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IMC Reporters Taken to Batan: Where the Poor of Mar Del Plata are Hidden

A one line comment in Arengentina Indymedia say Fernando Catz and Roger Sampedro have been sent to Batan: a place with a reputation as bad as any prison in ARgentina. All the prisons are crowded, and the media, even the BBC has speculated that is reason is a "crime wave" precipated by economic collapse.

This is false. The facts indicate otherwise.
It is for this reason former president Menen is hiding in Chile right now.
A CHILEAN judge yesterday threw out Argentine judges' second request to extradite former president Carlos Menem for questioning about allegations that $60 million was embezzled from funds to be used to build two prisons.

The Scotsman: June 9, 2003

The associates of Menem who could not flee quickly enough have been unmasked as thieves, and sentenced for high crimes. One example:
A ONE-time aide to former President Carlos Menem was yesterday beginning a three year prison sentence after she was convicted of corruption.

She was convicted of illegal enrichment after a federal judge ruled she failed to explain how she accumulated more than $1m in assets during her time in government.

Alsogaray, 61, oversaw several privatisations carried out under Menem during the early 1990s, including sales of the country's state-owned telephone and steel companies.

Argentina had embarked on one of the most aggressive privatisations in the world, selling off hundreds of state industries and service groups to help turn Argentina's economy around.

The Scotsman: May 23, 2004

As an aside, it is privitization that drove the brief career of J. Paul Bremmer, and his associates have been greatly enriched by the process with NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

But the crisis today is Argentina, and here is some necessary background. Protests about prison conditions have been escalating through Argentina, partly as a result of this theft by Menem: which is a small amount compared to the total dollar amount that disappearred immmediately before, and again, after, the IMF bailout.

Social unrest did not end abruptly with the bursting of the IMF bubble: less than 3 weeks prior to the Summit in Mar Del Plata, 32 inmates died in a single fire. Not all the deaths were from the fire - some were from knife wounds.

This is how the poor are murdered.(story)

The outsiders are driven to poverty, and then murdered, and not only in the 3rd world:

"The stark fact is, some people are murdered in Britain today because they are poor," said foundation director Richard Garside.
By far the most common way of being murdered is with a knife or broken glass.
In an interview with Naomi Klien, Emilio Ali explained the function of the Batan prison:
Before 1997 there weren't social movements in Mar del Plata. It was terrible for the authorities that we showed that hidden side of Mar del Plata, which to them was a happy, tourist city. We showed something that had been very hidden.
And in the same interview, "Jailed for Asking for Food" he explains the political background for today's crisis:
Question: After December 19 the middle classes started to mobilize and today there's some solidarity between the middle classes and the piqueteros. How do you feel about this, and what was it like before? We heard that before the banking crisis, the piqueteros were treated as 'the ugly, dirty, and bad'. How do you see this change?

Answer: It's a very important change. Before they would beat us, or complain about us to the police. That's changed. But more importantly, the people have said no to the old way of doing politics, the politics of people who sold all of our Argentina and created all this unemployment and misery. The people said no to all that, and when you see them now they don't believe it. The politicians who had fooled the people, making promises of jobs, food, education and not delivering it. There were 30,000 disappeared in this country. And the people decided that they don't want any more. No more 'Peronistas', and no more 'Radicals' either. This is the important thing. The people realized too that the banks have benefited from the whole system, screwing over the poorest and enriching the wealthiest.

And how do the prisons get filled in Argentina? Here is on example:

They took me to be judged, I was put before a prosecutor who accused me, they told me that I was to be interrogated, and I said no, because I didn't have a lawyer. They took me to a holding cell very far from the city where I live, obviously afraid that people were going to mobilize for my freedom. I was in that cell for 28 days. Then they took me to the 'Unidad 15 de Batan' prison, which is a maximum security prison. I was there for ten months, before my trial...
And then he was sentenced to an additional 6 years because he led a movement of poor people who successfully negotiated for donations of food

So of the the families, who were waiting outside the burning prison last month were not at all unreasonable in their impatience: they were forced to wait outsdie while innocent relatives were exterminated.

It is this type of action that has been protected by Bush and his World Police. It is the action of economic policies that kill. This is the Economic Holocaust, and it is against this that people of the entire continent are protesting.

David Roknich


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