Argentina's powerful teamsters union organized on Saturday a well attended march to the Cathedral of Lujan under the rallying call of ”bread, peace and work (jobs)”, which concluded with a mass, homily and strong message from Archbishop Agustin Radrlzzani, the only speaker at the event.
The rally in itself and the place chosen was most significant: Lujan cathedral is the home of Argentina's patron saint, Our Lady of Luján; archbishop Radrizzani is very close to Pope Francis and such a rally could not have taken place without previously checking with the Argentine pope; the homily was a veiled criticism of the recent agreement president Mauricio Macri and his administration reached with the IMF, including a call for dialogue with social organizations, obviously including unions, and a final rallying cry, Fatherland Yes, Colony No.
Attending were union supporters and the bosses of the truckers, Hugo and Pablo Moyano, father and son, who have always been heavily involved in Argentine politics, either actively or from the sidelines. Also present opposition leaders and lawmakers, at three levels, federal, provincial and municipal, plus mayors and councilors, and many followers from different social groupings and public estimated in over half a million.
As most Argentine unions, the truckers are particularly corrupt, and Pablo Moyano was overseas when a prosecutor asked for his imprisonment on charges relating to the union's finances and similarly to one of the main football teams in Argentina, whom the Moyano family dominate. However a Judge dismissed the arrest order and Pablo returned to Argentina untouched, and went to publicly state that the Lujan rally could never had taken place without the blessing of the Pope.
The town of Lujan is in the province of Buenos Aires, a crucial electoral district with 36% of Argentine voters, a strong industrial base, and is currently ruled by an elected close ally of Macri, a lady, Maria Eugenia Vidal, who lives in a military barrack because of the many life threats on her and her family.
The rally-service was in some way the official rapprochement of the Moyanos and their powerful union with the Church and a distancing of the Church from the Macri administration and its policies, which have seen an increase in inflation, unemployment and an overall contraction of the Argentine economy.
Archbishop Radrizzani who was a member of the Argentine Episcopate Executive Council, when it was presided by Jorge Bergoglio, then head of the Argentine Catholic church and now Pope Francis, insisted that none of the country's problems will be solved without the interaction of the State and people, and demanded a healthy transparent interdependency if we want positive changes.
Our people must be the makers of their own destiny and they don't want any tutelage, or interferences where the strongest subordinates the weakest. Our people want its culture, its social processes to be acknowledged and its religious traditions to be always respected
If we really aspire to a positive change we must humbly assume our wholesome interdependency. But interaction is not synonymous of imposition. The future of the Nation is not only in the hands of its leaders, it is above all in the hands of our people, in its capacity to organize to in effect achieve that authentic process of change
Archbishop Radrizzani finally said don't let our enthusiasm be stolen, don't let our hopes be taken away, don't let our permanent joy to be robbed, don't let us be robbed of our community, which was followed by the rallying cry, Fatherland Yes, Colony No.
With the religious ceremony over, Radrizzani mentioned the rally was like an ant nest of people, I've been told we convened some 800.000 people.
Asked by the media his opinion on the rally, Pablo Moyano said it was a different march to those we are accustomed every day. The Church has sent a powerful message to the workers in such a delicate situation that millions of Argentines are going through with an economic model which continues to be exclusive. Hopefully the president listened to the homily and gives replies to the many problems of the people.
And one of the opposition leaders attending the rally gave a picture of what can be expected in the next twelve months. We union leaders want peace, bread and jobs, which are not minor problems. And we will be moving out of this situation in 2019, through democracy and we must prepare so that this government reaches with crutches, but making sure it reaches 10 December next year, and us work for a proposal to help overcome this situation.