Argentina: Interview with Alejandro Bodart. “The agreement between PO and MST has enormous political importance”

This article was originally published in Alternativa Socialista, newspaper of the MST, by comrade Alejandro Bodart, general secretary of the MST in the FIT-U and pre-candidate for governor of the Province of Buenos Aires. We asked him to elaborate on the outlook for the country, the political significance of our recent agreement with Partido Obrero and the open plenary of the left and fighters that both forces called for Saturday, June 17 in Plaza Congreso.

How do you see the outlook for the country with the next government?

We are moving towards a country where the crisis will undoubtedly deepen, where the government, whoever it is that finally triumphs, will govern with very few expectations from the mass movement and will have to apply a brutal austerity plan, go against the wages of state workers, against pensions, against social assistance, make working conditions more flexible, etc, an outrage. All of this will be done in order to comply with the conditions imposed by the IMF, to continue paying millions and millions of dollars of foreign debt and to answer to the demands of the real owners of Argentina, which are the big national economic groups and international corporations.

As this austerity is not going to be possible without repression, they are going to try to curtail democratic freedoms. We have seen this type of attack in many provinces, now in Salta and Jujuy, where they are promoting ordinances, laws and even constitutional changes with the aim of fining, persecuting and prohibiting popular mobilization. They will try to restrict the right to strike and social protest.

Therefore, it will be necessary to prepare for this difficult perspective and that’s where the importance of strengthening the left emerges, not only electorally but above all organizationally, to be able to respond to this reactionary offensive which they are going to try to apply and which we will try to prevent from happening. Then, the perspective we see is towards a new Argentinazo similar or superior to that of December 2001, that is to say, a new process of massive mobilization, a rebellion against poverty and endless austerity, which will end up putting the government, the parties of the system and all the institutionality of this false democracy at the service of the rich in crisis.

What is your political overview of the MST-PO agreement?

The agreement between PO and MST has enormous political importance. It happens on the basis of fundamental political coincidences in relation to the battle we have to give to reverse an increasingly electoralist tendency of the FIT-U. To try to transform the front into a tool not only for the elections, but fundamentally to organize the workers, youth and popular resistance to the reactionary capitalist counteroffensive that is already underway and that will deepen after the elections in October.

That is why we need a left front that not only meets every two years to see how to participate in the elections, but that acts jointly every day to fight for the unions and against the bureaucracy, to support social organizations that fight against the attempt of the State to nationalize them, and against the attempt of the bourgeoisie that wants to eliminate social assistance to force a sector of the working class to work in conditions of semi-slavery. A front to support the youth, environmental struggles, women and diversities, pensioners, all the popular sectors that come out to defend their rights.

But the MST-PO agreement is also important to counteract a very dangerous political tendency that could end up liquidating the FIT-U. I am referring to the attempt to hegemonize it by one of the member forces, PTS, and thus change the essence of the FIT-U which is a front of unity of parties and not a tool in which a single party ends up deciding candidates and profile, when we even have many nuances with the profile that said force has been raising.

What is the importance of the call for the June 17 plenary?

The importance of the plenary is strategic, not only in this electoral situation, since it would allow us to avoid having two lists in the PASO if all the members of the front participated in the plenary. Among all the militancy, the friends of the front and those organizations that are not part of the program, we could choose the best formula, we could discuss which is the most adequate profile and which are the fundamental points of the program of the FIT-U to carry out in the next period.

But the open plenary of the 17th has an importance that goes beyond the electoral issue, since it would be the way to begin to organize the enormous sympathy that the front has and to make those people, those comrades and fighters who approach and surround us, stop being merely passive observers, who are called every now and then when there are elections, to become active militants of the organization and thus strengthen the social structuring of the front in the different strata of society. Then we will not only have hundreds of thousands of votes, but we will begin to have tens and then hundreds of thousands of militants, which is the only way to achieve that the fundamental changes that we propose can be carried out and become a reality in the near future.

In your opinion, what are the perspectives of the FIT-U?

We are at a crossroads in the Front. It has been a huge triumph that it has brought together the bulk of the Argentine left and this has allowed the left to strengthen itself in the last period. But we are at a crossroads, since the front must evolve and become not only an electoral tool but an alternative in the streets to broadly organize the militancy, the activists, the sympathizers, to fight in all fields against the different options of the Argentine bourgeoisie in the perspective of a government of the workers and the popular sectors.

If the front does not manage to evolve, it can go backwards. In fact there is a certain stagnation which is related to this problem. Together with that, if the hegemonism of one of its member parties were to consolidate, based essentially on an electoralist project without having a direct relation with the real structuring of that force in the working class, in the popular sectors, in organized militancy, it could lead at some point to the front exploding.

That is why the fight we are giving is so important. In the first place to defend the FIT-U, to strengthen it as an option of struggle. Because we are convinced that the front cannot be satisfied with just getting a deputy here, another deputy there… It has to be a political option to answer every day to the different situations suffered in the country and in the different sectors of society, in the perspective of becoming a government option.