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The Archbishop, the Canal and the Quequén Plan

The undeniable social deterioration that spreads like poison throughout the country, and the rage produced by the infamous advantages that continue to be granted to bankers and landowners, disturb the feelings of the Argentine people.

And the Magdalena Canal, the precious end of our great Paraná River, fully symbolizes the frustration of the Argentine Republic, and of its people, whether they like it or not that such a statement be repeated.

That is why it is and will continue to be imperative to demand the realization of this work, not only as a patriotic feat but also as a key to the development of a sovereign foreign trade, as our country needs, today delivered in its entirety to foreign corporations. And also imperative because the Province of Buenos Aires pins its hope on the complete rethinking of the national and state management of the Paraná River and maritime navigation, which today depends exclusively on the work of the Magdalena Canal, the true flag of this column and of [email protected] patriots who do not cease to claim that the FdT government do what it should do: fully recover National Sovereignty, which will allow Argentine ports to once and for all provide services to ships that are currently monopolized by foreign multinationals from the port of Montevideo, Uruguay, which is why they granted it a concession for 80 years and from there they also do lobbies among the Argentine sepoyage.

The truth is that the control and payment of rates and operation are done in the port of Montevideo, where it is reached by a channel, called of the Indian, that we Argentines pay in the most stupid way, because the Magdalena Canal –which will reduce times and distances with easier maintenance, since its route will be 55 kilometers, against the current 95– has other irrefutable advantages, beginning with the fabulous fact that the entire Province of Buenos Aires will develop as befits the immense Atlantic coast that bathes it and not only in the ports.

It is evident that Governor Axel Kicillof understood this a long time ago, and this week it was evidenced in his dialogue with a notable visitor: the Archbishop of La Plata, Víctor Fernández, with whom for an hour and a half they reviewed an intense agenda that obviously included Magdalena, according to the official statement of the meeting. In which Fernández – this prelate, it is understood – “insisted on the importance of the Magdalena Canal for the development of the La Plata coastal region and for the entire province, recalling the various growth possibilities that it could unleash in various areas of production and services , with the consequent growth in jobs and sources of income for many families”. For this reason, he stressed “the need to make decisive progress in Magdalena beyond the lobbies that may try to stop it.” And he promised to “continue insisting so that it is possible in the short term.”

Along with this position that some consider “blessed”, this week the analysis made public by Maximiliano Cantoni, an economist from Quequén graduated from the National Universities of La Plata and Quilmes, who knows the port of most important deep waters in that province, whose concession expired last year.

This is the terminal elevator and the “Ministro De Tomasso” silo complex, which is located in Puerto Quequén and was concessioned in 1992 as part of the Menem privatization avalanche.

Cantoni now proposes to introduce corrections through a new tender that allows finding other providers, in reparatory terms and conditions.

The case of this port is illustrative: after 30 years, this Terminal has shareholdings in the most important grain exporters, such as the transnationals Glencore, Bunge&Born and Cofco, but without territorial development and with non-compliance with the canon payable and almost zero State control, which encourages evasive and speculative maneuvers, and under-invoicing of exports.

Cantoni’s work proposes “three great alternatives” to the privatist and neoliberal structure, in order to “partially recover the most active role of the State in foreign trade.” They are, in summary:

1. Continue with the same concession structure, with cosmetic modifications. The same transnational companies will continue to use a grain elevator for many more years that was built entirely with public investment, again without control or regulation and with a greater concentration of wealth, in fact uncontrolled as in the last 30 years.

2. Give way to the State, ending the bad political habit of continuing to shrink it to achieve a development that never materializes. It is absurd to grow without a State – Cantoni postulates – which is the complete opposite of what Japan, South Korea, Finland, the United Kingdom and the United States do. It is necessary to proceed as when the Argentine State invested to promote port activity: this is how the elevators were built and in 1992 the draft depth was increased to 40 feet so that large ships could operate. And it was also the State that in 2008 extended the breakwater to improve port operability. The private sector, on the other hand, without risking anything, is always the one that ends up appropriating the profits, and that is why Cantoni considers it imperative to change the relationship between the public and the privategoing from the parasitic link to one that contemplates the general interest with reinvestment in the territory and without absolute remittance of profits to parent companies.

3. The third alternative is the more active presence of the State in the management of the elevator. Going back to before the 1990s, Cantoni says, “acknowledging the failed concession/privatization experience.” The current international model shows instead that In the main grain-exporting countries, state companies are the ones that actively intervene in foreign trade, safeguarding the income of producers and guaranteeing food sovereignty. So it is in Russia, Ukraine, India, China, Turkey, Canada, Australia, where active state presence It is not synonymous with nationalization.

Finally, Cantoni proposes, among other alternatives, “creating a grain area within another existing state company that has the infrastructure and logistics capacity to transport and store the production.” Such is the case of YPF Agro, or, within the area of ​​national defense, Military Fabrications (Agricultural Production of the Armed Forces), or a new company dependent on the executive branch and created for that purpose. Of course, “the new tender cannot repeat the flaws that preceded it, where the stipulations remain a dead letter a few seconds after signing, because the State did not control.”

It is clear that, unfortunately and ironically, these types of proposals are not usually accepted by the current national government. However, some sources from the Ministry of Transportation suggest that the new call for bids will be announced by President Fernández, who four weeks ago and in Olivos conveyed to Kicillof his commitment in this regard, and there were even official announcements.

Of course, after just over a month without news, that alone explains certain nervousness in La Plata. And the visit of the archbishop.

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