Solidarity and Accountability: Rethinking Citizenship and Human Rights
in July of 1999, a small nonprofit organization based in Buenos Aires brought a case against the state of Argentina in front of the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), part of the Organization of American States.1 Comprised of family members of victims from the 1994 bombing of a local Jewish center, the group Memoria Activa, or Active Memory, accused the Argentine government of violating their human rights to justice and to the protection of their lives and physical integrity, for failing to prevent the attack or to bring its perpetrators to trial. Memoria Activa also expressed their demand for justice and full rights to security by holding weekly events in the public plaza facing the Justice Building (Palacio de Justicia). In doing so, they insisted that they were exercising their rights and performing their duties as citizens, asserting what the state’s role should be, and demanding that it meet its obligations. At the same time and also in Argentina, spiraling unemployment numbers brought about the emergence of the recuperated businesses movement. Driven in part by more than 5,000 factory business closures during the second half of the 1990s, the movement was formed by former employees of these bankrupt factories and businesses, who banded together as workers’ cooperatives and re-created the jobs that had just disappeared. In fighting for legal tenancy of the establishments they had put back into production, cooperative members demanded that the state give primacy to their human right to the means to earn a living and fulfill its role in protecting their rights as citizens to meaningful access to dignified work.