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Brazil resorts to underhand tactics to thwart Paraguay’s economic development

Brazil resorts to underhand tactics to thwart Paraguay’s economic development

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

By  Peter M. Tase

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff praised or at least highlighted the outstanding voter turnout for Paraguay’s April 21 general elections. But she also reiterated that Paraguay’s re-entry into the MERCOSUR trading bloc remains impossible so long as Paraguay continues to regard Venezuela’s incorporation into MERCOSUR as an illegal and unprecedented act.  Paraguay refuses to endorse the integration of Venezuela, which remains controlled by the Bolivarian movement as a legacy of President Hugo Chavez, who died earlier this year.

Rousseff’s recent statements about Paraguay are part of Brazil’s interventionist strategy towards its landlocked southern neighbour. The South American giant is implementing a strategy to undermine the administration of the newly elected Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes by trying to impose conditions and actions that only Paraguay’s independent national congress ought to make.  The goal of Rousseff’s statements is to thwart Cartes’ plans to demand the end to the exploitation of hydroelectric energy produced by the Itaipú bi-national hydroelectric dam shared with Brazil, and negotiate for a better price for the electric energy produced there for Brazilian consumers.

Read the article: Brazil resorts to underhand tactics to thwart Paraguay’s economic development

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Ecuadorean President begins his third term in office

rafael_correa

Newly re-elected Rafael Correa of Ecuador appears to want to take on the mantle of ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. At take are Ecuador’s shaking freedoms and the exploitation of natural gas reserves.

Monday, March 04, 2013

By  Peter M. Tase

After winning his re-election on February 17, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa had extensive conversations with representatives of foreign media, introducing his strategic plan and agenda for his upcoming presidential term that will last until 2017. Correa won a landslide victory, as it was expected this was the fruit of his tireless work towards eradicating poverty and rekindle Ecuador’s reputation in the international financial institutions and regional organizations.

Read more:http://www.speroforum.com/a/BEOVHBMHGB2/73746-The-upshot-of-Correas-victory-in-Ecuador

Venezuela’s Regional Influence in a Post-Chavez Era

Democracy in Venezuela could bring about reform in Cuba

Saturday, March 09, 2013

By  Peter M. Tase

Venezuelan President Chavez meets his Cuban counterpart Castro in HavanaOn March 5, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias, 58, passed away due to a persistent cancer that was diagnosed in mid-2011 and continued to affect him. Chavez was president for since 1999; the end of his 14-year reign brought new perspectives to a Latin American nation with 27 percent of its population under the  poverty line.

Chavez will enter in the history of the hemisphere, not only as one of the longest serving presidents but also as the architect of what he called Bolivarian socialism, which used his nation’s oil dollars to bolster his belligerent attitude and confrontational actions and statements against the United States and other industrialized economies.

President Chavez led the efforts to bolster the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). The first two of these was established in 2004 and the third in 2010. He even managed to have his country become a full member of MERCOSUR in late July 2012, the world’s.. (Read the article at SPERO NEWS)

http://www.speroforum.com/a/TFWIQSPWWM45/73776-Democracy-in-Venezuela-could-bring-about-reform-in-Cuba

Paraguay: terrorist logistics chief arrested

Paraguay: terrorist logistics chief arrested

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

By  Peter M. Tase

In the early hours of January 30th, Paraguayan Police forces embarked on a surprise attack against members of the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), a leftist terrorist group that has stepped up its attacks against police infrastructure in the Department (province) of Concepcion, a northwestern region of Paraguay.  This operation was conducted in the city of Azote’y nearby the settlements of Kurusu de Hierro (Iron Cross), which led in the immediate arrest of two armed members and the capture of the EPP logistics chief.

The detainees are Derlis Ovelar Ramon Martinez (21), alias as the “Driver”, and his cousin Ricardo Martinez Vera (23), both exponents formed part in a recent series of attack against farmers and police offices in the area.
Martinez and Vera were taken into custody 300 meters away from Police Post 21 in Kurusu de Hierro.
Unfortunately the third member of the same family, who had been part of EPP, has escaped.
During a simultaneous operation in the hilly areas of Azote’y district, Crispín Fernández (42), was arrested by police. He is believed to be the chief of logistics for EPP and one of the leaders of this leftist guerrilla group which is increasingly expanding its ranks and receiving constant media attention
Fernandez was under police surveillance for months since he was providing large quantities of goods for guerrilla members of EPP and has been involved in various abductions of cattle grazing farmers over the last three years.  Police operations continue in the Department of Concepcion and further positive results are expected.
According to Paraguayan minister of Interior, Carmello Caballero, Police Forces “were able to identify that EPP Guerrilla Forces had set new standards, especially with young people. A month ago police forces’ spokesperson reported that there was a militia group within the group which has not been identified by justice authorities.  It is evident that new recruits are involved in the recent violet attacks against local population. Police operations will speed up and we are determined to eliminate EPP in the coming months.”
Speronews contributor Peter M. Tase analyzes international trade, security and diplomacy.

EU/Ibero-American summit draws Paraguay ever closer to the U.S.

EU/Ibero-American summit draws Paraguay ever closer to the U.S.

Friday, February 01, 2013

By  Peter M. Tase

The Curuguaty Massacre of June 15, 2012, in the Department of Canindeyu, brought an abrupt end to Fernando Lugo’s 46-month-long Bolivarian-style presidency in Paraguay.  Even though the massacre took the lives of 11 poor landless farmers and six police officers, among them a police deputy who was an FBI Academy graduate, Lugo did never appear in a press conference to clarify the situation and announce the further investigative measures expected to be taken, he briefly attended the official swearing in ceremony of Paraguay’s new Interior Minister whom Lugo nominated without consulting with then Vice President Federico Franco.

On June 19th the largest opposition group, the Colorado Party announced its initiative to open a political impeachment procedure against Fernando Lugo in the National Congress, a process that would last only three days and culminate with Federico Franco Gomez becoming the newly elected president of the country and interestingly enough these three days of political turmoil, assured the national and international public that Paraguay has independent institutions and has the maturity to raise democratic standards into highest levels, indeed the political impeachment initiated by Colorado Party was also supported by the Liberal Party, the largest party of the alliance which elected Lugo as president on April 20th, 2008.

As the new Paraguayan President swore in office, Argentina and Brazil begun a campaign of political isolationism against Paraguay, in the regional alliances such as MERCOSUR, UNASUR and OAS, in the latter structure they were unsuccessful to move forward their agenda of blocking Paraguay’s contributions in international Diplomacy.  Argentina’s president has openly stated her views against the newly appointed Paraguayan President, she has even ordered her diplomats in Rome to do the best they can to marginalize and suspend Paraguayan diplomats from attending FAO Technical meetings and in November 16-17, Cadiz, Spain, where Fernandez de Kirchner announced her unwillingness to participate if Franco was invited to attend the XXII Ibero-American Summit.  As the two largest members of MERCOSUR, Argentina and Brazil, where the main promoters and successfully achieved their intentions to suspend Paraguay’s membership from this regional trade block and from UNASUR.

Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, has maintained the same line as Argentina, towards the status of Paraguay, she has been joined by other regional leftist governments such as Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Cuba.  She continues to keep a firm political stature and is unwilling to budge in regards to her “criticism” on how Mr. Lugo was ousted from office.

on January 27-28, 2013, in the first CELAC Summit in Santiago, Chile, Brazilian Delegation led by its foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota, showed a great interest to work hand in hand with other member countries of CELAC (Latin American and Caribbean Economic Community), a recently established competitor of the OAS which plans to take over the responsibilities and regional initiatives originated at the OAS headquarters in Washington.  During this opportunity CELAC leaders had also attended the CELAC-EU Summit in which participated more than 20 leaders from EU countries.

According to Patriota, “The interconnection of Latin America and the Caribbean means the gradual strengthening of CELAC but at the same time demands a reassessment of the regional integration processes.” Although in theory, Brazilian diplomats are open to regional collaboration, their anti-Paraguayan position of the last seven months proves the contrary to what minister Patriota had stated in his remarks before the first CELAC Summit.  With the suspension of Paraguay’s membership from MERCOSUR, was fulfilled a long last dream of Venezuela to become part of the block, since the National Congress of Asuncion was the only legislature that had refused to accept Venezuela’s membership into MERCOSUR.  Another part of the regional geo-strategic chess game played by Argentina and Brazil is their desire to isolate a genuine and a historic US ally such as Paraguay.

Finally, Asuncion is beginning to reshape its foreign policy strategy and become more active in its relations with the United States and only recently has requested to become more commercially involved with the four member countries of the Pacific alliance. Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru are the four countries that integrate this alliance and it is expected by April, 2013, to have 90% of all goods and products to be exported within the four countries’ markets without any additional taxes or export fees.

According to Chilean minister, Alfredo Moreno “The Pacific Alliance, represents 35% of the regions’ Gross Domestic Product, and more  than 50% of the exports and has the largest share of Foreign Direct Investments Capital.

With more than seven months under an unprecedented political isolation by its neighbours, Paraguay is exploring to become an observing member of the Pacific Alliance.

This month, Paraguayan Foreign Minister, Fernandez Estigarribia handed an official request on behalf of his government to Ernesto Campos Tenorio, General Director of Latin America and Caribbean section in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demonstrating his country’s interest to join the Pacific Alliance as an observer. In his press conference of June 28th, minister Estigarribia made public this request that was also sent to Peruvian, Colombian and Chilean ministries. He was enthusiastic to articulate that Paraguay is looking for new markets and opportunities in order to establish new strategic alliances.

In the same line with Estagarribia, the president of the Paraguayan Industrial Union (PIU) Eduardo Felippo, has also demonstrated his support towards Paraguay’s membership in the Pacific Alliance, for which he is optimistic that it will bring more results than what MERCOSUR has done in the past.

Filippo stated that current entrepreneurs “are not thinking under MERCOSUR terms, it has unfortunately turned to be more of a political club than a regional trade block, especially after Venezuela’s accession, in July, 2012.” As weeks go by, Paraguayan business leaders are looking more into the Pacific Alliance and a potential partnership with the US administration and private sector.

In addition to Estigarribia’s statements, Former Foreign Minister, Leila Rachid has noted that  Paraguay should not stop in the search for new markets and free trade, Pacific Alliance is the best option, being led by Mexico, a country on the door step of United States”

On the other hand another Paraguayan Former Diplomacy chief, Luis Ramírez Boettner, has noted in a conversation with Martin Barillas “that UNASUR has been a headache for Asuncion, whereas MERCOSUR, continues to place commercial obstacles to Paraguayan businesses.” Boettner is hopeful that Paraguay will continue to defend its interests and begin pursuing a legal battle against MERCOSUR member countries which caused so much havoc and damage to Asuncion’s image abroad.

Spero columnist Peter M. Tase, writes on Latin American Diplomacy and Trade Issues

Paraguay’s exports of beef, rice, maize, wheat show increase

Sunday, January 20, 2013

By  Peter M. Tase

In 2012, Paraguay exported commodities and goods with a value of more than $5.087 million, which was 7.8 percent less than in 2011, and 12.2% more than in 2010. The main factor for the export reduction lies in the soybean production chain, which was 37.7 percent of the total exports in 2012. With regard to 2011, soy bean exports decreased by 30.8 percent, and soybean oil reached 49.7 percent.

Most of the other sectors performed well. Exports of beef, even though temporarily suspended due to outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease in September 2011, still experienced an increase of 4.6 percent in 2012 compared to 2011.  Maize, wheat and rice were the main products of mechanized farming exported and their quantities increased by 57.4%, 122.3% and 39.6% respectively.
Cotton showed a remarkable recovery after several years in decline; its exports increased by 159.5%. The exports increase of leathers grew by 7.1%, exports of cigarette products increased by 46.3%, and Paraguayan manufactured medicinal drugs experienced a growth of 23.9%.
However, 2012 had been a slow year for sesame seed production and farming; its exports were reduced by 14.2%. The exports of these products comprise 83.5% of the total goods shipped overseas in 2012.
According to official statistics compiled by the National Agency of Customs and Central Bank of Paraguay, a substantial quantity of commodities such as soybeans and its derivatives were bound for Argentina or Uruguay, countries that serve as transhipment or transit points for Paraguayan products to reach EU countries and the United States.
Thanks to the Single Exports’ Registration Window (VUE), approximately 75 percent of total exports are shipped to countries outside of the MERCOSUR regional trade bloc.  Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay consume only 24.6 percent of Paraguayan exports.  The rest of Paraguayan products are exported to the European Union (24.0%), Middle East and North Africa (7.7%), Asia (7%), Europe outside of EU (17.5%), North America (3.8%), South American countries and the Caribbean (12.9%) and Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania (2.7%).
Speronews writer Peter M. Tase is an analyst of Latin American Trade and Diplomatic affairs.

Abused and illegal parrots seized in Paraguay

Abused and illegal parrots seized in Paraguay

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

By  Peter M. Tase

Blue-fronted_Amazon_Amazona_aestiva-head-8
On November 30, amidst efforts by Paraguay’s government to stop drug trafficking and money laundering, all sorts of trafficking was found to still persist in the landlocked country.  This time, different from every day news, there were two hundred baby parrots to be kidnapped from their nets and be the victims of illegal trafficking in Neuland, Chaco – Paraguay.  Traffickers were planning to sell these colorful birds on the black market.   These parrots belong to a species that is able to be taught with great ease to repeat human speech.

At the moment when they were rescued, the parrots where found to be featherless due to a ruthless treatment by their abductors, who placed them in wooden boxes used to transport vegetables.  Blue fronted parrots are some of the most expensive birds in the region reaching a price of $2000 each on the black market.  These parrots are being treated at a national park in Paraguay, under the supervision of volunteers and experts from the Ministry of Environment in the Department of Boqueron, which is a jurisdiction approximately 600 miles northwest from Asuncion.  Many of the birds are babies and demand a high level of maintenance and special water based food and fruits such as watermelons, melons, oranges, they also need protein consumption just like infant humans.
According to Rocio Barreto: “Many people want to have them at home, but that cannot be done because we have to help them in their parenting, because they are without their mothers, The job is too big.” Baby parrots will continue to be monitored by these volunteers until they are able to fly and taken into the forest, their desired habitat.  Currently, associate district attorney Luis Piñánez, is investigating this rare but lucrative crime.

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Abused and illegal parrots seized in Paraguay

Paraguay’s beef exports on the rise

Paraguay’s beef exports on the rise

Sunday, January 13, 2013

By  Peter M. Tase

According to Paraguay’s Agency of Animal Health and Quality (SENACSA), the South American country experienced a substantial growth in beef exports in 2012 despite the fact that cattle producers faced a health crisis caused by foot-and-mouth diseased cattle and as a result they confronted market restrictions in late 2011. Last year Paraguay exported a total of 186,289,829 kilograms of beef, reaching more than $903 million in value, and securing more than $105 million dollars revenue growth when compared to the balance of 2011.

The increase of beef exports was in effect immediately after the season of cattle disease outbreak which occurred between September 2011 and January 2012.   Of the total amount of exported beef, 21,000 kilograms consisted of edible internal organs, which brought an additional profit for Paraguayan beef exporters, reaching more than $87 million last year.   Among the 23 countries importing edible internal organs, Russia is in first place, followed by Hong Kong, Gabon, Angola, Vietnam and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The main destination for Paraguayan beef products remains Russia, with 70% of the total amount exported, Brazil is in the second place with 14% and Angola and Israel are in the third and fourth places respectively.
Paraguay’s international market share of beef exports is on the rise; its cattle are considered to have a tender flavor and taste which is different from beef products exported by Argentina and Brazil.  Paraguay’s industry of cattle grazing is fully dependent on organically grown food fed to the animals,which has been cited as the reason why countries such as Russia and even Brazil, prefer to import beef from this landlocked country which is thought to have a potential of providing food for the whole world.
Speronews contributor Peter Tase writes on Latin American Trade and Diplomatic Affairs.

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Paraguay’s beef exports on the rise

Science. Mayan culture, after the apocalypse

chichicastenango indian womanMayan culture, after the apocalypse

Mayan people of day preserve much of the richness of their heritage, while other cultures have forgotten their own legacies.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

By  Peter M. Tase

The zenith of Mayan culture was during the classical period (250-900 A.D.) until the post classic period that marked the decline of their influence,  lasting for three centuries before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the region. The thousand year old culture of the Mayas achieved many accomplishments not only in crafting the most precise calendar of the time, but also in the areas of linguistics, ethnographic culture and culinary arts, the traces of which are found in to this day.

According to Guatemalan Anthropologist Alvaro Pop “ the Mayan Calendar is not only a way to keep track of hours and days, but a model studying the movement of stars and how that cycle influences human life.  While looking at the stars, Mayan communities developed the idea that “there is nothing that is not influenced by the stars, including ocean tides and child birth,” a concept that depicts the impressive astronomical knowledge that the Mayas have left behind.

For Costa Rican anthropologist Ana Cecilia Arias, “Since the early times before Christ,  the Mayas have achieved considerable cultural development which enabled them to conduct certain mathematical calculations that allowed them to determine the orbit of Venus,”

Astronomy guided the Mayans in a way that enabled them to understand the stars’ influence in botany and agriculture as a result they swiftly improved agricultural production and farming knowledge.   Additionally, the Mayans have made tremendous contributions to architecture, mathematics, graphic land surveys, textile art, cuisine; all these are still have been inherited through the centuries in the central American culture and society, from Mexico and Guatemala to El Salvador and Honduras.

Mayan communities have been using maize for three thousand years ago, which continues to be an important component of culinary culture in the region.  They were the first to cultivate cocoa and other exotic plants.  The use of exotic colors and designs of traditional dress in Guatemala are also an important aspect inherited from the Mayan life thousands of years ago. Among the dyes they used was cochineal: a dye made from insects that fed on cacti and then roasted and crushed into a vermillion powder. The same substance is used today as a natural food coloring. For Alvaro Pop, “the color used in traditional clothing fabrics is the expression of life more explosive and beautiful that nowhere to be found on the continent and the world.”

Ana Cecilia Arias notes that, “great architectural monuments of the region, such as colonial churches, archeological sites in Chichen Itza, Tikal, Copan and Tazumal, are imbued with the same knowledge of physics and engineering  and important destinations to archeological tourism.  Above all, there is a large population that, in addition to preserving their ancestors’ genetic heritage, they still keep alive much of the cultural tradition even though they are surrounded by societies that don’t appreciate their own past.”

Paraguay: tremendous growth in tourism sector

Paraguay: tremendous growth in tourism sector

Sunday, December 23, 2012

By  Peter M. Tase

In the last six years passenger circulation in Paraguay’s sole international airport has increased by 300 percent.  The government of Paraguay has destined 8 million USD in remodeling and extending the hall ways and passenger boarding areas in Silvio Pettirossi International Airport.  Construction project will begin in January next year.

The end of 2012 marked a record high of passengers who traveled through Pettirossi International Airport. It is now that airport authorities have been pressured to begin work in expanding airport capacity and remodel its terminal at the earliest possible time.  Paraguay’s largest airport, this year has received the required certification from the United States authorities which enable it to become a departure point for American Airlines which begun its direct flights from Asuncion to Miami in November 16, 2012.
It is expected that Paraguayan treasury and the ministry of finance will administer the financial resources for this project, as the National Agency of Civil Aviation (DINAC), the latter of which has coped over the past two decades with dwindling resources that have hindered it from implementing these infrastructure remodeling.
This project includes the installation of two additional boarding gates, a central hall and several additional projects in the runway and presidential pavilion.
Additionally the southern resting area of international departures is also on the list.
In the recent years, Paraguay has experienced a very positive growth in the  tourism industry not only in visits to Asuncion but also in its eco-tourism sector. Hikers are drawn to the rocky region of Amambay, while rafters, kayakers and canoeists try out the country’s rivers, such as the namesake Paraguay, as well as the Tebicuary and Acaray rivers.Iguazu_Cataratas