Autogestión: Self-Management in Argentina

A conversation with Mario Alberto Barrios
General Secretary of the National Association of Self-Managed Workers of the Industrial Federation, Argentina Workers’ Central


Monday, April 16, 7-9 pm
Tequila Bookworm
512 Queen St. West, Toronto

In Argentina, especially since the socio-economic crisis of 2001-02, an array of grassroots groups has been carrying out experiments in autogestión, or self-management. To self-manage is not only to organize and produce cooperatively. It is also to transform traditional economic relations into ‘social economies’ that foster more equitable, humane, and horizontal relations among individuals and groups. Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry invites you to join us for a conversation about self-management with Mario Alberto Barrios, who is active in struggles for the rights of self-managed workers in Argentina. This conversation is a continuation of TSCI’s Laboratory Latin America series, a series built on the exchange of collective experiments in the production of new forms of working, living, and creating

See other events and writings in Laboratory Latin America series: Recovering and Recreating Spaces of Production | Recovery! Recreation!

Recovering and Recreating Spaces of Production | Writing

A Virtual Roundtable with Protagonists of Argentina’s Worker-Recovered Enterprises Movement

by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry

This article is made up of excerpts from a series of exchanges, during the summer of 2005, between protagonists in Argentina’s worker-recovered enterprises movement (movimiento de empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores, or ERT) and Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry. These voices are assembled here, in a virtual roundtable, as a narrative about struggles over spaces of production. This act of assemblage is a contribution to the circulation of critical analysis, joyful affects, affirmative statements, and creative actions.

We hear from: Pablo Pozzi, an Argentine labour and guerrilla-movement historian and Chair of US History at the University of Buenos Aires who works as a radical pedagogue in numerous villas de emergencias (shantytowns) and unions across Argentina; Eduardo Murúa, an organizer of the autonomist ERT collective Movimiento Nacional de Empresas Recuperadas (National Movement of Recovered Enterprises, or MNER), who is currently in the midst of various workspace recoveries while forging links with the ERT movement across Latin America; Edith Oviedo, former journalist, educational book publisher, and member of the Editorial Cefomar workers’ co-operative; Plácido Peñarrieta, the current president of the Artes Gráficas Chilavert workers’ cooperative and a housing-rights activist; Cándido González, a Chilavert worker, spokesperson for MNER, and an activist who assists recovered enterprises in their crucial moments of struggle; Manuel Basualdo, an experienced book-binding specialist at Chilavert; Walter Basualdo, Manuel’s son, an apprentice machinist who has worked at Chilavert for three years; and Martín Cossarini, an apprentice machinist at Chilavert who has been active in setting up cultural spaces in workers’ cooperatives.

With these protagonists our collective shares common questions: How do bodies insulate themselves from reactive forces? What new forms of constituent sociability, subjectivity, in short, composition, are emerging today? “What alliances might be forged while under siege?” What are bodies, in practices of intentional cooperation, capable of? What does it mean to make subjectivity a locus of struggle? What tensions exist between a strategy oriented towards the reclamation of work and one based on the refusal of work? How might creative assemblages keep lines of affinity moving without freezing their fluid material?

We write from Toronto. These voices speak from Buenos Aires. We visit. They stay. We find ourselves recalling a closing line in an email we received from one of the protagonists who speaks in these pages: “The greatest support you compañeros from the North can offer us here in Argentina is for you to continue to struggle against the system in your own localities, where you live.”

The voices gathered here speak across the theme, “occupy, resist, and produce.” The last term is, perhaps, the key term, the catalytic force coursing throughout: production not just of goods, but of desires, of affinities, of communities—all circumscribed by struggle, ‘lucha,’ undertaken in response to an urgent need, to produce autonomous spaces.


Recovery! Recreation! | ¡Recuperación! ¡Recreación!

Recovery! Recreation!
A Conversation about Argentina’s Worker-Recovered Enterprises Movement with Eduardo Murúa

Saturday, June 3, 2006
4pm – 7pm
Ideal Coffee
Ossignton Ave., 2 blocks south of Dundas St.

recovery-event-776869Much of today’s global Left sees in Latin America inspiring instances of creative resistance to the neoliberal emergency. “Recovery! Recreation!” is a public conversation about a living experiment in Laboratory Latin America: Argentina’s movement of worker-recuperated enterprises, or ERTs (empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores).

Since 1998, in response to economic and political crisis in Argentina, the ERT movement has been reclaiming spaces of production in a struggle against social precarity and humiliating experiences of work. Not limited to the recovery of jobs, recuperated enterprises are reconfiguring workplaces along more participatory lines, are developing into a horizontal network, and are often doubling as alternative schools, art galleries, community centres, or free medical clinics.

Join us for a conversation with Eduardo Murúa, president of Argentina’s Movimiento Nacional de Empresas Recuperadas (MNER, National Movement of Recovered Enterprises), facilitated by local labour activist Jorge Garcia-Orgales. With Eduardo and Jorge, we ask: What is being recovered? What is being created? What challenges does the ERT movement face? What lessons might the movement yield for struggles to democratize workplaces and communities locally? What lines of affinity exist, or might yet be invented, between Canadian labour groups and Argentina’s newest workers’ movements?

Eduardo Murúa, President, Movimiento Nacional de Empresas Recuperadas de Argentina
Jorge Garcia-Orgales, Researcher, United Steelworkers of America, Toronto