Magazine article New Internationalist

Interview with Lalo Moreyra and Local Environmentalists Causing an International Stir in Latin America

Magazine article New Internationalist

Interview with Lalo Moreyra and Local Environmentalists Causing an International Stir in Latin America

Article excerpt

Surrounded by the trappings of an Argentinean corporate executive, LaIo Moreyra Is an unlikely environmental campaigner. But from his comfortable office in the province of Entre Rios, this Pepsi distributor and football fanatic leads an environmental dispute that's pitting Argentina and Uruguay- normally friendly neighbours - against each other.

'We blocked the roads illegally in exercise of our universal right to defend our land and our way of life,' he says. 'Yes, we have cut the right of free movement. But we did it to show the world that there are, here, people who are fighting for their environment. And we are getting there. Today the world knows that there is a town here where whole families and people with disabilities walked 20 kilometres in a protest to say: "Yes to life, and no to the pulp mills.""

That slogan adorns the shop windows and bumper bars in Moreyra's hometown of Gualeguaychu, which sits directly across the Uruguay River from the proposed pulp mills. Locals say that the mills will contaminate the river and kill the wildlife that depends on it. For the past year, they have blocked one of the roads that join the two countries, costing Uruguay up to $400 million in lost tourism and trade.

The mills - if they went ahead - would be Uruguay's largest-ever industrial investment and would boost the country's GDP by an estimated 1.6 per cent. Uruguayans say that Argentina is upset because they missed out on the projects. But Moreyra disagrees: 'If these investments, which come from Finland and Spain, bring us the garbage that they can't accept in the First World, then they are lying if they say that they are bringing us investment. They are bringing us poverty.'

The community's stance has elevated this local conflict into an international dispute, one that is threatening the future of the regional trading bloc that operates in parts of Latin America, called Mercosur. The World Bank, which is financing part of the project, has suspended its loans to the companies pending the results of further environmental impact assessments. The Bank's President, Paul Wolfowitz, has met with Uruguay's President, Tabare Vasquez, as well as Argentina's Economy Minister, Felisa Miceli, to try to resolve the problem. In early June, the countries took the dispute to the International Court of Justice. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.