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News Roundup: Colombian Protests, U.S. Polls, and Brazilian Beef

February 05, 2008

Thank you for joining us for our first edition of a weekly news roundup covering news and analysis about the Americas. Please join us each week as we examine some of the major—and some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the region.

Colombians Rally against FARC
In the largest march in Colombia’s history, protesters numbering in the hundreds of thousands took to the streets on February 4 to show their opposition to kidnappings carried out by members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Organizers used social networking site Facebook to help coordinate sister events in cities across the world, including Tokyo, Sydney, London, and New York. Some estimates put the number of protesters worldwide as high as two million. Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced his government would work to secure the release of three more FARC-held hostages.


Voters Head to Polls for U.S. Primaries
Nearly half of U.S. states held primaries on February 5 to select Republican and Democratic nominees for the highly-contested 2008 presidential election. Latin Business Chronicle takes a look at where each of the candidates begin trade talks with the P4 group—Chile, Singapore, Brunei, and New Zealand—with the goal of boosting Asia-Pacific regional integration. Washington already holds trade agreements with Santiago and Singapore.

Lima's Rising Exports
Peru witnessed its exports reach record levels in 2007, growing by 16 percent to hit $27.6 billion. Lima, which signed free trade agreements with the United States in December and with Canada in January, got a boost from rising commodity prices and sales of copper, zinc, and gold. Peruvian exports have been on the rise for ban imports of Brazilian beef based on claims of health concerns has roiled leaders Brazil’s beef industry. The director of the Brazilian Association of Meat Exporters called the EU prohibition “abusive sanitary protectionism.” The Brazilian government hopes the beef exports to the EU, which accounted for a quarter of Brazilian beef sales in 2007, will resume within 90 days. 

Mexican Housing Market Goes Boom

The real estate market continues to surge in Mexico following six years of economic growth. With Latin America’s housing sector the strongest in Latin America, Mexico’s real estate boom is attracting foreign investors and could create millions of jobs. Lenders approved a record 1.16 million mortgages in 2007.