Several organisations denounce hate messages and incitement to violence against trade union leader over cartoon

Several organisations denounce hate messages and incitement to violence against trade union leader over cartoon

In Argentina, this cartoon published on Saturday, 3 March 2018 in the newspaper New Day de Coronel Suárez, a small-circulation publication in a small city in the centre-south of the province of Buenos Aires that is printed three times a week and has an extreme right-wing editorial line.

The cartoon has been repudiated and considered an incitement to violence by unions, teachers and some political leaders.

In the image, a hand with a gun is pointed at the head of trade unionist Roberto Baradel,secretary general of the Unified Union of Education Workers of Buenos Aires (SUTEBA)

The text of the cartoon, signed by someone called José L. Degele and with a drawing by“Yapito” (of whom I have found no reference) is supposed to be a humorous play on the so-called“trigger clause” and is related to the teachers’ strike.

The “trigger clause” automatically adjusts salaries in case inflation exceeds the agreed figure, a measure that was included in other years and whose absence the unions believe reflects that the price increase will be higher than the expected 15 %.

A clumsy cartoon

I think that the cartoon is a gaffe because of its clumsy and facile resolution, a clumsy mistake of a mediocre amateur that does not even result in a silly joke.

It is understood that they haven’t even given it a twist to look for a joke or a satirical message. If they intended it to be an exercise in black humour, they have opted for a scene that conceals no other humorous device than an execution. The only card they have left is that of the metaphorical sense.

Anyone who doesn’t know what the “trigger clause” issue is about will not only not understand it, but will not be able to find any other reading than that of a shot to the head of a trade unionist. From this it is not surprising that many have seen malicious intent in the message.

Another example, this time explicit, of “hit or shoot down”.

As many remember, Baradel had already received threats before, in 2016 and in the middle of the paritaria (special commissions made up of union and business representatives to discuss, among other things, the minimum wage), his daughter received an email telling her that her father should sign the wage increase with a ceiling of 25% proposed by the government, or she and her siblings “are going to be a ballot“.

The opinion of the trade union organisations

The head of SUTEBA in Coronel Suárez, Ana María Schweitzer, warned that the publication was published very shortly after the trade unionist had received death threats at the beginning of 2018

“It is a newspaper that appears three times a week and is very little bought. It has always had an extreme right-wing editorial, but never before has anything so violent appeared. It’s a very crude way of communicating in the middle of a parity and in a democracy. I think this was deliberately thought out”.

SUTEBA issued this statement and did not rule out taking legal action:

why do we believe that this is an apology for crime? Because it has clear political purposes, typical of emerging dictatorships that, under the cover of the battered “freedom of expression” -a clearly democratic value, which the well-known shopkeeper from Swarovski lacks-, openly instigates and promotes violence.

The cartoon does not reflect “life through the image”, on the contrary, it is the living expression of the class hatred that a sector of the population has, not only in the city of Coronel Suarez, but in the whole of Argentina, directed especially towards the working people. For all these reasons, we consider that the “bullet” aimed at teacher Roberto Baradel is one more action that adds to a series of threats directed at him and his family members, never investigated by the current government, and which always intensify at times of the negotiations.

This humorist should know that the General Secretary of the Provincial Suteba, Roberto Baradel, was democratically elected in 2017 and represents thousands of teachers, does not represent himself and does not go on strike for personal gain, but does so on behalf of thousands of education workers who have historically clamoured for our labour rights and a living wage, demonstrating peacefully in marches, never with a gun to which the cartoon alludes.

We do not expect Mr. José Luis Dégele to understand what democracy and freedom of association mean, nor the struggle for workers’ rights, but we do expect him to recognise that when someone has a different political position, we, the trade unionists, resolve it with arguments, never with a gun, even though the same government that the editorial staff of the newspaper supports was the one who incorporated the term “trigger clause” in the 2017 collective bargaining agreement.

Today, we teachers are Roberto Baradel. We say NO to the bullets of a humour that covers up violence”.

The Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina(CTA) of Buenos Aires, where Baradel is secretary general, rejected the publication considering that it“calls for the execution” of the union leader.

“This cowardly message with mafia overtones shows the desperation of certain sectors to put an end to a trade union model of struggle and resistance, which with dignity and conviction does not bow down in the face of constant attacks, persecution and threats. They could not and will not be able to bring us to our knees, nor will they find a defenceless Baradel, his comrades will not allow it”.

The Confederation of Education Workers (CTRA ) announced that they will take legal action against the newspaper that published the cartoon criminal proceedings against the newspaper that published the cartoon.

In an interview on FM Cielo, Baradel said that, on the recommendation of CELS and human rights lawyers, “they are going to file a criminal complaint because they are trying to spread fear with this caricature”.

Related, more than 100 cases all over the world.


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