So, where did the capital come from to set up and equip the rooms, to outfit the bar and the rooms and the rest of the arrangements discussed above? The answer is clear: from labor. From the work of the cooperative members, from the solidarity of workers at other recovered businesses, and from the community. It came from the solidarity of thousands of people who collaborated with a few coins when the BAUEN workers went out to the streets looking for contributions, from students who filled cans that were taken to schools, from the companeros of other recovered businesses who lent a hand with small-scale events (like Rosalía Peñarrieta’s birthday party), and from the support of a government in solidarity like the Bolivarian government of Venezuela. But, fundamentally, from labor, which is what creates capital in all places and at all times. There is no clearer example than the recovered businesses, in which workers build capital, little by little, and without resorting to any of the exploitative mechanisms that maximize utility, to lay the groundwork to turn the wheel of production. In the BAUEN, it was all effort, with a single objective: to have regular income again through the work of all the members of the cooperative.
However—and in contrast with other recovered businesses in which the bosses, after stripping the assets, literally vanished off the map—in this case, the former owners never believed that the business of using a hotel without ever investing money into it had come to an end. In reality, what they should have seen in this miraculous resurgence of the hotel was a new opportunity. By the middle of 2005, the Argentine economy was no longer in the difficult years that culminated in the crisis. The internal market and industry were recovering, and the competitive exchange rate that had resulted from of the resounding fall of convertibility and the resulting devaluation had made Buenos Aires back into an attractive place for the hotel industry.
Clarín documented it in a note signed by Osvaldo Pepe on June 20, 2005:
The rise in tourism is good news. It moves money and provides work. But the mode of development and activity projections also give the screw of social fragmentation another turn. So is it that we see a boom in investments in luxury hotels in the city. Businesspeople know what they’re doing, at least in the search for profitability: occupancy of 4- and 5-star hotels grew by 27% over 2004.1
- Osvaldo Pepe, “The risks of a VIP country,” in Clarín, Editorial section, June 20, 2005.↩