By Gustavo Duch Guillot
Ence (Spanish National Cellulose Company) is the most important forestry company in Southern Europe and currently the European leader in pulp production and the second largest producer in the world. On April 5 it was known that Ence has new majority shareholders, cousins Alberto Cortina and Alberto Alcocer (popularly known as the Albertos).
Ence (Empresa Nacional de Celulosa Española) is the most important forestry company in Southern Europe and currently the European leader in pulp production and the second largest producer in the world. On April 5 it was known that Ence has new majority shareholders, cousins Alberto Cortina and Alberto Alcocer (popularly known as the Albertos). They have acquired through the Alcor Holding group (entity controlled 100% by both cousins) half of the shares sold by Bankinter. After the purchase, the Alcor group now has 12.5 percent of the shares, thus displacing the Galician bank that had controlled the entity throughout its history as a private company. The Albertos are popularly known for their marriage, and subsequent divorce, to the Koplovitz sisters. In the financial sphere, they are unfortunately famous for having committed one of the largest scams in Spain, known as the Urbanor case, for which they were sentenced to three years and four months in prison for a fraud of more than 240 million euros and falsification of a commercial document .
Ence is carrying out a common practice of some companies in rich countries: installing their toilets in countries of the South. As you know, it plans to start up a large paper mill on the banks of the Uruguay River, whose production will be fully exported to the European market. As in Pontevedra, the inhabitants of both margins naturally fear that the production of paper pulp will cause severe environmental degradation and health problems for the local communities, and that it will harm local economic activity.
The regulations that exist in our European countries make it very expensive and difficult to implement the most polluting industries such as cellulose pulp production, aluminum production, open-pit mining or intensive agricultural production. The solution is to endorse these problems on other societies, disguised as progress, industrialization, and job creation. Pure euphemisms.
It will also be an expensive project for all Spanish citizens, as it has been approved to allocate more than 300 million dollars of Spanish public money to the cellulose factory through the Official Credit Institute (ICO), which is the state's public financial body Spanish responsible for making effective the credits of the Development Assistance Fund (FAD). Then they will call it "development aid". But also, according to an internal report, ICO has requested coverage for the loan granted to Ence's subsidiary in Uruguay to the Spanish Export Credit Insurance Company (Cesce) to ensure this operation using public funds.
We are many Spanish citizens who are against these economic policies of our neoliberal governments and we want our Argentine brothers and sisters to know it. There is a campaign underway to ensure that Ence does not receive the support of Cesce and the ICO for its pulp project in Uruguay (see www.debtwatch.org).
The Spanish financing of this megaproject would generate an illegitimate external debt if we consider the social rejection of the affected communities and the ecological repercussions. What is already known as Ecological Debt: the debt contracted by companies in rich countries with the citizens of the countries of the South when accounting for the environmental impacts that they generate and do not compensate. In short, as the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano says, the current division of labor is that some countries specialize in winning and others specialize in losing.
* Director of Veterinario sin Fronteras, Spain.