NY Times: "Argentinines often appear in a sour mood"

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky gorojovsky at SPAMinea.com.ar
Fri Jun 9 22:01:27 MDT 2000

En relación a NY Times: "Argentinines often appear in a sour mo,
el 9 Jun 00, a las 18:11, Louis Proyect dijo:

> New York Times, June 9, 2000
> Argentina Paralyzed by Strike Over President's Austerity Policy
> BUENOS AIRES, June 9 -- Several million workers joined or were forced
> to acquiesce

By who? By the IMF, by the Government? Not at all! By these evil
Transport unionists who forced them not to yield to the pressures set
on them by capital and the Government, which did not hesitate in
reminding everyone in Argentina that the unconstitutional Decree
issued by Menem against strikes was still working (the same Alianza
politicians who helped put the Decree in jeopardy when on the
opposition are now using it as a straw man against workers)...

> to a one-day national strike today to protest President
> Fernando de la Rúa's economic austerity policies and Argentina's 14
> percent unemployment rate.

This is not strictly true. The strike was made "against the economic
model". That is, the confrontation is stronger and deeper. It is a
confrontation over the future, over whether we shall accept an ever
increasing unemployment rate and new austerity policies over
austerity policies as an endless merry-go-round of horror.

> As the largest work stoppage in four years, the strike represented a
> rare show of unity by the fractious labor movement and the most
> serious challenge to Mr. De la Rúa's orthodox deficit-cutting policies
> since he took office in December.

This is also the point of view of reaction. The "fractious" movement
is not fractious in a metaphysical way, _per se_. It is the result of
years of elbowing and wrestling by imperialism and the upper classes
to fracture and disjoint the unions into warrying fractions. Is it so
surprising that, confronted with a new rehearsal of the old game,
under an ever deepening crisis, these fractions tend to unite at the
same time that the labor movement begins to throw its full weight in
the scale of class struggle for the first time in years?

> The actions came at an inopportune time for the Argentine president.
> He is planning a trip to the United States early next week to see
> President Clinton and promote Argentine investments to Wall Street
> executives who have cooled to the country's prospects in recent years.

If De la Rúa were intelligent enough, he would be able to articulate
something like: "Look, gentlemen, you are turning my country into a
powder keg, and it will blow up if we go on this game of throwing
matches at it. What about some strengthening of domestic market that
ensures consumption to your investment?"  Not that this were very
effective, but at least this is a line to defrost some executives.
Not all of them, just some. But this is too far away from De la Rúa's
prospects and ideas...

> Today, Argentina's major cities and much of the countryside were
> paralyzed as thousands of railroad, subway, bus, truck and airline
> personnel joined the workout. Bonfires were set, bridges blockaded,
> and buses and taxis dented or otherwise damaged by workers attempting
> to maximize the impact of the protest.

That is, to turn a 70% strike into a 90% strike? Transportation
services workers did not JOIN the workout. They HEADED it. And there
were many locations, even in the Greater Buenos Aires, where local
dwellers simply blockaded the large routes near their homes. The TV
showed this, but the NYT cannot see a priest in the snow (as we say

> More than 50 people were arrested, and thousands of stores in Buenos
> Aires, Cordoba, Rosario and Mar del Plata were shut closed as
> thousands of people decided to take a long weekend off.

The "long weekend" is certainly a useful Joker in the deck of the
journalist. In fact, I would have noticed the "long weekend" because
the main exit from Buenos Aires to the seashore, which is the South
Eastern (La Plata) Freeway -by the way, the most expensive track of
freeway on planet Earth- can be seen from my living room's window. I
bear witness here that no caravan of outgoing cars was seen, and a
good deal of cars were seen entering downtown Buenos Aires. Perhaps
the outgoers took the nonexistent flights?

> Courts closed down, and hospital emergency rooms were down to skeletal
> staffing.

This is slanderous. Emergency rooms were properly taken care of, and
this is this way simply because there are strict regulations on these
issues. In this deregulated country, anything that can force people
to work is strictly regulated...

> There were small demonstrations in which workers beat drums, set off
> firecrackers, and in a couple of incidents threw rocks at police.

The NYT has no idea of the reasons why drums appear in every
demonstration in Argentina. It has to do with our local political
folklore. Firecrackers are, admittedly, a relatively recent feature.
But they mean nothing in particular.

> "What the people want is work," said Rodolfo Daer, head of the General
> Labor Confederation, the nation's largest workers' group. "What the
> government needs to understand is that the people are demanding a
> change in policy direction."

My readers already know this Daer. He is the head of the "official",
in fact questioned and highly illegitimate, "worker's group".  His
line of action is to beg some crumbs, and to lazily devour income
from the Social Security funds administered by some unions. In fact,
he has become a nobody after he signed a short lived agreement with
De la Rúa. It is symptomatic, however, that even this bastard (and
Judas, because he betrayed not only the class, but even the union
leader who put him at the head of the CGT under Menem) speaks loud
now. Anyway, the intentionality of the NYT reporter is clear. There
is a huge and widespread media operation to turn Moyano into a
nobody. "Ningunear", is the Argentinian verb, for those who
understand Spanish.

> The Government attempted to limit the damage by offering to open talks
> with the unions and the Roman Catholic Church, which backed the
> strike, to reach a consensus on economic and social policies.

This is half true, half false. The answer by De la Rúa in his message
was that he would not be moved from his policies. He said that he had
to reduce the budget deficit because "law ordered him to do so". He
meant the "fiscal responsability law" passed by both Justicialista
and Radical members of Congress under Menem and sponsored by the IMF.
This is what matters. He did not say a word on modifying that law.

> "In place of violence we need dialogue," President De la R'ua told
> reporters, "but in order to have dialogue we need not have violence."

As our friend Rebello has explained through the voice of a Brazilian
teacher: to reduce wages is violence in itself.

> The strike was planned to protest a government belt-tightening of $938
> million, representing a cut of 2 percent of the government budget,
> announced two weeks ago in order to meet International Monetary Fund
> deficit guidelines and retain access to the fund's $7.2 billion
> emergency line of credit.
> The austerity package included cutting salaries of national government
> workers by 12 to 15 percent, reducing retirement plans

Thus breaking the promise not to further reduce them solemnly made at
the time the "private retirement" schema was imposed. By the way,
this schema is already showing up as the swindle it actually is. When
it was imposed, the propaganda said that the companies would be
interested in reducing evasion: only 44 % of the funds due are
incorporated.  Those who actually put the money in the hands of the
companies gave away 18 billion dollars. Once the "commissions" were
deduced, there remained 12 billion. The difference would be gained,
and even superated, the propaganda runs, by intelligent stock and
bonds allocation. Well, what has happened is that the 18 billion have
turned out, in five years, to be 16 billion!

> and prohibiting
> public workers from earning a public salary while receiving a state
> pension from a previous job.
> The latest round of cuts came on top of $1.4 billion in cuts initiated
> by the De la Rúa Administration during its first weeks in office. All
> told, the spending cuts and a $2 billion tax increase are designed to
> bring down interest rates and keep the federal fiscal deficit under
> $4.7 billion this year.

Interest rates will keep soaring, because it is the absence of
working capital and the dictatorship of the financial clique that put
them above the stratosphere. And though the government has stopped
bidding for money (the big game during Menem), credits are directed
towards the dwindling middle classes, under Draconian conditions, in
dollars, on mortgages or with the guarantee of the debtor's property,
at a variable rate.

> But so far, the economy has responded slowly to Mr. De la Rúa's
> medicine, and Argentines often appear in a sour mood over a recession
> that has already lasted nearly two years.

In fact, the economy has responded briskly. It has responded in the
only way it could: with further recession.

Bright prospects...

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at inea.com.ar

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