Archive for November 1st, 2012

Iran’s Threat In America’s Backyard

| November 1st, 2012 | No Comments »
International Business Times

LAWRENCE J. HAAS

The recent launch of talks between Iranian and Argentine officials over how to improve relations between their countries is troubling enough from a moral standpoint — but the strategic implications are even worse.

Buenos Aires long ago concluded that Tehran directed Hezbollah’s 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in the Argentine capital that killed 85 people and injured more than 300 others, and Iran is also suspected in the 1992 bombing that destroyed Israel’s embassy in Argentina.

For the 1994 bombing, Buenos Aires has unsuccessfully sought the extradition of five topIranian officials, including then-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ahmad Vahidi, the former commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force who’s now Iran’s defense minister.

Tehran has never fessed up to its role, and United States and Israeli officials fear that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner plans to paper over the problem and join Iran’s growing ranks of allies in Latin ... Read More

Brazil military ends Amazon operation

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The Miami Herald

BRASILIA, Brazil – Brazil’s military says it confiscated four tons of drugs, five dozen vehicles and 200 boats used by drug traffickers in the jungle region along borders with Bolivia and Peru.

That’s the result from a three-week military operation involving 7,500 troops patrolling along 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) where officials say there is heavy trafficking of cocaine and guns.

It was the sixth such operation by the Brazilian military this year. The government has said it wants to exert more control over its long land borders.

Officials in far-away cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro blame the drugs and arms that flow over those borders for igniting the high levels of violence they face.

The military patrols that ended Wednesday also brought medical care to residents in the remote area.

Click here for original ... Read More

Argentina Grapples With Credit-Rating Challenges

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Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BUENOS AIRES—Argentina will continue to service its restructured debt, Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino declared Wednesday, a day after one ratings agency downgraded the credit deeper into junk territory and another put it on review for a downgrade.

Mr. Lorenzino said the administration of President Cristina Kirchner will “do everything that is necessary” to pay debt issued to two separate swaps for defaulted debt, and to do so in the currency they were issued. His remarks came after Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Tuesday cut its sovereign rating on Argentina one-notch to B-minus, six levels into junk territory, with a negative outlook. Earlier in the day, Fitch Ratings had placed its single-B Argentina rating on review for a downgrade. Both agencies cited increasing debt management risks, in particular that Latin America’s third-biggest economy will be able to service its external debt.

S&P pointed to last week’s ruling by a U.S. appeals court backing ... Read More

Colombia rebel ambush kills six officers, police say

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BBC

Six Colombian police officers have been killed while on patrol in the south-west of the country in an ambush blamed on left-wing rebels, officials say.

The officers were shot dead in Cauca province by suspected Farc guerrillas, local police said.

The killings come as the Colombian government and the Farc prepare for the next stage in peace talks, due to get under way next week in Cuba.

The talks began earlier this month in Norway but there has been no ceasefire.

President Juan Manuel Santos has said he wants to avoid the mistake of the previous peace talks in the late 1990s, when the rebels were given control of a vast demilitarised zone and used the opportunity to regroup.

The latest peace attempt, the first direct contact in a decade, was formally launched in Oslo on 18 October.

The two sides are due to hold preparatory meetings in Havana next week, with the negotiations proper ... Read More

Colombian peace talks push President Santos’ popularity higher

| November 1st, 2012 | No Comments »
Chicago Tribune

JACK KIMBALL

BOGOTA (Reuters) – President Juan Manuel Santos’ popularity shot up 7 points to 58 percent thanks to Colombians supporting his peace talks with Marxist rebels to end five decades of war, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday.

Yet while most are in favor of talks, more than half believe they will ultimately fail, according to the Gallup poll, painting a tricky picture for Santos as their success would almost assure him a second term if he decides to run in 2014.

“There is a bipolarity, or schizophrenia if you will. There is obviously a desire for peace, a desire to end the war, but this is the fourth attempt at negotiations with FARC,” Jorge Londono, general manager of Gallup in Colombia, said.

“People are more aware that it’s not going to be easy.”

After Santos’ popularity fell below 50 percent earlier this year for the first time since coming to power ... Read More

Ecuador to Sue Chevron in Argentina to Enforce Judgment

| November 1st, 2012 | No Comments »

PABLO GONZALEZ

Ecuadorean plaintiffs will ask an Argentine court to enforce a $19 billion award against Chevron Corp. (CVX)in a lawsuit over pollution in the Amazon rain forest by seizing the company’s local assets, a lawyer for the group said.

An attachment order will be filed as soon as tomorrow in a Commercial Court of Justice in Buenos Aires, Pablo Fajardo, the Ecuadorean lawyer who represents the group, said today at a press conference in Buenos Aires. The group will ask to seize Chevron’s local Argentine unit, dividends, oil sales income and the company’s bank accounts in Argentina, Enrique Bruchou, an Argentine attorney with Bruchou, Fernandez, Madero & Lombardi, said at the same press conference.

The Ecuadoreans blame Texaco Inc., which Chevron acquired in 2001, for destroying the environment in the Lago Agrio region, damaging living conditions of 30,000 inhabitants.

Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, on Oct. 9 lost a U.S. Supreme Court bid ... Read More

Rosneft to get bigger slice on Venezuelan oil

| November 1st, 2012 | No Comments »
Russia Today

The oil giant Rosneft could take over the Russian part of an oil joint venture with Venezuela. This marks another move by the ambitious state company that is set to become the world´s market leader.

TNK – BP, a company that will remain a Russian – British oil consortium for another couple of months, is in talks to sell its stake in the Venezuelan Junin-6 project to Rosneft, according to Jonathan Muir, TNK-BP’s CFO. This marks the company’s effort to cut the amount of projects in Venezuela.

“We want to sell this stake because we are trying to consolidate our operations in Venezuela and to focus on mutual relations with one or two specific investors, rather than with the consortium,” Muir said.

The announcement by TNK – BP follows the decision by Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) to let Rosneft add another 20% to its stake in the National Oil Consortium (NOC) – a ... Read More

Venezuela official: gov’t to pay for steel maker

| November 1st, 2012 | No Comments »

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s government will pay a fair price for an expropriated steel company taken over by the state, a government official said Wednesday.

Industries Minister Ricardo Menendez defended the government’s actions after the steel maker’s former owners complained that President Hugo Chavez’s government hasn’t paid for Siderurgica del Turbio SA, or Sidetur.

Chavez ordered the expropriation of the company’s assets in 2010. It was Venezuela’s largest privately owned steel producer.

“It’s normal that in the process of nationalization, control is taken of the operations, we agree subsequently on the value of the companies and we begin to pay,” Menendez said in remarks published by the website of the state newspaper Correo del Orinoco.

Sidetur is one in a list of businesses that Chavez’s socialist government has expropriated in recent years, also including cement, retail and food industry businesses.

Sidetur’s board said in a statement published in the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional on ... Read More