Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New films from Grupo Alavío

Buy a DVD and support Grupo Alavío!

Grupo Alavío would like to send a special holiday greeting and give a special fund raising appeal. Keep the group’s video production and website Ágora TV up and running by purchasing a DVD. We are completely viewer-funded and volunteer based: your contributions help us to produce ground breaking videos from the Third World. Ágora TV provides a radical space for cutting edge video activists all over Latin America.

Ágora TV is a community television production collective that currently broadcasts over the internet. The project reaches a global audience of grassroots activists and citizens tired of status quo media. We work on issues including Argentina’s recovered factory movement, labor conflicts,social movements, indigenous struggles, and gender equality. The Buenos Aires-based video collective Grupo Alavío built the website (www.agoratv.org) in 2006 as an organizing tool and alternative media space for groups that would not otherwise have access to the airwaves.

For more than 15 years, Grupo Alavío has participated in working-class struggles and dedicated efforts to supporting them with social and political documentaries. Making technologies and skills accessible and available to exploited sectors by democratizing audiovisual production is a priority of Grupo Alavío. Through Ágora TV, Grupo Alavío is radically changing how media is created, managed, and distributed.

All films have English subtitles and are in U.S. DVD format. Shipped from the US.

Cost: $15 plus shipping for individuals, $30 plus shipping for universities

Contact: Marie Trigona


FILMS available for purchase:

1. Chilavert Recovered, 38 minutes, 2004 Newly released withENGLISH SUBTITLES

Chilavert is a leading member of the 'recovered factories' movement which developed during the collapse in 2001 when many factories in Argentina were taken over by the workers. As the owner of a printing plant began to shut it down and turn it over to his creditors, the workers seized control and formed the Chilavert Cooperative. The documentary gives a realistic overview of the recuperation movement and workers’ self-management.

2. Obreras en lucha (The struggle of Brukman workers).Spanish with ENGLISH SUBTITLES

This documentary tells the story of the' recuperation' of Brukman textile factory in Buenos Aires by its workers, after its owners decided to close it down in December 2001. Workers (most of them women) decided to occupy the plant on December 18, 2001to protest their reducing and delayed salaries. Only two days after, the economic and political crisis exploded in Argentina.This documentary contains impressive images of the expulsion of the workers from the factory by the police in 2003, the massive popular protests which followed and the brutal repression with which Duhalde's government replied. it contains as well interviews with workers and images from the assemblies at the factory.

3. Hotel BAUEN: Workers’ Cooperative

20min, 2004 Spanish with ENGLISH SUBTITLES

The Hotel BAUEN was an emblematic symbol of neoliberalism in Argentina.The hotel was constructed in 1978, in the glory of the military dictatorship, with government loans and subsidies. In the height of Argentina’s economic meltdown, the owners ransacked the hotel and closed the hotel’s doors,leaving the workers in the streets. In March 21, 2003the workers decided to occupy the hotel. The workers cleaned up the hotel and slowly began to rent out services. With over 150workersemployed at the hotel, BAUEN hotel has become a symbol for the working class.

4. Zanon (Constructing resistance)

18min, 2003, Spanish with ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Argentina’sPatagonian province of Neuquén,is home of the Zanon ceramics factory.In 2001 Zanon’s owner fired the workers and abandoned the factory forgreener pastures. After resisting outside the plant, the group ofworkers decide collectively to recuperate and put the plant to produce.Since 2001, the workers at Zanon have occupied and managed the plant,which is Latin America’s largest ceramics factory. In the film, Zanonceramists narrate their day-to-day work, struggles and hopes tocontinue production under worker control.

5. La Foresta belongs to the workers

52min, 2005 Spanish with ENGLISH SUBTITLES

The film tells the story of a group of workers who are fighting to recuperate La Foresta meatpacking plant in La Matanza, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires city. Most of the factory’s employees have worked their for decades, through the good times and bad times. In 1999, the plant went bust, a series of businessmen rented the facilities, making quick profits and then abandoning the factory for greener pastures. Grupo Alavío’s film follows the 70 workers who’ve put up a legal fight to keep their factory and start up production without a boss or owner,under worker-self management.

6. Music in Solidarity with Zanon,

90min, 2005 Spanish with ENGLISH SUBTITLES

This film was produced as part of a video work shop for the workers. Musicin solidarity with Zanon: musicians León Gieco, Rally Barrionuevo, Ciro(Ataque 77) and other artists performed a concert in December, 2004. The workers organized the super event, with more than 10,000 supporters from the community of Neuquén.

7. Argentina:30 years after the military dictatorship (compilation of short films)

Letter to the Military Junta, 6min, 1996

Rodolfo Walsh wrote the “Open Letter to the Military Junta”on the first anniversary of the military coup in 1977 reporting the tortures,mass killings, and thousands of disappearances. The political writer was disappeared just one day after the letter was distributed. This 6minute video essay reconstructs Walsh’s powerful report, imagery from the bloody dictatorship and the writer’s disappearance.

Escrache a Videla, 12min, 2006

Events to mark the 30 years since Argentina's military junta kicked off with an escrache or “exposure” protest against the coup's first dictator,Jorge Rafael Videla. Over 10,000 people participated in the protest in front of Videla's home, where he is under house arrest in connection with numerous charges of human rights abuse. Human rights group H.I.J.O.S. brought a crane and gave the ending remarks directly in front of Videla's fifth floor apartment.

Memories of Struggle and Resistance: Rio Santiago Ship Yard, 10min, 2006

The dictatorship attempted wiped out an entire generation of working-class resistance, which the nation decades later is still recovering.This year for the first time, over 1,500 workers from the Rio Santiago ShipYard in Buenos Aires commemorated the ship yard's 48 disappeared.

8. Compañeras

45min, 2005, Spanish with ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Compañeras brings together four working women who give testimony of their lives and daily struggles. MAGDALENA,works on a small farm in the province of San Juan. KARINA is a train conductor. REGINA lives n VillaFiorito, she collects cardboard from the streets, classifies and then sells it. NINA is a militant from the 70’s, during which she exiled from Argentina to Nicaragua and participated in the Sandanista revolution. Stories that mix with other history, women who revindicate their identity as workers, but without easing to be mothers, without giving up the struggle, continuing to be compañeras.

9. The Face of Dignity, Memories of MTD Solano

58 minutes, 2002, Spanish with ENGLISH SUBTITLES

In the shambles of an economically ruined Argentina,a new practice of protest emerged, blockading roads. Since 1997, what is now known as the unemployed workers movement has taken root. Without access to the factory and utility of tools for liberation—strike,sabotage, and occupying the factory, unemployed workers sought out new practices for struggle. Unemployed confronted globalization by fighting for jobs. One of the most important experiences that emerged in these years was Unemployed Workers Movement-MTD (Movimiento de Trabajadores Desocupados) in Solano (inside Quilmes, a city in the province of Buenos Aires). MTD's formation was based on the principles of horizontalism, direct democracy, autonomy from the state and power, and the integral political formation among members. Work, popular education, democratic debate of ideas, sharing life in the struggle for work, dignity and social change are some of this memory's content.

10. For a 6 hour workday

20min, 2004, Spanish with ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Reducing the workday to six hours with a salary increase for all workers would create jobs for more than 3 million unemployed and lift many out o poverty. Subway workers who have been organizing wildcat strikes for salary increases have spearheaded Argentina's movement for a six-hour workday. In 2003, subway workers (in all sectors from ticket office to train drivers) won a six-hour workday.Since this victory,subway workers, other labor conflicts, economists and unemployed workers organizations have formed a movement for a6-hour workday for all workers, with increased salaries.

11. Organizing Resistance (Chronicles of Freedom, Martin,Recuperating Our Work) Spanish with ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Chronicles of Freedom (organizing resistance) , 45min, 2002

June26, 2002two activists Darío Santillán-22 and Maximiliano Kosteki-25from Argentina’s unemployed workers’ movement were killed during a road blockade of Pueyrredón Bridge in police repression. The repression was part of a known and announced government plan to control growing social protest. 33 were wounded from lead bullets, 160detained and hundreds injured from rubber bullets. Unquestionably,the deaths and repression have left an unforgettable mark on the movement—generating internal debates and self-criticisms. Chronicles of Freedom includes interviews on the right to identity, self-defense and organizing to confront state repression.

Martín, 2002, 7 minutes

Synopsis: Martín, 27 years old, Argentine, brother, compañero from the barrio Floridai n Solano was killed during a fight with a neighbor. The experimental narration explores inner-violence and questions the absurdity of the system’s violence that is imposed on us.

Recuperando nuestro trabajo, 2003, 18min

Argentina's worker occupied factory movement has been an example of resistance for workers all over the world. In response to the process of deindustrialization and flexible labor markets, thousands of workers have said enough to exploitation of the working class by bosses and owners.

Plan Condor: Crimes without borders in Latin America


By Marie Trigona

Former military dictator Jorge Rafael Videla and 16 other military leaders in Argentina will be prosecuted on charges of conspiring to kidnap and kill political activists in a scheme known as Plan Condor, developed by Henry Kissinger and George Bush Sr., head of the CIA at the time. Dictators in Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina killed opponents in the 1970s and 80s under the plan, also known as Operation Condor. The United States and Latin American military governments developed Operation Condor as a a transnational, state-sponsored terrorist coalition among the militaries of South America. In Argentina alone some 30,000 people were disappeared as result, leaving loved ones to seek justice decades later.

Coordinating Terror with U.S. support

Plan Condor began with the U.S. supported military coup against Chile’s democratically elected socialist president, Salvador Allende. Allende's government was targeted as a threat to U.S. strategic policy in Latin America early on. White House tapes reveal that on Sept. 14, 1970, then-President Richard Nixon ordered measures to force the Chilean economy into bankruptcy. "The U.S. will not accept a Marxist government just because of the irresponsibility of the Chilean people," declared Henry Kissinger, Nixon´s secretary of State.

Declassified U.S. Department of State documents have provided evidence to Plan Condor’s broad scope. The Operation was an ambitious and successful plan to coordinate repression internationally. FBI special agent intelligence liason to the Southern Cone countries Robert Scherrer (now deceased) sent the letter to the U.S. embassy in Argentina on September 28, 1976: ‘Operation Condor’ is the code name for the collection, exchange and storage of intelligence data concerning so-called ‘leftists,’ communists and Marxists, which was recently established between cooperating intelligence services in South America in order to eliminate Marxist terrorist activities in the area.”

The memo also specified Argentina’s enthusiasm over the plan. “Members of "Operation Condor" showing the most enthusiasm to date have been Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. The latter three countries have engaged in joint operations, primarily in Argentina, against the terrorist target.” Operation Condor has been difficult to investigate, due to the selectivity of victims and lack of official declassified documents from the CIA and Department of State. Many of the documents that have been released have been heavily censored. However, following an extensive investigation by Argentine courts beginning in 1999 and the decade long work of human rights groups to collect forensic evidence, 17 military leaders will be put on trial for their participation in the illegal persecution of social activists.

Argentina’s dictatorship and Plan Condor

Former dictator Jorge Videla, now 82, is currently under house arrest, already found guilty for stealing babies born in captivity during the bloody junta. The former dictator may now face a jail cell for his participation in Operation Condor.

In 1977, Videla speaking to journalists recognized the phenomenon of forced disappearances but suggested they were disappeared because they were participating in armed, clandestine struggle. “In our country people have been disappeared, this is a sad reality. But objectively we should recognize why and through whom they were disappeared. These people went disappeared because they went clandestine.”

At least 25 Bolivian citizens were disappeared in Argentina during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. Another 5 Bolivians were disappeared in Chile during the regime of dictator Augustin Pinochet.

Ruth Llanos, a representative from the Bolivian Association of Family Members of The Detained and Disappeared said regional dictatorships used Plan Condor to target dissidents with the support of former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. “Plan Condor was a joint plan developed through Henry Kissinger, a criminal who hasn't been punished yet. The plan established with the military dictatorships in Latin America was a process of forced disappearances of all social activists who in the 70's and 80's were looking for social transformation in their respective countries.”

Orletti Auto Garage, Prototype for Plan Condor

“My name is Emi Dambra, mother of two disappeared. A girl and a boy. The girl was disappeared here in Buenos Aires and taken to the Orletti Auto-Garage.” In front of the clandestine detention center where her daughter was tortured while pregnant and later murdered, Emi Dambra participated in a homage to victims of Plan Condor. “Orletti was the prototype example of Plan Condor, here they held prisoners from Uruguay and other countries,” said Dambra Inside the Orletti Auto-Garage, which also functioned as a clandestine detention center tucked in a residential neighborhood in Buenos Aires, hundreds perished, not only Argentines but also citizens from Uruguay, Cuba, Chile and Bolivia.

Some 132 Uruguayans were “disappeared” through the Condor years (127 in Argentina, three in Chile, and two in Paraguay). Orletti functioned as the clandestine detention center for international prisoners. The clandestine detention center was rented out to the military under the guise of a Auto-Garage, secretly tucked in between homes. Commando groups would bring prisoners to the Garage in the middle of the night. During the day, witnesses say the torturers inside would leave the front gate half-way open. In one instance a Uruguayan couple were able to escape Orletti, naked and brutally tortured, in the middle of the night.

According to Dambra, those responsible for leading the bloody military junta should be put behind bars and not like former dicatotor Jorge Rafael Videla under house arrest. “We want to know what happened to each one of the victims, we want the people who organized this slaughter to be put in regular jails, with life sentences.”

Fight against forced disappearances

The practice of forced disappearances was systematized in the Southern Cone by military governments in the 1970’s with U.S. financial support and trainings. It is estimated that 90,000 people in Latin America have been disappeared since the 1950’s. And the practice continues today in places like Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Argentina.

Patrick Rice, an Irish Priest who was disappeared by a commando group in a Buenos Aires shanty town in 1976 said that internationally coordinated disappearances of people continues today. “The phenomenon is occurring more and more now in the context in what is called the global war on terrorism. The practice of forced disappearances continues with secret detention centers such as Guatanamo. With the return to the use of the hood, the hood for us is a symbol of forced disappearances. People detained on places of undisclosed location, the practice of extraordinary renditions. All of this points to a new form of Operation Condor.”

Operation Condor set precedents for internationally coordinated torture crimes that have transcended from the alleged “war on communism”, “the war on drugs”, to “the war on terror.” Today, prisoners in undisclosed locations in Iraq face torture techniques similar to those used during Argentina’s 1976-1983, a carry over for U.S. policy implemented during the Plan Condor years.

Long time human rights activists like Ruth Llanos who lost her husband in the scheme known as Plan Condor say that it is more important than ever to push for the ratification of the U.N. treaty against forced disappearances. Even in countries like Argentina which ratified the treaty in November, 2007 disappearances continue with cases like missing witness Julio Lopez. Lopez, a retired construction worker and former political prisoner disappeared just hours before he was slated to give his final testimony on the eve of the conviction of the former police investigator, Miguel Etchecolatz. With Julio Lopez disappeared for more than a year, it is almost certain that he is dead. His capturers are using his body as a negotiating tool to protect military personnel from any further criminal charges or trials.

Videla and other military leaders will face trial early next year. Human rights groups continue to push for nations to sign the UN sanctioned treaty against forced disappearances, which the U.S. has refused to ratify.

Marie Trigona is a writer, radio producer and filmmaker based in Buenos Aires. She can be reached at mtrigona@msn.com

For videos on the ongoing human rights trials in Argentina visit www.agoratv.org

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