Argentina's Macri Begins Takedown of Science

March 1, 2016

On Feb. 23, Argentina's Energy Minister Juan Jose Aranguren, former CEO of the Argentine branch of Royal Dutch Shell, promised that the Macri government intended to build the new nuclear plants—Atucha III and IV—in collaboration with China and Russia, as per 2015 agreements signed between those nations' heads of state and then-President President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

But Monday, the state-run Telam news agency reported that 600 workers at the Atucha III construction site have received their pink slips and will lose their jobs on March 31. Although these are contract workers, they are supervisors, managers, and technical personnel whose contracts have always automatically been renewed every three months, for the past year. Facundo Ocampo, lawyer for the Union of Construction and Related Workers of the Argentine Republic (UECARA), told Infocielo that the government, and specifically Energy Minister Aranguren, had made the decision on the firings.

Moreover, Diario Popular reported Monday that 2,200 workers at the Atucha II reactor were not paid January salaries, and are also threatened with job loss. The construction union, UOCRA, is now in a "state of alert," and its secretary-general reports that the labor situation throughout the nuclear sector is "very grave"; he anticipates problems at the Atucha I plant and at the Embalse plant in Cordoba.

President Mauricio Macri has made clear he prefers "green" energy to nuclear or even hydroelectric energy, and has filled his Environment Ministry with agents of Greenpeace and Prince Philip's World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, World Wildlife Fund) who spend their time attacking the high-technology agreements made with China and Russia. On Feb. 23, the daily Pagina 12 reported the announcement by Communications Minister Aguad that the Arsat-3 geostationary satellite, which was scheduled to be launched in 2019, is now "delayed, for budgetary reasons." Macri's government replaced the management of the Arsat company, which has built the country's satellites, to make it more "business-oriented."