29 September 2008

Ship parade against the fires

Caravana náutica II Last Saturday, September 27, there was a "ship parade" to protest the fires on the islands of the Paraná river's delta, opposite Rosario. The municipality organized it, and called all the people without a boat to participate by staying beside the river and waving.

Since I've written about the island fires before, I won't explain it all over again in detail. In short: farmer needs place for cattle; government of Entre Ríos Province lets farmer buy island; farmer cheaply clears island scrub by setting fire to it; drought makes fire worse; smoke blows away, blocks traffic, irritates people's eyes and noses; ash rains on Rosario; wetland ecosystem is destroyed; Entre Ríos government does nothing; neighbouring Santa Fe government gets angry; Rosario sues.

The ship parade was the last move of Rosario's municipal government, one week after a gathering and a declaration against the unchecked burning on the islands and for the creation of a natural reserve.

You wouldn't believe the kind of bullshit we've been getting from the government of Entre Ríos and the municipality of Victoria, under whose jurisdiction the nearby islands are. This has worked against them, as more and more facts are uncovered. Entre Ríos, we learned, gets some good money from leasing fiscal land plots on the islands to cattle farmers. And the mayor of Victoria, Entre Ríos, approved the establishment of a meat processing plant there as well, even after the town council rejected it because of the highly suspect credentials of its owner.

It's clear these guys have some business going on on the islands. The governor of Entre Ríos was livid when he learned that Santa Fe's senators were requesting the creation of a protected area. Right now, Entre Ríos and Victoria can say they are unable to stop the fires, with what the drought and their lack of economic resources, and that anyway it's private land; but a protected area under federal jurisdiction would force the national government to preserve the ecosystem from such destruction.

The fact that Cristina Kirchner's government has done almost nothing to stop the fires, except when the smoke reached Buenos Aires, and that Environment Secretary Romina Picolotti might as well be a wooden lamppost for all the effort she's put into this issue, is also a cause for more anger here in Rosario. We've always taken this sort of local pride on being a "self-made city", so if Entre Ríos can't or won't solve it and Cristina doesn't feel like it, let them hand the islands over to us, and we'll surely do a better job keeping one of South America's largest wetlands and most fragile ecosystems from being burned to the ground for short-term profit.

If you read Spanish, keep up with the news and activism reading my blog Sin calma: No a la quema.


  1. Anonymous16:26

    Ah man - that second paragraph, IN Short: explanation was hilariously accurate and a great overview!

    Nice work.

    I wills say one thing that is ongoing with the farmers strikes having been the strongest in Rosario. A boat, basically an overly expensive recreation toy, is used to protest? I remember when people drove SUV's to the other protests. So needed.

  2. That was wicked, Jeff. ;-)

  3. I must have missed the headline that said Yateazo in Rosario.


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