Saturday, April 28, 2012

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Repsol threatens to sue firms that help Argentina

MADRID (AP) — Spanish energy firm Repsol warned Monday that it would consider legal action against companies or investors that help Argentina exploit oil fields Repsol had planned to tap before its Argentine unit YPF was nationalized.
Repsol discovered vast shale oil and gas deposits under the "Vaca Muerta" ("Dead Cow") basin of Neuquen province that could dramatically increase Argentina's oil reserves.
Experts say Argentina will need strategic partners to tap the world's third-largest unconventional reserves, and Argentine officials have wasted no time in lining up potential investors. They met last week with executives of French-owned Total Austral and Brazil's Petrobras, announcing afterward that both planned to expand production.
They planned to meet Monday with executives from Chevron and ExxonMobil, which have their own shale stakes in Argentina, and Apache, which began drilling through shale there last year.
Repsol YPF SA spokesman Kristian Rix says the company "is reserving the rights to take legal action against any investor in YPF or its assets following the unlawful expropriation of that company."
Repsol's share price sank nearly 6 percent to €14.03 each in Madrid on Monday, underperforming the benchmark Ibex index, which fell 2.8 percent. The shares were around €18 before Argentina announced the move to take over formerly state-owned YPF.
The Spanish government, meanwhile, adopted a carrot-and-stick approach.
Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo sounded conciliatory, saying Spain historically had very good relations with Argentina and wants to recover them. He said Spain would try to convince Argentina it needed to reach agreement with Repsol on fair compensation for nationalizing YPF, which he nonetheless said was a mistake that would scare off foreign investors.
"It is in Argentina's interest not to end up isolated in the world," the minister said.
At the same time, he said, Spain has proposed to EU partners a series of retaliatory measures against Argentina, such as filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization or downgrading trade relations.
The EU could strip Argentina of trade benefits provided to developing countries or halt free-trade talks between the EU and the South American bloc called Mercosur. That would mean dealing bilaterally with Mercosur's non-Argentine members, which are Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, Garcia-Margallo said in Luxembourg.
While Argentine President Cristina Fernandez's move on YPF has infuriated Spain, the country's largest foreign investor, it has elated many Argentines.
Only two months earlier, Repsol had increased its estimate for the shale oil and gas it found in Argentina to nearly 23 billion barrels, enough to double the country's output in a decade.
But the Spanish company said it would cost $25 billion a year to develop, and warned that Argentina would need to overhaul its energy policy to attract the necessary investment.
Instead, Fernandez simply seized the company, giving her government access to billions of dollars' worth of cash, enough energy to answer domestic demand in the short term, and potentially even solving Argentina's chronic money woes in the future. The move has been overwhelmingly popular in Argentina, whose Senate will likely approve it on Wednesday.
Repsol has valued the shares Argentina seized at $10.5 billion, but it's unclear when — if ever — the company will get compensation. A report Monday in Argentina's La Nacion newspaper said Deputy Economy Minister Axel Kicillof, named by Fernandez to help run YPF, assured her that Repsol would not get "one penny."
She accused Repsol of draining YPF since gaining control in the 1990s, underinvesting in its oil and gas fields and failing to keep pace with the needs of Argentina's growing economy even as it paid huge dividends to shareholders.
Repsol blames Argentina's ever-changing mix of subsidies, price caps and export taxes for depressing production as the country's demand for energy soared since 2003, when her husband, President Nestor Kirchner, came to power.
Argentine oil production plunged 22 percent from 2000 to 2010, even as demand surged more than 40 percent, according to data from the Argentine Oil and Gas Institute and the Energy Ministry compiled by a former energy secretary, Emilio Apud.
Argentina's production has fallen so low that the government now spends billions of dollars a year on expensive imported fuels that it provides at a loss to companies and consumers.
Luis Andres Henao and Michael Warren in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Daniel Woolls in Madrid contributed to this report.
Yoani Sanchez interview Andrew Carrion,  who shouted "Down with Communism!" Pope in Mass.

Question. How did the idea of ​​taking that action at the Plaza Antonio Maceo? Was it a personal initiative of a group?
Response. I do not belong to any opposition party,  I still do not belong to any. However, these days I received the solidarity of various activist groups, especially in   the east of the country. The idea that I came out solo action  and was not told anyone, fearing that it would filter the information and prevent me from carrying it out. José Martí had already said "there are things to achieve them have to walk very hidden." Therefore was that I could get there. He had a civic motivation and principles: the Cubans had to do something for the world to know   violations and the great problems we face here with the freedom of expression and human rights. I took all that from  long time inside and that was the time to say.
Q. How did you reach this place despite the police cordon?
R. I arrived about eleven o'clock, I saw preparations for the mass and found a strategic place for their position.   There I stood. In his pocket some candy and a bottle of water,  and with that I held until 17:40 hours when rushed action.  There were two security cordons. At one point I decided, and crossed the first bead. Once inside I went running to get in front of   Altar and cried several slogans: "Down with Communism! Down dictatorship! Freedom for the people of Cuba! ' and when I had I had caught and held managed to shout 'do not let Bishop deceive the people of Cuba is not free! '.
Q. Many have applauded that your actions on March 26,   but others criticize you used the space of a Catholic Mass to shout a slogan of a political nature. What would you say to these last?
R. I sent a letter to the Archbishop of Santiago de  Cuba to explain why I did and apologize to the Pope and all   the Catholic community. But they must understand and everyone should  understand that Cubans do not have spaces to express. Due to   that one looks for a place to be heard and I think that was a opportunity that could not pass up. I did not mean stain  Mass, so I've told several priests with whom I have spoken and I have understood them. I am a Catholic and did not come with any interest  damage to the Church or the figure of the Pope.
Q. What were the main charges that you   the police did during the 20 days when you were arrested? How what penalties threatened you?
R. I do not physically abused. Know of blows they have received other opponents, but I think with so many eyes  on me or maybe because the Pope had interceded, decided not  physical retaliation against me. Yes I put for several days in a cell that was very dark and very smelly. There was no water clean there and the light lit only ten minutes to six in the morning and ten minutes to six o'clock in the afternoon. After 20 days excarcelaron me but made me sign a paper where I am limited   my freedoms. I have to show up every Wednesday in a police operations unit, I can not leave the town without asking permission, I can not meet with opposition, not giving interviews, not  I can participate in demonstrations. But I have done almost nothing  that. They are not going to shut up that way.
Q. A man, wearing the logo of the Cross Red assaulted you and you even threw a stretcher. What do you think should the behavior so aggressive? What do you feel now to he?
R. I feel sorry for him. I have a vocation Christian and I can not feel anything, because I think it is a product   53 years of indoctrination and decades of telling people it is good to use violence against those who express themselves freely. Some friends brought me the address where the man lives and I  have said "we must take action against him," but I do not think so. Would fall into the same cycle of violence and revenge. Am against any form of violence.
Q. Some people claim that shouted 'down  Communism! ' visa for a political refugee in the USA. Is that true? How do you answer that question?
R. That's not true. My main goal was, and so I told the State Security-call to the conscience of Cuban people. Let people see that you can fight. Yet another objective was to call the consciousness of Raul Castro to recognize our rights. Today it was me, but tomorrow may be hundreds, thousands or an entire people. I thought my screams would be as a driver that   drag a lot of people who were in the Plaza Antonio Maceo to do the same, but it was not well and I confess that I disappointed. I did not do in order to seek political asylum, harassment but now I'm living is unsustainable. My house surrounded and they follow me wherever I go. At the moment there is dare to do anything to me because many are awaiting my situation, but sometimes I fear that in three or four months can happen to me worse. I am very concerned my safety.
Q. Do you come back to do?
R. Yes, of course. I did it for my country, my people and at that moment I knew that this action could cost you your life.   Even I said goodbye to my family without their knowledge. Me  goodbye to my mother, my sister, my wife ... I told her that morning before leaving for the Mass 'I love you very much'. I did not think returned, I thought this would be the last day of my life.
Havana 24 ABR 2012 - 13:54 CET TAKEN FROM EL PAIS, MADRID, SPAINÚltima Updated on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 13:31

Prize-winning film's Cuban actors to seek asylum in Miami

MIAMI (Reuters) - A pair of lead actors from a prize winning film about escaping Cuba have emerged from hiding to confirm they are seeking political asylum in the United States.
The young Cuban actors went missing last week while en route to the Tribeca Film Festival in New York where they were due to appear at the movie's U.S. premiere.
Actress Anailin de la Rua and actor Javier Nunez, cast members of "Una Noche" ("One Night"), broke their silence Friday night in a TV appearance on the Miami-based Spanish language channel America TeVe.
In an interview with Reuters, de la Rua and Nunez said their life imitating art saga was not quite as dramatic in real life as the harrowing story depicted in the film.
"Una Noche" follows three Cuban teenagers who try to escape their homeland by sea on a raft to start a new life in Miami. De la Rua and Nunez, who fell in love during filming, play a brother and sister, but only one of them survives the risky journey.
The pair said their real-life decision to leave Cuba stemmed from the success of the film and invitations to travel to festival premieres - Berlin in February and then New York.
They spent six days in Germany in February, their first overseas trip, but returned to Cuba and only began to think of leaving the island permanently when they got news of the invitation to New York.
"In part it's hard to leave your family and friends behind," said de la Rua, who has two sisters and divorced parents in Havana. "But at the same time you do it so you can help them. There's no future in Cuba."
Nunez said his mother lives alone in Cuba and he plans to help her out economically along with his older brother who left Cuba for Ecuador several years ago and works as a waiter.
The actors, both aged 20, said they were surprised by the film's success, especially as it was their first - and only - acting roles. They were 15 when they auditioned separately for the film, and then spent two years preparing for their roles after being selected by the film's director Lucy Mulloy.
"She told us what she liked and didn't like. She likes very natural acting," said de la Rua.
But nearly three years passed before the film's release, during which time the pair took regular day jobs. "Our friends in Cuba kept on asking us 'when is the film coming out,' and they almost didn't believe it was for real," said de la Rua, who worked at a Havana street stall selling home-made handicrafts and jewelry to tourists. Nunez worked in a pizza restaurant.
"It never entered our minds that we would get to travel because of the film. We never imagined that it would go this far," de la Rua added.
There is a long history of Cuban athletes and artists defecting to pursue careers outside their home country, including the 1997 defection of baseball pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez who smuggled his way out of Cuba by boat and became a star with the New York Yankees.
More recently the desertions have included talented ballet dancers and soccer players.
A Miami immigration lawyer, Wilfredo Allen, who is representing the actors, said he planned to file for political asylum on their behalf in the next two weeks "based on possible persecution if they return to Cuba."
Under U.S. law Cuban citizens enjoy special immigration rights to remain in the United States, either by applying for permanent residency or by seeking political refugee status.
The couple's reappearance came a day after Nunez shared the best actor award at the Tribeca festival, along with Dariel Arrechada, a fellow actor in "Una Noche." Arrechada accepted the award on his own, and apparently plans to return to Cuba.
"Una Noche" also picked up the Tribeca Festival's best cinematography award and best new narrative director for Mulloy.
Mulloy, a London-born 32-year-old who shot the low-budget film in Havana and was inspired by a tale she heard on a trip to the island nation 10 years ago, told Reuters she wished the missing actors could have attended the award ceremony.
"I haven't heard from them," she said. "Honestly, it's all happened so quickly ... it's a shock," she added.
"I'm sad for them because they are my friends," Arrechada told Reuters in broken English and Spanish after accepting his award on Thursday, referring to his missing fellow actors.
"I wish they were here, but ... you could be happy for them, for Javier and for Anailin and for everyone. It's weird. I miss him."
The couple is staying with de la Rua's uncle in Miami and plans to move into their own place as soon as they find jobs. They said they would like to act again, but are willing to do any kind of job to kick off their new lives.
They said the director of "Una Noche" is hoping to make a sequel, titled "Una Noche Mas" (One More Night).
"We'd like to do that," said Nunez.
(Additional reporting by Christine Kearney and Tara Cleary; Editing by Vicki Allen)