Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Argentina's social movements

After a major move, a few weeks of vacation and enduring Buenos Aires' heat (it's summer time here), I'm getting back into the swing of things. Which means writing, filming and working. I'd like to make a few announcements about new videos and articles out and about. First, Ágora TV has featured a new section to videos with English subtitles online. Videos Click here to check them out There are several videos on Argentina's factory takeovers such as Zanon and BAUEN, as well as videos on the School of The Americas. This section is growing, so check in from time to time. I've gotten many questions for an analysis or review of Argentina's social movements. I have several articles out in publications that give a review of social movements. There's a lot going on, but many of the struggles have become disarticulated due to President Nestor Kirchner's policy to coopt social organizations. There are some very exciting struggles ongoing, which will come back into momentum in the next coming weeks. Finally, I did a major overhaul on my blog, Latin America Activism. Previous posts and articles are now labelled into categories for easy access.

Northeastern Anarchist

Montpelier Downtown Workers’ Union
Zanon: Class Consciousness Through Self-Management
Resistance in Pyeongtaek
Anarchist Study of Iroquois
Solidarity with Six Nations
Workers, Management, and Worker-management
and more...

Northeastern Anarchist #12, Winter 2007

Zanon building class consciousness through self management

by Marie Trigona

As the largest recuperated factory in Argentina, and occupied since 2001, the Zanon ceramics plant in the Patagonian province of Neuquén now employs 470 workers. Along with some 180 recuperated enterprises up and running, providing jobs for more than 10,000 Argentine workers, the Zanon experience has re-defined the basis of production: without workers, bosses are unable to run businesses; without bosses, workers can do it better. While these experiences are forced to co-exist within the capitalist market, they are forming new visions for a new working culture.

In October 2005, FASINPAT (Factory without a boss - Zanon's cooperative) won a legal dispute, pressuring federal courts to recognize it as a legal entity that has the right to run the cooperative for one year. With the October expiration date nearing, the worker assembly voted to step up actions and community efforts. On October 20, 2006, the workers won the longstanding legal battle for federal recognition of FASINPAT for three years.

Argentina’s working class has celebrated the Zanon workers’ temporary victory. With legal status, the FASINPAT can concentrate on planning production, improving working conditions, and doing community projects. As part of this celebration, the cooperative has invited other workers to visit Zanon to learn that they, too, can function without a boss or owner. The workers’ assembly has resolved that it is now in a position to teach others from its four and a half years of learning from self-management.

The workers at Zanon are rebuilding a national network of solidarity, which sustains the movement. Zanon workers regularly travel throughout the country to support a wide array of labor conflicts. As part of this initiative, several FASINPAT representatives toured the Greater Buenos Aires suburbs, hosting talks and special meetings with local worker organizations. Different from the usual political rallies, these meetings focused on building class consciousness and mutual solidarity among class-struggle-based organizations.

Affinities Journal
Latin America’s Autonomous Organizing
In February 2006 activists met in Uruguay for the fourth Latin American
Conference of Popular Autonomous Organizations. Over 300 delegates from
Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Uruguay organized this year's annual event as
a space to strategize autonomous organizing and coordinate direct actions. This
year's conference, held February 24-26 in Montevideo, focused on building
popular power in Latin America among organizations autonomous from the
state, political parties and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
Galpon de Corrales, a community center in a working class neighborhood in
Montevideo, coordinated the conference. The Galpon features a community
radio station, a community library and a large indoor space to hold cultural
activities. Activists from the community center take pride in the fact that the
Galpon is completely self-managed and sustaining, and several times a week
they organize a collective meal.
The participating organizations were generally oriented towards class struggle
and libertarian practices such as grass roots organizing, direct democracy and
mutual solidarity. Within the debate of how to build popular power, delegates
discussed strategies for communities to solve their own problems independently
of the state or other institutions.
The current context offered by Latin American state politics emerged as a focal
point during the two-day meeting. In each of the nations represented, social
organizations have faced new challenges due to the resurgence of "progressive"
social democratic governments. Take, for example, the case of Uruguay's social
movements, where many of these have demobilized after the inauguration of
Tabare Vazquez. At the conference all eyes were therefore on Bolivia due to the
recent victory of the Movement to Socialism’s (MAS) leader, Evo Morales. In all of
the workshops, participants discussed how to prevent the growing expectations
populations have of their social democratic governments from impeding the
accumulation of popular power.
Everything at the congress was auto-gestionado

Marie Trigona Latin America Activism



Dardin Soto said...

... As always, yours is a plethora of great things unknown to me. I love your blog.

Craig Bardo said...


You have been strangely quiet about Chavez!

IG said...

Great post. I love how you are having stuff on Argentina and south america and not just focusing on arguing about Chavez. The new steps in the Bolivarian Revolution are great discussion points but its not good to ignore what else is happening in Latin America. Viva La Revolucion!!!

Frank Partisan said...

Thanks again truth-pain.

CB: I won't speak for Marie, I do believe her position on Chavez, is not what you're thinking it's.

bolivarian: marie does bring a unique perspective. I hope she writes sometime about Colombia and FARC.

troutsky said...

We in the North have so much to learn from these dedicated activists and their struggles. We need to increase Maries exposure and others like her.

Graeme said...

That is indeed true Troutsky. I think that over the years our domestic labor unions have sought too much compromise and not enough direct action. Now they are struggling.

Frank Partisan said...

The videos Marie directed us to are really interesting, and worth checking out.

Marie Trigona said...

Hi everyone,
I'm glad that this analysis is getting out there. I think debate around what is going on in Latin America is very inspiring. Yes, I have deep criticisms toward Hugo Chavez, just like I would any state leader. What is most interesting in Venezuela is the change coming from below. While the government has supported some of these iniatives, surely many grass roots based movements are pushing the government to do even more. What is tricky is when criticism is used from the right, to put at risk people's sovereigty. The coolest thing Chavez has done was to shut down the right-wing, reactionary tv station and put it in the hands of community media makers. I'm not a fan of electoral politics, but way to go Chavez on that decision. I do want to be clear how many regional leaders have betrayed the people--signing free trade accords, using state violence to repress protests and paying the IMF. The pink tide in Latin America would be better called a pink tide of repression that swallows up resistance. Here in Argentina the nation has one disappeared (Jorge Julio Lopez) and easy trigger police killing young, working class kids all the time. Chileans and Uruguayans are witnessing a similar situation. Repression in Chile is even worse than in Argentina. Heck, Uruguay wants to build a paper mill, which is a project funded 100% by the World Bank. Movements are strong and gaining strength. I'm going to try to travel to Venezuela this year to get a grip on what's going on. We have a lot of contact with social movements there that have an interesting perspective. We'll see what happens. Final note: on Ágora TV next week we are putting up a video on Oaxaca, Mexico with English subtitles. Check it out.
Saludos, Marie

MarxistFromLebanon said...


you also fail to mention the massacres of your messed up government.

Marie, great post as always, I have one word to tell you my fellow activist: Cheers :D

sonia said...

The coolest thing Chavez has done was to shut down the right-wing, reactionary tv station and put it in the hands of community media makers.

Spoken like a true Leninist... That's how free speech is silenced. I doubt that those 'community media makers' will dare to criticize Chavez when he does something wrong, because they owe him their jobs. That's how totalitarian system gets built.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

oh how naive,

you mean the workers who were working almost for free Sonia is wow, while now they run their own factories? Damn, how could he...

may be he should send soldiers to massacre Iraqis as well, or just flood the Narada Valley, or do another puppy government like Pinochet, or simply nuke Nagasaki and Heroshima or execute 9 alter-globalization activists in Nigeria, or whatever...

troutsky said...

CB you have been strangely quiet about Tom Delay.
I would like to see citizens in the US take a cue from Chavez and work to shut down propaganda like FOX news. The people own the airwaves, just like in Venezuela, and can demand some accountability.We could also learn from the occupied factory movement and put people back to work in the northeast.

LeftyHenry said...

Spoken like a true Leninist... That's how free speech is silenced. I doubt that those 'community media makers' will dare to criticize Chavez when he does something wrong, because they owe him their jobs. That's how totalitarian system gets built.

No, that's not a leninist comment. It's just not a liberal one. Doesn't matter what they do. The fact remains that this particular news channel advocated a coup mainstream. That is national security threat, and people like you should be kissing Chavez's feet for waiting for their legal contract to end, not shutting it down immediatly. It would be the equivelent of Bush allowing an Al Queda network to broadcast after 9/11 until 2007 when its contract expired.

Who cares what the popular media will say? The point is that people are in control of the media, not a few multi-billionaires!

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Not to forget that it was the US administration that financed the soon to be al-Qa'eda during the Afghanistan-Soviet Union war.

Renegade I did the switch on bloggers, so I am afraid I have to wait for the rest to do so over here.

sphinx said...

Great post RE. I too would like to hear more stuff from Marie, who seems to have her head on straight.

Graeme said...

the right loves to talk about Chavez not renewing a license for a tv station but no one remembers when the US bombed a news organization (and killed a reporter I believe).

Mike Ballard said...

I'd like to see some banners calling for the abolition of the wage system.

ddjango said...

The human race is alive and well in America . . . South America, that is.

Perhaps they will invade the North . . . after they trash all the pretty CIA and PMF folks on the continent.

Marie Trigona said...

Unlike private media outlets, at community tv stations workers can not lose their jobs for an editorial decision because they are not employed. Whereas in the case of any private media outlet, financing is based on corporate and government approval. If a story doesn't get a positive response from advertisers, it doesn't run. That doesn't sound democratic to me at all. The station Chavez shut down supported and openly advocated a US military coup to overthrow a democratically elected government. This is why the permit was not renewed.

In many of the cases of Venezuela's community television stations like Catia TVe and Teletambores the station is run by a volunteer team of local residents. Community members are invited to tell their own story, bring up what they think are important issues from their barrios with their own perspectives and interests. What can be more plural and democratic than that? By putting a reactionary tv station in the regular citizens' hands is not censorship, on the contrary it fosters participation in media making and community.

I am not a Leninist or anything close. I am an anti-authoritarian who believes in emancipation from exploitation.

Agile said...

Irreparable hardline liberalist, pro-US-republican and fervently anti-Castro leader of the youth branch of the Conservative Party of Norway, Torbjorn Roe Isaksen has now authored his first article on Wikipedia. He chose to get inspired by The Economist's eulogy on Cuban dissident Mario Chanes de Armas, and wrote a highly skewered article, using the slanderous term of "dictator" about Fidel Castro, instead of the formal term "president" or the neutral term "Cuban leader".

I made a few changes, including replacing the word dictator with "president", but I do not have the time right now to make larger changes. I therefore urge anyone reading here, preferably someone with a deeper understanding of both politics in general, of Cuban history and affairs, and not least a better command of the English language than said agitator and pro-US-republican, to edit the article further and more substantially.