Image de l'Alliance
Misma pagina en español AssemblÈe Mondiale Même page en français Participer Calendrier Alliance Accueil Alliance ActualitÈs Alliance Propositions Documents Alliance Contacts Réseaux socioprofessionnels Groupes GÈoculturels Chantiers ThÈmatiques Rencontres Continentales

News of the Alliance > Argentina





A View on the Argentine Crisis
Laura Maffei
Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina - CTERA -. (spanish)

History of a Process | Building Ways Out

For the past few months, different images of the Argentine crisis have been displayed on television, printed in newspapers, and disseminated by information agencies all over the world, showing the failure of a model pushed by the international credit agencies, whose best and most diligent student was Argentina.

The December 2001 images reflected the social explosion, the brutal repression, the fall of a government less than two years after it had been elected by more than 50% of the voting population, and the total loss of credibility of the political classes, the judicial system, the trade unions, the political parties, etc.

It is important to clarify that this crisis, which came about spontaneously as a result of the Argentine society's exasperation and of the tremendous inability of the ruling classes, is the culminating point of an extremely violent process of social destructuration, draining, the consolidation of large groups of local company leaders, and the destruction of national identity. The process clearly began with the 1976 military coup d'état and grew deeper with the successive elected governments, especially during the government of Carlos Menem.

History of a Process

In addition to the disappearance and/or assassination of 30,000 citizens, mostly activists and grassroots leaders, the tragic seven years of Military Dictatorship (1976 - 1983) in our country produced an enormous external debt, the beginning of the destruction of the national production system, and the consolidation of economic power groups and local politicians. It also left a society horrified by the violence and cruelty of the Dictatorship, broken into fragments and disorganized, having lost its ability to resist against the increasing debt, privatization, and give-aways of the successive "democratic" governments.

In the nineties, Argentina was extremely disciplined in its execution of International Monetary Fund and World Bank procedures and in its alignment with the United States. Privatization of all services, opening up of markets, imposed parity between the U.S. dollar and the peso, growing indebtedness: such were the results of the meticulous and swift application of these international agencies' instructions. At the same time, there was growing concentration of wealth, loss of jobs, general impoverishment of the population, deterioration of the social-welfare, health, and public-education systems, etc.

During the first years of "Menemism," these indicators of social deterioration were ignored by the social sectors that were favored by these policies, were silenced by the media, and went unnoticed by large sectors of the population, mainly the middle classes, which in the U.S. dollar-peso parity saw stability and the possibility of obtaining credit. Meanwhile, the whole scaffolding was maintained with the cash ensuing from the privatization of all the public enterprises and from the international credit agencies' loans and "special aid" plans.

Clearly, for this to have been possible, there had to be an irresponsible and corruptible ruling class. This is precisely this factor that the international organizations, the economic power groups, and the media have designated as the source of all the problems, as if corruption at the leadership level were the only cause and as if its elimination alone were the solution to the terrible crisis we are enduring.

These are the conditions in which the impoverished and marginal social classes looted several stores in mid-December. Simultaneously and with no premeditation, when the De La Rúa government declared a state of siege and went about repressing the population, the people mobilized spontaneously, for the most part from the middle class, which had been heavily affected by the latest economic decisions. Challenging the restrictions to the right of assembly they took to the streets, (hundred of thousands of them) banging pots and pans to demand the authorities' resignation, and the end of repression and corruption. For the first time in several decades, the middle classes and sectors that had thus far survived the growing social deterioration, albeit with penury, felt that the situation had definitely become uncontrollable and took to the streets demanding deep changes.

This is how today we have a President elected by the National Parliament, who has no credibility and is lacking the consent of the people, and who is, consequently, extremely weak. A Government and a Parliament, which, ignoring the people's claims, insist upon signing agreements with the IMF, which not only is imposing larger cuts in the budget but is also pressuring to sanction or repeal our national Laws.

The situation in the country today has tragic dimensions: the currency has devaluated by 400%, inflation is greater than 40%, 58% of the population is living under the poverty line, 12% of the children are suffering from malnutrition, and 28% of the population is unemployed.

In this context, social organizations and movements, in the midst of these immense difficulties, have remained in the streets voicing their demands, denouncing the situation, and trying to organize.

Building Ways Out

In the CTERA (Confederation of Education Workers of the Republic of Argentina), we believe that building alternatives to this model necessarily involves uniting the lower classes, which historically have been the losers in this process, on the basis of social consent and democracy.

For this reason, we have been strong instigators and founders of alternative organizations such as the CTA (Central de Trabajadores Argentinos -- Argentine Workers Organization) which, based on autonomy, democracy, participation, and the organization of sectors traditionally considered to be outside of the scope of trade unions (the disabled, women, the jobless, precarious workers, abandoned children, informal workers, etc.) has been growing for ten years with innovative strategies for the defense of the genuine interests of the lower-class majority. They have included pressing for a participatory budget, big national marches for work or childhood, and, in May 2001, forming FRENAPO (Frente Nacional Contra la Pobreza -- National Front Against Poverty), which comprises more than one hundred entities, NGOs, organizations, leaders, political parties, and churches. FRENAPO has as its common objective the search for political, social, and economic alternatives that are able to reverse poverty. Among these, it pressed for social wages, a proposal submitted to consultation by the people in the days just before the fall of the De La Rúa government, and which was approved by more than 3 million citizens.

In this same spirit, in the international arena, we have a policy of alliances and articulation with unions and social organizations all over the world, we are part of a number of international teachers' unions (IE - Internacional de la Educación - and CEA - Confederation de Educadores Americanos), and we participate in different networks, among which the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World. We are also part, along with other American organizations, of the Alianza Social Continental and of the Campaña en contra del ALCA (Campaign against the ACLA -- Acuerdo de Libre Comercio para las Américas -- Free Trade Agreement for the Americas), an agreement that is being strongly pushed by the United States.

From the Argentine Committee of the World Social Forum, of which we are part, and with the support of the World Social Forum and the organizations that are part of its International Committee, we are also working on the organization of an "emergency" Argentine Social Forum, which we wish to be a broad and democratic Assembly of Argentine Citizens willing to build a responsible society in solidarity.

We understand that the present situation in Argentina is a clear demonstration of the destruction produced by the neoliberal policies impelled by the most powerful countries and the international organizations that attend to their interests. We see this Argentine Social Forum as a place to reflect on the nature of this process and make it deeper, to build both alternatives and forms of resistance, and to weave new and firmer relationships with our brothers and sisters in other countries.

The "explosion" in Argentina demonstrates beyond any doubt that history goes on. We need to recover our main role in generating the plural and democratic alternatives that are able to stand up to the dominant ideology and will allow us to build responsible societies in solidarity and respect for life, in which the objective is no longer the limitless enrichment of the few but the fulfillment of the material and spiritual needs of all.


© 2001 Alliance pour un monde responsable, pluriel et solidaire. Tous droits réservés.