Tag Archives: Neoliberalism

In Buenos Aires, Neoliberalism Is Performing Again

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The stencil on top depicts Jorge Rafael Videla, the head of the first military junta that overthrew Isabel Martínez de Perón in 1976 and initiated the neoliberalization of the country; Carlos Saúl Menem, elected president from 1989 to 1999, widely associated to neoliberal reforms; and current president Mauricio Macri, with the universal recycling symbol, as if they were -and they are!- part of the same  process. “Ni una menos” (“Not one less”) is a movement that combats violence against women.
by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg
PhD Candidate at the Spanish and Portuguese Department

July 21st 2016

I’ve been in Buenos Aires for two weeks now. I’m surprised at how much things seem to have changed since my last visit, about a year ago. Many small shops that I knew have closed: after recently elected President Macri devalued the local currency by over 60%, they can’t afford to pay the rent or the dramatically increased electricity and heating bills. For instance Aleksandr, a Russian immigrant taylor I used to take clothes I usually buy for peanuts at the Salvation Army in New York for alterations and repairs, has been priced out of his small work space in downtown Buenos Aires and I’m told he’s now moved deep into the Conurbano Bonaerense, the Capital’s sprawling, densely populated outskirts. Although neoliberalism never left -even with the Kirchners, who so ardently spoke against it- it now seems tremendously reinvigorated. To my dismay, a few days ago, the Secretary of Communications, Oscar Aguad, in a nonchalant way, invoked the infamous trickle-down economics to explain the need for further austerity measures in the energy sector.

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Bagua Not Forgotten

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June 5 marked five years since the bloodshed in the Peruvian city of Bagua, situated in the Amazon. The Peruvian government negotiated a Free Trade Agreement with the United States that came into effect in February of 2009. It gave mining corporations special rights to access the Amazon for oil exploration and subsequent exploitation.  There were numerous protests that year from multiple indigenous groups, like the awajun and wampis. In June, President Alan Garcia declared a state of emergency and sent in the Peruvian National Police to stop the protests.  At least 33 people were killed, including members of the police and indigenous groups.  Although some politicians resigned their posts, like the then Prime Minister Yehude Simon, no politicians have been brought to justice as being the intellectual perpetrators of the crime. Many Peruvians now view both the police and the awajun and wampis peoples as victims of a game in which the players care much more for the benefit of transnationals and their own pockets than the lives of “second class citizens,” as  President Garcia defined them when asked what he thought of the happenings on June 5, 2009.

Starting at around 5:00 at the Plaza San Martin, a wide array of different organizations began a a demonstration in commemoration of the day of the Earth and the fifth anniversary of the bloodshed at Bagua.

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Many different leaders spoke to the crowd of about 100 people at the Plaza San Martin that evening. Between every speaker the crowd cried out in unison: “Conga no va! Conga no va! Toromocho tampoco! Toromocho tampoco!”  The first is a protest against a gold and copper mining project led by Newmont Corporation in Cajamarca, the second a copper and molybdenum mining project led by Minera Chinalco Peru.  Newmont is U.S.-owned, while Chinalco’s roots go all the way to China.

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