CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela and Colombia agree to bolster bilateral trade: After meeting in Caracas, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his Colombian counterpart Álvaro Uribe agreed to strengthen economic relations via funds and quotas to boost bilateral trade. Chávez and Uribe also signed a letter of intent to establish a bi-national investment fund of US$200 million to promote commercial and energy projects. “We will not allow any event whatsoever to unsettle our relationship,” assured Chávez during the meeting.
[El Nacional, El Universal, AFP]
LIMA, Peru – President García assures that Shining Path will be defeated: Peruvian President Alan García assured that the Armed Forces are prepared and capable of controlling the dwindling groups of Shining Path rebels, referring to the killing of 14 soldiers in a guerrilla ambush in the southern region of Ayacucho. “The terrorists will not stop us, democracy will prevail,” announced García. Víctor Quispe Palomino, the self-proclaimed Shining Path leader in the Apurímac and Ene River valleys, has threatened to carry out further attacks against Peruvian authorities.
[La Jornada, El Comercio, AFP]
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Warning signs of economic recession: Consulting firms Orlando Ferreres and Rubinstein Asociados affirmed that Argentina’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shrank by 2.4 percent in March 2009 compared to 2008, declining for a second quarter in a row and signifying that the economy has technically entered recession. The report published by Ferreres stated, “Activity has fallen for two consecutive quarters: Q1 2009 showed a 3.5 drop and Q4 2008 saw a 2.2 percent annual decline”. Rubinstein y Asociados estimated that GDP fell 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the previous quarter and preliminary figures for the first three months of 2009 showed a decline of 1.8 percent.
[Clarín, La Nación, Reuters]
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Washington and Bogotá negotiate the use of Colombian military bases: The U.S. and Colombia discussed the possibility of using military installations in the South American country as a substitute for the Manta base in Ecuador which is set to close in November 2009, confirmed Colombian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief General Freddy Padilla. “The situation in Colombia is not the same as the presence in Manta. We are seeking efficient and convincing participation in a 21st century context,” said Padilla, who also stated that potential joint U.S.-Colombia operations would focus on the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.
[Radio Caracol, El Tiempo, EFE]