Argentina: Workers organise

FRFI 166 April / May 2002

This year Argentina’s economy will contract at least 5%. Half the population already lives in poverty on less than US$3 per day. If the January inflation rate of 2.3% continues for the rest of the year, 4.3 million more people will be thrown into poverty. Meanwhile the IMF is forcing the Argentinean state to continue cuts in spending and abandon its temporary dual exchange rate, so accelerating the collapse of the economy.

This removes all room for manoeuvre for the Argentinean bourgeoisie as it falls further into the grip of imperialism. At the same time, President Duhalde hypocritically laments the fact that the ‘political class’ does not represent the wishes of the people.

 

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Argentina: Starving the workers – only way out for imperialism

FRFI 168 August / September 2002

Argentinean GNP fell 16.3% in the first three months of 2002, following Argentina’s default last December on its foreign debt and the subsequent massive devaluation of the peso. Both domestic and external trade have collapsed, as have tax collection and state spending. Six million workers, 45% of the working population, are now unemployed or underemployed, 1.6 million more than in May 2001. For the 11.3 million with jobs there are shorter hours, massive inflation and a scarcity of goods to buy. With half the population plunged into poverty, Argentineans are now facing starvation. Malnutrition is common throughout the country. In the Pilar district of Buenos Aires there is an 80% increase in infectious illness. Health Minister Garcia has said ‘I’m afraid that we’ll experience something similar to Russia when they lost seven years off the average life expectancy in their last macro-economic crisis’. Spanish, French, US, Brazilian and Venezuelan organisations have given medicine, clothing and food worth £4 million this year but this a drop in the ocean given the needs of the burgeoning numbers of the hungry poor.

 

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Argentina on the rack

FRFI 169 October / November 2002

8.4 million of Argentina’s 34 million population are now destitute. Malnutrition is widespread; children eat fried toads, or rats or pigeons. Everywhere desperation stalks the land. Workers in Rosario who haven’t eaten in days seize a crashed cattle truck and eat the load. Violence against property is rising and the shrinking middle class provides a boom market only for security systems, defence courses, guards and armoured vehicles.

 

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Argentina: new president, continuing misery

The Argentinean ruling class, led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been on the offensive. It has slashed the living conditions of the population to such an extent that Argentina, through a policy of starvation (see FRFI 169), is actually increasing its foreign currency reserves (now $10.5 billion) and paying back state debts. Exports of wheat, soya, corn and meat increased during 2002, with a current balance of payments surplus of $8.8 billion, whilst hunger ravaged the country. The gross domestic product fell 15% and half a million jobs were lost over the last year. Accordingly, in January, an IMF deal saw $6.6 billion of debt ‘rolled over’ again, with loans covering obligations up to August. The IMF vultures are ‘optimistically’ planning an intense squeeze over two years, whilst 20% of children are already malnourished. Alvaro Michaels reports.

 

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Argentina: How the ruling class deals with its debts

FRFI 178 April / May 2004

Having reduced the country to mass poverty by a decade of plunder and privatisation primed with dollars from the global banks, the ruling class now struggles to save its own skin. On the one hand it cannot attack the working class any more provocatively, on the other it cannot absolutely repudiate its debts to the banks. Finally, it has to keep on seducing the middle classes. Thus President Kirchner is now playing the patriot by keeping the IMF at bay whilst praying that a 70% currency devaluation and starvation wages will boost growth and exports, and so attract new investments from abroad.

 

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