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Marina Aizen

The Matanza-Riachuelo River and the Mendoza Case

Date:January 2014
Location:Argentina

Marina Aizen, an award-winning Argentinian journalist who has written a comprehensive history of the Riachuelo decision and its consequences. She was formerly the New York correspondent for the leading Buenos Aires newspaper Clarin, and she has been widely published in the Spanish-language press.

In this exclusive Green Interview, award-winning journalist Marina Aizen discusses the Mendoza Case: an inspiring public interest litigation process in which the Supreme Court ordered the authorities to clean up the Matanza-Riachuelo river basin, one of the most contaminated places on earth. She describes the evolution of the case, the 500-year history of the river’s contamination and how litigation and enforcement has led to important changes for both the river and the people who live near it.

Matanza-Riachuelo River

The Matanza-Riachuelo River flows for 64 km from the District of La Matanza to the shores of La Boca, a barrio and well-known tourist destination in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. The Riachuelo was once identified as the eighth most polluted spot on the planet — nothing short of an environmental and social catastrophe — as a result of centuries of dumping of industrial waste and sewage. In this exclusive Green InterviewArgentinian journalist Marina Aizen discusses the history of the river and its contamination, its connection to the people who live in the river basin, and how the inhabitants of the river basin have come together to reclaim and restore what she calls “a mirror of the territory.”

The Mendoza Case

In July 2004 a group of residents living in “Villa Inflamble,” one of the worst-polluted shanty towns in the Matanza-Riachuelo river basin in the province of Buenos Aires, filed a lawsuit against the Argentinian government, the city of Buenos Aires, and 44 businesses for damages to their health suffered as a result of the pollution of the river. Argentinian journalist Marina Aizen discusses this remarkable case, and how the people, industry, and all levels of government are now working together to prevent and repair centuries of environmental damage to the watershed.