A new opportunity to get better

*by Pedro Pesati, mayor of Viedma, former vice-governor of Rio Negro.

Life always gives us a new opportunity to deal differently, to overcome those things we have done wrong in the past.

At this moment, which requires a collective decision and a profound change of attitude towards the challenges of the present time, today we are in Argentina. And the people of Rio Negro, therefore, have the obligation to take advantage of the new opportunities rationally and without dogmatism.

Nature has privileged our country by providing it with enormous amounts of resources which, during the first globalization of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, allowed us to position ourselves as one of the major countries in the world.

We did not know how to properly take advantage of these comparative differentials, and in the second stage of globalization we fell behind the high competitiveness of other nations that interpreted it better.

The global population explosion (in 1950 the world had two billion inhabitants, today we are eight billion and will be more than ten thousand in 2050) requires a large increase in food production and the energy supply that supports production itself. said, its industrialization, transport and logistics. The raw material of all raw materials – it is worth remembering – is energy.

A recent report produced by various institutions dependent on the United Nations (FAO, IFAD, WHO, WFP and UNICEF) condemned a whopping eight hundred and twenty eight million people to severe food insecurity and another two thousand three hundred million to moderate food insecurity. which led the leaders of this institution, including Pope Francis, to speak of “world hunger”.

Alongside this great human scourge, the war in Ukraine has thrown Europe’s energy system into crisis – heavily dependent on Russian gas and oil – threatening its population with the coldest winter since World War II, with consequences of all kinds that will be at the portals for several months as the old continent plunges into the coldest season of the year.

Our nation is not exempt from any crisis or exempt from its scourges. The forty percent of poverty—sixty percent in children under the age of fourteen—generated largely by the loss of competitiveness and stagnation of our economy over the past decade is simply a fact that shows it. Although, unlike Europe and Africa, we are endowed with natural resources that enable us to solve the most pressing problems of our overall development. Lithium, hydrocarbons, strategic minerals, marine and terrestrial proteins, agriculture reveal the keywords of our destiny. Resources that we must take advantage of for the benefit of the country, because as President Perón said shortly before his death, if we fail to take advantage of them in time, they will come for them and by force, as he literally wrote.

Over the past twenty-five years, our country has experienced a true agricultural, genetic and biotechnological revolution, with the introduction of state-of-the-art machines and technologies that allow the practice of precision agriculture with digital management of the sown surface. A technological complex from which the production of grains and proteins multiplied exponentially, repositioning us on a path that at the beginning of the 20th century placed us among the most prosperous countries on earth.

The long-awaited Lower Valley Development Project (IDEVI) of former Governor Edgardo Castello today has a new opportunity to expand and realize. Former President Arturo Frondisi’s dream of energy self-sufficiency also has its second historic opportunity today with Vaca Muerta.

Argentina is once again able to competitively supply food, but also energy and hydrocarbons to the whole world. And not only to alleviate the hunger and energy crisis for the coming decades, but also to balance the national economic balance, pulverize the current poverty and destitution and start a new path to development with inclusion and social integration in the search, always, to achieve greatness of the country and the happiness of its people.

We have a new opportunity to do better for everyone, not just some. By “everyone” I inevitably include those who are most neglected by the economic system, but also those sectors of society that have a greater perspective on protecting the planet.

Agricultural food production in our Lower Valley can be greatly increased without affecting the environment. In addition, gas and oil can be transported, stored and processed without affecting the bay’s biodiversity. And not only because the industry offers it or the state economy demands it, but also mainly because our people, the people of Rio Negro, want it that way.

A survey conducted last week by PGD Consultores shows 70% support from Rio Negro for the reform of Law 3,308 to allow the development of the oil industry in the Gulf of San Matias; twenty percent rejection and ten percent indecision and ignorance. Delving into the rejections, most of them justify it with the environmental risks that this industry involves.

Our challenge as political leaders – in this time and place – is to change this paradigm that governs the behavior of all of us – leaders and those who are led – from a prohibitionist “not here” to a consensual and regulated “yes”.

Let’s give ourselves a chance to show that we can do better this time.

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