2002-2012: Remembering the Social Movements that Reimagined Argentina

Published on ZSpace (first on Upside Down World.org), by Francesca Fiorentini, January 17, 2012.

If 2011 was any indicator, 2012 will be a year of further popular resistance to government austerity and a finance sector spun out of control. Whether it’s the occupy movements in the U.S. that have spread to the U.K., the indignados of Spain, or the general strikes in Greece and Italy, the people of the world when faced with economic crisis and tired fixit schemes are saying in near unison: Now it’s our turn.  

Though refreshingly new, these movements have a South American predecessor: Argentina 2001, when popular protest put an end to destructive neoliberal policies and forever changed the political terrain of the country.

Ten years later, with the country’s unparalleled economic growth since 2003 … //

… Tools for the future:

With little doubt these movements have left their mark on Argentina. Though they may not have achieved all they had hoped, they pushed the boundaries of political imagination and showed the creative capacity of ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Still for many, specifically those on the independent left like Fabián Pierucci and Eva Sinchecay, the movements missed a historic opportunity for structural change. Despite Argentina’s economic growth, they say the economic model is still based on instable and short-term factors like the international price of soy and exploitation of natural resources.

“With a globalized economy, you can have all the reserves you want and have the foreign debt under control, but does that mean you are financially autonomous?” asks Pierucci. “How long will the model last? One year, two years, five years?”

Sinchecay, who still helps cartoneros in her community collect cardboard, says the social programs have been insufficient in combating poverty. “We have seen three generations of people without work,” she laments.

Pierucci believes Argentina has not seen the last of economic crises, and that despite the relative calm, another collapse could be on the way. “We can’t lose perspective that crisis is cyclical in the economy, and that each time it will be deeper,” he says.

With the economies of Europe and the U.S. in turmoil thanks to some of the same runaway financial practices that so hurt Argentina, it’s no wonder that people around the world have looked to the country’s vibrant social movements for inspiration. Though weakened, these movements have imprinted the culture and consciousness of the Argentine people with an irreplaceable spirit of solidarity and possibility. That same spirit may be the foundation upon which future movements will build and, perhaps, move beyond. (full text).

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