Fray Bentos (frĪˈbānˈtōs) [key], 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.