The Province of Jujuy is in a legal situation of evident fragility. The local Tsar has not been measured in terms of decisions and authoritarian style, to the point that his province, today, seems little less than an emirate of the ancients.
And it is that although Argentina is not an exemplary republic in judicial matters – and it is far from being so– Jujuy is a living sample that the Judicial Power in this country is more and more a punctured canoe that makes water from all the holes. That they are too many and make all navigation difficult.
In this framework, and with a national government that we accompany, but that shows exemplary ignorance on a daily basis regarding how people reason and live in the deep interior of this Republic, it is necessary and urgent to review at least the three most questionable characteristics of this province bright in tourist terms, but so dark in institutional matters.
The most lacerating and urgent question is undoubtedly the already absurd prison of Mrs. Milagro Sala, which goes against all logic and legal reason, that is, in line with the arbitrary decision of the dictatorial power exercised by Governor Gerardo Morales. The “Sala Case” is already emblematic of the prevailing legal arbitrariness suffered by the entire Argentine people. The The grotesque prison of Milagro is a rude and emblematic example of medieval persecution in the middle of the third millennium., and chase, not coincidentally, that he rages against a social fighter who is a woman, indigenous, black, provincial and with strong egalitarian convictions.
Recent statements by her, disseminated by social networks, show her hopeless, overwhelmed and ill, a condition that was also dramatically denounced this week by one of her personal doctors, Dr. Jorge Rachid.
It is clear that it must be taken into account that in certain aspects life in the province of Jujuy was never without dangers, as it is a border territory historically permeable to drug trafficking, gendarmerie violence and institutional weaknesses of all kinds. And now, in addition, with the rise of the brand new marijuana industry supposedly only for curative uses, but – according to journalistic notes – already under the control and leadership of relatives of the Tsar. Real things, Sancho, Alonso Quijano would say.
But perhaps the most abstruse proof of the strange state of things in that beautiful province is what has been happening with lithium, a wealth about which the Argentine people are little and misinformed, and which implies another possible future battle for National Sovereignty. And it is that lithium is related to the Paraná River, the Atlantic coast and the disastrous operation of large foreign corporations that for years have systematically destroyed the Andes Mountains through the so-called “open-pit mega-mining”. Now lithium is also a source of deception and lies to hide what really seems to be happening, as reported to this column by the recently formed Jujuy Climate Action Group, determined to enlighten the public about lithium in the Jujuy Puna.
With the signature of one of its leaders, the architect and master’s degree in Urban Planning Roberto Villegas, the group, founded in 2020, is defined as “a civil society organization formed by professionals from Jujuy who developed local, provincial public and private management , national and international and who have experience in environmental and climate issues. ”Their specialties are:“ engineering in water resources, sustainable energy, industrial engineering, education and environmental legislation, urban development and sustainable construction, labor and community training. ”And they say , among other things:
• That the salt flats of the Puna Jujuy are fragile and vulnerable ecosystems, and although they are located in protected areas, “the exploitation of lithium at those heights implies a significant environmental setback. Both the exploration and the already started exploitation are bringing with them problems of urgent resolution. There are already complaints that the case of the Guayatayoc lagoon represents a serious danger for the Puna ecosystem ”. Likewise, in the so-called Salinas Grandes “the surveys carried out by different companies produced the mixture of fresh water (vital element) with salt water, which puts at serious risk the ‘salt harvest’ that the community members have done since ancient times, respecting the cycles ecological salt flats.
• That there are 33 indigenous communities in the Salinas Grandes and Guayatayoc basins that “have presented amparo appeals in defense of their territories before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation for failure to comply with prior, free and effective consultation. The response of the Court was to declare itself ‘incompetent’. The communities then filed lawsuits with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights. “For now, the 33 communities are resisting to protect their habitat and especially fresh water.
• That “the production of a single ton of lithium carbonate evaporates 2 million liters of brine (75% is water) and, as far as is known, the companies do not make any payments. The Orocobre company, which operates in the Olaroz-Cauchari basin, plans to obtain 17,500 metric tons of battery grade lithium carbonate per year ”. In another project “the companies Exar, Lithium Americas and SQM have planned a production of 25,000 tons per year. And there are projections to go to 130,000 tons in the next few years ”.
• Which provincial and national mining offices estimate that between 5 and 50 m3 of fresh water should be used per ton of battery grade lithium carbonate produced, from which it can be inferred “that the annual fresh water consumption of each one is 87,500 m3 and 115,000 m3 respectively ”in the first case, and in the case of a volume greater than 50 m3,“ the annual fresh water consumption would increase to a total of 875,000 m3 and 1,150,000 m3 respectively ”. Based on CLACSO studies published in 2019, at least two questions arise: “What will be the impact of lithium on the water resource of the Puna? Will there be fresh water left for crops and other uses for the people of Puno? “
The truth is that, the informants maintain, “the damage that this has already begun to cause is absolutely unpredictable.” Among them those that are common to all regions where natural resources are exploited: “Always, inexorably, trucks transport on average more than 20% of the allowed tares. That explains the constant damage on almost all Argentine routes ”. Whose costs are always paid by citizens. Coincidentally, this week there was another lag within the national government itself. The Secretary of Mining, Alberto Hensel, ruled out any possibility of nationalizing lithium, and even less to create a state mining company. Along the same lines of the Ministry of Transport, phobic to everything state, Mr. Hensel, who was recently repudiated in the province of Chubut when he went to pressure Governor Arcioni in favor of destructive-environmental mega-mining, now did the same in a virtual meeting with the governors of Salta, Gustavo Sáenz; from Catamarca, Raúl Jalil, and the Tsar from Jujuy. Nothing else could be expected. The worst thing is that two of them call themselves Peronists and the FdT.