Nov. 5 News Brief South America

BOGOTA, Colombia – Colombia concerned at “serious” breakdown of law and order in Venezuela: Citing the “large number” of Colombians who died violently in Venezuela during October, the Colombian government described the law and order situation in the neighboring country as “serious.” Expressing his government’s concern for the first time, Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez called for calm to prevent further deterioration to bilateral relations. The latest crisis between the two nations flared up after 10 Colombians were killed in the Venezuelan border state of Tachira.

[El Tiempo, EFE]

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Spain to strengthen EU links with Latin America: When she visits Buenos Aires on Nov. 8, Spainish First Vice-President Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega will tell Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez that Spain intends to give priority to Latin America during its six-month presidency of the European Union (EU). The governments will also review the schedule of events involving the EU and Latin America that Spain will organize between January and June 2010. Members of the Spanish government have already expressed interest in negotiating an agreement between the EU and Mercosur.

[Europa Press, EFE]

SANTIAGO, Chile – Striking civil servants march: On the second day of their national strike, some 5,000 civil servants marched through downtown Santiago. The civil servants are demanding an across-the-board pay raise of 8–10 percent for the lowest-paid workers and have rejected the government’s offer of 2.5 percent. In a sign of support, the march was joined by the President of the Chilean Teachers’ Association, whose members have already been on strike for six days in a dispute over bonuses.

[Noticias.123.cl, EFE]

QUITO, Ecuador – Police seize cocaine inside pineapples: A cargo of pineapples awaiting shipment to Spain and Italy caught the attention of police in the northern Ecuadorian province of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas. When the containers were inspected, police found cocaine concealed inside the fruit. Provincial Police Chief Pablo Santos said that the operation had broken up a “powerful international gang” based in Medellin, Colombia. Each pineapple contained 1.5 lb of cocaine and was worth US$35,000. Eight Colombian nationals were arrested.

[Ecuavisa, EFE]

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