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12/3/08

News roundup

Ingrid Betancourt kindly removes ear wax
from President Bachelet
's right lug


The bits you don't normally get to see (or see once it's too late), courtesy of your loving and caring IKN:

Dateline Paraguay (beepbeepbipbipbeepbipbip)
Brazil's Bandes financing agency is under fire from another quarter. After President Studmuffin said "ain't gonna pay your illegal debt" and kicked up a world-sized fuss, Paraguay's megatop wonderful President Lugo came out with his country's own version today.

Lugo said that Paraguay would exhaustively study the legality of the debt Paraguay has with Bandes (also known as BNDES) and he was going to commission a group "of high moral standing" (man this guy is great) to study the debt taken out with Brazil, nearly all of it to build the joint Itaipú dam project.

Dateline Argentina (beepbeepbipbipbeepbipbip)
Argentina's lower house today easily passed their part of the law proposal to nationalize Aerolineas Argentinas (and its internal flight service, Austral). The upper house Senate must also pass the law before it becomes a reality.

The Klishtina gov't is likely to pay current owner, the Spanish Marsans (which started life as a travel agency) $1 for the company by the end of December, all this after Marsans and the government couldn't agree on a price to pay. Aerolineas has a heavy debt burden, but the two sides differ widely on exactly how far in the mire it really is. It all sounds like a very Argentine bizdeal to me.

Dateline Argentina (beepbeepbipbipbeepbipbip)
More news from Klishtinalandia, as she today sacked her environment secretary Romina Picoletti. The official reason is the lack of progress made in cleaning up Buenos Aires' Riachuelo open sewer (which was a river a couple of hundred years ago). The snarky reason is the lack of progress in enviro affairs since she got the job, except the progress in feathering her own nest and those of friends and families (4x4s suddenly parked in relatives' driveways, we're led to believe). But the real reason is for the Glacier Protection Bill that was passed by Argentina's parliament but vetoed by Klishtina herself. Picoletti was the driving force behind the bill and Barrick (ABX) and its big bad Pascua Lama gold mine project was the driving force behind the Kirchner decision. The "experienced in LatAm affairs" Barrick wins. Hey, what's new?

Dateline Chile (beepbeepbipbipbeepbipbip)
Ingrid Betancourt has one helluva good PR agent. She hits Studmuffin on Monday, Klishtina on Tuesday and today it was Santiago and Michelle Bachelet. Bachelet chose the moment to announce she was nominating the ex-FARC hostage for the Nobel Peace Prize. At least Bachelet can look Ingrid in the eye and tell her she understands, as Chile's top cheese was also imprisoned for her politics in the Pinochet era. Tomorrow Betancourt meets and greets someone who skipped off to France to avoid imprisonment. Yep, she's in Peru.

Dateline Bolivia (beepbeepbipbipbeepbipbip)
"On Sept. 11 2008, in the village of Porvenir and other places in the Pando province, a massacre occurred." That's how the Unasur commissioner started his presentation to Evo Morales today. Reuter's via the excellent reporter Eduardo García brings you the details. If you prefer your news straight from the source, here's the link to the final Unasur report, now available as a 66 page PDF. Spanish language only.