Inicio > Mis eListas > cehunews > Mensajes

 Índice de Mensajes 
 Mensajes 5 al 24 
05/02 - Globalizat Humboldt
06/02 - Fourth Hum Humboldt
07/02 - Meetings a Humboldt
08/02 - Geography Humboldt
09/02 - Fourth Int Humboldt
10/02 - Argentina Humboldt
11/02 - FIEALC CON Humboldt
12/02 - Secession Humboldt
13/02 - Symposium Humboldt
14/02 - Position A Humboldt
15/02 - Neolibera Humboldt
16/02 - AAG CONFER Humboldt
17/02 - Humboldt P Humboldt
18/02 - The Fifth Humboldt
19/02 - The Fifth Humboldt
20/02 - About PAIG Humboldt
21/02 - Assistant Humboldt
22/02 - The Fifth Humboldt
23/02 - Fifth Humb Humboldt
24/02 - Environmen Humboldt
 << 5 ant. | 20 sig. >>
Página principal    Mensajes | Enviar Mensaje | Ficheros | Datos | Encuestas | Eventos | Mis Preferencias

Mostrando mensaje 14     < Anterior | Siguiente >
Responder a este mensaje
Asunto:[CeHuNews] 12/02 - Secession
Fecha:Jueves, 29 de Agosto, 2002  01:36:07 (-0300)
Autor:Humboldt <humboldt>

Día luminoso

CeHuNews 12/02

Some in Argentina See Secession as the Answer to Economic Peril


NEUQUÉN, Argentina — For years this tidy city of 250,000 has prided itself on being "the gateway to Patagonia." But these days it is also the center of an increasingly restive movement to detach this southernmost region of South America, rich in oil and minerals, from the economic disaster that is the rest of Argentina.


Because of that deepening crisis, public services have been sharply cut for Patagonians even as their region's own bounty continues to generate income for the central government. As a result, longstanding resentment of Buenos Aires has intensified, and political autonomy, regional integration and even secession are now being openly discussed as solutions.

"What is taking place is a search for options," said Gerardo Mario de Jong, director of the regional studies program at Comahue University here. "People are questioning the concept of a single national center of power that many of us blame for our problems."

An independent Patagonia would be a sparsely populated but prosperous nation. Though fewer than 5 percent of Argentina's 37 million people live in Patagonia, the region accounts for nearly half of the country's territory, much of its fresh water supply and hydroelectric power and 80 percent of its oil and gas.

Traditionally, resentment of the central government has been especially strong in Patagonia, which regards itself as a neglected stepchild of the rest of the country. The region was administered as a federal territory, its residents unable to elect their own governors and congressional legislators, until the 1950's.

Much of the momentum toward a change in relations with the rest of Argentina has been provoked by a recent proposal to fuse Patagonia's two northernmost provinces, Neuquén and Rio Negro. In an indication of just how severe the country's economic collapse has become, the southernmost county of bankrupt Buenos Aires province, Carmen de Patagones, is seeking to end that affiliation so it can join the new province.

Nominally the union of the two provinces, which is subject to a plebiscite, is simply an economy measure aimed at reducing bureaucracy and waste. But as the magazine Parliamentarian noted recently, "There are also sectors that warn of the possibility that certain provinces are grouping themselves together as the first step toward an eventual independence from Argentina."

Eduardo Amadeo, a spokesman for President Eduardo Duhalde, dismissed such speculation as "sheer idiocy." He said the move to merge the provinces was "a strategic and intelligent project that sets an example for the whole country in terms of making better use of resources." He described any notion that Argentina's economic crisis is unfairly holding Patagonia back as "not based on objective data."

"If you look at tax collection, levels of unemployment and average salary, you will see that Patagonia is not the region that has suffered most," he said. "In fact, it is in the best relative position."

As in the rest of Argentina, most residents of Patagonia are of Spanish or Italian descent. But Patagonia has a higher percentage of people of other European backgrounds — Yugoslavs, Welsh, Germans and French. Jorge Sobisch, the governor of Neuquén, is of Croatian background.

Whether this is a major factor is unclear, but Patagonians consider themselves different from other Argentines because of the region's topography, its remoteness and the fact that most immigration here began barely a century ago.

In a poll in May, 53 percent of people here who responded said they wanted an independent Patagonia. The sentiment for separation was strongest among young people, the group with the highest level of unemployment, 78 percent of whom said they favored secession.

"If you compare the area north of the Rio Colorado with the area to the south, you will see that you already have separate countries," said Elfo Kruteler, a French-language teacher and artist here, referring to the traditional natural boundary of Patagonia. "They take everything from here, our oil and gas and lumber and minerals, and give us nothing in return except problems."

Governor Sobisch dismissed talk of secession as far-fetched but said a new relationship between Patagonia and Buenos Aires is essential. "Why should we be prisoners of a system that is inefficient and concentrates all power in the capital?" he asked in an interview.

Despite the disclaimers of Mr. Sobisch and other local leaders, authorities in Buenos Aires are clearly concerned about a possible dismembering of the country and the loss of income that would result. According to a civilian who teaches at a military institution, one of the issues the Argentine armed forces has begun examining is how to react in the event Patagonia or any other region tries to secede.

Such concerns may be stoked by the obvious and growing weakness of President Duhalde, who announced in early July that he planned to leave office in March, nine months early. Since he took office in January, Mr. Duhalde has repeatedly been forced to make political concessions to the country's 23 provincial governors, especially the 14 from his own Peronist Party.

"Imagine if George Bush had to negotiate with the governors of California, New York, Texas and Florida every time he wanted to do something," said Carlos Escudé, a political commentator in Buenos Aires. "This is a situation that is totally irregular and was never foreseen by our Constitution."

Mr. Amadeo, the presidential spokesman, acknowledged that Mr. Duhalde leads "a transition government that was not elected by popular vote, but by a special assembly, and as such has to negotiate with the governors and Congress." But he also noted that Argentina is "a country with a strong, deeply rooted tradition of federalism" and a Constitution that foresees and encourages regionalization.

The weakness of the central government has led to instances of open defiance by provinces. Despite Mr. Duhalde's order to stop printing new currencies, a step he took to satisfy demands of the International Monetary Fund, Chabut Province, in Patagonia, announced in June that it was issuing bonds that are to be used as parallel currency.

Patagonians tend to see themselves victims of "incomplete integration and induced underdevelopment," to cite the title of a new book.

"We are always the forgotten ones down here," complained Alícia Rosa, 54, whose family was among the pioneers who migrated here a century ago.
"Everything is measured by the quantity of votes, and since we don't represent that many, every government in power in Buenos Aires has abandoned and ignored us."

At the same time, there is a growing conviction that control of the region's riches is slipping into the hands of foreign interests, with Buenos Aires making no effort to defend national sovereignty. The Benetton clothing company, the owner of more than two million acres of sheep ranches, is now said to be the largest single landowner in the region, and other outsiders, like the American billionaire Ted Turner, have bought ranches and ski resorts.

Adding to local resentment, both of the main oil companies in Patagonia are also now foreign owned. One, a government monopoly that was the region's largest employer until it was privatized in the 1990's, is in Spanish hands; the other, privately held but weakened by the current crisis, is being sold to the Brazilian state oil company, Petrobras.

Patagonia is even awash with rumors that the bankrupt federal government is thinking of selling off national parks to obtain desperately needed revenue.
According to such stories, Argentina would also relinquish its claim to parts of Antarctica and permit American troops to be stationed in Tierra del Fuego in return for relief on the public debt of $141 billion, on which it defaulted in December.

Authorities in Buenos Aires have repeatedly dismissed such notions as absurd. But alarmed provincial legislators in Chubut formally rejected "the possibility of ceding national territory under any circumstances for the purpose of canceling public debts."

"When a family is in debt, it sells off a washing machine or television set, something it feels it can do without," said Rubén Reveco, editor of a magazine of Patagonian history here. "Because they are so distant from the centers of power, the inhabitants of Patagonia feel they are in a similar position in relation to the rest of the country."

 NEW YORK TIMES 27/08/02