December 30, 2015
By Carlos Aznárez on December 30, 2015
Only a little more than two weeks ago Mauricio Macri took power of the Argentine Government but it already seems like a century for everything that has happened in these last few days. We still have fresh images of the Plaza de Mayo semi empty of people in contrast to what is customary in that iconic site. This past December 10, when the whole world could have seen on television a president and his vice president giving a heavy speech about “change” what we got was something entirely different. Instead the famed plaza of Buenos Aires was being entertained with a mediocre dancer of disco music accompanied by a woman doing karaoke from a wheelchair. And yes there were several clusters of fans watching them while hundreds of pigeons were baking under the hot afternoon sun.
A few hours later less surprising signals began to appear. A new cabinet made up of former executives of well-known multinationals (the ones known for financing the empire’s war adventures around the world), coupled with a cast of characters intimately linked to the military dictatorship of 1976 and former executives of Zionist organizations. Another member of the government also included a former activist in the Peronist youth movement of the 1970’s who is now the Minister of Security and enthusiastic friend of the United States Embassy. Rounding out the cabinet is a former communist militant in charge of the Official News Agency, Public TV and National Radio.
With such a team assembled it made sense that the big decrees of the new president’s obsessions get started right away. Moreover there was an urgency to take advantage of the fact that the parliament is in recess until March.
In the best style of the de facto government, Macri put his foot on the accelerator with total impunity. He immediately tried to sneak in with little success two new judges to the Supreme Court. Everything was going well until a colleague of the Supreme Court appealed to common sense and ordered it stopped. However, there was not enough opposition to lift the retentions of farming sectors that were against the Kirchners. It was the expected message for grain companies and the generals of the agribusiness who from one day to the next made 3,700 million dollars.
Macri then launched an onslaught against the Media Law; that very legislation which replaced the one implemented by the dictatorship and which was forged through the consensus of hundreds of assemblies and popular forums. Although this impeccable law was delayed in being put in place by the Kirchner Administration’s Federal Services Authority of Audiovisual Communication (AFSCA), Macri is now attempting to dismantle it.
Despite that there has been little opposition so far but all possible voices to repudiate the attempt by Macri to modify it, or even worse to put an end to the Media Law, should be raised. His intention is clear; curtailing any possibility of truly independent, alternative media and counter-information. His plan is to introduce censorship and a media blackout with the goal that a single voice will serve to hide all the outrageous measures that the Government is willing to make.
The really interesting thing that is now unfolding is that each of the clustered proposals against free opinion or deepening of neo-liberal policies is being answered in the street with small, medium and large popular mobilizations.
Thus, in the last few days we have seen squares filled with citizens eager to express their opposition to the authoritarian nature of Macrista ideas. And above all, it has generated an atmosphere of protest ranging from social networking to the open confrontation as workers begin to suffer the effects of the Macri mega-devaluation of the Argentine Peso. Among them are the hard hit State workers, who have already launched a successful first general strike that included a massive march.
Now, apart from what large sectors of those in the streets who are Kirchner supporters with the catchy chant of “to return, we will return”, and quite a few looking towards the parliamentary elections in 2017, it is evident that Macri thinks otherwise and would like to extend his mandate beyond four years. His success or failure will depend on the climate of rejection and resistance that the popular sectors are expressing towards his first measures.
Everything that he is doing is essential for the future of this pro-American Government. The presidential logic will be the theory of the carrot and the stick which will bring much to debate about in the coming months. The carrot will come accompanied by attempts at co-opting and negotiating with political sectors including the Peronist Party and the well-known trade union bureaucracy. They will also try to offer little mirrors of colors to some social organizations. Those who have already bitten the bait and are now self-justifying their inaction by invoking the line that “it is better to negotiate than to suffer more losses”. And then there are those few “progressive” officials tempted to aspire to a macrista cabinet post.
For those who do not agree with these crumbs Macri will offer there will always be the stick applied by all the power of the repressive police apparatus. Current Minister Patricia Bullrich has already threatened to apply a “tough hand” on those organizing pickets, cutting roads and other acts of resistance.
To summarize: It is important to not minimize this experience initiated by Macri in Argentina that will have noticeable influence on the regional framework. Even if it looks like an improvised adventure, everything indicates that it is a long term plan they are willing to fulfill in detail.
The new government has managed its legitimacy not through a coup but rather elections. For those who are planning to fight back it is important to be prepared so that the streets become the usual scene of the battle with the strength of social movements, and without underestimating the role that organized labor could play in this process. 2016 will be a key year in this contest.
Source: Resumen Latinoamericano