Argentina: Peronist defeat and growth of the left in the country’s main province

Cierre de campaña FIT Unidad

The disappointment and anger at the policies of austerity of a government like that of Alberto and Cristina, which calls itself Peronist, had a positive expression in the best election of the left with the Workers’ Left Front Unity (FIT Unidad) in the province of Buenos Aires. The expectations generated and the unfulfilled promises led a wide portion of workers to make their experience with Peronism and made the left emerge. This is here to stay and it is key for what will come.

By Francisco Torres

The greatest expression of this phenomenon is that the revolutionary left conquered for the first time numerous councilors in key districts of Buenos Aires. These have been headed by the peronist party for decades, such as La Matanza with Espinoza or Merlo with Gustavo Menéndez, mayor and president of the Buenos Aires Justice Party (PJ), as well as secretary of Organization of the national PJ. This district is even a symbol, as days ago a rally of “unity” of all the internal lines of the PJ was held there to remember Néstor Kirchner. All this to promote an idea of “unity” which is not such and to try to give another image to overcome the hard defeat in the PASO. The province is considered the “mother of battles”, being the main electoral stronghold of the country. Achieving an important vote in the suburbs, where 11 million people live, 63% of the population of Buenos Aires, is a categorical sign that the containment dam that the PJ represents, as the historical leadership of the working class, is beginning to crack and a wide sector veers to the left. Because there is social polarization to the left, but also to the right of the two-party or two-coalition system. Not only is the left growing, but also the reactionary right with the vote for Espert and Avanza Libertad. It rose to third place by increasing its vote in greater proportion than what Juntos rose, from the PASO to this election. This panorama is explained by the phenomenon of polarization that exists at the international level and is expressed in the country. Where the poles to the left and the right are becoming stronger, more than the traditional coalitions. The vote for Espert was surely influenced by the lists that did not pass the PASO with votes from the nationalist Frente Patriota of Biondini, the Conservative party, the former “carapintada” Gómez Centurión, Dignidad Patriótica, Moral y Progreso or Todos por Buenos Aires (All for Buenos Aires), which is referenced in Milei. In the other pole, that is more dynamic and that responds to the working people, with the Frente de Izquierda Unidad we collect the 101 thousand votes that had been gathered separately by the ballots of the eternal divisionism that is functional to the government that it claims to fight: the Nuevo MAS of Manuela and those of Política Obrera of Altamira. But we gained more than 160 thousand new votes in dispute, reaching a historic election with 600 thousand suffrages. It is not minor either the fall of the blank vote or the null vote, which found in the positive vote, by the left, a way out for the working people and not for the powerful who have many parties and politicians who defend them.

Seats for the FIT Unidad

With the seats and the entry of numerous councilmembers in traditional districts of Peronism, added to Vilma Ripoll being elected as a national deputy in the rotating seat of the FIT Unidad, and Guillermo Pacagnini as representative of Buenos Aires for the populous 3rd Section, a tendency that is here to stay is marked by fire. And it will deepen with the rupture of workers, activists, fighters, women and young people, who realize that the mystique, the symbols of the PJ or talking about Perón or Evita will not fill the family table or make ends meet. Therefore, more than a punishment, we can say that there was a vote in favor of a proposal of struggle and social transformation. It was also demonstrated that it is possible to fight successfully, upholding principles. Without falling into resignation and a frustrating possibilism promoted by defeated sectors assimilated into the system that repeat that what the left says is utopian or that we raise it because we will never have to govern nor have responsibility, etc. False claims to justify their pro-capitalist defeatism. Because we achieved an extraordinary number of votes without lowering any flag. Like those historically raised by honest fighters, who saw in Peronism the possible alternative to fight for political sovereignty, economic independence and, above all, for social justice. Comrades of struggle told us that they saw the leftist ideas with good eyes, but that there was no other choice but to fight from inside the PJ. That we should be “smart” and fight from within in order to advance because our road was not going to be possible. That it would not happen until a supposed accumulation and change in the relation of forces was achieved. All excuses for things that never come… But this achievement of the historic vote for the revolutionary left with the FIT Unidad, by managing to enter the city councils as never before, gains more strength in the face of the contrast with other sectors of the political and social left that opted for the opposite path. With the PJ in the government, including Cristina Kirchner, the same one that these sectors fought against in her years of government, we see today forces that claim to be of the left, like the PCR and the CCC, that opted to keep any “class and militant” posture in order to assimilate themselves to the government of austerity and the payment of a foreign debt that they denounced so much. The same is true of the Communist Party or Libres del Sur and its social sector Barrios de Pie, plus the Frente Patria Grande or the Santillan. All sectors located on the left, with anti-capitalist, anti-system positions, whose leaderships chose to lower those flags with the false argument of “fighting from within” the PJ to try to change its course… They must break with these failed projects to join a solid and developing alternative. To insist on the other is a dead end, often proven tragically and at the cost of having to relegate strategic demands and programmatic points of principles, such as the call not to pay the foreign debt, to take austerity to the rich, to confront the corporations. All to end up surrendering to a pro-business government, admittedly capitalist and pro-imperialist like the PJ. Because it is a government and a movement transformed into a “serial payer of the debt”, as recognized by Cristina herself. That guaranteed the rich and the corporations to take away their profits, as Cristina also acknowledges. That is why she always complains to that supposed “national bourgeoisie”, why they do not accept her together with Kirchnerism, when in her government, the balance sheets of the companies gave much more profit than with Macri. This is what Cristina said in the rally for October 17, when speaking to the youth of La Cámpora, and defending what they consider their Peronist project, while attacking and disqualifying several times the left and socialism. All this in an attempt to prevent a leakage of votes towards the FIT Unidad. Something they did not achieve. The fact is that, as Alejandro Bodart proclaimed during the campaign, Peronism is no longer the house of the workers and popular fighters. It is a wrong house, run by representatives of the employers. Today those banners and proposals of “fighting capital” as the old march that the PJ has not sung for a long time used to say, are only raised by the MST as part of the united left, in the FIT Unidad. Contrary to what General Perón used to say, when he considered the working class the “backbone” of the movement, but on which a leading head coming from the pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist and business ranks is placed. It is necessary to do the opposite: to set up a great political and social movement of the left, where the working class is the leading head. To aspire to govern the country and extend that struggle to the international level, as we do together with the ISL. It is the opposite of Cristina’s brutal sincerity, when she laid bare her pro-Yankee essence, when she said before La Cámpora that the dilemma was between the “free world” (that is, the field that won the war with the US at the head) versus the peoples that claim to be socialists. When Perón always spoke of a “third position”, chanting “neither Yankees nor Marxists” In reality we always said that the PJ was against Marxist ideas and class struggle. Something that Cristina ratified by saying that they are not Marxists, but the opposite. And that Peronism is today with “the free world”. That is, with U.S. imperialism. That is why even the Pope, who also claims to be a Peronist, insists on the chimera of a “humanized capitalism”. In Cristina’s words, a humanist, social and Christian proposal…

A historic opportunity

Today, with a government of the PJ, we again have the historic opportunity of being able to fight to build a great movement of the left, anti-capitalist and socialist. That broadly brings together those that claim those flags of Peronism in an honest way. And they tell us that Perón and Evita are no longer with us and that, in addition, all the governments that followed were governments of austerity. The issue of what to do with the debt gained unusual strength in the campaign. It became part of the debate at the family table or in the workplaces if this time it was not true that, as the left says, the dilemma is debt or wages; debt or work; debt or education. The basic and heartfelt promises made by the PJ, saying that they were going to fill the refrigerator, put money in people’s pockets and guarantee the barbeque at the family table, came up against the wall of reality, misery, unemployment, the growth of poverty in an Argentina where not everyone loses. Where, under a government that claims to be Peronist, they threaten to adjust corporations like Vicentín, but end up chickening out. They denounce that the money of the debt was taken out of the country by Macri and his friends, but it ends up being paid by the people. Where the richest 1% is getting richer and richer and their profits are increased strongly during the pandemic: banks, corporations, big businessmen, landowners, soybean growers and privatized companies. That is why today this historic opportunity is opening up. Because the people see that they all govern and bring austerity to the people. That the elections pass, but the problems remain and who is with the people in the daily struggles, it is always the left. Only the left and some honest activists who claim to be Peronists or the youth who no longer buy the false bipartisan radical-Peronist dichotomy. Because in 38 years of democracy for the rich, they have all promised to serve the people, but they governed for those at the top and are part of those at the top. That is why Cristina can insist with her popular narrative, but earns 2.5 million pesos for the two pensions she receives per month. In order to be up to this challenge and opportunity that is open to us, the left also has things to change. To broaden and be programmatically firm, and at the same time organizationally open to fight to set up a big political movement, with a clear program of rupture with the system, like the program of the Frente de Izquierda Unidad. It is a program that has been strongly supported in this election in Buenos Aires and in the country. That is why we received so many congratulations, expressions of sympathy and from workers who told us: “I took people to vote for the left”, “I am a Peronist, but this time I voted for the left with my family”. And that they are considering organizing themselves in a broad way, together with the Frente de Izquierda Unidad and the MST. That’s what we’re throwing ourselves into. And we are putting all our efforts and commitment into it.

The left broke the PJ’s dam

The Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores Unidad held a historic election in Buenos Aires and was the third force in the country. But one of the outstanding facts was the voting in the municipalities. There, in the heart of Peronism, in the bastions of the “barons of the conurbation”, the FIT Unidad managed to pierce the wall of the Justice Party (PJ). There, where the mayors of the Frente de Todos deployed their apparatus, their millionaire and vast resources and where the vote control, school by school, was a real pitched battle against those who believe and act as “owners” of the districts and voting places. We have two councilors in strategic districts such as La Matanza with 9.68% of the votes; in Merlo with 10.50%; Moreno with 9.27%; José C. Paz with 9.25%. We are fighting vote by vote to gain one in Morón and Florencio Varela, with 8.30%. Being second force in Pringles with 19.66%, plus 11.66% in San Antonio de Areco, 6.44% in Bolívar, 5.39% in 9 de Julio and many other very good results in the Province.

Elected councilors of the MST in the FIT Unidad

In the PASO, from the MST we contributed with a great amount of votes to the FIT Unity. In Merlo, Moreno, José C. Paz and Florencio Varela we widely surpassed the regrettable and restrictive 20% of the votes barrier, imposed by the rest of the FIT-U parties. With votes that reached 27% or in Matanza, being close to reaching that 20%. That is why the MST participates with candidates for councilors who will assume in the rotations of the FIT-U seats. It is a huge fact that the left has representation in the City Councils. This is the first time in history that this has happened. The complicity and impunity of the PJ and its agreements with Juntos to govern against workers, neighbors, women and the youth is beginning to end. The left breaks the wall that Peronism built for decades and will be a powerful voice to denounce the corruption that reigns in the municipalities and take the claims and struggles to the Council.

Susana Verón is a social leader in Merlo. For years she has been leading the demands for land, services, food and access to decent work in the furthest neighborhoods. She is also a leader in the struggle for women’s rights and sexual dissidences.

Pablo Lopardo is a state worker, from ANSES in Moreno. With Alternativa Estatal he leads the opposition to the leadership of ATE in the municipality and has been, for years, a political referent of the left and spokesman for the demands of workers and neighbors of Moreno.

Valeria Bibiano has been an employee and neighbor of Sol y Verde, José C. Paz, for 30 years. She is a member of the movement in Defense of the Health Centers, permanently attacked by Mayor Ishii. She always supports the struggle of the health team of the Mercante Hospital and is a referent of Juntas y a la Izquierda.

Ana Paredes Landman, 27 years old, will be one of the youngest councilors. She studies Social Work at the UNLaM and headed the FIT-U list to the Superior Council of the University. She is a member of the Coordination for the Right to Abortion, the Assembly against Klaukol and the Campaign against the Pork Agreement and Transgenic Wheat. She was a student delegate, anti-repression activist and murguera; she is an unemployed teacher.

Héctor Varela, historical socialist referent of Florencio Varela. He was a metalworker delegate at the Fracchia factory. He lives in Monte Cudine and is one of the leaders of Jubilados de Izquierda. Every struggle and claim in Varela has him as a protagonist.

The struggles enter the City Councils

From the MST we are proud to contribute these comrades so that the left makes its debut from December 10, in the Buenos Aires Municipal Councils. Together with the other forces of the Frente de Izquierda Unidad, Susana, Pablo, Valeria, Ana and Héctor will be the vanguard of a process that will continue to grow and develop if the front is more open to work and incorporate new sectors and social fighters who support its program. We must continue to fight hard to tear down once and for all that wall of the PJ. In the struggle for all the demands and in the perspective of a government of the workers and the people.

Carlos Ugarte