Citation
Barter Club Participants in Argentina: Idealogues or Pragmatists?

Material Information

Title:
Barter Club Participants in Argentina: Idealogues or Pragmatists?
Creator:
POND, WENDY ( Author, Primary )
Copyright Date:
2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Bartering ( jstor )
Economic crises ( jstor )
Economic inflation ( jstor )
Economic models ( jstor )
Persona ( jstor )
Political clubs ( jstor )
Political movements ( jstor )
Social clubs ( jstor )
Social movements ( jstor )
Unemployment ( jstor )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Wendy Pond. Permission granted to University of Florida to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Embargo Date:
7/24/2006
Resource Identifier:
496801535 ( OCLC )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:

pond_w ( .pdf )

pond_w_Page_71.txt

pond_w_Page_54.txt

pond_w_Page_84.txt

pond_w_Page_32.txt

pond_w_Page_33.txt

pond_w_Page_52.txt

pond_w_Page_64.txt

pond_w_Page_49.txt

pond_w_Page_06.txt

pond_w_Page_55.txt

pond_w_Page_22.txt

pond_w_Page_48.txt

pond_w_Page_76.txt

pond_w_Page_73.txt

pond_w_Page_87.txt

pond_w_Page_65.txt

pond_w_Page_37.txt

pond_w_Page_83.txt

pond_w_Page_18.txt

pond_w_Page_41.txt

pond_w_Page_31.txt

pond_w_Page_68.txt

pond_w_Page_69.txt

pond_w_Page_15.txt

pond_w_Page_66.txt

pond_w_Page_80.txt

pond_w_Page_86.txt

pond_w_Page_09.txt

pond_w_Page_24.txt

pond_w_Page_79.txt

pond_w_Page_26.txt

pond_w_Page_21.txt

pond_w_Page_23.txt

pond_w_Page_25.txt

pond_w_Page_05.txt

pond_w_Page_82.txt

pond_w_Page_39.txt

pond_w_Page_51.txt

pond_w_Page_53.txt

pond_w_Page_14.txt

pond_w_Page_75.txt

pond_w_Page_59.txt

pond_w_Page_62.txt

pond_w_Page_11.txt

pond_w_Page_17.txt

pond_w_Page_03.txt

pond_w_Page_08.txt

pond_w_Page_20.txt

pond_w_Page_77.txt

pond_w_Page_85.txt

pond_w_Page_29.txt

pond_w_Page_02.txt

pond_w_Page_78.txt

pond_w_Page_10.txt

pond_w_Page_12.txt

pond_w_Page_81.txt

pond_w_Page_04.txt

pond_w_Page_19.txt

pond_w_Page_63.txt

pond_w_Page_27.txt

pond_w_Page_58.txt

pond_w_Page_40.txt

pond_w_Page_13.txt

pond_w_Page_60.txt

pond_w_Page_07.txt

pond_w_Page_67.txt

pond_w_Page_46.txt

pond_w_Page_61.txt

pond_w_Page_88.txt

pond_w_Page_47.txt

pond_w_Page_16.txt

pond_w_Page_57.txt

pond_w_Page_34.txt

pond_w_Page_30.txt

pond_w_pdf.txt

pond_w_Page_43.txt

pond_w_Page_72.txt

pond_w_Page_45.txt

pond_w_Page_36.txt

pond_w_Page_50.txt

pond_w_Page_44.txt

pond_w_Page_74.txt

pond_w_Page_28.txt

pond_w_Page_38.txt

pond_w_Page_56.txt

pond_w_Page_35.txt

pond_w_Page_70.txt

pond_w_Page_42.txt

pond_w_Page_01.txt


Full Text












BARTER CLUB PARTICIPANTS IN ARGENTINA: IDEALOGUES OR
PRAGMATISTS?













By

WENDY POND


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006

































Copyright 2006

by

Wendy Pond















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I sincerely thank all of the Argentines that I interviewed while doing field research.

I deeply appreciate the time these individuals took out of their busy schedules to share

their experiences with me. They oftentimes invited me into their homes, spent two or

more hours with me, and were infinitely patient with my stumbling Spanish.

I also thank the several graduate students who had been down this road previously

and offered their valuable experience and insight. This project would have been

immeasurably harder without you. I thank Martin Maldonado for reviewing my

interview questionnaire and offering valuable suggestions on how to conduct interviews

in Argentina. I thank Karina Vasquez for helping me to write letters of introduction to

perspective interviewees. Her understanding of etiquette and protocol added a missing

degree of professionalism in my correspondence. I thank Bryan Williams for taking time

to simply talk with me about my project, helping me to brainstorm and to better

understand my project goals.















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S .................................................................... ......... .............. iii

ABSTRACT ............... ................... ......... .............. vi

CHAPTER

1 IN TR OD U CTION ............................................... .. ......................... ..

Literature Review .......................................................... 3
Classical Collective Behavior Theory ....................................... ............... 3
Resource M mobilization Theory ................................. .................. .................... 3
Social Constructionism......... ...... .......... .. .................4
N ew Social M ovem ents............................................................................. 6
T ow ards a Synthesis ..................... ........ ........ .............. .. ...... ............... .. .. ..
Cycles of Contention, Master Frames and Latin American Social
M ov em ents ............................................................... 11
O rg a n iz atio n ............................................................................................................... 12

2 BIRTH OF THE BARTER CLUBS................................................ ...... ......... 14

20th Century Political and Economic Context .................................... ............... 14
Argentina's Recurring Economic Cycle ............................ ... ............ 14
Menem and the Early 90s ................. ............ ... ................... 15
Structural Changes and the "New Poor" .....................................................18
Birth of the Trueques ............................................. .. ...... .................. 21
Tru eq u e V alu es....................................................... .................. 2 3
Structure and Organization of the RGT.............................................................25
Participants Demographics ..................................................... ............... 26
N odo D ynam ics ................................................................ ...........................28
Intersection w ith Governm ent .................................................. ........ ....... 29
Problem s w within the Trueques ......................................................... ...............
C chapter Sum m ary ........................ .................... .. .. .... ........ ......... 35

3 AFFECT OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC CRISIS ON THE BARTER CLUBS ........36

The Econom ic Crisis of 2001/2002 ..................................... .....................36
Effect of Economic Crisis on the Barter Clubs ...................................................40
T ruequ e R espon se........... ...... ............................................................ .......... ....... 4 5
Chapter Sum m ary ........................ .................... .. .. .... ........ ......... 47


iv










4 TRUEQUES AS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT? ......................................................48

Collective Activity .... ... .. .... ................ ............ .... .............. 48
Contention ............... ............... ............ 49
Com m on Purpose/Com m on Identity ........................................ ...................... 54
M obilizing Structures ....................................... .... .... ................59
Su stained A activity ............ ................................................................ ......... ....... 60
Political O opportunities .................. ..................................... .. ........ .... 61
C chapter Sum m ary ........................ .................... .. .. ........... ......... 61

5 CYCLES OF CONTENTION ........................................................ ............. 63

O nset of the Cycle ............ .................................. ........ .............. .. 63
D decline of the cycle .................. ...................................... .......... ....66
C conclusion ............................................................... ..... ..... ........ 68

APPENDIX PRINCIPIOS DE LA RGT ........................................ ...... ............... 73

L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S ............................................................................. ............. 75

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ..................................................................... ..................81

































v















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

BARTER CLUB PARTICIPANTS IN ARGENTINA: IDEALOGUES OR
PRAGMATISTS?

By

Wendy Pond

May 2006

Chair: Philip Williams
Major Department: Latin American Studies

This thesis examines the phenomenon of barter clubs in Argentina during the 1990s

and early years of 2000 through the lens of social movement literature. Originating in

1995, the barter clubs, or trueques, evolved into a nation-wide system of clubs called the

Red Global de Trueque (RGT) with more than a million participants. Although the barter

clubs were used by most participants as a way to deal with the worsening national

economy, particularly during the national crisis of late 2001 and early 2002, they were

not originally designed as a survival mechanism. The barter clubs were envisioned as an

alternative to the dictates of the market an antidote to consumerism, competition and

greed. The founder's strong ideological commitment and their effort to create a similar

consciousness among barter club members suggest that the trueques be considered as a

social movement. By examining the barter clubs in light of Sidney Tarrow's definition of

social movements I conclude that the RGT started out with all of the elements of a social

movement but failed to consolidate as such. The barter clubs failed to maintain their









trajectory as a social movement in part because of the entrance of the structurally poor

into a phenomenon originally designed and used by the "new poor." This sudden influx

of participants motivated by need significantly changed the orientation of the barter

clubs.

Although the barter clubs did not consolidate as a social movement they are

significant for several reasons. On the one hand, the barter clubs were a survival

mechanism that supplied basic goods and services during a time when money was short

and unemployment was high. The trueques, however, made a deeper impact than just

simply providing basic needs during economic hardship. At a visible level, the barter

clubs influenced government by putting new issues on the political agenda, and gaining

political support of an alternative economic model. The barter clubs also influenced

society at a more implicit level. Barter club participants, whether or not they consciously

intended it, created new identities for themselves. The barter clubs are also significant as

a response to Argentina's evolving state-society relations. The economic crisis of 2001

symbolized for many the consequences of the state's move away from a paternalistic,

hands-on economic model to a liberal market model. The responses to the crisis and to

the underlying change varied from asambleas barriales andpiqueteros, tofabricas

recuperadas and barter clubs. This wave of contention demonstrates a broad based

search for new modes of both governance and livelihood.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

In December of 2001 the economic crisis that had been slowly building in

Argentina for four years finally exploded. The government instituted a limit on the

amount individuals could withdraw from their bank accounts, precipitating

demonstrations known as cacerolazos, where people took to the streets banging pots and

pans in protest. President de la Rua declared a state of siege and then was forced out of

office after riots ended in the death of 27 citizens (Fue 2003). Four more presidents came

and went in the space of two weeks. Meanwhile the government defaulted on more than

$100 billion of debt, one of the largest defaults in history (Argentina 2001). The angry

cacerolazos, however, were not the only public manifestations of the crisis. Throughout

Buenos Aires and the country at large, hundreds of thousands of people were getting

together regularly to barter goods and services.

Although the barter clubs were touted by the Argentine media as a way to deal with

the economic meltdown (Leoni and Luzzi 2003), they had in fact begun six years earlier,

well before the dramatic crash, with a group of 20 people trading in a garage. The barter

clubs, or trueques, would eventually evolve into a nation-wide system of clubs called the

Red Global de Trueque (RGT) with more than a million participants.

While the barter clubs provided relief during the economic turmoil, they were

clearly not an overnight phenomenon. Rather, the trueque founders created the barter

clubs as a way to combat a growing exclusion from the benefits of the marketplace,

exclusion engendered by a combination of globalization and neoliberal policies. The









barter clubs were envisioned as an alternative to the dictates of the market an antidote

to consumerism, competition and greed.1 The RGT not only provided a venue in which

to exercise this alternative mode of consumption and production, but the RGT founders

also promoted these normative convictions among the club participants.

The founder's strong ideological commitment and their effort to create a similar

consciousness among barter club members suggest that the trueques be considered as a

social movement. Yet despite these obvious signs of social movement activity, no

previous research has examined the barter clubs in this framework. The most obvious

reason for not making this connection is that by 2002, most people in the barter system

were using it as survival strategy, with little regard for any deep-seated normative beliefs.

Previous research on the barter clubs recognizes the ideological claims made by the

founders (Leoni and Luzzi 2003, Bombal 2002, Powell 2002). It also recognizes a

divergence between the convictions of the founders and the rank-and-file participants.

This lack of affinity has been explained as a function of the structurally poor entering into

a phenomenon designed and used by the "new poor." This sudden influx of participants

motivated by need rather than theory surely changed the orientation of the barter clubs.

The unasked question, however, is why the founders were not able to build and maintain

a base of members "loyal" to the cause.

Two questions guide this thesis. First, keeping in mind the barter club's

philosophical foundations, but also recognizing the divergence between the founder's

intentions and the reality of participant motivation, can the barter clubs, in fact, be

considered a social movement? To answer this question, I will examine the barter clubs


1 See Los doce principios in the appendix.









in light of Sidney Tarrow's definition of social movements (1998). I conclude that the

RGT started out with all of the elements of a social movement but failed to consolidate as

such. Second, why did the everyday participant fail to assume the convictions of the

original project? To answer this question I will use Tarrow's definition as a point of

departure. I will draw on my research conducted in Argentina to examine the

formulation and dissemination of barter club values and its organizational methods.

Literature Review

Classical Collective Behavior Theory

The concept of social movement is relatively new, emerging out of classical

collective behavior theory. Collective behavior theory applied a "single explanatory

logic" for all collective behavior, including crazes, panics and demonstrations. The civil

rights movement in the 1950s and the subsequent movements of the 60s and 70s

catalyzed a new school of thought (Buechler 2000). These were structured movements

demonstrating overtly political and cultural agendas. Consequently, the concept of social

movement emerged as a distinct domain of collective action. One of the earliest

theoretical frameworks to gain wide currency in this developing realm of literature was

resource mobilization theory. It was subsequently challenged by social constructionism

and new social movement theory (Buechler 2000).

Resource Mobilization Theory

Resource Mobilization theorists concern themselves with explaining why people

agree to join in a social movement, specifically in light of the "free-rider" dilemma: a

rational individual would not join a social movement if other people were willing to do

the work to secure goods that will then be publicly shared. To solve this dilemma,

movements offer selective incentives to encourage and reward participation. Incentives









such as outside funding, professionalization and increased material resources (McCarthy

and Zald in Tarrow 1998).

Resource mobilization theory has been criticized for not paying adequate attention

to the role of ideas in motivating participation. Myra Marx Ferree points out that

resource mobilization theory does not allow that people may act hedonistically, may act

for short-term benefits, or may be morally driven to behaviors that conflict with self-

interest. As such, resource mobilization theory proffers a kind of "one dimensional

rationality": "The tautologies that arise from treating all forms of behavior as strategically

rational by definition exclude a realistic explanation of when behavior may be more or

less than an expression of self-interest" (Ferree 1992:32). Part of the problem in this one-

dimensional rationality is that preferences are a given, not up for debate or modification.

Such an assumption reduces participation motivation to incentives only. The result is to

ignore a movement's role in creating and shaping identity and preferences.

Social Constructionism

Social constructionism, like resource mobilization theory, also focuses on

explaining why people participate. Social constructionism, however, focuses principally

on the role of ideational factors rather than material rewards. The work of Snow,

Rochford, Worden and Benford (1986), offers key insight into the role of ideas in

catalyzing participation. Drawing on the concept of framing originally introduced by

Goffman (1974), these authors define framing as an interactional process that links an

individual's grievances to the work of the social movement (Snow et al. 1986: 467). "By

rendering events or occurrences meaningful, frames function to organize experience and

guide action, whether individual or collective" (Snow et al. 1986: 464).









Framing is a necessary activity because people often do not start by buying

wholesale into a social movement. "Seldom do individuals join a movement organization

per se, at least initially. Rather it is far more common for individuals to agree to

participate in some activity or campaign by devoting some measure of time, energy, or

money" (Snow et al. 1986: 467). Framing can be a slow process and it can slip out of

place over time since it is always subject to "reassessment and renegotiation" (Snow et

al. 1986: 476) but it is eventually a necessary condition for movement participation

(Snow et al. 1986: 464).

According to Snow, Rochford, Worden and Benford, there are four possible levels

of framing: bridging, amplification, extension and transformation. In the process of

frame bridging, individuals already have a particular grievance and the movement taps

into it, providing an "organizational base for expressing their discontents" (Snow et al.

1986: 467). Most resource mobilization theory has assumed that movements simply need

to do frame bridging because grievances are already "sufficiently generalized and salient"

(468). Frame amplification appeals to values and beliefs that people already hold, but

tries to move those values and beliefs higher up in the hierarchy. During frame

amplification, values and beliefs previously "shrouded by indifference, deception or

fabrication by others, and by ambiguity or uncertainty" (469) are clarified and

reinvigorated. Frame extension appeals to values that are ancillary to potential

participants. A common frame extension strategy is to incorporate values auxiliary to the

principal values of the movement and try to recruit people by appealing to these auxiliary

values. Frame transformation is the most radical of the frame processes. It requires a









redefinition of an individual's values, in which "new values may have to be planted and

nurtured, old meanings or understandings jettisoned" (473).

These framing processes are all done at the individual, micro level. Snow and

Benford (1992) also apply the framing concept to a macro understanding of social

movements, which accounts for periods of increased mobilization across different

organizations. Master frames refer to "general ideological trends at the macrolevel of

social order" (Buechler 2000: 42). Linked to cycles of protest, master frames allow

several and varied groups to adopt similar language and symbols. Pathfinders who create

the beginning of a cycle face the most difficulties and create an easier time for the

movements that follow, but the seminal movements in a cycle also set the stage and terms

of debate (Buechler 2000: 42).

New Social Movements

The literature on new social movements shares common ground with social

constructionism; both schools of thought focus on the role of ideas in movements. The

unique contribution of new social movement literature, however, is the expansion of our

understanding of what constitutes a social movement. This literature points to changes in

movement activity and structure and suggests the need for new understandings (Larafia,

Johnston et al. 1994). Alberto Melucci observes: "The production and reappropriation of

meaning seem to lie at the core of contemporary conflicts; this understanding requires a

careful redefinition of what a social movement is and what forms of action display its

presence" (1994: 110).

There are several ways in which new social movements amplify previous

conceptions of social movements. New social movements center on the role of identity-

creation rather than material or economic needs (Larafia 1994). As Melucci (1994) points









out, old movements were about the excluded trying to get into the system of benefits or

about the redistribution of goods. New social movements, on the other hand, challenge

the dominant discourse. They are no longer asking to be included in the system, they are

clamoring to redefine the system. New social movements also tend to be acted out by

individuals and are often life-style based, extending to the activities of daily life, for

instance in the choice of food, dress or pastime. Furthermore, new social movements

employ novel, often symbolic, modes of resistance and frequently operate in

decentralized organizational forms (Larafia 1994: 6-8).

Because new social movements do not challenge the allocation of values or goods

but rather challenge what those values or goods should be, their importance is not so

much in their material or policy gains, but in their ability to change thinking. It is the

activity of the movement that is important, not so much the specific results they achieve.

"Conflicts [of new social movements] do not chiefly express themselves through action

designed to achieve outcomes in the political system. Rather, they raise a challenge that

recasts the language and cultural codes that organize information" (Melucci 1994: 102).

This effort is an ongoing renegotiation and reestablishment of identity and

meaning. Because of their unique role of expression and identity-creation, new social

movements do not relate to the political system in a traditional way. Instead the

challenges they raise are often acted out in daily life in non-institutional ways that raise

questions about individual identity. The way new social movements do affect political

institutions is in their ability to influence the rise of new elites, to put new issues on the

agenda and to create new languages (Melucci 1994:102).









One of the biggest criticisms of new social movement theory is that the putatively

"new" movements in fact share quite a bit in common with the "old" movements. But

whether or not "new" social movements are in fact new, the theory contributes in an

important way to the dialogue: it moves away from a narrow political conception of

social movement by recognizing non-traditional actors and unique methods of contention.

Towards a Synthesis

In the literature review so far it is clear that there are various ways to understand

social movements. Each school of thought focuses on contrasting variables and different

levels of analysis. To properly understand social movements we need a synthesis of the

three perspectives.2 Sidney Tarrow's definition of social movements in his book, Power

in Movement, provides a starting point. As we will see, certain aspects of his definition

consciously draw from the resource mobilization theorists and the constructivists. And

although Tarrow does not explicitly address the new social movement perspective, its

influence is apparent.

For Tarrow, the defining aspect of a social movement is "contentious collective

action". The key ideas subsumed under this concept include collective activity,

contention, a common purpose and/or identity, mobilizing structures, and the ability to

sustain activity. All of these factors are necessarily present, but they are not sufficient to

form a movement. The last requirement is the appropriate political opportunities. Each

component deserves a bit of explanation.




2 Buechler argues that a "true" synthesis is unlikely because the differing theories subscribe to "different
metatheoretical orientations" (Buechler 200: 55). Yet he recognizes the coherency of the "emerging
synthesis in social movement theory around the concepts of political opportunities, mobilizing structures,
and framing process (54)," which we will see evident in Sidney Tarrow's work.









Collective activity. Social movements by definition are phenomena of collective

activity. Isolated, unrelated individuals acting in discrete ways, even if acting

contentiously, cannot be considered a social movement.

Contention. According to Tarrow, collectiveie action becomes contentious when

it is used by people who lack regular access to institutions, who act in the name of new or

unaccepted claims, and who behave in ways that fundamentally challenge others or

authorities" (3). Contention can be over discrete policies or abstract values; it can be

materially motivated or ideologically generated, or both (5). Contention can be in the

form of lobbying or legal channels, but the essential kernel of a social movement is the

acting out in non-traditional ways. This kind of activity separates movements from

groups like political parties or lobbyists.

Common purpose/Common identity. "It is participants' recognition of their

common interests that translates the potential for a movement into action" (Tarrow 1998:

6). In turn, part of the social movement's task is to help people identify grievances and

generate solidarity. "[R]ather than regarding ideology as either a superimposed

intellectual category or as the automatic result of grievances... scholars agree that

movements do passionate 'framing work': shaping grievances into broader and more

resonant claims" (21). Social movements can have heterogeneous make up (and often

do), but there is some common identity that binds the members together. This is what

leaders have to tap into and bring to the forefront.

Mobilizing structures. This refers to how social movements organize. Tarrow

argues that the "connective structures" that link participants with organizers need to strike

a balance between being sufficiently loose to allow flexibility and autonomy at the









bottom, but sufficiently centralized to implement effective collective strategies. These

kinds of structures are often in the form of social networks. During latent periods in a

movement these networks provide "abeyance structures" which can be mobilized when

needed (Tarrow 1998: 129).

Sustained activity. The temporal aspect of social movements also distinguishes

them from one-time, discreet protests. In order to be a social movement, collective action

has to be able to maintain a challenge over time.

Political opportunities. Tarrow notes that discontent and structural societal strain

are always present. It is only when the political system opens in a particular manner that

provides the crucible for all of the above-described dynamics to catalyze the formation of

a social movement.

Tarrow's definition is useful for three reasons. One, it provides a concrete, basic

definition of what constitutes a social movement. It is the conceptual tool by which we

will evaluate whether the barter clubs in fact were a social movement. Two, it

incorporates elements of the varying schools of social movement thought. The influence

of new social movement literature is apparent in the discussion of contention which

includes symbolic and ideological challenges as well as his discussion of mobilizing

structures which includes decentralized organization. Constructivist concepts are

explicit in his discussions on framing and collective identity. His definition also

consciously draws from the "rationalists" or resource mobilization theorists, by

discussing the opportunities and constraints that lead to action or inaction in a movement.

(Tarrow 1998: 198-199). Three, Tarrow's definition provides a platform on which to

discuss why the barter clubs failed to continue as a social movement.









Cycles of Contention, Master Frames and Latin American Social Movements

If we telescope out from the barter clubs we can see that they were not the only

form of collective action and protest in Argentina in the 1990s and during the apex of the

economic crisis. Other contentious phenomena included the piqueteros, fdbricas

recuperadas, asambleas bariales, and cacerolazos. One way we understand the trueques

in light of these other forms of activity is through Tarrow's ideas on "cycles of

contention" (1998). Tarrow points out that social movements and other forms of

contentious behavior do not happen in isolation from each other; successes and failures of

one set of actors provide cues to other actors. Furthermore, despite variance in the forms

of contentious activity and heterogeneity of actors, there is often a master frame around

which all protest occurs. The cycle begins when there is a marked increase in activity

carried out by a multiplicity of actors acting out in a variety of ways. Decline in a cycle

is brought about by exhaustion on part of the actors and polarization within the

movement. Decline is also prompted by the government, which selectively facilitates

some claims and ignores or represses others.

Looking to the literature specifically on Latin American social movements brings

specificity to Tarrow's perspective. Scholars recognize that Latin American social

movements have been influenced in turn by the forces of urbanization, authoritarian

governments, and now the new democratic context, one defined predominantly by

neoliberal economic policies (Foweraker, 2005; Alvarez, Dagnino and Escobar, 1998).

These various forces set the axes around which cycles of contention have waxed and

waned in the region. Likewise, collective action in Argentina in the last twenty years has

centered first around the military dictatorship and the transition to democracy and now,









most recently, around the consolidation of democracy and the accompanying neoliberal

model (DiMarco and Palomino 2004: 8).

Applying the analyses of Foweraker (2005) and Alvarez, Dagnino and Escobar

(1998) within the framework of an overall cycle of contention helps to explain

demobilization. Alvarez, Dagnino and Escobar point to government plans attempting to

cushion the fall-out of neoliberal adjustments, suggesting that these "social adjustment"

plans reach out to the excluded. However, they admit adverse effects as well: not only do

these plans recreate clientelistic models, but they also dismantle the need for

mobilization. Foweraker (2005) also recognizes a move towards demobilization.

However, for Foweraker, the switch to neo-liberal economic policies means that the state

is less likely to hand out material benefits that movements ask for. Thus social

movements adapt by negotiating more, mobilizing less and increasing their interaction

with state agencies. "[T]here is a significant change in emphasis in social movement

activity that is epitomized in the change from social movement to non-governmental

organization" (126).

Organization

The initial question guiding this thesis is whether the barter clubs can be considered

a social movement. Chapter two and chapter three provide the background to answer this

question, describing the chronology of the trueques. In the process I illuminate the

political opportunities giving way to the barter clubs. In these two chapters I draw on

interviews I conducted in October and November of 20043 as well as the findings of other



3 I conducted 22 formal open-ended interviews and 23 informal interviews. Using the Red Global de
Trueque website, which had a list of barter club locations and contact names, more than 100 emails were
sent. A handful of people responded and agreed to be interviewed. Futher interviews were conducted
based on referrals from the original group of interviewees. Also, more informal interviews were conducted









barter club research. More specifically, chapter two details the economic climate of

Argentina during Menem's presidency in the 1990s. This chapter goes on to recount the

birth of the barter clubs and their rapid growth up until the year before the economic

debacle, documenting the problems which began to plague the barter system. Chapter

three details the national economic collapse in late 2001 and discusses its effects on the

barter clubs. Chapter four is the analytical heart of this work, taking Tarrow's definition

of social movements and demonstrating in what ways the barter clubs fit and in what

ways they do not. I conclude that the RGT started out with all of the elements of a social

movement but failed to consolidate as such. In the course of this chapter, I also answer

the second question guiding this thesis: why the RGT failed to maintain its original

trajectory as a social movement. Chapter five places the barter clubs within a larger cycle

of protest occurring in Argentina in the 1990s and early years of 2000. By putting the

barter clubs in the context of a larger cycle of protest understanding the mobilization

phase, the use of a master frame and the demobilization phase we can understand the

barter clubs as one reaction among many to the changing state-society relations in

Argentina.


at several currently operating barter clubs. The founders of the three main barter club systems in the
country were also interviewed.














CHAPTER 2
BIRTH OF THE BARTER CLUBS

This chapter begins by placing the trueques into Argentina's 20th century political

and economic context, discussing Menem's neoliberal policies of the 1990s as well as the

rise of the "new poor". The next section details the barter clubs from their inception in

1995 through to 2001- focusing on trueque values, club organization and participant

dynamics. The third section highlights some of the challenges faced by the trueques in

during this period.

20th Century Political and Economic Context

Argentina's Recurring Economic Cycle

"Argentina is a nostalgic country and why not? Its past is well worth remembering.

In 1914, it was one of the five or six wealthiest countries in the world, and its living

standard exceeded that of Western Europe until the late 1950s or early 1960s" (Falcoff

2003). The first half of the 20th century proved to be good times for Argentina, leading to

the creation of a strong middle class. Argentina, blessed with the pampas a tremendous

expanse of fertile land exploited its comparative advantage, supplying meat and grain to

the industrialized world (Skidmore 2001: 70). A significant immigration wave coupled

with modernizing agriculture, manufacturing and transportation sectors transformed

Argentine society, developing the middle and working classes (Banko 2000: 27).

Following the Depression, which it fared comparatively well, Argentina successfully

industrialized and began producing for domestic consumption while reestablishing its

meat and grain exports (Banko 2000: 28). Juan Peron's 1940s corporatist state spread the









benefits to the working class, increasing wages, and extending it new rights. In 1950,

Argentina stood out as more urban, modem and with a more educated work force than

surrounding Latin American countries (Tokman 1996: 49)

During the second half of the century, however, Argentina witnessed two trends: a

slow process of deindustrialization and the steady decline of the once-established middle-

class. During his first term Juan Peron's economic strategy of nationalizing foreign-

owned companies, maintaining artificially low agricultural prices and increasing real

hourly wages held up while global commodity prices remained high. The country grew

8.6, 12.6 and 5.1 percent in the first three years of his presidency (Skidmore 2001: 86).

The boom came to a halt in 1949, when world commodity prices dropped and inflation

increased. In response, Peron instituted an austerity plan, one of many to come

(Skidmore 2001: 87, 88). It was the beginning of what would be Argentina's pattern to

the present day: a cycle of trade deficits, inflation and low or negative growth, followed

by ultimately untenable stabilization programs, implemented in varying degrees of

orthodoxy and regard for foreign creditors.1 By the time Carlos Menem assumed the

presidency in 1989, the pattern had been established and the middle-class had lost

ground.

Menem and the Early 90s

Carlos Saul Menem assumed the presidency in 1989. He had inherited an economy

in the inflationary and low-growth part of the cycle. The economy had shrunk three

percent in 1988 and another six percent in 1989 (Skidmore 2001: 102). Inflation was



1 Argentina is not only known for its recurring economic cycle, but also for revolving military coups. This
pattern began in 1930 with the overthrow of Hip6lito Yrigoyen, followed by a series of alternating military
and civilian governments. The pattern seems to have ended with the return of civilian government in 1983.









increasing at a rate of 150% per month and the country was almost $4 billion in arrears

on its external debt (Skidmore 2001: 103). Menem, a Peronist, surprisingly instituted a

neoliberal reform package. His first moved to privatize state-owned companies including

telephone, airlines, electricity, coal, natural gas, subways and shipping (Skidmore 2001:

103). His next step was selecting a hard-nosed economics minister, Domingo Cavallo,

who dramatically limited government spending (Skidmore 2001: 103). Price controls

were eliminated. Tariffs were reduced, and sectors such as agriculture, wholesale and

retail were deregulated (Bluestein 2005: 24). Under Cavallo, the government also

instituted the Ley de Convertibilidad, which guaranteed the peso in a one-to-one

exchange with the dollar.

To fully understand the role of the convertibility law, one must look back to the

circumstances of the 80's, the so-called "lost decade". The 80s were characterized by

high inflation and a negative growth rate an average decrease of about half percent per

year (IMF 2003). The "lost decade" of the 80s resulted in a severe lack of confidence in

the government. In their 1998 article Palermo and Collins examine Menem's response to

this "credibility gap." Attempting to curb the hyperinflation endemic to the 80s,

Argentina adopted an orthodox monetary policy, i.e., it tightened the money supply.

This policy achieved the intended effect of halting inflation, yet it delivered the economy

into recession and decreased the amount of money in the public accounts. The

temptation at that point was to print more money to try to restart the economy. This

option, of course, threatened to resuscitate the specter of inflation. The government

needed to grow the economy yet keep inflation under wraps. Palermo and Collins argue

that the creation of the convertibility law (combined with the appointment of a highly









respected technocratic economic team led by Domingo Cavallo) allowed the Menem

government to not only accomplish these two goals, but also to increase public spending

at the same time. As the two authors put it, "the Menem government seemed to have

successfully converted a circle into a square" (Palermo and Collins 1998: 43).

The success of this new policy hinged on the adoption of a mechanism the authors

refer to as "self-restraint.2" By virtue of being a law, the Ley de Convertibilidad signaled

that the government was abrogating its option to influence the economy through

monetary policy manipulations or alterations in the exchange rate. By forgoing its

prerogative to moderate monetary policy and exchange rates, the government had to be

able to back up expansionary borrowing by having dollars on hand. Palermo and Collins

note that if the government "should require dollars to make payments on the foreign debt,

the treasury would need to buy them like any other private institution and this purchase

would have to be made with the operating surplus resulting from controlling costs and

improving the state's ability to collect taxes (or, as it also happened, by selling some of

its property)" (44).

The plan worked. Guarantees of the exchange rate created a stronger sense of

certainty, investment grew, inflation fell, and domestic consumption increased. The

subsequent increases in tax revenues combined with profits from government sale of

public sectors allowed the government to maintain reserve levels while simultaneously

increasing public spending (Palermo and Collins 1998). The early 1990s hailed

substantial growth rates, and Argentina was soon the darling of the developing world.

The economy grew 10% in 1991 and 1992 and another 5% in 1993 and 1994. Although

2 The concept of self-restraint is originally discussed by Elster (1998) and appropriated in a more general
form by Palermo and Collins.









the Mexican peso crisis reverberated strongly in 1995 with a negative growth of 4%, the

economy recovered quickly, growing 5% in 1996 and 8% in 1997 (IMF 2003).3

The reforms, however, introduced serious deficiencies. The first problem was

overvaluation of the currency. The convertibility law led to an overvalued peso, which in

turn made exports more expensive and created a national trade deficit (Skidmore 2001:

103). The burgeoning deficit did not matter so long as the economy was growing and

foreign investment continued to flow in, as it did throughout most of the 90s (Bluestein

2005). A second problem, not a result of the convertibility law, but one that confounded

it, was the increasing government debt. These two issues proved to be decisive factors in

the economy's debacle in 2001, but in the mid-90s the gravity of these problems was only

dimly perceived. Argentina continued to be the poster child for good development.

A third problem, however, was rearing its head: rising unemployment. Even

though domestic policies and international investment trends led to a reactivation of the

economy, it negatively affected the labor market. Unemployment increased from 6.5

percent in 1991 to 12.2 percent in 1994 and 14 percent in 1997 (Skidmore 2001: 103,

105) and the government payroll in 1994 decreased by half (Bluestein 2005: 24).

Structural Changes and the "New Poor"

Although unemployment became acute in the 1990s, the trend had begun earlier.

The average rate of unemployment before 1980 had hovered around 2-3%, while in the

1980s it averaged about 6%, and in the first five years of the 90s it averaged 11%

(Tokman 1996: 48). For many scholars, the 1990s was only a continuation of a

development that had started in the 1970s and 80s under the military dictatorship: the

3 In 1995 there were rumblings of discontent with Menem's economic policies. The opposition mounted a
challenge to Menem's hegemony in the presidential elections, but failed to capture the vote.









dismantling of the welfare state in favor of a neoliberal model (Bonetto and Pifiero 2000,

Beliz 1995). Argentina's post-war model centered around social rights. It was

characterized by state regulation and centralized union negotiations. The state resolved

social questions and led national development (Bonetto and Pifiero 2000: 52). In the

1970s, however, the welfare state began to unravel. "Lo que en tiempos de Estado de

bienestar se entendia con criterios de universalidad, generosidad fiscal y paternalismo del

sector public, troc6 abruptamente a partir de los sucesivos process de ajuste y de deuda

que vivi6 Argentina de 1975 en adelante" (Beliz 1995: 27).

The debt-ridden years of the 1980s deepened the neoliberal inclination as the

country became beholden to conditions imposed by its creditors. Between 1977 and 1982

the external debt increased by almost 500% (Banko 2000: 31). "Argentina... habia ido

perdiendo progesivamente el dinamismo econ6mico que habia sido caracteristico de su

economic hasta 1930...Las crisis ciclicas condujeron a la busqueda de financiamiento

externo para solventar los desequilibrios externos" (Banko 2000: 30-31).

The 1990s, under Menem, paved the final neoliberal inroads, particularly with

regard to the labor market. From the 1970s through the 1990s Argentina implemented

labor policies to make the work force more flexible and to reduce labor costs, allowing

industry to compete internationally (Tokman 1996: 62). State leaders made efforts to

decentralize collective negotiation and minimize government involvement in labor

conflicts. These policies precipitated dramatic structural changes in Argentine society.

Traditional institutions began to fragment, as seen in the breakdown in the traditional role

and power of unions. Furthermore, employment became more uncertain, the work force









became more informal and salaries decreased (Beliz 1995: 29-30).4 The end result was a

loss of social mobility and the advent of the "new poor" (Beliz 1995: 27).

Who are the new poor? The new poor are composed of two types: previously poor

people who were able to achieve a certain standard of living above the poverty line, but

then fell back below that line; and the middle class who had never been poor, but at some

point fell into poverty (Minujin and Kessler 1995: 40). The new poor, like the middle

class, typically have access to higher education (educaci6n media superior) and tend to

have less children per family. The new poor, however, are similar to the structurally poor

in terms of job insecurity and lack of health coverage (Minujin and Kessler 1995: 10).

Another distinguishing feature of the new poor involves their access to social capital

(47).5 Many of the new poor have a great deal of social capital to draw on, which allows

them to maintain access to certain lifestyle perks, but in turn leads to their relative

invisibility.

For some, the improving macroeconomic situation in Argentina of the early 1990s

translated into a better life. Yet a great many others joined the ranks of the new poor by

finding themselves unemployed, underemployed, without a permanent job contract, or

working in the informal sector. This context of increasing job precariousness provided

the crucible for much of the social upheaval of the 1990s, including the barter clubs.






4 For more information about the declining employment situation in Argentina in the 20t century see Un
trabajo para todos. 1997. Buenos Aires: Consejo Empresario Argentino. See also Metamorfosis del
empleo en i,,,i,,, 1,,,,. Driii. .... political y perspectives. 2002. Javier Lindenboim (compilador).
Cuaderno del CEPED, No. 7.

5 Minujin and Kessler define social capital as the network of friends and family who are better off and can
offer cheap services, do favors, offer jobs, etc. (44).









Birth of the Trueques

What became the Argentine barter clubs have their roots in an earlier program. In

1989 Anibal Ruben Ravera, Horacio Ruben Covas and Carlos Alberto de Sanzo created a

small publishing firm and NGO in the city of Bemal6 called El Programa de

Autosuficiencia Regional (PAR). The PAR critiqued the global economy for engendering

inequity, unemployment, social tension, degradation of the environment, and destruction

of community (Comenzarpor Casa). In response, the PAR promoted self-sufficiency,

based on the principals of environmentally sustainable, community-based, and "human

scale" production. Their website describes their initial beginnings:

Hacia 1988 la Argentina vivia una crisis nueva. Comenzaba a percibirse nuevos
fen6menos econ6micos...Fue alli cuando se nos ocurri6 componer un ideario que
velara por quienes se quedaban sin trabajo o eran excluidos por el sistema global.
Basandonos en ideas de autogesti6n y tecnologias socialmente apropriadas
intentamos plasmar una consigna que despertara sentimientos de supervivencia con
formulas simples pero efectivas. Naci6 entonces el 'Programa de Autosuficiencia
Regional'...

The main purpose of the PAR was to design, develop and administer projects for

ecological, self-reliant existence (Laporte 2003: 165). For instance it promoted organic

food production, permaculture, solar energy and recycling. It advocated for a local

development model in some ways similar to the idea of import substitution:

La propuesta de la Autosuficiencia Regional es afin a un cumulo de ideas
vanguardistas en el campo econ6mico-ecol6gico, entire los que se cuentan el
Bioregionalismo de Peter Berger, la Permacultura de Bill Mollison y la teoria de
Jane Jacobs acerca de la innovaci6n y transformaci6n de las economies nacionales
a partir de la sustituci6n local de importaciones en las regions urbanas. En nuestra
concepci6n, la Autosuficiencia Regional apunta a promover la identidad e
interdependencia de las regions urbanas y rurales, poniendo en valor, con
tecnologias a escala humana, sus recursos ambientales, econ6micos, tecnicos,
culturales e hist6ricos, sin perseguir una autosuficiencia total. De este modo, estas
regions no s6lo se encontraran en mejores condiciones para sobrevivir a la


6 In the partido of Quilmes in the Buenos Aires province









exclusion provocada por la globalizaci6n econ6mica y la sofisticaci6n tecnol6gica,
sino que podran mejorar la calidad de vida de sus habitantes, mediante el
intercambio con regions similares mas alli de las propias fronteras. (Primavera,
Covas and De Sanzo: Ch 5).

Out of the PAR initiatives came the first barter club. Luis Laporte describes the

goals of the first barter club: "Nuestra meta era crear un mercado protegido para aquellos

que no podian mantenerse a flote en medio del marco asfixiante de los efectos

econ6micos de la globalizaci6n unilateral frente el retroceso de Estado, desde una

perspective micro local" (165). The first barter club began with a group of 20 people in

1995 in Bernal. Participants got together every Saturday for a few hours to exchange

goods and services. They called it the Club de Trueque.7 A member would come with

items such as prepared food, clothes, or artisan products. Each time an item was "sold"

the seller would mark the corresponding "credit" on a personal tally card. Then the

seller would become a buyer. For every product "bought" that person would deduct the

corresponding amount from the running tally on the card. When a group of people

wanted to duplicate the system in the city of Buenos Aires paper credits were introduced

and the Red Global de Trueque (RGT) was born (Laporte 2003: 167). The credits

looked similar to money and acted much in the same way. Instead of marking credits and

debits on a card, people could "buy" or "sell" using the physical credits. For the ease of

pricing, it was decided that one credit should be the rough equivalent of one peso.8

Soon nodos, the name of the location where a barter club met, began popping up all

over the region and the country. Fostered by coverage in the national television show

STrocar in Spanish means to trade or exchange

8 The RGT credits have been called different names. At first referred to as "Ticketes Trueque," they also
became knows as "arbolitos, which refers to the image of a tree printed on the front. I use the term
creditt" throughout this paper, which is the generic term for any physical credit used within the barter
system.









"Hora Clave" in 1996 and by other favorable media coverage, membership began to

grow (Primavera, Covas and De Sanzo 1998). In one accounting of the trueques, the

number ofnodos went from 17 in 1996 to 40 in 1997, more than doubling to 83 in 1998.

The years 1999 and 2000 saw an increase to 400 and 500 nodos respectively. By 2001

the number of nodos reached 1800 (Ovalles 2002).9 The rapid increase in participants

was not only due to media coverage. It spread by word of mouth and by virtue of need.

One participant who joined in 2001 remarked "Cuando el trueque sale del cono urban,

que se llama aca, de la parte de los suburbios, y se empieza a meter en la capital federal

fue como una explosion, cada dos o tres cuadras habia un nodo. Fue impresionante. Ibas

caminando por la calle y se encontrabas con un nodo".

Trueque Values

Specifically the RGT seeks to provide alternative spaces for the unemployed.

These alternative spaces serve two functions. One is the practical fulfillment of basic

material needs. As one researcher summarizes:

Hay un reconocimiento de las capacidades que los miembros [del trueque] poseen,
pero que a la vez el Mercado y las political estatales decide excluir, dejando de
esta manera al margen del Mercado formal a un grupo important de la poblaci6n,
cuyas habilidades no estan acordes a las demandada del actual modelo econ6mico
(Arcidiacono, Nota 4, first column, 2nd page).





9 Accounting of participant numbers has not been an exact or scientific endeavor. The study by Ovalles is
referenced in the book, Trueque y Economia Solidaria (editor Susana Hintze), but the methodology of that
study is not revealed. Other estimations are cited in newspaper articles, but these generally reflect
estimates provided by club founders.









The other function is a psychological one of healing and self development.10 The

core value of the RGT is self-help, or autosuficiencia. The RGT encourages self-help as

a means to extricate oneself from the dependency on a global system that consistently

fails to provide. However, this self-help can only be carried out in solidarity with others.

The RGT enjoins members to learn to producerr por nosotros mismos aprendiendo de lo

demas integrantes, de sus experiencias y tecnicas a traves de la ayuda mutual" (Preample

to Los doce principios, see appendix).

Another pillar of the RGT rhetoric revolves around the evils of money. According

to the RGT, in today's world, the accumulation of money drives the individual. Yet very

few people are successful in this endeavor. The vast majorities who fail to successfully

play the game of money accumulation are left with few options for survival and personal

development. The result is that the individual becomes dependent on a system in which

they have little success. Thus the RGT refuses to deal in pesos and instead created a

separate currency, the credito. The cr&dito, however, should not be considered as

currency qua currency. It is simply a mechanism to facilitate trade. A key dictate of the

RGT is to never accumulate cr&ditos, but to keep them in circulation.

The RGT also insists that members be both producers and consumers, not just

consumers. Members of the club are referred to as "prosumidores," a combination of the

productor (producer) and consumidor (consumer).11 To be aprosumidor serves the

obvious logistical function of creating both supply and demand. But there is a

10 Preceding the creation of the RGT was a self-help group formed by PAR called Emprendedores
An6nimos, modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, that was aimed at "personas que experimentaran dudas en
la toma de decisions, vulnerabilidad en lo laboral, incertidumbre ante elfuturo y tuvieran la necesidad de
evaluar su desempeio personal para una mejor competencia" (Primavera, Covas and De Sanzo 1998: Ch
5).

1 The idea of the prosumidor is taken from Alvin Toffler's work, The Third Wave (1980).









psychological benefit to being a producer as well. The act of creating a good -

combining locally available inputs, along with one's personal creativity and labor and

trading it in the nodo builds self-esteem. The RGT concomitantly puts a strong emphasis

on micro entrepreneurship again, as a way to create supply and also build self worth.

These values are described in several documents emanating from RGT

headquarters in Bemal. The first four principles in Los doce principios provide perhaps

the best crystallization:12

1. Nuestra realizaci6n como series humans no necesita estar condicionada por el
dinero.

2. No buscamos promover articulos o servicios, sino ayudarnos mutuamente a
alcanzar un sentido de vida superior, mediante el trabajo, la comprensi6n y el
intercambio just.

3. Sostenemos que es possible remplazar la competencia esteril, el lucro y la
especulaci6n por la reciprocidad entire las personas.

4. Creemos que nuestros actos, products y servicios pueden responder a normas
eticas y ecol6gicas antes que a los dictados del mercado, el consumismo y la
busqueda de beneficio a corto plazo.

Structure and Organization of the RGT

Nodos that used the money printed in Bemal by the PAR became loosely unified

into the Red Global de Trueque (RGT)13. By 1999 the RGT had established afranquicia

or franchise system. A nodo, to be properly part of the RGT, had to register with the

RGT and use their creditos. As a new member signed up he or she would pay two pesos






12 For the full 12 principles see appendix.

13 Two other main trueque organizations evolved out of the RGT, the Zona Oeste and Red del Trueque
Solidario (RTS), both with their own specific currency. In addition, there exist independent barter clubs
that print their own local currency, accepted only at their particular nodo.









and get a start-up amount of 50 creditos.14 The RGT nodos franchised in this way were

known as "i',,iIsfi qtll1ii iulh". Each nodo, although affiliated with the RGT, was

autonomous. The structure of the RGT, like the nodos, was supposed to be horizontal.

The RGT gave advice on how to start a barter club, but each nodo decided upon its own

particular rules of trade and entry into the club.

[E]l acceso a la informaci6n, capacitaci6n, bienes y servicios estan descentralizados
y la actuaci6n de los usuarious es libre y voluntaria, sin ninguna exclusion donde
todos se relacionan entire si de manera direct y horizontal, sin media intermediaries
ni representantes que puedan decidir por nosotros en asambleas o comisions. Es
una democracia direct (Las Tradiciones).

To join a nodo, a prospective member needed to attend a charla, or introductory

meeting. The purpose of the charla was to explain how the system worked, clarify about

pricing and answer any questions. Each nodo also had a coordinator. The coordinator

was supposed to be a member of the barter club who fostered participation. The

coordinator was the main organizer, taking care of administrative details like set-up and

break-down. In many cases the coordinator would also regulate prices or handle

complaints between club members.

Participants Demographics

Most researchers of the trueques make three observations about participant

demographics. One is that the majority of participants tend to be women. A second

observation is that most participants are middle aged or older (Leoni and Luzzi 2003,

Bombal 2002, Lecaro and Altschuler 2002, Powell 2002). These findings are consistent

with my observations during my visit to Argentina. The third observation is that early on



14 In interviews with participants and coordinators the amount paid for the starter creditors ranged from two
to five pesos. In some cases, individuals did not pay for their first credits, but simply "sold" their goods to
obtain their first creditors.









in their existence the barter clubs were comprised mostly of the "new poor," but

expanded to include the structurally poor. While this conclusion seems warranted, it has

not been rigorously demonstrated. Ines Gonzalez Bombal comes closest to offering

substantiation in her 2000 study.15 She found that the majority of participants (70%)

earned less than 500 pesos per month, 39% earned between 500 1,000 per month and

28% earned more than 1,000 per month. "Esto indica que la practice del trueque (aunque

no de un modo excluyente) se estaba focalizando en los "nuevos pobres" (Bombal 2002:

103). Furthermore as regards education, an indicator of class, Bombal found that most

participants had completed secundario, while a third had terciario or universitario

incomplete (104).

Several other researchers state that the participation base was comprised initially of

the new poor but grew to include the structurally poor. Interestingly, though, no one

offers a direct link between their demographic findings and support for the idea that the

new poor began the trueques. Leoni and Luzzi (2002), Powell (2002) and Aricidiacono

(2002) all cite Bombal's work, but do not offer any further analysis as to why they

conclude the new poor were the initial participants. None of these studies were done over

time to see if the participant composition actually changed.

Substantiating the claim that the new poor comprised the initial participant base is

difficult, particularly because measuring and identifying the new poor is complicated. As

Minujin and Kessler point out, the new poor is an extremely heterogeneous group.

Anecdotally, though, the claim seems valid. One indication is to simply look at the

founders. All three have higher education. Perhaps more to the point, the founders


15 Her study is based on 50 in-depth interviews conducted across five nodos.









themselves describe the first members of the trueque as coming from the middle-class

(interview). What is clear, however, is that the trueques did not remain solely comprised

of the new poor. Multiple people interviewed for this study mention that at one point

there were people from all walks of life and economic class participating in the trueque.

And as the founders note in their account of the trueque beginnings:

Segun la experiencia de los distintos "clubes", la concurrencia es la mas variada :
classes bajas en descenso, clase media en descenso, classes bajas en ascenso,
militants desorientados, inclasificables... Creemos que el proyecto atrae a las mas
diversas classes de personas (Primavera, Covas and De Sanzo 1998).

Furthermore, as the economy worsened and unemployment grew, the trueque

extended out from its original urban base to areas more densely inhabited by the

structurally poor (Powell 2002: 8).

Nodo Dynamics

By 2001 the barter clubs were catering to both the wealthy and the poor. The nodo

Galpon de Once in the city of Buenos Aires is illustrative. Galpon opened in March of

2001. It met three times a week and at its height roughly 3000 people would pass

through weekly. This nodo offered middle class services such as hair styling, manicures,

and even vacations, which could be paid for in part by creditos. There was also a

recycling center run by Galpon organizers. The recycling center was a way to generate

creditos for people who had nothing to bring to the trueque. If an individual had no

product to sell she or he could bring in glass bottles, cardboard boxes or cans to trade in

for creditos. In addition to the space provided for individuals to trade their goods, the

Galpon also provided free child care for the parents who came to trade. It also ran a

nodo-sponsored pizzeria and vegetable stand. To enter aprosumidor would have to pay

one peso. Part of the money from the entrance fee went towards paying rent and electric









bills. The other part of those pesos helped to purchase inputs for the pizzeria and

vegetable stand. This system worked well because food items were always in high

demand in the nodos. And while not all the ingredients were available through the

trueque, buying them in bulk in the formal market was a cheap solution.

On the one hand, the trueque was a way to maintain a certain life style. For

instance items for trade in a barter club in the wealthy neighborhood of Recoleta included

fur coats, art and books (Crivello 2002).16 On the other hand, the trueque also was a true

alternative market. As unemployment grew in the latter part of the 1990s the trueque

permitted people to obtain basic goods that were increasingly hard to come by, such as

food, cleaning supplies and clothes. The trueque also provided a venue for people to sell

goods they were unable to sell for pesos in the formal market. Oftentimes goods being

sold in the trueque came from left over inventory of failed businesses (personal

interviews, Bombal 2002: 119). Professionals also joined to provide legal services,

medical treatment and music lessons. In a June 2001 edition of El Trueque, an RGT

magazine, services and products advertised included event planning, catering, school

supplies, car parts, massage, taxi service, contact lens prescriptions and garden care.

Intersection with Government

In the first two years the RGT did not actively seek government support or

sanction. However, by 1997, the RGT began interfacing with the government, both as a

way to seek legitimacy and to encounter new forms of integration (Primavera 1999).

Government support came from the national, provincial and municipal level. The city of



16 This was an independent club, although it was similar to the RGT in its stated goals of creating solidarity
as well as promoting production and a continual circulation of creditors. They issued their own local
credito known as the "recoleto".









Buenos Aires, where the trueques flourished early on, created "El Programa de Trueque

Multirreciproco" in May 1997 (Megaferia: Tiempo de Trueque). It allowed the RGT to

use offices throughout the city to host the nodos and to train members.17 The City of

Buenos Aires also invited RGT founders Horacio Covas and Carlos de Sanzo, among

others, to attend a roundtable discussion as part of an event called Buenos Aires Sin

Fronteras. The city continued its collaboration in 2001, co-hosting a megaferia with the

RGT (Megaferia: Tiempo de Trueque). In the brochure advertising the megaferia, the

city of Buenos Aires describes how it wished to "[i]ncentivar a las personas a capacitarse

en tematica no tradicionales, asociadas a nuevos mercados y sectors dinamicos de la

producci6n y el empleo" and "fomentar y fortalecer la construcci6n de redes socials a

traves de proyectos autogestionados o cogestionados con el estado." The program

provided training to individuals who wished to form microbusinesses within the

trueque.1

In 2001 the RGT received national support when the Secretaria de la Pequenay

Mediana Empresa in the Ministerio de Economia (SEPyME) signed an agreement to

promote the trueques. The first section of the agreement states that the goal of the

agreement is to "promover en todo el pais el sistema de trueque o intercambio

multireciproco". The agreement was to also mutually foment the creation of jobs and

support individuals in their transition from the informal to the formal market.

(Convenio). I interviewed one woman who benefited from this government support of



1 The offices used were the 'Centros de gestion y participaci6n social' (CGP). There is one CGP in each
of Buenos Aires' fourteen neighborhoods.

18 In 1999 the program was still running, but had moved from the control of the Secretaria de Industria,
Comercio y Trabajo to the newly created office of Secretaria de Desarrollo Economico.









small business initiatives. As a member of the RGT she received a small subsidy of $200

pesos a month, which was to be used to buy materials for the aprons and purses that she

sewed to trade in the trueque. In practice, she used the pesos to pay her utility bills and

bought the inputs for her sewn items from the trueque. The subsidy lasted five months.

She was later approached and received a similar subsidy, but this time not tied to the

trueques; the subsidy instead was to support production of goods sold in the formal

market. SEPyME's relation to the trueques was similar to that of the city of Buenos

Aires: some material support in terms of co-sponsoring workshops, training and ferias,

but perhaps more significant was the "moral" support of allowing the SEPyME and City

of Buenos Aires names to go out on marketing materials. Also in February 2001, eight

diputados attempted without success to pass a bill declaring the trueques to be of national

interest.

At the municipal level, the trueques met with further support. The focus on the

trueques as a means of providing work and income also motivated more than 10

municipalities and 3 provinces to officially declare the trueques to be in their interest

(Leoni and Luzzi 2003). In addition to declaring the trueques to be of municipality

interest, the cities would often allow the nodos to use public buildings or space. The

municipalities also sought to regulate the trueques: some required all nodos to register

with the local government, and since popular trueque items included prepared foods and

homeopathic medicines, trueque members were often required to attend health

workshops.

Problems within the Trueques

As the trueques grew so did challenges to the system. One issue that spawned

several interrelated problems had to do with the credito. At the outset the RGT declared









the value of one credito to be equivalent to one peso. This parity was established simply

as a means of convenience. It allowed prosumidores to easily set prices. For instance, if

an empanada in the formal market cost one peso, then it should cost one credito in the

trueque. However, as the RGT grew it appeared that it was printing too many creditos.

A woman I interviewed explained how she registered with one nodo, but was required to

re-register when she went to another nodo. Even though she already had creditos from

participating in the first nodo she was issued the starter 50 creditos from this second

nodo. While this woman did not purposely try to get extra creditos, many people did take

advantage of the system in this way. A lack of effective centralized record keeping led to

people registering at multiple nodos to get several disbursements of creditos.

After a while, the value of the credit became inflated. Inflation might have been

acceptable except that it was happening at different rates at different nodos, so that an

empanada might cost 2 pesos in one nodo, but cost 5 pesos in another. Price variation

from nodo to nodo led to speculation; individuals would buy products at one nodo for one

price and resell them at another nodo for a much higher price (Primavera 1999, La

Naci6n, Premat 2003).

There were also charges of corruption on part of the coordinators. Several people

that I interviewed pointed out the economics of running a nodo. It was common to

charge one or two pesos as entry fee into a nodo. This fee was supposed to cover costs

such as electricity, rent, and cleanup. A busy nodo might have 500 people enter in a day.

If the nodo charged one peso at the door and met three times a week it would produce

$1,500 pesos a week. That would total $6,000 pesos a month. A sizable quantity that

would more than cover basic costs of rent, utilities and clean-up. In some nodos it was









clear that the extra income was being used to buy in bulk to supply the nodo, but in other

cases, the accounting of the pesos was not so transparent.

In 1998 four zones Capital, North, West and South were created to try to

decentralize the RGT and prevent overprinting and speculation. Each zone printed its

own currency (Hintze 2003: 56) and established an equivalency with the creditos from

the other zones (Primavera 1999). However, differences of opinion over the transparency

of credit printing led the Zone Oeste to splinter off in 2000 and cut all ties to the RGT

(Sampayo 2003: 197). The Zona Oeste also cited "incompatible" development

trajectories as the reason for splitting (Sampayo 2003: 197). Another important split

came in 2001, when the Redde Trueque Solidaria (RTS) formed and officially separated

from the RGT (Cortesi 2003: 181).

The RTS is very specific about the ways it differs from the RGT. While both

organizations emphasize production on the "human scale," the use of"tecnologia

apropiada19" and work as a means of self-realization, the RTS differs over the issues of

creditos and participation. With regard to creditos, the RTS refuses to print a national

credito; each zone of the RTS prints its own cr&dito. The RTS believes that zonal credits

reinforce the identity, decision-making abilities and development of each zone. While

the RTS acknowledges the drawback in having to deal with multiple kinds of creditos, it

reasons that printing a national currency only replicates the formal economy and all the

problems therein (Cortesi 2003: 189). In contrast to the RGT, the RTS also does not

charge a "registration" fee or "franchise" fee for new members to get their first creditos.



19 The RTS defines "tecnologia apropriada" as working with what is available rather than what is not
(Cortesi in Hintze 190). This is a similar concept to the RGT emphasis on using local talent and inputs to
create goods, rather than importing them from other areas.









With regard to participation, the RTS has positioned itself as being a more democratic

and participatory organization than the RGT. The RTS mode of decision-making is

through assembly, which it believes facilitates transparent, democratic, and inclusive

participation. The RTS, in turn, criticizes the RGT as tending toward private, closed

decision-making processes (Cortesi 2003: 184).

Other problems began to plague the barter clubs. A serious issue was that of

supply. A main edict of being a trueque participant was to be aprosumidor, to be a

producer as well as a consumer. However, the production side of the equation came to

suffer. People would attend the nodos and buy goods, but either not bring goods to sell

or only bring used items, such as clothes. The end result was a scarcity of goods as well

as a declining quality of goods. Also, many people were bringing items that were not in

demand. Trinkets and arts and crafts abounded rather than food items (Lecaro and

Altschuler 2002). As the kind of goods that people actually had a demand for were

offered less and less, people ended up stuck with stacks of creditos and nothing to

purchase (Bombal 2002: 125).

Another issue confronting the trueques was the subutilization of skills (Bombal

2002, Lecaro and Altschuler 2002: 11). Bombal notes that the trueques are repositories

of social capital and skills as well as goods and services. Yet with all these resources,

and the RGT's particular emphasis on fostering small businesses, there was no real

efforts on part of the prosumidores to create microenterprises (Bombal 2002: 111). Only

20% of those interviewed by Bombal had plans to create a new project in conjunction

with other members (Bombal 2002: 110).









Chapter Summary

Argentina's economic successes of the first part of the 20th century slowly eroded

away in the second half the century. The strong middle class that had developed began to

fade as a recurring cycle of strong growth followed by wild inflation plagued the country.

The neoliberal policies of the 1990s pushed the country into the growth phase of the

cycle, but incurred dangerously high levels of unemployment. The middle class

consequently further declined and a new class was created: the "new poor". Out of this

context the barter clubs were born.

The creation of the barter clubs was a way to not only meet economic need, but it

was a vehicle that promoted local production, self-sufficiency, personal growth and

solidarity. People joined the barter system both out of need and also to maintain a

certain lifestyle, and by 2001 the barter clubs were catering to both the wealthy and the

poor. As the barter clubs grew so did the problems that plagued them, including

inflation, speculation and scarcity of goods. Tension also mounted over issues of

participation and issuance of creditos. As a result Zona Oeste and the Red de Trueque

Solidaria splintered off from the RGT.














CHAPTER 3
AFFECT OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC CRISIS ON THE BARTER CLUBS

The economic crisis that exploded in December of 2001 dramatically affected the

barter clubs. While membership had been increasing at an accelerated rate the previous

two years in tandem with the worsening national economy the corralito of late 2001

and massive joblessness of 2002 led to a tidal wave of new trueque participation. The

first section of this chapter reviews the economic background leading up to Argentina's

2001 economic debacle. The second section explores how the ensuing rush of new barter

club participants exacerbated existing problems within the trueque. The last section

discusses the RGT's effort to confront these issues and the level of success achieved.

The Economic Crisis of 2001/2002

Serious structural weaknesses combined with cyclical recession to precipitate

Argentina's economic meltdown in late 2001. In the document entitled "Lessons from

the Crisis in Argentina" the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reviews Argentina's

economic development from the 90's through the 2001 crisis. The document highlights

what in hindsight were considerable "existing weaknesses and growing vulnerabilities"

(IMF 2003: 6) in the system:

Fiscal performance...was repeatedly undermined by off-budget expenditures and
was too weak throughout the 1990s to prevent a growing reliance on private capital
flows to meet the public sector's steadily rising borrowing needs. Exports, though
growing at a solid 8 percent per year between 1990-98, did not keep pace with
sharply rising import demand, which grew at an average rate of 25 percent per year
over the same period. The relatively small domestic financial sector fostered
dependence on foreign debt-creating flows to finance both private and public
spending. Finally, despite a good start on structural reforms, by mid-decade these









were petering out and were, in some cases, even reversed, leaving important
rigidities (8)1.

The IMF document further points out that the fiscal debt was exacerbated by borrowing

by the provinces, adding to the public-debt ration (6, 13). The overall debt was tenable as

long as the economy was growing at 5% or greater, but in the event of lesser growth,

such levels of debt were dangerous.

These structural weaknesses were compounded by the constraints of the

convertibility law. Palermo and Collins describe the negative current-accounts balance as

the convertibility plan's Achilles' heel. Part of the expected goal of the convertibility

law was that true exchange-rate parity would occur, i.e., that the peso would equal the

dollar without the government needing to prop it up drastically. However, while inflation

was kept comparatively under control, the heating up of the economy did maintain a

certain level of "residual" inflation, preventing parity from being reached (Palermo and

Collins 1998). Eventually, the economy started a cyclical recession in 1998 and the

policy of public spending and propping up the peso could not last. The currency board

thus became a "liability" as the government accrued burgeoning foreign-currency

denominated debt (IMF 2003: 4).

Palermo and Collins outline three possibilities open to the government at that

moment. One option was to devalue the currency, but the position of self-constraint

embodied by the convertibility law prevented this step.2 Furthermore, as the IMF


1 The rigidities the IMF refers to include rigidities of the labor market. In stark contrast to the views
presented by the authors cited in the second chapter, the IMF thought that the country should have a more
flexible workforce.

2 Recall from chapter two that self-constraint was the cornerstone of the convertibility plan; it entailed that
the government abrogated its prerogative to moderate monetary policy and exchange rates in order to build
confidence in the economy.









document also points out, the economic and political costs of exiting the currency board

regime were great: "By the late 1990s, with more than one-half of banks' assets and

liabilities and ninety percent of the public debt denominated in foreign currency (mainly

US dollars), abandoning the currency board arrangement would have been extremely

disruptive to the economy as indeed it turned out to be" (37). Furthermore, there was

strong political backing of the currency board; in 1998 the problems with the system were

still latent and the economy seemed to be doing just fine. Thus no politician was eager to

suggest painful preventative medicine. The irony of course was that the growth of the

economy masked the weakening government finances. The two other possibilities were

to restrict the inflow of foreign capital or to reduce public spending, but neither jibed with

Menem's political position (Palermo and Collins 1998).

Advent of the crisis. In 1998 the economy embarked on the fateful recession that

would trigger the economy's collapse. Several factors precipitated the recession. One

was a cyclical correction following the rapid growth of the previous two years. Another

was the political uncertainty surrounded Menem's attempt to run for the presidency for

an unconstitutional third term. Economic troubles in other parts of the world also

reverberated in Argentina. The Russian crisis in 1998 affected interest rates in emerging

markets and in turn reduced capital inflows into Argentina. Yet, while international

lending interest rates increased the Argentine currency board "muted" these effects,

keeping the spread on Argentine bonds artificially low. The result was to further mask

the true economic status of the country's debt. The following year Brazil, one of

Argentina's biggest importers, devalued its currency. Argentine products became even









more expensive resulting in a 28% decrease in Argentine exports to Brazil (Bluestein

2005: 59). Finally, exports to other countries dropped 10.5% (Bluestein 2005: 59).

These external shocks combined fatally with structural weaknesses: the country

was unable to generate enough exports to cover national spending, nor could it expand

monetary supply, nor could it institute an expansionary fiscal policy (IMF 2003).

Crisis. Argentina started off the year 2001 struggling to keep afloat. It turned to

the IMF for an injection of much-needed capital to maintain its debt financing. The IMF

pledged a total of $14 billion to be dispersed throughout the year, pending the attainment

of certain fiscal goals (IMF 2003). These attempts, however, failed "to break the cycle of

rising interest rates, falling growth, and fiscal underperformance" (IMF 2003: 59). The

situation demonstrated its fragility as the finance minister resigned and his successor was

forced out in two weeks. As the year continued, the spread between peso- and dollar-

denominated interest rates skyrocketed from one to sixteen percent and the central bank

modified its charter, reducing the required currency on hand required by law (IMF 2003:

59). The government then offered a voluntary debt swap. While this move bought the

government time on its debt service obligations, the interest rate on the new debt was

17%, an inordinately high rate, demonstrating the desperation of the government (IMF

2003: 59). Confidence in the system continued to erode and the run on bank deposits hit

a high in November 2001 (IMF 2003: 61).

The government responded by limiting withdrawals to $250 dollars a week from

individual accounts (IMF 2003: 61). The reason behind such a drastic measure was

simple. There were not enough dollars on hand to support the run on the banks.

Additionally, devaluation of the peso was imminent, but there was doubt as to what the









new value of the peso would be. With the implementation of the corralito the crisis had

hit the boiling point. There were riots in the street, culminating in the death of 27 people

(Fue 2003). President Fernando de La Rua subsequently resigned on December 20. In

January of 2002, Dualde the 5th president in three weeks declared default (IMF 2003:

62).

2002. The economic and political landscape could look no worse. In 2002

unemployment was at a record 22% (Byrnes 2005), and there was a 11% decline in

output (Blustein 2004). Throughout the year the government struggled with a variety of

measures to attempt to shore up the peso and stabilize the banking system.

Effect of Economic Crisis on the Barter Clubs

The state of emergency in late 2001 not only sent people to the streets clanging pots

and pans in the famous cacerolazos, but it sent waves of people into the barter clubs. The

news media was integral in spreading the word. In January of 2001, before the national

catastrophe fully unfolded, the Argentine newspaper, La Naci6n, only mentioned the

trueques in passing in two articles. In February 2002, however, the trueque clubs were

not only mentioned in four articles, but they were the main subject of two articles. One

article, "El trueque salv6 a una fabrica en Mendoza" (Feb 27 2002), explained how the

RGT saved a Mendoza canning business by "loaning" 40,000 cr&ditos in return for

canned olives, pickles, tomatoes and dulces to supply a particular nodo. The other article,

"El trueque crece a la par de la crisis" (Feb 6 2002), tells of more than 500,000 families

using the trueque as a palliative for the crisis. This article ends by providing contact

information (phone, email, website) and instructions on how to join.

Clarin, Argentina's other main newspaper, also heavily covered the barter clubs.

An article entitled "El club del treuque que le cambi6 la cara a un barrio" reported that in









October of 2001 only 100 people were regularly attending a nodo in the city of Lomas de

Zamora,3 but in March of 2002, more than 2,000 people were going weekly (Torresi

2002). Another Clarin article from two months earlier proclaimed: "Con el trueque ya se

compran campos, autos y hasta casas." In this article Covas, one of the RGT founders,

stated that there were 50 million creditos in circulation, with 250,000 creditos issued

daily to new members which means 5,000 new individuals were joining daily (since

each new member received 50 creditos). The article continued to report that in the

previous six months 75 new nodos had opened in the city of Buenos Aires. By June of

2002 5,000 nodos were in operation, with a total of one and half million participants

(Ovalles 2002).

During this period, it was clear that people were joining the trueque as a means of

survival. Access to money was limited, jobs were scarce and the value of the peso had

plummeted. People used the trueques strategically in their desperation to survive.

Grander values of self-sufficiency, solidarity and local production and consumption did

not factor in. Creditos were used to buy necessary items such as food, cleaning supplies,

clothes, and school supplies for their children, while precious pesos were set aside to pay

utilities and other bills (interviews). One woman that I interviewed stated that in 2001

and 2002 almost all of the prepared food items that she brought into the house came from

the trueque. Another interviewee described how people would form a line more than an

hour before the opening of a large nodo in order to get a chance at scarce goods such as

food, jostling and fighting to be able to secure bread, vegetables or cooking oil before it

ran out.


3 Province of Buenos Aires









In some instances the trueque also turned into a form of protest. In May of 2002

the RGT set up a temporary nodo in downtown Buenos Aires. The protest, as one

participant commented was "un acto simb6lico en contra del mercado" (Un Club 2002).

In a similar action two weeks later in front of the national Congress, trueque participants

specifically set up a nodo to demonstrate support for a proposed law to regulate the

trueques. Luis Laporte, a spokesperson for the RGT, explained that a legal framework

was necessary to regulate the trueques because, among other things, it would provide a

means to punish people who counterfeited creditos. "Queremos un marco legal porque

no podemos controlar lo que pasa. Si alguien falsifica creditos, hoy no se lo puede

penar" (Trueque Frente 2002). The trueques used in this way as a form of protest is not

without its inconsistencies. On the one hand, the trueque members protest the market

that excludes them. On the other hand, they ask for legislation to bring the trueques

under the regulating arm of that same system.4 This paradoxical stance will be discussed

in the next chapter.

Regulating the trueques was particularly appealing since the explosion in growth in

early 2002 had only exacerbated existing problems. Inflation was perhaps the most

nefarious issue. Several factors played into it. First and foremost the RGT simply

overprinted creditos. There was an attempt to keep track of who registered to prevent

individuals from collecting several installations of start-up creditos. The registration

system, however, simply broke down under the avalanche of new members people were

able to register across several nodos, receiving 50 creditos each time. A woman I

interviewed who was close to the RGT founders commented on how the franquicia

4 Likewise, initiatives that would allow the payment of municipal debts with creditos were also supported
by the RGT (Clarin Feb 14 2002).









system broke down. She described thefranquicia system as the replication of the trueque

model, but as she noted, once the nodos began growing rapidly, "no tenia muy claro cual

era el modelo para repetir. Lo unico que se repeti6 era que a cambio de dos pesos te

daban 50 creditos. Y eso genero la corrupci6n."

Speculation also ran rampant. Some people spent their whole week going from

nodo to nodo, buying goods at one price and selling them at another. Counterfeit creditos

compounded the problem. In August of 2002 three different groups were arrested for

counterfeiting the RGT creditos. In one arrest alone, 2,250,000 fake creditos were

confiscated. Considering that 50 million in true creditos were in circulation, that many

false creditos constituted almost five percent of the total in circulation.

The kind and quality of goods being produced in the trueque also became

problematic. The August 17, 2003 edition of La Naci6n One reported how for one

woman making cakes for the trueque became a losing proposition: "El precio de las

materials primas se fue por las nubes y me llegaron a pedir 2000 creditos por un kilo de

azucar. Al final para preparar las tortas tenia que invertir en pesos y a mi casa me llevaba

papelitos". Declining terms of trade resulted in a severe decrease in production. People

were coming to the nodos to buy, but production was falling off. Furthermore, what

remained in the trueques were items ancillary to daily needs such as arts and crafts and

also things of generally lower quality, like used clothes. In turn, many people ended up

with stacks of creditos but nothing worthwhile to buy. Inflation, speculation, declining

terms of trade and depletion of supply led to massive closing of nodos. Towards the end

of 2002 the nodos were closing down with the same rapidity with which they opened

(Premat 2003).









Many trueque participants place the blame squarely on the RGT founders. They

believed that the founders had purposely sold creditos to make a profit, and in the process

wrecked the system. The woman who ran a large nodo in the city of Buenos Aires

expressed this view:

Esta personas [the 3 founders] empezaron a ver el movimiento que habia detras de
ellos, empezaron a pensar en pesos, en dinero, en dinero, en dinero y terminaron en
hacer una gran estafa...Y gente que nosotros conocimos en su principio que no
tenian ni siquiera una casa para vivir se construyeron casas en San Isidrio San
Isidrio una de las localidades mas caras que existe en Argentina...Y cuando me
empeze a dar cuenta de como esto, como se estaba manejando y, y las cosas que
habia detras, llore muchisimo, yo sufri muchisimo porque realmente aca habia
gente muy valiosa, gente que, yo conoci, gente que actualmente hoy la trato, gente
que yo quiero much. Yo me sentia parte de la estafa porque yo manjeaba uno de
los trueques mas grandes que habia en Argentina.5

The RGT founders, for their part, believed that the government had purposely

undermined the barter clubs. According to the founders, the government, which

originally supported the trueques, turned on the barter clubs when it began to see them as

a threat to the clientelistic model. As the RGT founders explained, since people were

suddenly able to provide for themselves the politicians were not able to buy votes by

giving handouts. The founders particularly blamed Plan Jefesy Jefas, a federal program

that gave cash money to heads of households, for driving people away from the trueque

and the principles of self-sufficiency. The founders even allude to more direct sabotage;

they believe that politicians in the government were responsible for the falsification of

creditos (Sainz 2003).





5 This interviewee not only believed the founders had purposely overprinted creditos, but she also insisted
that they made up the story of counterfeit creditos to try to get away with their misconduct. When asked
about the newspaper articles describing the capture of counterfeit creditos she said that later it was
retracted.









Trueque Response

As early as May 2002 the RGT attempted to address the failing system. In an RGT

pamphlet they asked the prosumidores: "Tenga paciencia. En estos moments estamos

abocados a la reform total del sistema de franquicia y entrega de creditos"

(NotiTrueque). By December of 2002 the RGT began printing new creditos on special

paper from Brazil and with multiple security measures, including a watermark. They also

established an oxidation rate, so that the credit lost value over time, forcing people to

spend the creditos instead of amassing them (Rocha 2002). By November of 2004, when

I visited Argentina, there were a handful of independent and RTS nodos still active in the

city of Buenos Aires. There were no RGT nodos left in the capital city.

During my visit, however, I attended a large RGT nodo outside the capital city in

Quilmes. It still meets three times a week with more than a 1,500 passing through. El

Comedero, as it is called, is hosted in a large industrial space that previously housed a

factory. Upon entering the prosumidore pays five creditos and two pesos and receives a

leaflet containing PAR news and editorials. One peso goes to the PAR to help pay for the

printing creditos and the leaflet. The other peso goes toward paying security, the

cleaning person and the nodo administrator, who works in the nodo office and does the

bookkeeping. The creditos gathered from the entry fee go to paying the coordinator,

whose job is to mediate between prosumidores, be available to listen to people, and to

promote creativity and production. El Comedero houses a big kitchen in the back with an

industrial stove and oven, which is available for anyone's use. For instance, one woman

with whom I spoke choses to bake her goods in the kitchen rather than transport them to

the nodo. The most typical item for sale is used clothing. Food is another big item.

There are fresh vegetables and lots of prepared foods like tortas, tartas, galletitas. There









are also a quantity of prepackaged food items like spices, cookies and noodles, but never

in huge quantities. Some of the services offered include hair cutting, tarot card reading

and watch repair.

Although the interviews I conducted at this nodo were mostly informal, three

themes became apparent. First, people come to the trueque for the social interaction.

Several people describe the trueque as "therapy," a place to come to talk to people,

interact and forget their worries for a short time. While many of the people come to the

nodo in order to ameliorate a difficult economic situation, several people come merely to

see friends and distract themselves.

Second, people often move between the trueque and the formal market as an

economic strategy. As several people mentioned to me, some things are cheaper in the

trueque and some are cheaper in the market. People are constantly moving between the

two to extract advantage. For instance, one woman buys spices at the supermarket and

repackages them in small bags to sell individually in the trueque. Another woman uses

pesos to buy ingredients in the formal market to make prepizzas and pasta to sell in the

trueque. She says she recuperates the pesos she spends by buying things in the trueque

instead of the formal market. Many people believe they reap economic benefits from the

trueque, but how they derive the benefit is not a consciously understood or planned

process. A 70-year old man I spoke to buys new things in the formal market (the day I

spoke to him he had purchased shoe inserts) to sell along with the used items that he

brings in. When asked whether it worked to his benefit to buy things with pesos and then

sell them in creditos he answered that he really did not know. Third, although some

participants were not there for economic reasons only their participation did not appear to









be motivated by the values of self-help, local production, or a philosophical aversion to

pesos. For instance, I asked people whether they read the leaflet that was handed out to

every prosumidor upon entering the nodo. On the whole the answer was no.

Chapter Summary

Summary. The story of the trueques involves a direct relationship between a

worsening economy and increasing trueque membership. A corollary relationship also

obtained: as the economy worsened the reasons for joining the barter clubs had more to

do with necessity and survival rather than thoughts of creating an alternative economic

system. And as the trueques grew in number so did the problems plaguing them. The

national explosion in late 2001 caused a huge influx of trueque participants, shaking the

already fragile system to its core, exacerbating earlier problems of inflation and

speculation and leading to the massive shutdown ofnodos in late 2002. In response,

RGT founders instituted a "reactivation" of nodos on a smaller and more controlled scale

starting in 2002. However it did not appear that ideology motivated participants even at

the "reactivated" nodos, but rather desires to engage in social activity coupled with

attempts to derive economic benefit.














CHAPTER 4
TRUEQUES AS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT?

Keeping in mind the lofty goals of their early beginnings, but taking into account

the changes wrought by unexpected and significant growth, to what extent can the barter

clubs be considered a social movement? To consider the trueques as a social movement

might be a big leap particularly since trueque participation grew in direct relation to a

worsening economy and participation at the height of the trueques stemmed from

pragmatic considerations rather than ideological conviction. Yet the original project was

not designed as merely a survival mechanism. The barter clubs were designed as an

enlightened alternative to the market; they were based on principles of autosuficiencia,

solidarity and the repudiation of dependency on the formal currency. To answer whether

the barter clubs can be considered a social movement, we will return to Sidney Tarrow's

definition of a social movement and analyze how the trueques match up with its several

components. As mentioned in Chapter two the barter clubs began with the RGT and

eventually two other smaller groups splintered off. For the purposes of this chapter I will

apply Tarrow's definition only to the RGT.

Collective Activity

The first prerequisite of a social movement is that it be a collective activity. At first

glance, it appears that this criterion was met from the beginning. By its very nature a

barter system requires more than one person in order to exist. Although the first nodo

was not huge (it started with 20 people), the barter system only grew. Despite the lack of

hard and fast numbers, it is indisputable that up until 2002 the trueques were multiplying









rapidly throughout the country. Even after the nodos began closing en masse in late 2002,

several nodos still remain in operation to the present day.

However, while the barter clubs do involve collective action by nature, there is a

certain level of individualism that underlies the activity. As one researcher observes, the

barter clubs in fact present an individualistic solution to a collective problem:

Si bien...la caida [en la nueva pobreza] ya no podia ser percibida como un hecho
individual sino que las causes de la crisis que padecian eran globales,
generabilizables y casi inevitable, la salida de esta exclusion se presentaba como
puramente individual. Paradoja que se sostiene a partir de la persistencia de la idea
de un progress possible pero donde "escapar" de dicha situaci6n dependia
unicamente de las capacidades personales. En este sentido, la altemativa del
trueque se presentaba con claros tintes individualistas -egoista, imposibilitando las
creencias en acciones colectivas o de demands al sistema politico...(Barbetta).

The individualistic nature of the barter clubs, i.e., the emphasis on self sufficiency

and personal ingenuity to overcome exclusion from the established market system is not

necessarily problematic when considering the barter clubs as a social movement. First,

we know from the literature on new social movements that movements can be carried out

on an individual level, especially when based around life-style choices (Larafia 1994).

The paradox of individual action constituting a collective activity is resolved when we

acknowledge that the individual basis of action is part of a group of like-minded people

do like-minded activities, even if separate. Second, as discussed in Chapter two, the

RGT's emphasis on self-sufficiency requires learning from others and sharing

knowledge, thus creating a market of solidarity.

Contention

Contention is the second element of social movements. As defined by Tarrow

contention involves two aspects: people who do not have access to institutions who

fundamentally challenge the system. The trueques clearly comport with the first part of









this definition. The RGT specifically prides itself in creating a space those who do not

have access to institutions, i.e., the excluded. In fact many researchers describe the

trueques' positive impact on women, a traditionally marginalized sector of society

(Primavera 2003, Powell 2002). Furthermore, the everyday participant does not appear

to be a seasoned politician, lobbyist or other traditional actor with institutional access.

The exception perhaps is the individuals who take on the role of coordinator. Some

coordinators do have political experience. For instance, the woman I interviewed who

ran Galpon de Once, one of the largest nodos in the city of Buenos Aires, was a member

of the Confederaci6n General de Trabajo (CGT), a national trade union.1 Even so, not

all coordinators have political roots. Also worth noting is that in some cases people

worked to initiate a nodo, even if they were not planning to participate in it. For instance,

one gentleman that I interviewed worked with an advocacy group for retired people. He

began helping to set up nodos as a community service. While politically active

coordinators and nodo initiators played an important role in the barter clubs they were not

the norm.

The second part of Tarrow's definition of contention is the making of new or

unaccepted claims thatfundamentally challenge the system. A starting point of analysis

on this point is a quotation by Jeff Powell, which highlights the inherent social and

political challenge of what he refers to as community currency systems (CCS):

Lying at the juncture of economics, political science, sociology, geography,
anthropology, cultural, environmental and gender studies, CCS are a concrete
embodiment of key abstract debates. First amongst these is over the nature of
markets. CCS pose serious challenges to the standard assumptions of homo

I also interviewed a coordinator from an independent nodo who, during the dictatorship was a member of
a leftist group and as a result was an exiliado interno. While she obviously has experience organizing this
experience is as a subaltern rather than someone with traditional access to institutions.









oeconomicus and the way we value, exchange and consume. By recognizing unpaid
women's work, for example, CCS have the potential to restructure gender relations.
Secondly, CCS force new discussions over the role of the state. They are only one
of several new contenders in the global marketplace competing with the state's
crumbling monopoly over both the provision of social services and the money
supply. (2).

Powell makes two points. First, that the trueques challenge ingrained ideas about

consumption and production. The edict of the trueques is to consume no more than is

needed and to eschew accumulation of creditos. Even though Argentina's middle class is

eroding away, it still knows how to consume. One Argentine history professor

characterized the Argentines of the 90s as a "dame dos" culture; with money burning in

their pockets the Argentines wanted two of everything (interview). The trueques

counteract this tendency, trying to create a new wave of people who are willing to buck

the dominant patterns of materialist consumption. This new mode of consumption

compels a new mode of production. The trueques enjoin participants to use socially

appropriate technology to produce just enough to provide for reasonable needs. As

Powell points out, the Twelve Principles of the RGT attempt to create "alternative

behavioral norms" (9).

One might argue that ideas of sustainable development, locally centered growth

and self-sufficiency are not new or radical ideas. While these ideas may not be new, they

are far from mainstream. In particular, the idea of self-sufficiency of being personally

resourceful in providing for one's material needs is unconventional in Argentina, with

its history of paternalistic governance. More to the point, how those ideas are

operationalized by rejecting pesos and turning to social money instead is conceptually

quite radical. As Melucci might argue, these values "engage the constitutive logic of [the]

system" (1994: 103). A fundamental purpose of creating the trueques was to demonstrate









that money is neither the starting point for one's survival nor one's sense of self. To use

social money encourages creativity and allows a person to create value in terms of time

and effort expended rather than in pesos. Furthermore, the credito is not legal tender. No

government backs it. Instead the good will and trust of the barter club members

underwrites the value of the credito. The personal relationships of the barter club

members guarantee its value.

To the extent that participants adopted this theoretical understanding of the credito,

the barter clubs indeed embodied an unorthodox approach to collective action. Yet, to

the degree that the credito was treated as a peso commodified, bought, sold,

counterfeited the barter clubs lost the original meaning and impact of their approach.

An essential element of most social money or community currency systems, like the

Ithaca Hours in New York or the LETS system in Europe, is the focus on local

production and consumption.2 As the RGT expanded to a national scope, the importance

of locally-based development and along with it the philosophical underpinnings of the

credito was subverted over time. The bigger the RGT grew and the more national

coverage the cr&ditos got, the more the RGT moved away from this fundamental ideal.

This tendency to grow should come as no surprise. A small nodo is hard pressed to

provide variety of products. The ability to use the credito in more than one setting makes

the credito more useful. Yet the more widely circulated the credito the more it was used

as if it were a peso rather than "social money".




2 The Ithaca HOURS system has very similar ideals as the original RGT: promotion of local commerce,
sustainable development and a rejection of materialism (see Ihp "\ %\ \ .ithacahours.com/ and
http://www.ithacahours.org/). The LETS system also supports local development. See
hup \ \l\ \\ .letslinkuk.org/.









Powell's second point deals with the trueques' challenge to state hegemony.

Powell sees the trueques as potentially challenging the role of the state, for instance in

competing with the state's monopoly over money supply. By extension, the barter clubs

could also plausibly erode the productivity of the national economy. The activity of the

formal market has the potential to decline to the degree that people satisfy their needs

through the trueque and not through the formal market. In other words, it could be a

zero-sum relationship. This loss of activity in the formal market would have potentially

devastating consequences for the tax base (although Argentina is notorious for poor

collections of taxes), the GDP, and international investment, which in part is based on

GDP calculations.

Despite the potential of this scenario, it is not a reality. A significant problem

continually plagued the trueque: in order to create goods for the trueque market, primary

materials almost always had to come from the formal market. The trueques specifically

focused on promoting primary material-producing trueque businesses, but these micro-

businesses never materialized in larger enough numbers or variety of products to create a

true alternative trueque market. It is important here to make a distinction between

different conceptions of the word "alternative". The trueques were created as an

alternative to the formal market. On the one hand, alternative could mean a complete

replacement of the formal system. In this connotation the trueques have a zero-sum

relationship to the formal market as described above. Alternative on the other hand,

could also connote a part-time or complementary relationship to the formal market. It is

this understanding that the RGT founders embrace. In interviews the barter club founders









describe the role of the barter clubs as "interstitial," that is, extracting value where the

formal market fails to.

Powell's quote highlights two levels of contention inherent in the barter system.

The first is at the level of ideas; the barter clubs challenge accepted ideas of production

and consumption. But as the national economy worsened the new members failed to

engage the barter club at this conceptual level. The following section addresses why

members failed to adopt the philosophical stance of the trueques. Suffice to say at this

point, however, that by late 2001 the majority of participants did not reflect the RGT

ideas of consumption and production. The second level of contention is the practical; the

barter clubs potentially undermined the very engine of the formal economic market. Yet,

in the final analysis this is a moot point: the relationship between the trueques and the

formal market was not zero sum, nor was the intention of the RGT founders to usurp

formal market share.

Common Purpose/Common Identity

The third element of Tarrow's social movement definition is that of common

purpose and/or common identity. My interviews revealed a variety of motivations for

initially joining the barter clubs: ideology, pragmatism, altruism, curiosity and social

interaction. This multiplicity of initial factors does not immediately disqualify the

trueques as a social movement, however. Two important questions need further

consideration. First, did the RGT attempt to "organize experience" and "guide action"

(Snow et al. 1986: 464) in order to bring these three disparate groups together? In other

words, did the RGT frame its key issues? Second, was the RGT successful? That is, did

participant motivations change over time to eventually coalesce around a more or less

homogeneous core?









Turning to the first question: did the RGT frame key issues and if so, how? There

is no question that the RGT attempted to frame central ideas. This was done at both a

conceptual and practical level. At the conceptual level, the RGT tapped into an existing

disenchantment with neoliberalism. Inez Gonzalez Bombal asks an interesting question

in her work: why it is that the new poor are willing to be in the trueques when a few years

ago they wouldn't have dreamed of doing it (104)? Bombal notes that there has been a

change from the new poor viewing their status a result of poor microeconomic

decisions (Minujin and Kessler 1993) to viewing themselves as victims of

macroeconomic problems over which they had no control (Bombal 2002: 104). She

concludes that the change in subjectivity (subjetividad), from the rational, autonomous

self, making microeconomic decisions to the self as victim of bad macroeconomics is

what allowed the new poor to participate in the trueques. This change in subjectivity is

precisely what the RGT builds on. Appealing to the discontent of the increased numbers

of unemployed, the RGT attempted a method of both frame bridging and amplifying,

depending on whether a person already held anti-neoliberalism as a high value (frame

bridging) or whether a person moved that value up in their hierarchy as a result of coming

into contact with the RGT (frame amplifying). An example of this kind of framing is

demonstrated in the RGT document entitled "Comenzarpor Casa":

La economic global no ha hecho mas que acrecentar la inequidad, el desempleo, la
tension social y la degradaci6n del medioambiente. Crece el numero de personas
disconformes que perciben que el confort no es sin6nimo de calidad de vida y por
todas parties surgeon alternatives al mercado cuyo comun denominador es la
descentralizaci6n, la autogesti6n y la producci6n a escala humana.

Here the RGT draws a causal connection between the globalized economy and the

commonly perceived societal ills of unemployment, social tension and environmental









degradation. In addition to drawing this connection, it goes on to suggest action and

response: self sufficiency and new modes of production.

Part of the RGT conceptual framing strategy involved creating a new vocabulary to

describe the trueque experience. While the word prosumidor originated in the works of

Alvin Toffler, the RGT adopted it as its own. The RGT also adopted common words and

associated them very specifically with the trueque system. For instance the words nodo

(node) and trueque (which comes from the verb trocar) have in Argentina become

synonymous with the barter clubs. This new vocabulary was disseminated along with the

larger trueque values during the charlas and coordinator training sessions. The barter

clubs, in creating a world ofprosumidores who trade in an economy of solidarity using

creditos, not only creates a community of like-minded barter club participants, but it also

clearly challenges the dominant discourse. As Melucci observes:

[A]ntagonism lies in the ability to resist and, even more so, to overturn dominant

codes. Antagonism lies in the ability to give a different name to space and time by

developing new languages that change or replace the words used by the social order to

organize our daily experience (Melucci 1994: 123).

At the practical level, the RGT attempted to mold participants and create an affinity

of ideals through the required charlas. For instance, in certain areas a prospective

member would have to attend eight charlas in order to become a member. These

meetings involved rigorous training, replete with workbooks and lesson plans (interview).

The RGT also used its online and publishing capabilities to disseminate a large array of

articles on trueque consciousness. A main distribution point for documents was the









autosuficiencia website.3 In addition to more formal documents such as the "Los Doce

Principios" there was a constant posting of articles and interviews reiterating the RGT

values as well as cautioning against unethical trueque conduct.

Turning to the second question: how successful were these various attempts at

framing? Obviously, the RGT was not successful enough to prevent misuse of the barter

system by those who were willing to speculate and counterfeit creditos. And clearly, the

RGT failed to convince a large number of people to stay in the barter system once the

formal market got back on its feet. In fact, nodos were forced to close down due to lack

of the ills of inflation, speculation and corruption.

In spite of these apparent failures, strong examples exist among a variety of

participants that demonstrate the success of the framing. Although not specifically

referencing the framing categories of Snow et al., Bombal's research offers several

examples of framing taking place. One artist she interviewed supplies a clear example of

frame bridging. This artist explains how participating in the trueques was simply a

continuation of the practice of values that he already held: "Yo soy artesana de oficio,

hace mas de treinta afios que soy artesana. Nosotros nos iniciamos en la artesania

haciendo treuques. Para mi fue descubrir algo dentro de la sociedad para rescatar..."

(Bombal 2002: 114). Another interviewee's comment demonstrates an example of frame

transformation, i.e., the redefining of beliefs:

Yo creia que estaba todo terminado, que no habia mas alternative, porque uno se
engancha en que no hay trabajo, no hay posibilides de insertarse en la sociedad y
yo veia todo como una pared adelante. Esto [el trueque] hizo una apertura...se me


3 Autosuficienica.com.ar is the home of the home of the Programa de Autosuficiencia Regional (PAR). It
is this website that contains the documents such as the "Los Doce Principios" and "Comenzar por Casa" of
the RGT. The RGT has its own website, www.trueque.org.ar, in which several of the links lead to the
autosuficiencia website.









abri6 la mente, se me despert6 algo aca adentro. Me di cuenta de que existe otro
mundo qu yo no lo conocia y que aca adentro lo descubri (Bombal 2002: 113).

In my interviews I also came across examples of successful framing. One woman

presented a clear case of frame transformation. She transformed her ideas on the role of

money:

Dinero a veces no es lo mas important vos sabes. No es lo mas important. Hay
muchas cosas que se pueden resolver sin diner. Con voluntad, con intercambio.
Esto yo aprendi aca. O sea, antes yo pensaba el reves, que sin dinero no se podia
hacer nada. Y aca me di cuenta que no era lo mas important. De verdad te digo.

Another woman's experience exemplified frame amplification, that is, the "clarification"

or invigorationn" of life events (Snow et al. 1986: 469):

Lo que se estaba dando [el trueque] era recuperar la identidad de las personas,
recuperar la dignidad del trabajo y recuperar el sentido de que lo que es el
solidaridad, porque esto fue lo que yo descubri en el trueque. Por eso, en mi caso,
me quede en el trueque. No entree para comer. Yo no tenia problems. Yo soy
professional, soy medical. No necestaba ir al trueque al comprarme un plato de
comida...yo recupere mi propio identidad como persona y la dignidad del trabajo,
no? la dignidad de decir lo que yo hago no es que lo regalo, no hago beneficencia y
el otro lo compra con su trabajo tambien. Y fue muy fuerte para mi.

This particular woman felt that the trueques had reconnected her to ideas of

solidarity and dignity. She had been hearing of the trueques from friends, in the news,

and had seen them in the streets. But before she actually began participating in the barter

system she described herself as being a "snob". Upon becoming a member she realized

the trueques were quite different from what she anticipated. "Realmente cuando yo tome

contact y lo vivi desde adentro me di cuenta que era totalmente diferente a la idea que

yo tenia." She realized that the trueques were really a way to reconnect with one's

identity.









Mobilizing Structures

The ability of the RGT to adequately frame key issues is not the single lynchpin in

the success or failure of creating a social movement. Social movements must combine

their ideas with action, which leads to the fourth element of Tarrow's definition:

mobilizing structures. Tarrow observes that social movement organizations need to be

sufficiently structured to permit effective action, but must also be flexible enough to

encourage autonomy and creativity at the participant level (Tarrow 1998: 124).

The RGT tried to strike this balance by creating a horizontal system, one where

each club was autonomous and created its own best practices. Yet, in some aspects the

RGT was too decentralized. Nodos were supposed to be organically formed; it was

expected that each would create its own norms and methods, all the while maintaining the

core values of the RGT. However, once the number of nodos began growing rapidly, the

RGT could not guarantee adherence to basic requirements. The RGT could not ensure

that charlas were being attended or prevent coordinators from selling creditos. As one

interviewee observed, the trueque in the beginning "Era much mas cuidado...se invitaba

a la persona parecida a voz, era mas de boca a boca la invitaci6n." A more moderated

growth rate might have allowed for the RGT to instill the core values on the front end and

allowed variety and creativity in the execution of each individual nodo. Uncontrolled

growth, however, led to a great degree of decentralization and little oversight.

Interestingly, the RGT has also been criticized for being too centralized. As

discussed in Chapter 2, the Red de Trueque Solidaria (RTS) particularly denounced the

RGT for tightly holding power in the small group of RGT founders, with little regard for

transparency in the decision-making process. This lack of democratic participation also

replicated itself at the nodo level. As Leoni and Luzzi's research reveal, there almost









always came to be a permanent coordinator, rather than a rotation of the post as originally

intended by the RGT. In all fairness, however, the position of coordinator, especially for

the larger nodos, required a dedication of time; the lack of rotation often was due to a

lack of volunteers willing to take on the role, rather than any malicious greed for power

and control on the part of the coordinators.

It would be difficult to determine what steps the RGT could have taken to strike a

more effective balance between structure and flexibility. To insure that each new

member was thoroughly trained and educated would have required a strictly monitored

growth pattern. The risk of course, would be to repudiate the RGT's goal to foment a

variety of experiences. Furthermore, the RGT would not have served as a refuge during

economic crisis, a fact the RGT founders were proud of. This tension between structure

and flexibility ultimately was untenable and the barter clubs failed to create a mobilizing

structure to maintain the barter clubs as a social movement.

Sustained Activity

The fourth element of Tarrow's social movement definition is sustained activity.

Tarrow does not specify what exact length of time qualifies as 'sustained' activity, but

meeting an exact temporal criterion is not necessary in the case of the barter clubs. In

terms of overall lifespan, the trueques activity is unquestionably a lasting activity. The

barter clubs have existed since 1995 and continue to operate, albeit in significantly

smaller numbers. And new people continue to join. While I was in the nodo El

Comedero in the province of Buenos Aires, I happened to speak with a woman who was

there for the first time. More interesting, though, is the duration of participation of each

individual. The people I interviewed, even if no longer active, tended to have

participated for at least a year.









Political Opportunities

Tarrow notes that discontent and structural societal strain are always present. It is

only when the political system opens in a particular manner that provides the crucible for

all of the above-described elements to catalyze the formation of a social movement. The

first parts of chapter two and chapter three outlined the specific political opportunities

that the stage for the formation of the barter clubs. Creating the backdrop for the barter

clubs was the rise of the new poor, disenchanted with the economic model that excluded

them from its benefits. The discontent deepened with the implementation of Menem's

neoliberal model and the accompanying spike in unemployment, underemployment and

increasing job precariousness. Finally, the dramatic national economic crash created a

major impetus for participation in the barter clubs.

Chapter Summary

In reviewing each of Tarrow's categories a common theme emerges: the barter

clubs began with all the elements of a social movement, but rapid participant growth,

fueled by a worsening economy and eventually a national economic crash, severely

strained the original project. This fact is particularly evident in examining the elements

of contention, common purpose and mobilizing structures. The barter clubs began by

challenging received notions of production and consumption. But as the trueques

reached national proportions, the elements of local production and solidarity were

subverted. Participation was about survival, not about challenging the dominant

discourse. Consequently the common purpose uniting the pioneering members quickly

diluted. While some participants demonstrated a change in attitude, the RGT was largely

unsuccessful in aligning the various motivation members with the values of the RGT.









One difficulty in classifying the trueques as a social movement comes into sharper

focus when we consider the following question. Could the trueque be a social movement

if they were designed simply to meet practical needs and did not involve any theories of

self-sufficiency, local development, social money or solidarity? Or do people have to

subscribe to lofty ideals for the barter clubs to qualify as a social movement? The answer

lies in a certain synergy between contention and common purpose distinct to the barter

clubs. If the common purpose is solely to derive economic benefit then the element of

contention disappears: simply trying to derive economic value alone is hardly

contentious. Alberto Melucci states: "What is at issue in a conflict is not the terms of the

exchange, or the best way to conduct it, but the actual meaning of the exchange itself'

(Melucci 1994: 125). If the meaning of the barter clubs is reduced to a simple economic

strategy then the meaning of that economic activity is no longer in conflict it is simply

part of the universal effort to survive.

Finally, the barter club's mobilizing structures also failed to hold in the face of

chaotic growth. Charlas were no longer rigorously required and participation at the

organizing level failed to rotate as originally expected. By the end of 2002 the barter

clubs had lost the elements necessary to be considered a social movement.














CHAPTER 5
CYCLES OF CONTENTION

The barter clubs were not the only forms of contention in Argentina in the 1990s

and early years of 2000. Shortly after the barter clubs began, other forms of collective

action came onto the scene, including the piqueteros, fdbricas recuperadas, asambleas

bariales, and cacerolazos. This chapter briefly examines each of these phenomena,

demonstrating how they and the trueques formed a larger cycle of contention. The

discussion will illuminate the master frame common to all of these disparate groups:

discontent with the neoliberal economic model. The chapter next highlights the decline

of the cycle and the factors specifically affecting the barter clubs. The chapter concludes

with a summary of the findings of this thesis with observations on the significance of the

barter clubs in the Argentine society.

Onset of the Cycle

The rise of various forms of contention in the 1990s and early years of 2000 fit well

into what Tarrow characterizes as the onset of a cycle of contention: a marked increase in

conflict, heterogeneity of actors, diverse forms of contention and increased political

attention (Tarrow 1998: 144-146). Furthermore, as Tarrow also points out, despite

variance in the forms of contentious activity and heterogeneity of actors, these

phenomena share a master frame around which protest occurred.

Piqueteros (1996 present). The piquetero movement started in two separate

locations, in 1996 with riots in Cutral-Co and Plaz Huincul in Neuquen and in 1997 with

the roadblocks of General Mosconi and Tartagal in Salta (Svampa 2003: 14). In these









two instances the riots and roadblocks were in response to joblessness created by the

privatization of YPF and subsequent closing of YPF plants, the main source of

employment in those towns. These uprisings set off a wave of similar roadblocks and

protests among the jobless and poverty-stricken throughout the country. Piqueteros have

variously demand jobs, social plans and cash subsidies (Svampa 2003: 41). The

government response has been both conciliatory and violent. It has responded by

granting plans such as Planes Jefes y Jefas de Hogar to thepiqueteros, but has also

responded with police force (Once 2006). In some cases the government has also

cooptedpiquetero leaders by appointing them to public position (De Piquetero 2006).

Thepiqueteros exhibit a variety of organizational styles and a varied demographic base

(Germano 2005, Svampa 2003). A common understanding, however, is that the failed

neoliberal model brought the country a state of disarray and joblessness (Germano 2005).

Fabricas recuperadas (2000 present). As factories began to fail in the 1990s

workers began barricading the factories to prevent owners from removing the equipment

and selling it. The workers claimed the machinery as payment for salaries in arrears.

Forming legal cooperatives, the workers took their case to court and often won. A slew

of provincial laws were passed allowing the expropriation of factory buildings and

equipment by the cooperatives, declaring the expropriation to be of public utility. An

official organization has formed, Movimiento Nacional de Fabricas Recuperadas which

became an NGO in 2003.1 Presently there are more than 100lfbricas recuperadas in

operation.


1 For more information see their website at Ihip \ "\ \ .fabricasrecuperadas.org.ar/.









Asambleas barriales (2001 2003). The asambleas began right after the

cacerolazos of December 19th and 20th, 2001 (Calello). In the beginning, anywhere

from 150-300 people would meet in a public space plazas, parks, local bars. Not only

did people of all ages, political and cultural backgrounds participate, but the topics

addressed covered a multitude of questions, from national politics to local issues. The

activities of the asambleas were diverse, from providing assistance to the unemployed,

creating collection sites for the cartoneros, and buying in bulk (compras comunitarias),

to distributing medicines, creating libraries, hosting theatres and festivals (DiMarco and

Palomino 2004: 40). The asambleas also frequently formed ties with the piqueteros and

fdbricas recuperadas. Despite this wide range of projects and goals, the common

denominator in all asamblea discussions was the failed neoliberal economic model:

"[L]o que se plantea dentro de las asambleas y cada vez con mas fuerza, es una discusi6n

sobre el modelo econ6mico de la sociedad, sobre el modelo econ6mico social; una

discusi6n sobre la economic del mercado" (DiMarco and Palomino 2004: 38). In March

2002 there were 272 in the whole country (Calello), but at present the fate of the various

asambleas is hard to gauge. Most reports of the asambleas in the press are those

particularly associated with thepiqueteros. In searching on the internet, most of the

neighborhood asamblea websites have not been active since 2003.

Cacerolazos (December 19th and 20th, 2001). In a spontaneous protest against

the unraveling economic and political situation, thousands of Argentines took to the

streets clanging pots and pans, culminating in the resignation of President de la Rua from

office. For many the protest was about the economic crisis and for others it was about

the political crisis: "A mi me llam6 la atenci6n la existencia de dos sectors en el









cacerolazo, aparte de los vandalos y provocadores: un sector que pedia la renuncia de

Cavallo y el fin del modelo economic, y otro que iba mas lejos, que queria el fin de las

prebendas political, queria la renuncia de la Corte Suprema, un Parlamento que funcione,

se avanzaba mas en el piano de la reivindicaci6n institutional" (Jose Nun quoted in El

Cacerolazo 2001).

Contentious action and social protest has always been present in Argentina. But if

we look at a timeline of these activities we can see in retrospect that a cycle of contention

had started in the mid 1990s with the barter clubs andpiqueteros and peaked during the

national political and economic crisis of late 2001 and early 2002 when the asambleas

and cacerolazos came into being. Each of these phenomenon carried out very different

agendas demanding jobs in the case of the piqueteros, creating spaces for direct

democracy in the case of the asambleas, venting a visceral frustration with the economic

and political chaos in the case of the cacerolazos, and creating an alternative economic

model in the case of the trueques. Yet these various forms of protest constituted by a

variety of actors shared a master frame: discontent with the neoliberal economic model.

Decline of the cycle

This cycle of contention does seem to be slowing. Some of the contentious

behavior died out soon after it started. The momentary ascendance of the cacerolazos

marked the peak of the cycle, a spontaneous outpouring of the masses into the street. The

asambleas also coincided with the pinnacle of the cycle, and while slightly longer lasting,

eventually lost steam. On the other hand, other forms of contention continue: many of

thefabricas recuperadas still operate and the piqueteros continue to frequently set

roadblocks and made demands on the government. The barter clubs fit in somewhere in

the middle of this cycle, outlasting the transient spark of the cacerolazos and asambleas









but struggling to maintain an existence that the piqueteros and fdbricas recuperadas have

steadily maintained.

By examining each conceptual element of a social movement collective activity,

sustained activity, common purpose/identity, mobilizing structures and political

opportunities I have illuminated reasons for why the barter clubs failed to maintain

themselves as a social movement. But there are additional factors which influenced the

course of the barter clubs. These factors relate directly to the dynamics of contentious

cycles. According to Tarrow, the decline of a cycle is brought on by exhaustion,

polarization within the movement, and government selective facilitation of claims

(Tarrow 1998: 147-150). All of these factors are at play to some degree within the barter

clubs.

The first element, exhaustion applies in an indirect way the barter clubs started

closing shop because of inflation, counterfeiting, and speculation, not because the

members grew tired of participating. However, lack of time, energy and resources

prevented the RGT from assimilating the flood of new members and adequately framing

key issues. The second element, polarization, also factored into the breakdown of the

barter clubs. The RGT generated two competing barter clubs, the Zona Oeste and RTS.

The RTS in particular ardently and publicly criticized the RGT for irresponsible

management of cr&dito printing as well as for autocratic control.

The government's role affected the trajectory of the barter clubs. Alvarez et al.

suggest that government plans cushioning the adverse effects of neoliberal policies

undercut the need for mobilization and reinforce clientelism. This process is exactly

what the RGT founders believed to be happening. The RGT founders suggest that plans









such as Plan Jefesy Jefas de Hogares attracted people away from the barter clubs and

toward easy money from the government. Foweraker explains demobilization in the

tendency of social movements to negotiate more and protest less. This dynamic may

have also been at play with the barter clubs. The umbrella organization of the RGT, the

PAR (El Programa de Autosuficiencia Regional), in fact became a non-governmental

organization. Part of the reason for forming an NGO was to gain credibility and legal

recognition. As we have seen, the RGT specifically worked to get government support of

the barter clubs and with some degree of success. But as both Tarrow and Melucci note,

the greater the degree of institutionalization the less the degree of contention.

Conclusion

In the early years, when the barter clubs were small, they met all the criteria of a

social movement. They were a collective, sustained activity. They behaved

contentiously challenging fundamental beliefs about the nature of production and

consumption and providing an alternative to the neoliberal, market-based economy. The

barter club members mobilized behind this common purpose not only in the act of

bartering, but also through regular charlas and rotation of responsibilities in the nodo.

Even so, the barter clubs were unable to maintain their trajectory as a social

movement, partly because they grew so quickly. The huge influx of participants in the

years leading up to the economic crisis of 2001 severely taxed the trueques. As people

fled to into the barter system to satisfy basic material needs, their original common

purpose changed, from challenging the dominant economic model to being simply

another way to survive hard times. This change in motivation undermined the

contentious aspect of the trueques: to barter on principle is contentious; to barter out of

need is not.









The mobilizing structure also broke down as the trueques grew, affecting the

RGT's ability to raise consciousness among its members. Because the clubs were

organized horizontally, the RGT could not monitor the practices of each nodo. Not only

did illicit practices run rampant, but the RGT was unable to sufficiently imbue each new

member with the core values of the trueque. Despite efforts to frame the issues of self-

reliance, local production and the ills of money, the RGT was unable to successfully

inculcate these ideals and transform them into everyday practices.

Creating a national system of parallel currency exacerbated the RGT's failure to

frame key issues. As the RGT grew it had to decide between divergent models: preserve a

small, local system adept at maintaining solidarity, or build a larger multi-regional or

national system that could more efficiently in allocate goods and services. Ultimately, by

choosing a national system based on a national credito, the RGT replicated the very ills

of the market economy that the RGT had rejected in the first place: inflation, greed and

speculation. By going national, the RGT lost the community focus and personal ties that

legitimize a local currency. In turn, the sense of solidarity between like-minded

neighbors largely disappeared.

Yet, the barter clubs played an important role in Argentine society. On the one

hand, the barter clubs were a survival mechanism that supplied basic goods and services

during a time when money was short and unemployment was high. The trueques,

however, made a deeper impact than just simply providing basic needs during economic

hardship. At a visible level, the barter clubs influenced government by putting new

issues on the political agenda, and gaining political support of an alternative economic

model. The barter clubs also influenced society at a more implicit level. As Feijoo









observes in her examination of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, groups can create change

without intending to do so. The Madres acted out their traditional role of protectors and

in the process unwittingly challenged the system. "In practice, the Madres became

another movement of women who, without trying to change patriarchal ideology or

abandon their femininity, produced a transformation of the traditional feminine

conscience and its political role. As a result, a practical redefinition of the content of the

private and public realms emerged" (Feijoo 1994: 113).

Similarly, the barter club participants, whether or not they consciously intended it,

created new identities for themselves. As Bombal points out, despite failure to fully

extend and transform the ideas of the pragmatic barter club participant, the trueques

changed participants' self-perception: "En estas personas no se encuentran convicciones

ideol6gicas tan claras respect del trueque como ordenador de un estilo de vida

alternative, pero sin duda la practice misma les permit resignificar su existencia y

alcanzar un nuevo posicionamiento" (Bombal 2002: 117). The quintessential example of

this transformation is the woman I interviewed who at first looked at the barter clubs

through the eyes of a snob. After she began participating, however, she realized that the

trueques provided a means to rebuild broken identities: "Lo que se estaba dando [el

trueque] era recuperar la identidad de las personas, recuperar la dignidad del trabajo y

recuperar el sentido de que lo que es el solidaridad, porque esto fue lo que yo descubri en

el trueque."

More generally, the barter clubs are significant as an indication of Argentina's

evolving state-society relations. Understanding the barter clubs as a nascent social

movement that eventually failed to consolidate as such serves to highlight this changing









relationship. To view the barter clubs as a social movement reminds observers to

recognize the underlying values and convictions present at their creation. Bringing the

trueques' normative message to the forefront brings to bear the full significance of the

barter clubs as an innovative and conscious reaction, one among many, to a changing

state.

The 1970s marked a dividing line in the history of Argentine state-society relations.

In the 1940s and 50s, Peron had set the standard for an active state, one that heavily

directed economic growth and incorporated and provided for the working class by

organizing and empowering strong unions. The military government that took power

from Peron in 1973 attempted to liberalize state hold on economic activity and limit the

power that unions had acquired. The advent of democracy in 1983 marked the return to

an active civil society. The trend toward liberalization that started in the 1970's,

however, continued forward. Carlos Menem carried out the liberalization agenda with

particular enthusiasm in the 1990s. Under Menem, several factors coalesced to create a

crisis in the new model: mass privatizations of state-owned businesses and the opening of

markets to outside competition exacerbated the process of de-industrialization that started

in the 1970s and the concomitant decline in the middle class. The result was massive

unemployment in the mid 1990s and the exposure of the "new poor" as an established

class in Argentina.

The economic crisis of 2001 symbolized for many the consequences of the state's

move away from a paternalistic, hands-on economic model to a liberal market model.

The responses to the crisis and to the underlying change varied from asambleas

barriales and piqueteros, tofabricas recuperadas and barter clubs. This wave of









contention demonstrates a broad based search for new modes of both governance and

livelihood. At one end of the spectrum there are the piqueteros who continue to make

claims on the government, but through novel forms of contention. Alternatively, the

asambleas barriales place governance directly into the hands of the citizens, while the

fabrics recuperadas invest factory ownership and operation directly into the hands of

the workers. At the far end of the spectrum are the trueques, representing an even more

radical response, enjoining their members not to look to the government for assistance

but to look to themselves for solutions.

Out of all these forms of contention the piqueteros demonstrate the greatest

longevity. While the asambleas have died out almost entirely and the barter clubs are a

mere shadow of what they once were, the piqueteros remain active and continue to grow.

An avenue for future research would be to compare the trajectory of the piqueteros with

that of the barter clubs. Do the piqueteros' goals and modes of contention resonate more

naturally in Argentine society? Were the piqueteros able to consolidate as a movement

because of better framing practices?

The future of the barter clubs, however, should not be ignored. Despite their fall

from headline news, research should stay abreast of the trueques. Will their efforts to

regroup generate a more effective barter organization? If not, what will be the path of

former participants? Will they go on to participate in other forms of contentious

behavior?















APPENDIX
PRINCIPIOS DE LA RGT

1. Nuestra realizaci6n como series humans no necesita estar condicionada por el
dinero.

2. No buscamos promover articulos o servicios, sino ayudarnos mutuamente a
alcanzar un sentido de vida superior, mediante el trabajo, la comprensi6n y el
intercambio just.

3. Sostenemos que es possible remplazar la competencia esteril, el lucro y la
especulaci6n por la reciprocidad entire las personas.

4. Creemos que nuestros actos, products y servicios pueden responder a normas
eticas y ecol6gicas antes que a los dictados del mercado, el consumismo y la
busqueda de beneficio a corto plazo.

5. Los unicos requisitos para ser miembro de la Red Global de Trueque son: asistir a
las reuniones grupales, capacitarse y ser productor y consumidor de bienes,
servicios y saberes, en el marco de las recomendaciones de los circulos de calidad y
autoayuda.

6. Sostenemos que cada miembro es el unico responsible de sus actos, products y
servicios.

7. Consideramos que pertenecer a un grupo no implica ningun vinculo de
dependencia, puesto que la participaci6n individual es libre y extendida a todos los
grupos de la Red.

8. Sostenemos que no es necesario que los grupos se organicen formalmente, de modo
stable, puesto que el character de Red implica la rotaci6n permanent de roles y
funciones.

9. Creemos que es possible combinar la autonomia de los grupos en la gesti6n de sus
asuntos interns con la vigencia de los principios fundamentals que dan
pertenencia a la Red.

10. Consideramos recomendable que los integrantes no respaldemos, patrocinemos o
apoyemos financieramente como miembros de la Red a una causa ajena a ella,
para no desviamos de los objetivos fundamentals que nos unen.






74


11. Sostenemos que el mejor ejemplo es nuestra conduct en el ambito de la Red y en
nuestra vida fuera de ella. guardamos confidencialidad sobre los asuntos privados y
prudencia en el tratamiento public de los temas de la Red que afecten a su
crecimiento.

12. Creemos profundamente en una idea de progress como consecuencia del bienestar
sustentable del mayor nimero de personas del conjunto de las sociedades.















LIST OF REFERENCES


Alvarez, Sonia E., Evelina Dagnino and Arturo Esobar, editors. 1998. Introduction: The
Cultural and the Political in Latin American Social Movements, pp 1-29. In
Cultures ofPolitics, Politics of Cultures: Re-visioning Latin American Social
Movements. Boulder: Westview Press.

Arcidiacono, Pilar. 2004. Trueque y Plan Jefas y Jefes de Hogar Desocupados: Dos
Estrategias de Contenci6n Social ante la Crisis del 2002. Lavboratorio. Ano 5,
Numero 14, Otofio/Inviemo 2004.

Argentina Default Impact Limited. BBC News, Dec 23, 2001. Available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1726265.stm. Last accessed April 2006.

Banko, Catalina. 2000. El Modelo Neoliberal en Argentina y Venzuela Contrastes y
Convergencias, pp 27-38. In Costos Sociales de las Reformas Neoliberales en
America Latina. Edited by Anita Kon, Catalina Banko, Dorothea Melcher and
Maria Cristina Cacciamali. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela.

Barbetta, Pablo, and Karina Bidaseca. Piquete y Cacerola, la Lucha es una Sola:
iEmergencia Discursiva o Nueva Subjetividad? Article from the Instituto
Argentino para el Desarrollo Economico. Available at
http://www.iade.org.ar/index.html. Last accessed April 2006.

Beliz, Gustavo. 1995. El Etado del Posbienestar. In Politica Social: La Cuenta
Pendiente. Edited by Gustavo Belize. Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana.

Bluestein, Paul. 2005. And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out). New York: Public
Affairs.

Bombal, Ines Gonzales. 2002. Sociabilidad en Clases Medias en Descenso: Experiencias
en el Trueque, pp 97-130. In Sociedady Sociabilidad en la Argentina de los 90.
Buenos Aires: Editorial Biblos.

Bonetto, Maria Susana, and Maria Teresa Pifiero. 2000. El Discurso Sobre el Trabajo en
Argentina. Pp 50-66. In Costos Sociales de las Reformas Neoliberales en
America Latina. Edited by Anita Kon, Catalina Banko, Dorothea Melcher and
Maria Cristina Cacciamali. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela.









Buechler, Stephen M. 2000. Social Movements in Advanced Capitalism: The Political
Economy and Cultural Construction of Social Activism. New York: Oxford
University Press.

Byrnes, Brian. 2005. Argentina Plays Chicken with Foreign Investors. The Christian
Science Monitor, Feb 9, 2005. Accessed at
http://www.csmonitor.com/index.html. Last accessed April 2006.

Calello, Tomas. Asambleas Barriales: Un Balance Provisorio. Portafolio de
Experiencias, Numero 6, URBARED. Available at
http://www.urbared.ungs.edu.ar/experienciasinvitacion.php?expID=34. Last
accessed April 2006.

Comenzarpor casa. Autosuficiencia website.
autosuficiencia.com.ar/shop/otraspaginas.asp?pagina=quienessomos.htm.

Convenio Marco De Colaboracion Institucional between Secretaria de la Pequefia y
Mediana Empresa del Ministerio (SEPyME) de Economia and la Asociaci6n
Amigos Del Programa De Autosuficiencia Regional (AAPAR). Signed
December 2000.
www.geocities.com/RainForest/Canopy/5413/convenio.htm.

Cortesi, Javier. 2003. Red de Trueque Solidario, pp 181-196. In Trueque y Economia
Solidaria. Buenos Aires: Prometeo Libros.

Crivello, Analia. 2002. El Nuevo club de Trueque Abrio sus Puertas en Recoleta. La
Naci6n, May 19, 2002. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April
2006.

De Piquetero a Subsecretario. La Naci6n, Feb 26, 2006. Available at
www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.

Di Marco, Graciela, and Hector Palomino (compiladores). 2004. Reflexiones Sobre los
Movimientos Sociales en la Argentina. Buenos Aires: Jorge Baudino Ediciones.

El Cacerolazo, la Neva Forma de Fiscalizar. La Naci6n, Dec 23, 2001. Available at
www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.

El Trueque. RGT magazine. Ano 3, Number XXVII, June 2001.

El Trueque Crece a la Par de la Crisis. La Naci6n, Feb 6 2002. Available at
www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.

El Trueque Salv6 a una Fabrica en Mendoza. La Naci6n, Feb 27 2002. Available at
www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.









Falcoff, M. 2003. Argentina: Kirchner's Honeymoon. Latin American Outlook, October.
American Enterprise Institute. Also available at www.aei.org.

Feijoo, Maria del Carmen, with Marcela Maria Alejandro Nari. 1994. Women and
Democracy in Argentina. In The Women's Movement in Latin America, 2nd
edition. Edited by Jane S. Jaquette. Oxford: Westview Press.

Ferree, Myra Max. 1992. The Political Context of Rationality: Rational Choice theory
and Resource Mobilization in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, pp 29-52.
Edited by Morris and Mueller. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Foweraker, Joe. 2005. Towards a Political Sociology of Social Mobilization in Latin
America, pp 115-135. In Rethinking Development in Latin America. Edited by
Charles. H. Wood and Bryan Roberts. Pennsylvania: Penn State Press.

Fue la Peor Crisis Social Desde 1919. LaNaci6n, December 23, 2003. Available at
www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.

Germano, Carlos (coordinator). 2005. Piqueteros: Nueva Realidad Social. Buenos
Aires: ACEP.

Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame Analysis. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Hintze, Susana, editor. 2003. Trueque y Economia Solidaria. Buenos Aires: Prometeo
Libros.

IMF (Interational Monetary Fund). 2003. Lessons from the Crisis in Argentina. Policy
Development and Review Department.

Laporte, Luis Nicolas. 2003. La Red de Trueque Solidaria: Una Introduccion, pp 163-
180. In Trueque y Economia Solidaria. Buenos Aires: Promoteo Libros.

Larafia, Enrique, Hank Johnston and Joseph R. Gusfield, editors. 1994. New Social
Movements: From Ideology to Identity. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Lecaro, Patricia, and Barbara Altschuler. Politicas Sociales y Desarrollo Local. Dos
Experiencias Diversas: Club del Trueque y Union de Trabaj adores Desocupados
(UTD) de Mosconi. Paper presented at Congreso de Politicas Sociales:
"Estrategias de Articulaci6n de Politicas, Programas y Proyectos Sociales en
Argentina", Universidad de Quilmes, Mayo 2002.

Las Tradiciones. Autosuficiencia website.
http://tabloide.eurofull.com/shop/otraspaginas.asp?pagina=42. Last accessed
April 2006.









Leoni, Fabiana, and Mariana Luzzi. 2003. Rasgunando la Lona: La Experiencia de un
Club de Trueque en el Conurbano Bonaerense. Report produced under the
Project Self- Sustainable Development in Comparative Perspective (coordinated
by the Center for Latin American Social Policy, CLASPO), University of Texas.
Available at
http://www.utexas.edu/cola/llilas/centers/claspo/networkfinalreportsargentina.htm
Last accessed November 2004.

Los Doce Principios. Autosuficiencia website.
http://tabloide.eurofull.com/shop/otraspaginas.asp?pagina=39. Last accessed
April 2006.

Megaferia: Tiempo de Trueque. City of Buenos Aires government brochure. N.d.

Melucci, Alberto. 1994. A Strange Kind of Newness: What's 'New' in New Social
Movements? In New Social Movements, pp 101-130. Edited by Larafia, Johnston
and Gusfield. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Minujin, Alberto, and Gabriel Kessler. 1995. La Nueva Pobreza en la Argentina.
Buenos Aires: Editorial Planeta Argentina.

NotiTrueque. Se Corto el Chorro? RGT pamphlet. May 1, 2002.

Once Heridos en una Protesta de Piqueteros. La Naci6n, March 1, 2006. Available at
www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.

Ovalles, Eduardo. 2002. Data in chart pages 71-77. In Trueque y Economia Solidaria.
Edited by Susana Hintze. Buenos Aires: Promoteo Libros, 2003.

Palermo, V., and J. Collins. 1998. Moderate Populism: A Political Approach to
Argentina's 1991 Convertibility Plan. Latin American Perspectives, 25(4): 36-62.

Powell, Jeff. 2002. Petty Capitalism, Perfecting Capitalism or Post-Capitalism? Lessons
from the Argentinian Barter Network. Working Paper No. 357, Sub-series on
Money, Finance and Development, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague.
Available at http://adlib.iss.nl/adlib/beginner/index_gb.html. Last accessed April
2006.

Premat, Silvina. Trueque: Barajar y Dar de Nuevo. La Naci6n, July 16 2003. Available
at www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.

Primavera, Heloisa. 1999. La Moneda Social De La Red Global De Trueque. ,Barajar
y Dar de Nuevo en el Juego Social?"
http://www.heloisaprimavera.com.ar/noticias/display.php3?ID=5. Last accessed
April 2006.










Primavera, Heloisa, Horacio Covas and Carlos De Sanzo. 1998. Reinventando el
Mercado: La Experiencia de la Red Global de Trueque en Argentina. Buenos
Aires: PAR. Also available at
http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:JWnxPn2er7YJ:www3.plala.or.jp/mig/h
owto-
es.doc+%22reinventando+el+mercado%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=3&client
=firefox-a. Last accessed April 2006.

Primavera, Heloisa. 2003. Riqueza, Dinero y Poder: El Efimero "Milagro Argentino,"
pp 121-144. In Truequey Economia Solidaria. Buenos Aires: Prometeo Libros.

Rocha, Laura. Renace el Fenomeno del Trueque. La Naci6n, Dec 16, 2002.
Available at www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.

Sainz, Alfredo. La Hiper le Gan6 la Pulseada al Trueque. LaNaci6n, Aug, 17, 2003.
Also available at www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.

Sampayo, Fernando. 2003. Club de Trueque Zona Oeste, pp197-206. In Truequey
Economia Solidaria. Buenos Aires: Prometeo Libros.

Skidmore, Thomas E. and Peter H. Smith. 2001. Modern Latin America, 5th edition.
New York: Oxford University Press.

Snow, David A., and Robert D. Benford. 1992. Master Frames and Cycles of Protest. In
Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, pp 456-472. Edited by Aldon D. Morris
and Carol McClurg. Yale: Yale University Press.

Snow, David A., E. Burke Rochford Jr., Steven K. Worden and Robert D. Benford. 1986.
Frame Alignment Processes, Micromobilization, and Movement Participation.
American Sociological Review 51: 464-481.

Svampa, Maristella, and Sebastian Pereyra. 2003. Entre laRutay el Barrio. Buenos
Aires: Editorial Biblos.

Tarrow, Sidney. 1998. Power in Movements: Social Movements and Contentious Politics.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tokman, Victor E. 1996. La Especificidad y Generalidad del Problema del Empleo en el
Contexto de America Latina, pp 47-82. In Sin Trabajo: Las Caracteristicas del
Desempleo y sus Efectos en la Sociedad Argentina. Edited by Luis Beccaria and
Nestor Lopez. Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada.

Torresi, Leonardo. El Club del Treuque que le Cambi6 la Cara a un Barrio. Clarin,
March 3, 2002. Available at www.clarin.com. Last accessed April 2006.






80


Trueque Frente al Congreso. La Naci6n, May 24, 2002. Available at
www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.

Un Club del Trueque se Instal6 en Plena City Portefia. La Naci6n, May 6, 2002.
Available at www.lanacion.com.ar. Last accessed April 2006.















BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Wendy Pond received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University

of Florida in May of 2000. She returned to UF in 2003 to do a Master of Arts in Latin

American Studies with a specialization in political science. While school was in session

Wendy worked as a graduate assistant at the Center for Latin American Studies, assisting

on various projects including the Center's annual conferences. During her first summer,

Wendy participated in the Coca-Cola World Citizenship Program, working as an intern

for Save the Children in Nicaragua. The following summer she had the opportunity to

intern at the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States through the U.S. State

Department Summer Intern Program. She graduates in May 2006 with her MA in Latin

American Studies.




Full Text

PAGE 1

BARTER CLUB PARTICIPANTS IN ARGENTINA: IDEALOGUES OR PRAGMATISTS? By WENDY POND A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

PAGE 2

Copyright 2006 by Wendy Pond

PAGE 3

iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I sincerely thank all of the Argentines that I interviewed while doing field research. I deeply appreciate the time these individuals took out of their busy schedules to share their experiences with me. They oftentimes invited me into their homes, spent two or more hours with me, and were infinitely patient with my stumbling Spanish. I also thank the several graduate students who had been down this road previously and offered their valuable experience and insight. This project would have been immeasurably harder without you. I tha nk Martn Maldonado for reviewing my interview questionnaire and offering valuable suggestions on how to conduct interviews in Argentina. I thank Karina Vsquez for he lping me to write letters of introduction to perspective interviewees. Her understanding of etiquette and protocol added a missing degree of professionalism in my correspondenc e. I thank Bryan Williams for taking time to simply talk with me about my project, helping me to brainstorm and to better understand my project goals.

PAGE 4

iv TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iii ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... vi CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 Literature Review.........................................................................................................3 Classical Collective Behavior Theory...................................................................3 Resource Mobilization Theory..............................................................................3 Social Constructionism..........................................................................................4 New Social Movements.........................................................................................6 Towards a Synthesis..............................................................................................8 Cycles of Contention, Master Fram es and Latin American Social Movements......................................................................................................11 Organization...............................................................................................................12 2 BIRTH OF THE BARTER CLUBS...........................................................................14 20th Century Political and Economic Context............................................................14 Argentina’s Recurring Economic Cycle..............................................................14 Menem and the Early 90s....................................................................................15 Structural Changes and the “New Poor”.............................................................18 Birth of the Trueques ..................................................................................................21 Trueque Values....................................................................................................23 Structure and Organization of the RGT...............................................................25 Participants Demographics..................................................................................26 Nodo Dynamics...................................................................................................28 Intersection with Government.............................................................................29 Problems within the Trueques ....................................................................................31 Chapter Summary.......................................................................................................35 3 AFFECT OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC CRISIS ON THE BARTER CLUBS........36 The Economic Crisis of 2001/2002............................................................................36 Effect of Economic Crisis on the Barter Clubs..........................................................40 Trueque Response.......................................................................................................45 Chapter Summary.......................................................................................................47

PAGE 5

v 4 TRUEQUES AS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT?............................................................48 Collective Activity......................................................................................................48 Contention...................................................................................................................49 Common Purpose/Common Identity..........................................................................54 Mobilizing Structures.................................................................................................59 Sustained Activity.......................................................................................................60 Political Opportunities................................................................................................61 Chapter Summary.......................................................................................................61 5 CYCLES OF CONTENTION....................................................................................63 Onset of the Cycle......................................................................................................63 Decline of the cycle....................................................................................................66 Conclusion..................................................................................................................68 APPENDIX PRINCIPIOS DE LA RGT.........................................................................73 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................75 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................81

PAGE 6

vi Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts BARTER CLUB PARTICIPANTS IN ARGENTINA: IDEALOGUES OR PRAGMATISTS? By Wendy Pond May 2006 Chair: Philip Williams Major Department: Latin American Studies This thesis examines the phenomenon of barter clubs in Argentina during the 1990s and early years of 2000 through the lens of so cial movement literature. Originating in 1995, the barter clubs, or trueques evolved into a nation-wide system of clubs called the Red Global de Trueque (RGT) with more than a million participants. Although the barter clubs were used by most participants as a way to deal with the worsening national economy, particularly during the national cris is of late 2001 and early 2002, they were not originally designed as a survival mechanis m. The barter clubs were envisioned as an alternative to the dictates of the market – an antidote to consumerism, competition and greed. The founder’s strong ideological commitm ent and their effort to create a similar consciousness among barter club members suggest that the trueques be considered as a social movement. By examining the barter cl ubs in light of Sidney Tarrow’s definition of social movements I conclude that the RGT starte d out with all of the elements of a social movement but failed to consolidate as such. The barter clubs failed to maintain their

PAGE 7

vii trajectory as a social movement in part becau se of the entrance of the structurally poor into a phenomenon originally designed and us ed by the “new poor.” This sudden influx of participants motivated by need significan tly changed the orientation of the barter clubs. Although the barter clubs di d not consolidate as a social movement they are significant for several reasons. On the one hand, the barter clubs were a survival mechanism that supplied basic goods and serv ices during a time wh en money was short and unemployment was high. The trueques, however, made a deeper impact than just simply providing basic needs during economic ha rdship. At a visible level, the barter clubs influenced government by putting new issues on the political agenda, and gaining political support of an altern ative economic model. The ba rter clubs also influenced society at a more implicit level. Barter club participants, whether or not they consciously intended it, created new identities for themselves The barter clubs ar e also significant as a response to Argentina’s evolving state-soci ety relations. The economic crisis of 2001 symbolized for many the consequences of th e state’s move away from a paternalistic, hands-on economic model to a liberal market mo del. The responses to the crisis and to the underlying change varied – from asambleas barriales and piqueteros to fabricas recuperadas and barter clubs. This wave of c ontention demonstrates a broad based search for new modes of both governance and livelihood.

PAGE 8

1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION In December of 2001 the economic crisis that had been slowly building in Argentina for four years finally explode d. The government instituted a limit on the amount individuals could withdraw fr om their bank accounts, precipitating demonstrations known as cacerolazos, where people took to the streets banging pots and pans in protest. President de la Ra declared a state of siege and th en was forced out of office after riots ended in the death of 27 citizens (Fue 2003). Four more presidents came and went in the space of two weeks. Mean while the government defaulted on more than $100 billion of debt, one of the largest defau lts in history (Argen tina 2001). The angry cacerolazos however, were not the only public mani festations of the crisis. Throughout Buenos Aires and the country at large, hundreds of thousands of people were getting together regularly to bart er goods and services. Although the barter clubs were touted by the Argentine media as a way to deal with the economic meltdown (Leoni and Luzzi 2003), th ey had in fact begun six years earlier, well before the dramatic crash, with a group of 20 people trading in a garage. The barter clubs, or trueques would eventually evolve into a nation-wide syst em of clubs called the Red Global de Trueque (RGT) with more than a million participants. While the barter clubs provided relief dur ing the economic turmoil, they were clearly not an overnight phenom enon. Rather, the trueque founders created the barter clubs as a way to combat a growing exclusi on from the benefits of the marketplace, exclusion engendered by a combination of gl obalization and neoliberal policies. The

PAGE 9

2 barter clubs were envisioned as an alternative to the dictates of the market – an antidote to consumerism, competition and greed.1 The RGT not only provided a venue in which to exercise this alternativ e mode of consumption and pr oduction, but the RGT founders also promoted these normative convict ions among the club participants. The founder’s strong ideological commitment and their effort to create a similar consciousness among barter club members suggest that the trueques be considered as a social movement. Yet despite these obvious signs of social movement activity, no previous research has examined the barter clubs in this framework. The most obvious reason for not making this connection is that by 2002, most people in the barter system were using it as survival stra tegy, with little regard for any d eep-seated normative beliefs. Previous research on the bart er clubs recognizes the ideological claims made by the founders (Leoni and Luzzi 2003, Bombal 2002, Powell 2002). It also recognizes a divergence between the convicti ons of the founders and the ra nk-and-file participants. This lack of affinity has been explained as a function of the structurally poor entering into a phenomenon designed and used by the “new poor .” This sudden infl ux of participants motivated by need rather than theory surely changed the orientation of the barter clubs. The unasked question, however, is why the founders were not able to build and maintain a base of members “loyal” to the cause. Two questions guide this thesis. Firs t, keeping in mind the barter club’s philosophical foundations, but also recogni zing the divergence between the founder’s intentions and the reality of participant motivation, can the barter clubs, in fact, be considered a social movement? To answer this question, I will examine the barter clubs 1 See Los doce principios in the appendix.

PAGE 10

3 in light of Sidney Tarrow’s definition of so cial movements (1998). I conclude that the RGT started out with all of the elements of a social movement but failed to consolidate as such. Second, why did the everyday particip ant fail to assume the convictions of the original project? To answer this question I will use Tarrow’s definition as a point of departure. I will draw on my research conducted in Argentina to examine the formulation and dissemination of barter club values and it s organizational methods. Literature Review Classical Collective Behavior Theory The concept of social movement is rela tively new, emerging out of classical collective behavior theory. Collective behavior theory applied a “single explanatory logic” for all collective behavi or, including crazes, panics a nd demonstrations. The civil rights movement in the 1950s and the subsequent movements of the 60s and 70s catalyzed a new school of thought (Buechler 2000). These were structured movements demonstrating overtly political and cultural agendas. Consequently, the concept of social movement emerged as a distinct domain of collective action. One of the earliest theoretical frameworks to gain wide currenc y in this developing r ealm of literature was resource mobilization theory. It was subse quently challenged by so cial constructionism and new social movement theory (Buechler 2000). Resource Mobilization Theory Resource Mobilization theorists concern themselves with explaining why people agree to join in a social m ovement, specifically in light of the “free-rider” dilemma: a rational individual would not jo in a social movement if ot her people were willing to do the work to secure goods that will then be publicly share d. To solve this dilemma, movements offer selective incentives to enc ourage and reward part icipation. Incentives

PAGE 11

4 such as outside funding, professionalization a nd increased material resources (McCarthy and Zald in Tarrow 1998). Resource mobilization theory has been cri ticized for not paying adequate attention to the role of ideas in mo tivating participati on. Myra Marx Ferree points out that resource mobilization theory does not allow that people may act hedonistically, may act for short-term benefits, or may be morally dr iven to behaviors that conflict with selfinterest. As such, resource mobilization theo ry proffers a kind of “one dimensional rationality”: “The tautologies that arise from treating all forms of behavior as strategically rational by definition exclude a realistic explan ation of when behavior may be more or less than an expression of self-i nterest” (Ferree 1992:32). Part of the problem in this onedimensional rationality is that preferences ar e a given, not up for de bate or modification. Such an assumption reduces participation motivation to incentives only. The result is to ignore a movement’s role in creating a nd shaping identity and preferences. Social Constructionism Social constructionism, like resource mobilization theory, also focuses on explaining why people participat e. Social constructionism, however, focuses principally on the role of ideational factors rather than material rewards. The work of Snow, Rochford, Worden and Benford (1986), offers key insight into the role of ideas in catalyzing participation. Drawing on the c oncept of framing orig inally introduced by Goffman (1974), these authors define framing as an interactional process that links an individual’s grievances to the work of the social movement (Snow et al. 1986: 467). “By rendering events or occurrences meaningful, frames function to organize experience and guide action, whether individual or collective” (Snow et al. 1986: 464).

PAGE 12

5 Framing is a necessary activity because people often do not start by buying wholesale into a social movement. “Seldom do individuals join a movement organization per se, at least initially. Rather it is far more common for individuals to agree to participate in some activity or campaign by devoting some measure of time, energy, or money” (Snow et al. 1986: 467). Framing can be a slow process and it can slip out of place over time – since it is always subject to “reassessment and re negotiation” (Snow et al. 1986: 476) – but it is eventually a n ecessary condition for m ovement participation (Snow et al. 1986: 464). According to Snow, Rochford, Worden and Benford, there are four possible levels of framing: bridging, amplification, extensi on and transformation. In the process of frame bridging, individuals already have a pa rticular grievance and the movement taps into it, providing an “organiz ational base for expressing th eir discontents” (Snow et al. 1986: 467). Most resource mobilization theory has assumed that movements simply need to do frame bridging because grievances are al ready “sufficiently generalized and salient” (468). Frame amplification appeals to valu es and beliefs that people already hold, but tries to move those values and beliefs higher up in the hierarchy. During frame amplification, values and beliefs previously “shrouded by indifference, deception or fabrication by others, and by ambiguity or uncertainty” (469) are clarified and reinvigorated. Frame extensi on appeals to values that are ancillary to potential participants. A common frame ex tension strategy is to incorp orate values auxiliary to the principal values of the movement and try to re cruit people by appeal ing to these auxiliary values. Frame transformation is the most ra dical of the frame processes. It requires a

PAGE 13

6 redefinition of an individual’s values, in which “new values may have to be planted and nurtured, old meanings or unders tandings jettisoned” (473). These framing processes are all done at th e individual, micro level. Snow and Benford (1992) also apply the framing con cept to a macro understanding of social movements, which accounts for periods of increased mobilization across different organizations. Master frames refer to “general ideological trends at the macrolevel of social order” (Buechler 2000: 42). Linked to cycles of pr otest, master frames allow several and varied groups to adopt similar la nguage and symbols. Pathfinders who create the beginning of a cycle face the most diffi culties and create an easier time for the movements that follow, but the seminal moveme nts in a cycle also set the stage and terms of debate (Buechler 2000: 42). New Social Movements The literature on new social movement s shares common ground with social constructionism; both schools of thought focus on the role of ideas in movements. The unique contribution of new social movement literature, however, is the expansion of our understanding of what constitutes a social move ment. This literature points to changes in movement activity and structure and suggests the need for new understandings (Laraa, Johnston et al. 1994). Alberto Melucci observes: “The produc tion and reappropriation of meaning seem to lie at the core of contem porary conflicts; this unde rstanding requires a careful redefinition of what a social movement is and what forms of action display its presence” (1994: 110). There are several ways in which new social movements amplify previous conceptions of social movements. New soci al movements center on the role of identitycreation rather than material or economic n eeds (Laraa 1994). As Melucci (1994) points

PAGE 14

7 out, old movements were about the excluded tryi ng to get into the system of benefits or about the redistribution of goods. New soci al movements, on the other hand, challenge the dominant discourse. They are no longer aski ng to be included in the system, they are clamoring to redefine the system. New soci al movements also tend to be acted out by individuals and are ofte n life-style based, extending to th e activities of daily life, for instance in the choice of food, dress or past ime. Furthermore, new social movements employ novel, often symbolic, modes of resistance and frequently operate in decentralized organizational forms (Laraa 1994: 6-8). Because new social movements do not chal lenge the allocation of values or goods but rather challenge what t hose values or goods should be, their importance is not so much in their material or policy gains, but in their ability to change thinking. It is the activity of the movement that is important, not so much the specific results they achieve. “Conflicts [of new social movements] do not chiefly express themselves through action designed to achieve outcomes in the political system. Rather they raise a challenge that recasts the language and cultural codes that organize information” (Melucci 1994: 102). This effort is an ongoing renegotiation and reestablishment of identity and meaning. Because of their unique role of expression and identity-creation, new social movements do not relate to the political sy stem in a traditional way. Instead the challenges they raise are often acted out in da ily life in non-institutional ways that raise questions about individual id entity. The way new social movements do affect political institutions is in their ability to influence th e rise of new elites, to put new issues on the agenda and to create new la nguages (Melucci 1994:102).

PAGE 15

8 One of the biggest criticisms of new social movement theory is that the putatively “new” movements in fact share quite a bit in common with the “old” movements. But whether or not “new” social movements are in fact new, the theory contributes in an important way to the dialogue: it moves away from a narrow political conception of social movement by recognizing non-traditional actors and unique methods of contention. Towards a Synthesis In the literature review so far it is clea r that there are various ways to understand social movements. Each school of thought fo cuses on contrasting variables and different levels of analysis. To properly understand so cial movements we need a synthesis of the three perspectives.2 Sidney Tarrow’s definition of social movements in his book, Power in Movement provides a starting point. As we will see, certain aspects of his definition consciously draw from the resource mobiliza tion theorists and the constructivists. And although Tarrow does not explicitly address th e new social movement perspective, its influence is apparent. For Tarrow, the defining aspect of a soci al movement is “contentious collective action”. The key ideas subsumed under this concept include collective activity, contention, a common purpose and/or identity, mobilizing structures, and the ability to sustain activity. All of these f actors are necessarily present, but they are not sufficient to form a movement. The last requirement is the appropriate political opportunities. Each component deserves a bit of explanation. 2 Buechler argues that a “true” synthesis is unlikely b ecause the differing theories subscribe to “different metatheoretical orientations” (Buechler 200: 55). Yet he recognizes the coherency of the “emerging synthesis in social movement theory around the concepts of political opportunities, mobilizing structures, and framing process (54),” which we w ill see evident in Sidney Tarrow’s work.

PAGE 16

9 Collective activity Social movements by definition are phenomena of collective activity. Isolated, unrelate d individuals acting in disc rete ways, even if acting contentiously, cannot be consid ered a social movement. Contention According to Tarrow, “[c]ollective action becomes contentious when it is used by people who lack regular access to institutions, who act in the name of new or unaccepted claims, and who behave in ways that fundamentally challenge others or authorities” (3). Contention can be over disc rete policies or abstract values; it can be materially motivated or ideologically genera ted, or both (5). Cont ention can be in the form of lobbying or legal channels, but the e ssential kernel of a social movement is the acting out in non-tradit ional ways. This kind of activity separates movements from groups like political part ies or lobbyists. Common purpose/Common identity “It is participants ’ recognition of their common interests that translates the potential for a movement into action” (Tarrow 1998: 6). In turn, part of the social movement’s ta sk is to help people identify grievances and generate solidarity. “[R]ather than rega rding ideology as either a superimposed intellectual category or as the automatic result of grievances…scholars agree that movements do passionate ‘framing work’: shap ing grievances into broader and more resonant claims” (21). Social movements can have heterogeneous make up (and often do), but there is some common identity that binds the members together. This is what leaders have to tap into a nd bring to the forefront. Mobilizing structures This refers to how social movements organize. Tarrow argues that the “connective structur es” that link participants with organizers need to strike a balance between being suffici ently loose to allow flexibility and autonomy at the

PAGE 17

10 bottom, but sufficiently centralized to implem ent effective collective strategies. These kinds of structures are often in the form of social networks During latent periods in a movement these networks provide “abeyance structures” which can be mobilized when needed (Tarrow 1998: 129). Sustained activity The temporal aspect of social movements also distinguishes them from one-time, discreet protests. In or der to be a social m ovement, collective action has to be able to maintain a challenge over time. Political opportunities Tarrow notes that discontent a nd structural societal strain are always present. It is onl y when the political system opens in a particular manner that provides the crucible for all of the above-des cribed dynamics to catalyze the formation of a social movement. Tarrow’s definition is useful for three reasons. One, it provides a concrete, basic definition of what constitutes a social moveme nt. It is the concep tual tool by which we will evaluate whether the barter clubs in fact were a social movement. Two, it incorporates elements of th e varying schools of social m ovement thought. The influence of new social movement literat ure is apparent in the disc ussion of contention – which includes symbolic and ideological challenges – as well as his discussion of mobilizing structures – which includes decentralized organization. Constructivist concepts are explicit in his discussions on framing and co llective identity. His definition also consciously draws from the “rationalists” or resource mobilization theorists, by discussing the opportunities and cons traints that lead to action or inaction in a movement. (Tarrow 1998: 198-199). Three, Tarrow’s de finition provides a platform on which to discuss why the barter clubs failed to continue as a social movement.

PAGE 18

11 Cycles of Contention, Master Frames and Latin American Social Movements If we telescope out from the barter clubs we can see that they were not the only form of collective action and pr otest in Argentina in the 1990 s and during the apex of the economic crisis. Other contentious phenomena included the piqueteros fbricas recuperadas asambleas bariales and cacerolazos One way we understand the trueques in light of these other forms of activit y is through Tarrow’s ideas on “cycles of contention” (1998). Tarrow poi nts out that social move ments and other forms of contentious behavior do not ha ppen in isolation from each other; successes and failures of one set of actors provide cues to other actors. Furthermore, despite variance in the forms of contentious activity and he terogeneity of actors, there is often a master frame around which all protest occurs. The cycle begins wh en there is a marked increase in activity carried out by a multiplicity of actors acting out in a variety of ways. Decline in a cycle is brought about by exhaustion on part of the actors and polarization within the movement. Decline is also prompted by th e government, which sele ctively facilitates some claims and ignores or represses others. Looking to the literature specifically on La tin American social movements brings specificity to Tarrow’s perspective. Schol ars recognize that Latin American social movements have been influenced in turn by the forces of urbanization, authoritarian governments, and now the new democratic context, one defined predominantly by neoliberal economic policies (Foweraker, 2005; Alvarez, Dagnino and Escobar, 1998). These various forces set the axes around wh ich cycles of contention have waxed and waned in the region. Likewise, collective action in Argentina in the last twenty years has centered first around the military dictatorship and the transition to democracy and now,

PAGE 19

12 most recently, around the consolidation of democracy and the accompanying neoliberal model (DiMarco and Palomino 2004: 8). Applying the analyses of Foweraker ( 2005) and Alvarez, Dagnino and Escobar (1998) within the framework of an overall cycle of contentio n helps to explain demobilization. Alvarez, Dagnino and Escoba r point to government plans attempting to cushion the fall-out of neoliber al adjustments, suggesting th at these “social adjustment” plans reach out to the excluded. However, th ey admit adverse effects as well: not only do these plans recreate clientelistic models but they also dismantle the need for mobilization. Foweraker (2005) also r ecognizes a move towards demobilization. However, for Foweraker, the switch to neoliberal economic policies means that the state is less likely to hand out material benefits that movements ask for. Thus social movements adapt by negotiating more, mobilizing less and increasing their interaction with state agencies. “[T]here is a signifi cant change in emphasis in social movement activity that is epitomized in the change from social movement to non-governmental organization ” (126). Organization The initial question guiding this thesis is whether the barter clubs can be considered a social movement. Chapter two and chapter three provide the backgr ound to answer this question, describing the chronology of the trueques. In the process I illuminate the political opportunities giving wa y to the barter clubs. In these two chapters I draw on interviews I conducted in Oc tober and November of 20043 as well as the findings of other 3 I conducted 22 formal open-ended interviews and 23 informal interviews. Using the Red Global de Trueque website, which had a list of barter club locations and contact names, more than 100 emails were sent. A handful of people responded and agreed to be interviewed. Futher interviews were conducted based on referrals from the original group of intervie wees. Also, more informal interviews were conducted

PAGE 20

13 barter club research. More specifically, chapter two details th e economic climate of Argentina during Menem’s presidency in the 1 990s. This chapter goes on to recount the birth of the barter clubs and their rapid gr owth up until the year before the economic debacle, documenting the problems which bega n to plague the barter system. Chapter three details the national economic collapse in late 2001 and discusses its effects on the barter clubs. Chapter four is the analytical hear t of this work, taking Tarrow’s definition of social movements and demonstrating in wh at ways the barter cl ubs fit and in what ways they do not. I conclude that the RGT star ted out with all of the elements of a social movement but failed to consolidate as such. In the course of this chapter, I also answer the second question guiding this thesis: why the RGT failed to maintain its original trajectory as a social movement. Chapter five places the barter clubs within a larger cycle of protest occurring in Arge ntina in the 1990s and early years of 2000. By putting the barter clubs in the context of a larger cy cle of protest – understanding the mobilization phase, the use of a master frame and the de mobilization phase – we can understand the barter clubs as one reaction among many to the changing state-society relations in Argentina. at several currently operating barter clubs. The fou nders of the three main barter club systems in the country were also interviewed.

PAGE 21

14 CHAPTER 2 BIRTH OF THE BARTER CLUBS This chapter begins by placing the trueques into Argentina’s 20th century political and economic context, discussing Menem’s neo liberal policies of the 1990s as well as the rise of the “new poor”. The next section deta ils the barter clubs from their inception in 1995 through to 2001– focusing on trueque values, club organization and participant dynamics. The third section highlights some of the challenges faced by the trueques in during this period. 20th Century Political and Economic Context Argentina’s Recurring Economic Cycle “Argentina is a nostalgic country and why not? Its past is well worth remembering. In 1914, it was one of the five or six wealth iest countries in the world, and its living standard exceeded that of Western Europe until the late 1950s or early 1960s” (Falcoff 2003). The first half of the 20th century proved to be good times for Argentina, leading to the creation of a strong middle class. Argen tina, blessed with the pampas – a tremendous expanse of fertile land – exploited its compar ative advantage, supplying meat and grain to the industrialized world (Skidmore 2001: 70) A significant immigr ation wave coupled with modernizing agriculture, manufacturi ng and transportation sectors transformed Argentine society, developing the middle and working classes (Banko 2000: 27). Following the Depression, which it fared comp aratively well, Argentina successfully industrialized and began producing for domes tic consumption while reestablishing its meat and grain exports (Banko 2000: 28). Juan Peron’s 1940s corporatist state spread the

PAGE 22

15 benefits to the working class, increasing wa ges, and extending it new rights. In 1950, Argentina stood out as more urban, modern a nd with a more educated work force than surrounding Latin American c ountries (Tokman 1996: 49) During the second half of the century, how ever, Argentina witnessed two trends: a slow process of deindustrializ ation and the steady decline of the once-established middleclass. During his first term Juan Per onÂ’s economic strategy of nationalizing foreignowned companies, maintaining artificially lo w agricultural prices and increasing real hourly wages held up while global commodity prices remained high. The country grew 8.6, 12.6 and 5.1 percent in the firs t three years of his presiden cy (Skidmore 2001: 86). The boom came to a halt in 1949, when world commodity prices dropped and inflation increased. In response, Peron instituted an austerity plan, one of many to come (Skidmore 2001: 87, 88). It was the beginning of what would be ArgentinaÂ’s pattern to the present day: a cycle of trade deficits, inflation and low or negative growth, followed by ultimately untenable stabilization program s, implemented in varying degrees of orthodoxy and regard for foreign creditors.1 By the time Carlos Menem assumed the presidency in 1989, the pattern had been es tablished and the middle-class had lost ground. Menem and the Early 90s Carlos Saul Menem assumed the presidency in 1989. He had inherited an economy in the inflationary and low-gr owth part of the cycle. The economy had shrunk three percent in 1988 and another six percent in 1989 (Skidmore 2001: 102). Inflation was 1 Argentina is not only known for its recurring economic cycle, but also for revolving military coups. This pattern began in 1930 with the overthrow of Hiplito Yrigoyen, followed by a series of alternating military and civilian governments. The pattern seems to have ended with the return of civilian government in 1983.

PAGE 23

16 increasing at a rate of 150% per month and th e country was almost $4 billion in arrears on its external debt (Skidmor e 2001: 103). Menem, a Peronist surprisingly instituted a neoliberal reform package. His first moved to privatize state-owned companies including telephone, airlines, el ectricity, coal, natural gas, subways and shipping (Skidmore 2001: 103). His next step was selecting a hard -nosed economics minister, Domingo Cavallo, who dramatically limited government spendi ng (Skidmore 2001: 103). Price controls were eliminated. Tariffs were reduced, and sectors such as agriculture, wholesale and retail were deregulated (Bluestein 2005: 24). Under Cavallo, the government also instituted the Ley de Convertibilidad which guaranteed the peso in a one-to-one exchange with the dollar. To fully understand the role of the convert ibility law, one must look back to the circumstances of the 80’s, the so-called “los t decade”. The 80s were characterized by high inflation and a negative grow th rate – an average decreas e of about half percent per year (IMF 2003). The “lost decade” of the 80s resulted in a severe lack of confidence in the government. In their 1998 article Palermo and Collins examine Menem’s response to this “credibility gap.” Attempting to curb the hyperinflation endemic to the 80s, Argentina adopted an orthodox monetary policy, i.e., it tightened the money supply. This policy achieved the intended effect of ha lting inflation, yet it delivered the economy into recession and decreased the amount of money in the public accounts. The temptation at that point was to print more money to try to restart the economy. This option, of course, threatened to resuscitate the specter of inflation. The government needed to grow the economy yet keep inflation under wraps. Palermo and Collins argue that the creation of the conve rtibility law (combined with the appointment of a highly

PAGE 24

17 respected technocratic economic team le d by Domingo Cavallo) allowed the Menem government to not only accomplish these two go als, but also to in crease public spending at the same time. As the two authors put it, “the Menem government seemed to have successfully converted a circle into a s quare” (Palermo and Collins 1998: 43). The success of this new policy hinged on the adoption of a mechanism the authors refer to as “self-restraint.2” By virtue of being a law, the Ley de Convertibilidad signaled that the government was abrogating its option to influence the economy through monetary policy manipulations or alterations in the exchange rate. By forgoing its prerogative to moderate monetary policy and exchange rates, the government had to be able to back up expansionary borrowing by having dollars on hand. Palermo and Collins note that if the government “should require dol lars to make payments on the foreign debt, the treasury would need to buy them like any other private institution and this purchase would have to be made with the operating surplus resulting from controlling costs and improving the state’s ability to collect taxes (or, as it also happene d, by selling some of its property)” (44). The plan worked. Guarantees of the ex change rate created a stronger sense of certainty, investment grew, inflation fell, and domestic consumption increased. The subsequent increases in tax revenues combin ed with profits from government sale of public sectors allowed the government to main tain reserve levels while simultaneously increasing public spending (Palermo and Collins 1998). The early 1990s hailed substantial growth rates, and Argentina was soon the darling of the developing world. The economy grew 10% in 1991 and 1992 a nd another 5% in 1993 and 1994. Although 2 The concept of self-restraint is originally discussed by Elster (1998) and appropriated in a more general form by Palermo and Collins.

PAGE 25

18 the Mexican peso crisis reverb erated strongly in 1995 with a negative growth of 4%, the economy recovered quickly, growing 5% in 1996 and 8% in 1997 (IMF 2003).3 The reforms, however, introduced serious deficiencies. The first problem was overvaluation of the currency. The convertibil ity law led to an overvalued peso, which in turn made exports more expensive and crea ted a national trade deficit (Skidmore 2001: 103). The burgeoning deficit did not matter so long as the economy was growing and foreign investment continued to flow in, as it did throughout most of the 90s (Bluestein 2005). A second problem, not a result of the convertibility law, but one that confounded it, was the increasing government de bt. These two issues proved to be decisive factors in the economy’s debacle in 2001, but in the mid-90s the gravity of these problems was only dimly perceived. Argentina continued to be the poster child for good development. A third problem, however, was rearing its head: rising unemployment. Even though domestic policies and international invest ment trends led to a reactivation of the economy, it negatively affected the labor ma rket. Unemployment increased from 6.5 percent in 1991 to 12.2 per cent in 1994 and 14 percent in 1997 (Skidmore 2001: 103, 105) and the government payroll in 1994 d ecreased by half (Bluestein 2005: 24). Structural Changes and the “New Poor” Although unemployment became acute in the 1990s, the trend had begun earlier. The average rate of unemployment before 1980 had hovered around 2-3%, while in the 1980s it averaged about 6%, and in the firs t five years of the 90s it averaged 11% (Tokman 1996: 48). For many scholars, the 1990s was only a continuation of a development that had started in the 1970s and 80s under the military dictatorship: the 3 In 1995 there were rumblings of discontent with Menem’s economic policies. The opposition mounted a challenge to Menem’s hegemony in the presidential elections, but failed to capture the vote.

PAGE 26

19 dismantling of the welfare state in favor of a neoliberal model (Bonetto and Piero 2000, Beliz 1995). Argentina’s post-war model centered around social rights. It was characterized by state regulati on and centralized union negotia tions. The state resolved social questions and led national developm ent (Bonetto and Piero 2000: 52). In the 1970s, however, the welfare state began to unrav el. “Lo que en tiempos de Estado de bienestar se entenda con criterios de universa lidad, generosidad fiscal y paternalismo del sector pblico, troc abruptamente a partir de los sucesivos pr ocesos de ajuste y de deuda que vivi Argentina de 1975 en adelante” (Beliz 1995: 27). The debt-ridden years of the 1980s deepen ed the neoliberal inclination as the country became beholden to conditions imposed by its creditors. Between 1977 and 1982 the external debt increased by almost 500% (Banko 2000: 31). “Argentina…haba ido perdiendo progesivamente el dinamismo econmi co que haba sido caracterstico de su economa hasta 1930…Las crisis cclicas condu jeron a la bsqueda de financiamiento externo para solventar los desequilib rios externos” (Banko 2000: 30-31). The 1990s, under Menem, paved the final neo liberal inroads, particularly with regard to the labor market. From the 1970s through the 1990s Argentina implemented labor policies to make the work force more fl exible and to reduce labor costs, allowing industry to compete internati onally (Tokman 1996: 62). Stat e leaders made efforts to decentralize collective nego tiation and minimize government involvement in labor conflicts. These policies precipitated dramatic structural changes in Argentine society. Traditional institutions began to fragment, as seen in the breakdown in the traditional role and power of unions. Furthermore, employme nt became more uncertain, the work force

PAGE 27

20 became more informal and salaries decreased (Beliz 1995: 29-30).4 The end result was a loss of social mobility and the advent of the “new poor” (Beliz 1995: 27). Who are the new poor? The new poor are co mposed of two types: previously poor people who were able to achieve a certain standard of livi ng above the poverty line, but then fell back below that line; and the middle class who had never been poor, but at some point fell into poverty (Minujin and Kessler 1995: 40). The new poor, like the middle class, typically have acce ss to higher education ( educacin media y superior ) and tend to have less children per family. The new poor, however, are similar to the structurally poor in terms of job insecurity and lack of hea lth coverage (Minujin and Kessler 1995: 10). Another distinguishing feature of the new poor involves their access to social capital (47).5 Many of the new poor have a great deal of social capital to draw on, which allows them to maintain access to certain lifestyle perks, but in turn leads to their relative invisibility. For some, the improving macroeconomic situation in Argentina of the early 1990s translated into a better life. Yet a great ma ny others joined the ranks of the new poor – by finding themselves unemployed, underemployed, without a permanent job contract, or working in the informal sector. This c ontext of increasing jo b precariousness provided the crucible for much of the social uph eaval of the 1990s, incl uding the barter clubs. 4 For more information about the declining employment situation in Argentina in the 20th century see Un trabajo para todos 1997. Buenos Aires: Consejo Empresario Argentino. See also Metamorfosis del empleo en Argentina: Diagnostico, politicas y perspectives 2002. Javier Lindenboim (compilador). Cuaderno del CEPED, No. 7. 5 Minujin and Kessler define social capital as the network of friends and family who are better off and can offer cheap services, do favors offer jobs, etc. (44).

PAGE 28

21 Birth of the Trueques What became the Argentine barter clubs have their roots in an earlier program. In 1989 Anibal Rubn Ravera, Horacio Rubn Cova s and Carlos Alberto de Sanzo created a small publishing firm and NGO in the city of Bernal6 called El Programa de Autosuficiencia Regional (PAR). The PAR critiqued the global economy for engendering inequity, unemployment, social tension, degrad ation of the environment, and destruction of community ( Comenzar por Casa ). In response, the PAR promoted self-sufficiency, based on the principals of environmentally sustainable, community-based, and “human scale” production. Their website de scribes their initial beginnings: Haca 1988 la Argentina viva una crisis nueva. Comenzaba a percibirse nuevos fenmenos econmicos…Fue all cuando se nos ocurri componer un ideario que velara por quienes se quedaban sin trabajo o eran excluidos por el sistema global. Basandonos en ideas de autogestin y tecnologas socialmente apropriadas intentamos plasmar una consigna que desper tara sentimientos de supervivencia con formulas simples pero efectivas. Naci entonces el ‘Programa de Autosuficiencia Regional’… The main purpose of the PAR was to desi gn, develop and administer projects for ecological, self-reliant existe nce (Laporte 2003: 165). For instance it promoted organic food production, permaculture, solar energy a nd recycling. It advocated for a local development model in some ways similar to the idea of import substitution: La propuesta de la Autosuficiencia Re gional es afn a un cmulo de ideas vanguardistas en el campo econmico-ecol gico, entre los que se cuentan el Bioregionalismo de Peter Berger, la Perm acultura de Bill Mollison y la teora de Jane Jacobs acerca de la innovacin y tr ansformacin de las economas nacionales a partir de la sustitucin lo cal de importaciones en las regiones urbanas. En nuestra concepcin, la Autosuficiencia Region al apunta a promover la identidad e interdependencia de las regiones urba nas y rurales, poniendo en valor, con tecnologas a escala humana sus recursos ambientales, econmicos, tcnicos, culturales e histricos, sin pe rseguir una autosuficiencia total. De este modo, estas regiones no slo se encontrarn en mejo res condiciones para sobrevivir a la 6 In the partido of Quilmes in the Buenos Aires province

PAGE 29

22 exclusin provocada por la globalizacin ec onmica y la sofisticacin tecnolgica, sino que podrn mejorar la calidad de vi da de sus habitantes, mediante el intercambio con regiones similares ms all de las propias fronteras. (Primavera, Covas and De Sanzo: Ch 5). Out of the PAR initiatives came the first barter club. Luis Laporte describes the goals of the first barter club: “Nuestra me ta era crear un mercado protegido para aquellos que no podan mantenerse a flote en medi o del marco asfixiante de los efectos econmicos de la globalizacin unilateral fr ente el retroceso de Estado, desde una perspectiva micro local” (165). The first ba rter club began with a group of 20 people in 1995 in Bernal. Participants got together every Saturday for a few hours to exchange goods and services. They called it the Club de Trueque .7 A member would come with items such as prepared food, clothes, or ar tisan products. Each time an item was “sold” the seller would mark the co rresponding “credit” on a persona l tally card. Then the seller would become a buyer. For ever y product “bought” that pe rson would deduct the corresponding amount from the running tally on the card. When a group of people wanted to duplicate the system in the city of Buenos Aires paper credits were introduced and the Red Global de Trueque (RGT) was born (Laporte 2003: 167). The credits looked similar to money and acted much in th e same way. Instead of marking credits and debits on a card, people could “ buy” or “sell” using the physical credits. For the ease of pricing, it was decided that one credit shoul d be the rough equivalent of one peso.8 Soon nodos the name of the location where a barter club met, began popping up all over the region and the country. Fostered by coverage in the national television show 7 Trocar in Spanish means to trade or exchange 8 The RGT credits have been called different names. At first referred to as “ Ticketes Trueque ,” they also became knows as “ arbolitos,” which refers to the image of a tree printed on the front. I use the term “ crdito ” throughout this paper, which is the generic term for any physical credit used within the barter system.

PAGE 30

23 “ Hora Clave ” in 1996 and by other favorable media coverage, membership began to grow (Primavera, Covas and De Sa nzo 1998). In one accounting of the trueques the number of nodo s went from 17 in 1996 to 40 in 1997, more than doubling to 83 in 1998. The years 1999 and 2000 saw an increase to 400 and 500 nodo s respectively. By 2001 the number of nodo s reached 1800 (Ovalles 2002).9 The rapid increase in participants was not only due to media coverage. It spread by word of mouth and by virtue of need. One participant who joined in 2001 remarked “Cuando el trueque sale del cono urbano, que se llama aca, de la parte de los suburbios y se empieza a meter en la capital federal fue como una explosin, cada dos o tres cuadra s haba un nodo. Fue impresionante. Ibas caminando por la calle y se encontrabas con un nodo”. Trueque Values Specifically the RGT seeks to provide alternative spaces for the unemployed. These alternative spaces serve two functions. One is the practical fulfillment of basic material needs. As one researcher summarizes: Hay un reconocimiento de las capacidades que los miembros [del trueque] poseen, pero que a la vez el Mercado y las polti cas estatales deciden excluir, dejando de esta manera al margen del Mercado fo rmal a un grupo importante de la poblacin, cuyas habilidades no estn acordes a las demandada del actual modelo econmico (Arcidiacono, Nota 4, first column, 2nd page). 9 Accounting of participant numbers has not been an exac t or scientific endeavor. The study by Ovalles is referenced in the book, Trueque y Economia Solidaria (editor Susana Hintze), but the methodology of that study is not revealed. Other estimations are cited in newspaper articles, but these generally reflect estimates provided by club founders.

PAGE 31

24 The other function is a psychological one of healing and self development.10 The core value of the RGT is self-help, or autosuficiencia. The RGT encourages self-help as a means to extricate oneself from the depe ndency on a global system that consistently fails to provide. However, this self-help can on ly be carried out in solidarity with others. The RGT enjoins members to learn to “produc ir por nosotros mismos aprendiendo de lo demas integrantes, de sus experiencias y tcn icas a travs de la ayuda mutual” (Preample to Los doce principios see appendix). Another pillar of the RGT rhetoric revol ves around the evils of money. According to the RGT, in today’s world, the accumulation of money drives the individual. Yet very few people are successful in this endeavor. The vast majorities who fail to successfully play the game of money accumulation are left with few options for survival and personal development. The result is that the indi vidual becomes dependent on a system in which they have little success. Thus the RGT refu ses to deal in pesos and instead created a separate currency, the crdito The crdito however, should not be considered as currency qua currency. It is simply a mechanis m to facilitate trade. A key dictate of the RGT is to never accumulate crditos but to keep them in circulation. The RGT also insists that members be both producers and consumers, not just consumers. Members of th e club are referred to as “ prosumidor es,” a combination of the productor (producer) and consumidor (consumer).11 To be a prosumidor serves the obvious logistical function of creating both supply and demand. But there is a 10 Preceding the creation of the RGT was a self-help group formed by PAR called Emprendedores Annimos, modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, that was aimed at “ personas que experimentaran dudas en la toma de decisiones, vulnerabilidad en lo laboral, incertidumbre ante el futuro y tuvieran la necesidad de evaluar su desempeo personal para una mejor competencia ” (Primavera, Covas and De Sanzo 1998: Ch 5). 11 The idea of the prosumidor is taken from Alvin Toffler’s work, The Third Wave (1980).

PAGE 32

25 psychological benefit to being a producer as well. The act of creating a good – combining locally available i nputs, along with one’s persona l creativity and labor – and trading it in the nodo builds self-esteem. The RGT c oncomitantly puts a strong emphasis on micro entrepreneurship – again, as a way to create supply and also build self worth. These values are described in several documents emanating from RGT headquarters in Bernal. The first four principles in Los doce principios provide perhaps the best crystallization:12 1. Nuestra realizacin como seres humanos no necesita estar condicionada por el dinero. 2. No buscamos promover artculos o servic ios, sino ayudarnos mutuamente a alcanzar un sentido de vida superior, medi ante el trabajo, la comprensin y el intercambio justo. 3. Sostenemos que es posible remplazar la competencia estril, el lucro y la especulacin por la reciprocidad entre las personas. 4. Creemos que nuestros actos, productos y servicios pueden responder a normas ticas y ecolgicas antes que a los dictados del mercado, el consumismo y la bsqueda de beneficio a corto plazo. Structure and Organization of the RGT Nodo s that used the money printed in Bernal by the PAR became loosely unified into the Red Global de Trueque (RGT)13. By 1999 the RGT had established a franquicia or franchise system. A nodo to be properly part of the RG T, had to register with the RGT and use their crditos As a new member signed up he or she would pay two pesos 12 For the full 12 principles see appendix. 13 Two other main trueque organizations evolved out of the RGT, the Zona Oeste and Red del Trueque Solidario (RTS), both with their own specific currency. In addition, there exist independent barter clubs that print their own local currency accepted only at their particular nodo

PAGE 33

26 and get a start-up amount of 50 crditos .14 The RGT nodo s franchised in this way were known as “ nodo s franquiciados ”. Each nodo although affiliated with the RGT, was autonomous. The structure of the RGT, like the nodo s, was supposed to be horizontal. The RGT gave advice on how to start a barter club, but each nodo decided upon its own particular rules of trade and entry into the club. [E]l acceso a la informacin, capacitacin, bienes y servicios estan descentralizados y la actuacin de los usuarious es libr e y voluntaria, sin ninguna exclusin donde todos se relacionan entre si de manera dire cta y horizontal, sin media intermediaries ni representantes que puedan decidir por nosotros en asambleas o comisions. Es una democracia directa ( Las Tradiciones ). To join a nodo a prospective member needed to attend a charla, or introductory meeting. The purpose of the charla was to explain how the system worked, clarify about pricing and answer any questions. Each nodo also had a coordinator. The coordinator was supposed to be a member of the bart er club who fostered participation. The coordinator was the main organizer, taking ca re of administrative details like set-up and break-down. In many cases the coordinato r would also regulate prices or handle complaints between club members. Participants Demographics Most researchers of the trueques make three observati ons about participant demographics. One is that the majority of participants tend to be women. A second observation is that most participants are middle aged or older (Leoni and Luzzi 2003, Bombal 2002, Lecaro and Altschuler 2002, Powe ll 2002). These findings are consistent with my observations during my visit to Argent ina. The third observation is that early on 14 In interviews with participants and co ordinators the amount paid for the starter creditos ranged from two to five pesos. In some cases, individuals did not pay for their first creditos, but simply “sold” their goods to obtain their first creditos.

PAGE 34

27 in their existence the barter clubs were comprised mostly of the “new poor,” but expanded to include the structur ally poor. While this conc lusion seems warranted, it has not been rigorously demonstrated. Ines Gonzalez Bombal comes closest to offering substantiation in her 2000 study.15 She found that the major ity of participants (70%) earned less than 500 pesos per month, 39% earned between 500 – 1,000 per month and 28% earned more than 1,000 per month. “Esto indica que la prctica del trueque (aunque no de un modo excluyente) se estaba focali zando en los “nuevos pobres” (Bombal 2002: 103). Furthermore as regards education, an in dicator of class, Bombal found that most participants had completed secundario while a third had terciario or universitario incompleto (104). Several other researchers state that the part icipation base was comprised initially of the new poor but grew to include the stru cturally poor. Interestingly, though, no one offers a direct link between their demogra phic findings and support for the idea that the new poor began the trueques Leoni and Luzzi (2002), Po well (2002) and Aricidiacono (2002) all cite Bombal’s work, but do not o ffer any further analysis as to why they conclude the new poor were the initial particip ants. None of these studies were done over time to see if the participant composition actually changed. Substantiating the claim that the new poor co mprised the initial pa rticipant base is difficult, particularly because measuring and identifying the new poor is complicated. As Minujin and Kessler point out, the new poor is an extremely heterogeneous group. Anecdotally, though, the claim seems valid. On e indication is to simply look at the founders. All three have higher education. Perhaps more to the point, the founders 15 Her study is based on 50 in-depth interviews conducted across five nodo s.

PAGE 35

28 themselves describe the first members of the trueque as coming from the middle-class (interview). What is cl ear, however, is that the trueques did not remain solely comprised of the new poor. Multiple people interviewe d for this study menti on that at one point there were people from all walks of life and economic class participating in the trueque And as the founders note in their account of the trueque beginnings: Segn la experiencia de los di stintos "clubes", la concurre ncia es la ms variada : clases bajas en descenso, clase media en descenso, clases bajas en ascenso, militantes desorientados, inclasificables... Creemos que el proyecto atrae a las ms diversas clases de personas (Pri mavera, Covas and De Sanzo 1998). Furthermore, as the economy worsened and unemployment grew, the trueque extended out from its original urban base to areas more densely inhabited by the structurally poor (Powell 2002: 8). Nodo Dynamics By 2001 the barter clubs were catering to both the wealthy and the poor. The nodo Galpon de Once in the city of Buenos Aires is illustrative. Galpon opened in March of 2001. It met three times a week and at its height roughly 3000 people would pass through weekly. This nodo offered middle class services su ch as hair styling, manicures, and even vacations, which could be paid for in part by crditos There was also a recycling center run by Galpon organizers. The recycling ce nter was a way to generate crditos for people who had nothing to bring to the trueque If an individual had no product to sell she or he could bring in glass bottles, cardboar d boxes or cans to trade in for crditos In addition to the space provided fo r individuals to trade their goods, the Galpon also provided free child care for the parents who came to trade. It also ran a nodo -sponsored pizzeria and vege table stand. To enter a prosumidor would have to pay one peso. Part of the money from the entran ce fee went towards payi ng rent and electric

PAGE 36

29 bills. The other part of those pesos helped to purchase inputs for the pizzeria and vegetable stand. This system worked well because food items were always in high demand in the nodos And while not all the ingred ients were available through the trueque buying them in bulk in the form al market was a cheap solution. On the one hand, the trueque was a way to maintain a certain life style. For instance items for trade in a barter club in the wealthy neighborhood of Recoleta included fur coats, art and books (Crivello 2002).16 On the other hand, the trueque also was a true alternative market. As une mployment grew in the latter part of the 1990s the trueque permitted people to obtain basic goods that were increasingly hard to come by, such as food, cleaning supplies and clothes. The trueque also provided a venue for people to sell goods they were unable to sell for pesos in the formal market. Oftentimes goods being sold in the trueque came from left over inventory of failed businesses (personal interviews, Bombal 2002: 119). Professionals also joined to provide legal services, medical treatment and music lessons In a June 2001 edition of El Trueque an RGT magazine, services and products advertis ed included event planning, catering, school supplies, car parts, massage, taxi service, contact lens prescriptions and garden care. Intersection with Government In the first two years the RGT did no t actively seek government support or sanction. However, by 1997, the RGT began interfacing with the government, both as a way to seek legitimacy and to encounter ne w forms of integration (Primavera 1999). Government support came from the national, pr ovincial and municipal level. The city of 16 This was an independent club, although it was similar to the RGT in its stated goals of creating solidarity as well as promoting production and a continual circulation of creditos They issued their own local crdito known as the “ recoleto ”.

PAGE 37

30 Buenos Aires, where the trueques flourished early on, created “El Programa de Trueque Multirrecproco” in May 1997 ( Megaferia: Tiempo de Trueque ). It allowed the RGT to use offices throughout the city to host the nodos and to train members.17 The City of Buenos Aires also invited RGT founders Horacio Covas and Carlos de Sanzo, among others, to attend a roundtable discussion as part of an event called Buenos Aires Sin Fronteras The city continued its co llaboration in 2001, co-hosting a megaferia with the RGT ( Megaferia: Tiempo de Trueque ). In the brochure adver tising the megaferia, the city of Buenos Aires describes how it wished to “[i]ncentivar a las personas a capacitarse en temtica no tradicionales, asociadas a nue vos mercados y sectores dinmicos de la produccin y el empleo” and “fomentar y fortal ecer la construccin de redes socials a travs de proyectos autogestionados o c ogestionados con el estado.” The program provided training to individua ls who wished to form microbusinesses within the trueque .18 In 2001 the RGT received national support when the Secretaria de la Pequea y Mediana Empresa in the Ministerio de Economia (SEPyME) signed an agreement to promote the trueques The first section of the agreem ent states that the goal of the agreement is to “promover en todo el pa s el sistema de trueque o intercambio multirecproco”. The agreement was to also mutually foment the creation of jobs and support individuals in their tr ansition from the informal to the formal market. (Convenio). I interviewed one woman who be nefited from this government support of 17 The offices used were the ‘Centros de gestion y par ticipacin social’ (CGP). There is one CGP in each of Buenos Aires’ fourteen neighborhoods. 18 In 1999 the program was still running, but had moved from the control of the Secretara de Industria, Comercio y Trabajo to the newly created office of Secretara de Desarrollo Economico

PAGE 38

31 small business initiatives. As a member of the RGT she received a small subsidy of $200 pesos a month, which was to be used to buy materials for the aprons and purses that she sewed to trade in the trueque In practice, she used the pe sos to pay her utility bills and bought the inputs for her sewn items from the trueque The subsidy lasted five months. She was later approached and received a sim ilar subsidy, but this time not tied to the trueques ; the subsidy instead was to support pro duction of goods sold in the formal market. SEPyME’s relation to the trueques was similar to that of the city of Buenos Aires: some material support in terms of co-sponsoring workshops, training and ferias, but perhaps more significant was the “moral ” support of allowing the SEPyME and City of Buenos Aires names to go out on marketi ng materials. Also in February 2001, eight diputados attempted without success to pass a bill declaring the trueques to be of national interest. At the municipal level, the trueques me t with further support. The focus on the trueques as a means of providing work and in come also motivated more than 10 municipalities and 3 provinces to officially declare the trueques to be in their interest (Leoni and Luzzi 2003). In addition to declaring the trueques to be of municipality interest, the cities would often allow the nodo s to use public buildings or space. The municipalities also sought to regulate the trueques : some required all nodo s to register with the local government, and since popular trueque items included prepared foods and homeopathic medicines, trueque members were often required to attend health workshops. Problems within the Trueques As the trueques grew so did challenges to the system. One issue that spawned several interrelated problems had to do with the crdito At the outset the RGT declared

PAGE 39

32 the value of one crdito to be equivalent to one peso. This parity was established simply as a means of convenience. It allowed prosumidor es to easily set prices. For instance, if an empanada in the formal market co st one peso, then it should cost one crdito in the trueque However, as the RGT grew it a ppeared that it was printing too many crditos A woman I interviewed explained how she registered with one nodo but was required to re-register when she went to another nodo. Even though she already had crditos from participating in the first nodo she was issued the starter 50 crditos from this second nodo. While this woman did not purposely try to get extra crditos many people did take advantage of the system in this way. A lack of effective centralized record keeping led to people registering at multiple nodos to get several disbursements of crditos After a while, the value of the credito became inflated. Inflation might have been acceptable except that it was happening at different rates at different nodo s, so that an empanada might cost 2 pesos in one nodo but cost 5 pesos in a nother. Price variation from nodo to nodo led to speculation; individua ls would buy products at one nodo for one price and resell them at another nodo for a much higher price (Primavera 1999, La Nacin Premat 2003). There were also charges of corruption on pa rt of the coordinators. Several people that I interviewed pointed out the economics of running a nodo It was common to charge one or two pesos as entry fee into a nodo This fee was supposed to cover costs such as electricity, rent, and cleanup. A busy nodo might have 500 people enter in a day. If the nodo charged one peso at the door and me t three times a week it would produce $1,500 pesos a week. That would total $6,000 pe sos a month. A sizable quantity that would more than cover basic costs of rent, utilities and clean-up. In some nodos it was

PAGE 40

33 clear that the extra inco me was being used to buy in bulk to supply the nodo but in other cases, the accounting of the peso s was not so transparent. In 1998 four zones – Capital, North, West and South – were created to try to decentralize the RGT and prevent overprinting and speculation. Each zone printed its own currency (Hintze 2003: 56) and es tablished an equivalency with the crditos from the other zones (Primavera 1999). However, differences of opinion over the transparency of credito printing led the Zone Oeste to splinter off in 2000 and cut all ties to the RGT (Sampayo 2003: 197). The Zona Oeste al so cited “incompatible” development trajectories as the reason for splitting (Sampayo 2003: 197). Another important split came in 2001, when the Red de Trueque Solidaria (RTS) formed and officially separated from the RGT (Cortesi 2003: 181). The RTS is very specific about the ways it differs from the RGT. While both organizations emphasize production on the “ human scale,” the use of “tecnologa apropiada19” and work as a means of self-realiza tion, the RTS differs over the issues of crditos and participation. With regard to crditos the RTS refuses to print a national crdito ; each zone of the RTS prints its own crdito The RTS believes that zonal credits reinforce the identity, decision-making abiliti es and development of each zone. While the RTS acknowledges the drawback in ha ving to deal with multiple kinds of crditos it reasons that printing a nationa l currency only replicates th e formal economy and all the problems therein (Cortesi 2003: 189). In c ontrast to the RGT, the RTS also does not charge a “registration” fee or “franchise” fee for new members to get their first crditos 19 The RTS defines “tecnologa apropriada” as working w ith what is available rather than what is not (Cortesi in Hintze 190). This is a similar concept to the RGT emphasis on using local talent and inputs to create goods, rather than importing them from other areas.

PAGE 41

34 With regard to participation, the RTS has pos itioned itself as being a more democratic and participatory organization than the RG T. The RTS mode of decision-making is through assembly, which it belie ves facilitates transparent, democratic, and inclusive participation. The RTS, in turn, criticizes the RGT as tending toward private, closed decision-making processes (Cortesi 2003: 184). Other problems began to plague the barter clubs. A serious issue was that of supply. A main edict of being a trueque participant was to be a prosumidor to be a producer as well as a consumer However, the production side of the equation came to suffer. People would attend the nodo s and buy goods, but either not bring goods to sell or only bring used items, such as clothes. The end result was a scarcity of goods as well as a declining quality of goods. Also, many pe ople were bringing items that were not in demand. Trinkets and arts and crafts a bounded rather than food items (Lecaro and Altschuler 2002). As the kind of goods that people actually had a demand for were offered less and less, people e nded up stuck with stacks of crditos and nothing to purchase (Bombal 2002: 125). Another issue confronting the trueques was the subutilization of skills (Bombal 2002, Lecaro and Altschuler 2002: 11). Bombal notes that the trueques are repositories of social capital and skills as well as goods and services. Yet with all these resources, and the RGTÂ’s particular emphasis on foster ing small businesses, there was no real efforts on part of the prosumidores to create microenterprises (Bombal 2002: 111). Only 20% of those interviewed by Bombal had plan s to create a new pr oject in conjunction with other members (Bombal 2002: 110).

PAGE 42

35 Chapter Summary Argentina’s economic successes of the first part of the 20th century slowly eroded away in the second half the century. The st rong middle class that ha d developed began to fade as a recurring cycle of strong growth fo llowed by wild inflation plagued the country. The neoliberal policies of the 1990s pushed th e country into the growth phase of the cycle, but incurred dangerously high leve ls of unemployment. The middle class consequently further declined and a new class was created: the “new poor”. Out of this context the barter clubs were born. The creation of the barter clubs was a wa y to not only meet economic need, but it was a vehicle that promoted local produc tion, self-sufficiency, personal growth and solidarity. People joined the barter system both out of n eed and also to maintain a certain lifestyle, and by 2001 the barter clubs were catering to both the wealthy and the poor. As the barter clubs grew so did the problems that plagued them, including inflation, speculation and scar city of goods. Tension also mounted over issues of participation and issuance of crditos As a result Zona Oest e and the Red de Trueque Solidaria splintered off from the RGT.

PAGE 43

36 CHAPTER 3 AFFECT OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC CRISIS ON THE BARTER CLUBS The economic crisis that exploded in D ecember of 2001 dramatically affected the barter clubs. While membership had been in creasing at an accelerated rate the previous two years – in tandem with the worsening national economy – the corralito of late 2001 and massive joblessness of 2002 led to a tidal wave of new trueque participation. The first section of this chapter reviews the economic background leading up to Argentina’s 2001 economic debacle. The second section expl ores how the ensuing rush of new barter club participants exacerbated existing problems within the trueque The last section discusses the RGT’s effort to confront these issues and th e level of success achieved. The Economic Crisis of 2001/2002 Serious structural weaknesses combined with cyclical recession to precipitate Argentina’s economic meltdown in late 2001. In the document entitled “Lessons from the Crisis in Argentina” th e International Monetary F und (IMF) reviews Argentina’s economic development from the 90’s through the 2001 crisis. The document highlights what in hindsight were cons iderable “existing weaknesses and growing vulnerabilities” (IMF 2003: 6) in the system: Fiscal performance…was repeatedly unde rmined by off-budget expenditures and was too weak throughout the 1990s to preven t a growing reliance on private capital flows to meet the public sector’s stead ily rising borrowing needs. Exports, though growing at a solid 8 percent per year between 1990-98, did not keep pace with sharply rising import demand, which grew at an average rate of 25 percent per year over the same period. The relatively sma ll domestic financial sector fostered dependence on foreign debt-creating flow s to finance both private and public spending. Finally, despite a good start on st ructural reforms, by mid-decade these

PAGE 44

37 were petering out and were, in some cases, even reversed, leaving important rigidities (8)1. The IMF document further points out that th e fiscal debt was exacerbated by borrowing by the provinces, adding to the public-debt ration (6, 13). Th e overall debt was tenable as long as the economy was growing at 5% or greater, but in the event of lesser growth, such levels of debt were dangerous. These structural weaknesses were compounded by the constraints of the convertibility law. Palermo and Collins desc ribe the negative current-accounts balance as the convertibility plan’s Achille s’ heel. Part of the exp ected goal of th e convertibility law was that true exchange-rate parity would occur, i.e., th at the peso would equal the dollar without the government needing to prop it up drastically. Howe ver, while inflation was kept comparatively under control, the heating up of the economy did maintain a certain level of “residual” inflation, preven ting parity from being reached (Palermo and Collins 1998). Eventually, the economy star ted a cyclical recession in 1998 and the policy of public spending and propping up the peso could not last. The currency board thus became a “liability” as the govern ment accrued burgeoning foreign-currency denominated debt (IMF 2003: 4). Palermo and Collins outline three possibilities open to the government at that moment. One option was to devalue the cu rrency, but the position of self-constraint embodied by the convertibility law prevented this step.2 Furthermore, as the IMF 1 The rigidities the IMF refers to include rigidities of the labor market. In stark contrast to the views presented by the authors cited in the second chapter, the IMF thought that the country should have a more flexible workforce. 2 Recall from chapter two that self-c onstraint was the cornerstone of the convertibility plan; it entailed that the government abrogated its prerogative to moderate monetary policy and exchange rates in order to build confidence in the economy.

PAGE 45

38 document also points out, the economic and political costs of exiting the currency board regime were great: “By the late 1990s, with more than one-half of banks’ assets and liabilities and ninety percent of the public debt denominated in foreign currency (mainly US dollars), abandoning the currency board arrangement would have been extremely disruptive to the economy – as indeed it turned out to be” (37). Furthermore, there was strong political backing of th e currency board; in 1998 the problems with the system were still latent and the economy seemed to be doi ng just fine. Thus no politician was eager to suggest painful preventative medicine. The ir ony of course was that the growth of the economy masked the weakening government fi nances. The two other possibilities were to restrict the inflow of fore ign capital or to reduce public spending, but neither jibed with Menem’s political position (Palermo and Collins 1998). Advent of the crisis In 1998 the economy embarked on the fateful recession that would trigger the economy’s collapse. Seve ral factors precipitate d the recession. One was a cyclical correction following the rapid gr owth of the previous two years. Another was the political uncertainty surrounded Menem’s attempt to run for the presidency for an unconstitutional third term. Economic tr oubles in other parts of the world also reverberated in Argentina. The Russian crisis in 1998 affect ed interest rates in emerging markets and in turn reduced capital inflows into Argentina. Yet, while international lending interest rates increased the Argentin e currency board “muted” these effects, keeping the spread on Argentine bonds artificial ly low. The result was to further mask the true economic status of the country’s debt. The following year Brazil, one of Argentina’s biggest importers, devalued its currency. Argentine products became even

PAGE 46

39 more expensive resulting in a 28% decrease in Argentine exports to Brazil (Bluestein 2005: 59). Finally, exports to other countries dropped 10.5% (Bluestein 2005: 59). These external shocks combined fatally with structural weaknesses: the country was unable to generate enough exports to co ver national spending, nor could it expand monetary supply, nor could it institute an expansionary fiscal policy (IMF 2003). Crisis Argentina started off the year 2001 stru ggling to keep afloat. It turned to the IMF for an injection of mu ch-needed capital to maintain its debt financing. The IMF pledged a total of $14 billion to be disperse d throughout the year, pending the attainment of certain fiscal goals (IMF 2003). These atte mpts, however, failed “to break the cycle of rising interest rates, falli ng growth, and fiscal underperformance” (IMF 2003: 59). The situation demonstrated its fragility as the finance minister resigned and his successor was forced out in two weeks. As the year continued, the spread be tween pesoand dollardenominated interest rates skyrocketed from one to sixteen percent and the central bank modified its charter, reducing the requir ed currency on hand required by law (IMF 2003: 59). The government then offered a voluntar y debt swap. While this move bought the government time on its debt service obligations the interest rate on the new debt was 17%, an inordinately high rate, demonstra ting the desperation of the government (IMF 2003: 59). Confidence in the system continue d to erode and the run on bank deposits hit a high in November 2001 (IMF 2003: 61). The government responded by limiting withdr awals to $250 dollars a week from individual accounts (IMF 2003: 61). The reason behind such a drastic measure was simple. There were not enough dollars on hand to support the run on the banks. Additionally, devaluatio n of the peso was imminent, but there was doubt as to what the

PAGE 47

40 new value of the peso would be. With the implementation of the corralito the crisis had hit the boiling point. There were riots in th e street, culminating in the death of 27 people (Fue 2003). President Fernando de La Rua s ubsequently resigned on December 20. In January of 2002, Dualde – the 5th president in three weeks – declar ed default (IMF 2003: 62). 2002 The economic and political landscape could look no worse. In 2002 unemployment was at a record 22% (Byrnes 2005), and th ere was a 11% decline in output (Blustein 2004). Throughout the year the government st ruggled with a variety of measures to attempt to shore up the peso and stabilize the banking system. Effect of Economic Crisis on the Barter Clubs The state of emergency in late 2001 not onl y sent people to the streets clanging pots and pans in the famous cacerolazos but it sent waves of people in to the barter clubs. The news media was integral in spreading the wo rd. In January of 2001, before the national catastrophe fully unfolded, the Argentine newspaper, La Nacin, only mentioned the trueques in passing in two articles. In February 2002, however, the trueque clubs were not only mentioned in four articles, but they were the main subject of two articles. One article, “El trueque salv a una fbrica en Mendoza” (Feb 27 2002), explained how the RGT saved a Mendoza canning business by “loaning” 40,000 crditos in return for canned olives, pickles, tomatoes and dulces to supply a particular nodo The other article, “El trueque crece a la par de la crisis” (Feb 6 2002), tells of more than 500,000 families using the trueque as a palliative for the crisis. Th is article ends by providing contact information (phone, email, website) and instructions on how to join. Clarn Argentina’s other main newspaper, al so heavily covered the barter clubs. An article entitled “El club del treuque que le cambi la cara a un barrio” reported that in

PAGE 48

41 October of 2001 only 100 people we re regularly attending a nodo in the city of Lomas de Zamora,3 but in March of 2002, more than 2,000 people were going weekly (Torresi 2002). Another Clarn article from two months earlier proclaimed: “Con el trueque ya se compran campos, autos y hasta casas ” In this article Covas, one of the RGT founders, stated that there were 50 million crditos in circulation, with 250,000 crditos issued daily to new members – which means 5,000 ne w individuals were joining daily (since each new member received 50 crditos ). The article continued to report that in the previous six months 75 new nodos had opened in the city of Buenos Aires. By June of 2002 5,000 nodos were in operation, with a total of one and half million participants (Ovalles 2002). During this period, it was clear that people were joining the trueque as a means of survival. Access to money was limited, jobs were scarce and the va lue of the peso had plummeted. People used the trueques strategically in their desperation to survive. Grander values of self-sufficiency, solidar ity and local producti on and consumption did not factor in. Crditos were used to buy necessary items such as food, cleaning supplies, clothes, and school supplies fo r their children, while precious pesos were set aside to pay utilities and other bill s (interviews). One woman that I interviewed stated that in 2001 and 2002 almost all of the prepared food items that she brought into the house came from the trueque Another interviewee desc ribed how people would form a line more than an hour before the opening of a large nodo in order to get a chance at scarce goods such as food, jostling and fighting to be able to secure bread, vegetables or cooking oil before it ran out. 3 Province of Buenos Aires

PAGE 49

42 In some instances the trueque also turned into a form of protest. In May of 2002 the RGT set up a temporary nodo in downtown Buenos Aires. The protest, as one participant commented was “un acto simb lico en contra del mercado” (Un Club 2002). In a similar action two weeks later in front of the national Congress, trueque participants specifically set up a nodo to demonstrate support for a proposed law to regulate the trueques Luis Laporte, a spokesperson for the RGT, explained that a legal framework was necessary to regulate the trueques because, among other things, it would provide a means to punish people who counterfeited crditos “Queremos un marco legal porque no podemos controlar lo que pasa. Si algui n falsifica crditos, hoy no se lo puede penar” (Trueque Frente 2002). The trueques used in this way as a form of protest is not without its inconsistencies. On the one hand, the trueque members protest the market that excludes them. On th e other hand, they ask for legislation to bring the trueques under the regulating arm of that same system.4 This paradoxical stance will be discussed in the next chapter. Regulating the trueques was particularly appealing sin ce the explosion in growth in early 2002 had only exacerbated existing probl ems. Inflation was perhaps the most nefarious issue. Several fact ors played into it. First and foremost the RGT simply overprinted crditos There was an attempt to keep tr ack of who registered to prevent individuals from collecting seve ral installations of start-up crditos The registration system, however, simply broke down under the avalanche of new members – people were able to register across several nodos receiving 50 crditos each time. A woman I interviewed who was close to the RGT founders commented on how the franquicia 4 Likewise, initiatives that would allow the payment of municipal debts with crditos were also supported by the RGT ( Clarn Feb 14 2002).

PAGE 50

43 system broke down. She described the franquicia system as the replication of the trueque model, but as she noted, once the nodos began growing rapidly, “no tena muy claro cual era el modelo para repetir. Lo nico que se repeti era que a cambio de dos pesos te daban 50 crditos. Y eso genero la corrupcin.” Speculation also ran rampant. Some pe ople spent their whole week going from nodo to nodo buying goods at one price and selling them at another. Counterfeit crditos compounded the problem. In August of 2002 three different groups were arrested for counterfeiting the RGT crditos In one arrest alone, 2,250,000 fake crditos were confiscated. Considering that 50 million in true crditos were in circulation, that many false crditos constituted almost five percent of the total in circulation. The kind and quality of goods being produced in the trueque also became problematic. The August 17, 2003 edition of La Nacin One reported how for one woman making cakes for the trueque became a losing proposition: “El precio de las materias primas se fue por las nubes y me lle garon a pedir 2000 crditos por un kilo de azcar. Al final para preparar las tortas tena que invertir en pesos y a mi casa me llevaba papelitos”. Declining terms of trade resulted in a severe decrease in production. People were coming to the nodos to buy, but production was falling off. Furthermore, what remained in the trueques were items ancillary to daily need s such as arts and crafts and also things of generally lowe r quality, like used clothes. In turn, many people ended up with stacks of crditos but nothing worthwhile to buy. Inflation, specula tion, declining terms of trade and depletion of supply led to massive closing of nodos Towards the end of 2002 the nodos were closing down with the same rapidity with which they opened (Premat 2003).

PAGE 51

44 Many trueque participants place the blame squarely on the RGT founders. They believed that the founders had purposely sold crditos to make a profit, and in the process wrecked the system. The woman who ran a large nodo in the city of Buenos Aires expressed this view: Esta personas [the 3 founders] empezaron a ver el movimiento que haba detras de ellos, empezaron a pensar en pesos, en di nero, en dinero, en dinero y terminaron en hacer una gran estafa...Y gente que nosotros conocimos en su principio que no tenan ni siquiera una casa para vivir se construyeron casas en San Isidrio – San Isidrio una de las localidades mas caras que existe en Argentina...Y cuando me empez a dar cuenta de como esto, como se estaba manejando y, y las cosas que haba detras, llor muchisimo, yo sufr muchsimo porque realmente aca haba gente muy valiosa, gente que, yo conoc, ge nte que actualmente hoy la trato, gente que yo quiero mucho. Yo me senta part e de la estafa porque yo manjeaba uno de los trueques mas grandes que haba en Argentina.5 The RGT founders, for their part, believ ed that the government had purposely undermined the barter clubs. Accordi ng to the founders, the government, which originally supported the trueques turned on the barter clubs wh en it began to see them as a threat to the client elistic model. As the RGT founde rs explained, since people were suddenly able to provide for themselves the politicians were not able to buy votes by giving handouts. The founders particularly blamed Plan Jefes y Jefas a federal program that gave cash money to heads of hous eholds, for driving people away from the trueque and the principles of self-sufficiency. The f ounders even allude to more direct sabotage; they believe that polit icians in the government were re sponsible for the falsification of crditos (Sainz 2003). 5 This interviewee not only believed the founders had purposely overprinted crditos but she also insisted that they made up the story of counterfeit crditos to try to get away with their misconduct. When asked about the newspaper articles describing the capture of counterfeit crditos she said that later it was retracted.

PAGE 52

45 Trueque Response As early as May 2002 the RGT attempted to address the failing system. In an RGT pamphlet they asked the prosumidores: “Tenga paciencia. En estos momentos estamos abocados a la reforma total del sistem a de franquicia y entrega de crditos” (NotiTrueque). By December of 2002 the RGT began printing new crditos on special paper from Brazil and with multiple security measures, including a watermark. They also established an oxidation rate, so that the crdito lost valu e over time, forcing people to spend the crditos instead of amassing them (Rocha 2002). By November of 2004, when I visited Argentina, there were a handful of independent and RTS nodos still active in the city of Buenos Aires. There were no RGT nodos left in th e capital city. During my visist, however, I attended a large RGT nodo outside the capital city in Quilmes. It still meets three times a week with more than a 1,500 passing through. El Comedero, as it is called, is hosted in a la rge industrial space that previously housed a factory. Upon entering the prosumidore pays five crditos and two pesos and receives a leaflet containing PAR news and editorials. One peso goes to the PAR to help pay for the printing crditos and the leaflet. The other pe so goes toward paying security, the cleaning person and the nodo administrator, who works in the nodo office and does the bookkeeping. The crditos gathered from the entry fee go to paying the coordinator, whose job is to mediate between prosumidores be available to listen to people, and to promote creativity and production. El Comedero houses a big kitchen in the back with an industrial stove and oven, which is available for anyone’s use. For instance, one woman with whom I spoke choses to bake her goods in the kitchen rather th an transport them to the nodo The most typical item for sale is us ed clothing. Food is another big item. There are fresh vegetables and lots of prepared foods like tortas tartas galletitas There

PAGE 53

46 are also a quantity of prepackaged food items like spices, cookies and noodles, but never in huge quantities. Some of the services o ffered include hair cutt ing, tarot card reading and watch repair. Although the interviews I conducted at this nodo were mostly informal, three themes became apparent. First, people come to the trueque for the social interaction. Several people describe the trueque as “therapy,” a place to come to talk to people, interact and forget their worries for a short time. While many of the people come to the nodo in order to ameliorate a difficult economic situation, several people come merely to see friends and distract themselves. Second, people often move between the trueque and the formal market as an economic strategy. As several people mentione d to me, some things are cheaper in the trueque and some are cheaper in the market. People are constantly moving between the two to extract advantage. For instance, one woman buys spices at the supermarket and repackages them in small bags to sell individually in the trueque Another woman uses pesos to buy ingredients in the formal market to make prepizzas and pasta to sell in the trueque She says she recupera tes the pesos she spends by buying things in the trueque instead of the formal market. Many people be lieve they reap economic benefits from the trueque but how they derive the benefit is not a consciously understood or planned process. A 70-year old man I spoke to buys ne w things in the formal market (the day I spoke to him he had purchased shoe inserts) to sell along with the used items that he brings in. When asked whether it worked to his benefit to buy things with pesos and then sell them in crditos he answered that he really did not know. Third, although some participants were not there fo r economic reasons only their participation did not appear to

PAGE 54

47 be motivated by the values of self-help, lo cal production, or a philosophical aversion to pesos. For instance, I asked people whether th ey read the leaflet that was handed out to every prosumidor upon entering the nodo On the whole the answer was no. Chapter Summary Summary. The story of the trueques involves a direct relationship between a worsening economy and increasing trueque membership. A corollary relationship also obtained: as the economy worsened the reasons for joining the barter clubs had more to do with necessity and survival rather than thoughts of creating an alternative economic system. And as the trueques grew in number so did the problems plaguing them. The national explosion in late 2001 caused a huge influx of trueque participants, shaking the already fragile system to its core, exacer bating earlier problems of inflation and speculation and leading to the massive shutdown of nodos in late 2002. In response, RGT founders instituted a “reactivation” of nodos on a smaller and more controlled scale starting in 2002. However it did not appear th at ideology motivated participants even at the “reactivated” nodos, but rather desires to engage in so cial activity coupled with attempts to derive economic benefit.

PAGE 55

48 CHAPTER 4 TRUEQUES AS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT? Keeping in mind the lofty goals of thei r early beginnings, but taking into account the changes wrought by unexpected and significant growth, to wh at extent can the barter clubs be considered a social movement? To consider the trueques as a social movement might be a big leap – particularly since trueque participation grew in direct relation to a worsening economy and participa tion at the height of the trueques stemmed from pragmatic considerations rather than ideologi cal conviction. Yet the original project was not designed as merely a survival mechanis m. The barter clubs were designed as an enlightened alternative to the marke t; they were based on principles of autosuficiencia solidarity and the repudiation of dependency on the formal currency. To answer whether the barter clubs can be considered a social movement, we will return to Sidney Tarrow’s definition of a social movement and analyze how the trueques match up with its several components. As mentioned in Chapter two the barter clubs began with the RGT and eventually two other smaller gr oups splintered off. For the purposes of this chapter I will apply Tarrow’s definiti on only to the RGT. Collective Activity The first prerequisite of a social movement is that it be a collec tive activity. At first glance, it appears that this criterion was met fr om the beginning. By its very nature a barter system requires more than one pers on in order to exist. Although the first nodo was not huge (it started with 20 people), the bart er system only grew. Despite the lack of hard and fast numbers, it is indisputable that up until 2002 the trueques were multiplying

PAGE 56

49 rapidly throughout the country. Even after the nodos began closing en masse in late 2002, several nodos still remain in operation to the present day. However, while the barter clubs do involve collective action by nature, there is a certain level of individualism that underlies th e activity. As one rese archer observes, the barter clubs in fact present an indivi dualistic solution to a collective problem: Si bien...la cada [en la nueva pobreza] ya no poda ser percibida como un hecho individual sino que las causas de la crisis que padecan eran globales, generabilizables y casi inevita bles, la salida de esta ex clusin se presentaba como puramente individual. Paradoja que se sostiene a partir de la persistencia de la idea de un progreso posible pero donde "es capar" de dicha situacin dependa nicamente de las capacidades personales En este sentido, la alternativa del trueque se presentaba con claros tintes individualistas -egosta, imposibilitando las creencias en acciones colectivas o de de mandas al sistema poltico...(Barbetta). The individualistic nature of the barter clubs, i.e., the emphasis on self sufficiency and personal ingenuity to overcome exclusion fr om the established market system is not necessarily problematic when considering the ba rter clubs as a social movement. First, we know from the literature on new social m ovements that movements can be carried out on an individual level, especially when ba sed around life-style c hoices (Laraa 1994). The paradox of individual action constituting a collective activity is resolved when we acknowledge that the in dividual basis of action is part of a group of like-minded people do like-minded activities, even if separate Second, as discussed in Chapter two, the RGTÂ’s emphasis on self-sufficiency requi res learning from others and sharing knowledge, thus creating a market of solidarity. Contention Contention is the second element of so cial movements. As defined by Tarrow contention involves two aspects: people who do not have access to institutions who fundamentally challenge the system. The trueques clearly comport with the first part of

PAGE 57

50 this definition. The RGT specifically pr ides itself in creating a space those who do not have access to institutions i.e., the excluded. In fact many researchers describe the trueques Â’ positive impact on women, a traditionally marginalized sector of society (Primavera 2003, Powell 2002). Furthermore, th e everyday participant does not appear to be a seasoned politician, lobbyist or other traditional actor with institutional access. The exception perhaps is the individuals who take on the role of coordinator. Some coordinators do have political experience. For instance, the woman I interviewed who ran Galpon de Once one of the largest nodos in the city of Buenos Aires, was a member of the Confederacin General de Trabajo (CGT), a national trade union.1 Even so, not all coordinators have political roots. Also worth noting is that in some cases people worked to initiate a nodo even if they were not planning to participate in it. For instance, one gentleman that I interviewed worked with an advocacy group for retired people. He began helping to set up nodos as a community service. While politically active coordinators and nodo initiators played an impor tant role in the barter clubs they were not the norm. The second part of TarrowÂ’s definition of contention is the making of new or unaccepted claims that fundamentally challenge the system A starting point of analysis on this point is a quotation by Jeff Powell, which highlights the inherent social and political challenge of what he refers to as community currency systems (CCS): Lying at the juncture of economics, po litical science, sociology, geography, anthropology, cultural, e nvironmental and gender studies, CCS are a concrete embodiment of key abstract debates. Firs t amongst these is over the nature of markets. CCS pose serious challenges to the standard assumptions of homo 1 I also interviewed a coordinator from an independent nodo who, during the dictatorship was a member of a leftist group and as a result was an exiliado interno. While she obviously has experience organizing this experience is as a subaltern rather than so meone with traditional access to institutions.

PAGE 58

51 oeconomicus and the way we value, exch ange and consume. By recognizing unpaid women's work, for example, CCS have the potential to restruct ure gender relations. Secondly, CCS force new discussions over the role of the state. They are only one of several new contenders in the global marketplace competing with the state's crumbling monopoly over both the provision of social services and the money supply. (2). Powell makes two points. First, that the trueques challenge ingrained ideas about consumption and production. The edict of the trueques is to consume no more than is needed and to eschew accumulation of crditos Even though Argentina’s middle class is eroding away, it still knows how to consum e. One Argentine history professor characterized the Argentines of the 90s as a “ dame dos ” culture; with money burning in their pockets the Argentines wanted two of everything (interview). The trueques counteract this tendency, trying to create a new wave of people who are willing to buck the dominant patterns of materialist cons umption. This new mode of consumption compels a new mode of production. The trueques enjoin participants to use socially appropriate technology to produce just enough to provide for reasonable needs. As Powell points out, the Twelve Principles of the RGT attempt to create “alternative behavioral norms” (9). One might argue that ideas of sustainabl e development, locally centered growth and self-sufficiency are not new or radical id eas. While these ideas may not be new, they are far from mainstream. In particular, the idea of self-sufficiency – of being personally resourceful in providing for one’s material ne eds – is unconventional in Argentina, with its history of paternalistic governance. More to the point, how those ideas are operationalized – by rejecting pesos and turning to social money instead – is conceptually quite radical. As Melucci might argue, these va lues “engage the constitutive logic of [the] system” (1994: 103). A fundamental purpose of creating the trueques was to demonstrate

PAGE 59

52 that money is neither the starting point for one’s survival nor one’s se nse of self. To use social money encourages creativity and allows a person to create va lue in terms of time and effort expended rather than in pesos. Furthermore, the crdito is not legal tender. No government backs it. Instead the good w ill and trust of the barter club members underwrites the value of the crdito The personal relationships of the barter club members guarantee its value. To the extent that participants adop ted this theoretical understanding of the crdito the barter clubs indeed embodied an unorthodox approach to collectiv e action. Yet, to the degree that the crdito was treated as a peso – commodified, bought, sold, counterfeited – the barter clubs lost the original meaning a nd impact of their approach. An essential element of most social mone y or community currency systems, like the Ithaca Hours in New York or the LETS system in Europe, is the focus on local production and consumption.2 As the RGT expanded to a national scope, the importance of locally-based development and along with it the philosophical underpinnings of the crdito was subverted over time. The bigger the RGT grew and the more national coverage the crditos got, the more the RGT moved away from this fundamental ideal. This tendency to grow should come as no surprise. A small nodo is hard pressed to provide variety of products. The ability to use the crdito in more than one setting makes the crdito more useful. Yet the more widely circulated the crdito the more it was used as if it were a peso rather than “social money”. 2 The Ithaca HOURS system has very similar ideals as the original RGT: promotion of local commerce, sustainable development and a rejection of materialism (see http://www.ith acahours.com/ and http://www.ith acahours.org/ ). The LETS system also supports local development. See http://www.letslinkuk.org/

PAGE 60

53 Powell’s second point deals with the trueques’ challenge to state hegemony. Powell sees the trueques as potentially challenging the role of the state, for instance in competing with the state’s monopoly over mone y supply. By extension, the barter clubs could also plausibly erode th e productivity of th e national economy. The activity of the formal market has the potential to decline to the degree that peopl e satisfy their needs through the trueque and not through the formal market. In other words, it could be a zero-sum relationship. This loss of activity in the formal market would have potentially devastating consequences for the tax base (although Argentina is notorious for poor collections of taxes), the GDP, and internati onal investment, which in part is based on GDP calculations. Despite the potential of this scenario, it is not a reality. A significant problem continually plagued the trueque : in order to create goods for the trueque market, primary materials almost always had to come from the formal market. The trueques specifically focused on promoting primary material-producing trueque businesses, but these microbusinesses never materialized in larger enough numbers or variet y of products to create a true alternative trueque market. It is important here to make a distinction between different conceptions of th e word “alternative”. The trueques were created as an alternative to the formal market. On the one hand, alternative could mean a complete replacement of the formal system. In this connotation the trueques have a zero-sum relationship to the formal market as desc ribed above. Alterna tive on the other hand, could also connote a part-time or complementary relationship to the formal market. It is this understanding that the RGT founders embrace. In interviews the barter club founders

PAGE 61

54 describe the role of the barter clubs as “int erstitial,” that is, extracting value where the formal market fails to. Powell’s quote highlights two le vels of contention inherent in the barter system. The first is at the level of ideas; the bart er clubs challenge accep ted ideas of production and consumption. But as the national econom y worsened the new members failed to engage the barter club at this conceptual level. The following section addresses why members failed to adopt the philosophical stance of the trueques Suffice to say at this point, however, that by late 2001 the majority of participants did not reflect the RGT ideas of consumption and production. The seco nd level of contention is the practical; the barter clubs potentially underm ined the very engine of the formal economic market. Yet, in the final analysis this is a m oot point: the relationship between the trueques and the formal market was not zero sum, nor was the intention of the RGT founders to usurp formal market share. Common Purpose/Common Identity The third element of Tarrow’s social m ovement definition is that of common purpose and/or common identity. My intervie ws revealed a variety of motivations for initially joining the barter clubs: ideology, pragmatism, altruism, curiosity and social interaction. This multiplicity of initial factors does not immediately disqualify the trueques as a social movement, however. Tw o important questions need further consideration. First, did the RGT attempt to “organize experience” and “guide action” (Snow et al. 1986: 464) in order to bring thes e three disparate groups together? In other words, did the RGT frame its key issues? S econd, was the RGT succe ssful? That is, did participant motivations change over time to eventually coalesce ar ound a more or less homogeneous core?

PAGE 62

55 Turning to the first question: did the RGT frame key issues and if so, how? There is no question that the RGT attempted to fram e central ideas. This was done at both a conceptual and practical level. At the conceptual level, the RGT tapped into an existing disenchantment with neoliberalism. Inez G onzalez Bombal asks an interesting question in her work: why it is that the ne w poor are willing to be in the trueques when a few years ago they wouldn’t have dreamed of doing it (104 )? Bombal notes that there has been a change – from the new poor viewing their status a result of poor microeconomic decisions (Minujin and Kessl er 1993) – to viewing th emselves as victims of macroeconomic problems over which they had no control (Bombal 2002: 104). She concludes that the change in subjectivity ( subjetividad ), from the rational, autonomous self, making microeconomic deci sions to the self as victim of bad macroeconomics is what allowed the new poor to participate in the trueques This change in subjectivity is precisely what the RGT builds on. Appealing to the discontent of the increased numbers of unemployed, the RGT attempted a met hod of both frame bridging and amplifying, depending on whether a person already held anti-neoliberalism as a high value (frame bridging) or whether a person moved that value up in their hierarchy as a result of coming into contact with the RGT (frame amplifying) An example of this kind of framing is demonstrated in the RGT document entitled “ Comenzar por Casa ”: La economa global no ha hecho ms que acr ecentar la inequidad, el desempleo, la tensin social y la degradacin del medi oambiente. Crece el nmero de personas disconformes que perciben que el confort no es sinnimo de calidad de vida y por todas partes surgen alternativas al mercado cuyo comn denominador es la descentralizacin, la autogestin y la produccin a escala humana. Here the RGT draws a causal connecti on between the globalized economy and the commonly perceived societal ills of unempl oyment, social tension and environmental

PAGE 63

56 degradation. In addition to drawing this connection, it goe s on to suggest action and response: self sufficiency and new modes of production. Part of the RGT conceptual framing strategy involved creating a new vocabulary to describe the trueque experience. While the word prosumidor originated in the works of Alvin Toffler, the RGT adopted it as its ow n. The RGT also adopted common words and associated them very specifically with the trueque system. For instance the words nodo (node) and trueque (which comes from the verb trocar ) have in Argentina become synonymous with the barter clubs. This ne w vocabulary was dissemi nated along with the larger trueque values during the charlas and coordinator training sessions. The barter clubs, in creating a world of prosumidores who trade in an economy of solidarity using crditos not only creates a community of like-minde d barter club partic ipants, but it also clearly challenges the dominant di scourse. As Melucci observes: [A]ntagonism lies in the ability to resist and, even more so, to overturn dominant codes. Antagonism lies in the ability to give a different name to space and time by developing new languages that ch ange or replace the words us ed by the social order to organize our daily experience (Melucci 1994: 123). At the practical level, the RGT attempted to mold participants and create an affinity of ideals through the required charlas For instance, in certain areas a prospective member would have to attend eight charlas in order to become a member. These meetings involved rigorous trai ning, replete with workbooks a nd lesson plans (interview). The RGT also used its online and publishing cap abilities to disseminate a large array of articles on trueque consciousness. A main distribu tion point for documents was the

PAGE 64

57 autosuficiencia website.3 In addition to more formal documents such as the “Los Doce Principios” there was a constant posting of articles and interviews reiterating the RGT values as well as cautioning against unethical trueque conduct. Turning to the second question: how succe ssful were these various attempts at framing? Obviously, the RGT was not successf ul enough to prevent misuse of the barter system by those who were willi ng to speculate and counterfeit crditos And clearly, the RGT failed to convince a large number of peopl e to stay in the ba rter system once the formal market got back on its feet. In fact, nodos were forced to close down due to lack of the ills of inflation, sp eculation and corruption. In spite of these apparent failures, st rong examples exist among a variety of participants that demonstrate the succe ss of the framing. Although not specifically referencing the framing categories of Snow et al., Bombal’s research offers several examples of framing taking place. One artist she interviewed supplie s a clear example of frame bridging. This artist explains how participating in the trueques was simply a continuation of the practice of values that he already held: “Yo soy artesana de oficio, hace ms de treinta aos que soy artesana. Nosotros nos iniciamos en la artesana haciendo treuques. Para m fu e descubrir algo dentro de la sociedad para rescatar...” (Bombal 2002: 114). Another in terviewee’s comment demonstr ates an example of frame transformation, i.e., the redefining of beliefs: Yo crea que estaba todo terminado, que no haba mas alternativa, porque uno se engancha en que no hay trabajo, no hay posibi lides de insertarse en la sociedad y yo vea todo como una pared adelante. Esto [el trueque] hizo una apertura...se me 3 Autosuficienica.com.ar is the hom e of the home of the Programa de Au tosuficiencia Regional (PAR). It is this website that contains the documents such as the “Los Doce Principios” and “Comenzar por Casa” of the RGT. The RGT has its own website, www. trueque .org.ar in which several of the links lead to the autosuficiencia website.

PAGE 65

58 abri la mente, se me despert algo ac ad entro. Me di cuenta de que existe otro mundo qu yo no lo conoca y que ac ad entro lo descubr (Bombal 2002: 113). In my interviews I also came across ex amples of successful framing. One woman presented a clear case of frame transformation. She transformed her ideas on the role of money: Dinero a veces no es lo mas important vos sabes. No es lo mas important. Hay muchas cosas que se pueden resolver sin diner. Con volunta d, con intercambio. Esto yo aprendi aca. O sea, antes yo pensab a el reves, que sin dinero no se podia hacer nada. Y aca me di cuenta que no era lo mas importante. De verdad te digo. Another woman’s experience exemplified frame amplification, that is, the “clarification” or “invigoration” of life ev ents (Snow et al. 1986: 469): Lo que se estaba dando [el trueque] era re cuperar la identidad de las personas, recuperar la dignidad del tr abajo y recuperar el sentido de que lo que es el solidaridad, porque esto fue lo que yo descubr en el trueque. Por eso, en mi caso, me qued en el trueque. No entr para comer. Yo no tena problemas. Yo soy profesional, soy mdica. No necestaba ir al trueque al comprarme un plato de comida...yo recuper mi propio identidad co mo persona y la dignidad del trabajo, no? la dignidad de decir lo que yo hago no es que lo regalo, no hago beneficencia y el otro lo compra con su trabajo tambin. Y fue muy fuerte para mi. This particular woman felt that the trueques had reconnected her to ideas of solidarity and dignity. She had been hearing of the trueques from friends, in the news, and had seen them in the streets. But before she actually began partic ipating in the barter system she described herself as being a “s nob”. Upon becoming a member she realized the trueques were quite different from what she anticipated. “Realmente cuando yo tom contacto y lo viv desde adentro me di cuen ta que era totalmente diferente a la idea que yo tena.” She realized that the trueques were really a way to reconnect with one’s identity.

PAGE 66

59 Mobilizing Structures The ability of the RGT to adequately fram e key issues is not the single lynchpin in the success or failure of creating a social movement. Social movements must combine their ideas with action, whic h leads to the fourth element of Tarrow’s definition: mobilizing structures. Tarrow observes that so cial movement organizations need to be sufficiently structured to permit effective action, but must also be flexible enough to encourage autonomy and creativity at the participant level (Tarrow 1998: 124). The RGT tried to strike this balance by creating a horizontal system, one where each club was autonomous and created its own best practices. Yet, in some aspects the RGT was too decentralized. Nodos were supposed to be organically formed; it was expected that each would create its own norms and methods, all the while maintaining the core values of the RGT. However, once the number of nodos began growing rapidly, the RGT could not guarantee adherence to basic requirements. The RGT could not ensure that charlas were being attended or prevent coordinators from selling crditos As one interviewee observed, the truequ e in the beginning “Era mu cho mas cuidado...se invitaba a la persona parecida a voz, era mas de bo ca a boca la invitacin.” A more moderated growth rate might have allowed for the RGT to instill the core values on the front end and allowed variety and creativity in the execution of each individual nodo Uncontrolled growth, however, led to a great degree of decentralization and little oversight. Interestingly, the RGT has also been cr iticized for being t oo centralized. As discussed in Chapter 2, the Red de Trueque Solidaria (RTS) particularly denounced the RGT for tightly holding power in the small group of RGT founders, with little regard for transparency in the decision-making process. This lack of democrat ic participation also replicated itself at the nodo level. As Leoni and Luzzi’s research reveal, there almost

PAGE 67

60 always came to be a permanent coordinator, rath er than a rotation of the post as originally intended by the RGT. In all fairness, however, the position of coordina tor, especially for the larger nodos required a dedication of time; the lack of rotation often was due to a lack of volunteers willing to take on the role, rather than any malicious greed for power and control on the part of the coordinators. It would be difficult to determine what st eps the RGT could have taken to strike a more effective balance between structure a nd flexibility. To insure that each new member was thoroughly trained a nd educated would have required a strictly monitored growth pattern. The risk of course, would be to repudiate the RGT’s goal to foment a variety of experiences. Furthermore, the RG T would not have served as a refuge during economic crisis, a fact the RGT founders were proud of. This tension between structure and flexibility ultimately was untenable and th e barter clubs failed to create a mobilizing structure to maintain the barter clubs as a social movement. Sustained Activity The fourth element of Tarrow’s social m ovement definition is sustained activity. Tarrow does not specify what exact length of time qualifies as ‘sustained’ activity, but meeting an exact temporal criterion is not nece ssary in the case of the barter clubs. In terms of overall lifespan, the trueques activity is unquestionably a lasting activity. The barter clubs have existed si nce 1995 and continue to operate albeit in significantly smaller numbers. And new people conti nue to join. While I was in the nodo El Comedero in the province of Buenos Aires, I happened to speak with a woman who was there for the first time. More interesting, t hough, is the duration of participation of each individual. The people I interviewed, ev en if no longer active, tended to have participated for at least a year.

PAGE 68

61 Political Opportunities Tarrow notes that discontent a nd structural societal strain are always present. It is only when the political system opens in a par ticular manner that provides the crucible for all of the above-described elements to cataly ze the formation of a social movement. The first parts of chapter two and chapter three outlined the specific political opportunities that the stage for the formation of the barter clubs. Creating the backdrop for the barter clubs was the rise of the new poor, disenchanted with the ec onomic model that excluded them from its benefits. The discontent d eepened with the implementation of MenemÂ’s neoliberal model and the accompanying spike in unemployment, underemployment and increasing job precariousness. Finally, the dramatic natio nal economic crash created a major impetus for participation in the barter clubs. Chapter Summary In reviewing each of TarrowÂ’s categorie s a common theme emerges: the barter clubs began with all the elem ents of a social movement, but rapid participant growth, fueled by a worsening economy and eventua lly a national economic crash, severely strained the original project. This fact is particularly evident in examining the elements of contention common purpose and mobilizing structures The barter clubs began by challenging received notions of produc tion and consumption. But as the trueques reached national proportions, the elements of local production and solidarity were subverted. Participation was about surv ival, not about challenging the dominant discourse. Consequently the common purpose uniting the pioneering members quickly diluted. While some participants demonstrated a change in attitude, the RGT was largely unsuccessful in aligning the various motivati on members with the va lues of the RGT.

PAGE 69

62 One difficulty in classifying the trueques as a social movement comes into sharper focus when we consider the following question. Could the trueque be a social movement if they were designed simply to meet practic al needs and did not i nvolve any theories of self-sufficiency, local development, social money or solidarity? Or do people have to subscribe to lofty ideals for th e barter clubs to qualify as a social movement? The answer lies in a certain synergy between contention and common purpose distinct to the barter clubs. If the common purpose is solely to derive economic benefit then the element of contention disappears: simply trying to derive economi c value alone is hardly contentious. Alberto Melucci states: “What is at issue in a conflict is not the terms of the exchange, or the best way to conduct it, but the actual meaning of the exchange itself” (Melucci 1994: 125). If the m eaning of the barter clubs is reduced to a simple economic strategy then the meaning of that economic activ ity is no longer in conflict – it is simply part of the universal e ffort to survive. Finally, the barter club’s mobilizing structures also failed to hold in the face of chaotic growth. Charlas were no longer rigorously requ ired and participation at the organizing level failed to rotate as origina lly expected. By the end of 2002 the barter clubs had lost the elements necessary to be considered a social movement.

PAGE 70

63 CHAPTER 5 CYCLES OF CONTENTION The barter clubs were not the only forms of contention in Argentina in the 1990s and early years of 2000. Shortly after the ba rter clubs began, other forms of collective action came onto the scene, including the piqueteros fbricas recuperadas asambleas bariales and cacerolazos This chapter briefly examines each of these phenomena, demonstrating how they and the trueques formed a larger cycle of contention. The discussion will illuminate the master fram e common to all of these disparate groups: discontent with the neoliberal economic model. The chapter next highlights the decline of the cycle and the factors sp ecifically affecting the barter clubs. The chapter concludes with a summary of the findings of this thesis with observations on the significance of the barter clubs in the Argentine society. Onset of the Cycle The rise of various forms of contention in the 1990s and early years of 2000 fit well into what Tarrow characterizes as the onset of a cycle of contention: a marked increase in conflict, heterogeneity of actors, diverse forms of contention and increased political attention (Tarrow 1998: 144-146). Furthermor e, as Tarrow also points out, despite variance in the forms of contentious activ ity and heterogeneity of actors, these phenomena share a master frame around which protest occurred. Piqueteros (1996 – present) The piquetero movement started in two separate locations, in 1996 with riots in Cutral-Co a nd Plaz Huincul in Neuquen and in 1997 with the roadblocks of General Mosconi and Tart agal in Salta (Svampa 2003: 14). In these

PAGE 71

64 two instances the riot s and roadblocks were in respons e to joblessness created by the privatization of YPF and subsequent clos ing of YPF plants, the main source of employment in those towns. These uprisings set off a wave of similar roadblocks and protests among the jobless and povert y-stricken throughout the country. Piqueteros have variously demand jobs, social plans a nd cash subsidies (Svampa 2003: 41). The government response has been both conciliato ry and violent. It has responded by granting plans such as Planes Jefes y Jefas de Hogar to the piqueteros but has also responded with police force (Once 2006). In some cases the government has also coopted piquetero leaders by appointing them to public position (De Piquetero 2006). The piqueteros exhibit a variety of organizational st yles and a varied demographic base (Germano 2005, Svampa 2003). A common unders tanding, however, is that the failed neoliberal model brought the country a state of disarray and joblessness (Germano 2005). Fbricas recuperadas (2000 – present) As factories began to fail in the 1990s workers began barricading the factories to prevent owners from removing the equipment and selling it. The workers claimed the machin ery as payment for salaries in arrears. Forming legal cooperatives, the workers took thei r case to court – and often won. A slew of provincial laws were passed allowing th e expropriation of f actory buildings and equipment by the cooperatives, declaring the e xpropriation to be of public utility. An official organization has formed, Movimiento Nacional de Fbricas Recuperadas which became an NGO in 2003.1 Presently there are more than 100 fbricas recuperadas in operation. 1 For more information see their website at http://www.fabricasr ecuperadas.org.ar/.

PAGE 72

65 Asambleas barriales (2001 – 2003) The asambleas began right after the cacerolazos of December 19th and 20th, 2001 (Calel lo). In the beginning, anywhere from 150-300 people would meet in a public spa ce – plazas, parks, local bars. Not only did people of all ages, political and cultura l backgrounds participate, but the topics addressed covered a multitude of questions, fr om national politics to local issues. The activities of the asambleas were diverse, from providi ng assistance to the unemployed, creating collection sites for the cartoneros and buying in bulk ( compras comunitarias ), to distributing medicines, crea ting libraries, hosting theatres and festivals (DiMarco and Palomino 2004: 40). The asambleas also frequently formed ties with the piqueteros and fbricas recuperadas Despite this wide range of projects and goals, the common denominator in all asamblea discussions was the failed ne oliberal economic model: “[L]o que se plantea dentro de las asambleas y cada vez con mas fuerza, es una discusin sobre el modelo econmico de la sociedad, sobre el modelo econmico social; una discusin sobre la economa del mercado” (DiMarco and Palomino 2004: 38). In March 2002 there were 272 in the whole country (Calello ), but at present the fate of the various asambleas is hard to gauge. Most reports of the asambleas in the press are those particularly associated with the piqueteros In searching on the internet, most of the neighborhood asamblea websites have not been active since 2003. Cacerolazos (December 19th and 20th, 2001) In a spontaneous protest against the unraveling economic and political situat ion, thousands of Argentines took to the streets clanging pots and pans, culminating in the resignation of Pres ident de la Ra from office. For many the protest was about the economic crisis and fo r others it was about the political crisis: "A m me llam la atencin la existencia de dos sectores en el

PAGE 73

66 cacerolazo, aparte de los vndalos y provocador es: un sector que peda la renuncia de Cavallo y el fin del modelo econmico, y otro que iba ms lejos, que quera el fin de las prebendas polticas, quera la renuncia de la Corte Suprema, un Parlamento que funcione, se avanzaba ms en el plano de la reivindi cacin institucional” (J os Nun quoted in El Cacerolazo 2001). Contentious action and social protest has always been pres ent in Argentina. But if we look at a timeline of these activities we can see in retrospect that a cycle of contention had started in the mid 1990s with the barter clubs and piqueteros and peaked during the national political and economic crisis of late 2001 and early 2002 when the asambleas and cacerolazos came into being. Each of these phenomenon carried out very different agendas – demanding jobs in the case of th e piqueteros, creating spaces for direct democracy in the case of the asambleas venting a visceral frus tration with the economic and political chaos in the case of the cacerolazos and creating an alternative economic model in the case of the trueques Yet these various forms of protest constituted by a variety of actors shared a mast er frame: discontent with the neoliberal economic model. Decline of the cycle This cycle of contention does seem to be slowing. Some of the contentious behavior died out soon after it starte d. The momentary ascendance of the cacerolazos marked the peak of the cycle, a spontaneous outpouring of the masses into the street. The asambleas also coincided with the pi nnacle of the cycle, and wh ile slightly longer lasting, eventually lost steam. On the other hand, other forms of contention continue: many of the fbricas recuperadas still operate and the piqueteros continue to frequently set roadblocks and made demands on the government The barter clubs fit in somewhere in the middle of this cycle, outlas ting the transient spark of the cacerolazos and asambleas

PAGE 74

67 but struggling to maintain an existence that the piqueteros and fbricas recuperadas have steadily maintained. By examining each conceptual element of a social movement – collective activity, sustained activity, common purpose/identit y, mobilizing structures and political opportunities – I have illuminated reasons for why the barter clubs failed to maintain themselves as a social movement. But ther e are additional factors which influenced the course of the barter clubs. These factors re late directly to the dynamics of contentious cycles. According to Tarrow, the declin e of a cycle is brought on by exhaustion, polarization within th e movement, and government sel ective facilitation of claims (Tarrow 1998: 147-150). All of these factors are at play to some degr ee within the barter clubs. The first element, exhaustion applies in an indirect way – the barter clubs started closing shop because of inflation, coun terfeiting, and specula tion, not because the members grew tired of participating. Howe ver, lack of time, energy and resources prevented the RGT from assimilating the fl ood of new members and adequately framing key issues. The second element, polarizati on, also factored into the breakdown of the barter clubs. The RGT generated two competi ng barter clubs, the Zona Oeste and RTS. The RTS in particular ardently and pub licly criticized the RGT for irresponsible management of crdito printing as well as for autocratic control. The government’s role affected the trajector y of the barter clubs. Alvarez et al. suggest that government plan s cushioning the adverse eff ects of neoliberal policies undercut the need for mobilization and reinfor ce clientelism. This process is exactly what the RGT founders believed to be happe ning. The RGT founders suggest that plans

PAGE 75

68 such as Plan Jefes y Jefas de Hogares attracted people away from the barter clubs and toward easy money from the government. Fo weraker explains demobilization in the tendency of social movements to negotiate more and protest less. This dynamic may have also been at play with the barter clubs The umbrella organization of the RGT, the PAR ( El Programa de Autosuficiencia Regional ), in fact became a non-governmental organization. Part of the reason for formi ng an NGO was to gain credibility and legal recognition. As we have seen, the RGT speci fically worked to get government support of the barter clubs and with some degree of su ccess. But as both Tarrow and Melucci note, the greater the degree of institutionalizat ion the less the degree of contention. Conclusion In the early years, when the barter clubs we re small, they met all the criteria of a social movement. They were a collec tive, sustained activity. They behaved contentiously – challenging fundamental be liefs about the nature of production and consumption and providing an alternative to the neoliberal, market-based economy. The barter club members mobilized behind this common purpose not onl y in the act of bartering, but also through regular charlas and rotation of resp onsibilities in the nodo Even so, the barter clubs were unable to maintain their trajectory as a social movement, partly because they grew so quick ly. The huge influx of participants in the years leading up to the economic cr isis of 2001 severely taxed the trueques As people fled to into the barter system to satisfy basic material needs, their original common purpose changed, from challenging the dominant economic model to being simply another way to survive hard times. This change in motivation undermined the contentious aspect of the trueques : to barter on principle is co ntentious; to barter out of need is not.

PAGE 76

69 The mobilizing structure also broke down as the trueques grew, affecting the RGTÂ’s ability to raise consciousness among its members. Because the clubs were organized horizontally, the RGT could not monitor the practices of each nodo Not only did illicit practices run rampant, but the RG T was unable to sufficiently imbue each new member with the core values of the trueque Despite efforts to frame the issues of selfreliance, local production and the ills of money, the RGT was unable to successfully inculcate these ideals and transfor m them into everyday practices. Creating a national system of parallel cu rrency exacerbated the RGTÂ’s failure to frame key issues. As the RGT grew it had to decide between divergent models: preserve a small, local system adept at maintaining so lidarity, or build a larger multi-regional or national system that could more efficiently in allocate goods and se rvices. Ultimately, by choosing a national system based on a national crdito the RGT replicated the very ills of the market economy that the RGT had reject ed in the first place: inflation, greed and speculation. By going national, the RGT lost the community focus a nd personal ties that legitimize a local currency. In turn, th e sense of solidarit y between like-minded neighbors largely disappeared. Yet, the barter clubs played an important role in Argentine society. On the one hand, the barter clubs were a survival mech anism that supplied ba sic goods and services during a time when money was short and unemployment was high. The trueques, however, made a deeper impact than just simply providing basic needs during economic hardship. At a visible level, the barter clubs influenced government by putting new issues on the political agenda, and gaining political support of an alternative economic model. The barter clubs also influenced so ciety at a more implicit level. As Feijoo

PAGE 77

70 observes in her examination of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, groups can create change without intending to do so. The Madres acted out their traditi onal role of protectors and in the process unwittingly challenged the sy stem. “In practice, the Madres became another movement of women who, without trying to cha nge patriarchal ideology or abandon their femininity, produced a transf ormation of the traditional feminine conscience and its political role. As a result, a practical redefinition of the content of the private and public realms em erged” (Feijoo 1994: 113). Similarly, the barter club pa rticipants, whether or not th ey consciously intended it, created new identities for themselves. As Bombal points out, despite failure to fully extend and transform the ideas of the pr agmatic barter club participant, the trueques changed participants’ self-per ception: “En estas personas no se encuentran convicciones ideolgicas tan claras respecto del trueque como ordenador de un estilo de vida alternativo, pero sin duda la prctica misma les permite resi gnificar su existencia y alcanzar un nuevo posicionamiento” (Bombal 2002: 117). The quintessential example of this transformation is the woman I interviewe d who at first looked at the barter clubs through the eyes of a snob. After she began pa rticipating, however, she realized that the trueques provided a means to rebuild broken id entities: “Lo que se estaba dando [el trueque] era recuperar la iden tidad de las personas, recupe rar la dignidad del trabajo y recuperar el sentido de que lo que es el solidaridad, porque esto fue lo que yo descubr en el trueque.” More generally, the barter clubs are signi ficant as an indication of Argentina’s evolving state-society relations Understanding the barter clubs as a nascent social movement that eventually failed to consolidat e as such serves to highlight this changing

PAGE 78

71 relationship. To view the barter clubs as a social m ovement reminds observers to recognize the underlying values and convictions present at their creation. Bringing the trueques’ normative message to the forefront brings to bear the full significance of the barter clubs – as an inno vative and conscious reaction, one among many, to a changing state. The 1970s marked a dividing line in the hist ory of Argentine stat e-society relations. In the 1940s and 50s, Peron had set the standa rd for an active stat e, one that heavily directed economic growth and incorporat ed and provided for the working class by organizing and empowering strong unions. The military government that took power from Peron in 1973 attempted to liberalize state hold on economic activity and limit the power that unions had acquired. The advent of democracy in 1983 marked the return to an active civil society. The trend toward liberalization that st arted in the 1970’s, however, continued forward. Carlos Menem ca rried out the liberalization agenda with particular enthusiasm in the 1990s. Under Me nem, several factors coalesced to create a crisis in the new model: mass privatizations of state-owned businesses and the opening of markets to outside competition exacerbated th e process of de-industrialization that started in the 1970s and the concomitant decline in the middle class. The result was massive unemployment in the mid 1990s and the exposur e of the “new poor” as an established class in Argentina. The economic crisis of 2001 symbolized for many the consequences of the state’s move away from a paternalistic, hands-on ec onomic model to a liberal market model. The responses to the crisis and to the underlying change varied – from asambleas barriales and piqueteros to fabricas recuperadas and barter clubs. This wave of

PAGE 79

72 contention demonstrates a broad based sear ch for new modes of both governance and livelihood. At one end of the spectrum there are the piqueteros who continue to make claims on the government, but through novel forms of contention. Alternatively, the asambleas barriales place governance directly into th e hands of the citizens, while the fabricas recuperadas invest factory ownership and opera tion directly into the hands of the workers. At the far end of the spectrum are the trueques representing an even more radical response, enjoining their members not to look to the government for assistance but to look to themselves for solutions. Out of all these forms of contention the piqueteros demonstrate the greatest longevity. While the asambleas have died out almost entirely and the barter clubs are a mere shadow of what they once were, the piqueteros remain active and continue to grow. An avenue for future research would be to compare the trajectory of the piqueteros with that of the barter clubs. Do the piqueteros Â’ goals and modes of contention resonate more naturally in Argentine society? Were the piqueteros able to consolidate as a movement because of better framing practices? The future of the barter clubs, however, s hould not be ignored. Despite their fall from headline news, research should stay abreast of the trueques Will their efforts to regroup generate a more effective barter organi zation? If not, what will be the path of former participants? Will they go on to participate in other forms of contentious behavior?

PAGE 80

73 APPENDIX PRINCIPIOS DE LA RGT 1. Nuestra realizacin como seres humanos no necesita estar condicionada por el dinero. 2. No buscamos promover artculos o servic ios, sino ayudarnos mutuamente a alcanzar un sentido de vida superior, medi ante el trabajo, la comprensin y el intercambio justo. 3. Sostenemos que es posible remplazar la competencia estril, el lucro y la especulacin por la reciprocidad entre las personas. 4. Creemos que nuestros actos, productos y servicios pueden responder a normas ticas y ecolgicas antes que a los dictados del mercado, el consumismo y la bsqueda de beneficio a corto plazo. 5. Los nicos requisitos para ser miembro de la Red Global de Trueque son: asistir a las reuniones grupales, ca pacitarse y ser pr oductor y consumidor de bienes, servicios y saberes, en el marco de las r ecomendaciones de los crculos de calidad y autoayuda. 6. Sostenemos que cada miembro es el nico responsable de sus actos, productos y servicios. 7. Consideramos que pertenecer a un grupo no implica ningn vnculo de dependencia, puesto que la participacin indi vidual es libre y extendida a todos los grupos de la Red. 8. Sostenemos que no es necesario que los gr upos se organicen formalmente, de modo estable, puesto que el carct er de Red implica la rotacin permanente de roles y funciones. 9. Creemos que es posible combinar la autonom a de los grupos en la gestin de sus asuntos internos con la vigencia de los principios fundamentales que dan pertenencia a la Red. 10. Consideramos recomendable que los integr antes no respaldemos, patrocinemos o apoyemos financieramente como miembros de la Red a una causa ajena a ella, para no desviarnos de los objet ivos fundamentales que nos unen.

PAGE 81

74 11. Sostenemos que el mejor ejemplo es nuestra conducta en el mbito de la Red y en nuestra vida fuera de ella. guardamos conf idencialidad sobre los asuntos privados y prudencia en el tratamiento pblico de los temas de la Red que afecten a su crecimiento. 12. Creemos profundamente en una idea de progreso como consecuencia del bienestar sustentable del mayor nmero de pers onas del conjunto de las sociedades.

PAGE 82

75 LIST OF REFERENCES Alvarez, Sonia E., Evelina Dagnino and Artu ro Esobar, editors. 1998. Introduction: The Cultural and the Political in Latin Ameri can Social Movements, pp 1-29. In Cultures of Politics, Politics of Cultu res: Re-visioning Latin American Social Movements Boulder: Westview Press. Arcidiacono, Pilar. 2004. Trueque y Plan Jefas y Jefes de Hogar Desocupados: Dos Estrategias de Contencin Soci al ante la Crisis del 2002. Lavboratorio Ano 5, Numero 14, Otoo/Invierno 2004. Argentina Default Impact Limited. BBC News Dec 23, 2001. Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1726265.stm Last accessed April 2006. Banko, Catalina. 2000. El Modelo Neoliberal en Argentina y Venzuela Contrastes y Convergencias, pp 27-38. In Costos Sociales de las Reformas Neoliberales en America Latina. Edited by Anita Kon, Catalina Banko, Dorothea Melcher and Maria Cristina Cacciamali. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela. Barbetta, Pablo, and Karina Bidaseca. Pique te y Cacerola, la Lucha es una Sola: Emergencia Discursiva o Nueva Subjetiv idad? Article from the Instituto Argentino para el Desarrollo Economico. Available at http://www.iade.org.ar/index.html Last accessed April 2006. Beliz, Gustavo. 1995. El Etado del Posbienestar. In Politica Social: La Cuenta Pendiente Edited by Gustavo Belize Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana. Bluestein, Paul. 2005. And the Money Kept Ro lling In (And Out). New York: Public Affairs. Bombal, Ines Gonzales. 2002. Sociabilidad en Cl ases Medias en Descenso: Experiencias en el Trueque, pp 97-130. In Sociedad y Sociabilidad en la Argentina de los 90 Buenos Aires: Editorial Biblos. Bonetto, Maria Susana, and Maria Teresa Pier o. 2000. El Discurso So bre el Trabajo en Argentina. Pp 50-66. In Costos Sociales de las Reformas Neoliberales en Amrica Latina. Edited by Anita Kon, Catalina Banko, Dorothea Melcher and Maria Cristina Cacciamali. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela.

PAGE 83

76 Buechler, Stephen M. 2000. Social Movements in Advanced Capitalism: The Political Economy and Cultural Construction of Social Activism New York: Oxford University Press. Byrnes, Brian. 2005. Argentina Plays Chicken with Foreign Investors. The Christian Science Monitor Feb 9, 2005. Accessed at http://www.csmonitor.com/index.html Last accessed April 2006. Calello, Tomas. Asambleas Barriales: Un Balance Provisorio. Portafolio de Experiencias, Numero 6, UR BARED. Available at http://www.urbared.ungs.edu.ar/expe riencias_invitacion.php?expID=34 Last accessed April 2006. Comenzar por casa Autosuficiencia website. autosuficiencia.com.ar/shop/otraspag inas.asp?pagina=quienessomos.htm. Convenio Marco De Colaboracion Institucional between Secretaria de la Pequea y Mediana Empresa del Ministerio (SEPyM E) de Economia and la Asociacin Amigos Del Programa De Autosuficiencia Regional (AAPAR). Signed December 2000. www.geocities.com/RainForest/Canopy/5413/convenio.htm Cortesi, Javier. 2003. Red de Trueque Solidario, pp 181-196. In Trueque y Economa Solidaria Buenos Aires: Pr ometeo Libros. Crivello, Anala. 2002. El Nuevo club de Trueque Abrio sus Puertas en Recoleta. La Nacin, May 19, 2002. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006. De Piquetero a Subsecretario. La Nacin, Feb 26, 2006. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006. Di Marco, Graciela, and Hector Palomino (compiladores). 2004. Reflexiones Sobre los Movimientos Sociales en la Argentina Buenos Aires: Jorge Baudino Ediciones. El Cacerolazo, la Neva Forma de Fiscalizar. La Nacin, Dec 23, 2001. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006. El Trueque. RGT magazine. Ano 3, Number XXVII, June 2001. El Trueque Crece a la Par de la Crisis. La Nacin Feb 6 2002. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006. El Trueque Salv a una Fbrica en Mendoza. La Nacin Feb 27 2002. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006.

PAGE 84

77 Falcoff, M. 2003. Argentina: Kirchner's Honeymoon. Latin American Outlook, October. American Enterprise Institute. Also availabl e at www.aei.org. Feijoo, Maria del Carmen, with Marcela Maria Alejandro Nari 1994. Women and Democracy in Argentina. In The Women's Movement in Latin America 2nd edition. Edited by Jane S. Jaque tte. Oxford: Westview Press. Ferree, Myra Max. 1992. The Political Cont ext of Rationality: Ra tional Choice theory and Resource Mobilization in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory pp 29-52. Edited by Morris and Mueller. New Ha ven: Yale University Press. Foweraker, Joe. 2005. Towards a Political So ciology of Social Mobilization in Latin America, pp 115-135. In Rethinking Development in Latin America Edited by Charles. H. Wood and Bryan Roberts. Pennsylvania: Penn State Press. Fue la Peor Crisis Social Desde 1919. La Nacin December 23, 2003. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006. Germano, Carlos (coordinator). 2005. Piqueteros: Nueva Realidad Social Buenos Aires: ACEP. Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame Analysis Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Hintze, Susana, editor. 2003. Trueque y Economa Solidaria Buenos Aires: Prometeo Libros. IMF (Interational Monetary Fund). 2003. Lessons from the Crisis in Argentina Policy Development and Review Department. Laporte, Luis Nicolas. 2003. La Red de Trueque Solidaria: Una Introduccion, pp 163180. In Trueque y Economa Solidaria. Buenos Aires: Promoteo Libros. Laraa, Enrique, Hank Johnston and Joseph R. Gusfield, editors. 1994. New Social Movements: From Ideology to Identity Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Lecaro, Patricia, and Barbara Altschuler. Po liticas Sociales y Desarrollo Local. Dos Experiencias Diversas: Club del Trueque y Union de Trabajadores Desocupados (UTD) de Mosconi. Paper presented at Congreso de Politicas Sociales: Estrategias de Articulacin de Polti cas, Programas y Proyectos Sociales en Argentina, Universidad de Quilmes, Mayo 2002. Las Tradiciones Autosuficiencia website. http://tabloide.eurofull.com/shop/otraspaginas.asp?pagina=42 Last accessed April 2006.

PAGE 85

78 Leoni, Fabiana, and Mariana Luzzi. 2003. Ras gunando la Lona: La Experiencia de un Club de Trueque en el Conurbano Bon aerense. Report produced under the Project SelfSustainable De velopment in Comparative Perspective (coordinated by the Center for Latin American Social Po licy, CLASPO), University of Texas. Available at http://www.utexas.edu/cola/llilas/centers/c laspo/networkfinalreportsargentina.htm Last accessed November 2004. Los Doce Principios. Autosuficiencia website. http://tabloide.eurofull.com/shop/otraspaginas.asp?pagina=39 Last accessed April 2006. Megaferia: Tiempo de Trueque City of Buenos Aires gove rnment brochure. N.d. Melucci, Alberto. 1994. A Strange Kind of Ne wness: What's 'New' in New Social Movements? In New Social Movements pp 101-130. Edited by Laraa, Johnston and Gusfield. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Minujin, Alberto, and Gabriel Kessler. 1995. La Nueva Pobreza en la Argentina Buenos Aires: Editorial Planeta Argentina. NotiTrueque. Se Corto el Chorro? RGT pamphlet. May 1, 2002. Once Heridos en una Protesta de Piqueteros. La Nacin March 1, 2006. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006. Ovalles, Eduardo. 2002. Data in chart pages 71-77. In Trueque y Economa Solidaria Edited by Susana Hintze. Buenos Aires: Promoteo Libros, 2003. Palermo, V., and J. Collins. 1998. Moderate Populism: A Political Approach to Argentina's 1991 Convertibility Plan. Latin American Perspectives, 25(4): 36-62. Powell, Jeff. 2002. Petty Capitalism, Perfecting Capitalism or Post-Capitalism? Lessons from the Argentinian Barter Network. Working Paper No. 357, Sub-series on Money, Finance and Development, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. Available at http://adlib.iss.nl/ad lib/beginner/index_gb.html Last accessed April 2006. Premat, Silvina. Trueque: Barajar y Dar de Nuevo. La Nacin July 16 2003. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006. Primavera, Heloisa. 1999. La Moneda Social De La Red Global De Trueque Barajar y Dar de Nuevo en el Juego Social? http://www.heloisaprimavera.c om.ar/noticias/display.php3?ID=5 Last accessed April 2006.

PAGE 86

79 Primavera, Heloisa, Horacio Covas and Ca rlos De Sanzo. 1998. Reinventando el Mercado: La Experiencia de la Red Globa l de Trueque en Argentina. Buenos Aires: PAR. Also available at http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:J WnxPn2er7YJ:www3.plala.or.jp/mig/h owtoes.doc+%22reinventando+el+mercado%22& hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=3&client =firefox-a Last accessed April 2006. Primavera, Heloisa. 2003. Riqueza, Dinero y Poder: El Efmero Milagro Argentino, pp 121-144. In Trueque y Economa Solidaria Buenos Aires: Pr ometeo Libros. Rocha, Laura. Renace el Fenomeno del Trueque. La Nacin Dec 16, 2002. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006. Sainz, Alfredo. La Hper le Gan la Pulseada al Trueque. La Nacin Aug, 17, 2003. Also available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006. Sampayo, Fernando. 2003. Club de Trueque Zona Oeste, pp197-206. In Trueque y Economa Solidaria Buenos Aires: Prometeo Libros. Skidmore, Thomas E. and Peter H. Smith. 2001. Modern Latin America 5th edition. New York: Oxford University Press. Snow, David A., and Robert D. Benford. 1992. Ma ster Frames and Cycles of Protest. In Frontiers in Social Movement Theory pp 456-472. Edited by Aldon D. Morris and Carol McClurg. Yale: Ya le University Press. Snow, David A., E. Burke Rochford Jr., Stev en K. Worden and Robert D. Benford. 1986. Frame Alignment Processes, Micromobili zation, and Movement Participation. American Sociologi cal Review 51: 464-481. Svampa, Maristella, and Sebastin Pereyra. 2003. Entre la Ruta y el Barrio. Buenos Aires: Editorial Biblos. Tarrow, Sidney. 1998. Power in Movements: Social Movements and Contentious Politics Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tokman, Victor E. 1996. La Especificidad y Generalidad del Problema del Empleo en el Contexto de Amrica Latina, pp 47-82. In Sin Trabajo: Las Caracteristicas del Desempleo y sus Efectos en la Sociedad Argentina. Edited by Luis Beccaria and Nestor Lopez. Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada. Torresi, Leonardo. El Club del Treuque que le Cambi la Cara a un Barrio. Clarn March 3, 2002. Available at www.clarin.com Last accessed April 2006.

PAGE 87

80 Trueque Frente al Congreso. La Nacin, May 24, 2002. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006. Un Club del Trueque se Instal en Plena City Portea. La Nacin, May 6, 2002. Available at www.lanacion.com.ar Last accessed April 2006.

PAGE 88

81 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Wendy Pond received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Florida in May of 2000. She returned to UF in 2003 to do a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies with a specia lization in poli tical science. While school was in session Wendy worked as a graduate assistant at the Center for Latin Ameri can Studies, assisting on various projects including the CenterÂ’s annual conferences. During her first summer, Wendy participated in the Coca-Cola World C itizenship Program, working as an intern for Save the Children in Nicaragua. The following summer she had the opportunity to intern at the U.S. Mission to the Organizati on of American States through the U.S. State Department Summer Intern Program. She gr aduates in May 2006 with her MA in Latin American Studies.