On September 7, Congressmember Myriam Bregman delivered a speech at a Congressional Committee Meeting, criticizing the government’s new Youth Employment Plan, a plan that intends to lower the cost of youth labor by undermining labor contracts, offering poverty wages to the workers and lifting taxes on companies that hire young workers under this new plan. This law would also provide subsidies to companies, including multinational companies like McDonald’s, which will end up receiving cheap labor and millions in benefits from the State.
During the same session, she denounced the bureaucrats in the Oil and Gas Workers’ Union from the city of Avellaneda (Sindicato del Petróleo y Gas Privado de Avellaneda) and the union officials’ suppression of an oppositional caucus formed by rank-and-file workers: “My comrades at the Shell plant went to the union offices to register, and it was closed. They were unable to register their caucus for the upcoming elections. The same thing happened two years ago, when Aranguren [former CEO of Shell-Argentina, current Energy Minister] who used the incident as a means to fire workers.”
The caucus is composed of rank and file workers that are organizing against the union bureaucracy of the Oil and Gas Workers’ Union. The union is headed by Alberto Roberti, who is also the president of the congressional committee in charge of discussing the new labor reform where Myriam delivered her speech.
Within hours of the committee session, Bregman received an anonymous call at her congressional office: “Leftie, we’re going to fuck you up.”
These kinds of threats are relatively uncommon in Argentina. When they happen, they are taken very seriously in a country in which a military dictatorship (1976 – 1982) carried out a cold-blooded, systematic campaign of kidnapping, torture, and “disappearance” of an estimated 30,000 people–mainly students, labor leaders, and leftists.
The news about the threat to Myriam Bregman’s life spread like wildfire on social media and didn’t take long to reach the corporate media across Argentina. A major news agency (Cronica TV) continuously ran a heading that afternoon that read: “The congressmember Myriam Bregman received death threats” The corporate media as well as independent and alternative media and community news networks ran Myriam’s story. Hundreds of labor unions, human rights organizations, social movements, journalists, and congress members from every Province of Argentina, lead a massive public rejection to the threats.
Acabo d recibir un llamado diciendo: zurdita, te vamos a hacer mierda. Vengo d intervenir x ley empleo y proscripción en sindicato petrolero
— Myriam Bregman (@myriambregman) September 7, 2016
— Marcela Soler (@PTSPrensa) September 9, 2016
Qué orgullo! Abrazo enorme compañeros!!!!! pic.twitter.com/in7HhJxLRw
— Myriam Bregman (@myriambregman) September 8, 2016
Bregman has gained national recognition as an outspoken, unwavering loudspeaker for struggles and rights of workers, women, LGBT people, and youth. She has fought against state espionage and terror, against femicide, and for free and universal access to abortion.
She is co-founder of the Centro de Profesionales por los Derechos Humanos (Center for Human Rights Professionals), a group of lawyers who defend workers’ rights and challenge cases of state repression. She is also the co-founder of Justicia Ya! (Justice Now!) organization, which leads trials against former members of the military dictatorship.
In 2006, she led the prosecution in a high-profile case against former military leaders of the dictatorship. Many of the top leaders and perpetrators of the dictatorship’s genocidal campaign are still living today and have not been brought to justice. Jorge Julio Lopez served as key witness, giving a hair-raising account of his own experience of abduction and torture. Tragically, before delivering his final testimony, Lopez was disappeared again–and has not appeared to this day.
Bregman also led the prosecution against Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz, a key leader during the dictatorship. He was ultimately convicted of murder, kidnapping and torture and sentenced to life in prison.
Bregman is a national leader of the Partido de los Trabajadores (Socialist Workers’ Party–PTS). She was first elected as a member of parliament in 2013 on an openly socialist platform with the Left and Workers’ Front (FIT). During the last presidential elections, she ran as a vice-presidential candidate for the FIT. She has become known for her forceful denunciations of current conservative administration under President Macri, as well as previous Peronist governments.
This threat against Myriam Bregman’s life is happening amidst a sharp turn in Latin American politics, with the coup in Brazil and the attacks on the living conditions of Argentine workers. It has also forced workers to resist the government’s austerity measures, which have already caused thousands to lose their jobs and sent millions into poverty. Congressional representatives of the FIT and PTS are on the front lines of resisting and denouncing these attacks to workers. Macri’s austerity plans and repression against workers resistance is now being complemented with threats against the political opposition.
The Left and Workers’ Front is calling on the Argentine Congress to immediately launch an investigation into the threats.
We, the contributors and editors of Left Voice, support this demand and wholeheartedly join the numerous labor unions, socialist organizations, public figures, congress members and others who denounce the intimidation tactics. We see these threats as an attempt to intimidate the workers, activists, and left militants who Bregman has represented from her position in Congress. An attack on our comrade Myriam is an attack on us all.
We call on left and progressive organizations, academics, and public figures to join us in expressing our indignance and solidarity for Myriam Bregman.
Letters and statements of support can be send to [email protected]