May 25, 2013
Five rallies for one?
Peronist Loyalty Day yesterday fell into a curious limbo of being neither entirely forgotten nor the name of the game. This erstwhile red-letter day (the 67th anniversary of the mass outburst enforcing Juan Domingo Perón’s release from military captivity) fell outside both the voluntary and involuntary government agenda — i.e. its chosen priority of accelerating implementation of the Media Law (a priority apparently not shared by a Supreme Court anxious to maintain its independence from executive branch pressures, as well as the autonomy of the Magistrates Council) and the entirely unsought tangle surrounding the training frigate Libertad marooned in Ghana by creditor litigation. Yet President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner obliquely marked the event in what was presented as the hands-on way of meeting with several Greater Buenos Aires Peronist mayors while most leading members of the government had something to say on the subject (including a cryptic message from Vice-President Amado Boudou: “Néstor with Perón, Cristina with the people,” implicitly consigning both male leaders to the past). But the rallies directly celebrating the anniversary came from outside government ranks — CGT Secretary-General Hugo Moyano at the CGT’s Azopardo building as if to assert his disputed claim to the trade union headquarters while a hodgepodge of dissident Peronists, supporters of City Mayor Mauricio Macri’s PRO centre-right party and centre-left progressives also congregated.
Despite the relatively low-key celebrations, Tuesday’s noisy clash between Moyano and Héctor Recalde (the top CGT labour lawyer for decades and now a Victory Front deputy) is perhaps symptomatic of seismic shifts comparable to 1945 on the labour front. There are multiple differences between Moyano and Cipriano Reyes (the leader of the original October 17 and founder of the Labour Party who fell from grace soon after his creation was transformed into the Peronist Party) and the teamster hardly ever refers to the meat-packer but their paths may well converge — even if in reverse sequence with Moyano breaking with a verticalist movement leadership ahead of groping towards his own union-based political strand.
After decades of symbiosis between Peronism and organized labour, the CFK administration’s bold experiment of not dealing with trade unions on terms other than unconditional surrender (something not even a neo-conservative Carlos Menem dared to do) and Moyano’s defiance of a populist government is taking us into uncharted territory.