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Hamilton College

Publication Date

Fall 12-1-2014

Program Name

Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights


In December 2001, Argentina declared the largest economic debt default in history. Following the default, Argentina’s economy spiraled into depression and a severe economic crisis plagued the country. Unemployment skyrocketed, dollar shortages continued, and many businesses closed under financial pressures. As private business and large corporations alike shut their doors indefinitely, oftentimes under the auspices of fraudulent bankruptcies, freshly unemployed workers across the country reclaimed their right to work by occupying their workplaces and eventually putting them back into production. These businesses now under worker control are part of the empresas recuperadas, or recovered businesses, phenomenon. The fight for existence as a recovered business, however, is not an easy one and raises significant questions about the extent to which the Argentine government values certain human rights. Specifically, there is much debate as to whether the government should protect the right to work or private property rights, the very cornerstone of capitalist society. The legality versus the legitimacy of recovered businesses proves highly interesting, as the recovered businesses pose a clear threat to capitalism’s main ideals, yet, in most cases, the government sides with the workers. The following paper explores this theme of legality versus legitimacy of recovered businesses in Argentine society. It begins by examining the theoretical framework regarding recovered businesses, and moves on to explore the concrete steps these establishments must take to gain legal recognition and bolster popular legitimacy. The paper concludes with a case study of the recently recovered and expropriated MadyGraf printing company to show how the fight for legality and legitimacy manifests itself in practice and in a very recent and remarkably swift-moving case.


Business | Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics | International and Area Studies | Labor Relations | Latin American Studies | Legal Studies | Legal Theory | Public Policy


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