- Some Useful Definitions
- by Lisa Garrigues
- Argentinazo: The Spanish suffix "azo" is
used to signifty a "blow or stroke" Argentinazo is
sometimes used to refer to the explosive events that have recently
been occuring in Argentina.
- Asemblea Barrial: Neighborhood Assembly. The neighborhood
assemblies sprung up in January as a result of the massive cazerolazos
in December. Groups of neighbors ranging from 20 to 300 gather
on streetcorners to discuss and vote on community projects, acts
of non-violent civil disobedience , and alternatives to the current
political and economic system. The Assemblies usually meet once
a week, with an inter-neighborhood assembly meeting every Sunday,.and
various commissions and subgroups meeting during the week.
- Banco: Bank. See "Ladron and "Chorro".
- Cacerolazo: An act of protest which involves people
banging on pots and pans together. A "cacerola" is
The first cazerolazos occured in early December,and a massive
cazerolazo took place on December 19 and 20, 2001when Minister
of Economics Domingo Cavallo and President Fernando de La Rua
- Che: Everybody in Argentina is "Che".
It's a little bit like saying "Hey you," or, in Southern
California Speak, "Dude." The most famous "Che"
in Argentina was Che Guevara, who left his homeland for Cuba.
You can still find pictures of this Che all over Buenos Aires.
- Chorro: See "ladron".
Corralito: Technically, a "corralito" means
"little corral." It also means "playpen."
This is the word used to describe the freeze on bank deposits
which was instituted in early December, 2001. Under this act,
everyone in Argentina, which was at the time, a largely cash
based economy, was required to open a bank account. No checks
could be cashed without an account, and people were allowed to
withdraw only 250 pesos a week. Since that time, dollar deposits
have been converted to pesos, and depositors have lost the original
value of their money. The original restrictions of the corralito
have been loosened somewhat.
- Corte Suprema: Supreme Court. Currently the target
of a weekly cazerolazo which has attracted up to 7,000 people.
Many Argentines believe that supreme court members, who by law
are excused from paying taxes, are corrupt and should be impeached.
- Desaparecedos: "the disappeared". People
who disappeared under the military dictatorship of 1976 to 1983.
Estimates of desaprecidos run as high as thirty thousand. Many
people were tortured before they were killed.
- Escrache: an act of non-violent political protest
in which individual politicians, banks and/or businesses are
targeted because of specific acts of injustice. These protests
might include cazerolazos, signs, banners, chanting, yelling
- Jubilaciones: Retirement Benefits. There are two kinds
of retirement plans in Argentina, that of the 'average person"
who usually makes about 150 pesos a month, and the "priveleged
person" or retired politician or military officer, who makes
from $3,000 to $17,000 amonth. (See Pensions of Privelege)
- Ladron: Robber, thief. This word has been spray-painted
on the glass windows of several different banks in Buenos Aires
as a pseudonym for "bank", many of which transferred
large amounts of dollars out of Argentina to places like the
Cayman Islands, Santiago, and New York, while private citizens
are being told "there are no dollars left' in the banks
and are unable to access their savings. two international banks
which have been under investigation illegal transfer of funds
are Citibank and BankBoston. "Ladron" is also sometimes
used as a synonym for "politician." (See "politico".)
- Piquetero: An man or woman, usually working class
and or unemployed who protests by blocking off roads.
- Peso: the Argentine currency. Worth one dollar until
the January, 2001 devaluation. Currently worth about thirty-five
- Plaza de Mayo: A plaza at the center of the city,
which is a favored spot for massive demonstrations. It also holds
the government building, the Casa Rosada,or Pink House.
- Politico: Politician. Politicos are not very popular
individuals in Argentina at this time, and several of them have
been publicly spit upon, yelled at and forcibly ejected from
bars and restaurants. (See Ladron and Chorro). Though Argentina
is technically a democracy, it has no right to plebiscite referendum
,or recall and many of its rules and regulations for voting favor
the continuance of those currently in power. Members of Argentina's
"political class" are generally thought of by the populace
as a closed and corrupt network which is more concerned with
its own battles and ambitions than with the problems of the people.
- Porteño: An inhabitant of Buenos Aires.
- Que Se Vayan Todos: Get rid of everybody. or Let them
all go This slogan ,frequently chanted at demonstrations, has
been interprted to mean both "get rid of everybody in the
government." and "get rid of the corrupt." Its
impetus comes from many people's sentiment that all politicians
who currently hold office are corrupt and/or inefficient. The
exact meaning of this slogan, and what to do once everybody is
gone, is a subject of much debate. One neighborhood assembly
has adapted this slogan to: "Que Se Vayan Todos, Que Se
Queda La Democracia, Que Se Venga La Justicia," or
- "Let them all go, Let Democracy Stay, Let Justice Come."
- International Monetary Fund: An organization of international
bankers and other businesses who loan money to developing countries.
The IMF has come under much criticism in Latin America and other
countries for helping to create situations of unbearable debt
which do little to help the borrowing countries,and force these
countries to adopt neoliberal policies which have in the past
included job loss, weakening of labor protections, cutbacks in
state sponsored jobs and social services.
- External Debt: The money that Argentina owes the IMF
and private banking interests. Argentina's external debt began
with the military dictatorship. It increased substantially during
the 1990's when the state took on the debts of private industries.
Argentina's current external debt is 132 million dollars.
- Privatization: When the state sells its "public
industries",like gas, telephone, transit, gas, etc. to private
industry. Most Argentine public services, including gas, telephone,
water, and public transit were privatized under President Menem
in the 1990's.
- Neoliberalism: An economic philosophy, promoted heavily
by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagon, which emphasizes market-driven
competition and gives substantial freedom to international corporations
while curbing unions and the role of the State, as well as reducing
social protections for citizens.