Fray Bentos

Fray Bentos

Fray Bentos, city (1996 pop. 22,577), capital of Río Negro dept., SW Uruguay, a port on the Uruguay River. It was founded in 1859 as Independencia and renamed for an 18th-century religious hermit of the region. Meatpacking is the chief industry, and frozen and canned meats, hides, and wool are exported. Since the construction (1969) of the Puerto Urzué bridge, Fray Bentos has emerged as an important conduit of trade between Uruguay and Argentina.

Fray Bentos is a town Uruguay.

Location and population

It is located in western Uruguay, close to the border with Argentina, and about 160 km (100 mi) due north of Buenos Aires.

It has a population of 23,122 (2004).

Economic life and history

It is a port on the Uruguay River and is the capital of the Río Negro Department. Historically, its main industry has been meat processing. The beef plant there closed in 1979 after 117 years in operation. A local history museum opened on the site in March 2005. The town was originally founded in 1859 as 'Independencia'. Its current name, meaning "Friar Benedict", is derived from a reclusive priest.

Botnia S.A., a subsidiary of Finnish corporation Metsä-Botnia, has built a large cellulose factory in Fray Bentos to produce bleached eucalyptus pulp; production started in November 2007, first shipments in December 2007 from oversea port of Nueva Palmira. The investment in the project was about 1 billion USD and the factory directly or indirectly employs about 8,000 people. The project, however, is not without opponents. On 30 April 2005 about 40,000 Argentinians from Entre Ríos, along with environmental groups from both countries, demonstrated in the bridge linking both countries; and since then, some Argentinian groups are blocking the international bridge to put pressure on the Uruguayan government to stop the factory claiming it will gravely pollute the Uruguay River. On 20 December 2005 a World Bank study concluded that the factory would not have a negative impact on the environment or tourism in either country. The paper mill started operating in November 2007 (see Pulp mill conflict between Argentina and Uruguay).

Fray Bentos is also the original location of the main processing factory for the Liebig Extract of Meat Company. This led to their labelling of their pie range in the United Kingdom as Fray Bentos Pies. The original factory has been preserved as a museum. Fray Bentos pies are presently owned by the Campbell Soup Company. However, as of July 12 2006, 'Campbells UK' was acquired by Premier Foods and subsequently the King's Lynn depot, where Fray Bentos pies are made, will be closed by December 2007 with production transferring to Premier's Long Sutton Factory.

Place in literature: Bordaberry on Ireneo Funes by J.L.Borges

The imaginary character Ireneo Funes, created by Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges was from Fray Bentos.

Recent literary criticism by Pedro Bordaberry has explored the character's significance; Bordaberry has particularly discussed the fraybentino character in relation to the theme of the complexity of memory .


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