Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rock concert for BAUEN Hotel

Argentina's worker occupied factory movement held a massive concert in Buenos Aires on August 21, in support of the BAUEN Hotel cooperative, a worker-run hotel in downtown Buenos Aires facing a court-ordered eviction. More than 5,000 people attended the rock performance to say, "No to the eviction of the BAUEN Hotel!"

"We don't have anything to negotiate with them. Because the BAUEN is ours! And it's going to be ours even if they don't like it!" That was Arminda Palacios, a seamstress who has worked at the hotel for over 20 years, speaking at a workers' assembly after the receipt of a federal court issued 30-day eviction notice in late July.

Workers have run the BAUEN hotel since March of 2003. Many had been unemployed since the owners closed the hotel during Argentina's 2001 financial collapse. BAUEN is just one of many cooperatives formed by unemployed workers who have physically taken over their former places of employment. The eviction notice came in response to a petition by the Mercoteles group, which the court recognizes as the legal owner of the property.

After four years of successful worker management, a federal court issued a 30-day eviction notice to the workers of the hotel on July 20. If the workers do not successfully block the eviction order legally or through political actions the hotel could be lost and 154 workers out of a job.

The BAUEN workers held the rock concert along with some of Argentina's 180 other recuperated enterprises which provide jobs for more than 10,000 people. Folk Guru, Leon Gieco, Argentina's "Bob Dylan", headlined the concert. "I'm Leon Gieco and I've come to defend this cause because I consider that this is a genuine and natural source of jobs. I support the recuperated enterprises because they are showing that people simply want to continue to work," said Gieco.

The BAUEN workers' have rallied national support for their cause in a campaign that is gaining steam as the eviction date nears in late August.

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