March 21, 2005
To President Nestor Kirchner, Governor Jorge Sobisch and Judge Barreiro:
I am writing to express my complete support of the workers of Zanon and their cause in light of a number of recent incidents in the province of Neuquén. These incidents include death threats to workers and union leaders Raul Godoy and Alejandro Lopez and their relatives, as well as the kidnapping and torture of the wife of one of the workers.
Like me, approximately 20,000 people from more than 75 countries worldwide have expressed their unconditional support for the cause of the Zanon workers by signing an international petition organized by citizens from a number of different countries. Notable signatories to the petition include Noam Chomsky, Eduardo Galeano, Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, along with other intellectuals, journalists, artists, politicians, community leaders and citizens from every continent. This demonstrates that citizens of the world are paying attention to these violations of human rights in Argentina - human rights which include the right of the workers to work in the factory which they themselves saved from collapse and put to work.
The Zanon workers are an example that both the national and provincial governments should promote for the benefit of our children. Faced with the complete abandonment of the owner, Luis Zanon, and the provincial and national governments, the workers decided to take their future into their own hands. They have superbly administered the factory in a way that no multinational has done. They have created genuine employment, increased production and efficiency, reinvested in the factory, reduced the number of on-the-job accidents, and they have collaborated in solidarity with the community to carry out numerous projects, in many cases fulfilling functions that were government responsibilities.
Now, the judge is opening the doors to an eviction of the workers, to massive layoffs and to the stripping of assets by speculative investors. Not only this, but the workers are becoming victims of mafia actions that recall the worst of the military dictatorship. This is absolutely unacceptable in a democracy.
I consider that Governor Sobisch has, at the very least, political responsibility for the threats, kidnapping and torture as well as for the demonstrated irregularities in their investigation. I hold him responsible for the consequences these incidents have with respect to the physical and psychological integrity of the workers and their families in the future. At the same time, Judge Barreiro is directly responsible for the fate of the Zanon factory; the possibility of it being stripped of its assets and/or sold to foreign investors as well as the massive layoffs that could occur in the future as a result.
The workers’ human rights are being violated. It is therefore absolutely necessary for President Kirchner to exercise his political leadership to defend this important example of organization, solidarity and national production demonstrated by the workers¹ administration of Zanon. President Kirchner must intervene to guarantee justice and peace in the province of Neuquen. Argentinean society and the international community will lend their support to any decision in this direction.
I therefore call on President Kirchner, Governor Sobisch and Judge Barreiro to:
* recognize the FaSinPat cooperative and definitively expropriate the factory, granting total control to the workers;
* not burden the workers with the large debt left by the owner despite his having received enormous government subsidies;
* investigate the criminal incidents of the past weeks; and
* judge and sentence those responsible at all levels for these crimes.
The national and provincial governments, and the Argentinean justice system, must work quickly, decidedly and effectively to ensure justice for the workers. Millions of citizens worldwide are paying attention to events in Argentina and the actions of the national and provincial governments as well as to those of the judge.
Your organization (if applicable)
Governor of Neuquén: Jorge Omar Sobisch
Presidente Néstor Kirchner: teléfono. +54-11-4344-3600
+54-4331-1951 / 1952 / 1953 / 1954 / 1955 / 1956 / 1957 / 1958 /1959
Fax: 54-11-4344-3700 / 3800
Luis A. Manganaro (Minister of Security and Labour in Neuquén)