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Que Se Vayan Todos: Argentina's Popular Rebellion. Part 1 and 2.

An eyewitness account of the financial meltdown and ongoing grassroots rebellion.

A NEW edition, with an update, of the beautiful 16 page tabloid size publication, complete with fantastic full page images of the popular rebellion in Argentina has just been produced. If you would like copies write to - stating how many you would like, and your address. We have access to some free postage ( from the UK ) and the copies themselves are free, but dont go overboard as we ran out of copies very quickly last time.

Part 1

Routines and Rebellions

15th Feb. 2002

Your tickets are invalid," says the heavily lipsticked agent at theVarig airlines check-in counter in southern Brazil. Her eyes flick to the next person in line. We protest vehemently, as we've had no problem using the tickets. She is not impressed, and calls for her manager, who explains to us that Varig no longer recognizes the reciprocity of any tickets issued through Aerolineas Argentina. "They cannot be trusted now," she informs us gravely, showing us the memo announcing the new policy. "We no longer do business with them." This is our first experience of the rippling effects of the Argentinean financial crisis.

At the Aerolineas Argentina ticket counter, the agent is friendly, and seems a bit embarrassed. He books us tickets on the next flight to Buenos Aires. His demeanor suggests that of a man who does not know if he will have a job tomorrow. We board the plane, hoping that the massive layoffs and budget cuts have not reached air traffic control, aerospace engineering, safety inspection, and other related sectors. We arrive safely, get ourselves a cheap hotel, and bleary-eyed, head out for a coffee.

In the corner of the cafe a television with the volume down is tuned into the Cronica channel - a uniquely Argentinean phenomenon - non-stop live trashy "news," seemingly unedited, with unbelievably bad and erratic camera work, and featuring the same lone reporter who seems to pop up all over town at random. Our introduction to Cronica is "live and direct" scenes from the beach, complete with close-up shots of thongs which zoom out and reveal beach volleyball games and languid sunbathers. There's a massive social rebellion going on in this country, and the news is live and direct from the beach!

After about 20 minutes of beach footage, it cuts to the news studio. Two "presenters" appear, in the form of shockingly pink-haired puppets! This is beyond ridiculous, here we are, desperate for news of the rebellion, and all we can get is puppet shows and thongs. After some "live and direct" from the local football team's practice, we finally are rewarded with images of people banging pots and pans while invading the lobby of a bank. We quickly drink up our coffee, ask the waiter how to get to the financial district, jump on a bus, and arrive there in minutes.

Financial districts look much the same all over the world, whether in the City of London, New York, or Frankfurt, but here in Buenos Aires there is one major difference - huge corrugated sheets of steel cover many of the bank headquarters, especially the foreign ones, like Citibank, HSBC, and Lloyds. Gone are the grand entrance halls; the prestigious shiny surfaces of glass and marble are hidden behind blank facades of grey steel, and the only access is through tiny doors cut into the sheet metal, through which suited figures pass, heads bowed, entering these fortresses as if banking has become a secretive, clandestine activity.

The strong smell of wet paint hangs in the air, fresh graffiti covers the steel shuttering and walls, saying "ladrones," or thieves. The action can't be far away. We split up and scout the area, listening for the clang of metal upon metal, the ineffable noise that has become the soundtrack to this rebellion, but hear nothing, find nothing. It seems that we are too late.

next part: Economic Freefall

"Be realistic and do the impossible, because if we don't do the impossible, we face the unthinkable." Murray Bookchin

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