A Conference open to dialog and to the future

“The effort was worth it”

With Héctor Ponce
A Conference open to dialog
and to the future
“The effort was worth it”
 20140404 ponce-610
Photo: Lucía Iglesias
The General Secretary of the Dairy Industry Workers’ Association of Argentina, and also Chairman of the IUF’s International Dairy Division had a talk with La Rel following the Sector’s 3rd International Conference held which took place recently in Sunchales, Argentina.
-What is your opinion about the 3rd Conference?
-We are really happy with it, because we really enjoyed the way in which it was organized, with participation of so many actors from the IUF’s network and from the dairy activity in general. It is clear that, even when each of us sticks to his or her own role, we can cooperate with one another to achieve a mutual benefit.
We have seen how the delegations that attended were really satisfied with the work that was done. And to see that the results obtained are very close to what we expected from the beginning when we started planning this Conference makes us feel that it was worth all the effort we put into it.
-When the first ideas about this Technology Education Center (CET) came up, some may have probably thought it was a crazy endeavor…
-And so, it has been crazy, but a nice and crazy idea which relates to what we feel we are capable of doing for the benefit of all, and not just for the Atilra family.
Generating dreams and then having the necessary energy and convictions to make them come true is what enables us to live with dynamism and strength.
It is not possible to walk the paths of life without dreaming. This dream has already become true and it’s a sort of legacy to everyone, for people to guard it and to make it into a factor for social dynamism and mobility.
We expect the political sector to keep up with the circumstances in this region and support this sort of initiatives by offering more housing units, more services, and more basic infrastructure. All these projects are aimed at local and regional development and that’s why they are so important to us.
-What was the reaction of the community of Sunchales and surrounding areas?
-They were happy with it. They also expressed admiration and gratitude. And we have seen this reaction in people and groups who are not related directly to Atilra, which is acknowledged as an entity that doesn’t thing only inwards but also considers the context where we all experience our development as humans. The community feels this and thanks us for it.
And even when we don’t depend on the temporary compliments we might get or not get from others, we are convinced that the social responsibility we have cannot be delegated for it includes our own children and grandchildren.
We feel such recognition as a balm to our souls, ratifying that the path we have taken is the right path.
-What funds did Atilra rely on to implement this project?
This was built with the organization’s very own funds. We must point out that we have not received any subsidies to make the project a reality.
Despite the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture Carlos Casamiquela, who was here today, in relation to a 370 thousand dollar subsidy, I made it clear in a press conference we both took part in afterwards, that the subsidy was offered to us before but we had refused it, not because we did not need it but because we thought it might be useful for another social actor who might be in more need than we were.
The Minister expressed that his ministry and the national authorities were committed with projects of this type and had decided to unilaterally approve this subsidy for the CET’s upcoming stage which is a whole milk processing plant that will be part of the educational complex.
-It is not easy for workers’ unions to undertake this type of enterprises…
-It is great to generate project, but we must also be smart enough to find the resources necessary to make the projects a reality.
Atilra has put together a structure of services such as supermarkets, health clinics, cultural centers, and a discotheque, among other things. This enables a great social inclusion in the region for us because those services are open to everyone, of all ages, providing services on the basis of diversity, mutual respect and inclusion.
Our objective is to help rebuild the social grid which until not so long ago allowed the coexistence in harmony of children, the youth and the elderly.
A human being’s biological stages need not be rewarded or punished, but rather lived and shared with the community.
-It is also surprising to see this specific bridge you have built to unite the experiences lived in the last dictatorship and the reality of today projected towards the future.
-The construction of the “President Nestor Kirchner Walkway of Memory, Truth and Life” was meant basically as a homage to our fellow citizens disappeared during the last civic-military dictatorship that ended with a sorrowful balance of 30 thousand individuals disappeared.
Its purpose is also to help us remember, because we are convinced that it’s not possible to look to the future clearly if we ignore where we come from.
We want to defend the dreams of those peers who battled for a new nation, with more justice and freedom. The Walkway is there to remind us of our responsibility to ensure that those deaths were not in vain and that the blood shed must be part of the hearts and memory of the thousands of students who will be attending this Educational Center.
This Walkway of Memory is located at a privileged site, as deserved, at the very entrance of the building’s structure. All of us who visit or come to the place must necessarily go past the Memorial every time.
Placing it on the frontline of the whole complex is not merely an aesthetic reason but rather an intention to keep the memory of the tragedy lived in Argentina alive for the young people who will be passing by, and also to indicate that all those individuals remembered, along with many others, are a springboard driving us forward and making the future something possible for us.