Argentina/Chubut: a rebellion of the working people

We are living a full blown rebellion in Chubut that has been going on for two months, shaking the entire province.

The working people of Chubut do not resign themselves to the exploitation and abuse of the capitalist political caste that leads the destruction and rapine of the province. A people that once again lead a rebellion that makes history in the long path of the struggle against the capitalist order that oppresses, exploits and drains even the last of the strategic resources at the hands of (national and foreign) extractivist landowning and industrial corporations. A drained province that at the same time is the main oil and aluminium producer of the country, among other resources. None of that is for the people, the only ones who produce the wealth and are left out of this feast of looting. This struggle has the government in the air, supported by the artificial lung of the union bureaucracy.

The province taken over by workers and the people

The trigger of the current struggle was the reinstallation of piecemeal payment to public employees and the flagrant non-compliance of the labour agreements signed by the government in the beginning of the year. There is also the theft of the social security contributions of the working class and the suspension of services of the provincial health care providers. Through that crack the demands of working people and the disastrous situation of abandonment of public services and the social infrastructure of healthcare, education and every area came into the spotlight. With a government that makes more clear than ever the farce of bourgeois democracy and the most vile demagogy at the service of maintaining the privileges of big corporations in the province and the payment of the provincial public debt, 80% of it in dollars, to external creditors that automatically get paid from the royalties received by the province, mostly from oil.

The workers´ response is strong. There are strikes in every sector of public administration, occupations of public buildings, street mobilizations by region of thousands of people, with two provincial marches to the capital and, in the last two weeks, road blockades across the province have virtually suspended the governor in the air, who was re-elected last June 9. An executive power completely delegitimized with ministers that escaped from their positions (Economy and Education) and others on the brink due to the mobilization. This is the same governor that is maintained by the union bureaucracy, a corrupt accomplice of the power of the State and the governments.

A radical struggle. Who pays for the broken plates?

This struggle is a vital face off between the capitalists and working people. The national and provincial austerity plans have caused social hardships and suffering that are already unbearable. The sides are clear: on one hand, the working class and the social majorities (students, unemployed, self-employed, merchants and middle class) and on the other hand, the government and its caste of officials sitting on the great corporations´ lap.

Before this scenario, the MST raises the urgent need of an alternative plan so the crisis is not paid for by the working people, but by those accountable for it: the capitalists, bankers, looting corporations and the caste of government officials.

While the majority of Chubut does not even get paid, corporations like PanAmerican, Aluar, Conarpesa, Benetton or La Anónima make fortunes. It is essential to apply emergency taxes on all of them to destine that money to the payment of wages and social security.

We must immediately suspend the payment of the external debt of Chubut and create an independent investigative commission to determine its real nature. Meanwhile, this money will guarantee necessary infrastructure in schools and hospitals.

We must also stop utilities raises and nationalize public services and the transport system under the control of its workers. These are just some of the necessary measures to begin an alternative path. We have to fight to materialize them because there are no moderate solutions to the current crisis.

Some political conclusions

The militants of the MST in the FIT-Unidad are categorical: our intervention has the absolute priority of defeating Arcioni´s austerity plan on the streets and imposing an alternative economic plan with the political mobilization of our class. For that, it is essential to coalesce the force of the struggle we deployed in these weeks in a congress or provincial assembly of the sectors in struggle, focused on that the crisis must be paid by those who generated it and not the workers. With these life and death tasks, let’s kick Arcioni out and call a Constituent Assembly to re-found our province on other bases, since it is not a debate about political figures. The struggle is radical.

We are convinced that these tasks are not impossible, those who are immersed in the struggle also see that the great disposition to fight and the political capital accumulated in the activism of our class is under great risk if it is not able to completely overcome the limits of the conciliatory policies of the union leaderships of Atech, Ate, Sitravich, that prioritize “overcoming the conflict” and not “making waves”, with the complicity of the national unions that persist on isolating the struggles in Chubut. From the MST we insist that there are conditions for the triumph of the demands of the working people, on the condition of overcoming the strategic issue of conquering new references in the union, social-environmental and political levels. That is why we build our party, that gives it all for the struggles of our class.

A province on fire

We do not feel the cold because of the heat of the struggle. Since Tuesday I am in the province accompanying the struggle of the state workers, in response to the non-compliance of the government of Arcioni of the signed agreements and the return of the piecemeal payment of state salaries, after defeating his austerity policies in 2018.

In Comodoro Rivadavia, I accompanied the road blockades on the roundabouts in the northern and southern areas, bringing the solidarity of the MST, sharing the stew they cook daily on the road. In the afternoon we held a talk about the situation in the province and our proposals for the crisis with Emilse Saavedra in Kompuchewe Square. At the close of this edition I will be travelling to the mountains.

The cold winter does not stop this struggle, which had a great experience last year when they overcame the brakes of the bureaucracy with the organization of the bases. That is the force of the province, workers who are tired of the campaign lies, of policies for the corporations and go to the streets to continue the struggle for their rights.

Today, Tuesday 27, there were blockades in Comodoro Rivadavia, Puerto Madryn and Esquel. The government hoped that with the announcement that on the 28th it would complete the payment

 of retirees and on 30th with active workers, calm would come, but it only caused more anger. The resignation of the education minister was like changing a fuse, the political crisis continues. It is clear to most workers that the policy of this government is guaranteeing the payment of the debt, which nobody asked for and was not destined to solve the structural problems of the province, at the cost of punishing the people.

What Chubut is going through is what awaits us at the national level if we do not break with the IMF, both Macri and Fernández continue giving guarantees to the capitalist conglomerates. The solution is on the streets, strengthening a political alternative that prioritizes guaranteeing the rights of workers, women and the youth, in the province and at the national level. Today this support is to continue nationalizing the conflict, demanding direct action from the unions, to call a national strike in support of the struggle and continue demanding that Arcioni quit now and the call to a Constituent Assembly so the people can decide.

Maximiliano Masquijo