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Posted on on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

China Wants Business with Latin America.
By Mitch Moxley

BEIJING, Aug 18, 2010 (IPS) – China, now the world’s second largest economy with a ferocious appetite for resources, is aggressively strengthening relations with Latin American countries, but this has not been without roadblocks.

According to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), released in May, China will displace the European Union as the region’s second largest trading partner by the middle of 2011. Latin American countries are actively exploring cooperative arrangements with China in the fields of mining, energy, agriculture, infrastructure and science and technology, the report said.

China has in recent years diversified its investment in Latin America, from natural resources to manufacturing and the services industry, according to a July report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Latin American Studies. China’s interest in Latin America ranges from oil from Venezuela to timber from Guyana and soybeans from Brazil.

Zhang Sengen, executive director of the Institute of Chinese International Economic Relations, said Latin America has dual appeal for China: It has abundant resources, which are needed to fuel China’s future growth, and it is a huge market for Chinese products – with 560 million consumers and a combined Gross Domestic Product of 4 trillion U.S. dollars.

“Latin America is a very attractive spot for Chinese investment,” Zhang said.

China’s foreign direct investment in Latin America reached 24.8 billion dollars in 2008, making up 14.6 percent of China’s total foreign direct investment, according to figures from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Meanwhile, Latin American investment in China hit 112.6 billion dollars, roughly 14 percent of the total foreign capital China absorbed.

Exports from Latin American countries to China are expected to reach 19.3 percent of the total by 2020, up from 7.6 percent in 2009, according to the ECLAC report.

China has prided itself on what it calls a “win-win” relationship with Latin America, in which the region sells China raw materials, such as copper, iron and oil, while Latin American countries receive goods from China, including mobile phones and cars.

But relations have not been altogether smooth. Across the region, a growing wariness about trade with China has also been emerging.

In Brazil and Argentina, manufacturers have accused China of dumping products in their markets, prompting new tariffs on some Chinese importers. Other countries worry about China’s aggressive efforts to win access to energy reserves.

In Peru, a state-owned Chinese company has faced a nearly two-decade long revolt from mine workers, featuring repeated strikes, clashes with police and arson attacks, ‘The New York Times’ reported earlier in August. Disputes at the mine, founded in 1992 by steelmaker Shougang Corp, focus on wages, environmental damage and the company’s treatment of local residents.

Wang Peng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Latin American Studies, said Chinese companies in Latin America need to do proper risk assessment and better protect the local environment. “There are more NGOs in other countries than in China, and many of them focus on environmental protection,” Wang told IPS. “If our companies violate local environmental laws, no wonder tension happens.”

Despite the problems, relations continue to develop. In April, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Brazil, a move that was heralded in China’s state media as a significant step in cementing relations with Latin America.

“China and Latin American countries, all as developing countries, share extensive common interest. China has always attached great importance to its relations with these countries,” Vice Foreign Minister Li Jinzhang said at a press conference in April, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

During the meetings, Brazil and China inked a joint action plan for 2010 to 2014 and reached agreements in the fields of culture, energy, finance, science and technology and product quality inspection, according to Xinhua.

China is Brazil’s largest trading partner and biggest export market. Trade with Chile, China’s second largest trading partner in the region, reached a record 17.7 billion dollars in 2009.

Oil-rich Venezuela is China’s fifth largest trading partner in Latin America with a trade volume of 7.15 billion dollars in 2009. In March that year, Su Zhenxing, director of the CAAS’s Institute of Latin American Studies, told ‘Beijing Business Today’ that Latin America will become a leading strategic provider of crude oil.

Jiang Shixue, vice president of the Chinese Association of Latin American Studies and deputy director-general of the Chinese Centre for the Third World Studies, said China’s interest in Latin America is not just economic, but also political.

Of the 23 countries in the world that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, 12 are in Latin America. China can gain leverage over these countries through investment incentives, Jiang said.


Posted on on August 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

New data shows Brazil is now the world’s fourth largest consumer of automobiles, reports AméricaEconomia. Brazil trails only China, the United States, and Japan in cars bought. Along with growing demand, Brazil expects greater investment in the industry. Volkswagen has announced plans to invest $3.4 million in 2014, Ford $2.5 million between 2011 and 2015, and General Motors $1.6 million between 2010 and 2012. Brazil’s Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento (BNDES) also announced $17 million to construct new plants for Toyota and Hyundai in São Paulo.


Hotels Help Brazil’s Boom

Financial Times’ Beyond BRICs blog reports that, despite a modest drop in hotel occupancy at Brazilian hotels, guests are spending more money and generating greater revenue for the industry. “I don’t know if this is international or in Latin America in general,” said Ricardo Mader, executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. “But it has everything to do with the growth of the [Brazilian] economy and the growth of buying power.” In 2009, guests at Brazilian hotels spent an average of $63 for a room, up 7.7 percent from the previous year.


Brazilian and Chilean Airlines Merge into Biggest LatAm Carrier

LAN Chile and Brazil’s TAM Linhas Aereas agreed on a $3.7 billion merger to become Latin America’s biggest carrier by market value, with a combined 115 destinations in 23 countries. The new company, called LATAM Airlines Group SA, will be headed by former LAN CEO Enrique Cueto.


Posted on on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Spanish pronunciation: [mi?t?el ?at?e?let]; born September 29, 1951) is a moderate socialist politician who was President of Chile from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010—the first woman president in the country’s history.

She won the 2006 presidential election in a runoff, beating center-right US dollar billionaire businessman and former senator Sebastián Piñera with 53.5% of the vote.

She campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile’s free-market policies, while increasing social benefits to help reduce the gap between rich and poor, one of the largest in the world.

Bachelet, a pediatrician and epidemiologist with studies in military strategy, served as Health Minister and Defense Minister under President Ricardo Lagos.

Bachelet is the second child of archaeologist Ángela Jeria Gómez and Air Force Brigadier General Alberto Bachelet Martínez.

Facing growing food shortages, the government of Salvador Allende placed Bachelet’s father in charge of the Food Distribution Office. When General Augusto Pinochet came to power in the September 11, 1973 coup, General Bachelet, refusing exile, was detained at the Air War Academy under charges of treason. Following months of daily torture at Santiago’s Public Prison, on March 12, 1974, he suffered a cardiac arrest that resulted in his death. On January 10, 1975, Bachelet and her mother were detained at their apartment by two DINA agents, who blindfolded them and drove them to Villa Grimaldi, a notorious secret detention center in Santiago, where they were separated and submitted to interrogation and torture.[13] Some days later they were transferred to Cuatro Álamos (“Four Poplars”) detention center, where they were held until the end of January. Later in 1975, thanks to sympathetic connections in the military, both were exiled to Australia, where Bachelet’s older brother Alberto had moved in 1969.

Her paternal great-great-grandfather, Louis-Joseph Bachelet Lapierre, was a French wine merchant from Chassagne-Montrachet who emigrated to Chile with his Parisian wife, Françoise Jeanne Beault, in 1860 hired as a wine-making expert by the Subercaseaux vineyards in southern Santiago.

In February 1979, Bachelet returned to Santiago, Chile from East Germany. Her medical school credits from the GDR were not transferred, forcing her to resume her studies from where she had left off before fleeing the country. [citation needed] She graduated as M.D. on January 7, 1983. She wished to work in the public sector wherever attention was most needed, applying for a position as general practitioner; her petition was, however, rejected by the military government on “political grounds.” Instead, because of her academic performance and published papers, she earned a scholarship to specialize in pediatrics and public health at Roberto del Río Children’s Hospital (1983–1986). During this time she also worked at PIDEE (Protection of Children Injured by States of Emergency Foundation), a non-governmental organization helping children of the tortured and missing in Santiago and Chillán. She was head of the foundation’s Medical Department between 1986 and 1990. Some time after her second child with Dávalos, Francisca Valentina, was born in February 1984, she and her husband legally separated. She is a separated mother of three and describes herself as an agnostic.

In 1990, after democracy was restored in Chile, Bachelet worked for the Ministry of Health’s West Santiago Health Service and was a consultant for the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the German Corporation for Technical Cooperation.

Driven by an interest in civil-military relations, in 1996 Bachelet began studies in military strategy at the National Academy for Strategic and Policy Studies (Anepe) in Chile, obtaining first place in her class.[2] Her student achievement earned her a presidential scholarship, permitting her to continue her studies in the United States at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C., completing a Continental Defense Course in 1998. That same year she returned to Chile to work for the Defense Ministry as Senior Assistant to the Defense Minister. She subsequently graduated from a Master’s program in military science at the Chilean Army‘s War Academy.

In 1996 Bachelet ran against future presidential adversary Joaquín Lavín for the mayorship of Las Condes, a wealthy Santiago suburb and a right-wing stronghold. Lavín won the 22-candidate election with nearly 78% of the vote, while she finished fourth at 2.35%. At the 1999 presidential primary of Coalition of Parties for Democracy (CPD), Chile’s governing coalition since 1990, she worked for Ricardo Lagos’s nomination, heading the Santiago electoral zone.

On March 11, 2000 Bachelet—virtually unknown at the time—was appointed Minister of Health by President Ricardo Lagos. She began an in-depth study of the public health-care system that led to the AUGE plan a few years later. She was also given the task of eliminating waiting lists in the saturated public hospital system within the first 100 days of Lagos’s government. She reduced waiting lists by 90%, but was unable to eliminate them completely and offered her resignation, which was promptly rejected by the President.  Controversially,  she allowed free distribution of the morning-after pill for victims of sexual abuse.

On January 7, 2002 Bachelet was appointed Defense Minister, becoming the first woman to hold this post in a Latin American country and one of the few in the world. While Minister of Defense she promoted reconciliatory gestures between the military and victims of the dictatorship, culminating in the historic 2003 declaration by General Juan Emilio Cheyre, head of the army, that “never again” would the military subvert democracy in Chile.  She also oversaw a reform of the military pension system and continued with the process of modernization of the Chilean armed forces with the purchasing of new military equipment, while engaging in international peace operations.

A moment which has been cited as key to Bachelet’s chances to the presidency came during a flood in northern Santiago where she, as Defense Minister, led a rescue operation on top of an amphibious tank, wearing a cloak and military cap.

In late 2004, following a surge of her popularity in opinion polls, Bachelet was established as the only CPD figure able to defeat Lavín, and she was asked to become the Socialists’ candidate for the presidency.

According to The Economist magazine the government of Bachelet opted to make social protection and the promotion of equality of opportunity her main priority. Since becoming President, her government built 3,500 crèches daycare for poorer children. It introduced a universal minimum state pension and extended free health care to cover many serious conditions.
A new housing policy aimed at abolishing the last remaining shanty-towns in Chile by 2010 featured grants to the poorest families. Some of them had to pay just US$400 for a house costing about US$20,000.

In October 2009 Ms Bachelet’s popularity peaked at 80 percent according to a public opinion poll by conservative polling institute Adimark GfK., and in March 2010 she showed an approval rating of 84%, and in terms of specific characteristics attributed to Chile’s president, ‘loved by Chileans’ reached a record 96%.

The Chilean Constitution does not allow a president to serve two consecutive terms, so Bachelet left office in March 2010.

Chile’s October 16, 2006 vote in the United Nations Security Council election—with Venezuela and Guatemala deadlocked in a bid for the two-year, non-permanent Latin American and Caribbean seat on the Security Council — developed into a major ideological issue in the country, and was seen as a test for Bachelet. The governing coalition was divided between the Socialists, who supported a vote for Venezuela, and the Christian Democrats, who strongly opposed it. The day before the vote the president announced (through her spokesman) that Chile would abstain, citing as reason a lack of regional consensus over a single candidate, ending months of speculation.

Continuing the coalition’s free-trade strategy, in August 2006 Bachelet promulgated a free trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China (signed under the previous administration of Ricardo Lagos), the first Chinese free-trade agreement with a Latin American nation; similar deals with Japan and India were promulgated in August 2007. In October 2006, Bachelet promulgated a multilateral trade deal with New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4),  also signed under Lagos’ presidency.  She also held free-trade talks with other countries, including Australia, VietnamTurkey and Malaysia. Regionally, she signed bilateral free trade agreements with Panama, Peru and Colombia.

At the beginning of 2010 Chile became the OECD’s 31st member, and its first in South America. This acceptance for OECD membership marked international recognition of nearly two decades of democratic reform and sound economic policies; for the OECD, Chile’s membership was a major milestone in its mission to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer global economy

She speaks Spanish (her native language), English, German, Portuguese and French.

In 2009 Forbes magazine ranked her as the 22nd in the list of the 100 most powerful women in the world (she was #25 in 2008, #27 in 2007, and #17 in 2006). In 2008, TIME magazine ranked her 15 on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Eleanor Clift wrote on on June 10, 2010 that Michelle Bachelet moved the Chilean Government from Macho – to – Maternal. She was clearly the best qualified person to establish and head the new UN institution that was baptized with the terrible name UNWOMEN. And you know what, letting into the UN building a highly qualified person may endanger the minions working there. That, is what doomed on me today, this because I also learned an additional fact about Bachellet’s Chile, and that is why I write this UPDATE.…

The additional fact I learned today came from reading material that will appear in an Energy Management Magazine Published in India. The article is by – Ms. Jimena Bronfman, Vice Minister of Energy, Chile , and it deals with Chile moving into leadership position on energy issues – and you guessed right if you said that Dr. Bachelet started this. In effect the Ministry of Energy – which for Chile is a Ministry of Energy Efficiency – was set up at the end of her days in the Presidential Office. We are sure that this was not an easy task to fulfill – but we are sure that it will be one of her most important legacies. We know that Energy Efficiency is not a top priority of the G77 real on-going leadership and this, more then anything else, explains the diatribe we described in our original posting which we updated now.

The creation of the Ministry of Energy in February 1st 2010 is an important milestone in this process. The law that is the basis for Chile’s current institutional framework also includes the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public private entity that will implement the public policies designed by the Energy Efficiency Division of the Ministry.

Energy Efficiency is one of the main goals of Chile’s national energy policy, families are changing their habits and industries, corporations and local governments are trying to reduce their energy consumption by adopting energy-efficient measures. This fostering environment was recently faced by the February 27th earthquake and tsunami that devastated several regions of our country. We have taken this catastrophe as an opportunity and a challenge to rebuild our towns and cities using energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The Ministry of Energy is working with other ministries, such as the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to include energy efficiency measures and non-conventional renewable energies in the reconstruction of health and education infrastructure and emergency housing. We are also developing a pilot project to rebuild a town with the leading best practices in sustainability and energy consumption, so it can be replicated in other parts of the region and world.

Energy Efficiency is key to Chile’s competitiveness and economic growth. According to studies carried out before the earthquake, energy efficiency measures could help reduce Chile’s energy demand by around 14% by 2020. This would have a positive financial impact in the reconstruction process, as public funds saved by reduction of energy consumption can be reallocated to other priorities of the rebuilding program.

Energy Efficiency will also help Chile, whose economy is based on exports, to reduce its carbon footprint and be competitive in a world that is increasingly carbon-conscious. Although Chile’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions is low compared to many other nations, our wines, copper, fruits, fish and wood products are sold in developed markets that will require sustainable production processes.

In order to achieve our goals we are currently developing the Energy Efficiency Strategy for 2020. At the moment a draft proposal is being reviewed by key actors from the private and the public sectors who will be involved in the actual implementation of the strategy. The main objective of this process is to promote a broad discussion of the specific proposals, introduce appropriate improvements and gain comprehensive support for the energy saving goals contemplated in the strategy.  The official version of the E3 will be published after completion of this discussion period, hopefully by the end of November 2010.

Other challenges for this year include the implementation of the rest of our institutional framework, which will be completed by the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public-private non-profit entity that will implement the Ministry’s public policies. It will be funded mainly through public funds but will include private sector representatives in its board. The focus of the Agency’s work will be guided by the E3 strategy; however, we shall also aim at developing other important projects such as education. We strongly believe that a crucial driver for change in these matters is highly-skilled human resources. Therefore, education in schools, undergraduate and post-graduate education is needed to introduce strong energy efficiency programs. Other important aspects of energy efficiency lie in smart-grid and net-metering programs.

Another main priority for 2010 is the development of energy efficiency labelling for cars, new houses and domestic appliances. Labelling is currently mandatory for refrigerators and light bulbs, and we aim to expand this initiative so consumers have all the information available to make the right decisions.

We also want to continue growing our international alliances and cooperation. We have already executed collaboration agreements with several countries and organizations worldwide, and we will work to strengthen and deepen those relationships. Energy Efficiency is a global effort that can be fostered by exchanging best practices that will benefit consumers, industries and countries all over the world.


The China and Developing States, the full name of the G77 that purports speaking for 130 out of the 192 UN Member States, is a UN charade – simply, because there never was a common interest among all these various States Now, with China becoming at least a G2 with the United States, if not the straight Global Economic Super power, for her to use the leadership of this rag-tag bunch and push into leadership positions at the UN – Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan etc. resulted in turning the whole UN into a laughable enterprise. Bravo to little Palau that walked out on this continuous obstructionist committee circuit that calls for time-out whenever the UN tries to reach some decision. We watched them at climate Change meetings where Saudi Arabia is their representative.

Perhaps there was once s difference between the industrialized European  – North American countries plus Japan, and the rest of the world – this when the UN was created and the decolonizing process was giving birth to many new UN Member States – in effect multiplying by three the total number of global independent States, but since then much has changed.

The Latin ABC, Mexico, Korea, Turkey, India, Indonesia, South Africa have all knocked successfully at the corporate doors of development and entered the G20. The OECD club includes most of these G20 plus most EU States and Israel that is a perpetual  G77 pariah. They have now real interests to defend and not much time for posturing – so we will see slowly a realignment also at the UN. OK, China and South Africa will not want to give up their positions as leaders of the 130. It keeps some of their diplomats in the circuit and the UN will continue the fiction, but how long hence that the AOSIS/SIDS will still play this game? When will they see that Palau was indeed a trailblazer? Will the lack of action on Climate Change by some of the major OECD members who effectively joined the Saudis in opposing real action on climate, push these States back into the G77 arms?


Chile Threatens to Split South Unity in World Body.
Thalif Deen…

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 7 (IPS) – The Group of 77 (G77) has historically maintained a united front, vociferously protecting the economic interests of developing countries at the United Nations. But its longstanding solidarity is now being threatened by the continued presence of a single Latin American country which recently joined the ranks of a rich elitist group.

Chile, which was formally inducted last May into the 30-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), described as an exclusive club of industrial nations, has given no indications of leaving the G77, thereby triggering a sharp division of opinion among its 130 members. “Chile wants to have it both ways,” one G77 member told IPS, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It wants to have one foot in the OECD and another in the G77. But this is unacceptable to some of us.”

When Mexico and South Korea broke ranks with the developing world and joined the Paris-based OECD back in 1994 and 1996, respectively, both countries quit the G77, the largest single coalition of developing countries at the United Nations.

Chakravarti Raghavan, editor emeritus of the Geneva-based South-North Development Monitor published by the Third World Network, told IPS if Chile does not voluntarily quit the G77, the group must find a way around its longstanding convention of consensus decisions, and “politely but firmly throw Chile out”.

“This will be in line with the spirit and the intentions behind the formation of the Group of 77 and its functioning over all these years,” he added.

“It is probably about time that the G77 being an informal grouping expel Chile – on the simple ground that you can’t belong to two different groupings,” said Raghavan, who is considered a foremost authority on the G77, and who has written extensively about the Group since its inception in June 1964.

“It is my impression that Mexico, when it joined OECD, initially wanted to be in both camps, but was told it was not possible,” he added.

On North-South economic issues at the United Nations, the G77 and the OECD hold diametrically opposite views – most or all of the time.

The OECD is home to some of the world’s major economic powers, including the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Japan. Most of the emerging economic powers, including Brazil, India, China and South Africa, are longstanding members of the G77 and not members of the OECD.

But according to the OECD, it is planning to have discussions with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa – all active members of the G77 – “with a view to possible membership”.

The G77 has lost four other members over the years: Cyprus and Malta (both in May 1994) and Romania (January 2007) when they joined the European Union.

A fourth country, Palau, a small island developing nation in the Pacific, withdrew from the G77 in June 2006, ostensibly for financial reasons.

Besides Chile, Mexico and South Korea, the OECD has also added three other non-G77 members into its ranks: Estonia, Slovenia and Israel.

Speaking off-the-record, a diplomat from a G77 country expressed a dissenting point of view when he told IPS: “There is nothing in the G77 rules or guidelines stating that an OECD member has to quit the G77.”

He said Chile is well within its rights to remain a member of the G77.

“And, while there may be a few in G77 who may not be pleased about Chile remaining in the G77, there are no serious moves afoot to push them out of the grouping,” he said. “Most of us, support Chile remaining in the G77. There will be strong resistance from a number of us if anyone tries to eject Chile from the G77.”

And as an after-thought, he added: “The OECD had made leaving the G77 a condition for Mexico’s entry into the OECD. However, when Chile was applying to the OECD, there was no such condition.”

Moreover, he said, Mexico stated that leaving the G77 should not be a condition for Chile’s entry.

Another G77 delegate told IPS that if Chile does not voluntarily leave the Group, as Mexico and South Korea did in previous years, a divided G77 may be forced to take a decision either way.

Meanwhile the former G8 – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia – has been expanded into the G20 to include seven developing nations (besides Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union).

The seven developing countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa – are still members of the G77.

Chile has argued that G77 members that belong to the G20 should be considered in the same light as G77 members belonging to the OECD. But the G20 is not considered a formal body like the OECD, which is treaty-based and whose decisions are binding on all its members.

According to an OECD statement, the invitation to Chile to become the Organisation’s 31st member came at a time when the OECD is expanding its relations with the region.

As an OECD member, Chile will participate in all areas of the OECD’s work, from economic and financial policy to education, employment and social affairs. It will also join with other OECD countries to share experiences and best practices, setting new standards and developing new governance mechanisms for its economy and society more broadly.

The statement said that during two years of accession negotiations, Chile was reviewed by some 20 OECD committees with respect to OECD instruments, standards and benchmarks.

The invitation to take up membership confirms that Chile is taking appropriate steps to reform its economy including in the areas of corporate governance, anti-corruption, and environmental protection, the statement said.


Posted on on July 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

I just watched Spain win in Johannesburg Ellis Park stadium, by 1:0 its game with Paraguay. This leaves Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Uruguay still standing,  and we dare now to make our own predictions about the  Semi-final and Final games.

July 4th and 5th there are no games.

Tuesday July 6th, in Cape Town’s new Green Point Stadium, Netherlands will play Uruguay and we predict a Netherlands win.

Wednesday July 7th in Durban’s new Moses Mabhida Stadium, Germany will play Spain and we predict a German win.

Saturday, July 10th in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth – The Port Elizabeth Stadium – we predict a Spain – Uruguay game and a Spain win for the third place in the 2010 World Cup.

Sunday, July 11th in the new Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium near Soweto, in the iconic shape of the African calabash, there will be the final game of the 2010 World Cup.

We predict that the game will be between Germany and The Netherlands – and we predict The German team wins.

Above means that the final standing, we predict, will be: Germany, The Netherlands, Spain.
An unexpected European ending of the 2010 World Cup that came about with the elimination of Brazil and Argentina in the quarter finals, and after the presence of five teams from the Latin American cone region among the 8 remaining teams when they entered the quarter-finals. Astonishing indeed.

On the European side, the early elimination of France, England and Italy was also considered by many as surprising.…

A Disclaimer: The 2010 South Africa FIFA Football, though strange, but being still rather round, allows for the unexpected – so we take no responsibility for the case our predictions are duds! Do not blame us if you execute the wrong bets.


Posted on on July 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

It took 4 years of negotiations to bring about this unanimous G-192 decision of the UN General Assembly establishing the UN Women or this unwomen new UN window. You guess – there was a resistance from some at the UN regarding the need for protecting women by giving them their own UN organization – and at an Under Secretary-General level to boot. Obviously, the issue was not money – that comes from Scandinavia – but the fact that it will suggest rights for women in some countries that like to think they are UN Member States from the South.

So, what will it do? Obviously – it was for a UN entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women which gives the acronym – UNEGEEW. How is this for a name? Is UNWOMEN any better? Should they use rather the French version of the name ONU Femme because this gives ONUFEMME which sounds better then UNWOMEN – like a perfume.

Really, after 4 years of talking about women, the UN coffee clutch has managed to undo the subject with unwomen? Will it then be shoved out the door by using a UN quota system to give the job to someone from a culture that does indeed unwomen its women and hope for progress?

These last two weeks we participated at two important meetings of Business Women and women that find ways to advance in society. Will these outside-the -UN organizations be allowed to mentor the new UN baby?


Candidates for Top UN Women Post From Rwanda, Tunisia, Malaysia, No Bachelet.

By Matthew Russell Lee, An Inner City Press Exclusive.

UNITED NATIONS, July 2 — As UN Women, the world body’s so-called Gender Entity, was birthed Friday in the General Assembly, Inner City Press learned for a well placed Mission about six of the eight candidates for the Under-Secretary General position at the top of UN Women.

These are the Rwandan foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, UN gender advisor Rachel Mayanja (nominated by Gabon), a Malaysian official who heads up the gender work of the Non Aligned Movement, officials from Tunisia and Norway and, Inner City Press is told, Sri Lanka’s Radhika Coomaraswamy.

The biggest donor, assured for that reason a seat on the Executive Board, is said to agree that the USG should come from the Global South. So the Norwegian, it seems, has little chance.

UN’s Ban and Bachelet, UN Women not shown

Earlier on Friday, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro to name the candidates, since she had said the process would be open and transparent. Eight countries, she said, have submitted names, including one country naming another’s national. She gave as an example the United States nominating her. “Have they?” Inner City Press asked. No, she said.

Not on the list is Michelle Bachelet of Chile. Some say she wanted UNICEF and is miffed. Others say she will only take it if offered: i.e., if it is not a competitive process.


Posted on on June 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Sunday, June 20, 2010

APEC to pursue low-carbon technologies: Nuke power to be promoted as low-emission energy source;
new plant construction urged.

FUKUI (Kyodo) Energy ministers from Pacific Rim economies agreed Saturday to embark on a project to create low-carbon model cities using energy-efficient technologies and urged the promotion of nuclear power as an environmentally friendly energy source.

The one-day meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the city of Fukui was hosted by Japan, this year’s APEC chair. At the meeting, which focused on energy security and other matters, participants also concurred that fossil fuels will continue to play a key role in the region, which includes such emerging economies as China, and attached importance to enhancing preparedness for oil supply disruption such as by collaborating with the International Energy Agency over energy response workshops and exercises.

As introducing low-carbon technologies in city planning is essential to responding to increasing energy consumption in urban areas, APEC said in a declaration issued after the meeting that they have launched a Low-Carbon Model Town Project to present “successful models for coordinated usage” of the advanced technologies.

The model cities would likely feature a “smart grid” advanced power transmission network or buildings with facilities for renewable energy generation.

Smart grid, which uses information technology, is an efficient power transmission network that is expected to encourage the use of renewable energy such as solar and wind, because it can give stability to the output of electricity supplied by the fluctuating power sources.

Meanwhile, the declaration stipulated that the deployment of renewable energy, nuclear energy, and power generation involving carbon capture and storage technology should be “promoted,” calling these three “low emission” power sources.

Noting that a growing number of interested economies are using nuclear power to diversify their energy mix and limit carbon emissions, the declaration also referred to the need to assess the emissions reduction potential of nuclear power in APEC.

Toward new nuclear power plant construction, the declaration also said “solid financial frameworks, as well as cooperation among member economies and with relevant multilateral organizations” could be of help.

It is the first time for APEC to clearly stipulate the promotion of building new nuclear power plants, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.


Posted on on April 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


A Chilean journalist whose investigative reporting led to her torture by the country’s military dictatorship 25 years ago today won a United Nations prize that honours those promoting freedom of expression, especially at the risk of their own lives.

Mónica González Mujica was declared laureate of the 2010 UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, named in memory of a Colombian newspaper publisher murdered in 1987 for denouncing the activities of powerful drug barons in his country.

“Mónica González Mujica has undergone years of hardship defending freedom of expression, one of the core values UNESCO was created to uphold. She now shows equal commitment to education, which is another main priority of our Organization,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said.

Born in 1949, Ms. González spent four years in exile following the military coup of 1973. She returned in 1978 to Chile, where harassment from the secret services made her lose jobs repeatedly as she investigated human rights violations as well as the financial doings of the coup leader, General Augusto Pinochet, and his family.

She was imprisoned and tortured from 1984 to 1985 for this work. Yet, upon her release she went back to investigative reporting, publishing articles and books about the abuses of the military dictatorship. She was detained again and numerous court cases were brought against her.

Since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990, she has continued working as a newspaper editor and journalist. She has been directing the Centre of Journalism and Investigation in Santiago, the capital, since 2007, while conducting workshops on investigative journalism at home and abroad.

Ms. González was recommended by an international jury of 12 professional journalists from all over the world.

“Throughout her professional life, Mónica González Mujica has shown courage in shining the light on the dark side of Chile,” the president of the jury, Joe Thloloe, Press Ombudsman of the Press Council of South Africa, said. “She has embodied the very spirit of the Award. She has been jailed, tortured, hauled before the courts but has remained steadfast.

“Ms. González is now ploughing her experience back to the younger generation through her work at the Centre of Journalism and Investigation and her workshops on investigative journalism in various countries.”

Ms. Bokova will present the $25,000 Prize to Ms. González in a ceremony on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, which UNESCO will celebrate this year in Brisbane, Australia.

Created in 1997 by UNESCO’s Executive Board, and financed by the Cano and Ottaway family foundations and by JP/Politiken Newspaper LTD, the prize is awarded annually to honour the work of an individual or an organization defending or promoting freedom of expression anywhere in the world, especially if this action puts the individual’s life at risk. Candidates are proposed by UNESCO Member States and regional or international organizations that defend and promote freedom of expression.


Posted on on February 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Poverty Predicts Quake Damage Better Than Richter Scale

Emily Schmall Contributor, February 27, 2010
Though an 8.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked Chile early Saturday was one of the strongest on record, the structural devastation and human toll is expected to be far smaller than the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January.

To project the scope of destruction and loss of human life, the quality of buildings and the poverty level are far more telling than the magnitude on the Richter scale, scientists and aid workers say.

“It’s not as much the earthquake that kills, it’s the poverty that kills,” said Colin Stark, a geomorphologist and researcher at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who is studying the aftermath of a 1999 earthquake in Taiwan to predict the probability of landslides in Haiti.

In 1999, earthquakes of similar magnitudes struck Taiwan and Turkey, but Turkey, which has a higher poverty level, experienced five times as much damage, according to Stark. “The thing ultimately that decides how much damage there will be and how many people die is the quality of the buildings,” he said.

Mexico City, built on a lakebed, proved particularly vulnerable in 1985 when a 8.1-magnitude earthquake killed about 10,000 people and toppled more than 400 buildings.

The depth and proximity of the earthquake’s epicenter to cities also determine the level of damage, said Robert Williams, a geophysicist for the United States Geological Survey in Golden, Colo. “The Haiti quake occurred very close to some densely populated areas. In Chile, by the time the energy reached the capital, it had dissipated a little bit. Also the Chile quake was deeper, so the energy was attenuated as it rose to the surface,” said Williams.

The epicenter of Saturday’s earthquake was 385 miles southwest of Santiago, but the tremor toppled historic buildings in the capital and resulted in the death of hundreds of people.

By comparison, the death toll from Haiti’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake Jan. 12, whose epicenter was only 15 miles from the capital Port-au-Prince, has exceeded 230,000 and could reach 300,000, Haitian Prime Minister Rene Preval told a meeting
of Latin American and Caribbean leaders in Mexico last week.

Aid workers from Seattle-based World Vision were dispatched Saturday afternoon on the first relief flight to Chile, though the damage was not expected to rival the destruction in Haiti. “World Vision is concerned about those living near the epicenter who are poorer and more marginalized in Chilean society, and of course children. But it would be difficult to imagine us seeing anywhere near the death toll or damage that we’ve seen in Haiti,” spokesperson Rachel Wolff said.

A country’s experience and preparedness also lower fatalities in a natural disaster, Wolff said. Chile sits in the “ring of fire” earthquake zone around the Pacific Rim, and it has a long history of earthquakes, including the strongest on record which struck in 1960, a 9.5-magnitude quake that struck near Validvia and left 1,655 dead.

In Haiti, the severity of destruction and the high number of deaths were a function of the nation’s extreme poverty, lack of building codes and inexperience with earthquakes, Wolff said. Chile, by comparison, has strong building codes based on experience with large and fairly regular earthquakes. The nation’s average annual income is $11,000, compared to $1,900 in Haiti.

Wealthier earthquake-prone areas like San Francisco invest in buildings that will withstand disaster, Stark said. Poor nations have little hope of constructing homes and office buildings that meet such high standards, he said.

“For many of the poor inhabitants, indeed, they will never be able to afford to construct buildings as they do in San Francisco, but that shouldn’t be the goal,” said Marc Eberhard, a University of Washington civil and environmental engineering professor who led a five-person team that provided engineering support to the United States Southern Command in Haiti.

Eberhard said that many of the earthquake’s fatalities could have been prevented by using earthquake-resistant designs and construction, as well as improved quality control in concrete and masonry work. “One could have improved the building stock tremendously without spending a lot of money.”


SATURDAY, FEB 27, 2010
Chile was ready for quake, Haiti wasn’t – Wealth, building codes and preparedness kept many Chileans safe while Haitians perished

The earthquake in Chile was far stronger than the one that struck Haiti last month — yet the death toll in this Caribbean nation is magnitudes higher.

The reasons are simple.

Chile is wealthier and infinitely better prepared, with strict building codes, robust emergency response and a long history of handling seismic catastrophes. No living Haitian had experienced a quake at home when the Jan. 12 disaster crumbled their poorly constructed buildings.

And Chile was relatively lucky this time.

Saturday’s quake was centered offshore an estimated 21 miles (34 kilometers) underground in a relatively unpopulated area while Haiti’s tectonic mayhem struck closer to the surface — about 8 miles (13 kilometers) — and right on the edge of Port-au-Prince.

“Earthquakes don’t kill — they don’t create damage — if there’s nothing to damage,” said Eric Calais, a Purdue University geophysicist studying the Haiti quake.

The U.S. Geological Survey says eight Haitian cities and towns — including this capital of 3 million — suffered “violent” to “extreme” shaking in last month’s 7-magnitude quake, which Haiti’s government estimates killed some 220,000 people and left about 1.2 homeless. Chile’s death toll was in the hundreds.

By contrast, no Chilean urban area suffered more than “severe” shaking — the third most serious level — Saturday in it’s 8.8-magnitude disaster, by USGS measure. The quake was centered 200 miles (325 kms) away from the capital and largest city, Santiago.

In terms of energy released at the epicenter, said Calais, the Chilean quake was 900 times stronger. But energy dissipates rather quickly as distances grow from epicenters — and the ground beneath Port-au-Prince is less stable by comparison and “shakes like jelly,” says University of Miami geologist Tim Dixon.

Survivors of Haiti’s quake described abject panic — much of it well-founded as buildings imploded around them. Many Haitians grabbed cement pillars only to watch them crumble in their hands. Haitians were not schooled in how to react — by sheltering under tables and door frames, and away from glass windows.

Chileans, on the other hand, have homes and offices built to ride out quakes, their steel skeletons designed to sway with seismic waves rather than resist them.

“When you look at the architecture in Chile you see buildings that have damage, but not the complete pancaking that you’ve got in Haiti,” said Cameron Sinclair, executive director of Architecture for Humanity, a 10-year-old nonprofit that has helped people in 36 countries rebuild after disasters.

Sinclair said he has architect colleagues in Chile who have built thousands of low-income housing structures to be earthquake resistance.

In Haiti, by contrast, there is no building code.

Patrick Midy, a leading Haitian architect, said he knew of only three earthquake-resistant buildings in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

Sinclair’s San Francisco-based organization received 400 requests for help the day after the Haiti quake but he said it had yet to receive a single request for help for Chile.

“On a per-capita basis, Chile has more world-renowned seismologists and earthquake engineers than anywhere else,” said Brian E. Tucker, president of GeoHazards International, a nonprofit organization based in Palo Alto, California.

Their advice is heeded by the government in Latin America’s wealthiest nation, getting built not just into architects’ blueprints and building codes but also into government contingency planning.

“The fact that the president (Michelle Bachelet) was out giving minute-to-minute reports a few hours after the quake in the middle of the night gives you an indication of their disaster response,” said Sinclair.

Most Haitians didn’t know whether their president, Rene Preval, was alive or dead for at least a day after the quake. The National Palace and his residence — like most government buildings — had collapsed.

Haiti’s TV, cell phone networks and radio stations were knocked off the air by the seismic jolt.

Col. Hugo Rodriguez, commander of the Chilean aviation unit attached to the U.N. peacekeeping force in Haiti, waited anxiously Saturday with his troops for word from loved ones at home.

He said he knew his family was OK and expressed confidence that Chile would ride out the disaster.

“We are organized and prepared to deal with a crisis, particularly a natural disaster,” Rodriguez said. “Chile is a country where there are a lot of natural disasters.”

Calais, the geologist, noted that frequent seismic activity is as common to Chile as it is to the rest of the Andean ridge. Chile experienced the strongest earthquake on record in 1960, and Saturday’s quake was the nation’s third of over magnitude-8.7.

“It’s quite likely that every person there has felt a major earthquake in their lifetime,” he said, “whereas the last one to hit Port-au-Prince was 250 years ago.”

“So who remembers?”

On Port-au-Prince’s streets Saturday, many people had not heard of Chile’s quake. More than half a million are homeless, most still lack electricity and are preoccupied about trying to get enough to eat.

Fanfan Bozot, a 32-year-old reggae singer having lunch with a friend, could only shake his head at his government’s reliance on international relief to distribute food and water.

“Chile has a responsible government,” he said, waving his hand in disgust. “Our government is incompetent.”


Posted on on January 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Japan looks to Latin America to aid growth.
Kyodo News, January 7, 2010
The government plans to reinforce relations with Latin American countries in a bid to capitalize on the abundance of natural resources and rapid economic development in the region, officials said.

Latin American nations are major suppliers of natural resources for Japan. For example, a quarter of the country’s iron ore imports comes from Brazil, while Bolivia and Chile are rich in lithium used in batteries for electric vehicles and other products.

Access to natural resources is indispensable for Japanese companies to compete with foreign rivals in the field of environmental protection, an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

The government will increase its official development assistance for environment-related projects, including improving water and sewerage systems in Brazil and Bolivia, to help Japanese companies gain better access to natural resources there.

It will also support a consortium linking Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Mitsui & Co. and other companies that will bid this spring to develop a high-speed railway system in Brazil, a Foreign Ministry official said.


Posted on on January 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

IDN reports, January 3, 2010 – This first World March for Peace and Nonviolence concluded Jan. 2 in the mountains on the border between Chile and Argentina traversing 400 cities in 90 countries, covering about two thousand kilometers during 93 days (?? the mathematics does not fit – the editor!).

An initiative of World Without Wars and Without Violence, an international organization of the global Humanist Movement, the march on planetary scale was launched on Nov. 15 last year, during the first symposium of the International Centre of Humanist Studies on ‘Ethics in Knowledge’ in the Park of Study and Reflection Punta de Vacas where the March started.

Hundreds of thousands of people have participated in the March, as have more than three thousand organizations and a group of almost 100 Marchers, forming different base teams that carried out four distinct routes: intercontinental, Middle East, the Balkans, and Southeast Africa, the International Press Agency Pressenza reported.

In their journey through these countries, the Marchers were received by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Nobel Peace Laureates, national presidents, parliamentarians, and hundreds of mayors.

But the reception had also been popular: two examples were the 80,000 youth who greeted the international base team in a concert in Chile and 12,000 school children in the Philippines who formed a giant peace sign, among many other massive events.

Reporting on the daily lives of the Marchers, the International Press Agency Pressenza said, the accommodations were at times comfortable but other times austere: the Marchers slept in Buddhist monasteries, makeshift homes, and even in a fallout shelter. There were threats of a tsunami, earthquakes, and typhoons, and they marched in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees centigrade to below zero.

During the tour, they encountered people made homeless by typhoons in the Philippines, Hibakushas, or survivors of the Hiroshima bomb, and millions of families torn apart by wars in Korea and Palestine.

They visited memorials to the millions who died in wars in Europe and Asia, places where torture is still being carried out, and witnessed the border conflicts between India and Pakistan, Israel and Palestine, within the Balkans, and in Tijuana, at the border between the United States and Mexico.

The planetary Marchers saw children working in Asia, Africa and America, and battered women worldwide.

“On the journey, everything has happened to us, including moments of great meaning, where the demands of the past converged with the aspirations of the future. Moments of a connection with the people that allowed us to communicate with them, surpassing languages, cultures, races and beliefs,” said Rafael de la Rubia, the convener of the March and coordinator of the international association World Without Wars and Without Violence.


Gemma Suzara of the Philippines relayed her experience with the March: “I will remember it for the rest of my life …the giant peace sign created by thousands of school children makes me think that if we really work together as one body and we believe in ourselves, we can surpass any limit.”

Bhairavi Sagar, from India, who travelled with the team through Europe, Africa and the Americas, explained in her testimony in Punta de Vacas: “Being born in the country of the Father of Nonviolence, Mahatma Gandhi, a man, who dedicated his life so that our country achieved freedom and because of whom I am standing here today as a free unchained human being. Now, it is my turn to give now to the future generations — to put in my bit to leave a world worth living for them in dignity and happiness.”

Tony Robinson from  Britain who accompanied the March through 30 countries said: “In Japan we met the Hibakushas, the survivors of the atomic bomb. One of them said to us: ‘Thank you, thank you. This is so important!’ I was translating her words while I was trying not to break into tears because of the strong empathy I felt with the terrible suffering that this woman had lived through and with the feeling of not being worthy of her gratitude.”

Giorgio Schultze, European spokesperson of the World March and member of the Middle East and the Balkans teams, said: “We crossed the wall that divides Israel from Palestine and now more than 200 social leaders, veterans of Al Fatah, are asking us to help them build a nonviolent army that might communicate and open the doors towards reconciliation and start a new history of peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Jews.” (Because of this comment we decided to post the article – mathematics aside, mistake in name aside, the mentioning of the UNSG aside, if this march has moved one single member of the Fatah to embrace non-violance in his effort to win peace, we say – GO FOR IT! the editor)

The event finished with the words of Tomas Hirsch, Latin-American spokesperson of the World March, who mainly spoke about the future of the Humanist Movement, the organization that propelled the World March.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachele ( that is Bachelet! – the editor )was the first among Heads of State who joined the World March for Peace and Non-Violence, offering encouragement with her television message from the very start of this initiative.

She sent her greeting from the balcony of the Palacio de La Moneda, along with Rafael de la Rubia, international coordinator of the World March, Tomás Hirsch, Latin American spokesperson for New Humanism, and Gloria Morrison, president of the organisation World without Wars, the main driving force of the initiative in the country.

The greeting was welcomed with jubilation by activists who were filling the Plaza de la Constitución from four different places in the capital where the columns of the Carnival for Peace set out in the early hours of the morning of Dec. 30 and spread out through Santiago to welcome this March.

Commenting the conclusion of the March, Juanjo Coscarelli, from Mendoza, a member of the commission of the Park Punta de Vacas, said: “This is an inspiring moment that came to its maximum potential, this is the first World March in the history of humanity and it is a part of the construction of the Universal Human Nation, for this reason I feel very happy and emotional”.

Abraham Lincoln, a youth who traveled to Mendoza from Ghana, commented “The World March is producing a fantastic connection between all the people who lent their support to the project.”


(IDN-InDepthNews/03.01.10) – *This report is based on coverage of the World Peace March by PRESSENZA, an international press agency specializing in news about Peace and Nonviolence.


Posted on on November 12th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Close to the departure of President Obama on his all-important trip to Asia with stops in Tokyo November 12th, Singapore November 13-15, Shanghai November 15th, Beijing November 16-18, and Seoul November 18-19, the Japan Society has planned co-incidentally the event we are reporting about here.

Japan is the only original OECD member in Asia, as such Japan clearly feels justifiably it is a US prime partner in Asia. It also was clearly instrumental in nailing down the 1987 Kyoto Protocol to The Framework Convention on Climate Change, and hopes that this material will continue to be the base for future climate negotiations. That was the basis for having co-organized and hosted  the following meeting – November 10th.


Copenhagen & Beyond: A Multilateral Debate about Climate Change Policy.
Green Japan Series
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at the Japan Society, New York.

The positions and participation of Japan, China and the United States in any successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol will help determine its success or failure. In a Tuesday November 10, 2009 panel, at the Japan Society, New York, Masayoshi Arai, Director, JETRO New York, Special Advisor, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); The Honorable Zhenmin Liu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations; Elliot Diringer, Vice President, International Strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Takao Shibata, chair of the working group that drafted the Kyoto Protocol, debated the direction of international climate change policy.

It was Moderated by Jim Efstathiou, Correspondent, Bloomberg News, and co-organized by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs


Takao Shibata, who is now a Chancellor Lecturer at the University of Kansas and Japan Consul General in Kansas City,mentioed that Japan is ready to commit to a 2020 reduction of 25% in emissions provided that there is FAIR and EFFECTIVE agreement with a VIGUROUS COMPLIANCE agreement as part of it. He stressed that the problem with Kyoto was that there was no compliance paragraph in the Protocol. All it said was that we postpone decision.

The OBJECTIVE must be: THE STABILIZATION OF CO2 CONCENTRATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE rather then fighting over figures of temperature increase or concentrations in parts per milion numbers. We have already a Framework he said – the Copenhagen process should be about STABILIZATION. Later he added that we must at least agree to a 2050 position.

Mr. Masayoshi Arai, who is in New York since June 2009, with The Japaese External Trade Organization (JETRO), after having held 16 positions within Japan Government, includingthe Prime Minister’s task force that created the Japan Consumer Protection Agency, and with The Fair Trade Commission and Agency for Natural Resouces and Energy and its Research Institute, Supervised manufacturing industries in their CO2 emissions reduction, and has also an MBA from Wharton, probably because of his present government trade position, was rather careful in what he said. He said that we ned something “meaningful”  for global warming  and left the Japanese point of view to Professor Shibata.


Eliot Diringer whose organization, the Washington based Pew Center, is a link between Environmentalism, industry and government made it clear that what is lacking is a legal architecture in place to deal with the problems created by climate change to which now Professor Shibata answered on the spot that the history is such that already in Berlin, later in Kyoto, the US was against a legal concept – that is a clear 15 year old problem. In Kyoto, the US Vice President came to seal the Protocol in full knowledge that it is unratifiable in Washington. Shibata does not want a repeat of this with a US that is in no position to ratify an agreement.

Diringer came back with the suggestion that he can see that Developing countries will accept self prescribed domestic reductions and will request an agreement that makes this possible for them to do so. That means a new FRAMEWORK that is more flexible then the original.


Ambassador Zhenmin Liu, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN in New York since 2006, in charge of China’s participation on the Second Committee at the UN, with prior experience at the UN in Geneva and as Director-General of the Treaty and Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been involved in Climate Change negotiations for China. He was actually the only member of the panel entitled to express a national negotiating position, and he did indeed come through.

Ambassador Liu said that he cannot have now a document to replace Kyoto – this lines him up with what might be a Japanese interest, but clearly is no answer to the problems that were pointed out at why Kyoto was a failure.

But then he also said that you need a GLOBAL CAP for the GHG emissions that must then take into account, when talking about individual nations, their level of industrialization.

A certain raport evolved between him and Washingtonian Diringer.

It was agreed that there is the need for Technology Innovation, Technology Cooperation, and Technology Transfer.

Diringer said that China is very well positioning itself for the green technology economy. People in the US start to understand that the US will lose the competition for future technology and there must be a start for support in US Congress for energy action right now.

These exchanges gave me an opening to ask mty question about what goes on right now – the days that President Obama plans for his trip to Asia with a long stopover in China.

I started my question to ambassador Liu by saying that on the internet there is a lot of talk about a G-2 US-China agreement needed to jump start the Copenhagen negotiations, and I saw visually the Ambassador cringe.  to this idea of a G-2. I continued by asking that what can we expect as an outcome from the meetings in Beijing if there is anything he could tell us as we believe that some concluding material was negotiated prior to the deision for this trip considering tha this is in effect the second meeting between the leaders?

I was honored with a long answer that included several main points.

The first point is that the US has accepted Kyoto and I guess China does not want to renegotiate Kyoto.

Then, China has 20% of the world population the US only 5%, but China has only a fraction of the GDP per capita then the US, so there is no G-2 situation here. That must have been the reason for the cringing – China does not want to lose its place as leader of the underdeveloped nations.

Secondly – this is not a US – China negotiation but a negotiation for all groups.

Thirdly, there is place for clean energy cooperation, bilateral programs and projects – to jointly use clean technology.


Professor Shibata added that we talk of the atmosphere where there are no national boundaries. We talk of sovereign areas only on the surface of the earth – and we must realize that the effects turn up in the air and we have no national control of the air.

Further, he said that in the west when something bad happens, the first thing we do is we sue the polluter – ask him to pay. He continued saying “I would encourage everyone to think about that.”

Mr. Diringer added that the CDM was introduced to harness market forces to get reduction of CO2 emissions at lowes cost.


To summarize – it was nice for Japan to try to host a US-China debate before moves that will inevitably have to bring the US and China closer together. To follow up – let us look at President Obama’s itinerary to get further in depth to what a reorientation of the US towards Asia could mean.

Japan, South Korea, and China are trying to form an East Asia Trilateral grouping with a Free Trade Agreement among the three countries. Obviously, this will open the Chinese market to Japan and Korea and there is no way for the US, with its own effective NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico. Japan wants thus perhaps more then just be a pivot in US – Chiba negotiations, it rather has also to make sure that it can hold on to its own agreements with both main countries. President Obama has thus quite a few non-climate topics to talk about in his Yokyo and Seoul stops.

The second big stop is in Singapore where he will meet the 21 members of APEC: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (part of China), Indonesia, Japan,  Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Thailand, The United States, and Viet Nam. This will be the reintroduction of the US to the Pacific region in general – an area that the locals contend was totally neglected by the US in the eight years of the Bush administration. A main point in this meeting will be to help redirect the participating economies from export to the US to supply to their local populations – this so that they help both areas – their own and the US economy as well.

Will they also consult on whom to back for the job of UN Secretary-General in 2010? That is about the time to start this sort of negotiations, and Singapore seems to be the right place to look for the best viable candidate.

Eventually, the Third leg of the trip – the stops  in China – will have to be the clear main target of the trip – as said here by Ambassador Liu, the business deals in clean energy that can underpin both economies  (US and China) so they become an example for cooperation on climate change that presents direct benefits to economies looking for sustainable growth, that is a match to the needs of the people and the climate as well –  this is what we call Sustainable Development that is mutual – for the newly industrializing nation and for the phasing out of the old polluting industries of the past.


for information from President Obama’s Asian trip we recommend:


Posted on on January 31st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Mapuche artifacts mentioned in the title belong to a private Chilean collection – “Domenyko Cassel” – and the show is called “MOON TEARS – Mapuche Art and Cosmology” – and it includes silverwork and textiles. An owner/curator/director of the collection –   Ms. Jaqueline Domeyko Cassel, herself a Polish-Mapuche Chilean Hybrid – walked us through the exhibit today, and explained the peculiar angles of what we saw.

This posting on is just our first reaction and we intend to add much more material later, including photos we took.

The exhibits can be visited at Americas Society, 680 Park Avenue, New York NY 10065, and it is open Monday to Saturday 10am – 4pm.


The Mapuche (Mäpfuchieu) are the indigenous inhabitants of Central and Southern Chile and Southern Argentina. Actually they lived a bit more to the North, and were push southwards by the Inka. Then came the Spaniards – and the Mapuche called them “Winka” or new Inka. Again the attacks came from the North.

The Mapuche were known as Araucanians (araucanos) by the Spaniards. This is now considered pejorative by the people and the term Mapuche is the one most often used by people in conversation. Mapuche make up today about 6% of the Chilean population, who are particularly concentrated in the Araucania Region.

The Mapuche had an economy based on agriculture; their social organisation consisted of extended families, under the direction of a “lonko” or chief, although in times of war they would unite in larger groupings and elect a toqui (from Mapudungun toki “axe, axe-bearer”) to lead them.

The Mapuche today are a wide-ranging ethnicity composed of various groups which shared a common social, religious and economic structure, as well as a common linguistic heritage. Their influence extended between the Aconcagua River and Chiloé Island and later eastward to the Argentine pampa. The Mapuche (note that Mapuche can refer to the whole group of Picunches (people of the north), Huilliches and Moluche or Nguluche from Araucanía or exclusively to the Moluche or Nguluche from Araucanía) inhabited the valleys between the Itata and Toltén Rivers, as well as the Huilliche (people of the South), the Cuncos. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Mapuches expanded eastward into the Andes and pampas forming with the existing people the Poyas and Pehuenche. At about the same time ethnic groups of the pampa regions, the Puelche, Ranqueles and northern Aonikenk, called Patagons by Ferdinand Magellan, known now as Tehuelche, made contact with Mapuche groups, adopting their language and some culture (in what came to be called the Araucanization).

The Mapuche successfully resisted many attempts by the Inca Empire to subjugate them, despite their lack of state organisation. They fought against the Sapa Inca Tupac Yupanqui and his army. The result of the bloody three-day confrontation known as the Battle of the Maule was that the Inca conquest of the territories of Chile ended at the Maule river.

Then later, Moluche of the area the Spanish called Araucania fought against the Spaniards for over 300 years. Initial conquests of land by Spain in the late 16th century were repelled by the Mapuche, so effectively that there were areas to which Europeans did not return until late in the 19th century.

One of the main geographical boundaries was the Bío-Bío River, which the Mapuche used as a natural barrier to Spanish and Chilean incursion. The 300 years were not uniformly a period of hostility, but often allowed substantial trade and interchange between Mapuche and Spaniards or Chileans. Nevertheless, the long Mapuche resistance has become primarily known as the War of Arauco, and its early phase was immortalized in Alonso de Ercilla’s epic poem La Araucana.

Let us mention right here that The Rio Bio Bio is south of Concepcion, Chile and across the Andes from Neuquen, Argentina. From the movie I learned that the Mapuche tell that in the past there were no boundaries on the land. People moved freely to trade and visit. They could travel by horse in 15 days over the mountains to Argentina.It is the Winca that came from far way and put fences on the land.

From the mid 17th century the Mapuches and the governors of Chile made a series of treaties in order to end the hostilities. By the late eighteenth century many Mapuche loncos had accepted the de jure sovereignty of the Spanish king of their lands while having a de facto independence.

When Chile revolted from the Spanish crown, some Mapuche chiefs sided with the royalists of Vicente Benavides. The aid of the Mapuches were vital to the Spanish since they had lost the control of all cities and ports north of Valdivia. Mapuches valued the treaties done with Spanish authorities, however most regarded the matter with indifference and took advantage of both sides. After Chile’s independence from Spain, the Mapuche coexisted and traded with their neighbours, who prudently remained north of the Bío-Bío River, although clashes occurred frequently.

Chilean population pressures increased on the Mapuche borders, and by the 1880s Chile extended both to the north and to the south of the Mapuche heartlands. Further, Chile in the 1880s, as a result of its preparation for and its victory in the War of the Pacific against Bolivia and Peru, found itself with a large standing army and a relatively modern arsenal for the period. Finally, in the mid- to late-1880s, partially on the pretext of crushing a French adventurer, Orelie-Antoine de Tounens, who had declared himself King of Araucania, Chile overwhelmed the Mapuche in the course of the so-called “pacification of the Araucanía”.

  Vintage engraving of Mapuche.

Using a combination of force and diplomacy, Chile’s government obliged some Mapuche leaders to sign a treaty absorbing the Araucanian territories into Chile. The immediate impact of the war was widespread starvation and disease. It has been claimed that the Mapuche population dropped from a total of half a million to 25,000 within a generation, though the latter figure has been called an exaggeration by several authorities. In the post-conquest period, however, there was internment of a significant percentage of the Mapuche, the wholesale destruction of the Mapuche herding, agricultural and trading economies, the wholesale looting of Mapuche property (real and personal – including a large amount of silver jewelry to replenish the Chilean national coffers), and the creation and institutionalization of a system of reserves called reducciones along lines similar to North American reservation systems. Subsequent generations of Mapuche live in extreme poverty as a direct result of being conquered and expropriated.


Mapuche descendants now live across southern Chile and Argentina; some maintain their traditions and continue living from agriculture, but a growing majority have migrated to cities in search of better economic opportunities. Contrary to popular imagination, the majority of the Mapuche people live in urban areas, especially around Santiago   Chile’s region IX continues to have a rural population made up of approximately 80%; there are also substantial Mapuche populations in regions X, VIII, and VII.

The Ralco Hydroelectric Plant is a hydroelectric power station in Bío-Bío Region, Chile. The plant uses water from the upper Bío-Bío River and produces 690 MW of electricity. The plant was built by ENDESA in 2004 and as a result of its construction Mapuche were uprooted from their valley in the Bio Bio River area. Some of this background found its way into the exhibit via a video clip of about 20 minutes.

In recent years, there has been an attempt by the Chilean government to redress some of the inequities of the past. The Parliament voted, in 1993, Law n ° 19 253 (Indigenous Law, or Ley indígena)   which recognized the Mapuche people, and seven other ethnic minorities as well as the Mapudungun language and culture. In the frame of this law, Mapundungun, which was prohibited before, was included in the curriculum of elementary schools around Temuco. But the Mapuche language is an oral language – real effort would mean the formulation of a phonetic system for nailing the language down in writing. There is rich cultural material that will be totally lost otherwise.

Furthermore, representatives from Mapuche organisations joined the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) seeking recognition and protection for their cultural and land rights.

The Extent Of The Mapuche Lands Today.

Flag of the Mapuche

Land disputes and violent interactions do continue in some Mapuche areas, particularly in the northern sections of the IX region between and around Traiguén and Lumaco – where a history of conflict continues into the present. In an effort to defuse tensions, a special government body, the Commission for Historical Truth and New Treatment, issued a report in 2003 calling for drastic changes in Chile’s treatment of its indigenous people, more than 80 percent of whom are Mapuche. The recommendations included the formal recognition of political and “territorial” rights for aboriginal peoples, as well as efforts to promote their cultural identity.

Though Japanese and Swiss interests are active in the region that Chileans call “Araucanía” and the Mapuche call “Ngulu Mapu”, both of the main forestry companies are Chilean-owned. On land the Mapuche claim is theirs, the firms have planted hundreds of thousands of acres with Monterey pine and eucalyptus trees, species that are not native to the region and that consume large amounts of water and fertilizer.

Chilean exports of wood to the United States, almost all of which come from this southern region, are about $600 million a year and rising. Though an international campaign led by the conservation group Forest Ethics resulted in the Home Depot chain and other leading wood importers agreeing to revise their purchasing policies, to “provide for the protection of native forests in Chile,” some Mapuche leaders were not satisfied.

In recent years, Mapuche activists have been prosecuted under counter-terrorism legislation originally introduced by the military dictatorship, under Pinochet. The law allows prosecutors to withhold evidence from the defense for up to six months, and to conceal the identity of witnesses, who may give evidence in court behind screens. There are several violent activist groups, which utilize various tactics, including the destruction of private property, including, but not limited to, the burning of structures and pastures. Protesters from Mapuche communities have engaged in these tactics against multinational forestry corporations and private individuals, all of which possess and occupy territories originally owned by Mapuche communities.


There were 604,349 Mapuche according to the census of 2002, making up approximately 4% of the Chilean population, while an estimated 300,000 living in Argentina. Due to the loss of their lands, many Mapuche now live in impoverished conditions in large cities such as Santiago. Mapuche resistance continues, especially against the large forestry companies exploiting traditional lands. Pinochet-era anti-terrorism laws have frequently been used in recent years against certain community leaders and Mapuche political activists.

At the time of the arrival of Europeans, the Mapuche were capable of sufficiently organizing themselves to create a network of forts and complex defensive buildings but also ceremonial constructions such as some mounds recently discovered near Purén. They quickly adopted iron metal-working (they already worked copper, and horseback-riding and the use of cavalry in war from the Spaniards, along with the cultivation of wheat and sheep. In the long 300-year coexistence between the Spanish colonies and the relatively well-delineated autonomous Mapuche regions, the Mapuche also developed a strong tradition of trading with the Spanish/Chileans. It is this which lies at the heart of the Mapuche silver-working tradition, for it was from the large and widely-dispersed quantity of Spanish and Chilean silver coins that the Mapuche wrought their elaborate jewelry, head bands, etc.

Mapuche languages are spoken in Chile and to a smaller extent in Argentina. They have two branches: Huilliche and Mapudungun. Although not related, there is some discernible lexical influence from Quechua. It is estimated that only about 200,000 full-fluency speakers remain in Chile, and the language still receives only token support in the educational system. In recent years it has started to be taught in rural schools of Bio-Bio, Araucanía and Los Lagos Regions.

Cultural tidbits:

Machi is the Shaman

Gnecha is the primary deity

Pillan are the major deities

The Earth is Mapu

The Upprer World is Wenu Mapu

To the Maouche space is a conjunction between their cold version of the visible, living world and the earth’s surface (Mapu or Nag Mapu) and the ideologically construed invisible upper world of “Cosmological” surface or plane (Wenu Mapu and Minche Mapu) where good and evil and all the deities reside. The planes are drawn on a Mach’s drum that is shown in the exhibit.

The “reve” poll is a totem poll with steps – the one shown in the exhibit belongs to the Smithonian Institution – so the Machi can climb up to the Wenu Mapu.

The exhibit also shows a wooden “Machi Stick Horse” that is used to chase away the evil spirits.

ADMAPU = the laws formed by the ancient customs and norms so that the Mapuche know the proper way to behave and act as members of their society.

The following is the first artifact that Ms. Domeyko bought for the collection – a silver made couple of Mapuche man and woman. Silver was the metal of choice. The Mapuche thought gold was of lower value. The silver color is the color of the Moon Tears – so the art work is in silver.



Posted on on January 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (


World Social Forum: SOS from the Amazon
Mario Osava

BELEM, Brazil, Jan 27 (IPS) – A human banner made up of more than 1,000 people, seen and photographed from the air, sent the message “SOS Amazon” to the world, in the first action taken by indigenous people hours before the opening in northern Brazil on Tuesday of the 2009 World Social Forum (WSF). The mass message reflects “our concern about global warming, whose impact we will be the first to feel, although we, the peoples of the Amazon, have protected and cared for the forests,” Francisco Avelino Batista, an Apurinan Indian from the Purus river valley in the Brazilian Amazon, told IPS.

“We are raising our voices as a wake-up call to the world, especially the rich countries that are hastening its destruction,” said Edmundo Omore, a member of the Xavante indigenous community from the west-central state of Mato Grosso on the border between the Amazon region and the Cerrado, a vast savannah region in the centre of the country. Both men belong to the Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organisations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), which joined the Quito-based Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) to create their “message from the heart of the Amazon.”

Nearly 1,300 indigenous people from about 50 countries, although mainly from Brazil, plan to raise the issues of their rights as original peoples and environmental preservation at this year’s edition of the WSF, which runs through Sunday in Belém, a city of 1.4 million people and the northeastern gateway to the Amazon.

Indigenous people have participated in the WSF in previous years, but this time a much larger presence was sought. The aim was for 2,000 to take part, but transport costs and financial difficulties prevented many participants from coming from other countries and from remote areas within Brazil itself.

In addition to indigenous groups, original peoples at the WSF include Quilombolas (members of communities of Afro-Brazilian descendants of escaped slaves) and other native peoples.

The key location chosen for the WSF, and the various global crises that are occurring, have created “a special moment” for original peoples to take a leading role, according to Roberto Espinoza, an adviser to the Andean Coordination of Indigenous Organisations (CAOI).

“A crisis of civilisation” is under way, said Espinoza, who described the serious economic, energy and food problems, as well as climate change, as part of the same phenomenon.

In this situation, indigenous people should have political participation as of right, not “as folklore or as a merely cultural contribution,” Espinoza, one of the coordinators of the indigenous peoples’ presence at the WSF, told IPS.

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, approved by the United Nations General Assembly, is of paramount importance here, he said. It should not be seen as a “utopian” document; rather, its provisions should be binding, like those of the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples.

Espinoza said he hoped this WSF would produce an agreement for global demonstrations similar to those held in 2003 against the United States’ invasion of Iraq.

This time around, the goal would be to mobilise “in defence of Mother Earth and against the commercialisation of life,” added to specific causes championed by each nation, such as the fight against hydroelectric power stations in Brazil that flood vast areas of Amazon rainforest and displace riverbank dwellers, he said.

The voices of indigenous people are bound to have a greater impact on environmental matters when “the risk of catastrophic climate change in the near future and disputes over natural resources are threatening the survival not only of indigenous peoples, but of humanity itself,” Espinoza said.
belonging to the Tukano ethnic group.

Indigenous and environmental issues will be even more visible on Wednesday, which is to be dedicated entirely to the Amazon region in an attempt to revitalise the PanAmazon Social Forum, inactive since 2005.

Launching a campaign led by the peoples of the Amazon, who “want a society that values them and understands the value that the land has for them,” is a proposal for discussion at the WSF, according to Miquelina Machado, a COIAB leader belonging to the Tukano ethnic group.

This is necessary for “a greater balance with nature,” at a time when Brazil’s plans for economic growth and the physical integration of South America are fuelling projects which have “strong negative impacts on the Amazon and Andean regions,” she told IPS.

“The hydroelectric dams flood the land and destroy biodiversity,” she said, while lamenting the fact that attempts to block the building of highways, that cause immense deforestation, have been frustrated in the courts, “which have more power.”

The presence at the WSF of presidents of Amazon region countries like Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, as well as Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, should increase the impact of the event, hopefully benefiting the peoples of the Amazon, Machado concluded.

Indigenous peoples’ voices should be heard, because “we are the ones who were born and raised in the middle of the forest, and who lead a lifestyle that contrasts with the ambition of capitalism, which does not bring benefits to all,” said Omoré.

Furthermore, “we are the first to suffer the effects” of climate change. Rich people can cool themselves down with air conditioners and buy food in supermarkets, but “we depend on the fish in the river and the animals in the forest, so we are concerned about the future that belongs to everyone,” added Batista.


Posted on on October 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Eyes Wide Open.

By Mario Osava from Brazil, October 29, 2008.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 28 (IPS) – The reaction by South America’s Mercosur trade bloc to the current global financial crisis is limited for the time being to observing “possible impacts” on stock markets, production and unemployment, and “maintaining fluid and agile communications” regarding any measures taken by each member country. The bloc convened its Common Market Council — composed of the members’ ministers of economy and foreign affairs and their central bank presidents — Monday in the Brazilian capital, to discuss the crisis and how they could act to mitigate its effects. Mercosur (Common Southern Market), South America’s biggest trade bloc, is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Venezuela in the process of becoming the fifth full member. The proposals presented at the Seventh Extraordinary Meeting of the Council will be considered, along with future recommendations, at a new meeting scheduled for Dec. 15, on the eve of the Latin American and Caribbean Summit organised by Brazil for Dec. 16-17 in Salvador, capital of the northeast state of Bahi a.

Brazil suggested calling a ministerial meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which this country’s diplomats are seeking to strengthen, while Venezuela, for its part, proposed a world summit of heads of state and government, according to the joint press release issued by the Common Market Council.

Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley was in favour of the Group of Eight (G8) most powerful economies increasing the capital of multilateral development and financial institutions, in particular the Inter-American Development Bank, to provide assistance to Latin America.

With the presence of representatives from the bloc’s full and associate members, in addition to observers from Guyana and Suriname, the meeting included delegates from all of South America.

The consensus expressed in the final statement underlines “the need for an in-depth and comprehensive reform of international financial structures” and “establishing more prudent regulations for capital markets.” The Council also called for a “balanced” conclusion of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Doha Round of multilateral trade talks, which was suspended indefinitely in July after failing to reconcile differences between negotiators, in particular, India and the United States.

The Mercosur statement admits that today South America is “better prepared than in the past” to face a financial crisis, thanks to its “sound macroeconomic fundamentals.” Strengthening integration, expanding trade and enhancing financial cooperation in the region could prove “crucial” to “preserve and further the economic and social gains made in recent years,” it adds.

“Fortifying our integration will lessen the impact of the crisis” by maintaining trade and capital flows, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said at a press conference after the meeting.

Foxley rejected “protectionist policies” as a way to respond to the crisis, arguing that they would only exacerbate social problems.

Brazilian Senator Aloísio Mercadante, an economist with the governing Workers’ Party (PT), warned against protectionist temptations, arguing that individual solutions are no solution at all.

The statements by the Brazilian and Chilean authorities were aimed at the Argentine government, which tends to respond with tariffs, as it has on several opportunities in the last few years, to defend its market from being flooded by imported goods. One of the proposals put forward by Buenos Aires was an increase in the Mercosur Common External Tariff.

The steep depreciation of the Brazilian real, which has fallen more than 30 percent against the dollar since August, heightened Argentina’s fear that the imbalance in bilateral trade will worsen.

From January to August, Brazil had a 3.6 billion dollar surplus in its trade with Argentina, a 40 percent increase as compared to the same period of 2007, despite the growing overvaluation of Brazil’s local currency, a trend that has been reversed since August.

Mercosur “should adopt common decisions,” but if is unable to, it should at least establish “guidelines” of some sort for the measures implemented by each country to counter the effects of the financial crisis that originated in the United States, Tullo Vigévani, director of the School of Philosophy and Sciences at the Sao Paulo State University, told IPS.

Recalling the “acute crisis” suffered by Mercosur back in 1999, when the Brazilian currency fell sharply and the integration process reached its weakest point, he pointed out that the “bloc did not lose its viability.”

Today the situation is more severe, with the Mercosur integration process largely stagnant, but the member countries now understand that integration is key to achieving individual development and “they must also realise that preventing the weakening of each and every member is in everyone’s interest,” said Vigévani.

The international affairs expert, who closely follows the Latin American integration process, noted that an agreement signed by Mercosur in 2005 stipulates the principle of balanced commercial relations between members of the bloc.

The present crisis and the depreciation of the real could turn out to be an opportunity to set limits for trade imbalances, such as a “band” of tolerance and countervailing measures in favour of the country suffering the deficit, he said.

The greatest obstacle to such a strategy is that an economic slowdown in Brazil, expected to set in next year as a result of the global financial turmoil, will have a brutal effect on neighbouring countries with much smaller economies, while the South American giant will barely feel any repercussions from their troubles, he observed.


Posted on on September 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

 The original September 15th posting:

Bolivia crisis summit for Latin American leaders:
Deadly violence over nationalisation campaign of Evo Morales brings intervention led by Chile and Brazil., Monday September 15 2008

Latin American leaders are to gather in Chile today in an attempt to end a political crisis in Bolivia that has seen more than a dozen people killed.

Violent clashes between supporters of Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, and his opponents have led to concern among neighbouring countries. Chile’s president, Michelle Bachelet, who is the temporary president of the 12-member Union of South American Nations, called the emergency summit late last week.

The scale of the protests against Morales’s plans to rewrite Bolivia’s constitution and redirect gas revenues has forced the president to declare a state of siege in some opposition-led provinces. Bachelet said: “We can’t remain impassive in the face of a situation that worries us all.”


The violence began two weeks ago. The government says at least 30 people have died in protests in the eastern province of Pando, while local officials put the number at 15.

All the presidents of the continent’s major nations are expected to travel to the summit in Chile today except for Alan García, the president of Peru. He is understood to be sending his foreign minister and has issued a statement supporting the elected Morales government.

Also attending the meeting will be José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the Organisation of American States.

The Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, could prove the key mediator. Brazil imports half its natural gas from Bolivia. Lula warned last week that the summit could only be effective if proposals from both the Bolivian government and the opposition were represented.

“If the two sides haven’t asked us to meet and we make a decision that neither side will respect, the meeting will end up being useless,” Lula said.

Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, a close Morales ally, hailed the gathering as an “extraordinary summit”. “Fascism must be stopped in Bolivia. A tragedy must be avoided,” he said.

Chávez has backed Morales in accusing the US of supporting the anti-government protests in Bolivia. Both presidents expelled US ambassadors last week. Washington responded in kind while calling the allegations baseless.

Several other Latin American presidents have defended Morales in the diplomatic spat with America. In a statement published on Sunday in Cuba’s communist youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde, Raúl Castro accused Washington of meddling in Bolivia’s internal affairs.




At least 28 have died in violence. Evo Morales’ government and the opposition accuse each other of arming paramilitaries.
By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 15, 2008

SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA — The death toll in last week’s violence in a remote northern province rose to more than two dozen, Bolivia’s government said Sunday, as it held frantic talks with opponents to avert further bloodshed.

Sporadic clashes were reported Sunday on roads outside this eastern city, center of opposition to President Evo Morales. Many Bolivians expressed fears that a tense situation could spin out of control if a deal was not reached.

Venezuela expels U.S. ambassador
Bolivia crisis sparks concern.
Bolivia orders U.S. ambassador expelled.
Each side has accused the other of arming illegal paramilitary groups.


“Better that we take action now, before we have 100 or 1,000 dead,” said Gov. Mario Cossio of Tarija province, designated negotiator for the states opposed to Morales.

There was no immediate word on the outcome of the talks in La Paz, the capital.

Rifts have been widening for two years, with intermittent outbursts of violence, but so far Bolivia has avoided falling into full-fledged civil conflict. However, many analysts call the current crisis the nation’s most perilous point in decades.

“Political, civic and union leaders must know that whatever happens from now on — whether this country becomes a peaceful and harmonious society or a battleground — will be because of their work,” the daily La Razon editorialized Sunday.

The government and the opposition called Sunday for an independent investigation into Thursday’s killings in Pando, a sparsely populated province along the Amazonian frontiers with Brazil and Peru.

In La Paz, Interior Minister Alfredo Rada said 10 more bodies had been found. That would bring the death toll to at least 26 in Thursday’s confrontation. Two more deaths were reported Friday in Pando, when the army retook control of the airport in Cobija, the provincial capital. The army is now patrolling the province, which is under martial law.

Rada labeled Thursday’s killings near the town of Porvenir a genocide organized by Pando Gov. Leopoldo Fernandez, an opponent of Morales.

The government has accused the governor and his allies of importing sicarios, or hired killers, from Peru and Brazil to shoot down defenseless peasants allied with the president. Fernandez has denied provoking the violence and blamed the central government for the clash.

On Saturday, Morales called the killings a massacre and told a crowd in the central city of Cochabamba that a “fascist, racist coup” was being mounted.

The conservative leaders of five of Bolivia’s nine provinces are aligned against Morales and his socialist program of nationalizations, land reform and stiff resistance to what he calls U.S. imperialism.


Critics call Morales a communist tyrant who seeks dictatorial powers. Morales, who won 67% of the vote in a recall election last month, says his policies have benefited the needy masses in South America’s poorest nation.

Foes of Morales are seeking greater autonomy for their provinces and a bigger share of revenue from gas and oil fields, which are concentrated in the dissident regions. Morales says his rivals want to take away funds that aid the poor and put the cash into plans to break away from Bolivia. The opposition denies separatist or violent motivations.

“We want peace, but with dignity,” said Ruben Costas, the governor of Santa Cruz province and a central opposition figure.

The president has frequently accused Washington of collaborating with his enemies and last week expelled U.S. Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg for allegedly fomenting rebellion. In his farewell address Sunday, Greenberg called Morales’ charges against him “false and unjustified,” and said his expulsion would have “serious effects in many forms.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a close Morales ally, tossed out the U.S. envoy in Caracas, saying he acted in solidarity with the Bolivian president. Washington responded by expelling both the Venezuelan and Bolivian ambassadors.

The Bolivian armed forces chief, Gen. Luis Trigo, has rejected Chavez’s offer to send in help should Morales be ousted.

The deteriorating scenario has alarmed Latin American leaders, who have expressed support for Morales. Several nations, including neighboring Brazil and Argentina, have offered to help mediate, but Morales has not agreed.

Today, South American leaders are to gather in Chile for an emergency session aimed at preventing Bolivia’s slide into civil war. Morales reportedly planned to travel to Santiago. The Bolivian opposition has also asked to attend.

The crisis has strong ethnic and regional roots.

Morales, Bolivia’s first Indian president, enjoys massive support among indigenous peasants from the western highlands, where La Paz is situated. Morales has charged that white and mixed-race “oligarchs” in Bolivia’s lowland provinces are out to get him.

“Their plan is to topple the Indian,” Morales told the crowd in Cochabamba this weekend. “They may topple the Indian, but they won’t topple the Bolivian people.”



A Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) Press Release – September 16th

Bolivia: A Profound Breakdown of Communication with Latin America.
•       Upwards of Thirty Dead in Bolivia
•       The Unforgivable has Again Happened, The Taking of Innocent Life
•       Was the Expulsion of the U.S. Ambassador Inevitable?
•       The import of UNASUR’s Strong but Dignified Role

With UNASUR having just met in Santiago, Chile to discuss the escalating crisis in Bolivia, the stage is set for a huge surge of autonomy for Latin America, owing to a series of newly auto-generated, self-managed and extensive regional initiatives.

In an extraordinary shift from a decades-long hegemonic status-quo during which Washington exercised de facto hemispheric supremacy, the U.S. role has dramatically diminished, at times becoming almost irrelevant.

In fact, even though U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Thomas Shannon, is a relatively enlightened figure who at times has stressed a rational dialogue between Venezuela, Bolivia, and Washington, U.S. attention toward the region, when at all focused, has been willful, narrow-minded, and self-absorbed.

Once installed in office, the Bush administration found itself distracted from Latin American issues by the Iraq war, giving the region the required space to develop its own consensus on regional developments, regardless of Washington’s ululations. This has heightened the ability of hemispheric leaders to halt or reverse some of the most imprudent U.S. policies that had gained ascendancy starting in the Clinton administration, and which then blossomed under Bush. Nevertheless, despite all signs to the contrary, the Bush administration continues to act as if its fiat still is supreme in Latin America, when, in fact, it has rapidly shrunk. An example of this is the revival of the Fourth Fleet as a Washington policy riposte, and with it the pretense of gunboat diplomacy on the ready, after a half-a-century of the fleet being dismasted, and the use of the “terrorism” factor to reassert an authority that is no longer exercisable.

Washington cannot continue to conduct itself as if it had a backyard in which Latin America could be firmly found. The U.S. has been absent from the region for far too long to attempt to roll back the tide of anti-private capital, anti-U.S. sentiment that has swept over much of the region. In its stead, the region yearns for a “third way” and for change. In fact, during this period of unilateral neglect, due to Iraq, the hemispheres started going its own way, coming up with new formulas in its quest to diversify relationships, pluralize its world trade contracts and engage in constructive relations across the board, including forming ties to what Washington, at the time, sees as “rogue” nations. During this period of transition, more left-leaning presidents were being elected president than ever before in the Americas’ history, a raft of regional organizations (which did not include the U.S. as a member) were formed, the region suddenly saw a remarkable rise in its importance on the world stage as its metal and agricultural commodities increased in relevancy and value during the current fuel and food crisis, and new links emerged between Latin America and India, China, Russia, and the EU.


The Breakdown of Bilateral Relations:

The latest U.S. flare-up with Bolivia most likely could have been avoided by a non-pro forma U.S. statement categorically declaring that this country would neither recognize nor have any form of relationship with the Santa Cruz-led breakaway departments in the Europerized, somewhat white and wealthy eastern sector of the country, just as Brazil and the other Latin American nations saw fit to do.

Instead, for a number of months U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg assumed the role of quarterback at meetings with the opposition, discussing strategies with his team.

He did this even though the opposition figures had clearly called for extra-constitutional actions against democratically-elected Evo Morales, even his ouster, and in spite of the fact that his widespread support was affirmed in July’s recall elections. (For more information, see COHA Research Associates Chris Sweeney and Jessica Bryant’s article, “Bolivia in Crisis”).

Washington claims that Goldberg’s meetings with the opposition were protocolic and conducted during routine visits to the secessionist regions.

It also insisted that he categorically denies La Paz’s accusations of his signaling support behind the opposition, let alone any involvement in secret plots against the central government. Yet, complicating matters in the Andean country is the fact that any number of U.S. ambassadors throughout Latin America –particularly dating back to the inauguration of the present U.S. administration– have a lengthy record of intervention in the domestic affairs of the countries to which they have been accredited. It is no secret that the State Department has had a long history of inappropriate and often covert intervention in Latin American internal affairs, often making use of a Reagan-era institutional facility known as the National Endowment for Democracy. Goldberg’s predecessors, Manuel Rocha and David Greenlee, persistently inserted themselves into Bolivian domestic issues. This scenario often involved U.S. ambassadors on station elsewhere in the region, where they openly threatening the end of remittances, trade benefits, or U.S. development assistance to a given country, if a leftist regime was elected to office –El Salvador and Nicaragua would be some examples of these. They also have pressured conservative political parties in such countries as Bolivia, El Salvador and Nicaragua to unite behind one candidate in order not to split the vote, allowing the otherwise weaker leftist candidate to ship into office.

Ultimately, a historical memory was invoked of humiliation, plunder and such transgressions as the Chaco war and a spate of U.S.-backed military Juntas under which the largely aboriginal majority of Bolivians have suffered as a result of self-serving past U.S. policies. Such acts of arrogance and intolerance that Washington recurrently has visited upon the region, served to incite the unbridled passions of a man with the Brobdingnagian temper of Hugo Chávez and even the more self-disciplined Evo Morales.


Washington Diplomacy or Lack of it:
In Washington’s eye, there always has been a distinction to be made between Evo Morales and his Venezuelan counterpart. While they are very different in temperament and style, the two share some major similarities, one of them being a sense of loyalty and solidarity with one another. What has made them into slippery fish for the Bush administration to handle is that no matter how garish may be their personal stylistic flaws, neither Chávez or Morales can in any manner be condemned for any democratic lapses, lack of human rights observance, nor mistreatment nor abuse of their citizens. You may consider them confrontational non-conformists, or condemn them for their non-adherence to traditional codes of diplomatic behavior, but you cannot cite them for being antipathetic in their behavior towards their own people. Surely there was enough here of democratic substance with which the U.S. could do business.

It is clear that the U.S. remains largely oblivious to the multifaceted developments that are taking place in an increasingly self-confident Latin America. Washington would do well to introduce a sense of perspective on Iraq and terrorism, and turn its attention once again to its vital national interests in this hemisphere. These issues go far beyond drugs, terrorism and security concerns. If the U.S. is to play a constructive role there, it must architect a new relationship with the region that can be deemed credible and taken to heart. Its investment must be more than just a Parthian shot aimed at a token act of respect for their sovereignty and must display an earnest concern for the area’s well-being.


UNASUR’s Debuting Role:
If such a re-positioning does not happen soon, it may well be too late for Washington to develop cooperative and mutually beneficial policies. Latin American-led trade agreements such as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) could appear more sensitive and better adapted to regional well-being than any U.S.-crafted free trade agreement with nations that are too weak, like Costa Rica and Panama, to defend their authentic self-interests against subsidized U.S. farm products. Also, the fledgling Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) joins the Organization of American States as a multilateral, democratic body capable of facilitating regional integration and conflict resolution. The difference is, of course, that the former does not include the U.S. as a member. It is this stunning difference that ultimately could lead to the supplanting of the OAS by UNASUR a development that would be sure to lead to the return of Cuba to a major regional body. At its September 15 emergency meeting on the Bolivia crisis in Santiago demonstrates, the leaders of this multilateral organization are capable of engaging in constructive and balanced dialogue that is certain to profoundly affect the separatists. Refusing to fall prey to the mudslinging in which U.S. diplomacy frequently engages, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa dismissed probing by the press into the possibility of covert U.S. intervention in Bolivia, a charge that Correa himself was not making in other contexts, and he reiterated the support of member states to the restoration of order and preservation of unity in Bolivia.


Washington and the Bolivian Blow Up:

The near breakdown of relations between Washington and La Paz in the midst of the Bolivia crisis, perfectly exemplifies the disastrous consequences of the inherent intolerance and disrespect that the U.S. has long exhibited towards the region. Despite La Paz and Washington’s ideological differences, Assistant Secretary Shannon, while being a very significant improvement over his two most recent predecessors, Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, might have used this opportunity to more clearly indicate a U.S. commitment to the spirit as well as the letter of democratically-elected governance in the region, and that any form of separatism would be condemn. More vigorous support of Morales and the central government in the face of the reckless and greedy same plan of the pro-autonomy leaders in Bolivia might have provided a compelling reason for the secessionists to preserve order and avoid the violence which, tragically, has already claimed upwards of thirty lives.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Director Larry Birns and COHA Research Associate Raylsiyaly Rivero
September 16th, 2008


COHA Forthcoming Research

Puerto Rico: Another Lone Star?
By COHA Senior Research Fellow Juan Carlos Toledano

Venezuela’s Military in the Hugo Chávez Era
By COHA Research Fellow Alex Sánchez and COHA Research Associate Raylsiyaly Rivero

A Closer Look at the Violence in Bolivia
By COHA Research Associate Mary Tharin

Raul Castro and the Recent Reforms in Cuba
By COHA Research Associate Melissa Penn

Venezuela: Internal Opposition to Chávez
By COHA Research Associate Ruth Rivero
For full article click here

This analysis was prepared by COHA

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Press release 08.96

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.” For more information, please see our web page at; or contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 223-4975, fax (202) 223-4979, or email  coha at


Posted on on September 11th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Thirty-five Years Ago, Latin America Experienced Its Own September 11.

by: Teo Ballve, Colombian Writer, The Progressive, September 9, 2008.

In 1970, Salvador Allende became the democratically elected president of Chile. On Sept. 11, 1973, the Chilean military, supported by Washington, overthrew Allende and in his place a US-financed 17-year regime of terror took over. Latin America, which experienced its own September 11 thirty-five years ago, is no longer under Washington’s thumb.

On Sept. 11, 1973, the Chilean military, supported by Washington, overthrew the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende. It was a day that was burned in the memories of millions of people across the continent.

Allende had come to power in 1970 as a democratic socialist, and his victory raised hopes among Latin Americans that peaceful social change was possible.

But three years later, when military tanks and fighter jets blasted the presidential palace where Allende had taken refuge, those hopes were dashed. Allende took his own life during the attack, and in his place a U.S.-financed 17-year regime of terror took over. The junta, led by Augusto Pinochet, murdered more than 3,000 people and tortured and detained thousands more.

Now, 35 years after Allende’s overthrow, a lot has changed in Latin America. For starters, Chile’s current president (Michelle Bachelet) is not only a woman, but also a member of Allende’s Socialist Party.

And Washington, once the unofficial arbiter of the politics and economies of Latin America, has been sidelined, as progressive reformers have claimed victory in an ever-growing number of countries.


The political waters began turning in 1999 in Venezuela. The country’s leftist president, Hugo Chavez, came from the most unlikely of sources: the military.

Today, left-leaning leaders control almost every country of South America. These leaders are by no means a uniform bunch. But they all share the popular mandate of addressing the needs of the most disadvantaged citizens of Latin America, where nearly half the population of 550 million lives in grinding poverty.

Fulfilling campaign promises, many of these leaders have defied Washington’s economic and political strictures – first introduced in post-Sept. 11 Chile – in trying to lift millions out of poverty.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa have moved to take a larger share of profits from their nations’ vast oil and gas reserves to reinvest the money in anti-poverty programs.

Morales also plans to use windfall gas profits in Bolivia – the poorest country in South America – to strengthen its faltering social security system.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former union organizer, has similar plans for the profits expected from newly discovered massive oil reserves.


When Allende made similar reforms in Chile, President Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger famously sneered, “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.” The Nixon administration’s next move was to cut off all multilateral and bilateral foreign aid to Chile, fulfilling Nixon’s order to “make the economy scream.”

Despite persistent U.S. meddling, it’s hard to see how Washington could once again so recklessly block the desperately needed reforms now sweeping Latin America. When it has recently tried to impose its will, Latin American governments have fended off Washington by banding together.

The region’s new leaders finally are implementing policies that make real improvements in people’s lives. Allende tried to do so, but he was not allowed to see them through to fruition.

From his tragedy, new hope has arisen.


Teo Ballve is a freelance journalist and editor based in Colombia. He can be reached at  pmproj at


Posted on on September 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Arctic Oil and Gas Rush Alarms Scientists.

Stephen Leahy, IPS, from UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 8, 2008, (brought to our attention by Roberto Savio).

As greenhouse gas pollution destroys Arctic ecosystems, countries like Canada are spending millions not to halt the destruction but to exploit it.

Late last August, Canada announced a 93.7-million-dollar prospecting programme to map the energy and mineral resources of the region. There are “countless other precious resources buried under the sea ice and tundra,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during the announcement. The government’s mapping effort is expected to trigger 469 million dollars in private sector resource exploration and development.

“It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas lies under the Arctic,” Harper said.

This scramble to exploit some of the most environmentally delicate regions of Earth has alarmed international experts who are meeting this week in Iceland to make recommendations to the United Nations and world governments on how to protect the polar regions.

“Many experts believe this new rush to the polar regions is not manageable within existing international law,” says A.H. Zakri, director of the United Nations University’s Yokohama-based Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), co-organisers of the conference with Iceland’s University of Akureyri.


“Pressure on Earth’s unique and highly vulnerable polar areas is mounting quickly and an internationally-agreed set of rules built on new realities appears needed to many observers,” Zakri said in a statement.

In Iceland, leading scholars will detail fast-emerging issues in international law and policy in the polar regions caused by such developments as the opening up of the Northwest Passage. They will identify priorities for law-making and research and offer their best advice to governments about what they should be doing now and in the future, said conference chair David Leary of UNU-IAS.

“Climate change is the number one issue for the polar regions. Iceland experienced its hottest day in history this summer,” Leary told IPS from Akureyri in northern Iceland. “I expect some strong recommendations on climate change to come from this meeting.”


As climate change opens the Arctic Ocean to shipping, fishing, and other resource exploitation, pollution will pose another major threat to the region, he said.

“Arctic sea routes are among the world’s most hazardous due to lack of natural light, extreme cold, moving ice floes, high wind and low visibility,” said Tatiana Saksina of the World Wildlife Fund’s International Arctic Programme.

The Arctic marine environment is particularly susceptible to the effects of pollution and cleaning up oil spills would be extremely difficult if not impossible. “Yet there are no internationally binding rules to regulate operational pollution from offshore installations,” Saksina said in a statement. “Strict standards for the transportation of Arctic oil are also urgently needed.”

Saksina also noted that overfishing, often illegal and unreported, is already occurring in the Okhotsk and Bering Seas.

Ships also bring foreign species in their ballast waters. These “invaders” can push native species into extinction and fundamentally alter aquatic ecosystems, and have done so in many parts of the world. Arctic waters are particularly vulnerable and therefore very strict standards for ballast water exchange will be needed, said Leary.

Internationally-binding standards for construction, design, equipment and manning of ships are needed since many tourist ships plying the Arctic and Antarctic are not ice ships, he says. Tourism is driving up the number of ships visiting both poles — the once-remote Antarctic region now sees more than 40,000 tourists every year.

“Accidents are going to happen. How will an oil spill be cleaned up? Who will rescue crew and passengers?” asked Leary.


Last November, a tourist ship carrying more than 150 people capsized off the tip of Antarctica after hitting some ice. Fortunately, other ships were close by and everyone was rescued. There was no oil spill. However, not all accidents will be so fortunate, he said.

“There is an urgent need for a comprehensive international environmental regime specially tailored for the unique arctic conditions,” noted the WWF’s Saksina.

The urgency stems from the reality that the ice in the Arctic is melting quickly, leaving the region without a solid-ice cover in summer starting just five years from now, according to some estimates. Without international environmental rules, unplanned and unregulated development is likely to damage the very resources most necessary for a sustainable future in the Arctic, she said.

“There is no time to waste and no reason to wait,” Saksina concluded.


Posted on on July 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

 We feel the more countries get involved, the less possibility for a single country grab of the resources will be possible. According to the UN approved “The Law Of The Sea” – those resources belong to all humanity and are extraterritorial to country sovereignty. Multiplicity of contenders may thus pose the needed opposition to one country grab onto these resources, and avoidance of rules of the jungle.

BEIJING, Reuters, July 28, 2008 – China plans to install its first long-term deep-sea subsurface mooring system in the Arctic Ocean, to monitor long-term marine changes, the Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.

The system will collect data on the temperature, salinity and speed of currents at various depths around 75 degrees north in the Chukchi Sea, where Atlantic and Pacific currents converge above the Bering Strait. That will allow studies of the impact on China’s climate of changes in the Arctic, Xinhua said.
A trap will catch marine life for scientific research, it said, citing Chen Hong Xia, a member of the 122-member expedition team aboard the Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, an ice-breaker which set off from Shanghai this month.

The mooring system will be retrieved in 2009.

China is increasing scientific research at both poles at a time when global warming and high resources prices are raising international interest in Arctic and Antarctic territories.

It deployed a 40-day mooring system in the Bering Sea in 2003, and is building a new station at Dome A, the highest point of Antarctica, to study ice cores.

A Russian submersible planted a flag on the seabed of the North Pole last August, setting off a race among northern nations to increase their presence in the polar regions.


Posted on on June 25th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Cooperative Spirit Emerges at Whaling Commission Meeting.

SANTIAGO, Chile, June 24, 2008 (ENS) – With whaling nations and their allies on one side and pro-conservation nations on the other, annual meetings of the International Whaling Commission have been increasingly gridlocked and acrimonious. But today at the 60th annual IWC meeting in Santiago there was a breakthrough. The 81 member governments agreed on a new way of dealing with the issues that separate them. After intensive discussions among officials during the last week, including a closed door commissioners’ meeting on Sunday all nations seem prepared to make the new approach work.

First, the IWC has agreed to change the rules of engagement under which meetings operate, in the hope of developing an atmosphere more conducive to change.

The establishment of a small working group, which is the second development, will allow substantive issues that have persisted in dividing the Commission to be addressed. The group will attempt to resolve 33 significant issues.

“This a major step forward – for the first time in 20 years we have agreed to a concrete process to talk about the substantive issues that divide us,” said New Zealand Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick in Santiago.

The crux of the problem is that commercial whaling has been prohibited throughout the world’s oceans for the last 20 years, but in reality it has continued under the guise of scientific whaling by Japan.

“Members of the Commission have always known what these issues are, but until now have never agreed to sit down together and try to find a way out of the impasse,” Chadwick said.

“My meeting yesterday with Peter Garrett, the Australian Minister for the Environment, reconfirmed both countries’ determination to find a way to end scientific whaling,” said Chadwick. “New Zealand and Australia share very similar views on whale conservation and we will continue to work closely at the IWC to ensure a constructive meeting that maximizes the protection of whales.”
The IWC meeting is chaired by Dr. William Hogarth, formerly head of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, who now chairs the IWC.

The meeting opened Monday with speeches of welcome by Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs Alejandro Foxley and Chilean Minister for the Environment Ana Lya Uriarte.

Outside the meeting, Uriarte and more than a thousand Chileans formed a human whale sculpture, calling for the protection of whales.

Today, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and ministers from Chile, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Costa Rica gathered at Quintay on the coast, to witness the declaration of the new marine sanctuary in the Gulf of Corcovado. Establishing this new sanctuary demonstrates Chile’s commitment to marine protection.

The IWC Scientific Committee reported on the status of Antarctic minke whales, North Pacific common minke whales, Southern Hemisphere humpback whales, Southern Hemisphere blue whales and small populations of bowhead, right and gray whales.

There was positive evidence of increases in abundance for humpback, blue and right whales in the Southern Hemisphere, although they remain at reduced levels compared to their pre-whaling numbers.

Special attention was paid to the status of the endangered western North Pacific gray whale, whose feeding grounds coincide with oil and gas operations off Sakhalin Island, Russian Federation. The population numbers only about 120 animals and although there is evidence that it has been increasing at perhaps three percent per year over the last decade, any additional deaths, for example in fishing gear as has recently occurred, put the survival of the population in doubt, the Scientific Committee said.

The commission agreed to work together to try to mitigate human threats to this endangered population and there was praise for Japanese efforts to reduce bycatches in its waters.

Ship strikes and entanglements are a threat to the endangered western North Atlantic right whale population which numbers around 300. The commission agrees again that mortality due to human causes should be reduced to zero as soon as possible.

A new report submitted to the IWC Scientific Committee by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, IFAW, appears to confirm warnings from international researchers and conservationists that Japan is underreporting the number of whales it kills each year.

“The government of Japan is unable to regulate the sale of whale meat in the country,” said Naoko Funahashi, director of IFAW Japan and co-author of the report. “DNA testing proves more fin whales are being sold in Japan than the government admits having killed.”

The research team, led by Dr. Scott Baker of Oregon State University, analyzed DNA from 99 whale meat products purchased in Japanese markets since 2006 and identified six baleen whale species – humpback, fin, sei, Bryde’s, North Pacific minke, and Antarctic minke.

In the case of the fin whales, the study used methods similar to human forensic genetics to identify products from a total of 15 individuals for sale in 2006 and 2007.

But Japan reported a total of 13 fin whales killed under its scientific whaling program over the same period. Official records of whales entangled and killed in fishing nets do not seem to account for the additional fin whale meat in the market.

Although the government of Japan claims to have DNA records for each whale killed, it refuses to share the information, said Funahashi.

After considering the new report from the market surveys, the Scientific Committee again urged Japan to provide such data to help detect any illegal, unreported or unregulated catches.

Three reports presented to the IWC Scientific Committee by conservationists Monday offer evidence that overfishing, not whales, is responsible for declining fish stocks around the world.

The Humane Society International, WWF and the Lenfest Ocean Program offered reports debunking the science behind the “whales-eat-fish” claims emanating from whaling nations Japan, Norway and Iceland. The argument has been used to bolster support for whaling, particularly from developing nations.

“Who’s eating all the fish? The food security rationale for culling cetaceans,” the report co-authored by Dr. Daniel Pauly, director of the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre for the Humane Society International contrasts “the widely different impacts of fisheries and marine mammals.”

Fisheries target larger fish where available and marine mammals consume mainly smaller fish and tiny crustaceans such as krill, the report points out.

“Making whales into scapegoats serves only to benefit wealthy whaling nations while harming developing nations by distracting any debate on the real causes of the declines of their fisheries,” Pauly said.

“Dr. Pauly’s findings should refute, once and for all, the misconception that whales are eating all the fish and need to be killed to protect the world’s fisheries,” said Patricia Forkan, president of the Humane Society International.

Also presented to the IWC Scientific Committee was an analysis of the interaction between whales and commercial fisheries in northwest Africa. The model, funded by the Lenfest Ocean Program, shows no real competition between local or foreign fisheries and great whales.

The third report is a review of the scientific literature originating from Japan and Norway – the two countries most strongly promoting the idea that whales pose problems for fisheries. Funded by WWF, the study found flaws in much of the science and concluded that “where good data are available, there is no evidence to support the contention that marine mammal predation presents an ecological issue for fisheries.”

Dr. Susan Lieberman of WWF said, “These three reports provide yet more conclusive evidence that whales are not responsible for the degraded state of the world’s fisheries. It is now time for governments to focus on the real reason for fisheries decline – unsustainable fishing operations.”


Posted on on June 2nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Washington Revives the Fourth Fleet: The Return of U.S. Gun Boat Diplomacy to Latin America.

What does Ecuador’s President Correa know that Colombia’s President Uribe also knows?

This is What The Council On Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) Asks In an e-mail of June 2, 2008.…
President Correa’s persistence in terms of pursuing the validity of the data found on the laptops seized by Colombian forces during their March 1, 2008 raid on the FARC camp located just inside the Ecuadorian border, raises questions on the motivation for his stand. Is it that Correa feels that he has little to lose if the whole story comes out because the facts will vindicate him? If he felt that Ecuador would be in any way be compromised as a result of full disclosure, why would he drill away at the incident?

Both Colombia’s President Uribe and Venezuela’s President Chávez have exhibited conflicting attitudes over downgrading the exposure being given to the present confrontation between Bogotá and Caracas. At times, they throw gasoline at the fire, while at other times, they seemingly attempt to snuff out the flame. President Correa, however, has never relented on his insistence that Colombia not only make restitutions for the cross border incursion, but also apologize for Bogotá’s current media campaign and allegations against his country.

Relations between the two countries, already strained by the longtime issue of toxic herbicide spraying of Ecuadorian territory along the Colombian border, have been further exacerbated by the bitter mistrust between the Colombian and Ecuadorian leaders regarding the FARC files. Correa claims that the only contact that Ecuador has had with the FARC was of a humanitarian nature, and that guerrilla infiltration across the borders is impossible to totally control by either side. Uribe has countered that Ecuador was harboring terrorists, thus implying that Quito was explicitly protecting the FARC.

Therefore, Correa ´s committed campaign against Colombia and his unwillingness to yield in his insistence in obtaining President Uribe’s public acknowledgement of Colombia’s culpability, which would exonerate Ecuador’s good name, raises a specific question. Why would Correa so relentlessly stick with the issue if he were not convinced that he possessed a strong hand in arguing that Ecuador had no compromising relationship with the FARC, that the laptop revealed no embarrassing information regarding that relationship (at least from Quito’s perspective), and that, at best, Colombia’s case against Ecuador is weak and deserves little sympathy either from the region or the international community. Or could it be that the FARC computer scandal has been largely contrived by Colombia to discredit any number of South American left-leaning administrations as part of a larger conservative campaign to isolate these governments and reinforce Washington’s assessment of the situation and the way in which it would like to have the script read?
Prepared by COHA Research Associate Erina Uozumi
• Administration not bothering to conceal implicit threat to the region

• After ignoring Latin America for most of his Presidency, Bush dispatches the Navy

• The steady remilitarization of Panama may provide a safe haven for the revitalized fleet

• FTA with Panama could grant U.S. access to canal zone military facility for Fourth Fleet

• Correa facetiously suggests that Manta be moved to Colombia

The dearth of diplomatic content in the April 24 Pentagon announcement left little mystery regarding the purpose behind Washington’s decision to reestablish the Fourth Fleet to patrol Latin American and Caribbean waters. As Washington shifts its attention back to the Western Hemisphere, it will have to grapple with issues that have been on the back burner for more than a decade. The return of the Fourth Fleet, largely unnoticed by the U.S. press, appears to represent a policy shift that projects an image of Washington once again asserting its military authority on the region, coincidentally coinciding with the announcement that Brazil has just launched a military initiative, the Conselho Sul-Americano de Defesa, embracing two of its neighbors with whom Washington has chilly relations.

The Rise of an Autonomous Latin America During a Period of U.S. Neglect:

While Washington has been involved in the Middle East, a number of Latin American governments have been enjoying a degree of de facto freedom from the State Department’s traditionally pervasive influence. This has given regional policymakers the opportunity to implement economic models, trade patterns and ideological commitments contrary to the liking of the U.S. Certainly, Venezuela’s Chavez stands out as the most energized and driven anti-U.S. regional leader, easily outranking Castro’s Cuba in regards to their contemporary influence. Not without his critics, the boldness of Chavez’s challenge to U.S. hemispheric supremacy and his willingness to duke it out mano-a-mano with the most powerful country in the world has aided his ascent to becoming a pivotal hemispheric leader. The surge in crude oil prices worldwide that began soon after Chávez took office, vaulting from $8 in 1998 to over $130 a barrel has today allowed him to implement an aggressive and foreseeing foreign trade and aid policy. Chávez single-handedly upgraded Venezuela’s military by using surplus petro-dollars to purchase large quantities of sophisticated Russian and Spanish military hardware.

In an apparent victory for Washington diplomacy, the socialist Chilean diplomat José Manuel Insulza was elected in 2005 to head the Organization of American States. Initially supporting the State Department’s perspective on trade strategy, he, in practice, asserted himself as a fairly reliable defender of Latin American autonomy. In 2006, Venezuela had fought a determined campaign against Washington favorite, Guatemala, to gain a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. To the dismay of both countries, a relatively “neutral” Panama eventually won the seat. While Washington campaigned to prevent Caracas from being seated, countries with compromised international standing such as Libya and Iran were chosen by their regional caucuses to the Security’s Council’s 2007-2009 term, without concerted U.S. opposition, indicating a lack of consistency in U.S. policy.

The Region’s Array of Ideologies and Balance of Forces:

The most significant legacy for Washington arising from its recent absence from American policy is the rise of ideologically left-leaning governments. This group of often like-minded leaders, sometimes referenced as the Pink Tide nations, is now considered a threat to Washington’s regional supremacy. At the forefront leftward shift are Venezuela’s Chavez, Bolivia’s Morales, Ecuador’s Correa, Cuba’s Castro, and Nicaragua’s Ortega. Comprising a more moderate left are Uruguay’s Vasquez and Paraguay’s Lugo. Brazil and Argentina, generally considered charter members of the Pink Tide countries, continue to deal with matters pragmatically, usually influenced by their status as regional heavyweights.

The U.S. only has two reliable allies in South America, Colombia’s Uribe and Peru’s Garcia. As these two leaders see it, it is in their best interest to not join the Pink Tide. Uribe, whose high domestic approval ratings reflect successes in his combating of the FARC, is receiving financial support from the U.S. Garcia, who tends to engage in “chameleon” politics, has made domestic policy rather than foreign policy his priority. This is in his best interest as he faces waning approval ratings that reflect the divisions within his ruling APRA party and the complex fall out from the trial of former dictator Alberto Fujimori.

The White House Does Not Get It When it Comes to Latin America:
The inattention to Latin America by the Bush Administration has created a debacle in recent years. The White House and the State Department did not place seasoned Latin Americanists at the top of the policymaking ladder. In spite of his Jamaican descent, for example, Colin Powell never demonstrated a strong interest in the region as Secretary of State. During Powell’s term, policy initiatives regarding Cuba were left almost exclusively to Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich, U.S. Diplomat Roger Noriega, and United States Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. These Cold War-era hawks continued to center regional policy on a decidedly anti-Cuban bias, while focusing a comparably hostile posture toward Hugo Chavez. Visits to the Latin America by U.S. leaders including Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice from April 25-30, 2005 to Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and El Salvador; President Bush in March 2007 to Brazil; and by then Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to Paraguay in April 2005, tended to be photo opportunities that did little to improve relations in any significant manner..

Recent U.S. policy initiatives in Latin America include the debut of the Central American Free Trade Agreement-Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR). Gaining the backing of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, CAFTA-DR will expose signatory countries economies to an influx of cheap U.S. subsidized agricultural produce and the domination by multi-national corporations that may stamp out local competition. Also, the shadowy, coerced ousting of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti in February 2004 had several members of the Caribbean Community upset with the U.S. and France of helping bring about the de-facto coup against the Haitian president.

Navy Prepares for the Fourth Fleet:
The revived Fourth Fleet will be headquartered at the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) base at Mayport Naval Station in Florida. Rear Admiral Joseph Kernan, current commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, will direct it when it becomes operational on July 1, 2008. The degree of integration among the Fourth Fleet, SOUTHCOM, the U.S. Coast Guard and other Homeland Security agencies in carrying out discreet operations in the area of anti-terrorism remains to be seen. The precise size of the fleet is also unclear. An April 24 Bloomberg report mentions that the fleet will be lead by the nuclear aircraft carrier, USS George Washington. SOUTHCOM presently has eleven vessels that could potentially be placed under the authority of the Fourth Fleet. The head of SOUTHCOM, Admiral James G. Stavridis, is also a ranking naval officer. The working relationship among fleet commanders in terms of coordinating forces and missions could prove to be problematic.

This past April, vessels from the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina participated in UNITAS Atlantic “a SOUTHCOM-sponsored multi-national naval exercise to enhance security cooperation.” Part of the series of international exercises that are emerging in the region, participating Latin American militaries saw UNITAS Atlantic as a way to train their personnel and gain access to greater military technologies The USS George Washington was among the participating U.S. warships. In March-April of 2008, another military exercise, TRADEWINDS 2008, took place off the coast of the Dominican Republic and involved a number of Caribbean countries, the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Some Latin American and Caribbean military personnel may be excited by the arrival of the units of the Fourth Fleet at their docks with the possibility of obtaining valuable instruction from their U.S. and British counterparts while others will uncomfortably recall the days of the era of U.S. Naval supremacy.

Friendly Ports:

The emerging geopolitical situation in the Western Hemisphere calls into question where the friendly ports will be available for the Fourth Fleet to harbor.

Ecuador’s Correa adamantly insists that he will not tolerate any renewal of the U.S. lease of Manta, a multipurpose facility located on Ecuador’s Pacific coastline, which expires in 2009.

Rumors have been circulating that Peru is the next candidate for the U.S. to negotiate moorage rights, but President Alan Garcia repeatedly denies such speculations.

With the loss of Manta, what other friendly harbors will exist in the region? A close ally of the U.S., President Uribe of Colombia, could invite the Manta base operation to relocate to Guajira, near the border with Venezuela. Although the rumor received some validation by U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield, who previously served as ambassador to Venezuela, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos emphatically has denied the possible move.

Panama instead has emerged as one of the U.S.’s most plausible candidates. Recently, there have been steps taken which indicate that the country is cautiously militarizing.

Panamanian President Martín Torrijos appointed military man Jaime Ruiz to the head of the police force on May 13 even though the country’s constitution states that it should be a civilian post. The Panamanian Minister of Government and Justice, Daniel Delgado Diamante, in reference to Merida Initiative (passed by the U.S. House of Foreign Affairs on May 14th and currently awaiting senate action, its goal is to combat crime and narco-trafficking in Mexico and Central America), has stated that Panama deserves a greater quantity of U.S. monetary aid since it previously seized 70 tons of cocaine, as opposed to Mexico’s 46 tons.

If Panama is militarizing under the cover of its anti-drug efforts, then the government is likely to welcome U.S. economic aid, technology, equipment, and expertise. There is potential for the perfect swap; military aid for a naval haven for the Fourth Fleet.

If U.S. anti-drug and anti-terrorism operations are moved from Manta, the next step could very well be relocating to La Gaujira or the Panama Canal among other possibilities.

The Fourth Fleet from a Geopolitical Point of View:

The revival of the Fourth Fleet may do little more than attempt to introduce a quick fix to Bush’s failed U.S. policy towards Latin America. The Fleet’s rebirth implies that Washington’s gun boat diplomacy represents a new call to arms.

The U.S. may again be prepared to use the prospect of military force if it is found necessary to protect U.S. national interests in Latin America. In particular, the possibility of using the Fourth Fleet already seems to be involved in a calculated and provocative move against Washington’s current bete noir, Hugo Chávez. As Admiral Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, stated, “this change increases our emphasis in the region on employing naval forces to build confidence and trust […] through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests.” The senior naval commander’s ominous words evoke sentiments akin to the collective security provisions of the Rio Pact of 1947, rather than a civic action template that stresses the use of military assistance mainly to provide humanitarian aid and relief. Traditionally organized along other lines, requires a different type of explanation than the rationale given for the revival of the Fourth Fleet.

Left-leaning Latin America has good reason to question the motives behind over the renewal of the U.S. notion that the Caribbean Sea is virtually mar Americanus.

The Pentagon’s aspirations – particularly during the tenure of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, to improve ties with militaries throughout the Americas by regular “ministerials,” could inadvertently encourage its Latin American counterparts to initiate similar scenarios of expansion, modernization, and the revival of their dangerous central roles plagued by past military juntas in their respective societies.

The Dispatch of the Fourth Fleet: A Turn to Style, not Substance – Washington’s Fourth Fleet initiative is mainly not a welcomed development in U.S. Latin American policy relations. While raising apprehensions of covert U.S. military and intelligence ranks to the armed forces of hemispheric leftist regimes, as voiced by Correa of Ecuador in April 2008, the Fleet’s presence could also lead to the diminishment local funding for broad social and humanitarian needs as Latin America’s defense establishments will seek to bolster their budgets in response to the growing threat posed by neighboring militaries which are building up their armed forces.

The return of gun boat diplomacy is only a confirmation to Latin America that the U.S. is unaware of some of the new realities as the region seeks out its destiny without the White House at its helm.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Director Larry Birns and Research Associate Aviva Elzufon
June 2nd, 2008