Migrant Lives

Merkel Response To Refugee Crisis Tramples Rights Of Germans

Refugees arriving last month in Munich.
Refugees arriving last month in Munich.
Michael Fabricius


BERLIN â€" German authorities are now trying in every possible way to come up with solutions for sheltering the wave of refugees entering our country. But that has somehow led the state to threaten the suspension basic rights of property and ownership.

The federal government does its best to foster optimism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and her Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, insist that the challenges that come with the wave of refugees can be met. One can imagine that Merkel is not only thinking of public institutions, but also humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross, as well as the commitment of individual volunteers.

But today it has gone beyond that, and ordinary German citizens and their rights are paying the price. Struggling to cope with how to handle and house the influx of refugees, the state now threatens to suspend the right of ownership.

All over Germany, your property risks being confiscated, due to what is known by zoning law as “Communities’ personal requirements.” In some case, authorities can justify their action by referring to public safety.

Once again, the state imposes solutions to problems caused by its own negligent action. The German taxpayer already had to save misguided regional banks and save Greece from default. Now it’s about the accommodation of refugees.

The government apparently considers it normal not only to dispose of their own responsibility, but to place the burden on German citizens and companies to solve public problems.

Some have compared the situation to emergency laws and compulsory accommodation of refugees after World War II. But back then, the situation was clearly different, facing direct consequences of a catastrophe, triggered by Germany itself.

Today, citizens, property owners and renters are asked to take the responsibility for the failures of other European Union countries and the disregard of the Dublin Regulation. No, this is a very different situation indeed.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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