Argentina: "Foreign debt, exploitation, imperialism: we shall call things by their name"

Les Schaffer schaffer at
Fri Apr 20 06:27:04 MDT 2001

[ from Nestor ]

A sketchy report.

Yesterday night and at the doors of the now closed plant of the
emblematic metallurgic factory Volcán in Buenos Aires City, Father
Luis Farinello, a Third World priest who has decided to enter
politics, launched the _Polo Social_, a political option which
attempts to gather around it the national front in Argentina.

I was there, so that this is an eyewitness report. Many things struck
me favorably, not the least Farinello's speech, with sharp and clear
definitions against political clientelism, a permanent appeal to
defense of the homeland as the only way ahead, open mention and
reivindication of "dirty words" in Argentinean politics (imperialism,
dependency, exploitation, homeland), a direct mention of the struggles
of our people from the days of the Independence wars, and a strong
hand against the petty bourgeois tendency (which has been marring the
protests in Argentina since the late 60s) to beat drums to the height
that no rational discourse can be heard, and to raise banners so large
that people behind them cannot see the speaker. Thus establishing the
links with the past in the best traditions, Farinello began the road
ahead from the usages of Peronist rallys. The organizative issue
involved (that is, that the Polo Social will pay no attention at all
to apparatchniki methods) is very important and represents a clear
signal, for those who know to read them, that this is not "Peronism
refurbished", that this is something new and different, and clearly to
the Left.

As soon as I get a version, I will send Farinello's speech to the
lists. As a forerunner, allow me to express that his words conveyed a
message of unflinching will to struggle for the constitution of a
broad, clearly left-wing national front, with a clear line of
confrontation with the neoliberal model.  Trotskyists or comrades with
a Trotskyist background would do well in thinking of the "transitional

Representatives of the left-wing Peronist branches (both blue collar
and white collar) in the rebel CGT were with him: "Barba" Gutiérrez,
leader of the metallurgic union, and Alicia Castro, leader of the
airline personnel union.  While Gutiérrez has always been against the
Alianza, Castro has recently broke with the Alianza (she is a member
of Parliament, a representative (diputada) by the Alianza
ballot). This means that the Polo Social is offering itself as an
alternative not only to Menemism but also to the FREPASO (in fact,
Farinello stressed this explicitly: "We shall not be a new deception,
we shall not be a FREPASO").

Classical Peronist opportunists were clearly set apart from the stage
(I met more than one among the public, with sour faces to my greatest
delight!), and Farinello clearly expressed that the Polo Social was
not intending to tolerate people who approached it "for the posts",
but only those who sought a place for struggle there.

"The Polo Social is born in Buenos Aires today", he expressed
repeatedly, "and thus the homeland of the Argentineans is going to be
born again". The meaning of these words can be gauged by the speech
which preceded Farinello's definition, where the Political Commission
of the Polo Social agreed in a closing remark which repeated the
famous definition by General San Martín: "Andemos en pelota como
nuestros paisanos los indios, pero seamos independientes y el resto no

Worthy of Fidel, this sentence means: "Let us go around naked like our
fellow countrymen the Indians, but let us be independent, and the rest
does not matter".

Farinello, in a clearly symbolic action, finished the rally by placing
an Argentinean flag on top of the closed factory.

Attendancy was massive, and particularly so for an action that was
developed without money (Farinello stressed this in his speech, and
made a public compromise that the Polo Social would demonstrate that
it was possible to do politics without sponsors, that the Polo would
not accept a single cent from the large economic groups). Although
many neighborhoods could not reach the place because they simply
lacked the means to get there, five solid blocks of the Cobo Avenue in
Buenos Aires (Cobo Avenue is a definition in itself, by the way, of a
proletarian neighborhood) were filled with attendants. An average
block measures 120 meters.

A comment that I received from a praliné seller among the crowd may
give a closing summary of what this action meant. I wanted to buy a
packet, which cost one peso. I had only a ten peso note, and he had no
change (he had not sold more than a few packets). Then he said: "If
this is the First World [that neoliberals promised to Argentineans],
then my ass sings on TV".


Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

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