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Socialist and Anticapitalist Front of the left in Argentina

The elections of June 28 will take place in the context of a crisis of the global imperialist-capitalist crisis. The most serious one since the 1930’s. Never has it been clearer that capitalism has run out of steam. Imperialism, with Barack Obama at its head, alongside the capitalist governments, wants to make the workers pay […]

Left Voice

May 5, 2009
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The elections of June 28 will take place in the context of a crisis of the global imperialist-capitalist crisis. The most serious one since the 1930’s. Never has it been clearer that capitalism has run out of steam. Imperialism, with Barack Obama at its head, alongside the capitalist governments, wants to make the workers pay the price of the crisis and not those who caused it: the capitalists, the bankers, the multinationals, the landowners and their international financial institutions like the IMF, the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank.

The international capitalist crisis is being unloaded onto the workers and the oppressed of the whole world. Millions are being thrown into unemployment and squalor, while the governments of the imperialist countries inject trillions of dollars into bailouts for big banks and business. The crisis is hitting both finance and global production and trade. Claims that it was possible to “decouple” from this are being quickly forgotten. The main resolution of the recent G-20 call was to strengthen the IMF with the aim that it should intervene into the most indebted economies, with new loans in exchange for traditional austerity measures like lowering salaries which in our country and Latin America we know so well.

The resistance to these measures has also begun. Governments have already fallen in Iceland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. We have seen mass popular mobilizations in Greece, Italy, Ireland, Ukraine and France. In this last country there has spread a wave of occupations of companies with the taking hostage of bosses and executives, a radical method of struggle unseen for decades which enjoys an important level of popular support and which is provoking terror amongst the European bourgeoisie. However, in order to avoid paying the costs of the crisis, the working class response will need rise to a higher level.

In the face of the disaster produced by imperialism, the multinationals and their bankers now want to make us believe that the problem can be solved with a little more intervention and regulation by the state. But the truth is that the trillions of dollars spent by the states have not been used to avoid the fall into squalor of the workers and the masses but to save the same capitalists who caused the crisis. As if that were not enough these policies are leading to an explosion in the public debt of the US which could lead to the bankruptcy of the state itself. In the face of this no half-hearted measures are worthwhile. Capitalism has run out of steam. We have to fight for common actions by workers and the masses to end with this system of hunger and misery and install workers governments with the objective of implementing socialism.

The Kirchner government and the bosses opposition both want the workers to pay for the crisis

In our country the crisis is here to stay, acting upon a pre-existing scenario of inter-bourgeois division at the top over the conflict between the Kirchner government and the rural bosses over the distribution of the profits of the agricultural sector.

The layoffs and reduced hours with wage cuts have already begun, as have the increases in utility prices (gas, electricity, transport). But the government is preparing for further austerity measures after the elections because it knows that the crisis keeps getting deeper and it has to comply with its deals with imperialism made in the international conferences, in order to make the working masses pay for the crisis.
While the unemployed get just $150 (Argentine pesos) a month, the Kirchners pay the IMF and the World Bank around 25bn USD, despite the fact that the external debt remains around 150bn USD. More than 40% of the working class works off the books with hanger-wages, which are 5 times less than the cost of a family shopping basket, today calculated to be $4,300. Aside from the “national and popular” rhetoric the mining, fishing and petroleum companies continued making incredible profits in these years. And the money gathered by the taxes on exportation was not sued to satisfy the needs of the masses but rather to pay the public debt and subsidise capitalist allies of the government, who also benefited from public works deals. The power and the profits of the great cereal and cooking oil exporters was not affected in the slightest and neither was agricultural property touched, a sector where only 4000 large landowners – who are at the same times agricultural capitalists – posses half of all the lands used for agriculture and livestock, some 84 million hectares. And while this power is not being touched, the rural workers are amongst the most exploited in the country, with misery wages and the majority working off the books. But even so, the rural bosses, the same ones who under held the Ministry of economy under Martinez de Hoz (Economy Minister under the military dictatorship which came to power in 1976) and Videla (de facto president 1976-1981), today oppose any measure which places any limit on their profitability and to become the dominant force in a realignment of forces within the ruling class. This is a sector which parts of the left like the MST (Movement of Socialist Workers) or PCR (the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party) have adapted themselves to and tailed.

Today the Kirchner government finds itself strongly weakened, losing allies both on the left and right. The forwarding of the elections and resorting to calling for “Testimonial Lists” (electoral lists headed by well-known personalities who will not take up their seat) in Buenos Aires Province, are manoeuvres of a government in retreat. Facing certain defeat in Cordoba, Santa Fe, the Federal Capital and Mendoza, Kirchnerism wants to save its skin by ensuring a victory in Buenos Aires Province, gambling on the public figure of Scioli and the mayors in order to avoid a flight of votes towards the dissident peronism of the businessman De Narvaez and the ex Secretary of Agriculture under Menem, Felipe Sola. The Kirchners want to present the election as a choice between disputing “models”, but the truth is that they are allowing redundancies and reduced hours pass and they are offering a new negotiation with the IMF after June 28, whilst they squeeze the masses pockets with increased utility prices and support the delay of wage negotiations.

With Kirchnerism weakened, these elections are being viewed by a part of capitalist class and their politicians as a means to position themselves before the Presidential elections of 2011 or an early exit of the government. In this way, the different factions of the dominant class define their spokesmen and representatives, while they urge a devaluation which would cause an immediate fall in the workers wage (something which both the Industrial Union of Argentina – UIA – and rural bosses, agree on), as they did back in 2002. The agricultural bosses, who have benefited in these years from the global rise in prices of raw materials and who urge the lowering or even removal on taxes on soy production, are putting their representatives in the different coalitions of the bourgeois opposition. Both the alliance between the PRO (party of businessman and Federal Capital mayor Mauricio Macri) and the dissident Peronism of Reutemann (ex Governor of and current Senator for Santa Fe Province) and Schiarettia-Mondino (Cordoba governor and senatorial candidates respectively), and the agreement between Coalition Cívica, the Radical Party (UCR), “Cobismo” (after Cobos, the Vice President whose relations with the government collapsed after his decisive tie-breaking vote defeated the official project for agricultural export taxes in the Senate) and the Socialist Party and profoundly anti-worker. Macri and De Narvaez are businessmen who promise to “get tough” on the poor and the marginalized youth as one of the keys of their campaign. Carrió is, in alliance with the ex functionary of the bank JP Morgan Adolfo Prat Gay, a spokeswoman for neoliberal policies, not only calling for the end to all taxes on the agricultural bosses’ profits but also the end to all taxes on business, something which only the Republicans in the US dare to call for.

The wearing out of Kirchnerism is also provoking new realignments on the centre-left, like those led by Pino Solanas (centre-left film maker and political activist) and the Proyecto Sur (Project of the South) or Martin Sabatella (Mayor of the municipality Moron). These are attempts to create something similar to the Frente Grande or Frepaso, with propositions based on the lie that the cancer that is this capitalist crisis can be treated with aspirin.

All in all we warn that whoever wins the next elections – which we denounce as the most antidemocratic and fraudulent in recent years – both camps of the bosses, despite their differences, will, from June 29th onwards begin a brutal economic readjustment against the working class and the masses.

We support the Workers in Struggle

Throughout these years, the CGT of Moyano (Argentina’s main trade union confederation) has been a fundamental ally of the government, permitting the continuation of the fragmentation of the working class (between “permanent” and “subcontracted”, “legal” and “illegal”, etc.) and guaranteeing wage ceilings year on year. In this way, while the capitalist profits multiplied, only in 2007 did wages recover to the level of 2001, in order to once again begin falling from then on. Right now the CGT is accepting the delaying of wage negotiations and allowing redundancies and reduced hours to pass. They also support the bosses’ fraud of imposing wage reductions in exchange for not firing, as the new rhythms of production are becoming generalized in many factories at the hands of this crisis. For their part, the leaders of the CTA have not been doing anything very different, although with a different discourse. They say that “the workers cannot pay for the crisis” but they do not call for any serious measures of struggle. On the contrary, they have just surrendered the teachers’ struggles in the Federal Capital, Buenos Aires Province and above all in Rio Negro and Neuquén. In the different unions they are direct collaborators with the bosses policies, like in the tyre factories or the telephone providers, where they are indistinguishable from the CGT in the sense of surrendering workers gains, agreements and accepting and imposing labour flexibilization, as well as “winning” wage increases many times even lower than those obtained by the CGT.

Despite this, the workers are beginning to confront the crisis with strikes, pickets and mobilizations. In the southern zone of Great Buenos Aires there has been developing an important struggle in the paper processor Massuh, which is placing the question of state expropriation of the company under workers control as the order of the day. In the same sense, small factories like Arrufat, Indugraf, Filobel and Disco de Oro are confronting asset-stripping bosses with occupation and putting the factories back to production, in the process making the example of Zanon more relevant than ever (which remains in struggle for definitive expropriation after 7 years of workers control) and the occupied factories, carried out in the heat of the 2001 crisis.

In Cordoba, the permanent and subcontracted workers of IVECO are confronting the bosses and the persecution by the SMATA bureaucracy of the shop stewards who oppose redundancies, while the judicial workers, road maintenance workers and legislative workers are also in struggle. In Villa Mercedes, San Luis, the whole industrial belt has stopped in support of the workers of TERSUAVE. The of CARNE have mobilized demanding a wage increase, in a way not seen for many years. In Rosario the cooking oil workers twisted the arm of the companies Cargill and Dreyfus – two of the sector’s main exporters – as they tried to impose firings and flexibilization, and in the producer of automobile parts Mahle the workers took the factory to avoid its closure. Teachers and state workers from different provinces are also demanding wage increases.

In the northern zone of Great Buenos Aires, different factories are facing redundancies and persecution of activists. This is the case in FATE and its shop stewards body which is still a point of reference for the vanguard in the area. In this same area workers have gone through experiences of resistance in PABSA, DANA, LEAR, Terrabusi and, currently Pilkington (Blindex).

We have to support and encourage all the combative and anti-bureaucratic sectors which have developed in these years and which are attacked by the bosses, the government and the trade union bureaucracy, like the shop stewards organizations and the new independent union of the Tube workers, the SOECN of Neuquén (ceramics workers union retaken by the workers against the bureaucracy, which represents the Zanon workers), the Shop Stewards body of the Sarmiento Rail, the San Fernando section of the SUTNA union, the opposition within the SUTEBAS union, etc. In the face of the bosses attack the working class is confronted with the need to hit back as a whole: it is necessary to impose upon the leaderships of the CGT and CTA a plan of struggle and a national strike, whilst at the same time continuing the fight for a workers rebellion from below to displace them; all this with the objective that the capitalists pay for the crisis and not the working class.

For the Political Independence of the Working Class

The PTS, the new MAS and Izquierda Socialista, despite our differences, are placing our hopes on the possibility that the social strength which the workers express in their struggles, organization and social importance, will also find its expression in the field of politics, as an alternative which proposes a solution to this crisis based on the pressing needs of the majority of society in the face of Argentina’s decadent, semi-colonial capitalism.

We are looking to avoid the threat that the wearing down of the government be capitalized by the right-wing sectors of the boss class or by dead end proposals like those of the centre-left.

In this sense we maintain that we need to take advantage of the
elections of June 28th in order to put forward the need to achieve the political independence of the working class. We call on the combative organizations of the working class, on the anti-bureaucratic activist, on the combative sectors of the student movement and on the parties which claim to be working class and socialist, to build a front with this aim.

The response we need to give in the electoral field in the name of the working class and socialist left must be a foundation in this sense, for the struggle for the construction of a socialist and revolutionary alternative, fighting for the workers to occupy the central space of the domestic political scene.

An Anticapitalist and Socialist Front of the Workers and the Left

The PTS, the MAS and Izquierda Socialista are concretizing an electoral agreement in defense of the class independence of the workers in the face of the bosses’ coalitions and parties, and in the face of the bosses of the city and the countryside, who today are unloading the crisis onto the shoulders of the workers and the poor.
We want to help to raise the current struggle for workers demands to the level of political struggle, without placing any confidence in the mechanisms of this bosses democracy, which today are more fraudulent than ever. We three forces call publicly on the Partido Obrero to concretize a unified alternative along with us, but sadly they have refused.

Our Front raises these proposals, based on the demand that the capitalists pay for the crisis:

No to the firings and suspensions of permanent and temporary workers. Prohibition of firings and reduced hours. Equal distribution of working hours without touching wages. Minimum wage equal to the cost of the family shopping basket ($4300), to be indexed monthly according to the real cost of life. Collective Bargaining Negotiation to be open to all the workers with negotiators elected by assemblies. Adjustable 82% (of wage) pension for all the retired. For the administration by the workers and retired of the retirement funds. Elimination of VAT on the family shopping basket. Universal subsidy to all unemployed of $2000 monthly. Transmission to permanent status of all subcontracted, temporary and illegal workers and annulment of all laws and decrees for labour market flexibilization. For nationalization under workers control of any company which closes or imposes mass redundancies or reduction of working hours. For the unity of workers of the city and countryside. Down with the Videla era law which turns rural workers into the most exploited in the country, kept in place by the government and the Kirchner’s/ For the expropriation of the landowning oligarchy, of the large pooled enterprises, and the cereal, cooking oil and meat processing plants monopolies. For the nationalization of the land, beginning with the expropriation of the 4,000 principal proprietors, whilst respecting the rights of the poor peasants, indigenous populations and small producers who do not exploit paid labour. For the nationalization of the banks and foreign trade under workers control.

For the nationalization of the mines, the petroleum, fishing and large-scale industry. For the renationalization without compensation of all the privatized companies to place them under the control and administration of the workers and their users.

For the co-ordination of current workers struggles using the methods of workers democracy; class unity between employed and unemployed, the need to take back for workers the internal commissions in the workplace, the shop stewards bodies and the trade unions, defeating the trade union bureaucracy.

Out with the trade union bureaucracy. For the central trade union bodies to end their deals with the government and the bosses and call for a national plan of struggle. For new, classist and antibureaucratic workers leaders.

Against the payment of the external debt, in order to increase the healthcare and education budgets and promote a plan of public works under worker control. Money for wages, work, health and housing, not for the external debt. For a unitary national education system, public, free and secular. For a single free state-owned public health system, under workers control.

We are in the first line of defense of the Hotel Bauen under workers control, of Arrufat, Indugraf and other occupied factories. For the defense and legal recognition of the independent trade union and the tube workers. For the defense of the San Fernando branch of SUTNA: no to the persecution of its leaders and delegates. No to government intervention in INDEC (Statistics and Census Office).

No to the “strong arm” (tough on crime policy) law enforcement and the policies of criminalization of poverty which are promoted by both the government and the bosses opposition. For the dismantling and dissolving of the repressive state apparatus and the security forces. No to the lowering of the age of conviction. Get the police out of the working class neighbourhoods. For the appearance, alive, of Luciano Arruga. Punishment of all police who have caused deaths by police brutality. For the appearance, alive, of Jorge Julio Lopez. Prison for the physical and political murderers of Carlos Fuentealba. Trial and punishment for all those responsible for genocide and every one of those responsible for the 30,000 disappeared: military, political, civil and clerical. Annulment of the pardons given to those who carried out genocide. Annulment of the antiterrorist law. Freedom for all political prisoners. Amnesty or end of the trials of all popular fighters. For the imprisonment of Isabel Peron and those responsible for the crimes of Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance (“Triple A)”. Recovery of the identity of the more than 400 young appropriated by collaborators in genocide. For the right to safe, free and unrestricted abortion in public hospitals. Contraceptives so to not abort, legal abortion so to not die. Immediate liberty for Romina Tejerina.

We fight for the immediate pulling out of troops from Haiti and the imperialist troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. We support the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people against the racist and imperialist Zionism. Solidarity with all struggles in the world against imperialism and the plans for austerity to make the workers pay for the crisis. No to the plans of the G20 or the G8 and the rest of the capitalist conferences. End of the blockade of Cuba. UK out of Malvinas. We defend Cuba and Venezuela from any imperialist attack. We work for the political and trade union independence of the workers of Venezuela, to be able to truly fight against the bosses and imperialism, and not for the false “socialism with bosses” which Chavismo defends. Prison for the physical and political murderers of the classist leaders of UNT of Aragua, Richard Gallardo, Luis Hernandez and Carlos Requena.

All these demands mean confrontation with the government, the regime and the capitalist state, and promote unity with the workers and oppressed nations of Latin America and the world. Their definitive and lasting realization will only be possible with a government of the workers and the masses, which will be part of the international struggle of the working class to achieve a Federal Republic of Socialist States of Latin America.

We call on the workers and other sectors of the masses to actively support these proposals and the candidates of the Anticapitalist and Socialist Front of the Left and the Workers.

Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS) – Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) – Izquierda Socialista

Buenos Aires, 25th of April 2009

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