by the El Reportero wire services
COLOMBIA: On 19 April President Alvaro Uribe acknowledged on national TV that Colombia’s standing in the international community was being affected by the wave of accusations against him and his family.
At present the president’s reputation lies in the hands of two men: Jorge Noguera, the former head of the Colombian intelligence services (DAS), and Gustavo Petro, the leftwing senator whose testimony has played an important part in revealing the government’s links with paramilitaries.
If Petro can provide more evidence for his accusations against Uribe, the president’s position could become untenable. If Noguera, who stands accused of deleting drug traffickers’ records from the DAS’s database, is found guilty, Uribe says he will apologize to the nation. It is difficult to see how his political stock, certainly internationally, could recover from such a blow.
Debate continues over biofuels
In the first article attributed to Fidel Castro since he stood down from the presidency at the end of July last year, the Cuban leader argued billions would die of starvation as a result of the increased production of biofuels.
This followed Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez own attack on the use of food stuffs for fuel. Given that as late as 28 February Cuba and Venezuela had signed a joint agreement to build 11 ethanol plants on the Caribbean island, the change in policy was swift, seemingly prompted by U.S. President George W. Bush’s signing of a biofuel agreement with Brazil’s President Lula da Silva.
Other related story – Energy summit was stage for oblique regional leadership contest
South America’s first energy summit was expected by many to be the stage for a confrontation between Venezuela and Brazil over the latter’s ethanol deal with the US. Condemned by both Caracas and Havana as a scheme likely to divert foodstuffs away from the world’s hungry masses, the summit was seen as an opportunity for aspirants to regional leadership to gain ground. As it turned out, Venezuela backtracked on the ethanol issue, but maneuvered frantically to win on other issues.
Nicaragua wants ‘freedom’ from IMF in five years
MANAGUA – Although it will shortly seek a new loan agreement with the organization, President Daniel Ortega said that his country will freeitself from International Monetary Fund.
“Within five years Nicaragua will be free from the fund,” said Ortega, a former Marxist cold-war rebel leader who regained power after elections last year.
Starting April 30, the impoverished Central American nation will seek to extend its loan program with the IMF at a meeting in Managua. Ortega has vowed to work with business leaders and multilateral lenders.
But like his mentor, leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Ortega is often deeply critical of the fund, which many in Latin America accuse of ignore the needs of the poor.
“It is a blessing to be free of the fund, and for the fund it will be a relief to rid itself of a government that defends the interests of the poor,” Ortega said.
Nicaragua’s previous $140 million IMF program expired on Dec. 12, a month before Ortega took office for the second time.