I spent the month of May 2003 in Argentina visiting factories, working class suburbs, villas miseria ( impoverished housing of unemployed squatters ), lower middle class assemblies in the cities, social centers of the unemployed and universities, interviewing trade unionists, unemployed workers, student and faculty activists, human rights activists, film and video makers, the Madres de Plaza de Mayo (both sectors), writers, doctors , journalists, and Marxist and center-left political leaders.
This was my 38 th year of visiting, studying and giving talks in Argentina. I spent most of my time in Greater Buenos Aires and in the province of Neuquen, where Argentina’s foremost ceramic factory was taken over by its workers and is run on the basis of a system of democratic self-management.
Argentina is the third largest economy in Latin America (after Brazil and Mexico) and up til the end of the past century had the highest standard of living in the region. Since then it has one of the highest poverty and indigency rates in Latin America, barring Central America and the Caribbean.
To understand the complex and changing reality of Argentina today, a five year economic depression, financial collapse, popular uprising and mass movements of 2001-2002 as well as the recent return of traditional political parties to political power, it is important to identify the principle political economic events which shape the present and future perspectives for the popular social and political movements.