TCRLA_Public/050506.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, May 6, 2005, Vol. 6, Issue 89

                            Headlines


A R G E N T I N A

ABARCAL S.A.: Court Mandated Liquidation Set
AGEA: Fitch Rates Bonds Below Investment Grade  
ATLANTICA REPUESTOS: Asset Liquidation Required
BANCO GALICIA: $345M Bond Program Awaits Board Approval
BATERPLAC S.R.L.: Reorganization Concluded

BON GOUT: Reorganization Proceeds To Bankruptcy
CENTRO DE COMERCIANTES: Court Grants Reorganization Plea
CAMUZZI GAS: Bonds Get 'BBB' rating from Fitch
DROGUERIA MAGNA: Moody's Reiterates 'C' Rating on $5M of Bonds
EAGLE MESSENGER: Claims Verification Deadline Approaches

EDITORIAL PERFIL: $25M of Bonds Remain in Default
FIRME SEGURIDAD: Court Sets Claims Submission Cut-off
IMPSA: Wins $122M Contract to Supply Turbines for Borneo Dam
METROGAS: Government Expects Contract Decision Next Month
VINTAGE PETROLEUM: Details $64.3M 1Q05 Capex Allocation


B R A Z I L

BANCO SANTOS: Central Bank to Oversee Liquidation
BRASKEM: Net Income, EBITDA Up 1Q05; Net Debt Decreases
SADIA: Net Income Falls 22.2% in 1Q05; CEO Steps Down
VARIG: In Talks With Portuguese Airline Over Proposal


C O S T A   R I C A

ICE: Awards $113M Garabito Contract to Hitachi  
   

H O N D U R A S

* HONDURAS: Gets $35M Loan From IDB


J A M A I C A

AIR JAMAICA: Prime Minister Calls for Renewed Union Talks
DYOLL GROUP: Liquidators Question Jamaican Portfolio Sale


M E X I C O

GRUPO SIMEC: Acquisition, Better Pricing Jumps 2004 Net Sales
UNEFON: Shareholders Vote Against Stock Delisting


P A R A G U A Y

ESSAP: Minister Adamant on Restructuring Without Privitization


V E N E Z U E L A

PDVSA: Cutting 3,500 Jobs; Unions Forecast Crisis
PDVSA: Denies Mass Firings at PDVSA Zulia
SIDOR: Changes Structure to Enhance International Presence


     - - - - - - - - - -

=================
A R G E N T I N A
=================

ABARCAL S.A.: Court Mandated Liquidation Set
--------------------------------------------
Buenos Aires accountant Luis Gabriel Plizzo was assigned trustee
for the liquidation of local company Abarcal S.A., relates
Infobae.

Mr. Plizzo will verify creditors' claims until June 3, the
source adds. After that, he will prepare individual reports,
which are to be submitted in court on July 15. The submission of
the general report should follow on September 9.

The city's civil and commercial Court No. 9 holds jurisdiction
over the Company's case. Clerk No. 18 assists the court with the
wind-up proceedings.

CONTACT: Abarcal S.A.
         Azara 514
         Buenos Aires
          
         Mr. Luis Gabriel Plizzo, Trustee
         Roque Saenz Pena 651
         Buenos Aires


AGEA: Fitch Rates Bonds Below Investment Grade  
----------------------------------------------
Fitch Argentina Calificadora de Riesgo S.A., the Argentine arm
of international ratings agency Fitch Ratings, assigned below
investment grade ratings to certain corporate bonds issued by
Arte Grafico Editorial Argentino S.A. (AGEA).

The Comision Nacional de Valores, Argentina's securities
regulator, listed these bonds at its website along with their
corresponding ratings:

- US$30.6 million worth of bonds described as "Serie C -ON a
Tasa Fija creciente" were rated `BB(arg)'. This particular
issue, whose final maturity date is not revealed, is classified
as `Series and/or Class';

- US$83.72 million worth of bonds described as "Obligaciones
Negociable SERIE B por hasta U$S 83.72 MM (2011)" were rated
`BB(arg)'. This particular issue, whose final maturity date is
not revealed, is classified as `Series and/or Class';

- US$600 million worth of bonds described as "obligaciones
negociables" were rated `CCC(arg)'. These bonds, the maturity of
which is unknown, were classified `Program'.

All these ratings were given based on the Company's financial
standing on December 31, 2004.


ATLANTICA REPUESTOS: Asset Liquidation Required
-----------------------------------------------
Court No. 6 of Mar del Plata's civil and commercial tribunal has
modified the ongoing reorganization of Atlantica Repuestos
S.R.L. to a straight liquidation. Infobae reports that local
accountant Guillermo Jose Haddad will oversee the "Quiebra"
proceedings as the court-appointed trustee.

CONTACT: Atlantica Repuestos S.R.L.
         Avda Colon 5186
         Mar del Plata

         Mr. Guillermo Jose Haddad, Trustee
         Rawson 2272
         Mar del Plata


BANCO GALICIA: $345M Bond Program Awaits Board Approval
-------------------------------------------------------
Banco de Galicia y Buenos Aires is looking to its board of
directors now for authorization to launch a ARS1-billion (US$345
million) bond program. According to Business News Americas, the
program, which has a five-year duration, has been approved by
shareholders at a recently held meeting.

The board may decide to make a first bond issue this year.
Proceeds from the upcoming issues will be used to invest in
physical assets in Argentina, working capital, refinance
liabilities, and to inject capital in subsidiaries or related
firms.

Galicia is one of the largest private banks in Argentina and the
main asset of local financial group Grupo Financiero Galicia.

CONTACT: Banco de Galicia y Buenos Aires S.A.
         Phone: (54-11) 6329-6430
         Fax: (54-11) 6329-6494
         Web site: www.e-galicia.com


BATERPLAC S.R.L.: Reorganization Concluded
------------------------------------------
The settlement plan proposed by Baterplac S.R.L. for its
creditors acquired the number of votes necessary for
confirmation. As such, the plan has been endorsed by Court No. 2
of Salta's civil and commercial tribunal and will now be
implemented by the company.      

CONTACT: Baterplac S.R.L.
         Pellegrini 840
         Phone: 0387-4234520


BON GOUT: Reorganization Proceeds To Bankruptcy
-----------------------------------------------
The reorganization of Bon Gout S.R.L. has progressed into
bankruptcy. Argentine news source Infobae relates that Court No.
14 of Lomas de Zamora's civil and commercial tribunal ruled that
the Company is "Quiebra Decretada".

The report adds that Ms. Mirta C. Ramos serves as trustee in the
proceedings. She is scheduled to submit a general report of the
case on July 1, 2005.

CONTACT: Bon Gout S.R.L.
         Nuestras Malvinas 192
         Monte Grande (Partido de Esteban Echeverria)

         Ms. Mirta C. Ramos, Trustee
         Hipolito Irigoyen 7800
         Esquina Grijera
         Banfield


CENTRO DE COMERCIANTES: Court Grants Reorganization Plea
--------------------------------------------------------
Centro de Comerciantes Minoristas de Salta, a company operating
in Salta, begins reorganization proceedings after Court No. 1 of
the city's civil and commercial tribunal granted its petition
for "concurso preventivo".

During the reorganization, the company will be able to negotiate
a settlement proposal for its creditors so as to avoid a
straight liquidation.  

According to Argentine news source Infobae, the reorganization
will be conducted under the direction of Ms. Maria Dolores
Lorente Vigueras, the court-appointed trustee.

Ms. Vigueras is scheduled to submit a general report of this
case on June 21.

CONTACT: Centro de Comerciantes Minoristas de Salta
         General Guemes 220
         Salta


CAMUZZI GAS: Bonds Get 'BBB' rating from Fitch
----------------------------------------------
Fitch Argentina Calificadora de Riesgo S.A. assigned a
'BBB(arg)' rating to ARP400 million worth of bonds issued by
Camuzzi Gas Pampeana S.A.

Local securities regulator, Comision Nacional de Valores (CNV),
reports that the affected bonds are:

- ARP100 million worth of bonds described as "Obligaciones
Negociables Clase 2 por hasta $ 100" with undated maturity; and

- ARP300 million worth of bonds described as "Programa de ONs
por hasta $" with undated maturity.
  
The ratings are based on the Company's financial status as of
December 31, 2004.


DROGUERIA MAGNA: Moody's Reiterates 'C' Rating on $5M of Bonds
--------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Latin America Calificadora de Riesgo S.A. maintains a
'C' rating on a total of US$5 million of corporate bonds issued
by Argentine Company Drogueria Magna S.A. The rating denotes
that the bonds possess a risk of nonpayment.

The Comision Nacional de Valores (CNV), Argentina's securities
regulator, described the affected bonds as "Obligaciones
Negociables Simples". The bonds matured in April last year and
are classified under "Simple Issue".

The issued rating was based on the Company's financial status as
of January 31, 2005.


EAGLE MESSENGER: Claims Verification Deadline Approaches
--------------------------------------------------------
The official submission process of creditor claims for the Eagle
Messenger Express S.R.L. bankruptcy case will end on May 24
according to Infobae. Creditors with claims against the bankrupt
company must present proof of the liabilities to Mr. Alberto E.
Scravaglieri, the court-appointed trustee, before the said
deadline.

Court No. 4 of Buenos Aires' civil and commercial tribunal
handles the company's case with the assistance of Clerk No. 7.
The bankruptcy will conclude with the sale of the company's
assets.

CONTACT: Mr. Alberto E Scravaglieri, Trustee
         Roque Saenz Pena 651
         Buenos Aires


EDITORIAL PERFIL: $25M of Bonds Remain in Default
-------------------------------------------------
Moody's Latin America Calificadora de Riesgo S.A. maintains a
'D' rating on US$25 million worth of corporate bonds issued by
Argentine Company Editorial Perfil S.A., the CNV reveals in its
Web site. The Company's finances as of December 31, 2004 led to
the action taken by Moody's.

The rating, given to bonds that are in payment default, applies
to bonds called "Primera serie de Obligaciones Negociables" and
were classified under "Series and/or Class." The maturity of the
bonds was not disclosed.


FIRME SEGURIDAD: Court Sets Claims Submission Cut-off
-----------------------------------------------------
Proof of claims from the Firme Seguridad S.A. bankruptcy case
must be submitted to trustee Alberto Jose Rotenberg for
verifications by July 7. Failure to comply with the submission
deadline will mean disqualification from any post-liquidation
distributions.    

Court No. 15 of Buenos Aires' civil and commercial tribunal has
jurisdiction over this case. The city's Clerk No. 30 assists the
court with the proceedings.

CONTACT: Mr. Alberto Jose Rotenberg, Trustee
         Avda Cordoba 1336
         Buenos Aires


IMPSA: Wins $122M Contract to Supply Turbines for Borneo Dam
------------------------------------------------------------
Argentine power-plant builder Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona
S.A.I.C.& F (IMPSA) has secured a US$122 million contract to
supply turbines for the huge Bakun hydroelectric dam in Borneo,
according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Citing people familiar with the operation, the Journal reveals
that the contract for four turbines was signed last month after
IMPSA and its Malaysian partner, Muhibbah Engineering Bhd,
defeated Alstom SA of France in bidding for the deal.

IMPSA is one of the largest worldwide providers of integrated
energy solutions for hydropower and wind energy projects through
the production of capital goods and by investing in power
generation projects.

The Company's success and reputation is based on its vast
international experience in infrastructure projects, especially
for power generation.

CONTACT: Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona S.A.
         Latin America
         Mr. Hernan Guinazu
         Carril Rodriguez Pena 2451
         (M5503AHY) Godoy Cruz, Mendoza
         Argentina.
         Phone: (+54-261) 4131374
         Fax:(+54-261) 4131429 - 4131423
         E-mail: guinazu@impsa.com.ar
         Web site: http://www.impsa.com.ar


METROGAS: Government Expects Contract Decision Next Month
---------------------------------------------------------
Uniren, the agency for contract negotiations, revealed Wednesday
that the government will issue a final decision about a new
contract with natural gas distributor Metrogas (MGS) in June,
relates Dow Jones Newswires.

"Uniren authorities will adopt a final resolution about the
(contract) on June 22, 2005," Uniren said in a brief item
published in the Official Bulletin

The announcement follows the rejection by Metrogas of a utility
contract first offered by the Argentine government during a
public hearing held late last month. The Company wants a higher
rate increase as one of the basic requirements for a sustainable
accord.

U.K. energy company BG Group PLC (BRG) and Spain's Repsol-YPF
(REP) together control a 70% stake in Metrogas through a
consortium called Gas Argentino. Metrogas' employees own 10% of
the company's shares and the rest float on the stock exchange.

CONTACT: MetroGAS S.A.
         Gregorio Araoz de Lamadrid 1360
         C 1267 AAB Buenos Aires, Argentina
         Phone: 5411-4309-1000


VINTAGE PETROLEUM: Details $64.3M 1Q05 Capex Allocation
-------------------------------------------------------
Vintage Petroleum, Inc. (NYSE:VPI) announced Thursday the
results and status of its first quarter operational activities
and plans for 2005. In the first three months of 2005, the
company made capital expenditures totaling $64.3 million, with
$54.3 million going to a variety of lower-risk exploitation
projects and $10 million spent on potentially higher-impact
exploration programs in the United States and Yemen.

United States - Exploitation

For 2005, a capital budget of $40 million was allocated to U.S.
exploitation activities encompassing 20 net exploitation wells
to be drilled and approximately 45 well workovers, principally
in California, Louisiana and Texas. Activity in the first
quarter of 2005 included the continuation of an infill drilling
program at the South Gilmer field of East Texas, where three
wells were completed in the first quarter and four are currently
targeted for completion by the end of June. Three wells are also
planned in the field for the third quarter. Expanded drilling
programs and workover activity in the Luling, Darst Creek and
West Ranch fields in South Central Texas continue, where six
wells were completed at the end of the first quarter with work
underway to drill six additional wells. Two workovers are in
progress with 16 more planned for 2005. In addition, eight new
drilling locations have been approved with another ten to
fifteen locations under evaluation.

In South Louisiana, two workovers have been completed at South
Pass 24 with one in progress. At the company's Main Pass 116
complex in the federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, the company
has increased net daily production to 14.5 MMcf from 1.6 MMcf
over the past year. Two workovers are also planned to further
increase production and the company is evaluating four prospects
in the field for 2005. First quarter results from all of the
aforementioned efforts have brought over 1,800 net barrels of
oil per day and over 7.2 net MMcf of gas per day on to
production, making a substantial contribution toward the
increased volumes supporting a revised production target for
2005.

At the end of the first quarter of 2005, the company had
returned to production 4,500 net BOE per day of the total 6,100
net BOE per day of production which was temporarily shut-in due
to the mudslides experienced in California during January. To
date, a total of 5,500 net BOE per day has been brought back on-
line, with the remaining 600 daily BOE expected to be returned
to production by the end of June. The company currently
estimates that it will complete the repair of mudslide damage
for a total cost of approximately $7.5 million, nearly $1
million less than previous estimates. Of this amount,
approximately $3.5 million was expensed in the first quarter.

United States - Exploration

Vintage began 2005 with an inventory of 13 domestic exploration
prospects and a capital budget of $64 million. The focus of
domestic exploration activity is split between conventional
exploration targeting the Texas Gulf Coast and onshore
unconventional gas resource plays. Twenty-six million dollars
has been allocated to the unconventional gas resource
exploration program to drill ten wells during 2005 to test a
minimum of four play concepts identified during 2004.

In one of these unconventional plays, located in the Palo Duro
Basin of Texas, the company has secured a substantial leased and
optioned position in excess of 130,000 net acres. One
exploratory well was drilled and cored in the first quarter,
with a second well following early in the second quarter. Cores
from these wells have been sent to a third party lab for
analysis and testing that will aid in the formulation of the
completion and stimulation program for these wells. Vintage owns
working interests in this venture which range between 65 and 75
percent. To date, in excess of 70,000 net acres have been
acquired in four other areas of the country with the intention
of accumulating additional acreage and drilling test wells later
in the year.

An additional $38 million has been allocated to conventional
exploration activities primarily targeting natural gas that can
be brought to production quickly. This endeavor anticipates
drilling 11 exploration wells to test prospects primarily
located in the onshore and offshore Texas Gulf Coast.

Two Miocene prospects were drilled at Matagorda Island 639 and
640 during the second half of 2004 with both encountering
apparent pay sands. Vintage holds a 25 percent working interest
in this offshore Texas gas prospect and expects these wells to
be brought online with the installation of production facilities
late in the third quarter. Vintage also controls a 53 percent
working interest in acreage in the Nueces Bay on the Texas Gulf
Coast, where 3-D seismic covering a 55 square mile area has been
acquired and is currently being processed. In this play, Vintage
is targeting gas in underdeveloped Frio and Vicksburg sands.

Argentina

The company's forecasted production growth in 2005 is supported
by an increase in Argentina capital spending of 21 percent to
$113 million, which targets the drilling of 110 wells. First
quarter activity included the drilling of 28 wells, with 13 in
progress, and the completion of 25 workovers. Currently there
are six drilling rigs and ten workover rigs active on the
company's concessions in the San Jorge and Cuyo Basins. Further,
a portion of 2005 capital spending is budgeted for the
implementation of four waterflood projects which could enhance
production in 2006. Two of these projects have been approved and
implementation will begin in the second quarter.

The company recently drilled and completed three wells on the
south flank of the San Jorge Basin with initial net production
rates between 880 and 1,950 BOPD, ranking them in the top five
percent of the more than 450 wells drilled by the company to
date in Argentina. One of the wells was drilled on a new 3-D
seismic survey acquired during 2004, thus reconfirming the
continuing benefit of using this technology in the selection of
drilling locations.

Yemen

The recently completed An Nagyah #15 is one of three horizontal
wells planned for this year in order to complete development of
the field. Work began in late 2004 on the construction of a
permanent pipeline and central processing facility that is
slated to have initial gross daily capacity of 10,000 to 12,000
barrels of oil (5,200 to 6,250 net). The pipeline is scheduled
for completion by the end of June and will begin transporting
oil at that time, with the central processing facility scheduled
for third quarter completion.

International Exploration

The company is continuing to pursue its exploration program in
Block S-1 in Yemen. Approximately $8 million has been allocated
to international exploration in 2005, with the majority
dedicated to the effort in Yemen. The company drilled one
exploration prospect in the Malaki area during the first
quarter, but the well was non-productive and plugged. A new
exploration well on the company's Wadi Markhah prospect, 31
miles (50 km) to the southeast of An Nagyah, is currently being
drilled and should be completed during the second quarter. Also
in Yemen, the company has installed two pumping units as part of
a long-term test to assess the economic feasibility for further
development of the reservoirs at our Harmel discovery.

Vintage to Webcast First-Quarter 2005 Conference Call

The company's teleconference call to review first quarter 2005
results will be broadcast live on a listen-only basis over the
internet on Thursday, May 5, 2005, at 3 p.m. Central time.
Interested parties may access the webcast by visiting the
Vintage Petroleum, Inc. website at www.vintagepetroleum.com and
selecting the microphone icon, or at www.fulldisclosure.com and
typing VPI in the ticker search box and selecting "Go". The
teleconference may be accessed by dialing 800/362-0571 and
providing the call identifier "Vintage" to the operator. The
webcast and the accompanying slide presentation will be
available for replay at the company's website. An audio replay
will be available until May 10, 2005, by dialing 402/220-1123.

Forward-Looking Statements

This release includes certain statements that may be deemed to
be "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the
Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements
in this release, other than statements of historical facts, that
address future production, exploitation activities, exploration,
operating costs, capital spending, planned drilling levels,
proved undeveloped, probable and possible locations, and events
or developments that the company expects or believes are
forward-looking statements. Although Vintage believes the
expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are
based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not
guarantees of future performance and actual results or
developments may differ materially from those in the forward-
looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to
differ materially from those in forward-looking statements
include oil and gas prices, company realizations, exploitation
and exploration successes, actions taken and to be taken by
foreign governments as a result of political and economic
conditions or other factors, changes in foreign exchange rates
and inflation rates, continued availability of capital and
financing, and general economic, market or business conditions
as well as other risk factors described from time to time in the
company's filings with the SEC. The company assumes no
obligation to update publicly such forward-looking statements,
whether as a result of new information, future events or
otherwise.

Vintage Petroleum, Inc. is an independent energy company engaged
in the acquisition, exploitation and exploration of oil and gas
properties and the marketing of natural gas and crude oil.
Company headquarters are in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and its common
shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the
symbol VPI.

CONTACT: Vintage Petroleum, Inc.
         Tulsa
         Mr. Robert E. Phaneuf
         Phone: 918-592-0101
         Web site: www.vintagepetroleum.com



===========
B R A Z I L
===========

BANCO SANTOS: Central Bank to Oversee Liquidation
-------------------------------------------------
Sao Paulo regional bank, Banco Santos, will be liquidated, the
Central Bank announced Wednesday, adding that the bank may file
for bankruptcy. Banco Santos, the 20th-largest Brazilian bank by
assets, was the first to be taken over by the government since
1999. The bank failed after running short BRL2.2 billion (US$892
million) to cover BRL2.98 billion in liabilities, according to
Sergio Cavalheiro, Auditing Director of the central bank.

Vanio Aguiar, the head of the central bank's supervision
department who has run Banco Santos since its seizure, will be
in charge of conducting sales of assets to try to pay back debt.

Meanwhile, the central bank will ask prosecutors to investigate
irregularities in loans made by Banco Santos. Cavalheiro said
central bank authorities found the bank lent some money to
companies that had outstanding credit with non-financial units
of the Santos group.

"We were surprised by these types of operations," Mr. Cavalheiro
said.


BRASKEM: Net Income, EBITDA Up 1Q05; Net Debt Decreases
-------------------------------------------------------
Braskem S.A., leader in the thermoplastic resins segment in
Latin America and one of the largest Brazilian privately owned
industrial companies, announced today its results for the first
quarter of 2005.

QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS

The capacity increases implemented since 2004, together with
higher capacity utilization rates, as well as higher levels of
operating efficiency and reliability in the first quarter of
2005, were the principal factors in Braskem recording
substantial increases in its production volumes.

Polyethylene production (PE) exhibited considerable growth of
19% in the first three months of 2005 compared to the same
period in 2004, reflecting adequate operational continuity. In
March 2005, a new record for polypropylene (PP) production was
achieved, with 45,300 tons produced during that month. At the
PVC Unit in the State of Bahia, the highlight was the monthly
production of 19.6 thousand tons, a record for the past 28
months.

Total sales volumes of PE and PP grew by 23% in the first
quarter of 2005. Total sales volumes of PE and PP increased by
24% and 22%, respectively.

From 2004 to 2005, international prices charged by producers of
thermoplastic resins increased substantially. These price
increases were primarily caused by a scenario in which there was
reduced supply throughout the world, while at the same time
demand continued to increase in different regions globally.

Braskem, in turn, was again very successful in the first quarter
of 2005 in applying its sales policy and strategy of aligning
its prices in the domestic market with international prices. In
this manner, the Company achieved substantial increases in the
prices of its resins PE, PP and PVC during the first three
months of 2005 compared to the same period in 2004. In regards
to PVC, the increase in domestic prices more than offset (in
terms of revenue) a decrease in total sales volumes during the
first quarter of 2005.

As a result of its strategic flexibility between the domestic
and export markets, high capacity utilization rates during the
first quarter of 2005 and higher profitability from exports,
Braskem achieved record results in the export markets. Net
export revenue reached US$ 261 million in the first three months
of 2005, a 96% increase compared to the US$ 133 million recorded
during the same period in 2004, corresponding to 23% of the
Company's total revenue in the quarter.

In addition, Braskem made significant progress in its
operational excellence program called "Braskem +". In the first
three months of 2005, the Company obtained R$120 million in
productivity gains on an annual and recurring basis, out of the
R$170 million estimated for all of 2005. This is a good measure
of the success and significant acceleration in the
implementation of this program, as the target scheduled for the
period was R$64 million, also on an annual and recurring basis.

Braskem's net revenue was R$ 3,075 million in the first quarter
of 2005, a 44% increase compared to net revenue of R$ 2,141
million recorded during the first quarter of 2004.

The average price of Naphtha in the ARA region (Amsterdam -
Rotterdam - Antwerp) in the first quarter of 2005 was US$
429/ton. This represented a 33% increase compared to the same
period in 2004, when the average price was US$ 323/ ton. It is
worth noting that the price of Naphtha reached its highest level
historically in mid-March 2005, when it was priced at US$
498/ton.

Nevertheless, Braskem's EBITDA reached R$ 688 million in the
first quarter of 2005, a 30% increase compared to EBITDA of R$
529 million recorded in the first quarter of 2004. This result
reflects the excellence of Braskem's business model, as well as
the Company's management strategy aimed at creating value
through returns that are consistently higher than its cost of
capital - and the maximization of the utilization of its
operating assets.

Net Amortization (amortized debt minus new contacted debt)
during the first quarter of 2005 reached a total of R$500
million. Braskem's net debt by the end of the first quarter of
2005 was R$ 3,448 million, an 11% decrease when compared to
year-end 2004 (R$ 3,868 million).

When expressed in U.S. dollars, Braskem's net debt decreased by
13%, from US$ 1.5 billion during the first three months of 2005
to U.S.$ 1.3 billion. Braskem's level of financial leverage,
measured by the Net Debt/EBITDA ratio, decreased by 16% during
the first quarter of 2005, from 1.52 on December 31, 2004, to
1.27 on March 31, 2005.

The new financings incurred by Braskem in the first quarter of
2005 were contracted at a substantially reduced cost of capital,
positively affecting financial expenses during the quarter as
well as reducing financial expenses through the end of 2005.

Braskem's net income reached R$ 206 million in the first quarter
of 2005, increasing by 1,960% compared to the R$ 10 million
recorded during the same period in 2004.

To view financial statements:
http://bankrupt.com/misc/Braskem.pdf

CONTACT: Investor Relations
         Mr. Jose Marcos Treiger
         Phone: +55-(11)-3443-9529
         E-mail: jm.treiger@braskem.com.br

         Mr. Luiz Henrique Valverde
         Phone: +55-(11)-3443-9744
         E-mail: luiz.valverde@braskem.com.br


SADIA: Net Income Falls 22.2% in 1Q05; CEO Steps Down
-----------------------------------------------------
SADIA S.A. (BOVESPA: SDIA4; NYSE: SDA; LATIBEX: XSDI), the
Brazilian leader in processed foods, poultry and pork, announced
Thursday its results for the first quarter of 2005 (1Q05).
Operating and financial information on the Company were approved
by the Audit Committee, comments are expressed in thousands of
Brazilian reais unless stated otherwise, and based on
consolidated figures, in accordance with Brazilian corporate
law. All comparisons made in this release are related to the
same period in 2004 (1Q04).

CEO's Letter to Shareholders

"Sadia closed out the first quarter of 2005 with operating
results within expectations. Export volumes and revenues rose,
despite the export-favorable exchange rate in 1Q04. In the
domestic market, there was an improvement in processed product
sales and a recovery of market share in all categories. Our
margins remained affected by the increased costs of certain raw
materials at the end of 2004, despite the fact that grain prices
have fallen since the first quarter of last year. Operating
margins improved since the last quarter of 2004, due to better
use of production scale, a greater dilution of fixed costs and
the optimization of sales in different channels. Investments are
moving forward as planned: construction work at the Uberlandia
complex is underway and the company "So Frango", whose upstream
merger was approved at the Ordinary General Shareholders'
Meeting on April 29, 2005, is already operating at nearly full
capacity.

After eleven years as Sadia's CEO, I am stepping down to assume
the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors. My
successor, Gilberto Tomazoni has been with Sadia for 22 years
and has ample experience in the industrial and commercial areas,
enabling the Company to successfully overcome the challenges
ahead." - Walter Fontana Filho - CEO - Sadia S.A.

GROSS OPERATING REVENUE

Gross operating revenue reached R$ 1,902.6 million, increasing
16.1% over 1Q04. During the period, the balance between domestic
sales and exports remained steady at 52% and 48%, respectively.
The volume was 22.3% higher, representing around 5 times the
expected growth for the Brazilian and world GDP in 2005.

Domestic demand continued to rise, slowly but consistently,
especially within traditional items. The recovery of economic
activity in the country has not yet begun to significantly
affect consumption of non-durable goods. The 18.4% increase in
revenue and the 16.2% increase in volumes is the result of 96.1%
higher poultry sales and 10.6% higher processed product sales.

Export revenues in 1Q05 rose 13.6% and volumes grew 28.1%, due
to increased foreign demand and the recovery of international
prices. Foreign sales of all product lines increased, despite
the fact that the 1Q04 results were particularly, positively
influenced by an exchange rate favorable to exports.

DOMESTIC MARKET

Sadia posted revenues of R$ 995.2 million - 18.4% higher than in
1Q04. This growth was the result of greater pulverization of
distribution channels and an increase in the sale of products
more accessible to different income profiles.

The processed products line grew 10.6% in terms of sales
volumes, and 13.2% in terms of revenues. The optimization of
sales in different channels permitted a broadening of the market
share of traditional products and an improvement in average
prices.

Poultry sales were 96.1% higher in terms of volume, and 64.3%
higher in revenues. The largest part of poultry production
continues to be directed to the export market. The growth of
domestic sales in this segment is related to the strategic focus
on meeting demand for Sadia-brand fresh poultry cuts and whole
birds. Changes in the supply of poultry to the domestic market
resulted in a 16.1% drop in average prices, forcing a return to
pre-2004 levels.

Revenues from the pork segment increased 3.7%. Renewed exports
resulted in a 36% drop in domestic pork sales volumes. Reduced
domestic supply and an improvement in the mix led to a 61.6%
increase in average prices. During the first quarter, Sadia
launched nine new products, including chocolate truffle ice
cream with almonds and yogurt-crust pot pies with chicken and
heart of palm fillings.

EXPORT MARKET

Export revenues reached R$ 907.4 million - 13.6% higher than
1Q04, with volumes 28.1% higher. This result is justified by
declining international prices of processed products and poultry
during 2004 and was partially offset by higher pork prices. The
poultry line, which represented 74.0% of total exports, recorded
volumes 24.8% higher, and revenues 8.6% higher, than in 1Q04.

International prices recovered due to a reduction in supply -
without exchange rate incentives, non-traditional Brazilian
suppliers ceased exporting. Sadia took advantage of this
opportunity and occupied part of the market for the supply of
whole birds and poultry cuts.

The pork segment recorded a 45.2% increase in volumes sold, with
revenues rising by 83.9%. An end to Russian restrictions
permitted the quick resumption of sales to pre-embargo levels,
with average prices 26.6% above those recorded for the same
period in 2004, thanks to low supply of the product in that
country.

Exports of processed products rose 41.6% in 1Q05. Revenues
increased 10.7%, due to new customers and the opening of new
international channels. The higher level of sales in relation to
revenues is due to a change in the mix of this segment during
2004.

OPERATING RESULT

The net operating result of R$ 1,641.9 million was 15.6% higher
than the same period in 2004. It should be pointed out that, in
an effort to better reflect the accounting classification of
variable, an amount of R$ 21.6 million (R$ 17.4 million in 1Q04)
where reclassified from sales expenses to sales deductions.

Drought affected crops in the south of Brazil and put pressure
on grain prices in 1Q05. Positive signs related to forecasts for
the American soy and corn crop continue, thus maintaining
international prices at this quarter's levels for the coming
quarters.

However, the quotes for corn in domestic market are not so
optimistic, since there are signs of a reduction in production
for the next winter harvest in Brazil. Expectations for 2Q05 are
for corn prices to be 10% higher than in 1Q05.

The gross margin in 1Q05 was 25.6%, versus 33.7% in 1Q04. After
adjustments from the reclassification of net revenues in 4Q04,
the gross margin rose 1.7 percentage points in relation to the
23.9% recorded in that quarter. An EBIT figure of R$ 110.9
million was 58.6% higher than in 4Q04 and 49.8% less than in
1Q04.

Sales expenses represented 17.5% of net revenues, with a 1.6
points increase over 1Q04. Despite this increase, which resulted
from greater expenditures related to storage and shipping, this
ratio decreased 0.9 points when compared to 4Q04. The falling
trend, however, should continue because of the optimization of
logistical operations and the realignment of marketing expenses.

FINANCIAL RESULT

The reduction in the volatility of financial investments,
together with better financing conditions and higher Domestic
interest rates paid, permitted a reduction in financial
expenses. The financial strategy made it possible for hedge
operations to offset negative exchange effects on the operating
result, leading the net financial result to be booked as a
negative balance of R$ 8.2 million in 1Q05, versus a negative
result of R$ 51.7 million in 1Q04.

EQUITY PICK-UP

An equity pick-up of R$ 4.1 million in 1Q05 was the result of
the recognition of gains related to exchange variations over
shareholders' equity in foreign subsidiaries.

FINAL RESULT

Net income was R$ 100.6 million, falling 22.2% in relation to
1Q04.

EBITDA reached R$ 144.7 million - 46.1% less than in 1Q04.
Compared to last quarter, however, there was an increase of
22.4%. The EBITDA margin also rose, from 6.9% (4Q04), to 8.8%
(1Q05). From January to March of 2004, this indicator
represented 18.9% of net revenues.

CAPITAL STRUCTURE

At the close of 1Q05, Sadia's net financial debt was R$ 560.3
million - 32.5% higher than the R$ 422.9 million posted in 1Q04.
This is the result of directing R$ 110 million in 1Q05 to the
investment program and an increase in activities, which required
a corresponding increase in working capital. Net debt reached
29.8% of shareholders' equity (26.2% in 1Q04). In the same
period, the ratio of net debt to EBITDA (last twelve months)
went from 0.5 to 0.8.

CAPITAL EXPENDITURES

The Company's investments totaled R$ 110.2 million, versus R$
47.2 million in 1Q04. Of this amount, 43.1% was allocated to the
processed products segment; 44.5% to the poultry segment; 6.8%
to the pork segment; and the remaining 5.6% primarily to
information technology. For 2005, investments of R$ 500 million
are planned.

CAPITAL MARKETS AND GENERAL INFORMATION

THE SAO PAULO STOCK EXCHANGE (BOVESPA)

In the last 12 months, the Company's shares appreciated 6.0%.
The average daily trading volume tripled, from R$ 5.5 million to
R$ 14.9 million, comparing 1Q04 to 1Q05. Sadia continues to
account for the largest share of trading in the Brazilian food
sector -
62.6%.

Sadia's preferred shares remained evenly distributed among
various categories of investors on Bovespa, including those of
foreign investors, which help increase liquidity, and
individuals and investment clubs.

THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE (NYSE)

In the last 12 months, Sadia's Level II ADR's appreciated 10.7%.
The daily, average trading volume of Sadia ADR's on the NYSE
during 1Q05 was US$ 544.1 thousand, versus US$ 265.2 thousand in
1Q04. This amount represented 8.9% of all Sadia preferred shared
traded during the period.

HIGHLIGHTS

Always concerned with the health of its customers and the
quality of its products, Sadia has been making adjustments to
its manufacturing processes since 2004 to reduce the amount of
saturated fat in its products. Excessive consumption of foods
rich in saturated fat can lead to higher cholesterol, especially
LDL, a bad type of cholesterol which actually lowers levels of
good cholesterol (HDL), thereby increasing the risks of heart
disease.

Today, the entire Qualy line of margarines, together with
vegetal cream Sadia Vita, contain zero saturated fat. With this
change, Qualy, the most sold margarine in Brazil, has become
even healthier without sacrificing its great taste.

The Company has been developing a series of social
responsibility projects, many of which focus on education and
encouraging participation in sports. That's why Sadia is an
official sponsor of the Pan-American Games to be held in Rio de
Janeiro in 2007, in conjunction with the Brazilian Olympic
Committee. With the creation of the Sadia Institute of
Sustainability, in 2004, the Company intends to expand its
activities related to health and education. Its partnership with
the Brazilian Olympic Committee is not just a way to support
Brazilian sports, but a means to more fully encourage
involvement in sports, education and a healthy diet.

In addition to the 2007 Pan-American Games in Rio, Sadia also
supports the Brazilian Delegations for the current Olympic
qualifying rounds, which end in 2008. Support for the Brazilian
Delegations include the 2007 Pan-American Games, the 2006 Winter
Olympics in Turin, the South American Games in La Paz, and the
2008 Olympics in Beijing.

To view financial statements:
http://bankrupt.com/misc/Sadia.pdf

About Sadia

Sadia S.A. is concentrated in the agro industrial and food
processing segments. The Company is a slaughterer and
distributor of poultry and pork products, as well as a domestic
exporter of poultry.

CONTACT: Sadia S.A.
         Rua Fortunato Ferraz, 659
         Vila Anastacio, SP
         Sao Paulo 05093
         Phone: (212) 815-2153
         Fax: (212) 571-3050
         Web Site: http://www.sadia.com.br


VARIG: In Talks With Portuguese Airline Over Proposal
-----------------------------------------------------
Debt-ridden Brazilian carrier Varig is reviewing options with
Portuguese airline TAP and discussing a formal proposal TAP made
two weeks ago.

"TAP has delivered a proposal to the Brazilians of Varig, but
would not be a buyer of (Varig) capital and this also would not
be a merger," said a source in Lisbon, Portugal, who declined to
be named. The proposal calls for an operating accord, the source
said.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates confirmed the state-
owned Portuguese carrier is negotiating with Varig, but said no
deal is imminent for a combination that would join two airlines
with overlapping routes between South America and Europe.

Talks between Varig and TAP "are still just talks and the
negotiations are at an early stage, far from a final deal,"
Socrates told reporters in Lisbon.

Varig has negative book value of about BRL6.5 billion (USD$2.6
billion), but healthy revenue. The government wants it to settle
on a restructuring plan as soon as this week, but Varig's
complicated shareholder structure has so far impeded its sale.

The nonprofit Rubem Berta Foundation representing employees has
an 87% stake in the airline and has repeatedly rejected efforts
in recent years to force it to relinquish control.

But Brazilian government officials, after floating the idea of a
state takeover of Varig in December to save the airline from
going out of business, now say they firmly support a market
solution for its troubles.

CONTACT:  VARIG (Viacao Aerea Rio-Grandense, S.A.)
          Rua 18 de Novembro No. 800, Sao Joao
          90240-040 Porto Alegre,
          Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
          Phone: (51) 358-7039/7040
                 (51) 358-7010/7042
          Fax: +55-51-358-7001
          Home Page: www.varig.com.br/english/
          Contacts:
              Dorival Ramos Schultz, EVP Finance and CFO
              E-mail: dorival.schultz@varig.com.br

              Investor Relations:
              Av. Almirante Silvio de Noronha,
              n  365-Bloco "B" - s/458 / Centro
              Rio de Janeiro, Brazil



===================
C O S T A   R I C A
===================

ICE: Awards $113M Garabito Contract to Hitachi  
----------------------------------------------
ICE's Garabito thermo project is finally underway after the
state power company awarded the controversial project to
Japanese company Hitachi.

Hitachi will design and build the 190MW diesel-fired combined
cycle plant in Puntarenas province for a contract price of
US$113 million, says Business News Americas. The Garabito plant
is expected to begin operations by mid 2008.

Spanish engineering company Abengoa initially won the tender
last year with its US$160 million bid. However, the process
ground to halt after Abengoa subsidiary Inabensa Abengoa figured
in an alleged payment scandal with former president Miguel Angel
Rodriguez.

   

===============
H O N D U R A S
===============

* HONDURAS: Gets $35M Loan From IDB
-----------------------------------
The Inter-American Development Bank announced Thursday the
approval of a $35 million soft loan to Honduras for a national
sustainable tourism program designed to promote an industry with
strong potential for boosting hard currency inflows, economic
growth and employment.

The Honduran Tourism Institute will carry out the program, which
will finance public sector investments in order to foster a
socially and environmentally responsible model of tourism that
raises living standards in local communities. Private sector
investments will also be encouraged in large projects as well as
in microenterprises and small- and medium-size businesses
involved with tourism.

The program will strengthen and diversify the range of tourism
services and products in Honduras, improving its position as a
destination for the regional and international markets. The
investments will be targeted at the areas with the highest
potential for tourism, with the goal of achieving a spillover
effect in the rest of the country.

The Honduran region of Copan has Mayan archaeological sites
comparable to Tikal in Guatemala, Palenque in Chiapas or Chichen
Itza in Yucatan. However, due to its limited transportation and
hotel infrastructure, Copan receives fewer visitors than the
other sites.

The program will finance the construction of an airfield in Rio
Amarillo, 17 kilometers from Copan, giving tourists an
alternative to traveling several hours overland from San Pedro
Sula or Guatemala to see its pyramids and temples.

An archaeological site at Rio Amarillo will be restored.
Administrative buildings and infrastructure for visitors will be
erected, as well as a fence around the site's perimeter and a
watchtower for sighting forest fires.

An access road to Rio Amarillo and the nearby community of La
Castellona will be built and the banks of a gully will be
strengthened to prevent further erosion of the Mayan site. An
electricity network will be installed and the supply of drinking
water for local families and untreated water for a coffee
washing plant will be improved and expanded.

In the Coastal zone, a sun and sand destination that mainly
attracts tourists from Honduras and neighboring countries, the
program will support the design of a regional plan for public
use and environmental improvement of 100 kilometers of beaches
on the Caribbean, between the city of Trujillo and the area of
Omoa, where a historical fort will be restored.

Under the plan, the coast will be zoned to establish areas for
public use or restricted access. The environmental conditions
and access to 13 kilometers of beaches around the city of Tela
and the Garifuna communities of Tornabe and San Juan will be
improved.

A center for scientific, academic, volunteering and educational
tourism will be built near the Pico Bonito national park. The
facility, which will be managed by a specialized foundation,
will have rooms to board researchers, students and volunteers
who come to Honduras to support various projects.

The program will also invest in infrastructure for visitors in
three protected areas of Tela Bay: the Jeannette Kawas and Punta
Izopo national parks and the Lancetilla botanical gardens.

In order to encourage private investment in the tourism
industry, the program will finance basic infrastructure for the
Los Micos development project, which will include two hotels
with a total of 400 rooms, 130 villas and an 18-hole golf
course.

The Honduran state will have a stake in this public-private
venture by capitalizing its investments in roads and in drinking
water, electricity, sewerage, drainage and refuse disposal
systems. The infrastructure will also benefit the nearby
communities of Tornabe and Miami.

The first phase of Los Micos has an estimated cost of $105
million. More than 80 percent of the total corresponds to hotels
and recreation facilities, which will be financed by private
sector investors.

The program will also establish a fund to promote nationwide
participation of small businesses in the tourism industry, in
order to build a vital network of suppliers for the sector. The
fund will offer matching grants as well as technical assistance.

The sustainable tourism program's strategy was broadly consulted
with entrepreneurs and local organizations, while surveys were
conducted to seek consensus among indigenous and Afro-descendent
peoples in the program's areas of influence.

The loan is for a 40-year term, with a 10-year grace period. The
annual interest rate will be 1 percent during the first decade
and 2 percent thereafter. Local counterpart funds will total
$5,850,000.



=============
J A M A I C A
=============

AIR JAMAICA: Prime Minister Calls for Renewed Union Talks
---------------------------------------------------------
Jamaica's Prime Minister P J Patterson asked the management of
Air Jamaica and its pilots to resume negotiations and work
toward concluding an agreement by Thursday, according to the
Jamaica Observer.

Patterson made the proposal after contract negotiations between
both parties collapsed Monday. Talks broke down after the
pilots' union learned that Air Jamaica's government-appointed
board had decided to lay off its remaining 180 pilots as part of
a restructuring plan.

Patterson warned that failure of the Air Jamaica management and
the union to arrive at the agreement would entail very serious
consequences for the future viability of the airline.

Air Jamaica is yet to recover from massive financial losses
stemming from higher security costs and a slump in passengers in
the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the
United States.

CONTACT: AIR JAMAICA
         Corporate Communications
         Tel: 876-922-3460 ext 4060-5
         URL: www.airjamaica.com


DYOLL GROUP: Liquidators Question Jamaican Portfolio Sale
---------------------------------------------------------
Kenneth Krys and Christopher Stride, the liquidators appointed
by a Caymanian court to sell off the assets of Dyoll Insurance
Company, have raised doubts about the legality of the sale by
Jamaican regulators of Dyoll's Jamaican portfolio.

The Jamaica Observer recalls that Jamaica's Financial Services
Commission (FSC) appointed forensic auditor Kenneth Tomlinson to
manage Dyoll after the Company collapsed earlier this year and
subsequently accepted his recommendation to sell the Jamaican
portfolio to the Grace, Kennedy subsidiary, Jamaica
International Insurance Company (JIIC).

Grace, Kennedy, which backed away from an initial plan to buy
Dyoll as a going concern, is to pay J$112.3 million in cash for
the portfolio and J$472.7 million of unearned premium
liabilities.

In their latest report, Mssrs. Krys and Stride said they were
"exploring whether the temporary manager has acted outside the
terms of his appointment in affecting the sales".

The basis of their argument was that relevant regulations in the
FSC law covering temporary management did not appear to offer
such authority.

"They (the powers) are limited and there does not appear to be
the power of sale," they said.

They suggested that under the provision, temporary managers,
unless the court extended their stay, could go into a company
for a limited duration of 60 days, before either restoring it to
its directors, presenting a petition, or proposing a compromise.

Besides questioning the legality of the sale, the liquidators
are also questioning Tomlinson's proposal to liquidate Dyoll.

Mssrs. Krys and Stride said that if such a course of action was
followed, representatives from both Jamaica and the Cayman
Islands ought to be appointed.

"Despite numerous attempts by the JPLs (joint provisional
liquidators) to communicate with the JFSC and to offer to
establish a cooperative approach to this matter, the only
response from the JFSC has been to advise that they are seeking
advice from their attorneys and cannot cooperate until legal
advice is received," said the liquidators.



===========
M E X I C O
===========

GRUPO SIMEC: Acquisition, Better Pricing Jumps 2004 Net Sales
-------------------------------------------------------------
Grupo Simec, S.A. de C.V. (Amex: SIM) ("Simec") announced
Thursday its final audited results of operations for the year
ended December 31, 2004. Net sales increased 94% to Ps. 5,683
million in 2004 (including the net sales recorded since August
1, 2004 generated by the newly acquired plants in Apizaco and
Cholula of Ps. 1,193 million), compared to Ps. 2,930 million in
2003, primarily due to higher finished product prices and also
resulting from higher production levels. Primarily as a result
of the foregoing, Simec recorded net income of Ps. 1,406 million
in 2004 versus net income of Ps. 308 million in 2003.

On September 10, 2004, Simec completed the acquisition of the
property, plant and equipment and the inventories, and assumed
liabilities associated with seniority premiums of employees of
the Mexican steel-making facilities of Industrias Ferricas del
Norte, S.A. (Corporacion Sidenor of Spain) located in Apizaco,
Tlaxcala and Cholula, Puebla. Simec's total investment in this
transaction was approximately U.S. $135 million, funded with
internally generated resources of Simec and capital
contributions from its parent company Industrias CH, S.A. de
C.V. ("ICH") of U.S. $19 million for capital stock to be issued
in the second quarter of 2005. Simec began to operate the plants
in Apizaco, Tlaxcala and Cholula, Puebla on August 1, 2004, and,
as a result, the operations of both plants are reflected in
Simec's financial results as of such date.

Simec sold 773,297 metric tons of basic steel products during
2004 (including 155,614 tons produced by the newly acquired
plants in Apizaco and Cholula), an increase of 23% as compared
to 628,243 metric tons in 2003. Exports of basic steel products
were 97,126 metric tons in 2004 (including 12,394 tons produced
by the newly acquired plants in Apizaco and Cholula) versus
80,744 metric tons in 2003. Additionally, Simec sold 41,832 tons
of billet in 2004 as compared to 63,616 tons of billet in 2003.
Prices of finished products sold in 2004 increased 63% in real
terms versus 2003.

Simec's direct cost of sales was Ps. 3,303 million in 2004
(including Ps. 834 million relating to the newly acquired plants
in Apizaco and Cholula), or 58% of net sales, versus Ps. 1,925
million, or 66% of net sales, for 2003. The average cost of raw
materials used to produce steel products increased 45% in real
terms in 2004 versus 2003, primarily as a result of significant
increases in the price of scrap and certain other raw materials.
Indirect manufacturing, selling, general and administrative
expenses (including depreciation) were Ps. 571 million during
2004 (including Ps. 73 million relating to the newly acquired
plants in Apizaco and Cholula), compared to Ps. 488 million in
2003.

Simec's operating income increased 250% to Ps. 1,809 million
during 2004 (including Ps. 286 million relating to the newly
acquired plants in Apizaco and Cholula) from Ps. 517 million in
2003. Operating income was 32% of net sales in 2004 compared to
18% of net sales in 2003.

Simec recorded other expense, net, of Ps. 37 million in 2004
compared to other expense, net, of Ps. 31 million in 2003. In
addition, Simec recorded a provision for income tax and employee
profit sharing of Ps. 330 million in 2004 versus a provision of
Ps. 152 million in 2003.

Simec recorded financial expense of Ps. 36 million in 2004
compared to financial expense of Ps. 26 million in 2003 as a
result of (i) net interest income of Ps. 6 million in 2004
compared to net interest expense of Ps. 13 million in 2003, (ii)
an exchange gain of Ps. 4 million in 2004 compared to an
exchange loss of Ps. 3 million in 2003, reflecting lower debt
levels during 2004 and a decrease of 0.3% in the value of the
peso versus the dollar in 2004 compared to a decrease of 9% in
the value of the peso versus the dollar in 2003 and (iii) a loss
from monetary position of Ps. 46 million in 2004 compared to a
loss from monetary position of Ps. 10 million in 2003,
reflecting the domestic inflation rate of 5.2% in 2004 compared
to the domestic inflation rate of 4% in 2003 and lower debt
levels during the 2004 period.

At December 31, 2004, Simec's total consolidated debt consisted
of approximately $13.9 million of U.S. dollar denominated debt,
including indebtedness in respect of a letter of credit of $13.6
million. At December 31, 2003, Simec had outstanding
approximately $2 million of U.S. dollar- denominated debt. In
March 2004, Simec prepaid the remainder of its outstanding bank
debt. At December 31, 2004 Simec owed no debt to ICH.

All figures were prepared in accordance with Mexican generally
accepted accounting principles and are stated in constant Pesos
at December 31, 2004.

Simec is a mini-mill steel producer in Mexico and manufactures a
broad range of non-flat structural steel products.

CONTACT: Grupo Simec, S.A. de C.V.
         Mr. Adolfo Luna Luna
         Mr. Jose Flores Flores
         Phone: +011-52-33-1057-5740
         Web site: http://www.prnewswire.com


UNEFON: Shareholders Vote Against Stock Delisting
-------------------------------------------------
The board of Unefon's decision to delist the mobile operator's
shares from the Mexican stock market BMV failed to get the
backing of the shareholders, says Reuters. The board moved to
delist the Company from the BMV on April 7, citing the stock's
poor liquidity. However, the motion was struck down by
shareholders at a meeting held April 29.

As such, "shares of Unefon will continue to be listed and the
purchase and sale of these shares will continue as it has up to
now," Unefon said late on Monday.

Unefon, which is 46.5%-owned by the country's No. 2 broadcaster
TV Azteca (NYSE: TZA), has faced stiff competition from market
leader Telcel, owned by America Movil (NYSE: AMX), and the
market has become even more competitive since Spain's Telefonica
(NYSE: TEM) arrived, now branded Movistar.

CONTACT: Unefon Press Relations
         Mr. Tristan Canales
         E-mail: tcanales@tvazteca.com.mx
         Phone: (011-5255) 3099 5786

         Unefon Investor Relations
         Mr. Alan Infante
         E-mail: ainfante@unefon.com.mx
         Phone: (011-5255) 8582 5134

         VeriSign Media Relations
         Mr. Leslie Rubin
         E-mail: lrubin@verisign.com
         Phone: 650-426-5363

         VeriSign Investor Relations
         Mr. Tom McCallum
         E-mail: tmccallum@verisign.com
         Phone: 650-426-3744



===============
P A R A G U A Y
===============

ESSAP: Minister Adamant on Restructuring Without Privitization
--------------------------------------------------------------
Paraguay's efforts to restructure state water utility Essap to
prevent an operative and financial collapse do not include a
privatization, Business News Americas reports, citing minister
Jose Alberto Alderete.

Alderete did say that the utility's transformation and
modernization is "irreversible," and seemed to welcome the idea
of a public-private setup where the state would maintain
control.

"The transformation and modernization does not involve
privatization. That is categorical. What will be applied? The
gamut of alternatives will be given to us by an audit that will
come from a consultancy company financed by the World Bank," he
said.

Essap's current financial obligations, which were taken on by
previous administrations, have curtailed needed investment.
Alderete warned that the utility must be restructured to assure
future sustainability, or else it will collapse.



=================
V E N E Z U E L A
=================

PDVSA: Cutting 3,500 Jobs; Unions Forecast Crisis
-------------------------------------------------
State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) has denied
rumors that it is cutting around 8,000 to 9,000 workers from its
payroll. Energy minister and company president Rafael Ramirez
said in a report from Dow Jones Newswires that only about 3,500
workers will lose their jobs when their contract ends. Some
4,000 workers in the Zulia region will see their contracts
renewed.

PDVSA's decision to retrench workers has sparked condemnation
from Maracaibo Oil Trade Union. The union claims that the firing
could lead to a crisis in Venezuela's oil industry.

CONTACT: Petroleos de Venezuela S.A.
         Edificio Petroleos de Venezuela
         Avenida Libertador, La Campina, Apartado 169
         Caracas, 1010-A, Venezuela
         Phone: +58-212-708-4111
         Fax: +58-212-708-4661
         Web site: http://www.pdvsa.com.ve


PDVSA: Denies Mass Firings at PDVSA Zulia
-----------------------------------------
Within the framework of an intensive agenda covering meetings
with Houston business leaders and media representatives,
Venezuelan Energy and Petroleum Minister and President and CEO
of PDVSA, Rafael Ramirez Carreno, categorically refuted the
information published Tuesday by the Caracas daily El Nacional,
to the effect that mass firings had taken place in oil industry
operations in the Zulia state (west production area Venezuela).
He said that it was "only a case of work contracts expiring'
adding that "among these there were some that will be renewed".

He also denied that PDVSA was under military control. "Our Armed
forces are permanently involved in safeguarding our strategic
installations. This is nothing new in PDVSA, and no situation
has arisen that should cause alarm regarding the integrity of
our oil operations", Minister Ramirez emphasized.

US companies confirm their interest in investing in the
Venezuelan energy sector:

A numerous group of US energy companies confirmed their interest
in investing in Venezuelan oil operations during a dinner in
Houston held in honor of Minister Ramirez, hosted by
ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips. The guest of honor, in his
address to the distinguished audience pointed out that "we have
a considerably strengthened PDVSA, with world revenues in the
order of $63 billion and a net income of more that $6 billion".

Mr. Ramirez added that the PDVSA 2005-2010 Business Plan
contemplated investments for more that $43 billion, and had the
aim of reaching a 5 million barrels per day production capacity
by the end of the period. He also said that the era of cheap oil
was over, and that a hemispheric energy policy that attempted to
ignore the participation of Venezuela in the oil equation would
simply be unrealistic.

The companies hosting the event were represented by David J.
O'Reilly, President of ChevronTexaco and Jim Mulva, President of
ConocoPhillips, who expressed their pride and satisfaction at
their broad and successful participation in the Venezuelan oil
industry. Also present on the occasion were James Hackett,
President of Anadarko; Steve Farris, President of Apache; Robert
Shackouls, President of Burlington Resources; C.P. Cazalot,
President of Marathon; David Trice, President of Newfield
Exploration; Christopher Ball, President of OXY Business
Development; John Hess, President of Amerada Hess; Stacy
Schusterman, President of Samsom Investment Company; and Don
Evans, former US Commerce Secretary. Among the member of the
Venezuelan delegation present were: Bernardo Alvarez, Ambassador
of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United States ;
Luis Vierma, PDVSA Exploration and Production vice-president;
PDVSA director and President of CVP Eulogio Del Pino; Felix
Rodriguez, president of PDVSA subsidiary CITGO, and Antonio
Vincentelli, President of the Venezuelan Petroleum Chamber.

The Energy and Petroleum Minister and President and CEO of PDVSA
also held a press conference at the PDVSA booth, during the
OffShore Technology Conference (OTC), in which he said that "the
oil sabotage which took place at the end of 2002 and beginning
of 2003 brought about an earthquake and, with it, the genesis of
a new company aligned with the Nation's development plans and
committed to the government's social programs. These have
enabled 1.4 million Venezuelans to learn how to read and write,
brought back 700,000 students to high-school education, and
attended to the needs of more than 90 million health cases,
besides investing in infrastructure and in the promotion of
cooperative enterprises".

Minister Ramirez availed himself of the occasion to describe a
major projects portfolio which includes macro-developments such
as offshore oil-field development, the Mariscal Sucre, Deltana
Plataforma and Rafael Urdaneta projects, together with the
construction of new export refineries in Venezuela, the
expansion of refining capacity in the Caribbean Basin and the
design of an extended development scheme for the Orinoco Oil
Belt through the use of upstream and downstream integrated
projects.

Ramirez underlined the need for joint efforts and the alignment
of interests of producing countries, private oil companies and
customers, with the aim of contributing to an international
energy balance. In this sense, he said that Venezuela is
carrying out important efforts in helping achieve Latin American
and Caribbean energy integration within the framework of the
Petroamerica initiative, while at the same time promoting the
creation of a multi-polar world based on the principles of
fairness in trading, mutual cooperation, solidarity and
complementarity.

Finally, Ramirez held private meetings with local businessmen
and CITGO senior management. He also chatted with visitors to
the PDVSA booth, which featured Venezuela 's international
racing driver Milka Duno and her car, which is sponsored by
PDVSA through its CITGO subsidiary.


SIDOR: Changes Structure to Enhance International Presence
----------------------------------------------------------
Sidor, Venezuela's largest steelmaker Sidor, has modified its
statutes to become a corporation, reports Business News
Americas. The move is aimed at strengthening the Company's
presence in the country and in other international markets.

Based in Puerto Ordaz in the eastern state of Bolivar, Sidor is
60%-owned by the Amazonia consortium made up of Mexico's
Hylsamex, the Techint group, Brazil's Usiminas and Venezuela's
Sivensa.


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