Friday, September 16, 2005

Pinochet acquittal upheld

One day after a Chilean court re-stripped former President Augusto Pinochet of his immunity from prosecution, the Chilean Supreme Court upheld an earlier decision by the Santiago Appeals Court that acquitted him on charges of politcal abductions and murder. (New York Times)

18 candidates in Haitian presidential election

Dumarsais Simeus, a Haitian-born businessman in Texas, became the 18th person to register to become a presidential candidate in Haiti's elections on November 20. The multi-millionaire says he hopes to use his business savvy to resurrect the Western Hemisphere's most impoverished economy. (The Mercury News)

Colombia's strengthened currency hurting exports

The Colombian peso has risen 17% over the last 20 months, causing Colombian exports such as bananas, flowers, and fish to be less competitive abroad. An influx of foreign direct investment, dollars sent home from abroad, and a trade surplus are said to be responsible for the peso's steady rise. (Forbes)

Argentine gov. predicts surplus of 3% of GDP

The Argentine government's budget, as delivered to Congress on Thursday, predicted a fiscal surplus of 17.8 billion pesos, equivalent to 3% of GDP. The report also brought down earlier estimates of a 5% annual GDP growth rate to 4% for the year. (Dow Jones Newswires)

Venezuela to purchase $1b in Argentine debt

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced in New York yesterday that his government planned to purchase $1 billion worth of Argentine government debt, in addition to the $557 million worth it purchased earlier this year. Though Chavez termed the move 'a good business deal' , some U.S. officials view the actions as an attempt to integrate the region economically and reduce dependence on U.S. capital. (Reuters)

Chile to impose $2 flight tax to combat poverty

In a speech to the United Nations Wednesday Chilean President Ricardo Lagos said that his country planned to levy a $2 tax on international flights, the proceeds of which will be used to combat poverty in the country. (Bloomberg)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Lula's PT to elect new leader

Brazil's ruling Partido dos Trabalhadores is set to elect a new leader Sunday to replace Jose Genoino, who was forced to resign following allegations of corruption. The Sunday election is expected to be an informal decision by members of whether the party should return to its leftist roots or espouse the centrism embraced by President Lula da Silva. (Reuters)

Chinese companies snag Ecuadorean oilfields

China Petrochemical Corp. and China National Petroleum Corp. have teamed up to purchase Ecuadorian oilfields from Canada's EnCana Corp. for $1.42 billion. The Chinese companies edged out India's Oil & Natural Gas Corp. by not insisting on a provision from EnCana that guaranteed the Ecuadorian government's recognizance of the transaction. (Bloomberg)

Peru issues passport to Fujimori

Peru has re-issued the passport of former President Alberto Fujimori, who plans to return to the country from Japan to compete in the April 2006 elections despite a Congressional ban on his participation in politics until 2010. (Los Angeles Times)

U.S. officially declines Cuban aid offer for Katrina victims

In separate press briefings this week White House officials maintained that aid from Cuba would not be needed due to a 'robust response from the American medical community', ending speculation that the Bush administration might accept much-needed aid from an old Cold War enemy. (MSNBC)

Guatemala may employ Brazilian ethanol program

Guatemalan President Oscar Berger has indicated that his country may implement an ethanol-production system similar to that which Brazil uses to create a low-polluting additive for diesel and gasoline. The statement, made at the Brazil-SICA summit in Guatemala this week, displays how many countries are re-examining energy needs in light of skyrocketing prices. (Agencia Brasil)

Mexico 'no-visa' policy led to increase in Brazilian migration to U.S.

Though Mexico's decision to allow Brazilians into the country without visas was intended to promote tourism and business, it led to a sharp increase in the number of Brazilians using the country as an entry point for illegal immigration into the United States. The policy, implemented 5 years ago, will now be revoked at the urging of U.S. officials. (Los Angeles Times)

Pinochet again stripped of immunity

Former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet has once again been stripped of immunity from prosecution, allowing another chance for him to stand trial for the deaths and torture that occurred under his regime from 1973-90. Though his opponents are encouraged by the additional chance to bring him to justice, many fear that he will again be judged not fit for trial due to illness and/or dementia. (BBC)

Commission: No accounts found in Fujimori's name

A commission convened by the Peruvian government to investigate former President Alberto Fujimori's financial activities has not found any international bank accounts in his name. The report emphasized that this did not preclude the existence of such accounts, as he may have had dealings with institutions experienced in sheltering illicit earnings. (Reuters)

Oil discovery by Brazilian coast

EnCanBrasil, a subsidiary of Canadian company EnCana Corp., has announced that it has made a 'promising' discovery of oil in the Campos Basin, approximately 75k from the coast of Brazil. (The Vancouver Sun)

Ecuador: EU tariff proposal not good enough

Ecuador has rejected the European Union's offer to lower banana tariffs to 187 euros per ton, saying that the tariff is still far too high and that international arbitration may be needed to settle the dispute. EU officials fear that trade may be diverted from the protected banana regimes of former European colonies to Ecuador, now the world's biggest banana exporter. (Reuters)

Salvadoran volcano may erupt in the near future

Following indications that El Salvador's Ilamatepec volcano may soon erupt, Interior Minister Rene Figueroa said his country's officials are practicing evacuations and preparing shelters for 10,000 people that live in the area. Ilamatepec, just 30 miles from the capital, last erupted in 1920. (Washington Post)

Chavez's entourage denied U.S. visas

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stated that U.S. officials declined to provide his security staff with visas for a United Nations summit that began yesterday. The accusations follow a similar claim by Cuban diplomatic officials, who were also denied visas for a similar occassion at the U.N. last week. (VOA)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bush not popular among South Americans

Chilean think-tank Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociedades released the results of their region-wide poll Monday, indicating that 53% of South Americans had a "bad" or "very bad" perception of the U.S. President. The poll, carrying a margin of error of 4%, also revealed that the 'war on terror' was the number one issue South Americans disagreed with. (Reuters)

Mexico's price controls on gas prove costly

Mexican President Vicente Fox's decision to curb energy costs for Mexicans by implementing price ceilings on gas are expected to cost the government US$860 million this year, according to the head of Mexico's state oil company. (BusinessWeek)

Fox ally likely to lose party elections

Mexican President Vicente Fox's favored candidate to lead his National Action Party (PAN), Santiago Creel, has lost the first round of party elections to Felipe Calderon. Analysts attribute the loss to his close ties to the Fox administration, whose popularity has dwindled of late. (Financial Times)

Colombian hijackers surrender

Two men believed to be father and son hijacked a Colombian airliner Monday, and appear to have surrendered the same afternoon. The incident does not seem to involve Marxist guerrillas, responsible for several previous hijackings, but a grievance over unpaid benefits to the father, who is confined to a wheelchair. (BBC)

Monday, September 12, 2005

U.S. denies Cuba visa to attend U.N. conference

The United States refused to grant Ricardo Alarcon, of Cuba's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, a visa to attend the 2005 World Conference of Speakers of Parliament last week. Alarcon said he expected to received a visa, and has also applied for one to attend a World Summit next week that will also take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York. (Reuters)

Costa Rica receives first S. Korean head of state

South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun became the first ever head of his country to visit Costa Rica in office. South Korea was the number one Asian investor in Costa Rica, and the two countries seek to increase economic cooperation further. (The Korea Times)

Colombian airline hijacked

CNN reports that a Colombian airline carrying 25 people, including a Congressman, was hijacked this morning, apparently by civilians not connected to an organized militia group. The Chief of the Colombian Air Force is currently in negotiation with the hostage takers. (CNN)

The Economist: Mexican President exhibits 'childishness'

In an article in this week's publication, The Economist states that Mexican President Vicente Fox's tit-for-tat exchanges with opposition parties in Congress amount to 'childish behavior'. Fox's PAN party has failed to form a consensus on just about anything in Mexico's legislative body, preventing reforms that were promised during Fox's election campaign. (The Economist)

Border dwellers turning to Mexican gas

As gas prices have skyrocketed in the States, Mexican and U.S. gas consumers on the border are increasingly turning to Mexican gas as the solution. Mexicans have grown accustomed to purchasing gas across the border, which has been cheaper than gas supplied by Mexican state oil company Pemex until now. (The Arizona Republic)

Colombian rebels disband

Nearly 40 Colombian Marxist guerrillas disbanded Friday due to a new law passed by President Alvaro Uribe that offers reduced jail terms for those who lay down their arms. They are the first leftist rebels to disband under the new law, following over 10,000 right-wing paramilitaries who have done so since June. (Reuters)

Ambassador: U.S. requested help from Venezuela

Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States Bernardo Alvarez revealed that Bush administration officials requested help from the Venezuelan government despite unsteady relations between the two countries. He maintained that U.S. officials requested additional supply to ease the oil market and donations to the American Red Cross. (Columbia Daily Tribune)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mexico's inflation rate at record low

Mexico's annual inflation rate fell to 3.95% in August, making it the lowest rate since the central bank began keeping records in 1969. The bank is expected to cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point at it's September 23rd meeting. (The Arizona Republic)

EU plans to end sanctions on Haiti

A spokesman for the European Union has announced that sanctions on Haiti are due to be lifted as early as October, in light of Haiti's upcoming elections and democratic reforms. Sanctions have been in place since 2001, when the EU decided that Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government had failed to live up to the democratic principals of the 'Contonou Agreement' between the two entities. (The Jamaica Observer)

Brazil's Congress to decide fate of Lower House leader

Brazil's Congress is in the process of deciding whether Lower House President Severino Cavalcanti should be ejected for allegedly accepting bribes from a catering company in 2002-3. Though not a member of Lula's Partido Trabalhador, he is a supporter of the government and his ouster will be a blow to the administration. (Financial Times)

Kirchner seeks to curb smoking in Argentina

Argentine President Nestor Kirchner has proposed several moves to curb smoking in the country, including a minimum price of $1/pack, banning smoking in many areas, and restricting advertising. His proposals have been met with opposition in Congress, partly due to the fact that Argentina is the world's fifth largest tobacco producer. (Houston Chronicle)

U.S. opposes ouster of Nicaraguan President

New U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Paul Trivelli said Friday that democratically-elected President Enrique Bolanos' ouster "would be a tragedy for Nicaragua". Bolanos has incurred the wrath of Congress after implementing strict anti-corruption measures, and prosecuting his own Liberal Party's unofficial leader, former President Arnoldo Aleman. (SFGate)

OPEC fund to finance Cuban electricity modernization

The OPEC Fund for International Development signed a $10 million aid agreement to modernize Havana's aging electricity network. The move is expected to increase living standards in the capital and increase the prospects for tourism in the country. (Harold Doan & Ass.)