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Trotskyists to Pack Stadium of 20,000

The Argentine Left and Workers’ Front has called a national rally for this Saturday, November 19. The event will be held at a 20,000-person capacity soccer stadium in Buenos Aires.

Luigi Morris

November 17, 2016
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The Left and Workers’ Front is preparing for a historic rally that will be an unprecedented show of the growth of its forces at Atlanta Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It will be the first time in 30 years that the Trotskyist left has held a rally of this scale in Argentina.

The Left and Workers’ Front is an electoral coalition of three Trotskyist political forces: the PTS (Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas–Party of Socialist Workers), PO (Partido Obrero–Workers’ Party) and IS (Izquierda Socialista–Socialist Left). The three organizations are united under a program that emphasizes class independence in an anti-capitalist struggle to build a socialist workers’ government.

They have built forces that support important struggles in the workplace, unions and universities. PTS militants were involved in the struggle for worker control at MadyGraf graphics and printing factory . The workers took over the factory and organized massive protests in the streets, supported by students involved in the PTS and other sectors of the working class. Likewise, they participated in the takeover of Zanon, the ceramics factory that has been under worker control for the past 15 years.

The PTS also puts forward Pan y Rosas (Bread and Roses), one of the largest women’s organizations in Argentina. At the most recent Encuentro Nacional de Mujeres (National Women’s Conference), Pan y Rosas organized over 3,500 women into its contingent. Afterwards, in the #NiUnaMenos protest, PTS workers helped organize work stoppages around the country (ie., PepsiCo factory).

The FIT has also had electoral success. In the most recent election, presidential candidate Nicolás del Caño (PTS) won 3.27 percent of the vote (a higher percentage than both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein last week) with the campaign slogan, “Capitalism can’t go on!”. The FIT also has four seats in the National Congress and dozens of city council representatives.

The Atlanta Stadium event will feature speakers who represent combative labor union organizations, like Claudio Dellecarbonara (PTS–Subway) and Pollo Sobrero (IS–Railways), as well as left political figures like Myriam Bregman (PTS), Néstor Pitrola (PO) and Juan Carlos Giordano (IS). The closing address will be given by Nicolás del Caño (PTS).

The historic rally will take place in a context of widespread discontent. Business tycoon Mauricio Macri won last year’s presidential elections in Argentina on the cusp of the recent right-turn in Latin American politics and the decline of post-neoliberal governments.

He began his first year with a currency devaluation that led to rocketing inflation and massive layoffs in the public and private sector. This was followed by substantial increases in utility fees and public transportation costs.

Meanwhile, millions were paid out to vulture funds (foreign debt held by private individuals). There have been several demonstrations against this payment to vulture funds and, in response, the government has clamped down on democratic freedoms, including the right to protest.

Austerity policies that primarily affect the working class, could not have been put in place so easily had it not been for the complicity of the union bureaucracy: the CGT (General Confederation of Labour) and CTA (Argentine Workers’ Central Union). The CTA has called for demonstrations and strikes, but they have been isolated and uncoordinated. The main workers’ federation, the CGT, has yet to take a single action in response.

As a response to this, the organizers of the left rally are calling to “fight to recover the unions for the workers, against the union bureaucracy and so that the working class can put in place its program to overcome this crisis for the benefit of the exploited and oppressed population.”

The rally will be an expression of the people’s indignation, which will reverberate throughout the entire country. Combative women, youth and workers will connect their struggle with the left, the only force independent of the bosses and the politicians who govern for them.

The event will be attended by thousands of workers from all over the country. Many of them have been involved in important workers’ struggles to receiver internal worker’s commissions against bureaucratic unions. They have fought to democratize unions and confront wage cuts. Among them are the workers of the printing company MadyGraf (formerly Donnelley) and the ceramic company Zanon, both of which are under the control of their workers and producing for the community. Recovered factories are waging an important struggle against austerity policies that seek to stifle workers’ control by State action and capitalist competition. The defense of these processes against layoffs and factory closures is a matter of vital importance.

Another important sector that will be taking part in the rally are working women who are pushing for the establishment of women’s committees in their workplaces. This process must be extended to the entire labor movement to strengthen the fight for women’s rights in a national context in which they are increasingly under attack. Several massive, nationwide demonstrations have been organized in recent weeks to protest gender violence and the government’s inaction in response to the problems faced by women in the country. The struggle to advance women’s committees in every workplace is an important step in confronting this situation.

One of the main goals of the rally will be the development of strong anti-imperialist forces. Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections has pushed us further into an era of great political convulsions. In the context of an ongoing international capitalist crisis, the fact that a reactionary, misogynistic and racist billionaire demagogue was able to channel people’s frustration with the political and economic elite stems from the lack of a real alternative for the US working class and youth. This is an international pattern.

The purpose of the November 19 rally at Atlanta Stadium is to show the strength of the left, the only political force capable of waging a real struggle against cuts and the general decline in working conditions, health and education for workers, women and youth. In order to seriously fight austerity policies, we need to build an organization with the strategic objective of putting an end to a system in which 40 percent of the country lives on wages below the poverty line, in which women are subjected to sexist violence and die from femicide and clandestine abortions, and youth are denied a future amid unemployment rates that are double those of the rest of the working class.

We need an organization aimed at abolishing this social system that benefits a handful while condemning the vast majority of the country and the world to poverty and oppression.

For an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist response to this crisis, Left and Workers’ Front will fill the Atlanta stadium with the combative working class, youth and women’s movement.

Check the Left Voice Facebook page for live updates from this important rally on Saturday, November 19.

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Luigi Morris

Luigi Morris is a member of Left Voice, freelance photographer and socialist journalist.

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