- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Striking farmers await offer

BUENOS AIRES — Argentine farmers angry over a tax increase on grain exports manned roadblocks yesterday as the government tried to end a 19-day strike that has emptied meat counters, halted shipments abroad and provoked a political crisis.

Argentina’s four biggest agriculture groups renewed their nationwide strike Saturday, a day after talks with the government broke down. During their protest, farmers have stopped beef and grain sales and blocked trucks carrying farm goods.

Local media said yesterday the government would announce a package of measures aimed at easing the tax burden on small-scale farmers in the country, a leading global supplier of soybeans, corn, wheat and beef.

The strike has handed center-left President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner her stiffest political challenge since taking office in December.

It has paralyzed grain exports, raising concern in key buyers such as China and Europe and forcing some exporters to renege on their contracts. Ships are standing idle in ports and soy crushers are almost without stock. The government was expected to meet with farmers yesterday, but at least one farm group leader said it was not clear whether the meeting would take place.


Citigroup branch damaged by bomb

MEXICO CITY — An explosion broke windows outside a Citigroup-owned bank in Mexico’s capital late Sunday, but nobody was injured, authorities said.

Police found pieces of aerosol cans and burned cardboard, the apparent remnants of a bomb, outside the branch owned by U.S. bank Citigroup Inc.

No one has taken responsibility for the late-night bombing and nothing was stolen from inside the bank, Mexico City Public Security Minister Joel Ortega told television news.

In recent years, small bombs have occasionally been set off outside foreign-owned bank branches in and around Mexico City.

Two years ago, small leftist guerrilla groups took responsibility for an explosion outside of a bank branch owned by Canada’s Scotiabank.


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