VOCES EN PODER: VOICES IN POWER
Movimientos Populares en America Latina
Popular Movements in Latin America
A Project of the Ecosolidarity Andes Network
US IMPOSED DRUG WARS - "ECO -WARS" - AND
THE WARS OF EXPLOITATION AND A CORRUPT NEOLIBERALISM
STUDENTS, WORKERS, ASAMBLEAS POPULARES, UNEMPLOYED AND THE LANDLESS
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THE ECOSOLIDARITY NETWORK PROVIDES RESOURCES AND CAMPAIGNS OF MEDIA PROMOTION FOR POPULAR ORANIZATIONS: RESEARCH, WORKSHOPS, VIDEO PRESENTATIONS, TRANSLATION, AND PUBLICATION
Ecosolidarity Andes is a solutions oriented network of writers and researchers. WE investigate corporate crimes and government corruption in Latin America. We promote sustainable and equitable solutions – and we defend those solutions passionately with impeccable research.
*** UPDATES FROM “The Popular Movements in Latin America.””
January 24, 2003 - Recent protests by Argentina’s poorest citizens reminds the world and hopefully the rich that the poor reject the government’s negotiations with the IMF. Some 2,000 piqueteros from Barrios de Pie protested January 10 in front of the Sheraton Hotel in Buenos Aires where the IMF staff were staying.
Massive marches December 19 and 20 declared an absolute rejection of a government that negotiates with the IMF and World Bank.
“I came to the Plaza today with a lot of anger because the politicians are controlled by the IMF. The people did not make the foreign debt—it started with the military dictatorship. We are paying the debt at the cost of children dying of hunger,” expressed María de Neivaido, unemployed for 5 years.
The Debt and Electioneering by Washington DC
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the UN, Argentina was the worst hit Latin American country last year with unemployment reaching 22 percent up from 17 percent in 2001. Foreign currency reserves are nearly depleted and no end is insight for the poverty that blankets the country. The collapse has lessened, but a full recovery seems years away if that is even possible. The economic crisis of the region is spreading and feeding on itself as trade shrinks between most of the nations of Latin America and the US. Argentine farm exports are up thanks to the competitiveness of Argentine exports thanks to the collapse of its currency’s value. Many middle and upper income people have had their debts eliminated by this devaluation as well.
On Friday, the 17th of January Argentina paid out over one billion dollars of its 12 billion in foreign reserves to the Inter-American Development bank, the World Bank, and the IMF. This was a condition required before the IMF and U.S. Treasury would reach a short-term financial agreement with Argentina. Argentina has borrowed billions more to pay the interest on old debts.
Argentina’s government says that it made the payment with the expectation that the country’s credit will be improved. The truth is that the US pressured the deal so that there would not be additional chaos before the April elections and to boost business confidence.
An “Axis of Good” Takes Shape in South America
Outgoing Argentine President Eduardo Duhalde and Braizl’s Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, have agreed to coordinate social policies and launch a combined effort to fight poverty and hunger. They also promised to lead the further integration of South American commerce, and to form a unified front in trade negotiations with the US and the rest of the world.
Duhalde and Lula vowed to revive Mercosur – the customs union formed in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. They committed to increase the political power and the institutional permanence of Mercosur - along the lines of the European Union. The establishment of a Mercosur parliament and the inclusion of new members are under study.
These plans hinge on who wins Argentina’s presidential election next April 27.
As in the rest of South America, people in Argentina are questioning the free market policies of neoliberalism that have caused so much corruption, deepening poverty and unemployment.
Argentina is a one-party state of the Partido Justicialista (PJ). The PJ also called the Peronists after the party founder and former President Juan Peron, has lost what popular roots it once had, as it degenerates into an ideologically protean political patronage machine. It has long dominated politics and co-opted all forms of social organization. Like the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Mexico in its final decades, the PJ is held in contempt by most Argentinians. Fed up with mafia-style party politics and an economic system that has padded the pockets of the rich even during the current economic depression, Argentines are read for a change.
One Man Stands in the Way of Change: Carlos Menem.
Former president, Carlos Menem’s policies, backed by the IMF are blamed for driving the nation into financial ruin. Despite widespread dislike, and even hatred, of Menem, he continues to be competitive in the polls for April’s presidential race, at about 10 percent.
In a recent poll more than 75 percent of those asked said they “would never vote for him. Nobody is ruling out the possibility that the politically savvy Menem, whose alleged connects to an underworld of crime and political machinations are accepted as fact by many Argentines, will find a way to win. Last December, then-Security Undersecretary Carlos Vilas accused Menemistas of planning a looting spree on the anniversary of the December 19-20 protests. Vilas was promptly booted from office.
Even if Menem is defeated, hope for real change is dim in Argentina. Social movements and grass roots organizations continue to grow and develop, but they have yet to meld into a political force powerful enough to unseat the entrenched and venal political elite and their patronage-based political system. People remain apathetic and distrustful of the presidential candidates. There is little evidence that Argentines have any more faith in the democratic process than they did in October 2000, when 40 percent of the population abstained or handed in spoiled ballots in congressional elections.
Some ask “Why don’t we have a Lula?” They should be asking, “Why don’t we have a Workers’ Party like the PT in Brazil?” Argentina lacks a political movement with popular roots. Most of the labor unions like the CGT, the nation’s largest union, are corrupted by PJ affiliations.
In the early 1990s, a union called the CTA formed in opposition to the privatizations and free market policies implemented by Menem. The CTA has become a powerful force outside of the Peronist umbrella, recruiting workers and families who were left out of the economic boom of the 1990s. Other new social organizations have formed like the Popular assemblies and the piqueteros, unemployed workers who organize social assistance in their communities and block highways to pressure the government into giving them welfare plans and other subsidies.
Since December 2001, social protest and community activism have exploded with intensity. Families of piqueteros have stopped traffic on a daily basis, workers have seized control of factories, citizen groups have hounded politicians and self-convoked neighborhood assemblies have formed spontaneously on street corners. These assemblies are now forming regional and national coordinating councils and preparing for the chaos that is likely after the April elections.
More than a year since a popular rebellion drove the hated president De La Rua fleeing for his life by helicopter from the Pink House (Argentina’s White House), the enthusiasm for sweeping political change has died down and many are tired of the struggle and the poverty.
In Buenos Aires, the neighborhood assemblies have lost some of their force after being co-opted by leftist political parties. Links between grassroots movements are coalescing, but many of these organizations are relatively young and are neither prepared nor disposed to enter the political arena. Federal Deputy Luis Zamora, a popular leftist and one of the few politicians who could walk freely in the streets amid last year’s political upheaval without fear of being lynched, has refused to present his candidacy in the upcoming presidential election.
Loyal to the street mantra “They all must go!” Zamora has argued that replacing the president is useless as long as legislators and the justices of the Supreme Court remain the same.
The Candidates for Chaos
With the Peronist political candidates planning to skip the primaries, at least three Peronists could face off in the national election, with Menem carrying the official PJ banner. The fracturing of the Peronist party means a wide-open race, which until now has been dominated by four candidates. They are the three Peronists: centrist Kirchner (endorsed by Duhalde); leftist Rodriguez Saa; rightwing (fascist) Menem; and Elisa Carrio of the Alternative for a Republic of Equals (ARI). This is the main opposition political party at this time and she has substantial support from many popular groups and neighborhood assemblies.
The only certainty one can venture about the coming presidential election is that there will be a second round where the top two vote-getters will face off.
Nestor Kirchner, Peronist governor of the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz is a front- runner thanks to his endorsement by current president Duhalde who told Lula at their recent meeting that Kirchner would be the next president. The public perception of Duhalde is highly negative, but his backing is critical for Kirchner. As the former governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Duhalde counts on the support of the Peronist mayors of the conurbano, the massive sprawl of urban municipalities that border the city of Buenos Aires. More than 9 million people live in the largely poor conurbano, three times the population of the capital, and nearly a quarter of Argentina’s population. The Peronist party has long dominated this region. In most neighborhoods, punteros, “point” men and women who answer to the mayors, distribute government subsidies, marshal busloads of people to be transported to political rallies and convince people to vote Peronist.
Campaigning under the motto “A normal country is possible,” Kirchner has blasted Menem and his neoliberal economic policies. For his part, Kirchner has proposed a “Neo-Keynesian” economic plan that would consist of state spending on social welfare and public works in order to jumpstart the economy. As in Carrio’s proposal, the increase in spending would be financed by a fiscal reform that would increase income taxes and reduce the sales tax. Like Carrio, Kirchner has also proposed unifying Mercosur to negotiate with other nations and trading blocs.
Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, famous for his gleaming smile, has campaigned with a wildly populist discourse, a nebulous platform and an odd mélange of supporters. In December, he assumed the presidency after De la Rua’s resignation, only to step down a week later when he lost the support of the Peronist hierarchy. His retinue includes CGT union leader and beefy truck driver Hugo Moyano, running mate Melchor Posse, a Radical, and Aldo Rico, a rightwing former Army officer who headed a military uprising in 1987 and is leading polls in the race for governor in the province of Buenos Aires.
Calling for a “national and popular revolution,” Rodriguez Saa rails against “the establishment” and draws the ire of Argentina’s creditors by questioning the legitimacy of the foreign debt. During his short stint as president, he announced Argentina’s default to a standing applause in Congress. Like Carrio, he has praised Lula and proposed strengthening regional political and economic ties before entering in negotiations with the United States for the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).
He frequently contradicts himself and has offered few concrete proposals.Three judges in the province of San Luis have been removed for publicly denouncing Saa, the former governor, for exerting an autocratic control on political power.
“Rodriguez Saa doesn’t have a platform,” said Martin Granovsky, a political columnist at Buenos Aires daily Pagina 12. “Becoming president is his platform.”
Ricardo Lopez Murphy, a former Radical who was minister of defense and economy under De la Rua, is competing with Menem for votes. He offers a similar agenda to that of Menem, minus the commitment to dollarize and the image of corruption. Murphy has proposed cracking down on crime with “more severe policies” and he pleases the business community with his neoliberal proposals.He has hovered around 7 percent in recent polls.
The Radical Party after the disastrous presidency of De la Rua, who led the now-defunct Alianza coalition, has little chance of winning the presidency. The party is also enmeshed in a Florida-style primary election scandal.
Elisa Carrio is a devout Catholic who wears a large cross around her neck and is known for her crusades against corruption. She has made strengthening Mercosur through more formidable and permanent institutions the focus of her foreign policy platform
“There are two clear projects. One of them is political, economic and social integration with Brazil, that is, a continental and Latin American integration with a distinct relation to the United States. The other is an automatic and carnal alliance with North America. This will be decisive if the election becomes polarized between Menem and us. The election will define Argentina’s continental policy.” – Carrio in a November interview with the Buenos Aires daily Pagina 12:
Carrio would renegotiate the debt and force the renewal of Congress and the Supreme Court. She would repeal the amnesty laws granted to those responsible for thousands of disappearances during the military dictatorship (1976-1983). Her economic plan is based on a “shock” redistribution of wealth, including the extension of the current welfare program, a plan of financial incentives to sectors of the economy with potential for growth and an overhaul of the tax system to reduce the regressive sales tax and increase income taxes and levies on financial transactions.
The nation’s two socialist parties, once allies, have broken with the ARI and are presenting their own candidates.
Cynicism runs deep in Argentina. This a country still mired in an economic crisis that is on a par with the Great Depression of the US (1928-1939). Argentines await the April election with more caution than hope. Many Argentines say that they’ll believe in change when they see it happen. Words are cheap bread is expensive.
The slogan “Que Se Vayan Todos,” Throw them all out still lives on in Argentina, but how to accomplish this is still hotly debated and uncertain. It is unlikely that elections will change anything and they could lead to riots, military takeover or civil war. The only hope for Argentina at this time appears to be a grand coalition of the left and popular organizations behind one candidate. If Luis Zamora, Victor De Gennaro and the popular organizations back Carrio she could win. This would only be possible and worthwhile if Carrio agreed to a platform of dissolving the congress and instituting revolutionary and decentralist people-power reforms to counter the corruption built into the reality of Argentina today.
Argentina: The Specter of Menem http://www.narconews.com/Issue27/article591.html
A South American Union At Stake in April Elections
By Reed LindsaySchool of Authentic Journalism Scholarship Recipient
Piqueteros protest as Argentina makes massive IMF loan payments, by Marie Trigona http://argentina.indymedia.org/news/2003/01/76325.php
Important Political Parties and Popular Movements in Argentina:
*NOTE: We solicit input from all of the groups below concerning their positions and activities.
Alternative for a Republic of Equals (ARI), Elisa Carrio leads the presidential polls at 20 percent.
Frente por el Cambio (Alicia Castro)
Autidetermination y Libertad (self Determination and Liberty) (AYL), Luis Zamora and the autonomists. email@example.com
Izquierda Unida (PC-MST), Communist Party and Movement Socialista de Trabajadores that is affiliated with CTA, FRENAPO, and ABAPPRA (The bankers association).
Partido Obrero (PO), pro new revolutionary Constituent Assembly.
Liga Socialista Revolutionaria (LSR)
Frente Obrero Socialista (FOS)
CTA, aligned with or leaning toward support for ARI and Carrio. Secretary general is Victor De Gennaro who may eventually run for president of Argentina, if not this year then soon.
CGT, Peronist and JP affiliated corrupt union.
MTD, Movement of the Unemployed Workers, piqueteros group.
Luz y Fuerza, Cordoba electricity workers’ union, leans toward support for Carrio/ARI.
The Alto Valley coordinating Committee, Neuquen-based coalition of Ceramic Workers’ union (SOECN), MTD. Health workers branch of ATE (Teachers’ Union), and the Orange List of the UOCRA (Construction Workers’ Union), supports radical Regional Workers’ Assemblies.
MTL, Communist Party affiliated
Movement al Socialismo (MAS), affiliated with UNTER (Rio Negro Teachers’ Union and the Rio Turbio Miners’ Union).
MST, Izquierda Unida affiliated.
Barrio de Pies
Buenos Aires Mayor, Anibal Ibarra, supports Lula, but is criticized as an opportunist by most popular groups.
January 24, 2003 - The Supreme Court nullified the February referendum that rightwing businessmen were pushing to harass popular president Hugo Chavez. US-backed rightwing protests continue and a few people have been killed in confrontations between pro-Chavez and opposition forces. Oil exports are slowly increasing and most people are back to work. But the rich are still doing whatever they can to hurt the country in hopes that the people will blame Chavez. This strategy – designed in the US by Bush, Otto Riech and the anti-Castro Cubans – has backfired as people are beginning to see who is really at fault here: the rich.
The chaos created by a tiny percentage of Venezuelans has nearly destroyed the economy. The currency has plunged and the government suspended dollar exchange for five days to try and stop the decline – currency controls will probably extended indefinetly. The rich have already pulled 9 to 12 billion out of the country in the last two years. This has had as great an effect as the damage done by the strike and the shut down of the giant state oil company PdVSA. Major sabotage was done by the right wing to computer systems, oil facilities and equipment. This terrorism continues with electrical substations that support oil facilities coming under attack in several regions.
The international media is beginning to focus on the role of the corporate media in Venezuela and the shadowy role of Gustavo Cisneros owner of Venezuela’s largest TV station, Venevision. The Cisneros group owns a 100 billion empire that controls most of the Spanish language commercial media in the Western hemisphere, Spain and Portugal. Bush Sr. and Jimmy Carter both claim to be old friends of the Cisneros family and go off to vacation with the Cisneros clan who by all accounts love to fish on the Orinoco River.
Two TV stations have been sanctioned by Chavez, which means that they must respond, as the law indicates, to the charges brought by the government. As the US National Public Radio Program, “All Things Considered” revealed on January 23, despite the lies told by the commercial media that they are about to be shut down, Radion Nacional in Caracas admitted that this was not true. One of the stations cited is owned by Cisneros and a Cisneros Coca Cola bottling and warehouse facility was also seized by the Venezuelan military for hoarding food and closing its doors in order to create shortages - which is also against the law.
Cisneros has been busy holding conferences in New York at the Americas Conference where strike and coup leaders Ortega and Fernandez were featured speakers. Cisneros also hosted Jimmy Carter for what a Carter Center Spokesperson, Jennnifer McCoy insisted was only a “family and a social gathering… where nothing was discussed about the situation in Venezuela.” This is more than hard to believe considering that Carter has been active in Venezuela negotiating an end to the crisis provoked by Cisneros who many pro-Chavez groups have called “Public Enemy” number one, and who Chavez has called a fascist and a coup leader. See poster below:
Wanted Poster: Public enemy No. 1!
Jimmy Carter “Family” Fishing Trip to Cisneros Yacht on Orinoco
Important Popular Organizations and Community Media in Venezuela:
Radio Senderos ("Paths"),
Radio Free Catia,
Radio Alí Primera (named after the late radical folksinger of the Bolivarian
Radio Rebelde ("Rebel"),
Radio Comunitaria de La Vega, and
Televisora of Southeast Caracas.
Radio CRP Miranda
TV Petare Mianda,
Teletambores ("TV Drums").
Aragua, TV Rubio Táchira,
TVC Rubio, Channel Z Zulia,
Radio Miranda Zulia,
TV Tarmas Vargas,
Radio Huayra Vargas,
Radio Tarmeña Vargas,
Radio Chuspa Vargas,
Radio The Voice of Guaicaipuro Miranda,
Radio Yoraco Miranda,
Radio San Diego Miranda,
Radio Salvemos la Montaña ("We Save the Mountain") Miranda, Radio Free Tamunangue Lara...
Coordinadora Bolivariana Cojedes
Farmers groups joined the national roadblocks by the Cocaleros (Traditional Indigenous Coca Growers) protesting neoliberal economic policies and the terror tactics of the Bolivian government under Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. More than 20 people have been killed or disappeared by the government since the road blockades began in January.
While oppressing some protest groups, the government is trying to negotiate with moderates like the retired people who are protesting social cuts. Food shortages are develpoing in some areas due to the road blockades and fears of the military.
Speech by Opposition Leader and Cocalero, Evo Morales, Denouncing the Government
"SI NO NOS MATAN DE HAMBRE NOS MATAN A BALA"
"PESE A LA REPRESION CONTINUARAN LAS MOVILISACIONES"
“Si el gobierno no resuelve el tema del GAS ,ALCA Y NO ATIENDE TODAS LAS DEMANDAS, las movilizaciones continuaran.” .
Statement from the Cocaleros of Chapare, Cochabamba
AMPLIADO NACIONAL DE MOVIMIENTOS SOCIALES
TINKU Indymedia (04/01/2003 05:53)
En Chapare, Cochabamba corazón polìtico del movimiento popular aprovechando el AMPLIADO DE LAS 6 FEDERACIONES DEL TROPICO COCALERO diversas organizaciones de Bolivia se reunieron para decidir las proximas movilizaciones por mejores condiciones de vida y trabajo.
Important Popular Organizations in Bolizia:
Lauca EÑE (Chapare)
Luis Choquetijlla COD-Cbba
Pedro Montes COD - Oruro
Froilan Fulguera COB
Evo Morales Pres. 6 Fed. Trópico
Moisés Torrez M.S.T. Bolivia
Teofila Espinoza Fed. B. Sisa FNMB”BS”
Leonilda Zurita Fed. B. Sisa FNMB”BS”
Feliciano Vegamonte Strio. Ejec. FSUTCC
Alejandro Ayala Strio. Gral. CSCB
Walter Machacado Strio. Organización MST
Teodoro Mamani FSUTCOP
Willy Cabezas Prestatarios
Ramiro Bolaños FEDTAVIS
Edgar Sanchez Strio. Ejec. FSUTCO
Wilber Flores Strio. Ejec. FSUTC.CH
Ignacio Chambi Ejec. Provincial Oropeza
Ramiro Saravia Red. Nal. “Tinku Juvenil”
(Next issue with updates)
Attention all Popular Community Organizations in South America:
Please plug into the Ecosolidarity Network and send us your input about your group and our series of interview questions about the exciting uprisings throughout South America.
We are close to securing additional funding to finish producing and distributing a magazine like the newspaper: “Que Se Vayan Todos: Argentina’s Popular Uprising.”
Below are some drafts of background material on countries in South America.
Please add to this effort with your corrections or additions to these articles. GRACIAS!