The shock doctrine developed by neoliberalism aims to apply the greatest number of attacks on workers and their families in the shortest possible time, betting that resistance cannot be organized. To the high devaluation of Luis Caputo, Milei added a mega DNU which aims to givefreedom for big businessmen to multiply their profits, at the cost of prohibiting the vast majority from accessing their basic needs. Within the decree, the measures in favor of large food corporations and supermarket chains with the repeal of the Supply, Gondolas, Price Observatory and Regulation laws for sugar mills. It is for this reason that this part of the decree has been called Ley COPALin reference to the chamber that brings together the country’s food industries.
The firms that monopolize the sale of food such as Arcor, Molinos and the Ledesma sugar company have just made significant profits. Between the three mentioned, they accumulate net profits of $68,000 million in the first nine months of 2023, having made increases above general inflation. The new DNU is perfect for them to continue multiplying their profitability.
Due to the inflation triggered by devaluation, prices were already out of control. The LCG consulting firm in its report for the third week of December shows alarming figures. The weekly inflation recorded was 11.3% and accumulated a 27% so far this monthIf these numbers are corroborated by Indec (or if its report provides similar data), we would find a jump in prices rarely seen in the history of the country and close to the values of hyperinflation (50% monthly). Milei said that he came to end inflation, but his government’s measures are causing the opposite, deepening the social crisis that Peronism left with 40% of the population immersed in poverty.
He supported the AEA (Argentine Business Association) the DNU, this Thursday, was joined this Friday by the business chambers of IDEA y Amcham, the latter brings together many of the main foreign companies, among which American companies predominate. Amcham celebrates, among other aspects, that the DNU seeks to put an end to “unnecessary and destructive interventionism of the State.” They also state that “circumscribe business and citizen relations under the premise that the parties are free to enter into a contract and determine its content.” Thus, they overlook the unequal relationship between large businessmen who have the power to define prices and consumers who see how their income is sucked away by inflation.
Approved in June 1974 during the third term of General Juan Domingo Perón, Law 20,680 on Supply was practically not applied in recent decades, having been explicitly suspended between 1991 and 1999. During Duhalde’s presidency, it was questioned whether the law was in force, and the same thing happened when the government of Cristina Fernández threatened to apply it in 2008 during the lockout of the agrarian employers’ associations. In 2014, a reform of the Law promoted by Kirchnerism was approved, which was rejected by the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA), the Argentine Chamber of Construction, the Association of Private Banks of Argentine Capital, the Argentine Chamber of Commerce, the Stock Exchange and the Argentine Rural Society; but it ended up being a dead letter because it did not produce any change in reality.
The Law gives (or gave) the State powers to continue production, distribution or marketing of production as long as it is shown that companies are engaging in speculative maneuvers.. But Cristina Kirchner’s government never put it into practice in the face of the maneuvers of grain exporters, automobile companies or oil companies. On the contrary, they were sectors that received extensive benefits. This political orientation gives Milei the possibilities of carrying out her plans in the present.
Only workers, through committees organized in each productive unit or large/medium commerce, can ensure the provision of goods and services at prices that cover costs and ensure the continuity of production, allowing the replacement of inputs and stocks, without subordinating production and distribution to the maximization of profit margins as capitalists do. The coordinated action of workers and consumer committees can impose the opening of company registries to dismantle the maneuvers of large companies.
Gondolas Law, Price Observatory and Regulation of sugar mills
The Gondola Law, was an initiative of Kirchnerism that sought to favor the so-called “micro-businesses” by determining that 50% of the exhibition space for the same product would be reserved for companies of national origin with these characteristics. Another point established in the law is the prohibition of supermarkets from selling or renting preferential spaces in physical stores or on their websites. In addition, lower value products had to be placed at “a height equidistant between the first and last shelf” of the gondola and “at the first display of products from the category in question” on online platforms. Provisions that clearly were never fulfilled and that its legislation had zero effects on market concentration in a few companies.
In the case of Observatory of prices and the Regulation of sugar millswe can give similar definitions. The Observatory could not even guarantee the effective application of programs such as Care Prices or Fair Prices. Sugar is among the products that has increased the most in recent years. However, greater deregulation in these areas will not bring any benefit to the vast majority; on the contrary, it gives more confidence to monopolies to ruthlessly pursue their own benefits.
These measures are only part of the presidential decree that contains concessions for large exporters that monopolize international trade, prepaid companies that do business with health, media corporations, large pharmaceutical companies, among many others. Milei based his electoral campaign on denunciations of “the caste” and promised that they would be the ones to pay for the adjustment, but the devaluation combo magnified by the DNU makes up a neoliberal attack that aims to loot those who work every day and their families.