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Celebrities in Latin America, Latin Leaders Travel 

It's summer and US and UK celebrities go South, while Latin leaders head east and north.


Hannah and Styler Go to Ecuador
Holywood actress Daryl Hannah on Monday started a visit to Ecuador to support local Indians charging that Texaco (now Chevron) contaminated a part of the Amazon and should pay compensation. Her visit comes shortly after Trudie Styler, the UK actress also known as the wife of singer Sting, visited Ecuador and accused Chevron-Texaco of committing "genocide." The U.S. oil giant is being asked to pay $6 billion in damages, but the suit has run into several problems. First, Chevron-Texaco has an agreement with the Ecuador government that frees it from any liability. Second, it says the contamination is smaller than alleged and blames largely its old partner, the inefficient state oil company PetroEcuador, for the problem.

Danny Glover Goes to Venezuela
Meanwhile, Danny Glover - the actor best known for the Lethal Weapon series - recently traveled to Caracas to scout for locations for his new movie, Toussaint. The movie, about Haitian 18th century slave rebel Touissant Louverture, is being financed by the Venezuelan government, a move criticized by Venezuelan-American actress Maria Conchita Alonso and Venezuelan filmmakers. Glover has repeatedly supported Chavez and is a member of the advisory board of Telesur, the Chavez-initiated, South American alternative to CNN. Meanwhile, Alonso is working on her own movie, Two Minutes of Hate, about the April 2002 clashes between opponents and supporters of Chavez that left 20 people dead and 100 wounded.

Mel Gibson Goes to Costa Rica
Glover's Lethal Weapon co-star, Mel Gibson, is also traveling more to Latin America, albeit for different reasons. He just bought a $25.8 million, 402 acre ranch in Costa Rica, according to Costa Rican newspaper El Financiero. The ranch is located on the Barrigona Beach on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. The purchase comes after repeated visits to Costa Rica by the Australian-American actor and director. Gibson filmed his last movie, Apocalypto, in Latin America and is planning to direct a movie about the Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez De Balboa, a key figure in Panamanian history, according to NewsMax.

Lula Goes to India...and Europe
Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is visiting India, one of the four leading emerging markets along with Brazil, China and Russia (the so called BRIC countries). Lula said he hopes to reach $10 billion in two-way trade within the next few years. By comparison, last year, two-way trade reached $2.3 billion. Lula met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other key political and business leaders and signed various bilateral agreements on oil exploration, customs cooperation and other issues. Brazilian oil giant Petrobras plans to offer India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp shares in three oil blocs in Brazil, while the Indians have offered Petrobras shares in three blocs in India, according to Dow Jones. After India, Lula heads to Germany, where he will attend the G-8 summit along with Indian, Mexican, Chinese, South African and G-8 leaders.

US trade with the Andean countries
The US-Peru free trade agreement will likely be passed before August, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said today. However, the Colombian FTA will likely have to wait longer, she said in a speech at the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT). But neither Peru nor Colombia are remaining passive. On Monday they started negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the area that includes the four European countries that don't want to belong to the European Union. EFTA, which includes Switzerland and Norway, already has an FTA with Chile. Meanwhile, Bolivia and Ecuador may face problems in exports to the United States. The Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), which provides duty-free access to the US market for more than 5,000 products from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, is set to expire by July 1. Colombia and Peru will get an automatic renewal as Congress debates the FTA's, but Bolivia and Ecuador won't.

Trade Mission Winners
NewMarket Technology, one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the United States, has chosen the winners of their trade mission competition to Latin America. They had issued an open call for any U.S. technology company to participate in the selection process and ended up choosing Coe-Truman Technologies, digiMedical Solutions, Link America and
US-Analytics Solutions Group.

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