Mauricio Macri and Alberto Fernández’ political definitions this week have surprised more than one political observer and surely each one's own followers. When the "nac’n’pop" (national & popular) in the media and networks shouted that the plunge in the peso was a revenge action by Macri against the population for his defeat, Fernandez said it is "reasonable" that the dollar is now trading at 60 pesos. It is curious to call a 30% devaluation reasonable when it has generated an inflationary upswing whose scope is not fully felt and that has caused the entire population living on their salaries in pesos to enter, in panic, a dollarized economy. Alberto endorsed the violent devaluation, although it would be more precise to say it was a measure he had been demanding himself, through the request that treasury dollars no longer be used to control the exchange rate, together with the more and more explicit call for Macri to be the one to proceed to a devaluation that the native bosses consider necessary. As Romina del Pla advanced in the closing rally of the Left Front-Unity, a week ago, those who say that this will make the Argentine economy competitive will crash headlong into the ongoing international financial and trade war, as has occurred with each "back to the world" plan that Macrismo has tried over the past four years.
Faced with the rapid transfer of the hike in the dollar to gasoline prices, when Macri announced the freezing of the price of fuel, the first voice raised against interventionism was that of Guillermo Nielsen, Alberto Fernández's economic guru, who said you “couldn’t do that to YPF,” as if the change in the dollar exchange rate drastically modified the cost of production for domestic consumption. Nielsen's statements were followed by a rebellion on the part of the oil companies, which has ended for now in a meeting in the midst of crisis and threats by the Macrista government to resort to the Law on Supplies against the companies. The magnitude of the political and economic crisis can be measured in the light of the “government of the CEOs”, for whom Shell’s Aranguren has been an emblem, having ended up resorting to the methods of [Kirchnerista] Guillermo Moreno in order to try to survive. Oil activists are reporting that the companies are halting operations at the wells, as a result of the crisis, that is, they would prefer shortages to such a measures being taken.
The South, default, and what is to follow
In Fernández´s interviews after the much discussed telephone call between the defeated president and the virtual president to establish a channel of negotiation regarding measures related to the handling of the economy during the months of transition, the main point being made by the winner of the primary elections has been centered on one thing: Mauricio Macri must begin to renegotiate the debt with the International Monetary Fund as soon as possible. "What he signed does not exist anymore. He was unable to comply. I would like him to leave things reasonably ordered with the Fund." Roberto Lavagna, who Fernandez has mentioned as possible Minister of Economy, although he has asked him to continue as presidential candidate in order to siphon off votes from Macri, asked along the same lines at his press conference on Thursday 15 that the electoral campaign be suspended and that the energy of all candidates (meaning Macri) be directed to raise “immediately before the IMF the need to renegotiate the current stand-by credit, whose conditions and expiration profile are impossible to meet without imposing many more years of austerity and suffering on Argentines”.
The renegotiation proposed by Fernández and Lavagna is equivalent, not to ending the austerity mortgage, but to reorganizing the conditions of submission. It constitutes objectively a declaration of national default, and the conditions of the creditors will be imposed based on this reality, as reflected by the astronomical country risk index, which has caused Argentine bonds to fall to junk prices. In other words, it is a proposal to rescue investment funds and credit banks. The demand that Macri be the one to begin the negotiations allows for the distribution of the political cost of the acceptance of the conditions of usury that all the candidates of the Frente de Todos have sworn to defend. But above all, it makes the creditors enter the scene with a role at the table managing this political transition, in a negotiation that would have Macri as the official interlocutor, but Fernandez as an unavoidable counterpart.
Fernández's negotiations are not limited to the debt problem. During these hours, Alberto had a publicized meeting with Marcos Galperin of Mercado Libre, a businessman closely related to Macrí, who has been leading a crusade for a change in working conditions to bust collective agreements and unionization. "Generating points in common and looking towards the future of the country is very positive," Galperin said after the meeting. "A large part of the entrepreneurs on Mauricio Macri’s WhatsApp group are asking for a meeting with Alberto," indicated Frente de Todos sources. Fernández has said that the changes in labor law are necessary, in coincidence with the bosses’ demands, but that they should not be carried out without agreements with the unions, sending a signal of encouragement to the wavering bureaucracy of the CGT in the process. He has set as an example to follow the agreement of Vaca Muerta, which has resulted in a series of workers’ deaths due to speed ups and violations of job security regulations.
Social peace before and after December
Peronismo is making an important contribution to the transition that they are trying to advance. Faced with the first indications of a popular reaction to the devaluation crash, Kirchnerismo organized a strong effort aimed at unauthorize any call protests as something that would only help Macrismo (?), that was being pushed by infiltrators, and that could be met by repression. This operative was organized by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s Instituto Patria (Homeland Institute) and included the Kirchnerista “left”, such as Hebe de Bonafini or Gabriela Cerruti. There was not a single Kirchnerista voice that fell out of step by calling for action in defense of liquidated wages.
Héctor Daer and Andrés Rodríguez of the CGT have come out to rule out "absolutely" any possibility of a strike, the organization of which they considered "totally irresponsible." This shows that their defense in word only of indexing the minimum wage to the cost of living, even though it does show the acceptance of slogans proper to the class struggle and to combative sectors of the labor movement, together with the pressure of the workers due to the liquidation of wages, does not go beyond “saluting the flag” since the possibility of fighting for them is eliminated beforehand.
While on Thursday 50 thousand piqueteros in the Plaza de Mayo led a huge national day of struggle for an emergency program in the face of the crisis, the CTEP-CCC-Barrios de Pie trio, which responds to the Frente de Todos, and that has been the recipient of the vast majority of welfare resources during the Cambiemos government, reaffirmed its place among the guardians of governability of the Macri government. "Three phrases can be heard between the piquetero leaders and the Casa Rosada a few days after the overwhelming electoral defeat of the Government: maintain social peace, ensure institutional responsibility and await the outcome of October." (Infobae 15/8)
The intention of demobilizing, which contrast with the enormous anger and despair among the working population and broad layers of middle sectors, are aimed at preparing the famous social pact that Cristina and Alberto Fernández have been promoting as a policy of their future government. "On December 10 we must call on business owners, workers and arrange a 180-day truce," said Alberto a few hours ago. The union and piquetero bureaucracy, the various clans of PJ Peronista party hacks that have regrouped in the Frente de Todos, are preparing to impose an historical devaluation of Argentine labor power, as Perón and Isabel tried to do in their time, taking the road of the Social Pact, leading to the Rodrigazo [1975 economic crisis].
To the streets
The whole scheme bent on containing the masses upon which this political transition is being mounted is based on unstable foundations. The capitalist crisis and international shocks are buffeting Argentina, while some commentators are beginning to warn that a major slump here may trigger an international financial collapse. The demands of the piquetero movement in struggle, the existence of isolated but strenuous struggles such as that of the Chubut government workers or the fights against the lay-offs in numerous plants shut down by their owners, the massive concurrence of activism to the call prepared by the Plenario Sindical Combativo (Combative Union Plenary), show a deliberate tendency to fight among workers.
The forces of the Frente de Todos have become the main support of the Macri government, who is the one they want to lead the transition in order to do the dirty work of the bourgeoisie at this time. The agenda of "dialogue" sustained between the rivals during the presidential race is in fact a (precarious) co-government agreement. The ones heading up the table around which this dialogue is taking place, and have decided the agenda, are the markets and the IMF, that is, the imperialist and national big buisness capital running our country.
Let's take it to the streets. Active national strike of 36 hours. Congress of rank-and-file delegates of employed and unemployed workers undivided by union or central divisions, to vote a single list of demands and to organize a fight plan to follow until we win. Down with the IMF regime. Let the capitalists foot the bill for the Crisis and not those who work for a living.