|Department||Río Negro Department|
|Elevation||23 m (75 ft)|
|Dial plan||+598 456 (+5 digits)|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Official name||Fray Bentos Industrial Landscape|
|Criteria||Cultural: (ii), (iv)|
|Inscription||2015 (39th Session)|
|Area||273.8 ha (677 acres)|
|Buffer zone||2,127.7 ha (5,258 acres)|
Fray Bentos (Spanish pronunciation: [fɾai̯ ˈbentos]) is the capital city of the Río Negro Department, in south-western Uruguay. Its port on the Uruguay River is one of the nation's most important harbours. The city hosts the first campus of the Technological University, beside the historically relevant industrial complex Anglo, a World Heritage site. One of the biggest pulp mills in the world is situated close to Fray Bentos and the Libertador General San Martín Bridge; it was the center of the largest political dispute between Uruguay and Argentina during the 21st century.
The city is close to the border with Argentina and about 160 kilometres (99 mi) due north of Buenos Aires, and 309 kilometres (192 mi) north-west from Montevideo, Uruguay's capital.
The town was founded as 'Villa Independencia' by Decree of 16 April 1859. It became capital of the Department of Río Negro on 7 July 1860 by the Act of Ley Nº 1.475 and its status was elevated to "Ciudad" (city) on 16 July 1900 by the Act of Ley Nº 2.656. Its current name, meaning "Friar Benedict", is derived from a reclusive priest.
Historically, Fray Bentos' main industry has been meat processing. An industrial plant owned by the Societe de Fray Bentos Giebert & Cie., the Liebig Extract of Meat Company (LEMCO}, was founded there in 1863. It was closed in 1979, after 117 years in operation. A local history museum opened on the site in March 2005.
Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Uruguay
In 1899 a company called "Frigorífico Anglo del Uruguay" (often referred to as "Anglo") which originated from Lemco, began making corned beef there, which was sold as "Fray Bentos Corned Beef" in the UK. Fifty years later, the company diversified into soups, meatballs and tinned fruit. During the 1990s the focus shifted to pies and puddings, and the company was taken over by the Campbell Soup Company. In 2006 'Campbells UK' was acquired by Premier Foods. The "Fray Bentos" brand is now owned in the UK by Baxters, which manufactures the product range in Scotland. The Campbell Soup Company manufactures and sells Fray Bentos-branded steak and kidney pies in Australia.
Pulp mill dispute
Botnia S.A., a subsidiary of Finnish corporation Metsä-Botnia, built a large cellulose factory (pulp mill) in Fray Bentos to produce bleached eucalyptus pulp; production started in November 2007, and the first shipments were made in December 2007 from the port of Nueva Palmira. Investment in the project was about 1 billion USD. Several groups raised concerns regarding the effects of this and other pulp mills on the Uruguay River, which runs between Uruguay and Argentina, as well as whether Argentina had been provided with adequate notice regarding construction. On 30 April 2005 about 40,000 Argentines from Entre Ríos, along with environmental groups from both countries, demonstrated at the bridge linking both countries; afterwards ten to fifteen Argentines set up a roadblock at the international bridge to put pressure on the Uruguayan government to stop production at the factory, claiming it would 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.
Museums and culture
Fray Bentos has an Industrial Revolution Museum in the former meat processing factory of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, where thousands of people worked. When it was shut down, the opportunity was taken to create a museum, with the original machinery, and social and cultural artefacts of the technological revolution in Fray Bentos. The museum exhibits the machinery used in the meat and extract of meat process, the buildings, an 1893 Merryweather water-pumping machine, a complete canning plant, a plant where the meat was cooked, a laboratory, etc.
It also has a museum for the artist Luis Alberto Solari, who was born in the city.
The Miguel Young Theatre is an important cultural landmark.
Fray Bentos has its own football league, the Liga Departamental de Fútbol de Río Negro, established in 1912, made up of 14 teams. Among the most notable are Fray Bentos Fútbol Club, Club Atlético Anglo and Laureles Fútbol Club.
In popular culture
- José Pedro Barrán (1934-2009), historian
- Carlos Demasi (born 22 August 1949), historian
- Federico Elduayen (born 25 June 1977), footballer
- Carlos Fischer (1903-1969), politician, member of the National Council of Government 1955-1959
- Walter Pelletti (born 31 May 1966), former footballer
- Gastón Ramírez (2 December 1990), footballer
- Luis Alberto Solari (October 17, 1918 - October 13, 1993), was a painter and engraver
- Juan Manuel Tenuta (1924-2013), was an actor
- Juan José Timón (18 November 1937 – 13 July 2001), cyclist
- Lucas Torreira, (born 11 February 1996), footballer
Villa Independencia Airport serves Fray Bentos, but has no commercial air service.
- "Statistics of urban localities (1908–2004) (see also "Independencia")" (PDF). INE. 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- "Fray Bentos", Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names. John Everett-Heath. Oxford University Press 2005. Oxford Reference Online, retrieved 21 June 2008
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 26 May 2011.
- "Catástrofe aérea: hubo 73 muertos" [Air disaster: 73 dead]. La Nación (in Spanish). 12 October 1997. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
- "Fray Bentos Industrial Landscape". UNESCO. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
- "Censos 2011 Cuadros Río Negro". INE. 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Anon. "Fray Bentos". Premier Foods our range. Premier Foods. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
- Attwood, Karen (2007-01-20). "Premier Foods to close two factories with loss of 450 jobs". London: The Independent. Retrieved January 20, 2007.
- BBC. October 28, 2008 "Uruguay serves up slice of history "
- "Multitudinaria protesta en Entre Ríos contra la instalación de papeleras (in Spanish)". Clarín. 2005. Retrieved April 20, 2005.
- Bloomberg. November 9, 2007 "Metsae-Botnia Gets Permit From Uruguay to Start Pulp Production"
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