The Poverty of the Argentines

The Poverty of the Argentines

By Jorge Rulli

When we read the Minister of the Economy, what impresses us the most about his thinking is his closed and exclusive productivism, his vision that the world of Economics is par excellence the space of the macro and that it could never contain the concrete problems that make to the daily life of Argentines.

It has been the poverty of the Argentines and especially the hunger of the children and their helplessness, one of the main and permanent concerns of the Horizonte Sur Program and also, and very particularly of these Editorials of mine, Saturday after Saturday during the last two years. Unfortunately, it is the information from INDEC, the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, that confirms us in those concerns that we based on our own perceptions and common sense, rather than on investigations such as those now published. The recovery from poverty and indigence after two years of heavy investments and multiple social plans of various types, is practically minimal and in many social sectors the situation seems to have worsened, that is, indigence and hunger They are greater than before and much worse than expected, according to supposed experts on the subject.

It would be easy and we would be tempted to do so, to reiterate that hunger and destitution are the inevitable consequence of a model of mass exclusion and massive depopulation of the countryside. That they are the consequence of the loss of Food Sovereignty. That in this agro-export model only the large soybean farmers and exporting companies win, and that the officials who plan to live indefinitely from the withholdings on those exports, I am referring to State expenses, debt payments and also plans They have chosen an easy path for them, but one that mortgages the future of the Nation. A path that insists on confusing growth with development, since it is about growth in the gross product and exports, but accompanied by greater and growing poverty.

We could also point out that these INDEC investigations are based only on studies of large urban conglomerates, as if the rural country did not exist, in such a way that we could assume that the total figures would be significantly higher, if we were able to add rural unemployment in the small towns and hamlets, and also the destitution of so many families that are members of what is known as dispersed rurality, many of them precariously sheltering in the curtains between soybean pastures, which is all that remains of the ancient mountains swept by the relentless scourge of bulldozers. In reality, and even more so, we believe that the way in which these statistics are made should be reviewed, that it should be thought from a new logic, under another perspective, with other criteria, political and non-technocratic criteria, because everything technocratic implies the trap of assuming that something can evade the space of politics and that it can be universalized.

However, when we read the Minister of the Economy, what impresses us the most about his thinking is his closed and exclusive productivism, his vision that the world of economics is par excellence the space of the macro and that it could never contain concrete problems that they do to the daily life of Argentines. In other words, the social would be for this type of thinking, simply the theme of another ministry. His are large numbers, negotiations with international organizations, the organization of national budgets, dialogue with investors, etc, etc. The rest, those externalities or perhaps those accessory damages caused by the economic policy itself, would then be the issues of the social development and health area. Sadly, many ordinary people think that way too, so that in their day both Jauretche and Scalabrini were tremendously mocked.

We need to debate these paradigms and we need to review the budgets and conceptions of INDEC. But how could we wait for debates about it, when Lelio Mármora, the Director of INDEC himself, who was our colleague in the sixties, who was also the first that a few days after Felipe Vallese disappeared, he drew him clinging to that tree on Canalejas Street in posters that made history and that made it possible to win over the public opinion of that time, today he has become an official, friend and man of confidence of the Minister and surely shares that skewed and mechanical view of the world that commercializes our lives and that has converted the world of majorities in a true hell, in a globalized hell ...

If the great problem of poverty and hunger is a problem of the Social Ministry of the Republic, if it is accepted that it is a problem of the officials of the social area, officials in charge of promoting social plans responsible for alleviating poverty and through small Entrepreneurs replace so many excluded in the labor market, let us ask ourselves what they have done in all this time since the figures released indicate that the problems remain practically the same. And we answer to ourselves. There is one thing for sure, they have spent fortunes in helping the poor, fortunes of hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone to increase the debt, they have also bombarded us with many social plans, they have overwhelmed us with organization charts and advertising, they have punished to people with almost unintelligible forms that must be filled out with a project in order to achieve the desired subsidy ... but they have also lived, they have reproduced themselves wonderfully as a progressive civil service caste, and many have changed their lives in a remarkable and almost aristocratic way, since in Argentina and since the time of Menemism there is only one industry that has always prospered, and it is the industry of living from poverty ...

It seems to me that we have to ask ourselves, even within the framework of this monoculture and agro-export model that is imposed on us, we have to ask ourselves why Argentina's poverty and destitution cannot be solved or mitigated except in a ridiculous way and at such a price. as high as that which has been paid, and I am referring to the loans taken from the World Bank and other international organizations. Here we have two alternatives to confess, to recognize that poverty is absolutely functional to the current model of party-political representation, or that due to a problem of ideology or social extraction, the political class is not able to find a way to confront it, or perhaps both things simultaneously.

In the first place and for two years that we have been saying it: as long as those who decide believe that a progressive intellectual with social inclinations, by the fact of being one can become a good official and do what we need to implement State policies, we are and will be lost ... and the children will continue as now sniffing glue and dying of malnutrition. It is one thing to be a good teacher and write essays on poverty or, as in the case of Vice Minister Daniel Arroyo, on local development, and quite another is to get this people out of hunger and destitution. If we do not understand that a progressive intellectual has developed what is called critical thinking and that when he is faced with tasks of such great responsibility, that thinking only serves to immobilize him, if we do not understand that, then Argentines will continue to pay a very high price in suffering and in lost lives.

Another issue, and although it is linked, is that of indebtedness. Have a discourse against Debt, be aware of always kicking the limits of Default for the future, and meanwhile establish new and new debts for each government work that is carried out, for each social program, for each purchase of school books, for every bridge or whatever, it is a vicious and wicked, vicious, wicked and unacceptable mechanism. Let's say it clearly, nothing we need needs foreign money and even less in loans. More precisely, nothing that we need for health, education, or social plans. This country in its best moments relied on its own savings and on the work of its people and those moments still fill us with emotion and pride. It is this civil service caste of progressive intellectuals, with a long working relationship with the World Bank, who would not know how to function without the system of constant indebtedness and without the instructions they receive from the officials of those loan entities. That is the harsh reality ...

Those same progressive intellectuals have flooded the field of Culture, convinced that they must bring Culture to the People, when in reality with that stubborn gorilla conception that characterizes them, they confuse Culture with knowledge and do not even imagine that those who really lack Culture are they, who, as they say so many times, were born in this land by chance… and not the people to whom the cultural plans that they devise and with whom they thrive to live as new mandarins are destined. I remember that that happened to us at the National Secretariat of Culture when Elvio Vitale was appointed as director of cultural industries, the first thing he did was to erase with a stroke of the pen the area we had, a program to repopulate dead towns and to recover seeds. For this illustrated bookseller, seeds as he himself once expressed it, seeds have nothing to do with Culture….? It is probable that Pepe Nun thinks the same and surely many other progressives, both in the field of the ruling party and the opposition, since these universalist conceptions do not respect partisanship or the banderias and cut across sectors of the middle layers.

Our identity and our originality are based on the people who keep their way of speaking with a local accent, their ways of eating, making music, respecting the direction of the round of mate, their ways of greeting, their codes and ways of interact with others ... The rest are mere information and knowledge and are useless if we do not first know who we are. Does anyone perhaps remember that monstrosity called EDUC-AR, which Aíto, the son of the former president, created at the time and on which fortunes were spent? Our Culture is the fundamental thing and it is what we must preserve, our Culture and our dignity, without them the plans and loans, the best intentions and the opportunism of those who want to help while ensuring a good time, do not matter, thanks to poverty. .

With that guide and only with that guide our problems would become easy to solve. And we wrote it at the time to the President and we told some officials and we tried to explain it to others, who were so proud of the charges that awaited them, that like Dr. Amaya, who today chairs SENASA, they did not have the least patience to listen to us.

Hunger and, to a large extent, unemployment, despite the current monoculture model, could be mitigated. But for this, you have to decide to put limits on the model, limit it in a gradual process of searching for a system in which this model can coexist with another. The macro model on the one hand, that of agriculture and scale productions, and on the other the local, small-scale economy model, a model with local markets. That is what we told several now officials two years ago. What do we mean? We are referring to the fact that we must once again put support prices at least on food destined for the Argentine table, and more specifically on lentils. We must clarify that Argentina always had support prices and that only from the time of Menemism and with the implementation of the neoliberal model, the free market doctrines that still govern were established. Today, to eat a lentil stew that we could well buy at one peso per kilo, we must pay six and even nine pesos, because it is imported from Canada. Where would the support price come from? Well, from withholdings to Soy. We also need to protect cities from monocultures and the accompanying aerial spraying. The investment that will require the next generations to remedy the health impacts that this model is producing, will far exceed all the supposed profit that Soy is now giving and will turn into a macabre joke that little phrase that repeats so many intelligent fools, that the country lives off soy… How do we protect cities? Recovering the green cords around them, cords for mitigating impacts but also for intensive food production, production areas that would quickly alleviate food shortages. For this, it would be necessary to establish at the municipal level and throughout the country, another category in addition to the urban and rural now existing, a category of "semi-rurality", where industrial agriculture cannot be carried out but only food production: tambos, poultry farms, farms, fruit trees and polyculture farms. If we add to this the markets or local fairs of producers, now non-existent, now not allowed, we would have both the development of local production and the employment of labor, as well as the place where to carry out exchanges between producers and consumers. With some recolonization and training programs for the new producers that would settle around the cities, important changes would soon be achieved.

Are we talking about utopias? Is it a utopia to imagine a country where each Argentine once again has enough food on their own table? If my family was poor and I always remember that in those years when I was a child, the Siam refrigerator was always full of food. Many times for us, my brothers and I, it was difficult for us to close it, because of so much that was kept inside, and I remember that they challenged us ... because it stayed open ... and we were a poor family ... There was plenty of food in that Argentina ... and we didn't have at INTA, which arrived with the "Liberator", we did not have hybrid seeds, we did not have transgenic or state-of-the-art technologies ... We did not have pesticides ... But, we had food, there was no hunger in our homeland ... Would it be so difficult for Argentines to get out of the hunger and homelessness? Or perhaps are other visions from the Power, consumerist, economistic, productivist visions, alien to Culture itself and unconcerned about the dignity of the poor, those that impose themselves, block any solution and transform social action and welfare plans, in a profitable way of living for certain progressive sectors? At least it would be good if we asked ourselves these questions and that others have to give, sometime, the corresponding answers….

* Jorge Eduardo Rulli
Horizonte Sur Program on National Radio AM

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