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Natalia Zaracho: “If everything doesn’t explode in Argentina, it’s because the social organizations are in the neighborhoods” | International

Deputy Natalia Zaracho during the interview in her office at the Argentine Congress in Buenos Aires.
Deputy Natalia Zaracho during the interview in her office at the Argentine Congress in Buenos Aires.SILVINA FRYDLEWSKY

The deputy Natalia Zaracho felt out of place the first days in the Argentine Congress. “I felt uncomfortable and wondered what I am doing here. But not now, I’m looking for the discomfort to change sides, ”she says in the interview with EL PAÍS, carried out in her office three months after she took office. Zaracho, a member of the governing coalition through space Frente Patria Grande, was born 32 years ago in Villa Fiorito, a neighborhood in southern Buenos Aires known for being the birthplace of soccer star Diego Armando Maradona. The crisis of 2001, which devastated the country, was felt even stronger there. Zaracho’s mother lost her job and she had to leave school at the age of 13 to start cardboarding, as those who rummage through garbage for cardboard, metal and other materials that can be sold are known in Buenos Aires. or reused.

At that time his mother opened a soup kitchen that was his gateway to political militancy. “At first I told him: ‘We don’t have any for ourselves and you want to give to people?’ But she told me they were going to come anyway,” she recalls. First they gave a snack and when it started to grow they added a meal.

“Later some boys from Patria Grande began to come and they gave courses, they made murals, a festival for Children’s Day. I was very combative and I didn’t like them very much because I thought they were there for a while and then they went home. Over time I realized that they chose to be here so that the children could learn to read and write, and that infected me. They made us understand that we lived overcrowded, that we did not have access to basic rights such as electricity, gas, water, but that we had to fight for them”, she says.

The first National Meeting of Women that she attended, in 2015, and the subsequent National Meeting of the Popular Economy in the south of the country opened her eyes to the exclusion of the popular classes, especially women, from politics. and the need to participate in these spaces so that others would stop speaking for them.

“The only way to transform reality is by participating. The other day they told me: ‘Aren’t you afraid of being called the poor deputy?’ And no, I’m not afraid. We participate here precisely because we are tired of the old practices they have, that politics is only disputed by those who have suits”, says Zaracho, dressed in a T-shirt of the Movement of Excluded Workers, sweatpants and sneakers. Her modest office is decorated with paintings by Juan Domingo Perón and Evita.

This deputy denounces that many of her colleagues respond to interests closer to the powerful than to the most vulnerable and gives as an example the last budget project, which was rejected with the votes against the opposition, and the lobby they have found to carry out the Packaging Law, which plans to charge a maximum rate of 3% to producers so that they take care of the packaging they use and allocate those funds to inclusive recycling projects. “They say that this rate is going to impact the price that the consumer pays and in reality we are already paying it, because the environmental crisis affects us all, but more so in the popular neighborhoods that we are the ones who live next to open-air dumps. , of polluted rivers, of polluting factories”, he explains.

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Ask. You belong to a social movement. What is it like to go from working in the territory to a deputy bench?

Answer. It’s hard. Anti-politics is very installed in the neighborhoods. The first thing that comes out is to say no, because they always screwed us over, but we have to break that logic that they want to impose on us. With the little experience I have, I saw that from one place you cannot transform many things, because it is difficult and we are in a coalition with different perspectives, but we can position some issues.

P. One of the biggest differences within the Frente de Todos coalition was the agreement with the IMF. Why vote against?

R. Because we disagree with the agreement or with how it was agreed. The media install that you have to pay the Fund, but they do not say that the money was used by the friends of [el expresidente Mauricio] Macri to elope her, which was a scam. But that stage has already passed, the agreement was approved and now we have to see who pays for it. I am convinced that in the Frente de Todos they do not want the people to pay for it and that is why we must have another proposal. Christina’s [Fernández de Kirchner] to investigate the undeclared money that is outside and with that, setting up a fund has two objectives: first to pay the debt of the Fund and then to pay the internal debt that we have, which is that the pandemic exposed that more than 9 million people are in working age and do not have a fixed income.

P. What are the policies that you consider most urgent to solve poverty?

R. A universal basic wage that allows people to have enough to eat. Those aged 18 and under are contained by the Universal Child Allowance, those over 65 by retirement, those in between are missing. That it be directly managed by Anses (in charge of the pension system) and that people can access it the day they don’t have a job.

P. Argentina is heavily indebted. Do you have money to finance the Universal Basic Wage?

R. I am convinced that it is. The problem here is where the money goes. If the political decision is that all the money go to pay the Fund or go to pay the internal debt that we have.

P. In Argentina there are more and more people who have a job but still remain below the poverty line. What can the State do?

R. There are many jobs with wages below the poverty line because food is unaffordable. There is a lot of speculation with prices. They increase in case the dollar rises, but then they don’t lower it. The State has to regularize prices because today it is violence to buy food. In a country that produces wheat, people cannot buy bread because it costs 300 pesos [unos tres dólares al cambio oficial] a kilo. In the country of the cows, people cannot buy meat because a kilo costs 1,000 pesos. And that is a problem we have. The State has to guarantee first that our people eat and then they can export.

P. The Ministry of Social Development has asked the social movements to find new forms of protest other than blocking the streets. Do you agree?

R. We have to see how to give answers to the people. Today there are more than 50% of the kids below the poverty line, the least that people can do is go to claim. If not everything explodes, it is because the social organizations are in the neighborhoods with the popular pots and with the popular economy. We have the right to protest, but we do have to come out on top with proposals, see how to create jobs, how to make the internal economy move. In order for it to move, we have to invest in the neighborhoods, because there people are not going to buy dollars, but rather they are going to invest them and that is what we need. If a program gives an amount of money for improvements in the house, the neighbor comes to do the changa, they buy materials, the money goes to the warehouse. The spillover theory doesn’t work and it didn’t work. They are getting fatter and fatter and when they don’t get any more money they take it outside. We have to think of other solutions and think about them quickly because people can’t wait any longer.

P. Is there a risk that it will end up exploding everything?

R. I come from 2001. Today we have a debt with the Fund as at that time, we have an economic crisis and a lot of poverty and inequality, but we have a government with an agenda that does not want anyone to have a hard time and that is encouraging. But we have already been in office for two years and we have to think in these two years about policies that change people’s lives.

P. Do you see a risk of rupture in the government coalition?

R. I do not think so. We may have many differences, but we all know where we stand and with whom we disagree the most, who our enemies are. We know that when the Fund comes to condition us we will be on Alberto’s side.

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