13 February News Brief South America

César Rodríguez

LIMA, Peru – Lima’s stock market reflects grim state of the international economy: Suffering in the throes of the poor performance of the world’s biggest economy, Lima’s stock market closed with similar losses on 12 February, following the fall recorded on Wall Street. The fall in the market of 0.57 percent was also due to bad results from local companies. There is some good news, however. Official figures state that the country’s economy grew by 9.1 percent in 2008, and this is the largest growth rate seen in the past 14 years.

[El Comercio, La República]

BOGOTA, Colombia – President Uribe takes tough stance on FARC hostage negotiations: With his customary vehemence, Colombian president Álvaro Uribe publicly responded to FARC offers for a prisoner exchange by stating that, “The only acceptable agreement is for them to unilaterally and immediately release all hostages, cease acts of violence and make peace”. Furthermore, Uribe ruled out exchanging FARC guerrillas “Simón Trinidad” and “Sonia”, who have already been extradited to the U.S.

[El Espectador, El Tiempo]

SANTIAGO DE CHILE, Chile – Central Bank of Chile reduces rates to encourage economic activity: At the request of Michelle Bachelet’s government, the Central Bank of Chile reduced the reference (prime) interest rate by 250 points on 12 February. The measure aims to benefit Chilean companies and individuals, who will be able to obtain loans for production and consumption at lower interest rates than the banks are offering. With this measure the government is seeking to keep the Chilean economy active and protect it from the wave of recession affecting other countries as a result of the economic crisis.

[La Tercera, El Mercurio]

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Agricultural and livestock sector postpones strike to negotiate with government: After the skirmishes in 2008 between the agricultural and livestock sector and the government of Cristina Fernández, 2009 appears to be bringing an air of moderation. Representatives of the majority of agricultural producers decided to back down with their planned strike on 12 February in order to negotiate with the president. The sector is protesting because it wants the government to lift export restrictions during the severe drought which is affecting the country.

[La Nación, Clarín]

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