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

Protests in Colombia Spur Government to Hunt Down Youth

In the aftermath of the 2021 “National Strike” in Colombia, the Duque government is treating youth like terrorists and has launched a series of murders, disappearances, and prosecutions.

Begonia D

December 31, 2021
Protesters Holding banner that reads "Megamineria=Muerte"

Labor Unions, Environmentalists, and Indigenous People Unite to Defeat Mining Interests in Argentina

A zoning law would have opened up the southern Argentinian province of Chubut to large-scale mining by multinational corporations. But the law was defeated in just five days by an alliance of environmentalists, workers, youth, and indigenous people. Their fight points the way forward for other movements around the world.

Marisela Trevin

December 27, 2021

As Millions in Chile Hope for Change, Boric Promises Moderation

Hundreds of thousands of people went into the streets of Santiago to cheer the election of Gabriel Boric. Many are hoping for an end of neoliberalism. But Boric and his party were instrumental in pacifying the popular rebellion that began in October 2019.

Nathaniel Flakin

December 22, 2021
President elect Gabriel Boric of the Social Convergence party and Republican Party candidate José Antonio Kast pose before a presidential debate in Santiago, Chile, on Dec. 13.

Runoff in Chile: For Defeating Kast and the Right, without Confidence in Boric or His Project

Gabriel Boric’s wide margin of victory over José Antonio Kast in today’s Chilean presidential vote was a surprise. It was a rejection of the strengthening of the Right wing in the first round of the elections. Now that fight against the Right must move to the streets, where the demands from the October 2019 rebellion must be raised again.

La Izquierda Diario Chile

December 20, 2021

MOST RECENT

Eleanor Marx: A Punk in the 19th Century

Eleanor Marx, the youngest daughter of Karl Marx and herself a socialist activist, was born on this day in 1855. A citizen of the world, she resonated with Shelley and Ibsen and participated in the main theoretical and political debates of her time.

Celeste Murillo

January 16, 2022
Protesters carry a banner that says "Johnson Must Go, He Partied While People Died."

Why “Partygate” Threatens to Bring Down UK Prime Minister

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in the midst of a growing political crisis after it became clear that he and his aides violated Covid-19 regulations by having parties. These parties are a slap in the face to the working people of Britain, who were banned from seeing their families while the Prime Minister drank with his cronies.

Ezra Brain

January 16, 2022
Protesters hold up signs in protest and wear headbands in the colors of the Mali flag.

Massive Demonstrations in Mali Against ECOWAS Strengthen Ruling Junta

Sanctions against Mali have, predictably, helped legitimize the ruling military. It cannot be ruled out that international pressure on the military is working. But this success could become a “Pyrrhic victory.”

Philippe Alcoy

January 16, 2022

New York’s Eviction Moratorium Ends Today. We Demand Free Public Housing For All

New York’s eviction moratorium expires today, and hundreds of thousands of households across the state are at risk of eviction. We cannot turn a blind eye to a single eviction, and we must demand rent cancellation and free public housing for all.

Emma Lee

January 15, 2022