Argentina: activist killed in labor clash

Thousands of Argentines rallied in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires on Oct. 21 to protest the killing of the student Mariano Ferreyra during a demonstration the day before. Ferreyra, a member of the Trotskyist Workers Party (PO), was shot in the chest in what appeared to be a clash between armed members of the Railroad Workers Union (UF) and temporary workers demanding that laid-off workers get permanent employment with the Roca Railroad, which was privatized in the 1990s. Three others were wounded in the incident, one seriously. There were reports that the police did nothing to stop the supposed UF members when they attacked the protesters.

A wide range of groups denounced the Oct. 20 attacks, including the far-left Quebracho group; the Federation of Energy Workers of the Argentine Republic (Fetera), part of the Federation of Argentine Workers (CTA); the Association of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; student and human rights groups; and supporters of the left-leaning government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. But the incident revealed sharp divisions within the Argentine left and labor movements. Fetera charged that the government’s policies, despite their progressive appearance, are the real source of the violence against protesters. The renowned Argentine filmmaker Fernando “Pino” Solanas also accused the government of being “complicit in everything.”

On Oct. 21 President Fernández deplored the killing and insisted that her government refuses to repress demonstrations despite “the political costs of not repressing.” Luis D’ElĂ­a, director of the Federation of Lands and Housing, charged that former president Eduardo Duhalde (2002-2003) was involved in the attack on the protesters. Duhalde, who met recently with UF general secretary JosĂ© Pedrazza, is an opponent of Fernández and her husband, former president NĂ©stor Kirchner (2003-2007), within the Justicialist Party (PJ, Peronist). (Adital, Brazil, Oct. 21; Buenos Aires Herald, Oct. 21; La Jornada, Mexico,Oct. 22 from correspondent)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 24.

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