A ray of hope for the Bauen Hotel
A ray of hope. After a long struggle, the workers who recovered Hotel Bauen have reason to hope. They have won a commitment from the Interim Mayor, Jorge Telerman, that he will present a new law to nullify the regulation passed last December that would have returned the building to the employers who drove the company into bankruptcy.
The week started off difficult for the workers. On Monday, a delegation of the Cooperative met with a group of Telerman's advisors. They said that the Mayor would not veto the controversial law, passed following violent repression at 4 o'clock in the morning on the last day before many of the deputies' terms of office were to end. Despite refusing to veto the law, the officials agreed to arrange a meeting for the next day between the Buenos Aires Mayor and the workers' representatives.
To accompany the delegation to the new meeting, the Cooperative organized an important march in which the workers were joined by different political parties and social organizations. Among others, participants included the Territorial Movement of Liberation (MTL), the Socialist Workers Movement (MST), the Socialist Workers Party (PTS) and the Workers Party (PO). Also present were the University Federation of Buenos Aries, the Assembly of San Telmo, delegates from Metrovías, and representatives of several recovered factories, including Impa, Chilavert, CUC, Global, Zanon, Sasetru and Brukman. They all blocked the street Avenida de Mayo and sang and danced while a delegation made up of lawyer Florencia Kravetz, national deputy Francisco Gutiérrez, and Marcelo Ruarte and Fabio Resino, members of the Cooperative, met with Telerman. The outcome of the meeting was positive, according to the workers themselves as they left the meeting. Although the Mayor insisted he would not veto what is called the Morando Law, he promised it would not come into force until April 1st and that, meanwhile, he would put forward a regulation that will replace it and be more favourable to the workers.
Just 24 hours later, the new bill had already been drawn up. First of all, it stipulates that any agreement between the parties must have provisions for the maintenance of the jobs of every member of the Cooperative. It also nullifies the article that required any agreement to include the restitution of the property to the previous owners. Though it maintains the decision to create a special committee to find a solution between the parties, it modifies its composition. Now, in addition to seven deputies, the committee will include a representative of the Buenos Aires city government, and another from the national government as the holder of a loan from Banade that was never paid off by the founders of the hotel. The workers are hoping that the state will keep the property in payment for the outstanding debt, and that it will be the government that will eventually negotiate ownership of the property with the Cooperative.
If the new regulation is passed, the situation will return to the conditions prior to when the Morando Law was passed. The Bauen workers trust that they will get the necessary votes for this to happen. But, just in case, they are not letting down their guard. Last Friday they organized an event at the hotel entrance. Music and speeches followed one another, while protesters blocked off Callao Avenue. Carlos Chile from the MTL, Marcelo Ramal from the PO, Ariel Basteiro from the Socialist Party and his brother Fabio from the Argentine Workers Central (CTA) were among the leaders present to demonstrate their support. Relatives of the victims of Cromañón were also present, as were the workers of the Colón Theatre and members of the Los Amigos Cooperative - a company recently recovered by its workers that just resisted a police raid last week.
Until now, solidarity has been one of the main weapons that Bauen has used to avoid eviction. Not only have a large quantity of local movements and groups come to join the workers during hard times: over the last two weeks, both President Néstor Kirchner and Telerman have received 1,118 emails as a result of an international support campaign for this cooperative that has recovered the hotel in downtown Buenos Aires.
Translated by Shana Yael Shubs
Spanish original: http://www.lavaca.org/seccion/actualidad/1/1272.shtml