Reports from Argentina
Anti-War March (&YANPP)
Posted: Feb. 16 2003, 22:34Here is the report I posted on the WORLD REVOLUTION e-group yesterday:
When I got to Argentina people told me: "every time we do an anti-imperialist demonstration it rains." But a month ago the Madres organized a demonstration against the war and the weather was perfect. The real rule is: "every time we do a big anti-imperialist demonstration it rains."
And boy did it rain today! It started early in the morning and just stopped an hour ago – really nasty German-style rain, chilly, monotonous drizzling. But despite the weather at least 15,000 people participated in the march to the American embassy!!!
Everybody was there: the piqueteros groups, all the leftist parties, the Madres, workers from Zanon and Brukman, the popular assemblies, students, young people, the "leftist" trade union CTA, Greenpeace, and more.
I spent most of the time in the PTS contingent, which had a few hundred people, a million PTS flags and posters, big drums, a truck with loud speakers, American and Brittish flags for burning, and a number of huge banners – it was an awesome block. Then there was the contigent of the workers from Brukman, Zanon, Tigre, and the other occupied businesses with a revolutionary program. They had all held a meeting this morning and came straight to the march.
The youth group ¡NO PASARÁN! probably had the best contigent of all. The kids were all going crazy singing "If the Yanquis don't get out, they're gonna get another Viet Nam", or "If they don't stop the war we're gonna burn the embassy." It was like a portable mosh pit, with people jumping around and cameramen on all sides – we made a brief appearance on CNN en Español!
In front of the embassy each group stopped for a few minutes to express their opinions to the Yanquis inside. ¡NO PASARÁN! and the PTS burned flags, shot flares, and threw firecrackers, not to mention singing/yelling a million songs. "The Yanquis shall not pass in Iraq."
This morning several teams from the PTS had covered the whole route of the demonstration and pasted up posters everywhere. It was a really great poster with a US flag burning, and having posters all over made the PTS look more important than it was, since the PTS wasn't really the biggest party there; the electoralist-trotskyist MST had at least a thousand people in their very well-behaved block.
You can see the poster on the PTS web site:
Anyway the people in Argentina hate the US imperialists more than ever. "These damn Yankees with their weather machines making it rain on our demonstration!" But it was clear that there wasn't a trace of this so-called "Anti-Americanism" that the media likes to talk about. Whenever somebody heard that I was from the US they immediately wanted to talk to me and hear my opinion about the war. This is good old anti-imperialism plain and simple – these people know that that millionaire fuck in the white house doesn't represent the hundreds of millions of Americans who work for a living and don't want a war either.
Well we've done it people. According to IndyMedia we are damn close to ten million people worldwide! This is how history is made.
I haven't seen any pictures from the Buenos Aires march yet, but it only ended a few hours ago so that's normal. Stay tuned to IndyMedia Argentina:
Viva la revolucion!
Now IndyMedia is estimating global participation at over eleven million! I can't believe it.
Right after I wrote the report we headed off to YANPP (Yet Another ¡NO PASARÁN! Party). This wasn't a punk concert like the last one, just a private birthday party for two girls from the group, but it was basically the same, with the same number of people, in fact it was exactly the same people.
I really shouldn't give details since this is a public forum and my parents will be reading this – suffice it to say we had a good time and nobody got home until six in the morning. And this was way the hell far away in the Northern Zone so as the sun was coming up we had an hour-long bus ride before we could go to sleep!
I am so happy somebody likes my supermarket tales! I always said, "if these reports affect just one person, it will all be worth it." Just like Lisa Simpson with the Lisa Lionheart doll.
But the conflict isn't going well for the workers. This week the twenty workers occupying the supermarket were becoming desperate: they still hadn't gotten a dime from the company so they couldn't buy food for their families.
On Friday they decided to take the merchandise that was left in the store. It seems fair enough – management owes them hundreds or thousands of pesos in salaries, they should be allowed to take some corn flakes while they're waiting to collect their money. There were half a dozen police guarding the store, but this is Latin America after all, so the cops didn't care if food was being taken out of the store as long as they got a cut.
The workers rented a truck and began to remove all the store's merchandise through the delivery entrance. The police were watching all this and picked out their part of the loot. But as this was happening another group of better off, less corrupt police showed up and arrested the truck driver along with two of the workers.
Apparently, many of the workers in the store had criminal records and a few even had outstanding warrants. So obviously, they were getting really nervous. With two of their compañeros under arrest, they saw the occupation was not going well. They decided the best solution was to negotiate: if the police would let everyone out of the store without repressions and release the two workers who had been arrested, they would end the occupation. The police agreed and everyone went home. But all in all the workers had spent more than ten days in the supermarket.
Now this isn't the end of the story! Far from it – San Cayetano has sixty branches and outstanding debts with up to three thousand current and former employees. At least ten stores are currently "in conflict," i.e. either occupied or picketed, and that number could expand rapidly. Inter-branch assemblies of workers are being held to decide on a strategy for struggle. And representatives of the San Cayetano workers will attend the 3rd National Congress of Occupied Businesses, to be held on March 15 in the occupied Tigre supermarket in Rosario.
So stay tuned!
– Dzhon Rid