Sunday, October 6, 2012
By Gabriel Ziblat
They are not politicians, but they’ve entered the political game. They criticize Cristina, but also the opposition a bit. They imagine that the November 8 (8N) protest will be more massive than the one of September 13 (13S), but they don’t know what could happen after. They’ve already learned that there are things that are better not to say, while for their political inexperience at times they find it difficult to be measured. They are the people that are in charge of convening the ‘cacerolazos’. And not a single one is from Barrio Norte.
PERFIL met with six of the faces behind the pot-banging protests. They prefer to say they are not “the organizers” to avoid sparks with those who also were conveners but are keeping a low profile. They say that the phenomenon “doesn’t have leaders” and that they are only those “responsible for channeling the communication.” It’s clear, however, that they administer the internet pages or Facebook groups that have become the point of reference for the demonstrators.
Mariana Torres, Marcelo Morán, Marcelo Bustos, Yamil Santoro, Jorge Sonnante and Luciano Bugallo knew each other through the social media networks or directly in the street, pots in hand, in the first demonstrations in the middle of the year. They then began to build bridges and “always be in contact.” Now they are already organizing for 8N, but not even they know where the date came from.
“We don’t want to make the same mistakes of before of convening every week or fifteen days because people tire of it or get bored,” Bugallo said. “But it will never be known who was the one who first came up with the date … there is no organization,” said Sonnante. And Torres said: “We put up 8N so people didn’t tire of it, because they all wanted to propose their own date and afterwards it ends up eroding.” In the middle there were calls for September 28 and October 1, but they didn’t put them up and nobody caught it. “Another important issue is that we expect the government’s response in October, which is obliged to go to the street on the 17th for Nestor’s birthday,” Santoro added.
Torres and Morán administer three Facebook pages. The best known is “El Anti K”, which has more than 40,000 members. They met three years ago, when she joined the page, “No to Julio Cobos’ resignation” which he had created and now they are a couple. She is an accountant from Ituzaingó, he’s an attorney from San Miguel, and now they dedicate their free time to administering the pages and answering questions. “It’s an addiction,” Torres acknowledges, a mother of three.
Morán is one of the strongest. He was the only one at the table that participated in the stalking protest at Guillermo Moreno’s house. The rest repudiate that method, while they make an exception for the protest at the home of Judge Oyarbide, because it was “spontaneous”.
They all make an effort to find positive aspects of the government. Torres and Bugallo, with effort and not giving credit to Kirchnerism, name the policy on human rights and the child entitlement. She adds marriage equality and he adds the growing taste for politics among youth. Bustos pulls out the policy on science and technology, but points out: “If we start with the basis that it’s a corrupted government which doesn’t respect the law, I don’t think that anything is salvageable. And after twelve years we have the same number of poor people.” For Santoro, if one takes into account “the pressure of taxes and the distribution to the provinces, all that the government can wave as a banner is a shame.” Moran and Sonnante say that they cannot name “anything positive.”
Sonnante two years ago founded, with four friends, the Movement of Indignant Argentines, first taking social action and now launched on the political plane. He lives in Caballito, he’s a theologian and has a diploma in business administration. Today he has a small online business and is a consultant in polygraphs. “I know when the President is lying,” he boasts.
When listing complaints, they include: respect for the Republic and its institutions, fighting against corruption, greater liberty (“both for citizens and the media”), rejection of constitutional reform and re-re-election. Inflation also plays a part, but on the second tier. And they deny that the currency controls were a major spark. “The only way to channel the protests is politically, but I think it’s positive because it serves to call attention,” said Bugallo. From a farming family in the Buenos Aires province locality of Ascensión, close to Junín, he “woke up” in 2008 during the farm sector conflict. Today he’s a member of REC (Citizens Encounter Network), an organization of people from different parties. He is linked to the PRO, because he participated in a Macrista course, but he says that he has participated in many courses. Even one from the government about, precisely, “handling social networks”. His group, “Cacerolazo”, has 14,500 followers, he administers other pages and collaborates with “El Cipayo”, another “famous” group.
The six find it “exaggerated” to talk of dictatorship or Nazism, and they say it’s impossible to control everyone. However, some have posted suggestive texts and images on their pages. And all of them deny wanting to see Cristina leave government. “Because we’d end up with Boudou or Rojkes ... worse,” Torres jokes. “I doubt that we are not in a dictatorship,” Moran says. “Technically, a dictatorship is an entire government above the law, and in that sense it’s a dictatorship,” Santoro adds. He is the only one that has entered into the partisan world. First in the Federal Republican party, then in the Libertarian Liberal party. In January, he opened and now continues to be an activist on the social networks, even traveling to Venezuela to support Capriles. He became famous for ending up in his underwear in the Plaza de Mayo on September 13.
He is from Lugano and works as a teacher in an Orthodox Jewish high school. At his side, Bustos argues that “a democratic government could become a dictatorship through the accumulation of power in one person who does not respect the law.” He never was a political activist, while saying that in the 1990s he participated in anti-Menemist events. In the first protests of this year he joined together with other people to form Active Citizenry, “a group that tries to give identity to what started as a protest with pots.” He’s a real estate agent and lives in Palermo.
Bugallo and Santoro are the only ones that can see a future in politics for themselves. The rest don’t want to think about it. Meanwhile, they think 8N will surpass 13S.