Salvador Rosetti Serra, a 79-year-old retired lawyer, yesterday became the first Argentine citizen in almost two years to cross to Fray Bentos, Uruguay, through the roadblock being held by environmental activists on international Route 136, in Entre Ríos. He presented a ruling issued by Federal Judge María José Sarmiento, ordering the demonstrators to let him pass.
Members of the Gualeguaychú citizens' environmental assembly â€" who have been staging the roadblock since November 20, 2006, to protest the operating of the Botnia pulp mill in the Uruguayan city of Fray Bentos which they claim pollutes the Uruguay River â€" decided to allow Rosetti Serra to pass. The assembly's lawyer, Osvaldo Fernández, said that he "could not" ignore the legal ruling. The retired lawyer passed with his car yesterday through the roadblock in Arroyo Verde, escorted by a border guard vehicle and with the court ruling issued on August 23 by Judge Sarmiento. Rosetti Serra is married to an Uruguayan woman whose family lives in Ombúes del Valle, Colonia, and they often visit them. Tired of having to travel by ferry to the neighbouring country and with his mother-in-law in a critical condition, Rosetti Serra decided to do something. The retired lawyer explained that he had tried to exercise his constitutional rights to drive on through the roadblock being held at Arroyo Verde, but he was "attacked by a group of people who call themselves ecologists." "The road-block is something illegal, irrational, so I decided to confront the force measure with another force measure: the one the Argentine law provides," said Rosetti Serra. The activists expressed their concern regarding the court ruling, since they claim "it could establish a precedent" and harm their protest, which has already lost prominence after more than a year of demonstrations. (BAH)