Declaration from the CWI Provisional Committee on the Argentinian elections
Latin America is experiencing a deepening of its economic, political and social crisis. A new phase of resistance and struggle against the attacks of imperialism, big capital and its local lackeys has begun in the region.
The indigenous, popular and workers’ uprising in Ecuador, which forced the government of Lenín Moreno to retreat from the implementation of the plans imposed by the IMF, is a clear example of the seriousness of the crisis, the willingness to fight and the strength of the oppressed and exploited in the region. Crises and massive mobilizations have taken place in countries such as Haiti, Honduras and many others, in addition to the example of Puerto Rico. This should deepen in the next period.
In this scenario, the 27 October elections in Argentina and the examples of popular and workers’ resistance to the attacks imposed by the government of Mauricio Macri are of fundamental importance. All conscious workers and the international socialist left must assume a clear position on these processes.
The seriousness of the crisis this key country in the region could have a strong impact on the Latin American and international scenario. The Argentinian crisis is part of the international crisis of capitalism, but it is also a potential trigger for new crises beyond its borders.
Macri’s agreement with the IMF last year for a US$56 billion mega loan has not alleviated the situation. The loans already granted have only filled the pockets of the speculators and creditors of the debt at the expense of the poor and working people. But the neoliberal policies implemented by Macri with the direct interference of the IMF in government decisions, only served to deepen the economic and social crisis.
The cocktail of recession and high inflation has enormous social costs. Unemployment, precarious jobs, falling family income, worsening living conditions are the hallmarks of the country after almost four years of Macri administration. There is 35.4% of the population officially below the poverty line. This represents 8% more than a year ago. There are more than 15 million people (25.4% of families) who cannot pay for basic food. Poverty affects 51% of children in Argentina.
This scenario is very similar to the one that, in December 2001, resulted in the social explosion of the “Argentinazo”, when the then president Fernando De La Rua had to resign and flee in a helicopter from the Casa Rosada which was surrounded by demonstrators.
Argentina is now the world’s largest debtor to the IMF. It is symptomatic that the second place on this list is precisely Ecuador, a country that has just seen the popular, indigenous and workers’ uprising detonated exactly by the neoliberal adjustment policies imposed by this international organization.
In the case of Argentina, many important struggles have already taken place, including five general strikes during the Macri administration and the great confrontation of December 2017 in front of Congress in the struggle against the counter-reform of social security. The women’s movement – in both Ni Una Menos, and the powerful abortion rights movement has also been an inspiration internationally. The public sector workers’ strike in Chubut, Argentina’s Patagonia, had national repercussions and shows the potential for generalizing the struggles.
Macri headed for defeat
From an electoral point of view, the crisis has made Macri’s reelection chances extremely unlikely. His decisive primary elections defeat in August, heralds an even worse result on 27 October.
Macri came to power in the December 2015 elections, building an image of a modern manager, detached from the supposedly ideological concerns of his opponents in “Kirchnerism,” the Peronist wing of then-president Cristina Kirchner.
His electoral victory represented the return of the explicit neoliberal right to power after many years of Peronist governments that opted for class conciliation, often having to make concessions to workers.
Macri’s arrival in power was a less traumatic process than the one that took place in Brazil, for example. In this neighboring country, the explicit neoliberal right regained full control of the government through an institutional coup in 2016 and had to turn to Bolsonaro, an extreme-right candidate with proto-fascist characteristics, in the 2018 elections.
The absolute fiasco of Macri’s administration and its probable coming electoral fiasco represent a serious defeat for the new right wing that came to power in several countries in Latin, replacing worn-out center-left governments that ruled on the basis of class conciliation and that never broke with capitalism.
Fernandez-Fernandez offer no real alternative
It is understandable that millions of Argentinian workers today see the goal of defeating Macri in the elections as their priority. To this end, a vote for the list that brings together Alberto Fernandez and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner seems to many people to be the easiest way forward.
But the Fernandez-Fernandez slate does not represent an effective break with Macri’s policies and does not offer a real way out of the crisis from the point of view of the workers and the poor. Fernandez insists on the policy of conciliation and social pacts involving workers and the bourgeoisie, and reaffirmed that he will continue to maintain the agreement with the IMF.
Moreover, in the coming years, Argentina will not exist in the international scenario that favoured economic growth after the 2001 default, largely based on the boom in commodities and debt renegotiation. The idea that these supposed years of economic growth and relative stability will return has no basis in reality.
The broad unity of action and struggle against Macri’s attacks and any attack on workers does not eliminate the need to build an independent, socialist and mass left-wing political project.
In these Argentinian elections, the fundamental task is the accumulation of forces for the struggles that will inevitably come and be decisive. A vote for the candidates of the Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores – Unidad is, in our opinion, part of this process of accumulation of forces for the clashes that will come. The more votes the presidential slate of Nicolás del Caño and Romina del Plá obtain and the more members of the FIT-U who are elected, the better for the subsequent struggles.
The FIT-Unidad defends the class independence of workers and does not stimulate illusions in class conciliation. By defending the need to break with the IMF and suspend payment of the debt so that popular demands can be met, they point in the right direction.
We also see as positive the efforts to expand the FIT (previously composed of PTS, PO and IS) to other sectors of the left, such as the MST, and groups of popular and social fighters. We understand, however, that the task of building a mass political reference of the socialist left is still a task to be accomplished by the left and the workers’ movement in Argentina.
This task will have to be carried out in the social struggles within the framework of the crisis that is deepening. The concrete experience of broad sectors of the masses with the fiasco of the right in power and with the limits of Kirchnerism can make way for this alternative of the left. It is necessary to rise to this challenge and prepare for it. The Committee for a Workers International is at the service of this struggle right now!