Reports from Argentina
Posted: Jan. 17 2003, 19:06Yesterday after leaving the internet café (I spent about three hours writing the Brukman report) I walked to the PTS headquarters to find out where the anti-war march would be. Outside there was a small canvas-roofed army truck with the motor running. Young people were standing inside and there were red banners sticking out the back.
"You guys from the PTS?"
"Can I get in?"
"Sure, why not?"
So I got to take the official party truck to the anti-war march. I didn't even know they had a truck.
The ride was kind of fun, since I met a bunch of kids from the PTS youth organisation JIRCI (Juventud de Izquierda Revoluncionaria por la Cuarta Internacional; Youth of the Revolutionary Left for the Fourth International). We talked about the whole Fourth International/Fifth International debate and I invited them to the REVOLUTION summer camp in Prague. They said it sounded good, but I don't think they'll come, since no one in Argentina can afford that.
The JIRCI kids are currently working to build up a youth movement called "No Pasarán". ("They shall not pass", a cry made famous by Dolores the Passionate during the defense of Madrid in the Spanish Civil War.) Its goal is to defend the conquests of the last year, i.e. protect the occupied factories, maintain the popular assemblies, and defend people against police repression.
We arrived at a plaza near the American embassy and there were already quite a few communist splinter groups: Convergencia Socialista, Liga Socialista Revolucionaria, Venceremos, Partido Revolucionario de la Liberación, Democracia Obrera, and a bunch of others no one has ever heard of. The PTS had by far the largest contingent, with about 200 militants and a giant red banner that said "PTS".
(There are larger communist groups in Argentina, most notably the Partido Obrero and the nutty, maoist Partido Comunista Revolucionario. They are both really involved in the Piqueteros movement and were busy doing Piquetero stuff.)
The Madres de Plaza de Mayo organized the march. I talked to one of them and when I mentioned I was an American she got really excited and said "Why aren't the mothers in the US protesting against the war? Their children are going to die. Why aren't the mothers protesting?"
You do know who the madres are, right? They're a group of women whose children "disappeared" during the US-backed military dictatorship from '76-'83. The madres group was formed to find answers about the disappearance of their children, but now they encompass a broad anti-imperialist strugge. It's always easy to indentify them because they all wear white kerchiefs on their heads.
No Pasarán had a pretty good contingent, with maybe a hundred young people, all of them really enthusiastic. Besides them there were popular assemblies, the Center of Professionals for Human Rights (the lawyers who support the occupied businesses), the above mentioned communist mini-groups, and even a few workers from Brukman along with the workers from the occupied bakery. (The bakery workers, incidentally, had used their first fifty pesos to make fliers about their cause.)
So the march began when the madres started off down the avenue with their "no war against Iraq" banner. I am always entertained by the image of these frail old women shouting radical slogans and leading massive demonstrations. Behind them was No Pasarán, the PTS (after a brief argument about who should go first), and then everybody else.
The American embassy was only a few hundred yards away. It was on a side street a ways back from the avenue, but the entrance to the street was cut off by a big steel fence with hundreds of police officers standing behind it. We all lined up opposite the fence to sing songs ("Die, Yanquis, Die!") and burn flags. One of the madres held a speech and people threw firecrackers. When a big firecracker exploded behind the police line I was sure they were going to attack. But they left us alone.
After a while we got bored, so we marched back down the avenue to the Plaza and dispersed. I think the Yanquis got the message. All in all there were about a thousand of us – I can just imagine some paige bursting into the oval office: "Mr. President, a thousand Argentinians are opposed to your policy in Iraq!"
"Well I guess we can't go to war."
Here's an article from the madres about the march (with pictures, but in Spanish):
Trevor, Posted: Jan. 17 2003, 19:36
Wow, i'm surprised you weren't in any of those photos. Cause we all know how the camera loves you.