Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Chavez warns of ‘winds of war’

QUITO | President Hugo Chavez charged Monday at a regional summit here that the “winds of war” were blowing across Latin America as he slammed Colombia’s decision to allow the United States use of its military bases.

Mr. Chavez, saying he was fulfilling a “moral duty” to warn his fellow leaders at the summit of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) that the “winds of war were beginning to blow,” slammed the military accords between Bogota and Washington.

“This could generate a war in South America,” he said.

The rhetoric heightened a day after Mr. Chavez accused Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the Colombian military of “provocations” by entering Venezuelan territory.

Mr. Chavez has led a diplomatic offensive against the Colombia-U.S. agreement in recent weeks, saying he feared the move amounted to preparations for an invasion of his country by a “Yankee military force.”

Colombia and the United States have insisted that the bases are meant only to expand the U.S. fight against drug trafficking in Colombia.


Emergency landing for president’s plane

LIMA | A plane carrying Peruvian President Alan Garcia to Ecuador had to make an emergency landing in the city of Chiclayo in northern Peru on Monday, a presidential press official told Agence France-Presse.

Jose Chirito, head of the presidential palace’s press office, said Mr. Garcia’s plane made an emergency landing after a crack was discovered in the windshield of the plane.

Mr. Garcia was traveling in a Peruvian Air Force Boeing 737 on his way to Ecuador, where he was scheduled to attend the inauguration of his counterpart, Rafael Correa.


Poverty soars; people pray for jobs

BUENOS AIRES | Now even the pope says Argentina’s sharp rise in poverty is a “scandal,” and the government has been forced to agree, with former President Nestor Kirchner offering new poverty numbers that would represent a 50 percent rise this year alone.

Pope Benedict XVI made the declaration as thousands lined up to offer prayers Friday to St. Cayetano, the patron of jobs and unemployed people.

The government hasn’t updated its poverty rate since the end of 2008, leaving it stuck at 15.3 percent while making a series of changes to its official inflation index. Argentina’s bishops, seeing growing crowds at soup kitchens, estimate that 40 percent of the nation of 37 million now live in poverty.

Aides to President Cristina Fernandez had rejected the criticism until the pope weighed in Thursday night, urging his bishops “to reduce the scandal of poverty and social inequality” during their annual charity drive. It was unusually strong language for the pontiff, and Mrs. Fernandez quickly conceded, calling it scandalous that anyone is poor in a country as rich as Argentina.

“How can poverty not be scandalous?” added her husband, Mr. Kirchner, who oversaw continued growth during his 2003-07 presidency, as Argentina recovered from a ruinous economic collapse in 2001.


Price ceilings vowed on swine flu vaccine

QUITO | South America’s 12 nations Saturday pledged to respect regional vaccine price ceilings to prevent businesses from exploiting fear of the H1N1 flu pandemic, Ecuadorean Health Minister Caroline Chang said.

“[We] establish a commitment to not buy individually, above the prices set by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) … to prevent commercial interests from taking advantage of pandemic panic,” she said, summarizing the conclusions of a meeting of the region’s health ministries, called to map out a strategy to fight the pandemic.

The region needs 200 million doses of flu vaccine, she said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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