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Breaking News from Chile.

Monday, March 1st 2004 - 21:00 UTC
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Punta Arenas to become bunkering terminal; Europeans attracted by Torres del Paine Park; Unemployment drops in Chile; Another toothfish poacher?

Punta Arenas to become bunkering terminal

ENAP, Chile's national oil company will be investing 3,5 million US dollars in the bunkering business in Punta Arenas with the purpose of supplying vessels sailing along the Magellan Strait. The plan consists basically of two huge deposits with a 55,000 barrels marine fuel capacity each, plus loading and discharging pipelines in the two main jetties in Cabo Negro. ENAP believes Punta Arenas could become a strategic bunkering point since along the South Atlantic the only "two main suppliers are Montevideo and Mar del Plata", and in the Pacific Talcahuano. According to the environmental impact assessment over a thousand vessels cross the Magellan Strait annually and 100 vessels call in at Cabo Negro jetty from where the Methanex complex operates. The construction of the two deposits is scheduled to begin next September and the inauguration of the bunkering service June 2005.

Europeans attracted by Torres del Paine Park

The vast majority of foreign tourists visiting Torres del Paine Park in Chilean Patagonia are Europeans and their number keeps increasing according to Jose Mancilla Director of the Regional Tourism Office. During 2003, even when tourists arriving in Chile dropped 3,7%, Torres del Paine attracted an additional 14% totalling 61,522 of which mostly Europeans (70%), followed by Asians and Americans. Mr. Mancilla praised Senatur and the Corporation for Tourism Promotion "as two most efficient instruments in attracting high incomer foreigners particularly from Europe and the United States". During 2003 the Spanish influx of tourists to Torres del Paine expanded 57%, Italians 46%, French 23% and British 19,5%. "We're now concentrating in the German market, assessing Holland that is relatively unexplored and looking forward to Japan and Australian, all of which have many people who feel attracted by Patagonia, Cape Horn and wildlife", indicated Mr. Mancilla. Finally Mr. Mancilla said he was optimistic about the results of the current 2004 season, "which will be an improvement over 2003, I'm sure". Primary figures indicate that last January the number of visitors to Torres del Paine increased 17% compared to a year ago, from 17,147 to 20,117. Most of them foreigners 14,213 and 5,904 Chileans

Unemployment drops in Chile

Unemployment in Chile dropped 0,2% during the November 2003-Janaury 2004 quarter reaching 7,4% compared to the same period a year ago, the lowest in the country since 1998, according to the latest release from the National Statistics Office. The release also indicates that 135.160 new jobs were created in the N-J Q with a 2,4% increase in the number of employed and with a greater participation of women in the national work force who now represent 35,8%. Similarly in eleven of Chile's thirteen regions, unemployment also retracted. In Magallanes unemployment in the November 2003-January 2004 quarter stood at 5,9%, a 0,6% drop compared to the previous quarter and 0,5% less than in the same quarter a year ago. Magallanes workforce totals 70,760, 0,7% over the previous quarter and 4,6% compared to the same quarter a year ago. According to Gabriel Parada from the regional Statistics Office, as in the rest of the country the influx of women to the labour market estimated in 4,5%, had an impact in the growth of the overall workforce. The number of employed reached 66,620, a 1,4% increase over October-December and 5,2% compared to a year ago. Mr. Parada said the 5,9% is made up of 5,2% unemployed and 0,7% first time job seekers. Total number of unemployed in Magallanes is 4,150. However unemployment in Punta Arenas is 6,4% equivalent to 3,540 people.

Another toothfish poacher?

Several seamen from Punta Arenas are stranded in a vessel in Galicia that has been retained by the International Transport Federation union, ITF, in demand of arrear salaries payment. The vessel has been identified as the "Massai" flagged in Togo, and the crew are claiming five months salaries equivalent to 7,000 US dollars each. Juan Carlos Cardenas from Ecoocéanos, a non government organization dedicated to the conservation of the oceans, said in Galicia that the "Massai" most probably is linked to the international ring that illegally catches toothfish in the South Seas and Antarctic waters. The vessel was previously named "Jare", flagged in Belize and figured belonging to Ocean Flower Enterprises and Tex Corporation both from Belize. However it is believed that Galician fishing businessmen are behind these companies. The "Massai" apparently was also previously arrested in Ghana. The nine crewmen on board, three Argentines, five Chileans (three from Punta Arenas) and a Spaniard expect that the case will be solved in ten days time. If not, ITF will embargo the vessel and repatriate the crewmembers.

Categories: Mercosur.

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