Argentina will formally present Monday before the International Court of The Hague the full background of its case against Uruguay for having unilaterally authorized the location of pulp mills along the river Uruguay which is regulated by a joint statute dating back to 1975.
Argentina's legal representative Ambassador Ruiz Cerruti with deliver the 400 pages memory in the context of the long standing conflict between neighboring Uruguay and Argentina over the Finnish Botnia-Orion and Spain's Ence pulp mills which allegedly will also contaminate the water and air of the region. The documentation according to Argentine sources contains diplomatic mail, scientific and technical reports, communiqués, maps, blueprints, photos, independent scientific assessments plus other evidence in support of Argentina's position. Argentina originally presented its demand last May and the first hearing was in July when each side, Argentina and Uruguay, made their cases before the fifteen magistrates of the International Court. Argentina's main argument is Uruguay's reiterated violation of the River Uruguay statute which establishes a mandatory consulting process over issues regarding the shared waters of the border fluvial system, such as is the case of the location of pulp mills. The violations according to Argentina include the approval for the location of Spain's Ence; similarly with Finland's Botnia-Orion pulp mill which will be finished in a few months; allowing both companies to have their own ports and authorizing Botnia to extract greater volumes of water from the river Uruguay than those jointly agreed. Another chapter, but highly controversial, is the potential pollution of the pulp mills, an issue highly disputed because the World Bank which financially supports the Botnia-Orion project contracted two accumulated environmental impact assessments which significantly downplay the Argentine claims. Meantime pickets blocking access to Uruguay in protest for the building of pulp mills continued over the weekend in two of the three cities involved, Gualeguaychu and Colon. Concordia, the third crossing option was not so enthusiastic about cutting traffic. Last Friday a coordinated effort by pickets in the three cities and in the Buenos Aires ferry terminal, which has several trips a day in the high season carrying thousands of passengers and hundreds of vehicles, failed in achieving its goal of total isolation of Uruguay. Argentine Coast Guard riot teams locked out pickets in the Buenos Aires terminal and ferries' traffic was normal, proving that contrary to what was expected and announced by Gualeguaychu leaders, people were more interested in enjoying their vacations than protesting. Picketers held banners, balloons, distributed leaflets and called on Argentine President Kirchner to keep his word because "time is running out". Nevertheless picketers are scheduled to meet again Tuesday for an assessment of the last seven days' actions and "to plan further actions". Alfredo de Angelis one of the Gualeguaychu leaders said that access to the bridge leading to Fray Bentos, next to where Botnia is building its plant, "will continue indefinitively". "We're satisfied with what has been done so far and on Tuesday we'll have a new set of planned actions", said de Angelis. Jorge Fritzler from one of the neighbors association of Gualeguaychu said the Tuesday assembly will ratify what has been done and "continue to plan", but "the conflict should end with both governments sitting down to talk until a solution is found". Uruguay's position all along has been that until pickets are lifted, "there's not much to talk about".