TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduran Defense Minister Marlon Pascua shows the weapons authorities seized from 13 alleged narco-traffickers who were arrested by the Navy aboard a vessel in the Caribbean Sea last week. Naval officials also confiscated US$658,000 during the bust. (Honduran Ministry of Defense/AFP)
CARACAS, Venezuela – Budget gives Chavez control over social programs worth millions: The draft Venezuelan budget for 2010 involves a 638 percent increase in the amount destined to the Venezuelan Presidential Ministry, with an allocation of US$1.5 billion. This will increase the number of decisions in the hands of President Hugo Chávez, mainly with respect to social programs related to health, education and housing. The preliminary budget document is being debated by the National Assembly (Parliament), under executive control, and is expected to be approved before Dec. 15.
[El Universal, EFE]
MANAUS, Brazil – Gas pipeline to supply Manaus begins operations: State-owned oil company Petrobras will begin pumping gas through the Urucu-Manaus gas pipeline, which traverses 410 miles of jungle, to supply Manaus. The work crosses the largest tropical jungle in the world and will allow natural gas to be used for energy production instead of diesel in the city of 1.8 million inhabitants. According to Petrobras’ project implementation manager, Marcelo Restum, the use of gas will reduce the city’s annual CO2 emissions by 30 percent.
[Diario Valor, EFE]
SANTIAGO, Chile – Mining agreement with Argentina will generate investments worth billions: The Chilean government estimates that the agreement to develop binational mining initiatives could generate investments exceeding US$8 billion over the coming years. According to mining minister Santiago González, this figure could be achieved within ten years. The Pascua Lama project, valued at US$3 billion, has already been set in motion as part of the treaty signed in 1997, stated González. Canadian firm Barrick Gold will carry out the project on the border between Argentina and Chile, at an elevation of over 5,000 meters above sea level.
[La Segunda, EFE]
LIMA, Peru – Peruvian ambassador to Chile will remain at home: After Peru accused Chile of espionage, Peruvian president Alan García reiterated that his country’s ambassador in Santiago, Carlos Pareja, will not return to Santiago. The diplomat was recalled after accusations surfaced in Lima that Peruvian military officer Víctor Ariza had allegedly passed on secret information regarding Peruvian arms purchases to Chile. Both the Chilean government, which denies any involvement in the espionage, and the Peruvian government recalled their respective ambassadors.
[El Comercio, EFE]