Skip to main content

blessing or curse?

US officials set to visit Paraguay and Uruguay this week.

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo A. Valenzuela will be in Asuncion, Paraguay November 8–9 and in Montevideo, Uruguay November 9–10.  In both countries, he will meet with government officials and political, business, and civil society leaders to discuss bilateral and regional issues such as opportunities for increased trade, educational exchanges and science and technology cooperation, as well as avenues to improve security and stability for the Western Hemisphere...
...because of all the terrorists and organized criminals in Paraguay and Uruguay.

Fernando Lugo in May and October 2010.
Proving that he is a sick president?


Diplomats from six Latin American countries, including Paraguay, visiting Georgia this week.

Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, met with a group of diplomats from six Latin American countries visiting Georgia on November 8-13. The group includes permanent representatives of Argentina, Paraguay and Suriname to the UN, as well as deputy head of missions of Peru and Brazil to the UN and an official from the Foreign Ministry of Honduras, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
“Russia-Georgia relations, situation with displaced persons and their rights, as well as regional situation... were discussed. It was our desire to bring [diplomats from the Latin American countries] to Georgia to show them success of our reforms,” Grigol Vashadze said after the meeting. The group of diplomats also plans a meeting with President Saakashvili during the visit, which will also include trip to areas adjacent to Georgia’s breakaway regions. “Grigol Vashadze briefed the ambassadors about Georgia’s engagement in direction of Latin America and the Caribbean, which includes opening of diplomatic missions in the region and deepening of political, economic, trade and cultural relations with the countries of the region,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said.
President Saakashvili visited Costa Rica and Colombia in May and August, respectively. Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Nalbandov, was in Bolivia and Ecuador in April.
This year Georgia has established diplomatic ties with four Latin American countries - Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia. Officials in Tbilisi say that the region is important for Georgia, among other issues, primarily because of non-recognition policy of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Nicaragua was the first country to follow Russia’s suit in recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in September, 2008, followed by Venezuela in September, 2009.

Why would Latin American countries need to hear about the Russia-Georgia dynamics?

Meanwhile, Paraguay titanium find may be world's largest.

The American explorer who discovered the world’s biggest copper deposit in Chile has staked a claim in Paraguay to what he says may be the largest titanium find. David Lowell, 82, the president of closely held CIC Resources Inc., controls mineral rights to at least 185,000 hectares (457,000 acres), according to Paraguay’s sub-ministry of mining and energy. That is an area the size of London. The possible resources are 21 billion metric tons, Lowell said.
“Our deposit could control the world titanium market, a big enough piece of production that whoever operates it would dictate what the price is going to be,” Lowell said in an interview. “And the price, presumably, would be reduced by having higher-grade ore and large tonnage.” 
Very nice. We also learn that:
  • Chinese companies are among the potential buyers.
  • Titanium is a white pigment found in paint, paper, plastic, aeronautics, and.... of course, since it is an industrial mineral....toothpaste. Evidently toothpaste should always contain several industrial-grade additives to be effective.
  • Titanium is abundant in the earth's crust, but the 2008 financial crisis pinched new ore production, so supply is tight.
Lowell’s claim is in the Alto Parana district, eastern Paraguay, near the border with Brazil. Actually, that is the very same district which contains the INFAMOUS Tri-Border Area!

"Hezbollah, Hamas, Colombian extremists, Chinese Triads, Russian Mafia groups and Al-Qaeda operate in this area. In Ciudad del Este, Foz do Iguaçu and Puerto Iguazú which is located in this area, the illegal activity is immense. The turnout for the region is roughly estimated at more than 20 billion dollars annually.

The type of ore found, known as ilmenite, is predominately used in China. Other large sources are in Africa. Mining for ilmenite requires economies of scale because it is a low-cost input to a wide range of products. Asian-Pacific demand for ilmenite is projected to grow 30% between 2008 and 2013.

In September, the lower house of Paraguay’s congress passed a law to strengthen mineral claims in a country that has no history of large-scale mining. Juan Antonio Denis, head of the mining and energy committee in the Chamber of Deputies, said in an interview that Lowell requested the legislation.
Lowell “told us we had to adjust our legislation to regional standards, and that’s what we set out to do,” Denis said. “We want David Lowell to come work in Paraguay.”
The legislation is now before the senate.
“There will be a time lag inevitably to get the mine constructed, at least three to five years,” said Adams at Artikol. “In a place like Paraguay, they may be into making infrastructure improvements as well.” He described Lowell’s discovery as “huge.”

Generally speaking, these sorts of discoveries rarely turn out well for the people who live on top of the minerals. In this case, we have an area the size of London somewhere in Alto Parana district. If there happen to be any people living on top of the ilmenite, they will have to move.

There are many ways to get people to move out of the way so that mineral extraction can commence. Slow methods. Fast methods. Legitimate methods. Illegitimate methods.

Let's recall Nigeria. There's a lot of oil in the Niger Delta.

Nigeria had all the makings of an uplifting tale: poor African nation blessed with enormous sudden wealth. Visions of prosperity rose with the same force as the oil that first gushed from the Niger Delta's marshy ground in 1956. The world market craved delta crude, a "sweet," low-sulfur liquid called Bonny Light, easily refined into gasoline and diesel. By the mid-1970s, Nigeria had joined OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), and the government's budget bulged with petrodollars.
Everything looked possible—but everything went wrong.
Dense, garbage-heaped slums stretch for miles. Choking black smoke from an open-air slaughterhouse rolls over housetops. Streets are cratered with potholes and ruts. Vicious gangs roam school grounds. Peddlers and beggars rush up to vehicles stalled in gas lines. This is Port Harcourt, Nigeria's oil hub, capital of Rivers state, smack-dab in the middle of oil reserves bigger than the United States' and Mexico's combined. Port Harcourt should gleam; instead, it rots.
Beyond the city, within the labyrinth of creeks, rivers, and pipeline channels that vein the delta—one of the world's largest wetlands—exists a netherworld. Villages and towns cling to the banks, little more than heaps of mud-walled huts and rusty shacks. Groups of hungry, half-naked children and sullen, idle adults wander dirt paths. There is no electricity, no clean water, no medicine, no schools. Fishing nets hang dry; dugout canoes sit unused on muddy banks. Decades of oil spills, acid rain from gas flares, and the stripping away of mangroves for pipelines have killed off fish. Nigeria has been subverted by the very thing that gave it promise—oil, which accounts for 95 percent of the country’s export earnings and 80 percent of its revenue. (National Geographic, Nigerian Oil, February 2007)
In addition to the crushing poverty and deadly pollution, the people of Nigeria also deal with murderous rebels.

The sense of relentless crisis has deepened since last year, when a secretive group of armed, hooded rebels operating under the name of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, intensified attacks on oil platforms and pumping stations, most operated by Shell Nigeria.
With each disruption, the daily price of oil on the world market climbed. According to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, escalating violence in a region teeming with angry, frustrated people is creating a “militant time bomb.”
Isaac Asume Osuoka, director of Social Action, Nigeria, believes that callousness toward the people of the delta stems from their economic irrelevance. “With all the oil money coming in, the state doesn’t need taxes from people. Rather than being a resource for the state, the people are impediments. There is no incentive anymore for the government to build schools or hospitals.”I can say this,” Osuoka said firmly. “Nigeria was a much better place without oil.”
This is all from a post from January 2010: while you were out.  

Well, that’s just it. The poor people happen to be in the way, from the perspective of the very important people who would like to go about extracting Nigeria’s natural resources in peace and quiet, thank you very much.
No one can deny the sheer technological achievement of building an infrastructure to extract oil from a waterlogged equatorial forest. Intense swampy heat, nearly impenetrable mangrove thickets, swarming insects, and torrential downpours bedevil operations to this day. But mastering the physical environment has proved almost simple compared with dealing with the social and cultural landscape. The oil firms entered a region splintered by ethnic rivalries.
Ahh, yes, the impossible to please poor people and their interminable “ethnic rivalries.” That’s always a good justification. That way when the oil companies go in there to take over the natural resources and make life next to impossible for people who lived off the land, without providing any consolation prizes like electricity or clean water or schools or medicine, those damn poor people are bound to get all uppity and start causing trouble. Happens every time.
Who could have predicted??
“After 50 years, the oil companies are still searching for a way to operate successfully with communities,” says Antony Goldman, a London-based risk consultant. The delta is littered with failed projects started by oil companies and government agencies—water tanks without operating pumps, clinics with no medicine, schools with no teachers or books, fishponds with no fish. “The companies didn’t consult with villagers,” says Michael Watts, director of the African Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley. “They basically handed out cash to chiefs. It wasn’t effective at all.”
A fifty fucking years learning curve? How about they know exactly what they’re doing. How about they do this on purpose. It’s a critical part of the business model to make the land inhospitable so that the people die or leave. The People Are In The Way. OK? That’s what’s going on. And everybody involved knows it. That’s why Hillary Clinton had to complain about all the corruption in Nigeria just this last week. It’s UNBELIEVABLE she says, making sure to mention patsy underpants. Yes, those corrupt Africans. Where do they get off?
Niger Delta residents die from unsafe water:  "In the Niger Delta area, where the natural water sources have been polluted by oil production activities, they estimate that water could account for over 60 per cent of all deaths in the oil communities, and some 90 per cent of all diseases there."

Is this what the Paraguayan people can look forward to? Is this what they mean by "infrastructure improvements?" Let's hope not.

But meanwhile, the Tri Border Area continues to percolate along, a hub of organized crime and human trafficking, known to the authorities for many years.

An area rich in mineral resources. An area poised for trouble.

We expect to see it on the news one day.


Anonymous said…
There sure are a lot of coincidences around the world. Paraguay should fare better as Moon and Bush are big land holders there. Maybe they won't even pollute the world's largest aquifer.

Maybe that is the plan for New Orleans.(Maybe Louisiana) Maybe the whole gulf. They say there is lots of oil there and presto people all around the area are beginning to die. Could we hear from Hilary soon concerning the impossible corruption in the area.

You think the Delta is rough, bad news they are going to do them some uranium mining in the Dakotas. Punch through four aquifers precisely. The french and canadian owners will be far away though and Hillary can explain those uppity indians and how something has to be done. They signed those treaties with them but they still won't do right. That means you have to give them less land.

The global plantation could be wonderful if there are only enough people to do the digging and mining without raising hell about water and electricity and thatch huts.
Anonymous said…
Does the whole damn thing remind of you the big monument in Georgia, you know the one on Stone Mountain that talks about managing the funny farm down to 500,000 that are willing to do right?

I am not sure the stunted poisoned population will even notice as they rock on to Lady Gaga and foment trouble every time those terrorist muslims build a temple in their area.
A. Peasant said…
it does dubs. they have so many ways to slow kill people and they've got them all going it's like juggling chainsaws to try to stay alive and healthy.

that's very disturbing about the dakotas.
chuckyman said…
You certainly have earned the right to wear the ‘I told you so’ T-shirt. I read somewhere that most nations should look on the discovery of a valuable natural resource as a curse.

You have consistently posted of the ‘interest’ of certain parties in this region. This certainly fits the bill for their usual MO.
A. Peasant said…
sadly yes. i was digging around about this Lowell fellow and some of the history there. there might be a post about that at some point. one things leads to another and there's always so much dirty business in South America. this is one of the people i was reading about:

"Montesinos was the security advisory to Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori for 10 years. He was villified by the opposition. Fujimori saw him as the chief architect in the defeat of Sendero and MRTA, and his handyman in manipulating the political scene. He is now being sought throughout the Americas -- and the rest of the world, for that matter. You can see his Wanted Poster on Peru's Ministry of Interior website. For a more intimate portrait of the man, check with the CIA; they seemed to know him best."

imagine my shock.