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Argentina: New Crisis As Cops Kill Protesters
THOUSANDS OF Argentinians marched on the National Congress building in Buenos Aires on 28 June demanding the resignation of caretaker president Eduardo Duhalde.
This wasn't simply another demo decrying the collapse of the country's economy, it was to demand justice for the two dead and 90 other protesters wounded by trigger happy cops two days' earlier. These killings were the bloodiest clashes between state forces and protesters since last December. Then, two days of clashes resulted in 30 dead and the resignation of president Fernando de la Rua.
After a series of photographs were published in the Clarin newspaper showing one protester gunned down in cold blood, the governor of Buenos Aires state was forced to arrest two police and suspend 100 others.
The shootings occurred when more than 2,000 police were ordered to clear pickets of unemployed workers blockading roads on the outskirts of the capital. The government had promised to 'get tough' on the daily protests as it struggles to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to resume aid to the beleaguered regime.
The pickets had been demanding jobs, medical and food aid. There were also roadblocks established in the largest cities including Cordoba province, and in Resistencia, the capital of Chaco and in the north of Salta province. In Tucuman province 8,000 left-wingers and trade unionists protested in the provincial capital.
Seven months of unremitting political crises and economic chaos has devastated the lives of millions of Argentinians. One in four adults are unemployed as the four year long recession bites deeper.
The industrial recession resulted in the government of de la Rua defaulting on repayments of its $140 billion public debt and led to the uncoupling of the local Peso currency with the US dollar. Subsequently the Peso has lost 75% of its value since January.
The government has attempted to prop up the ailing banking system by freezing bank accounts and severely limiting customers' cash withdrawals. This has rapidly impoverished workers and the middle classes.
Soup kitchens have sprung up to deal with this surge in poverty. At the same time the rich oligarchy of capitalists and landowners have spirited billions of dollars out of the country fuelling widespread anger. Corrupt politicians have subsequently experienced the wrath of the masses. Many now have police protection.
The latest political crisis could force early elections. What is required is the building of a new, mass workers' party based on the trade unions and neighbourhood assemblies. Armed with a socialist programme to take over big business, repudiate the foreign debt and an emergency programme of public works to restore full employment, such a party could form a workers' government. This would send a clear signal to workers and poor throughout the continent to fight for a socialist alternative to bankrupt capitalism.
In The Socialist 5 July 2002: