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Sun Nov 29, 2015, 02:18 AM

Expropriation of Hotel Bauen, and transfer to co-op that recovered it, passed by Argentine Congress.

In the final, "marathon" session of the year for Argentina's Lower House of Congress, the center-left majority Front for Victory (FpV) caucus joined forces with a number of smaller, leftist parties to approve some 90 bills. Other opposition parties, who were hoping to avoid having any new bills passed until right-wing President-elect Mauricio Macri takes office December 10, walked out of the Chamber in an attempt to deny them quorum (50% of congressmen present).

The maneuver failed, however, and the package of bills - expected to be the last ones signed by outgoing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner - was approved in its entirety.

These 90 bills included two that were of particular note: the formal reestablishment of YCF, the state coal firm privatized in 1994 and renationalized in 2002 after its private owners made off in with $144 million in state subsidies for improvements that were never carried out; and the federal expropriation and transfer of the Hotel Bauen to the workers' cooperative that has operated the hotel for 12 years.

Located in midtown Buenos Aires, the Bauen's history is a veritable parable of neoliberalism in Argentina. The hotel was inaugurated in April 1978 in time for the World Cup that June. It was originally owned by the Iurcovich family, who built the 19-story, 200-room hotel in part with a $4 million loan from the former National Development Bank. Granted in 1976 during the early days of the Videla dictatorship, the loan was never repaid. Overlooking one of the most congested avenues in Buenos Aires, business slowly declined at the hotel. The hotel became saddled with debts, back taxes, and contractual disputes in the late 1990s, and ultimately closed in December 2001.

A number of its laid-off workers then organized the Bauen Work Cooperative in 2003, and occupied the empty modernist building that March. The hotel became one of the most prominent of the over 200 "recovered businesses" under worker self-management in Argentina. The Iurcovich-controlled Mercoteles Corporation regained interest in the hotel as Argentina's economy recovered, however. The resulting dispute led to years of legal wrangling, including court rulings in 2005, 2007, and 2014 (all appealed), ordering the eviction of the cooperative. The co-op's 30 initial employees had by then grown to 130.

This last court ruling in favor of Mercoteles prompted the introduction of a bill in Congress (four blocks south of the hotel) for its federal expropriation and transfer to the Bauen Work Cooperative. The co-op would, in return, partner with the University of Buenos Aires in the establishment of internships for students majoring in hotel management and related fields.

The passage of this bill is "very important to the peace of mind of the 130 workers of the cooperative, and is the fruition of many efforts," said the Bauen Co-op's legal counsel, Diego Carbone. The bill, he added, was passed "thanks to the fact it was introduced and debated in the National Congress; it would have probably never passed in the Buenos Aires City Legislature."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://notas.org.ar/2015/11/27/en-una-maraton-legislativa-se-aprobo-la-expropiacion-del-bauen/&prev=search

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Reply Expropriation of Hotel Bauen, and transfer to co-op that recovered it, passed by Argentine Congress. (Original post)
forest444 Nov 2015 OP
Judi Lynn Nov 2015 #1
forest444 Nov 2015 #2
Judi Lynn Nov 2015 #3

Response to forest444 (Original post)

Sun Nov 29, 2015, 12:41 PM

1. Hotel Bauen is a blazing example of privatisation, theft from the taxpayers.

Stole from the state, the taxpayers, from businesses, and refused to pay their taxes. The cost the people of Argentina a horrendous amount of money, for which they got nothing back, whatsoever. Crude criminality at the highest level, implemented and protected by the fascist politicians.

It's business as usual, of course, another day for greed tied to power, instead of greed trying to hide from power! Evil miracles happen when money can buy government.

It looks like a tremendous amount of work was accomplished in the Chamber of Deputies. So glad to hear about this. Hope it won't be so very long until the good people who look out for the taxpayers are back where they belong.

I hope the greedy a-holes who voted Macri into office are going to get a really good schooling on just how he intends to pay them back for their support.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 29, 2015, 03:20 PM

2. And not a moment too soon.

The official Kirchner-era policy regarding the 200 or so worker-recovered enterprises (the ones Naomi Klein so eloquently featured in her 2004 documentary The Take, and to a lesser extent in Shock Doctrine) has been to support them. Labor Minister Carlos Tomada, who has been at this post during both Kirchner presidencies, has been a particularly staunch advocate for their rights.

In some cases such as this one, however, the former owners have been able to use Buenos Aires municipal courts (which are still largely Opus Dei-controlled) to harass these co-ops for years - but they've never gotten their way because the federal government has been able to mediate most such disputes, and has made effective use of bankruptcy laws in cases where former owners refused to negotiate (they had, after all, declared bankruptcy in order to write off debts - often improperly so).

The protection these co-ops enjoy is probably going to be a thing of the past though.

Had Congress not been able to transfer ownership to the Bauen Co-op before Cristina Kirchner left office, it's almost certain that the Macri administration would have used past rulings from the "business friendly" municipal courts to justify their eviction - even a violent one.

I'm very happy for these brave men and women. I hope Macri can find it in his heart to be too.

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Response to forest444 (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 30, 2015, 06:19 PM

3. The former owners have a stunning amount of audacity, using the hotel to bilk the taxpayers

out of an enormous fortune without having to repay it, then attacking the ones who have actually been doing the work to keep the hotel functioning.

Malignant parasites.

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