En Notas


The consequences of the political decisions of the new Argentine government regarding ceding control of the main Argentine navigable waterway to the US Army, hindering direct and autonomous communication in river and maritime matters; analyzed by South Atlantic and Fisheries Expert César Lerena.

17 de March de 2024 17:07

The control in the hands of the United States of 73 Argentine ports, of which 23 are in Buenos Aires; 1 in Corrientes; 5 in Chaco, 9 in Entre Ríos, 1 in Formosa, 1 in Misiones and 33 in Santa Fe.

We have referred on numerous occasions to the Argentine absence in the administration of the South Atlantic, illegal fishing and the presence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain in the strategic southern area controlling transit to the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and its projection to the Antarctica. On this occasion we will review the political decisions that the new Argentine government is making regarding the administration of the Paraná-Paraguay river trunk and the Río de la Plata, losing control of the main Argentine commercial route and making direct and autonomous river communication difficult. -maritime of Argentina.

Let's make a brief preliminary summary. At the request of Juan Manuel de Rosas, General Lucio Mansilla faced the Anglo-French squad in the battle of the Vuelta de Obligado on November 20, 1845, who intended to colonize our country by directly relating to Corrientes. , Entre Ríos, Santa Fe and Paraguay without the intervention of Buenos Aires and ignoring the authority of Rosas in the foreign relations of the Argentine Confederation. It was the offensive of an important fleet much superior in quantity and modernity to the few Argentine ships. The successive battles that occurred in Obligado, such as Quebracho, where the invader suffered great losses, made them desist from this colonizing process, so the Obligado's feat was very important for national consolidation and discouraged those followers of the "civilizing powers." For this reason, in 1974 Law 20,770 was passed declaring November 20, "Day of National Sovereignty" that the current actions blur.

A lot of water passed under the bridge, to the point of having in 1952 one of the most important and modern merchant fleets in the world, with a great development of the national shipyards, both aimed at strengthening industry, navigation and commerce. It was signed in 1973 the Treaty of the Río de la Plata, where not only the border conflicts with Uruguay were ended, but a “ Common Fishing Zone ” was agreed in an area of the Exclusive Economic Zones of both countries; a South American historical milestone of environmental exploitation and care between two neighboring nations and, among other relevant events of regional protection - at the request of Brazil - the establishment of the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone agreed upon by all the countries of West Africa and Eastern America consolidated in 1986 by Res.41/11 of the United Nations, which has, among other objectives, that “ all States refrain from undertaking any activity that may create or aggravate situations of tension and possible conflict in the region ”; On the other hand, in 1994 Law 24,385 was enacted, where Argentina approved the River Transportation Agreement on the Paraguay-Paraná rivers with the Republics of Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay; which had as its objective the protection, cooperation, autonomy and improvement of regional trade and demonstrated the vocation to resolve regional development and transportation between neighbors, without foreign interference.

This waterway is a natural system of the Plata Basin, with an extension of 3,442 navigable km from Puerto Cáceres (Brazil) to Nueva Palmira (Uruguay) and, 250 km more to the sea. There are 73 Argentine ports, of which which 23 are in Buenos Aires; 1 in Corrientes; 5 in Chaco, 9 in Entre Ríos, 1 in Formosa, 1 in Misiones and 33 in Santa Fe and, “about 4,000 foreign-flagged ocean vessels sail on it, which in 2020 transported 74 million tons of cargo, which represents 83% of the solid and liquid bulk that Argentina exports; In addition, 19 million tons of cabotage cargo. Every year, 146 thousand containers, 750 thousand vehicles and 320 thousand passengers also circulate, for an FOB value of more than 70 billion dollars ( Fabian Lugarini, 9/15/2020 ) .

The air of privatization and atomization of the administration that Argentina experienced gave rise to the sanction in 1992 of Law 24,093 on Port Activities and, in 1995, reduced the River Transport Agreement into a multimillion-dollar business, granting the concession for ten years of maintenance of the aforementioned rivers in exchange for the collection of tolls from the Hidrovía SA consortium formed by the Argentine company AMEPA and the Belgian Jan De Nul, which after negotiations was extended until April 2021.

In the year 2020 by Res.307, the Federal Hidrovía Council was created, chaired by the Minister of Transportation and made up of several national officials and the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Corrientes, Chaco, Entre Ríos, Formosa, Misiones and Santa Fe, in addition to different invited organizations; however, for the limited purpose of providing advice; coordinate the policy and receive proposals and, although in this same year the constitution of Hidrovía Sociedad del Estado was announced with the aim of managing the navigable waterway, in November of the same year the Executive Branch sanctioned Decree 949/20, where again A national and international public tender was promoted to concession the maintenance and toll collection as compensation, vanishing any idea of obtaining a greater federal role in regional and national strategic development, which was promoted - in others - by the former minister of foreign affairs and senator Jorge Taina.

In 2021, Decree 427/21 was sanctioned; as a product of pressure from the coastal provinces, related unions and specialists in the matter, giving rise to an incipient and precarious process of nationalization of the administration of the Paraná-Paraguay trunk waterway, where the maintenance tasks of signaling, dredging and control to the General Administration of Ports; although, limiting its responsibility to whoever is awarded the public tender authorized by Decree 949/20. Fact, which gives rise to the issuance of Decree 556/21 creating the National Entity for Control and Management of the Navigable Waterway, with the reduced purpose of collecting a toll.

In summary, Argentina continues to fail to adequately manage the Paraguay-Paraná highway.    

For its part, Uruguay has controlled the traffic of ships entering the Río de la Plata from the Viceroyalty and intensified since the Treaty of the Río de la Plata, despite the fact that 90% of the vessels are destined for or come from Argentine ports; For this reason, the project to build the Magdalena Navigation Channel is central, which, in addition to the very important economic, technical, operational and labor effects, along with the development of the northeastern region of the Province of Buenos Aires, would cause greater autonomy. Argentine national in navigation and commerce, for the integration of Argentine river-maritime navigation without dependence on the Montevideo canal. That is, a clear project of national sovereignty.This led to the Argentine Naval Prefecture presenting a project to rectify the main navigation channel in 2009, with the Undersecretariat of Ports and Navigable Waterways of the Nation ultimately issuing Provision 584/13 and, upon approval by Uruguay , in 2014, once all the pertinent studies had been carried out, the project was prepared with which the international tender was officially published, which was finally suspended. The project was reactivated in 2021 with the approval of the final report of the Public Hearing where the environmental procedure required by law and in 2023 a new call for bids for the construction of the canal was announced; tender that was - for technical reasons - postponed.

The postponed actions to carry out a policy of national sovereignty and regional development related to these strategic roads and channels are deactivated with the arrival of the new government.          

On the one hand, on January 31, the Argentine delegation to the Administrative Commission of the Río de la Plata granted approval to the project to deepen the access channel to the Port of Montevideo by Uruguay, deepening Argentine dependence, without At the same time, progress would have been made in the construction of the Magdalena canal to balance this decision; while, unusually, Foreign Minister Diana Mondino states - contrary to the opinion of all Argentine experts - that the authorization “will benefit users of navigable waterways, reduce logistics costs and boost the competitiveness of regional exports” ( SerIndustria, 31 /1/2024 ); issue that Mempo Giardinelli ( Page 12, 2/3/2024 ) understands as an “absurd, anti-national, abstruse and inexplicable decision that leaves all Argentine foreign trade transported through the Montevideo canal in the hands of foreign companies” and that, according to the Interactive Foundation for the Promotion of Water Culture (FIPCA) “Argentina would give up 7 billion dollars per year for not building the Magdalena Canal and continuing to depend on the Port of Montevideo.” A decision, which in our opinion, transcends the issue economic and operational and threatens national sovereignty.

Now, the approval of the reform of the Montevideo canal, whose port is under concession for 80 years by a group of multinationals headed by the Belgian company Katoen Naty and, where the origin and illegal fishing have been laundered, will not only have consequences in the trade of the Paraná-Paraguay route, but will also facilitate the logistics of Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean and Spanish vessels that carry out illegal fishing, have crew members in slavery on the high seas and vessels that fish illegally in the Malvinas, it will strengthen China's position in the South Atlantic and the British in the southern part of the South Atlantic; issues in which the Argentine Foreign Ministry does not have a plan of agreements, both with Uruguay and Chile, to reverse this situation and, neither, with the States that fish at a distance. In light of the statements of the Argentine Foreign Minister, these agreements will never have been to realize. Argentine sovereignty is within the guidelines of the free market and competition.    

Additionally, the government would be putting out an international tender for the administration of Paraná-Paraguay, leaving the administration of the waterway in foreign hands, instead of an administration with the intervention of the coastal provinces, with the aim of promoting regional development, based on reduction of freight and transportation of production in the area, etc.

And if something is missing, to lose Argentine sovereignty, the governor of Chubut Nacho Torres calls on a United States patrol to carry out control tasks in the Argentine territorial sea ( World Stage, view 3/14/2024 ) and the recent agreement in the Paraguay-Paraná waterway, to agree (8/3/2024) with the United States Army on a joint collaboration where the United States Army is involved in the administration of the Waterway” (sic), according to the General Administrator from Puertos Gastón Alejo Benvenuto ; despite the fact that Argentina has the National Navy; the Argentine Army; the Naval Prefecture and other security forces and, even, the naval and security forces of the countries involved in the Paraguay-Paraná waterway agreement that, according to the additional protocol on security and navigation, have sufficient technical and material capabilities to control activities in the maritime and river waters of Argentina and the corresponding ports; although it is common to see the Navy's OPVs and the Prefecture's high-altitude patrols moored at the Mar del Plata Naval Base and other ports. One would have to ask, if this is not due to the possibility that state companies Chinese win the tender for the Paraguay-Paraná river trunk or the construction and administration of ports on the Patagonian coast by them, as discussed with respect to the port of Río Grande, in the strategic southern marine area under control of the United Kingdom from the Malvinas.

Both events were attended by the United States ambassador to Argentina Marc Stanley. And the Argentine Foreign Ministry? Absent.

This interference of foreign forces in Argentine waters is not a power of the Executive Branch or of a Province and, much less, of a third category department such as the General Administration of Ports and must necessarily be authorized by the National Congress. by the prescriptions established in the National Constitution, according to Article 75, paragraphs 10, 15, 16 ( providing for the security of the borders ), 27 and 28 ( allowing the introduction of Foreign troops into the territory of the Nation ) and, Article 99th paragraph 3.

First it was the DNU, then the Omnibus Law, now the control of the Argentine sea and Argentine rivers with foreign ships without authorization from Congress. Sovereignty on Stand-By.        



By Agenda Malvinas


Other news about Columnists

Might interest you


No comments yet

Log in or sign up to comment.