May 31, 2006 [LINK]

Student protest in Chile

Perhaps it is an indication of Chile's economic success, rising above Third World status, that half a million students boycotted classes to back up their demands for a new curriculum, free bus rides, and no fees to take exams. Or perhaps it reflects the left-liberal permissiveness encouraged by the Socialist government. In any case, over 600 of them were arrested in protests during the last two days, and 14 were injured by police who used water cannons to keep the kids under control. President Michelle Bachelet denounced the police and expressed sympathy for the students. See BBC.

Venezuela-Russia arms deal

During a visit to Ecuador, Hugo Chavez announced that Venezuela had reached an agreement with Russia whereby Kalashnikov rifles will be manufactured under license in Venezuela "So we can defend every street, every hill, every corner." See BBC. Whether or not he actually believes such paranoid fantasies, some people are bound to do so, and this will needlessly escalate tensions and have a destabilizing effect on security in the region. Chavez began purchases of weapons from Russia in February 2005, and then as now, the main goal seems to be his desire to arm rebel forces in Colombia and other countries that resist his "Bolivarian revolution."

Uruguay update

The Uruguay background information page has been updated with data on political parties and a (rather scant) news chronology.