14 April 2008

Latin America News Review

(Apr. 14, 2008) Here are some of the big issues to follow this week around Latin America.

The EU begins a visit to Bolivia Monday to help mediate in the conflict over the new national constitution; the lower eastern half of the country has threatened secession over the current draft.

Ecuador and Colombia renewed the cross-border verbal sniping with President Correa's critical comments in Mexico, to which the Colombian government leveled the harsher criticism, acussing Correa of contradictions, saying the government had foreknowledge of Reyes movements and was not unaware of his presence in Ecuador. Normalization of bilateral relations will probably not happen this week.

Ecuador's President also called for the creation of a new Organization of Latin American States during his visit to Mexico (perhaps similar to the seemingly defunct South American one) based on the Grupo de Rio. Correa is upset over what he calls U.S. manipulation of the special meeting of the Organization of American States last month over Colombia's cross border strike.

The rising cost of food across the region provoked riots in Haiti last week almost on top of the IMF and World Bank meetings where the heads of both organizations warned of mass starvation if nothing is done. The events are bound to cause a ripple in the governments of hard hit countries. The controversy may also encourage Brazil and developing countries to relaunch WTO talks with the hopes of eliminating farm subsidies in developed countries.

Finally, Brazil's National Petroleum Agency President Haroldo Lima sent shares for Petrobras on the New York and Sāo Paolo stock markets soaring when he "unofficially" announced that the newly discovered oil fields off Brazil's coast could contain as much as 33 million barrels of oil.

By Nathan Gill - Southern Affairs
www.southernaffairs.org