jueves, 18 de octubre de 2012

Colombia, rebels begin peace talks in Oslo

Negotiators representing Colombia and the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) met behind closed doors in Oslo on 17 and 18 October, beginning a process of talks intended to end decades of civil war in Colombia. A communiqué read out by Cuban and Norwegian diplomats declared that the sides had set up the "negotiation table charged with developing the General Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace, and in this way the second phase of the process begins," Venezuela's state news agency reported. The sides have apparently signed a document that they would not abandon talks before achieving a "real and sensible" peace agreement, El Espectador reported, which apparently contradicted the government's posture that talks could not go on indefinitely. Selected spokesmen were to meet again in Havana on 5 November to continue preparatory work for the next stage of talks on 15 November, when negotiators would discuss the first main theme agreed on - agrarian or rural development. Talks were to strictly follow the agenda set in previous months, Colombia's chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle Lombana told the press in Oslo on 18 October. He said these were not political or ideological arguments and the sides were not there to "convince" one another of their political preferences. He told a reporter of the Colombian broadcaster RCN that the FARC were entitled to hold and express their views, but peacefully. He told Reuters that talks would seek to eventually "transform" the FARC into a political force instead of an armed group, and "open ways" to end the "mix of politics and arms" in Colombia. De la Calle said at one point that the government would not become a "hostage" of prolonged talks if the agenda did not progress, the broadcaster Caracol reported.

Venezuela expels Paraguay's diplomats

Venezuela's foreign ministry told four Paraguayan diplomats on 16 October that they had 72 hours to leave the country, without giving explanations but following the progressive deterioration of ties in recent months, Europa Press reported, citing a diplomat's remarks. Paraguay's trade attaché in Caracas Víctor Casartelli was cited as telling a radio station in Asunción that the embassy was notified of the expulsion by phone; it appeared no diplomats would remain as Casartelli said caretakers would be left to guard the premises. Bilateral ties were spoiled last summer when Paraguay's parliament sacked its leftist president Fernando Lugo, a friend of Venezuela. Most Latin American states deplored the move, which was perceived as undemocratic in spite of its strict legality. Paraguay was considered to be in a state of relative diplomatic isolation until general elections due in April 2013. Paraguay's Foreign Minister José Félix Estigarribia Insaurralde said in Asunción on 17 October that his country had asked for a written note on the expulsion in line with formalities, EFE reported. "I don't  like judging other governments but I can say I notice the Venezuelan government has a peculiar approach to international relations and has confrontations with an enormous amount of countries," he told the Primero de Marzo radio station. He said Venezuelan statesmen "penalise, argue and ask states to disappear. They use an inappropriate language to deal with countries." Estigarribia said he would seek out "all channels" to resolve the impasse, but added Paraguay would not accept the "conduct" of Venezuela's foreign minister and new vice-president, Nicolás Maduro. Maduro was accused last June of meddling in Paraguay's affairs by encouraging its military to obstruct parliament's bid to remove the president, during a visit by foreign ministers of the regional association Unasur.

Peruvian novelist to be given Mexico's Fuentes prize

Mario Vargas Llosa became on 15 October the first recipient of Mexico's Carlos Fuentes Prize for Literary Creation in Spanish, "for the contribution he has made from Spanish to enrich mankind's heritage," according to the head of the Spanish Royal Academy José Manuel Blecua Perdices, a member of the jury that voted him the prize. The prize, worth 250,000 USD, was created in memory of the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes who died in May 2012. Vargas Llosa was given the Nobel prize for literature in 2010 and has received two literary awards from Spain. On 15 October the head of the National Council for Culture and the Arts of Mexico (Conaculta) Consuelo Sáizar Guerrero, informed Vargas Llosa by video-conference of the decision; he is to receive the prize in person on 11 November, the birthday of Carlos Fuentes, AFP reported. Vargas Llosa has written numerous novels and essays, many set in Peru where he was born in 1936. He has become, unexpectedly perhaps for many, a cultural figure associated with liberal conservatism, with a disdain for modern popular culture that has likely irritated some conformists. In 2012 he was among certain prominent supporters of Mexico's conservative presidential candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota, who lost the race to Enrique Peña Nieto of the "centrist" Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The PRI governed Mexico for most of the 20th century and imposed as Vargas Llosa said a "perfect dictatorship," hiding a clientelist and authoritarian regime behind a social-democratic appearance. It may have been no coincidence that Vargas Llosa "cancelled at the last minute" an invitation on 16 or 17 October to meet in Madrid with the visiting president-elect Peña Nieto.