Tag Archives: brazil

Greek Debt Unsustainable: the Wikileaks Cables

Greek protests in front of Greek parliament

2011 Euro-crisis, Wikileaks Cables

Discussing the Greek financial crisis with her personal assistant on 11 October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel professed to be at a loss as to which option–another haircut or a transfer union–would be best for addressing the situation. (The term “haircut” refers to the losses that private investors would incur on the current net value of their Greek bond holdings.) Merkel’s fear was that Athens would be unable to overcome its problems even with an additional haircut, since it would not be able to handle the remaining debt. Furthermore, she doubted that sending financial experts to Greece would be of much help in bringing the financial system there under control. Within the German cabinet, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schnaeuble alone continued to strongly back another haircut, despite Merkel’s efforts to rein him in, while France and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso were seen to be in favor of a gentler approach. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet was solidly opposed, with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde described as undecided on the issue. Finally, Merkel believed that action must be taken to enact a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT); doing so next year, she assessed, would be a major step toward achieving some balance in relief for banks. In that regard, the Germans thought that pressure could be brought to bear on the U.S. and British governments to help bring about an FTT.

Euro-crisis Wikileaks Cables: EU Summit: Germans Prepared to Oppose Special Solutions for Greek Financial Crisis

…German Chancellery Director-General for EU Affairs Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut provided on 14 October, 2011 an overview of what Berlin planned to ask for and would be prepared to support. First, the German government wanted solutions that work within the context of current European legislation; accordingly, it would not agree to giving the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) a banking license, establishing a joint EFSF-European Central Bank Special Purpose Vehicle, or any other measures that would require legislative changes among the member states. On the other hand, the Germans would support a special IMF fund into which the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) nations would pool funds for the purpose of bolstering eurozone bailout activities. Meyer-Landrut also believed that a resolution of the Greek crisis will require greater private-sector involvement than was first thought, and that the eurozone must look beyond the technical aspects of a deal and focus instead on the actual progress that Greece will have to make, as regards both legislation and implementation. It was his further opinion that a full-term team will have to be ensconced in Athens for the purpose of monitoring the situation.

Rio+20 Earth Summit; agenda and prospects

The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is much bigger than its [three] predecessors — Stockholm in 1972,-

Ready for Rio 2012? Amazon Rainforest, Deforestation and Satellite Tracking

Eight South American countries pledged  to boost cooperation to protect one of the planet’s largest natural reserves from deforestation and illegal trafficking in timber and minerals.  Representatives of Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela gathered in Manaus, northern Brazil, also vowed to speak with one voice at next June’s UN conference on sustainable development in Rio.

The Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, is one of the world’s largest reserves of fresh water.  Tuesday’s (Nov. 22, 2011) meeting involving signatories of the 1978 Amazon Cooperation Treaty (OTCA), focused on the Amazon Fund, a joint initiative launched in 2008 to combat deforestation and support conservation and sustainable development.  “The Brazilian government is committed to revitalizing the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (OTCA),” said Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota as he opened the one-day meeting. “A stronger OTCA is in the interest of member states.”  Also present were his counterparts Ricardo Patino of Ecuador, Suriname’s Winston Lackin, Venezuela’s Ricardo Maduro as well as representatives of other OTCA parties.  They reviewed agreements signed to protect the Amazon and discussed navigation rules on the Amazon river and a joint stance at next year’s Rio conference.

Earlier a Brazilian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Brazil, which has the largest tract of Amazon rainforest, was keen on “expediting the process to implement the Amazon Fund.”  The initiative has received donations of nearly $58 million (42 million euros) over the past two years, well short of the initial target of one billion dollars.  It notably seeks to improve satellite tracking of forest deforestation and environmental plans in border areas.  “Sharing forest data among Amazon countries will facilitate the adoption of coordinated policies to combat deforestation and will ensure that we are better prepared for international discussions on sustainable development,” Patriota said.

Last year the Amazon lost 7,000 square kilometers (2,702 square miles), down from the historic peak of 2003-2004, when more than 27,700 square kilometers were deforested.  Officials say Amazon logging mainly results from fires, the advance of agriculture and cattle farming as well as illegal trafficking in timber and minerals.

Ecuador is meanwhile pushing an innovative proposal to combat global warming under which it would not exploit its oil reserves in the Amazon in exchange for international compensation of $3.6 billion dollars over 12 years.

Covering an area of seven million square kilometers, the Amazon is home to 40,000 plant species, millions of animal species and some 420 indigenous tribes, including 60 who live in total isolation.  According to OTCA, 38.7 million people live in the region, roughly 11 percent of the eight Amazon countries’ population.

By Hector Velasco, Amazon countries vow to enhance conservation efforts, Agence France Presse,Nov. 23, 2011

Judges Rule: the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil

Brazilian judge has blocked plans to build a huge hydro-electric dam in the Amazon rainforest because of environmental concerns. Federal judge Ronaldo Desterro said environmental requirements to build the Belo Monte dam had not been met. He also barred the national development bank, BNDES, from funding the project.

The dam is a cornerstone of President Dilma Rousseff’s plans to upgrade Brazil’s energy infrastructure. But it has faced protests and challenges from environmentalists and local indigenous groups who say it will harm the world’s largest tropical rainforest and displace tens of thousands of people.

Judge Desterro said the Brazilian environmental agency, Ibama, had approved the project without ensuring that 29 environmental conditions had been met. In particular, he said concerns that the dam would disrupt the flow of the Xingu river – one of the Amazon’s main tributaries – had not been met.

The government says the Belo Monte dam is crucial for development and will create jobs, as well as provide electricity to 23 million homes. The 11,000-megawatt dam would be the biggest in the world after the Three Gorges in China and Itaipu, which is jointly run by Brazil and Paraguay.

Excerpt, Brazil judge blocks Amazon Belo Monte dam, BBC News, Feb. 25, 2011