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Vassar College

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights

Abstract

The ‘piquetero’ movement that emerged out of Argentina’s economic crisis of 2001 has undergone many transformations. Beginning in the early 90’s in response to the devastating neo-liberal policies of Carlos Menem, this movement of unemployed workers created new forms of political dissent and organization. While individual groups existed within the movement their method of public protest, the blockage of transit routes, and their shared objectives for institutional change and stable employment, allowed this movement to act as an untied front. During the crisis of 2001 and in the wake of the utter failure of Menem’s neo-liberal agenda the ‘piqueteros’ converged with other social movements and, due to the widespread effects of the economic collapse, the middle class as well.

However, as a result of repressive state violence, the criminalization of their mode of protest and institutionalization of certain groups through negotiations for state subsidies, the movement fractured and many organizations retreated from the public sphere into their barrio of origin.

Among these organizations is the Corriente Clasista Combativa. A national organization based in La Matanza, in the suburban area of Buenos Aires, the CCC has maintained its radical leftist origins. Connected with the political party the Partido Comunista Revolucionario and with its well known, often times polemic leader, Juan Carlos Alderete, this organization has continued its participation in massive public protests, occupations, and its oppositional stance toward the government.

However, the CCC is also a territorial organization, meaning it works in barrios throughout the country to meet peoples basic needs. In this respect, the CCC works with the state, receiving subsidies to fund it work cooperatives and community development projects.

Given this history, I was curious to see what motivates the participants of the CCC en La Matanza. Why did they join the organization? Was it for reasons of necessity or to change the system? Why do they continue to work with the CCC? How have their lives changes since joining? Do they share the political ideology of the organization’s leaders? In order to investigate these themes I conducted interviews with four members of the CCC in La Matanza and one interview with its leader Juan Carlos Alderete. I also attended a meeting in preparation for a protest that was to take place in the following days.

This investigation brought to light a number of interesting factors. Firstly, while the current members of the CCC most likely joined out of necessity, often due to their desperate economic situations during or a bit before the 2001 crisis, this intial motivation may have changed through the work with the organization. Many expressed a change, in many cases a politicization, of their conceptions of both the movement itself and of the system in general. For many members, especially the women (who compose the majority of the CCC), participation in the CCC has offered them a new space of activity of social interaction. The nature of the work, while determined by subsidies based in the logic of neo-liberalism, often takes on a communal nature that integrates the participants into the communal structures.

However, despite these interesting effects, the political actions of the CCC receive less support. Participants attracted to the organization to satisfy their basic needs do not necessarily have motivation, or even the interest, to take major personal risks to participate in the CCC’s political initiatives. Protests and other forms of political action can be dangerous and for many are much removed from their daily struggles.

Therefore, while the personal, political and social motivations interact to create new forms of action, the political objectives of the CCC will always be met with internal difficulties whiles its members do not completely share the organization’s political vision.

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Work, Economy and Organizations