Wild extractivism and energy greed of transnational corporations

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Here we have before our eyes, shamelessly, the Chilean neoliberal model in all its pride and arrogance, which has recently dispatched almost simultaneously two central issues regarding the environmental and social future of this region.
 
On the one hand, there is the heroic resistance of thousands of people throughout the country against the Pharaonic HidroAysén project that aims to distort forever the pristine beauty of Patagonia and make an indelible scar across 2000 kms of Chilean territory. Passing through national parks, natural areas, farmland, communities, indigenous settlements, rural towns, suburbs, and cities, with the sole purpose to provide cheap energy to mining corporations, to aluminum plants awaiting with great expectation the possibility of setting up in this country, and eventually the paper mills that will continue to multiply along the coast.  
 
And note I said "cheap", but this element will only apply to foreign companies that will pay in the future ridiculous prices for the future energy consumption of their businesses. While at the same time, this nonsense will mean an expensive price to be paid by the ChileanState which will assume the costs of the project, which will leave behind environmental and social liabilities for all future generations who will inhabit this southern region. 
 
Simultaneously, the Piñera government recently adopted the UPOV 91 agreement that strengthens and extends the control and privileges of biogenetic patent holders, opening the door to finally market transgenics headed by the sadly infamous Monsanto, Syngentis, Cargill etc. and declaring the inevitable death to the flow of wealth locked in the genetic ancestry provided by the thousands of native species that have enriched the food quality of countless generations and were a biodiversity guarantee for the future of farming. Ironically, this unfortunate loss of species diversity they carry out under the bombastic theme: "Chile agricultural power." 
 
Both examples speak clearly of unilateral impositions from the shadows of power, which as usual ignore the opinion of the majority of the governed, the millions of supporters who support the campaign  "Patagonia Without Dams," which as indicated by opinion surveys cover 3/4 of the trans-Andean population. It goes without saying this is all a parody of democracy, and "watched closely” by multinational interests. 

And one can not help but exclaim, risking being labeled "conspiracy theorists" by the medias of massive disinformation (if so inclined to favor the interests of its shareholders): "'That the cunningly powerful who lead the financial conglomerates without flags,  triggered a bloodbath in the 1970s to impose total control over the social, political and productive sector of all of South America ... And then, slowly replacing the unpredictable military dictatorships (monkeys with knives are always ready to kick the board or embark on wild military adventures), gradually replacing them with a political class that instead of encouraging and enabling public participation in the most important decisions, reduce the right to a pathetic form of Republican democracy in which they vote every few years, and then: "'Go away, until the next one. " 

Achieving that system ensured the functionality of these countries for their particular interests, through strategies designed with complex architectures of the future, but managed through simple intimidation mechanisms, coerción and political corruption. 
Situations always present in a crude way in the case of Argentina, Peru, Brazil or Paraguay, or a little made up in places like Uruguay, Chile and Bolivia, to name a few. Although we know that at this stage of financial globalization: No country is exempt from this corporate transnational governance.

Or maybe it's the fruit of my leafy conservationist imagination that all countries of the Southern Hemisphere continue to sacrifice millions of acres of native forests and rainforest, which are later replaced by millions of acres of exotic species monoculture forests “subsidized” by the state treasury to monocultures of exotic species "subsidized" by the state treasury to feed the paper industry that fuels the suicidal consumption of the most privileged and powerful. 

An equation, as some politically incorrect businessman might say, with which to "kill two birds with one stone": On one hand it allows pulp industries to obtain raw materials at public expense for free from public subsidies of the ecocide of ancient forests that provided support and character to these ecosystems, and then later open the field to the invasion of pines and genetically modified eucalyptus at a low price. Simultaneously, managing to get rid of a problem only solvable in the Northern Hemisphere through major investments, in order to respond to the legislative measures implemented in the European Community, moving one of the most conflictive industries to countries that turn a blind eye, and thereby avoiding as well a higher priced product.
del producto..

Of course, if you were to extend a little more to the center of discussion you could arrive at an analysis similar or worse regarding the whole Latin American production system, which is based in an insane, ever-accelerating extractive model that involves the short-term devastation of our only shelter possible " the Earth." 

Monocultures of soy, monocultures of sugar cane, palm monocultures, the list goes on, but also includes the case of the manufacture of aluminum on this list and immediately we see lurking behind the mega-sized Patagonian hydroelectric projects (Hidroaysén in Chile, Condor Cliff and Barrancosa in Argentina) another of the perverse cases designed to transport the most polluting industries on the planet to our hemisphere: In Argentina, the President proudly announced that the Aluar plant will double in size on the shores of her adopted province, Santa Cruz, and in Chile, the ever pending "sword of Damocles" of Noranda, the most powerful Norwegian company in the world that was identified years ago as the driving force behind the dams that are today in the eye of the storm of the Transandean citizenry. 

I left on purpose for the end "the strawberry dessert of the corporate banquet" being the most obvious and most blatant looting that we continue to suffer throughout the entire continent: extraction of non-renewable fossil fuels (oil, gas) and opencast mining. These are the most paradigmatic and most powerful industries developed by humans since ancient times. And I'm sure you do not need for me to repeat what they need to operate these “ideal” industries, since the answer is evident: Cheap energy and governments stupefied by siren songs, draped in each case to ring chords tuned to the particular idiosyncrasies of each bioregion, with terminology such as “sustainable development,” or “business leadership,” or “modernization with social inclusion.” Downplaying this process to underlying structural disasters which are accomplices: corrupt power, financial vulnerability in the medium to long term, the appropriation of land, and the threats of irreversible environmental chaos. 

Actually friends, its evident that the "system" can not be sustained for much more time. It will work only on the basis of prey, of social injustice and robbing the planet's natural assets, leaving behind a trail of pollution, disease and widespread social impoverishment. And the growing number of citizens who are beginning to wake up from the Republican lethargy and the improbable dream by the theorists of the global economic spill, are beginning to see that either we take the reins of our destiny here and now or we will remain depleted to the last drop by anti-democratic mining -agricultural-livestock-forestry-fisheries laws and other delights, designed and imposed by the real "powers,"  as they say in Mexico, the most powerful, those hiding behind the public events of each country. 

The radical and drastic change must be imposed now, before "the Matrix of the System” makes us change the movie again and fools us again with an original and fascinating postmodern and postrepublican discourse.
 
The author, Lucas Chiappe, is director of the Argentine Patagonia environmental group Proyecto Lemu.
 

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Guest

Some of are guest columnists have so far included
  • Andres Gillmore, director of Corporación Costa Carrera 
  • Amanda Maxwell, Latin America Advocate, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Lucas Chiappe, coordinator of Proyecto Lemu, El Bolson, Argentina
  • Damien Gillis, a documentary filmmaker from Vancouver, Canada
  • Jorge Moller, Chilean representative to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
To contribute a guest column, write to us at editors@patagonjournal.com