The Great Homeland
The dividing line between the prolonged period of “holding on” — the first activities — and the launch of the reactivated hotel could be drawn by the solidarity of the Bolivarian government of Venezuela. At this moment, at the beginning of 2004, the hotel had not managed to re-establish the ability to provide housing. To do so, it had to get a minimum amount of resources to be able to facilitate the use of at least one of the stories. Some essential implements were still lacking. In addition to the meeting rooms brought back into use through Plácido’s daughter’s party, the guest rooms were also returning, with the decisive momentum given by the visit of a children and youth orchestra from Venezuela.
By that time, the government of Hugo Chávez had managed to overcome two ferocious attempted coups d’etat. The first, of the “classic” sort, was carried out in April of 2002: the president was briefly deposed from office and held by military forces on a naval base, but the attempt was overthrown by popular mobilization and loyal forces. The second was brutal economic sabotage that paralyzed the country’s main source of revenue, the State petroleum company PDVSA, from late that year into the first months of 2003. It was PDVSA that financed the project that resulted in the definitive start-up of the recovery of the BAUEN, by paying in advance for the housing of a youth orchestra that would visit Argentina in October of 2004.
The relationship between the Bolivarian process in Venezuela and our country was going through a period of growth and strengthening of ties, both at the level of governments and of populations. The coup attempts by traditionally powerful sectors, supported by the Right and the United States, ended up making it clear to many that Chavismo was a process with a broad populist base and an anti-imperialist ideology, and that it more and more clearly expressed itself in favor of a new kind of socialism, the “socialism of the twenty-first century.” Hugo Chávez had visited Argentina as president in May of 2003, for the inauguration of Néstor Kirchner, and later did so on several more occasions, until the culminating moment at the Summit of Mar del Plata, in November of 2005, at which the project of the Area of Free Trade of the Americas (ALCA) was finalized.
In the middle of 2004, exchange between the two countries was in rapid growth, and some solidarity meetings with Venezuela were held in the BAUEN, which made possible a direct relationship between the cooperative and the ambassador Venezuelan in Argentina at the time, Freddy Balzán.