“We were very happy about the World Cup, without knowing what was happening around us. We only saw the personalities who paraded by the hotel, while outside, people were being killed,” remembers Arminda Palacios, one of the members of the cooperative who worked at the hotel since its founding, or more precisely, a month prior to its opening.
Arminda’s memory and that of other hotel workers takes on another dimension in the present. Currently, the BAUEN hotel (the name of the cooperative means Buenos Aires, A National Business1) is a symbol of social struggles, the place where organizations in conflict meet, where mobilizations are proposed and discussed, congresses and union meetings are held, and political parties and academic groups get together. The recovered hotel is the place where the representatives of recovered businesses from different parts of the country converge when they come to Buenos Aires. The BAUEN is the place to stay for workers from the former Zanon (now FASINPAT), from Textiles Pigüé, from recovered businesses in Rosario, Cordoba, or Mendoza. It is were the Metrodelegados of the Buenos Aires Subway organized when they confronted the UTA union bureaucracy, and where so many political debates have been held that it would be difficult to list them.
But in those years, the BAUEN was something very different, a symbol of the policy of the dominant classes, a hotel where the powerful, rich, and famous met. Being close to the theaters and entertainment venues on Corrientes avenue made it an optimum site for them to frequent the farándula [most fashionable part of town], as well as characters from the Buenos Aires elite, businesspeople, functionaries of the governments from Videla to Menem, all mixed with the tourists with the greatest buying power of any who came to the Argentine capital. Olmedo and Porcel filmed several of their movies there, and it was also be the headquarters of the official launch of different candidacies, especially during Menem’s early years, when the hotel was in its splendor.
- To distinguish the cooperative of private business of the Iurcoviches, we use “Bauen” for the company and “BAUEN” for the cooperative.↩