While the Mercosur meetings were going on in Argentina, more than 2,000 people from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, representing 40 labor union and human rights groups, attended the Second Social Forum of the Triple Border in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, July 20-23. They denounced the FTAA, the World Bank, debt loads and especially the presence of U.S troops.

The activists charged that U.S. soldiers operate behind a façade of humanitarian work. They accused Washington of seeking to control the region’s Guaraní aquifer, the world’s largest reserve supply of fresh water.

Elsewhere in Paraguay observers from 10 countries were on hand from the Campaign for Disarmament of the Americas to monitor 500 U.S. troops stationed there for the past year. Paraguay had to agree not to prosecute the soldiers in a Paraguayan court or in the International Criminal Court for crimes they might commit. The group held a review conference in Asunción on July 20.