Argentine eco-protesters again block Uruguay border

Tens of thousands of protesters occupied the Gen. San Martin bridge, which links the Argentine province of Entre Rios to Uruguay, on Nov. 11 to protest Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez’s decision to let the Finnish company Botnia start operating a paper mill it has built in Fray Bentos, across the Uruguay River from Gualeguaychu, Entre Rios. Argentine environmental activists have been protesting plans for the mill for four years and have blocked traffic between the two countries at the San Martin bridge, at Concordia and at Colon.

Concordia residents had suspended their blockade in August because negotiations seemed to be under way between Argentina and Uruguay, but residents renewed their action on Nov. 11 because of Vazquez’s decision on the plant. Activists were especially angry that Vazquez had compared the bridge blockades to the US economic embargo of Cuba. Protesters wrote an open letter to the people of Uruguay warning against pollution from the factory and the overplanting of eucalyptus trees in Uruguay for use in the mill. “This will be the death of the green Uruguay that we know,” the protesters wrote in the letter, which they put in a bottle and threw in the river. (La Jornada, Mexico, Nov. 12)

More than 16 police agents and 10 strikers were injured in a clash in Buenos Aires on Nov. 12. One agent and one worker suffered serious injuries. Members of three transport workers unions were protesting new transit regulations the city council is rushing to pass before the current term runs out at the end of November. However, the unions suspended a general strike planned for Nov. 13, since new negotiations had started. (LJ, Nov. 13)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 18

See our last post on Argentina and Uruguay.