Reports from Argentina
all's quiet on the Plaza de Mayo
Posted: Jan. 22 2003, 01:22Today I visited the Plaza de Mayo, scene of the huge battle on December 20, 2001 that led to the resignation of De La Rua. Unfortunately, there were no battles going on today. There weren't even many signs that a battle had ever taken place.
The Casa Rosada (Pink House), Argentina's presidential palace, is at one end of the plaza. It is currently encircled with metal anti-riot fences, the kind they put in front of the stage at rock concerts. These days that doesn't seem like very much security – the American embassy in Berlin, for example, is surrounded with barbed wire, giant concrete blocks, dozens of armed soldiers, and least once I saw an armored personel carrier.
I saw a few police officers walking around in the Plaza, but no tanks, no snipers, and no combat helicopters. That doesn't mean that there aren't thousands of shock troops waiting to jump out and attack the next time that all of Argentina decides to topple its government – it just means the shock troops are well hidden.
There is currently another metal fence cutting right through the middle of the plaza. That seemed rather odd, since it didn't cut off the streets, it just separated one half of the park from the other.
It took me a second to figure out what the idea was: in case of another revolt the police can quickly seal off the Casa Rosada since they already have a fence across 90% of the plaza. All they have to do is expand this fence across the streets on both sides (there were extra fence-sections standing around for this purpose) and they have a powerful barricade against the millions of Argentinians who want to get rid of their corrupt, bourgeois, pro-imperialist government.
What this shows you is that nobody can say when the revolt will come. The Argentinazo was totally spontaneous: On December 19 the finance minister, Cavallo, gave a televised speech anouncing new controls on bank withdrawals, just another "fuck you" from a government that has given its people a whole lot of "fuck you"s in the last decade (privatization of public services, currency devaluation, etc.). But this time, instead of complaining to their spouses or just ignoring it, everyone grabbed pots and pans and anything that would make noise, and went out into the street and marched toward the Casa Rosada to demand the resignation of Cavallo.
Militants of the PTS, PO, PCR, and other parties that had been agitating for years for just such a revolt were as surprised as anyone. They went to the Plaza de Mayo as individuals – political parties' blocks couldn't be organized until the next day.
Now the police are a bit better prepared: all around the Plaza de Mayo are fences ready to be thrown up as soon as the sounds of banging pots are heard. And just recently the US Army did an inspection of Argentina's armed forces. I wonder what for? In case of an attack by Uruguay?
The point is, this type of spontaneous insurrection can come sooner than you think. No one in Buenos Aires expected it, but it happened just the same. How long will it take until this comes to Berlin, London, Paris? Whenever it comes, REVOLUTION will be there.
– Dzhon Rid