Universidad del Centro de Estudios Macroeconómicos de Argentina (UCEMA), Buenos Aires
This is a sequel to UCEMA working paper # 277, and as such, the draft of the second chapter of a book project on Argentina as a 'parasite state', i.e., one that simultaneously lives off the rest of the world and consumes itself, harboring parasitical segments within its political elite, bourgeoisie, bureaucracy and proletariat. This chapter delves on the so-called piqueteros, the picketing organizations that emerged during the 1990s and have since thrived. Their genealogy can be traced to two roots: (1) the trade unions, which have radically changed their character due to soaring unemployment, and (2) the organizations that arose during the mid-1980s among groups of the urban poor which, through violent means, succeeded usurping private and public lands for the establishment of shanty towns in the Greater Buenos Aires area. In 1989 and 1990 the latter led the widespread looting that followed two hyperinflationary crises. By 1995 they had managed to wrest from the provincial state the right to distribute unemployment benefits among their members, and had established strategic alliances with NGOs dedicated to human rights. Thus, an underground institution (as defined in paper # 277) emerged, endowed with some of the functions normally attributed to the state.