dictatorship of 1976-1983
[x] A leader of unemployed workers who from the start sided with Duhalde in exchange for political positions and funds.
[xi] Students that were claiming a democratization of the self-government of the University to allow a greater weight in decision-making for the bulk of teachers and students.
[xii] Officialist Union gangs violently disrupted a press conference from base delegates and attacked activists on the tunnels.
[xiii] A picket of workers from one of the plants of the auto parts multinational Dana, demanding the reincorporation of fired activists, was attacked by 60 men answering to the union leadership
[xiv] Bus line workers were attacked by the Union gang for claiming free delegate elections. The workers organized to resist the attacks and went on strike to press on the management.
[xv] They were attacked by pretty much the same people that supported the government in the last act in Plaza de Mayo, mostly militants of the peronista Left and Right.

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