Sunday, July 06, 2008

Latin America Round Up

Some stories I've spotted from Latin America in the last couple of weeks that you might find interesting.


We'll start with Ingrid Betancourt whose very welcome release from her Colombian captors the other day has been long overdue, although the rescue appears to have been less James Bond than a case of simple bribery. There have been fears for her health, but she's been checked out and things look positive.

Coincidentally McCain was visiting Colombia at the time of the rescue, some have their suspicions about the timing, and his links with the regime. Which also happens to coincide with the prospect of the US moving a military base there.

I notice Colombian drug production is up 27% - well done them. Colombia Solidarity have a interesting small piece on the effect the war on drugs having on the poor.

Whilst some on the left have kept the Farc rebels off limits to any criticism others have stronger words (this from GLW) "Bigio argued in relation to the FARC that “a guerrilla force that discredited itself by carrying out unpopular military actions ends up weakening the left itself … and helps in the consolidation of forces that want a greater liberalisation of the economy.”" There are still many innocent people held hostage by the Farc, it's time for their release too, and that's straight from Fidel Castro.

Incidentally it appears that Betancourt plans a play about her ordeal, which may be very interesting. Richard Gott is optimistic that her release has created a window of opportunity to end the civil war. Meanwhile Jeremy Dear, the head of the UK's journalist's union rightly calls on the UK to reverse it's support for the Uribe regime.


Meanwhile in Peru they are unearthing very ancient ruins. I'm not referring to the human rights violations of ex-President Fujimora here. No, this is the 1,600 year old tomb of a pre-Inca noble.

Talking of things being discovered in Argentina they've found the lost reels of Metropolis. I didn't even know there were lost reels.


Oh the irony. A US funded aid project to help fight Paraguayan corruption has been questioned over... you guessed it... insider dealing, favouritism over contracts and theft of confidential documents. Oopsie!

Headline of the month goes to Paraguay inmates riot for more sex. This wasn't their only demand - they were rather hoping the guards would stop abusing them too, but the headline refers to the fact that Paraguayan prisons allow for daytime conjugal visits but seeing as both prisoners and their families work it doesn't do them much good - so they want to see the scheme extended into the night time hours. Who wouldn't?


Green Left Weekly reports that Bolivia has thrown out some US spies. It also has an interview with Bolivia's President Evo Morales with the priceless headline Making the oligarchs cry.

I see that Oscar Olivera and other union leaders is on hunger strike. I had the privilege to interview Oscar in 2006, I found him to be extremely impressive (he was also nice enough to say I was the only interviewer that actually understood what was happening in Bolivia, which was ridiculously undeserved praise, but goes to show that I can make a good impression sometimes). Their struggle against violations of workers' rights has reached a critical stage and I wish them all the best.


Whilst there appear to be problems with the Brazilian economy, Dr Helen Yaffe looks at the Cuban economy and finds its health improving, that despite the fact that British banks don't seem well disposed to those investing in Cuba. Although it seems Fidel is not keen on bloggers, well one of them anyway.

Meanwhile Mexico is imposing price controls on food to help quieten the rising tide of disaffection and hardship that the poor are facing.

The long dispute waged by Argentinian farmers looks set to escalate as the lower house approves extra farm taxes by one vote. Surely at a time of increasing world food prices this is absolute madness. The farmers are not happy.

Meanwhile little old Peru is affecting world copper prices, which are at a two month high due to the strike of 30,000 miners.


Meanwhile the Latin American intervention in European immigration policy continues with Chavez stepping in to demand that immigrants are treated better.

It seems the Catholic Church is having a pop at Catholics who support Chavez. The church playing a right wing role in Latin America - well I'll be!

Lastly, and rather neatly tying in with the beginning, Colombia's Uribe has pledged a reduction in the tensions with Venezuela after they signed a deal to connect the two countries with a decent rail link. Ecuador's government however has remained defiant and has not as yet reestablished ties with the Colombian regime.

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