from Weekly News Update on the Americas


On Sept. 15, police agents in the southern Argentine province of Chubut nearly beat to death campesino Simforoso Jaramillo, according to the Front of Mapuche and Campesino Struggle. The agents left Jaramillo with a fractured skull, broken rib, broken left arm, facial disfigurement and bruised back. He was taken to the Comodoro Rivadavia hospital where he underwent surgery and remains in a coma. (Adital, Sept. 20)

On Sept. 21, nine police agents arrived with a court official to evict the Guacuru indigenous community from their homes in the Juan F. Ibarra department of Santiago del Estero province in northern Argentina. The court official showed an eviction order referring to 595 hectares, but residents say police were unclear about which lands were supposed to be included and were just trying to evict everyone. The agents, from the 29th precinct in Quimili, were accompanied by Ruben Oscar Gauna, who claimed to have won the land in an auction. Gauna had been involved in a previous eviction attempt against the same community. The Campesino Movement of Santiago del Estero (MOCASE) reports that when local residents arrived to express solidarity with the families facing eviction, police left but threatened to come back with “reinforcements.” (Resumen Latinoamericano/Diario de Urgencia #635, Sept. 23, from Pulsar/Prensa de Frente, Argentina), Sept. 22)


Between 15,000 and 20,000 people marched on Sept. 28 in the Argentine city of Gualeguaychu, in the eastern Argentine province of Entre Rios, to protest the planned construction of two cellulose pulp plants in Fray Bentos, across the Uruguay river in the Uruguayan department of Rio Negro. The protesters fear the pulp plants will cause irreparable ecological damage to the surrounding region and threaten tourism and agriculture. The march–which ended with a rally on the banks of the Gualeguaychu river, a major tributary of the Uruguay–was organized by the Citizen Assembly of Gualeguaychu and supported by the municipal government. Participants included thousands of primary and secondary school students, as well as public employees organized in the Association of State Workers (ATE). (Resumen Latinoamericano/Diario de Urgencia #637, Sept. 28, from Pulsar; Agencia Periodistica Federal-APF, Sept. 29;, Sept. 28)

It was the latest of a series of protests and highway blockades against the pulp mills over recent months. Last April 30, some 40,000 Argentines and Uruguayans converged to block traffic across the General San Martin international bridge linking Gualeguaychu to Fray Bentos over the Uruguay river. (Uruguay Indymedia, May 1, 2005)

On Sept. 19, Entre Rios governor Jorge Busti filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, charging the Uruguayan government with allowing construction of the paper mills to proceed without first conducting an environmental impact study. The governments of Argentina and Uruguay, which jointly administer the river, have set up a bilateral commission to do such an impact study within six months. But according to Busti, “People are getting very nervous because they see the companies keep on building at a very fast rate.” On Sept. 16, Busti filed a complaint against the projects with World Bank ombudsperson Meg Taylor, who promptly ordered an investigation to be carried out Oct. 10-14, freezing financing for the paper mills in the meantime.

The Metsa-Botnia company of Finland–Europe’s second-largest pulp producer–and the Spanish company Ence are investing a combined $1.7 billion in the plants; Metsa-Botnia is hoping to begin producing one million tons of wood pulp annually for export starting in 2007, while Ence plans to start production in 2008 and export 500,000 tons a year. Center-left Argentine president Nestor Kirchner has been vocal in supporting efforts to block the mills, while leftist Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez, who took office in March, has pledged to push forward with the pulp projects. (Reuters, Sept. 1; Inter Press Service, Sept. 29; Infobae, Sept. 20; EFE, Sept. 26)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 2


On Oct. 7, more than 800 striking oil workers seized control of the Termap oil plant in the southern Argentine province of Chubut. Chubut’s 2,000 oil workers were in the 11th day of a strike, demanding wages on a par with oil workers in northern Argentina. In an Oct. 5 assembly in Comodoro Rivadavia, the workers decided to maintain a blockade of Routes 3 and 26 and an occupation of area oil wells, rejecting a plea from the government and their union’s leadership for a pause in the protests. The strikers had the support of activists from other local labor and social organizations, including the Federation of Combative Workers, the television workers union, the Anibal Veron Unemployed Workers Committee, the Communist Party and university student associations. (Prensa de Frente, Argentina, Oct. 5; Ambito Financiero, Oct. 14; La Opinion Austral, Rio Gallegos, Argentina, Oct. 13 from Telam)

On Oct. 8, some 1,000 residents of Comodoro Rivadavia held a spontaneous cacerolazo (a noisy protest where people bang on pots and pans) in support of the strikers. Another cacerolazo followed on Oct. 9, and on the morning of Oct. 11 the city’s businesses shuttered their doors and thousands of people poured into the streets to support the oil workers’ demands. The march was joined by teachers, who were beginning an open-ended strike that same day to demand their own wage increase. (Argenpress, Oct. 14)

Later on Oct. 11, the oil and gas companies signed an agreement with the union, Private Gas and Oil Workers of Chubut, to increase pay by an additional 260 pesos a month retroactive to last January, putting the southern workers on a par with those in the north. The Chubut workers will be paid for the 15 days they spent on strike and will not be penalized for participating in the protests. The governor of Chubut served as guarantor of the accord. (LOA, Oct. 13 from Telam; Argenpress, Oct. 14)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 16


Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also WW4 REPORT #113


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Nov. 1, 2005
Reprinting permissible with attribution