Rogues and sovereignty II

Gorojovsky Gorojovsky at
Sat Feb 10 07:52:19 MST 2001


This was an impossible dream. Argentineans, that is the mass of Argentinean
working class, did not share the illussion of those newcomers. They wanted to
exercise the right to vote for Perón (Cámpora had been a transitional candidate
to dodge the proscriptive clause -set by the military regime of Lanusse as the
only condition to retreat- according to which Perón could not be candidate),
not for an _ersatz_. Perón himself, very old and ill, was not very eager to be
a President again. But he could not escape his destiny which, like Greek
tragedies, was overwhelming and abiding.  He had lost control of his own fate
on October 17, 1945.  His proscription was not a personal issue, it was the
proscription of a whole country. He _had_ to become President again.

During the process that ended up with the September elections, dramatic
struggles arose within Peronism on the issue of the Vice Presidency (please
take into account that in those times, "dramatic" in Argentina might well mean
"by the shotgun").  In order to smother these struggles, he decided that Isabel
would go with him on the ticket. But in so doing, he was half-consciously
paving the way for imperialist intromission (and rule) in the popular

Isabel was in the hands of one of the unclear types that had usually marked
Perón's intimate circles: José López Rega. A former Police officer, head of an
esoteric sect, strongly linked with the darker sides of different intelligence
services, the rightmost wing of Peronism, and the P2 logia (yes, the one of the
scandal in the Banca Ambrosiana), López Rega, through Isabel, was the
forerunner of the 1976 coup _within_ the government that had begun with Cámpora
and Perón.

The situation slowly became a Hell of massacres and crime. The economy began to
shake, and the bourgeois programme established by José Ber Gelbard (a secret
affiliate to the Communist Party and a succesful bourgeois who had drafted a
bourgeois programme for Argentina whose political carreer had always been
supported by Perón since 1953) proved too timid to counter reaction. Gelbard
was fired by Isabel who chose a conservative economist (though still a
Peronist) to replace him. Worker's militancy made it impossible to estabilize
the economic system through a cut in wages. Popular anger was expressed through
many ways, and terrorist groups (from the right and the "left") made life in
Argentina more or less like crossing an avenue in Chicago during a showdown
between the guys of Elliot Ness and Al Capone.

Finally, a "cold" coup was attempted by the gorilla military. They secluded
Isabel at the Naval Base of Mar del Plata (more precisely, in the Lighthouse, a
postcard view of this seaside resort), and no pressure was spared to have the
President of the Senate -successor of Isabel in the chain of acephaly- Italo
Argentino Luder declare her incompetent, and become the new President (with the
support of the military and, of course, the Radical party who logically
expected to destroy Peronism on the 1977 elections --but wanted to have
elections!). Luder resisted the move, which speaks to his praise in fact, and
the military had to release Isabel and allow her to return to power.

In the meantime, the bands of López Rega, the terrorist groups and the groups
of state terrorism were turning everyday life in a nightmare. Unions boiled
over at inflation, and new salaries were negotiated week after week. Finally,
Isabel decided to entrust Argentinean economy to an economist who was to be the
Proceso before the Proceso: Celestino Rodrigo. Rodrigo immediately imposed a
plan as tremendous as those that, after the Coup, would become the regular
prescription of economic policy for Argentina. He lasted a couple of weeks. An
immense popular mobilization, on June 27, 1975, forced his resignation and
forced López Rega to abandon the country.

Isabel was now helplessly alone in power. The union leaders, who had been the
generators of the mobilization (in the same way that they had been the
generators of the general strike which, in 1969, had started the Cordobazo and
the series of popular upheavals in the Inland Country that would put the
military government of 1966 to an end), did not transform this massive strike
into a "porteñazo". This would have been too much for a Peronist union leader
of the time. A "porteñazo", that is a massive popular upheaval in Buenos Aires
City, would have meant civil war around next corner, and socialism after the
other street. Thus, they were content to oust the Minister of Economy and
obtain a general hike in wages that would stop the effects of the brutal and
massive devaluation by Rodrigo.

Economy began to turn chaotic. Direct sabotage by the managers of the large
firms, petty-bourgeois misery, financial squeeze, foreign pressure, all at the
same time answered this last moment of glory of the Argentinean working class
such as had been born in 1945. In a few days, the country was beginning to be
prepared for the psychological campaign that would precede the coup. Isabel
would not remain to the end of her mandate (it was to be finished within less
than a year, the Radicals -a ballot box in their heart, as always- nervously
reminded their military friends). The economic plan of imperialism could not
accept the possibility that a "democratic" government gave the working classes
to defend their own rights.

The die had been cast. On December 1975, a ridiculous coup, led by a
hydrophobic Fascist Air Force Commander, gave the last warning. The _La Razón_
paper, owned by the most oligarchic Peralta Ramos family, began to editorialize
in the headlines: "There are n days left". On March 24, 1976, the coup took
place. An age had gone forever.

Now, many people in that moment, at the obvious and self-evident roguish, nay,
reactionary, nay, pro-imperialist, features of Isabel and her entourage, quite
reasonably argued that Argentina had already lost any shred of sovereignty,
that the recent experience had shown that the time for political strife was
over, that we had to chose either to have a popular revolution or become a
direct colony. This last proposition, in particular, was very perverse. It was
absolutely right, but it was abstract. A mere "child of Reason", which, as Goya
stated once, "generate monsters".

The concrete fact of the moment was that the last shred of political legitimacy
in Argentina lay with this repugnant little woman of dark past and darker
present. If we allowed the military to oust them, then things would be still

So that what we should have done then was to support her (some in the country,
such as yours truly, actually did) against what was obviously to become the
dismantling of Argentina at the hands of imperialism.

Then, we arrive at today's Argentina, a tragic joke of what it was. A country
that does not control its own currency, nor does it control its public
utilities, nor anything. A country where, as I commented on PEN-L a short time
ago, flags of the supermarkets wave in the squares, instead of the Argentinean
flag: a Rolerball country, so to say. This Rollerball country is the
consequence of many factors, but certainly one of them is Carlos Saúl Menem,
the last Peronist president, who reverted everything that Perón had done and
turned Argentina into nothingness.

Menem is a particularly roguish type, who would have made Napoleon the Third
blush in awe (I can see Napoleon le petit bursting to himself: "How didn't _I_
think of that!"). He has transformed Argentine in a paradise for laudering
money from the drug trade. A maffia-type regime has been installed by the
financial sectors under his cloak. He destroyed the modest "welfare state"
institutions that we Argentineans had been building from long before Peronism.
He destroyed our economic independence and substituted lackey-like agreement
with the Department of State for the up to him more or less dignified foreign
policy that had been a feature of Argentina, save for some terrible periods,
ever since 1880.

That is, he was the ultimate rogue, wasn't he? Worse still than Isabel, worse
still than López Rega. But, know what? Even in the case of these rogues, I
would have supported the Argentinean government against an attempt by the
imperialist courts to put them to trial and jail. Why? Well, because these
courts would of necessity be kangaroo courts... directed against myself and my
own people. The source of power of these rogues and the source of power of
those courts is one and only source of power, the same source of power:
imperialist exploitation of the world.

There has never been a case in history where a settlement of accounts between
scoundrels has been for the benefit of the victims. The final result has always
been (and this is what these settlements of account are made for) a further
victimization, a deeper humiliation, a greater exploitation, by the Greater

No, Mark. You are wrong. We have not lost our sovereignty if by that one means
the right to wage a struggle against the Empire and its Petains. This right,
among others, implies our strong opposition to any attempt by the Empire to
settle accounts with the Petains --to our worst fate. The struggle to arrive at
the "popular revolution"  by which we shall not exactly "retrieve sovereignty",
but simply enlarge the microscopic piece imperialists have not been able to
snatch from our hands, that microscopic piece that extraterritorial courts are
bent on destroying.

Be confident in ourselves. We shall judge our rogues, and be reassured that the
punishment will be worst than anything imperialist judges can imagine of. In
the meantime, may I most friendly and comradely ask you to please oppose with
all your strength, with all your unflinching will, to _any_  attempt of your
own burgeoisie to substitute their own rule for even the rule of our local

In the confidence that I will move more than one on these lists to reflection,
a hug to all,



[1] Unfortunately, most Argentinean "Leftists" (particularly the Communists)
did not pay attention to this slight issue, and thus their politics tended to
systematically range with the Empires at the crucial points in our history

[2] In the last case, facts belie Mark's bold assertion: there was an invasion,
working class neighborhoods were particularly stormed, and lots of Panamanians
fought against the American paratroopers. Many were disappeared, shot and/or
tortured, AND, ah, coincidence: all of them belonged to the national-popular
side, included the great philosopher Ricaurte Soler [to my knowledge; would
love to learn otherwise]. A puppet government was immediately installed, not
roguish but more subservient during the moment when the Panama Canal was being
transferred to Panamanian sovereignty as a consequence of the Treaties signed
by Torrijos.

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

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