While borders between Argentina and Paraguay are technically still closed as a result of emergency sanitary measures due to the coronavirus pandemic. walking across the Parana river bed from one country to another is becoming increasingly common as a result of the historical downspout.
In addition to that, clandestine canoe services, which charge AR $ 6,000 (around US $ 33 at the unofficial exchange rate) each way for carrying passengers in areas where there is still enough water, fear the formal reopening could be bad for business.
The most critical point of the downspout is between San Rafael del Paraná and Mayor Otaño, near the border of Itapúa with the Alto Paraná Department and its confluence with the El Dorado and Montecarlo area (north of Misiones), in the vicinity of the Parejha and Caraguatay islands.
The Parana river downspout has reportedly surpassed its all time low of 1944 and there is no hope in sight, according to forecasts from Paraguay's National Water Institute (INA).
Besides affecting navigation, the current situation has also deprived local fishermen of their livelihoods, which is why they are demanding subsidies from the Paraguayan government.
Hundreds of Paraguayans hold shopping tours to Argentina to capitalize on the advantageous exchange rates. In those areas where there is still water, they ride clandestine canoe services which may go out of business if or when the San Roque González de Santa Cruz bridge, which connects the Argentine city of Posadas with Encarnación in Paraguay, is reopened, according to a report carried Wednesday by the misionesonline.net website.
Puerto Triunfo in Paraguay is one of the places chosen by Paraguayans to cross onto Puerto Rico in the Argentina province of Misiones, smuggling goods as well as people while local authorities turn a blind eye.
People told me that opening the border is little or nothing to us, the issue of illegal crossing is a very big business for all the inhabitants of the area, so to speak, a journalist quoted by misionesonline said.
“It is very difficult to understand how the Argentine Gendarmerie and the Paraguayan Navy do not realize what is happening, because the crossing is constant,” he added.
The crossing between Puerto Triunfo and Puerto Rico is very narrow and can be done in between 5 to 10 minutes, according to local sources.