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January 19, 2009 [LINK / comment]

U.S.-Peru free trade pact

As one of his final official acts as U.S. President, George W. Bush signed the U.S.-Peru free trade pact which was ratified by the U.S. Senate in December 2007 after a stiff debate. The delay in signing the agreement stemmed from a variety of concerns over implementation. As reported by BBC, "Earlier this week, Democrats in the US Congress and development organisations said Peru had still not fulfilled key obligations to improve its labour rights and environmental standards and urged Mr Bush not to sign the deal." Some Peruvian farmers fear that subsidized U.S. agricultural imports will undercut home-grown agricultural produce, a concern that is not without merit. The U.S. Congress should reduce farm subsidies that distort domestic and international markets, and replace such measures with a reformed system of credits, which would be a better way to help tide farmers over in lean years.

Contraband wildlife

Chilean inspectors seized at least 400 exotic animals from Peru that were discovered in cardboard boxes aboard a Chilean boat last week. The distressed creatures will be returned to Peru promptly. According to, the smuggled cargo included "macaws, toucans, parrots, turtles, squirrels and crocodiles, most of them protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. ... The captain of the ship ... faces a possible fine of between $188,000 and $940,000..." Congratulations to the government of Chile for enforcing laws designed to protect Nature, which is often difficult in poor countries. It's another sign that Chile is joining the ranks of the developed world.

Costa Rica earthquake

An earthquake hit Costa Rica earlier this month, killing about three dozen people. It was centered in the mountains northwest of the capital city San Jose. See This is not far from the Volcano Poas where Jacqueline and I visited four years ago.

Brazil update

I have updated the chronology on the Brazil background information page.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 19 Jan 2009, 12: 11 PM

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Blog highlights have been compiled for the years 2010-2012 thus far, and eventually will be compiled for earlier years, back to 2002.


The "home made" blog organization system that I created was instituted on November 1, 2004, followed by several functional enhancements in subsequent years. I make no more than one blog post per day on any one category, so some posts may cover multiple news items or issues. Blog posts appear in the following (reverse alphabetical) order, which may differ from the chronological order in which the posts were originally made:

  1. Wild birds (LAST)
  2. War
  3. Science & Technology
  4. Politics
  5. Latin America
  6. Culture & Travel
  7. Canaries ("Home birds")
  8. Baseball (FIRST)