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The British-Soccer Indian-Poultry-Firm Controversy

Indian firms have been investing heavily in European companies in recent years, a development generally welcomed by the European public and governments alike. The German government, for example, has gone to some lengths to entice Indian high tech forms to invest in the former East Germany, and a number of Indian companies have responded. The Bangalore-based information technology company Infosys has been particularly active in Europe, where is now employs more than 5,000 people. Such quintessentially British brands as Jaguar, Land Rover, and Tetley Tea are now under Indian ownership.

In one area, however, Indian ownership of European concerns has proved quite contentious—that of professional sports teams. In 2011, the Bahrain-based Indian business tycoon Ahsan Ali Syed purchased the Spanish soccer club Racing de Santander; controversy intensified as the club went through three different mangers in the 2011-2012 season. Fans claim that Mr. Syed knows little about the sport and is therefore not able to run the team competently. Even more divisive has been the 2010 purchase of the Blackburn Rovers Football Club, a storied soccer franchise, by the Indian poultry and pharmaceutical firm Venkey’s. The new management immediately began changing the coaching staff, angering the club’s supporters. Earlier this month, a disgruntled fan released a chicken on the playing field wrapped in the Blackburn Lancashire flag emblazoned with the word “out,” intended as a message for the club’s owners. Yesterday, a Lancashire paper announced that a “Blackburn Rovers supporters group is to call on the Premier League to investigate Venkey’s takeover” of the club. According to the article, the group claims that Venkey’s has mismanaged the Rovers and has been unable to communicate effectively with fans. When it comes to sports, locally specific cultural knowledge is extremely important, apparently imposing some limits on globalization.


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Flame Malware Spreads through the Middle East

In 2010, the Stuxnet worm made global headlines as it attacked the Iranian nuclear program. Described by the Wikipedia as “the first discovered malware that spies on and subverts industrial systems,” Stuxnet was identified by the Belarussian antivirus software vendor, VirusBlokAda. Currently, a vastly larger and more powerful malware program called Flame (or sKyWIper) is infecting computers in Iran and neighboring countries. Flame, recently identified by the Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab, is so sophisticated that it might have been present, undetected, for years. According to a recent article in Wired, Flame’s “complexity, the geographic scope of its infections and its behavior indicate strongly that a nation-state is behind Flame, rather than common cyber-criminals — marking it as yet another tool in the growing arsenal of cyberweaponry.” The Wired article goes on to state that Flame is “designed primarily to spy on the users of infected computers and steal data from them, including documents, recorded conversations and keystrokes. It also opens a backdoor to infected systems to allow the attackers to tweak the toolkit and add new functionality.” According to another recent article, Flame has hit at least 600 computer systems thus far.

Speculations about the origin of Flame focus mostly on Israel and the United States. The fact that it is so large— 20 megabytes—has led to some interesting observations. One commentator on the Wired site (Lan8) joked about “Bloatware for malware, I LOVE it! Probably written in Redmond [home of Microsoft]. I wonder if you get a trial version of Warcraft with it?” Yet the same observer goes on more seriously to speculate that:

 [I]t’s the American version of the Israeli Stuxnet/DuQu … It seems to me that all the various components that do all the nifty little spy tricks seems like an American approach to spying (“give me everything you’ve got on….”) rather than the lean mean spying machine that was Stuxnet/DuQu, a more targeted and specific Russian/Israeli approach to similar ends.

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Angolan Rap Musicians Attacked

Angola is an economically booming, oil-rich country noted for its low levels of human development, authoritarian government, deep disparities of wealth, and high levels of corruption. Peaceful opposition to the government has recently been mounting, inspired in part by several politically active rap musician, most notably Hexplosivo Mental (Jeremias Augusto) and Carbono Casimiro. Earlier this week, a number of anti-government activists, including Hexplosivo Mental, “were attacked, beaten and some hospitalised during a meeting in the Angolan capital Luanda, prompting Amnesty International to call for a full and impartial investigation into the incident.”

The Portuguese-language website maintained by the rap-associated activist group, Central 7311, forwards a broadly democratic message, framing Angola as both a “country of the future” and a “country of fear.” Its manifesto denounces Angola’s “communist and autocratic … cult of personality,” while demanding a free press, freedom of expression, the separation of powers, and an autonomous legal system in which no one is above the law.

Angola’s economy has become highly globalized in recent years. Relations with China are particularly close: Angola is one of China’s top suppliers of oil, and China is currently “rebuilding of the Benguela Railway, a 840-mile transcontinental railway that links the Atlantic port of Lobito in Angola with rail networks in the DR Congo and Zambia.” But China is by no means the only foreign country interested in Angolan resources. Argentina, for example, is currently negotiating with Angola for an “oil for food” pact (Angola’s once-significant agricultural sector is now almost moribund). Economic ties with Portugal are also close—and growing closer, due to the old colonial connection, the use of a common language, and Portugal’s current economic crisis. As reported in a recent Spiegel Online article:

With the help of the state oil company Sonangol’s petrodollars, the former enslaved nation is going on a shopping spree in Portugal. The Angolan elites, many with ties to President José Eduardo dos Santos, in power for the last 32 years, are buying up Portuguese government-owned companies that have to be privatized quickly. Portugal’s conservative prime minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, spent his childhood in Angola, where his father was a doctor. This connection has prompted Coelho to advocate closer relations between the two countries, “their citizens and their companies.” Now Angolans are buying up shares in Portuguese media companies and they are purchasing prime property along the Atlantic beaches as well as luxury real estate in Lisbon and designer clothing. They are also snapping up workers. Close to 150,000 Portuguese have already obtained visas for Angola.

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Australia’s “Devil Ark” Captive Breeding Program

The Tasmanian devil, a wolverine-like marsupial carnivore, has been reintroduced to mainland Australia, where it has been extinct for hundreds of years. The formidable animals are not roaming free in the outback, however, but are rather confined to the “Devil Ark” in a free-range captive breeding project: “Devils are kept in densely vegetated pens of between two and three football fields in size enclosed by a climb and burrow-proof fence, and their pen mates are chosen by experts from a genetic ‘stud book’ to optimise breeding.”

With a screeching cry and the strongest bite of any animal relative to its size, the Tasmanian devil has a fearsome reputation. Although they vanished from mainland Australia after the introduction of the dingo, they were until recently quite common on Tasmania. Without human intervention, however, devils are likely to go extinct in the wild due to the rapid spread of a particular kind of facial cancer, spread by fighting. As Tasmanian devils have extremely low genetic diversity, due to a previous population bottleneck, their immune systems are unable to recognize cancer cells that spread when one of the aggressive animals bites another, as they frequently do. Numbering roughly 250,000 twenty years ago, the devil population has been reduced to the low tens of thousands.

Thus far, the program is proving successful. As recently reported in Chanelnewsasia:

 They just love being here, all the signs are that they are happy and healthy devils.
… Social dominance is a constant battle in the wild and Devil Ark is no different — having to share their territory with others forces the devils to fight for their food and mating rights, skills they can quickly lose in a zoo.

Those wild traits are crucial for them being able to survive when they’re re-released.

According to current plans, devils from the Ark will be reintroduced to Tasmania after the wild population dies out.

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Alaska’s Energy Economy and the Japan Connection

Alaskan newspapers recently announced that their state had just been surpassed by North Dakota as the second largest oil producer in the United States (after Texas). The announcement sparked discussions about why Alaska’s production is falling while that of North Dakota is booming. Whatever the reasons, the geographical transformation of the U.S. oil industry over the past few years has been pronounced, occurring too rapidly to be noted by many top reference sources. Wiki Answers, for example, still claims that the top oil-producing states are “Alaska, Oklahoma, California, Texas, and Louisiana,” without even mentioning North Dakota. As can be seen in the graph, as recently as one year ago the oil output of both Alaska and California exceeded that of North Dakota.

Although Alaska’s oil production will likely continue to decline, natural gas may be a different matter. Large quantities of gas are derived from oil drilling in the North Slope (the Arctic coastal region), but as bringing the gas to market is currently impossible, it is simply injected back into the oil deposits. Recently, however, the Alaskan legislature voted in favor of building a pipeline to transport natural gas from the North Slope to the southern part of the state. This controversial project will have to clear additional hurdles, but events elsewhere in the world have increased the likelihood of its eventual approval.

The signal event in question is Japan’s shutdown of its entire nuclear power industry. Without the use of its nuclear power plants, Japan has been forced to quickly increase its energy imports. Small quantities of natural gas from southern Alaska have long been liquefied and shipped to Japan; the current plan is to vastly expand this trade by tapping North Slope supplies. As Olga Belogolova, writing for the Homer Tribune, explains:

 Alaska needs Japan as much as Japan needs natural gas. No pipeline transports gas from Alaska to the lower 48, and the economics—near-record-low prices for gas combined with the shale boom across the country—don’t support building one. …
Meanwhile, profits are far higher in Asia than in Europe and the United States. Asian LNG prices hover around $14 to $16 per million British thermal units, while the U.S. surplus has brought domestic prices down to $2 to $3 per MBtu. This stark disparity means that no viable market for Alaska’s gas exists in the rest of the U.S., but the Japanese government is the perfect customer, because it badly needs the fuel and is willing to pay above the market price.

Alaska is by no means the only place seeking to capitalize on Japan’s surging energy demand. Huge gas deposits are also found in the delta of the Mackenzie River in far northwestern Canada; here as well a massive pipeline project has long been on hold, due mainly to environmental concerns. But as Reuters recently reported:

 The native-owned corporation that would control a third of a long-delayed gas pipeline in Canada’s Far North is open to discussing the idea of a liquefied natural gas project that would allow reserves to be shipped to Asia to kickstart development.

Similar processes are also occurring elsewhere in the world. Reuters is also reporting that:

 Western companies announced finds of huge additional quantities of gas off the coast of Mozambique and Tanzania, cementing the future of East Africa as a major new supplier exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to energy-hungry Asia.


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El Salvador to Recognize Indigenous Peoples

The government of El Salvador has moved to constitutionally recognize the existence of the country’s indigenous peoples, although the measure must first be ratified by the legislature. Ratification looks likely, despite opposition from the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). The measure would not provide any direct benefits to indigenous peoples, but it could be used to help protect them against discrimination.

Census figures indicate that El Salvador’s indigenous population is negligible, representing just 0.2 percent of the population. According to the standard national narrative, the county is almost entirely mestizo (of mixed European and Native American ancestry), its indigenous languages having disappeared long ago in favor of Spanish. Indigenous rights associations, however, present a very different picture, arguing that up to 17 percent of the population should be classified as indigenous, belonging to the Nahua-Pipil, Lenca, and Cacaopera ethnic groups. The discrepant figures, they claim, derive from a relatively recent history of ethnic violence. In 1932, the government crushed a peasant revolt that had strong indigenous roots, killing tens of thousands of people in the process. Subsequently, it banned the use of the Pipil language, and villagers began to hide their indigenous roots for fear of reprisals. According to the Wikipedia, Pipil now has only 20 native speakers, although it lists the ethnic population at 20,000. The Ethnologue map posted here greatly exaggerates the extent of indigenous languages in El Salvador.

Pipil is a Nahuan language that is very closely related to the Nahuatl of the Aztecs, spoken today by some 1.5 million people in Mexico. Yet El Salvador was never part of the Aztec Empire. Instead, the language seems to have been introduced to the region much earlier, perhaps in the 12th century by refugees fleeing the Toltec capital of Tula after a bloody civil war.

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Transnistria Open to Freight Traffic

In early May, the European Union welcomed the resumption of railroad freight traffic through the break-away state of Transnistria*, sandwiched between Ukraine and Moldova. Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, described the event as “a crucial step forward for restoring confidence between the sides to the Transnistrian issue.” Freight traffic across the region had been suspended for the past six years, owing largely to the unsettled dispute between Transnistria and Moldova; Moldova claims the entire territory of the unrecognized state, and most of the international community backs the Moldovan position. Seemingly endless negotiations, however, have finally brought some progress. Recently, the two sides:

[A]nnounced they had reached common ground on other issues that will be soon translated into life, such as building cooperation on healthcare between the two banks of Nistru River in order to deliver quality health services, resumption of the phone connection between the two banks of the river, suspended a couple of years ago, resumption of road traffic on the bridge in Gura Bicului; simplification of transit of Transnistria in summer ; arrangements for 100 children on the right bank of the Nistru River to spend the summer holidays in camps.
The experts named in charge of these areas are expected to identify real solutions in the near future.

Transnistria is widely regarded as a Russian client state that is a center of human trafficking, the arms trade, and drug transshipments. Its international diplomatic standing is highly limited. As the Wikipedia article on the “Foreign relations of Transnistria” reads in its entirely:

The Transnistrian republic is currently recognized by three states with limited recognition [South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabakh], and is member of one international organization, the Community for Democracy and Human Rights, that was established by these four states. Russia maintains a consulate in Transnistria, but hasn’t recognized it as independent state. During a visit to Kiev, President Dmitri Medvedev said he supported “special status” for Transnistria and recognised the “important and stabilising” role of the Russian army.

On the cultural front, Armenia recently announced that it would “build a church in honor of great Armenian Enlightener Gregory Illuminator in Grigoriopol, Transnistria.” Armenians settled extensively in the Romanian-Moldovan-Transnistrian area in earlier centuries, and Grigoriopol was founded by Armenian immigrants in 1792. In recent years, the city has seen been the focus of Russian-Moldovan tensions. Although Transnistria as a whole has a clear Russian-Ukrainian majority, Moldovans constitute the largest community in Grigoriopol. As the Wikipedia article on the town explains:

[L]ocal Moldavian inhabitants [wanted] to use Romanian language and Latin script in the local Moldavian school, which is against the policy of the government of Transnistria. The Transnistrian press attacked the local authorities “that allowed the fifth column of Moldova in Transnistria to operate.

* Officially, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic

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Geography Teachers Assaulted for Not Allowing Students to Cheat

Geography classrooms are not normally associated with violence, but that is not necessarily the case in Pakistan. Just this week, classrooms at Government National College in Karachi were ransacked and several teachers were beaten after they refused to allow students to cheat at the annual examination of a course on commercial geography. According to Dawn, Pakistan’s premier English-language newspaper, the assault was perpetuated by “political groups of outsiders.” As a result of the attack, teachers at the college organized a boycott of exam-grading duties, complaining that the institution’s officials had not taken adequate precautions to prevent violence. The Sindh Professors and Lecturers’ Association “said that it was the failure on part of the college directorate and the law-enforcement agencies that unscrupulous elements had now started demanding cheating facilities so openly and were giving threats to the lives of teachers and other college staffs.”

Cheating on examinations in Pakistan is so prevalent that it has inspired a minor YouTube genre. One recent video recounts the story of a school headmaster being “beaten by an influential feudal lord for not allowing students to cheat during matriculation examination.”


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Spanish-Argentinean Fishing Disputes

Tensions between Spain and Argentina have recently mounted. Last fall, Spain began to complain that its fishing fleets operating around the Falkland/Malvinas islands were being harassed by the Argentine Navy, despite having licenses from the Falkland Islands government—a government that Argentina does not recognize. More recently, Argentina nationalized the oil company YPF, a subsidiary of the Spanish company Repsol, angering both Spanish investors and European Union officials, and provoking reprisals. Spanish fishing interests are now concerned about the fall-out from this most recent dispute. The EU has decided to cancel tariff preferences for Argentinean products in retaliation, but most of the fish exported from Argentina derive from joint Spanish-Argentine ventures. As noted in a recent FIS article:

Last year, Argentina sent fishery products for about EUR 1,500 million to the EU. Sixty per cent of that total — more than EUR 800 million — came from sales performed by Spanish groups operating in the South American country…. Currently, more than one hundred factory ships, owned by Spanish companies, operate in Patagonian ports. These firms employ about 250 Spanish people and a higher number of Argentinean crew members.

Fishing is a huge business, and major cultural concern, in Spain. In 2007, Spain was the world’s third largest fish importer, after Japan and the United States, and the seventh largest exporter.

The Spanish fishing industry is centered in Galicia, in the northwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula. Galicia’s Port of Vigo (shown in the photograph posted here) is not only the largest fishing center of Spain, but is the largest fishing port in the world. It is also home to the world’s biggest fishing company, Pescanova, with revenue of 1.5 billion Euros in 2009. Fleets from Vigo operate extensively in the coastal sections of Namibia, Mozambique, Chile, and Peru, in addition to those of Argentina.

Spain is currently an economically stressed country, and Galicia has long been one of its poorer regions. Vigo, however, unlike Galicia’s interior hinterlands, is still relatively prosperous. Any threats to its all-important fishing industry will be taken quite seriously.


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Recent Initiatives in Russia’s Booming Diamond Business

Rio Tinto, the British-Australian mining giant, recently announced that it would begin investing in Russian diamond extraction, forming a partnership with the Russian firm Alrosa. Alrosa, 90 percent of which is owned by the Russian government, is now the world’s largest diamond miner, having surpassed De Beers in 2011. Rio Tinto’s diamond ventures are also rapidly growing. In Russia, the firm is mostly interested in the Lomonosov deposit, located in Arkhangelsk Oblast in northern European Russia. Most Russian diamond mining, however, takes places in Yakutia (Sakha), in north-central Siberia.

The diamond business is currently surging, due in part to rapidly growing demand from China. Production has traditionally been concentrated in southern Africa, with Botswana occupying the highest position as recently as several years ago. Russia, however, is now the world’s top diamond producer, both in terms of quantity and value. Solid information on global diamond mining, however, is difficult to obtain, as different sources give different rankings.

Over ninety percent of the world’s extracted diamonds are sent to India for rough processing. Russian diamonds are currently exported to India through a variety of intermediary channels. Russia and India, however, are now negotiating for the direct export of rough stones from the diamond fields of Yakutia and Arkhangelsk to the cutting floors of Surat in Gujarat state.

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Smuggling Children into Somalia for their Safety?

The notion of smuggling toddlers into Somalia in order to enhance their safety and increase their opportunities in life might seem utterly ludicrous, yet such an event seems to have recently occurred. According to a credible news report, nine toddlers were brought into the country from Yemen by a couple that was “apprehended … when they failed to produce proper documents for the all nine toddlers.” Several of the youngsters are believed to be the biological children of the couple in question.

The story makes sense, however, when one realizes that the children were brought into Somaliland, a relatively stable and secure country that the international community regards as an illegitimate break-away state from Somalia, a non-functioning but nonetheless officially recognized country. Also significant is the fact that the children had previously been languishing in a refugee camp in Yemen—a country currently being overwhelmed by multiple rebellions and a massive refugee crisis.

The couple in question are neither Somali nor Yemeni, but are rather Oromo, the largest ethnic group of neighboring Ethiopia. Oromia is also the site of considerable geopolitical tension, as several insurgent groups there are fighting against the Ethiopian government.


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Problems Surrounding the Oil-Boom in Northwestern North Dakota

North Dakota is a sparsely settled state that has seen its population languish for decades. Home to 680,845 people in 1930, North Dakota held only 672,591in 2010. Currently, however, the state is experiencing a rebound, most notably in its oil-rich northwestern region. Workers are flowing into Williston (population 14,716 in 2010), the main town in Bakken Formation area, which has oil reserves estimated at some 18 to 24 billion barrels.

The recent population surge is resulting in major issues in the Williston area. Workers are arriving faster than they can be accommodated. The lack of local housing has forced oil-field employees to set up “man camps” where they live in recreational vehicles. Many established residents view such settlements with alarm. As a result, the Williston City Commission has recently “introduced an ordinance that would make it illegal to live in a camper within city boundaries. If passed, the law would make living in a home on wheels a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine.” Many workers stay in Williston during the work week only, returning home during their off periods. As a result, Williston’s train station is now the fastest-growing Amtrak depot in the country: “The once-sleepy little train station in western North Dakota where the sole ticket agent knew passengers by name is now overflowing with oil workers.”

The booming economy of the region demands other forms of infrastructural investment as well. Communications demands were recently addressed when Midcontinent Communications announced a $3 million plan to extend its fiber optic network to Williston, promising rapid, broadband internet connections.

Rapid growth is also resulting in a crime surge. Although North Dakota still has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, the Williston area is no longer particularly safe. According to a recent article in, “Booming oil production in the Northern Plains is spurring law enforcement from the U.S. and Canada to gird for a spike in crimes ranging from drug trafficking to prostitution.”

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A Disneyland for the Philippines’ Sex City?

A prominent Filipino politician is seeking support from the country’s Department of Tourism for his lobbying effort to establish a Disneyland theme park in the Clark Freeport Zone, a massive (4,400-hectare) trade-oriented redevelopment area that occupies the former U.S.-run Clark Airbase in central Luzon. According to Representative Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazati, “This endeavor, if successful, would bring in more visitors to the country and make the Philippines as one of the best, if not the best, tourist destinations in the world.” Although the Clark Freeport Zone does boast advanced infrastructure and a superb airport, the establishment of new “Disneyland” in the region seems unlikely. Tourism in the Clark area is currently focused on commercial sex in nearby Angeles City, as the brothels that once catered to American servicemen now attract an international clientele. Such a business hardly seems in keeping with the wholesome Disney image.

The local sex industry recently made headlines in the British publication Mail Online. One of its recent headlines screamed, “Not again! ANOTHER Wiener (and politician) faces calls to resign after ‘posing with prostitutes’ in Philippines.” As the article outlines, New Mexico county commissioner Michael Wiener was recently photographed with four “bar-girls” in his arms by Seattle-based photographer John Keatley, who was in Angels City to “document the thriving sex tourism industry there.”  Weiner denied any wrong-doing, stating that he “’just wanted to take a quick tour,’ comparing it to people wanting to see the casinos at Las Vegas, even if they didn’t gamble.”

Real estate seems to be a thriving business in Angel City, as the area seeks to attract retired men from the wealthier parts of the world. As a result, city officials consistently stress the friendliness of the local inhabitants. A recent news article on an Angeles City-based tourism site, for example, trumpets the fact that the “The Philippines ranked 8th in the list of the ‘World’s Friendliest Countries’ in the ‘Expat Explorer Survey 2011’ conducted by banking giant HSBC.” As we shall see in a forthcoming GeoNote, such a ranking is little cause for celebration, as the “Expat Explorer Survey” is deeply problematic index.

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Somali Migrants Land on Linosa in Italy’s Pelagie Islands

The Italian island of Lampedusa is well known as a place of entry into the European Union for would-be immigrants from Africa. Less commonly noted is the fact that Lampedusa’s neighbors in the Pelagie Archipelago are in the same situation. Earlier this week, for example, 78 Somalis (15 women and 63 men) landed on the island of Linosa (5.45 km²; population 450), where they were immediately detained by the Carabinieri, Italy’s national police force. Migrants are often in dire conditions when they arrive. Earlier this month, 48 people on a rubber dinghy were rescued near Lampedusa; over the previous several days, 10 had reportedly died, their bodies dumped into the sea.

The Pelagie Islands are not only a common entry point into Europe, but the archipelago also serve as a place of detention for illegal immigrants. The main holding site is the euphemistically named Lampedusa Immigrants Reception Center. As the Wikipedia describes the facility: “The unit, which was originally built for a maximum capacity of 850 people, was reported to be housing nearly 2,000 boat people. A significant number of people were sleeping outdoors under plastic sheeting.”

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The Cherry Export Boom In Chilean Patagonia

FreshPlaza—the global fresh produce news service—recently reported on the surge of cherry exports from Chilean Patagonia to Asia and Europe. The small town of Chile Chico (population 4,400) alone exported 270 tons of cherries this year. As FreshPlaza notes, the produce firm Cherries Patagonia now inspects and seals containers of cherries in Chile Chico, which are not opened until they reach their destinations. Orchardists in the region are optimistic about future growth, as the Asian cherry market is booming.

Over the past several decades, Chile has secured a profitable economic niche as the main producer of off-season fruit for the Northern Hemisphere, securing over half of the market. Such exports have long been dominated by grapes and apples, most of which have been sent to the United States. Chile is currently diversifying its fruit exports, focusing on such crops as peaches, plums, blueberries, avocados, and cherries.

Sweet cherries can be especially profitable, but they are highly perishable, and thus demand special care. The cherry season is also brief, but it can be extended by establishing orchards in different latitudinal zones—which is key to the current Patagonian cherry boom. Most Chilean fruit production is concentrated in the fertile Valle Central in the central region of the country. The cherry harvest here is typically over by December; to extend the season, orchards must be established further to the south, in Chilean Patagonia.

In general terms, however, southern Chile is an impossible place for fruit cultivation, as its climate is wet and raw, its topography rugged, and its soils thin and poor. But the Chile Chico region is an exception, as it is located in an area of subdued topography on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains, along the shore of Lake General Carrera (known in Argentina as Lake Buenos Aires). The climate here is dry, but water for irrigation is plentiful and the massive lake itself moderates the weather. Until the 1990s, Chile Chico was a relatively isolated town, more closely linked economically to Argentina than to the rest of Chile. The opening of the Carretera Austral (CH-7) highway at that time, however, firmly linked the sparsely settled region to the rest of the country.


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