Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / December 19, 2017
Monday was an intense day for the Argentine people. The session to vote on the Pension Reform was picked up at 2pm of Monday, December 18. The session had been cancelled on Thursday due to the lack of quorum, the massive mobilizations and the violent repression which took place in front of the Congress and left dozens of people detained and wounded, including members of Congress.
The scene on Monday was similar to the one lived on Thursday afternoon: a massive mobilization that shook midtown Buenos Aires, followed by an unfair and unparalleled repression. The only difference was that the ruling party, Macri’s Cambiemos, achieved quorum and could carry on the session in order to pass a Pension Reform which will take funds from the budget aimed for the retired and the most needy.
Before the quorum was obtained by Cambiemos, at around 1:30 pm the city’s police started the repression against the masses of people and social organizations that were there to say no to the Reform. Unlike Thursday, this time the repressive operative was carried on by the local police instead of Gendarmerie, an armed force linked to the disappearance and subsequent death of activist Santiago Maldonado (in addition to the violent repression of Thursday), in an attempt to stop the negative reputation gained by the National Force.
While the police used rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons and even paintball guns to mark the protestors, the people replied by throwing rocks and using fireworks. At one moment it seemed like the people could have had overpowered the repressive forces, but fatigue and fear towards the Gendarmerie and the Federal Police -who were ordered to stand by around the area- stopped them.
All these events of State violence and popular mobilization ended at around 6pm when the people started scattering and when the police started their hunt as they usually do to spread fear among the people.
Meanwhile, in Congress the debate was heated and long. A victory from Cambiemos was expected, but what wasn’t expected was the spontaneous and self organized Cacerolazos -a form of protest in where protesters take to the streets hitting pots and pans under no political flag-. There were cacerolazos all across the city and the country as well, thousands of people began to march from the neighborhoods of the city capital to the Congress Square in order to show their repudiation towards the Pension Reform. Under the chant “Unity / among all the workers, / and who doesn’t like it / can f*ck off, can f*ck off!”, and other songs, a massive turnout appeared in the square that had just been a war zone. People kept coming and going until 4am, when sources say tear gas was deployed once again.
After a prolonged session in Congress, the Chamber of Representatives passed the Pension Reform that cuts retirement and other social benefits. With 127 vote in favor, 116 against and 2 abstentions, Cambiemos won the voting thanks to the vote of the so called “pro-dialogue Peronists” (around 20 deputies).
Despite the costly victory of Cambiemos, there is no doubt that these events will have a special place in the Argentinian history of popular struggle, as the day where the political organizations and popular movements marched together as a whole to say “NO MORE CUTS AND NO MORE REPRESSION”.