Argentina: Left and Workers Front Unity Declaration. Reject the Bill to Pay the Debt

The “Restoration of the Sustainability of the Foreign Public Debt” bill is a blank check with which the government of Alberto Fernández intends to proceed with a restructuring of the debt. Macrism, along with the other bourgeois parties are prepared to guarantee the approval of this bill. The agreement to be worked out with the creditors will not be treated or approved by Congress.

In addition to concentrating the final decision on negotiations with creditors in its hands, the government assures the power to modify the budget to comply with the agreements it will make. The submission does not end there: the bill ratifies the habilitation of foreign courts to settle disputes that may arise. Vulture funds and speculators move like fish in water in that terrain.

Concretely, the government proposes an operation not bailout the country but the creditors. The 2005 swap, carried out under Lavagna and Fernández, that the bill references, should not be overlooked because it redeemed up to 100% of the nominal value of junk bonds that vulture funds had bought for pennies. The IMF, in turn, collected almost 10,000 million dollars in cash the following year. Meanwhile, workers’ incomes depreciated as a result of devaluation, inflation and precarious work.

During the electoral campaign Alberto Fernández criticized that much of the IMF loan taken by Macri´s government – which was mostly used to pay off debt – returned abroad through capital flight. But today he is advancing in validating that fraudulent and illegitimate debt. The Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, also described Macri´s management of the debt as a “disaster”, but the this bill will legitimize Macri´s debt and payment commitments without any inquiry. Those who advocated “investigating” the debt during the election campaign, are now prepared to completely legitimize it. In Congress, the votes of Kirchnerism and the PJ in favor of this project will be accompanied by those of Cambiemos and Lavagna; the only opposition will be that of the Left Front Unity.

The search for an agreement with the creditors and the initiation of the bailout operation began with the “Solidarity Law” that eliminated the mobility of pensions, continued with the fixed raises to curb contract negotiations, the refusal of any trigger clause to update salaries according to inflation and the tax increases imposed on workers and the middle class. It is also reflected in the policy of approaching US imperialism by maintaining Hezbollah’s qualification as a terrorist organization; by maintaining Argentina as an integral member of the Lima Group, which is the spearhead of Trump and the local right in Latin America and encouraged and supported the recent coup in Bolivia and the coup plot against Venezuela; by remaining silent on the murder of Iranian General Soleimani, and with its recent trip to Israel. The government´s foreign policy and political alliances are tailored to and conditioned by the dictates and requirements of the creditors, the IMF and imperialism.

We are facing a new transfer of wealth from workers to capitalists, and austerity measures to guarantee it. This is the mechanism that dominates the state of the pension system. Far from the State supporting retirees, as the representatives of the boss’ parties and their scribes hold, it is the retirees who support the State and the capitalists. The retiree’ funds were sacked and used for other purposes, especially for the payment of the external debt, while the ANSES was de-financed with the reduction of employer contributions and the extension of unregistered work.

Axel Kicillof´s decision to postpone the payment of capital of the bond that the province had issued, has unveiled the bankruptcy of the entire country. The national government also confirmed that it is not in a position to give Buenos Aires the funds in case the proposal does not prosper. Behind the province of Buenos Aires, comes Chubut and the rest of the provinces, all massively indebted in dollars.

We are facing a perpetual, illegitimate and fraudulent mortgage that has been snowballing, despite the fact that all the governments that have passed met all the commitments. During the Kirchnerist era, 200 billion dollars were paid in external debt. Under Macri, the debt was paid promptly and, when this was not possible, the IMF came in, though 80% of its loans were used to make payments of previously accumulated debt.

The “tactic” agreed on between the national and provincial governments to negotiate ended in a first setback. The bondholders argue that, before any agreement, the government must explain where it will get the funds to pay for the debt. That is, to show what austerity measures it will take against the workers. The plunder of the “Solidarity Law” was not enough. It will be the IMF that sets the standards.

The bureaucratic union leaderships of the CGT and the CTA, together with the social movements co-opted by the state, have established their solidarity with the government´s course. Not only have they allowed the elimination of pension mobility to pass without saying a word, but they have given clear adhesions to the decision to grant fixed sums to increase wages, which means the liquidation of the wage negotiations and of the update (trigger) clauses, like the governments of Tucumán and Santa Fe have already done with their state workers, with the endorsement of the sector´s union bureaucracy. With the argument of raising the lowest wages, they ends up producing a net fall in wages. Daer, Acuña, Yasky and Baradel (at the beginning of the national teachers negotiations) have endorsed the fixed raises. Sergio Palazzo, the Kirchnerist leader of La Bancaria (bank workers´ union), after proclaiming that the “trade union movement must be more prudent than ever”, agreed a raise of a fixed sum for the last installment of his union’s negotiation.

Far from accepting a new theft of workers, a new surrender of the country’s resources and a new submission to imperialism, the Left Front rejects the government’s bill. We also warn that this new sacrifice that they intend to impose on the Argentine people does not dissipate the perspective and the threat of default. The debt is not payable, it is illegitimate and fraudulent.

To confront this bill we draw inspiration from Mendoza´s rebellion against the mega-miner pact of the PJ and the UCR; from the mobilizations in Chubut against Arcioni´s new austerity measures; from struggles like those of Inti, Kimberly, Molinos Minetti, Ansabo, the laid-off railway workers, the Posadas Hospital, because they are expressions of the tendency to struggle that are present in the mass movement.

We rely on them to boost the fight for wages and pensions; for free negotiations to fight for a salary equivalent to the family basket; for the prohibition of lay-offs.

Instead of this new bailout for bondholders, bankers and capitalists, we need to the rescue the millions of Argentines who live from their work. We propose a break with the IMF and the repudiation and non-payment of the debt; the nationalization of banks, the energy system and national wealth and heritage to centralize resources and implement a comprehensive transformation under the political leadership of workers in order to meet pressing social needs. We demand an immediate general increase in salaries, pensions and social plans with updates according to inflation, as part of an alternative working-class and popular plan for the crisis to no longer be paid by workers and the people. We call for rejecting this project of submission and to launching a campaign of mobilization for the non-payment of the external debt and for all popular demands.

On this basis, the Left Front-Unity will hold a rally at the gates of the National Congress on Wednesday, January 29 at 5:30 p.m.

MST Movimiento Socialista de los Trabajadores

PTS Partido de Trabajadores por el Socialismo

PO Partido  Obrero

Izquierda Socialista