Saturday, May 30, 2009

Weekend Newswire: Latin America

OAS can’t agree on Cuba, while Havana ridicules the organization
The task force created by the Organization of American States, OAS, in an attempt to bridge different members’ proposals to consider the readmission of Cuba seems to have stalled with the main actors clearly underlining their stance.

Colombia Cuts Benchmark Lending Rate to Record Low 5% to Stimulate Growth
Colombia’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to a record today and signaled it’s ready to lower it further in an effort to ward off an extended recession as inflation eases

Braskem Taps Peru, Venezuela in $3.6 Billion Expansion Outside of Brazil
Braskem SA, Latin America’s largest petrochemicals producer, plans to invest $2.5 billion in a polyethylene plant in Peru, said Cleantho de Paiva Leite, Braskem’s director of international projects.

Sao Paulo-based Braskem, which holds a 50 percent share of Brazil’s resins market, also is working on engineering studies for a $1.1 billion petrochemical plant in Venezuela with state- owned Pequiven SA, de Paiva said in an interview in Lima.

Venezuela Expropriations: Chávez Talks Himself into Trouble with Argentina's Fernández de Kirchner

The spark for the conversation sought by Fernández de Kirchner was a remark Chávez is reported to have made in private to Brazilian President Inacio Lula da Silva. That remark, it’s said, was to the effect that Venezuela was on course to take over foreign companies except for Brazilian ones.

President Hugo Chávez’ strategy of nationalizing companies including foreign ones, and a remark he did or did not make in seriousness to Brazilian President Ignacio Lula da Silva, appear to have posed problems for him and his Argentine friend and colleague, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Chávez has depicted Fernández de Kirchner as an ally and soulmate in his bid to build a regional alliance to counter what he sees as the undue influence and power of the United States in Latin America. But his peremptory takeover of steelmaker Sidor and his tendency to talk off the top of his head may well have put her in between the proverbial rock and a hard place at home.

Argentina May Be Sanctioned By Manhattan Judge in Bondholder Litigation
Argentina may be sanctioned for failing to comply with a U.S. court order to turn over to bondholders documents regarding its pension funds, a federal judge in Manhattan said.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa ruled in October that Argentine pension funds nationalized by that country’s government and held in the U.S. may be used to satisfy bondholder judgments against the republic. Argentina has appealed. Griesa later ordered the South American nation to turn over documents related to its pension funds to bondholders.

Argentina's Construction Activity Declined 5.5% in April From Year Earlier
Argentine construction activity fell the most in five months in April, as Argentines delayed investment plans amid the global financial crisis and political concern ahead of next month’s mid-term elections.

Mexico GDP to Sink Most Since 1932 in Fall `Hard to Fathom,' Goldman Says
Mexico’s economy will contract this year by the most since 1932 as a slump in the U.S. curbs demand for exports and slows dollar flows from tourism and remittances, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said.