Gay-friendly Buenos Aires Experiences Massive Inflow Of Homosexual Tourism

Pablo De Luca, president of the Argentine Gay-Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (Coglar) forecasted that homosexual tourism this year is set to represent 21% of all visitors to Buenos Aires, well ahead of the previous 17% record of 2008. Read more of this post

Economic Recovery In Latin America And Caribbean To Be Faster Than Expected

Latin America and the Caribbean will bounce back faster than expected from the global financial crisis, with growth projected at over 4 per cent next year, a regional United Nations agency for economic development announced today.

In its annual report, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) expects positive growth rates for most countries in the region, but notes there are still doubts about whether the recovery will be sustainable, since external scenarios remain uncertain and could impact the area.

“The worst of the crisis is behind us,” said ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia B”ena. “The motors of growth have been turned on again, but we don”t know how long the fuel will last.” Read more of this post

High Freight Costs Blame For Weak Caribbean Growth

A new report that explores the reasons for weak growth in Latin American and the Caribbean have blamed high transportation costs for undermining trade and having harmful impacts on the productivity of the entire economy. It says the region’s ports aren’t efficient enough either.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) study found that the region as a whole spends nearly twice as much as the United States in freight expenses to import its goods. Most countries, it said, have higher freight rates when exporting to the United States than countries in the Far East and in Europe. Read more of this post

Caricom Countries Opt Out Of ALBA ‘SUCRE’ Currency

Member nations of Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) have agreed to implement a single currency to be used among themselves from next year, but the three Eastern Caribbean countries who are part of the nine-member Venezuela-led bloc say they won’t be a part – a position that was accepted by a weekend summit.

The decision to go ahead with the use of the use of the virtual Single Regional Payment Compensation System (SUCRE) as a replacement for the US dollar in commercial exchanges among members was endorsed by the Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica at ALBA’s Seventh Summit in Bolivia.

But according to media reports, the three who already use the EC dollar under the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, said they would not be participating in the proposed currency at this time. Read more of this post

Latin Americans To Approve Replacing US dollars With A New Virtual Currency

The leftist Latin American ALBA trade bloc is scheduled Friday (16 Oct) to approve measures that would replace US dollars with a new virtual currency for regional commerce, an official said here.

Bolivian Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade Pablo Guzman told reporters that members of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) “will replace the dollar in commercial exchanges” between members with the Unified Regional Compensation System, or sucre.

The new monetary system was adopted in principle at an ALBA summit in April by organization members, which include Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica, Saint Vincent, Antigua and Barbuda. Read more of this post

Venezuela Takes Over Hilton Hotel

Members of the Venezuelan Army guard the entrances to the Margarita Hilton. www.breibart.comVenezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered the obligatory acquisition of a Hilton-run hotel on the resort island of Margarita, it has emerged.

The move was ordered just weeks after the hotel housed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe during the Africa-South America Summit.

The hotel would help develop tourism projects in a “socialist framework”, a decree signed by Mr Chavez said.

Hilton Worldwide, which manages the hotel, said it was analyzing the move. Read more of this post

Chavez Accuses Israel Of Genocide

gaza-strip-warVenezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused Israel of genocide against the Palestinian people, telling a French newspaper that the bombing of Gaza late last year was an unprovoked attack.

“The question is not whether the Israelis want to exterminate the Palestinians. They’re doing it openly,” Chavez said in an interview with Le Figaro published on Wednesday.

The Venezuelan president, who has just completed a tour of Middle Eastern and Arab countries, brushed aside Israeli assertions that its attack on Gaza was a response to rocket fire from Islamist group Hamas which rules the coastal enclave.

“What was it if not genocide? … The Israelis were looking for an excuse to exterminate the Palestinians,” Chavez said, adding that sanctions should have been slapped on Israel.

Israel launched an offensive against the Gaza Strip on December 27 2008 with the declared aim of curbing rocket fire from the region into southern Israel.

The land, sea and air assault lasted 22 days, and left some 1,300 Palestinians dead, according to medical sources.

Chavez said he recognized Israel’s right to exist, as with all countries, but added that the Jewish state must respect the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.

The Venezuelan president said he wanted more clarity from the United States on its foreign policy, adding that he was disappointed by recent U.S. dealings in South America, including the installation of military bases in Colombia.

“Sadly, the arrival of Obama brought with it a lot of hope, but little change,” he said.

Source: www.reuters.com

Venezuela Bans Coke Zero

en.wikipedi.org

en.wikipedi.org

The Venezuelan government of U.S.-critic President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday ordered Coca-Cola Co to withdraw its Coke Zero beverage from the South American nation, citing unspecified dangers to health.

The decision follows a wave of nationalizations and increased scrutiny of businesses in South America’s top oil exporter.

Health Minister Jesus Mantilla said the zero-calorie Coke Zero should no longer be sold and stocks of the drink removed from store shelves. Read more of this post

PAHO Influenza A (H1N1) Regional Report (June 9 2009)

The information is obtained from official websites of the Ministries of Health of the countries of the Americas and information submitted by the International Health Regulations (IHR) National Focal Points

Summary of the current situation

As of 9 June 2009, 23,427 confirmed cases of the new virus influenza A (H1N1) infection, including 141 deaths, have been notified in 26 countries of the Americas. Read more of this post

Gas Pipeline Extension To Barbados Still On Trini Cards

Even as it proceeds with plans to spend upwards of $155 million to construct a natural gas pipeline to its sister island of Tobago, Trinidad says it is still considering an extension of the line onward to Barbados.

The pipeline from Trinidad to Tobago is due for startup by first-quarter 2011, according to Arnold De Four, vice-president for commercial services of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Gas Co. (NGC).Barbados’ plans
The island nation has considered offshore drilling since the 1990s, when a study by Conoco Inc. noted promise in nearby areas. Barbados solicited its first bids in 2007, eventually offering 26 offshore blocks for oil and gas exploration in 2008.
.

Meanwhile, De Four said Trinidad is awaiting a goahead from the Barbados government, which is concerned about the project’s financial viability, on the proposal to extend the pipeline to Bridgetown. Read more of this post

OAS “A US Trojan Horse” – Fidel Castro

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Wednesday slammed the Organization of American States (OAS) as a “U.S. Trojan horse,” despite the group’s decision to lift suspension against the island country

Castro, who ruled Cuba from 1959 to 2006, ruled out Cuba’s potential return to the body.

 The OAS was “complicit” in all the crimes committed against Cuba and against other Latin American nations by Washington, he said in an article published in Wednesday’s state-run media. Read more of this post

Chavez Told To Protect Venezuelan Jews

Members of the US Congress have called on Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, to protect the country’s Jews following an attack on a Caracas synagogue.

Sixteen Republicans and Democrats wrote a letter demanding an “end to the intimidation and harassment of the Jewish community” in South America’s Opec state, which has fraught relations with Israel. The move came after a group of armed men broke into Caracas’s oldest synagogue last week, overpowered two guards, destroyed religious objects and sprayed antisemitic slogans.

Chávez condemned the attack and the authorities launched an investigation.

“We condemn the actions on the synagogue of Caracas,” he said in a televised speech. He hinted that “oligarchs” opposed to his self-styled socialist revolution were to blame. “It must be asked … who benefits from these violent incidents. It is not the government, nor the people, nor the revolution.”

Jewish groups in Venezuela, however, have accused the government of creating a climate of intolerance through its outspoken denunciations of Israel. Last month Chávez expelled the Israeli ambassador over the invasion of Gaza, which he likened to genocide. Graffiti and posters praising Hamas and Palestinian resistance have sprouted across Caracas, especially in slums such as 23 de Enero, which are bastions of support for the president. They are often accompanied by slogans such as “Jews out”.

The synagogue attackers numbered around 15 and appeared well-organised. They disabled security cameras and reportedly spent five hours breaking into safety boxes, desecrating the Torah and vandalising property. A week earlier the building was sprayed with graffiti linking the swastika to the star of David.

“This is an attack of antisemitic nature,” said Elias Farache of the Venezuelan Israelite Association. “The climate is very tense. We feel threatened, intimidated, attacked.”

The government said those responsible would be brought to justice and called on all Venezuelans to reject the attack. Jews had no reason to feel insecure, it said. A pro-government website that ran an article urging a boycott of Venezuelan Jewish businesses and verbal confrontations with Jewish people was removed yesterday after protests. Chávez has been feted in the Arab world for cutting ties with Israel, and he has forged an alliance with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped out.

The Venezuelan leader said there was no trace of antisemitism in a foreign policy that condemned those responsible for inflicting bloodshed and suffering in Gaza.

Source: guardian.co.uk

Venezuela Again Seeking Cubana Plane Bomber From US

 Venezuela will press the Obama administration in the coming days to extradite a former senior official in Venezuela’s secret intelligence police so that he can be tried for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people, according to lawyers for the government here.

The move will test the new administration’s willingness to engage on a festering issue that has further strained America’s relations with Venezuela and Cuba. Both nations have depicted the case of Luis Posada Carilles, an elderly Cuban exile who is a naturalized Venezuelan and a former  C.I.A operative, as an example of hypocrisy by Washington in its fight against terrorism.

Mr. Posada, 80, is charged here with masterminding the bombing of a Cubana Airlines plane as it flew above Barbados, killing all 73 people on board, including dozens of Cuban civilians and a 9-year-old Guyanese girl. It was the Western Hemisphere’s first act of midair terrorism, the bloodiest of a series of bombings aimed at weakening ’s Fidel Castro’s government.

At the time of the bombing, Mr. Posada was operating a private security firm here, after holding senior posts in Venezuela’s intelligence police. He was imprisoned in Venezuela for nine years while facing charges of plotting the bombing with another Cuban exile, but escaped in 1985 to El Salvador aboard a shrimp boat.

Mr. Posada has lived freely in Miami since 2007, when a federal judge in Texas dismissed an indictment against him on immigration fraud charges. He had entered the United States from Mexico, and was detained for two years until his release. He now spends his days painting landscapes, which are sold by the dozens at shows in Miami frequented by a shrinking but powerful group of hardened anti-Castro exiles.

“The Bush administration did not want to extradite Posada, because of its close ties to extremist elements in Miami that protect Posada,” said José Pertierra, a lawyer in Washington who represents Venezuela’s government. “We are hopeful that the Obama administration will see the case differently.”

FULL STORY

Source: nytimes.com

No To Venezuela’s OECS Request

A former Caribbean diplomat has suggested that the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) turn down Venezuela’s membership request and instead focus on strengthening its existing union.

“The governments of OECS countries would want to be very careful about Venezuela joining their organisation. The OECS is a natural alliance born out of a common history, common culture, common language, common laws and traditions and shared problems,” said Sir Ronald Sanders. “While a relationship with Venezuela should be cultivated, the small OECS countries ought to do so collectively and in areas of mutual benefit. There is no need for Venezuela to join the OECS.”

“The only logical benefit for Venezuela of OECS membership is the considerable influence that the (Hugo) Chavez government would exert on these small countries,” he added.

Sir Ronald further questioned why the Venezuela government would opt to pursue membership in the OECS, rather than forge stronger ties with the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which is made up of not only the nine-member OECS, but also includes the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

He pointed to comments made by a West Indian Commission, established by Caribbean Heads of Government to chart the course for the region’s future, as relevant to the situation facing the OECS.

FULL STORY

Bolivian President Says He Won’t Let DEA Come Back

Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed hope Monday for improved relations with the United States under Barack Obama’s presidency but said he will never allow the US anti-drug agency to resume operating in his country.

The socialist leader, a close ally of Venezuelan Presiden Hugo Chavez, accused the Drug Enforcement Administration of “polotical aggression” in Bolivia, which is a major sourc of coca plants, the rwa ingredients for cocaine. Morales said his government would set up a new intelligence operation involving the military and police to fight drug trafficking in place of the DEA whose Bolivian operations he suspended November 1.

Morales, the former leader of a coca growers union, also said Bolivia will seek to remove coca leaf from the UN list of prohibited drugs. While coca can be

turned into cocaine, Boliians use the small green leaf in its less-potent natural form as a traditonal tea or for chewing. Bolivia-US relations have deteriorated in recent months as Morales’ government halted DEA activites and expelled US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, accusing him of spying and involvement in anti-government protests in the eastern lowlands.

 The US govrnment has denied helping Morales’ opponents and warns that ending the DEA operations will esult in even more cocaine being produced in Bilivia and shipped to the other countries. the State Department did not have any comment on Morales’ latest statement.

Repeating his allegations, Morales announced the ban on DEA operations when asked at a news conference whether he would agree to a return of the DEA after Obama takes office.

“The DEA will not return while I am still president,” Morales said. “The DEA … had an intelligence structure but it wasn’t so much to fight drugs, it has more to do with the political aggression against my government.  …. In recent times, we’ve seen officials of the DEA involved in political conspiracy.”

Noting that he was the first native Indian president of Bolivia and that Obama is the first black president of the United States, Morales said, “I feel tha the world has started to change.”

“My desire is to improve diplpmatic relations, trade relations, co-operation” with the United Statea, he said.

Morales held the news conference after speaking during a General Assembly debate on UN reforms and acheiving UN anti-proverty goals. He was the only head of state to address the session. All others speakers were ambassadors or lower-ranking diplomats.

Source: Barbados Advocate

Venezuela Complains Barbados Violating Maritime Boundary

Petroleumworld.com, a Latin American energy, oil and gas newsletter, suggested that two of the blocks – Bottom Bay Ad I and Ad II – were in Venezuelan waters.  Source: The Nation

The bidding process for rights to offshore blocks for oil and gas exploration in Barbados continues to heat up with Venezuela challenging the Barbadian Government’s right to what Venezuela perceive to be “the possible violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty in the Caribbean Sea.”

Notes from the margin  lays out an excellent case for Barbados legal right to it’s southernmost waters but this of course will mean nothing to Venezuela. Given the aggressive nature of Venezuela, there is that possibility of this escalating out of hand, of which oil companies wouldn’t want to be caught between a David and Goliath scenario.

The two blocks in question are the two southernmost blocks that are up for bid (Highlighted in red in the illustration).

Source: Notes from the margin

From Yahoo Finance

Venezuela’s government wants to know if Barbados plans to grant licenses for offshore oil drilling within Caribbean waters claimed by the South American country.

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez says foreign ministry officials plan to contact Barbados to discuss the possible violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty in the Caribbean Sea.

“Things are put back in place by conversing directly,” Ramirez said Tuesday.

Ramirez was responding to newspaper reports that Barbados plans to issue offshore drilling licenses to international oil companies within waters claimed by Venezuela along the eastern Caribbean.

Barbados has not joined Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program, which supplies cheap fuel to over a dozen Caribbean nations.

PM David Thompson: “Barbadians Feel Good About A Black Man Running For President Of United States” Examining Obama And McCain Polices For The Caribbean

       

While Barack Obama, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, appears to be the rage across the Caribbean, some analysts express concerns about how his policies would affect the region. And, although John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, generates less attention in the Democratic-leaning Caribbean, some observers say his support of free trade and his policy experience could be better for the islands.

Still other analysts see the Caribbean as a low priority for each and express little optimism that either will produce radical change.

Neither McCain nor Obama has ”expressed serious positions on the Caribbean, with the exception of Cuba, where there is a difference between the two candidates,” said Rupert Lewis, a political-science expert at the University of the West Indies (Mona) in Jamaica

Peter Hakim, president of the Washington think-tank Inter-American Dialogue, said he believes the lack of focus by either candidate on the region is a hint of what’s to come regardless of who wins in November.

”Americans right now are very insecure about their future. They are unhappy with the effects of globalization. There is not a great deal of interest in having the United States really engage in overseas these days,” Hakim said.

Others say it will be hard to ignore the Caribbean or Latin America, especially when so many nationals are registered U.S. voters. Brian Meeks, director of the Center for Caribbean Thought at the UWI, said that while many in the Caribbean are ”fascinated with the fact that there is a black candidate with a credible chance of becoming president,” leaders are not looking closely at either Obama’s or McCain’s policies.

”I don’t think they are approaching it in a hard-nosed realist way,” Meeks said, ‘which is to say `What is in it for the Caribbean? What is in it for Latin America and to what extent Obama, or for that matter McCain, will be addressing our concerns?’ ”

Caribbean leaders have increasingly complained of neglect following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as U.S. foreign policy shifted to other parts of the world. The region as a bloc opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. In 2004, the Caribbean Community demanded an international investigation in the Feb. 29 ouster of Haiti’s democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Relations in the past year have warmed under President Bush, but they point out that he — unlike his predecessor Bill Clinton — has yet to set foot in Haiti or the English-speaking Caribbean. Clearly, Obama’s race has captured the imagination of many in the Caribbean.

”The idea of having a black man or a man of mixed race running for the president of the United States is very historic and important,” Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson told The Miami Herald.

“Barbadians feel good about that.”

And George Lamming, a Barbados-born novelist and intellectual, adds: “The planet has been ruled by white power for 500 years, and you have the overwhelming majority of the world’s population [as] nonwhite people. It’s not only black people down here.”

But symbolism isn’t good enough, critics of U.S. policy say, when leaders consider the challenges facing a region wrestling with crime and economic troubles.

”The United States has defaulted in the last decade in having any meaningful aid relations with the Caribbean, and that is where Venezuela has stepped in and has provided that,” Meeks said. “How does Obama view that? What are the prospects for that kind of mutually beneficial relations?”

Both McCain and Obama speak of a shift in policy. McCain supports expanding trade with the Caribbean basin, while Obama is much more restrictive on trade preferences.

”It seems to me that from an economic and foreign policy point of view, Obama may be more destructive to Trinidad and Tobago interests specifically, and Caribbean interests more generally, than a Category 5 hurricane,” said Anthony Wilson, editor in chief of the Trinidad Guardian newspaper.

Obama’s position on trade ”has the potential to cast thousands of workers into unemployment throughout the region,” Wilson said in an e-mail to The Miami Herald. “From the perspective of foreign relations, [John] McCain would be much better for Caribbean economies than Obama.”

While Obama’s support for wiping out poor countries’ debt is welcomed, his push to tighten regulations of offshore banking jurisdictions have riled others. He currently is sponsoring the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, legislation that targets tax havens. The bill lists Antigua and 14 other Caribbean jurisdictions among those countries singled out for increased scrutiny.

”I put that down to his lack of information,” said St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, a critic of the legislation but an admirer of Obama.“Once he is properly informed — he would see that these islands, which are among the closest friends of the American people — he would not do anything knowingly for them to suffer.”

While McCain and Obama have spoken of a need to address transnational crime in the region, neither has given any indication that the U.S. policy of deporting criminals will change.

Adapted from Miami Herald

One Caribbean Tourism Plan

    Like a drowning man reaching for a piece of rope to save his self before his final demise, tourism planners in the Caribbean have finally [hopefully] placed self interest, jealousy and other insularity issues on the back burner in an effort to rescue the regional tourism market by agreeing to market the region under a ‘One Caribbean’ campaign.

With the ever raising price of oil, increase costs to airlines tickets, seats capacity reduced by international airlines, air flights no longer available and drop in tourists arrivals, Caribbean tourism and government officials have decided to probably lactch on on the last surviving means of rescue to avoid them from going under. As always a classic case of a little too late. Nevertheless a somewhat case can probably be made out for better late than never. But this knee jerk reaction only transpire out of a global crisis. Without such tourism planners would  continue to market the region as separate entities as planets in different solar systems! Desperate times called for desperate action. As Mr Gonsalves PM of St.Vincent and the Grenadines rightly said,

“We don’t have the resources to be aggressive individually,”

And to show their sense of unity the plan would not only include English speaking countries in the region but French and Dutch speaking countries as well. Unheeded calls in the past for such an approach seems ready now to become a reality and not just a blast of hot air.

Chavez To Next US President: Let’s Work Together

Hugo Chavez wants to work together with the next US president, the Venezuelan president said Saturday, adding that Venezuela and the United States should cooperate to resolve problems including world hunger, energy shortages and climate change.Go to fullsize image

But Chavez also warned that George W. Bush “will be much more dangerous during the last months that he has left” in the White House, and accused the outgoing US president of attempting to orchestrate his assassination or spur a military rebellion in Venezuela.

“Whoever is the next president of the United States, I’d like start preparing the way to start working together,” said Venezuela’s socialist leader.

By cooperating, both countries could “help save the world from the food crisis, energy crisis and climate crisis,” he added.

Further Reading – Chavez: Venezuela Wants To Cooperate With Next US President

US Navy Patrols In Venezuela Waters Rattles Chavez

A few days ago after after violating Venezuela air space, the Pentagon has announced that it will reactivated the Navy’s fourth fleet to patrol Venezuela waters.

Best of the U.S. Navy, NAVAL STATION, PEARL HARBOR, HAWAII (HI) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA)

That’s right folks. The US navy is gearing up their patrols in the area. Of course Chavez will have something to say about that.

“They don’t scare us in the least. If a North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] exists, why can’t a SATO exist, a South Atlantic Treaty Organization?” Read more of this post

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