Federico Abal writes on the broad repression of progressives which is being carried out by the Macri government, and how people are fighting back including with a mass march on December 18th.
In Argentina, Mauricio Macri`s government repeats the old reasons of conservatism: cut spending to balance the budget, balance the budget to reduce inflation. As always, the cutbacks are over the workers and the poorest while the wealthy sectors (financial speculators, agricultural oligarchical exporters and mining companies) see their taxes reduced and their profits increased.
Of course, this type of policy generates more or less organised responses throughout the world from the exploited. On December 18th, in the city of Buenos Aires, 200,000 people moved to the national congress to protest against the sanction of a reform that would cut the income of pensioners and beneficiaries of social assistance.
The image could not be more eloquent. A huge police deployment protected the parliamentary session in which the parliamentary majority would vote against the will of the vast majority of the Argentine people (according to polls, two out of three Argentines are against the reform). The repressive forces of the state carried out a real hunt against the activists, throwing gases and rubber bullets that left dozens of injured, including at least four people who lost an eye and a significant number of detainees. To date, three anarchist comrades who participated in the protest remain imprisoned: Diego, Pilar, and Pablo (held on charges of public intimidation and due for trial today).Only under this level of police violence could the government approve the reform with the support of some deputies of the Peronist opposition in a parliamentary debate that lasted until dawn.
At night, protests continued in different neighborhoods and there were spontaneous “cacerolazos” (people who go out into the street banging kitchen elements: pots, pans, etc.) in which progressive sectors coincided with sectors that had supported the conservative candidate of the national government in the last legislative elections.
Although the protest was defeated and the reform was approved, there are four lessons that can be extracted in favor of the libertarian movement.
In the first place, the fallacy of parliamentary representation as an authentic channel of expression of popular will has been exposed. The parliament, once again, was seen as a space composed of mostly wealthy officials who only respond to their sectoral, partisan or class interests.
Second, the spontaneous participation of thousands of people on the streets has shown that the ability to fight does not necessarily require the leadership of parties.
In the third place, popular disbelief about the Peronist political opposition and, consequently, about the bureaucratic Peronist unionism allows the symbolic defeat suffered by the government to be capitalized towards radical alternative responses.
Fourth, the massive mobilisation proves that there is a capacity to defeat the Macri`s policies and that the memory of the struggles of 2001 that threw the government of De la Rua continues to be present in the collective memory.
Bearing in mind these lessons, it is the task of the anarchists to think about how this resistance can be organized without returning to the path towards Peronist populism and avoiding the opportunistic exploitation of some leftist parties that have submerged themselves into the logic of parliamentarism.
Let’s face the conservative policies with grassroots organisation
Freedom for Diego, Pilar y Pablo.
Pic: Police clash with demonstrators during the pensions rally of December 18th 2017, by Santiago Sito