Demonstrators protest against the blockade of a highway on the outskirts of San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina, Tuesday, June 20, 2023. Demonstrations erupted in the province of Jujuy in reaction to a recent reform of the provincial constitution criticized for its restrictions on social protest. (AP Photo/Javier Corbalan)
This Friday marks a week since the approval of the reform of the Constitution in Jujuy, voted at dawn on June 16. From that day on, the roadblocks returned and were installed in the province as in times that seemed to be part of the past. The reason, the controversy surrounding a series of institutional reforms, of which the regulation of the right to protest and land ownership were the most visible, but not the only ones.
The fait accompli of the approval of the reformist text was what put the original communities on a war footing. And a week later, these are the main stumbling blocks that the government of Gerardo Morales faces to overcome the alteration suffered by the lives of the people of Jujuy. In the middle, a debate was opened on whether there was genuine participation or not, with the government showing 156 minutes with the signature of communities expressing their agreement and community members saying that in reality there are almost 400 original peoples of Jujuy, with which more than half would not have been consulted.
That, plus a permanent concern for the use of critical natural resources such as lithium, led to a closed position of the community members: to go home they want the reform to fall. This is what was heard and read on posters from each of the 20 pickets that extended the last day from La Quiaca to near the border with Salta through the Yungas region.
The violent events that took place on Tuesday June 20 in Jujuy. REUTERS/Charly Soto
That request, however, does not appear among the options that the local government is considering. Morales himself indicated that it would take “some months” to recover normalcy in the province. With channels of dialogue interrupted, the last official action was a criminal complaint for breach of the duties of a public official against the heads of the National Gendarmerie for omitting their intervention in the most important cuts that are made on national routes such as 9, 52 and 34 .
Morales reinforced this presentation, made by the State Prosecutor’s Office, with statements in which he points to the Ministry of Security and the Ministry of the Interior, relating the decision not to act with the intention of advancing “in an institutional coup”, of which he accuses the National government.
In parallel, the government was forced to resume dialogue with the teachers’ unions that have been holding a strike since June 5, despite the fact that the governor had stated that it was a “closed issue.” The confluence of the teachers’ demands with the mobilization of the communities occurred spontaneously and later became the nucleus of the protest.
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Strictly speaking, the province offered teachers to bring the salary floor from 179,000 pesos to 200,000 pesos, so that no professor or teacher receives less than that in their pockets, according to what was known on Thursday afternoon. However, the proposal put forward by the Minister of Government, Normando Álvarez García, imported the condition of its acceptance. That is, if they do not agree, the June salaries will be settled with the old amounts and the days of unemployment will be deducted, according to what the general secretary of CEDEMS (medium level teachers in Jujuy), Mercedes Sosa, recounted at the end of the meeting in the new building of the Ministry of Education.
When making the offer, Álvarez García trusted that they hope that the unions accept “to recover peace, because in Jujuy we enjoy a province where life is much better than in most provinces.” The teachers will now take the new offer to an assembly that they will carry out in a sectoral manner on Saturday, June 24. The acceptance, they warned, will depend on the bases.
The climate, in this way, went from tense to uncertain, after the first seven days of conflict. The mood, however, is far from the acts of extreme violence on “black” Tuesday that the province experienced when the new Constitution was sworn in.
The pickets are hardened by the new Constitution in Jujuy and Morales summoned the teachers to unlock the other conflictJujuy: teachers marched again with torches, the pickets were hardened and there are internal reproaches in the PJ for supporting the approval of the Constitution