Posted by the Generals on March 25, 2011, 3:34 pm
Subject: Mexico News DAILY- March 25, 2011 |
LatinNews Daily - 25 March 2011
Obama’s Salvadorean visit turns to dust
Development: On 24 March El Salvador’s delight at entertaining US President Barack Obama (22-23 March) began to evaporate when its credit rating was downgraded and then it made renewed overtures to President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.
Significance: Even before Moody’s dropped El Salvador a notch, the US ambassador in San Salvador, Mari Carmen Aponte, had to assert that the Obama visit needed to be measured in more than pecuniary terms. She was fending off disappointment that Obama had not announced major new initiatives during his visit. She argued that the mere fact that Obama had praised President Mauricio Funes would encourage foreign investment.
• Moody’s, one of the main international credit rating agencies, dropped its rating from Ba1, the top non-investment grade rating, to Ba2. The agency said that the new rating reflected the economy’s comparatively modest growth prospects: it expects 2.5% GDP growth in 2011. The agency is particularly concerned by the growing public sector debt, which is now around 53% of GDP.
• For the US, the news that President Funes may invite President Hugo Chávez to open a new Alba Petróleos storage facility at Acajutla in April 2011 shows that the US faces strong competition in its efforts to remain El Salvador’s closest ally. The board of Alba Petróleos, one of the units of Chávez’s PetroCaribe initiative, is dominated by radical members of a former guerrilla group, the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), which carried Funes, not a traditional efemelenista, to power in 2009. The board wants to invite Chávez. Funes stressed that even if Chávez came, it would not be on a state visit. The Alba Petróleos plant will supply the country with 40% of its petrol and diesel.
• President Funes said, before the Moody’s downgrade, that Obama’s visit was more than a “goodwill gesture”. He said that El Salvador’s membership in the so-called Partnership to Grow, a new initiative led by the US government to promote public-private partnerships, would mean new skilled jobs being created in the country. He said that he expected the first fruits of this cooperation with the US to appear in June with works relating to the expansion of Comalapa airport, San Salvador’s international airport, improvements to the public transport system and the development of renewable energies.
• Obama’s visit was carefully managed to avoid embarrassments on both sides. For example, the public security minister, Manuel Melgar, was kept well away from Obama. The protocol reason was that Obama’s party did not have anyone of an equivalent ministerial rank to Melgar. The real reason was that Melgar fought for the FLMN in the civil war, in which he lost three of his 14 siblings, and, according to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, he was responsible for the killing of four US marines and eight civilians as they left a restaurant on 19 June 1985.
Pointer: Jorge Castañeda, a former Mexican foreign minister, made a fascinating comment in a column he wrote for ‘La Prensa Gráfica’, the main Salvadorean daily. He argued that Obama’s trip to Latin America (to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador) may be the last by a US President to Latin America. From now on, he argued, US Presidents will deal separately with, at least, two Latin Americas: Mexico and the Caribbean Basin and South America.
Each of these sub-regions has a completely different range of issues to discuss with the US. South America has joined the world economy thanks to the commodity boom and thus, its relevance for the US has dropped. For Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, however, trade, immigration and security remain the crucial issues in their relations with the US and, arguably, Obama delivered little on any of these three issues during his Salvadorean visit.
LatinNews Daily - 25 March 2011
Chihuahua alert on flu after death
Development: On 24 March the state government of Chihuahua, on the border with the US, issued an alert after a policeman died after contracting the influenza A virus.
Significance: Two other people have the disease and 15 others may also have it. The state governor, César Duarte, said that it was important that people realised that the state was not facing a pandemic, as the country did two years ago. He did say, however, that the state government was introducing security measures to prevent the spreading of the virus.
• Duarte suggested that the flu originated in El Paso, Texas, where there have been 29 confirmed cases of influenza A this year. He has ordered the vaccination of 250 border agents.
• Separately, the same virus appears to have broken out in Caracas, Venezuela. There, the health minister, Eugenia Sader, said that 179 people may have the virus; two people died in Mérida, where schools have been closed.
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