December 4, 2013
UPM wants Argentina-Uruguay to 'break off relations,' Urribarri
Best case scenario for the UPM pulp mill company if Argentina and Uruguay to break off relations, governor of the Entre Ríos province Sergio Urribarri said as he fiercely questioned Montevideo’s recent decision to authorize the Finnish firm to increase its production.
“Uruguay’s decision is unilateral, unnecessary because contamination is evident”, Urribarri told reporters. “This decision hurts our soul”, the Kirchnerite leader expressed condemning yesterday’s political move by the José Mujica administration to okay a 100,000 tone- increase in the ex Botnia’s pulp mill production.
“Best case scenario for Botnia is Argentina and Uruguay fighting among each other and breaking off relation. That is the objective,” Urribarri considered and added Mujica “lost rationality” giving in to the company’s “pressure.”
“What upsets us the most is the lack of arguments and some opinions of President Mujica who says there is no rationality from Argentina’s side because we are holding elections when it is he who has lost the rationality due to the clear pressure of a transnational company,” the governor of Entre Ríos insisted as he outlined the environmental impacts of UPM’s works affecting his provincial district. “They are throwing 57 kilos of phosphorus, 142 of nitrogen and 16,540 of organic material into the Uruguay river every day,” he affirmed.
Following is a timeline of a 10-year bilateral conflict that has now reached a new critical point.
*2003 - Uruguay authorizes Spanish firm Ence (ENC.MC) to build a paper plant on the Uruguay River between Uruguay and Argentina. The Argentine government says it is monitoring the plan.
* Feb 2005 - Uruguay authorizes Finland's Metsa-Botnia to build a second plant near the planned Ence plant.
* Dec 2005 - Argentine environmentalists in the town of Gualeguaychú in the province of Entre Ríos across the river from the planned pulp mills, begin sporadic blockades of an international bridge across the river, to protest the plant.
* Dec 2005 - A World Bank preliminary report says emissions from the plants will be safe.
* March 2006 - Both companies suspend work on the plants and protesters lift a highway blockade, as presidents of both countries say they will negotiate. However, talks fail.
* April 2006 - Environmentalists in Gualeguaychú block a bridge between the two countries.
* May 2006 - Argentina sues Uruguay at the International Court of Justice, saying Uruguay violated a bilateral agreement to protect the river.
* July 2006 - The International Court rejects Argentina's petition to block construction of the plants.
* Sept 2006 - Spain's Ence says it will move its planned plant to a location approved by both countries.
* Oct 2006 - The World Bank reports plants are up to environmental standards.
* Jan 2007 - The International Court rejects Uruguay's petition to force Argentina to lift roadblocks.
* July 2007 - Talks mediated by Spain's king fail.
* Nov 2007 - The Botnia plant starts up. Strong smells from the plant provoke complaints of environmental damage.
* Dec 2007 - During her swearing-in speech Argentine President Cristina Fernandez complains about the Botnia plant.
* 2008-2009 - Environmentalists and community groups in Gualeguaychú, Argentina, maintain almost permanent blockade of a bridge between Uruguay and Argentina, while lawyers from the two countries argue the case in the Hague.
* Dec 2009 - Metsa-Botnia sells its Uruguay pulp plant and forestry operations to UPM-Kymmene.
* 2010 - New Uruguay President José Mujica meets twice with Argentina's Fernández to discuss how to carry forward bilateral relations after the ruling from The Hague.
* April 2010 - The International Court rules the plant can continue to operate, saying Uruguay did not breach environmental obligations under a river management treaty. The court said Uruguay failed to inform and negotiate with Argentina properly but that dismantling the mill was not an appropriate remedy.
* October 2013: Uruguay authorized UPM the increase in its production leading Argentina’s government to take the case to The Hague.