Excerpt on Argentina´s Movement

This week I will be exploring the back streets and boulevards of Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires. Considering its complex history and economic situation, I want to give some background knowledge information on Argentina to make my series of blogs on the country more meaningful.

The Argentinazo Crisis of 2001: “Twenty years of unrestrained borrowing left the country with the world’s highest per-capita debt by the end of 2001. When the government defaulted on its $140 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and private banks such as Bank of Boston and Citibank, the peso, pegged one to one with the U.S. dollar by President Carlos Ménem (1989-1999), devalued 70 percent, forcing half of the country’s 37 million residents below the poverty line overnight. On December 19, 2001, the citizens of Argentina woke up to find their bank accounts frozen. With this, Argentina’s working middle class evaporateed.”

As a result many people are still left without jobs and unable to feed their families; thus began the Recovered Factory Movement (a.k.a occupied or recuperated factories). Below is a description of how the factories are created:

1. The owner, after a period of cutting back on worker wages and benefits in order to cut on costs and minimize debt, locks out workers and abandons the property, usually filing bankruptcy.

2. The determined workers, defending their jobs, organize and prepare to occupy the property, opting to get the factory running and profitable, rather than stay unemployed. Working together with other organized sectors of the community, they stage demonstrations and camp out on the property.

3. The space is then recovered and production begins. When state forces attempt to evict the workers, the groups unite and collectively prevent police entry.

4.Perhaps the most crucial issue the movement has brought to light is that of legitimate ownership: What claims do workers have over factories and the machinery within them, and how does this challenge normative notions of private property? Though the government of Argentina gave many recovered businesses temporary two-year permits to function, these have all expired.

Source: By Yeidy Rosa http://www.warresisters.org/nva0505-4.htm