18 May News Brief South America

Eduardo Herrera

BRASILIA, Brazil – “Lula” on state visit to China: Brazilian President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva has arrived in Beijing on an official three-day state visit to China aimed at forming a “strategic alliance”. The president and his delegation, which is comprised of government officials and some 50 businessmen, will meet Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and owners of Chinese investment companies. Bilateral trade between Brazil and China amounted to more than US$36 billion in 2008, a 56 percent increase on 2007. In April, China, which imports Brazilian soya beans, surpassed the U.S. as the largest purchaser of Brazilian exports for the month.

[EFE, Folha de Sao Paulo]

QUITO, Ecuador – Ecuador awards visas to more than 5,000 refugees: During the first seven weeks of the Expanded Registry campaign, the Ecuadorian government has awarded refugee visas to more than 5,500 people in districts in the border area with Colombia. According to Ecuador’s Foreign Office, the refugees have been registered in a government database, granted the right to work and been given access to health and education services in the country. The Expanded Registry programme receives official support from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

[EFE, Ecuadorinmediato.com]

LIMA, Peru – Majority of Peruvians do not support President García’s re-election: An opinion poll in Peru has found that 77 percent of the population do not approve of President Alan García seeking re-election in 2011. Peru’s constitution does not permit immediate re-election, and just 19 percent of Peruvians would approve its modification to allow García to stand again. His popular approval rating is 30 percent, according to the survey by Ipsos Apoyo. Political analyst José Luis Sardón said that the people “fear he will abuse his power”.

[AFP, EFE, El Comercio]

LA PAZ, Bolivia – Thomas Shannon announces visit to Bolivia to improve bilateral relations: Thomas Shannon, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, will meet representatives of the Bolivian government in La Paz to look for ways to improve relations. Dan Restrepo, the National Security Council’s Director for Latin America, will also be included on the mission. Topics for discussion will include cooperation on development, the fight against drug trafficking and the APTDEA suspension. State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke said that the U.S. is looking to embark on a “new direction” in relations with Bolivia.

[La Razón, EFE, DPA]

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