Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend Update

For those who don't like to do the google themselves....

  • Otto at IKN has the latest on opinion polls in Colombia's upcoming election, and Mockus continues to rise...29 percent to Santos' (and James Carville's) 36 percent. Past coverage here.

  • What else is going in Colombia? Oh the usual: The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression at the IAHCR says that Colombia is close to being on the list of places where "you can barely say that there is freedom of expression." Because, ya know, that whole being spied on by the government and getting threatened thing....speaking of which...

  • Plan Colombia and Beyond has got the latest on the DAS scandal. The prosecutor-general released some files from their investigation of DAS showing that the direction came straight from the Casa de Nariño. The post is complete with pictures from the report which shows DAS' plans to start an international smear campaign against independent journalist Hollman Morris. One badass dude. No worries though, not like the former Defense Minister and presidential candidate Santos would have had any knowledge of all this.

  • But the largest mass grave in Latin America? You might have some 'splainin to do on that one Santos....2,000 unidentified corpses.

  • Elsewhere, Peter Krupa at Lat/Am Daily picks up where I left off on the NAFTA diet...and takes it to the CAFTA diet.

  • Still on the topic of Mexico being's a start: "The lower house of Congress approved two reform measures banning the sale of junk food in schools and making physical education classes mandatory in Mexico, where 30 percent of children are obese." They must have read our post...

  • Good news from El Salvador as remittances in March rose for the first time since October 2008. Pretty damn important for a country where some 2.5 million Salvadorans live in the US and remittances account for 17 percent of GDP.

  • Da BRIC met in Brasilia last week with Brazil, and to a lesser extent India and China, continuing to speak out against harsh sanctions on Iran. Noting that sanctions paved the way to the Iraq war years ago. Also, India and Brazil will back each other up for security council seats. Some may argue that the BRIC is weaker than the sum of their parts, but really Yglesias? No common interests between BRIC countries? That's just crazy.

  • Via Ken Silverstein, The Washington Post takes a look at a lobbying scandal that has put Jamaica's Prime Minister on thin ice. A big time lobbyist representing the Government of Jamaica has been hitting Washington hard to try and block the extradition of a drug kingpin, only thing is the Government of Jamaica says they didn't pay anybody, question remains, so who did? Best part, the drug dealer's name is "Coke". No joke, go read the whole story.

  • Venezuela and China are again making moves, one country gets mad cash to try and turn the economy around, the other gets endless supplies of that black sticky stuff. Good for everyone.

  • From Chile, Piñera announced a big reconstruction package worth about $8.4 billion, but who is going to profit??

  • Will be interesting to see what happens this week in Cochabamba as the people's climate summit begins. After getting funding from the US for climate change programs cut last week, Bolivia will continue pushing for stronger measures to be taken. Importantly, those that are actually effected by climate change will be able to participate in this conference.

Finally, in Bolivia the anxiously awaited "Coca Colla" has finally hit the market, they only cost a $1.50 and and you'd be giving a royal up yours to Coca-Cola at the same time. Made with real coca leaf (unlike that fake stuff up north), the drink is named after the indigenous Colla from the Bolivian highlands. Shocked? Shouldn't be, another group tried this before in that other coca loving country...Colombia. An indigenous group there released their version in 2005. Even better, get this, "Uribe's presidential Web site even promoted natural coca products as a rare commercial enterprise for poor Indian communities, and the federal food-safety agency provided quality-control advice to the manufacturers of coca tea, cookies, shampoo and other consumer goods." But that all changed when Coke busted out a trademark infringement suit. Or maybe it was just pressure from big daddy up north? As for Coke's use of coca in their soda (and maybe the real reason for the lawsuit), while the recipe might be locked in a vault and unknown now, there was a time when we got a taste of the real thing, from the New York Times in 1988:

This week, details of how Coca-Cola obtains the coca and how it is processed emerged from interviews with Government officials and scientists involved in drug research programs. They identified the Illinois-based Stepan Company as the importer and processor of the coca used in Coke. After Stepan officials acknowledged their ties to Coca-Cola, the soft drink giant confirmed those details of its operations.

So you probably had heard that Coke used coca, but did you know this Stepan company can legally import coca? And that the company supplied Coke with their coca flavoring? Amazing, I know. So now that the recipe is back in a box somewhere who knows if they still do use coca, but one thing is for sure, Stepan Co. is still importing coca, and in the Times article it says most of it is from Peru and Bolivia...kinda ironic.

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