Argentine pickets in the city of Gualeguaychu, the main bastion protesting the construction of a pulp mill on the Uruguayan side reacted with surprise, joy but also soberness to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling which turned down Uruguay's request to force Argentina to end blockades.
Early morning Tuesday, sipping mate and looking at a huge screen pickets followed word by word Judge Rosalyn Higgins statement and burst into an explosion of celebration when it was announced that "blockades do not justify the indication of provisional measures requested by Uruguay". "We're all mad happy, surprised. At the most we expected the Court was going to consider itself non competent on the case, but never this", admitted Jorge Fritzler one of the pickets' leaders. "People are really, really happy". However on a more sober attitude he said the ruling "helped cool a very tense situation". A decision favoring Uruguay would have "dangerously exacerbated the people even more". "Anyhow", he confirmed "pickets and blockades will continue uninterrupted as has been the case so far since November", added Fritzler. Further north in the city of Colon which in solidarity with Gualeguaychu sporadically blocks, in 12 hours periods, the route leading to another bridge and to Uruguay, according to Fritzler pickets were congratulated and received promises of "more support to continue with the protests". Javier Villanueva another picketer leader and head of the Culture Department of the city of Gualeguaychu said the ruling "gives us a sense of ease, relief" because until the ruling was read by Judge Higgins, "there was a real feeling of fear among us". "Let's hope that following this last ruling from the ICJ a political solution to the controversy can be found" and dialogue between presidents Kirchner and Vazquez can resume added Villanueva. "Blocking routes can't be the only way to protest", he said. "We have to look into other ways of expressing our rejection to the construction of pulp mills and their contaminating effects".