Important entities and national figures met in defense of the Magdalena Canal

Social, union and political movements demanded the opening of the Canal under "national control and as a strategic project to recover the river and maritime complex." There was an act in defense of the Magdalena canal on Demarchi Island, on the shore of the Río de la Plata

20 de March de 2021 22:06

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Union members of the port and river transport sectors, national legislators and those of the province of Buenos Aires, officials, professionals from activities linked to the naval industry and members of popular organizations held an act in defense of sovereignty and in support of the opening of the canal Magdalena on Demarchi Island, in the facilities of the SOMU union, on the very shore of the Río de la Plata. The main speakers of the event were the national senator Jorge Taiana (Frente de Todos-Buenos Aires), the director of Banco Nación Claudio Lozano, the Buenos Aires senator Francisco 'Paco' Durañona (FdT) and the two initial promoters of the call, the secretary general of the United Maritime Workers Union (SOMU), Raúl Durdos, who served as host, and the director of the Interactive Foundation to Promote the Culture of Water (Fipca), the Peronist leader Julio Urien. They all agreed to demand greater public control in river transportation and a progressive recovery of the role of the State with a view to the next expiration of the concession (ends on April 30) for dredging the trunk roads of the Paraná.

Another point in common was the push to open the Magdalena channel, a natural strip of the southern estuary of the Río de la Plata that has a depth of 4.50 meters but that if dredged to 12 meters would open a direct connection between the river ports of the Paraná with the ports of the Argentine maritime coast. "We are going to win the Magdalena canal," said Taiana, who was recognized by several speakers for having promoted the Magdalena canal project from Congress. They also recognized that, in a certain way, he had contributed to the Government creating the Execution Unit at the beginning of February for the dredging and marking of that navigable waterway: with this objective, the Ministry of Transportation issued resolution 33/2021, published in the Official Gazette.

"When the (FdT) Government began, one of the first things we saw was that in a year or so the concession (of the river routes of the Paraná-Paraguay waterway) would end and that we had to prepare a new proposal, a new tender, a new way of understanding things," Taiana began in her speech, although she later warned that "the comprehensive response to the problem is complex." "We are not just talking about ships, ports and tariffs: we are talking about how we project Argentina's ties in the next twenty or thirty years to abroad and from abroad to here," the senator stressed, and then questioned the government of Mauritius. Macri because, he stressed, "in 2015 everything was ready (to start dredging the Magdalena channel) and he refused while giving him three more meters of depth for free at the entrance of Montevideo to Uruguay, an absolutely unacceptable renunciation of sovereignty." With that phrase he referred to the use of the Punta Indio canal, which is the one that ships that transport exports from the Argentine agroindustrial sector ply today and that paradoxically favors Uruguay, because it originates south of the city of Montevideo.

"We have some of our own ports that are so neglected and other ports are growing even outside the national territory and we do nothing but favor them. That explains the debate over the Magdalena canal and the debate we have had around decree 949/2020, which obviously does not satisfy at all the expectations of a good part of the Argentine people who want to defend the national interest," Taiana said to applause.

The critical mention of decree 949/2020 (which delegated to the Ministry of Transportation the power to carry out a national and international public tender for the new concession for dredging and maintenance of the Paraná and Río de la Plata navigable waterway) was another of the common features of the act: Urien and the general delegate of ATE in the undersecretariat of Ports and Navigable Waterways of the Transportation portfolio, the union member and river captain Oscar Verón, spoke in the same sense. "This battle is a step we are taking, it is not the end," Urien noted.

"The project to call for international public bidding is in Decree 949, it is true, but we have also managed to have the financing of the Magdalena canal project included in the national budget (for 2021), so today we come to fight for it to be concrete, since there is a period of two years," completed the former Navy frigate lieutenant who was expelled for leading an uprising in favor of the return of Perón on November 17, 1972 and who later, in times of Kirchnerism, was They restored military ranks. For his part, the Buenos Aires senator Durañona stressed that "the popular governments, the Peronist governments, have been miscalculations of a system that defends economic interests far from those of the people, but it was those governments that allowed the State in Argentina to was the protagonist of the central axes of development, such as air navigation, rail transport and the exploitation of our river and sea basins".

Another of the speakers, union member Roberto 'Roby' Baradel, from Suteba, remarked : "We need to recover control of our ports, we need to recover from the State the profits and resources that some take, because neoliberalism in that sense is very basic: that the losses be endured by the State and that the profits go to those who make big deals. In turn, Lozano, member of the board of directors of Banco Nación, highlighted the imminent expiration of the concession for the Paraná-Río de la Plata basin waterway, scheduled for April 30, and then pointed out that on the same date "the the concessions of the (private) ports and also of Costa Salguero".

"This is an unbeatable opportunity, and the issue of the Magdalena canal must be the starting point to recover control of Argentina's foreign trade, over which the State today has lost all types of control," Lozano claimed. The economist proposed as an achievement that the Execution Unit for dredging the Magdalena channel was formed and that a budget was allocated for such a task, and finally he warned that during Macri's period in government there was "86,194 million dollars of capital flight in four years".

Also speaking at the event were the general secretary of ATE Nacional Hugo 'Cachorro' Godoy, the Malvinas war veteran Rubén Rada (namesake of the Uruguayan musician, which led to some jokes), the president of the Tandanor state shipyard Miguel Ángel Tudino, the mechanical engineer Alejandra Portatadino (specialized in ship repair), health doctor Jorge Rachid (advisor to the Ministry of Health of the province of Buenos Aires) and the head of the Center for Overseas Captains and Merchant Navy Officers, Sergio Dorrego.

As part of the event, while the speakers took turns at the microphone, several boats sailed towards the Magdalena channel to place a buoy as a symbol at the beginning of that navigation strip.


By Agenda Malvinas


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