Argentina: With nationalization and a general strike. How to put an end to the public services hikes?

Jan 23, 2019 | Latin America

On the night of January 22, the electricity service of Edenor and Edesur shut down in downtown and north neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and in parts of Great Buenos Aires. The B and D subway lines, the Sarmiento railway and dozens of stop lights went out. Around 300,000 people´s homes were affected by the black out. This has been happening for years, but weren’t privatizations the solution? Then why are the bills impossible to pay while the service is the same or even worse? We’re sure some government official will blame global warming or the Turkish crisis…

Macri is on vacation, but his austerity plan isn’t. The subway card lasts two minutes and if you pay every bill you have to cut on groceries. For the retired and unemployed, that usually implies eating less. The raises of the public services rates punish not only the working class and the most downtrodden, but also the middle class and small businesses that are closing up. In this recession, there are still massive lay-offs and suspensions, that leave thousands with nothing. In the country the anger is still growing, as seen in the protests on Fridays or the protest against Macri in Madryn.

To fulfill the deal made with the IMF, Macri uses public funds on that scam called the public debt. For that, they must lower the deficit, so they cut the subsidies to services and make the consumers pay for it. But the private companies don’t want to lose a dime, and because the deal of the Kirchnerist government with YPF-Chevron guaranteed a high price on the gas of Vaca Muerta, Macri linked the service rates to the price of the dollar. All of this is guaranteed by the 2019 national budget, that Macri approved with the votes of the PJ. So along with the direct impact of this on the bills, there is also a rise of the prices. And Dujovne has announced even new hikes.

Inside the sectors that reject Macri’s hikes, there are two great debates with Kirchnerism. The first is about how to make these hikes retreat. The second debate, which isn’t minor, is about which is the solution for the public services.

First, how to confront the hikes. The mobilizations against them have been going on for a month already: every Friday on several corners of Capital Federal, Great Buenos Aires and other cities. Even Once street vendors and other sectors are organizing to not pay the bills. But the union leadership is doing nothing. Let’s not talk about the CGT: being accomplice of the government and the bosses, they allow the collective lay-offs and service hikes, thinking about the possibility of a strike in April. And the CTA, Truck drivers and bank employees only hold a weekly march of torches in different cities.

This isn’t a real plan of struggle: it’s more like playing pretend. Or does anyone believe that ruidazos and marches of torches are enough to stop Macri, the governments that apply the austerity plan (many of them of the PJ) and the IMF? For this, we need a 36 hour general strike now, with mobilization and continuity until we defeat him. We propose this in every protest and general assembly, in every school, university and workplace.

And the second debate: public services. Water, electricity, gas and transport are basic human rights, not a business for the oil and private companies. The first step is stopping the austerity plan and freezing the rates. But what solution does Kirchnerism offer? Keeping the private companies with subsidies, with the money of the State that comes out of our pockets? When there was a “tailwind” maybe that wasn’t so obvious, but now with this crisis, recession and paying more external debt?

No, we must end with the business of privatizations for good. From Menem to this day they are still the same. The oil, electricity, transport and distributors companies always end up winning: it’s crazy! We must cancel those contracts, nationalize the oil and gas, the energy system and every service; under the social control of its workers and consumers. It’s the only way to guarantee affordable and efficient public services for the people. While we are mobilized, we invite you to share these proposals.