Latin America - Nov 28
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Correa 'wins Ecuador's election'
Leftist Rafael Correa has won Ecuador's presidential run-off election, a top electoral official has said.
With nearly all votes counted, Mr Correa had just over 57% of the vote while his conservative rival Alvaro Noboa polled 42.8%.
Washington has congratulated Mr Correa, who opposes a free trade deal with the US, on his apparent victory.
...Mr Correa, who is close to Venezuela's anti-American President Hugo Chavez, said he will try to rejoin the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) which Ecuador left in 1992.
He also named leftist economists Ricardo Patino and Alberto Acosta as his economy and energy ministers.
While campaigning, Mr Correa said he wanted to renegotiate contracts with foreign oil companies, but it is thought unlikely that he will nationalise Ecuador's energy industry.
(28 Nov 2006)
UPDATE: NY Times commentary: Ecuador Vote: Leader Forges Middle Road Among Leftists.
Venezuela’s Oil-Based Economy
Cesar J. Alvarez, Council on Foreign Relations
Venezuela has an oil economy. It is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and its oil reserves are among the top ten in the world. Oil typically generates 80 percent of the country’s total export revenue, contributes about half of the central government’s income, and is responsible for about one-third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Increases in world oil prices over the last few years have allowed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to push the government’s social program spending, expand its commercial ties to other countries, and boost his own international profile.
Chavez’s anti-U.S. rhetoric has raised concern because he has threatened to stop exporting Venezuelan oil and refined petroleum products to the United States, its biggest oil-trading partner. Although Venezuela is trying to develop new markets for its crude oil, a significant short-term shift in oil relations between Venezuela and the United States is unlikely since Venezuela remains heavily dependent on oil exports to the United States.
(27 Nov 2006)
The Council on Foreign Relations calls itself "a nonpartisan resource for information and analysis." Nonetheless, this report appears to be U.S.-centric, favoring U.S. interests and commentary. Why is this a problem? Even if a country aims to pursue a strict national interest, it needs to understand the motivations and worldviews of other countries -- to be guided by reality rather than by its own desires. -BA
Mexico: An energy quagmire awaits president-elect
ELIZA BARCLAY, Houston Chronicle
When Mexico's president-elect, Felipe Calderon, takes office Friday, he will inherit an energy-policy quandary.
Calderon, a conservative, needs to convince the Mexican public that the enormous profits reaped by Mexico's state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, trickle down to the public.
And he needs to find the billions required to reverse the sharp decline in Pemex's production. The chief executive of Pemex, Ramirez Corzo, said this week it needs to spend $18 billion a year to find oil at a time when production is dropping rapidly from its huge Cantarell field, the Associated Press reported.
(25 Nov 2006)