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Riots in Argentina: Nicolás Morás Reporting from the Ground

Argentine libertarian activist and C4SS contributor Nicolás Morás wrote a blog post at Orden Voluntario describing his first-hand experience of a recent wave of riots and looting at his hometown, San Carlos de Bariloche, and reflects about the fundamental political causes of this tragic episode:

It was 11:00 am and I was directing the shooting of Two Villages, an ambitious documentary project in which we cover a series of tabu social problems in the tourist city of San Carlos de Bariloche, where the center and bourgeois neighborhoods are separated in a quasi apartheid from the marginal zones. More on this later (by the way, we are producing the documentary under the auspices of C4SS).

My team was dispersed in different zones and I was walking towards 36th School, a conflictive secondary school, to interview its director. When I arrived, the school had just closed down and I sensed irritation and even desperation among the few people walking on the streets.

We all went back home, and at approximately 1:00 pm Todo Noticias, the news channel of Clarín group announced “collective looting in Bariloche.” Hundreds of people advanced towards Changomás, a hipermarket subsidiary of Walmart. Eluding the police controls, and a few of them confronting them, they threw themselves over the cameras and tried to lynch the journalists, setting their a car owned by Todo Noticias on fire.

As an inhabitant of this city I realized that the looters were moving towards Onelli street, which is full of small businesses that cater to the marginal neighborhoods and ends in the center of the city.

I decided to take the risk to cover whatever would happen. When I arrived all the businesses were closed, I talked to artisans at a street fair that were afraid and entrenched behind iron fences, fearing that they would suffer the consequences of the blind rage of people without class consciousness and unable to differentiate between small business and corporations, people morally confused to the point that they would attack the livelihood of honest working people and the property of neighbors who are in the same economic conditions as they are.

I reached the maximum point of tension: two whole blocks dominated by looters, and the local police, who first tried dispersing them with tear gas, was guarding a chain supermarket without the faintest intention of stopping the attacks towards small businesses. The attackers easily defeated the police throwing stones at them and making them run away without even stopping the traffic.

In the video below I show graffitis and other signs of para-political pro-Kirchner groups that seem to claim the organization of the looting squads. Later on, a contact at the municipal government told me that the promoters of the riots were well known pro-Kirchner propagandists that organized shock groups with the objective of settling accounts with(also pro-Kirchner) mayor Omar Goye.

While the federal police clumsily approached the conflictive areas, several people wearing hoods broke inside the storage facilities of the supermarket, and immediately afterwards stones started raining everyone filming the events, so we had no other option than leaving.

We had been forewarned.

During the whole day (December 21) similar riots were carried out around the country, resulting in great property losses and the use of military forces to intervene during the riots.

As usual, the state seized the opportunity to justify using disproportionate force, restriction of civil liberties, and by failing to recognize any political influence of the rioters, a virulent wave of hatred towards inhabitants of the poorest neighborhoods got hold of those who saw the dramatic scenes on TV.

Once again, statist interests resulted in the people devouring the people: Corrupt and politicized labor union leaders manipulated the rioters to gain their adherence, social hatred makes people blame other people instead of the political players behind the scenes, and while corporate retail outlets will be compensated by insurance companies, most small shopkeepers will probably find themselves without any means of subsistence after dust settles.

Once again we have witnessed that the current system is chaotic, and I’m more convinced now than ever that a free-market anarchy based on legitimate private property and private or community-organized security services would achieve a much higher level of social peace and prosperity.

Seeing these events first-hand is very instructive. As libertarians, we must learn to channel proletarian disenchantment so that it can be a real liberating force against statist and corporate structures, instead of a mad hurricane of all-against-all aggression.