March 22, 2006
It appears that Argentina and Uruguay have reached an understanding over two controversial pulp mills that are under construction along the east (Uruguayan) side of the Uruguay River. Presidents Nestor Kirchner and Tabare Vazquez agreed to commission an independent environment study before any construction is resumed. In response, Argentines have called off a blockade that had stymied river ferry traffic for the last two months. See BBC. This situation first came to light in November. Anyone who has driven through the south side of Baltimore knows the awful stench given off by pulp mills, even in modern plants operating under strong environmental laws.
Two bombs wrecked hotels in La Paz last night, killing at least two people. A Uruguayan woman and an American man have been arrested, but the motives for the attacks are not yet clear.
UPDATE: The American is believed to be mentally disturbed, giving various accounts of his identity and activities. He has been offering explosives and liquor for sale in Bolivia, but police discount any political or terrorist aims. Nevertheless, President Evo Morales took the opportunity to portray the bomb blasts as an attack on Bolivia's democracy, implying it was orchestrated by the U.S. government. See CNN.com.
After several days of economic strangulation brought on by anti-free trade protesters, the government of Ecuador declared a state of emergency in five provinces. Army units have forcibly removed roadblocks. Free trade negotiations involving the Andean countries are about to begin in Washington. See BBC
UPDATE: Inmates set fire to a prison in Quito, and one of them died because fire fighters had to dodge bullets. The 900 prisoners are being transfered elsewhere, but conditions are already very crowded and out of control. See CNN.com.