Wed Jun 19, 2024
June 19, 2024

Argentina : The struggle continues in Jujuy

At the end of June the “jujeñazo” took place, a large mobilization that combined the struggle for wage increases for teachers and state workers with a democratic struggle against the new constitution proposed by Governor Gerardo Morales and voted on by the provincial legislature. It was also joined by the anti-imperialist struggle and the fight against the plundering of natural resources (lithium) and its consequences in the destruction of nature and the livelihoods of thousands of peasants belonging to the indigenous peoples of the region. The struggle continues and, at the same time, has brought us important lessons [1].

By Alejandro Iturbe

The first of them is that the two political coalitions into which the Argentine bourgeoisie has divided itself (the Peronist Unión por la Patria, currently in the national government, and the right-wing opposition of Juntos por el Cambio, to which the governor of Jujuy belongs), are two variants of the same thing. That is to say, both are working to keep Argentina subject to the IMF and imperialism, to hand over the natural resources for their plundering, and to repress the workers’ and popular protests against this situation and its consequences.

Their collaboration became clear last year when they voted together in Parliament for the servile agreement with the IMF which, in order to be approved, was verbally translated from its original in English by the Peronist Minister Guzmán! In addition,  the provincial Peronist bench of Jujuy has helped to approve the submissive and repressive constitutional reform of Gerardo Morales.

Within this framework of submission and surrender, the extraction of oil and gas and the development of large-scale mining (especially lithium) have become incredibly important. Not only because of the strategic value of lithium for imperialism but also because it offers this “national” bourgeoisie a space to obtain a small slice of the pie that will allow it to survive and enrich itself while maintaining the broader country in a situation of submission and surrender.

Thus, everything has been put into the service of this project. For example, the extraction of oil and gas from the gigantic hydrocarbon deposit Vaca Muerta in Neuquén, which uses the destructive process of fracking to obtain it, is now being used in the large-scale lithium mining project along the Andes Mountains. Even now, the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline that flows from Neuquén to the north has been built and they want to connect it with the “reversion” of the Northern Gas Pipeline (which would also flow to the north of the country) to supply gas to the lithium extraction mines[2].

The great beneficiary of this “reversion” is the company TGN, which is owned by a conglomerate of Argentine investors, and has an important influence in the transport of gas in the country and in Mercosur [3]. In the case of the construction of the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline, the big winner has been the Techint group, which is owned by the Rocca family. Techint is one of the large “national” conglomerates, and one of the main players in steel, railway transport, and infrastructure construction [4]. For this work, Techint was favored with contracting conditions that violate Argentine labor legislation.

At the same time, Techint has always held a decisive weight in the policies of all the bourgeois governments of the last decades (be they “right-wing” or “national and popular”). Their influence will no doubt be maintained by whoever wins the next elections because the Rocca family has full control of the powerful UIA (Argentine Industrial Union) [5].

Other lessons from the Jujuy struggle

The Jujuy struggle has confronted imperialism’s unity, the big Argentine companies, and their national political agents. It has been the most important struggle in the country since December 2017 when there were large mobilizations throughout the territory against the Mauricio Macri government’s project of pension reform, which faced harsh repression. It was a struggle in which PSTU militants Sebastián Romero (the “mortar worker”) and Daniel Ruiz emerged as prominent figures and, for that, were persecuted and imprisoned by the Argentine justice system [6].

In addition to the political lessons we have already referred to, there are lessons to be learned from the development of the struggle in Jujuy itself. It was a process that arose from the rebellion of the rank and file against the union bureaucracies and from worker self-organization. It has shown the unity of urban workers (and even the participation of detachments of mining workers) with indigenous peasant peoples. Having faced harsh repression, it has advanced in the self-defense of the struggle and has even worked to demoralize and break the base of the state’s repressive forces.

The Jujuy strike forced a strike of the bureaucratic CGT of Jujuy and a national strike of teachers and state workers. If there was no general strike throughout the whole country, it was because of the betrayal of the leaders of the national CGT.

Among its weaknesses has been its failure to form organizations to centralize the struggle and, which explains the latter, the absence of a revolutionary leadership willing to go to the bottom of the fight and dispute leadership in the provinces and in the country.

The present situation

Within this framework, although the struggle has not been able to maintain its highest level of participation and militancy, it has not stopped. The teachers’ conflict over salaries continues, and a group of them has started a hunger strike in the center of the provincial capital, which serves as a reference for the organization of the activists. Something similar is taking place in the neighboring province of Salta [7].

In Jujuy, the peak of the struggle has moved to the interior of the province: pressure from the population forced nine municipal councils to vote for the repeal of the new provincial constitution. In Humahuaca, in the middle of the cordillera, the people took over the municipal building [8]. In addition, community pickets continue to block several highways and international crossings.

What is certain is that the “jujeñazo” has not only changed the reality of Jujuy, but also had a strong impact on the country as a whole. In a year of presidential elections, in which the two bourgeois coalitions (Unión por la Patria and Juntos por el Cambio) will decide which of them will administer the surrender of the country and the attacks on the Argentine people, the jujeñazo has put forward not only the real needs of the workers and the masses but also the struggle as a way to confront this surrender and its consequences. For that reason, it has generated an important wave of sympathy among the working class and poor people all over the country.

The PSTU, the Argentine section of the IWL, calls for the need to deepen this struggle. At the same time, it will take part in the elections with candidacies on the lists of the FIT-U, a coalition of various left organizations which it criticizes precisely for placing the center of its militancy in electoral and parliamentary activity and not in the impulse of the struggles.

The “political profile” of the PSTU is represented by figures like Sebastián Romero and Daniel Ruiz (although they are not candidates). It will use its electoral participation to explain that the way out for the country requires a revolution of the workers and the people to liquidate imperialist plunder and the payment of the debt to the IMF. And further, they will argue that this can only be achieved by expropriating the big multinational and “national” companies (those that rule over Morales and Peronism and dictate their Constitutional Reform). In order to achieve that, it is necessary for the country’s project to be in opposition to dependency on capitalism and subordination to imperialism. This is a project that can only be undertaken by a  Socialist Argentina, without IMF or capitalists, and one that is built by a workers and popular government.

These proposals and this program must be agitated for in those places where the strength of the party allows it, and there must be a systematic effort to spread our propaganda among the working and fighting vanguard.

[1] https://litci.org/es/declaracion-hagamos-una-gran-campana-de-apoyo-a-la-lucha-del-pueblo-de-jujuy/

[2] [2] TGN created a new company to carry gas from Vaca Muerta to the lithium projects in the Puna – EconoJournal

[3] https://www.bnamericas.com/es/perfil-empresa/transportadora-de-gas-del-norte-sa#:~:text=TGN%20is%20under%20the%20control%20,main%20st%C3%A1n%20in%20Buenos%20Aires.

[4] Rocca and Mindlin, the big winners with the gas pipeline (letrap.com.ar).

[5] Techint rules and the economic power is Rocca’s. He ran off the negotiators and took all the important positions in the Industrial Union (UIA) (Página 12) (pagina12.com.ar)

[6] See, among other articles https://litci.org/es/el-macrismo-no-pudo-doblegar-al-pueblo-trabajador/

[7] https://www.periodicolea.com.ar/2023/07/10/docentes-realizan-una-huelga-de-hambre-por-reclamo-salarial/

[8] https://www.tiktok.com/@penkreloaded/video/7250621139154783494

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