Argentina’s Piquetero/a Movement originates from the unemployed worker protests, usually blocking highways and roads, during the 1990s financial crisis. The women of the movement, played a variety of crucial roles. The Piquetero/a Movement reached its height during the crisis of 2001 and 2002. Although it is no longer a key actor in current social struggles, its methods have served as a milestone in the tradition of struggle of the working class and other social movements in the country.
This article describes Piquetero/a Movement’s phases of development, beginning with the revolts of unpaid government employees against corrupt politicians and neo-liberal policies. Privatisation of national industry and rising unemployment further fueled the movement. Increasingly, family members and other supporters joined the pickets. Although women were the majority of those who put their bodies on the line in the blockades and mobilisations, they had extremely low visibility; the recognised leaders were mainly male.
The second phase of the movement was characterised by the shift from the spontaneity of the first, becoming a collection of organisations associated with leftist formations and political parties. During this time, the women began organising on their own and demanding more representation in the wider movement. They also started participating in National Women’s Encounters, and organising mechanisms to combat domestic violence in their communities.
Through repression, then cooptation, the government was able to fracture and demobilise the Piquetero/a Movement. Yet, for thousands of Argentine women, the movement marked their entry into public, political life, and the transformation of their everyday domestic lives.