Don’t Burn For Me, Patagonia
In one of its clumsier PR campaigns, Greenpeace Argentina decided to place an ad in the Washington Post while Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner was in town. The advocacy group is livid over the plans to build a coal power plant in Patagonia. True, coal is not the cleanest-burning source of energy. And building these near glaciers perhaps defies common sense. But for a country still suffering a hangover from its economic meltdown in 2001, Greenpeace does not give any viable alternatives. Greenpeace simply says, “invest in green jobs” and build out wind power, and problems solved. So where will Argentina get this money? Maybe there was a backhanded deal with the Spanish firm building the coal power plant. True, the Kirchners are suspected of lining their pockets while husband and wife have been President, but despite issues involving corruption and mismanagement, Argentina just does not have the money. But perhaps the most ridiculous episode is the ad itself. I thought it was Cher posing as Evita Perón, but apparently that is President Kirchner’s face superimposed on Evita’s head. The problem with that imagery is that to this day, Evita Perón is still a very polarizing political figure, and a brief perusal of any Perón biographies reveal that she was hardly a “Santa Evita.” If companies could make money developing solar and wind, they would be there by now, just as they are in Germany and even African nations. But as far as transparency goes, Argentina ranks with countries like Niger, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. If a company wants to invest in South America, chances are they will find friendlier places to do businesses in Uruguay or Chile, and of course, Brazil or even, Peru. I am not thrilled with the idea of coal plants firing up in Patagonia. But perhaps Greenpeace needs to change its tone and work within, rather than stalking Argentina’s President when she goes abroad and pesters her with low-budget, even childish, advertisements.