The agricultural corporation, Monsanto, has put the construction of its plant in Malvinas Argentinas, Córdoba, on hold due to the ongoing roadblock in front of the construction site which has provoked clashes between protesters , workers and the police.
According to the corportation, the protests, which have been going on for almost two weeks, put the necessary conditions for work in jeopardy and generate possible health risks. The workers, had ,therefore, been asked not to come into work. The statement went on to criticise the protesters saying they were threatening the jobs of 200 people, and comes amidst claims from the construction workers union that workers at the plant have already begun to receive letters of notice from the company.
Yesterday, a series of violent clashes broke out as the provincial police tried to move the protesters from the entrance to the site. As a result, two protesters were detained and a key figure of the movement ‘ Mothers of Ituzaingó’ movement, Sofia Gatica, was injured.
According to reports, Gatica and other protestors lay on the road to stop three trucks passing into the construction site and, as police tried to remove the protestors, Gatica bashed her head on the ground. She was then taken to hospital, where she remained for a number of hours, before being allowed to return to the protester’s camp. The two protesters were also released from jail last night.
The protesters are calling for the construction of the seed plant, set to be the largest in South America, to be stopped due to concerns over the health risks and contamination that the plant’s activity could cause to the locals.
Monsanto, however, has claimed that their company promotes ‘sustainable agriculture’ and insists that this plant will be a replica of their existing one in Rojas, Buenos Aires province, which has been running without problems for 16 years.
This is not the first time that the construction of the plant in Malvinas Argentinas has come under fire. Earlier this year, a court injunction temporarily suspended works after discovering that construction had begun before the corporation had proved that they would meet environmental standards. However, in April a provincial court allowed the construction works to continue on the condition that a study on the environmantal impact of its work would be carried before it started operating. The factory is due to open in 2014.
Speaking about the clashes Daniel Arzani, the mayor of Malvinas Argentinas said that the protesters had a “poltical agenda” and expressed his view that only “5% of those involved actually came from the town of Malvinas Argentinas.”