TCRLA_Public/060425.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

          Tuesday, April 25, 2006, Vol. 7, Issue 81

                            Headlines

A R G E N T I N A

ETV S.A.: Reaches Pact with Creditors & Closes Reorganization
GELAR S: Trustee Stops Verfying Proofs of Claim After May 24
MACITEL S.R.L.: Trustee Verifies Creditors' Claims Until May 15
METROGAS: Debt Restructuring Scheme Gets 95% Creditor Acceptance
PESQUERA PUERTO: Validation of Proofs of Claim Ends on May 30

REPSOL YPF: Concludes Expansion of Tierra del Fuego Plant

* ARGENTINA: Gas Transport Network Expansion Works Start by Oct.

B E R M U D A

GALVEX HOLDINGS: Capital's Ch. 11 Case Excluded from Joint Cases
GLOBAL CROSSING: Files US$500 Million Shelf Registration

B O L I V I A

* BOLIVIA: Will Study Venezuela's Gas Pipeline Proposal

B R A Z I L

BANCO NACIONAL: Commits US$9.47 Mil. to Microcredit Operations
BANCO NACIONAL: Appoints Demian Fiocca as New Vice President
BANCO SCHAHIN: Realizes US$25 Mil. from Sale of Overseas Bonds
BRASIL TELECOM: Projects 3 Million Mobile Unit Users This Year
BRASIL TELECOM: Ruling Opens Door for Opportunity to Manage Co.

CENTRAIS ELECTRICAS: In Talks to Buy Serra do Minority Stake
COMPANHIA SIDERURGICA: January to February Exports Down by 11.9%
PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: Hires Emae to Run Nova Piratininga Plant
PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: Increases Gas Supply Through LNG Imports
TELE NORTE: CVM Probes Stock Trading Irregularities

USINAS SIDERURGICAS: Exports Rise 231% to US$99.4 Million
USINAS SIDERURGICAS: Wins BRL50.7M Bridge Construction Contract

* BRAZIL: Gets 157 Applications for Energy Auction on June 12

C A Y M A N   I S L A N D S

ALMATIS DEBT: Final Shareholders General Meeting Set for May 8
ALMATIS DEBT I: Invites Shareholders for Last Meeting on May 8
ALMATIS EQUITY: Holds Final Shareholders Meeting on May 8
ALMATIS HOLDINGS: Final Shareholders Meeting Set for May 8
ALMATIS IIP: Liquidator to Present Wind Up Accounts on May 8

C H I L E

AES GENER: Improved Performance Results to S&P's Upgrade to BBB-

C O L O M B I A

* COLOMBIA: May Raise Interest Rates to Slow Inflation

C U B A

* CUBA: Concludes 11th Session of Economic Commission with Iran

D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

FALCONBRIDGE LTD: Government Conciliator to Oversee Union Talks
TRICOM SA: Plans to Invest DOP1 Billion for Expansion & Upgrade

E C U A D O R

* ECUADOR: Congress Approves Reform on New Hydrocarbons Law

J A M A I C A

DIGICEL: Serves 1.5 Million Subscribers in Jamaica
KAISER: Makes Non-Material Changes to 2005 Annual Report

M E X I C O

DIRECTV: Holding Webcast for First Quarter 2006 Results on May 4

P A R A G U A Y

* PARAGUAY: Will Study Venezuela's Gas Pipeline Proposal

P E R U

SIDERPERU: Major Shareholder Names Legal Administrator

P U E R T O   R I C O

NORTH WEST TRUCKING: Case Summary & 20 Largest Unsec. Creditors
OCA INC: Can Continue Employing CDG as Restructuring Advisor

U R U G U A Y

* URUGUAY: President Tabare Vazquez Criticizes Mercosur
* URUGUAY: Will Study Venezuela's Gas Pipeline Proposal

V E N E Z U E L A

CITGO PETROLEUM: Has Petrobras as Likely Purchaser of Refinery
PETROLEOS DE VENEZUELA: Exporting 2M Barrels of Crude to India

* VENEZUELA: Natural Gas Pipeline Proposal Undergoes Study
* VENEZUELA: Cautions Oil Companies of Further Tax Increases
* VENEZUELA: IDB Approves Two Loans Amounting to US$875 Mil.
* VENEZUELA: Withdrawal from South American Trade Bloc Carped


                            *********

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


ETV S.A.: Reaches Pact with Creditors & Closes Reorganization
-------------------------------------------------------------
The reorganization of Buenos Aires-based E.T.V. S.A. has ended.  Data
revealed by Infobae on its Web site indicated that the process was concluded
after a Lomas de Zamora court in Buenos Aires homologated the debt agreement
signed between the company and its creditors.


GELAR S: Trustee Stops Verfying Proofs of Claim After May 24
------------------------------------------------------------
Carlos Daniel Ayuso, the trustee appointed by the Buenos Aires court for the
bankruptcy of Gelar s S.R.L., will no longer entertain claims that are
submitted after May 24, 2006, Infobae reports.  Creditors whose claims are
not validated will be disqualified from receiving any payment that the
company will make.

Individual reports on the validated claims will be presented in
court on July 7, 2006.  The submission of the general report on
the case will follow on Sep. 4, 2006.

The trustee can be reached at:

         Carloss Daniel Ayuso
         Tucuman 1455
         Buenos Aires, Argentina


MACITEL S.R.L.: Trustee Verifies Creditors' Claims Until May 15
---------------------------------------------------------------
Rodolfo Daniel Venegas, the court-appointed trustee, will verify creditors'
claims against Macitel S.R.L. until May 15, 2006.

Infobae relates that validated claims will be presented in court
as individual reports on June 28, 2006.  The submission of a general report
will follow on Sep. 7, 2006.

A Buenos Aires court handles the Macitel S.R.L.'s bankruptcy case.

The debtor can be reached at:

         Warnes 339
         Buenos Aires, Argentina

The trustee can be reached at:

         Avenida Corrientes 880
         Buenos Aires, Argentina


METROGAS: Debt Restructuring Scheme Gets 95% Creditor Acceptance
----------------------------------------------------------------
Argentine natural gas distributor MetroGAS S.A. reported that its debt
restructuring offer has already been accepted by creditors representing at
least 95% of the principal amount of debt aggregating the equivalent of
approximately US$436.3 million.  This includes the solicitation in Italy.

The Company also announced that it would restructure the Existing Debt
exclusively pursuant to an out-of-court restructuring and would not file the
APE -- a scheme where two-thirds creditor agreement allows a company to
submit its offer for legal approval -- with a commercial court of the City
of Buenos Aires as contemplated by the Solicitation Statement and Italian
Offer Document.

Headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina, MetroGAS S.A. --
http://www.metrogas.com.ar/-- distributes gas to Buenos Aires
and southern and eastern greater metropolitan Buenos Aires.  The
Company has a 35-year concession that began in 1992 to provide
natural gas in this area.  The concession is renewable for an
additional 10 years.  MetroGAS supplies some 2 million customers
in Buenos Aires through 15,840 km of pipelines, representing
about 26% of all gas retailed in Argentina.


PESQUERA PUERTO: Validation of Proofs of Claim Ends on May 30
-------------------------------------------------------------
Walter Calleja, court-appointed trustee, has started verifying claims
against Pesquera Puerto Rosales S.A.  Verification will end on May 30, 2006.

La Nacion relates that Buenos Aires' Court No. 8 declared the company's
bankruptcy in favor of Cooperativa de Vivienda, Credito y Consumo Piramida
Ltda., whom the company owes US$22,100.

Clerk No. 15 assists the court in this case.

The debtor can be reached at:

         Pesquera Puerto Rosales S.A.
         Lavalle 3161
         Buenos Aires, Argentina

The trustee can be reached at:

         Walter Calleja
         Lambare 1140
         Buenos Aires, Argentina


REPSOL YPF: Concludes Expansion of Tierra del Fuego Plant
---------------------------------------------------------
The expansion of the Tierra del Fuego plant of Spanish-Argentine oil firm
Repsol YPF and Enap subsidiary Sipetrol has been completed, Business News
Americas reports.

According to a Sipetrol statement, the two firms spent about US$5 million
for the expansion of the BRTF hydrocarbons treatment plant.

The plant now has production capacity of 600,000 cubic meters of natural gas
per day, which Sipetrol will deliver to the domestic market through the
General San Martin gas pipeline, BNamericas relates.

                       *    *    *

On June 20, 2005, Moody's Investors Service upgraded the ratings
of Spanish-Argentine oil company Repsol YPF's local subsidiary
YPF S.A. Moody's upgraded YPF's senior unsecured rating to Ba3
from B1 and the unit's domestic currency issuer rating to Baa2
from Baa3.

YPF's foreign currency issuer rating of Caa1 remained unchanged,
as it is constrained by the sovereign ceiling of Argentina.
YPF's Corporate Family Rating (formerly known as the senior
implied rating) is aligned with the foreign currency issuer
rating at Caa1.


* ARGENTINA: Gas Transport Network Expansion Works Start by Oct.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Argentina will begin work on the expansion of its natural gas transport
network by October.  The project is expected to cost US$1.46 billion,
Business News Americas reports.

In a statement, the government says that the expansion project is divided
into two phases:

   -- the first of which will increase capacity by 7 million
      cubic meters a day (Mm3/d); and

   -- the second phase will increase transport capacity an
      additional 13Mm3/d.

The first phase's target completion date is May-June 2007.

The project entails a total 1,020 km in pipeline extensions as well as the
installation and expansion of compression plants among other works, with gas
coming from the Neuquen and Austral basins, the statement said.

The project aims to help distributors expand their systems, which otherwise
would not be capable of receiving more gas from the plants.

The 15 provinces that will benefit from the project include:

       -- Tierra del Fuego,
       -- Santa Cruz,
       -- Chubut,
       -- Rio Negro,
       -- Neuquen,
       -- La Pampa,
       -- Mendoza,
       -- San Luis,
       -- Salta,
       -- Jujuy,
       -- Tucuman,
       -- Santiago del Estero,
       -- Cordoba,
       -- Santa Fe and
       -- Buenos Aires.

BNamericas says that the project will be financed through a trust fund set
up by the government in early 2004 to expand the country's gas network in
the face of rising gas demand spurred by low prices.

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Argentina:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     RD      Dec. 14, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B-      Jun.  3, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      B       Jun.  3, 2005



=============
B E R M U D A
=============


GALVEX HOLDINGS: Capital's Ch. 11 Case Excluded from Joint Cases
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Honorable Robert D. Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern
District of New York removed Galvex Capital LLC's chapter 11 case from the
joint administration of Galvex Holdings Ltd. and its debtor-affiliates
chapter 11 cases.

Galvex Holdings told the Court that Capital's chapter 11 case shouldn't be
jointly administered with the other cases citing:

    1) Capital has its own bankruptcy counsel;

    2) the Final Financing Order does not include postpetition
       financing for Capital;

    3) the Debtors proposed sale of substantially all of their
       assets does not include stocks of Capital or involve
       Capital in any way; and

    4) Capital, although technically an affiliate, has no common
       operational relationship of common interests with the
       other Debtors.

                    About Galvex Holdings

Headquartered in New York City, New York, Galvex Holdings Limited --
http://www.galvex.com/-- and its affiliates operate the largest independent
galvanizing line in Europe.  The Debtors have offices in New York, Tallinn,
Bermuda, Finland, Ukraine, Germany and the United Kingdom.  The company and
four of its affiliates filed for chapter 11 protection on Jan. 17, 2006
(Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Case No. 06-10082).  David Neier, Esq., at Winston & Strawn
LLP, represents the Debtors in their restructuring efforts.  Galvex Capital,
LLC, is represents by Gerard DiConza, Esq., at DiConza Law, P.C.  Thomas R.
Califano, Esq., at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary US LLP, represents the
Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors.  When the Debtors filed for
protection from their creditors, they estimated assets and debts of more
than $100 million.


GLOBAL CROSSING: Files US$500 Million Shelf Registration
--------------------------------------------------------
Global Crossing has filed a universal shelf registration statement on Form
S-3 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  The registration
statement will allow for the offering of up to US$500 million in common
stock, debt securities or warrants.  After the registration statement has
been declared effective by the SEC, securities may be publicly offered for
sale under the registration statement at various times at prices and terms
to be determined at the time of the offering.

Global Crossing expects to use any funds raised by it under the shelf
registration for general corporate purposes, which may include the
acquisition of assets or businesses that are complementary to the company's
existing business.

The registration statement filed has not yet become effective. Securities
may not be sold nor may offers to buy be accepted before the registration
statement becomes effective.  This release will not constitute an offer to
sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor will there be any sale of
these securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation or sale
would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the
securities laws of that state.

A copy of the registration statement filed may be obtained at
http://www.globalcrossing.com/xml/investors/inv_financial_rep.xmlor by
calling +1 800 836 0342.

Headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, Global Crossing
Ltd. -- http://www.globalcrossing.com/-- provides
telecommunications solutions over the world's first integrated
global IP-based network, which reaches 27 countries and more
than 200 major cities around the globe including Bermuda,
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Panama Peru and Venezuela.
Global Crossing serves many of the world's largest corporations,
providing a full range of managed data and voice products and
services.  The company filed for chapter 11 protection on Jan.
28, 2002 (Bankr.S.D.N.Y. Case No. 02-40188).  When the Debtors
filed for protection from their creditors, they listed
US$25,511,000,000 in total assets and US$15,467,000,000 in total
debts.  Global Crossing emerged from chapter 11 on Dec. 9, 2003.

As of Dec. 31, 2005, Global Crossing's balance sheet reflects a
US$173 million equity deficit compared to a US$51 million of
positive equity at Dec. 31, 2004.



=============
B O L I V I A
=============


* BOLIVIA: Will Study Venezuela's Gas Pipeline Proposal
-------------------------------------------------------
Bolivia, along with Paraguay and Uruguay, will consider the natural gas
pipeline accord proposed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, Inside Costa
Rica reports.

Inside Costa Rica relates that the 6,000-km long pipeline will carry gas
from Tarija in Bolivia, to Uruguay, passing through Casado in Paraguay.  The
cost of construction is estimated at US$450 million.

President Chavez met with his counterparts -- Nicanor Duarte of Paraguay,
Evo Morales of Bolivia and Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay
-- during an energy summit at Asuncion on April 19 to discuss energy
cooperation, as reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 11, 2006.

According to reports, the country leaders -- except President Chavez --
agreed to form a three-nation commission to start the feasibility and cost
study right away.

President Chavez, on the other hand, said that his nation was willing to
offer technical and financial support for the study and for the construction
of the pipeline, Inside Costa Rica relates.

Published reports said that the Presidents Duarte, Morales and Vazquez will
disclose the results of the study by the end of the year.

Inside Costa Rica reveals that the project is the second gas pipeline that
President Chavez has promoted.  In 2005, he had worked with his counterparts
in Brazil and Argentina to explore the possibility of constructing the 8,000
km Great Southern Gas Pipeline that would connect Venezuela to Argentina,
passing through Brazil.  The project is estimated to cost about US$20
billion.

President Chavez told Inside Costa Rica that there would be a second phase
under which the two projects would be connected, under the South American
energy cone concept.

Inside Costa Rica states that Paraguay and Bolivia also signed an accord on
industrializing natural gas projects and constructing a pipeline that would
join the two countries.

According to reports, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay also agreed that the
projects had to be carried out immediately as the governments were required
to ask multilateral financing within 120 days.

                        *    *    *

Moody's assigned these ratings on Paraguay:

     -- CC LT Foreign Bank Deposit, Caa2
     -- CC LT Foreign Curr Debt, Caa1
     -- CC ST Foreign Bank Deposit, NP
     -- CC ST Foreign Currency Debt, NP
     -- LC Currency Issuer Rating, Caa1
     -- FC Curr Issuer Rating, Caa1
     -- Local Currency LT Debt, WR

                        *    *    *

Standard & Poor's assigned these ratings on Paraguay:

     -- Foreign Currency LT Debt B-
     -- Local Currency LT Debt   B-
     -- Foreign Currency ST Debt C
     -- Local Currency ST Debt   C

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Uruguay:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     BB-      Mar. 7, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B+      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      BB-      Mar. 7, 2005

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Bolivia:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling    B-       Jun. 17, 2004
   Long Term IDR      B-       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating     B-       Dec. 14, 2005

                        *    *    *

Venezuela's foreign currency long-term debt is rated B2 by
Moody's, B+ by Standard & Poor's, and BB- by Fitch.

                        *    *    *

On Nov. 29, 2005, Fitch Ratings assigned expected 'BB-' ratings
to the pending issues of Venezuelan government bonds maturing
Feb. 26, 2016, and Dec. 9, 2020.  The 2016 bond has a 5.75%
fixed coupon and the 2020 bond has a 6% fixed coupon.  The bonds
are being marketed in Venezuela to be purchased in local
currency at the official exchange rate but under New York law,
with all coupon and principal payments in U.S. dollars.

Venezuela's sovereign ratings are supported by superior
international liquidity and low external financing
requirements relative to similarly rated sovereigns.  The
ratings are constrained by vulnerability to external shocks
because of oil dependency; diminished capacity of the private
sector to absorb shocks because of heavy government
intervention in the productive sector; recent spending
increases that reduce fiscal flexibility; and concerns about
the rule of law and potential political instability.  Fitch said
the Rating Outlook is Stable.



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


BANCO NACIONAL: Commits US$9.47 Mil. to Microcredit Operations
--------------------------------------------------------------
Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social SA aka BNDES has plans
to pledge R$20 million or about US$9.47 million to microcredit operations
this year, Director Mauricio Borges Lemos told local daily O Estado de Sao P
aulo in an interview.

The daily reports that the amount would be the highest that BNDES will grant
for microcredit operations.  So far, the highest has been a release of
R$12.1 million in 2002.  In the previous year, its microcredit operations
totaled only to R$2.3 million.  The bank started working with microcredit
loans in 1997.

A study by economic research institute Ibase that was reported by the paper
revealed that BNDES' microcredit lending dropped to 80% from the period of
2000 to 2005.

But Director Lemos contradicts the institute's study, saying that BNDES even
tops microcredit loans with a total of R$50 million.  He added that it would
even amount to R$100 million if all proposals under analysis by the bank
were considered.

Director Lemos commented on Joalo Caludio Arroyo's call for fewer
restrictions on the release of microcredit loans. The director said that it
would be an "irresponsible use of public funds," the daily relates.  Mr.
Arroyo headed the Ibase study.

Bnamericas reports that BNDES does not release loans directly to applicants
but rather provides lending through both state-run banks such as Banco do
Brasil and private banks, such as Banco Bradesco and Unibanco.

                        *    *    *

As reported in Troubled Company Reporter on March 3, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services raised its foreign currency
counterparty credit rating on Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento
Economico e Social S.A. aka BNDES to 'BB' with a stable outlook
from 'BB-' with a positive outlook.  The company's local
currency credit rating was also shifted to 'BB+' with a stable
outlook from 'BB' with a positive outlook.


BANCO NACIONAL: Appoints Demian Fiocca as New Vice President
------------------------------------------------------------
Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social aka BNDES, the national
development bank of Brazil, has appointed Demian Fiocca to take the place of
Guido Mantega as the company's president, Business News Americas reports.

Agence France-Presse relates that Mr. Mantega immediately became Brazil's
Finance Minister after former minister Antonio Palocci resigned in the
middle of a new political scandal.

BNamericas relates that the bank also appointed new members to its Board:

      -- Armando Mariante, to take the place of Mr. Fiocca as
         vice president, and

      -- Alvio Gaspar, Eduardo Rath Fingerl and Wagner
         Bittencourt as directors.

BNDES has filled all vacancies on its board, Mr. Fiocca said in a statement.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 3, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services raised its foreign currency
counterparty credit rating on Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento
Economico e Social S.A. aka BNDES to 'BB' with a stable outlook
from 'BB-' with a positive outlook.  The company's local
currency credit rating was also shifted to 'BB+' with a stable
outlook from 'BB' with a positive outlook.


BANCO SCHAHIN: Realizes US$25 Mil. from Sale of Overseas Bonds
--------------------------------------------------------------
Brazil's Banco Schahin SA completed an issuance of overseas bonds totaling
US$25 million, Dow Jones Newswires reports, citing a bank statement.

The bank, which had initially planned to raise US$15 million with the
operation, decided to increase the offer because of strong demand.  The
bonds will mature in April 2008, with annual yield of 8.5%.

The bond sale was coordinated by Bulltick.

The note has been rated B by Standard and Poor's Ratings Services.

                        *    *    *

As reported on Jan. 31, 2006, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services
assigned on Jan. 26, 2006, its 'B' foreign-currency long-term
senior unsecured debt rating to Banco Schahin S.A.'s US$20
million notes to be issued on Jan. 30, 2006, under the US$100
million short-term note program.  The issue matures in two years
with semiannual payments.

"The counterparty credit rating on Banco Schahin S.A.
(B/Stable/B) reflects the intrinsic risks of a small bank facing
the challenge of growing its business while maintaining adequate
funding in the increasingly competitive banking market; the weak
credit quality of its remaining wholesale portfolio that,
despite improvement, is still worse than that of its major
peers; and like all the banks that operate in the same market,
the margin pressure related to retail lending," said Standard &
Poor's credit analyst Tamara Berenholc.


BRASIL TELECOM: Projects 3 Million Mobile Unit Users This Year
--------------------------------------------------------------
The mobile unit of Brazilian fixed line operator Brasil Telecom
Participacoes SA (NYSE: BTM) expects to reach 3 million users in 2006, up
from 2 million last year, Ricardo Couto, the company's director of marketing
for the fixed and mobile units, told Business News Americas.

"We aim to work with a good base of postpaid clients," Mr. Couto told
BNamericas.  The unit currently has 30% postpaid clients, versus 70%
prepaid.  "In 2006, our objective is to maintain the same proportion," he
said.  Brazil's telecom regulator Anatel says that growth this year will be
in prepaid phones, "so keeping the postpaid level constant is good," Mr.
Couto added.

At the start of 2006, Brasil Telecom restructured mobile and fixed line
sales, marketing and back offices, and "we now have a single team," Mr.
Couto told BNamericas.

Mr. Couto informed BNamericas that his company aims to persuade clients to
buy packages of fixed, mobile, broadband, voice-over-Internet and a complete
range of Brasil Telecom's products.  For instance, Brasil Telecom GSM works
to increase its revenues from data to 10% of total mobile revenues this
year.

Mr. Couto disclosed to BNamericas that the company will also launch new
value added services.  One of which, a corporate mobile phone email service,
called Push Mail, in May, Mr. Couto said, who would not give targets for
services that are not yet launched.

Brasil Telecom will use CTP technology, which allows customers to have an
access point from where handsets can work as either a fixed or local phone
up to a certain range, BNamericas says.

BNamericas adds that Brasil Telecom also plans to launch IPTV services in
October this year for video on demand.  The company expects to team up with
content providers to offer clients the total telecom service.

                        *    *    *

Brasil Telecom SA is controlled by Brasil Telecom Participacoes
SA which is the publicly-listed holding company for 10 fixed-
line operating companies located in the western, central, and
southern regions of Brazil and in the Federal District region.

Brasil Telecom Participacoes' local currency long-term debt
carries Fitch's BB+ rating.


BRASIL TELECOM: Ruling Opens Door for Opportunity to Manage Co.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Brazilian asset management firm, Banco Opportunity, won early this month, a
court ruling that could potentially re-establish its right to manage Brasil
Telecom Participacoes SA, a company spokesman confirmed to Dow Jones
Newswires.

The ruling reverses a previous decision that had negated a shareholders'
agreement under which Banco Opportunity voted at Brasil Telecom meetings on
behalf of three government pension funds -- Previ, Funcef and Petros, Dow
Jones relates.

The Bank told Dow Jones that it will wait for the Court to publish its
decision before taking any action.

"We will wait for the publication of the decision, which should occur in the
next few days," said a Banco Opportunity spokesman. Opportunity will then
look to secure its rights under the shareholders' agreement.

Dow Jones relates that the shareholders' agreement originally included the
voting rights of a private equity fund owned by Citigroup, but the U.S. bank
obtained a waiver from Opportunity last year.  Citigroup, which currently
controls Brasil Telecom, said it would examine the court ruling.

"We are disappointed in the decision ... We are reviewing our options," a
Citigroup spokeswoman told Dow Jones.

The Estado newswire reported that the three pension plans are reviewing
their options for a possible filing of an appeal.
Furthermore, the ruling may have no practical effect because of a previous
Federal Appeals Court ruling, the funds said.

In 2005, Brazil's Federal Appeals Court gave the funds and Citigroup
approval to change the administration at Brasil Telecom, Dow Jones says.

The ruling may have opened doors for the Bank to take control of the
company's board, but the process won't be easy.

Banco Opportunity would have to call a series of extraordinary shareholders
meetings at various holding companies in the Brasil Telecom chain of control
before any change could take effect, Dow Jones says.

Dow Jones relates that the dispute over control and management of Brasil
Telecom dates back to the year 2000.  The battle has involved conflicts at
shareholders meetings and legal maneuvering, and includes Telecom Italia,
which also owns a share in Brasil Telecom.

Brasil Telecom SA is controlled by Brasil Telecom Participacoes
SA which is the publicly-listed holding company for 10 fixed-
line operating companies located in the western, central, and
southern regions of Brazil and in the Federal District region.

Brasil Telecom Participacoes' local currency long-term debt
carries Fitch's BB+ rating.


CENTRAIS ELECTRICAS: In Talks to Buy Serra do Minority Stake
------------------------------------------------------------
Eletrobras aka Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA expects to sign a deal for
the purchase of a minority stake in the 210MW Serra do Facao hydroelectric
project in June, Business News Americas reports.

BNamericas says that Eletrobras will likely buy the stake through its
operational unit, Chesf, since Serra do Facao is in Goias state, close to
the region where Chesf operates.

The Serra do Facao project was awarded to the GESAF consortium in 2001 but
was delayed because of legal questioning over the environmental licensing, B
Namericas relates.  A March 2006 deadline for the start of construction was
under study by power regulator Aneel but this has been postponed.

According to Aneel, construction can be concluded in 39 months. Eletrobras
wants to include the project in the government's power auction in June,
which aims to sell power for start of delivery in January 2009, BNamericas
relates.

Serra do Facao is controlled by Alcoa SA which holds a 50.4% stake in the
project.  The other shareholders are Brazilian aluminum maker CBA with its
17% stake, Brazilian cement makers Votorantim Cimentos and Cimentos Itambe
with 18% and 4.5% respectively and Brazilian power company DME Energetica
with 10.1%.

                        *    *    *

As reported on Nov. 15, 2005, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services
has assigned its 'BB-' rating to Eletrobras - Centrais Eletricas
Brasileiras S.A.'s forthcoming US$300 million unsecured and
unsubordinated notes due in 2015.  The global scale corporate
credit ratings at 'BB-' foreign currency and 'BB' local currency
were also affirmed.  S&P said the outlook is positive.


COMPANHIA SIDERURGICA: January to February Exports Down by 11.9%
----------------------------------------------------------------
Companhia Siderurgica de Turbarao SA aka CST registered US$223 million
export revenues for the  first two months of 2006, an 11.9% decrease
compared with the same period in 2005.

CST, aka Companhia Siderurgica de Turbarao SA, is part of
Brazilian steelmaking group Arcelor Brasil, a subsidiary of
Luxembourg-based steel company Arcelor.

                        *    *    *

As previously reported on May 12, 2005, Fitch Ratings upgraded
the foreign currency rating of Brazilian steel producer
Companhia Siderurgica de Tubarao to 'BB' from 'BB-' and assigned
a rating of 'BB' to CST Overseas.  Fitch also affirmed CST's
local currency rating of 'BBB-' and the company's national scale
rating of 'AA-' (bra).  The Rating Outlook for all the above
mentioned ratings is Stable.

CST's and CST Overseas' (collectively, the company) foreign
currency ratings of 'BB' exceed both Brazil's foreign currency
rating and country ceiling by one notch. These ratings reflect
the company's strong steel exporting business and associated
hard currency generation. Along with these factors, the
company's low leverage and strong liquidity position with
substantial cash balances abroad further help mitigate transfer
and convertibility risks associated with the sovereign.


PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: Hires Emae to Run Nova Piratininga Plant
------------------------------------------------------------
Business News Americas reports that state energy company Petroleo Brasileiro
or Petrobras will hire state power company Emae to run the 386-MW Nova
Piratininga gas-fired power plant, which Petrobras owns control.  Petrobras
will pay it 8 million reais or about US$3.77 million a year for the
contract, which was inked last April 5.

Emae told BNamericas that 40 of its employees will operate the plant.  The
contract did not stipulate the inclusion of the maintenance of the turbines,
which will be done by Alstrom, a French engineering company.

Originally the concession was awarded to the plant's consortium made up of
Petrobras and Emae in 2001 and operations already started in 2002,
BNamericas reports.

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Petroleo Brasileiro
S.A. aka Petrobras was founded in 1953.  The company explores,
produces, refines, transports, markets, distributes oil and
natural gas and power to various wholesale customers and retail
distributors in the country.

                        *    *    *

Petroleo Brasileiro SA's long-term corporate family rating is
rated Ba3 by Moody's and its foreign currency long-term debt is
rated BB- by Fitch.

                        *    *    *

Fitch assigned these ratings to Petroleo Brasileiro's senior
unsecured notes:

  Maturity Date           Amount        Rate       Ratings
  -------------           ------        ----       -------
  April  1, 2008        $400,000,000    9%          BB-
  July   2, 2013        $750,000,000    9.125%      BB-
  Sept. 15, 2014        $650,000,000    7.75%       BB-
  Dec.  10, 2018        $750,000,000    8.375%      BB-


PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: Increases Gas Supply Through LNG Imports
------------------------------------------------------------
Business News Americas reports that Petroleo Brasileiro or Petrobras is
evaluating the likelihood of importing liquefied natural gas to increase the
natural gas supply in Brazil.

The increasing gas supply demand, which has continued to escalate at two
digits, prompted the proposal of making LNG an alternative energy, Petrobras
chief executive officer Jose Gabrielli and power director Ildo Sauer both
told BNamericas.

The federal energy company's production of local natural gas reserves is not
enough to cover the demand of about 42 million cubic meters a day.  The
country counters the shortage by currently importing 50% to 60% of the fuel.

The company's board regularly holds meetings to modify Petrobras' 2006-2010
strategic investment plan that has an allotment of US$56 billion.  Changes
on the plan may be announced at the start of the second half of 2006, a
company spokesperson told BNamericas.

Investnews reports that prospective gas suppliers could be:

   -- Algeria,
   -- Nigeria,
   -- Saudi Arabia,
   -- Qatar and
   -- Trinidad & Tobago.

Petrobras has already signed cooperation agreements with Sonatrach of
Algeria and Saudi Aramco of Saudi Arabia in November 2005.  The agreement
consists of studies for the construction of an LNG plant in Senegal and from
there; fuel could be shipped to Brazil.

Moreover, unconfirmed press reports have disclosed that an LNG
regasification plant could be located in Brazil's northeastern region.

Some private oil companies have reportedly announced that they favor LNG
imports in Brazil.  Two of those companies include Anglo-Dutch oil company
Shell and British gas company BG Group.

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Petroleo Brasileiro
S.A. aka Petrobras was founded in 1953.  The company explores,
produces, refines, transports, markets, distributes oil and
natural gas and power to various wholesale customers and retail
distributors in the country.

                        *    *    *

Petroleo Brasileiro SA's long-term corporate family rating is
rated Ba3 by Moody's and its foreign currency long-term debt is
rated BB- by Fitch.

                        *    *    *

Fitch assigned these ratings to Petroleo Brasileiro's senior
unsecured notes:

  Maturity Date           Amount        Rate       Ratings
  -------------           ------        ----       -------
  April  1, 2008        $400,000,000    9%          BB-
  July   2, 2013        $750,000,000    9.125%      BB-
  Sept. 15, 2014        $650,000,000    7.75%       BB-
  Dec.  10, 2018        $750,000,000    8.375%      BB-


TELE NORTE: CVM Probes Stock Trading Irregularities
---------------------------------------------------
Newspaper Valor Economico reports that Telemar Norte Leste Participacoes aka
Telemar's shares trading is under investigation by Brazil's securities
regulator CVM due to irregularities.

There were claims that several investors used privileged information to
trade company shares and options before the announcement of the company's
restructuring plan, the paper says.

As previously reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 21, 2006,
Telemar announced that it would consolidate stocks of its units:

   -- Telemar Paticipacoes,
   -- Tele Norte Leste Participacoes, and
   -- Telemar Norte Loste

into one class of voting shares and to hold a secondary offering.  In
connection with its major restructuring plan, it also plans to change its
name to Oi Participacoes and to list on the New Market or Novo Mercado of
the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange, which requires a company to have only common
shares and to have at least 25% available on the public market.

"CVM's technical specialists are already investigating and will evaluate the
sales of shares in the days before the information was issued," Marcelo
Trindade of CVM told the paper.

According to Mr. Trinidade, the investigation is not without difficulties
for the reasons of the Telemar shares being one of the most highly traded on
the Bovespa Stock Exchange and a rumored change of ownership by Portugal
Telecom, which turned out to be false.

Telemar provides telecommunication services in South America.
It offers local, intra-regional long distance, and data
transmission services in 16 Brazilian states, which covers
approximately 64% of the country.  Mobile services are provided
through its wireless unit Oi, and it has acquired data
transmission services provider Pegasus.

                        *    *    *

As reported on Mar. 2, 2006, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services
placed the 'BB' ratings on Telemar Norte Leste S.A. under CreditWatch with
positive implications following the raising of
the foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on
Brazil.


USINAS SIDERURGICAS: Exports Rise 231% to US$99.4 Million
---------------------------------------------------------
Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais S.A aka Usiminas reports US$99.4 million
in exports for January-February period, a 231% increase from US$30.0 million
for the same period in 2005.

Headquartered in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Usiminas is among the
world's 20 largest steel manufacturing complexes, with a
production capacity of approximately 10 million tons of steel.
Usiminas System companies produces galvanized and non-coated
flat steel products for the automotive, small and large diameter
pipe, civil construction, hydro-electronic, rerolling,
agriculture, and road machinery industries. Brazil consumes 80%
of its products and the company's largest export markets are the
U.S. and Latin America.

                        *    *    *

As reported by Troubled Company Reporter on March 2, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services placed the 'BB' corporate
credit ratings of Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais S.A. aka
Usiminas on CreditWatch with positive implications following the
raising of the foreign and local currency sovereign credit
ratings on Brazil.


USINAS SIDERURGICAS: Wins BRL50.7M Bridge Construction Contract
---------------------------------------------------------------
The government of Espirito Santo has awarded a BRL50.7 million contract to
Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais S.A. aka Usiminas, a Brazilian
steelmaker, for the construction of a new road bridge in Vitoria, Business
News Americas reports.

According to BNamericas, the bridge will link avenues Fernando Ferrari and
Nossa Senhora da Penha across the Camburi canal.

BNamericas states that Usiminas will also build a parallel bridge for
pedestrians and cyclists.

The contra will be signed in the coming days.  Construction will begin on
April 28, BNamericas reports.

Headquartered in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Usiminas is among the
world's 20 largest steel manufacturing complexes, with a
production capacity of approximately 10 million tons of steel.
Usiminas System companies produces galvanized and non-coated
flat steel products for the automotive, small and large diameter
pipe, civil construction, hydro-electronic, rerolling,
agriculture, and road machinery industries. Brazil consumes 80%
of its products and the company's largest export markets are the
U.S. and Latin America.

                        *    *    *

As reported by Troubled Company Reporter on March 2, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services placed the 'BB' corporate
credit ratings of Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais S.A. aka
Usiminas on CreditWatch with positive implications following the
raising of the foreign and local currency sovereign credit
ratings on Brazil.


* BRAZIL: Gets 157 Applications for Energy Auction on June 12
-------------------------------------------------------------
Dow Jones newswires reports that various electric energy generators
submitted a total of 157 applications to the Brazilian government to sell
energy at the subsequent new energy auction scheduled on June 12, 2006.

President Mauricio Tolmasquin of EPE, the government electric energy
research agency, said in a press conference that a 12,080 MW of a total
21,292 MW of energy is to be sold by the generators.

EPE will evaluate the technical, economic, and environmental aspects of the
registered projects.  The results of the evaluation will determine which
projects are qualified for the auction.  A list on those qualified will be
published on May 10.

The government's last auction in December helped increase the energy
capacity and avoided shortages, which frequently happened in 2001.
Fifty-one projects were part of it, and it had a total investment of BRL
68.4 billion or about US$ 32.2 billion.

The government's plans at the next auction are to sell the rights to develop
and run major hydroelectric projects along the Madeira River in the Amazon.

But the government has to acquire an environmental approval beforehand if it
wants to sell the Jirau and San Antonio projects.  Both projects have an
estimated total productive capacity of 6,450 MW, which is about 13% of
Brazil's total capacity.

                        *    *    *

As reported on April 6, 2006, Fitch assigned these ratings to
Brazil:

    -- Foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) 'BB-';
    -- Local currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) 'BB-'.

Fitch said the rating outlook is positive.



===========================
C A Y M A N   I S L A N D S
===========================


ALMATIS DEBT: Final Shareholders General Meeting Set for May 8
--------------------------------------------------------------
The final general meeting of the shareholders of Almatis Debt Limited will
be on May 8, 2006, at 11:45 a.m. at the registered office of the company.

Accounts on the company's liquidation process will be presented
during the meeting.  The shareholders will also authorize the
liquidators to retain the records of the company for a period of
six years, starting from the dissolution of the company.

Any person who is entitled to attend and vote at this meeting
may appoint a proxy to attend and vote in his stead.  A proxy
need not be a member or a creditor.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 12, 2006, the
creditors of Almatis Debt Limited, which is being voluntarily wound up, are
required to present proofs of claim on or before April 24, 2006, to Westport
Services Limited -- the company's liquidator.

The company's liquidator can be reached at:

           Westport Services Limited
           Attention: Patricia Tricarico
           P.O. Box 1111
           Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
           Tel: (345) 949-5122
           Fax: (345) 949-7920


ALMATIS DEBT I: Invites Shareholders for Last Meeting on May 8
--------------------------------------------------------------
Shareholders of Almatis Debt I Limited will have a final general meeting on
May 8, 2006, at 11:45 a.m. at the registered office of the company.

Accounts on the company's liquidation process will be presented
during the meeting.  The shareholders will also authorize the
liquidators to retain the records of the company for a period of
six years, starting from the dissolution of the company.

Any person who is entitled to attend and vote at this meeting
may appoint a proxy to attend and vote in his stead.  A proxy
need not be a member or a creditor.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 12, 2006, Almatis Debt
1 started liquidating assets on March 13, 2006.  Creditors of the company
are given until April 24, 2006, to submit proofs of claim to Westport
Services Limited, the company's appointed liquidator.

The company's liquidator can be reached at:

           Westport Services Limited
           Attention: Patricia Tricarico
           P.O. Box 1111
           Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
           Tel: (345) 949-5122
           Fax: (345) 949-7920


ALMATIS EQUITY: Holds Final Shareholders Meeting on May 8
---------------------------------------------------------
Almatis Equity Limited will hold a shareholders' final general meeting on
May 8, 2006, at 1:15 p.m. at the registered office of the company.

Accounts on the company's liquidation process will be presented
during the meeting.  The shareholders will also authorize the
liquidators to retain the records of the company for a period of
six years, starting from the dissolution of the company.

Any person who is entitled to attend and vote at this meeting
may appoint a proxy to attend and vote in his stead.  A proxy
need not be a member or a creditor.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 13, 2006, Almatis
Equity started liquidating assets on March 13, 2006.  Westport Services
Limited -- the liquidator of Almatis Equity
Limited -- will stop accepting claims from the company's creditors by April
24, 2006.

The company's liquidator can be reached at:

           Westport Services Limited
           Attention: Patricia Tricarico
           P.O. Box 1111
           Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
           Tel: (345) 949-5122
           Fax: (345) 949-7920


ALMATIS HOLDINGS: Final Shareholders Meeting Set for May 8
----------------------------------------------------------
Shareholders of Almatis Holdings Limited will convene for a final
general meeting on May 8, 2006, at 1:15 p.m. at the registered office of the
company.

Accounts on the company's liquidation process will be presented
during the meeting.  The shareholders will also authorize the
liquidators to retain the records of the company for a period of
six years, starting from the dissolution of the company.

Any person who is entitled to attend and vote at this meeting
may appoint a proxy to attend and vote in his stead.  A proxy
need not be a member or a creditor.

The company's liquidator can be reached at:

          Westport Services Limited
          Attention: Patricia Tricarico
          P.O. Box 1111
          Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
          Tel: (345) 949-5122
          Fax: (345) 949-7920


ALMATIS IIP: Liquidator to Present Wind Up Accounts on May 8
------------------------------------------------------------
Westport Services Limited, the liquidator of Almatis IIP Limited, will
present wind up accounts during the shareholders' final general meeting on
May 8, 2006, at 11:45 a.m. at the registered office of the company.

During the meeting, the shareholders will also authorize the liquidator to
retain the records of the company for a period of six years, starting from
the dissolution of the company.

Any person who is entitled to attend and vote at this meeting
may appoint a proxy to attend and vote in his stead.  A proxy
need not be a member or a creditor.

The company's liquidator can be reached at:

          Westport Services Limited
          Attention: Patricia Tricarico
          P.O. Box 1111
          Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
          Tel: (345) 949-5122
          Fax: (345) 949-7920



=========
C H I L E
=========


AES GENER: Improved Performance Results to S&P's Upgrade to BBB-
----------------------------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Rating Services raised the ratings on Chile's second
largest power generator, AES Gener S.A., by one notch to 'BBB-' from 'BB+',
reflecting improvement in the company's financial risk profile. The outlook
is stable.

"AES Gener's financial risk profile continued improving during 2005," said
Standard & Poor's credit analyst Sergio Fuentes. "Better cash flow
generation, mainly thanks to the higher electricity prices in Chile after
the passage of the Short Law II in May 2005, together with a smoother and
manageable debt maturity profile after the refinancing of about US$220
million of its consolidated financial debt during the year, resulted in
stronger debt service coverage ratios."

The ratings on AES Gener mainly reflect:

   -- the company's good market position as a reliable power
      provider in Chile;

   -- large long-term power sales contracts with solid offtakers
      such  as Chilectra S.A., Chilquinta Energia S.A., and
      Minera Escondida Ltda. (BBB+/Stable/--);

   -- the growing prospects for power consumption in Chile; and

   -- the company's adequate financial risk profile.

At the same time, the ratings incorporate AES Gener's higher-than-average
power generation cost when compared with the relatively large hydroelectric
generators in the Central Interconnected Electric System under normal
hydrological conditions, as well as the increasing natural gas supply risk,
which affects its own generation cost and the cost of its power purchases.

"The stable outlook incorporates the company's smooth debt maturity profile
and our expectation that under a base case scenario, AES Gener┤s funds from
operations interest coverage and FFO to average total debt will remain above
3x and 20%, respectively, in the next three years despite the projected
increase in natural gas shortages in Chile," said Mr. Fuentes.

Ratings could be lowered if a power supply crisis affects the Chilean power
sector and results in a strong deterioration of the company's financial
performance.

On the other hand, ratings could be raised if AES Gener's Chilean operations
and financial performance improve further, which would require a relatively
stable cash flow generation and a significant reduction of the uncertainties
regarding power supply in Chile and fuel supply for the company's
natural-gas-fired facilities.



===============
C O L O M B I A
===============


* COLOMBIA: May Raise Interest Rates to Slow Inflation
------------------------------------------------------
Adriana Arai and Norberto Bogard at Bloomberg News report that Colombia's
finance minister Alberto Carrasquilla said that the country's central bank
will likely raise interest rates this year to slow economic growth and curb
inflation.

"Interest rates in Colombia, like in other countries, were very low to
respond to an unusual situation of economic slowdown," Mr. Carrasquilla, who
as finance minister serves as chairman of the central bank's board, said in
an interview with Bloomberg reporters.  "As the Colombian economy
normalizes, conditions in financial markets also normalize quickly. I
believe that interest rates will have to adjust to this new reality."

Bloomberg relates that central bank has maintained the overnight lending
rate target at 6% -- the lowest since January 2003, for six months.  Annual
inflation is running at 4.1%.  Colombia targets a 4% to 5% inflation rate.

The finance minister continued that Colombia's economy will probably grow
4.5% this year.  The country's rate of expansion in 2005 was 5.1%, Bloomberg
says.

                        *    *    *

On May 30, 2005, Fitch Ratings affirmed Colombia's ratings as:

      -- Long-term foreign currency 'BB';
      -- Country ceiling 'BB';
      -- Local currency 'BBB-'; and
      -- Short-term 'B'.

Fitch said the Rating Outlook is Stable.



=======
C U B A
=======


* CUBA: Concludes 11th Session of Economic Commission with Iran
---------------------------------------------------------------
The 11th session of the Joint Economic Commission between Cuba's Minister of
State Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz and Iran's Minister of Agricultural Jihad
Mohammadreza Eskandari has concluded, the Islamic Republic News Agency
reports.

IRNA relates that the meeting was also attended by:

     -- Iran's deputy ministers of Industries and Mines and
        Roads and Transportation,

     -- several other economic and trade officials in Iran, and

     -- the Cuban ambassador to Tehran.

The major objective of the session was the expansion of bilateral
cooperation in the areas of trade, economy and culture, IRNA states.

IRNA relates that Messrs. Ruiz and Eskandari announced during the meeting
that both countries believe there is a need to increase their political and
economic cooperation at the international level.

According to IRNA, the two countries explored during the meeting grounds for
expansion of bilateral cooperation under the South-South agreement.

Medical officials from Cuba and Iran also called for the expansion of mutual
cooperation in the production of pharmaceutical products.  The two countries
have a long record of mutual cooperation in the production of biological
products as well as all types of serums, IRNA reports.

                        *    *    *

Moody's assigned these ratings on Cuba:

      -- CC LT Foreign Bank Depst, Caa2
      -- CC LT Foreign Curr Debt, Caa1
      -- CC ST Foreign Bank Depst, NP
      -- CC ST Foreign Curr Debt, NP
      -- Issuer Rating, Caa1



===================================
D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C
===================================


FALCONBRIDGE LTD: Government Conciliator to Oversee Union Talks
---------------------------------------------------------------
Falconbridge Ltd. and The United Steelworkers will resume contract
negotiations this week under the guidance of a government conciliator,
Reuters reports.

The union is negotiating the terms of a new contract with Falconbridge after
its three-year CBA expired in February.  Negotiations have focused on
pension and severance issues in anticipation of a possible mine closure.
Reuters says that ore deposits at the New Brunswick mine are running out.

The Steelworkers represent approximately 675 employees at the Company's mine
in Bathurst, New Brunswick.  In addition, the union represents another 260
workers at the New Brunswick smelter.  Falconbridge told Reuters that it
also expects the government to name a conciliator for the smelter.

Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Falconbridge Limited --
http://www.falconbridge.com/-- produces nickel products.  The Company owns
nickel mines in Canada and the Dominican Republic and operates a refinery
and sulfuric acid plant in Norway.   It is also a major producer of copper
(38% of sales) through its Kidd mine in Canada and its stake in Chile's
Collahuasi mine and Lomas Bayas mine.  Its other products include cobalt,
platinum group metals, and zinc.

                        *    *    *

Falconbridge's CDN$150 million 5% convertible and callable bond
due April 30, 2007, carries Standard & Poor's BB+ rating.


TRICOM SA: Plans to Invest DOP1 Billion for Expansion & Upgrade
---------------------------------------------------------------
Tricom SA, an integrated communications service provider in the Dominican
Republic, will spend DOP1 billion on expansion and improvement, according to
local press.

Business News Americas relates that the company wants to expand by launching
five new branches into areas like Santo Domingo, where it could offer fixed
and mobile telephony as well as Internet and cable television.

The company has invested some US$500 million in the country, Angela Vega --
vice president of investor relations -- told BNamericas.

Tricom, S.A. -- http://www.tricom.net/-- is a full service
communications services provider in the Dominican Republic.  The
Company offer local, long distance, mobile, cable television and
broadband data transmission and Internet services.  Through
Tricom USA, the Company is one of the few Latin American based
long distance carriers that is licensed by the U.S. Federal
Communications Commission to own and operate switching
facilities in the United States.  Through its subsidiary, TCN
Dominicana, S.A., the Company is the largest cable television
operator in the Dominican Republic based on its number of
subscribers and homes passed.   The Company's securities are
traded in the United States.

                        *    *    *

Moody's Investors Service assigned a Ca issuer and senior
unsecured rating.  Moody's said the outlook is stable.



=============
E C U A D O R
=============


* ECUADOR: Congress Approves Reform on New Hydrocarbons Law
-----------------------------------------------------------
The Ecuadorian congress has approved the changes President Alfredo Palacio
made on the hydrocarbons law reform bill, according to a congress statement.

The statement reveals that the state will now take a minimum 50% share on
income from oil production.

Business News Americas recalls that a reform was passed by the congress in
late March stipulating a 60% state share in oil income.  However, President
Palacio vetoed that part of the bill in early April and suggested the 50%
take instead.

According to the statement, 41 of the 79 lawmakers voted in favor of
President Palacio's changes.

Ecuador's energy ministry told BNamericas that the law will take effect
within the next few days once published in the daily ledger.

Jose Valera, an attorney at Houston law firm King & Spalding's Global
Transactions Group, was quoted by BNamericas saying, "Many companies have
been putting pressure on the president to do something about what
potentially amounts to a unilateral change of existing contract terms and
conditions."

Mr. Valera explained to BNamericas that by reducing the 60% take to 50%,
President Palacio is not seen as giving in completely to the demands of
congress.  He commented that the president is careful not to pick the type
of political fight, which in Ecuador could result in being kicked out of
office.

The new terms in the reform bill would likely discourage potential investors
from starting operations in Ecuador, Mr. Valera told BNamericas.  He however
said that potential investors could be found in national oil companies aka
NOCs in emerging eastern markets.

BNamericas states that the president's partial veto also excluded marginal
fields from the reform's framework.  A report presented by Ecuador's
economic commission indicated taht E&P contracts on marginal fields give the
state an average 65.1% participation in production.

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Ecuador:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     B-      Aug. 29, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B-      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005



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


DIGICEL: Serves 1.5 Million Subscribers in Jamaica
--------------------------------------------------
Digicel Limited celebrated its fifth year in the telecommunications market
on April 18, 2006.  The company announced that it now has 1.5 million
subscribers in Jamaica, giving it a 60% market share in the nation's telecom
industry, the Jamaica Observer reports.

According to data received from the company, Digicel achieved the 1.5
million target last month just before adding Trinidad and Tobago to the 13
other Caribbean islands in which it now offers service, the Observer says.

The company was launched in 2001 and has expanded its reach to other
Caribbean nations offering new products and services such as:

         -- per second billing,
         -- picture messaging,
         -- mobile web,
         -- mobile chat, and
         -- pre-paid roaming.

In its expansion, Digicel acquired Cingular Wireless' Caribbean and Bermuda
assets, including the operation in Antigua and Barbuda.

"You have to remember that there was great dissatisfaction with the
incumbent and we came and offered a clear choice," Digicel's chief customer
relations director Harry Smith told the Observer in an interview.

Mr. Smith referred to the service offered by Cable and Wireless Jamaica
which, at the entry of Digicel into the market, improved its cellular
coverage of the island and has taken on the Irish-owned firm in a fierce
battle for market share, the Observer says.

According to Denis O'Brien, Digicel's principal and chairman, the company's
goal is to develop "a seamless PanCaribbean network and beyond," the
Observer relates.

Digicel is in talks for the purchase of Bouygues Telecom Cara´be in the
French West Indies and is also completing plans to roll-out WiMAX to offer
fixed and mobile broadband communications for voice and data services to its
customers in Jamaica.

The acquisition of Bouygues Telecom Cara´be will allow the company to expand
to Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.  Currently Digicel operates in
Jamaica, The Cayman Islands, Grenada, St. Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent and
the Grenadines, Bermuda, Anquilla, St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua, & Barbuda,
Dominica, Curacao, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua, Turks & Caicos Islands.

                        *    *    *

On Mar. 10, 2006, Fitch affirmed the 'B' rating of Digicel
Limited, senior unsecured debt, including the US$300 million
senior notes due 2012, following the announcement that it is in
the process of acquiring Bouygues Telecom Caraibe.  Fitch said
the Outlook for the Ratings is Stable.


KAISER: Makes Non-Material Changes to 2005 Annual Report
--------------------------------------------------------
Kaiser Aluminum Corporation filed with the Securities and
Exchange Commission an amendment to its Annual Report on Form
10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2005, to modify
certain of the language included in Item 9A Controls and
Procedures.

Kaiser disclosed that an evaluation of the effectiveness of the
design and operation of the Company's disclosure controls and
procedures was performed as of the end of 2005 under the
supervision of and with the participation of the Company's
management, including the principal executive officer and
principal financial officer.  Based on that evaluation, the
Company's principal executive officer and principal financial
officer concluded that the Company's disclosure controls and
procedures were not effective.

According to Jack A. Hockema, KAC president and chief executive
officer, the Company did not have any change in its internal
controls over financial reporting during the last quarter of 2005 that has
materially affected, or is reasonably likely to
materially affect, its internal controls over financial reporting.  However,
Mr. Hockema says, the Company does not believe its internal control
environment is as strong as it has been in the past.

Mr. Hockema relates that the Company's relocation of its corporate
headquarters from Houston, Texas, to Foothill Ranch, California, and the
resignation of a couple of key personnel have made the year-end accounting
and reporting process more difficult.

A full-text copy of the Amendment is available for free at
http://ResearchArchives.com/t/s?830

                     About Kaiser Aluminum

Headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California, Kaiser Aluminum
Corporation -- http://www.kaiseraluminum.com/-- is a leading
producer of fabricated aluminum products for aerospace and high-
strength, general engineering, automotive, and custom industrial
applications.  The Company, along with its Jamaican subsidiaries
-- Alpart Jamaica Inc. and Kaiser Jamaica Corporation -- filed for chapter
11 protection on February 12, 2002 (Bankr. Del. Case No. 02-10429), and has
sold off a number of its commodity businesses during course of its cases.
Corinne Ball, Esq., at Jones Day, represents the Debtors in their
restructuring efforts.  On June 30, 2004, the Debtors listed $1.619 billion
in assets and $3.396 billion in debts.  (Kaiser Bankruptcy News, Issue No.
94; Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., 215/945-7000)



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


DIRECTV: Holding Webcast for First Quarter 2006 Results on May 4
----------------------------------------------------------------
The DirecTV Group Inc. will host an Internet webcast to discuss its 2006
first quarter financial results, outlook and other forward-looking
information on May 4, 2006, at 11:00 a.m. ET, 8:00 a.m. PT.

Jon Rubin, DirecTV Investor Relations vice president, will host the event.
An archived copy of the webcast of the company's first quarter results will
be available at http://www.directv.com.

The DIRECTV Group, Inc., formerly Hughes Electronics
Corporation, headquartered in El Segundo, California, is a
world-leading provider of multi-channel television
entertainment, and broadband satellite networks and services.
The DIRECTV Group, Inc. with sales in 2004 of
approximately $11.4 billion is 34% owned by Fox Entertainment
Group, Inc., which is owned by News Corporation.  DIRECTV is
currently available in Latin American countries: 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.

                        *    *    *

Moody's Investor Service assigned on June 8, 2005, a Ba2 rating
on DirecTV Group Inc.'s US$1.0 billion senior unsecured notes.



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


* PARAGUAY: Will Study Venezuela's Gas Pipeline Proposal
--------------------------------------------------------
Paraguay, along with Bolivia and Uruguay, will consider the natural gas
pipeline accord proposed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, Inside Costa
Rica reports.

Inside Costa Rica relates that the 6,000-km long pipeline will carry gas
from Tarija in Bolivia, to Uruguay, passing through Casado in Paraguay.  The
cost of construction is estimated at US$450 million.

President Chavez met with his counterparts -- Nicanor Duarte of Paraguay,
Evo Morales of Bolivia and Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay
-- during an energy summit at Asuncion on April 19 to discuss energy
cooperation, as reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 11, 2006.

According to reports, the country leaders -- except President Chavez --
agreed to form a three-nation commission to start the feasibility and cost
study right away.

President Chavez, on the other hand, said that his nation was willing to
offer technical and financial support for the study and for the construction
of the pipeline, Inside Costa Rica relates.

Reports said that the Presidents Duarte, Morales and Vazquez will disclose
the results of the study by the end of the year.

Inside Costa Rica reveals that the project is the second gas pipeline that
President Chavez has promoted.  In 2005, he had worked with his counterparts
in Brazil and Argentina to explore the possibility of constructing the 8,000
km Great Southern Gas Pipeline that would connect Venezuela to Argentina,
passing through Brazil.  The project is estimated to cost about US$20
billion.

President Chavez told Inside Costa Rica that there would be a second phase
under which the two projects would be connected, under the South American
energy cone concept.

Inside Costa Rica states that Paraguay and Bolivia also signed an accord on
industrializing natural gas projects and constructing a pipeline that would
join the two countries.

According to reports, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay also agreed that the
projects had to be carried out immediately as the governments were required
to ask multilateral financing within 120 days.

                        *    *    *

Moody's assigned these ratings on Paraguay:

     -- CC LT Foreign Bank Deposit, Caa2
     -- CC LT Foreign Curr Debt, Caa1
     -- CC ST Foreign Bank Deposit, NP
     -- CC ST Foreign Currency Debt, NP
     -- LC Currency Issuer Rating, Caa1
     -- FC Curr Issuer Rating, Caa1
     -- Local Currency LT Debt, WR

                        *    *    *

Standard & Poor's assigned these ratings on Paraguay:

     -- Foreign Currency LT Debt B-
     -- Local Currency LT Debt   B-
     -- Foreign Currency ST Debt C
     -- Local Currency ST Debt   C

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Uruguay:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     BB-      Mar. 7, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B+      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      BB-      Mar. 7, 2005

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Bolivia:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling    B-       Jun. 17, 2004
   Long Term IDR      B-       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating     B-       Dec. 14, 2005

                        *    *    *

Venezuela's foreign currency long-term debt is rated B2 by
Moody's, B+ by Standard & Poor's, and BB- by Fitch.

                        *    *    *

On Nov. 29, 2005, Fitch Ratings assigned expected 'BB-' ratings
to the pending issues of Venezuelan government bonds maturing
Feb. 26, 2016, and Dec. 9, 2020.  The 2016 bond has a 5.75%
fixed coupon and the 2020 bond has a 6% fixed coupon.  The bonds
are being marketed in Venezuela to be purchased in local
currency at the official exchange rate but under New York law,
with all coupon and principal payments in U.S. dollars.

Venezuela's sovereign ratings are supported by superior
international liquidity and low external financing
requirements relative to similarly rated sovereigns.  The
ratings are constrained by vulnerability to external shocks
because of oil dependency; diminished capacity of the private
sector to absorb shocks because of heavy government
intervention in the productive sector; recent spending
increases that reduce fiscal flexibility; and concerns about
the rule of law and potential political instability.  Fitch said
the Rating Outlook is Stable.



=======
P E R U
=======


SIDERPERU: Major Shareholder Names Legal Administrator
------------------------------------------------------
Siderperu's major shareholder, ProInversion, has appointed LR Consultores as
legal administrator for the steelmaker, according to a statement by
ProInversion.

According to ProInversion, a court in Chimbote authorized the cautionary
measure to protect Siderperu's interests because its board of directors left
the firm in light of structural changes.

Business News Americas relates that the legal administrator will remain
until the next general meeting of Siderperu's shareholders.

BNamericas states that the shareholders will appoint the new board of
directors during the meeting.  The holders, however, did not reveal when the
meeting would take place.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 15, 2006, investment
promotion agency ProInversion bought at an auction early in March 553
million common shares in Siderperu for US$52 million.  Siderperu sold the
shares after it failed to meet credit obligations.

An official from ProInversion told BNamericas that the company would be
selling the shares soon to steer Siderperu toward privatization.

Local holding company Sider controls SiderPeru, with a 96.46%
stake obtained from the state with a series of investment
commitments.

In 2005, Siderperu's shareholders agreed to postpone deadlines
for the steelmaker to make payments under its already
rescheduled corporate bond program.

Headquartered in Chimbote, Peru, Siderperu has steel production
capacity of 400,000 tons per year.  The company reported a net
loss of 5.99 million soles (US$1.82 million) in 2005, compared
to a net profit of 28.8 million soles in 2004.

                        *    *    *

As reported on Oct. 6, 2005, Siderperu failed to meet
commitments to pay on September 30, 2005, three quarterly
payments already postponed from 2003, prompting Lima-based risk
agency Equilibrium to downgrade its rating on the steelmaker's
first corporate bond program to category D from C.

Siderperu, which has struggled to meet payments for its first
bond issues, secured creditors approval on a global refinancing
agreement in April 2002 to reprogram the payments from
2003-2012.

Since then, however, creditors have agreed to three addendums to
reprogram the commitments made in the AGR. A payment of US$7.9
million was due on September 30.

On September 30, 2005, Siderperu made a US$1.75-million payment
that corresponded to the regular quarterly quota of the
principal amount.



=====================
P U E R T O   R I C O
=====================


NORTH WEST TRUCKING: Case Summary & 20 Largest Unsec. Creditors
---------------------------------------------------------------
Debtor: North West Trucking Association, Inc.
        P.O. Box 2548
        Isabela, Puerto Rico 00662
        Tel: (787) 830-1395

Bankruptcy Case No.: 06-01121

Chapter 11 Petition Date: April 18, 2006

Court: District of Puerto Rico (Old San Juan)

Debtor's Counsel: Frederic Chardon Dubos, Esq.
                  Frederic Chardon Dubos Law Office
                  Hc 3 Box 9551
                  Moca, Puerto Rico 00676-9556
                  Tel: (787) 997-4628
                  Fax: (787) 896-7400

Estimated Assets: $1 Million to $10 Million

Estimated Debts:  $500,000 to $1 Million

Debtor's 20 Largest Unsecured Creditors:

   Entity                        Nature of Claim   Claim Amount
   ------                        ---------------   ------------
Internal Revenue Service         Federal               $652,973
San Patricio Office Center       Withholding Tax
7 Calle Tabonuco
Guaynabo, PR 00968-3002

Departamento de Hacienda         State Income          $180,298
50 Calle Nenadich W, Suite 271   Taxes
Mayaguez, PR 00660-3662

Municipio Autonomo De Moca       Municipal &            $45,495
Apartado 1571                    City Taxes
Moca, PR 00676

BBVA Banco                       Commercial Loan        $39,210

Refrigeracion 2000, Inc.         Supplier               $27,500

GE Capital Corp.                 Conditional Sales      $20,531

CFSE                             Workmen's              $19,799
                                 Compensation
                                 Insurance

CRIM                             Property Tax           $17,036

EXEL                             Supplier                $9,050

AFLAC                            Supplier                $8,767

New Century Finance              Supplier                $6,826

COSVI                            Arrearage on            $6,708
                                 Executory Contract

TEXACO                           Supplier                $6,526

JCA Fuel                         Supplier                $6,468

Manuel Amador Hernandez          Supplier                $3,622

Empress Realty                   Rent in Arrears         $3,200

Cingular Wireless                Utility Bills           $3,180

Cummins de PR Inc.               Supplier                $2,539

Montemar Wholesale               Supplier                $2,427

Barnes Distribution              Supplier                $2,330


OCA INC: Can Continue Employing CDG as Restructuring Advisor
------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
authorized OCA, Inc., and its debtor-affiliates to continue
employing Conway, Del Genio, Gries & Co. LLC as their
restructuring advisor.

The Debtors hired CDG to help stabilize their business operations.  Michael
F. Gries, a CDG founding member, has served as OCA, Inc.'s Chief
Restructuring Officer since Jan. 11, 2006.

CDG has invested a substantial amount of time in reviewing and
analyzing the Debtors documents, capital structure and financial
projections.  The Debtors say that the CDG's knowledge of their
cases will allow the firm to provide cost effective, timely and
efficient service.

CDG's responsibilities in this engagement include:

     a) providing CDG personnel to serve as officers of the
        Debtors, including Mr. Gries as Chief Restructuring
        Officer;

     b) performing general due diligence to assist the Debtors
        in defining their financial and operational performance,
        including gathering and analyzing data, interviewing
        appropriate management and evaluating the Debtor's
        existing financial forecasts and budgets;

     c) reviewing the Debtors cash management system, including
        its current short and mid-term liquidity forecasts,
        providing assistance in modifying and updating these
        forecasts and providing overall management of the cash
        receipt and disbursement functions;

     d) assisting in the preparation of cash flow forecasts and
        presentation of approved plans and forecasts to the
        Debtors' constituents;

     e) developing strategies for improving liquidity;

     f) assisting the Debtors in the development and preparation
        of a business and operating plan, including strategies
        for retention of existing affiliations, growth through
        new affiliations and evaluation of existing and required
        levels of SG&A's;

     g) evaluating and proposing divestitures and settlements;

     h) developing contingency plans;

     i) assisting the Debtors in addressing issues related to
        maintaining ongoing financing of the Debtors operations;

     j) managing  the development, evaluation, negotiation and
        execution of any potential restructuring transaction and
        plan of reorganization;

     k) assisting the negotiation with existing lenders,
        creditors and other parties-in-interest in the
        implementation of a restructuring transaction; and

     l) conducting other studies, analyses or activities as
        requested by the Board related to the Debtors'
        restructuring efforts.

The Debtors have agreed to pay CDG $200,000 per month for its
services, plus out-of-pocket expenses.  CDG also received a
$200,000 prepetition retainer from the Debtors.

Mr. Gries says that his firm does not have any financial interest, business
connection or conflict of interest with the any of the Debtors.

Based in Metairie, Louisiana, OCA, Inc. -- http://www.ocai.com/
-- provides a full range of operational, purchasing, financial,
marketing, administrative and other business services, as well as capital
and proprietary information systems to approximately 200 orthodontic and
dental practices representing approximately almost 400 offices.  The
Company's client practices provide treatment to patients throughout the
United States and in Japan, Mexico, Spain, Brazil and Puerto Rico.

The Company and its debtor-affiliates filed for Chapter 11 protection on
March 14, 2006 (Bankr. E.D. La. Case No.
06-10179).  William H. Patrick, III, Esq., at Heller Draper Hayden Patrick &
Horn, LLC, represents the Debtors.  When the Debtors filed for protection
from their creditors, they listed US$545,220,000 in total assets and
US$196,337,000 in total debts.



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


* URUGUAY: President Tabare Vazquez Criticizes Mercosur
-------------------------------------------------------
Mercosur, a trade group of South American countries, is not useful to
Uruguay's objectives, Uruguay's President Tabare Vazquez told Merco Press.

President Vazquez met with Bolivia's Evo Morales, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez
and Paraguay's Nicanor Duarte in an energy summit in Asuncion, Paraguay.

Mercosur aka Mercosul is a trading zone between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay,
Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Paraguay to promote
free trade and the fluid movement of goods, peoples, and currency.

According to Merco Press, President Vazquez also proposed deep changes in
the functioning of the South American block.

"We want a Mercosur which really favors our peoples; at present we are
facing serious problems and great difficulties," Mr. Vazquez was quoted by
Merco Press saying.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 11, 2006, Uruguay
requested an urgent and extraordinary meeting of
Mercosur's Council to address the conflict with Argentina
regarding the construction of two pulp plants.

Merco Press states that Mr. Vazquez complained that Mercosur's response has
taken too long.  Argentina holds the Mercosur rotating chair and has been
reluctant to address Uruguay's request.

Uruguay will not participate at the Mercosur and associate members Labour
and Social Security ministers meeting in Buenos Aires this week, Merco Press
relates.

Uruguayan Labor Minister Eduardo Bonomi confirmed to Merco Press that it was
due to political reason and the fact that Argentine has not yet granted
Uruguay's request.

The Uruguayan minister will not attend the meeting unless the Council will
convene and interfere with the pulp mills controversy, Merco Press states.

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Uruguay:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     BB-      Mar. 7, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B+      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      BB-      Mar. 7, 2005


* URUGUAY: Will Study Venezuela's Gas Pipeline Proposal
--------------------------------------------------------
Uruguay, along with Paraguay and Bolivia, will consider the natural gas
pipeline accord proposed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, Inside Costa
Rica reports.

Inside Costa Rica relates that the 6,000-km long pipeline will carry gas
from Tarija in Bolivia, to Uruguay, passing through Casado in Paraguay.  The
cost of construction is estimated at US$450 million.

President Chavez met with his counterparts -- Nicanor Duarte of Paraguay,
Evo Morales of Bolivia and Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay
-- during an energy summit at Asuncion on April 19 to discuss energy
cooperation, as reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 11, 2006.

According to reports, the country leaders -- except President Chavez --
agreed to form a three-nation commission to start the feasibility and cost
study right away.

President Chavez, on the other hand, said that his nation was willing to
offer technical and financial support for the study and for the construction
of the pipeline, Inside Costa Rica relates.

Reports said that the Presidents Duarte, Morales and Vazquez will disclose
the results of the study by the end of the year.

Inside Costa Rica reveals that the project is the second gas pipeline that
President Chavez has promoted.  In 2005, he had worked with his counterparts
in Brazil and Argentina to explore the possibility of constructing the 8,000
km Great Southern Gas Pipeline that would connect Venezuela to Argentina,
passing through Brazil.  The project is estimated to cost about US$20
billion.

President Chavez told Inside Costa Rica that there would be a second phase
under which the two projects would be connected, under the South American
energy cone concept.

Inside Costa Rica states that Paraguay and Bolivia also signed an accord on
industrializing natural gas projects and constructing a pipeline that would
join the two countries.

According to reports, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay also agreed that the
projects had to be carried out immediately as the governments were required
to ask multilateral financing within 120 days.

               *    *    *

Moody's assigned these ratings on Paraguay:

     -- CC LT Foreign Bank Deposit, Caa2
     -- CC LT Foreign Curr Debt, Caa1
     -- CC ST Foreign Bank Deposit, NP
     -- CC ST Foreign Currency Debt, NP
     -- LC Currency Issuer Rating, Caa1
     -- FC Curr Issuer Rating, Caa1
     -- Local Currency LT Debt, WR

                        *    *    *

Standard & Poor's assigned these ratings on Paraguay:

     -- Foreign Currency LT Debt B-
     -- Local Currency LT Debt   B-
     -- Foreign Currency ST Debt C
     -- Local Currency ST Debt   C

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Uruguay:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     BB-      Mar. 7, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B+      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      BB-      Mar. 7, 2005

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Bolivia:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling    B-       Jun. 17, 2004
   Long Term IDR      B-       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating     B-       Dec. 14, 2005

                        *    *    *

Venezuela's foreign currency long-term debt is rated B2 by
Moody's, B+ by Standard & Poor's, and BB- by Fitch.

                        *    *    *

On Nov. 29, 2005, Fitch Ratings assigned expected 'BB-' ratings
to the pending issues of Venezuelan government bonds maturing
Feb. 26, 2016, and Dec. 9, 2020.  The 2016 bond has a 5.75%
fixed coupon and the 2020 bond has a 6% fixed coupon.  The bonds
are being marketed in Venezuela to be purchased in local
currency at the official exchange rate but under New York law,
with all coupon and principal payments in U.S. dollars.

Venezuela's sovereign ratings are supported by superior
international liquidity and low external financing
requirements relative to similarly rated sovereigns.  The
ratings are constrained by vulnerability to external shocks
because of oil dependency; diminished capacity of the private
sector to absorb shocks because of heavy government
intervention in the productive sector; recent spending
increases that reduce fiscal flexibility; and concerns about
the rule of law and potential political instability.  Fitch said
the Rating Outlook is Stable.



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


CITGO PETROLEUM: Has Petrobras as Likely Purchaser of Refinery
--------------------------------------------------------------
Petroleo Brasileiro SA is a likely candidate to buy the
Lyondell-Citgo Refining L.P. refinery in Houston, Texas, Dow Jones Newswires
reported industry analysts as saying.

As previously reported, Lyondell Chemical Co. and Citgo Petroleum Corp. --
the U.S. refining arm of Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. -- said they'll explore
the sale of their joint Houston refinery with a crude oil processing
capacity of 268,000 barrels per day.  Lyondell holds a 58.75% stake in the
refinery, and Citgo the remainder.

"I think Petrobras is a candidate to buy the refinery," said Monica Araujo,
an oil analyst at BES Securities in Rio de Janeiro, told Dow Jones.  "They
gave many signals that they want to buy more refining assets abroad."

The company has started to market refined crude in lucrative markets like
the United States.  Acquiring the Houston refinery will add value to
Petrobras' exports.

In line with its marketing of refined crude, Petrobras in February approved
a deal to buy a 50% stake in the Pasadena Refining System Inc. refinery from
Astra Oil Co., a unit of Belgian Compagnie Nationale a Portefeuille, for
about US$370 million.  That refinery has a capacity to process 100,000 b/d
of crude.  Petrobras said that it plans, along with Astra, to jointly invest
up to US$500 million to upgrade the refinery to be able to process heavy
Brazilian crude, Dow Jones relates.

The Pasadena refinery, Dow Jones quote Ms. Araujo as saying, has a very
small refining capacity.  "It makes total sense for them to buy more." Ms.
Araujo said.

A statement from Petrobras Downstream Director Paulo Roberto Costa confirmed
that the company is considering acquisitions of refineries outside of
Brazil.  Petrobras, however, doesn't comment about which assets it may be
eyeing, Dow Jones says.

The crucial question is how much Petrobras would be willing to spend.

"The Lyondell-Citgo refinery seems really big. It depends very much on what
the sale price would be," Luiz Broad, an oil analyst at the Agora Senior
brokerage in Rio de Janeiro told Dow Jones.

Citgo's refinery is estimated to fetch between US$3.5 billion to US$5
billion.

Petrobras, according to Dow Jones, is flushed with cash due to record
revenues amid sky-high oil prices.

The company reported net earnings of BRL23.73 billion (US$11.10 billion at
today's exchange rate) in 2005.  Its current stock market capitalization
stands at US$57.5 billion, and Petrobras has a favorable debt-to-equity
ratio of 0.643.

Petrobras said in a statement that 14% of its 2006 capital budget of US$12.3
billion would go into refining, and the company's 2006-2010 business plan
has earmarked US$6 billion a year for downstream activities.

However, Mr. Broad stressed to Dow Jones, Petrobras may have a lot of cash
but it is already engaged in other ventures elsewhere.

"Maybe buying the Lyondell-Citgo unit would be a bit heavy. I could imagine
them being a candidate, but more likely in a consortium with other
companies," Mr. Broad said.

Mr. Broad noted that a possible cash to share offer to finance a refinery
acquisition was unlikely as Petrobras in its last strategic plan abandoned
the idea of issuing more shares, Dow Jones continues.

Another analyst, Mark Routt, a senior consultant at Energy Security Analysis
Inc. in Boston, spoke with Dow Jones that Petrobras could easily finance an
acquisition through debt issuance.  He calculates that roughly US$500
million of the possible acquisition costs would be for the crude oil and oil
products inventories of the refinery.

                        About Citgo

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, CITGO is owned by PDV America,
an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela
S.A., the state-owned oil company of Venezuela.

PDVSA is Venezuela's state oil company in charge of the
development of the petroleum, petrochemical and coal industry,
as well as planning, coordinating, supervising and controlling
the operational activities of its divisions, both in Venezuela
and abroad.

                        *    *    *

On Jan. 23, 2005, Fitch Ratings upgraded the local and foreign
currency ratings of Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. aka PDVSA to
'BB-' from 'B+'.  The rating of PDVSA's export receivable future
flow securitization, PDVSA Finance Ltd, was also upgraded to
'BB+' from 'BB'.  In addition, Fitch has assigned PDVSA a
'AAA(ven)' national scale rating.  The Rating Outlook is Stable.
Both rating actions follow Fitch's November 2005 upgrade of
Venezuela's sovereign rating.

As reported on Feb. 16, 2006, Standard and Poor's Ratings
Services assigned a 'BB' rating on CITGO Petroleum Corp.

Standard & Poor's 'BB' rating on CITGO is higher than the 'B+'
corporate credit rating on PDVSA, because of the relative
strength of the refiner's financial profile and the asset
protection afforded to CITGO creditors, if CITGO defaults for
PDVSA-specific reasons, for example, a Venezuela sovereign
default.  Nevertheless, CITGO could be challenged by events
surrounding PDVSA.

                 About Petroleo Brasileiro

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, CITGO is owned by PDV America,
an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela
S.A., the state-owned oil company of Venezuela.

PDVSA is Venezuela's state oil company in charge of the
development of the petroleum, petrochemical and coal industry,
as well as planning, coordinating, supervising and controlling
the operational activities of its divisions, both in Venezuela
and abroad.

                        *    *    *

On Jan. 23, 2005, Fitch Ratings upgraded the local and foreign
currency ratings of Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. aka PDVSA to
'BB-' from 'B+'.  The rating of PDVSA's export receivable future
flow securitization, PDVSA Finance Ltd, was also upgraded to
'BB+' from 'BB'.  In addition, Fitch has assigned PDVSA a
'AAA(ven)' national scale rating.  The Rating Outlook is Stable.
Both rating actions follow Fitch's November 2005 upgrade of
Venezuela's sovereign rating.

As reported on Feb. 16, 2006, Standard and Poor's Ratings
Services assigned a 'BB' rating on CITGO Petroleum Corp.

Standard & Poor's 'BB' rating on CITGO is higher than the 'B+'
corporate credit rating on PDVSA, because of the relative
strength of the refiner's financial profile and the asset
protection afforded to CITGO creditors, if CITGO defaults for
PDVSA-specific reasons, for example, a Venezuela sovereign
default.  Nevertheless, CITGO could be challenged by events
surrounding PDVSA.


PETROLEOS DE VENEZUELA: Exporting 2M Barrels of Crude to India
--------------------------------------------------------------
Petroleos de Venezuela SA, Venezuela's state-owned oil firm, agreed to
deliver two million barrels of crude per month
to India as part of its export diversification program.

PDVSA eastern refining general manager, Fernando Padron, was quoted by
Business News Americas as saying that regularized shipments to India will
allow PDVSA to place "excess" production from the company's eastern
division.  Dubbed "the star division," eastern became PDVSA's top the
exploration and production division last year with about 1.2 million barrels
per day of production.

PDVSA has long expressed an interest in diversifying markets for its crude.
Currently almost 60% of crude and liquid oil exports go to the United
States.

Petroleos de Venezuela SA aka PDVSA is Venezuela's state oil
company in charge of the development of the petroleum,
petrochemical and coal industry, as well as planning,
coordinating, supervising and controlling the operational
activities of its divisions, both in Venezuela and abroad.

                        *    *    *

On Jan. 23, 2006, Fitch Ratings upgraded the local and foreign
currency ratings of Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. aka PDVSA to
'BB-' from 'B+'.  The rating of PDVSA's export receivable
future flow securitization, PDVSA Finance Ltd, was also upgraded
to 'BB+' from 'BB'.  In addition, Fitch assigned PDVSA a
'AAA(ven)' national scale rating.  Fitch said the Rating Outlook is Stable.
Both rating actions followed Fitch's November 2005
upgrade of Venezuela's sovereign rating.


* VENEZUELA: Natural Gas Pipeline Proposal Undergoes Study
----------------------------------------------------------
Uruguay, along with Paraguay and Bolivia, agreed to study the natural gas
pipeline accord proposed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, Inside Costa
Rica reports.

Inside Costa Rica relates that the 6,000-km long pipeline will carry gas
from Tarija in Bolivia, to Uruguay, passing through Casado in Paraguay.  The
cost of construction is estimated at US$450 million.

President Chavez met with his counterparts -- Nicanor Duarte of Paraguay,
Evo Morales of Bolivia and Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay
-- during an energy summit at Asuncion on April 19 to discuss energy
cooperation, as reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 11, 2006.

According to reports, the country leaders -- except President Chavez --
agreed to form a three-nation commission to start the feasibility and cost
study right away.

President Chavez, on the other hand, said that his nation was willing to
offer technical and financial support for the study and for the construction
of the pipeline, Inside Costa Rica relates.

Reports said that the Presidents Duarte, Morales and Vazquez will disclose
the results of the study by the end of the year.

Inside Costa Rica reveals that the project is the second gas pipeline that
President Chavez has promoted.  In 2005, he had worked with his counterparts
in Brazil and Argentina to explore the possibility of constructing the 8,000
km Great Southern Gas Pipeline that would connect Venezuela to Argentina,
passing through Brazil.  The project is estimated to cost about US$20
billion.

President Chavez told Inside Costa Rica that there would be a second phase
under which the two projects would be connected, under the South American
energy cone concept.

Inside Costa Rica states that Paraguay and Bolivia also signed an accord on
industrializing natural gas projects and constructing a pipeline that would
join the two countries.

According to reports, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay also agreed that the
projects had to be carried out immediately as the governments were required
to ask multilateral financing within 120 days.

               *    *    *

Moody's assigned these ratings on Paraguay:

     -- CC LT Foreign Bank Deposit, Caa2
     -- CC LT Foreign Curr Debt, Caa1
     -- CC ST Foreign Bank Deposit, NP
     -- CC ST Foreign Currency Debt, NP
     -- LC Currency Issuer Rating, Caa1
     -- FC Curr Issuer Rating, Caa1
     -- Local Currency LT Debt, WR

                        *    *    *

Standard & Poor's assigned these ratings on Paraguay:

     -- Foreign Currency LT Debt B-
     -- Local Currency LT Debt   B-
     -- Foreign Currency ST Debt C
     -- Local Currency ST Debt   C

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Uruguay:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     BB-      Mar. 7, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B+      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      BB-      Mar. 7, 2005

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on Bolivia:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling    B-       Jun. 17, 2004
   Long Term IDR      B-       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating     B-       Dec. 14, 2005

                        *    *    *

Venezuela's foreign currency long-term debt is rated B2 by
Moody's, B+ by Standard & Poor's, and BB- by Fitch.

                        *    *    *

On Nov. 29, 2005, Fitch Ratings assigned expected 'BB-' ratings
to the pending issues of Venezuelan government bonds maturing
Feb. 26, 2016, and Dec. 9, 2020.  The 2016 bond has a 5.75%
fixed coupon and the 2020 bond has a 6% fixed coupon.  The bonds
are being marketed in Venezuela to be purchased in local
currency at the official exchange rate but under New York law,
with all coupon and principal payments in U.S. dollars.

Venezuela's sovereign ratings are supported by superior
international liquidity and low external financing
requirements relative to similarly rated sovereigns.  The
ratings are constrained by vulnerability to external shocks
because of oil dependency; diminished capacity of the private
sector to absorb shocks because of heavy government
intervention in the productive sector; recent spending
increases that reduce fiscal flexibility; and concerns about
the rule of law and potential political instability.  Fitch said
the Rating Outlook is Stable.


* VENEZUELA: Cautions Oil Companies of Further Tax Increases
------------------------------------------------------------
The Venezuelan government warned international oil companies that they
possibly would have to cope with more tax increases from the government.
The government just imposed on them tough new operating contracts that asked
for a 50% tax rate, which is under the "mixed companies" guidelines.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 29, 2006, the "mixed
company" guidelines include a minimum fiscal contribution equaling 50% of
net revenue.  The companies will have to pay the difference if a 50% income
tax, a 30% royalty, and an additional 3.3% royalty for social projects are
less than half of the value of the oil produced by each partnership.

The country's Deputy oil Minister Bernard Mommer disclosed to the Financial
Times that the government is not obligated to keep any promise that it will
hold taxes steady for the next five years after recent increases.

                        *    *    *

Venezuela's foreign currency long-term debt is rated B2 by
Moody's, B+ by Standard & Poor's, and BB- by Fitch.


* VENEZUELA: IDB Approves Two Loans Amounting to US$875 Mil.
------------------------------------------------------------
El Universal reports that Inter-American Development Bank or IDB has
approved two loans in Venezuela's favor.  The loans amount to a collective
US$875 million.

The first loan will go to a Tocoma powerhouse construction in the southern
Bolivar state, for the amount of US$750 million.  While the second loan,
amounting to US$125 million, is for the construction of government-supported
schools.

                     *    *    *

Venezuela's foreign currency long-term debt is rated B2 by
Moody's, B+ by Standard & Poor's, and BB- by Fitch.


* VENEZUELA: Withdrawal from South American Trade Bloc Carped
-------------------------------------------------------------
Business leaders in Venezuela criticized President Hugo Chavez's decision to
withdraw the country from the Andean Community Nations, the South American
trade bloc, the Associated Press reports.

According to AP, the businessmen warned that the move would hurt Venezuela's
economy.

Jose Luis Betancourt -- head of the Fedecamaras business chamber -- admitted
to AP that they are worried for the countries as well as the people of the
Andean Community who are demanding employment, development and an end to the
controversies.

By leaving the bloc, Venezuela would be isolating itself from an easilyl
accessible market in which US$8 billion in goods and services is traded
every year, Mr. Betancourt explained to AP.

Peru's President Alejandro Toledo was quoted by AP saying that he was
baffled by the President Chavez's decision to pull out of the Andean
Community.  He hoped the Venezuelan leader would reconsider.

"It is hard for me to imagine that he would want to dismantle the Andean
Community, for which we have worked intensely," President Toledo told AP.
"I hope the expressions of President Chavez are a reaction of the moment.  I
know he is an integrator and that he will reconsider.  If not, the Andean
Community will march on."

AP relates that the president of Venezuela's commerce chamber aka
Consecomercio, Noel Alvarez, complained about President Chavez's failure to
consult the country's business community.

Mr. Alvarez told AP that President Chavez should have called a referendum so
all Venezuelans can express their opinions before making the decision.  He
said that the president must explain why the announcement was made without
the required consultation and what are the economic consequences that may
result from Venezuela's withdrawal.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 24, 2006, President
Chavez announced during a summit in Paraguay that Venezuela is quitting the
Andean Community Nations.

The Andean Community of Nations is made up of Bolivia, Colombia,
Ecuador and Peru and is headed by President Chavez.

According to News.nabou.com, the Venezuelan president said that
the free trade agreements between Peru, Colombia and the United
States have made the Andean Community obsolete, saying that the
group now served international elites.

President Chavez accused Andean Community members of being
overly aligned with the US and claimed that the free trade deals
are unfair to developing nations, BBC News reports.

                        *    *    *

Venezuela's foreign currency long-term debt is rated B2 by
Moody's, B+ by Standard & Poor's, and BB- by Fitch.



                        ***********


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 co-published
by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, USA,
and Beard Group, Inc., Frederick, Maryland USA.  Marjorie C. Sabijon, Sheryl
Joy P. Olano, and Stella Mae Hechanova, Editors.

Copyright 2006.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or publication
in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic re-mailing and
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