New Internationalist

Spirit of solidarity

Issue 356

The spectacular economic collapse has deflated the sense of superiority that Argentina’s relative wealth once gave many of its people.

Humiliation is slowly being supplanted by a sense of solidarity with those in other Latin countries who have endured similar conditions for very much longer. There are also large numbers of migrants from these countries (particularly Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia) living in the barrios of Argentina. The new social movements here, and their attitude towards political, economic and cultural orthodoxy, are now widely known and influential across the continent. In their turn, Argentinean movements have been inspired from Bolivia, Peru and the Andean countries as a whole, where the tactic of blocking roads, for example, has been in use for very much longer. The unorthodox ideas of the Zapatistas in Mexico - ‘autonomy’ and ‘horizontalism’, rejecting hierarchical political parties and placing the encuentro or asamblea at the centre of decision-making processes - are now remarkably pervasive. All Latin America’s social movements know that behind the electoral victory of Lula in Brazil lie groups like the Landless Movement (MST) and their urban equivalents.

Photo: Ian Nixon
State of siege in Buenos Aires (from the top anti-clockwise): The central banking district, ‘repression – never again’; Carlos Menem spends a bit of his ill-gotten gains on posters outside a bank where staff must use the back door; a child’s view from Solano; the spirit of Ché Guevara presides in La Matanza; ‘bread and work’ on demand from piqueteros in the barrio of La Boca, Buenos Aires. Photo: Ian Nixon

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