Protests Against Chevron Highlight Argentine Energy Woes
By Jonathan Gilbert
Activists in southern Argentina are threatening to intensify protests against a deal struck between state-run energy firm YPF and international oil giant Chevron.
Lawmakers in Neuquén province approved the $1.2 billion pact last week amid violent protests outside the provincial legislature, where police fired rubber bullets at around 5,000 anti-fracking demonstrators. Mapuche natives also blockaded a YPF plant, and one of the community’s leaders said Monday that “We’re not ruling out further action.”
Opposition to developing the Vaca Muerta in southwest Argentina – one of the world’s largest nonconventional hydrocarbon deposits – reflects similar clashes across Argentina. Energy and mining projects, often foreign investment-led, are frequently resisted by environmental, social, and political movements here.
These battles arise “one after the other” – from protests against nuclear power to hydroelectric dams – because President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s government has never outlined its long-term strategy for the energy sector, says Juan Carlos Villalonga, president of Los Verdes, an environmental organization.
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