Argentina burning again after po-po eviction of Brukman worker-occupied factory
Report from the frontlines in Argentina...
Buenos Aires, 21 de Abril
This is not the update that I want to write. I want to write of an amazing occupied space in Lomas de Zamora where three asambleas have come together to work on popular education, feed hundreds and work with the street kids. I want to write of the new asamblea that formed a little over a week ago. I want to write of vision and horizontalidad and the new politics being created. I can and will write of these things, but for now my eyes sting with tear gas, the smell lingers on my body, and I have yet to locate two friends. Dozens have been injured by the police and so far at least one hundred have been arrested. People are still locked in a building of the university, with the police throwing gas inside. This is not what I want to write about, but it is also Argentina today. Popular power is a threat.
Demonstrations have been growing every day since the worker occupied factory, Brukman, was evicted last Thursday. Brukman is one of two hundred factories run directly democratically by the workers, no bosses and no owners. It is a huge symbol for people in Argentina. A country with a huge number of people unemployed, when discussing Brukman or the other occupied factories, people say, claro, of course, they should run it collectively. People from all sectors of society have been mobilizing to support the workers, and today, to help the workers take their factory back. (For more on Brukman see indymedia Argentina.)
Today was the largest mobilization to support Brukman so far. Thousands of people filled many city blocks as well as the park. The intention was for the workers with support of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo and some political deputies to lead in the passing of the police to enter and retake the factory. As well as thousands of supports, the police mobilized thousands, decked out in the international Storm Trooper gear. The police not only had gas, rubber bullets and water cannons, but live ammunition, all prominently displayed.
A group of international journalists and activists had decided the day before that we would be in the front with the workers with placards indicating the countries were are from. The hope was that this might provide a minimal amount of protection, using our privilege etc.
From this point, in the very front, we also witnessed and experienced first hand the repression. I was literally at the police fence and can say in no uncertain terms that at a certain moment the police opened fire with gas and rubber bullets with no provocation. The amount of gas was tremendous, canister after canister was fired, making us with only scarves to protect our faces ill and delirious. People began to flea the situation, and the police perused, not only from behind but also from every street corner. The entire neighborhood filled with gas and random bullets were flying. People ran to try and seek some reprieve, but the police kept up the firing of gas and bullets. I do not know as I write this the number of people injured. The repression was fierce, and all for 50 workers, mainly women, who want a dignified life and job, and to be able to support their families.
I shake my head. The vision and creation occurring here through popular asambleas, parallel community institutions and occupied factories are profound, and a serious threat to not only the Argentine government but also global capital. I do believe this, not only from the repression, but the creation.
Blocks away, as people realized what was happening, neighbors came out of their houses and began to talk to each other. Shaking their heads as well, anger and frustration abounded. Again and again people were saying, "for what the repression, they only want to work". I walked around more and saw the same thing, people gathering in circles on sidewalks to discuss what was happening. Again, anger and frustration. One well dressed middle age woman on her way home from work participated in one of these popular conversations and said it made her want to pick up rocks and throw them at the police, people around her smiled and nodded.
I am back in my apartment now, smelling gas, hearing the shots in my head, trying to reach those lost in the fray, hoping they are not seriously injured. As I sit writing this, I am still inspired. On the way home I passed two asambleas meeting on street corners and could see into an occupied bank where another asambleas was taking place. That was just on my route home. Repression cannot stop what is being created. People have a different sense of power, and many talk of counter power. The power of the neighborhoods organizing directly democratically and autonomously, the thousands occupying factories and other spaces to provide for the community, this cannot be stopped by gas and bullets.
Con Amor, Imaginacion y Autonomia,
"Seamos realistas, hagamos lo imposible." ~Che
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