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October 2002 • Vol 2, No. 9 •

Revolution in Argentina:
Workers Party Leader Outlines the Road

By Jorge Altimira

To the Memory of Kosteki and Santillán

On August 2, 2002, Jorge Altimira (Deputy for the Workers’ Party in the Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires since 2000) addressed 5,000 members of the Workers’ Party (Partido Obrero), workers and activists at the Ferro Micro-Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The speech explains with singular clarity and vision the situation and perspectives now being faced by the Argentine working class and people. Also in attendance at the rally were members of the picketers movement (piqueteros): from the National Picketers’ Bloc (Bloque Piquetero Nacional), the Workers’ Pole (Polo Obrero), the Teresa Rodriguez Movement (MTR), the Independent Movement of Pensioners and Unemployed (MIJP), Neighborhoods on their Feet (Barrios de Pie), House of the People (Casa del Pueblo). Representatives of the plants and factories producing under workers’ control (the Junín Factory of Cordoba, Brukman factory of Buenos Aires (textile), Zanon factory of Neuquen (ceramics), the Grissinopolis bakery plant and others were also present; as were representatives and members of the Popular (neighborhood) Assemblies.

At the start of the speech, the memories of Darío Santillán and Maximiliano Kosteki, murdered by the Police of the Province of Buenos Aires during the national day of struggle of last June 26th were evoked.

Welcome peoples of Uruguay, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela

Brothers and sisters, last December 19th and 20th and for many more weeks afterwards, the trite commonplace of all those who work against the workers’ and socialist revolution in Argentina was that the Argentine crisis was a local phenomenon. Internationally, the world press wailed, with extensive analysis and articles, its grief for the destiny of the Argentine people. Only the Workers’ Party highlighted the fact that the popular uprising of December 19-20 and the economic collapse in Argentina were, by virtue of their content, a capitalist and world crisis. The IMF and the U.S. Treasury said that Argentina would not be contagious; professionals and academics, graduates from the most expensive universities in the world agreed with the prognosis that the Argentine crisis and the rebellion of the Argentine people were local phenomena and the Argentines’ problem. The Workers’ Party, a party of workers, of the exploited, of illiterates, of the oppressed, in contrast to the IMF and in contrast to the academics and professionals, maintained that not only would Argentina be contagious but that Argentina would also become an epidemic. Today the IMF has made a self-criticism of its mistaken prognosis, the U.S. Treasury has made a self-criticism, and the PO and the Argentine people say: welcome people of Uruguay, of Brazil, of Peru, of Venezuela to the revolutionary torrent in Latin America.

This example alone is sufficient to show the superiority of the political program of the Marxists, of the internationalists and of the socialists. On whose side is illusion and on whose side is realism; and on whose side the exact appreciation of the events? The facts have settled the controversy; all of the representatives of capital have been mistaken and our analysis has been shown to be correct. I insist on this point because the contrast between the intellectual failure of the capitalists and the intellectual victory of the workers is a practical demonstration that it is the hour of the workers’ government and of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The eye of the hurricane is in New York

Also in Brazil there is a capitalist system that is collapsing: growing inflation, hikes in unemployment, the perspective of the sinking of the banking regime, and a left that pacts with imperialism and with the political regime. Look at the uprisings of Arequipa and Cuzco in Perú, and the struggle of the people of Venezuela against the military coup (still being prepared) of Yankee imperialism. We have a generalized situation, now that Argentina is not only contagious but is an epidemic, that the eye of the hurricane, the eye of this capitalist bankruptcy is not to be found in Buenos Aires. The eye of the hurricane is to be found in New York, is to be found in the U.S., because it is from there that the growing wave of crisis and financial bankruptcies and capitalist collapses in a very large number of countries, emanates.

Already the Asian crisis of 1997 was the entire responsibility of U.S. capitalism, was the responsibility of its overvalued currency, of its pyramid of financial speculators, that made the economic and commercial situation of the countries of southeast Asia unbearable. Afterwards, the Russian crisis was a consequence of the collapse and of the tendencies towards collapse of the U.S., as revealed by the speculation organized by Vice President Al Gore, at that time, in the Moscow stock market. Then came Brazil.

The PO (Workers’ Party) is right: what gives enormous scope to the national crisis and is the basis for the political perspectives of the Argentine picketers movement, the workers and the Popular Assemblies, is a crisis and a tendency towards a capitalist collapse of world-wide proportions, it is not a local phenomenon. It is a consequence of the collapse of the entire speculation with which U.S. imperialism tried to sidestep its previous crisis.

You see at the present time a U.S. Secretary of the Treasury that, like a viceroy, wants to travel around Argentina giving orders, but who was unable to leave the U.S. He could not do so because they were gunning for him there; they find him responsible for the sinking of the stock market, which since its high at the start of the year 2000 until now, has provoked a loss in assets of 6 thousand trillion dollars, forty times the Gross National Product of the Argentine Republic. And who lost the 6 trillion dollars? The same ones who in Argentina have lost their savings, their severance pay and the force of their labor in the banks; the U.S. plumbers and carpenters, the U.S. middle class, have lost it; a process of economic confiscation in the United States of a similar kind, but much greater, than that suffered in Argentina. The eye of the hurricane is the U.S., it is not in Buenos Aires, it is in New York. That is why the crisis is so deep. You have read in the newspapers, in the last few days, that the U.S. government vacillates in attacking Iraq. And what is one of the most important reasons? Because they have no money. The U.S. government says that it is not in condition to finance the war against Iraq and even says that in the war against Iraq of 1991, it financed only 10%, because the other 90% was paid by the States and bourgeoisies of Europe and Japan, and now these bourgeoisies of Europe and Japan don’t want to pay a penny, and the Americans are too short of money to finance a war against Iraq. And while the American government has problems financing that war, Duhalde, Aflonsín, Menem, Reutemann, Rodríguez Saá and Carrió ask for an agreement with the U.S. Treasury, for them to give us money to rescue Argentina. They are not going to give money either to Argentina, to Uruguay or to Brazil, nor are they going to rescue anyone because the ones who are bankrupt and need rescuing are the United States of America.

During a great part of the government of Clinton, the U.S. State had a fiscal surplus. Since the speculation was growing, the tax revenue arising from the taxes on speculation grew in the U.S. The speculation went bust, the Stockmarket is not going up but rather is going down and the tax revenues have fallen. From a surplus of 160 billion dollars, the U.S. passed in less than a year to a deficit of 200 billion dollars. But that is nothing. If only the world knew that the fiscal situation of California is worse than that of Salta; and that of the State of New Jersey is worse than that of the destroyed province of Chaco, since New Jersey has a fiscal deficit of 16% of its product and Chaco has a fiscal deficit of 4% of its product...! In order to hide its incapacity to face this fiscal deficit, the States in the U.S. have stopped contributing their share to U.S. employee pension plans. And last Tuesday or Wednesday, a U.S. economist pointed out that as a consequence of this shortfall in contributions of the States in the U.S. to the employee pension plans, the bankruptcy announced for the pension funds in that country is equivalent to 60 times greater than the bankruptcy of the Enron monopoly, which sank its creditors in 40 billion dollars; forty times 40 billion dollars is 2 trillion 400 billion dollars. This is the hole in the financial system for social security in the U.S.

It is impossible for Argentina to pay its foreign debt. It is likewise impossible for Brazil or Peru to pay their foreign debts; but they are tiny compared to the foreign debt of the US, which is 4 trillion dollars, almost fifty times more than that of all the countries of Latin America together. And this system, of Duhalde, of Reutemann, of De la Sota sets up an economic plan in the face of the desperation of the people, that has as its pivot the approval of the U.S. Treasury. It comes to Argentina to make off with its riches, not to transfer riches of the U.S. to rescue Argentina; it comes to confiscate, to systematically expropriate, to worsen unemployment. Naturally, how can we discuss the policy which the Argentine working class should follow if we do not have an overall appreciation of the crisis and of the Argentine bankruptcy? We have to have an appreciation of the crisis as a whole and also of the international situation.

I wish to defend the political analysis that the PO has been making for 10 years. We will not cease in our struggle to transform each brother and sister of the youth, each working class brother and sister, each picketer or brother and sister coming from a Popular Assembly, into a conscious militant, because in order for there to be a workers government, the militants of the revolution have to be conscious and have to have a program. When so many leftists became dumbstruck by the pressures of capital, the PO saw that as a consequence of the deep financial ties that the counterrevolutionary bureaucrats of the USSR, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and of Yugoslavia had established with international finance capital and with the IMF, that the collapse of those countries was not the historical collapse of the methods of planned production, but of the attempts of the decrepit bureaucracy of those countries at saving themselves with accords with the IMF; and we said that was the first domino. And we were right: in Albania in 1995, in Southeast Asia, in Russia, in Brazil, in the U.S. itself in 1999 and now more and more the house of cards of the great capitalist speculation with which capital tried to solve a crisis is falling down. That is why the Argentine social movement is objectively an anti-capitalist movement.

The historic role of the companies under workers’ management

I have reserved a special place, since it sums up the whole of the Argentine political process, for the question of the occupied factories. If someone wants to avoid burning his eyes reading technical books on the destiny of capitalism, what of this general looting of companies, this general fleeing of the bosses from the factories?

What of the fact that before this general bankruptcy of the bosses that flee because of their economic incompetence and the collapse of their system of production, the workers are occupying the companies and putting them into production? It is the embryo of the society that this sinking of the capitalist regime must give birth to. It is the manifestation of the will and, to a great extent, of the consciousness of the working class that they must take charge of the social and political reorganization of Argentina on a new basis. It is a phenomenon of an uncommon transcendence, which is why our party, the PO, has attributed to it this gigantic importance, and we follow this movement of struggle step by step; we do not approach it in doctrinaire fashion, which is why we put forward, in the light of all the experience, that the solution is the expropriation of the machinery, of the buildings, of the capital of the companies, and placing these into the hands of the workers. We do not want the occupied companies to become property of the bourgeois state. We don’t want state intervention to replace the bosses, to subjugate the workers and reduce them once again to the condition of obedient exploited manpower, because in that case the company is immediately reconstituted on the traditional capitalist basis. Neither do we say that they should be self-managed factories, where the worker acts as his own capitalist and goes out on the market to try his luck, because in that case the capitalist competition and the superior force of capital destroys him. What we say is that those expropriated factories in the hands of the workers should confederate in a sole central confederation of self-managed workers’ factories and elaborate a plan of struggle so that in any factory or company that fires workers, those workers should occupy the plant, put it into production, join the central confederation of occupied factories, and a confederated workers pole of self-managed factories is created to fight against capital and against the capitalist State. This task will surely be discussed at the Encounter of Occupied and Self-Managed Factories next August 24.

This federation poses, finally, the last challenge against the capitalist regime, because not even in a federation nor even centralized could they subsist against the pressure of international and national capital. For this reason if they form a federation and in this way defend the expropriated companies and defend the workers’ planning, they can put forward the nationalization of the banking system and workers’ control, and unite the occupied and controlled factories with the planned workers’ financial system in order to have an independent economic plan of the workers, which will pose the problem of who governs Argentina: whether the working class or the capitalist class. This is the perspective that the PO points to for the real and practical functioning of the occupied factories.

We are before a question which shows that we are in a historical situation without precedent. When in Argentina was it posed in a practical way who is to lead production? When in Argentina was it achieved that the unemployed have their representatives in the picketers? For those who have not read it, I will tell you: an article on the front page of Workers’ Press (Prensa Obrera), in the issue before last, that tells of a televised interview with children, who are asked what the picketers are. Naturally some say: “The ones who stir things up,” but there are also those that said: “They are the men and women who block the roads,” and there was the little girl, who said it all and answered: “my Dad”.

A huge rally and march in Buenos Aires in early May, 2002, in preparation for a national strike.

Picketers (Piqueteros): working class and revolutionary subject

I am not falling into an exaggeration of national pride if I say and categorically affirm that the Argentine picketers’ movement is a historical guide for the working class the world over. It is a historic guide because it has faced up to and has resolved the greatest challenge that capitalism has imposed on the working class. The challenge of overcoming the scattering, the atomization, the dispersion of the working class as a consequence of mass unemployment. And for this reason, when our former oil workers of Mosconi-Tartagal, our former oil workers of Cutral Co, our former metal workers of La Matanza blocked the highways demanding bread and work, what they were doing was restructuring, since they could not do it in the factories, but they could in terms of organization, of struggle, and of program, the Argentine working class. We have witnessed a phenomenon of unprecedented historical importance. And this helps in understanding something, which otherwise defies explanation; this helps to understand the class struggle and anti-capitalist character of the programs approved by the four or five national picketers’ assemblies held up to this moment. This helps to understand why, at the moment in which the occupation of factories and workers’ control begins to develop, the movement of factory take-overs and workers’ control comes together with the picketers’ movement, and the latter organizes for this coming August 24 the National Encounter of Occupied Factories. This explains why the Popular Assemblies tend to march together with the picketers’ movement, following an old historical tendency of the progressive petty-bourgeois of this country, which is that of recognizing the leadership of the working class in the great struggles that have marked the history of the country. And this explains why the employed workers found in the executive committees of some trade unions as opposition minority or who have taken back unions, like in the city of San Lorenzo, like in the Fisheries Workers Union of Mar del Plata, like in the Tile Workers Union (Ceramistas) of Neuquen, like in various unions in Cordoba (by the way, I hereby report that the Union of Educators of the Province of Cordoba, the teachers of Cordoba, voted, against the union bureaucracy, to go the Tent City on the 7th in the Cordoba plaza). This explains why in each union and in every place where there are struggles there are members of the Workers’ Pole, there are members of the Picketeers’ Bloc. I want to highlight the vigorous struggle of the workshop and transport workers of the Buenos Aires Subways to impose on the conglomerate Metrovías the 6-hour day for health reasons.

How else can it be explained that a socialist and Marxist party of the IV International like the Workers’ Party, plays a prominent role in the picketers movement? We are in the presence of a great experience. Why? Because it shows that a worker is not someone who is standing by a machine; the worker is someone who is exploited yet capable of reconstituting the history and the organizations of his class; that actually the working class is the consciousness that the workers have of their historic role in this society. That is why the picketers phenomenon has international relevance and is proof that the proletariat stands as the socialist alternative to capitalist barbarism. There would not have been a rebellion December 19th and 20th without the picketers’ movement, without these ten long years of preparation.

As homage to Darío Santillán and Maximiliano Kosteki I want to say this: The ferocious struggle with the capitalist exploiters of this country in which we lost the lives of these brothers and sisters, allowed us to defeat them and forge a new path. When the Frontier Guards (Gendarmería) went to Cutral Co to put an end to the picketers in this country, a ferocious battle was unleashed which paved the way for the picketers’ movement, and that ferocious battle will always bear the name of Teresa Rodríguez [first picketers’ martyr, assassinated by the Frontier Guards in Cutral-Co]. And when in Mosconi and Tartagal they sent in the Frontier Guards, stationed atop the oil tanks at Refinor, they shot at the brothers and sisters, it was a civil war. They imprisoned Barraza and Perico of the PO, they started a witch hunt against the PO, and three brothers were killed, whose names will be engraved forever in that decisive moment, just as the effort the working class made to prevent their defeat.

Do you know what December 19-20 was? It was all you know it to be, but something more: it was the revenge of the Argentine people against those who assassinated the brothers on the Chaco-Corrientes bridge [between the two provinces of the same name] the day Fernando De la Rúa assumed the presidency. The message was: “You came in wiping us out and murdering brothers; we will wipe you out and finish off your presidency way before the end of your term.”

It would be enough to look at the gallery of men and women who form part of the front lines of the picketers’ movement in order to discover a member of the executive board of Gráficos (the Printers’ Union), to discover a former shop steward of the Spanish Hospital (Hospital Español), former metal worker shop stewards, former textile shop stewards; at the head of the picketers’ movement are to be found the activists that have historically organized the Argentine working class in the factories and have transmitted to the movement their consciousness.

This discussion is worthwhile not only because it makes us conscious of the historic role we are playing, but also because it clarifies a great deal within the left, if we take into account that in the hardest years in the formation of the picketers’ movement, for most of the left it was a movement of declassed and outcasts, and if we also take into account that some great figures, at least electoral figures, of the left in that moment, played no role whatsoever, they were not to be found anywhere when it was necessary to build that gigantic movement that overthrew a government and is going for more.

In Uruguay there is no picketers’ movement

In the last 72 hours our brothers and sisters of Uruguay came out to loot and assault supermarkets as a consequence of hunger and desperation. We know the story of the “subversive plot” of which they are accused, of the “destabilizing maneuvers”; the kindest of the capitalist agents look on in tears, and say that we have fallen into a war of poor against poor. Neither in Argentina, in the last 10 years and in the popular rebellion of December, nor in Uruguay now, is there a war of poor against poor; there is a popular uprising against the regime in power in Uruguay. The workers who have gone out to cover the needs of their families through direct action, by means of this act are denouncing the collapse of the political regime, its incapacity to feed the slaves of the system, which is the minimum obligation of an exploiting class, and it points with an accusing finger at the Uruguayan left and at the Broad Front [Frente Amplio FA, the center-left alliance supported by the CP and participating in the pro-imperialist government] of Uruguay that have turned their backs on this popular uprising, in contrast to the picketers’ movement of Argentina, that was in the front lines of the popular rebellion December 19-20. Because in the same way that the videos record that at a picnic of the Workers’ Party four days before the popular rebellion, we predicted that in the following week the Argentine people would produce a popular rebellion, and on the basis of that prediction called to the Argentine people to form Popular Assemblies in each barrio; the videos will also record the FA—the United Left (Izquierda Unida) of Uruguay—meeting with President Batlle, with the national party of opposition presided over by Luis Lacalle, to see how they can deal with the bankruptcy of the Uruguayan financial system and banks. That will be recorded by those videos too.

The capitalist solution for Uruguay, in the midst of this collapse, is a tragic solution. They have pushed through the bank-freeze (corralito) under the form of compulsive bonds or the compulsive reprogramming of deposits, they have shut down financial operations in Uruguay, they have created the conditions for an enormous economic depression which will increase unemployment. The difference between Uruguay and Argentina, something which the Uruguayan left and ruling class have always bragged and made a fuss about, is not what they told me on television a few months ago: “We are an ordered people, we are not going to fall into this crisis;” on the radio of Broad Front: “Here the left is organized, not like you, that’s why there is no vandalism, pickets, or roadblocks in Uruguay.” That is not the difference; the difference between Uruguay and Argentina –unfortunately—is that there is still no organized picketers’ movement in Uruguay; because if there were, we would have already had the beginnings of a leadership for the workers who are throwing themselves at the supermarkets. And the task of the workers’ movement of Uruguay is to form those picketers, because it is the only solution for the Uruguayan people.

Reject Duhalde’s political plan

The whole point this evening is to determine first of all that eight months after the popular rebellion, the process of capitalist collapse and of popular rebellion is extending to other countries of Latin America; this is the fundamental point. For whoever is an internationalist and whoever sees and analyzes the struggle of the working class on the board of the world struggle between the classes, it is not a minor point that the Argentine working class and middle class were alone on December 19th and 20th, and today we are more and more accompanied, and happily so. The other fundamental point: the complete failure of the government with which the Argentine bourgeoisie tried to resolve both things at once, tried to overcome the crisis and tried to annul the movement of the popular rebellion. The “pesification” (conversion to pesos): did it solve the crisis, reactivate the economy, bring us out of the bankruptcy of the banks? Are we or are we not on the eve of hyperinflation? Ask Perez Companc, ask Amalita Fortabat [“national” bourgeoisie]; they went through pesification, they put Duhalde [into office] and eight months later, under their own government, they have gone bust.

Have they advanced at all? The IMF demands from Argentina the same it is demanding from Uruguay: close banks and give to the banks that manage to survive the money they would have lost through pesification. Twenty, thirty, forty billion dollars, is what the Argentine State would have to lay out in order to re-capitalize the financial system. Where are those thirty or forty billion dollars going to come from? From lower wages, from higher taxes, from greater labor flexibilization; and even then is that enough to get the 40 billion dollars that the re-capitalization of the financial system requires? It is not enough.

Look at Uruguay; there is no way any IMF can put it on its feet again. Uruguay has been left without a state banking system, they have had to reprogram all the deposits, with the result that they have no more money to return; nobody is going to pay the loans, because the loans are in dollars and the currency has been devalued one hundred percent; a bank whose loans nobody pays and which cannot receive deposits is bankrupt. The state banking system of Uruguay dominates 70% of the financial system of the country. They are close to a rupture in the chain of payments, to greater unemployment; the flagship factory of Uruguay, the tire factory, Funsa, has permanently closed its doors, even before the present crisis. The IMF bankrupts them, undermines the situation. The same thing occurs in Argentina, that explains the resistance and the constant crisis between the government of Duhalde and the IMF.

Actually, Argentina has, in the short and medium term, only two alternatives in the capitalist framework: either to continue with the plan of Lavagna [current Minister of the Economy], where you can withdraw a little money today, a little money tomorrow, and fundamentally the Central Bank gives money to the banks and the Argentine economy is not reactivated due to a lack of credit, a lack of markets, a lack of currency, maintaining the depression; or to do what the group of “notables” of the IMF are asking: apply the obligatory bonds, let the dollar float, and we get to a dollar of 7 pesos and a devastating hyperinflation which liquidates wages and which liquidates the savings forever and which naturally will liquidate the government of Duhalde. This is the model we have of the current situation, not the apparent Indian summer alluded to recently by the analyst Rosendo Fraga. The prices keep rising, meat keeps going up, the occupied factories have no solution, the lay-offs grow, the unemployment rate rises.

Their mission has nothing to do with drugs—until now, the supposed issue in Colombia for the American military—but instead with protecting a pipeline that carries crude to an oil-hungry America for the profit-hungry oil industry.…The 500-mile pipeline, which snakes through eastern Colombia, transports 100,000 barrels of oil a day for Occidental Petroleum of Los Angeles.… (NYT)

Nothing has been resolved, and when they tried to impose the most Draconian measures against the people they were defeated; because today at this rally we are going to ratify a concept that we have developed in our press: the massacre at Avellaneda Station and Pueyrredón Bridge was, as in the case of Cutral Co, of La Matanza, of Mosconi, of Tierra del Fuego, a premeditated attempt at crushing with blood and fire the picketers’ movement in order to provoke an ebb in the popular movement. It gives eternal honor to the Picketers’ Bloc as a whole as well as to each of the organizations which form part of it, and to those that act in common with the Bloc –I am referring to the MIJD, to Barrios de Pie—that they reacted in the face of the slaughter with the gigantic demonstration of June 27th, which obliged Duhalde to retreat totally from his plans for repression.

The failure of this political plan of the Argentine national bourgeoisie, to escape the crisis and to transfer it entirely into the hands of the workers is so extraordinary that not only has Perez Companc given in, and very soon the cement works pertaining to Amalita [Fortebat] will also be on the rocks, but also that in a country where the currency has been devalued by 80%, that is, where for each dollar exchanged for 1 peso in the past you now get 3.60 pesos; in a country like that exports are falling; they have 3.6 times the incentive to export that they had under De la Rúa and the exports are falling, and they fall because the world capitalist market is saturated, and they fall because the Argentine banking system is bankrupt and nobody finances exports. Not even the exports have risen with an 80% devaluation of the currency! There could not be a bigger failure, and the consequences of this failure can be seen in the sharpening of the people’s struggle. In order to alleviate the situation Duhalde ordered by decree a 100 pesos increase in wages for the workers of the private sector. The transport bosses have said that they are not going to pay this increase, alleging that they have not had any increase in fares. The UTA (Argentine Transport Union) has promised that if by next week, on pay-day on the 5th of the month they do not get the 100 pesos increase, not a single bus or subway train will circulate in all of the Argentine Republic. There is a wave of lay-offs with threats, with mob-style procedures, in Telefónica Argentina; already 800 brothers and sisters are affected, and this is done with the progressive senator, a follower of Carrió, Vilma Ibarra, as operator, together with the Government of the City. But the telephone workers are going to resist these lay-offs with the general occupation of telephone offices and buildings.

The outcome of the bank crisis is likely to create the laying off of 60,000 of the 90,000 now working in the financial system. The road paved by the occupied plants and factories, clinics, laboratories, food factories, printing shops, clothes factories shows the way for the banking clerks: the general occupation of the banks in order to place them at the service of the workers’ movement and in order to really offer a solution really favorable for the working masses. And lastly we have a strong, vigorous, combative movement of the Metrovías (subway) workers for the reduction of the work day to six hours.

What has this regime achieved? Has it resolved the economic crisis? What has imperialism been able to achieve? Has it been able to limit it behind Argentine borders? What has Peronism achieved? Has it been able to contain the workers? What have they been able to achieve on a more general plane? To become more united amongst themselves? Are Reutemann, De la Sota, Rodríguez Saá, Kirchner, united? All of them wanting to send Menem to jail to see who they send to jail in the second round, and in the third round, until the last one sees if he can get his hands on the presidency. We are in the presence of a bankrupt regime.

It is under these conditions that Duhalde has called for elections in March and for the swearing in of the new government in May, solely for the Presidency of the Republic. Phony elections, regimented, with open Peronist primaries in order to manipulate the Peronist candidate which afterwards the government will support any way they can so that that candidate is assured of winning the presidential elections. Elections designed to dissipate the movement of struggle of the workers towards electoral channels. Is this phony political plan capable of putting a stop to the popular rebellion? Is it capable of creating the unity of Peronism? Is it capable of building the unity of the national bourgeoisie? This political plan is built on a mountain of sand. Therefore, nothing in the political situation justifies embarking on this phony, anti-worker, anti-revolutionary, anti- picketers’ plan of the national government, supported by all the political parties without exception. The Workers Party rejects this political plan and calls for it to be combated, destroyed, for Duhalde to be ousted, for a free and sovereign Constituent Assembly.

Constituent Assembly holding power

With what position are we to oppose Duhalde’s phony plan?

With the position of deepening the popular rebellion, throwing out the government, and for the calling of a sovereign Constituent Assembly. We oppose the phony bosses democracy of the government with a radical democratic solution. And why do we do so? Because if Duhalde says phony elections, and we say workers’ government as an alternative, a great part of the population —still the majority, enemy of the phony elections—will resign itself to phony elections because it is not prepared yet for a workers’ government. If Duhalde says phony election and the PO says Constituent Assembly, the population would prefer between these two options, Constituent Assembly. If Kirchner comes along and says phony elections, but with renovation of all elected offices, and the PO says workers’ government, people will say “Considering what can be gotten from these people, an election with the total renovation of all electoral offices could be a way out; a workers’ government, will the workers be capable of governing? I’m sticking with the phony elections and total renovation of all electoral offices.” But if we oppose a sovereign Constituent Assembly to this option any working person will say: “That’s the better option.” We have to exhaust the democratic experience of the people, to prepare the road towards a workers’ government; it’s that simple. No people takes a step further than their consciousness indicates and a party is truly revolutionary when it accompanies the people in the experience that allows these steps to become exhausted, leading to ever deepening conclusions.

At one point they believed in Chacho Alvarez; we accompanied this experience critically, criticizing him and participating in the elections that he called. We participated in the De la Rúa-Alvarez-Ruckauf experience, participating by denouncing it. Now we face this experience, denouncing it, with the position of Constituent Assembly and developing the perspective for a workers’ government. The Argentine people, even in the midst of a revolutionary process, still need to mature in a whole series of aspects that have to do with the history of the country and with the history of the world; the fetishism for certain institutions, the fetishism for certain procedures and the insecurity that is, justifiably, over whether the workers are capable of governing. Because it is one thing for the PO, that has struggled for 40 years among the workers, to observe how the working class is on its way to governing; it is another thing for the rest of the country that has never struggled alongside the working class to realize that they are developing that capacity to govern. That is why a democratic slogan is necessary, but the Constituent Assembly holding power is not a bourgeois or bosses slogan, because all the bosses are against this slogan. To carry it out it is necessary to tear down the bosses government, to throw Duhalde out by means the mobilization of the people, he has to be made to leave; the crisis of the government is so great that he called for phony elections a month ago and still has not been able to come out with the convening decree, he still has not been able to get together enough Mafiosi to back him up; and the day he does it will be of no use to him because the decrees pronounced by Mafiosi are useless.

This is the fundamental point, it is necessary to fight for this slogan. That is why the PO is going to develop a campaign for pronouncements in the Popular Assemblies: against Duhalde’s plan, for a free and sovereign Constituent Assembly; that is the position of the PO.

Down with the electoral maneuvers in the Popular Assemblies

To struggle against Duhalde’s plan is to go the neighborhood assembly the day it meets and discuss support for the occupied factories. I was at the Chilavert factory, and if any of the brothers or sisters are present, I wish to send greetings to the Popular Assembly of Pompeya for the great role they played in the defense of this occupied printing factory and for having helped together with the neighbors of Pompeya to resist the attempt by the police to evict [the workers from] Chilavert. It means going to the Assembly of San Telmo to see how to defend the implementation of the solution solicited by the 100 or 120 neighbors of Padelai, for them not to be expelled, thrown out and sent to the riverbanks and to a life of misery by the Government of the City; as that Assembly is already doing, and thanks to its support we have obtained a victory, the defeat of the bosses cooperative of Villa 21-24, a long sought objective of the PO and of all the peoples movements of Barracas. That is, if you are from the PO you go to the Popular Assembly to discuss the deepening of the peoples’ mobilization. But if one believes that it is necessary to get involved in the elections one has to go to the Popular Assembly and begin to get signatures for candidates, and here you have an practical example of what it is to devert a Popular Assembly from the revolutionary role for which it was created. The Popular Assemblies, the picketers’ movement, should not serve as the basis for electoral maneuvers to jump on the bandwagon of Duhalde’s counterrevolutionary plan, the plan of the IMF. Because Duhalde’s plan is also the IMF’s, because Duhalde says to the IMF: “We don’t understand each other, you want obligatory bonds and I don’t; you want the legal protection stopped, and I can’t get the Supreme Court to stop the legal protection; but at least I’m giving you elections; then, since you have plenty of money—Duhalde says to the U.S. Treasury—you can put all your money behind the candidate you want, and if he wins the elections, Argentina is yours.” That is to say, that the electoral plan, Duhalde’s political plan, is also that of imperialism.

We cannot convert the Popular Assemblies or the picketers’ movement into the basis for maneuvers favoring entry into this electoral plan. If in the future it is necessary to participate in some elections, because we have not obtained victory more quickly, we will discuss it at that time. We are going to defend to the death the perspective of the popular rebellion, because there is nothing in the analysis as a whole that we have made that tells us that this popular rebellion is spent, neither for a relatively long or short period. Uruguay proves it, Brazil proves it, the telephone workers prove it, the brothers and sisters of the subway, the transport workers in UTA, the Padelai, the Popular Assemblies, the [working class] managed factories. We, the PO, are going to defend the gains of our workers movement in this historic conjuncture.

Historic Responsibility

The PO is conscious of the historic responsibility that it has. We are very conscious of the fact that the history of the country and the history of the moment in general has faced us squarely with a tremendous responsiblity: to prevent the Argentine popular rebellion from being sold out, a rebellion that has been 10 years in the making. Naturally, it’s about defending that revolution, struggling for a consistent orientation, developing a leadership composed of the women, the men and the sons and daughters born out of that rebellion and begin to take on a program equal to the history that they are called upon to live. We have prepared for decades for this struggle, not only in this country but on an international level. Consequently we are against getting involved in a fake plan nine months away, to choose a president with the purpose of deverting the peoples’ rebellion. Either the capitalists govern and we sink to lower levels of civilization, or the workers govern and we open a new historic possibility for Argentina, for the nations of Latin America, and we hope for the whole world.

—The English translation is by Vicente Balvanera, Organizing Committee for the Program of Permanent Revolution (OCPPR). For reasons of space, Socialist Viewpoint edited and slightly abridged the original. Any errors are the responsibility of Sociaalist Viewpoint.





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