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Report from Anarchist Movement in Buenos Aires

Chuck Morse writes: "Report from Anarchist Movement in Buenos Aires (Anti-War Organizing & in General)

Buenos Aires

27th October

The local setting:

Greater Buenos Aires is the home of at least twelve million people, 90% of whom have been suffering the consequences of a severe economic depression for five or more years now. The current administration of
Fernando de la Rúa continues with the economic policies of 1) fixing the value of the Argentinean Peso to that of the Dollar, 2) privatizing anything that can have a buyer found for it and 3) insisting on financial self-sustenance of any institution which to date has received State subsidies. These policies were introduced by the administration of ex-president Menem, who de la Rúa opposed in the last presidential elections. The country's population at large feels insulted by and angry with this government, which, clearly, is far more preoccupied by the dictates of the IMF and the World Bank than it is with the needs and desires of the people who placed it in power through the mechanism of representative democracy.

These feelings were made perfectly clear to all by the results of this month's federal and provincial senatorial and representative elections, in which voting is mandatory: Nationally, 40% of the ballots were deposited either blank - unmarked that is - or in some other manner contrary to the instructions - written upon, ripped up or replaced by some other object or matter. In the Province of Santa Fé this reached 48%. Nationally and, in most cases, provincially this was the largest single expression of these elections. It is also said that direct, illegal abstention arrived at an all-time highest percentage since the introduction of mandatory voting.

Furthermore, Congress now has a Peronist majority – de la Rúa is a member of the Radical Party of the more and more wobbly Alianza coalition. The by no means decisive or charismatic de la Rúa has never been so weak. People clearly perceive this and many are already worried about the conditions deteriorating to the extent of permitting yet another coup d'étàt, military or otherwise.

The situation of the Anarchist Movement in Greater Buenos Aires and Argentina:

From the turn of the century till 1929, the Anarchist movement was the mass movement of Argentina. However, today we anarchists represent a minute fraction of the political spectrum. Many of the elderly and academically informed remember the anarchists nostalgically but more interestingly, many anarchist tools for organization and decision-making are being studied by left and populist groups with social and/or political activities and anarchist ideology is even being considered by some as a possible substitute for that of the less-and-less trusted parties based on representative democracy. (It must also be pointed out that Neonazi groups are very much on the rise and that a numbing scepticism is growing more than any other tendency.)

But viewed realistically, it is questionable if an Anarchist movement, in the sense of a co-ordinated series of activities amongst groups which remain in contact with each other in order to further each other’s efforts exists here. There are many Anarchist groups but many are very isolated. As a result, all-too many worthwhile activities are strapped onto extremely precarious infrastructures or are directly stillborn. Thus energy is spent and almost no public is reached. Consequently we anarchists find ourselves responding to external occurrences rather that developing activities to propagate our ideology.

To the heart of the matter:

In order to start to remedy this situation, a proposal was made for anarchists to meet informally to discuss the current state of affairs and to start organizing actions coinciding with the conclusions of the discussion, actions against the then still upcoming elections, for example - the moment appeared to be potentially very fertile. The meeting was called for the 23rd of September, and that date was established before the 11th of the same month. The 11th obviously changed the panorama!

The meeting of the 23rd, with approximately 50 participants of varying ages and different groups, was more than anything else the opportunity to cut through the bombardment of imagery that we, as everybody else, had been subjected to and to share impressions and opinions. We also decided to participate in a march called for the 28th of September and we wrote a clear, simple text for a flyer to be distributed at the march and to be signed "Anarchist Groups." the text was the following:

We are against it:

We do not want the war!

All war is terrorism

For a world which has room for other worlds.

To be able to agree on a text for a flyer in one sitting was an achievement! We also decided to continue meeting, although no date was established. The second meeting took place last night, 26th of

I crossed Plaza Congreso, a common place for starting or ending marches, at around 7:00 p.m. heading towards the meeting to start at 8:00. There were two small columns flourishing flags of the various small Marxist/Maoist/Trotskyist/Socialist/Workers' parties but I had heard nothing of a march nor were they holding any signs stating their purpose. It was at the meeting, that I heard that a march against the war had been called, and then I understood what I had seen. (It is to be mentioned too, that the march of the 28th of September, that had also left from Plaza Congreso, had been pretty small too, around 500 people had participated but at least the purpose had been clear.) I also heard that compañeras and compañeros of the Agrupación de Comunidades Mapuche Tehuelche 11 de Octubre, a Native-argentinean organization from the southern province of Chubut, and of the Horneros, an organization based in the City of Buenos Aires with the objective of supporting self-managing groups active in the occupation of land, had occupied the offices of the INAI, the National Institute for Native-argentinean Matters.

There were about 25 participants and with the exception of Javi of Ekintxa Zuzena of Bilbao, Spain, all of us were more or less loosely related to either the FLA (Argentinean Libertarian Federation), where the meeting was held, or the Biblioteca Popular 'José Ingenieros'. The discussion, that had no pre-proposed list of topics, bounced around an analysis of the present state of affairs, a proposal to try to organize and7or coordinate actions and a counterproposal to continue working as we do in our everyday lives to spread our views on the situation.

Some clear concepts were defined during the discussion: 1) As unbridled competitive capitalism is forcing itself upon humankind at global scale, so too, is fear, now more that ever, being introduced and utilized at global scale to smash any resistance. 2) The virtual spectacle televised and sent to probably a third of the world's homes and labelled "The War" is an aseptic smoke screen for what is really happening in Afghanistan and Central Asia in general, but also for what has disappeared from out screens on Macedonian, on Zimbabwe and on Columbia and what is happening day by day in the marginalized world at large. 3) We must cease to plead for alms and crumbs. we must protest. We must demand leisure to enjoy creatively. We must insist:

"NO" to fear

"NO" to war

"YES" to strengthening solidarity (here I take the opportunity to throw in my ten cents) and

"YES" to creative leisure.

An afterword:

Today the occupiers of the INAI managed to have various media present when the officials of the Ministry of the Interior decided to show up. Strangely the censor mechanism of the media does not work as efficiently here as it now has been for at least ten years in the U.S.A. Luckily! This put the occupants in an unusually strong bargaining position with the Ministry, and consequently various tracts of land claimed by different Native-argentinean communities for different periods of time now, today were ceded to the people who have a genuine right to use them as their humble but dignified means of living. Today a small, perhaps temporary victory was won, a victory, however, which is very important for maybe even a couple of hundred of families. This war is world-wide and we must understand that the more we resist it, where ever we may be, the better we are making this world collectively.

Peter Larsen"