Argentina: People's will, one year ago

"Today, we have been reported of some disorders. Nothing serious". Words do not belong to any Argentine politician on 17 December 2001, the day when lootings begun and De la Rua's presidency initiated its final countdown. This is what Sir Georges Buchanan reported to the British Foreign Office from his dispatch in Petrograd by 23 February 1917. Some days later, Romanov's Autocracy fell down in the middle of a popular rebellion and the world changed forever.

A similar thought guided the first speeches of the Argentine authorities when received the first reports of the popular uprising, which would topple them less than a week later. Now it became known that De la Rua, after two days of turmoil, 33 people killed and other hundreds lying on the streets, thought that he would end his mandate in 2003. Both, Sir Buchanan and De la Rua, showed how blind a public personality can be to people's demands.

The wave of lootings in the outskirts of Buenos Aires begun exactly one year ago and ended in a general pot-banging protest in the heart of the Capital three days later. It is an open secret that these lootings were the result of a conspiracy patiently knitted by who is today President of Argentina, Eduardo Duhalde. Of course, the spontaneous protests that followed took him and his supporters by surprise. It became something out of control for them and explains why Argentina had a six days unexpected President, the former Governor Adolfo Rodriguez Saa.

This is the dialectic logic under the process that shook the world by the end of last year. What was going on in the streets was very different from what was being discussed at the highest levels of a political class, which was trying to preserve its power at any price. Some delivered their lives fighting for a better future and received the bullets of the conspirators.

Others, like Sebastian survived and tell to anyone who wants to hear their story. "We were helping wounded people and fighting against the Government when the police started shooting us. Our friend Gaston Rivas, was the first victim of the repression." Sebastian represents a bikers association now accused by the State of being responsible for seditious acts. Argentina is upside down: the victim is guilty.

"They did not defeated us. We will win because the workers and the unemployed of this country fight not only against who repress us, but also against who killed our children", says Toba, an old Indian social activist, who participated in the demonstrations of December. He saved the life of Martin Galli, a young student shot by the police while was resting in a City square during the clashes. The bullet of a police agent had drilled Galli's head and Toba, in the middle of the shooting, took him to a hospital were paramedics saved him from a certain death.

Like these, there are hundreds of testimonies of people violently attacked by the police. Only five agents were sent to prison, while many other crimes remain unpunished.

Now, close to the first anniversary of the uprisings - or the massacre, both points of view are welcomed - conspirators are in power and popular demands were not heard. However, the heroic days of December showed how strong could be people's will 

Hernan Etchaleco

Photo: Pickets and demonstrations are expected for the first anniversary of December's uprisings.

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Author`s name Olga Savka