from Weekly News Update on the Americas:

On Nov. 3, environmentalists in the cities of Gualeguaychu and Colon in the eastern Argentine province of Entre Rios blocked the border bridges leading to Uruguay to protest continuing efforts to build a paper pulp mill in Fray Bentos, on the Uruguayan shore of the river that divides the two countries. The protesters in Gualeguaychu built a wall of brick and cement on national highway 136, 15 kilometers from the border bridge, to symbolize the hard position taken by the Finnish company Botnia and by the governments and international institutions in refusing to halt construction of the pulp mill. Environmentalists say the project will contaminate the river and the surrounding ecosystem and destroy the livelihoods of local residents. (La Jornada, Mexico, Nov. 4, 5; El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Nov. 4 from AP) The Spanish company Ence has already backtracked in its plans to build a similar pulp mill along the river.

The action was timed to coincide with the Nov. 3 inauguration of the 16th Iberoamerican Summit in Montevideo, where the Spanish government tried to initiate a dialogue between Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez and Argentine president Nestor Kirchner; the two leaders’ relations have been significantly chilled by the paper mill conflict. In Gualeguaychu, two protesters dressed up as Vazquez and Kirchner cut the tape to inaugurate the symbolic wall. Later in the evening, several assembly members from Gualeguaychu spoke on the radio, inviting the heads of state from the summit to attend “a meeting that’s more fun, and with faces that are less sad, on the banks of the Uruguay river, where there are still birds and life.”

Hundreds of local residents came on Nov. 4 to see the symbolic wall and support the anti-pulp mill protests. The protesters expected to end their blockade and take down the wall after the summit ended on Nov. 4, but they said they would keep carrying out actions until they get results. (LJ, Nov. 4, 5)

In Montevideo, some 400 activists from leftist and grassroots groups took part in a Nov. 3 mobilization against the summit. They marched to the “security zone” and faced off against a heavy contingent of riot police. There were only a few minor incidents. (Uruguay Indymedia, Nov. 4; LJ, Nov. 4)

The 22 participating countries closed the Iberoamerican Summit on Nov. 4 with the approval of a 45-point consensus statement protesting both the US embargo against Cuba and a new US lawβ€”signed by President George W. Bush on Oct. 26β€”which authorizes construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border. “We consider the building of walls to be a practice incompatible with relations of friendship and cooperation among states,” read the statement. “We believe that the construction of walls doesn’t stop undocumented migration, the flow of migrants or the trafficking of people; it incites discrimination and xenophobia and favors the emergence of groups of traffickers who put people in greater danger.” (LJ, Nov. 5)

Argentine foreign minister Jorge Taiana spoke at the summit about his country’s “Great Homeland” program, which allows any citizens of the expanded Mercosur trade area to regularize their immigration status in Argentina simply by showing proof of their nationality. They are then eligible for the same benefits and rights as Argentines. The expanded Mercosur area includes Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. (LJ, Nov. 4)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 5


Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also:

WW4 REPORT #126, October 2006


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Dec. 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution