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New world order, mining, pollution, foreign debt and public university. About mining funds for universities

New world order, mining, pollution, foreign debt and public university. About mining funds for universities

By Sergio Hugo Cristani

In this scheme of savage and irrational capitalism, the case of the mining companies is paradigmatic: they buy political and economic impunity; They pay the mainstream press so that their activity goes unnoticed by the vast majority of Argentines, they try to blackmail the inhabitants of the towns they pollute, with whom they employ degrading clientelistic practices disguised as "corporate social responsibility." At the same time they are favored by the governments of the countries that loot, pollute and borrow with laws to measure, subsidies, incredible fiscal and tax benefits and extensive infrastructure works to develop their activities without setbacks.


The strategy of the multinationals is clear and evident: silence critical voices, buy favorable "scientific" studies, orient research according to their interests; blackmail and intensify a discourse that creates a pseudo-social and political consensus that is prominence, prosojero and pro-foreign indebtedness.

Thus, while they articulate and develop this macabre engineering plundering our resources and colonizing our national conscience, they continue to put us in debt, loot and contaminate us with cyanide, sulfuric acid, glyphosate, endosulfan and other poisonous chemicals.

A national shame, a political and ideological indignity that the Argentine public university cannot legitimize in exchange for a few nuggets of dirty gold that enter its skinny and consumed budget.

In this scheme of savage and irrational capitalism, the case of the mining companies is paradigmatic: they buy political and economic impunity; They pay the mainstream press so that their activity goes unnoticed by the vast majority of Argentines, they try to blackmail the inhabitants of the towns they pollute, with whom they employ degrading clientelistic practices disguised as "corporate social responsibility." At the same time they are favored by the governments of the countries that loot, pollute and borrow with laws to measure, subsidies, incredible fiscal and tax benefits and extensive infrastructure works to develop their activities without setbacks.

Many minerals that are taken abroad by means of a simple affidavit and without state control, are essential in the support and development of the so-called “first world”, some are used for the modern arms industry, others are simply luxury items that swell the coffers of a global parasitic elite. There are other natural resources: hydrocarbons, fresh water, fertile lands, forests, itícola fauna, etc. that little by little they are being exhausted, and if this predatory dynamic continues, they will soon be scarce in the developed and wasteful countries. That is why multinational companies, including mining companies, are in these payments. They seek to take from here what they reserve and protect there.

There are numerous transnational organizations and global plans that the great powers have devised to deprive different peoples of the planet of their natural resources and raw materials. Among these disputed regions is Latin America. For the South American region, this new world paradigm deploys its strategy through the Initiative for the Integration of Infrastructure in the South American Region (IIRSA). This endeavor necessarily requires business political collusion, legal security (call it functional laws and justice) and uninformed, demobilized and fragmented peoples.

And history repeats itself ... The imperialist strategy once again shows the need to promote a new plan for South American external indebtedness.

In the case of open pit mega-mining, this public indebtedness occurs through the infrastructure that these private corporations need to carry out the exploration, exploitation and transportation of minerals. In this way, we Argentines will have to take charge of pharaonic projects in the field of communication, transportation and energy, to name only the main ones.

We will assume the cost of roads, bridges and ports through which the raw materials and minerals that will be taken from the country will transit. We will take on debt for the construction of reservoirs, dikes, hydroelectric plants, aqueducts, gas pipelines and oil pipelines so that they do not lack the large amount of energy used by these multinational companies attracted by the opportunity for easy and fast wealth that Argentina represents. We will also have to make our rivers, streams, lakes, aquifers and other basins available for these extractive companies to squander and pollute them.

The verse will be the same as always: that new companies and investments will come, that they will bring work and well-being, that they will contribute to the development of the national economy, that it will mean social progress, that will make possible a better quality of life, etc., etc.

The same organized lie that, like so many others, will come to light over the years. By then we will be poorer, sadder, more destitute, more subdued and with an odious foreign debt as monumental as the craters that these mining companies will leave in our Andean mountains.

Laws designed for looting and death.

Mining activity was not deregulated at the beginning of the 90s, perhaps it is more correct to speak of reregulation and readjustment of laws and regulations based on the requirements of the large multinational companies in the sector. The World Bank is one of the institutions that can claim intellectual property from the national legislators who signed the commission reports during those years.

In 1993, Mining Investment Law No. 24,196 was promulgated, which was followed by a long string of complementary laws and regulatory decrees that served as a carrot for the establishment of international mining emporiums.

The current laws are: Mining Investment Law No. 24,196 / 93 and its amendment No. 25,161 / 99; Mining Reorganization Law No. 24,224 / 93; Federal Mining Agreement Law No. 24,228 / 93; VAT Financing Regime, Law No. 24,402 / 94; Mining Modernization Law and Modification of the Mining Code No. 24,498 / 95; Environmental Protection Law No. 24,585 / 95, and Mining Investment Update Law No. 25,429 / 01. (Source Fernando Solanas / Grupo MORENO. Movement for the Recovery of National Guiding Energy)

The result of this legal architecture borders on the absurd, the tragedy and the curse: they strip us of our metals and minerals, they slowly pollute and murder us, and we pay them to do so.

The privileges offered by our legislation are translated into exemptions of all kinds: They do not pay income tax or minimum presumed earnings. They do not pay VAT on the exports they make. They also do not pay taxes on assets or the stamp law. They are exempt from paying import duties for equipment, machinery, spare parts and accessories intended for exploitation. They are authorized to discharge exploration expenses from earnings.


They only leave a 3% royalty in the province where the deposit is located. This value is calculated from what they extract at "mine head" (without any added value). It is worth mentioning that it is the companies themselves that, through a sworn statement, state what type and quantity of minerals and metals are removed from the provincial entrails. But the question does not end here. That supposed 3% that they should pay and which is reduced to approximately 1% if we deduct the exemptions conferred by law, becomes an insignificant amount if they make use of the additional refund for exports through Patagonian ports.

In case these legal prerogatives are not enough to attract mining companies, it remains to be mentioned that the enterprises enjoy "fiscal stability" for 30 years from the moment the feasibility study is approved by the enforcement authority. This means that for 3 decades they will be able to carry out the activity with the peace of mind and the assurance that there will be no regulations that modify the tax immunities granted.

But it still remains to allude to national decree No. 753/04, published in the Official Gazette of June 18, 2004, which in its Article 1 leaves “… without effect the obligation to enter and negotiate in the exchange market of the foreign currencies from of the export of products, which was provided for by Articles 1 of Decree 2581/64 and 10 of Decree 1555/86, corresponding to mining companies that after the effective date of this decree obtain the benefits recognized in Article 8 ° of Law 24,196 and its amendments, regarding a new project or an expansion of existing production units ”.

With this national regulation (national because of the scope but not because of its spirit and content), mining companies are allowed to leave all their earnings abroad, without having to enter the counterpart of what is exported in foreign currency as do national companies, many of them small and medium.

While theft and piracy are perpetrated, the National Congress, the AFIP, the Central Bank and other state agencies (including the universities), shine for their presence and absent accomplice as well as the gold they take away.

Argentine Interuniversity Council: CIN shame and CIN dignity.

The long canes of General Onganía are presented in different ways in the Argentine university. They are valid, for example, in the suppression or dilution of critical thinking. In self-censorship. In the absence of a genuine budget and in the presence of items with defined destinations. In the acceptance of "donations" masked under the figure of "corporate social responsibility"; or in the signing of an agreement with a multinational that guides, confidentializes and privatizes public knowledge and information.

The recent blow was given by the rectors who make up the National Interuniversity Council (CIN), by accepting and distributing for the second time, without debate and without fault, contaminated money.

The reformist university of '18 did not limit itself to free and unrestricted admission, but also preserved its autarky and autonomy from private capital and foreign corporations.

More than 9 decades after that feat, the debate that begins to flourish warmly from the distribution of mining funds reflects that the crisis of our university is not only budgetary and financial. It is much deeper than the monochromatic and administrative looks that do not see beyond the red of the accounts.

Long batons and civic-military dictatorship through, starting in 1990, many universities, as well as laws and government policies, were functionally articulated to the demands of private companies and the needs of the market. These new logics were being introduced in the curricular designs, in the orientation of research, in the sponsorship of academic activities and in extension projects.

As the official budget for the academy shrunk, the supply of services grew that have little or nothing to do with the democratization, transformation and social insertion that is demanded and expected of this public institution. Thus, many universities ended up prioritizing their own production to the detriment of their own production.

But not everything happens by numbers, figures and accounts. The debate that is insinuated in the Superior Council of the National University of Entre Ríos (UNER), as well as in different Faculties, based on the acceptance and distribution of the funds from the Bajo de la Alumbrera mining deposit, contrasts positions on the ethical, political, cultural, economic and ideological sense of academic and scientific knowledge.

And here we return to '18 to underline another cardinal element of that reformist feat: the relationship of the university with society. Those who starred in it understood that politics as well as knowledge are not owned by this or that, nor are they transferred from-to. On the contrary, they are built and mixed with an essential ingredient: the people.

And it was precisely those stories of suffering, resistance and collective learning from Catamarca towns such as Santa María, Belén, Andalgalá, Antofagasta de la Sierra and Tinogasta, among other contaminated and usurped communities, that the majority of the National Interuniversity Council (CIN) and the Council Superior of the UNER did not consider or understand when accepting and distributing these monies of national dispossession.

The rectors and their faculty allies will be able to test pseudolegalistic explanations and economistic justifications, but they must know that when the lives and dignity of peoples are at stake, the public university cannot learn or teach to play impartial.

Perhaps this nascent discussion is a great opportunity to start walking without sticks, supporting each other among all of us who think it is necessary to change this neoliberal and mercantilist university from the ground up.

Sergio Hugo Cristani
Senior Counselor for the Graduate Cloister
National University of Entre Ríos (UNER)
Faculty of Education Sciences

Pollutant mining:

Numbers and data

• 1 DAY OF EXPLOITATION OF A GOLD MINE IN OPEN SKY according to the Meridian Gold environmental impact study, involves the use of 7 tons of explosives to blow up 42,000 tons of rock (which generates around 14 tons of particles in daily suspension). 6 tons of cyanide are used for the leachate process; 400 kg of hydrochloric acid; 400 kg of caustic soda; 46 kg litharge; 23,300 kg of lime; 2,500 kg of sulfur and 1 million liters of water. In the case of Minera La Alumbrera, daily consumption reaches 100 million liters per day.

• During 1 year of operation, the values ​​would be the following: 365 million liters of water (the company does not pay a single peso for the use of water). 2,190 tons of cyanide and 900 tons of sulfur.

• 300,000 cubic meters of fresh water per day are used in Argentina in the leachate process. It is pure water that is extracted and then returned contaminated.

• 15 are the open sky megaprojects that are currently operating. There are 7 under construction and more than 150 explorations in progress.

• 300 open pit mines would be operating in the next 10 years, according to the specialists.

• 13 are the mining provinces engaged in this type of activity.

• 7 are the provinces that by law prohibited this type of exploitation: Mendoza, Chubut, Río Negro, San Luis, La Pampa, Tucumán and Córdoba.

• Most of the ventures will be located in our mountain range geography.

• 5,000 are the kilometers of mountain range that we share with Chile, a country with which we have agreements that favor the installation of these extractive industries. Pascua Lama, in the province of San Juan, is the first binational mining mega-enterprises, and is operated by the North American-Canadian Barrick Gold Corporation. The square kilometers that this deposit occupies in the Andean region, as well as others that follow, are a kind of third territory in possession of multinationals due to the "Argentine-Chilean Mining Integration and Complementation Treaty", endorsed in 1997.

• 75% of Argentina's mining regions are still unexplored.

• 95% of open pit mining is carried out by foreign companies.

• Argentina is the sixth mining potential on the planet. In its entrails it keeps huge deposits of gold, silver, copper, lead, tin, zinc, molybdenum, cobalt, uranium, potassium, lithium, nickel and various little-known but valuable minerals that are widely used in different industries.

• Our country imports most of the minerals and metals that are taken from our territory.

• Electricity, diesel and drinking water are what these corporations use the most.

• Minera la Alumbrera is the largest individual electricity customer. It consumes 80% of the total consumed by the entire province of Tucumán. According to the National Electricity Regulation Entity, the mine consumes 25 percent of the electrical energy supplied to the NOA Region and 87 percent of the total consumption of the province of Catamarca. An enormity of energy, like the 100 million liters of fresh water that the Campo del Arenal, the only reservoir of pure water in that area of ​​Catamarca, extracts daily from the aquifer. Governments facilitate and make these resources available to multinationals, even at the cost of restricting them to the inhabitants themselves.

• 4 million liters of water per hour used by Minera La Alumbrera to transport the minerals through the mineraloduct from Catamarca to Tucumán.

• 78 tons of average waste is discarded for every 28 grams of gold that is worth around $ 950.

• This activity leaves huge craters in protected natural areas.

• Open pit mega-mining has been shown to employ only 0.09 percent of the workforce. In the case of our country it is even less since more than 25% of the workers come from neighboring countries.


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