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Economy, health and environment: popular protagonism to get out of a false dilemma

Economy, health and environment: popular protagonism to get out of a false dilemma

This August 1st, Pachamama Day, there was an impressive mobilization on the Rosario-Victoria bridge to demand an end to the burning of the islands, and for a national law to protect wetlands. Even with the difficulties that the ASPO measures entail, several thousand people demonstrated maintaining the mandatory distance and wearing masks; with improvised posters, drawing on the creativity and color that we are capable of even in the most difficult times. A “historical” mobilization according to local referents and organizations“.

In the midst of a global pandemic, President Alberto Fernández states that"The dilemma between economy and health is false", in front of the campaign of the most reactionary sectors of the society through the multimedia. In the same sense, it is important to prevent caring for the environment and common goods from being contrasted with the generation of productive activities to get out of the crisis; in a reissue of the old "health or work”With which companies and political sectors for years blackmailed communities throughout the country, with the results that we know: no work, no health, in addition to truncating other productive developments. But nothing is the same.

This August 1st, Pachamama Day, there was an impressive mobilization on the Rosario-Victoria bridge to demand an end to the burning of the islands, and for a national law to protect wetlands. A mobilization "historical”According to local referents and organizations.

The cities of the coast in defense of the Wetlands, Mendoza in defense of the Water, Chubut against the Mega-mining, Chaco and Salta against the Desmontes or Missions against the massive introduction of transgenic and defense of Biodiversity and Creole Seeds; Agroecology in the humid pampas, and Right to the City in cement; movements that speak of profound changes in our societies. Claims that articulated to the recognition of the dimension of the Climate Crisis, of the risks of new diseases due to the destruction of environments or the dominant modes of production, have far exceeded militant, environmental or scientific circles, to become the patrimony of all .

This is also recorded by the extractive corporations and sectors of politics allied to them, therefore in times when the way in which we will emerge from the crisis and the so-called “new normal” is in dispute, the challenges will be greater. This happens in the midst of a deep economic crisis and with millions of compatriots immersed in poverty, where the extractive course is once again considered as “solution”From inside and outside governments.

The Delta burns

The viral images of the burning in front of Rosario are eloquent of the drama that is lived in the Paraná Delta, both on the Paraná River and Uruguay, ecosystems of enormous importance.

Daniela Verzeñassi is a member of the Paraná Ecological Forum and the Provincial Coordinator Basta es Basta: “Every year there are burns in the wetlands of the Delta but this year it intensified, and it was seen that this is already an ecocide, a tragedy without precedent at least in our close memory. The old claim took more force, because the fire took force, and we managed to install concern about our wetlands beyond the socio-environmental organizations ”.

Together with the Association for Environmental Justice (AJAM), they are demanding a precautionary measure for immediate protection before the Supreme Court of Justice.“Besides, we also demand that the Paraná Delta be declared“ Subject of Law ”; asking for a joint Territorial Ordering of the Nation and the Provinces involved, with the seriousness that has not been taken in these years, and giving rise to citizen participation ”.Legislatively, together with many other organizations, they have been demanding a National Law for the Protection of Wetlands; "As we know that the paths of legislatures are slow, we are demanding that the Court act."

In this context, from the Government of Entre Ríos (PJ / FdT)“They blame the fire on poaching, and tourism (in the middle of the quarantine) what seems like a joke. In parallel, the state attorney presented a provincial law project to regulate the use of land in the territory of Islands and wetlands; in public and private lands, granting the power to decide on the use of the lands. A shameful project, abusing the term “sustainability”, and that we reject ».

From the bridge and visibly moved, the Santa Fe provincial deputy Carlos Del Frade declared:«We are in a historic moment, it is the most important environmental mobilization in the city of Rosario. Starring the youth and re-founding 2 fundamental concepts: democracy with assembly participation, and federalism, because what is at stake here needs to set aside provincial limits and be measured from a new interprovincial framework. Then 3 times historic: the most important mobilization, the re-foundation of democratic participation with youth protagonism, and the re-foundation of federalism ”.

Mendoza by the water

It is impossible for Rosario not to refer us to Mendoza at the end of last year, just after the Alberto Fernández government took office, when the corporations with the agreement of all the provincial political forces (except for the FIT) sought to open the way to the modification of Law 7722 that prohibits the use of certain toxic substances in the provincial territory, and with it mega-mining projects. The law is key to the defense of water in a desert province. This agreement "from above" was faced by thousands "from below" who mobilized with strength and creativity throughout the province; and with enormous solidarity from organizations throughout the country.

For “Guni” Cañas of the Mendoza Assemblies for Pure Water (AMPAP)“There was a great underestimation of the political power towards the people, either from the ruling party of Cambiemos with the UCR at the head, and the PJ as an ally in mega-mining businesses and fracking. Assemblies, organizations, in schools, about this awareness of water in times of climate change, in times when our mountain range did not count on the historical and transversal accumulation of water awareness that we have been building throughout our territories. bring less and less water. Hence the outbreak due to the imminence of the modification of the 7722, which aroused the largest demonstrations of which there is memory here in Mendoza: 80,000 - 100,000 people, everyone on the street.

Pigs for China

All this reappeared in the rejection of the agreement with China to install huge industrial pig meat farms in our country. Haunted by a hitherto uncontrollable outbreak of "African plague" (ASF) that wiped out half of its pigs, the Asian powerhouse is looking for a way to supply meat to its growing middle class that incorporates animal protein into their diet. Advancing in this agreement implies multiplying the total national production several times, installing mega-farms that are true time bombs in the health, environmental, social and productive aspects. The announcement could not come at a worse time: with almost 700,000 deaths from a zoonotic virus, and alerts about new "potentially pandemic" viruses in different parts of the world such as China and Brazil, two countries with strong industrial livestock development.

What before would have been "news" only in some circles, aroused a true outcry of rejection on social networks; which ended up being echoed by some large media, and which forced the authorities and the industry to come out to debate.

For Carlos Vicente from GRAIN and Acción por la Biodiversidad:“We have a lot of information about what has happened in all these years for industrial livestock in the world. The United Nations itself poses the risks of this way of producing; We are no longer just the environmental and peasant organizations that say it. We want the debate to open ”.

Dispute time

Preventing the start of a new extractive cycle will largely depend on the ability to confront the sectors most committed to this direction (outside and inside governments) by weaving broad alliances, which are necessarily built around proposals.

The possibilities of caricaturing the claims that are called “environmental” but which actually go much further, are increasingly limited; and that is why corporations seek to mask their projects with marketing campaigns to present them as "sustainable".

A government that seeks to represent popular interests cannot ignore these claims, and in that sense the statements of the Minister of the Environment Juan Cabandié are auspicious, even sometimes in opposition to some of his cabinet peers, facts are demanded of him. Nor should this project disregard the social and political force that these debates are capable of bringing together for the dispute with sectors of the factual power.

In the midst of the tension generated by the social, health, economic and productive emergency that we are experiencing, we need to be able to reject the extractivist course, strongly proposing productive and economic alternatives, with concrete roadmaps for transition scenarios that will get us out of dilemmas. Failure to do so makes it easier for capital's proposals to “run us off the field” associating the environmental claim to concerns of well-off sectors of society (as they actually intend).

To propose a testimonial "no", it is enough with small circles, with a homogeneous and maximalist discourse. To dispute the course of the "new normal" it is necessary to build multisectoral articulations and interdisciplinary perspectives; join forces with social, union and political organizations far beyond the purisms: a social, political and popular ecosystem.

This path poses challenges and risks (of course!), But it is possible.

Source: Huerquen, Collective Communication

Video: False Dichotomy (October 2020).