In a meeting on Wednesday between President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina and her Uruguayan counterpart, José Mujica, the two countries agreed to jointly monitor and manage the water quality of the Río Uruguay, a river they share.
The decision brings a four-year dispute over a pulp mill built on the Uruguayan side of the river closer to resolution. In April, the International Court of Justice ruled against Argentina, stating that Uruguay did not substantively violate environmental obligations under a 1975 treaty governing the use of the river. Argentina argued that the mill added to water pollution, a claim that Uruguay and the builder of the factory, Botnia, disputed.
The April court decision also noted that Argentina and Uruguay have an obligation to “continue their cooperation” to promote equitable use of the river and environmental protection, an obligation reflected in Wednesday’s agreement. The two countries announced a 60-day timeline to collaboratively establish the monitoring system.
It remains to be seen what will happen with the Argentine protestors who continue to blockade a bridge across the river. Mujica called on the Argentine government to take action, saying “Uruguay is not going to end the pickets . . . Argentina, its government and its people, must resolve it themselves.” Fernández de Kirchner also voiced her opposition to the protests but left the question of resolution unanswered. In an interview with Radio 10, Argentine Minister of Interior Florencio Randazzo said only that the government would comply if the courts ordered that the picketers be removed.
The wide-ranging meeting also led to bilateral agreements on trade, energy, health, education, and cooperation on security issues.
From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
Mexico Issues Arizona Travel Warning
In response to Arizona’s tough new immigration law, the Mexican government issued a travel advisory warning that “it must be assumed that every Mexican citizen may be harassed and questioned without further cause at any time” once the law takes effect in the summer. The law, SB1070, was signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer August 23. It has sparked intense debate over provisions allowing local law enforcement officers to request identification when there is “reasonable suspicion” that an individual may be undocumented. People transporting undocumented immigrants could also face charges. “The racial profiling that is likely to be caused by this bill will creep into the everyday lives of all Latinos—either due to profiling or the fear of profiling,” writes AS/COA’s Jason Marczak in the AQ blog. “This is a population that is critical to Arizona’s future prosperity at a time of economic uncertainty.”
Read an AS/COA analysis about SB1070 and the renewed focus on the immigration debate.