Argentine Thatcher Reaction — Some Argentinians have celebrated the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death, condemning the former British Prime Minister as a “warmonger,” reports Sky News. Thatcher sent British troops to the Falkland Islands in 1982, after they were invaded by Argentina, which claims them as its own. Many people in the South American country feel Thatcher is directly responsible for the 649 Argentine troops killed during the conflict, which lasted 74 days. Argentine veterans lamented that she died without being punished for her role in the conflict. But on the islands themselves, where residents, in a referendum last month, voted overwhelmingly in favor of remaining part of Britain, flags were flown at half-mast and the weekly Penguin News ran the headline: “Lady Thatcher’s death received with great sadness in Falkland Islands.”
Colombian Peace Process — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said “enemies” are “poisoning” the peace process between the government and the Marxist FARC rebels, notes Reuters. Santos expressed optimism that the country is close to bringing an end to five decades of conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) but has criticized those who, according to him, are “poisoning the process [and] spreading lies.” Santos indirectly referred to former President Álvaro Uribe, who has spoken against the negotiations since they were announced in September. Peace negotiations are under way in Havana, Cuba to end Latin America’s longest-running insurgency, that has left tens of thousands dead.
Developing Laos — China will provide a $7.2 billion loan to the Southeast Asian country for a controversial high-speed rail project between the two nations, reports the Financial Times. Beijing is keen on building the railway because Laos, a small landlocked country, can offer natural resources and access to Thailand’s growing and lucrative consumer market. Chinese businesses are already investing heavily in mining, hydropower and timber. This month, Laos’s ruling politburo started negotiating the terms of the loan with Beijing and if current negotiations are successful, the 261-mile (420km) railroad will link the southern Chinese city of Kunming with Vientiane, the Laotian capital. “No discussion,” according to the FT, “has publicly taken place about how to make the rail link affordable to Laos’s 6.2 million people, about two thirds of whom live in rural areas and, on average, have a yearly income of just $1,130.”
Heading to Cambodia — Foreign companies are heading to Cambodia to limit their overreliance on factories in China, writes the New York Times. China’s rising blue-collar wages and a shrinking labor force are prompting foreign investors to turn to Cambodia, where foreign direct investment increased 70% last year from 2011. Few companies are leaving China entirely and most of them are building additional factories in Southeast Asia to supplement operations in China, notes the Times.
Zambia’s Gemstone Trade — Zambia’s plans to clean up its gemstone trade could have severe implications for the world’s biggest emerald miner, reports the Guardian. Gemfields, a London-listed company which owns 75% of the world’s biggest emerald mine, in Kagem, northern Zambia, said plans by the country’s mines minister to ban the sale of Zambian gemstones outside the country — which anti-corruption campaigners claim has led to Zambia losing more than $7.65 billion over the past decade — would have a devastating effect on its profits. The company’s share value plummeted 16% after it made the claims, writes the Guardian.
Wine Production – Researchers claim that climate change could see wine production shift from more established areas like Bordeaux and regions of Australia, to higher elevations in the Northern Hemisphere and New Zealand, reports Bloomberg. The study was published in a U.S. scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The study notes that, with a warming of 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade projected for the next 20 years, Mediterranean Europe’s grape-growing areas may drop 68% by 2050 and fall 73% in parts of Australia. Meanwhile, the area suitable for wine production in New Zealand will more than double, and areas in northern Europe and western North America will also increase, it said.