[Marxism] No healing in Argentina's bitter row
fred.fuentes at gmail.com
Thu Jul 17 21:42:11 MDT 2008
i should also ahve mentioned in my last email that worth reflecting on
is why this crisis got to the point it did when it really should not
have. The key to figure out is what the loss means and why it occurred
No healing in Argentina's bitter row
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires
The Argentine Senate has rarely had such a dramatic session. After 18
hours of debate, in the early hours of the morning it all came down to
just one vote.
Those who had managed to stay awake watched with bated breath.
Government supporters gathered in the plaza outside the parliament building.
Thousands of farmers and their supporters were in a nearby Buenos
Aires park, watching the vote on a huge screen.
The senators were tied at 36 votes each.
The Senate speaker and government vice-president, Julio Cobos, had the
casting vote. He looked tired and nervous.
He spoke about how proud he was to be vice-president and serve
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
He called for another vote, then for an intermediary to help solve the crisis.
The heads of both blocs in the Senate told him to vote, and to vote now.
It was, he said, the most difficult day of his life.
Mr Cobos said he voted with his heart: he voted against the government.
Argentines couldn't see her, but could picture President Fernandez
hurling her coffee cup across the room in anger.
The split vote in the Senate reflects the deep division in Argentine society.
This is a conflict that has grown and grown since the government
announced in March that it was raising export taxes on agricultural
products, mostly soya and grains.
The farmers, it said, were fetching high prices on international
markets and could afford to pay.
The government said it needed the money to fight poverty and control inflation.
The farmers said the taxes were crippling and the government would
only squander the money.
It was rarely invested in rural communities, they said.
Farmers drove their tractors out onto the roads, blocking main routes
to prevent produce from reaching the markets and ports.
There were dramatic scenes of protesters emptying milk tankers onto the road.
Shelves emptied in the shops, prices rose and people simply stopped travelling.
Farmers held regular demonstrations which were joined by city
residents - by anyone who opposed the government for whatever reason.
The government of President Fernandez found itself in crisis after
just a few months in office.
She refused to budge - but so did the farmers.
Judas or hero?
The tax measure was sent to the lower house of parliament which, after
a marathon debate, passed it and sent it to the upper house.
The government said it was confident the tax rises, which it insisted
were essential, would be passed.
On the day before the Senate met, farmers held a huge rally in Buenos
Aires which attracted more than 200,000 supporters.
A nearby pro-government rally attracted 100,000.
The people of Argentina are now watching and waiting to see how their
president will react.
Julio Cobos has already been called a Judas by some, while the farmers
are hailing him as a hero.
Argentina is one of the world's major producers of agricultural
produce at a time when the world needs food and prices are soaring.
Rarely has the country been in a better position to reap the benefits.
Yet it finds itself embroiled in a bitter internal conflict.
Some analysts were hoping the Senate vote would help bring an end to the crisis.
But others are saying it has only highlighted the deep divisions in
Argentina and may signal the beginning of a longer, still more bitter
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