By Stefanía RamírezFotography: Guido Ieraci
It is a cold and sunny morning in the Villa Pueyrredón neighborhood.In the El Alamo cooperative, the boys collecting in the morning shift have already taken to the streets to travel the green points in search of recyclable material.More and more tricycles have been implemented to replace the classic cars that used to push the cartoneros.It is sought that these work tools are more friendly to the workers' body, that they cease to be the means of transport of the collected material.
On Avenida de los Constitientes, on the Vera de General Paz, the El Alamo cooperative is installed, a recycler composed of around 250 workers.The building, a large shed full of machines, containers, pockets and recycled bales, was obtained from the state in bailment, after the insistence and unity between neighbors and cartoneros of the neighborhood.It has become a place of refuge, reintegration and dignity for the people who compose it.An erect, lung space, which knew how to get up by a neighborhood fight, which grew at a federal level, and that comes from long data.
Olga Mercedes Serrano is one of the first members of El Alamo.After a cartonera life he was gradually releasing the car and tending to tasks that demand less strength to his little body.Today he is dedicated to the Cooperative Cleaning and Kitchen Area: "I am here 19 years ago," he says.
An any day of 1999, Olga Mercedes Serrano left his house in Benavidez to go to the Chacarita neighborhood to gather cardboard, daily or paper to sell to the “sheds” of the area, that is, to those who buy these materials at prices thatThey feed misery.Olga went out to card accompanied only by a supermarket cart.Independently he did his way, kicking the streets to take food to the house when his baby was 10 years old.
"I started alone, then I made myself of friends and friends and there we started to do ranch in Urquiza, in Belgrano R, everywhere, and we sold everything in capital," he recalls.Like many, Olga depended on the white train of the Sarmiento branch to go to work.It was a means of transportation specifically for the cartoner groups that needed to move from the center to the Buenos Aires suburbs, and vice versa, carrying their cars and their bags.
Leave in the morning, arrive at night.The trip was long, sometimes too much.Every day at the end of a working day, Olga and his teammates took the train that would spend around 20 to Villa Ballester and then stop with another train that was heading to Zárate."But there were times that the white train did not happen and we had to stay there with all the bags to take our house," explains Olga."Anyway, on the street, to sleep until the other day".
At this same time, Daniel Lezcano lost his job."I had an entrepreneurship, rented a shed in Garín, processed material and sold to hardware stores," describes who is now part of the El Alamo cooperative in the plastics sector.With the arrival of large companies, small businesses lost profitability and stopped competing."The hardware stores looked at the greats," says Daniel with some melancholy, "and the greats end up covering all that market".The following years would be difficult until, due to the proximity that the neighborhood proposes, Daniel would know the cooperative.
It was the year 2002 and the cartoneros of the neighborhood stopped with the cars at the edge of the road in the Pueyrredón neighborhood.One day, Olga approached a partner and said: "Look Olguita, we are seeing us to meet if we can put together a cooperative", to which she replied: "It seems great to me, while we all have a job".At that time, they used to live situations of police violence where the materials they collected in their workday were taken away from them.In the middle of one of those episodes, he met Alicia.
Alicia Montoya is for many a referenta, has a strong voice color and a firmness that characterizes it.She is currently coordinator of the technical team of the El Alamo cooperative, but in those times when the project was brewing, she became a weight figure that she fought together with the Villa Pueyrredón Neighbors Assembly to give light to the cooperative.
"The destruction of employment in Argentina, linked to the transnationalization of state companies and the main producers of exportable goods that are not raw material generated a social structure that excluded millions of people, from every right, to eat first", explains Montoya doing a precise analysis.Therefore, he points out that before the novelty of the incipient 21st century the slogan that they sought to popularize was: "for a world without slaves or excluded".
They were years of crisis in Argentina and the need to do something beat strongly.This is how neighbors and cartoners of the neighborhood were installed on an abandoned land, next to the roads of the former TBA and Artigas Street, to begin to delineate a project, although in principle, to build a community space.There they started a garden, a picnic and the legal roles that would give them an identity.
Daniel is concerned to that identity when he talks about the things that the cooperative has granted them.Do not provide only security elements, clothing, gloves and antiparras to work."That the companions who go out to collect have an identity on the street," he says."If someone asks" who does he work for? ".
The Cartoneros del Alamo every day make their journey to a certain schedule through the sector of the neighborhood that touches them, every day the same apples, every day the neighbors see the same faces."Today the neighbor has confidence because he has a reference where we work," says Daniel, and marks a distinction: "Before society flatly rejected the cartonero, they called him that he was going to steal, and now we can say that he holds a whole system".
@idahofarming @blackSupremekai Lamb, Small Potatoes, Asparagus/ Chickn Thighs (6), White Rice, Spinach/ Braised Beef ... https: // t.CO/V8XNWGHPNZ— Anonymous awakened Thu Mar 11 07:55:38 +0000 2021
On the other hand, it is the women of the cooperative who do the environmental promotion work.They are found in the green points and label the pockets carried by the cartoneros.In turn, they go out to talk to the neighbors and deliver brochures."Today we have much more dialogue with the neighbors, so they help and support us," describes Montoya."In full quarantine, with the big generators closed - like the shopping malls - the neighbors were our forte.
After an eviction on July 1, 2005, a need and a decision to formally organize the cooperative was born."When I arrived, the cooperative was already armed, but the enrollment was missing," recalls Alicia.In the middle of that same year they got it and began to account for the laws that protected them."Then, the first thing was to fight compliance with Law 992 that provided for the construction of green centers to be managed by cooperatives," explains the coordinator of the technical team.
“When we began studying the agreements that city signed with private companies that did the outsourcing of the urban hygiene service, we understood everything they paid them and that all that was to go to bury, with the damage that implies for the environment”, Says Montoya.So that in 2008 the demands to the city government, both of the Cooperative and the Argentine Federation of Carderonos Carreros y Recycler (faccyr) were nothing more than labor rights already enshrined in the legislation: a decent work space, social social work, social work, for sure for accidents, and an economic incentive without which the organization of the sector was unfeasible.
"Or extend or eat you," Alicia synthesizes, "and we had to extend this worldview to the whole country.We were doing it to the Ponchazos from the Federation, with militants in different places ”.The fight at that time was won and at the CABA level a system was organized.Today the sector has managed to set its demands on the National Agenda: "We have already achieved that (Juan) Cabandié (Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development) says that they will eradicate open -pit dumps with the construction of recycling plants with inclusion," he explainsMontoya."And I think this year, I hope, we will have a containers law".
On the other hand, Daniel Lezcano expresses that the ideal would be for all workersIt does not touch a peso ".
Daniel Lezcano is 60 years old, and under the helmet used in the plant wears a black and gray wool hat in stripes.It is part of the cooperative about eight years, and if asked about the social role of its workplace, the answer is usually similar to that of others and others: “It is social inclusion.If you are a big person, if you do not have a trade or something, in this system you do not enter, do not insert yourself into society, ”says Daniel, and remarks that that is why he is deeply grateful to the poplar.
Several meters from the entrance of the Cooperative, crossing the Great Tinglado whose nearest wall is composed of multicolored bales, is the plastics sector.Peletized, blown, so they call the pieces that leave the second major matter of which cooperative El Alamo is responsible, to produce raw material for the industry from plastic."This year we begin to do this type of process, it takes time to see if it works, but it is another source of work for people," says Lezcano.
Perhaps it is because of its community character, because of the stories that constituted it, or by the same story that the cooperative was riding in its own future, its workers have a particular way of appreciating the workplace, which is far from being similar toOther spaces."What I saw is that I recovered my dignity of work," says Daniel.The cooperative was the starter engine not only to survive but to support its family.Today his daughter has already received her and her son is in a university career: "When I was left without work they were just at the time of thrust and the cooperative gave me the possibility of continuing and giving them the push".
Something similar lived Rubén Carrazán, father of five children, who knew how to search for all forms before reaching the cooperative.From electricity and installation of airs to painting and reference repair.Rubén had multiple knowledge of ex officio, but was without work, until he entered the recycler to do blacksmith jobs and today is a plant coordinator.
"I think that including is, first of all, I work," says Alicia.“It is organized work with rights, obligations and why not?with flexibility too ".It is 10 in the morning and for a while the noise of machines, of glass that is broken, of plastics that creak, for a while they stop, the workers in plant are taken a break."To a person who for years left with a car to the street at the time he wanted, has a time to adjust to a more rigid structure," explains Alicia."Especially the girl costs a lot because she comes from a life with family absence, a school without accompaniment, deteriorated health, deteriorated neighborhood," so poplar seeks to accompany that process.
In Pandemia, a nursery space for the children of the workers opened and, when there are personal problems, a sector of the cooperative has a poster that bears the name of “Integral Health Program”, where a psychological care space is provided onall for colleagues suffering from addiction problems.
"We are all a family, we are all aware of everyone, here is not thrown out," emphasizes Daniel.If someone begins to miss work, if it is perceived that there is a problem behind, if they slowly begin to falter job responsibility, they do not stay with crossed arms."That partner is called," says Lezcano and Rubén adds: "They are accompanied to the doctor, it's about tracking to try to get them out of where they are".
In the cooperative Tetra, paper, nylon, glass, plastic, but, above all, “what is most out is the cardboard”, Daniel and Rubén."Some just collect that because it is the fastest, comes, gets angry and comes out".But, in addition, there is a whole perspective around the collection of this material.«If I am an independent card, I do not have a place where to put what together.Second, a shed grabs me and pays me half of what the cardboard is worth.So who wins money is the shed, not you, ”says Daniel.
"Outside the cardboard you are paid 10 pesos when we are paying almost 18," says the plant coordinator.With the mouth of mouth, what was sought is the integration of the independent cartoneros so that they join the cooperative."And the cooperative who wins?" Asks Rúben and then he answers: "That those people who explode the companions no longer do so".