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Peru's forces of law and order caught on video

On Thursday June 11th there were demonstrations in support of the Amazon indigenous all over Peru. Here comes a video that shows how Peru's National Police Force (PNP) dealt with the demostrations.

This video was shot in the town of Huancayo. Later Peruvian national media reported that incident as "Five Police Injured in clashes with University Students" and talk about how police came under "a hail of stones". Stunningly, not a mention in Peruvian media as to how dozens of police officers used powerful slingshots to stone protestors.

Watch the video. Pretty incredible four minutes worth of raw footage of how those "humble police officers" treat citizens when (they think) nobody is looking (watch out from about minute 3 when they really get busy with those slingshots). A very large hat tip, once again, to The Huanca York Times.

Sodium Cyclamate: It's the real thing

When the story about CokeZero being banned in Venezuela hit the airwaves on Thursday, this humble corner of cyberspace mused that widely banned substance sodium cyclamate may well have been the reason. Here's a bit of wot I writ:
"Apparently, when the Coca-Cola Company first introduced Coke Zero into Latin America a couple of years back they used a different recipe than the one up North, leaving out some of the normal sweeteners approved for use everywhere (like aspartame that costs around $150/kg, if my info is good) and added Sodium Cyclamate instead, which comes in at around $10/kg right now (again, if my info is good on this). The only problem is that Sodium Cyclamate is a banned substance in many parts of the world, including inside the USA, where it has a reputation as a carcinogen and has been off the list of things food manufacturers can put in their stuff since 1970.

"When Mexico and Chile (two of the first target markets for Coke Zero in LatAm) found out that Sodium Cyclamate was part of the yummy local recipe there was an awful hoohah until Coca-Cola Company changed the recipe to the one used in the USA. Now I don't know whether the Venezuelan version does or does not contain Sodium Cyclamate (Coke says it doesn't), but I'll bet dollaz to lowcal donutz that sexy little cancer-maker is at the heart of the Venezuelan ban..
Stunningly, amazingly, incredibly, here's what is being reported by AP now:

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's Health Ministry said Friday it banned sales of Coca-Cola Zero because the company failed to declare that the no-calorie soft drink uses an artificial sweetener allegedly harmful to health.

Health officials said tests show the cola contains sodium cyclamate. Coca-Cola Co. disputes that, saying the product sold in Venezuela uses different artificial sweeteners, Acesulfame-K and Aspartame. Continues here

Dear Jim. Thank you. Love Don

Not really LatAm, but a good lesson in why self-fulfilling prophecies are not and never will be my bag. When the famed Jim Dines pumped the hell out of rare earths to his mega-subs list a couple of weeks ago, the self-fulfilling prophet did this to the company share price of one of his picks, Avalon Rare Metals (

Management were quick to recognize the good fortune that had plopped into their lap in this PR dated May 27th that said amongst othe things;
" believes that this unexpected increase in trading volumes is related to the recent publication of some independent commentary on the rare earths business."
But those inside the company also know a gift horse when they see it. Here we see a nice bit of optioneering by Donald Bubar, President of, who exercised his 69c papers to make room for another batch and has already dumped 25k of those recently exercised 100,000 options onto a willing and liquid market (and what's the betting is about to dump the other 75,000?).....all thanks to a newsletter writer and his flock.

Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (AVL)

As of June 12th, 2009
Filing Date Transaction Date Insider Name Ownership Type Securities Nature of transaction # or value acquired or disposed of Unit Price
Jun 12/09 Jun 03/09 Bubar, Donald Stephen Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -2,000 $1.690
Jun 12/09 Jun 03/09 Bubar, Donald Stephen Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -3,000 $1.600
Jun 12/09 Jun 03/09 Bubar, Donald Stephen Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -9,600 $1.580
Jun 12/09 Jun 02/09 Bubar, Donald Stephen Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -10,400 $1.700
Jun 12/09 Jun 02/09 Bubar, Donald Stephen Direct Ownership Common Shares 51 - Exercise of options 100,000 $0.690
Jun 12/09 Jun 02/09 Bubar, Donald Stephen Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 100,000 $1.41

Bagua: 61 disappeared indigenous

The established and respected Peruvian rights group APRODEH (La Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos, or The Pro Human Rights Association) has just released a report listing sixty-one people involved in the disturbances at Bagua as disappeared. These people do not appear on the lists of the dead, the arrested, the detained, the hospitalized or the accounted-for and they have not appeared again either locally in or around Bagua or in their home towns or villages since the massacre took place, despite having been positively identified as present at the protest when the police repression began.

  • Cover-up? Check
  • Burn bodies? Check
  • Dump in river? Check
  • Media gagging? Check
  • Fascist police state? Check
  • All in the name of democracy? Check

Bagua: The stinking hypocrisy of English language media coverage in South America

Imagine the sandal and headlines if Hugo Chávez closed a radio station in Venezuela just days after it spoke out against the government's position on a hot topic?

What kind of fuss would the biased jerks (sometimes known as 'reporters') filling your head with bullshit about LatAm make if Correa closed a radio station that had, just a week earlier, informed people about the massacre being carried out by national police on its local population and bravely bucked the trend of local media silence on what was really happening?

Consider the ruckus that the pathetic, corporate lapdogs spoonfeeding you news would be eager to create if Evo Morales closed a media channel by finding some non-existent technicality and rushing through paperwork.

And now consider that the only English language coverage of an enormous story in Peru about the sudden and totally unjustified closure of Peru's Radio La Voz de Bagua can be found in the marginal independent website 'Living In Peru' (a site that's normally so pro-everything-Peru it's virtually unreadable)?

You want total violation of freedom of speech and gagging of the media? Forget Venezuela and come to Peru, because not only can you do it at a stroke of a pen but you can get away with it, thanks to corporate media's hypocritical silence. Reuters? Bloomberg? AP? AFP? New York Times? Financial Times? Dow Jones Newswires? Washington Post? LA Times? The Guardian? NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING, despite having lazy , self-serving hacks crawling all over the continent.

Here's the beginning of the Living In Peru article, please click through for the rest:
Peru's Ministry of Transports and Communication has officially closed the local Radio Station La Voz de Utcubamba (in the Amazonian Region).

According to Carlos Flores, spokesman for La Voz de Utcubamba, the station has all its legal licenses, permits and paperwork “in order” since 13th March 2007.

However, the aforementioned Ministry issued a closure order against the radio station (official number 211-2009-MTC) alleging that it had not “sent the documentation regarding licenses for some of the station’s equipment”.

This is the only radio station that has transmitted live coverage of the Bagua conflict, providing a voice through its microphones to the people of Bagua CONTINUES HERE

Translation: "Do not discriminate. The deaths of police and indigenous are equally as painful. The jungle is not a battleground."


News Roundup (on a need to know basis only)

Really bad news for Uribe; according to the US Drugs Czar (gotta love them czars) Plan Colombia is about to get much smaller much quicker.

The Economist whacks into "high-handed" Twobreakfasts (as close as a mainstream medium will ever get to calling him the names he really deserves) and is critical of the way he handles the little brown people. And to add extra credit, check out the earlier March 19th report that went into the whole subject of jungle land rights before it made international headlines.

Mo' Peru and HEYWOW!, it's another official GDP downgrade! The central bank is now pitching for 3.3% in 2009.....limbo limbo how low will you go, joe?

And finally, a big happy birthday to my brother. I'm not going to tell him to get drunk tonight because it's probably too late already.

Shock news from The World Gold Council

Jawdropping headline du jour comes from Marcus Grubb, managing director of investments at The World Gold Council (WGC):

Central banks right to increase gold holdings above 40%, says WGC

INTERNATIONAL. Central banks may be justified in increasing their gold holdings to 40%-50% of their reserves, a senior executive of the industry-funded World Gold Council said on Thursday.

Grubb: 'Central banks are justified in having high gold weightings. They are justified in having a 40%-50% weighting in gold"......"It is not only about the dollar, not only about diversification, but also about future inflation." CONTINUES HERE

¡¡¡In Other News!!!

  • The World Beer Council announces that people are right to drink more beer.
  • The World Lard Promotion Society says eating lard is good for you and we should do it all the time.
  • The World Car Chamber thinks that buying more cars is a jolly good idea, actually.
  • The World Banana Growers Association suggests that eating two bananas per day is better for you than eating just one.
  • The World League for Pornography applauds the increased consumption shown for its product in the last 12 months and unveils its innovative "Watch More Porn Now!" campaign aimed at teenage males using the internet.
  • The World Assassins Group points to clear evidence that high murder rates stimulate the economies of emerging nations.

Chile: It helps to have smart friends

Armen Kouyoumdjian is the dude in question and when it comes to analysis of Chile's macro situation (or any other South American country when he put his mind to it, for that matter) there's no better independent voice out there. Armen's been kind enough to allow me to reproduce his weekly missive on the blog here today. If you want to join his list send him a mail (address below) and tell him Otto sent you...and say please, cos I consider being on his list a privilege, not a right.



An Analysis of the First Quarter 2009 results

By Armen Kouyoumdjian

kouyvina (AT)
June 12, 2009

The news that Chile’s GDP was negative for two quarters and fell even sharper during April means that the country is in recession according to the generally accepted principles of economic analysis. However, the authorities have refused to use the term, adding another element to my description of “management by negation”.

There is one aspect where figures do not lie, because contrary to many other vague macro-economic statistics (such as GDP, Unemployment or Inflation), it reflects a more or less precise accounting exercise. This refers to the fiscal accounts, for which first quarter 2009 figures were published in late April, and I have only now gotten round to processing them.

PARTICULAR FACTORS Even though budgetary figures may be precise, their presentation has become exceedingly hard to fathom in recent years. The reasons include combining current, fixed and financial transactions in the final results, and allow Hacienda advisors to come up with somewhat distorted final figures. Still, the raw material is there and it can tell us a lot. Another statistic which tells us a lot about the crisis in Chile, but is not financial, are the 20,000 homeless people who seek shelter each night in Santiago alone, and that figure only relates to those staying in the hostels of one such charity, the Hogar de Cristo.

The first quarter of 2009 figures should not be projected for the full year, because they incorporate some aspects which are unlikely to persist for the whole of the year. They include the impact of the exchange rate on both revenue and expenditure denominated n foreign currency. In the first quarter of 2008, the exchange rate averaged 454 pesos per U$. The equivalent figure for 2009 was 581 pesos. Discounting inflation, the real peso value of the dollar increased by 22 % on a year-on-year basis.

The other variable which marked a strong change was the price of copper. From an average of U$ 3.54/lb. in January-March 2008, the price dropped 56 % to just U$ 1.56 this year. It has averaged U$ 2.03 in April/May and is now over U$ 2.30.

One aspect which does look as if it will continue all year is the increase in expenditure, because it is an electoral year. One has to take this with a pinch of salt as announcements and actions are separated by the Chilean bureaucratic Colorado Canyon (the U$ 1 bn capitalisation of CODELCO, part and parcel of the U$ 3bn “stimulation plan” announced ages ago, is still under discussion).

There is not much point comparing the first quarter results to the draft budget for 2009 announced at the end of October last year. This is not so much because we only have one quarter’s figures, but the hypotheses contained therein on growth, inflation, copper price and the exchange rate have long since lost their meaning.

REVENUE SIDE Looking at current revenue, which consists mainly of taxes, these plunged by 37.3 % in the first quarter, to a total of U$ 7.64 bn. Though some of the drop was due to temporary reductions or suspension of taxes on fuels and stamp duty for instance, other items truly reflect a very sick economy in terms of growth.

No tax reflects economic activity better than VAT. Revenue from that source accounted for no less than 38 % of current income, and fell by 20.5 % in real terms (all percentages mentioned in this report, in accordance with Chilean accounting principles, are in real terms).

Revenue from copper and other mining activities saw the sharpest drop, falling by 92 %, and ending up at just 3.4 % of revenue. In fact, they reverted to form, and maybe now people will believe me when I say that in most years, the Chilean state gets more out of the nasty habit of smoking than from copper. No wonder, in the country with the highest per capita expenditure on cigarette and drink, as previously mentioned. In fact, tobacco taxes brought in $ 248 million during the quarter, 70 % more than copper, and bucked the trend with a 6.5 % increase. A combination of less driving and lower taxes meant that on the other hand, fuel duties brought-in 13.9 % less, at U$ 314 million. Lower imports and statutory reductions under Free Trade Agreements meant that customs revenues dropped by 48.6 %. Income tax, another good measure of economic activity, and which accounted for 29.5 % of revenue, saw its yield reduced by 25.2 %.

There is a puzzling increase of 8.4 % in the revenue from state social security contributions, which at first glance does not square up with the increase in unemployment. The only explanation I can think of is the move of lower paid workers from private health coverage to the less expensive state FONASA scheme.

Non-current revenue only brought in an additional U$ 57 million.

Some time in the near future, if it has not already been said, some (or several) authorities will insist that the deterioration of public finances is mainly due to the fall in copper. This argument, which is older than the Tibetan Book of the Dead, once again stands no scrutiny. In the first quarter of 2009, the Treasury received U$ 2.2 bn less from copper. This represents less than half the total loss in revenue (U$ 4.54 bn).

Like all of us stupid savers, public finances also bore the brunt of the drop in interest rates on the country’s savings. These dropped by 77 % to U$ 257 million. As of March 31st, consolidated Treasury savings amounted to U$ 23.4 bn.

EXPENDITURE SIDE The analysis of the expenditure side of the equation is more complicated, because we have an important element of non-current items. Starting with current expenses, these increased by 15.3 % in the first quarter, with all items showing an increase, led by purchases of goods and services (+ 20.5 %) and subsidies & donations (+ 17.7 %). The 14.9 % increase in the interest bill (itself a modest U$ 255 million, almost exactly equal to the revenue on savings), is most probably due to the higher peso cost of servicing dollar debt, as mentioned earlier.

To the U$ 7.18 bn of current expenditure, one has to add U$ 1.55 bn of non-financial investments and transfers. The amount of investment, at U$ 922 million, jumps by 57.3 %, though transfers to other entities also shows a 57.5 % increase. It remains to be seen how much of that money has actually been spent at the receiving end. The official report mentions a 73 % increase for housing, 52 % for public works and 45 % for public security.

Combining current and investment outlays, total expenditure increased by 21.3 % in the first quarter.

BALANCE AND OUTLOOK On the basis described above, there was a quarterly deficit of U$ 1.1 bn or 0.7 % of GDP. Under the circumvoluted methodology of Hacienda, they still aim for a balanced budget for the full year.

Venezuela parallel exchange rate update

Here's the longview chart of the Bolivar Fuerte (VEF) in the parallel "permuta" market....

......and here's the story since Jan 1st 2009.

click to enlarge

Yesterday Bloomberg picked up on the rumour swirling around that Chávez&Co is about to run a dollar bonds issuance. Bloomie reported a strengthening of the parallel VEF but I don't see much more than a slight stopping of the rot. Not surprising really, as the rumoured U$1Bn or $2Bn issuance won't soak up much of the excess liquidity floating round the VEF. Check out the evolution of M2 to see what I mean....
.....because this chart documents M2 having risen 32.5% since this time last year. Want a lesson in Monetary Inflation 101? Well, as mentioned before it's no coincidence that Venezuela's CPI inflation rate is fluctuating around 30% right now. This ain't rocket science, dudes.

So the upshot is that although oil is back at $70+ and the rrrrrrevolution is back on track funds-wise, the VEF currency has a long way to go to get itself repaired. My finger-in-the-air thinks that we'd need crude at $100/bbl again before the VEF parallel goes under 5.0 to the greenback.

Argentines neurotic? Shome mishtake shurely ossifer!

The two types of swine flu fever (AH1N1 and the panic that comes before it) are sweeping Buenos Aires this morning. Schools report up to 45% absenteeism as parents keep their little treasures at home. Argentina's embattled Heatlh Minister, Graciela Ocaña, doesn't want a repeat of the total snafu she made of the dengue outbreak in the North of Argentina this year so she's already out on the radiowaves telling people not to panic, get on with ordinary lives, take sensible precautions, etc.

It won't work, believe me. Argentines are amongst the most hypochondriac races on the planet. Take a walk down any street in any town and count the pharmacies for one thing. And their private health insurance sector is one of the most profitable in Latin America, noted by the number of heavy hitters fighting for a slice of the sector. So Swine Flu will be a big hit in the land of Kirchner in the weeks to come...a made to measure neurosis for a country of neurotics.

Charts of the day are....

.....soybeans, and if this first daily candle chart looks the same as yesterday's crude oil chart you're probably not looking at a coincidence.

Here's the weekly candle.
Meanwhile, the stock featured before as a reflection on the bean, Bunge (BG) continues its rally.

Wowsers: Rosemary gets the Bagua Peru story right

Credit where due; Simon Romero has actually filed a report that tells people what's really going on this time. He kinda reminds me of the Ancient Mariner (he naileth one in three), but no complaints and a round of applause deserved; tomorrow morning readers of the NYT will have a good grasp of the situation in Peru thanks to the below (here's the first part, click through to read it all):

IQUITOS, Peru — Faced with a simmering crisis over dozens of deaths in the quelling of indigenous protests last week, Peru’s Congress this week suspended the decrees that had set off the protests over plans to open large parts of the Peruvian Amazon to investment. Senior officials said they hoped this would calm nerves and ease the way for oil drillers and loggers to pursue their projects.

But instead, indigenous groups are digging in for a protracted fight, revealing an increasingly well-organized movement that could be a tinderbox for President Alan García. The movement appears to be fueled by a deep popular resistance to the government’s policies, which focused on luring foreign investment, while parts of the Peruvian Amazon have been left behind.

The broadening influence of the indigenous movement was on display Thursday in a general strike that drew thousands of protesters here to the streets of Iquitos, the largest Peruvian city in the Amazon, and to cities and towns elsewhere in jungle areas. Protests over Mr. García’s handling of the violence in the northern Bagua Province last Friday also took place in highland regions like Puno, near the Bolivian border, and in Lima and Arequipa on the Pacific coast.

“The government made the situation worse with its condescending depiction of us as gangs of savages in the forest,” said Wagner Musoline Acho, 24, an Awajún Indian and an indigenous leader. “They think we can be tricked by a maneuver like suspending a couple of decrees for a few weeks and then reintroducing them, and they are wrong.”
continues here


91%: Studmuffin pwns 'em all

Correa's role model

Maybe this is why The Hawaiian is getting all cuddly with Studmuffin...he wants to know how to get one over on WallSt in cool and definitive fashion. Oh wail ye captains of industry, the mouse has roared. Ecuador 1, World 0. I don't mind admitting that I didn't think he'd get away with this....pretty damned masterful play and I doff my cap to The Muffin.

Bloomie's Kueffner tells it better than I can and in fewer words, so here's his note:

Ecuador Buys Back 91% of 2012, 2030 Bonds in Default (Update1)

By Stephan Kueffner June 11 (Bloomberg) -- Ecuador bought back 91 percent of its defaulted bonds due 2012 and 2030 and will re-open its offer to bondholders who didn’t participate, Finance Minister Maria Elsa Viteri said.

Viteri disclosed the results today in Quito after the buyback offer ended on June 3. President Rafael Correa, who said in December that he was refusing to repay the $3.2 billion in bonds, was present at Viteri’s speech.

Viteri said 18.7 percent of the holders of the 2012 bonds didn’t participate, while 7.2 percent of the holders of the 2030 bonds didn’t take part. The government will offer these holdouts 35 cents on each dollar of the bonds’ face value, the same term as the initial offer.

She reiterated that Ecuador defaulted on the debt because it had evidence that crimes were committed in connection with its issuance.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephan Kueffner in Guayaquil at

Message to the research monkey at Can'o'corn....

.....currently doing non-stop Google blog searches using the keywords "Patrick Anderson" and the name of a certain mining company operating in Argentina who is currently adding about 100 extra pageviews to this blog in a vain attempt at enlightenment.

Message begins:
The information you're looking for is in IKN6. Why not sign up*? Or if you like, mail me. Your boss does all the time.
Message ends. Have a nice day.

Oh....hits from can'o'corn suddenly stopped....fancy that!

*yeah I know, the Zeds would never live it down

Trading Post (day before my brother's birthday edition)

Guyana Goldfields ( down 4.5% at $3.82....this is why we take profits, people. Lock in gains, provide insurance, play it safe....aka be chickenliver whussy.

Minera Andes down 2.2% at $0.89 and was down further earlier. I don't think there's anything sinister going on here..more like some dude taking profits. Great long-term value stock.

Fortuna Silver (FVI.v) up 6.1% at $1.04, and we're just going for a cheap hoorah pompom waving "go team!" comment. Target is higher than here, so Zen-like patience still needed.

Rusoro (RML.v) UNCH at $0.44. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....methinks i knows what's going on here. No rush to judgment but there'll be a comment or two in The IKN Weekly on Sunday.

Petrofalcon ( up 13.5% at $0.42 and reacting well to the noises being made by PDVSA about paying subcontractors. I used to like this play a lot. Still on the radar and the team is good enough...just that Vennie thing, ya knowz?

Hawaiian Heart Studmuffin


Here's the
link to the official White House communiqué (to prove I'm not making this up). I like how the serious politicos ignore the crap spewed by Oppenheimer&Co and recognize a vibrant democracy that has a free and independent press. No word on whether Studmuffin made any comments about the foxiness of Michelle or whether The Hawaiian got defensive and told The Muffin to back the hell off.


Office of the Press Secretary

Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s call with President Rafael Correa of Ecuador

The President spoke with President Correa yesterday to congratulate him on his recent reelection and to commend the people of Ecuador for their commitment to democracy. The President stated his desire to deepen our bilateral relationship and to maintain an ongoing dialogue that can ensure a productive relationship based on mutual respect. President Obama expressed his support for a vibrant democracy in Ecuador that includes a free and independent press as the means of promoting human prosperity, security and dignity, which are important goals for both of our countries and for the people of the Americas.

Bagua: "(The police) answered that they had orders to kill us"

Photo of the three interviewed indigenous
(stolen shamelessly from La Republica)

This report in Peru's La Republica gives more insight into what happened on the morning of the 5th at 'Curva de Diablo, Bagua. The reporter interviews three of the indigenous protestors injured in the attack. Note that these are not the ignorant, savage, second -lass citizens that Twobreakfasts wants to spin but ex-members of Peru's armed forces. These witnesses are, in my view at least, eloquent, reasonable and sane. They're also eyewitnesses to blatant violations of human rights.


Natives and Police agreed to talks at 10am, but at 6am the police attacked

María Elena Hidalgo, special envoy in Bagua

Three indigenous that served in the Peruvian army are interned in the Hospital Gustavo Lanatta Luján, en Bagua Chica. The honorably discharged soldiers were attacked by police when they protested for the lands.

Roger Petsa Najamtai, 30, from the community of Santiago in the district of Belén, went to the site of the strike via boat along with 29 other members of his community.

"The day before the attack we talked with the Police General Víctor Uribe to make it clear that the problem was not with the police but with the government", explaind Petsa. "The police told us that there was no problem with us and that the next day at 10am we would continue talks. But at 6am the police started the attack on us including from a helicopter that fired bullets like rain. The police shot us directly in the body. I saw how my colleagues fell while I started running for cover. Two bullets hit me and I fell. I got out on a motorbike, helped by a friend. The police shot at the motorbike but I managed to get to the hospital".

Roger Petsa Najamtai, 22, is from the community of Iracuza in the district of Nieva. He joined the protest to represent his townspeople.

"We were in a peaceful protest and talking constantly with the police in order to avoid problems. It's true that we blocked the road but we allowed passengers to cross by foot witout any problem" explained Ukuncham. "On Friday at 6am around 1,000 police approached us and started to clear the road by shooting. We only had lances and sticks but they started shooting at our bodies. I didn't understand why they were shooting at me as I was also a Peruvian and the only thing we were doing was to protest for our lands. As I am an ex-soldier with honourable discharge I approached (the police) to ask them the motive and they answered that they had orders to kill us, then I was hit by two bullets in the arm."

Paul was one of the first to be evacuated from the zone and taken to hospital. The version of the indigenous is completely different to the official story of the events.

Camped in Bagua for one month
"We travelled from my community for one week to be part of the strike and the calim our rights in a peaceful way" said Paulo Bitap López, native of the Shushug community in the district of Chiriaco who travelled along with 70 other natives to Bagua Chica. They were there for a month. "No NGO gave us food. The families in the zone helped us with food for a month" he said.

"No politician has manipulated us. The indigenous people has its own worldview and part of that is the defence of land and water. When the police started to shoot, I asked my friends who are also honourably discharged members of the army to go and talk. But when we approached they shot us. They injured me and took my friends away." Paulo Bitap was hit by a bullet in his left shoulder.

Peru's metal mining industry: An overview of the year so far

To take my mind off the gawdawfulness of the Argentine soccer team last night I started playing with some Peru ministry figures for the country's mining sector (yes, I know I'm need to write in on that score). Those numbers became charts and although there is not great insight or revelation here, I think they're pretty useful as a snapshot of the country's industry right now so here we go. All numbers used are either from the Peru Central Bank or its Ministry of Energy and Mines.

First, here's Peru's total exports for the period in question, January 2009 to April 2009. As we can see, metals make up the majority of everything exported by Peru.

Here are some quick stats on the above:
  • Total exports Jan-Apr 2009: U$7.09Bn
  • Percentage metals in exports: 59.5%
  • Percentage gold in exports*: 28.1%

Yep that's right; due to the sinking of copper compared to last year and the value held onto by gold in the period, Au is now Peru's biggest export by far. Also, did you know that nearly all of Peru's production is shipped to Switzerland? I did.

On to the next chart that compares 2008 to 2009. Yep, that's over $2.2Bn in lost exports you're looking at there. but of course, Peru's GDP is growing...............

Next is the breakdown of metals exported in the four months of 2009 and you can see that for all the talk about Peru being the world's biggest silver producer, the third biggest zinc producer and its polymetallic production nature, there are only two metals that really matter; gold and copper. As far as the country's economy goes, the rest are just noise.

Finally, this chart shows just how much metals values have dropped since 2008. The recovery in March/April 2009 compared to January/February is directly related to the recovery in spot copper, of course.

Now we move away from dollar values and look at volumes. The following charts show just how much of each metal has been mined in Peru per month since January 2008. Firstly gold, benefitting from recent production hikes at Yanacocha and Alto Chicama (the two big gold mines in the country):

Now that Cerro Verde is running at full tilt, copper production has been pretty steady.

Zinc production has dropped, probably due to the layoffs and mothballing of smaller mines:

Silver has stayed fairly steady. Buenaventura (BVN), PAAS and other large dedicated silver miners give Ag more stability, even though it's often a by-product more than a product.

Pb production has dropped for the same reasons as zinc; closures and layoffs, with 10,000 miners having been laid off in 2009 (which doesn't affect GDP growth either...oh no)

Tin numbers drooped a little but have remained largely steady:

In iron ore, nearly all the ballgame is Shougang at Marcona in South coastal Peru, so whatever happens there is the country results.

Moly has been hit very hard. Roasting circuits have been turned off and value of Moly sold has dropped by 88% YoY.

So all in all, if it weren't for Switzerland Peru would be in the doo-doo right now. Actually that's a little cynical, because if you're going to be a metals nation and export the stuff to progress and grow, then you couldn't really choose better than to have copper and gold as your big products. Gold has supported the drop in copper all this time, and if the Hoped™ for recovery does indeed happen quickly and world financial winds turn against gold and its safe haven reputation, copper is likely to take up the slack for Peru.

*thanks for the typo pickup, anon

Mining PRs and the Ottotrans™: Part 9

And it's ECU Silver again. This company is so scheming and its PRs so asinine and empty of content it's impossible to resist. You know the old saying about sitting at a poker table...the one that goes something like "if you haven't spotted the patsy in 15 minutes it's you"? That applies to this stock in its fullest measure.

A simple question: Why didn't announce its first quarter results in a PR like any decent, normal, open company but continues wasting time by issuing drivel upon drivel?

Anyway, back to the stupidity of its news releases and I hope to have caught the very essence of's IR campaign today. Here's what it says:
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 11, 2009) - ECU Silver Mining Inc. (TSX:ECU) is pleased to report that it has completed one full month of dore bar fabrication.

In our first full month of operation within our oxide resource, we have generated 56 dore bars with a total weight of 1,135 kilograms (kg). Our assays of the dore bars show that they contain a total of approximately 614 ounces of gold and 23,354 ounces of silver. At current commodity prices of around US$950 per ounce for gold and US$15 per ounce for silver, the dore bars generated in the month of May represent a gross value in the order of US$935,000.

Our mining team is advancing nicely with the underground development and the oxide mill continues to operate very well. The mill averaged a daily throughput of 408 tonnes per day (tpd) with the best day being 493 tpd. A total of 12,641 tonnes were treated grading 2.05 grams of gold and 104 grams of silver. This tonnage includes low grade material which was used during initial operation of the mill in its early ramp-up period

And here's what it means
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 11, 2009) - Hi, just thought I'd send a quick note to say we're having a lovely time. The sun is out and we've only had two cloudy days so far so we've been lucky. I've really caught the sun!!!!!! We're off to buy ice-creams later.

Wish you were here.

South American World Cup Futbol: The results

So much for my prognostic powers (once again) as main bet Argentina got their tushes whupped in Ecuador. However the short priced treble we put fifty virtual dollars on (Colombia, Chile and Brazil to won) came good so we're left with a kitty of $196.98 for the next round way off in September. $196 sounds pretty good until you realize it's taken $300 to get this far, which just goes to prove what I've said all along this series...I suck at betting.

So until the next round, dudettes and dudes.

Chart of the day is....

....the Gold/Oil ratio, three year timescale.

Trend's yer friend, dudes.........


Forget fascist repressions in Peru, ongoing extrajudicial killings in Colombia and thwarted Coups D'Etats in Bolivia, because now THE VERY FABRIC OF MODERN SOCIETY HAS BEEN THREATENED by Hugo Chávez's ban on the soda "Coke Zero" in Venezuela.

Yesterday Venezuelan HealthMin Jesus Mantilla said that the drink should be withdrawn, saying, "The product should be withdrawn from circulation to preserve the health of Venezuelans." Details weren't given, but the suspicion is that Sodium Cyclamate is behind all this.

Apparently, when the Coca-Cola Company first introduced Coke Zero into Latin America a couple of years back they used a different recipe than the one up North, leaving out some of the normal sweeteners approved for use everywhere (like aspartame that costs around $150/kg, if my info is good) and added Sodium Cyclamate instead, which comes in at around $10/kg right now (again, if my info is good on this). The only problem is that Sodium Cyclamate is a banned substance in many parts of the world, including inside the USA, where it has a reputation as a carcinogen and has been off the list of things food manufacturers can put in their stuff since 1970.

When Mexico and Chile (two of the first target markets for Coke Zero in LatAm) found out that Sodium Cyclamate was part of the yummy local recipe there was an awful hoohah until Coca-Cola Company changed the recipe to the one used in the USA. Now I don't know whether the Venezuelan version does or does not contain Sodium Cyclamate (Coke says it doesn't), but I'll bet dollaz to lowcal donutz that sexy little cancer-maker is at the heart of the Venezuelan ban. It only remains to be seen whether Chávez&Co has a valid complaint about local Coke Zero or it's down to another round of gringobaiting, but according to a quick Google before it went on sale in Venezuela the drink got its clean bill of health from the very same HealthMin that is now banning it.

On the other hand I do know that firearms in Caracas kill far more people than CokeZero ever will and perhaps Hugo should do something more proactive about them instead of farting around with soft drinks. I also know that any serious news service covering LatAm that gives this story more column inches than Peru's transformation into a murderous police state is a total whore and should be ashamed of itself....just like this blog. And finally, I know that CokeZero tastes crap so it'll never be a health risk to me either way...I'm sticking to expresso coffee and OJ.


Trading Post (red only edition)

Chariot Resources ( down 8.6% at $0.265. Did I really see this trading at $0.31 this morning? The pop it got yesterday was from already-out-news...always a risky thing. As for copper in general, BiiWii Gary now informs me that I'm his new contrary indicator...hah de hah hah haaar, dude ;-)

Rusoro (RML.v) down 11% at $0.445 and it sank today because........? It's getting frustrating holding this thing, gotta say.

Nadagold (NG) down 7.4% at U$4.63. Don't mind if I giggle at the fool who mailed me this morning and talked about how it was about to go to da moon alice, do you? Biggest heap of overpriced junk on the market being squeezed for every penny by a bunch of self-serving insiders. It drops another 50% and it's still overpriced. For sheep only.

Colossus Mineral ( down 3.9% at $2.93. Talking of overpriced, is the message about dubious assets finally getting through here? There was a large round of apathy about the last drill results despite Can'o'corn pumping for all it was worth.

Minera Andes ( down 7.1% at $0.91, which is a bit disappointing. It wudda bin gud to see the thing consolidate its rapid gains over the last couple of sessions, but too many taking any price today. Humph. It's worth more, that I know. My Casio told me, y'see.

Dynasty ( down 2.5% at $3.88 and the one place that really tempts me to add right now. A lot of talk about how the new MEM guy in Ecuador is a's got 0% to do with the mining sector, dudes. Being fed a line by English media channels time and time again? Believing them time and time again?

UPDATE: My kinda investor picks solid stocks for the long haul (and is thinking of other people, too). Reader MP sent me this today...he's got the right idea.
Agree with you on DMM. Bought some today for my godchild's trust account. I even reviewed the May Presentation from the website to make sure I wasn't missing something.
UPDATE 2: Gawd how I suffer for being an Argentina fan.

Caption competition

Due to the underwhelming response last time here we go with another Caption Competition, though this one less miner-y and more politic-y. Give us your best shot on this one, dudettes and dudes. We got Twobreakfasts with a sledgehammer. We got some dude named Hugo. We got smiley happy people.

Send in your bestest captions via mail or in the comments section below. We'll hand out the garlands mañana. Best entry wins something nice.

Dr. StrangeCopper (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the base metals rally)

The next IKN Weekly (out Sunday June 14) will feature a brand new buy recommendation for a copper junior in Latin America. It's about time I bit the bullet and saw copper and its companies as a decent target, because even though the fundies are shaky on the demand side the price just keeps ignoring them and cranking up. No point ignoring reality.

So anyway, The IKN Weekly will aim you into a quality under-the-radar copper play with all the things we always look for (good assets, solid financial structure, shareholder-friendly management, relatively low geopolitical risk, etc).

And as this post is clearly a blatant teaser-pump for the service, those of you who have been thinking of joining and haven't so far (and I know there's at least three or four of you from the mailbag) might want to think about the relative risk of a $25 monthly sub (which is easily cancelled after the first month if you don't like what you see) compared to the opportunity of being signalled a winning trade or two...or three...or quite a few in fact, as in six weeks we've already racked up a 16.8% gain in the 'Stocks to Follow' portfolio.

Thank you for suffering through another round of promo. Have a nice day.

Chile: Swine Flu Blast Off

Last Friday Chile reported 890 confirmed cases of AH1N1 (swine flu), which was by far the largest amount for any country in the region (Argentina is currently in second place with 256).

Last night the total shot up to 1,694, a vitual double in five days. Doctors were quick to try and put people at ease however, pointing out that just 1.7% of cases so far have needed hospitalization. Chile reports 29 people in "a serious condition" at the moment.

Meanwhile, in Argentina a little panic is setting in. Healthcare systems are reporting overwhelming demand and delays of up to 24 hours on orders from patients wanting preventative medicines.

I'm still trying to work out whether I should be worried by all this. The mortality rate is low but we're moving into pandemic status now and it's clearly an infectious little bug we have here. I can't help reflecting on how it's the southern cone winter right now and Chile/Argentina are getting higher infection rates; what's it going to be like up North come November to February?

Peruvian Journalists Reporting on the Amazon Conflict Threatened by Authorities

Geovani Acate (for it is he)

You want government threatening reporters to shut up or "have problems"? You want state control of media? Forget the rest, Peru is still the best. A direct translation of the first part of this report in Peru's CNR

Reports of Continued Threats Against Journalists in Amazonia

Yurimaguas-Loreto, 09/06/2009 (CNR): Despite the partial re-establishment of calm in the Amazonian conflict zone, reporters from diverse media are receiving threats to stop them from filing reports at a national level, the director of Radio TV Oriente, Geovani Acate, denounced today.

He explained that on his return to the city of Tarapoto in San Martin, he met with TV reporters who told him they had received telephone calls demanding that they stop informing about the Amazon protest.

"For example, the case of Jerry Izquierdo, cameraman at TV Oriente, who even had people going to his house who talked with his wife. They warned her he should stop sending reports to media companies in Lima because they could have problems (later)".

According to Acate, the authors of the threats are presumably police agents of the DIROES special operations unit.

CONTINUES HERE (Spanish language)

The IKN news roundup (ignoring the story you wanted featured since 2008)

Colombia: A fascinating report from the normally drudgy Christian Science Monitor about (as long as you take it at face value) a Colombian youth who was press-ganged into joining the FARC and escaped to grass up the movement. Proof that the FARC is by no means a spent force right here for your reading pleasure.

Peru: What? Human rights issues between big business and Peruvian indigenous? Hoodathunkit? The good news is that the shits of Monterrico Metals now have a court case and injunctions to answer to in The UK.

Argentina: Gotta laugh at ATFA as they hold out their bonds until the 2040s; The World Bank has just subbed Argentina another U$3.3Bn.

Mo' Peru: OH NOES!!! Peru expected to register the first contraction in growth since 2001 on Monday 15th. The flunkey here has the number at -0.5%...remember back to my Chile comparison chart and the pointer is for -0.7%. Last time growth was crappy FinMin and liar Carranza said it was a "pothole" in the road....damn dude, better get that tarmac machine working overtime.

Venezuela: Now that crude is back over $70/bbl, PDVSA has decided to pay what it owes to contractors. Very wise, too, as the service dudes are getting pissed and downing tools. Honcho Ramirez sez they've paid back U$2Bn of the $7.6Bn debt since year end.

Chart of the day is......

....crude oil futures, July contract, daily candlesticks.

Click to enlarge

The thing that gets me is the lack of major headlines being caused by this crude rally.


Trading Post (vote of confidence edition)

MAG Silver ( (MVG) down 0.7% at C$5.80 and the insider selling continues.

Jun 08/09 Jun 04/09 Jones, R. Michael Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -2,000 $5.960
Jun 08/09 Jun 02/09 Jones, R. Michael Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -5,000 $6.250
Jun 08/09 Jun 01/09 Jones, R. Michael Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -5,000 $6.300
Jun 08/09 May 29/09 Jones, R. Michael Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -25,000 $6.150
Jun 08/09 May 29/09 Jones, R. Michael Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -5,000 $6.200

How is anyone supposed to believe a BoD that says "buy our's cheap!" when the very same people have spend the last four weeks selling their holdings into the market.

Amerigo Resoures ( up 2.5% at $0.405. is holding its own in this market now. I get the feeling that the worst is over for the stock and reports suggest lowering cash costs (and royalties dropping, of course) that will see the company through 2009 with no further surprises....copper permitting of course. I used to own and I like mgmt.

Rusoro (RML.v) up 6.3% at $0.51 and hey wow!, I've finally broken the surface on this trade and running a small paper profit. Patience is a virtue (as long as I get mine right now).

GLG Life Tech ( up 6.9% at $2.34. I know nothing about stevia zero calorie sweeteners and not that much about China, either. But Some kind dude has pointed this stock out to me twice now and today I spent 15 minutes looking at the books and the investor presentation. I gotta say it looks quite good on a first pass. I don't own and as it's so out of my way sector-wise I doubt if I ever will, but good growth prospects for sure. DYODD.

Candente Resources ( up 14% at $0.65 and continues to rally well. Ever since the PM spinoff was announced DNT has been gathering momentum. In the last few weeks very good volumes traded in Lima of this stock, too.