TCRLA_Public/040116.mbx         T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

                   L A T I N   A M E R I C A

          Friday, January 16, 2004, Vol. 5, Issue 11



AGEA: S&P Rates Bonds `raD'
AISLAR: Enters Bankruptcy on Court Orders
BANCO DE GALICIA: Returns to Mortgage Market With New Credit Line
DIRECTV LA: Disney Channel Rejoins Programming Line-up
DIRECTV LA: Submits Application To Employ Latham As Counsel

DISTRIPAPER: Court Approves Reorganization Petition
PETROBRAS ENERGIA: Completes Forestry Business Sale Process


TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Welcomes New Company Executive


CSN: Aratell Files Lawsuit on Unfair Pricing
EMBRATEL: Government Torn Regarding Sale's Possible Outcome
PARMALAT BRAZIL: Shuts Down Goias Plant
USIMINAS: Standard & Poor's Issues `B+' FC Credit Rating


EDELNOR: Humphreys Confirms Second-Class Risk Rating
NEXTEL CHILE: Court Rejects Appeals Against Interconnection


PARMALAT COLOMBIA: Under Scrutiny on Crisis Concerns

* Fitch Assigns 'BB' Rating to Colombia's $500MM Issue

C O S T A   R I C A

RICA FOODS: Posts US$0.07 Loss Per Share in Previous Fiscal Year

* Fitch Assigns 'BB' Rtg to Costa Rica's US$250MM Issue


AHMSA: Expects Boost in Demand for Steel This Year
GRUPO IUSACELL: Comments on U.S. Law Firm Announcement
GRUPO IUSACELL: Bondholders File Complaint on Debt Default

T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

BWIA: Judge To Rule On ACAWU Demand Feb. 9

     -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -


AGEA: S&P Rates Bonds `raD'
Standard & Poor's International Ratings, Ltd. Sucursal Argentina
assigned default ratings to US$250 million of corporate bonds
issued by Arte Grafico Editorial Argentino S.A. (AGEA), relates
the Comision Nacional de Valores, Argentina's securities

The rating, based on the Company's finances as of September 30
last year, applies to bonds called "Series A". These were
classified under "Series and/or Class", with undisclosed maturity

S&P said that on obligation is rated `raD' when it is in payment
default, or its obligor has filed for bankruptcy. The rating may
also be used if principal or interest payments are not made on
the due date even if the applicable grace period has not expired,
unless the ratings agency believes that payments will be made
during the grace period.

AISLAR: Enters Bankruptcy on Court Orders
Aislar S.A., which is based in Resistencia, Chaco, entered
bankruptcy on orders from Court No. 10 of the province's Civil
and Commercial Tribunal. Argentine news portal Infobae reports
that the Company's receiver is Mr. Eduardo Alberto Scolari.

Creditors are required to file their claims at the court before
February 20. The receiver will verify claims to determine the
nature and amount of the Company's debts.

The individual reports, which contain the results of the
verification process, must be submitted to the court on April 5.
After these are processed, the receiver will prepare the general
report to be filed on May 19.

CONTACT:  Aislar S.A.
          Ruta 11 km 1006,5
          Resistencia, Chaco

          Eduardo Alberto Scolari
          Santa M de Oro 1355
          Resistencia, Chaco

BANCO DE GALICIA: Returns to Mortgage Market With New Credit Line
Argentine bank Banco Galicia returned to the local mortgage
market, reports Business News Americas. The Company is offering a
new credit line for individuals who might need funds for purchase
or refurbish a house or an apartment.

The loan, denominated in pesos, can either a fixed rate of 10.95%
for a loan of up to 5 years, or at 9.80% for a loan of up to 15
years. The minimum family income required is ARP2,000 (US$685) in
order to qualify for the loan.

The bank, one of the three largest banks in the country, has
decided to return to mortgage market to provide an additional
product to its existing clients and to attract new customers
Business News Americas quoted a Company spokesperson as saying.
The bank suspended all mortgage activities late 2001 due to the
crisis in the country.

DIRECTV LA: Disney Channel Rejoins Programming Line-up
As of January 15, Disney Channel will rejoin the programming
line-up on DIRECTV Latin America's basic distribution.

Diego Lerner, president of The Walt Disney Company-Latin America
and general manager of Disney Channel and Fox Kids Latin America,
said, "This is great news to begin the year. Both companies have
worked intensely to reestablish the service and satisfy consumer
expectations. This launch propels the expansion of Disney Channel
in its new stage as a basic channel and greatly increases the
number of subscribers who can now enjoy the magic of Disney
throughout Latin America."

Larry N. Chapman, president of DIRECTV Latin America, LLC,
commented, "We are very pleased to have Disney Channel back on
our channel line-up. DIRECTV Latin America wanted Disney's
excellent programming back as part of its offer, and this is now
a reality. DIRECTV Latin America subscribers can now enjoy
Disney's high-quality, family-friendly programming. This new
addition to DIRECTV's basic line-up is yet another indication of
our commitment to our subscribers."

Disney Channel will become immediately available to 1.3 million
subscribers in the region excluding Puerto Rico and the U.S.
Virgin Islands, where the U.S. version of the Disney Channel is
already available.

Disney Channel has an exciting programming line-up planned for
January that is packed with fun. During the "Wonderful World of
Disney" block every Sunday evening, the channel presents fabulous
films for the entire family to enjoy, such as "Buzz Lightyear of
Star Command: The Adventure Begins"; "Inspector Gadget's Last
Case"; and "Air Bud 4: Seventh Inning Fetch."

On January 24, Disney Channel premieres the second season of the
popular series "That's so Raven," starring Raven Symone. The
first episode of the second season will air during a special
premiere prior to the programming marathon called "Your Visions
of Raven." In keeping with the special powers of the star's show,
Disney Channel invites its audience to try out their skill at
psychic powers and predicting the future by voting on and to determine which of
the episodes will be seen in the marathon.

Every weekend at noon, Disney Channel airs a new segment of
"Disney Princesses" featuring two animated series whose stars are
princesses: Jasmine in "Aladdin" and Ariel in Disney's "Little

And as always, the channel continues to air its stellar original
productions created specially for the local markets: "Playhouse
Disney," "Zapping Zone," "Disney Planet" and "Disney's Art

Disney Channel Network

Launched in July 2000 for Spanish-speaking Latin America and in
2001 for the Brazilian territory, Disney Channel presents a
variety of original and acquired programming, airing 24 hours a
day, for kids 2 to 14 years-old and their families. The channel
broadcasts four exclusive original productions: "Playhouse
Disney," "Zapping Zone," "Disney Planet" and "Art Attack"; in
addition to cartoons; series; feature films; Disney's animated
hits; and special events.

Disney Channel includes daily blocks of programming created
specifically to satisfy the tastes of Latin American families,
from the youngest children to pre-teens and adults. These are:
"Playhouse Disney," an original production for pre-school kids
and their caregivers, with shows such as "Book of Pooh,"
"Stanley" and "Rolie Polie Olie"; "Toon," with kids' favorite
animated characters, such as "House of Mouse" and "Buzz
Lightyear: Star Command"; "Tween," which includes "Zapping Zone,"
an original production, as well as hip series for pre-teens and
teens, such as "Lizzie McGuire" and "Kim Possible"; and "Family,"
a block especially designed for the entire family to watch with
hit movies, such as "Monsters, Inc." and "The Sleeping Beauty,"
as well as other Disney animated classics. The channel has the
support of two websites, (Spanish) and (Portuguese). Press can received additional
information on our specialized websites: (Spanish) and (Portuguese).

Disney Channel was created and launched by Walt Disney Television
International-Latin America. WDTVI-LA is responsible for the free
and pay television business in Latin America, including sales,
production and development of programs, and the development and
administration of the Disney Channel and Fox Kids, as well as
other international broadcasting investments.

DIRECTV Latin America

DIRECTV is a leading direct-to-home satellite television service
in Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, the service
reaches approximately 1.5 million customers in the region, in a
total of 28 markets. DIRECTV is currently available in:
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto
Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and several Caribbean
island nations.

DIRECTV Latin America, LLC is a multinational company owned by
DIRECTV Latin America Holdings, a subsidiary of Hughes
Electronics Corporation; Darlene Investments, LLC, an affiliate
of the Cisneros Group of Companies, and an affiliate of Grupo
Clarin. DIRECTV Latin America and its principal operating
companies have offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Sao Paulo,
Brazil; Cali, Colombia; Mexico City, Mexico; Carolina, Puerto
Rico; Fort Lauderdale, USA; and Caracas, Venezuela. For more
information on DIRECTV Latin America please visit

Hughes Electronics Corporation is a world-leading provider of
digital multichannel television entertainment, broadband
satellite networks and services, and global video and data

DIRECTV LA: Submits Application To Employ Latham As Counsel
On March 13, 2003, pursuant to an engagement letter, DIRECTV
Latin America, LLC employed Latham & Watkins LLP to perform legal
services in connection with the negotiation or renegotiation of
contracts with third party programmers regarding licenses for
programming provided by the Debtor to its customers.

Programming costs represent the Debtor's single largest expense,
amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
Uneconomic agreements with its Programmers were one of the
factors leading to the Debtor's filing for bankruptcy.  The
renegotiation of unfavorable Programming Agreements is an
essential facet of the Chapter 11 case, and Latham has been
working toward this objective.

In the context of its restructuring, the Debtor sought and
obtained permission from the Court to employ ordinary course
professionals on April 14, 2003.  Pursuant to the OCP Order,
Latham was employed as an ordinary course professional.

The OCP Order authorized the Debtor to pay Latham for its
services up to $25,000 per month and up to $150,000 during the
pendency of the Chapter 11 case.  Pursuant to the OCP Order, the
Court must authorize the payment of fees and reimbursement of
expenses to the extent that the fees and expenses exceed the

Moreover, the OCP Order provides that, if the average monthly
fees over any three-month period for any Ordinary Course
Professional exceed $25,000, then the Debtor will file separate
pleadings for future services to be provided by the Ordinary
Course Professional.  While engaged in necessary postpetition
legal activities, Latham exceeded the Monthly Cap in June, July,
August and November 2003.

Pursuant to Section 327(e) of the Bankruptcy Code, the Debtor
sought and obtained the Court's authority to employ Latham as its
special counsel, nunc pro tunc to September 1, 2003.

As special counsel, Latham will continue:

   (a) representing the Debtor in negotiations with various
       Programmers, including HBO, Disney and Kirch Media, for
       the acquisition of licenses to broadcast Programming to
       the Latin American market including representing the
       Debtor in the renegotiation of its exclusive license with
       FIFA to broadcast the World Cup 2006 and certain other
       FIFA events; and

   (b) negotiating the sublicensing of 2003 soccer content in the
       Latin American market.

The Court also permits the Debtor to pay Latham $200,462, which
constitutes the amounts billed in excess of the Monthly Cap by
Latham to date.  Future requests for payment of fees and
reimbursements of expenses will be submitted in accordance with
applicable bankruptcy law by the submission of fee applications
to the Court for approval.

The Debtor employed Latham because it has the requisite
expertise, knowledge and experience and because the firm has an
excellent reputation for providing high quality legal services.
The primary professional at Latham who will be responsible for
the engagement is Richard Wirthlin.  Mr. Wirthlin attests that
neither he nor any other person employed by Latham holds any
interest adverse to the Debtor or to the Debtor's estate.

Latham has conducted, and continues to conduct, extensive
research into its relations with the Debtor, its creditors,
employees of the Office of the United States Trustee, its
attorneys and accountants, and other parties interested in these
cases.  As part of this inquiry, Latham obtained from the
Debtor's senior management over 80 names of individuals or
entities who may be parties-in-interest in this Chapter 11 case.

Latham currently represents several third parties in certain non-
related matters against the Debtor's parent companies, General
Motors Corporation, Hughes Electronics Corporation, and DirecTV
Latin America Holdings, Inc.  Latham has determined that the
representation concerns matters that are not adverse to the

Latham also currently represents the Debtor's wholly owned non-
debtor subsidiary, DTVLA-WC LLC, in matters that Latham has
determined to be unrelated or not adverse to the Debtor.

While Latham has undertaken, and continues to undertake,
extensive efforts to identify connections with the Debtor and
other parties-in-interest, it is possible that connections with
some parties-in-interest have not yet been identified.  Should
Latham, through its continuing efforts, learn of any new
connections, Latham will so advise the Court.

The Debtor has agreed that Latham will not represent the Debtor
in connection with:

   (a) objections to the claims against the Debtor asserted by
       any party, which is represented by Latham in matters
       unrelated to the Debtor;

   (b) any litigation commenced on behalf of the Debtor seeking
       to recover damages from any party, which is represented by
       Latham in matters unrelated to the Debtor; or

   (c) any litigation commenced by any party, which is a current
       client of Latham.

In the event the Debtor requires legal representation in
connection with any such matters, the Debtor will obtain other
counsel for such purposes.

The Debtor will compensate Latham for professional services
rendered at its normal and customary hourly rates.  The Debtor
will also reimburse Latham for actual, necessary expenses and
other charges incurred.  The current standard hourly rates for
the Latham professionals who will be assisting the Debtor during
the Chapter 11 case are:

                Counsel              Fee
                -------              ---
                Richard Wirthlin    $520
                Robert Crockett      520
                David Blood          330
                Robert Lu            330
                Steven Sorell        290

                Paralegal            Fee
                ---------            ---
                James Padilla       $155

The hourly rates are subject to periodic adjustments to reflect
economic and other conditions. (DirecTV Latin America Bankruptcy
News, Issue No. 18; Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., 215/945-

DISTRIPAPER: Court Approves Reorganization Petition
Buenos Aires Court No. 16 approved a petition for "Concurso
Preventivo" filed by local company Distripaper S.A., according to
local news portal Infobae. The Company will undergo
reorganization, but the source did not mention whether the court
has chosen a receiver for the case.

PETROBRAS ENERGIA: Completes Forestry Business Sale Process
Petrobras EnergĦa Participaciones S.A. (Buenos Aires: PBE,
NYSE:PZE), controlling company with a 98.21% stake in Petrobras
EnergĦa S.A. (Buenos Aires: PESA), announces that Petrobras
EnergĦa S.A., has completed the formalities necessary for
execution of the transfer of the goodwill related to the
forestry-industrial activities developed in Misiones.

In December 2002, Petrobras EnergĦa S.A. transferred to Alto
Paran  S.A. (APSA), among other forestry assets, the goodwill
related to the forestry-industrial business located in the
Province of Misiones. The effectiveness of such transaction was
subject to compliance with certain conditions and administrative
formalities, including the approval by the Argentine Secretariat
of Competition, Deregulation and Consumer Defense (SecretarĦa de
la Competencia, la Desregulaci˘n y la Defensa del Consumidor de
la Argentina).

In December 2003, the Secretariat approved the operation.
Therefore, on January 9, 2004 Petrobras EnergĦa S.A. and APSA
subscribed the documents necessary for the execution of the
transaction. Petrobras EnergĦa S.A. received the amount of US$
29.6 MM as the remaining balance of the agreed upon price.


TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Welcomes New Company Executive
Tyco International Ltd. announced Wednesday the appointment of
Carol Anthony (John) Davidson as Senior Vice President,
Controller, and Chief Accounting Officer.

Davidson will join Tyco Jan. 26 from Dell Inc. where he served as
Vice President, Audit, Risk and Compliance. In this new position
at Tyco International, Davidson will oversee all financial
reporting and control, and accounting policy. Additionally, he
will work closely with the financial team across Tyco
International's five business segments to optimize financial
reporting and accounting systems, processes and controls.
Davidson will report to David FitzPatrick, Executive Vice
President and Chief Financial Officer.

FitzPatrick said: "We are pleased to be filling this important
position with someone of John's high caliber. He has a well-
rounded financial and accounting background, excellent experience
working for large, leading global companies, and a proven track
record at developing and implementing new financial and
accounting systems and controls. Having worked previously with
John, I can attest to his high standards and uncompromising
integrity. Simply put, he does the right things right. We are
confident that John will be a tremendous asset to Tyco."

Davidson said: "Tyco has a tremendous portfolio of businesses and
an outstanding management team that is clearly demonstrating its
commitment to excellence in corporate governance and financial
reporting control. I am excited about joining the Tyco team and
about the opportunity to leverage my previous experiences in
financial and control programs with leading companies, including

At Dell, Davidson also served in other senior capacities,
including the positions of Chief Compliance Officer, Vice
President and Corporate Controller and Vice President of Internal
Audit. He joined Dell in 1997 from Eastman Kodak Company, where
he worked 16 years in a variety of financial, accounting and
auditing positions of increasing responsibility. He began his
accounting and auditing career at Arthur Andersen & Co. Davidson
is a Certified Public Accountant and holds an MBA from the
University of Rochester and a B.S. in accounting from St. John
Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y.

Tyco International Ltd. is a diversified manufacturing and
service company. Tyco is the world's leading provider of both
electronic security services and fire protection services; the
world's leading supplier of passive electronic components and a
leading provider of undersea fiber optic networks and services; a
world leader in the medical products industry; and the world's
leading manufacturer of industrial valves and controls. Tyco also
holds a strong leadership position in plastics and adhesives.
Tyco operates in more than 100 countries and had fiscal 2003
revenues from continuing operations of approximately $37 billion.

           Gwen Fisher, 609-720-4387

           Investor Relations:
           Ed Arditte, 609-720-4621
           John Roselli, 609-720-4624


CSN: Aratell Files Lawsuit on Unfair Pricing
Brazilian metal company Estampara Industrial Aratell filed a
lawsuit against local flat steel maker Companhia Siderurgica
Nacional (CSN)(NYSE:SID) for allegedly setting abusive market
prices, local business daily Valor Economico reports. Aratell is
seeking US$1.92 million in compensation, the source adds.

A report by Gazeta Mercantil, another Brazilian newspaper, cited
Aratell as saying that CSN stopped some 3,000 tons in monthly
deliveries, the suddenly hiked prices. The increased price is
17.65% higher than that of Mangels, one of CSN's local

The Rio de Janeiro-based CSN announced price hikes of some 13% in
December, relates Business News Americas. The Company's clients
include Ultragaz and Minasgas.

EMBRATEL: Government Torn Regarding Sale's Possible Outcome
Brazil's government officials are debating whether it is safe to
sell local telco Embratel to a foreign bidder.

According to Business News Americas, the president's chief-of-
staff Jose Dirceu and the communications minister Miro Teixeira
are apprehensive. Noting that Embratel owns satellites in key
locations across Brazilian airspace, some of which are used by
the military, and which could be sold to foreign operators,
Dirceu and Teixeira believe that a sale to a foreign bidder could
put strategic interests in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, Brazil's Finance Minister Antonio Filho fears that if
Embratel is sold to a consortium of the existing three local
incumbent operators, Telemar (NYSE: TNE), Brasil Telecom (NYSE:
BRP) and Spain's Telefonica (NYSE: TEF), it would reinforce their
regional monopolies.

Already, Telcomp, Brazil's association for non-incumbent telecoms
operators, rejected the purchase by the three operators, and has
delivered its arguments to Brazil's antitrust authority, Cade.

It is important for Cade to monitor the process to "avoid
irreversible damage to the market and the users of telecoms
services," Telcomp said in a statement laying out its position.

Telcomp joins a long list of concerned parties that have filed
pre-emptive documents with Cade in opposition to a purchase by
the three incumbents.

Bankrupt U.S. telecommunications giant MCI (formerly WorldCom
Inc.), which won control of Embratel in 1998 for US$2.3 billion,
said in November it aimed to sell its 52% voting stake in
Embratel as part of a reorganization plan approved by a U.S.
bankruptcy court.

CONTACT:   Silvia M.R. Pereira, Investor Relations
           Tel: (55 21) 2121-9662
           Fax: (55 21) 2121-6388

PARMALAT BRAZIL: Shuts Down Goias Plant
Parmalat SA Industria de Alimentos, Brazil's second biggest dairy
company, closed a production line in the city of Santa Helena de
Goias and fired 120 people, or half of its staff at the plant,
Bloomberg News reports.

In a statement, the Company, a unit of Italian dairy company
Parmalat Finanziaria SpA, said it moved production of its long-
life milk to two other plants in the states of Rio Grande do Sul
and Pernambuco.

"The measure will allow the company to concentrate its operations
to increase efficiency," the company statement said. "It meets
the goal of protecting the Brazilian operation from the current
situation of the head office in Italy."

The local unit has been struggling to pay suppliers and creditors
after its controlling company admitted last month that a US$5
billion bank account of a Cayman Islands unit didn't exist.

Parmalat is behind in payments to several dairy cooperatives in
Rio de Janeiro and Goias state, according to members of the
cooperatives. The Company has promised to pay off about BRL6.6
million ($2.3 million) of bills owed to 11 dairy cooperatives in
Rio de Janeiro state Friday, said Rodolfo Tavares, president of
Rio de Janeiro state Agriculture Federation.

USIMINAS: Standard & Poor's Issues `B+' FC Credit Rating
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned Wednesday its 'BB-'
local-currency and its 'B+' foreign-currency corporate credit
ratings to Brazilian steel maker Usinas Sider£rgicas de Minas
Gerais S.A.-Usiminas. At the same time, Standard & Poor's
assigned its 'B+' rating to the up-to-US$200 million senior notes
due 2009 to be issued by Companhia Sider£rgica Paulista-Cosipa.
The senior notes will be fully guaranteed by Usiminas.

"The ratings on Usiminas reflect the consolidated credit quality
of the so-called 'Usiminas System,' consisting of the combined
operating and financial profiles of Cosipa and Usiminas and their
respective subsidiaries altogether," said Standard & Poor's
credit analyst Reginaldo Takara.

The local-currency corporate credit rating on Usiminas reflects
its aggressive consolidated financial profile, characterized by
high leverage and some exposure to short-term debt and
refinancing risk, some reliance on the volatile economic and
operating environment at its home market Brazil, increasing
competition within the Brazilian steel industry and potential
export restrictions elsewhere in the world, and the inherent
risks associated with participating in the cyclical, capital-
intensive, and very competitive global steel industry.

These risks are partly offset by Usiminas' fair business profile,
made evident by a very competitive cost structure, resilient
operating profitability and robust free cash generation through
economic cycles, and a very favorable market position in the
fairly concentrated flat carbon steel sector in Brazil, in
particular in the higher-end, quality-products segments.

The stable outlook on the local-currency corporate credit rating
reflects Standard & Poor's expectations that Usiminas will be
able to sustain adequate operating profitability and preserve
free operating cash generation in 2004 to keep up the pace of
debt reduction and credit measures improvement. The outlook also
incorporates the expectation that Usiminas will reduce its
exposure to short-term debt within the next quarters, based on
the initiatives already taken to roll over part of the debt at
longer tenors and to pay off part of its working capital loans.
The positive outlook on the foreign-currency corporate credit
rating reflects the outlook on the foreign-currency sovereign
rating on the Federative Republic of Brazil.

ANALYST:  Reginaldo Takara
          Sao Paulo
          Phone: (55) 11-5501-8932


EDELNOR: Humphreys Confirms Second-Class Risk Rating
Humphreys, the Chilean affiliate of credit rating agency Moody's
Investors Service, confirmed its second-class risk rating on the
shares of local generator Edelnor, reports Business News

The confirmation of the ratings is based on Humphreys' belief
that Edelnor's solvency level and the profitability of the
Company's assets are inadequate compared to the risk associated
with the power generation business. Edelnor's ability to pay is
affected by its high debt levels and by its decline in
profitability over the last three years, Humphreys said.

Belgian power company Tractebel and Chile's state copper
corporation Codelco control Edelnor, which is based in the
northern grid (SING). Edelnor has 720MW installed capacity.

CONTACT:  Empresa Electrica Del Norte Grande SA
          Avenida Grecia 750
          Antofagasta, Chile
          Phone: +56 55 248500
                 +56 55 248094
          Contact: Fernando del Sol, Chairman

NEXTEL CHILE: Court Rejects Appeals Against Interconnection
Nextel Chile emerged victorious from a legal battle initiated
against it by five telecoms operators.

Business News Americas relates that Chile's Supreme Court
rejected appeals filed by Telefonica Movil, Entel PCS, their
parent companies Telefonica CTC Chile (NYSE: CTC) and Entel
Chile, and Smartcom PCS against an April 2003 order to
interconnect with trunking operator Nextel.

In addition, the court ordered the five operators, plus BellSouth
Chile, to pay fines of about US$2,300 each to cover Nextel's
legal costs.

Despite the legal challenges, Nextel has completed its
interconnection with the rival operators but was waiting for a
final court ruling before launching commercial services.


PARMALAT COLOMBIA: Under Scrutiny on Crisis Concerns
Parmalat Colombia is under scrutiny from the Superintendencia de
Sociedades in connection with the financial crisis its Italian
parent company is undergoing. A report from Portafolio said that
the results are due shortly.

The investigation comes after the crisis has shown signs of
spreading to Parmalat's Latin American units. Recently, creditors
of the Parmalat's Brazilian unit began calling for a bankruptcy

* Fitch Assigns 'BB' Rating to Colombia's $500MM Issue
Fitch Ratings, the international rating agency, assigned
Wednesday a 'BB' rating to the Republic of Colombia's US$500
million bond issue maturing in May 2024. The Rating Outlook is
Negative. Proceeds from the bonds will be used to finance debt
amortizations and the budget deficit.

Colombia's ratings balance an impeccable debt service record and
solid political leadership with structural weaknesses in public
finances that have fueled a steady rise in public debt and with
chronic civil strife. General government debt to GDP is estimated
at about 55% and the central government deficit in 2004 is
expected to exceed 5% of GDP. Passage of new tax legislation at
year-end, an improving growth picture and a stronger peso should
all help stem the rise in debt levels near-term. Rigidities in
public finances, particularly in the pension system, must be
addressed, however, in order to stabilize sovereign credit risk.

In order to resolve its Negative Outlook over the coming months,
Fitch Ratings will be monitoring the extent to which policy
priorities for the year are consistent with addressing the
looming pension problem and with improving fiscal flexibility.
Progress in the guerrilla conflict will also be considered, as
will monetary stability and signs of improved growth prospects.

CONTACT:  Fitch Ratings, New York
          Morgan C. Harting
          Phone: 212-908-0820

          Theresa Paiz Fredel
          Phone: 212-908-0534

          Matt Burkhard, Media Relations
          Phone: 212-908-0540

C O S T A   R I C A

RICA FOODS: Posts US$0.07 Loss Per Share in Previous Fiscal Year
Rica Foods, Inc. (AMEX:RCF), the largest poultry producer and
processor in Costa Rica, announced Wednesday its results of
operations for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2003.

The Company's business primarily involves the production and
marketing of poultry products and animal feed and the operation
of quick-service fried chicken restaurants. The Company's two
wholly owned subsidiaries, As de Oros, S.A. and Pipasa, S.A.,
through which the Company's operations are principally conducted,
distribute these products throughout Costa Rica and export mostly
within Central America.

For the year ended September 30, 2003, the Company generated a
net loss applicable to common stockholders of $930,396 ($0.07
losses per share) compared to the generation of net income
applicable to common stockholders of $2,917,291 ($0.23 earnings
per share) for the year ended September 30, 2002.

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2003, sales decreased by
2.11%, when compared to fiscal year 2002, mainly due to decreases
in the sales in the broiler, by-products and exports segments,
which was partly offset by an increase in sales in the animal
feed and quick-service restaurant segments. Cost of sales
increased by 4.53%, primarily due to an increase in the cost of
imported raw material, such as corn and soybean meal, and the
increased costs associated with the renting of facilities to
permit continued production of by-products following the fire to
the Company's by-product processing plant in February 2003.

The Company uses segment profit margin information to analyze
segment performance, which is defined as the ratio between the
income or loss from operations associated with a segment and the
net sales associated with the subject segment. Management
operates and organizes the financial information according to the
types of products offered to its customers. The Company operates
in seven business segments.

Fiscal Year 2003 compared to Fiscal Year 2002

Broiler sales decreased by 13.4%, mainly due to a 11.3% decrease
in volume. The Company believes this decrease is mainly due to an
increase in domestic competition. The profit margin of this
segment decreased from 24.9% to 21.2%, mainly due to an increase
in the cost of imported raw material.

Animal feed sales increased by 21.2% for fiscal year 2003 when
compared to fiscal year 2002, which reflects a relative increase
in volume of 20.9%. The Company believes that the increase in
volume is mainly attributable to an increase in the number of
commercial animal feed customers and an increase in the sales of
aquaculture and livestock feed. In addition, the Company's sale
of pet food products increased as a result of intensified
marketing efforts and the addition of new distribution channels.
Segment profit decreased from 13.1% for fiscal year 2002 to 8.6%
for fiscal year 2003, mainly due to an increase in the costs of
imported raw material and variations in the sales mix.

By-product sales decreased by 2.5% for fiscal year 2003 when
compared to fiscal year 2002, mainly due to a relative decrease
in production volume of 0.7% and a decrease in the sales of
higher priced products. The increased costs associated with the
renting of three by-product production facilities when the
Company's by-products processing plant was being reconstructed
following a fire in February 2003, and the increase in the costs
of imported raw material resulted in a decrease in the segment's
profit margin from 18.1% for fiscal year 2002 to 5.0% for fiscal
year 2003.

Export sales decreased by 6.2% for fiscal year 2003 when compared
to fiscal year 2002, mainly due to the discontinuation of broiler
exports to Honduras as a result of the Honduran government's
restriction as of March 2002 of the import of poultry-related
products, a decrease in the export of by- products as a result of
the fire in the Company's by-product processing plant and a
decrease in the number of aquaculture feed customers. This
decrease was partially offset by an increase in the sale of pet
foods. However, in November 2003, the Honduras government lifted
its restriction on the import of poultry-related products.
Accordingly, the Company has once again initiated exporting
poultry-related products to Honduras. Profit margin increased
from 10.1% for fiscal year 2002 to 18.6% for fiscal year 2003,
mainly due to a variation in the product mix to more profitable

Quick service restaurant sales increased by 33.2% for fiscal year
2003 when compared to fiscal year 2002, mainly due to the
Company's sales price campaign. Profit margin increased from 1.1%
to 2.4%, primarily due to the adoption of cost efficiency

Sales for the other products segment did not vary significantly,
decreasing by 1.8% for fiscal year 2003 when compared to fiscal
year 2002. The profit margin in this segment decreased from 1.5%
for fiscal year 2002 to -0.8% for fiscal year 2003, mainly due to
an increase in the cost of raw materials.

For fiscal 2003, general and administrative expenses decreased by
$1.20 million or 8.53% when compared to fiscal year 2002 mainly
due to Company's effort to improve efficiencies and adopt cost-
saving measures. For fiscal year 2003, selling expenses did not
vary significantly, decreasing by $121,025 or 0.63% when compared
to fiscal year 2002. Operating expenses represented 24.98% and
25.46% of net sales for fiscal years 2003 and 2002, respectively.

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2003, other expenses
decreased by 6.97%. This decrease was primarily the result of a
decrease in interest expenses and foreign exchange loss, mainly
attributable to a decrease in the Company's average indebtedness
and a decrease in the related average interest rate. The Company
also recognized as an extraordinary item a gain in the amount of
$304,501, which is the result of the Company's receipt of
insurance proceeds in excess of the book value of equipment and
building facilities damaged in the by-products plant fire.

The Company's income tax expense was $206,475 for fiscal year
2003, compared to $1,041,596 for fiscal year 2002. Effective
rates for fiscal years 2003 and 2002 were 39.44% and 24.92%,
respectively. The decrease is mainly due to a decrease in taxable

"Last year the Company encountered many challenges that it has
been able to successfully overcome, including the successful
reconstruction of the Company's by-products processing plant in
September of 2003 following the fire in February of the same
year. Management of the Company is encouraged by the positive
strides made by the Company during fiscal 2003 in the Animal Feed
and Quick Service business segments," notes Gina Sequeira, the
Company's Chief Financial Officer.

The Company is seeking to address its anticipated short-term
funding requirements by various means including, but not limited
to, entering into negotiations with certain of its lenders to
extend the maturity date on the short-tem indebtedness owed to
such lenders and seeking to secure long-term financing through
the private or public issuance of debt instruments. Although the
Company has entered into discussions with certain of its lenders
and a number of potential capital sources, there can be no
assurances that the Company will be able to achieve these

To see financial statements:

CONTACT:  Rica Foods, Inc.
          Phone: +1-305-858-9480

          Home page:

* Fitch Assigns 'BB' Rtg to Costa Rica's US$250MM Issue
Fitch Ratings, the international rating agency assigned Wednesday
a 'BB' rating to the recent Republic of Costa Rica's ten-year
US$250 million issue. The Rating Outlook is Negative.

Costa Rica's ratings are supported by its modest external
indebtedness, a successful diversification of the export base
through significant foreign direct investment flows, robust
democratic institutions, and favorable social indicators. The
rating is constrained by the 'twin deficit' problem facing Costa
Rica. The Negative Outlook reflects the high fiscal deficits and
high level of dollarization of the banking system in the context
of a crawling peg exchange rate regime that increases Costa
Rica's financial vulnerability. Moreover, the country has also
been unsuccessful in making significant progress on structural
reforms, such as privatization of state-monopolies and large
national banks.

Last year Costa Rica's economy accelerated after three years of
sluggish growth thanks to the expansion of exports underpinned by
solid growth in Intel exports. However, the government was unable
to use the opportunity of higher growth to consolidate fiscal
accounts sufficiently. Despite the additional revenues arising
from the Contingency Fiscal Plan, the fiscal accounts remained
under pressure due to higher spending. Moreover, the Pacheco
administration was unable to pass the comprehensive tax reform in
2003, although the government remains committed to passing it
this year.

Going forward, a stabilization of Costa Rica's sovereign
creditworthiness will depend on the ability of the government to
tackle fiscal deficits and implement structural reform. A
comprehensive tax reform, further strengthening of bank
supervision, especially of off-shore banking activities, and
progress on privatization would be viewed favorably by Fitch.

By contrast, continued high fiscal deficit and back-peddling on
structural reform could further undermine the credibility of the
policy framework and increase the pressures on the exchange rate
and for dollarization. Sudden exchange rate devaluation would
mean a higher government debt burden, given Costa Rica's
substantial level of dollar-denominated government debt.

CONTACT:  Fitch Ratings, New York
          Shelly Shetty
          Phone: 212-908-0324

          Theresa Paiz Fredel
          Phone: 212-908-0534

          Matt Burkhard, Media Relations
          Phone: 212-908-0540


AHMSA: Expects Boost in Demand for Steel This Year
Mexican steelmaker Altos Hornos de Mexico (Ahmsa) anticipates a
soaring demand worldwide for steel this year, reports Business
News Americas.

"In fact, we actually have a full docket of requests for
different types of products in the first quarter," Ahmsa's
marketing director Miguel Elizondo said.

In this light, the Company, which has two plants in Monclova,
Coahuila state, and four operable blast furnaces, expects to
produce 2.9Mt in liquid steel and invest US$60 million in
operations in 2004, Elizondo said.

The Company produced 2.9Mt liquid steel last year, including
2.56Mt in finished products, a 3.6% jump over 2002, Elizondo

          Prolongacion B. Juarez s/n,
          Monclova , Coahuila 25770

          Phone: +52 86 33 81 72
          Fax: +52 86 33 65 66
          Alonso Ancira Elizondo, CEO, Vice Chairman, Pres/CEO
          Jorge Ancira Elizondo, Chief Financial Officer
          Manuel Ancira Elizondo, Chief Operating Officer

GRUPO IUSACELL: Comments on U.S. Law Firm Announcement
Grupo Iusacell, S.A. de C.V. (NYSE:CEL) (BMV: CEL) ("Iusacell" or
the "Company") announces that, as of 4:00 p.m. Mexico City time,
its subsidiary, Grupo Iusacell Celular, S.A. de C.V. has not been
served with a complaint with respect to the lawsuit announced
through various means of communication, by the law firm Manatt,
Phelps & Philips, representatives of certain holders of notes due

About Iusacell

Grupo Iusacell, S.A. de C.V. (Iusacell) (NYSE:CEL) (BMV: CEL) is
a wireless cellular and PCS service provider in seven of Mexico's
nine regions, including Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey,
Tijuana, Acapulco, Puebla, Leon and Merida. The Company's service
regions encompass a total of approximately 92 million POPs,
representing approximately 90% of the country's total population.

CONTACT:  Grupo Iusacell, S.A. de C.V.
          Jose Luis Riera K., CFO
          Phone: +011-5255-5109-5927

          Carlos J. Moctezuma, Head of Investor Relations
          Phone: +011-5255-5109-5759

GRUPO IUSACELL: Bondholders File Complaint on Debt Default
Several holders of the Grupo Iusacell Celular 10% Senior Secured
Notes due 2004 filed a complaint Wednesday in the Supreme Court
of the State of New York against Grupo Iusacell Celular, its
subsidiaries, and a syndicate of holders of Iusacell bank debt
currently led by Marathon Asset Management.

The holders of the Notes include funds and accounts managed by
TCW Asset Management Company, TCW Investment Management Company,
Gramercy Advisors LLC, and Agave Telecom Holdings LLC, and hold
31.8% of the 10% Notes. The complaint seeks to recover all
amounts due under the US$150 million 10% Notes, prevent Grupo
Iusacell Celular and the current holders of the bank debt from
pursuing further restructuring talks that may be prejudicial to
the Noteholders, and to assign to the Noteholders security
interests improperly granted to the bank debt holders. Iusacell
failed to make a scheduled interest payment on the 10% Notes due
July 15, 2003, and the 10% Notes were subsequently declared due
and payable on Sept. 11, 2003. Defendants have approximately a
month to respond to the complaint.

The complaint was prompted by the failure of Iusacell's
controlling shareholder, Grupo Salinas, headed by Mexican
businessman Ricardo Salinas Pliego, to respond to the
Noteholders' efforts to engage in good faith restructuring talks.
While most market analysts agree that Iusacell appears to have
too much debt, the problem is a result of the US$350 million of
bonds at the holding company level, and not the amount of debt
sustained at the operating subsidiaries that are the obligors of
the 10% Notes and the bank debt. The debt at the operating
company level resulted in a comfortable leverage ratio of around
2.6x as of June 30, 2003, prior to the purchase of Iusacell by
the Salinas Group from Verizon and Vodafone at the end of July
2003. Nonetheless, the Salinas Group has insisted that holders of
the 10% Notes agree to a restructuring that provides a material
amount of principal forgiveness without any consideration.

Furthermore, the Noteholders are concerned that Grupo Salinas
representatives have indicated that they are pursuing a
restructuring with the bank debt holders that may compromise the
rights of the Noteholders. This concern is exacerbated since
Iusacell continues to pay interest under the bank debt, including
interest on portions of the debt publicly acknowledged as having
equal standing with the Notes.

The Noteholders' action was in part prompted by concerns raised
by recent public revelations of potentially improper practices by
Ricardo Salinas Pliego and Grupo Salinas in the restructuring of
the debt of their other wireless telephone venture, Unefon, and
the failure to disclose such practices in apparent violation of
the new Sarbanes-Oxley U.S. securities law. The Noteholders have
become increasingly concerned that Grupo Salinas has little
intention to maintain Grupo Iusacell as an independent, going
concern, as evidenced by the recent decision to terminate 500,000
subscribers, or 25% of its customers. Creditor and minority
shareholder rights of Grupo Iusacell might also be undermined by
informal or undisclosed arrangements with other Grupo Salinas
enterprises including retailer Grupo Elektra, broadcaster Grupo
Azteca, and Unefon.

"It is disturbing that, in modern Mexico today, aggressive
shareholders like Ricardo Salinas Pliego are still able to act
with such impunity against the interests of creditors and
minority shareholders," stated Robert L. Rauch, Managing Director
at Gramercy Advisors LLC. Many market analysts have stated that
Unefon -- in which Grupo Salinas has a controlling interest --
would likely benefit from the removal of a competitor in the
event Grupo Iusacell fails to restructure and is liquidated.

"Our discussions with representatives of Grupo Salinas to this
point have resulted in no progress, and it is increasingly
apparent that the new controlling shareholder of the company, who
paid only US$7.4 million for its stake, has little interest in
pursuing a mutually beneficial restructuring," said Mark
Christensen, Senior Vice President at TCW Asset Management
Company. He added, "Our preliminary due-diligence has revealed
that the current holders of the bank debt have certain collateral
which prior management may have improperly granted in violation
of the indenture governing the 10% Notes."

CONTACT:  Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
          Alan M. Feld, Esq.
          Phone: 310-312-4153

          Canales y Socios
          Ernesto Canales Santos, Esq
          Phone: +52 818 368-0190

T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

BWIA: Judge To Rule On ACAWU Demand Feb. 9
Industrial Court Judge Gregory Baker will issue a ruling February
9 on the Aviation Communications and Allied Workers Union's
(ACAWU) demand for an increase in severance payments.

The Trinidad Guardian recalls that in December, Baker had ordered
that more than $5 million in outstanding severance benefits to
some 57 retrenched BWIA workers be fully liquidated before the
31st of January next year.

ACAWU is seeking a 25% interest rate to be paid to the retrenched
BWIA workers.

But in a hearing on the matter held Tuesday, Baker said BWIA must
present a report to the Court on February 4 stating whether it
had paid the remaining severance payments and if not, explain
why. Baker said BWIA must first be given the opportunity to pay-
out its remaining severance payments by the January 31 deadline
before he rules on the ACAWU's interest demand.

"I shall set a date early in February after the last payment is
supposed to have been made," Baker said. "At that last meeting I
will make a decision on the matter of interest."

CONTACT:  British West Indies Airways
          Phone: + 868 627 2942
          Home Page:


S U B S C R I P T I O N   I N F O R M A T I O N

Troubled Company Reporter - Latin America is a daily newsletter
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Copyright 2004.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

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