Today in Latin America
Top Story – The United States and Brazil are negotiating their first major military cooperation agreement since 1977, according to BBC Brasil. Citing diplomatic sources, the report says a final draft of the agreement is already completed and Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim will travel to Washington to sign it next Monday.
The U.S. government has yet to make any public statements detailing the contents the agreement, though Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela confirmed on Monday that negotiations were taking place. Valenzuela is visiting South America this week and made the statement in Quito.
According to Brazilian press reports, the agreement would create a “multinational, multifunction” base in Rio de Janeiro to monitor drug trafficking. (An English translation of an article from O Estado de São Paulo, which broke the story, is available at the Center for International Policy’s “Plan Colombia and Beyond” blog.) It is not clear what role the U.S. military would play, but the article says that foreigners cannot command operations in Brazil.
A deal to allow greater U.S. military access to Colombian bases sparked an uproar in South America when it was announced last summer. Brazilian President Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva originally said “An American base in Colombia doesn’t please me,” but later said the issue fell within the scope of Colombian sovereignty.
Other Top News: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced that the government arrested eight Colombians suspected of espionage, The Associated Press reports. Chávez said that the alleged spies, who were arrested last week, carried identification indicating they belong to the Colombian military.
Colombia and Venezuela’s relations have been strained since last summer. Colombian President Álvaro Uribe accuses Chávez of aiding the FARC, a leftist rebel army from Colombia. Chávez opposes a U.S.-Colombia military agreement that allows U.S. military access to seven Colombian bases, saying it could lead to war.
New at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Remember to read Alison Bowen’s weekly blog on immigration issues called Beyond Borders, which is posted every Wednesday. This week’s piece is entitled “Local-Federal Partnership to Enforce Immigration Law Needs Clarity, Report Says.”
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexico sold $1 billion in bonds to round out its $3 billion stated foreign currency funding needs for 2010.
- Olivia Newtown-John’s former boyfriend, who had allegedly died in a fishing trip in 2005, was found by private investigators near Puerta Vallarta, Mexico
- The Cuban government released a photo of former-child exile Elián González, now 16, at a Young Communist Union congress in Havana.
- Vice President Joe Biden met with members of south Florida’s Haitian community to promise continued support to Haiti and the Haitian diaspora.
- Jamaican dancehall artist Bounty Killer was arrested for allegedly assaulting a girlfriend. The arrest comes as Bounty Killer faces previous charges of illegal possession of a firearm, marijuana possession, and unlawful wounding and assault.
- Costa Rica and Singapore signed a Free Trade Agreement Tuesday after a year of talks between the two countries.
- U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said that President Barack Obama is committed to finishing the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) set in motion by former President George W. Bush, including FTAs with Panama and Colombia.
- El Salvador will host a Central American Tourism & Hotel Investment Exchange Fair, held on April 13 to 15.
- At least 21 people died and five were injured after a bus fell into a ravine while traveling from Puerto Nare to Medellín, Colombia.
- Eight people are suing Chiquita Brands International Inc. for the company’s alleged support of Colombian terrorist organization.
- Caracas city administrator Richard Blanco, jailed for the last seven months for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a protest in Venezuela, was freed Tuesday on the condition that he appear in court every 15 days and not speak to the media.
- A group of writers for the Ecuadorean state newspaper El Telégrafo said Tuesday they would not write for the paper anymore due to alleged censorship.
- Human Rights Watch said that Peru should conduct a investigation into the killing of six people during a confrontation with the police in the country’s Chala region.
- Brazil and the United States have resolved a long-standing dispute over subsidies received by U.S. cotton farmers. The announcement was made only a day before Brazil intended to raise tariffs on U.S. goods.
- An Argentine soy industry official said the country is “optimistic” about an end to China’s soybean oil blockade. Chinese importers began to curb Argentine imports on April 1.
- Argentina increased the weight for cattle to be slaughtered for the second time in two months in order to curb beef prices.
- Chile’s Central Bank raised copper forecasts for 2010 by 15 percent Tuesday, but expect prices to drop in 2011.
- Uruguay and Argentina decided Monday to hold trilateral talks about the possibility of importing natural gas from Bolivia to Uruguay via Argentina.
Image: U.S. Embassy Montevideo @ Flickr.