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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 April 2006, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK
Argentines protest against mills
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires

Activists on the bridge at Gualeguaychu which connects Argentina and Uruguay
The dispute between the two countries has lasted over a year
Tens of thousands gathered in the Argentine town of Gualeguaychu for what organisers called the country's biggest-ever environmentalist rally.

They are trying to halt the construction of two paper pulp mills on the Uruguayan side of the river that separates the two countries.

But most Uruguayans want the work to continue and the conflict is driving two normally friendly nations apart.

The dispute has been raging for over a year and shows no sign of going away.

Bridge blockade

They came from all over Argentina to pledge their support.

Tens of thousands of people carrying Argentine and Uruguayan flags and banners reading "No to the pulp mills" walked to the 5 km-long bridge that links the two countries over the River Uruguay.

It is on the Uruguayan side of that river that two European companies have started building two pulp mills.

Map

The protesters, backed by international environmentalist groups such as Greenpeace, say the mills will pollute the river.

They have been blockading the bridge for several months and the Argentine government is taking the case to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, accusing Uruguay of breaking a treaty governing the protection of the waters.

The builders say they are employing the latest technology and the Uruguayan people want the jobs and investment the projects, backed by the World Bank, are bringing.

Relations between the governments in Buenos Aires and Montevideo have reached rock bottom, causing concern in neighbouring countries.

But there appears to be no room for compromise and the bridge that was supposed to bring Argentina and Uruguay closer together is fast becoming a symbol of what divides them.


SEE ALSO:
Bank caution on Uruguay mill cash
12 Apr 06 |  Business
Greenpeace blocks pulp mill boat
03 Mar 06 |  Americas
River row divides former friends
15 Feb 06 |  Americas
Argentina river row ends in court
26 Jan 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Argentina
02 Dec 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Uruguay
23 Nov 05 |  Country profiles


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