A major battle is underway in the Cono Sur of South America over the explosive growth of the pulp and cellulose industry. The fight finds it current focus in a dispute over the construction of a huge pulp and cellulose mill by the Finnish multi-national Botnia on the banks of the Uruguay River that divides Uruguay and Argentina. Activists and citizens, particularly on the Argentinean side of the river, have blockaded bridges and closed traffic between the two countries on and off over the past 6 months. Many local residents fear the economic, social, and environmental consequences of the new plant.
The dispute has also driven a wedge between the Uruguayan government, which has supported and subsidized the plant, and the local and national Argentinean authorities that oppose the plant. Both countries belong to Mercosur—the “common market of the South” but that has not been enough to solve the dispute. Attempts to use international legal venues and arbitration have also so far failed to resolve the matter.