ARGENTINA VIDEO WORKSHOP
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Haven't things gotten better since the economic crisis?
That depends on who you ask. Life for most of downtown Buenos Aires'
middle class has largely returned to some degree of normalcy. Some of
their faith in the country's institutions may have recovered, although
certainly the memory of the "corralito" (freezing of personal savings
accounts) and peso devaluation will not soon disappear. For the poor
of Buenos Aires outskirts and the country's interior, however, change
has been a lot slower. It's important to remember that unemployment
and poverty were major problems in these parts of Argentina long before
the visible economic collapse of 2001. The government claims to have
reduced the national unemployment level to about 12% (plus another 8-9%
on government subsidies), but this has mainly been accomplished by changing
the way the numbers are collected and calculated. And while some of
the more acquiescent social movements have reaped large financial benefits
from the Kirchener government, recent examples such as the struggles
of public hospital employees, transit workers and petroleum workers
have shown that those who continue to struggle against the government
for better wages and living conditions are still subject to brutal repression.
2) What about the recovered factories?
The worker-recovered factories are another very interesting thing happening
in Argentina right now. The National Movement of Recovered Factories
(MNER) is a major player in some of the solidarity networks built recently
with MTDs and neighborhood asambleas with the goals of learning from
one-another, supporting mutual objectives, and stopping/preventing governmental
repression and eviction. The focus of this video project is on the Unemployed
Workers' Movements and we decided not to try and include the factories,
which tend to have unique histories and distinct organizational structures.
Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis' movie, "The Take" (http://thetake.org) offers
one perspective on the recuperated factory movement, although the full
scope of the movement exceeds what this (or any single movie) can encompass.
New videos about the Zanon ceramic factory in Neuquen are other interesting
resources (some are available in English here: http://www.alavio.org).
3) We didn't hear much about the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo... what
are they up to these days?
The well-known human rights group of mothers of the disappeared, the
first to speak out against the atrocities of the military dictatorship
in Argentina, have undoubtedly played an important role in creating
political space for the Argentine left. In terms of their current status,
it depends on which Madres you're talking about. The original group
has splintered a couple times now; the two major factions are the "Asociación
Madres" and the "Madres: Linea Fundadores." The Asociacion group led
by Hebe de Bonafini, which runs the Madres University, was the one that
recently declared that there was no need to continue the annual March
of Resistance because the enemy was no longer inside [the presidential
palace]. The tens of thousands who turned out for the march anyways
may be sending a message that -- while nothing can take away from the
enormous historical role the Madres played -- they do not represent
a legitimate radical political organization at this time.
4) Are these movements violent?
None of the movements discussed in the project advocate violence as
a means of affecting change. During actions such as piquetes which carry
a high likelihood of violent state repression, the movements have developed
different techniques, including encouraging media presence and organizing
security groups to limit the ability of the police and military to attack
and injure community members.
5) What is the relationship between the MTDs and other groups such as
the Zapatistas and the MST in Brazil?
In the past years members of the MTD's have had several opportunities
to interact with important social movements from many other countries
throughout Latin America and the world -- both through exchange of ideas/writings
and direct personal contact. Many feel that these visits are invaluable
opportunities to learn from each other's experiences and take steps
towards developing international networks of support and solidarity.
It is important to remember though that these are separate social movements
with distinct principles and processes who won't always agree with each
others decisions; the goal is to find effective ways to work together
while respecting these differences.
With more questions, please email: info[at]argentinavideo[dot]org