Jul 16, 2001
(The following article is translated from an article appearing in the June 1, 2001 issue of Lutte Ouvriere, the newspaper put out by comrades in France.)
In Argentina, in the capital of Buenos Aires and the main parts of the provinces, the unemployed have set up picket squads, blockading the main roads and the railroads, demanding unemployment compensation and the creation of jobs.
About 4,000 “piqueteros” have camped out in a suburb of the capital called La Matanza, cutting off the railway and national road 3 for several weeks. This is an important road which goes 3000 kilometers from Buenos Aires to the end of Tierra del Fuego. La Matanza is primarily an industrial city, completely devastated by the economic crisis and the layoffs.
These picket squads are not the only sign of the workers’ discontent. There have been numerous marches and demonstrations in the square by the presidential palace in Buenos Aires. One day it was the children from a distant village in the Andes Mountains on the Bolivian border, demanding work for their parents and schools for the children. Another day it was a march for bread and work; another time the beekeepers protested against restrictions which prevent them from exporting their honey to the United States.
Argentina has been in a full economic recession for several years. Factories have closed one after the other.... A large part of the working class finds itself in economic misery.... The level of unemployment is officially 15%. Out of a little more than 30 million people, 7 million live in conditions of extreme poverty. Salaries are very low and even those who work are not sure of being paid.
For example, the workers in the Air Argentina company, which has belonged to Spain for the past 10 years and which is supposed to be on the verge of bankruptcy, didn’t receive their salaries for the month of April.
Hit by the crisis and the misery, workers and those laid off demonstrate and insist on their right to a decent life. If these Argentine workers who are angry and already revolting find an organization capable of defending their interests to the end, this can allow them to reverse the relationship of forces in favor of the workers.