Javier Milei is the president of one country, Argentina, which makes him accountable to the world’s 46 million Argentines. But the global Left knows that if Milei’s free-market reforms succeed, its ascendancy might be cut short.
That’s why so many leftists supported or even helped plan last week’s massive demonstrations against Argentina’s new elected leader.
A one-day strike by Argentina’s main labor unions, accompanied by the biggest street demonstration the South American country has ever seen, was partly the result of a global effort.
The trade unions, other organizations, individuals, and Marxist global networks involved spanned the world. They used social media platforms—including Facebook, X, Instagram, and Zoom—to promote or plan the marches.
We have seen a similar blueprint employed in the past—in Chile in 2019, in the U.S. in 2020, and in Colombia in 2021.
An event or tragedy is seized by revolutionary forces that want to upend society; they and global leftist networks use social media to generate uproar and street demonstrations; political change follows.
In Chile, it was a hike in subway prices. In the U.S., it was George Floyd’s death. And in Colombia, it was higher taxes.
Global Left on Fire
In Argentina, leftists last week protested against Milei’s deregulatory and privatization moves to peel back destructive statist policies that have driven the economy into a constant state of crisis.
On Dec. 20, soon after being sworn in as president, Milei issued a decree limiting the reach of the powerful labor unions. He also sent Argentina’s Congress “omnibus legislation” to provide a much-needed jolt to the nation’s plummeting economy, deregulating various sectors and partially privatizing state behemoths.
That was enough to set the global Left on fire. Next-door Brazil—whose shadow over Latin America’s far-Left forces looms large—led the way with the most organizations and individuals involved in helping Argentine trade unions and leftist social movements organize against Milei’s plan.
Brazil is a demographic and geographical giant ruled by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, perhaps the hemisphere’s best known Marxist leader. Lula is also the founder of the Foro de Sao Paulo, the world’s largest grouping of Marxist parties and organizations.
The Foro threw its support behind the march in Argentina. Its executive secretary, Monica Valente, not only promoted the Jan. 24 protest and other demonstrations since Milei took office. She also shared on social media a Zoom meeting that over 200 global leftist unionists held with leaders of the main Argentine unions on Jan. 18, six days before the protest.
The nearly two-hour session was led by Rafael Freire, a Brazilian who is secretary general of the gigantic Montevideo, Uruguay-based Confederación Sindical de los/las Trabajadores/as de las Américas, or the Labor Confederation of Workers from the Americas. Freire and other militants from Spain, France, Italy, Brazil, Venezuela, Africa, Australia, Belgium, Peru, and many other countries took turns to speak.
The union leaders strategized on plans to hold solidarity protests in front of Argentine embassies all over the world on the same day as the marches in Argentina. They also discussed writing Labor Confederation-led letters to Milei, the Argentine Congress, and the Argentine Supreme Court demanding an end to the new president’s policies.
Unmistakable Call to Arms
Freire insisted that he and other international participants on the Zoom call were taking their cues from the three main Argentine union bosses leading the protest efforts.
But the figurative call to arms was unmistakable. Freire and the others spoke in apocalyptic tones about what would happen to the rest of the world if Milei succeeded, so the Argentines had better stop him lest Mileism spring up everywhere.
“We are facing ultra-right governments, a neo-liberal fundamentalism that started with [Donald] Trump in the United States,” Freire said as the session got under way. “If this kind of politics succeeds in Argentina, we have no doubt that it will advance throughout all Latin America.”
The Argentine situation is expected to be front and center at a meeting of thousands of Marxist militants planned for February where the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet, said Freire, speaking from Brazil in a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese that would have been perfectly understandable to most of those tuning in.
The Jan. 24 march was but the start of the global anti-Milei campaign, he said.
“Argentina is a global laboratory,” Argentine union leader Roberto Baradel said during his remarks. Baradel decried how Milei was making “the right to property the central right in our social, political, and economic life.”
Félix Ovejero, a leader of Spain’s Sindicato Comisiones Obreras de España, agreed that Milei was leading an attack on “the working class of the world.”
“It’s enough to see the outrages Milei said [in his speech at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting] in Davos, when he said there was no such thing as market failure,” Ovejero argued.
Classical Marxist Themes
Nearly all speakers insisted that Milei posed a global threat, describing him as a fascist leading a crusade against the environment, women’s rights, and immigration, among other alleged targets.
“On Jan. 24, we are all Argentines,” said Freire, “because we belong to a single working class. Among us there is no border; we must regain the sense of class.”
The Zoom call was but one of several such international efforts. In the days leading up to the Jan. 24 protest in Argentina, many other groups struck similar classical Marxist themes.
Brazilian organizations such as the Trotskyite group Fracao Trotskista Quarta Internacional and the Marxist website Esquerda Diario, for example, used different social media platforms to help gin up turnout for the demonstration not just in Argentine cities, but in others around the world—including Paris, Brussels, Madrid, Santiago de Chile, Montevideo, Mexico City, Caracas, and New York.
The communist student organization Juntos!, based in Sao Paulo, issued a statement calling for a large turnout in Argentina to protest “Milei and his attacks.”
“If Argentina stops these attacks, it will strengthen the struggle in the entire world against the extreme right, strengthening the class struggle perspective as the path against our enemies,” the student group said on Facebook.
The statement was signed by several Marxist organizations, including the Union de Jovenes Comunistas, founded in Havana, Cuba, on April 4, 1962, just when the Castros were throwing their island nation completely into the Soviet camp and applying the screws at home to those who disagreed.
This is what is arrayed against Milei, who only took office Dec. 10. There was no street violence against him in this dry run, but that isn’t guaranteed going forward. Milei remains immensely popular, an asset he will need.
Americans and Europeans who agree with Milei’s slogan of “Viva la Libertad, Carajo!” (or “Long Live Liberty, [Expletive]!”) have an interest in him succeeding. That’s because if he does succeed, there is a chance that rational policies can be tried at home.
The Argentine president’s success against the Big Global Left also would give us lessons about a possible return of 2020-style, Black Lives Matter-sponsored violence.
A Spanish version of this commentary was published on the same date by the Madrid-based Disenso Fundacion
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