“It is one of the biggest organisations in Argentina. Present in 17 provinces and with over 70,000 members, it is providing employment for thousands of people. It has build entire townships, schools, health care centres, recreational centres, museums, cultural centres and factories.”
In the nineties, neo-liberalism in Argentina had created a massive crisis: unemployment, growing impoverishment, and a rise in social inequality, leaving thousands of workers on the streets, without social services and access to education. Faced with these seemingly hopeless conditions, in Jujuy, in the north of the country, Milagro Sala.
an indigenous social militant, begins to organise with other unemployed fellow citizens and to protest vigorously for basic human rights: work, health, education.
Due to the lack of response from the various governments which follow, they decide to take things into their own hands, providing an immediate solution to the famine that was hitting the province by organising “copas de leche” (glasses of milk) to feed thousands of children in the most deprived townships. The neighbourhood organisation Tupac Amaru is born.
In 2003, under the presidency of Nestor Kirchner, they start to get involved in politics beyond the dominant neo-liberal model. The synergies emerging between Tupac Amaru and the State at the time lead to the construction of “social housing” with public support.
Tupac Amaru is slowly but surely building a new work model: based on cooperation, solidarity and democratic decision-making.
They create cooperatives for the construction of social housing financed by the government, they build them quicker and with less funds than private enterprises and they re-invest the profit into the communities, building schools, health care centres, factories and recreational centres amongst many other things. This model is an example of veritable team work and has inspired thousands of Argentinians.
The seventeen years of Tupac Amaru’s work are a shining example which clearly shows that social organisations, also active in the field of public policy, are essential for the development of a country.
The network of social organisations
Together with other organisations Milagro Sala and Tupac Amaru created the Network of Social Organisations of Jujuy, uniting and giving structure to the struggle of thousands of workers, members of cooperatives, and social militants. An enormous pressure is building until those responsible for the genocide that happened under the dictatorship of the last century are finally brought to justice. Subsequently, a trial starts in Jujuy against Blaquier and other local “mighty”, all land owners in control of the majority of the country.
This return to power of thousands of citizen generates a strong reaction amongst those who are in control of the economic, local and national power.
A heavy media campaign is now under way, based on defamations and unfounded accusations: violence, possession of arms, misappropriation of funds. Thanks to those defamatory accusations Tupac Amaru becomes known on a national and international level and various progressive sectors align themselves in their defence.
The “party of sovereignty of the people”
In 2012 Tupac Amaru’s general assembly announces the foundation of the “Party of sovereignty of the People” which stands for the elections of 2013 and 2015 in the province of Jujuy.
In 2013 Milagro Sala is elected as member of the provincial parliament and in 2015 as member of the Parliament of Mercosur.
Milagro Sala’s arrest
In December 2015 the victory of Argentina’s right, lead by Mauricio Macri, opens up once again the debate on the future and the common horizon of the countries of Latin America. It is the first defeat of a progressive post-neo-liberal government after 2000 and for many the beginning of a new era. Mauricio Macri is elected president with only 300.000 votes and in a campaign that was based on marketing and lies, using the support of the media monopoly which is shamelessly on his side. In the first three months of the new government, electoral promises disappear out of sight and the country falls into an unprecedented decline: devaluation, inflation, poverty.
In Jujuy the new governor Gerardo Morales, a political ally of Mauricio Morales, wins the elections and Tupac Amaru starts to make opposition. After several unsuccessful attempts to get a meeting with the new governor, on December 14, 2015 the Network of Social Organisations of Jujuy begins a peaceful sit-in in front of the headquarters of the provincial government, asking to be heard by the governor in order to open up a dialogue and to voice social politics with the objective to guarantee the respecting of the rights acquired over the years.
Gerardo Morales denies the confrontation, fines Tupac Amaru for the sit-in and tries to expropriate the organisation of their goods. One month after the protests Milagro Sala is arrested under the accusation of instigation to commit crimes.
Milagro Sala becomes the first political prisoner.
#Freedom for Milagro Sala
Following Milagro Sala’s detention protests arise all over the country as well as internationally, demanding her liberation. In Buenos Aires Plaza de Mayo is occupied for three months by an encampment in which all major social and political forces of Argentina participate. Amnesty International launches an urgent petition.
All over the world many human rights, political, social and cultural organisations and unions express their support and demand the immediate liberation of Milagro Sala.
Committees for Milagro’s liberation form in many countries of the world and in many provinces of Argentina. Nevertheless, other persons, all members of Tupac Amaru, are arrested, amongst them Raúl Noro, Milagro’s husband.
Is seems the repression in Jujuy is an experiment, as in the darkest decades of Argentina’s history. The defending lawyers receive fines and threats on several occasions. Upon the intervention of governor Morales two new judges are installed at the Court of Justice of the province, both ex-parliamentary allies. The local and national media, aligned with Macri and Morales, put into motion their media machine spreading defamations, lies and discrimination.
Meanwhile Milagro Sala is still imprisoned, without any real reason for her detention. We are witnessing the criminalisation of protests, with the judiciary being used to neutralise social organisations, those who defend the basic needs of the population.
Everything that Tupac Amaru created in Jujuy, the thousands of houses, the schools, health care centres, sports centres, and so on… all abandoned or worse, handed over to those in power.
An uncertain future
The “corporations” are piling on, everywhere and at any cost, along with manipulating the media and the judicial apparatus. A script that repeats itself in various countries and which consists of a massive and noisy media campaign carried out by the big editorial outlets, followed by investigations by the judiciary and often financed by the mighty. The mix of media and judiciary, as we know, has already produced electoral defeats, coups d’état or arbitrary arrests of political and social personalities.
aced with an uncertain future on a global level we are entering an era of great disequilibrium and injustices. The wealthiest 1% of the population continues to enrich itself; 16 families control 94% of the world’s resources. The companies, or so-called multinational lobbies, and big international finance are the masters of this world. The only forces who will be able to confront this new scenario are the citizens organised in multiple forms.
In front of this crisis of the modern age, social organisations can show us possible ways forward, they are questioning the established world and are telling us about a new world which is already emerging. Social organisations have always existed, even before the beginnings of social, political and cultural institutions. A long story with a future: social organisations carry the seed of what will be.
Latin America is the birthplace of the governments of the people who have begun to make social politics beyond neo-liberal schemes and are now on a confrontation course with conservative forces who want to regain the power lost and prevent a redistribution of wealth at any cost.
The smear campaigns against Cristina Fernández, Dilma Rousseff, Lula da Silva, and Milagro Sala were only possible because of the continued control of the monopolised media by the Right, which has the complicity of the judicial power in every country and remains silent in front of the monstrosities committed by governments.
The story of Tupac Amaru is symbolic: a violent carbon-copy of what we have already seen elsewhere. But this story also shows us how to create well-being. In the near future, in Latin America, we can only expect a rise in repression of protests, something which is similar to the dictatorships of the past century, with coups no longer exercised by the military, but by the media and by corrupt judges, according to the interests of the 1%. A new Operation Condor.
Today lobbies are showing their true face, they are appropriating common goods and no longer justify this with an ideology, neo-libralism. We are going towards a system of social injustice with 1% accumulating all riches at the expense of the rest; the only organisations who will be able to have a future in this dark scenario are those who will start from a social basis and who will claim the necessities of the people: universal income, housing, health, education and civil rights.