Piqueteros

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888's picture
888
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Sep 17 2010 03:38
Piqueteros

This is a research question I'm posing in connection to a study group we are doing with/around SeaSol.

What were the main tactics used by the Piqueteros aside from blocking motorways?
What are the reasons the Piqueteros tactics succeeded in Argentina to some extent in the late 90s/early 00s?
What did those tactics achieve?
What factors made it possible to win?
Why did it stop?
What is the current state of the Piqueteros?
How did they start, how did they come to use the methods they did?
Could they be reproduced in other countries now?

Of course there are hundreds of other questions that could be asked and these aren't the best ones. If anyone feels like answering these questions please do. Or equally importantly, please post suggestions for reading material to cover these questions. I'll post my own opinions soon...

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
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Sep 17 2010 09:54

Hello 888,
Interesting questions.
The motorway blockades were about stopping the circulation of capital (I guess you know that) and the piqueteros declined when the movement in general in Argentina was weakened by the successful manouvers of the state in offering what looked like positive change through elections, a more "progressive" government. What I was universally told by Argentinians was that the whole popular uprising got derailed by the political parties intervening.
This is a really interesting topic.

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fingers malone
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Sep 17 2010 10:16

The movimiento piquetero started out with motorway blockades by workers protesting layoffs by the petrol company YPF (now part of Repsol) in Nequen. It didn´t just involve the workers concerned but also their families and other people in their community, which was very highly dependant on the petrol company for work.
In 1997 unemployed workers in Buenos Aires and around blocked 23 motorways. The piqueteros where a fundamental part of the MTD (unemployed workers´ movement.)

nastyned
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Sep 17 2010 11:51

And don't forget the singing! Though I can't remember the name of the woman behind it all I'm afraid.

888's picture
888
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Sep 18 2010 07:51

Yes did we ever publish an article in Organise! with an interview with her?

In any case I am starting to look for detailed texts about the Piqueteros and came across this paper - http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/23/1/MPRA_paper_23.pdf - which suggests that the Piquetero groups formed mutually beneficial relationships with government factions. Haven't got far enough to say more yet.

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Sep 20 2010 05:26
fingers malone wrote:
The movimiento piquetero started out with motorway blockades by workers protesting layoffs by the petrol company YPF (now part of Repsol) in Nequen. It didn´t just involve the workers concerned but also their families and other people in their community, which was very highly dependant on the petrol company for work.
In 1997 unemployed workers in Buenos Aires and around blocked 23 motorways. The piqueteros where a fundamental part of the MTD (unemployed workers´ movement.)

Thanks malone. Where did you get that information from? Would any particular article be good for a study group to use?

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Sep 20 2010 08:49

Thanks FB. I found it but hadn't taken a real look at it yet. Looks good so far but it might dwell too much on other areas to be good for the study group.

By the way the paper I mentioned above doesn't seem very useful - while it is certain that some sections of the piquetero movement do have some kind of clientelist relation with political parties, the paper is just about trying to explain the entire piquetero phenomenon by fitting it into some kind of stupid game theory explanation where things only exist because of the decisions of political actors. However it does show that some sections of the piquetero movement were recuperated very quickly, perhpas even before they started.

I also found an article by the ICC which reminded me that they are insane after all. There's probably some truth in it but it doesn't start off in a good light... Oops, yes, they are totally insane.

Mainly for myself but possibly to the benefit of others I'm going to compile a list of the articles I've found so far (very variable quality):

Interview MTD Lanus
http://artactivism.gn.apc.org/allpdfs/472-The%20Power%20of%20the.pdf

Aufheben article
http://libcom.org/library/argentina-aufheben-11

Zanon interview, not the main subject but gives some history of Piqs
http://libcom.org/library/zanon-factory-occupation-interview-with-workers

Interview with Neka by AF (I was physically present but couldn't help much since it was in Spanish...)
http://www.afed.org.uk/org/org61.htm#Interview%20with%20Nika

Treason pamphlet that groups together several articles and an interview
http://libcom.org/library/treasons-argentina-pamphlet

some american (prob liberal) worked with MTD Solano
http://www.geonewsletter.org/node/149

A conversation with MTD Solano (doesn't seem to be online anymore - archive version here)
http://web.archive.org/web/20030627135149/http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/free/imf/argentina/txt/2003/0425MTD_Solano.htm

Another MTD Solano interview
http://www.solidaridadesrebeldes.kolgados.com.ar/spip.php?article56

possibly several useful articles here:
http://www.situaciones.org/

Loren Goldner
http://home.earthlink.net/~lrgoldner/clausewitz.html

interview w/ MTD Allen
http://www.zcommunications.org/piquetero-movement-ideas-by-mtd-allen

Random article
http://peaceandjustice.org/article.php?story=20041227083808673&query=piqueteros

Early article (1998)
http://ww3.wpunj.edu/~newpol/issue25/camare25.htm

Piquetero TV
http://www.why-war.com/news/2004/03/01/blockade.html

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fingers malone
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Sep 20 2010 10:04

Err... I googled ¨movimiento piquetero¨ in Spanish and noted down facts from different pages without keeping any kind of record of what they were, not very helpful!

This question about relationships with political parties, one thing that came up when I was reading was about one of the main piquetero demands, which was for some kind of unemployment benefit. They would carry out blockades and demand benefits, and often get them. However this carried the risk of a clientelistic relationship with the local government. A lot of unemployed workers participated in blockades solely to get some money, (which of course they desperately needed) not with any commitment to continuing the struggle. However the piqueteros participated in many collective forms of sharing such as comedores populares, collective kitchens, using the money that they recieved through blockades, which was much less individualistic.

Piquetero groups that wanted to form relationships with the state and cross class alliances were CTA and CCC (Corriente Clasista y Combativa) CTA ended up accepting positions in the government. Groups like Bloque Piquetero maintained a more horizontal structure and more antagonistic class politics.

I know I´m not addressing your good and specific questions that you started out with, but I´m thinking about them...

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Sep 20 2010 14:37

Ok, here goes....

1. Tactics used apart from blockades- blockades seem to be the main piquetero tactic. Apart from that piqueteros were participants in the various self organised activities in the barrios, clinics, schools, comedores populares and so on.

2. Why did they succeed? I would question the question- did they actually succeed? Depends what a success is. To the extent that they succeeded, it was because they were part of a mass movement of people, because the neoliberal attacks on wages and conditions that had been going on for years, and then the crisis of 2001, meant that huge numbers of people were plunged into poverty at the same time.

3.What did tactics achieve? People got a certain amount of dole, and in general the piqueteros were a militant part of the self organisation of the working class. The piqueteros gave strong practical street support to employed workers in struggle and to workers occupying factories.

4. What factors made it possible to win. I would repeat what I said before, I don´t know that they won.

5. Why did it stop? Recuperation by the political parties and the government offering what looked like improvements with a more "left" in big inverted commas elected government. And violent repression.

6. The current state of the piqueteros- they are still going, there has been a lot of fragmentation and some elements have been more integrated into the system, with the more radical groups suffering a lot of repression. But they are still going.

7. How did they start? The tactic had been used sometimes previously in struggles. The piqueteros around the petrol workers involved other groups of workers including teachers.

8. Could they be reproduced in other countries now?
If you had a mass movement in the millions exploding onto the streets around you with proletarian fury, then yes, the piqueteros methods could be very reproducable, yes.

888's picture
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Sep 20 2010 20:02

Thanks FM. I would say they did succeed - in getting dole and various other demands met, however much of a limited achievement that is. Also, didn't the tactic begin before the crisis? So it wasn't necessarily dependent on "millions exploding onto the streets around you" - but on some other level of support.

Jason Cortez
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Sep 21 2010 18:02

a bit in this Taking back control

Jason Cortez
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Sep 21 2010 20:34

you can also download a pdf on them from we are everywhere

D20 Argentina: 2 years later

might be worth a look despite it being from the Monthly Review

http://www.autonomista.org/

ttp://www.zcommunications.org/against-and-beyond-the-state-by-john-holloway

Power or counter power? The dilemma of the Piquetero movement in Argentina post-crisis from Capital & Class

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Sep 21 2010 20:21
nastyned wrote:
And don't forget the singing! Though I can't remember the name of the woman behind it all I'm afraid.

They are at Jason's link: http://www.autonomista.org/projects.htm

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Sep 22 2010 11:59

Sure, fair enough 888, getting dole certainly is a success. I didn´t mean to sound sarcastic.