Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Political Risk Bulletin: More News Stories to Read

Night reader -- there you go. More to think (and laugh) about this crazy continent.

BOLIVIA -- Morales Creates State-Run Sugar Processing Company (Click here for link) : Socialist, former coca leader Morales is following the steps of his mentor, friend and lender Hugo Chavez (yes, the president of Venezuela.) Among the companies that Morales has founded under the tutelage of the Venezuelan caudillo are an airline, a paper factory, a cement factory, a food processing plant and dairies. Note that the report says that only one is operational: the plant that elaborates foodstuffs. (By the way, there is no bias against Morales and the Bolivarians in this page.)

BOLIVIA -- Morales Wants to Put Oil Industry Investment Proposal to Vote in Referendum (Click here for link): Referendums are in vogue in Latin America. Now Morales wants people to decide whether to use international reserves to pay for investments in the oil industry. Assume all the risk and, if you don't find the oil, no problem, taxpayers pay the bill. These guys have a rather peculiar definition of democracy in their minds.

BRAZIL -- Report Says That Illegal Weaponry Enters Brazil From Five Countries (Click here for link): A recent story by Bloomberg reported that Brazil was redeploying troops as a way to counter Venezuela's growing military might (ha!) In fact, as I explained that time, Brazil is redeploying troops because of recent Supreme Court decisions involving the bordering of indian reserves alongside Brazilian borders, as well as to clamp down on smugglers of weapons, drugs and consumer goods. Remember that smuggling of firearms must be a quite profitable business in Brazil following the implementation of a ban on firearms in 2004.

CHILE -- Prosecutors to Open Probe Against Wal-Mart on Alleged Ban to Sell Cuban-made Goods (Click here for link): Chilean authorities need to look deeply into this issue, and see whether the restrictions represent a violation of consumers' rights. The sovereignty issue is secondary -- the most important is to see whether it hampers the right of consumers to buy anything they want.

COLOMBIA -- Coffee Growers Guild to Sue Cartoonist Over 'Offensive´Drawing (Click here for link): Gimme a break!

COLOMBIA -- Funding Needs for 2009 Are Already Sealed (Click here for link): Yesterday's bond sale sealed Colombia´s financing requirements for the year. Mr. Uribe, why then you start cutting fuel prices and reallocating more of the excess tax revenue to more social and infrastructure spending? We think it's about time to do so!

MEXICO -- Truce With Drug Traffickers Expected (Click here for link): Our blog is very interested in this issue. Usually (and that's the case of Colombia,) such truces don't hold. Yet, the Mexican government must continue with its repression policy until it forces to an inflexion point in the war against drugs there, while exploring other peace alternatives.

VENEZUELA -- Venezuela Expels Israeli Ambassador in 'Solidarity´Gesture to Palestine People (Click here for link): The expelled ambassador, Shlomo Cohen, told the media yesterday that the decision ''wasn't surprising because the regime supports and is a partner with Iran.´´ Ayayay. On the other hand, President Chavez called on Israelis to stand up against their government. What would he do if any other president, let's say, Colombia's, calls on Venezuelan citizens to stand up against their own government for ... uhhhmmm, the continuing abuses to electoral and political rights, or the veiled official support to leftist armed groups in the region, or ... uhhhmmm, for the abuses committed against private investors in Venezuela, uhhhmm, or government inaction against urban and rural violence and the surge in kidnappings? Cónchale!

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