A new landing in La Agraciada? When will we trust ourselves?

A new landing in La Agraciada? When will we trust ourselves?

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In the area of ​​La Agraciada, on the Uruguay River, the questioned Río Tinto, a transnational mining corporation of British and Australian capital, would be / will be disembarking, whose plans include the construction of a port and a storage terminal for millions of tons of iron ore extracted from Corumbá, in Mato Grosso, in a border area with Bolivia.

Although the arrival of new forestry-cellulosic enterprises is celebrated through the mass media (in) communication, as well as the advance of the soy frontier, we choose not to elaborate on the negative impacts of these models of (im) production, nor remember that 64.7 percent of our population spoke out for water to be of and for all.

In the historic area of ​​La Agraciada, on the Uruguay River, an emulate of General Lavalleja would be / will be disembarking. This is the questioned Rio Tinto, a transnational mining corporation of British and Australian capital, whose plans include the construction of a port and a terminal for the collection of millions of tons of iron ore extracted from Corumbá, in Mato Grosso, in a border area with Bolivia. In the words of Wiersum [1], it would be "a storage terminal for basic mineral treatments such as sieving and the tasks to be carried out will be those of loading and unloading barges and ships." The planned mining port On our shores in the department of Soriano, it will also be able to receive cargoes of mineral coal destined for a steel project that Río Tinto specifies in Corumbá.

How would those millions of tons of iron get to this port? Under what security conditions? Under what customs regime? What would be the participation of the Uruguayan State? Will there be subsidies? Will it be a new private port? Will it enjoy the benefit of a free zone?

The origin of our questions is Rio Tinto's own trading history in world trade and exploitation of valuable minerals of all kinds (mercury, aluminum, iron, gold, copper, bauxite, among others). As valuable as they are also questioned and denounced for unscrupulous handling by social movements. This is the crux of the question: will he dedicate himself exclusively to what he officially declares today? There is every reason to believe that it should not.

Leaving aside "minor" details, let's see then some "major" doubts about his undertaking in Soriano, just as an example:

1.- From Corumbá to la Agraciada: why locate here the “basic treatments” of iron? Who is responsible for environmental externalities? Who is going to estimate the environmental liability?
2.- From iron to coal: how many other valuable elements (from Mendeleyev's Table) can be added in this framework of uncertainty and probabilities?
3.- From the real to the virtual: Río Tinto would soon launch an advertising campaign [2], among others, to dispel doubts about the environmental safety of its venture. ¿ Marketing Goebbelian? Following the path of Botnia? The return of the Pythoness of Ephesus? The big question, can speech transform reality? Where are our journalists located?

Reality? It says that Río Tinto, here very close, could be authorized by the government of the Province of Mendoza to exploit potassium (Potassium Río Colorado Project), for the production of KCl (potassium chloride). It is a well-known fertilizer, which is currently in demand by Brazilian agro-industries, both soy and agro-fuel producers. Projections indicate that after 40 years of exploitation, 83 million m3 of NaCl (salt) would be deposited (forever) just 5 kilometers from the Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to provinces such as La Pampa, Neuquén, Río Negro and Buenos Aires.

On the other hand, in the report "Ríos para la Vida" [3] we read that the barges of this same company that navigate the Paraguay River transporting minerals from Corumbá, have been doing it in a completely predatory way, having observed great destruction of the margins and of the forest in the gallery of the river, causing intense erosion and destruction of the aquatic ecosystem.

This situation should call us to responsibility, since according to some sources [4], “once the port is operational, Río Tinto will transport about 20 million tons of iron and steel products (…) through a fleet of river convoys.

4.- From local to “integration”: it is not clear how journalism integrates information on regional ventures. On the other hand, it is clear how companies are efficient in integrating all kinds of information within the framework of “globalization”. Their response has been the Initiative of the South American Regional Infrastructure [5] (IIRSA). This is the shortest way to get home. It is the fastest way out of raw materials, with little or no added value, to a “developed” world that still subsists at the expense of others.

5.- The questions keep adding up, producing more uncertainties: there is no precise information, we have searched the possible sources. In them we find that some publications speak of 2 million, others of 20 million tons of iron, will the difference be considered insignificant? On the other hand, if in the sister country this company does not deserve any trust, can we fool ourselves into thinking that here, they will be "serious"?

6.- "History repeats itself": a transnational company comes to our south to take huge amounts of our natural resources to feed the consumer voracity of their societies, now disguised as "green" through deception -for example- of the agrofuels.

7- How will the increase in cargo traffic affect a river that already has restrictions for artisanal fishing? Why do our fishermen have to go hungry while these corporations continue to profit, plunder, destroy?

At the same time, through the newspaper La República on February 17, we learned that the Paysandú Project-Center for the Development of Competences and Logistics Excellence was launched in Paysandú.

Barreda explained [6] to us the intermodal transformations as a result of this globalization and here we confirm it again since the port of Paysandú will have the sad privilege of positioning itself as a Logistics Platform of Parallel 33 in the XXI century , "Causing the appearance of logistics corridors, high traffic density axes that converge on the northern coast of our country, transforming Paysandú into the natural logistics pole of the region connecting it with the great centers of Mercosur and the world."

We return to the concerns already raised [7] about the role that our southern region is being given, in this case, reinforcing the waterway project, something like a mega waterway for which there is incredibly talk of the need to “Correct some curves of the river” (our emphasis). "Correcting" nature is scientific absurdity !!

Due to the alarm that came from Salto on February 1, we learned that the river, the dams and the people were running out of water. It turns out that due to lack of water, only 3 of the 14 turbines of the Salto Grande dam were working. This implies risk for electricity generation. However, while the Salto Grande dam barely works, there is talk of building Garabí, another dam on the Uruguay River.

Our River (ours: of all the inhabitants of the region) is in crisis. However, a few days later, from Posadas [8], another confirmation arrives: “ Presidents Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva decided to launch two works for the provinces of Misiones and Corrientes and the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, both on the Uruguay River: the construction of the hydroelectric dam of Garabí and a new binational bridge. The experts consider that these undertakings will facilitate the integration process and, in the case of the Garabí dam, it will provide energy in these critical times ”.

8.- From north to south: Roselli [9] informs us that “(…) part of 8 thousand tons of sulfur imported by the company Industrias Sulfúricas S.A. (ISUSA) through the port of Nueva Palmira, ended up being a pile placed in a shed that has no roof or walls (…). From the hill where the sulfur was piled up, the rain waters descend gently to the very source of the Arroyo del Sauce, and it will then reach the Uruguay River ... "

Poorly they tell us about the virtues of democracy, (Demos = people, cracia = power). It would seem that the Demos does not have the aforementioned Power, is it not time to not allow transnational corporations to appropriate it?

We have not noticed any concern regarding the proper information to the public, who also spoke out to specify the Participatory Management of Hydrographic Basins. Why is a call to the inhabitants of the basin delayed, duly informing them, providing them with academic support and making jointly agreed decisions?

* Anahit Aharonian, Carlos Céspedes and Claudia Piccini are members of the Multisectoral Commission, Uruguay


[1] The project manager of the mining company for Brazil, Bart Wiersum


[3] Publication of the Ecologist Workshop and the Ríos Vivos Coalition, pg 16, fragment of the report prepared by Patricia Zerlotti (ECOA), Ríos Vivos Coalition, FOBOMADE, CERDET, PROBIOMA.

[4] Pueblo en Línea and ANSA, cited in "Uruguay Report" digital publication, January 25, 2008

[5] In "Is the essential invisible to the eye?" in Gap of July 20, 2007 and in "Betting on true development" in Gap of August 3, 2007

[6] In "Betting on a true development" in Brecha of August 3, 2008

[7] In "Is the essential invisible to the eye?" in Gap of July 20, 2007 and in "Betting on true development" in Gap of August 3, 2007

[8] in Diario La Nación of February 25, 2008

[9] Daniel Roselli, in El Eco de Palmira, February 2, 2008, in "Paradoxes 2008. The sulfur tower"

Video: A guide to believing in yourself but for real this time. Catherine Reitman. TEDxToronto (May 2022).