Sergio Ciancaglini de La Vaca

Today we continue an interview with Sergio Ciancaglini, from La Vaca cooperative.  For the past decade Global Exchange Reality Tours have included La Vaca on our rich educational itineraries. Learn about the work and mission of La Vaca during this interview conducted by our summer assistant Kathleen Reynolds.

Kathleen: What has been your experience with groups that have come from Global Exchange?

Sergio: My experience with the people who have come has been very exciting. I noted that there had been very good communication because Delia Marx was always there doing very good translation. This allowed me to explain things, that in English I could not. The experience has been very good. There have been many people with an attitude that is very interested in living new experiences and I think these experiences are very beautiful.

Group members enjoying the Iguazu Falls

In terms of improving the experiences, I think in these places and with these people, having these types of encounters provide a person with the key to understanding this very important phenomenon. It is like when you go to a museum and see a piece of fabric that has a particular color, but you don’t know it until you see it and read the explanations. You come to better understand what you are seeing and see the value in something as if it were new. These experiences are new and original experiences and that’s why the people of Global Exchange come. The travelers were interested in these types of experiences that we try to replicate as journalists. They are new, original experiences from the point of view of human rights, the problem with the environment, the problem with production, but also from the point of citizenship and democracy. For me these new expressions that are portals to the future. Where citizens assemble and meet and discuss how they as citizens can preserve the environment; to discuss their plan of action so that the mining or petroleum companies don’t bombard the mountains, so that they don’t cut down the forests, to defend their life – this is democracy in a different way. No longer is it democracy like the one we know as a representative system, but rather, people taking on the responsibility of their own destiny and peacefully so. At the same time, they are intervening to be heard, but also taking into account how they are expressing themselves in a concrete place where the things are happening. For me, this is a new phenomenon. Twenty years ago, Mr. Francis Fukuyama said, that, ‘we are in the end of history’ and today we are seeing we aren’t. History continues with the possibility to democratize democracy.

Visiting a School in Buenos Aires

After the economic recession happened here in the United Sates, social movements have been forming and people are mobilizing and coming together to reform society, to create a new system.

Kathleen: After the crisis happened in Argentina and people mobilized together to create a new system of work like the workers taking over the factories, what recommendations could you give the people here in the US to mobilize and promote real democracy from a grass roots level?

Sergio: Yes, we just published the latest version of the MU.  Claudia Acuña, is a member here in the cooperative and did a great report in the latest version MU, and she was in New York talking on exactly this topic you’re talking about. This new movement of people in the streets, the problems with people getting evicted from their homes…the report will talk about this. It is in the current edition of MU magazine.

Kathleen: In the line of work in defending human rights, how can International Solidarity groups support the social movements of Argentina and South America?

Sergio: I think that these movements or experiences that happen with La Vaca itself are experiences that have already existed for many years and are going to continue existing. There are people who do their work looking for resources, looking for money. We do what we do, because we love our work and it gives us much pleasure to do it. In terms of determining what help that could be utilized for the movements in terms of resources, etc,… it is always important that this be determined with the greater aim that the movements continue doing what they are doing. I want to tell you this, for example, I know there are many international campaigns on different topics. It seems like there is a lot of money floating around in foundations and different institutions to promote issues. In our case, we are going to continue working on the topics of the environment, human rights, citizenship, communication, freedom and equality. They are topics that to us are central for the present and future. Those who want to help us and/or support these types of processes can always help us, but at the same time understanding that the most important is that these projects and productions continue maintaining autonomy of work and diffusion.

As I am very old, I realize that we are in the presence of a birth of, it seems to me, a new type of paradigm of social intervention, of political intervention. It is a new paradigm of thinking and new paradigms of action. It is exciting to be seeing how this exists and it is very important that it be able to flourish and I would say grow. As I said before, it is my intuition that we are being shown the paths of what is to come in the future.

For us, these experiences, this moment are very beautiful. It is an opportunity to always feel that what one is doing is having impact and is creating networks of new concepts for thinking about situations in our world. For us, our door will always be open for you.
Thank you Sergio for the years of effort and energy that you have put into organizing La Vaca and welcoming our Reality Tours delegates to La Vaca and Argentina!  Next week we will delve further into the power of those exchanges.

Experience for yourself: Join our “Building Economic Justice from Below” trip next March  and learn more about the 200 ‘recovered’ co-operative factories in Argentina.