Oct. 23 News Brief South America

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay – Senate approves Itaipú agreement with Brazil: Paraguay’s Upper House has approved the agreement signed in July by Presidents Fernando Lugo and Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva by an absolute majority. The agreement awards Paraguay with greater benefits regarding the proceeds of the Itaipú hydroelectric power plant and triples the purchase price for excess energy received by Paraguay. Brazil will pay US$360 million a year instead of the US$120 million it currently pays its Mercosur partner.

[ABC Color, EFE]

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Primary fiscal surplus tumbles in September: Argentina recorded a sharp year-on-year downturn on the primary fiscal surplus in September, leaving a total of US$58.2 million. This figure is 93.6 percent below that of the same month in 2008. Finance minister Amado Boudou defended the situation, explaining that it consists of a “countercyclical fiscal policy.” While acknowledging the fall, he expressed his “complete agreement” with the economic policy applied by President Cristina Fernández’s government. The primary surplus was US$2.27 billion during the first nine months of the year.

[Télam, EFE]

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – Former Uruguayan dictator sentenced to 25 years in prison: Just three days before a referendum is due to be held in the country on the annulment of the Expiration Law covering crimes committed by the military dictatorship (1973–1985), a Uruguayan court sentenced former dictator Gregorio Álvarez to 25 years in prison on Oct. 22. He was convicted on the deaths of 37 members of the opposition in 1977 and 1978. Although originally accused of the crime of forced disappearance, Álvarez (83) was finally convicted of the especially aggravated murder of 37 opposition members and one crime against humanity.


CARACAS, Venezuela – Work on laying cable to Cuba expected to begin in 2009: Cuban ambassador to Venezuela Rogelio Polanco Fuentes has said that work on the project to connect the Caribbean island and its South American ally with a fiber optic cable “is expected” to begin before the end of 2009. The cable will allow Cuba to replace its current satellite Internet connection with “wide-ranging communications.” The project consists of a 1,600-kilometer twin core fiber optic cable with a 640 gigabyte capacity cable that will multiply Cuba’s connection capacity by 3000.

[Prensa Latina, EFE]

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