I’m in Argentina now, working with a media collective here. For those of you who wondered what ever happened to the neighborhood assemblies and worker-occupied factories that we heard so much about after the economic collapse in 2001, I am forwarding you an article I helped edit yesterday for Z-net. In a nutshell, the neighborhood assemblies largely collapsed due to government pressure, in-group disagreements, and the like, but over 200 of the worker-run factories are still operating now as collectives.
I visited one today, and it was inspiring. All major decisions are made together by the whole group. The atmosphere was relaxed, music played, and productivity is better than it ever has been. The upstairs, previously a storage area where employees went to hide out and escape the boss’s critical eye for a few moments, has been converted into a cultural center and art exhibition. This particular collective has won permanent (we hope!) "ownership" status, but others have not been so fortunate, as the follow article explains. As always, if anyone feels like making a few phone calls to the Argentinean government to let them know the world is watching how they deal with this situation, it makes a difference.
I hope you are all well. Buenos Aires is bright and beautiful, big and dirty, lively and crowded. I’m learning my way around pretty well, and have met a very diverse bunch of people in my explorations. I’m staying with some great folks, and eating lots of gnocchi.
- Feb. 22, 2005: Montevideo News
- Apr. 3, 2005: San Francisco