Argentineans Launch Petition against “Donald Trump” Wall with Paraguay


EspañolThe residents of the Argentinean border town of Posadas have launched a petition demanding the government cease construction of a massive border wall in their city.

The wall stands five meters tall — 1.4 meters higher than the Berlin Wall — and extends 1,300 meters across, encircling the Customs and Migration Center near the international bridge that joins Posadas with the Paraguayan city of Encarnación.

Locals launched the petition last Friday, August 14, to try and stop officials from completing the wall, which the government began building almost one year ago. Residents say the wall alters their everyday lives, blocks the path for pedestrians to reach the international bridge, and forces them to walk an extra five kilometers around the wall to cross to the other side.

“With Mercosur fully functional, it is really embarrassing for government officials to order the construction of a wall from their comfortable armchairs in the capital. Without understanding the reality of border towns, they have constructed a border wall that restricts the free movement of Argentinean citizens, as well as foreigners, especially Paraguayans,” their petition states.

As of Thursday, August 20, organizers have collected 4,605 signatures online. The city has a total population of roughly 320,000, and relies heavily on construction, tobacco, and textiles for its industry.

“A wall will divide the city of Posadas and the Border Center. Separatist prize for the one who came up with that idea.”

Despite growing protests from Posadas residents, however, the head of the Yacyreta Completion Plan, Carlos Freaza, says all construction plans at the border, including the perimeter wall, are “definitive.”

Freaza expects all construction at the border to be completed by 2017.

El Puente Internacional que une Posadas de Encarnación es uno de los más importantes del la provincia argentina. (Google Maps)
The international bridge that connects Posadas in Argentina with Encarnación in Paraguay is one of the most important border passes in the northeastern province of Misiones. (Google Maps)

The main road that once joined the Argentinean border city with the international bridge is now blocked due to the construction, and when the wall is finished, it won’t be reopened.

The petition suggests local authorities borrowed the idea for the border wall from the “North American, reactionary, right-wing [presidential candidate] Donald Trump,” who has previously called for a wall along the US-Mexican border.

“On our border with Paraguay, we don’t need that. The officials who made this massive barrier possible are ignorant of our ancient habits and customs in the area,” the petition states.

“This project is also a deadly blow for the ‘informal border trade,’ which is how a lot of people of humble means survive, both Argentineans and Paraguayans.”

Javier Bellochio, head of the Architects Association of Misiones, says the wall is “bad urban infrastructure that does not have consensus, reduces neighboring property values, and impacts the quality of life of residents who have lost their view of the river.”

The wall is part of a series of construction projects being carried out at the Argentina-Paraguay Border Center by the binational company Yacyreta, which runs the dam by the same name built across the Paraná river.

According to the company, the wall in Posadas is being built because federal regulations mandate the new Border Center in the city have a physical boundary between it and the rest of the urban area.

Furthermore, Paraguayan journalist Juan Augusto Roa, writing for local daily ABC, says the wall will provide much-needed infrastructure improvements to the surrounding area.

“The project aims to comprehensively order the roads of the neighboring country [Argentina], and will improve both traffic safety at the bridge entrance, as well as the enjoyment of recreational facilities that will be located on one side of the wall,” he wrote.

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On social media, however, users mocked Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner, who has frequently spoken of a “great homeland” comprised of all South American nations.

Other users noted that by erecting walls along the border, Argentina may be in violation of Article 1 of Mercosur’s charter, which aims to facilitate the free movement of goods, services, and people in South America.

“The Berlin Wall is underway. It separates the Border Center from Downtown Posadas. An inclusive Mercosur.”

“We should ask [President Kirchner] to inaugurate the Wall Posadas-Encarnación and christen it as the ‘Great Homeland.'”

“Why did they build a wall to hide the Border Center at the Posadas-Encarnación Bridge? Are they hiding something?”

Translated by Adam Dubove.

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