Que se Vayan Todos

Pillars of the Movement

After lunch we go to one of the two weekly MTD assemblies which are happening simultaneously in Admiralte Brown that afternoon. Besides piles of burnt plastic and a ruined wall with a circle A and the words "False Euphoria" graffitied onto it, a group of 70 or more people stand in a makeshift circle. Raising their voices against the cold biting wind, they openly discuss the problems of the last week, share information and make plans for the following days.

A key event will be next week's commemoration of the June repression. Activists from the United States, part of Art and Revolution, one of the key groups involved in the Direct Action Network that Shut down the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in 1999 in Seattle, have been working with the piqueteros here over the last few days building giant puppets out of cardboard for the commemoration events. A young woman proudly presents her puppet, attached to a long stick which she holds high in the air.

It's mostly women who do the speaking at the assemblea. Earlier, Anna had told to me how woman are the ones who are hit hardest by unemployment. When there is no food to put on the table, no clothes to dress the children in, it is they who are at the sharp end of poverty. Often the men feel rejected and are paralysed by the loss of identity which follows unemployment and in many cases it has been the women who have been the first to get out of the home into the streets to take part in piquetes. "Women's struggle is the pillar of the movement," she tells me.

Astor's mother had joined the movement before him. He had a job selling loans for new cars, and every time he saw his elderly mother on TV, masked up and blocking the highways, he would cringe with embarrassment. But now no one buys cars and the job disappeared. So one day he went to the piquetero assembly out of curiosity, and he saw how women, many of them elderly, many of whom had never had the possibility to make decisions or express important things about their lives, were able to put up their hand and talk freely and people would listen to them. They would propose good ideas and then they would then go into the streets for their children's sake. Astor has three children and soon he realised that he had to join the movement too.

next part: Transforming the Fences | Que se Vayan Todos | Argentina