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Cablegate: South America Esth News, Number 106

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 13 BRASILIA 000228

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS USAID TO LAC/RSD, LAC/SAM, G/ENV, PPC/ENV
TREASURY FOR USED IBRD AND IDB AND INTL/MDB
USDA FOR FOREST SERVICE: LIZ MAHEW
INTERIOR FOR DIR INT AFFAIRS: K WASHBURN
INTERIOR FOR FWS: TOM RILEY
INTERIOR FOR NPS: JONATHAN PUTNAM
INTERIOR PASS USGS FOR INTERNATIONAL: J WEAVER
JUSTICE FOR ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES: JWEBB
EPA FOR INTERNATIONAL: CAM HILL-MACON
USDA FOR ARS/INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH: G FLANLEY
NSF FOR INTERNATIONAL: HAROLD STOLBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR EAID TBIO ECON SOCI XR BR
SUBJECT: SOUTH AMERICA ESTH NEWS, NUMBER 106

BRASILIA 00000228 001.2 OF 013


1. The following is the 106th in a series of newsletters, published
by the Brasilia Regional Environmental Hub, covering environment,
science and technology, and health news in South America. The
information below was gathered from news sources from across the
region, and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of
the Hub office or our constituent posts. Addressees who would like
to receive a user-friendly email version of this newsletter should
contact Larissa Stoner at stonerla@state.gov. The e-mail version
also contains a calendar of upcoming ESTH events in the region.
NOTE: THE NEWSLETTER IS NOW ALSO AVAILABLE ON THE BRASILIA INTRANET
PAGE, BY CLICKING ON THE 'HUB' LINK.

2. Table of Contents

Agriculture
--(3)Colombia's 'Green Flowers'
--(4)ABN AMRO Unit Was Risk-Analysis Pioneer

Health
--(5)Health Alert in Paraguay Following Outbreak of Dengue
--(6)Venezuela: Illegal Mining Aggravates Malaria Cases

Forests
--(7)In U.S., Approval of Timber Import Bill is looking Likely
--(8)Brazil's President Downplays Extent Of Deforestation and Is
Contradicted By Ministers

Wildlife
--(9)Galapagos Sea Lion Massacre Fuels Conservation Fears

Fishing & Marine Conservation
--(10)Experts Warning That Lake Titicaca Fish Are In Danger
--(11)In Argentina, Paran River Bounty Dwindles

Science & Technology
--(12)Chile Innovation Investment 'May Hit US$200 Million'

Energy
--(13)Chile Ready to Announce Electricity Saving Measures
--(14)Peru: Biodiesel and Ethanol Surge Ahead

Extractive Industries

BRASILIA 00000228 002.2 OF 013


--(15)Ecuador Official: Protect Indians from Oil Drilling
--(18)Chinese Company Buys Into Copper and Gold Mines in Peru
--(19)Illegal Mining Prompts Guyana Border Incident
--(20)World Bank Official Discusses Green Policy in Region

Sustainable Development
--(21)World Bank and IDB Approve Sustainable Development Loan in
Bolivia

General
--(22)Colombia, Costa Rica 'Top Ten' For Environment
--(23)Brazil Investigates Environmental, Evangelical Groups for
Conduct in Amazon
--(24)State Spying On Green Groups Alleged In Chile

-----------
Agriculture
-----------

3. Colombia's 'Green Flowers'

FEB. 12, 2008 - Long before many industries jumped aboard the "going
green" trend, Asocolflores, the Colombian flower growers' trade
association, quietly began to positively change the environmental
and social practices of flower farms through a rigorous farm
certification program called Florverde. Today more than 171 farms,
comprising over half of the acreage devoted to growing flowers in
Colombia, have qualified for, or are in the process of qualifying
for, Florverde(R) certification. One of the key goals of Florverde
is to reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals and pesticides
through the use of sustainable agricultural practices including
biological and natural controls. To be certified Florverde, farms
must comply with all compulsory standards, including operational and
social guidelines.

Source - Earthtimes.com

4. ABN AMRO Unit Was Risk-Analysis Pioneer

JAN. 2008 - The recent takeover of Dutch-owned ABN AMRO Bank by a
consortium led by the Royal Bank of Scotland garnered a great deal
of press coverage on account of its US$99.3 billion price tag,

BRASILIA 00000228 003.2 OF 013


reportedly the biggest acquisition in banking history. Overshadowed
amid questions of future market share and looming job losses,
however, is whether the consortium will continue to push
environmental and social (E&S) risk analysis in Latin America, as
ABN AMRO did. Latin American banks, unlike many of those in the
United States, Europe and Japan, rarely do E&S risk analysis before
lending to corporate clients. But the Brazilian subsidiary of ABN
AMRO became a regional pioneer in this practice and a major
proponent of it in Latin America. Though ABN AMRO has by no means
been the sole advocate of sustainable lending in developing nations,
experts say its efforts have stood out. As part of its follow-up
research, ABN AMRO has checked with enforcement authorities as well
as non-governmental groups that monitor the environmental and social
performance of Brazilian companies. In Brazil and elsewhere,
analysts will be watching to see whether such work will be
encouraged under Banco Santander, the new owner of ABN AMRO's
Brazilian operations.

Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

------
Health
------

5. Health Alert in Paraguay Following Outbreak of Dengue

JAN. 30, 2008 - A health alert has been declared in Paraguay in a
bid to stop a new outbreak of dengue fever. Health workers have
detected some 150 suspected cases of the mosquito-borne disease so
far this year. The virus disease seems on its way to becoming
endemic in the heart of South America. A senior Paraguayan official
said there was concern because neighboring Brazil had also seen a
recent rise in dengue and some dozen cases of yellow fever in
tropical areas. Last year, at least 17 people died from dengue fever
in Paraguay and the authorities were criticized for not acting
sooner. President Nicanor Duarte's government was accused of missing
warning signs in January a year ago and failing to tackle the
disease properly. A total of some 27,000 cases were registered
during 2007. The Paraguayan Health Minister, Oscar Martinez, said
the latest suspected cases were being analyzed.


BRASILIA 00000228 004.2 OF 013


Source - MercoPress

6. Venezuela: Illegal Mining Aggravates Malaria Cases

JAN. 21, 2008 - Illegal mining in the southeastern part of the state
of Bolivar (Venezuela) near the border with Brazil and Guyana has
increased cases of malaria, which in 2007 reached 28,800 cases in
the region and 40,500 in the entire country (population 27 million).
The illegal quest for gold and diamonds has lead to "an invasion of
humans in the habitat of anopheles, the mosquito which transmits
malaria," explained Ana Gineth Morales, head of the health
department in Boliviar. These nomadic explorers bring the disease
into the cities and make control of the disease difficult, she
added.

Source - Tierramerica

-------
Forests
-------

7. In U.S., Approval of Timber Import Bill is looking Likely

JAN. 2008 - Environmentalists are hailing a bill moving through the
U.S. Congress that would impose the strongest controls enacted by
any country on international trade in illegal timber, including
coveted mahogany from Honduras and Peru. A product of discussions
between the non-governmental Environmental Investigation Agency
(EIA) and U.S. timber and paper industry associations, the bill
seems almost certain to pass in the coming months. Called the Combat
Illegal Logging Act in the Senate and the Legal Timber Protection
Act in the House, the bill sets economic and criminal penalties for
importers who knowingly purchase wood and wood products harvested in
violation of foreign or international laws. Environmental experts
say it could go a long way in fighting the illegal cutting of
mahogany and cedar in the protected rainforest and indigenous lands
of Honduras as well as in Peru's Alto Purus National Park and other
protected areas of the Peruvian Amazon departments of Madre de Dios
and Ucayali. Enforcement would fall to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service with support at the border from the Department of Homeland
Security and the Department of Agriculture.


BRASILIA 00000228 005.2 OF 013


Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

8. Brazil's President Downplays Extent Of Deforestation and Is
Contradicted By Ministers

JAN. 31, 2008 - President Lula tried to dismiss the significance of
recent government reports about increasing Amazon deforestation as
merely "noise." Lula said that the satellite deforestation data
recently released by the National Space Research Institute (INPE) is
"under investigation," and that "no one can be blamed" for the
problem. Meanwhile, Environment Minister Marina Silva, who last week
blamed the spike in deforestation on cattle and soybean growers,
visited one of the worst affected areas, Sinop, Mato Grosso, and
underscored that that the INPE data are correct. The minister met
with Mato Grosso Governor Blairo Maggi, whose state appears on top
of the list of worst deforested areas. According to Maggi, "The data
for April to September are not correct." Science and Technology
Minister Sergi Rezende said that INPE's satellite monitoring of the
Amazon forest has 95% to 97% accuracy: "It's interesting to note
that when INPE was reporting that deforestation was dropping, no one
questioned the figures."

Source - US Embassy Brazil Public Affairs.

--------
Wildlife
--------

9. Galapagos Sea Lion Massacre Fuels Conservation Fears

JAN. 29, 2008 - Ecuadorian authorities are investigating a massacre
of 53 sea lions in the pristine Galapagos Islands which has raised
concerns about whether the government can protect the famous
archipelago. Park rangers found the decomposing sea lions with their
skulls crushed on a remote islet earlier this month. Now reports of
tourists meddling with animals are prompting calls for stricter
controls at the UN World Heritage site. Ecuador is already debating
whether to limit growing tourism on Galapagos and has expelled
hundreds of illegal workers to protect the natural reserve after the
United Nations warned in 2007 that the site was in danger.
Authorities don't know why the sea lions were butchered. Traffickers

BRASILIA 00000228 006.2 OF 013


often kill animals to take organs in demand for traditional
medicines. But these sea lions were untouched except for head
wounds, officials said.

Source - BBC

-----------------------------
Fishing & Marine Conservation
-----------------------------

10. Experts Warning That Lake Titicaca Fish Are In Danger

JAN. 2008 - Officials with the bi-national Peruvian and Bolivian
agency in charge of managing and protecting Lake Titicaca say that
if current fishing practices and the introduction of non-native
carnivorous fish species into the lake aren't addressed, seven
species of fish known to inhabit the lake could go extinct within
the next ten years. Experts say that in addition to the problems of
overfishing and pollution, there's also predation: non-native
pejerrey and trout species, which were introduced to the lake some
fifty years ago, are eating other fish species in the lake. In
March, Bolivia will launch an effort to remove duckweed (Lemna
gibba) from its portion of the lake. On Peru's side, he notes, some
35,000 hectares (87,000 acres) have been cleared of the aquatic
plants, which cause eutrophication. Duckweed has spread widely,
particularly on the Bolivian side, on account of the nitrogen and
phosphorous reaching Titicaca in discharges and runoff from upstream
sources.

Source - EcoAmericas

11. In Argentina, Paran River Bounty Dwindles

JAN. 2008 - News of declining commercial fish stocks might bring
saltwater images to mind. But in Argentina, scientists are warning
about declining commercial-fish populations far from the
coast-specifically, along the Paran, South America's second-longest
river. And lawmakers are responding. The Argentine Congress has
declared a one-year emergency during which exports of Paran fish
will be limited to 12,000 tons. That's nearly a third of the volume
that was exported in 2006, the last year for which figures are
available. And-on paper, at least-the limits are all the more strict

BRASILIA 00000228 007.2 OF 013


considering that nearly all of the Paran catch typically is sold
abroad. The new congressional emergency measure, promulgated in
November, directs Argentina's Agriculture, Ranching, Fishing and
Food Secretariat to develop a fish-protection program. It also
requires national and provincial authorities to provide economic
assistance for artisanal fishermen and eventually help them find
alternative work.

Source - Eco Americas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

--------------------
Science & Technology
--------------------

12. Chile Innovation Investment 'May Hit US$200 Million'

FEB. 05, 2008 - The Chilean government is investing a record US$100
million in innovative projects this year. The figure is up from the
US$73 million invested in 2007 thanks to an increase in a mining
tax, which is expected to yield US$150 million in 2008. All tax
proceeds will go into the two-year-old Fund for Innovation for
Competitiveness, run by InnovaChile, the innovation department of
the Ministry of the Economy. The government forecasts that total
2008 investment in research and development (R&D) will hit the
US$200 million mark if private sector contributions are added. A new
tax incentive for private companies to invest in R&D may result in
more private money going into innovation. Most of the resources
will go to programs to improve technology and manufacturing
processes in five priority sectors: aquaculture, software
development for international markets, tourism (improving special
interest tourism, such as eco-tourism), mining, and fresh fruits and
processed foods.

Source - SciDev

------
Energy
------

13. Chile Ready to Announce Electricity Saving Measures


BRASILIA 00000228 008.2 OF 013


FEB. 07, 2008 - Depleted reservoirs, the recent closure of a major
power generating plant and an expected consumption surge in March
have Chilean authorities concerned about Chile's ability to meet its
growing electricity needs. It's not yet clear what exactly the
government's soon-to-be-announced measures will entail. Analysts,
however, say one possibility could be a slight voltage reduction.
Chilean residences are wired to receive 220 volts of electricity.
That voltage can be tweaked by as much as 7% either up or down
without damaging household electric devices. The government might
also authorize electricity providers to establish rate incentives
for customers willing to reduce consumption.

Source - MercoPress

14. Peru: Biodiesel and Ethanol Surge Ahead

FEB. 05, 2008 - The Government of Peru has mandated that starting
January 2009, diesel 2 must contain 2% biodiesel, rising to 5% in
2011. Similarly, gasolines must contain 7.8% ethanol as of January
2010. Grupo Romero, Peru's largest domestic business group,
inaugurated its first biodiesel plant just south of Lima at
end-January, with a capacity of 3,000 barrels per day. The plant
will use imported soy until plantations in the southern department
of Ica are ready. Grupo Romero plans to have its second biodiesel
plant ready by mid-year, in the jungle department of San Martin.
This plant will be vertically integrated with its own supply of palm
oil, which the company has already begun planting in San Martin and
Loreto. Grupo Romero already has a sugar cane-based ethanol project
in the northern coastal department of Piura with a capacity of
300,000 liters/day. U.S. firm Maple Energy has a 30 million gallons
of ethanol per year project in the same area.

Source - LIMA 00000213

---------------------
Extractive Industries
---------------------

15. Ecuador Official: Protect Indians from Oil Drilling

FEB. 11, 2008 - Ecuador's attorney general urged the government to
negotiate with oil firms to stop drilling for crude in a protected

BRASILIA 00000228 009.2 OF 013


area deep in the Amazon jungle where Indian tribes hide from the
outside world. That recommendation could affect operations several
companies which have part of their oil blocks inside the 700,000
hectare (1.7 million acre) protected area home to two tribes of
hunters and gatherers known as Tagaeri and Taromenani. President
Rafael Correa, a former college professor who taught environmental
economics, has vowed to protect the tribes from development after
reports of deadly clashes between Indians wielding spears and
illegal loggers armed with guns. Ecuador wants rich countries to
pay $350 million a year in exchange for it not extracting 1 billion
barrels of oil under the Yasuni reserve. Quito says leaving the oil
in the ground would protect the environment in the Amazon to the
benefit of all countries.

Source- Planet Ark News (no link)

16. COMMENT FROM US EMBASSY QUITO: There is currently no drilling in
the fields that overlap with Yasuni. Nor have there been
environmental licenses issued to drill. But the fields do overlap
with Yasuni because the companies' contracts were initiated before
the protected area was delineated (and when it was delineated,
apparently the govt allowed it cover the same territory). So there
is potential for a future conflict. It looks like the Attorney
General is trying to introduce the issue into the ongoing
re-negotiations of the companies' contracts.

17. FOLLOW-UP NEWS: Authorities in Ecuador are investigating claims
that up to 15 Amazonian tribespeople have been killed by illegal
loggers. The group, from the Taromenane and Tagaeri tribe, was
attacked in the eastern Yasuni National Park - a protected area -
reports say.

18. Chinese Company Buys Into Copper and Gold Mines in Peru

JAN. 30, 2008 - China's largest metal trader announced it had
received approval to take control of two Peruvian mines in an
operation involving 453 million US dollars. China Minmetals said it
was purchasing a majority stake in Canada's Northern Peru Copper,
thereby acquiring two Peruvian mines one of copper and another of
gold. The two Chinese companies would then have control of the
Canadian company's El Galeno copper and gold mine and Hilorico gold
mine in northern Peru.. Under the deal, China Minmetals will team

BRASILIA 00000228 010.2 OF 013


up with Jiangxi Copper to buy 95.92% in the Vancouver-based Northern
Peru Copper for 455 million Canadian dollars (453 million US
dollars). Reportedly, the development of the Galeno project will
require an investment of around 1.5 billion US dollars and is
expected to operate for a 22-year period beginning in 2012.
Minmetals said the acquisition was met with a positive response from
the Chinese government. The company also has interests in other
South American countries, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia.

Source - MercoPress

19. Illegal Mining Prompts Guyana Border Incident

JAN. 2008 - Venezuela and Guyana sought to ease diplomatic tensions
after Venezuelan troops entered Guyanese territory Nov. 15 and blew
up two gold-mining dredges near their common border. The incident,
in which 36 Venezuelan soldiers entered the disputed Essequibo
Region by helicopter and dynamited the dredges on the Cuyuni River,
drew protests from Guyana's government and opposition. In the
process, it underscored the explosive nature of illegal gold mining
in Guyana's Essequibo region, which borders Venezuela's Bolivar
state and contains dense rainforests rich with coveted timber,
aluminum and gold. Such mining has caused mercury contamination,
deforestation, sedimentation and the destruction of important fish
habitat. The two nations have since agreed to set up a working group
to prevent similar incidents in the future. They also have pledged
to continue working through the United Nations Good Officer process
to settle the border dispute that has been simmering since 1899,
when Venezuela claims it was robbed of the 56,000-square-mile
(145,000-sq-km) Essequibo region by an international tribunal in
Paris. But analysts fear illegal gold mining could continue to
cause problems along the border by generating more environmental
destruction. Mercury contamination, for instance, affects rivers
used by minority indigenous Amerindian communities for food and
bathing, and degrades farmland. Hydraulic mining, meanwhile,
creates large pools of stagnant water that become breeding grounds
for malaria-bearing mosquitoes.

Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

20. World Bank Official Discusses Green Policy in Region

BRASILIA 00000228 011.2 OF 013

JAN. 2008 - Many countries in Latin America have common
environmental concerns; yet they hope to cash in on high metals and
petroleum prices. Those prices are fueling a boom in mining and oil
drilling-and contributing to related environmental and social
conflicts. Renan Poveda, senior environmental specialist in the
World Bank's environment and sustainable development area, has
examined green issues in various parts of the world ranging from
Hawaii to Latin America. Poveda has been stationed for the past
four years in the World Bank's Peru office, where he covers the
Andean countries and some of the bank's projects in Bolivia. He sees
a need for Latin American countries to formulate development
strategies that identify where extractive activities such as mining
and oil drilling should and should not be done. EcoAmericas January
issue carries a Q&A with Poveda, please contact Larissa Stoner for
complete report.

Source - EcoAmericas

-----------------------
Sustainable Development
-----------------------

21. World Bank and IDB Approve Sustainable Development Loan in
Bolivia

JAN. 17, 2008 - The World Bank approved, on 20 December 2007, a US$
20 million interest-free loan for local sustainable development in
the Bolivian part of the Lake Titicaca watershed, by promoting
tourism, protecting the archeological and cultural heritage of the
area, providing basic water and sanitation services for the local
population, and strengthening the management capacity of local
governments. As a result of the project, 150,000 residents of Lake
Titicaca's neighboring towns are expected to receive access to
drinking water and solid waste collection and treatment services.

Source - World Bank

-------
General
-------


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22. Colombia, Costa Rica 'Top Ten' For Environment

FEB. 01, 2008 - Colombia and Costa Rica are among the top ten
nations in a ranking of excellence in environmental performance.
The 2008 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), conducted by US
universities Yale and Columbia, was announced January 23 at the
World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Costa Rica was ranked
fifth and Colombia ninth, behind the top ranking nations Norway,
Sweden and Switzerland. "Ranking ninth amongst 149 countries around
the world and second in America after Costa Rica is a great
achievement for Colombia," says Marta Pizano, a Colombian biologist
who last year received the Best of the Best prize from the US
Environmental Protection Agency. The index measures 25 indicators
in six different areas: environmental health, air pollution, water,
productive natural resources, biodiversity and habitat, and climate
change. Colombia performed particularly well in forestry,
fisheries, cropland use and reducing local ozone - or ground level
ozone, a pollutant from human activities that causes significant
health problems.

Source - SciDev

23. Brazil Investigates Environmental, Evangelical Groups for
Conduct in Amazon

JAN. 30, 2008 - Brazil's intelligence service said that a six-month
investigation of environmental and evangelical groups active in the
nation's Amazon rain forest found evidence of genetic resources
being stolen and of activities that endanger the ethnic identity of
Indian communities. The agency said it found evidence that NGOs had
transferred indigenous knowledge of plants and animals to
pharmaceutical companies and illegally extracted diamonds on
indigenous land. Among the groups monitored is the Virginia-based
Amazon Conservation Team, or ACT, that authorities say may be
involved in biopiracy - the appropriation of the rain forest's
biological riches by individuals or groups seeking to patent them.
ACT allegedly transferred knowledge of the rain forest's plants and
animals to foreign pharmaceutical companies. Authorities also
recommended the investigation of Coordination of Indian Nations, a
Brazilian NGO they say is partly funded by the World Wildlife Fund
and that is allegedly involved in the illegal extraction of diamonds
in the Cinta-Larga Indian reservation in the state of Rondonia.

BRASILIA 00000228 013.2 OF 013

Source - Associated Press

24. State Spying On Green Groups Alleged In Chile

JAN. 2008 - Environmental groups in Chile are complaining
vociferously that they are being spied on by Chile's National
Intelligence Agency (ANI). They have been reacting to a report last
month in the Chilean daily La Tercera that ANI has been monitoring
Chilean environmental campaigns against hydroelectric plants slated
for the Aysn Region; a gold mining project high in the Andes called
Pascua Lama; and a new Celulosa Arauco (Celco) pulp mill in
Valdivia. Jose Ignacio Pinochet, a lawyer and executive director of
Fiscalia del Medio Ambiente (Fima), a Chilean public interest
environmental law group, tells EcoAmericas he believes such spying
has indeed been occurring, calling it a "violation of citizen
rights." "All environmental groups in Chile are being
investigated," Pinochet says. "This is very serious, Pinochet points
to the fact that computer hard drives have mysteriously gone missing
from nearly every Chilean environmental group at some point over the
past few years. So far, the government only affirms publicly that
it is monitoring environmental conflicts and their participants, but
it denies secret spying operations are taking place.

Source - EcoAmericas

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