By GERRY FOLEY
In the context of the continuing popular upsurge, the prospect of new elections in March 2002 is becoming a political focus for the mass movement. Thus, on Aug. 30, the CTA (one of the Argentine trade-union confederations) and a series of left organizations held a massive demonstration in Buenos Aires, along with actions in many other cities, under the slogan of “Que Se Vayan Todos” (“They All Must Go”).
The left organizations included Polo Obrero (“Working Class Pole,” which is led by Partido Obrero, a Trotskyist organization), the Corriente Combativa Clasista, the Izquierda Unida, Patria Libre, and Autodeterminacion y Libertad, an organization led by Luis Zamora, the most popular figure on the far left.
The slogan “They All Must Go” arose from the mass demonstrations last December that forced the flight and resignation of President de la Rua. It reflected the disgust of the population with the whole panoply of bourgeois politicians. But it is subject to two interpretations. For some, “they” means all the bourgeois politicians and the bourgeois government; for others it means just the old discredited politicians.
The Buenos Aires daily La Nacion said that the demonstration had been called in repudiation of the election call issued by Eduardo Duhalde, who took over the presidency from the fleeing de la Rua. One of the slogans of the demonstration was “Against the Electoral Trap.”
Some of the participants demanded that all elected officials, including Duhalde, face the voters. Others called for the election of a constituent assembly.
One of the participating groups, the ARI, threatened to boycott the elections unless all posts were up for election. One of its leaders, Ariel Basteiro, told La Nacion, “There is no point in running unless there is an agreement that the Congress will call a constituent assembly after the next president is elected.”
A left contingent including the Trotskyist parties continued the march from the Congress to the Plaza de Mayo, calling for the immediate resignation of Duhalde.
La Nacion noted the national scope of the protest: “With road blocks, people’s soup kitchens, marches, and rallies in all the major cities in the interior, the opening phase of the campaign for the reelection of all officials-called by the piquetero and student movements, the left parties, the social organizations, and the neighborhood assemblies-had a clearly national character.”
The organizers claimed that 30,000 people participated in the march in Buenos Aires. Both La Nacion and the Mexico City daily La Jornadadescribed the demonstrations as “massive.”
These actions were obviously based on a broad and deep rejection of the continuation of bourgeois politics as usual. But, as La Nacionpointed out, the left parties and trade unions have not yet produced a clear and credible alternative. At the same time, Duhalde’s minister of economics, Robert Lavagna, is demanding that all the presidential candidates pledge to respect the agreements that have been made with the International Monetary Fund. That would amount to a guarantee that the elections will change nothing basic.
In fact, neither a wall-to-wall election nor the election of a constituent assembly by themselves can bring fundamental change. The only thing that can achieve that is the direct organization of the masses to take control of their lives and a political program that can give a focus to their demands. Such a program must necessarily be for abolishing capitalism and creating a new economic and social system based on meeting their needs-that is, socialism.
The mass movement in Argentina clearly has not yet reached that stage. But it is grappling with the political challenge posed by the promised elections and is evidently involved in a very dynamic process of mobilization and debate.