What promises to be the final showdown for Argentina’s most famous worker-occupied site will be happening later this month when Hotel Bauen‘s status is brought to the Senate for what they hope will be a confirmation that the business has been finally expropriated from its former owner.
The hotel, founded in 2003 when 20 people seized control of their former workplace in Buenos Aires, is now run by a co-op — and members have been arguing for the last 14 years that they have the right to stay after their former bosses shut up shop and left the building derelict.
It had initially looked as though they had won the fight in November last year, after a Senate vote agreed by 39 votes to 16 to confirm the expropriation as legitimate. However right-wing President Mauricio Macri used his veto to overturn the decision. Talking to Freedom, a representative of the co-op said:
In March we return to the Senate, and if we pass with the same 39 votes again the President cannot return to have another go, and we will have our expropriation. For 14 years we’ve struggled for our jobs and we will resist until Hotel Baum belongs to the workers.
Hotel Bauen, which now counts 140 members in its worker co-op, is one of the most recognisible success stories of the fábricas recuperadas movement, which saw around 200 businesses seized from bankrupt bosses during and after the Argentine financial crisis of the early 2000s. It has remained a fixture of the movement since, providing a central meeting point in the capital for left-wing initiatives, such as the Sixth International Meeting on the Workers’ Economy, happening in August.
The workers at Bauen have seen solidarity from all over the world for their campaign, including most recently from the Libertarian Syndicalist Union of Athens, which said:
Apart from the fact that the workers and their families will find themselves in a difficult financial situation, it is important that the Argentine state decided to hit one of the most emblematic companies recuperated by workers. Through the blow to the Bauen co-operative, the State attempts to hit all recuperated businesses and the horizontal-management movement that was developed in the country.
The Libertarian Union of Athens invites every workers’ collective, every base union, every trade union, labor collectives and every individual worker or employee, both women and men, to support the self-organised Bauen hotel, and to join their voice to the international pressure of the working class and social movement, so that the workers in Bauen emerge victorious. We claim self-management and workers’ control in all means of production.
Wealth belongs to those who produce it and not to all sorts of bosses , or the state. We demand all factories, every business and means of production to be handed to the hands of the workers. We fight to get back the lives they stole us, by solidarity and self-organisation. Hands off Bauen Hotel!
For an idea of what the hotel is like, check out this (slightly cheesy) gem from geobeat: