Jaguar Energy, a subsidiary of us-based Ashmore Energy International, announced May 6 that it has won a concession to construct a $600 million coal-fueled power plant in Guatemala

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Jaguar Energy, a subsidiary of US-based Ashmore Energy International, announced May 6 that it has won a concession to construct a $600 million coal-fueled power plant in Guatemala. The plant will have an annual generation capacity of 275 megawatts. Guatemala is rapidly approaching a electricity shortages and the plant will help lessen the effects of the shortages. Jaguar plans to sell the electricity generated by the new facility to domestic distributors.
Peru’s largest federation of mining unions and local union bosses said May 6 that it is ready to commence nationwide strikes, scheduled to begin May 12. The federation is composed of 33 unions whose members work in silver, copper, zinc and gold mines. Major unions expected to strike include Southern Copper, Antamina, Doe Run Peru, Shougang Hierro Pero, Atacocha and Milpo; unions at Tintaya and Cerro Verde have not yet decided if they will participate. Union members want better outsourcing regulations, eligibility to enroll in state-run pension funds, new rules for early retirement, 8-hour work days and the government to lift caps on mining profits shared with workers. These unions have a history of nationwide strikes, so this announcement should be taken seriously. Furthermore, the strike would be on a large enough scale to cause cuts in output, company losses and potentially affect international metal prices, as was the case for the recent copper strikes in Chile. The severity of these potential repercussions will largely depend on the solidarity of the federation to act together and the length of time the strike continues.
An official from Venezuelan gold mine Isidora said May 7 that workers have stopped operations, demanding that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez seize the unit. Isidora is operated by a subsidiary of US firm Hecla Mining. The workers began the stoppage about 2 weeks ago after government officials had visited the mine and advised the workers to stop operations if they were displeased with the working conditions at the mine. There have been no comments released from the striking miners nor the government’s mining sector. This development follows a rash of nationalizations in various sectors – cement, steel, food production – by Chavez. Mining appears to be next on Chavez’s agenda as his government recently denied and retracted exploration permits to gold miners Crystallex and Gold Reserve.
Argentine activist group Barrios de Pie is working to mobilize around 3000 people to carry out protests against the high prices of food and other basic goods, Argentine media reported May 7. The group blames the supermarkets for being profit-hungry and, as a result, the culpable party for ever rising food prices. The protesters will be spread out around 12 different major super market and shopping locations throughout the greater Buenos Aires area. Various grocers are targeted – including Wal-Mart locations. Barrios de Pies has a reputation of being a potentially aggressive group; it is extremely capable and efficient at organizing large mobilizations in a short amount of time. The government, whose official stance aligns with Barrios de Pie’s accusations, has officially stated that they are not involved this mobilization. However, it is widely rumored that on multiple occasions in the past, Kirchner camp has assumed an influential, behind-the-scene role in large public demonstrations that support government views. Regardless of the any covert government affiliation, this event marks the first large scale, contemporary (**writers – want to indicate first protest against high food prices given the recent development of growing global food crisis**) protest against rising food prices in Argentina and could easily lead to growing movement for the cause within the country should food supplies and price not improve soon.
Pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with Latin American countries are high on US President George W. Bush, according to recent reports. Bush called an FTA with Panama a “priority of this government,” saying he would push Congress to approve the trade accord. According to White House sources cited May 7, Bush plans to apply pressure to US Democrats to approve a trade deal with Colombia. In an attempt to quash the deal, Democrats recently voted to postpone a vote on Colombia’s FTA until after the November elections. Bush is expected to dedicate a large part of his speech to Colombia during a talk at the Council of the Americas. The US also has a pending FTA with South Korea.

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