BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Agricultural and livestock sector breaks off negotiations with the government: On 18 February the Argentinian Rural Confederation (CRA) invited the government to hold talks with the discontented sector and applied pressure with the announcement of a possible freeze on sales of agricultural products. The farmers and ranchers are demanding tax reductions, renewed exports, the normalisation of markets and aid for producers affected by the drought. Argentinian president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner expressed her government’s willingness hold talks with the farmers “without threats or pressure”.
[La Nación, Clarín]
SANTIAGO, Chile – Police evacuate the town of Chaitén after volcanic eruption: Around a hundred people were evacuated from the community of El Amarillo, 25 kilometres from Chaitén in southern Chile, on 19 February after the volcano of the same name erupted, reported presidential delegate Paula Narváez. The National Geology and Mines Service recorded constant activity of the volcano with earth tremors between 2 and 9 February. According Narváez, the increased volcanic activity, partially influenced by strong winds and storms, led to the destruction of the summit.
[La Tercera, El Mercurio]
LA PAZ, Bolivia – UN questions government’s drug control policy: The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a sub-department of the United Nations, flagged Bolivian government policies for infringing international treaties regarding cocaine leaf production and consumption. According to the INCB report released on 19 February, Bolivia is revising legislation to allow for the use of the coca leaf for traditional and industrial purposes. This decision contravenes the 1961 Vienna Convention. The INCB urged the Bolivian government to comply with the treaty, which forbids coca leaf consumption without the prior extraction of its principal alkaloids.
[La Prensa, La Razón]
ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay – President Fernando Lugo demands loyalty from Armed Forces: In the midst of internal conflicts and a political crisis, Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo asked the Armed Forces for loyalty and discipline, while ordering intelligence agencies to remain alert, with plans to strengthen the same. The president met high-ranking military officials, and expressed his concern over the political crisis, insecurity, economic stagnation and conflict in rural areas. Lugo has lost power in political circles and is being deserted by the sectors which once supported him.
[ABC Color, Última Hora]
LIMA, Peru – Home secretary resigns over criticisms by congressmen: Cabinet chief Yehude Simon announced the resignation of home secretary Remigio Hernani Meloni “for personal reasons”. Hernani will be replaced by ruling-party congresswoman Mercedes Cabanillas. Remigio Hernani took up his post in October 2008 and lasted just four months, during which time two police officers died while removing squatters from the Pómac Forest Historical Sanctuary. His attack on the director of public prosecutions, Gladyz Echaíz, was another factor which led to calls for his resignation. The former director of the National Peruvian Police, Eduardo Pérez Rocha, proposed the need for greater prevention efforts in order guarantee public safety.
[El Comercio, La República]