from Weekly News Update on the Americas
ENTRE RIOS: PAPER MILL PROTESTS CONTINUE
On Dec. 30, hundreds of protesters blocked traffic along three bridges which span the Uruguay River, linking Argentina’s Entre Rios province with Uruguay, to protest the Uruguayan government’s decision to allow the construction of paper mills along the river. Residents say the mills will pollute the river and cause serious harm to the environment.
The largest protests were led by residents and local officials of Gualeguaychu, Argentina; protesters there blocked the General San Martin bridge leading to the Uruguayan city of Fray Bentos, in Rio Negro department, where the paper mills are being built by the Finnish company Botnia and the Spanish company Ence. Another group of protesters blocked traffic for several hours across the Gen. Jose Artigas bridge linking the Argentine city of Colon with the city of Paysandu in Uruguay’s Paysandu department. Eventually the demonstrators opened one lane of traffic and allowed cars and trucks to pass, but the protest caused serious delays for travelers. The third protest was held on the bridge linking Concordia in Argentina to the city of Salto in Salto department, Uruguay. There residents distributed informational flyers to travelers. The protests were timed to cause maximum impact at a time when Argentine holiday vacationers traditionally flock to Uruguay’s beaches.
Gualeguaychu mayor Daniel Irigoyen supports the protest; a spokesperson for his office, Hernan Rossi, told AFP that if Uruguayan authorities don’t cancel construction of the paper mills, residents will carry out “programmed and surprise blockades” along the bridges throughout the summer vacation period. (El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Dec. 31 from AFP; AP, Dec. 30; Resumen Latinoamericano, Dec. 30) Entre Rios governor Jorge Busti also supports the protests. The Argentine national government said on Dec. 29 that it would send 200 gendarmes (federal border police agents) to the region to control traffic during the protests.
On Dec. 29 the Uruguayan government announced that the construction of the paper mills was “irreversible,” while unofficial sources reported that the Argentine government was urging Uruguay to move the paper mills elsewhere, a proposition expected to cost between $10 million and $14 million. On Dec. 27, Argentine deputy foreign minister Ricardo Garcia Moritan said his government is urging Uruguay to halt construction of the paper mills until an impartial environmental impact study is carried out. (Resumen Latinoamericano, Dec. 30)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 1
CHACO: VIOLENT SQUATTER EVICTION
On Jan. 5, some 400 agents of the provincial police of Chaco province, Argentina, used violence to carry out an eviction order against 200 families who had taken over public housing units earlier that day in Puerto Vilelas, 21 kilometers south of Resistencia, the provincial capital. The families, including many children, took over the recently built houses after having lost their homes in a storm on Dec. 16, and having unsuccessfully sought help from the government. In scenes recorded by news cameras and viewed around the country, police agents from Infantry and Cavalry units and the Special Operations Command–protected by helmets, shields and bullet-proof vests–fired rubber pellets at residents and used whips, clubs and kicks against those who fell to the ground or who were handcuffed. A number of people were treated for injuries. German Pomar, a photographer for the daily newspaper Norte was hit with 12 rubber pellets in his leg. (Prensa Latina, Jan. 5)
POLICE SENTENCED IN PIQUETERO KILLINGS
On Jan. 9, the Oral Tribunal No. 7 of Lomas de Zamora sentenced former police inspector Alfredo Fanchiotti and former sergeant Alejandro Acosta to life in prison for the killing of piquetero (organized unemployed) activists Dario Santillan and Maximiliano Kosteki during a demonstration on June 26, 2002, in the Buenos Aires suburb of Avellaneda. Fanchiotti and Acosta were also convicted of attempted homicide for wounding seven other demonstrators with live bullets.
Former police inspector Felix Vega and ex-police agents Carlos Quevedo and Mario de la Fuente were each sentenced to four years of prison for aggravated concealment. Former police agents Gaston Sierra and Lorenzo Colman got three and two years, respectively, for aggravated concealment, but will not go to jail. Francisco Celestino Robledo, a retired police agent who carried out arrests during the 2002 protest despite not being in active service, gota suspended sentence of 10 months in prison for usurping authority.
More than 400 uniformed and plainclothes police agents took part in the operation against protesters who tried to march across the Pueyrredon bridge into the city of Buenos Aires. The agents were from three federal units (Gendarmeria, Prefectura and Federal Police) and the Buenos Aires provincial police. Retired agents were also called up to take part in the operation. (Resumen Latinoamericano, Jan. 12; Cronica, Buenos Aires, Jan.. 22)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 22
Weekly News Update on the Americas
See also WW4 REPORT #117
Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Feb. 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution