rn: Argentinian Dr. suicide – a wake up call re: globalization


Jan Slakov

From: "Janet M Eaton" <•••@••.•••>

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Sun, 24 Sep 2000 03:19:09 -0400
From:          Bill Fletcher <•••@••.•••>
Subject:       [BRC-NEWS] Globalization, Suicide and a Wake Up Call

September 23, 2000

Globalization, Suicide and a Wake Up Call

By Bill Fletcher, Jr. <•••@••.•••>

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is Assistant to the President of the
AFL-CIO, and the National Organizer of the Black Radical
Congress. The views expressed in this article are his own.

I read a story recently which has haunted me ever since. A
very famous Argentine heart surgeon named Dr. Rene Favaloro
shot himself. What struck me about this suicide is that it
apparently resulted from the despair, anger, frustration 
and desire to advance a protest, which the doctor had been
feeling about his unsuccessful efforts to gain healthcare
for the poor and working people of Argentina.

The story, detailed in the August 25th issue of the
Washington Post, describes how the neo-liberal economic
policies pursued by Argentina's government have, effectively, 
destroyed healthcare for the masses. Healthcare is available
for the rich, but the working class and poor are finding
themselves losing such provisions. Programs which had been
offered by unions, for example, are collapsing as workers
lose jobs, revenue fails to come in, and the unions are
weakened if not crushed by the government and corporations.

One observer commented that the suicide might not have 
been solely out of despair, but an attempt to wake up the
populace to the implications of corporate globalization and
economic neo-liberalism. My immediate thoughts turned to the
Buddhist monks who, in the early 1960s in South Vietnam, set
themselves ablaze in order to protest the repressive, corrupt 
regime of President Diem. That self-immolation helped spark
a massive popular uprising against the regime, which was
headed off by a military coup. I wondered, after reading 
the article, whether Dr. Favaloro was hoping to inspire 
a similar outrage and movement.

Not knowing what is now transpiring in Argentina (needless
to say, there are rarely informative follow up pieces), I
thought about the situation in the USA. Although some of 
the details are a bit different, the context is all but 
the same. Between 44 and 50 million people, annually lack
healthcare. This is not, mainly, a group of the unemployed.
People are working more and more jobs which carry with them
fewer and fewer benefits, and especially precious little
healthcare. Workers bear greater burdens for all benefits
and increasingly for training as well, as companies reduce
their core workforces and limit their liabilities.

The factors which drove Dr. Favaloro to suicide, thus, 
face us here as well. The economic safety nets which existed,
either through legislation or collective bargaining agreements, 
have shown themselves in recent years to be moth eaten. Worse 
yet, both corporate America and their political allies on
the Right mock a defense of social safety nets. The notion
that a worker is owed a pension or healthcare, let alone a
living wage, in exchange for their labor power is evaporating. 
In its stead is the doctrine of everyone for one's self.

Dr. Favaloro should not be ridiculed as unbalanced, or seen
as an isolated expression of desperation. The anger which
drove Dr. Favaloro to both fight for the Argentine working
class and the poor; an anger which led him to take the
ultimate step in protest, is an anger which is not alien 
to millions of workers both here and abroad. As the global
polarization between rich and poor increases at breakneck
speed, it is important to realize that the seeds of immense
social instability are being planted, fertilized and watered
by the forces which are advancing corporate globalization.

The next set of explosions may not be guns used in suicide,
but social explosions as the global majority repudiates
corporate globalization.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is Assistant to the President of the
AFL-CIO, and the National Organizer of the Black Radical
Congress. The views expressed in this article are his own.

Copyright (c) 2000 Bill Fletcher, Jr. All Rights Reserved.

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