Reports from Argentina
Posted: Jan. 16 2003, 20:52The other night after a meeting of the Commission for Solidarity with Occupied Businesses, a couple of comrades from the PTS and three Americans from USAS and I were hanging out in the Congress Plaza drinking beer and eating pizza.
Three small kids came by – they were probably siblings, none older than ten – and one boy asked if we had any pizza left. We looked in the box and it was all gone.
I was holding the last slice in my hand and had eaten half of it. Timidly, I asked him if he wanted it.
This kid didn't have any reservations; he took the half-slice and ate it quickly as he walked away.
There are many signs of poverty in Buenos Aires. (According to government statistics over half of residents live in poverty, while 25% are completely destitute.) The economic crisis is visible in all parts of the city: small children selling trinkets on the subway, young men my age sorting through garbage to sell it to recycling centers (these are called "cartoneros" or "cardboard people"), old women sitting down on the sidewalk begging for money.
But for some reason, this young boy asking for pizza really made me sympathize. It made me think of all the times when I was his age that I rejected pizza because someone else had touched it, or it was cold, or it just didn't look good.
And this is one of the people who is not dying of hunger. There are millions who are.
If anyone has ever doubted the necesity of socialist revolution, consider this: Argentina is capable of producing food for 300 million people, yet millions here are starving. Only capitalism allows a situation like this to occur.
– Dzhon Rid
Posted: Jan. 26 2003, 03:15
I've been enjoying your reports a lot, but one statement rubbed me the wrong way: "Argentina is capable of producing food for 300 million people ..."
In many countries in crisis or transition, there is food capacity going to waste. One example is Zimbabwe with its leader Mugabe. As I understand it, the whites took most of the land and were efficiently farming it on huge farms. After taking most of the land and distributing it all of a sudden, food production has dropped drastically. In the near term things look very bad. Anyway, an efficient government could raise food production very much in Zimbabwe. There are a number of countries like this. Worldwide, there is a lot of room for increased food production. On the other hand, worldwide much of the food production (even in the US) is causing great harm to the environment that will result in decreased production in the future. As a whole, the world is in trouble and heading toward greater troubles, regardless of the politial system. My problem is with an unsubstantiated statement like: "Argentina could feed 300 million." I don't believe it. The fact that we could do far better in feeding the world's people (which of course we could, using a number of measures) is almost irrelevant in my terms. The answer does not lie in that direction. Certainly vast changes in the US would help – cutting back on our riduculous consumerism, managing our country better, and reforming (or changing) the political system. But to say we just need to produce more food and distribute it better ("we" being the world) is irresponsible. This is what some of the bloody stupid UN food officials have been saying for a long time. (Sorry to get carried away ...)
Anyway, keep posting the reports; I love them.