By Ricardo Fierro
Revolutionary Communist Party of Argentina (PCR)

A gigantic national uprising, a new October 17, an ARGENTINAZO, shook Argentina down to its basement, severely punishing the hungering and murderous government of De la Rua and Cavallo who surrendered our national wealth to the foreigners, and now is opening a new political development.

Huge masses, from Jujuy to Tierra del Fuego, in the capital cities of the provinces, with the Portenazo, in thousands of villages, in the countryside, went out to struggle in a big national uprising where millions of people played a leading role in it.

The Argentinazo will dye all the future events. As it happenned in our motherland after each popular “ storm”: nothing will remain as it was before. Like a huge earthquake it left fractures, fissures and breaches in the entire structure of the argentine society. Though a new period of hard and fierced struggle between the popular forces that will try to complete its task, ending with the structures of oppression and dependence is opened giving birth to a new Argentina in one hand; and in the other hand,the ruling classes that will not save any efforts in order to recicle and shore up the old rotten building of hunger, of surrendering our national wealth and of national humiliation.

Bad teachers

It was said that an Argentinazo was something not possible without a “ coordinating centre” and without a political force (or a political “ leader”) that would organize it and would lead it. An “ alternative” force some use to say, “national” force for others and a “working class force” for some sectors. But it did not happen in that way, the Argentinazo took place without waiting for them. When the economic crisis was aggravated , de la Rua’s government applied thoroughly its policy of hunger and surrendering of our wealth in order to pay our foreign debt. In this moment a new possibility of an Argentinazo was opened.

The political process followed the logic of the events, not the logic of those who believe that a political/social outbreak can be only produced from the top to the bottom. Those who think in this way look down on the masses because they are “backwards” , they consider that the masses’ struggles against the policy of the government are only “ social” struggles. They look down on masses spontaneity, disregarding that this spontaneity is preceded by decades of political and social struggles. They blame the masses because they are “ backwards” in order to justify their reformism, electoral reformism in many cases; and in order to maintain the thesis of a long ebb of the mass movement that, at least, could “ resist” the policies applied by its enemies.

Ten days

The unemployeds detonated the Argentinazo with the struggling day that was convoked by the Assembly of “ piqueteros” on december 12. Then the working class movement took the centre of politics with the militant strike of december 13. Since those journays the struggle was continuous. Broad sectors of the masses went out to fight, from small and median enterpreneurs of the shoe industry to the nationalist militaries, also pensioners and median urban stratas who have been expropriated by the banking system impossed. From Jujuy to the Patagonia, from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, the country boiled up with streets and roads blockades and demonstrations.

Congress with its majority of peronists was selfconvoked and abolished the law of Cavallos’ “ superpowers” and also the restrictions over salaries.

Hunger was aggravated for the poorests because school canteens were closed and the governement cut down funds for food and for unemployment subsidies (planes trabajar). Those masses went out to ask for food to the supermarkets – that have earned fortunes during these years- and when the supermarkets refused it they started the looting.

The government worked in order to isolate the poor masses from the median stratas. For this it unified the mass media in agreement with its owners. Also, groups lead by Coti Nosiglia (Alfonsins’ Minister of Interior) and Becerra (De la Ruas’ Secretary of Intelligence) started to operate and their actions were transmitted by those mass medias. Also, De la Rua accepted Minister Cavallo’s resignment ( the one he has backed up to the end, even hiding him from Justice in the Pink House, from where they run away together in a helicopter).

De la Rua convoked the military chiefs. In two meetings he asked them to put the troops on the streets and repress people. The Army rejected this idea and the chiefs of the three armed forces requested, a condition for their participation, a law signed by the president , ministers, representatives and senators. Inside the military units there was a generalized deliberation and was of absolutly majority the decission of not joining repression what it should be reflected in their chiefs’ position.

De la Rua made his last speech declaring Marshall Law . Menem, Duhalde and Ruckauf supported him in this measure. The answer of the people to this was inmediate: hundreed of thousands people throughout the country walked out to the streets striking their saucepans. The Capital city of the country exploded in a Portenazo. The rejection of these huge masses to the Martial Law detonated the democratic cuestion; and this mass without party leadership, expressing its big disgust over bourgeois policies and bourgeois politics joint the rejection of hunger and surrendering in a gigantic Argentinazo.

De la Rua ordered the chief of Federal Police to clear out downtown in the Capital city at any cost. Ruckauf and Reutemann, among others, also ordered “tough hand” to their polices. Repression ordered by Ruckauf (governor of Buenos Aires province, peronist) was fascist and savage in La Matanza and other areas of the Great Buenos Aires. This murderess repression had 30 victims. The people could watched TV scenes with the most ferocious repression. Thousands and thousands of youngers went out, then, to the combat, showing enormous will and courage.

Only when the police run out of crying gas and bullets, De la Rua, signed his resignment. But the gangs of Nosiglia and Becerra went out to patroll in trucks, spreading rumors that “ mobs were coming looting houses”. But the people organized itself in armed selfdefense groups in several neighbourhoods, voting in many assamblies not to call the police that they considered a same or worst menace than the so called “ mobs” .

The limits

The Argentinazo opened a new political situation. If it was not possible to advance further is due to sevaral reasons.

In the first place, due that the working class movement is splitted, and mainly lead by forces that in the decissive journays of december 19 and 20, both national Unions, CGT rebels and CTA, demobilized their organizations. Then the CGT rebel and the other called for a late strike on december 21, when a Legislative Aseembly was already called. They did the same thing the leaders of the CGT did in l945, when they declared a strike on october 18 when the peoples’ uprising was on october 17. This new experience poses again the need of recovering the unions for the clasism and particularly the Delegates Committees that are the main toils in order to unite, mobilize and lead the working class.

In second place, there was no coordinating centre. How could be possible that a coordinating centre if would exist if the majority of the leadership of the popular forces, eventhough those that claim themselves as left forces, rejected the way of the Argentinazo, raising hopes on the electoral way. They did not even wake up with the slap they received in the last elections, when the main trend within the masses, half of the voters nulify the vote, blankvoted or did not go to vote; and they were “ surprised” again when those masses went out for the Argentinazo and expressed on the streets all the hatred they have accumulated against the political regime. Patricio Echegaray (secretary of the old Communist Party) suffered it on december 20 at 10 o’clock in the morning when he was booed in Plaza de Mayo for the second time ( he has gone thru the same in Plaza Congreso) and people shoutted “ All politician have to go away, not one can remain”.

In the third place, as we anticipated, the Argentinazo went as far as the situation in the armed forces allowed it. The fact that the armed forces remained neutralized (where played an important role the new rising of the nationalist trend), rejecting pressures that came from the government in order to joint repression, allowed the masses arrive to the point where they got. And the fact that the patriotic sectors –due to the correlation of power- did not joint the people, this outlined the limit of their advance.

In the forth place, it has shawn the need of the strengthening of the militant and clasist forces, of the antiimperialist and antilandlords trends, of the patriotic and democratic sectors, of the united front of the popular forces, and the growing of the vanguard party of the working class, the RCP. The Argentinazo, in which all these forces have played a great role, and for which we have been fighting for since l996, is what creates outstanding conditions for these adavances.


The Argentinazo opened a new political situation. In this sense the 10 days that between december 13 to december 22 were the first round. Now the second round has begun.

There is a new government to which the masses have not endorsed any blank check. As many radio listeners has expressed to different radio programs “ we have not put away our saucepans, we have them at hand”.

Facilitated by the “Ley de lemas”(electoral law) two big fronts are being prepared for the elections on march 3. One around the peronism, where they will try to add “ rightist sectors” and “ leftist sectors” that at the end ( except that some changes not possible to foresee occur) will be usefull for the game of the “ stars governors”: Ruckauf, De la Sota and Reutemann.

Also there is a new attempt for a “transversal front”, for candidates as Elisa Carrio, where probably the Polo Social, sectors of the radicalism(Storani and Terragno) and the remains of the Frepaso lead by Ibarra (major of buenos aires city) would joint them. What will the Izquierda Unida do about it?

But the Argentinazo has left everything mixed up. Again, as it happened with last elections there are some people who believe that everything that has been derailed by the Argentinazo could be put again in its rails with electoral campaigns in which the majority of the candidates can not put one foot in a popular neighbourhood, because they are “mediatic” candidates in a country where mass media companies belong to the same groups that managed the country with Menem and De la Rua.

The ten days of combat, the two heroic journays on december 19 and 20 have left important knowledges to the working class and the people and have tempered its vanguard more than many years of reformist and electoral struggle.

Artiklen på PCRs hjemmeside

Netavisen 3. januar 2002

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