Argentina: The Left-Wing Government Represses the Poor

Credit: Victor Caivano

October 30, 2020 – Translated from an article in Convergences Revolutionnaires, a publication of Etincelle in France

On October 29, at dawn, an imposing force of 4,000 police officers intervened to put an end to land occupations in Guernica in the greater Buenos Aires area. They brutally dislodged the inhabitants, burned their hastily built makeshift houses and made numerous arrests among those who resisted.

A few weeks ago, hundreds of families fleeing from high rents and hunger had decided to occupy the land (At the peak of the occupation, there were 2,500 families and nearly 10,000 people). They lived there in makeshift homes built with their own hands, and fed themselves with their own crops. On these previously unoccupied lands, this survival movement organized itself to stand up; they made links with other occupations; and solicited the support of organizations of the unemployed (such as the “Polo Obrero”) and union oppositions (such as in the Teachers’ Union of Greater Buenos Aires led by Trotskyist militants of the Workers’ Party (Partido Obrero) and other union groups influenced by revolutionary militants.

The political risk for the “leftist” government of Alberto Fernández was that this occupation would create a pole of attraction that would link the poor in these occupied camps with the militancy of the workers’ movement in a climate of social collapse. The government exerted pressure and distributed substantial gifts to divide the movement at the local and national levels. This worked up to a point, since at the time of the intervention only 1,500 families remained in the occupation. In order to regain the upper hand, it was necessary for the government to put an end to this activity, and the Peronist left (Mayor of Buenos Aires, Axel Kicilloff) and the leadership of the forces of repression (a true fascist, Head of Security for the region of Buenos Aires, Sergio Berni) worked together to put these poor people out on the streets, where they would become invisible.

As of publication of this short article, there have been 39 arrests of residents and activists from different organizations and dozens more are still unaccounted for. A demonstration is planned in Plaza de Mayo to denounce the repression and to organize a response.

To all those who, at times even within the Argentinian Trotskyist ranks, had the hope of playing on the supposed contradictions within the Peronist camp, the warning is clear. The discussions currently taking place in the government on the new austerity plan proposed by the International Monetary Fund and enthusiastically supported by the Peronist Alberto Fernandez government will confirm what was played out in Guernica.