A demonstration involving hundreds of environmental organizations and an estimate of "thousands" of people, took place in Buenos Aires last week. Its main purpose was to join the people from Gualeguaychu (a city 230 kilometers north from Buenos Aires), who came to the capital to continue their request for the re-localization of Botnia's pulp mill, far from the border of Uruguay River.
However, the support of different organizations made the protest broader and summed other claims; the most significative being a demand for more attention to environmental issues to the national government. This was the first large demonstration for recently assumed president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, but is also a sign of the growing concern about environmental issues that the pulp mill matter in Entre Rios province has raised in the Argentine society.Provinces participating of the demonstration included of course Entre Rios (home of Gualeguaychu City), Catamarca, Santiago del Estero, Buenos Aires, Formosa, Misiones, Santa Cruz and Buenos Aires federal district.
The claims included obviously the Botnia pulp mill issue, but also different complaints about garbage management (against landfills), contaminating mining projects, and the cleaning of the Matanza-Riachuelo basin (the most polluted in the country).
The participants also asked the government to implement popular referendums on future initiatives that might involve consequences on the environment.
Even though the event was not massive, it was a proof of a growing concern environmental matters are slowly gaining among society: the country's economic stabilization (which has given people room to worry about issues beyond primary needs) and the perseverance of the Gualeguaychu popular assembly (that has been fighting about the pulp factory issue since 2002) are two key factors in the comeback of environmental claims.
It's no coincidence that just a few weeks ago, over one million people signed a petition and forced the congress to approve a law to protect native woods against deforestation.
The initial answer of president Fernandez de Kirchner to the pulp mills matter was to publicly announce during her initial speech that the conflict with Uruguay will be solved by the international Haya court; and to communicate protestants they will have a meeting in the next weeks.
Fernandez de Kirchner politic platform did not include a strong environmental plan, but her husband and former president Nestor Kirchner's speech as an environmental advocate (taking the pulp mill issue to international court and re-inaugurating the plan to bring the Riachuelo-Matanza basin back to life) is left to her as a burden she'll have to look after.
Here's an excellent documentary translated to English to understand more about the pulp mills issue between Argentina and Uruguay: