Las Piquateras Silhouette
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One piquetera woman began to talk to us as Hune explained a little bit more about the movement. She spoke about their on going fight with the government, explaining how their movement began and where it was at. She spoke about difficulties they had faced due to their loss of jobs and then the repercussions that followed. We did not go into this meeting blind of course. We watched a documentary about the piquetero movement in 1997 when uprisings took place all over the country (even though the first piquateros rose up in 1993 in the interior of Argentina) and people were picketing roads and causing chaos and confusion for the government. This all started when a man named J. Williamson thought that in order to self regulate the market economy in Argentina, there had to be no restrictions by the state on industry. Companies began to privatize and one of the largest of those companies YPF, the state oil company, did just that. 60% of the labor force there was fired and left unemployed and facing oncoming poverty and hunger. These laborers laid off were part of a community that was economically dependent on these jobs provided by this one company; without them, they had nothing. Many of these unemployed persons began leaving their towns in search of work so they could provide for their families, while others hung back and more specifically, the men in these communities turned to alcohol. If they could not provide for their family, they could not fulfill some of their manly, husbandly, and fatherly duties and they could not handle that sort of grief and shame. Therefore, it was left for the women in the communities to step up to the plate and make their voices heard. People in these suffering communities of fired workers began to picket the roads that led into the cities. 80% of these picketers were women since many of the men were drunk, and in addition to these women, the union of teachers, Cetera, helped them block the roads as well. The Movemiento Trabadores Desocupados was an organization that formed in efforts to legitimize and unify the piqueteros and their goals. The protesting initially began small, with blockades across main streets in and just outside of the cities, as well as some bridges and anywhere else they could affect the daily economic routine that would in turn affect the entire country. Within the Movemiento Trabadores Desocupados, small co-operatives began to form, where the people in the movement would help support each other, by starting small food production, small markets and other things. They had to work together, regardless of where they were fired from; this was a fight against the government and the rich. The government offered some monetary aid ($150/month/family) which was not really enough anyway, and the piquateros wanted something else, more than governmental money handouts; they wanted jobs.
Also by Nancy Borowick
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