“Don’t Give Up Your Voice”
In 2005 Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young produced a stirring documentary about how Argentine workers took over their enterprises in the midst of the country’s 2001 economic crisis when owners abandoned their workplaces. To preserve their very livelihood, workers kept them operating as cooperatives, managed democratically by the workers themselves. “Hope in Hard Times” vividly recounts this inspiring story. In ensuing years under the progressive governments of Nester and Christina Kirchner many (but not all) of these cooperatives were able to acquire legal title to the property they had occupied.
This story is now updated in their new documentary “Don’t Give Up Your Voice.” It recounts workers struggles in the new hard times brought on by the 2015 election of Rightest president Maracio Macri. His government is now reinstituting the neoliberal policies that had collapsed the Argentine economy less than two decades ago. One wonders how the country’s voters could have forgotten the lessons of that failure?
But the culture of resistance continues strong among the people. Much of the film recounts the struggles of workers to hold on to their cooperatives now under attack by the government. The spirit of struggle is awakened by theatre groups like Teatro X la Identidad, featured in the film, and the continuing protests of the grandmothers still searching for their lost grandchildren from the military dictatorship of 1976-83.
How could this historical memory have been over ridden to produce the return of neoliberalism? The film suggests much has to do with the media monopoly enjoyed by the Right. Television, radio, newspapers all celebrate capitalism and demonize the unemployed as lazy. Macri emerged as a Latin Donald Trump, adept at manipulating citizens dissatisfied with the status quo, demonizing the “Other” and pitting people against one another. Dworkin and Young’s film opens with a powerful parallel between Macri and Trump. Unfortunately Macri is not the last Trump clone to emerge in Latin America, as the recent election in Brazil testifies.
One of the new cooperatives to form is an alternative newspaper, Tiempo Argentino, established by a group of journalists who lost their jobs when the capitalist owner closed his paper. Now with the freedom that comes from collective ownership of their own newspaper they are empowered journalists. They have not given up their voice. They give voice to the resistance to savage capitalism that has enveloped Argentina. La lucha continua.
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