In memory of Raúl Quiroz

Concordia, Argentina 1931- Barcelona, Spain 2022

16 July by Eric Toussaint , Griselda Pinero


Raúl Quiroz en 2021, à 90 ans.

This tribute was written by four hands. Griselda started the portrait of Raúl and Eric took over.

Griselda

I have been asked to write a portrait of Raúl, who has now taken his leave. For a final goodbye I put a red rose into his shirt pocket... As you know, Barcelona is called the ’Rosa de foc’, ’Rosa de fuego’, ’Rosa roja (Red Rose)’, that is the colour of the blood shed in so many struggles - struggles in which Raúl was involved from very early on.

When he arrived at the Universidad nacional de La Plata (Argentina), he was in touch with the reformist movement and with the Federación Universitaria de La Plata (FULP) and with the working world, in particularly with the anarchist organization FORA (Argentine Regional Labour Federation [1]), which was very active in the 1930s and was still present in the major unions, particularly in the ship building industry until the first Peronist government imposed a single trade union for all workers and allowed the CGT closed-shop policy. To achieve economic independence from his parents Raúl worked in ship building, in Rio Santiago, and in a company specializing in cold storage for meat distribution. These experiences reinforced his Anarchist-Communist convictions.

Raúl entered the Engineering Faculty of the University of La Plata in 1950. I think he moved quite quickly into the Chemistry and Pharmacy Faculty to read for his doctorate in chemical sciences. His activist commitment started when he was a student the faculty, whose name was changed to ’exact sciences’in the 1970s.

Perhaps we should say a word of this university reform: it arose from a student movement that started in the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba (Argentina), one of the most ancient towns and universities in South America. The University was heavily under the influence of the church, it was an elitist institution without any roots in the popular classes. In 1918, the student movement published a manifesto addressed to the free men of South America entitled ’Manifiesto Liminar de la Reforma Universitaria de 1918 - University Reform Manifesto 1918).’ It started as follows: ’Men of a free republic, we have broken the last chains that, in the XXth century tied us under Monarchical and Monastic domination (...). Rebellion broke out in Cordoba and it was violent because the tyrants had become arrogant and sought to forever wipe out the memory of the May counter-revolution [2]’.

It ends with: ’The young are no longer asking, they demand that their right to self-expression be recognized in University institutions through their own representatives (...). The federation of the University of Cordoba student movement sends greetings to comrades all over America and encourages them to collaborate in the task of liberty that has begun in Cordoba.”

Raúl adhered to the cause of University reform and became the President of La Plata University Federation (FULP) during the 1955-1956 academic year.

However, the 1918 University reform did not achieve free and indiscriminate university entry, which was not achieved in Argentina until the Peronist regime introduced it in 1949; entry was granted to all on condition of having successfully completed secondary education in 1953.

When the Peronist government fell to a Coup d’État in September 1955 the State Universities that were governed by Peronists were brought under control by the de facto Government. At that time the student movement was at its height and occupied the Universities for their headlessnesswas. The fact that triggered a new occupation of the universities was the nomination of an national Education minister with an ideology clerical and fascist, the fact president of the Republic, Gral. Lonardi, was also an ultra-catholic, but the element catalyst was a decree that allowed private universities to award national diplomas on a par with public universities. At that time Raúl Quiroz was president of the FULP. The movement was a success; the minister Atilio Dell’Oro Maini was forced to resign. In 1956 the student leaders were leaving their universities. Nevertheless, in 1958 under the Frondizi government and after a long struggle to defend free and secular State universities laws were passed that allowed the creation of private universities that would have the same status as public universities (because of the strikes caused by university policies of the Frondizi government I nearly missed my opportunity to sit university entrance exams).

The Presidents of the FUA FULP , Raûl Quiroz (the first on the left without a tie) at a press conference during the occupation of the La Plata University in 1955].

The following year I gained entry into the faculty of chemistry and pharmacy to read for my doctorate in chemical sciences. It was almost at the end of my studies that I met Raúl. I think he was looking for me, I was down: I’d just lost my father and was disappointed in love... And there was Raúl. With some friends we had signed up for a journey organized by a group with an interest in chemical technology (none of us were involved in this field) to visit the vineyards in the Mendoza region (I suppose that fermentation was the domain of interest for the technology group) with an excursion into the Andes and... well, I don’t really remember the scientific, or educational goals of the trip. Raúl proposed, I accepted, and some months later we married. Raúl received a post-doctorate fellowship grant in Nancy (France). At the time in 1963 it was logical that we be married.

That was fifty-nine years ago. Years went by and we had two sons and a daughter.

In 1972, we inaugurated the provincial university of Jujuy in the North-west of Argentina, which has since become a national university. Raúl was called to work at the university along with a group of alumni in chemistry, natural sciences and physics from La Plata. Raúl was the first dean of the engineering faculty. There followed the vicissitudes of the return of Peron, his death and the terrible period of the presidency of his widow María Estela Martínez de Peron, during which time the State protected terrorist group ’Triple A’ became active. The situation deteriorated. On 24 March 1976 Videla usurped power and began the most cruel dictatorship the Argentine people have ever known.

The time had come to leave the country...

I was on a scholarship at the École des Mines in Paris (France). Raúl took our children to Barcelona and I joined them there. I knew people in Barcelona who welcomed Raúl and the children, who were delighted with Barcelona. But we had to go back to Paris for me to finish my scholarship. When my scholarship was over we had the choice of remaining in Paris and asking for political asylum or returning to Barcelona where the children were happy, spoke the same language and had more sunshine to enjoy themselves in. In Spain, Franco was dead and exiles were starting to return. The choice was easy and we set-up home in Barcelona in May 1977.

Barcelona was a festival of social, trade union and political movements. We were part of this environment. Our children attended ’Soller’ a progressive national education school aiming to develop a teacher, family and pupil orientated pedagogy. Raúl joined the project actively in the pedagogy commission inspired by the Ferrer y Guardia pedagogy, by Paulo Freire... The Spanish national education did not support this and the interesting experiment ended, but a lasting fraternity was created among the participants.

In the region of Vallès Occidental close to Barcelona, under Franco an agricultural area was expropriated in order to build a satellite city of 100 000 people. Environmental activists reacted vigorously. The commission for the defence of Gallecs (after the village of Gallecs in Mollet del Vallles, and Santa Maria des Gallecs) was created to encourage and manage the occupation of the farms abandoned by the indemnified owners. Raúl was there, supported by his family. It didn’t last long but it was an important experience for us all. Raúl and his comrade Salvador were arrested for illegal occupation and the prosecution called for three years imprisonment. On the day of the trial there was a rally of the Gallecs population with other support and the judge sensibly discharged them. Meanwhile, we had obtained Spanish nationality. Raúl worked in publishing as a proof reader, then editor and I went into education. This was a calm period, just a few demonstrations against joining NATO NATO
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NATO ensures US military protection for the Europeans in case of aggression, but above all it gives the USA supremacy over the Western Bloc. Western European countries agreed to place their armed forces within a defence system under US command, and thus recognize the preponderance of the USA. NATO was founded in 1949 in Washington, but became less prominent after the end of the Cold War. In 2002, it had 19 members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, the USA, to which were added Greece and Turkey in 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955 (replaced by Unified Germany in 1990), Spain in 1982, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic in 1999.
and the presence of U.S. military bases.

In 1998, the association ATTAC was created in France. The MAT agreement was leaked to ’Public Citizen’ in Washington. Le Monde diplomatique published the famous article by Ignacio Ramonet that was at the origin of ATTAC. The following year ATTAC was created in Barcelona and we joined a short time later. Our activities with ATTAC brought us into contact with other movements such as ’drop the debt’. The debt movement had begun before ATTAC, and then I entered the campaign in the ’Who owes Who (Quien debe a quien)’ movement against illegitimate debt. We were also present in the movement against ’Capital and War’, then against the war in Iraq. We were immersed in the alterglobalist movement.

Raúl and Griselda during a CADTM activity in Belgium, in 2009.

It was in this environment that we came into contact with the CADTM and met Eric Toussaint.

Éric Toussaint :

I met Raúl and Griselda at the beginning of the 2000s. I had been invited by ATTAC Catalonia to give a talk on illegitimate debt. The three of us quickly became very close. Since then I have been to Barcelona at least once a year, always as their guest in their flat in the town centre. Raúl and Griselda also came to Belgium every year to take part in CADTM activities (international seminars, meetings, summer schools).

I immediately took to Raúl and Griselda, an inseparable couple, a fit of two people with different but complementary and compatible characters. Raúl was a quiet personality and Griselda more openly exuberant and talkative, seeking social interactions. But clearly Raúl also enjoyed contact, discussion and conversation. It was very enjoyable to spend time together, at their home in Barcelona, at my place, in a restaurant in Barcelona or wherever, to discuss and analyse the state of the World, the state of the social movements or CADTM issues.

Raúl and Griselda were active in many of the important struggles around the World: Argentina, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, France, Andalusia, Madrid, Catalonia...We have mutual friends in Barcelona and we got together at Raúl and Griselda’s place. We have also had good times in my front garden in Liege and we have visited different places such as Maastricht, Brussels or Aachen together.

Raúl and Griselda were profoundly human. Raúl could be taciturn but he was very open to debate and discussion all the same, he remained analytic and his point of view was enriching even in the presence of contradictory opinions. Raúl was an anarchist, I would say a libertarian communist although I’m not sure he would define his positions that way (Griselda says that Raúl defined himself as anarcho-communist). Raúl and I had different references but we always found common ground on the essential points: a critical approach to reality without dogmatism, sectarianism or chapels. Our main point in common was to always support the victims of all the forms of oppression and to be on the side of those struggling for social change. Nobody can liberate the people, social emancipation is an individual and collective struggle. Only the people can liberate the people.

When visiting them Raúl would sometimes make fruit tarts for breakfast. Griselda was in charge of the evening meal. With Raúl we talked about music, classical or tango or World music. Raúl copied music CDs CDS
Credit Default Swaps
Credit Default Swaps are an insurance that a financial company may purchase to protect itself against non payments.
for me. It was always a pleasure to visit a museum or to see a film together.

Raúl was an experienced proof reader and Griselda liked translating French into Spanish. When they realized that I needed to translate my articles and books they volunteered their help which I gladly accepted. Raúl was very meticulous, an essential quality to correctly produce a book. He translated and corrected many texts. I will be eternally grateful for all the precious help Raúl and Griselda have brought me and which Griselda continues to unerringly bring.

I introduced Raúl and Griselda to others in France, Belgium and throughout the CADTM network. We became a group of friends.

We are many to miss our great friend Raúl.

Clic




Footnotes

[1The FORA of the Fifth Congress continued to function after the 1930 coup, although with a diminished presence. The last major conflict led by this organisation was the 1956 dockers’ strike, which lasted six months. However, FORA was never dissolved and still today it continues to bring together individual activists and some opposition organizations, such as the guilds in Buenos Aires, San Martín (province of Buenos Aires), Mendoza and Bahía Blanca (despite the fact that in Argentina labour legislation excludes minority and fringe unions).

[2Revolution of May 1810: public meeting in the city of Buenos Aires, capital at the time of the Vice-royalty of the River Plate. It was a first attempt at emancipation from the Spanish crown but progressives and reactionaries, who in fact were not favourable to independence also took part...

Eric Toussaint

is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France.
He is the author of Greece 2015: there was an alternative. London: Resistance Books / IIRE / CADTM, 2020 , Debt System (Haymarket books, Chicago, 2019), Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012, etc.
See his bibliography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89ric_Toussaint
He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. He was the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt from April 2015 to November 2015.

Other articles in English by Griselda Pinero (1)

CADTM

COMMITTEE FOR THE ABOLITION OF ILLEGITIMATE DEBT

8 rue Jonfosse
4000 - Liège- Belgique

00324 60 97 96 80
info@cadtm.org

cadtm.org