In the Simultaneous and Compulsory Open Primaries (PASO) of the left, Alejandro Bodart, general secretary of the Argentine Socialist Workers Movement (MST) and coordinator of the International Socialist League, will head the MST’s list of national deputies for the Province of Buenos Aires, the most important district in the country. We cpoke with him about the political situation and his proposals.
Interview by Pablo Vasco
How do you see the electoral landscape on the left?
Well, since it is very difficult, if not almost impossible, to reach an agreement considered fair by all expressions of the classist left, we have been proposing to settle the candidacies in a great primary and thus guarantee unity, which is what is most important. This way we would face Macrism and the lists of the national government with greater strength. The PTS has since taken up this proposal. But, within the FIT Unidad, the PO and Izquierda Socialista are opposed to having a primary and they intend to resolve everything “by agreement.”
This is mistaken because to expand the unity or even keep the FIT-U itself together if some force does not agree with the proposed candidacies, which always reflect the profiles and the nuances that exist between us, the only real mechanism we have at hand is a primary. Second, it is not true that having various lists in the PASO would prevent a “common battle” against the system’s variants, as the PO objects. It’s the other way around: it would allow us to arrange the lists and then strike out together to confront the capitalist candidates. Furthermore, neither the “agreement that has stood for ten years” -as IS insists- which does not include us, nor a new one even more hegemonic, as the PTS implies by asking to head the lists in more places and have longer terms in office, would settle the difficulties within the FIT-U, much less would it allow integrating others.
Reality has changed in these years and this must be taken into account. Already in 2019, when we joined the front, in order to prioritize unity, we accepted a lower presence in the lists than what would have corresponded. But that was an exception, as we insisted every time the subject was discussed. In addition, while our party has continued to grow, the PO has divided. It is necessary to reflect the current balance of forces. Of course, if there was a balanced agreement, even in representation, both in time in office and in the heads of the lists in the main districts, there would be no need for primaries. But this is not on the table. We need a left front with a different dynamic, more equal, allowing all member forces visibility, with a real rotation and no one remaining in the seats: two terms and a return to the base. The Primaries, as the FIT did in 2015 and we did in Salta in 2019 with the FIT-U, stand out as the most appropriate way to preserve the unity of the front.
In turn, there are two other spaces on the left that, until now, maintain their personalism and divisive policy. One is Luis Zamora’s, who only appears in the Capital, though he is increasingly moving away from the positions of the left. The other is the Nuevo MAS: Manuela Castañeira proposes to “debate,” but without first accepting unity. Actually, it’s just an excuse to justify her rejection of unity, useful only to the parties of the system. Until the last moment we will call on them to reflect, change and join a greater unity of the left, a unity that is demanded by all activists and is increasingly necessary. If they finally do not accept the proposal and we present ourselves again as FIT Unidad, the MST has already decided on its candidatures for the primaries. I insist because, days from the presentation of alliances, we see the possibility of an agreement that meets the expectations of all of us who are part of the front very difficult. That is why important plenaries of our militancy decided to proclaim myself and Vilma Ripoll to head the list of national deputies of the MST in the Province of Buenos Aires, Cele Fierro as the head of our list in the Capital, Luciana Echevarría in Córdoba, Jimena Sosa in Santa Fe and so no in each province.
What left project does the MST propose?
Unity is not uniformity or a single thought, because there are nuances, differences and different projects on the left and within the FIT-U. We see very defensive positions in some of the FIT-U’s parties, even a certain conservatism and pessimism, far behind the changes that are taking place in Latin America and other parts of the world.
Since the FdT government’s plan is not to continue pressing for austerity, and the people’s standard of living deteriorates day to day, we are heading toward sharper social struggles, to sharper social and political polarization, to rebellions, which opens a greater space for us, for the left, and not only electorally speaking. We see the prospect of a great opportunity and a great challenge.
For this reason, we need a left that evolves or is revolutionized, that puts itself forward and advances to become an alternative of power. A broader left that is open to include activists and individuals from the independent anti-capitalist left, who would be willing to join a strong left tool if we invite them. A firmer left programmatically, that poses tough measures against the rich and their privileges. A left that allows all the voices that make up the front to be visible, without enshrining personalities or hegemonies.
In order disseminate this project, which is necessary to be up to the tasks in times that are coming, and to invite people to support it with their vote, the MST has come out in force for the PASO.
You have been touring the province, what are people saying to you?
Look, I find a lot of discontent and anger over the unfulfilled promises of the Frente de Todos, especially at the economic level. In the suburbs, the level of poverty is overwhelming and seven out of every ten kids are poor: it’s outrageous.
I’ll give you examples. In Moreno I was accompanying a protest of municipal workers, many of them precarious. Do you know how much they earn? 30,000 pesos! How can a family live with that money? I would like to see the mayor, Kicillof, or one of the deputies, to see what they would do if they earned that misery. In Pilar, where I accompanied our trans comrades, who were mistreated by officials for thinking differently, they want to settle them with a social subsidy of just 12,000 pesos, as if that were the trans job quota. Now I’m coming from a tour of Mar del Plata. I was speaking with some young people who are very concerned about the lack of jobs and prospects. I also went to an environmental protest against the government’s project to grant oil companies new marine areas, which will only bring more plunder, pollution and risks for the marine fauna and fishing and tourism activity, on which so many working families depend.
In short, there is a huge gap between what the government says and what it does. Faced with this double speak and, of course, against the Macrist right that already ruled and sunk us, we took to the streets with our proposals. For example, high and permanent and progressive taxes on the rich; not paying the foreign debt; extraordinary export taxes to the beneficiaries of this year’s record harvest, to pour all that money into solving basic social needs, starting with a general increase in wages and a massive youth employment plan. Cut all the privileges, from deputies’ high pay to the businesses of the union bureaucracy, the millions in state subsidies to the Church and its schools. We ask for the vote for this left project and for the voices of the MST to be present in November.