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Snippety stuff (high heat for 90 minutes edition)

In Chile, ex-President Ricardo Lagos has decided not to run in the 2009 elections, leaving the centre-left ticket seemingly open for José Miguel Insulza (current head of the Organization of American States).

In Paraguay, President Sandals has come up with a great way to stop the mega-farming concerns from Brazil (often sponsored by BG, ADM and Cargill) from buying up land for massive soya plantations. He's just prohibited the sale of land to foreigners.

In Colombia, those "non-existent" paramilitary terrorists give another clue about the way they keep the locals in line. One ex-para chief describes how they built special ovens to incinerate hundreds of bodies.

In Venezuela, Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez has picked up on (and confirmed) the "austerity budget" concept for 2009. He also confirmed that Venezuela holds 30% of its international currency reserves in gold.

In Brazil, the Real has dropped so far so quickly that those local currency bonds auctions are now getting cancelled. When push comes to shove, the dollar is still king down here.