TCRLA_Public/060427.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

          Thursday, April 27, 2006, Vol. 7, Issue 83

                            Headlines

A R G E N T I N A

BANCO BANEX: May Issue Peso-Denominated Bond
BANCO PATAGONIA: Shareholders Okay ARS50 Million Dividend
CERVECERIA Y MALTERIA: Fitch Puts B+/RR3 Rating on Sr. Notes
DEL FORTIN: Verification of Proofs of Claim Ends on June 22
GRUPO PETROL: Claims Verification Ends on May 30

MILLENIUM SA: Trustee Stops Accepting Claims on June 5
MOLINOS RIO: Fitch Upgrades Rating on US$150-Mil Notes to BB-
PAN AMERICAN: Fitch Changes Local Currency Rating to BB
SANATORIO SANTA INES: Trustee Stops Accepting Claims by June 12
SAYI SA: Buenos Aires Court Closes Reorganization

TRANSPORTADORA DE GAS DEL SUR: Fitch Ups Currency Ratings to B
TRANSPORORTADORA DE GAS DEL NORTE: Fitch Ups Rating on Notes
TELECOM ARGENTINA: Fitch Upgrades Currency Ratings to B
TELEFONICA DE ARGENTINA: Fitch Upgrades Low B Ratings
TELEFONICA HOLDING: Fitch Upgrades Low B Currency & Debt Ratings

YPF SA: Fitch Ups Rating on US$350M Sr. Unsecured Notes to BB+
TELECOM PERSONAL: Fitch Upgrades Currency & Debt Ratings to B

B E R M U D A

FOSTER WHEELER: Redeems Old Notes to Eliminate US$121M Debt

B O L I V I A

BANCO MERCANTIL: Santa Cruz Buy Cues Moody's to Affirm E Rating

B R A Z I L

BANCO ITAU: Intends to Acquire Banking Properties
BANCO NACIONAL: Launches Line of Agile Pre-Shipment Financing
BANKBOSTON NA: Banco Itau May Buy Brazil, Chile & Uruguay Units
BRASKEM SA: Fitch Upgrades Currency & Debt Ratings to BB
BRASKEM INT'L: Fitch Upgrades Rating on US$150 Mil. Notes to BB

COMPANHIA SIDERURGICA DE TUBARAO: Fitch Ups Curr. Rating to BB+
COMPANHIA SIDERURGICA NACIONAL: Fitch Upgrades Low B Ratings
COMPANHIA VALE: Fitch Foreign Currency Rating to BB+ from BB
COMPANHIA VALE: To Sell Iron Ore on Spot Market as Alternative
GERDAU ACOMINAS: Fitch Raises Foreign Currency Rating to BB+

GERDAU SA: Fitch Currency & Debt Ratings to BB+ from BB-
NATIONAL STEEL: Fitch Upgrades Rating on US$450 Sr. Notes to BB
PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: Fitch Ups Low B Currency & Debt Ratings
SAMARCO MINERACAO: Fitch Raises Foreign Currency Rating to BB+
TELEMAR NORTE: Fitch Upgrades Rating on US$150 Mil. Notes to BB

VARIG: Government Gets Involve in Company's Pension Fund
VOTORANTIM PARTICIPACOES: Fitch Upgrades Currency Rating to BB+

C A Y M A N   I S L A N D S

ALMATIS INVESTING: Final Shareholders Meeting Set for May 8
ALMATIS ISLAMIC: Holding Final Shareholders Meeting on May 8
NF CORP: Liquidator to Present Wind Up Accounts on May 4
NICHOLAS HOLDINGS: Schedules Final General Meeting on May 4

C H I L E

AES CORP.: Sells 7% of AES Gener Shares for US$123 Million
BANKBOSTON NA: Banco Itau May Buy Brazil, Chile & Uruguay Units

D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

* DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Will Implement Energy Saving Plan

H A I T I

* HAITI: Finalizes Petrocaribe Oil-Supply Pact with Venezuela

J A M A I C A

* JAMAICA: Inks Natural Gas Supply Pact with Trinidad & Tobago

M E X I C O

CORPORACION GEO: Announces Fin'l Report for First Quarter
DESC S.A.: Fitch Upgrades Currency Ratings to B+ from B
VITRO S.A.: Central American Subsidiary Acquires Panama Firm
VITRO SA: Fitch Upgrades US$170-Mil Notes' Rating to B/RR3

N I C A R A G U A

* NICARAGUA: Government Inks Oil & Gas Pact with Global Firm

P U E R T O   R I C O

DORAL FINANCIAL: Approves Cash Dividend on Preferred Stock
OCA INC: Committee Wants Jenner & Block as Bankruptcy Counsel

* PUERTO RICO: Government Lays Off Employees Due to Crisis

U R U G U A Y

BANKBOSTON NA: Banco Itau May Buy Brazil, Chile & Uruguay Units

* URUGUAY: Will Seek Equity in Trade Relations with US & Mexico

V E N E Z U E L A

PETROLEOS DE VENEZUELA: Pequiven Buys 47.2% Stake in Monomeros
PETROLEOS DE VENEZUELA: Resumes Operations at Cardon Refinery

* VENEZUELA: Finalizes Petrocaribe Oil-Supply Pact with Haiti
* VENEZUELA: Joins Mercosur Trade Bloc
* VENEZUELA: Ratifies Withdrawal from Andean Trade Bloc

* LATIN AMERICA: Fitch Launches IDR & Recovery Ratings


                            - - - - -

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


BANCO BANEX: May Issue Peso-Denominated Bond
--------------------------------------------
Argentina's Banco Banex S.A. is considering the issuance of a
peso-denominated bond, becoming the first domestic owned
financial entity to issue a local currency bond abroad, Chief
Executive Officer Gabriel Coqueugniot told Business News
Americas.  

The official informed BNamericas that Banex wants to attract
foreign investors and raise capital this year.  He said that the
bank tested interest among foreign entities in a recent trip
abroad.  It is still, however, in a very early stage.

"We would be interested in issuing something a little longer
than a commercial paper, not properly a bond, but for the moment
we are just exploring the opportunity," Mr. Coqueugniot was
quoted by BNamericas as saying.

Mr. Coqueugniot also told BNamericas that Banex also wants to
increase its customer base 50% to 150,000 by the end of the
year.

Mr. Coqueugniot, says BNamericas, revealed that Banex and Banco
Supervielle, which it acquired from French bank Societe Generale
last year, expect to place about ARS540 million in the local
capital market in leasing, mortgage, guaranteed and consumer
loan securitizations.  The merger of the two firms is yet to be
completed in the first quarter of 2007.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on July 4, 2005,
Moody's Investors Service upgraded the long term foreign
currency deposit rating to Caa1 from Caa2 for Banco Banex S.A.
following Moody's upgrade of Argentina's foreign currency
ceiling for bank deposits to Caa1. Moody's also raised the
bank's National Scale foreign currency deposit rating to Ba1.ar
from B1.ar. All the ratings have a stable outlook.


BANCO PATAGONIA: Shareholders Okay ARS50 Million Dividend
---------------------------------------------------------
A ARS50 million cash dividend has been approved by the
shareholders of Argentina's Banco Patagonia, the bank told the
local stock exchange.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 3, 2006,
Banco Patagonia held a shareholders' meeting on April 18 to
approve a 50 million pesos (US$16.2 million) cash dividend, the
bank told the local stock exchange in a filing.

Banco Patagonia made 235 million pesos in profits for 2005, a
158% increase compared with 2004.  The profits were attributed
to financial margins and higher net service income.

Banco Patagonia became Argentina's fifth largest locally owned
private bank through its purchase of Lloyds TSB Argentina in
late 2004.  The bank operates through 139 branches and has 202
ATM machines, Business News Americas reports.

                        *    *    *

On Dec. 12, 2005, Moody's Latin America Calificadora de Riesgo
S.A. reaffirmed the 'BB' rating on US$80 million worth of bonds
issued by Banco Patagonia S.A. (f.k.a. Banco Patagonia Sudameris
SA), the CNV revealed in its Web site.

The undated bonds were described as "Serie 3 Oblig Negociables"
and are classified under "Series and/or Class."

The rating reflected the bank's financial status as of Sep. 30,
2005.  A "BB" rating indicates that the future of these bonds
cannot be well assured.


CERVECERIA Y MALTERIA: Fitch Puts B+/RR3 Rating on Sr. Notes  
------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Cerveceria
y Malteria Quilmes S.A.:

   US$150 million Senior Unsecured bonds due 2012

     -- Previous Rating: 'B'
     -- New RR: 'B+/RR3'


DEL FORTIN: Verification of Proofs of Claim Ends on June 22
-----------------------------------------------------------
Creditors of bankrupt company Del Fortin S.A. are required to
present proofs of their claims to Carlos Grela, the court-
appointed trustee, for verification on or before June 22, 2006,
La Nacion reports.  Creditors who fail to submit the required
documents will not qualify for any post-liquidation
distributions.

Buenos Aires' Court No. 11 declared the company bankrupt at the
behest of the company's creditor -- Banco de la Provincia de
Buenos Aires -- which the company owes US$12,546.45.

Clerk No. 21 assists the court on the case.

The debtor can be reached at:

         Del Fortin S.A.
         Rivadavia 746
         Buenos Aires, Argentina

The trustee can be reached at:

         Carlos Grela
         Tucuman 1585
         Buenos Aires, Argentina


GRUPO PETROL: Claims Verification Ends on May 30
------------------------------------------------
Juan Giannazzo, court-appointed trustee, has started verifying
claims against Grupo Petrol Servicios Empresarios S.A.  The
verification phase will end on May 30, 2006.

La Nacion relates that Buenos Aires' Court No. 19 declared the
company's bankruptcy in favor of Sergim Kovalenco, whom the
company owes US$15,894.12.

Clerk No. 38 assists the court in this case.

The debtor can be reached at:

         Grupo Petrol Servicios Empresarios S.A.
         Ricardo Gutierrez 3529
         Buenos Aires, Argentina

The trustee can be reached at:

         Juan Giannazzo
         Jufre 21
         Buenos Aires, Argentina    


MILLENIUM SA: Trustee Stops Accepting Claims on June 5
------------------------------------------------------
Sergio Luciano Mazzitelli, trustee appointed by the Buenos Aires
court for the bankruptcy of Millenium S.A., will no longer
entertain claims that are submitted after June 5, 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 Aug. 1, 2006.  The submission of the general report on
the case will follow on Sep. 13, 2006.

The trustee can be reached at:

         Sergio Luciano Mazzitelli
         Viamonte 1546
         Buenos Aires, Argentina


MOLINOS RIO: Fitch Upgrades Rating on US$150-Mil Notes to BB-
-------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Molinos
Rio de la Plata S.A.:

   US$150 million, Future Flow Notes due 2006

     -- Previous Rating: 'B'
     -- New IDR: 'BB-'


PAN AMERICAN: Fitch Changes Local Currency Rating to BB
-------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Pan
American Energy:

   Local Currency
    
     -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
     -- New RR: 'BB', Rating Outlook Stable

   US$100 million, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2009

     -- Previous Rating: 'B+'
     -- New IDR: 'BB-/RR3'


SANATORIO SANTA INES: Trustee Stops Accepting Claims by June 12
---------------------------------------------------------------
Graciela Caccavallo, the court-appointed trustee, has started
verifying claims against Sanatorio Santa Ines S.A., La Nacion
reports.

La Nacion relates that Buenos Aires' Court No. 15 declared the
company's bankruptcy at the behest of its creditor -- Obras
Social de Direccion aka OSDO -- which the company owes
US$69,436.77.

Clerk No. 30 assists the court in this case.

The debtor can be reached at:

         Sanatorio Santa Ins SA
         Alsina 1609
         Buenos Aires, Argentina

The trustee can be reached at:

         Graciela Caccavallo
         Estados Unidos 2552    
         Buenos Aires, Argentina


SAYI SA: Buenos Aires Court Closes Reorganization
-------------------------------------------------
The reorganization of Sayi S.A. has been concluded.  Data
revealed by Infobae on its Web site indicated that the process
was concluded after a Buenos Aires court homologated the debt
agreement signed between the company and its creditors.


TRANSPORTADORA DE GAS DEL SUR: Fitch Ups Currency Ratings to B
--------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.  
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to
Transportadora de Gas del Sur S.A.:

   Foreign Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
     -- New RR: 'B', Rating Outlook Stable

   Local Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
     -- New RR: 'B', Rating Outlook Stable

   US$614 million, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2010 and 2013

     -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
     -- New IDR: 'B/RR4'


TRANSPORORTADORA DE GAS DEL NORTE: Fitch Ups Rating on Notes
------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to
Transportadora de Gas del Norte S.A.:

   US$175 million, Senior Unsecured Notes

     -- Previous Rating: 'DD'
     -- New IDR: 'CCC/RR4'


TELECOM ARGENTINA: Fitch Upgrades Currency Ratings to B
-------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Telecom
Argentina S.A.:

   Foreign Currency

    -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
    -- New RR: 'B', Rating Outlook Stable

  Local Currency

    -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
    -- New RR: 'B', Rating Outlook Stable

  US$1.5 billion, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2011 and 2014

    -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
    -- New IDR: 'B/RR4'


TELEFONICA DE ARGENTINA: Fitch Upgrades Low B Ratings
-----------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Telefonica
de Argentina S.A.:

   Local Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'B'
     -- New RR: 'BB-', Rating Outlook Stable

   US$771 million, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2006, 2007, 2008,
   2010 and 2011

     -- Previous Rating: 'B'
     -- New IDR: 'B+/RR3'


TELEFONICA HOLDING: Fitch Upgrades Low B Currency & Debt Ratings
----------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Telefonica
Holding de Argentina S.A.:

   Foreign Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
     -- New RR: 'B ', Rating Outlook Stable

   Local Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
     -- New RR: 'B+', Rating Outlook Stable

   US$7.6 million, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2007

     -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
     -- New IDR: 'B/RR4''


YPF SA: Fitch Ups Rating on US$350M Sr. Unsecured Notes to BB+
--------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to YPF S.A.:

   Local Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'BB'
     -- New RR: 'BBB-', Rating Outlook Stable

   US$350 million, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2007, 2009, 2028

     -- Previous Rating: 'BB'
     -- New IDR: 'BB+'


TELECOM PERSONAL: Fitch Upgrades Currency & Debt Ratings to B
-------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Telecom
Personal S.A.:

   Foreign Currency

    -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
    -- New RR: 'B', Rating Outlook Stable

Local Currency

    -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
    -- New RR: 'B', Rating Outlook Stable

US$500 million, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2010

    -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
    -- New IDR: 'B/RR4'



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


FOSTER WHEELER: Redeems Old Notes to Eliminate US$121M Debt
-----------------------------------------------------------
Foster Wheeler Ltd. presented a number of transactions that will
successfully complete the Company's debt reduction program.  
Following these latest transactions, which will eliminate an
additional US$121.1 million of debt (including unamortized
premium), the Company's total remaining debt will be at its
lowest level in over twenty years and will almost entirely be
comprised of limited recourse project debt and capitalized lease
obligations.  All of these transactions are accretive to
expected 2006 earnings per share, excluding related one-time
accounting charges.

The Company has agreed to exchange 1,277,900 new common shares
for US$50.0 million of outstanding aggregate principal amount of
its 10.359% Senior Secured Notes due September 15, 2011.  The
exchange is expected to be completed no later than April 27,
2006.

In addition, the Company has called for redemption the remaining
US$61.5 million aggregate principal amount of its outstanding
10.359% Senior Notes.  On May 25, 2006, the Company will redeem
for cash all of its then outstanding Senior Notes at a
redemption price equal to the make-whole price plus accrued and
unpaid interest to the redemption date.

The Company has also called for redemption the remaining US$6.0
million outstanding aggregate principal amount of its 9.00%
Trust Preferred Securities.  On May 26, 2006, the Company will
redeem for cash all of the then outstanding Trust Preferred
Securities at a redemption price equal to US$25 per Trust
Preferred Security, plus accrued and unpaid interest to the
redemption date.

"When we began the turnaround of Foster Wheeler, my commitment
to our clients and to the approximately 9,000 dedicated
professionals worldwide who make this company special, was that
we would provide our operating groups a parent company whose
financial structure was equal to, or stronger than, our
competition," said Raymond J. Milchovich, chairman, president
and chief executive officer.  "With these latest transactions,
we now have a capital structure that will enable Foster Wheeler
to compete with anyone in our space, and win.  We have
transformed the Company's capital structure and can now focus
all our energy on what we do best: safely delivering cost-
effective, technically advanced equipment, facilities and
services that meet or exceed our clients' expectations."

The Company will continue to consider the repurchase or
redemption of its remaining debt, as appropriate, using excess
cash from operations. However, this will only be done if it is
deemed to be the best use of that cash as the Company evaluates
opportunities for growth and investment in its core businesses.

As of April 19, 2006, the Company has 66,675,649 common shares
outstanding.

Headquaretered in Hamilton, Bermuda, Foster Wheeler Ltd. --
http://www.fwc.com/-- is a global company offering, through its   
subsidiaries, a broad range of engineering, procurement,
construction, manufacturing, project development and management,
research and plant operation services.  Foster Wheeler serves
the refining, upstream oil and gas, LNG and gas-to-liquids,
petrochemical, chemicals, power, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology
and healthcare industries.  

At Dec. 31, 2005, Foster Wheeler's balance sheet showed a
US$341,796,000 equity deficit compared to a US$525,565 equity
deficit on Dec. 31, 2004.

                        *    *    *

On Feb. 7, 2006, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services revised its
outlook on Foster Wheeler Ltd. to stable from negative.  At the
same time, Standard & Poor's affirmed its 'B-' corporate credit
rating and 'CCC+' senior secured debt rating on the Clinton, New
Jersey-based engineering and construction company.  



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


BANCO MERCANTIL: Santa Cruz Buy Cues Moody's to Affirm E Rating
---------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's has affirmed the bank financial strength rating of Banco
Mercantil S.A. at E, following the acquisition of Banco Santa
Cruz S.A., which was previously owned by Banco Santander Central
Hispano S.A. and by Administracion de Bancos Latinoamericanos
Santander S.L. The outlook remains stable.

On April 18, 2006, Banco Mercantil acquired 96.3% of the shares
of Banco Santa Cruz.  The reported transaction price was US$25.8
million.  The two entities will merge in the medium term.  The
resulting entity will be the largest bank in Bolivia, with a
market share of approximately 29% in terms of deposits.

Although the acquisition broadens Mercantil's franchise within
the Bolivian market, Moody's said, there are risks and
challenges associated with merging the operations and cultures
of the two banks -- challenges that will be closely followed by
the agency.  The affirmation also incorporates prevailing
uncertainties in the banking system's operating and regulatory
environments.

Moody's has upgraded the local-currency deposit ratings of Banco
Mercantil to B1 from B2 on the global scale and to Aa1.bo to
Aa2.bo on the national scale.  The outlook remains stable.

Moody's explained that the upgrades reflect a higher
predictability of institutional support for Banco Mercantil
given its now larger deposit franchise, were it to be necessary.  
Moody's also predicts a high level of support from its
shareholders.

Global local-currency deposit ratings indicate the relative
credit risk of banks on a globally comparable basis.  The global
local-currency deposit ratings for the Bolivian banks reflect
the banks' financial strength as well as the relative importance
of the banks' deposit franchises within the Bolivian financial
system and their ownership characteristics. These factors are
among the main considerations in Moody's analysis of the
predictability of institutional support for local currency
deposit obligations.  Moody's also explained that ratings in
local currency do not take into account the convertibility and
transferability risks related to the foreign currency;
therefore, these ratings may be higher than those in foreign
currency.

National scale ratings in Bolivia, which carry the identifier of
".bo", rank the likelihood of credit loss on local and foreign
currency obligations of issuers in a particular country relative
to other domestic issuers.  The national scale ratings are
intended for domestic use only and are not globally comparable.  
Moody's national scale ratings are not opinions on absolute
default risks; therefore, in countries with overall low credit
quality, even highly rated credits on the national scale may be
susceptible to default.

The foreign-currency deposit ratings continue to be constrained
by the Bolivia's country ceiling for foreign-currency deposits.

Headquartered in La Paz, Bolivia, Banco Mercantil S.A., is a
multiple commercial bank owned in its majority by the Zuazo
family.  The bank has a significant branch network, and as of
December 2005, it held assets worth Bs4,514 million (US$564.3
million) and private sector deposits worth Bs3,714 million
(US$464.3 million), 15.3% market share.

As of December 2005, Banco Santa Cruz had Bs3,707 million
(US$463.4 million) in assets (11.7% market share) and Bs3,150
million (US$393.8 million) in private sector deposits (13.0%
market share).

This rating was affirmed:

   -- Bank Financial Strength Rating: E - Stable outlook

These ratings were upgraded:

   -- Long-Term Global Local-Currency Deposits: upgraded to B1
      from B2 - Stable outlook; and

   -- National Scale Rating for Local Currency Deposits:
      upgraded to Aa1.bo from Aa2.bo - Stable outlook.

These ratings were not affected:

   -- Long-Term Global Foreign-Currency Deposits: Caa1 with
      stable outlook;

   -- Short-Term Global Foreign-Currency Deposits: NP with   
      stable outlook; and

   -- National Scale Rating for Foreign Currency Deposits: A1.bo
      with stable outlook.



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


BANCO ITAU: Intends to Acquire Banking Properties
-------------------------------------------------
Banco Itau Holdings Financeira SA, the second largest private
bank in Brazil, has confirmed in a written statement sent to the
Brazilian Securities Commission aka CVM that it is interested in
a possible acquisition of banking properties in Latin America,
particularly in Brazil.

There have been rumors on the bank's interest in purchasing the
Brazil, Chile and Uruguay assets of BankBoston, which is owned
by Bank of America aka BAC, Dow Jones Newswires states.  

Reports state that BAC will exit Latin America and that Itau is
the buyer of the BankBoston assets, worth US$10.7 billion.  

According to Agencia Estado, the sale price could reach US$1.18
billion -- about 2.8 times BankBoston's equity of BRL907
million.

Business News Americas recalls that BAC unloaded its BankBoston
unit in Argentina in December to a consortium led by
Johannesburg-based Standard Bank Group and local families
Werthein and Sielecki for some US$180 million after selling
subsidiaries in Colombia, Peru and Panama.

BankBoston said in its Web site that its Latin American units
include:

     -- BankBoston in Brazil, with more than 60 branches, 3,900
        employees and a total of US$6.3 billion in assets;

     -- BankBoston Chile, established in 1979 and is the fourth
        largest foreign bank in the country with US$2.1 billion
        in assets and 43 banking centers; and

     -- BankBoston in Uruguay, with US$708 million in assets, 15
        offices and 400 employees.

According to press reports, BAC was in an advanced stage of
talks to sell its BankBoston properties in the three countries,
naming Banco Itau as the main suitor.  The reports said the sale
of BankBoston to Itau for as much as US$3 billion could be
announced in the next few days.

A Brazilian banking analyst told BNamericas that Banco Itau
could swap US$3 billion in preferred shares to acquire the Bank
of America subsidiaries.

Rafael Quintanilha from Agora Senior, a Brazilian brokerage
company, told BNamericas that Banco Itau would discuss the
purchase during a shareholders' meeting on Wednesday.

Financial daily Valor Economico reports that the deal would also
include the BankBoston private banking branch in Miami, saying
the offer could amount to 8% to 10% of Banco Itau's total
capital.

Mr. Quintanilha was quoted by BNamericas saying that the deal
consolidates Banco Itau's position among high-income clients.  
According to him, the local bank should have little difficulty
holding on to existing BankBoston clients, with its quality
products and a greater range of products including insurance and
pension plans.

Banco Itau would solidify its hold in the Latin American markets
but would still be a small to medium-sized firm compared to the
larger US and Spanish banks in the region, Quintanilha told
BNamericas.  To compete directly with those foreign banks, Banco
Itau would have to team up with a local bank or with another
foreign bank in Chile or Uruguay.

Valor Economico relates that BAC would appoint an executive to
Banco Itau's board and have the option to increase its
participation in the Brazilian bank within the next couple of
years.

Valor Economico adds that the BankBoston brand name would not be
included in the deal and would remain property of BAC.

Banco Itau, however, did not specifically confirm nor deny talks
with BankBoston, Dow Jones relates.  Itau only said in a
statement that the bank was effectively exploring options to
expand operations in the Brazil, Uruguay and Chile markets.

Banco Itau explained to Dow Jones that at this time any
announcements would be premature as there is no agreement or
contract ready to be signed with anyone.

A BAC spokesman gave no comments to Dow Jones regarding the
reports.

Reports also said that Banco Bradesco SA aka BBD and Spain's
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA aka BBV are also interested
in the BankBoston operations.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 9, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned a 'BB' currency
credit rating on Banco Itau S.A.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on July 20, 2005,
Moody's Investors Service has withdrawn all ratings for
BankBoston NA (Brazil), BankBoston Banco Multiplo S.A., and
BankBoston Latino Americano S.A, for business reasons.

The combined operations of BankBoston in Brazil had total assets
of US$8.1 billion in March 31, 2005.

These ratings were withdrawn:

  BankBoston Banco Multiplo S.A.

    -- Bank Financial Strength Rating: D+, with stable outlook;
  
    -- Long-term and short-term foreign currency deposit rating:
       B2/Not Prime, with positive outlook; and
  
    -- Long-term and short-term foreign currency bond rating:
       Ba2/Not Prime, with positive outlook.
  
  BankBoston, N.A. (Brazil)

    -- Long-term foreign currency deposit rating: B2, with
       positive outlook; and

    -- Short-term foreign currency deposit rating: Not Prime,
       with stable outlook.

  BankBoston Latino Americano S.A,

    -- Senior Unsecured MTN Program: Ba3, with positive outlook
       Other short-term: Not Prime, with stable outlook.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on Jul 4, 2005,
Moody's Investors Service upgraded the long-term foreign
currency deposit rating to Caa1 from Caa2 for BankBoston, N.A.
(Argentina) following Moody's upgrade of Argentina's foreign
currency ceiling for bank deposits to Caa1. All the ratings have
a stable outlook.


BANCO NACIONAL: Launches Line of Agile Pre-Shipment Financing
-------------------------------------------------------------
The board of Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social
aka BNDES approved alterations in the financing lines to exports
in the operations of Pre-Shipment and Special Pre-Shipment and
created a new support modality, called financing Line of Agile
Pre-Shipment.  The objective of those measures is the
simplification of operation procedures of the pre-shipment lines
and the administrative costing reduction for exporters,
financial agents and BNDES.

The new Agile Pre-Shipment Line will be aimed at enterprises
manufacturer of consumer goods and capital goods of serial
production type, with over one production cycle per year and
with often goods shipment.

The Agile Pre-Shipment Line will allow a simpler verification
process of export in relation to the current procedures, with
the following characteristics:

   1) financing up to 30% of the export obligation value
      overtaken by the company for a period from 6 to 12 months;
      and

   2) verification of the export obligation fulfillment upon
      consultation to the foreign trade official data, given by
      the System for Analysis of Foreign Trade Information or
      of the Integrated System of Foreign Trade.

With that, the verification systematic, used until then
(submitting of exports registries and exchange agreement, among
other documents), will be replaced by electronic verification,
facilitating the exporter performance control of the supported
companies.  The change, besides resulting in operational cost
reductions, will enable BNDES to streamline the follow-up and
the verification of operations, allowing the company to forward
new financing requests as soon as the period of the previous
operation performance is due.

Those characteristics will enable the exporter companies to
finance in quicker ways its exports in the obligation period
taken.

The creation of the agile Pre-Shipment Line represents a
diversification of the Pre-Shipment Lines, in the sense of
giving differentiated options of financing to the exporters, in
accordance with its production cycle and nature of goods that
they manufacture. The companies that need to finance
installments not exceeding 30% of their exports, or whose
production cycle is longer, continue to be served by the
existing Pre-Shipment line.

Among the simplification measures adopted in the Pre-Shipment
and Special Pre-Shipment lines, the highlights are:

   Pre-Shipment

   -- the adoption of a loan amortization plan with fixed
      maturity date and payment in sole installment or up to
      five monthly and consecutive installments.  Up to now, the
      maturity date was established due to the good shipment or
      exchange closing dates.

The alteration will facilitate the exports control and
verification, increasing the line attractiveness.

   Special Pre-Shipment

   -- extension from 12 months up to 36 months of the base-
      period used as reference for the development goal
      establishment of the company's export.

Since its creation, in 1990, the pre-shipment lines have been
characterized as one of the main support instruments to
Brazilian exports.  Among 2003/2005, 368 companies of
practically all economic sectors were financed, in the amount of
US$ 5.9 billion.  Those companies were responsible for 26% of
the Brazilian exports in the triennial, which evidences the
relevant role of the pre-shipment lines in the support to
foreign sales of higher accrued value goods.

                        *    *    *

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.


BANKBOSTON NA: Banco Itau May Buy Brazil, Chile & Uruguay Units
---------------------------------------------------------------
Banco Itau Holdings Financeira SA, the second largest private
bank in Brazil, may buy the Brazil, Chile and Uruguay assets of
BankBoston, according to reports.

Banco Itau has confirmed in a written statement sent to the
Brazilian Securities Commission aka CVM that it is interested in
a possible acquisition of banking properties in Latin America,
particularly in Brazil.

Dow Jones Newswires states that there have been rumors on the
bank's interest in purchasing the assets of BankBoston -- owned
by Bank of America aka BAC -- in the three countries.  

Reports say that BAC will exit Latin America and that Itau is
the buyer of the BankBoston assets, worth US$10.7 billion.  

According to Agencia Estado, the sale price could reach US$1.18
billion -- about 2.8 times BankBoston's equity of BRL907
million.

Business News Americas recalls that BAC unloaded its BankBoston
unit in Argentina in December to a consortium led by
Johannesburg-based Standard Bank Group and local families
Werthein and Sielecki for some US$180 million after selling
subsidiaries in Colombia, Peru and Panama.

BankBoston said in its Web site that its Latin American units
include:

     -- BankBoston in Brazil, with more than 60 branches, 3,900
        employees and a total of US$6.3 billion in assets;

     -- BankBoston Chile, established in 1979 and is the fourth
        largest foreign bank in the country with US$2.1 billion
        in assets and 43 banking centers; and

     -- BankBoston in Uruguay, with US$708 million in assets, 15
        offices and 400 employees.

According to press reports, BAC was in an advanced stage of
talks to sell its BankBoston properties in the three countries,
naming Banco Itau as the main suitor.  The reports said the sale
of BankBoston to Itau for as much as US$3 billion could be
announced in the next few days.

A Brazilian banking analyst told BNamericas that Banco Itau
could swap US$3 billion in preferred shares to acquire the Bank
of America subsidiaries.

Rafael Quintanilha from Agora Senior, a Brazilian brokerage
company, told BNamericas that Banco Itau would discuss the
purchase during a shareholders' meeting on Wednesday.

Financial daily Valor Economico reports that the deal would also
include the BankBoston private banking branch in Miami, saying
the offer could amount to 8% to 10% of Banco Itau's total
capital.

Mr. Quintanilha was quoted by BNamericas saying that the deal
consolidates Banco Itau's position among high-income clients.  
According to him, the local bank should have little difficulty
holding on to existing BankBoston clients, with its quality
products and a greater range of products including insurance and
pension plans.

Banco Itau would solidify its hold in the Latin American markets
but would still be a small to medium-sized firm compared to the
larger US and Spanish banks in the region, Quintanilha told
BNamericas.  To compete directly with those foreign banks, Banco
Itau would have to team up with a local bank or with another
foreign bank in Chile or Uruguay.

Valor Economico relates that BAC would appoint an executive to
Banco Itau's board and have the option to increase its
participation in the Brazilian bank within the next couple of
years.

Valor Economico adds that the BankBoston brand name would not be
included in the deal and would remain property of BAC.

Banco Itau, however, did not specifically confirm nor deny talks
with BankBoston, Dow Jones relates.  Itau only said in a
statement that the bank was effectively exploring options to
expand operations in the Brazil, Uruguay and Chile markets.

Banco Itau explained to Dow Jones that at this time any
announcements would be premature as there is no agreement or
contract ready to be signed with anyone.

A BAC spokesman gave no comments to Dow Jones regarding the
reports.

Reports also said that Banco Bradesco SA aka BBD and Spain's
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA aka BBV are also interested
in the BankBoston operations.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 9, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned a 'BB' currency
credit rating on Banco Itau S.A.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on July 20, 2005,
Moody's Investors Service has withdrawn all ratings for
BankBoston NA (Brazil), BankBoston Banco Multiplo S.A., and
BankBoston Latino Americano S.A, for business reasons.

The combined operations of BankBoston in Brazil had total assets
of US$8.1 billion in March 31, 2005.

These ratings were withdrawn:

    BankBoston Banco Multiplo S.A.

    -- Bank Financial Strength Rating: D+, with stable outlook;
  
    -- Long-term and short-term foreign currency deposit rating:
       B2/Not Prime, with positive outlook; and
  
    -- Long-term and short-term foreign currency bond rating:
       Ba2/Not Prime, with positive outlook.
  
  BankBoston, N.A. (Brazil)

    -- Long-term foreign currency deposit rating: B2, with
       positive outlook; and

    -- Short-term foreign currency deposit rating: Not Prime,
       with stable outlook.

  BankBoston Latino Americano S.A,

    -- Senior Unsecured MTN Program: Ba3, with positive outlook
       Other short-term: Not Prime, with stable outlook.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on Jul 4, 2005,
Moody's Investors Service upgraded the long-term foreign
currency deposit rating to Caa1 from Caa2 for BankBoston, N.A.
(Argentina) following Moody's upgrade of Argentina's foreign
currency ceiling for bank deposits to Caa1. All the ratings have
a stable outlook.


BRASKEM SA: Fitch Upgrades Currency & Debt Ratings to BB
--------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Braskem
S.A.:

   Foreign Currency

     -- Previous Rating: BB-
     -- New RR: BB, Rating Outlook Positive

   US$675 Million Senior Unsecured Notes due 2008, 2014 and 2047

     -- Previous Rating: BB-
     -- New IDR: BB


BRASKEM INT'L: Fitch Upgrades Rating on US$150 Mil. Notes to BB
---------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Braskem
International Ltd.:

   US$150 Million Senior Unsecured Note due 2015

     -- Previous Rating:'BB-'
     -- New IDR: 'BB'


COMPANHIA SIDERURGICA DE TUBARAO: Fitch Ups Curr. Rating to BB+
---------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Companhia
Siderurgica de Tubarao:

   Foreign Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'BB'
     -- New RR: 'BB+', Rating Outlook Positive


COMPANHIA SIDERURGICA NACIONAL: Fitch Upgrades Low B Ratings
------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Companhia
Siderurgica Nacional:

  Foreign Currency

    -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
    -- New RR: 'BB', Rating Outlook Positive

  US$1.7 billion, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2007, 2008, 2013
  and 2015

    -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
    -- New IDR: 'BB+'

  US$750 million Guaranteed Perpetual Notes

    -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
    -- New IDR: 'BB+'


COMPANHIA VALE: Fitch Foreign Currency Rating to BB+ from BB
------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Companhia
Vale do Rio Doce or CVRD:

     Foreign Currency
   
    -- Previous Rating: 'BB'
    -- New RR: 'BB+', Rating Outlook Positive

  US$1.8 billion, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2016 and 2034

    -- Previous Rating: 'BB'
    -- New IDR: 'BBB-'


COMPANHIA VALE: To Sell Iron Ore on Spot Market as Alternative
------------------------------------------------------------
Companhia Vale do Rio Doce or CVRD may possibly sell its iron
ore on the spot market to companies if an agreement to new
prices in long-term contracts cannot be reached, according to a
report from the Estado Newswire.

Chief Executive Roger Agnelli told Dow Jones Newswires that CVRD
has recognized the existence of the spot market, even though the
company has never acted in it yet.  He also added that the spot
market has higher prices than the long-term contracts.  

"If some client doesn't want to establish (a long-term) contract
as we are proposing, we will opt for the spot (market)," Mr.
Agnelli was quoted by Dow Jones as saying.

Mr. Agnelli disclosed these statements in Rio de Janeiro,
however his press department could not directly confirm his
comments when asked by Dow Jones.

Mr. Agnelli made these disclosures after some steel companies
complained about CVRD's stipulation to increase price contracts
to 24.6% after a 71.5% increase in 2005.

CVRD refuted reports about a deal with Chinese steelmakers to
raise iron ore prices by 10%.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 24, China
Iron and Steel Association has criticized the 24% price increase
for iron ore proposed by CVRD and described the price increase
as inappropriate and not in line with standard ore-negotiation
principles.

Other suppliers such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are also
asking for a price hike, saying that the raised prices will fund
a surge in investments that is essential to meet the increased
global demand for iron ore, Dow Jones relates.

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Companhia Vale do Rio
Doce -- http://www.cvrd.com.br/-- engages primarily in mining
and logistics businesses. It engages in iron ore mining, pellet
production, manganese ore mining, and ferroalloy production, as
well as in the production of nonferrous minerals, such as
kaolin, potash, copper, and gold.

                        *    *    *

On Jan. 5, 2006, Fitch Ratings assigned a long-term foreign
currency rating of 'BB' to Vale Overseas Limited's proposed
US$300 million issuance due 2016.  Vale Overseas is a wholly
owned subsidiary of Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, a large
diversified mining company located in Brazil.  The notes are
unsecured obligations of Vale Overseas and are unconditionally
guaranteed by CVRD.  The obligation to guarantee the notes
rank pari passu with all of CVRD's other unsecured and
unsubordinated debt obligations.  Fitch expects the proceeds of
this issuance to be used for general corporate purposes and
primarily to pay down US$300 million of Vale Overseas' 9.0%
guaranteed notes due 2013.

Fitch also maintained these ratings for CVRD and CVRD Finance
Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of CVRD:

  -- CVRD foreign currency rating: 'BB', Outlook Positive;
  -- CVRD local currency rating: 'BBB' Outlook Stable;
  -- CVRD national scale rating: 'AAA(bra)', Outlook Stable;
  -- CVRD Finance Ltd.: series 2000-1 and series 2000-3:
     'BBB';
  -- CVRD Finance Ltd., series 2000-2 and series 2003-1: 'AAA'.


GERDAU ACOMINAS: Fitch Raises Foreign Currency Rating to BB+
------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Gerdau
Acominas S.A.:

   Foreign Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
     -- New RR: 'BB+', Rating Outlook Positive


GERDAU SA: Fitch Currency & Debt Ratings to BB+ from BB-
--------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Gerdau
S.A.:

   Foreign Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
     -- New RR: 'BB+', Rating Outlook Stable

   US$600 million, Senior Unsecured Notes

     -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
     -- New IDR: 'BB+'


NATIONAL STEEL: Fitch Upgrades Rating on US$450 Sr. Notes to BB
---------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to National
Steel S.A.:

   US$450 million, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2011

   -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
   -- New IDR: 'BB'


PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: Fitch Ups Low B Currency & Debt Ratings
------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Petroleo
Brasileiro S.A. or Petrobras:

   Foreign Currency

    -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
    -- New RR: 'BB', Rating Outlook Positive

  US$2.5 billion, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2008, 2013, 2014
  and 2018

    -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
    -- New IDR: 'BB+'


SAMARCO MINERACAO: Fitch Raises Foreign Currency Rating to BB+
--------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings, Fitch Ratings has taken rating actions on
various companies throughout the Latin American region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Samarco
Mineracao S.A.:

   Foreign Currency

   -- Previous Rating: 'BB'
   -- New RR: 'BB+', Rating Outlook Positive


TELEMAR NORTE: Fitch Upgrades Rating on US$150 Mil. Notes to BB
---------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Telemar
Norte Leste S.A.:

   US$150 million, Offering Notes

     -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
     -- New IDR: 'BB'


VARIG: Government Gets Involve in Company's Pension Fund
--------------------------------------------------------
As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 19, the
Brazilian government issued a statement stating that it will
seize the cash in the pension fund of Varig aka Viacao Aerea
Riograndense.

The government said it will distribute the funds to employees
and retirees to prevent the airline from using the money for its
operating needs, Reuters reported.

The decision came a day after the Brazilian aviation authority
rejected a code-sharing proposal between Varig and OceanAir Inc.
that would have thrown a life-line to the ailing carrier.  The
rejected deal called for OceanAir's taking over of Varig's
unprofitable routes and airport slots.

There are two types of private pension funds in Brazil:

   -- those which are only open to employees and
   -- those which cater to the general public.

The Aerus pension fund belongs in the first category.

Two pension plans directed by the Aerus pension fund was shut
down by the Ministry of Private Pensions or SPC, which claimed
that the fund did not have enough any sufficient capital to meet
its responsibilities.  SPC told Business News Americas that
retired Varig employees would be paid through the assets that
were confiscated by the government.

About 6,700 beneficiaries and 8,300 active contributors that
account for more than 80% of Aerus' existing reserves are
included in the two pension plans.

Varig's debt of about 7 billion reals or about US$3.27 billion
is presently being restructured since the company faced cash
flow problems.  In response to this problem, Varig's employee
union asked the government to write off part of the airlines
debts, BNamericas reports.  Moreover, the union proposed to pay
off US$100 to US$150 million of the pension fund's assets as
part of debt payments.

According to SPC, the company owes 2.3 billion reals to Aerus
and in 2002 it has consented to pay the debt off with 9 million
reais a month.  However, the airline was not able to complete
all payments.  Ever since January of 2006, Aerus received no
money from the company.

Varig has not only debts with Aerus but also with the following
companies:

   -- Petrobras, the federal energy company;
   -- BR Distribuidora, a fuel distribution unit; and
   -- Infraero, the federal airport authority.

Local news agency Agencia Estado reports that former Aerus
President Ricardo Lodi Ribeiro tagged the government's
intervention as a "government tactic," for SPC has known then
that Varig has had problems with its payments to Aerus.

Mr. Ribeiro was quoted by BNamericas: "Why have they decided to
take this attitude now, which will practically break Varig?"

In response to Mr. Ribeiro's comment, SPC told BNamericas that
it will not interfere with Aerus' other administered pension
plans.

Due to the current crisis in Brazil's airline industry, other
local carriers such as Vasp and Tranbrasil have been grounded.

                        About VARIG

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, VARIG S.A. is Brazil's
largest air carrier and the largest air carrier in Latin
America.  VARIG's principal business is the transportation of
passengers and cargo by air on domestic routes within Brazil and
on international routes between Brazil and North and South
America, Europe and Asia.  VARIG carries approximately 13
million passengers annually and employs approximately 11,456
full-time employees, of which approximately 133 are employed in
the United States.

The Company, along with two affiliates, filed for a judicial
reorganization proceeding under the New Bankruptcy and
Restructuring Law of Brazil on June 17, 2005, due to a
competitive landscape, high fuel costs, cash flow deficit, and
high operating leverage.  The Debtors may be the first case
under the new law, which took effect on June 9, 2005.  Similar
to a chapter 11 debtor-in-possession under the U.S. Bankruptcy
Code, the Debtors remain in possession and control of their
estate pending the Judicial Reorganization.  Sergio Bermudes,
Esq., at Escritorio de Advocacia Sergio Bermudes, represents the
carrier in Brazil.

Each of the Debtors' Boards of Directors authorized Vicente
Cervo as foreign representative.  In this capacity, Mr. Cervo
filed a Sec. 304 petition on June 17, 2005 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Case
Nos. 05-14400 and 05-14402).  Rick B. Antonoff, Esq., at
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP represents Mr. Cervo in the
United States.  As of March 31, 2005, the Debtors reported
BRL2,979,309,000 in total assets and BRL9,474,930,000 in total
debts.


VOTORANTIM PARTICIPACOES: Fitch Upgrades Currency Rating to BB+
---------------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Votorantim
Participacoes S.A.:

   Foreign Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
     -- New RR: 'BB+'; Rating Outlook Positive

   US$300 million, Senior Unsecured Notes due 2014

     -- Previous Rating: 'BB-'
     -- New IDR: 'BBB-'



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


ALMATIS INVESTING: Final Shareholders Meeting Set for May 8
-----------------------------------------------------------
Shareholders of Investcorp Almatis Investing Limited will gather
on May 8, 2006, at 10:00 a.m. for a final general meeting 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 18, 2006,
Investcorp Almatis Investing started liquidating assets on March
13, 2006.  Creditors of the company are given until April 24,
2006, to submit claims 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
           Tel: (345) 949-5122
           Fax: (345) 949-7920


ALMATIS ISLAMIC: Holding Final Shareholders Meeting on May 8
------------------------------------------------------------
Investcorp Almatis Islamic Financing Limited will hold a final
shareholders meeting on May 8, 2006, at 10:15 a.m. at the
company's registered office.

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 18, 2006,
Investcorp Almatis Islamic started liquidating assets on March
13, 2006.  Creditors are required to present proofs of claim on
or before April 24, 2006, to Westport Services Limited, the
company's liquidator.

The 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


NF CORP: Liquidator to Present Wind Up Accounts on May 4
--------------------------------------------------------
Mark Wanless, the liquidator of NF Corporation, will present
accounts on the company's wind up process during an
extraordinary final general meeting of shareholders on May 4 at:

           Maples Finance Jersey Limited
           2nd Floor, Le Masurier House
           La Rue Le Masurier, St. Helier
           Jersey JE2 4YE

The company's liquidator can be reached at:

           Mark Wanless
           Maples Finance Jersey Limited
           2nd Floor, Le Masurier House
           La Rue Le Masurier, St. Helier
           Jersey JE2 4YE


NICHOLAS HOLDINGS: Schedules Final General Meeting on May 4
-----------------------------------------------------------
Nicholas Holdings has scheduled a final general meeting of the
company's shareholder and liquidators, Guy Major and Emile
Small, on May 4, 2006, at:

                 Maples Finance Limited
                 Queensgate House, George Town
                 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Accounts on the company's liquidation process will be presented
during the meeting.  

For inquiries, the liquidators can be reached at:

                 Guy Major
                 Emile Small
                 Maples Finance Limited
                 P.O. Box 1093 George Town
                 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands



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


AES CORP.: Sells 7% of AES Gener Shares for US$123 Million
----------------------------------------------------------
The AES Corporation reported that it has completed the sale of
approximately 7.6% of its shares in AES Gener, the second
largest power generation company in Chile, to a group of Chilean
and international institutional investors for about US$123
million.  AES Gener has a market capitalization of US$1.6
billion.

After accounting for this transaction, AES remains the largest
shareholder of AES Gener, with a 91% interest held through its
Chilean holding company.  Proceeds from the sale will be used by
AES Corporation for debt retirement and to fund growth
investments in its global business portfolio and other corporate
purposes.

"AES Gener is an important part of our business today and will
continue to play a key role in our growth strategy going
forward," said Paul Hanrahan, AES President and Chief Executive
Officer.  "Selling a portion of our investment provides us with
greater financial flexibility and, with broader public
ownership, better access to capital markets to support future
growth projects in Chile."

Andres Gluski, President of AES Latin America, said, "The
positive market reception to this share offering and recent
upgrade of AES Gener to investment grade reflect its good
performance and strong growth prospects.  AES Gener has a solid
financial structure and is an efficient, diversified and
responsible generation company."

In Chile, AES Gener is constructing a 120 MW power plant and is
planning to build two coal-fired power plants totaling 450 MW.  
The company is the second largest electric generation company in
Chile with installed capacity of 2,428 MW, composed of 271 MW of
hydroelectric and 2,157 MW of thermoelectric generating
capacity, which includes coal, natural gas, diesel and
cogeneration capacity.  In 2005, AES Gener recorded operating
income of $219 million and net income of $84 million.

AES Corporation -- http://www.aes.com/-- is a global power
company.  The Company operates in South America, Europe, Africa,
Asia and the Caribbean countries.  Generating 44,000 megawatts
of electricity through 124 power facilities, the Company
delivers electricity through 15 distribution companies.

AES's Latin America business group is comprised of generation
plants and electric utilities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile,
Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama and Venezuela.
Fuels include biomass, diesel, coal, gas and hydro.  The group
also pursues business development activities in the region.  AES
has been in the region since May 1993, when it acquired the CTSN
power plant in Argentina.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 31, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services raised its corporate credit
rating on diversified energy company The AES Corp. to 'BB-' from
'B+'.  S&P said the outlook is stable.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on Jan. 11, 2006,
Moody's affirmed the ratings of The AES Corporation, including
its Ba3 Corporate Family Rating and the B1 rating on its senior
unsecured debt.  Moody's said the rating outlook remains stable.


BANKBOSTON NA: Banco Itau May Buy Brazil, Chile & Uruguay Units
---------------------------------------------------------------
Banco Itau Holdings Financeira SA, the second largest private
bank in Brazil, may buy the Brazilian, Chilean and Uruguayan
assets of BankBoston, according to reports.

Banco Itau has confirmed in a written statement sent to the
Brazilian Securities Commission aka CVM that it is interested in
a possible acquisition of banking properties in Latin America,
particularly in Brazil.

Dow Jones Newswires states that there have been rumors on the
bank's interest in purchasing the assets of BankBoston -- owned
by Bank of America aka BAC -- in the three countries.  

Reports say that BAC will exit Latin America and that Itau is
the buyer of the BankBoston assets, worth US$10.7 billion.  

According to Agencia Estado, the sale price could reach US$1.18
billion -- about 2.8 times BankBoston's equity of BRL907
million.

Business News Americas recalls that BAC unloaded its BankBoston
unit in Argentina in December to a consortium led by
Johannesburg-based Standard Bank Group and local families
Werthein and Sielecki for some US$180 million after selling
subsidiaries in Colombia, Peru and Panama.

BankBoston said in its Web site that its Latin American units
include:

     -- BankBoston in Brazil, with more than 60 branches, 3,900
        employees and a total of US$6.3 billion in assets;

     -- BankBoston Chile, established in 1979 and is the fourth
        largest foreign bank in the country with US$2.1 billion
        in assets and 43 banking centers; and

     -- BankBoston in Uruguay, with US$708 million in assets, 15
        offices and 400 employees.

According to press reports, BAC was in an advanced stage of
talks to sell its BankBoston properties in the three countries,
naming Banco Itau as the main suitor.  The reports said the sale
of BankBoston to Itau for as much as US$3 billion could be
announced in the next few days.

A Brazilian banking analyst told BNamericas that Banco Itau
could swap US$3 billion in preferred shares to acquire the Bank
of America subsidiaries.

Rafael Quintanilha from Agora Senior, a Brazilian brokerage
company, told BNamericas that Banco Itau would discuss the
purchase during a shareholders' meeting on Wednesday.

Financial daily Valor Economico reports that the deal would also
include the BankBoston private banking branch in Miami, saying
the offer could amount to 8% to 10% of Banco Itau's total
capital.

Mr. Quintanilha was quoted by BNamericas saying that the deal
consolidates Banco Itau's position among high-income clients.  
According to him, the local bank should have little difficulty
holding on to existing BankBoston clients, with its quality
products and a greater range of products including insurance and
pension plans.

Banco Itau would solidify its hold in the Latin American markets
but would still be a small to medium-sized firm compared to the
larger US and Spanish banks in the region, Quintanilha told
BNamericas.  To compete directly with those foreign banks, Banco
Itau would have to team up with a local bank or with another
foreign bank in Chile or Uruguay.

Valor Economico relates that BAC would appoint an executive to
Banco Itau's board and have the option to increase its
participation in the Brazilian bank within the next couple of
years.

Valor Economico adds that the BankBoston brand name would not be
included in the deal and would remain property of BAC.

Banco Itau, however, did not specifically confirm nor deny talks
with BankBoston, Dow Jones relates.  Itau only said in a
statement that the bank was effectively exploring options to
expand operations in the Brazil, Uruguay and Chile markets.

Banco Itau explained to Dow Jones that at this time any
announcements would be premature as there is no agreement or
contract ready to be signed with anyone.

A BAC spokesman gave no comments to Dow Jones regarding the
reports.

Reports also said that Banco Bradesco SA aka BBD and Spain's
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA aka BBV are also interested
in the BankBoston operations.

                        *    *    *

As reported by the Troubled Company Reporter on March 9, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned a 'BB' currency
credit rating on Banco Itau S.A.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on July 20, 2005,
Moody's Investors Service has withdrawn all ratings for
BankBoston NA (Brazil), BankBoston Banco Multiplo S.A., and
BankBoston Latino Americano S.A, for business reasons.

The combined operations of BankBoston in Brazil had total assets
of US$8.1 billion in March 31, 2005.

These ratings were withdrawn:

  BankBoston Banco Multiplo S.A.

    -- Bank Financial Strength Rating: D+, with stable outlook;
  
    -- Long-term and short-term foreign currency deposit rating:
       B2/Not Prime, with positive outlook; and
  
    -- Long-term and short-term foreign currency bond rating:
       Ba2/Not Prime, with positive outlook.
  
  BankBoston, N.A. (Brazil)

    -- Long-term foreign currency deposit rating: B2, with
       positive outlook; and

    -- Short-term foreign currency deposit rating: Not Prime,
       with stable outlook.

  BankBoston Latino Americano S.A,

    -- Senior Unsecured MTN Program: Ba3, with positive outlook
       Other short-term: Not Prime, with stable outlook.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on Jul 4, 2005,
Moody's Investors Service upgraded the long-term foreign
currency deposit rating to Caa1 from Caa2 for BankBoston, N.A.
(Argentina) following Moody's upgrade of Argentina's foreign
currency ceiling for bank deposits to Caa1. All the ratings have
a stable outlook.



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


* DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Will Implement Energy Saving Plan
-------------------------------------------------------
The government of the Dominican Republic will implement an
energy saving plan after elections on May 16, Chief of staff
Luis Bonetti told the Dominican Today.

The measure would stimulate those decreed by President Leonel
Fernandez in August 2005 with additional elements that are being
studied by the Industry and Commerce Ministry, Mr. Bonetti
explained to Dominican Today.

Dominican Today relates that the government implemented a saving
plan between the months of August and November last year.  The
plan was temporarily lifted in December and permanently halted
in January.

The new plan should be approved by all sectors in the country,
Mr. Bonetti told Dominican Today.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 26, 2006,
the Dominican Republic's losses in the energy sector increased
10.4% in 2005.

From 2003 to 2005, losses in energy production and distribution
has raised to 44.6% from 38.4%, according to a report from the
Central Bank's National Accounts Department.

Official reports state that losses in transmission and
distribution are rising each year.

Dominican Today relates that the government has contributed
about US$1,000 million to sustain the weakening energy system
but the losses have not decreased.  The contributions have been
insufficient for distribution firms to reduce operational
losses.

Official reports indicate that, each year, losses in
transmission and distribution are on the rise, notwithstanding
that only during two years  -- 2005 and 2006 --  the government
has contributed over US$1,000 million to sustain the
deteriorated energy system.

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigned these ratings on the Dominican Republic:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     B-       May 11, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B-      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      B        May 11, 2005



=========
H A I T I
=========


* HAITI: Finalizes Petrocaribe Oil-Supply Pact with Venezuela
-------------------------------------------------------------
"When I am the one who is asking, I rather give the floor to he
who is going to give. In this way, I get to know what he is
going to give me," Haitian Presiden Rene Preval was quoted by
the El Universal as saying during a press conference Monday.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez welcomed Haiti in its oil
initiative program called Petrocaribe.  President Chavez pledged
aid to the struggling country through his social programs.  

"We are ready to find a more flexible formula under
Petrocaribe," President Chavez said at the conferenece, adding
that social programs to help Haiti "would be coordinated with
Cuba."

Haiti will be visited on May 2 by a team of experts from state
oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela to prepare the nation's
incorporation to Petrocaribe.

Under Petrocaribe, Venezuela sells oil and by-products under
preferential terms to Caribbean and Central American countries.

President Chavez also pledged to donate fuel to Haiti,
"especially diesel for use in hospitals and schools," El
Universal says.

Haiti has been burdened by the rising prices of oil.  Many of
its communities have little or no electricity due to a lack of
fuel needed to run the country's aging power grid.  

To help cope with high energy prices, Mr. Preval had disclosed
plans to refine sugar cane into fuel with Brazil.  He has also
met with President Fidel Castro to discuss Cuban aid, the
Associated Press relates.

President Chavez has promised to solve in the earliest time
possible the electricity shortage, according to AP.  VOA adds
that the Venezuelan president also disclosed during the meeting
that his country would donate diesel fuel for use by Haiti's
schools and hospitals.

President Chavez said that the Venezuelan government is
developing plans that would provide small loans for Haiti's most
underprivileged sectors, enlarge capacity at some airports and
grant scholarships to Haitian students, the Dominican Today
says.

The agreements to put these plans of assistance into action will
be signed around the time of President Preval's inauguration on
May 14, President Chavez was quoted by the Dominican Today.  It
would be carried out with the help of Cuba.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 12, 2006,
president-elect Preval appealed for urgent international help to
spur development in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country and
called on all Haitians to join in a national dialogue to promote
peace, democracy and stability.

President Preval explained that increased international
assistance is "indispensable" to Haiti's economic recovery, to
create conditions for investment and job creation, to improve
social services, and to reform democratic institutions including
parliament, municipalities, the judicial system, and the
national police.

                       *    *    *

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.



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


* JAMAICA: Inks Natural Gas Supply Pact with Trinidad & Tobago
--------------------------------------------------------------
Prime Ministers Patrick Manning of Trinidad & Tobago and Portia
Simpson Miller of Jamaica inked this week a natural gas supply
agreement, the Trinidad Express reports.

Under the agreement, Jamaica will receive 158 million cubic feet
per day of natural gas from Trinidad.  The first delivery will
begin around 2009 at a fair price.

Minister Manning was quoted by the Express as saying that with
respect to price, "Trinidad and Tobago has committed itself to
use its best efforts to bring about some kind of pricing
arrangement that is mutually acceptable."

Minister Manning enumerated three options available for the
supply of natural gas to Jamaica:

   -- One option was compressed natural gas utilizing a new
      technology that is now demonstrating the potential for an
      economic arrangement between the two countries.

   -- The second option was for a debottlenecking of LNG Train
      IV, which should give additional quantities of gas.

   -- The third option was for the proposed Train X (the next
      Train), which will give Trinidad enough gas to be able to
      commit to a long-term supply to Jamaica.

                        *    *    *

Moody's assigned on Feb. 23, 2006, its B rating on Jamaica.

"The outlook for all ratings is stable, reflecting a balance
between ongoing efforts at fiscal consolidation and the
vulnerability of the country to external shocks," Moody's said.

The agency points to Jamaica's strengths as a commitment to
fiscal discipline, proven ability to face severe shocks and
comparatively low external Government debt ratios.

Among the challenges which Jamaica faces, according to the
rating agency, is a closely managed exchange rate that is
subject to severe recurrent pressures and a large public sector
debt burden with growing exposure to international capital
markets.

The agency notes that the economy as well as the fiscal and
external positions remain sensitive to external and domestic
shocks. It further observes that, "they remain supported by the
Government's commitment to return to a balanced budget position
and by a constitutional provision mandating debt-service
payments as the first expenditure priority."

Moody's, which influences the behaviour of international
institutional investors, says despite Jamaica's recent adverse
external developments and a downturn in the local business
sentiment, "confidence in the medium-term programme and in the
ability of the policymakers has remained somewhat intact, as
evidenced by the relative stability of the foreign exchange
market, notwithstanding some bouts of pressure."



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


CORPORACION GEO: Announces Fin'l Report for First Quarter
---------------------------------------------------------
Corporacion Geo, S.A. de C.V., a builder of lower affordable,
affordable, middle income and residential housing in Latin
America, and the leading homebuilder in Mexico, released its
first quarter 2006 earnings results.  Growth in Operating
Results with Margin expansion, a very good collection and a
historical best return on equity indicator are the highlights of
the first quarter of 2006.  All Figures in Millions of Pesos as
of March 31, 2006.
    
Luis Orvananos, Founder and President of Corporacion Geo,
commented, "First quarter results show that Geo remains on the
right track to achieve profitable and sustainable growth, with
margin expansion offering the best return on equity to our
shareholders. We foresee a great year, and we believe that Geo
will know how to take good advantage of the market opportunities
and keep consolidating itself as a great Company that fulfills
client and investor expectations."
    
For the 19th consecutive quarter, 1Q2006 operating results
observed solid increases in all lines of P&L.  Units sold grew
12.0%, totaling 7,861 homes sold during the quarter, while
Revenues grew 18.6% year-over-year, reaching $2,245.8 million
pesos.  In addition, Gross Profit increased by 18.8% with a
Gross Margin of 26.7%, compared to 26.6% in 1Q2005.  Operating
Profit increased 20.0% with an Operating Margin of 15.8%, versus
15.6% in 1Q2005.
    
At the same time, EBITDA increased by 19.5% in comparison to
1Q2005,with an important Margin expansion moving from 23.0% in
1Q05 to 23.2% in this quarter.  Finally, Net Profit grew by
24.8%, totaling $227.7 million, compared to $182.4 million in
1Q2005, with a Net Margin of 10.1% in 1Q2006.
    
Regarding Financial Structure and according to natural Industry
seasonality, during the first quarter of 2006, Geo generated
US$-1,200.4 million in operating free cash flow, representing an
increase of negative Free Cash Flow of $326.6 million year-over-
year, compared to US$-873.9 million reported in the first
quarter of 2006.
    
The reduction shown in Accounts Receivable this quarter was a
result of the commercial strategy of addressing sales of those
products with the fastest collection.  The Accounts Receivable
to Sales ratio ended the quarter at 38.9%, representing a
decrease of 1.1 percentage points against the 40.0% level of
1Q2005.
    
The increase in Inventories of 26.4% was a result of the land
bank increase made since last quarter to obtain the greatest
fiscal benefits possible and investments made by Geo in the Work
in Process line.  Due to its association with PREI, it becomes
important to assure the growth of the Company for the near
future, which is also in line with the strategy of increasing
production from the beginning of the year.  Cash and Cash
Equivalents showed a increase of 52.9% compared to the first
quarter of 2005, going from $1,214.1 million to $1,856.9 million
pesos in the 1Q2006.  The difference was mainly due to the
Company's operating growth and the better performance at the
collections level.
    
With the purpose of assuring sustainable growth for the coming
years, Geo has invested in Working Capital, as shown in turnover
of Inventories and Inventories plus Accounts Receivable
turnover, ending at 255 days and 328 days, respectively.
    
Following the strategy of investing in the housing construction
process in order to have finished products for the second half
of the year, Net Debt showed an increase of 13.9%, equivalent to
$255.6 million pesos in relation to the first quarter of 2005,
reaching $2,093.6 million pesos versus the $1,838.0 million
pesos reported in 1Q2005, while the Net Debt to Capitalization
ratio was 28.3%, which represents a decrease compared to the
30.1% registered in 1Q2005.
    
The debt risk profile significantly improved during the quarter,
especially considering the fact that U.S.-dollar debt exposure
is less than 2.8% of total financial liabilities.  The
composition of the debt was 65.5% short term and 34.5% long
term.
    
Finally, we inform the market that a detailed, public and
complimentary version of this earnings release is available for
the entire investment community at: http://www.casasgeo.com

Corporacion Geo, S.A. de C.V. -- http://www.casasgeo.comor
http://www.g-homes.com.mx-- specializes in the construction of
affordable low-income housing.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 16, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned a 'BB' corporate
credit rating on Corporacion GEO S.A. de C.V.  The outlook is
stable.  


DESC S.A.: Fitch Upgrades Currency Ratings to B+ from B
-------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Desc S.A.
de C.V.:

   Foreign Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'B'
     -- New RR: 'B+', Rating Outlook Stable

   Local Currency

     -- Previous Rating: 'B'
     -- New RR: 'B+', Rating Outlook Stable

   US$398 million, Senior Secured Debt and IFC B in
   Participations

     -- Previous Rating: 'B+'
     -- New IDR: 'BB-/RR3'


VITRO S.A.: Central American Subsidiary Acquires Panama Firm
------------------------------------------------------------
Vitro, S.A. de C.V., reported that in a joint effort with its
Central American partners and through its subsidiary Empresas
Comegua, S.A. -- commercially known as Grupo Vidriero
Centroamericano aka VICAL -- has completed the acquisition of
the majority of shares of Vidrios Panamenos, S.A., aka VIPASA,
the leading Panama-based glass containers company.

Through this acquisition in which Violy & Co. performed as
financial strategic advisor, VICAL owns approximately 96% of the
VIPASA outstanding shares.

Federico Sada G., Vitro's Chief Executive Officer, said, "This
is an extraordinary opportunity to consolidate Vitro's presence
in the Central American and the Caribbean glass containers
market, and demonstrates our commitment to take advantage of
investment opportunities for our core businesses."

Since 1964 Vitro has been a partner of VICAL, Central America's
and the Caribbean leading glass containers manufacturing company
with production facilities in Guatemala and Costa Rica.  The
company accounts with the most important companies in the region
as customers, mainly serving soda bottling companies, beer, as
well as liquor, food and pharmaceutical industries.

VIPASA is the largest and most important glass containers
company manufacturer for the beverages, liquor, food and
pharmaceutical industries in Panama and exports to more than 15
countries in the American continent.  The company's sales in
2005 reached US$23
million dollars.

Headquartered in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, Vitro, S.A. de C.V. --
http://www.vitro.com/-- (NYSE: VTO; BMV: VITROA), through its
subsidiary companies, is one of the world's leading glass
producers.  Vitro is a major participant in three principal
businesses: flat glass, glass containers and glassware.  Its
subsidiaries serve multiple product markets, including
construction and automotive glass; food and beverage, wine,
liquor, cosmetics and pharmaceutical glass containers; glassware
for commercial, industrial and retail uses.  Vitro also produces
raw materials and equipment and capital goods for industrial
use, which are vertically integrated in the Glass Containers
business unit.

Founded in 1909 in Monterrey, Mexico-based Vitro has joint
ventures with major world-class partners and industry leaders
that provide its subsidiaries with access to international
markets, distribution channels and state-of-the-art technology.
Vitro's subsidiaries have facilities and distribution centers in
eight countries, located in North, Central and South America,
and Europe, and export to more than 70 countries worldwide.

                          *     *     *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on Mar. 27, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its long-term local
and foreign currency corporate credit ratings assigned to glass
manufacturer Vitro S.A. de C.V. and its glass containers
subsidiary Vitro Envases Norteamerica S.A. de C.V. (Vena) to 'B-
' from 'B'.

Standard & Poor's also lowered the long-term national scale
corporate credit rating assigned to Vitro to 'mxBB+' from
'mxBBB-'.  The outlook is negative.

Standard & Poor's also lowered the rating assigned to Vitro's
notes due 2013 and Servicios y Operaciones Financieras Vitro
S.A. de C.V. notes due 2007 (which are guaranteed by Vitro) to
'CCC' from 'CCC+'.  Standard & Poor's also lowered the rating
assigned to Vena's notes due 2011 to 'B-' from 'B'.


VITRO SA: Fitch Upgrades US$170-Mil Notes' Rating to B/RR3
----------------------------------------------------------
In conjunction with the roll out of Issuer Default Ratings and
Recovery Ratings for Latin America Corporates, Fitch Ratings has
taken rating actions on various companies throughout the region.
Approximately US$16.1 billion of debt was affected.

Based on the application of Fitch's IDR and RR criteria as well
as the review of its Latin America international corporate
rating portfolio, below is the rating changes made to Vitro,
S.A. de C.V.:

   US$170 million, Senior Secured Notes due 2011

     -- Previous Rating: 'B-'
     -- New IDR: 'B/RR3'



=================
N I C A R A G U A
=================


* NICARAGUA: Government Inks Oil & Gas Pact with Global Firm
------------------------------------------------------------
The government of Nicaragua has signed oil and gas exploration
and exploitation with the international unit of MKJ Xploration
Inc., Metairie, La., Oil & Gas Journal reports.

OGJ relates that the concessions -- Tyra Bank and Isabel Bank --
will cover two blocks on the Nicaraguan rise in the Caribbean
Sea, each assigned with 988,000 acres of up to 6 years followed
by up to 30 years for production in case of a commercial
discovery.  

According to OGJ, each work program includes:

   -- an environmental study
   -- reprocessing existing seismic and geophysical data
   -- acquiring new 2D and 3D seismic data, and
   -- drilling an exploratory well.

MKJ Xploration will start the exploration as soon as the
government issues permits.

                        *    *    *

Moody's Investor Service assigned these ratings to Nicaragua:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Long Term          Caa1     June 30, 2003
   Senior Unsecured
   Debt                B3      June 30, 2003



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


DORAL FINANCIAL: Approves Cash Dividend on Preferred Stock
----------------------------------------------------------
Doral Financial Corporation, a diversified financial services
company, announced that, at a regularly scheduled meeting held
on April 24, 2005, the Board of Directors approved the regular
monthly cash dividend on the Company's

   -- 7% Noncumulative Monthly Income Preferred Stock, Series A,
      in the amount of US$0.2917 per share;

   -- 8.35% Noncumulative Monthly Income Preferred Stock, Series
      B, in the amount of US$0.1797566 per share; and   

   -- 7.25% Noncumulative Monthly Income Preferred Stock, Series
      C, in the amount of US$0.151042 per share

payable on May 1, 2006, to holders of record as of the close of
business on April 27, 2006, in the case of the Series A
Preferred Stock, and to the holders of record as of the close of
business on April 15, 2006, in the case of the Series B and
Series C Preferred Stock.

The Board of Directors of the Company also approved a quarterly
dividend on the Company's 4.75% perpetual cumulative convertible
preferred stock, in the amount of US$2.96875 per share, payable
on June 15, 2006, to holders of record as of the close of
business on June 1, 2006.

In addition, the Company announced that the Board of Directors
voted to suspend the dividend on the Company's common stock.  
The Board views this suspension as a prudent capital management
decision designed to preserve and strengthen the Company's
capital.

Doral Financial Corporation -- http://www.doralfinancial.com/
-- a financial holding company, is the largest residential
mortgage lender in Puerto Rico, and the parent company of Doral
Bank, a Puerto Rico based commercial bank, Doral Securities, a
Puerto Rico based investment banking and institutional brokerage
firm, Doral Insurance Agency, Inc. and Doral Bank FSB, a federal
savings bank based in New York City.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 27, 2006,
Moody's Investors Service downgraded to B1 from Ba3 the senior
debt ratings of Doral Financial Corporation, and reiterated the
negative rating outlook.  Moody's action follows cease and
desist orders placed by banking regulators on Doral and some of
its subsidiaries, including Doral Bank, San Juan, Puerto
Rico.  When Moody's last downgraded Doral's debt on Oct. 28,
2005, it issued a negative rating outlook, but noted that any
credit deterioration including regulatory consequences or
liquidity issues could result in a review for possible downgrade
or an outright downgrade.


OCA INC: Committee Wants Jenner & Block as Bankruptcy Counsel
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of OCA, Inc., and
its debtor-affiliates asks the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the
Eastern District of Louisiana for authority to employ Jenner &
Block, LLP, as its bankruptcy counsel.

The Committee selected Jenner & Block as its counsel because of
the firm's extensive experience, knowledge and resources in the
areas of insolvency, bankruptcy, creditors' rights and
litigation.  The firm also has extensive experience with
physician practice management insolvency and bankruptcy
proceedings, which is particularly relevant to the Debtors'
cases.

Jenner & Block is expected to:

     a. represent the Committee in any proceedings and hearings
        related to the Debtors' Chapter 11 Cases;

     b. attend meetings and negotiate with representatives of
        the Debtors and other parties in interest;

     c. negotiate with the Debtors and other creditor and equity
        constituencies regarding a plan of reorganization;

     d. advise the Committee of its powers and duties;

     e. advise the Committee regarding matters of bankruptcy
        law;

     f. provide assistance, advice, and representation
        concerning the confirmation of, or objection to, any
        proposed plan;

     g. prosecute and defend litigation matters and other
        matters that might arise during the Debtors' Chapter 11
        cases;

     h. provide counseling and representation with respect to
        assumption or rejection of executory contracts and
        leases, sales of assets, and other bankruptcy-related
        matters arising from these Chapter 11 Cases;

     i. render advice with respect to other legal issues
        relating to the Chapter 11 Cases, including, but not
        limited to, securities, corporate finance, tax, and
        commercial issues;

     j. prepare, on behalf of the Committee, any necessary
        adversary complaints, motions, applications, orders, and
        other legal papers relating to these Chapter 11 Cases;
        and

     k. perform other legal services necessary and appropriate
        for the efficient and economical administration of the
        Debtors' Chapter 11 Cases.

The primary attorneys anticipated to work on this engagement are
Mark K. Thomas, Esq., Michael S. Terrien, Esq., Peter J. Young,
Esq., and Phillip W. Nelson, Esq.

Jenner & Block's hourly billing rates are:

        Professional                           Hourly Rates
        -----------                            ------------
        Mark K. Thomas, Esq.                       $650
        Michael S. Terrein, Esq.                   $515
        Peter J. Young, Esq.                       $325
        Phillip W. Nelson, Esq.                    $250
        Partners                               $410 - $800
        Associates                             $230 - $395
        Paralegals                             $160 - $235
        Project Assistants                     $100 - $130

Mr. Thomas, a partner at Jenner & Block, tells the Bankruptcy
Court that his firm does not hold any interest adverse to the
Debtors' estates or their creditors, and is disinterested as
that term is defined in Section 101(14) of the Bankruptcy Code.

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
$545,220,000 in total assets and $196,337,000 in total debts.


* PUERTO RICO: Government Lays Off Employees Due to Crisis
----------------------------------------------------------
The government of Puerto Rico will lay off nearly 200,000 public
officials due to financial crisis, Gov. Maj. Anibal Acevedo Vila
told Prensa Latina.

Prensa Latina reports that the government employees will be
laid-off for a couple of months because there are no funds for
the public payroll.

Since the legislature controlled by the New Progressive Party
aka PNP refused to approve the 2005-2006 budget, public reserves
have been used up, Gov. Vila informed Prensa Latina.

There has been a conflict between the Executive and Congress in
Puerto Rico, Prensa Latina reveals.  PNP's former Gov. Pedro
Rossello, who lost the position to the present governor during
the November 2004 election, has provoked the Congress to attempt
to de-legitimatize Gov. Vila.

Planning Board President Angel Rodriguez told Prensa Latina that
closing the government for two months would cost the country
about GDP 2.3 million dollars.

The country's unions and other community sectors have disclosed
that they would hold demonstrations, La Prensa reports.



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


BANKBOSTON NA: Banco Itau May Buy Brazil, Chile & Uruguay Units
---------------------------------------------------------------
Banco Itau Holdings Financeira SA, the second largest private
bank in Brazil, may buy the Brazilian, Chilean and Uruguayan
assets of BankBoston NA, according to reports.

Banco Itau has confirmed in a written statement sent to the
Brazilian Securities Commission aka CVM that it is interested in
a possible acquisition of banking properties in Latin America,
particularly in Brazil.

Dow Jones Newswires states that there have been rumors on the
bank's interest in purchasing the assets of BankBoston -- owned
by Bank of America aka BAC -- in the three countries.  

Reports say that BAC will exit Latin America and that Itau is
the buyer of the BankBoston assets, worth US$10.7 billion.  

According to Agencia Estado, the sale price could reach US$1.18
billion -- about 2.8 times BankBoston's equity of BRL907
million.

Business News Americas recalls that BAC unloaded its BankBoston
unit in Argentina in December to a consortium led by
Johannesburg-based Standard Bank Group and local families
Werthein and Sielecki for some US$180 million after selling
subsidiaries in Colombia, Peru and Panama.

BankBoston said in its Web site that its Latin American units
include:

     -- BankBoston in Brazil, with more than 60 branches, 3,900
        employees and a total of US$6.3 billion in assets;

     -- BankBoston Chile, established in 1979 and is the fourth
        largest foreign bank in the country with US$2.1 billion
        in assets and 43 banking centers; and

     -- BankBoston in Uruguay, with US$708 million in assets, 15
        offices and 400 employees.

According to press reports, BAC was in an advanced stage of
talks to sell its BankBoston properties in the three countries,
naming Banco Itau as the main suitor.  The reports said the sale
of BankBoston to Itau for as much as US$3 billion could be
announced in the next few days.

A Brazilian banking analyst told BNamericas that Banco Itau
could swap US$3 billion in preferred shares to acquire the Bank
of America subsidiaries.

Rafael Quintanilha from Agora Senior, a Brazilian brokerage
company, told BNamericas that Banco Itau would discuss the
purchase during a shareholders' meeting on Wednesday.

Financial daily Valor Economico reports that the deal would also
include the BankBoston private banking branch in Miami, saying
the offer could amount to 8% to 10% of Banco Itau's total
capital.

Mr. Quintanilha was quoted by BNamericas saying that the deal
consolidates Banco Itau's position among high-income clients.  
According to him, the local bank should have little difficulty
holding on to existing BankBoston clients, with its quality
products and a greater range of products including insurance and
pension plans.

Banco Itau would solidify its hold in the Latin American markets
but would still be a small to medium-sized firm compared to the
larger US and Spanish banks in the region, Quintanilha told
BNamericas.  To compete directly with those foreign banks, Banco
Itau would have to team up with a local bank or with another
foreign bank in Chile or Uruguay.

Valor Economico relates that BAC would appoint an executive to
Banco Itau's board and have the option to increase its
participation in the Brazilian bank within the next couple of
years.

Valor Economico adds that the BankBoston brand name would not be
included in the deal and would remain property of BAC.

Banco Itau, however, did not specifically confirm nor deny talks
with BankBoston, Dow Jones relates.  Itau only said in a
statement that the bank was effectively exploring options to
expand operations in the Brazil, Uruguay and Chile markets.

Banco Itau explained to Dow Jones that at this time any
announcements would be premature as there is no agreement or
contract ready to be signed with anyone.

A BAC spokesman gave no comments to Dow Jones regarding the
reports.

Reports also said that Banco Bradesco SA aka BBD and Spain's
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA aka BBV are also interested
in the BankBoston operations.

                        *    *    *

As reported by the Troubled Company Reporter on March 9, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned a 'BB' currency
credit rating on Banco Itau S.A.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on July 20, 2005,
Moody's Investors Service has withdrawn all ratings for
BankBoston NA (Brazil), BankBoston Banco Multiplo S.A., and
BankBoston Latino Americano S.A, for business reasons.

The combined operations of BankBoston in Brazil had total assets
of US$8.1 billion in March 31, 2005.

These ratings were withdrawn:

  -- BankBoston Banco Multiplo S.A.

     Bank Financial Strength Rating: D+, with stable outlook

     Long-term and short-term foreign currency deposit rating:
     B2/Not Prime, with positive outlook

     Long-term and short-term foreign currency bond rating:
     Ba2/Not Prime, with positive outlook

  -- BankBoston, N.A. (Brazil)

     Long-term foreign currency deposit rating: B2, with
     positive outlook

     Short-term foreign currency deposit rating: Not Prime, with
     stable outlook

  -- BankBoston Latino Americano S.A,

     Senior Unsecured MTN Program: Ba3, with positive outlook

     Other short-term: Not Prime, with stable outlook

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on Jul 4, 2005,
Moody's Investors Service upgraded the long-term foreign
currency deposit rating to Caa1 from Caa2 for BankBoston, N.A.
(Argentina) following Moody's upgrade of Argentina's foreign
currency ceiling for bank deposits to Caa1. All the ratings have
a stable outlook.


* URUGUAY: Will Seek Equity in Trade Relations with US & Mexico
---------------------------------------------------------------
Uruguay's President Tabare Vazquez will seek equity in trade
relations with Mexico and the United States, Prensa Latina
reports.

According to Prensa Latina, the Uruguayan president has left the
country to meet with his Mexican and US counterparts,
accompanied by Foreign Minister Reinaldo Gargano and Industry
and Energy Minister Jorge Lepra.

Prensa Latina relates that President Vazquez would first meet
with Mexico's President Vicent Fox to review the integration and
trade relations between the two countries.  The meeting with US
President George W. Bush would follow on May 4, at the White
House.

President Vazquez will demand that the US implement what it asks
from other countries and stop subsidizing more than 300 products
that affect Uruguayan exports, sources close to the Uruguayan
government revealed to Prensa Latina.

The Uruguayan leader said he would not sign a free trade
agreement with the US and that it is not even on the
government's agenda, Prensa Latina reports.

                        *    *    *

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

                        *    *    *

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
=================


PETROLEOS DE VENEZUELA: Pequiven Buys 47.2% Stake in Monomeros
--------------------------------------------------------------
Petroquimica de Venezuela SA or Pequiven, a subsidiary of state
oil holding Petroleos de Venezuela, has bought a 47.2% stake in
Colombian firm, Monomeros SA, for US$53.7 million.

"Pequiven bought it all," Isaac Yanovich, Monomeros' president
was quoted by El Universal as saying, to explain the sharing of
Colombian state companies Ecopetrol and IFI, a financing agency
in the process of winding up.

Based in Cartagena, Colombia, Monomeros SA manufactures, among
others, raw materials for fertilizers, agricultural chemicals
and nylon.

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, 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.


PETROLEOS DE VENEZUELA: Resumes Operations at Cardon Refinery
-------------------------------------------------------------
Cardon del Centro de Refinacion Paraguana -- the oil refinery of
state-run firm Petroleos de Venezuela aka PDVSA -- has now
resumed 90% of its operations after a power outage two weeks
ago.

The plant has a capacity of 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

According to Alejandro Granado in a statement, the Refining
Vice-President of state oil holding PDVSA, the occurrence could
delay shipments of products for one or two days.  However, he
ensured that exports would not be adversely affected.

The facilities located in western Falcon state reduced
operations following a burst and an electrical fault earlier
this month, El Universal relates.  A number of explosions, fires
and accidents have damaged recently the Complex, with a joint
capacity of 940,000 bpd.

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, 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.


* VENEZUELA: Finalizes Petrocaribe Oil-Supply Pact with Haiti
-------------------------------------------------------------
Haiti's president-elect Rene Preval met with Venezuela's
President Hugo Chavez in Caracas on Monday to finalize Haiti's
inclusion in the Petrocaribe oil-supply agreement, the
Associated Press reports.  

Under the Petrocaribe program, the Caribbean nations will be
supplied crude and pay only a portion of the oil bill upfront
and finance the remainder through low-interest loans over 25
years.  The program also offers financing for fuel shipments to
13 Caribbean nations, AP states.

Some countries will be allowed to pay partly in goods, President
Chavez was quoted by AP saying.

Haiti has been burdened by the rising prices of oil, AP reports.  
Many of its communities have little or no electricity due to a
lack of fuel needed to run the country's aging power grid.  

To help cope with high energy prices, Mr. Preval had disclosed
plans to refine sugar cane into fuel with Brazil.  He has also
met with President Fidel Castro to discuss Cuban aid, AP
relates.

President Chavez has promised to solve in the earliest time
possible the electricity shortage, according to AP.  VOA adds
that the Venezuelan president also disclosed during the meeting
that his country would donate diesel fuel for use by Haiti's
schools and hospitals.

President Chavez, says the Dominican Today, said that the
Venezuelan government is developing plans that would provide
small loans for Haiti's most underprivileged sectors, enlarge
capacity at some airports and grant scholarships to Haitian
students.

The agreements to put these plans of assistance into action will
be signed around the time of President Preval's inauguration on
May 14, President Chavez told the Dominican Today.  It would be
carried out with the help of Cuba.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 12, 2006,
president-elect Preval appealed for urgent international help to
spur development in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country and
called on all Haitians to join in a national dialogue to promote
peace, democracy and stability.

President Preval explained that increased international
assistance is "indispensable" to Haiti's economic recovery, to
create conditions for investment and job creation, to improve
social services, and to reform democratic institutions including
parliament, municipalities, the judicial system, and the
national police.

                       *    *    *

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: Joins Mercosur Trade Bloc
--------------------------------------
President Hugo Chavez told the Associated Press that Venezuela
is pushing forward with its plan to join the Mercosur trade bloc
after it has decided to withdraw from the Andean Community
Nations, a South American trade bloc.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on April 24, President
Chavez 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.

He 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 reported.

"Now that Colombia has signed a free trade agreement with the
U.S. and Peru has done so a few days ago, now it truthfully is
dead," President Chavez told AP.

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

According to the president, the pacts that the other Andean
nations have inked with the United States would swamp the region
with cheap imports and destroy the local industries.  He
criticized the idea of a Free Trade Area in the Americas, which
was proposed by the U.S., and agreed with Cuba's President Fidel
Castro in a "Bolivarian Alternative" trade pact, which is based
on socialist principles.

After disclosing Venezuela's withdrawal from the Andean
community, President Chavez has prepared his country in joining
as the fifth member of the Mercosur trade bloc, which has
complicated entry requirements.  The said trade bloc was founded
in 1991.  

For Venezuela to become a full member of Mercosur, it has to
agree to the following:

   -- broad common tariff policy that regulates imports and
      exports,

   -- common arbitration for settling trade disputes with other
      Mercosur members, and

   -- align its trade policies with the rest of the bloc.

Other members of the trade bloc already welcomed Venezuela as a
member in principle during a summit in Uruguay in December.

However, not everybody is happy with Venezuela's imminent
membership in Mercosur.  Cattle and farming associations in the
country have voiced their concerns, declaring that the entry
would leave them powerless to compete with cheap and Brazilian
imports.  In response, President Chavez said that it was already
decided the previous year.

                     *    *    *

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


* VENEZUELA: Ratifies Withdrawal from Andean Trade Bloc
-------------------------------------------------------
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez ratified his withdrawal from
the Andean Community of Nations aka CAN after President Alvaro
Uribe of Colombia decided to continue negotiating a free trade
deal with the US, Prensa Latina reports.

Prensa Latina recalls that President Chavez said he would
reconsider his country's withdrawal from CAN if Colombia and
Peru would halt trade negotiations with Washington.

Venezuela Light Industry and Trade Minister Maria Cristina
Iglesias explained to Prensa Latina that her country's
withdrawal would not mean that her country would halt trade
relations with Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

Venezuela has decided to look at the South, leave colonialism
behind and trust integration and the people's economic capacity,
Ms. Iglesias said in an interview by the Venezuelan En Confianza
TV channel.

                        *    *    *

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.

                        *    *    *

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.


* LATIN AMERICA: Fitch Launches IDR & Recovery Ratings
------------------------------------------------------
Fitch Ratings has assigned Issuer Default Ratings and Recovery
Ratings for its Latin America Corporate coverage.  In addition,
Fitch has made rating changes on a number of Latin America debt
issuances.  Fitch began to roll out IDRs and RRs in the second
half of 2005 to enhance the informational value of our ratings
for investors worldwide.  Within the framework developed by
Fitch, the ratings of corporate debt issuances now reflect both
the probability of default, as measured by a company's IDR, and
recovery.

"IDRs and recovery-based issue ratings represent the next
generation of credit ratings," said Daniel R. Kastholm, Managing
Director and head of Fitch's Latin American Corporate group.
"Within the framework developed by Fitch, the ratings of Latin
America corporate debt issuances now reflect both the
probability of default and expected recovery."

Fitch began the process of rolling out IDRs and RRs in the
second half of 2005 to enhance the informational value of its
ratings for investors worldwide.

An IDR reflects the ability of an issuer to meet all of its
financial obligations on a timely basis, effectively becoming
the benchmark probability of default.  For most Latin American
corporates, Fitch assigns both a local currency IDR and a
foreign currency IDR.  The former rating addresses the default
probability of a company's debt obligations that are denominated
in its local currency.  This rating captures the idiosyncratic
default risk, or underlying credit risk of a company, which is
closely linked to its capital structure and business position.  
The latter rating, the FC IDR, indicates the default probability
of a corporate on the debt that it has issued in a hard
currency.  The FC IDR reflects the higher of two risks:

  -- either the risk of idiosyncratic default by the issuer or
  -- the risk that an issuer will default on foreign currency
     obligations due to sovereign-imposed currency controls.

Securities in a Latin American issuer's capital structure will
be rated higher, lower, or the same as the IDR on the basis of
their relative recovery prospects.  Debt issuances by Latin
American companies whose FC IDRs and LC IDRs were equal
(unconstrained by the country ceiling) were notched from the FC
IDR based upon aggregate market information for recovery levels
associated with debt instruments of different priority and
security, as well as by overlaying jurisdictional recovery
rating limits

For select top-tier Latin America companies which had
significantly higher LC IDRs than their country ceiling
constrained FC IDRs, the application of Fitch's recovery
criteria resulted in assigning issue ratings above the related
corporate FC IDR to reflect higher levels of expected recovery
on average given the lower risk of idiosyncratic default.

"The data shows that extremely strong companies operating in
riskier environments tend to have better ultimate recovery
prospects then companies with poor business positions," said Joe
Bormann, Senior Director.  "As a result of incorporating
recovery into specific issue ratings, several of these unique
players received ratings above their corporate FC IDR to reflect
higher levels of expected recovery, on average, given default
when caused by a systemic risk event such as a sovereign or
external liquidity crisis."

As part of the process of applying Fitch's IDR and Recovery
Rating criteria, Fitch reviewed the long-term foreign and local
currency ratings of all of the internationally-rated Latin
America Corporates.  As a result of this review, and using
Fitch's existing criteria for rating corporates above the
country ceiling, Fitch assigned several FC IDRs on Latin
American Corporates, primarily in Brazil, above the country
ceiling reflecting both the ability and the willingness of each
of these companies to keep current on their foreign currency
debt obligations, even in the event of sovereign imposed
transfer and convertibility restrictions on foreign debt
service.

While Fitch continually evaluates and stress tests the
durability of corporates to withstand a T&C event, the
combination of better capital structures and debt profiles, an
improving macroeconomic environment, particularly in Brazil, and
a more favorable view of medium to long term commodity prices
has allowed several of these companies to meet this test for the
first time, enabling their FC IDRs to pierce the country
ceiling.  Brazilian Companies affected were:

   -- Alcoa Aluminio,
   -- AmBev,
   -- Aracruz,
   -- Braskem,
   -- CSN,
   -- CST (now part of Arcelor Brazil),
   -- CVRD,
   -- Gerdau Acominas,
   -- Gerdau S.A.,
   -- Petrobras,
   -- Samarco, and
   -- Votorantim;

some of these entities had previously pierced the country
ceiling.

In addition and during the process of phasing out the local
currency unsecured debt rating, certain companies whose credit
profile was considered strong for the previous rating category
were given LC IDR's above their former LC unsecured debt rating,
primarily in Argentina, including the following companies:

   -- PAE,
   -- Telecom Argentina,
   -- Telecom Personal,
   -- Telefonica,
   -- Telefonica Holding,
   -- TGS and
   -- YPF.

                        ***********


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 photocopying) is strictly prohibited without
prior written permission of the publishers.

Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed
to be reliable, but is not guaranteed.

The TCR Latin America subscription rate is $575 per half-year,
delivered via e-mail.  Additional e-mail subscriptions for
members of the same firm for the term of the initial
subscription or balance thereof are $25 each.  For subscription
information, contact Christopher Beard at 240/629-3300.


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