From the end of December of last year to March of this year, we saw a postcard that repeats non stop: millions of users without electricity. In the midst of a heat wave, households with the elderly, minors, and electrodependent people had to juggle to try to survive in the best possible way.
On March 1, also of this year, the terrible quality of the service was once again exposed when 20 million users suffered a massive blackout. Some were “lucky” and at night of that day they recovered the light, the most unfortunate took days. Thus, they joined the squad (if they had not already been a part of it before) of which they forcibly became experts in surviving without electricity.
During those days, the anger was expressed in the streets. Pickets on the corners of the most affected neighborhoods and cities became a more or less natural image. Protests were even seen in front of the headquarters of the Edenor and Edesur companies that closed their doors to not attend to the claims and used the police forces to protect themselves and intimidate the neighbors.
Given this scenario, at the end of March, the Government decreed the intervention of Edesur (which is the one that accumulated the greatest number of service interruptions) for 180 days. That period ended and what changed? Nothing. Even in winter, complaints from users who suffer power outages continue. In a large number of cases, without electricity, there is no water. And in many homes, heating in these days of low temperatures is through electricity.
About a year has passed since Sergio Massa assumed as the Minister of Economy, in a ceremony full of festive spirit. Contrary to that spirit, the measures that were announced in the following days were not good for the working and popular majorities. Among the announcements of the following days, Massa included one of the requests that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) claimed quite insistently: the increase in rates through the removal of subsidies for gas, electricity and water services. Thus, the new management of the Ministry of Economy, with Flavia Royón as Secretary of Energy, dusted off the so-called “tariff segmentation” that had been designed under the management of former minister Martín Guzmán.
As we already told in this medium, this year consumer defense organizations denounced that the rate increase ended up falling on a universe of users much larger than what the Government had promised: more of 5 million homes. This universe is made up of the highest-income sector, a minority, and those who did not register on the form (RASE), which are the majority, something that was known to happen.
While the majority of workers suffered year-on-year inflation in the housing, water, electricity and gas category of 113.2% (only that of June was 8.1%), the concessionaires of the privatized electric companies won and a lot. According to the latest financial statements, presented to the National Securities Commission (CNV), Edesur earned more than $5,000 million ($18.5 million per day) in the first 9 months of 2022.
The profits of the privatized companies thanks to the value of the rates were exposed in an obscene way with the Macri government that applied the tariff. The increase was more than 2000%which reported earnings of 3,525 million dollars to the main companies, between 2016 and 2018. That means that they earned 3.2 million dollars for each day of the Macrista government.
The rate was never reversed, despite the fact that it was one of the campaign promises of the Frente de Todos. In 2019, the rates were frozen by Macri himself in an attempt to rebuild his image for the 2019 presidential elections in which he was unable to re-elect Alberto Fernández. During the early days of the mandate of the Frente de Todos, the rates remained frozen, until the Fund began to tighten and the Government relented.
But beyond that, the consequences of the tariff were. Many sectors of the population, especially those with lower incomes or inhabitants of more precarious areas, could not afford to pay their bills during the Macri government. For them, Edenor compulsively installed a prepaid meter. “Energy for the poor” David Maidana defined last year in this special report that we did from The Left Dailyto the precarious way in which thousands of families have electricity because “when your credit runs out you run out of light and you have to go back to the candles”. David is teacher and councilor in Merlo for the PTS in it Left Front Unity.
Fees are not the only way companies earn. As part of what the privatizations implied, the concessionaires receive subsidiesthat they are millionaires and that reality tells us that they are going to stop to improve the service. German Pinazoprofessor and researcher at Conicet, wrote, in March of this year, in a note in Page 12 what “In the last three years, electricity subsidies have gone from 1.7 percentage points of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020, to more than 2.3 last year. Curiously, when we look at how much the administration of the Greater Buenos Aires Electrical Services Company cost the National Public Administration, which included both the companies that are currently in charge of the distribution service (Edenor, Edesur and Edelap) and also the company which today is in charge of the so-called Wholesale Electricity Market, Cammesa, we see that, between 1970 and 1988, it did not exceed 0.3 percentage points of GDP” continues pinazo. This refutes one of the central arguments in favor of maintaining privatizations
There is a third way through which the entrepreneurs of the privatized companies obtain profits: the debt forgiveness, also millionaires, that from time to time they are given as gifts from different governments. That was what this government did at the beginning of the year, with Massa already in office. Thus, he made Edenor and Edesur “save” $140,000 million. If we go back in time, during the Macri government we can mention the scandalous decision to cancel the debt that his own family group had with the State for the Argentine Postal Service concession.
And finally, we can mention one fourth way: the labor precariousness that these employers impose on their workers. “Edesur outsources maintenance crews, which are often not certified, which impose 12 or 14 hour shifts on their workers without days off. And that affects the service,” explained one outsourced worker fired in the same report we mentioned. before.
End the scam of privatized companies so that public services can once again be a right
The scam of the privatized companies only continues because the different governments allowed it. On top of that, in many cases, as we have already seen, they are rewarded. Many times, these businessmen also have ties to officials. The most unpunished case is that of Macri and the business group of his family. But also within this government there are businessmen who benefit from official policies such as Vila and Manzano, owners of Edenor.
That’s why There is no way for public services to become a right again, if not by attacking the interests of those who benefit from being a business, businessmen. from the list unite and strengthen inside of the Left Front Unityheaded by Myriam Bregman y Nicholas del Caño as pre-candidates for president and vice president, it is clearly stated that this has to be the path, for which it is necessary to take some measurements:
Today, together with my colleagues from the Left Front, we present a project that proposes the expropriation and nationalization of the electric power companies. We must end the privatization scam. pic.twitter.com/dBVz5XKq68
— Nicolas del Caño (@NicolasdelCano) March 3, 2023
And of course, as has been raised countless times, it is necessary to reject the agreement with the Fund that means that 40% of our population is below the poverty line.
These measures are part of a set of measures that we propose from the Unite and Strengthen list within the FITU that we want to discuss in these days that remain until the elections on August 13.