Falklands: Argentina Needs To Give Some Ground -- Or Get A Better Army

Op-Ed: In its renewed push for sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, Argentina is making some major waves three decades after its disastrous 1982 invasion of the British territory. But if it wants something, Buenos Aires must offer benefits -- or be prep

A Falklands War memorial in Argentina (Benjamin Dumas)
A Falklands War memorial in Argentina (Benjamin Dumas)
Marcos Prats*

SANTIAGO -- Argentina has been busy of late trying to attract allies to its cause. So far its tactical moves have had some success, as evidenced by the U.N."s offer to act as mediator in its long-running standoff with England over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas).

The situation right now is in an initial or "positional" stage, with both sides still focusing on their competing visions, rather than on their interests.

For the United Kingdom, the best alternative to a negotiated settlement is the status quo – because in the end, England can actually live with this war of words. If Argentina instead cannot accept the status quo, as it has made clear, then it doesn't have an alternative except to negotiate. That, in turn, will mean ceding some ground.

In the business world, if you don't want to negotiate, you need a good lawyer. When it comes to territorial conflicts, if you don't want to negotiate you need a good army.

If Argentina wants the UK to agree to negotiations, it needs to take actions that diminish the value of the status quo. Otherwise the British have no incentive to budge. Argentina could, for example, sell its sovereignty cause to Falkland islanders by offering them special and very favorable conditions but without demanding that they renounce their British citizenship.

Another possibility is to offer the British economic compensation, guarantee British firms favorable access to the islands' resources of oil and fish, or provide special benefits for the English victims of the 1982 war. In other words, Argentina needs to give the UK something it can use as a precedent for its dealings with other British colonies.

Simply put, if Argentina really wants to have sovereignty over the Falklands, it must be willing to give something up – or pay. If it won't yield at all, then it's going to need a better army.

Either way, all indications suggest that Argentina's current maneuverings amount to little more than a fancy light show – a way to drum up support for the government, not a genuine intention to negotiate.

Read the original story in Spanish

photo - Benjamin Dumas

*Marcos Prats is a Chilean-based business executive who currently heads the Santiago office of Falcon Management Partners

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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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