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BAUEN, day 36

The former employees of the Bauen connect with the MNER

While close to a hundred factories and establishments of all kinds were working or in a struggle for recovery by different methods, the Bauen hotel remained closed and boarded up with a fence covering the whole front on Callao avenue. Most of its furniture and equipment for daily work as a hotel had been disappearing, even though supposedly the bankrupt business was under guard. The former employees, who still held out hope that they would at least be paid back wages and severance, soon began to raise the alarm that the asset stripping was significant, and the goods were being transferred to the Iurcoviches’ other hotel (which never was sold), the BAUEN Suite, around the corner on Corrientes avenue, through a hall that connected both buildings underground.

María Eva recalls:

Everything started in the offices of the trustee, where we went to demand what was owed to us. There, we found out that they were taking all the furniture out of the hotel, and then we decided to hold out to avoid it. A guy who was a telephonist told us that there was a movement that recovered businesses by way of their workers. At first, we didn’t trust them, but after the first meetings in (the cooperative) Chilavert, we saw that they were very well informed, and that recovery was possible. The hard part was convincing the others. At this point, there were eight or ten of us.

The contact with the MNER was made by one of the workers who were contining to demand the wages they were due from the trustee in charge of the bankruptcy, Gustavo Alaluf. When some of the former employees of the hotel met up at the City Bank located on Corrientes and Uruguay to receive a payment of AR$200 out of what they were owed (it was the only time), he commented to the others that “there was a movement that recovers businesses.” This was something that, in María Eva’s words, seemed “crazy” to them at first. In spite of that, a meeting was soon scheduled with the movement, in the facilities of a recovered print shop, Chilavert Arts Printing, in the neighborhood of Pompeii.

The Chilavert cooperative (called Gaglianone before its recovery), had gone through a hard recovery process in 2002. Its eight workers who survived the asset-stripping had taken over the workshop in April to prevent the machines being taken, after noticing a scheme between the boss and the trustee. A large mobilization of neighborhood assemblies and other recovered businesses (above all, IMPA, which was then the flagship of the movement, and which parked a truck in the doorway to keep the police from coming in) had prevented the eviction ordered by a judge. The takeover was sustained for eight months until the passage of an expropriation law in the Legislature of Buenos Aires consolidated the cooperative’s recovery.


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