While George W. Bush and the other G-8 leaders were meeting at their isolated retreat in Canada, two demonstrators were murdered in cold blood by policemen in the streets of Buenos Aires. The murdered youths belonged to the “piqueteros,” or picketers, the Argentine movement of unemployed workers who blockade major highways and commercial arteries demanding jobs and an end to IMF imposed austerity policies.
The last assassination of demonstrators in Argentina in December 2001 precipitated the downfall of the government of Fernando de la Rua and the quick succession of four presidents in less than two weeks. Since then the popular protest movement has mushroomed throughout Argentina.
The day after the murders of June 26, tens of thousands of demonstrators stormed through the center of Buenos Aires. Lead by piqueteros, student associations, workers, the insurgent popular assemblies from the barrios and leftist political organizations, the demonstrators called for the resignation of President Eduardo Duhalde and an end to the repression of the popular movement that has adhered to non-violence over the past six months.
Among the speakers were representatives of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo and Adolfo Perez Esquivel, icons of human rights and non-violence who valiantly resisted the brutal Argentine military regime from 1976-83.Duhalde managed to save his political skin by declaring that he “would not tolerate acts like this or cover them up with decrees of impunity.”
Four policemen have been arrested for murder, the head of the security forces in Buenos Aires has resigned and a number of policemen suspended. Some suggest that right-wing Peronists linked to the reactionary Menem regime(1989-99) who sold out the country’s patrimony to international financial interests were at least the inspirational authors of these killings.
The same week the demonstrators were murdered, the Argentine economics minister was in Washington D.C., begging the Bush administration and the IMF for a “rescue” package of new loans. Taking a hard-line stance, the director of the IMF, Horst Kohler, declared on the eve of the talks that he felt “deceived” by the Argentine government and its lack of sincerity in undertaking deeper austerity measures.
Over the past six months the popular movement has remained steadfast in its demands that the entire political leadership of the country should be thrown out and that there should be no deals with the IMF and the other institutions of corporate-dominated globalization.
Attached is an article describing the development of this insurgent democratic movement. It is being published in NACLA’s Report on the Americas in the July-August issue and on July 12 it will be posted on NAClA’s web site,