Tama Kallsen: "The struggles will have to match the radical measures this government is taking”

Tama Kallsen, from Dario Santillan Popular Front, on what the future holds for Argentina under Javier Milei’s right-wing government
In this interview, Tama Kallsen, the spokeswoman of the Dario Santillan Popular Front, discusses how Javier Milei's right-wing government intends to jeopardize the quality of life of Argentinians, as poverty and inflation rise, and crucial laws protecting women and LGBTQIA+ rights are being removed.
In this interview, Tama Kallsen, the spokeswoman of the Dario Santillan Popular Front, discusses how Javier Milei's right-wing government intends to jeopardize the quality of life of Argentinians, as poverty and inflation rise, and crucial laws protecting women and LGBTQIA+ rights are being removed.

After the arrival of Milei's extreme right-wing government in Argentina, the social movement began to strengthen the struggle to defend their rights and deepen popular demands. Colombia Informa interviewed Tama Kallsen, spokeswoman of the historical social organization of the Darío Santillan Popular Front.

Colombia Informa: How do you analyze the struggles against the Milei government? How radical will they be?

Tama Kallsen: We believe there has been a rapid response by the popular movement, since December 20th, mobilizing in the streets against the criminalization of protest.

From that moment on, there were multiple actions in the streets, many spontaneous by neighbors in the plazas and central points of all towns, municipalities, and provinces alarmed by the announcements that this new government began to shout out.

Milei began to make visible his strategies to overwhelm our rights in relation to work, housing, the extermination of common goods, our lands, culture, the exorbitant increase in the price of basic necessity products, among many others that were included in the Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU) and the Omnibus Law.

We believe that the struggles will have to match the level of radicality of the measures that this Government is taking, with its proposed reforms in the State for a total emptying, bringing back the worst of the 90s with privatizations, with defunding, and the violence of Macrismo that attacked popular mobilization with much malice, giving free rein to the repressive forces of the State, enabling trigger-happy policing and the use of force, repressing massive mobilizations like those that occurred in Congress before the pension reform.

We think it is essential that our defensive struggles cut the scaffolding on which we stop an offensive that installs the need for the structural reforms that our country does need, that far from being resolved as proposed by the far right, propose a new economic structure in favor of the great majorities.

CI: From the social and popular movement in Argentina, what self-criticism do they make, taking into account the rise of a far-right government? Where should popular struggles aim to deepen?

Tama Kallsen: The Popular Movement in recent years has grown in terms of territorial constructions, guaranteeing the living conditions of our people and suggesting other possible ways to build the life we want.

However, the construction of a political alternative that convinces the majority of our people, very tired of living in precarious conditions, where salaries are not enough, where there are no answers from those who govern, to the needs that are raised, has been lacking.

For years we have been witnessing the deterioration of the living standards, without accessing the minimum material conditions so that our existence goes beyond mere survival.

Poverty has grown, inflation has stamped on the head of our people and in that context of hopelessness, the far right has rapidly positioned itself as a possible actor — an alternative to a desperate present. A vacant place that progressivism and the left have abandoned, and that in the projection of being able to recover at some point the possibility of being governed by the project of a dignified life with truly guaranteed rights, pettiness will have to be set aside, and it will be necessary to build with unity to bring our people together again.

CI: What do you think is going to happen with Milei’s government and the Argentine right wing in the coming years?

Tama Kallsen: We believe that this Government has come to power based on a high level of improvisation, wanting to propose structural reforms in weeks that have never occurred in the entire history of our democracy. We see how its legitimacy is beginning to crack without falling into false optimism.

It will depend on the levels of popular organization to achieve the hyper individualistic tendencies and deepening of inequality that they propose.

As soon as we defeat the narrative that a free and deregulated market, and an emptied State will be the salvation to the economy of our country, our left-wing movements will have a historic opportunity.

The project of the right is very clear: To exponentially increase the profit margin of big capital at the cost of hyper-precarization of our existences. It is urgent that the left-wing parties build and begin to share our project.

CI: Feminist struggles in Argentina are a benchmark for Latin America. What will be the main struggles and slogans in the current far-right government?

Tama Kallsen: The rights that various forms of feminism have won in Argentina are threatened with the patriarchal and anti-rights positioning of this Government.

In the first instance, we must defend what has been won, to demand the permanence and real implementation of what has been achieved to install and legalize, which seeks to guarantee access to a life with more rights, that protects integral health, identity, work, the education of cis and trans women, trans men, bisexuals, non-binaries, lesbians, and intersex people.

The trans labor quota, the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Law, comprehensive sexual education, the Gender Identity Law, access to information about sexual health, contraceptive methods, free treatments for sexually transmitted infections are laws that guarantee the rights of all people. But in particular, they benefit the lives of those who have historically faced violation, denial, and lack of access to rights.

Ending these laws, as Milei intends, endangers the quality of life at risk totally and decisively, reducing the average life expectancy of people with identities dissenting from the heterocisnorm.

In addition, there has been an increase in hate attacks against LGTTBIQNB+ people, and against those who are negatively visualized for guaranteeing rights within the framework of Comprehensive Sexual Education and supporting the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Law.

The program we have outlined therefore proposes at the same time a change in strategy and invites us to open a dialogue on self-defense and its implementation, which takes center stage in the debates on how to resist and exist under these policies of hate and destruction.

Photo: Colombia Informa

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