So, Chilavert was an ideal place for the former Bauen workers to begin to join together with a view to an eventual recovery. This seemed absolutely unreal, initially. Arminda says that, “one day, my compañeros called me and told me that they were going to hold some assemblies to take over the hotel, because they had connected with a group of people, which is the (National) Movement of Recovered Businesses. I asked them if I was going to do them any good, because I was already an old person. And they told me yes, don’t worry about anything, they needed my support and they really wanted us all to get together, a group of people, and to please spread the word that the assembly was going to be held, so all those who were interested should come to that first assembly to see what could be done, because we ourselves didn’t know anything about laws. We were tremendously afraid.”
In that first meeting, hotel employees found themselves with MNER activists and workers from several already recovered businesses. Eduardo “the Basque” Murúa, a leader at IMPA and president of the MNER, led the meeting. Eva recalls the presence of others were there, too: José Abelli, vice-president of the organization; Fabio Resino, who would later have a leading role in the history of the BAUEN; and the hosts, Cándido González and Plácido Peñarrieta, among others who formed the leadership and most committed base of the movement at the time. Gladys says that “there were eight, nine people on a corner, at La Plata Avenue and Caseros. That was when we met up for the first time, when we went to the meeting at Chilavert.” When Murúa asked them if they were in a condition to take over the BAUEN, Gladys answered him that no, that they’d be beaten, that it was impossible. “The Basque” and Cándido González, one of the Chilavert workers, told them that it was not at all impossible, that it could be done, because they had already done it in their respective businesses. Gladys says:
And they explained to us what a recovered business was, they explained to us how IMPA was started, how Chilavert was started. Starting then, those of us who were there felt stronger. And we told them yes. I added that if we had to take over the BAUEN, we had to take it over today, because the owners were going to find out and were going to have police put inside, and we weren’t going to be able to get in. Then he told me no, not at that time, because we didn’t have the people to get in.
That was the decisive moment when, with help of the MNER, the hotel workers started to see it as a viable objective to recover the building at Callao 360 to go back to work. Several meetings were held, and the group started to get bigger. Gladys says that they resorted to “a small lie,” and started to convene their colleagues on the pretext that the trustee was going to pay them another part of what they were owed. The “small lie” was “out of fear, or maybe out of some insignificant thing, but for me, at that time, it was very important, an adventure I’d never imagined or dreamed of. And since then, we’ve been in the struggle.”
The call went out for the 21st of March, 2003, at the corner of Callao and Corrientes.