May 26, 2006 [LINK]
Gunshots spoil Garcia's parade
Protests against former president Alan Garcia, who is the leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election in Peru, turned violent while he and his entourage were heading to the airport in the highland city of Cuzco today. Two people were wounded by gunshots, but the candidate of APRA escaped without injury. An Aprista congressman blamed Ollanta Humala for inciting the violence with his extreme rhetoric, but the only people wounded were followers of Humala, so it appears that it was the bodyguards who fired weapons. The confrontation started when someone hit Garcia in the face with an egg, which escalated into a torrent of eggs and rocks hurled at the motorcade, leaving on Aprista activist injured. Details of the incident are still unclear. CNN.com and La Republica (in Spanish). From the 1930s until the 1960s, APRA had a bad reputation from all the street thugs, who were called "buffaloes," among their ranks. Ironically, APRA is now considered the relatively moderate option in the election which will be June 4, a week from this Sunday.
Venezuela flexes its muscles
The government of Hugo Chavez has reached a series of economic agreements with Bolivia that will result in greatly increased investment in joint mining enterprises and road paving, as well as expanded university scholarships. Venezuela is flush with cash from all the Americans who buy their gas at CITGO stations, and Bolivia is in desperate need of a cash infusion, so it is a match made in heaven, in a manner of speaking. Some Bolivians suspect the motives of Chavez, which are pretty obvious. Bolivia's recent nationalization of its gas industry angered Brazil and Argentina, which have investments in Bolivia, and this move represents an attempt by Bolivia to free itself from the influence of its much larger neighbors. See CNN.com. As for the mischievious ways of Venezuela, it's a fascinating power play by the up-and-coming "rogue regime" in Caracas.
Meanwhile, high military officials from Spain and Venezuela formalized with signatures the agreement they reached last month under which eight patrol boats will be built in Venezuela. See CNN.com. The U.S. State Department is not pleased with either country, both of which used to be very friendly.
Colombian campaign ends
The presidential campaign is about to end, and the only question is whether Alvaro Uribe will be elected in the first round (as he was in 2002), or will need to go to a second round to get a majority of votes. Over 100 academicians in Colombia signed a letter complaining that the campaign has been unduly polarized, placing much of the blame on President Uribe and his followers. See El Tiempo of Bogota (in Spanish). Also, the news chronology and political background sections of the Colombia page have been updated, including the results of the congressional elections that were held in March. That leaves just seven countries to go, until those Latin America background pages are fully up to date.