The construction of two paper mills is being carried out in the region of Fray Bentos, Uruguay, by Spanish and Finish capitals. This subject’s been around for months but right now is gaining momentum with surprise blockades by green parties on the bridges between Uruguay and Argentina, on a high traffic season due to summer tourism. The international relationship among nations is getting tight.
The matter is more complex than it may seem at first sight. On one side, these paper mills represent the biggest investment ever in the Uruguayan history and the economic situation of the country is pretty damn bad for lack of a better adjective. The consequences of the economic crisis lived through in 2001/2002 are present still. Unemployment is up the roof, one every two children in Uruguay is born under the poverty line, emigration rate of educated young people is very high, etc. Bottom line, our economy desperately needs it (some say "I rather die from pollution than starve to death"). On the other hand paper mills will have a contaminating effect, and will affect the environment, period. European enterprises are moving the paper mills out of Europe into developing nations not exactly out of good will. Paper mills in Finland are known to have had a negative effect in the environment. To summarize we are buying ourselves a problem.
Will it be positive or negative in the long term, I don’t have the foggiest idea, I guess time will tell. What bothers me right now is to put up with declarations like those of the Argentinean governor of Entre Rios, Jorge Busti, who’s become an ecologist all of a sudden, and even makes suggestions that the Uruguayan government is corrupt (which is not in discussion really, but is just an statement that no one in the Argentinean government has the moral authority to make). The guy is a clown, he even as a measure forbidded government employees coming to Uruguay on vacations, and wasn’t respected about it (check out this).
One fact that I find very interesting is that there are right now around ten paper mills working in Argentina, throwing their wastes to the Paraná River, and you don’t listen to Argentinean green parties complaining on the news about that. I believe that ecology should start at home.