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BAUEN, day 55

Chapter 8

The return of the ones who never left: the Iurcoviches reappear

By the middle of 2005, as we’ve seen, the workers in the BAUEN cooperative had managed—with enormous effort—to put this large hotel back on its feet after it had been abandoned by the employers. What had been a boarded-up, empty building a couple of years earlier had been filled with life and work, thanks to the cooperative.

A small list of accomplishments was included in the expropriation bill presented to the Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires in June of that year by Deputy Kravetz. The language in the bill documents that, in two years of management, the cooperative had been able to:

(…) recover 115 jobs, make 160 of the 224 rooms usable,1 renovate the whole hot- and cold-water pipe system, recondition the seven rooms used for events and the theater, reinstall the whole telephone network and put in a new information network, get the elevators working again, expand and modernize the bar (which had been internal and now has two stories facing onto the street), and change the facade of the hotel because of maintenance and the bar.

This extraordinary result serves to contrast the performance of the cooperative with that of the former owners, especially if we compare their respective resources. The Iurcoviches were able to start from zero and open a five-star hotel, thanks to a loan served to them on a silver platter by a public bank. The workers, on the other hand, could not get access to credit, only a few subsidies that were not enough to open the hotel (we already saw what was acheived with contributions from the government of Venezuela, as an advance for services received later). They received neither low-rate credit nor large subsidies (the government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, for example, gave them one for improvements at the end of 2005, of around AR$150,000 at the time, which was barely enough to make updates to infrastructure and security), and they had little margin for error: for the workers, it was all sacrifice and extraordinary resolve.

  1. The real number of rooms the hotel has is 220.

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