Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Monday Memo: Colombia, FARC in Cuba – Honduran Presidential Candidates – Canada Negotiates FTA with European Union – and more

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Top stories this week are likely to include: Colombia-FARC peace negotiations move to Havana; 2013 presidential contest set in Honduras; Canadian trade minister in Brussels for free trade talks; and The Hague rules on the Nicaragua-Colombia maritime border dispute.

Colombia-FARC Talks Resume: Representatives from the Colombian government arrived yesterday in Havana, Cuba, ahead of the commencement of peace negotiations with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—FARC) rebels who had arrived in Havana last week. The talks began ceremonially in Oslo last month, but this week marks a renewed stage of direct negotiations between the two parties—mediated by Cuba and Norway, and observed by Chile and Venezuela. Upon landing in Havana yesterday, Humberto de la Calle, chief negotiator for the government, said that these negotiations would test whether the FARC guerrillas were “willing to reach concrete and realistic agreements.”

Reaction to Honduran Presidential Primaries: Yesterday, the three major political parties in Honduras selected their presidential candidates to compete in the November 2013 contest. The incumbent Partido Nacional de Honduras (National Party of Honduras) selected Juan Orlando Hernandez; the Partido Liberal de Honduras (Liberal Party of Honduras), to which former President Manuel Zelaya belonged, chose Mauricio Villeda; and the Partido Libertad y Refundación (Freedom and Refoundation Party—LIBRE) opted for Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro, who ran unopposed for the post. Now that the field is freshly set, expect significant chatter about the candidates and their backgrounds.

Canada-EU Talk Free Trade: Canadian Minister of Trade Ed Fast will arrive in Brussels, Belgium, today for an advanced round of negotiations on the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which will establish a large free-trade zone between the two economic giants. According to The Globe and Mail, CETA would “open up government procurement contracts to foreign bidders; toughen patent protection laws on pharmaceuticals; increase mutual access to financial services markets; lower some agriculture protections; and include a dispute-resolution mechanism to protect investors and governments.” A final deal is expected to be signed in late 2012 or early 2013.

Nicaragua-Colombia Dispute Ruling: The International Court of Justice will rule on a longstanding maritime border dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia over three islets in the Caribbean Sea—known as San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina. At issue is a 1928 treaty signed between the two countries that was annulled in 1980 by the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The Hague had ruled in 2007 that the 1928 treaty was still valid, but also agreed to review the maritime border—which will culminate in today’s ruling.

Tags: European Union
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