Forwarded from Anthony (part 2 of Frontline article)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Dec 24 19:28:41 MST 2001


This is the second part of the report on Argentina from Frontline 
newspaper.

Update: December 21, 2001

Today, the Peronist majority in both chambers of Congress agreed on 
the game plan for tomorrow's Legislative Assembly:

1. Elect Governor Saa President for 60 days.

2. Vote on their proposal for new elections for President and Vice 
President that will be held on Sunday, March 3

3. Establish that the electoral system for this particular election 
be shifted to "Single Transferable Voting" system or the "Sistema de 
Lemas."

Through this system parties present Lemas (name of the party) 
followed by a list of several candidates of the same party for the 
same position (as many as they need or want). Then, once the winner 
in each lema is determined by simple plurality of votes, all the 
other votes for other candidates of the same party are added to the 
winner and then the result is compared to the results on all other 
winners from each party.

This system has never been used in Argentina before, though it was 
employed in neighboring Uruguay for decades, before being dropped for 
being "confusing."

The selection of this voting system indicates that the Peronists will 
only agree to take over the Executive and call elections. They want 
to decide their internal differences through a general election 
rather than a primary, as is the custom in Argentina. This will 
partially offset the mobilizing character of the apparatus that is 
required to win a primary and will give more power to money and 
publicity.

4. The Legislative Assembly has also to decide whether this election 
will be to elect a formula to complete the 2-year period left from De 
la Rua's term or if they wish to make this a complete new term 
(improbable).

De la Rua, before leaving the Government House, lifted the State of 
Siege. But Puerta, the interim President, re- imposed it, but just 
for the Province of Buenos Aires, where looting of supermarkets and 
businesses continued today. According to the local electronic media, 
over a dozen supermarkets were assaulted on Friday.

At least two judges ordered De La Rua and his former Minister of 
Interior not to leave the country and announced their intention to 
investigate the responsibility of both in the killings and violence 
of the last few days.

This followed the announcement that Cavallo, De la Rua's Minister of 
Economy left the country in a presidential aircraft immediately after 
resigning on Thursday. He did so despite a court order requiring him 
to request permission before leaving the capital. The outstanding 
court order was related to the investigation of arms trafficking to 
Croatia and Ecuador underway for the last year or so. Menem was also 
indicted and cleared of the same charges.

Friday's demonstrations were much smaller in the Capital. The MST, 
the CP and their electoral block organized a small demo. So did 
another dozen or so different left and Peronist groups. But the 
demands, for the most part, did not exceed the call for a moratorium 
and/or cancellation of the foreign debt.

Both the PTP/RCP and different groups of the Peronist Party were 
actively intervening in neighborhood assemblies. The Peronists had 
the line of cooling off the situation. The line of the PTP/RCP is not 
clear, but reports indicated that they were mobilizing numerous 
cadres to intervene.

Senator Yoma, of the Peronist Party announced that they were looking 
for a) moratorium and/or re-negotiation of the foreign debt; 2) 
floating the peso in relation to the dollar and the "pesoization" of 
the economy, including the transfer of all contracts in dollars to 
pesos; c) protection of money from small investors in banks and d) 
establishment of an emergency food program. Yoma offered no details. 
Others in Congress, however, insisted that devaluing the peso was a 
must do. This could trigger yet another catastrophe for workers.

It is unlikely Saa would continue running for office, thus his 
election as President for 60 days. Interim President Puerta gave a 
press conference and announced that he was taking over until 
tomorrow's legislative assembly and informed the media that the new 
president may look into the formation of a government of "National 
Unity" for sixty days, inviting all sectors and political parties to 
participate.

The US government declared that Argentina must follow the 
instructions and plans proposed by the IMF without hesitation. But it 
is clear that whatever the plans of the ruling class, Argentinean or 
otherwise, Argentina's future will be decided in the streets rather 
than the government houses.

Update: December 22

Anger at the killings of over 30 people last Thursday grew 
exponentially today when it was disclosed that many of those killed 
by the police were children 9-14 years old. In one case, a 14 years 
old girl was shot point blank on the back of the head when she was 
running away from a super-market with one package of dry pasta. Her 
family, was disclosed, had been eating only bread for the previous 
week.

A sector of the "piqueteros" was calling to a national conference for 
today, Saturday, to respond to the political situation. The 
¨piqueteros" is a national movement that organizes picket lines at 
super-markets and negotiate with their owners free distribution of 
food. At this writing, delegates from different cities and 
coordinating groups were arriving at the meeting. Meanwhile, the 
legislative assembly approved all the Peronist proposals: elected Saa 
Rodriguez President, called presidential elections in 90 days under 
the single transferable voting system and announced that they were 
intent in forming a government of "national unity." 

-- 
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 12/24/2001

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