Bikini Protester Gets Heroine's Welcome Back Home

An Argentine beauty queen who disrupted a presidential summit in Vienna with a bikini-clad protest against wood pulp plants received a heroine's welcome back home as she joined a new demonstration Wednesday.

Evangelina Carrozzo drew international attention last Friday when she emerged from a crowd of photographers as Latin American and European presidents gathered for a ceremonial picture. She shucked off her black raincoat, revealing a thong bikini, black knee-high boots and a protest sign against the pulp plants in Uruguay.

On Wednesday she came -- fully clothed -- to join 300 demonstrators protesting outside the Embassy of Finland, home country of an investment consortium building one of the two Uruguayan plants.

CountryWatch: Argentina

Carrozzo was the 2006 carnival queen of Gualeguaychu, Argentina, a less-famous version of the Brazilian festivities. But her summit appearance made her an overnight heroine to many Argentines.

Applauded by the demonstrators, Carrozzo stood on a ladder to speak to a crush of local journalists and engaged in a few seconds of impromptu carnival dancing, shaking to the beat of a samba drum corps in front of the embassy.

Carrozzo said she was surprised by the hoopla.

"I didn't think there were going to be so many people and that they were going to mob me so much," she said. "But I'm happy to have come to Buenos Aires to be part of this protest."

The protesters claim the two pulp plants being built just across the Uruguay River will pollute northeast Argentine farmlands and damage tourism along the river.

Uruguay insists the project is environmentally sound and has vowed to go ahead anyway with the plants.

In Uruguay, critics said the bikini stunt threatened to trivialize the issue.

Omar Lafluf, mayor of the Uruguayan city of Rio Negro where the pulp mills are being built, said the plants are not "an issue of carnival, but very, very serious."

The Uruguayan government of President Tabare Vasquez scrapped plans for a public meeting May 24 near the site of the plants, hoping to avoid similar protests.