A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Català_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ The.Supplement
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours || of past 30 days | of 2002 | of 2003

Syndication Of A-Infos - including RDF | How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) IAS Perspectives on Anarchist Theory Vol. 7, No. 2 - Some Notes on the Argentine Anarchist Movement in the Emergency - by Fernando López

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 26 Nov 2003 09:20:45 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

The social conflict that exploded in Argentina on the 19th and 20th of
December 2001 is part of the crisis of legitimacy affecting Latin
American political institutions and, in particular, the democratic
regime that emerged from Argentina's sinister dictatorship of 1976 to
1983. The military dictatorships suffered by our people in the 1970s
gave birth to weak democracies that were subject to the blackmail of
military forces that never fully left politics. The majority of these
democracies, in Argentina as in Uruguay and Chile, emerged from
pacts between the traditional political survivors of the storm and the
military leaders that were in power during the dictatorships.1

On the economic plane, these restricted democracies managed to
legitimize the violent concentration of wealth produced by the
dictatorships for the benefit of a parasitic class, which every day
became smaller and more omnipotent. The promises made by populist
politicians for a greater distribution of wealth were frustrated with the
continuation of a system that simultaneously shrank the economy and
condemned millions to exclusion, while concentrating income and
making the rich richer and more powerful. In the 1990s, during the
Menem's presidency, the privatization of public businesses, the
rationalization of the state, and the weakening of labor legislation
brought the number of unemployed to a quarter of the economically
active population, on top of a similar percentage that was already
excluded from the economy. Citizens were shocked to see politicians,
who had sought their support to get into power, enrich themselves.

In 1999, the Alianza Radical-Frepasista,2 noting the problems created
by ten years of Menem's government, promised to banish corruption
from the state apparatus, the justice system, and the parliament, and
to elevate the quality of life of the population. However, just after
taking over, this splendid government unleashed a formidable policy of
state adjustment that deepened the economic stagnation of the last
four years. Unemployment, the masses of the excluded population,
and the struggles of the new social movements—born at almost the
same time that Menem took power—increased exponentially in the
face of the administrative dauntlessness of the Radicals3 who did not
manage to institute any palliatives for the victims of their policies.
And soon the political front began to fray. The Vice President of the
nation resigned a year after assuming power in the face of corrupt
maneuvers carried out by the government, behind his back, in the
Senate that he himself led. This ending up proving that the second part
of the campaign promises—the moralization of public life—was
also not a priority of this administration.

Likewise, since the middle of the 1990s, many economists had warned
that the “straightjacket” put on the currency by the law of
convertibility, which theoretically transformed each Argentine peso
into a dollar, could explode the economy at any moment: they noted
that productivity was distinct, that the backwardness it produced in
market prices would discourage any reactivation of the economy, and
that it could only finance itself through an unsupportable foreign debt.
At the beginning of 2001, this tension was already so acute that the
countdown to the system's bankruptcy began. Although the Radical
government continued denying the urgency of the crisis, it seized bank
deposits, which theoretically were in dollars, to avoid a run on the
banks. This would have empty the financial system because the banks
did not have the capacity to return these dollars to the market. The
immobilization of bank deposits, which came to include all bank
accounts and affected not only the middle class but also salaried
workers, constituted a significant element in the increase of popular
irritation that exploded at the end of 2001.4

In December of this year, the government responded to the increasing
popular mobilization of 2001 with repression that corresponded to the
scope of the consensus that the popular mobilization began to have.
Also, at the same time that it tried to repress the piqueteros and other
activities of the marginalized, it carried out a perverse campaign of
disinformation likening the popular mobilization to a political attempt
to destabilize institutions carried out by the Peronist opposition. (It is
worth remarking that the Peronist opposition, from its privileged
places in the parliament and the Supreme Court, did nothing during
these two years except support the plundering of the people).

For the first time in our history a “Declaration of a State of
Siege” was met with a popular mobilization so massive and
multi-sectoral that it became inoperative and was repealed in silence a
little later. This supreme symbol of disobedience to the state and its
institutions marked the beginning of an extraordinary period of radical
social transformation in which countless experiences in
self-management and self-government were carried out with distinct
success throughout the entire country.

This introduction is only a cramped synthesis of the emergency that
caused the resignation of De la Rua and the process of transition in
which we are currently living. The word transition seems to suggest
that we are moving toward a “telos,” but for the time being it is
very difficult to predict a destination for this society that is developing
as if it were a laboratory for the most perverse affects of

What are the bases of this popular mobilization? Does it have
organizational referents to some earlier experience or is it totally
spontaneous and organic? Any response to these questions is, by
necessity, incomplete. On the one hand, December's mobilization,
which continued in an intermittent form during the months of January
and February 2002, can be characterized as spontaneous, multi-class,
and pluralistic. In fact, the detonator of the generalized mobilization
was the discourse of President De la Rua himself in which he
announced the “state of siege,” a speech that was immediately
answered (minutes later!) by the uncontainable indignation of
thousands of residents of Buenos Aires who poured into the streets to
express their rage at the taunt that his discourse signified. The
spectacle of the people in the street, multiplying as the media covered
events, turned the streets over to millions in the whole country with
saucepans or anything that could be beaten. The movement did not
have leaders, managers, or organizers. Nobody could appropriate the
movement's paternity, and the opposition parties—the left
included—were probably the most surprised by the sudden
explosion. The movement's spontaneity and independence from
traditional political actors gave rise to an internal crisis of the most
varied political forms, a crisis that still has not passed. Although it did
not have predetermined slogans, one adopted almost immediately and
without recognizable origin, was: “Que se vayan
todos”—They all must go—a slogan very dear to anarchists,
but doubtlessly lacking concrete content.

On the other hand, it is certain that the new groups of unemployed,
known by the generalizing name of “Piqueteros,” that have
emerged over the last twelve years from the systematic destruction of
the population's sources of work and subsistence, spearheaded an
agitation that began much earlier than December 2001.5 The novelty
was that towards the end of De la Rua's government this movement
achieved a visibility never before reached and a sympathy that almost
transformed into popular consensus by the end of December.

Another interesting aspect of the movement was the creation of the
neighborhood assemblies with an orientation towards
self-management. Even when they were excessive with respect to
their real possibilities of social management, these assemblies
permitted a politicization and a practice of deliberation for social
sectors who have been remote from such practices since the
repressive storm of the 1970s. This form of democracy—which
many neighbors confidently regarded as a replacement of the existing
forms of political organization—only unfolded in Buenos Aires and
the surroundings areas, a sizable conglomerate of around twelve
million people. In the interior of the country, the experience was
different and assemblies only occurred in some neighborhoods of
Rosario and La Plata, which copied the example of Buenos Aires but
lacked great continuity.

Anarchists immediately perceived the possibilities that a movement of
these characteristics had and adopted it as a natural environment for
its engagement and proposals. Militants of anarchist groups
participated in many assemblies in Buenos Aires, such as those from
the Federación Libertaria Argentina (Libertarian Federation of
Argentina)6 and groups connected to it, and those from the Biblioteca
José Ingenieros (José Ingenieros Library),7 a small but very
dynamic group. These comrades tried to generate some type of
internal coordination but could not overcome the slow dissolution of
the movement. People began losing enthusiasm and withdrew as the
traditional left-wing political parties tried to manipulate the
assemblies, a manipulation that ultimately resulted in their definitive
asphyxiation. Nevertheless, militant participation in the remnants of
this experience continues: assemblies that were consolidated into
neighborhood groups continue to carry out important cultural projects
and provided help for the weakest families as well as support the
efforts in the occupied factories.8 This is the case of the Asamblea de
Palermo Viejo (Assembly of Palermo Viejo), that of Floresta, and the
Asamblea Popular del Cid Campeador (Popular Assembly of Cid
Campeador), among others. A synthesis of anarchist activity in the
Federal Capital and the greater Buenos Aires (GBA), should include
the FORA (Regional Workers' Federation of Argentina); the
Organización Anarquista Libertad de Avellaneda (GBA; Libertad);
the Organización Anarquista Bandera Negra and the Unión
Fraternidad Anarquista de Berisso (GBA; Bandera Negra); the group
Nueva Aurora9 and the Organización Revolucionaria Anarquista of
the Flores neighborhood in the Capital.

The engagement of more specifically militant anarchist organizations
is more systematic and of a broader perspective. This is the case of
the AUCA10 , which has an influence in La Plata and southern parts
of the province of Buenos Aires and the Organización Socialista
Libertaria (Libertarian Socialist Organization), with a center in the
Federal Capital and Greater Buenos Aires. The latter is the heir to the
ideas “declared by Bakunin, outlined by Malatesta, developed by
the Ukrainian group Dielo Trouda in exile and picked up by
Federación Anarquista Uruguaya in 1955 in the Latin American
context…[who] propose an anarchism that is a product of the class
struggle, a tool for political militancy, that is social and popular,
class-based, and revolutionary.” It was constituted halfway
through 1996 with the name CAIN Agrupación Anarquista (CAIN
Anarchist Association). In November 1997, they began to publish
their periodical En La Calle ( In the Street ) monthly, together with
AUCA from La Plata and the Organización Anarquista de Rosario
(Anarchist Organization of Rosario). This collaborative work was
maintained until September 2000, when AUCA abandoned it. The
OAR also abandoned the project in September 2001.11 Since then En
La Calle has been the official periodical of the OSL.

Today, due to the radical character that this struggle has assumed, the
OSL has put great energy into the Piquetero movement. They have
sought to affect the direction of the movement by developing their own
formation with Movimiento de Trabajadores Desocupados Anibal
Verón (Unemployed Workers' Movement Anibal Verón), a
neighborhood movement that has stood out for its radicalism while not
excluding the work with other unemployed groups. Their activity
focuses on denouncing the true character of unemployment,
publicizing the experiences of these movements, insisting in
movement unity, and supporting the demands and methods that
contribute to the creation of popular power. Likewise, they promote
the creation of autonomous, self-sufficient, and productive projects as
laboratories for the emergence of new models of sociability. They also
carry out work on the union plane, wherein they promote workers'
democracy, horizontalism, and federalism.

AUCA-Socialismo Libertario is an “anarcho-specificist”
organization “which means, in general terms, the union of all
militant anarchist in the same collective, in the same organic body,
trying to introduce anarchism to all the social processes where the
class struggle is expressed.” Since 2001, they have produced their
periodical Ofensive Libertaria (Libertarian Offensive), and also edit
other newsletters that serve their areas of engagement, such as the
union publication Mate Cocido (Boiled Mate). Their work in the
unemployed movement includes its own tendency, the Movimiento de
Unidad Popular (Popular Unity Movement), which is active in ten
neighborhoods of three jurisdictions in the southern part of the Buenos
Aires and La Plata. There they carry out propaganda and organize
things such as soup kitchens, gardens, workshops for academic
assistance and political eduction, political activities like the
assemblies, and economic activities such as self-managed bartering
networks.12 Aguanegra is the name of a group through which they
work in the La Plata's student and university movement. They engage
in political work in the Department of Journalism, Fine Arts,
Humanities, Social Work and Law, and have even co-led the Student
Center in the first two departments.

The AUCA and the OSL both participate in the HIJOS13 movement
and other human rights organizations as well as the struggle against
police repression. In summary, the scope of both groups is
considerable and the quality of its engagement magnifies and
multiplies the effect of its militants.

There is less activity in the interior of the country. In addition to that
already mentioned, in Mar de Plata there is: Biblioteca Juventud
Moderna and the Grupo Anarquista Marplatense ; in Rosario the
Biblioteca Alberto Ghiraldo (magazine: Archivo ) and the Grupo
Autogestionario (Magazine: Ideacción ). In Cordoba there is the
activity of the Cooperativa Agrícola CARACOL and the GRANCO
Grupo Anarquista de Córdoba; in Neuquén there is considerable
activity through the ONAS Organización Neuquina Antonio Soto14
and the group Colectivo Feminista Libertario “Kasandras” ; in
the south in Bariloche (Province of Río Negro) the MALO
(Movimiento Anarquista de Liberación Obrera) works as a
neighborhood group with a library.

All of these groups have distinct (and occasionally contradictory)
perspectives and sometimes are products of splits that occurred
between groups many years ago. Nevertheless, their development and
growth nurtures the rise of radical social movements in Argentina and
the desire to organize these movements horizontally and

The recent elections in Argentina, although eventful and a product of
the emergency, marked the beginning of the re-institutionalization and
re-legitimization of the state. Although the government has responded
rapidly and decisively to deeply felt social demands, the new social
movements have not lost their legitimacy and continue to pressure the
state and generate autonomous spaces. Participants in the popular
mobilizations will need to think about how to manage a new society
and how to replace of the state if such autonomous spaces are to
grow. It is possible to imagine that a basis exists for the creation of a
new Left in which the anarchist movement and the emergent
socio-political and cultural actors could converge into a broader
movement for anti-authoritarian self-management.

Translated from Spanish by Chuck Morse

Fernando López is a longtime anarchist and presently lives in
Buenos Aires with his daughter. He is an active member of the Centro
de Documentación e Investigación de la Cultura Izquierdas en
Argentina, a radical archive specializing in the history of the
Argentine Left. He received a grant from the IAS in January 2000 for
his book The FACA and the Anarchist Movement in Argentina,
1930-1950 .


1. In Uruguay the period came to a close—although not
totally—with a plebiscite in 1985, in which the recently elected
government shamelessly blackmailed the people with the threat that
the militaries might not withdraw to their barracks, and thus managed
to release militaries from legal action who were implicated in the
brutal repression of the 70s. The Chilean case is better known. The
regime managed to impose a new constitution and institutionalize the
power of the military over the state. The hostage character of the
Chilean people in this negotiation between political and military
leaders became a symbol of what these new “democracies”
have meant in the last twenty years.
2. In 1999 the Peronists, in power since 1989, confronted at the
ballot box a coalition of the UCR (Unión Cívica Radical, a hundred
year old liberal progressive party) and the FREPASO (Frente País
Solidario), a conglomerate of dissident Peronists, social democrats,
and various liberal parties that took the name Alianza.
3. “Radical” refers to the UCR (Unión Cívica Radical),
who are populist liberals.
4. The total “bankization” of the economy was instituted
during the Menemist government by the same minister of the economy
of the later government of Alianza Domingo Cavallo. It established
that the payment of even the lowest daily wages or any remuneration
must pass through banks, thus enriching the banks with millions of
new and involuntary clients.
5. This name is generalizing because it only refers to the most
common method of struggle. The activity of the marginalized is, by its
own definition, invisible to the mass media, although the interruption
of the circulation of people and merchandise in the country's roads
carried out by these movements imposed a visibility that the mass
media (in the hand of national and multinational consortiums) tried to
hide. Highlighting the distance between “reality” and that
showed by the media, a slogan was popularized—painted on
thousands of walls—that read, “they piss on us and Clarin says
rain.” Clarin is Argentina's largest circulation newspaper and is
owned by the Consorcio Multimedios.
6. Heir to the FACA (Argentinean Anarcho-Communist Federation),
which publishes the monthly El Libertario .
7. It publishes Desde el Pié .
8. Factories declared bankrupt—at times fraudulently—and
abandoned by their owners that were then taken over by their
personnel and put to work in a self-managed form.
9. Nueva Aurora publishes an anarchist cultural magazine of the
same name.
10. AUCA means “rebel” in the Mapuche language.
11. Very likely due to internal problems of the Rosario group.
12. The MUP in the Capital Federal edits the newsletter La Voz de
los sin Voz ( The Voice of the Voiceless ) together with Milicias
Culturales Autónomas and Colectivo Editorial Desalambrando.
13. H.I.J.O.S. (Hijos por la Identidad, la Justicia, contra el Olvido y el
Silencio—Children for Identity, Justice, Against Forgetting and
Silence) is one of the most dynamic groups in the human rights
14. This is the name of a celebrated anarchist leader that led the
Patagonian strikes in the 20s.

****** The A-Infos News Service ******
News about and of interest to anarchists
INFO: http://ainfos.ca/org http://ainfos.ca/org/faq.html
HELP: a-infos-org@ainfos.ca
SUBSCRIPTION: send mail to lists@ainfos.ca with command in
body of mail "subscribe (or unsubscribe) listname your@address".

Full list of list options at http://www.ainfos.ca/options.html

A-Infos Information Center