Argentina: Government fights on two fronts
The Argentinean Foreign Minister, Jorge Taiana, met the general secretary of the UN, Ban Ki-moon (pictuted in an earlier meeting) to explain his country’s position on Britain’s decision to explore oil reserves in the waters around the Falkland Islands.
Taiana arrived in New York encouraged by the unanimous support of Latin America, which met in Mexico to create a new regional organisation. Brazilian President Luis Ignácio Lula da Silva had strong words against the United Kingdom, attacking the UN for having a Security Council that represents interests that emerged from the Second World War.
And yet, there will be very little Mr. Ban Ki-moon can do about it. The UK has made it clear that it will discuss the question of sovereignty of the Islands. After the meeting, a spokesman for the General Secretary made a general diplomatic statement about the availability of the UN as a place to resolve disputes.
Mr. Taiana needs to return to Buenos Aires with good news for the president, the beleaguered Cristina Fernandez, who faces criticism for her decision to use the Central Bank monetary reserves to tackle public debt. Late on Wednesday, the ruling party almost lost the control of the Senate.
The opposition managed to get enough votes to appoint an anti Government speaker, but the absence of the government party from the chamber deprived the opposition of a quorum to elect one of their own as leader of the upper house.
The loss of the Senate would have been a disaster for the Government. In December, they lost control of the Deputies Chamber, and the opposition managed to get control of crucial commissions.
Furthermore, the so-called “First Family” – President Fernandez and her husband, former President Néstor Kirchner – have been accused of taking advantage of insider information about exchange rates to make money in the monetary markets.
The issue of the sovereignty of the Falklands is crucial for Fernández, because there are elections next year and the Government has to be seen to be active on that front. However, despite the escalation of the diplomatic conflict, neither the Government nor the army and least of all Argentinean society at large have the stomach to embark on some kind of military adventure. President Fernandez has made it clear that her Government will only resort to diplomatic means to pursue its claim. And, so far, the chances of victory in that front are less than promising.
Clarín (Argentina, Spanish)
La Nación (Argentina, Spanish)
Página 12 (Argentina, Spanish)
Cuba: Lula says farewell
The visit of Brazil’s outgoing President Luis Ignácio Lula da Silva could not have happened at a more testing moment. Less that 24 earlier, a prominent dissident, Orlando Zapata, died in a local hospital after more than 85 days on hunger strike. Lula could not avoid the issue and was forced to “regret” the death of Zapata and blamed the USA for its hostility towards the island-state.
Lula has been very careful on the external front. While he has maintained a friendly relationship with the US, especially during the Bush years, he has also reminded others of his radical past by supporting the Cuban revolution. He has visited Cuba four times during his eight-year Government. Cuba has benefited from this friendship. On the political front, it has enjoyed the support of the most powerful democracy in Latin America. On the economic front, Brazil has invested in infrastructure projects, as well as oil supplies.
Brazil has invested US$ 300 million in the rehabilitation of the Mariel port to decongest the busy Havana port. Brazil will help finance the construction of roads, a rail network and buildings as well as the modernisation of the port’s buildings.
On the ideological front, Lula has also invested heavily in the revolution. He visited former President Fidel Castro (pictured left) and made a tour of the Mariel port with his brother, Raúl. This visit has not gone smoothly. The opposition accused him of being an “accomplice” of the regime, by refusing to take a letter sent by dissidents seriously. Lula maintains that he never received the letter.
In any case, Lula has never denied his admiration for the revolution and the Castro brothers. If the candidate of the Ruling Workers Party, Dilma Rousseff, becomes the next President, Brazil’s support is bound to continue.
El País (Spanish)
Venezuela: Government rejects report from Inter American Committee
The Venezuelan Government rejected the conclusions of a report by the Inter American Commission of Human Rights (CIDH in Spanish). The document accuses the Hugo Chávez’s Government of “lack of independence and autonomy of the judiciary in relation to the political power”. It also accused the Government of reducing the power of the opposition by cancelling candidatures and limiting powers in places where the opposition leads municipalities and governorships.
The commission criticised the Government for not allowing its investigative team to travel to Venezuela to carry out its work. The report says that “individual rights” based on the principle of equality and non-discrimination” have been violated.
The Venezuelan Ambassador for the Organisation of American States (OAS), Roy Chaderton (pictured) said that the commission was “part of a bunch of human rights bureaucrats committed to imperial policies”. Chardeton said that the report is part of a campaign of defamations against his government, six months before parliamentary elections.
The diplomat accused the commission and Human Rights Watch of doing nothing when President Chavez was temporarily deposed by a military coup in 2002.
Germán Saltrón, spokesperson for the governmental State Human Rights commission, said that the evidence mentioned in the report is “nonexistent, they are baseless accusations that Venezuela rejects”.
Report of the Inter American Commission of Human Rights (Spanish)
Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias (Venezuela, Spanish)
Brazil: Biggest bank increases profits
Banco do Brasil, one of the biggest lending institutions in Latin America, saw its profits soar by 41% in relation to the same period last year. The bank reported a net income of US$2.3 billion, twice the amount it gained last year.
In a report published yesterday, analyst Roberto Atuch, from Barclays Capital, states that the Brazilian lending system “continued to show healthy trends in lending, with growth combined with asset quality… Conditions are in place for banks to expand return on equity….a measure of how effectively a company reinvests earnings”.
Brazil has come out of the recession before any other economy in Latin America. This has increased the lending capacity of Brazilian banking institutions.
El Niño goes heavy on Latin America
The Niño current, which runs along the Peruvian coasts, has had devastating effects in different parts of the country.
The Inca city of Cusco suffered rains and landslides that isolated entire communities and seriously affected the tourist industry. The same has occurred in the northern region.
According to the National Civil Defence Institute, at least 22,700 have been left homeless and many more have lost crops and farms.
In Ecuador, the highlands are suffering a severe period of drought in a rainy season, while coastal areas have experienced heavy rains. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have been the victims of a heat wave, the worst in years.
Many sea lions have emigrated from the Galapagos Islands to the coasts of Peru (pictured) due to the warmth of the ocean.
Inter Press Service
RPP (Peru, Spanish)
Cuba: Presidency of Brazil
Venezuela: Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias