On 12 May, the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC) reported that inflation in April was 6%, pushing annualised inflation up to 58%, its highest level in thirty years. On the same day, hundreds of thousands of protesters arrived in Buenos Aires from all over the country, filling the Plaza de Mayo to participate in the Federal March organised by the unemployed workers’ organisation, Unidad Piquetera. The protest denounced hunger and poverty, and demanded work and wages.
[Read the original in Spanish here]
Since 10 May, acts of protest and caravans were organised from the north to the south, in all the main cities and provinces of the country, including Córdoba, Rosario, Jujuy, Bahía Blanca, Salta and Mar del Plata. Finally, they culminated in a protest of 100,000 people, which converged in front of the Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace) in the capital.
The mass appeal of the social movements are directly related to the fact that wealth has accumulated at one pole – in the hands of the entrepreneurs, bankers and landowners – and that poverty has accumulated at the opposite pole – among the workers and the poor. While 17.1 million people are in poverty (of whom 3.8 million are destitute), seven Argentinian entrepreneurs (Marcos Galperin, Paolo Rocca, Gregorio Pérez Companc, Alberto Roemmers, Alejando Bulgheroni, Eduardo Costantini and Eduardo Eurnekian) are among the richest in the world.
In the midst of the deepest capitalist crisis in decades, the richest people in the country increased their profits at the expense of the impoverishment of the majority of the working class. It has become clear that the interests of the employers and those of the working class are antagonistic and irreconcilable. The rich benefit from our misery.
Inability to access work, food and housing has placed the unemployed workers’ movements at the centre of the political scene. But inflation is devouring wages, and is therefore also pushing the workers movement itself into the economic struggle. Workers are being forced to fight to improve their incomes in the face of resistance from the trade union bureaucracy, which seeks to manoeuvre with wage increases that are always below the level of inflation. The ongoing austerity measures have meant that poverty has ceased to be a condition that only affects the unemployed. It is also hitting those who have stable jobs, with three out of ten workers in Argentina now being classed as poor.
The great Federal March represents a step forward for the piquetero movement of unemployed workers. But the first task is to promote unity and coordination between the picketing movement and the workers’ movement. Were the picketing movement able to link its struggle to factory committees, internal committees and grassroots delegates, the movement would be qualitatively strengthened. It is necessary for Unidad Piquetera to put out the call to form grassroots committees uniting the employed and unemployed, calling on workers to bypass their bureaucratic and treacherous leadership, and to form a common space for discussion. These committees would lay the basis for a political general strike accompanied by massive mobilisations. This would undoubtedly have a huge impact on the working class, employed and unemployed, in our country that needs a clear reference to fight against the passivity of the main trade unions.
Social unrest in the country continues to increase in the face of the magnitude of the crisis. So far this year, 2,592 street blockades or pickets have been recorded – an increase of 73% on the same four-month period last year. It is time to step forward to unify all the struggles and strikes, like a single fist. We are faced with a great opportunity to unite the employed, unemployed and precarious workers, as well as bringing the school and university students into a common struggle, since we are all, at bottom, suffering the blows of the same mounting austerity policy.
Neither the businessmen, nor the bankers, nor the large landowners, let alone their political representatives, are capable of pulling the country out of the debacle in which it finds itself. The Frente de Todos party can only offer what we see now: austerity, reduction of salaries, and poverty. And the right-wing opposition, in all its variants, seeks only to deepen and accelerate the austerity measures with a shock policy that would see everything swept away. The Gordian knot of the ruling class is precisely that it cannot restore economic equilibrium without jeopardising social and political equilibrium. The bosses’ leadership is concerned that the world capitalist crisis is increasing “democratic dissatisfaction.”
In this scenario, the workers – employed and unemployed – must take a new step forward. The successful Federal March must be the prelude to the promotion of self-organisation in the factories, neighbourhoods and workplaces, with the perspective of building a general strike from below that puts the question of who is in charge on the table: the immense majority of the population (i.e. the workers), or a tiny minority of rich people and their political representatives? This would call into question the need for a government of our own that represents our class interests.
The crisis of our country is not an isolated crisis, but is part of the organic crisis of capitalism worldwide that has been unloaded onto the shoulders of the working class all over the world in a framework of war and pandemic that is gradually dragging the global economy towards a new recession. We are arriving at a situation where the working class cannot tolerate capitalism any longer.
We’ve had enough of governments that make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The working class has to take power and rule with the objective of abolishing the capitalist system that has dragged us into the present painful situation. Socialism is the only viable way out of decades of austerity and exploitation. Workers and our families deserve a different life. At bottom, it is up to us!
For the unity of employed and unemployed workers alongside the student movement!
Towards a political general strike!
For a workers government!