Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Massive Mobilizations in Defense of Public Education in Argentina

After four weeks, the fight waged by university professors for a better salary and working conditions has turned into a serious political crisis for the government.

Nicolás Daneri

September 3, 2018
Facebook Twitter Share

Early in the morning of Thursday August 30, a group of students from three different universities blocked Corrientes Avenue in front of the iconic Obelisco monument in downtown Buenos Aires. The action had been called for in student assemblies the day before. It started as a standard fight for a better salary–an annual ritual for labor unions in Argentina– but turned into a major political conflict for the government of President Mauricio Macri.

The march was called for 5 pm, and it immediately started to rain— even hail fell in some parts of Buenos Aires—refusing to stop until 7 pm. The storm, however, would not deter the thousands of people that took to the streets and marched from the Congressional building to Plaza de Mayo. This same scene was replicated in all major cities of Argentina, cities like Mendoza or Córdoba, where tens of thousands defied the freezing rain. Called by several university professor’s unions, the demonstration was attended by not only by professors and staff but also by researchers and scientists, high school teachers, students, and workers from other sectors. The high turnout showed that this has gone beyond a mere salary struggle–it has become a fight to defend public education at all levels.

Throughout the country’s history, several administrations have tried to end free public education. However, they have faced widespread resistance each time as most Argentines consider universal higher education to be a basic right.

While the unions who had initiated the protest tried to limit the grievances strictly to salary increases, demonstrators — especially students — insisted on taking the struggle further: denouncing the government’s recent austerity measures and its new agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

In the wake of the free fall of the Argentine peso last week, the student movement has awakened, mobilizing in solidarity not only with the teachers, but also with other sectors of the working class. Last week a large contingent of students marched in support of the shipyard workers in La Plata who are fighting against privatization. This week saw the occupations of several universities throughout the country to demand an increase in the education budget, including salary raises for professors and staff.

Political and economic turmoil is galvanizing students and workers throughout the country, who are beginning to connect the current crisis to the policies of the IMF and the pillage by the local and imperialist bourgeoisie. As of July 20 of this year, there’s been a flight of $1 billion out of the country and $78 billion will be paid in service of public debt. This amounts to 23 times the budget for the Argentina’s universities. Signs from the march read “Money for education, not for the IMF” and demanded that the state end its funding of the Catholic Church and reallocate those funds for public education.

There has been strong resistance to these austerity measures inside Congress too. The PTS, as part of the Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores (Workers’ and Left Front) has put forward a program demanding that “the crisis be paid for by the capitalist class—those who created it.” It includes demands for the nationalization of the banking system and the strict regulation of foreign trade to stop capital flight and to reallocate resources to solve some of the most important social problems.

Argentina is seeing the convergence of a newly emboldened students’ movement with workers’ struggles that are resisting austerity, privatizations and layoffs and even sectors of the powerful women’s movement that fought for — and nearly won — the right to an abortion earlier this year. Every time we’ve witness students uniting with workers in struggle in Argentina, it’s been a game-changer. We will likely see increased mobilizations and labor unrest in the coming weeks.

Facebook Twitter Share

Nicolás Daneri

Nico is a writer and editor for La Izquierda Diario and a collaborator for Left Voice. He lives in Buenos Aires

Latin America

‘You Have to Change Things from the Root’: Interview With a Young Immigrant

Left Voice interviewed a 23-year-old immigrant, factory worker, and student, who told us about his experience crossing the border from Mexico to the U.S. and about the life of Latin American youth in the United States.

Left Voice

April 5, 2024
A square in Argentina is full of protesters holding red banners

48 Years After the Military Coup, Tens of Thousands in Argentina Take to the Streets Against Denialism and the Far Right

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets across Argentina on March 24 to demand justice for the victims of the state and the military dictatorship of 1976. This year, the annual march had renewed significance, defying the far-right government’s denialism and attacks against the working class and poor.

Madeleine Freeman

March 25, 2024

Declaration: End Imperialist Intervention in Haiti, Solidarity with the Haitian People

The “Multinational Security Support Mission” announced by the United States marks a new imperialist-colonial intervention in Haiti by the United States, the UN, and their allies.

The Fight against Javier Milei Has Set The Stage For a Whole New Wave of Struggle

The defeat of the Omnibus Law is a key victory for the movement against Javier Milei’s austerity plan and attacks on democratic rights. It shows that the working class and oppressed have the power to fight against the advance of the Far Right in Argentina and across the world.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

February 9, 2024

MOST RECENT

Thousands of Police Deployed to Shut Down Congress on Palestine in Berlin

This weekend, a Palestine Congress was supposed to take place in the German capital. But 2,500 police were mobilized and shut down the event before the first speech could be held. Multiple Jewish comrades were arrested.

Nathaniel Flakin

April 12, 2024

Liberal Towns in New Jersey Are Increasing Attacks on Pro-Palestine Activists

A group of neighbors in South Orange and Maplewood have become a reference point for pro-Palestine organizing in New Jersey suburbs. Now these liberal towns are upping repression against the local activists.

Samuel Karlin

April 12, 2024

“We Shouldn’t Let this Stop Us”: Suspended Columbia Student Activist Speaks Out

Aidan Parisi, a student at Columbia University’s School of Social Work, was recently suspended and has been threatened with eviction from their graduate student housing for pro-Palestinian activism on campus. Aidan talked to Left Voice about the state of repression, the movement at Columbia, and the path forward for uniting the student movement with the labor movement and other movements against oppression.

Left Voice

April 11, 2024

Fired by a German University for Solidarity with Palestine — Interview with Nancy Fraser

The University of Cologne canceled a guest professorship with the philosophy professor from The New School. In this interview, she speaks about Germany dividing between "Good Jews" and "Bad Jews," her politicization in the civil rights movement, and her time in an Israeli kibbutz.

Nathaniel Flakin

April 10, 2024