"Argentina has several million people trading in local currency since
their inflation went through the roof."
Paul Glover, Ithaca, New York activist
Argentina bleeds toward healing
by Raul Riutor, Culture Change correspondent
Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina, a rich country during the
first years of the 20th Centurystill a nuclear power in Latin
Americasuffers now its worst financial, economic and social crisis since
independence from Spain in 1816. Incredibly, it has food to feed the whole
Some visitors from Washington DC, representing the
International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank,
and others coming from the European Union, notice when they see the
poverty here that the present situation exceeds the crisis in the United States
before the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Nestor Kirchner, the new President for the next four
years since May 25, 2003, did not promise miracles and has been working like a
"fireman" in several provinces to keep the schools and hospitals
opened and the poor people eating, thanks to some old and new social plans.
The paradigmatic situation, in figures, it is as
FOREIGN DEBT: l72,000,000,000 dollars. Argentina did not pay
a cent since the end of 2001, when the country had five Presidents in less than
a month. Roberto Lavagna, the Economy Minister, is asking for a
discharge of the debt. Kirchner says: "I will not pay with the hunger
of my countrymen." It will take more than a generation to pay that
JOBS: Around 3,000,000 people do not have a regular
FOOD: More that 2,000,000 kids do not eat at home, but they
get some food in the schools.
PENSIONERS: More than 5,000,000 "jubilados" get
only between l50 and 210 pesos (50 to 70 dollars) monthly, enough for one week
(in summer, not in the cruel winter).
With this situation, here in the populous Avellaneda
headquarters of the popular soccer clubs Racing and Independiente there are
continuous meetings of protesters (the now famous "piqueteros") asking
for everything: jobs, social plans, medicines, better salaries, security in the
streets, the end of corruption (politics, police, parliamentary, municipal,
etc.). They block avenues, streets, bridges and they talk to the radios,
TV, newspapers with the usual slogan: "¡Que se vayan todos! (All of
them must go!)
These actions have taken place almost in all the
provinces and Buenos Aires, the federal capital, during the last three
years. Some critics claim that many "piqueteros" do not know
what the situation is all about and they go there just to get paid, plus a
sandwich and a beer or glass of wine.
What? Just for one sausage sandwich? How can this be?
Argentina has 4,000,000
square kilometers and a long Atlantic Coast with plenty of fish and also rivers
with more wealth.
Meat? Almost one and a half cow for each of the
37,000,000 people living in Argentina
And also 30,000,000 sheep and 40,000,000 horses.
And an enormous harvest of wheat, corn, soy, sunflower,
alfalfa, grapes, apples, potatoes... well...it seems there is food for a
population ten times bigger.
So, it is time for some ugly questions:
Why millions of kids go to sleep without a decent hot
Why the poor old former workers die at night because
they have not keroseno for their heater?
Why in the sidewalk of an American or European bank
here, in Rosario, Tucumán Santa Fe or other big Argentine town,
thousands of homeless sleep just with cardboard instead of blankets?
Why the rich Argentines do not bring back from the
Caribbean or Switzerland their 100,000,000,000 dollars to create jobs?
Why they do not sell the Presidential Plane (Tango 01)
and with the 60 millions dollars buy milk and bread for the people who have been
eating dogs in Rosario or cold pizza from the garbage baskets around here?
The former President, Eduardo Duhalde, used this
expensive unit to go to Rome to say "Goodbye" to the Pope, John Paul
Why Senators and Representatives do not give back
theirs cars with drivers? The money could go to the "Comedores
Barriales"houses, poor, of course, where children go to eat and
besides, they would not use oil, something that Argentina has little of, just
for ten years more, according to the "Instituto Argentino del Petróleo."
They could use bikes, right?
Now Argentina has a deflationary situation: nobody
buys, everybody sells, nobody pays.
The super-markets are empty. Well, they
have costumers asking for the essentials. Looking for the cheapest.
The hospitals are full. But there isn't any
cotton, syringes, alcohol or sheets.
Medical doctors and nurses are having a very hard
time. Can we blame them if they prefer "to escape" from hell to
the First World, maybe to the United States, Australia, Canada, or France?
They also want to go to Spain or Italy, from where their
ancestors came to Argentina, fleeing from wars, poverty and hunger!
Raul Riutor has worked with Jan Lundberg of
Sustainable Energy Institute dating back to their association in the early 1980s
with the bilingual Energy Detente, published by their employer Lundberg
Survey. Raul worked for Reuters for years prior to that, and since lived
in Argentina since the mid 1980s. He may have improved his racquetball
game there, and no doubt he will demonstrate for us whenever he returns to
Related discussion: Culture Change Letter on the collapse
of the U.S. kill-for-oil culture
Background on Argentina's crisis and liberation:
has great Argentina info.
Media - a collective of media activists fighting corporate globalization
in solidarity with Latin American strugges.
Learn about Argentina's anti-capitalistic
experiment, from Utne
For general information on Argentina, see
See Culture Change magazine
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