Reports from Argentina
Piqueteros pathetic, Bolivia burns
Posted: Feb. 14 2003, 23:54After I wrote my last report on the piqueteros I had some second thoughts: "Maybe the piquetero movements aren't so bad, maybe they will take up the revolutionary banner again, etc."
But yesterday the leaders of the CCC and FTV did something that made it 100% clear that these are nothing but reformists sucking at the teats of the bourgeoisie. Keep in mind, the CCC is one of the oldest piqueteros movements, and in its early days it had a clearly revolutionary character – in 1999 thousands of piqueteros blocked major routes for up to a month (!) at a time, demanding genuine work and the resignation of the government, which completely paralyzed Argentinian commerce.
Yesterday, however, these "leaders of the working class vanguard" had a meeting with President Duhalde. They have realized that there is no reason for conflict between the piqueteros and the government; after all, both sides want jobs, food, and housing for everyone in Argentina. Or at least both sides say they want that.
Duhalde has been maintaining all along that it is impossible to give more subsidies to the unemployed, since there is simply no money. When he says "impossible," what he means is "impossible within the confines of the capitalist system." In this sense it is true: The government has no money, and since it has to follow the orders of the IMF, it can't get money by taxing the rich. Its only option is to keep squeezing the poor, as if they had any blood left to squeeze.
And the CCC and FTV have accepted this. The government is doing everything it can given the limits of capitalism. And since the CCC and FTV refuse to think beyond these limits, they are happy with the government's services. This currently consists of the "plans for heads of families," which provides a subsidy of 150 pesos a month to two million families. This ignores the fact that 150 pesos ($45) isn't enough for a family, much less a family with six kids, and these two million plans don't reach more than half of Argentina's six million unemployed, and these people don't even get pesos, they get "Lecops," a kind of semi-money that is only valid in certain shops. Besides that, an unemployment subsidy doesn't resolve the key problem of modern capitalism: UNEMPLOYMENT!
Nonethelss, the CCC and FTV are happy. They have decided that the Argentinia's bourgeoisie and bourgeois government will take care of the unemployed. If they were to keep picketing, they would only hurt their bourgeois allies and thus hurt themselves!
Basically, these "Maoists" have discovered that there is no class struggle at all! God how I hate fucking Maoists.
The government only implemented the plans as a desperate attempt to keep the piqueteros under control. At the end of the 90's the piqueteros were determined to stop capitalism and create a workers' state that would provide jobs and food for everyone. Now they are busy with the plans – the piqueteros' leaders are busy distributing them while the rank and file are busy fighting over them.
If the government sees that the piqueteros are tranquile, that they won't stand up for themselves and are content living like sub-humans, they won't hesitate to take the plans away again. By de-mobilizing the piqueteros, the CCC and the FTV are only assuring that the government will treat them worse and worse.
This is reformism for you. This is why we need to combat reformism tirelessly, unceasingly, in order to mobilize the masses for the revolution.
Meanwhile, the uprising in Bolivia continues. Last thing I heard there were more than twenty dead. Most of the police are on passive strike – they refuse to leave the commissaries despite the looting – because they are still burying their dead from the last few days. The military police is attempting to keep order in La Paz and the other principal cities. The main Bolivian trade union has called a two-day general strike and peasants' organizations have blocked roads all across the country; both workers and peasants have demanded President Sánchez de Lozada to resign.
The looting of the first days was extensive, affecting government offices, the headquarters of political parties, buildings belonging to multinational corporations, and stores of all kinds. Now things are calming down – in some areas the police are even returning to patrols – but the damage already caused has been estimated at $25 million.
Of course, we're not interested in the material damage. We are interested in the revolution. The notable thing is that the Bolivian working class is at the head of this struggle. This is a sharp contrast to Argentina, where the middle classes led the struggle that expelled De La Rua, with the workers participating only sporadically.
The President, for his part, has refused to resign, so the struggle will continue. The participation of the organized workers cannot be stressed enough: if they stick to their demands and stick to their strike, the government will have no possibility of staying in power.
In Argentina, Duhalde has actually gone on the record as blaming the IMF for the crisis in Bolivia. This shows the level of anti-imperialist conciousness among the Argentinian people: a 100% bourgeois politician like Duhalde, to maintain even a speck of credibility, has to denounce imperialism. Of course he would never do anything against imperialism and the IMF, but he knows that every single person in Argentina blames the IMF, and therefore he has to go with the flow.
This is a really fascinating time to be in Latin America. The whole continent is in a deep crisis, and the ruling classes of each country are trying different solutions: from Venezuela and Ecuador, where Peron's style of military, semi-anti-imperialist populism are making a comeback, to Brazil, where Popular Frontism has been called in to solve the crisis, to Argentina, Uruguay, and Bolivia, where populist politicians are negotiating with the IMF, to Colombia, where the ruling classes have controlled the country through a civil war for fourty years, coming to Chile, which hasn't entered into the crisis yet and the politicians are content saying "Chile won't have a crisis – we are like the Switzerland of Latin America!"
On the home front I noticed a report of mine made it into the pages of REVOLUTION UK. Thanks guys. You make me wish my writing was better. As I've mentioned before, as soon as I get back to Europe I will edit these reports to give you some really swell articles for the paper, maybe even a pamphlet.
So now there's just the huge anti-war march tomorrow. I should get back to the party headquarters to help paint the banner. Oh and I almost forgot, tomorrow morning is a "pre-meeting" of Brukman, Zanon, Tigre, and other occupied businesses that agree with their politics to organize the Third National Meeting of Occupied Businesses. This is a crucial step for the Argentinian revolution: the proletarian vanguard needs to organize in order to lead the masses.
I wish everybody a happy Valentine's Day and a much happier day of worldwide protest against the war in Iraq. This is going to be the biggest worldwide mobilization ever – we are making history people!
– Dzhon Rid