BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – We’re in the century-old Confitería Ideal listening to the mother of all tangos, “La Cumparsita”, and I’m thinking about the crime and poverty-ridden barrio world into which the tango was born. Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges describes it perfectly in his short story, “Streetcorner Man”.
The economy recovered greatly over the course of 12 years (2004-2015) of pro-worker, left-leaning Peronist rule by the late Néstor Kirchner and his wife Cristina. However, elections in 2015 put wealthy neoliberal Mauricio Macri into the presidency and signaled a possible shift back to the principles that earlier had Argentina on the rack and more recently Greece.
Just as they did at the turn of the last century, native workers in Argentina worry that Macri may turn the immigration issue against them by opening the floodgates to cheap, non-organized foreign workers from Bolivia and other countries. “How do you care for Argentine workers if you open the doors like what was done in the 1990s?” Hernan Pose, a member of the CTA (Central de trabajadores de la Argentina) workers organization, told me as he handed out anti-Macri leaflets in Buenos Aires’ busy Calle Florida this past November.