Argentina has lost its limits and references, and this was dramatically expressed these last few days says Joaquin Morales Solá, one of the country’s most respected political analysts, when the looting and rioting extended from Resistencia to the north next to Paraguay, to Bariloche in Patagonia.
Morales Solá argues that despite ten years of a booming economy, there’s still a percentage of Argentines poor or very poor, and vast sectors of the population have lost a sense of the rule of the law and even of the principle of authority.
“The speech full of resentment and the policy of confrontation, so ingrained in the national and popular government have erased any border between good and evil” says Morales Solá adding that the words “stealing” and “private property” ring no bells since they have become ‘baseless’ to the current prevailing doctrine.
The late Nestor Kirchner but particularly Cristina Fernandez have appealed to the government’s communicational resources to promote that under the couple’s two administrations Argentina had never grown so much and sustainedly.
And yes compared to the stats from the collapse years of 2001 and 2002, much has been achieved but the UN Economic Commission for Latam points out that still 30% of Argentine children are poor, and live with poor parents. In the last twelve months the number of unregistered workers has again increased and 60% of all jobs in Argentina continue to be informal. And this is not limited to the private sector: even the Argentine state appeals to informality as it surfaced during the recent uprisings of the security forces which demanded among other things besides higher salaries, that the government deposit the contributions to the old age pensions scheme.
But Morales Solá believes that inflation is one of the major punishments for the low income population. Real income was down 3.5% in the last twelve months, and one thing is 24% inflation with the economy expanding 8%, as in 2011, and 24% with 1% growth this year.
Furthermore the subsidies policy without any matching efforts in education or work, has become an effective electoral instrument of Kirchnerism which has used and abused the resource, meaning there are generations of Argentines that have lost the work culture or have never known it.
Thus when the looting of supermarkets there is a blend of all these factors and an overall feeling of resentment from vandals against those who “have” something or very much, triggering confrontation.
“For a decade the official speech with an enormous influence in the building of social culture demonized the ‘haves’ and in this context for many Argentines “the property of somebody else is a right of those living in the margins” and a ‘natural’ reason to go violently after the enemies of government.
“The State as such did not contain and did not impose limits on a growing social marginalization”.
Likewise there are submerged organizations that promote this kind of vandalisms. For example Quebracho which shares political events from the official stands, next to government officials. But no organization by itself could generate so much violence in such distant places, unless the social and political conditions existed.
Furthermore the government of Cristina Fernandez makes its adversaries even larger than what they are. Cabinet Chiel Abal Median blamed dissident organized labour leader Hugo Moyano for the rioting and looting in the south, north and centre of Argentina.
Does he have the territorial power to mobilize so many thousands at the same time and willing to vandalism? If that was the situation Cristina Fernandez would long have had to share power with teamsters’ union Moyano and she would not be able to control Argentina without his help. But Argentina knows the situation is different.
Likewise the security forces at provincial and federal level seemed incapable of containing the situation. Something similar happened when recent rioting in the centre of Buenos Aires: were the forces not ordered to impede looting? Or were they ordered and they did not abide? Have the different police forces lost their basic training and spirit to anticipate and act on time and as is their duty? Maybe because of so many times they have been told to look aside, drop their arms or not intervene, that has become their natural way of addressing law and order issues?
Whatever reason governors and mayors pleaded for the federal government to send the Gendarmerie the only force in conditions of restoring order, but it is the same force that only a few weeks ago rebelled against government because it was mistreated and ill-considered. At the time it surfaced that the Cristina Fernandez administration even abuses its own praetorian force, the only force she trusts.
All this, says Morales Solá also helps to understand why the soaring rates of crime which has become the number one demand from Argentine public opinion. And this is closely linked to the prevailing social doctrine which says anyone can do whatever they wish as happened Thursday and Friday, because “the ‘have not’ are in their right to take from the ‘haves’. To makes things even more threatening “there is a judicial thinking, currently predominant, which simply wants to abolish the Criminal Code”.