from Weekly News Update on the Americas
BUENOS AIRES: HOTEL WORKERS ATTACKED
Early on Dec. 8, a delegation of 12 cooperative members from the autonomous worker-controlled Bauen hotel were violently ousted from the Buenos Aires municipal legislature as they sought to attend a debate concerning their dispute with the hotel’s former owners. A larger group of Bauen workers had been waiting for eight hours outside the legislature, but when the debate finally began at around 2:30 AM, only 12 of the 60 workers remaining outside were allowed to enter the chambers, even though the sessions are supposed to be open to the public.
Shortly after the debate began, the 12 Bauen workers–most of them women–began to whistle their disapproval at deputy Mario Morando, author of a bill which seeks to return the Bauen hotel to the Iurcovich family, its original owners. Legislature president Santiago de Estrada responded by ordering the workers removed. Nearly 50 police agents arrived and attacked the 12 Bauen workers, beating them and spraying some kind of irritant gas in their eyes. After the workers were ejected from the chambers, the legislature continued its discussion, finally approving the creation of a commission of seven deputies to head a four-month negotiation process between the worker cooperative and the former owners. The workers’ cooperative is determined to maintain its control of the hotel. (ANRed, Dec. 8 via Resumen Latinoamericano) The owners shut down the hotel in 2001. Two years later, 40 of the original workers reoccupied it and opened it for business; the workers’ cooperative that runs it now has 150 members. (Resumen Latinoamericano, Dec. 10)
KIRCHNER INCHES TO THE LEFT?
On Nov. 28 the government of Argentine President Nestor Kirchner suddenly announced a reshuffling of his cabinet, with Banco de la Nacion president Felisa Miceli replacing Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna; ambassador to Venezuela Nilda Garre replacing Defense Minister Jose Pampuro; Deputy Foreign Relations Minister Jorge Taiana replacing Foreign Relations Minister Rafael Bielsa; and Juan Carlos Nadalich replacing Alicia Kirchner, the president’s sister, as head of the Social Action Ministry.
Cabinet changes were expected. Three of the former ministers–Pampura, Bielsa and Alicia Kirchner–were leaving to take seats they won in Oct. 23 legislative elections. But analysts were surprised by the firing of Economy Minister Lavagna. Appointed by interim president Eduardo Duhalde in April 2002, five months after the collapse of Argentina’s economy, Lavagna had maintained conservative fiscal policies while holding off the most drastic demands of foreign creditors and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Argentina’s economy grew at more than an 8% annual rate over the last three years. The Argentine stock market reacted to Lavagna’s departure on Nov. 28 by falling 4.49% that day in heavy trading.
Analysts say President Kirchner is moving to the left following the success of his candidates in the October legislative vote, including the election of his wife, Cristina Fernandez, as senator from Buenos Aires province. Economy Minister Miceli is considered close to Lavagna and worked in his consulting firm, but she appears to be to his left. “The orthodox measures for lowering inflation are the peace of the cemetery,” she said recently, indicating her negative view of neoliberal policies. Defense Minister Garre was a defender of left-populist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez when she was in Caracas. Miceli and Garre are the first women to head Argentina’s economy and defense ministries. (Inter Press Service, Nov. 28; New York Times, Nov. 29; Financial Times, Nov. 29; La Jornada, Mexico, Nov. 29)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 11
Weekly News Update on the Americas
See also WW4 REPORT #115
See also our last update on the struggle in Argentina:
Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Jan. 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution