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The riots in Argentina are serious. They are food riots. They required no agitation, no manufactured political awakening of the people, and no defining moment. Just hunger. When millions of people starve as food rots on the shelves of supermarkets and warehouses, direct action is no longer a tactic, but the answer to a question of mere survival.
The food riots rest squarely on the shoulders of international lending agencies, namely the International Monetary Fund, which has contributed directly to Argentina’s situation of poverty and unemployment. At a time when financial aid is most necessary, the IMF has chosen to withhold necessary funds due to the fiscal irresponsibility of the government of Argentina. Therefore, the actions of the elite of Argentina affect the people of Argentina to the point of spontaneous rebellion.
However, I’m not as concerned with the situation in Argentina as much as I am concerned with the actions of those in the United States. I reside in the US, and I am a political activist within it’s borders. I am appalled at the way the people of the US have acted in regards to growing poverty around the world.
Plans had been made shortly after the FTAA protests in Quebec City to follow up with mass protests in Washington D.C. against the IMF/World Bank, and their policies. The exact policies of which are behind the massive protests and unrest in Argentina.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, however, many organizations in the US backed out of the protests, fearing that any kind of criticism of US foreign policy would be deemed “unamerican” and would garner bad press. The goal of saving face was placed higher than the goal of an equal and just global society.
The protests still occurred, with much smaller participation. Anarchists, communists, student radicals, activists and concerned human beings who felt that one tragedy does not negate the suffering of millions at the hands of a powerful institution went forward with their criticism of capitalist globalization.
The food riots in Argentina show that the situation is, and always has been, a serious one. Although it is implausible to think that one massive protest, no matter how successful, could have eliminated the IMF, eliminated debt, or even changed the policy of the IMF, the fact of the matter is that such protests are not symbolic. They are an incredible part of a growing worldwide resistance to financial imperialism and the woes that it creates. Poverty and hunger did not cease to exist once the US found itself a new invisible enemy to wage war against.
To ignore growing inequality for the sake of “national unity” is a foreboding message to the people of the world about how many in the world’s most prosperous country feel about their situation. To those who continued to speak out against the criminal economic activities of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, my heart goes out to you for your bravery and indignation, and your deep understanding about what solidarity truly is.
To those who backed out to insure your organization’s continued funding, or because you felt that the time to protest injustice was over, I feel that an explanation is long overdue.