It's a fund-raising tool with some sharp edges to poke fun at Lopez Obrador's rivals. The word "pan" in Spanish means bread, but it's also the acronym for Calderon's conservative National Action Party or PAN.

It's also a slap at Mexican businessman Lorenzo Servitaje, the founder of baking giant Grupo Bimbo. He is one of several wealthy businessmen whom Lopez Obrador accused of helping rig the election for Calderon. (Lopez Obrador's allegations of vote fraud were rejected by an independent election tribunal.)

A loaf of Pan Mi General costs about $1.36, but Lopez Obrador has some disclosure issues of his own. The packaging doesn't contain nutritional information or an expiration date.

Posted by Marla Dickerson in Mexico City


Can't Chile and Bolivia just get along?

Might a thaw be developing in the more than century-long Cold War between Chile and Bolivia?

That was the talk following a historic ceremony in the northern Chilean town of Calama, part of the vast stretch of mineral-rich territory annexed from Bolivia following the War of the Pacific (1879-1884), a bloody conflict little remembered outside the region.

Bolivia's humiliating loss cost the country its access to the coast, leaving the nation landlocked and its leaders perennially pining for a corridor to the sea.

In an act of conciliation, military brass from both nations paid homage Tuesday to Eduardo Abaroa, a Bolivian defender who refused to give up as Chilean forces approached. According to legend, Abaroa declared: ``Me, surrender? Let your grandmother surrender!''

Abaroa was killed in the ensuing battle, and has remained a potent symbol of Bolivia's desire to recoup its lost coastal access. New bilateral talks on the issue are expected to begin next month.

Posted by Patrick J. McDonnell in Buenos Aires


Mystery of the missing pollster

There's been a news black-out in Guatemala over the kidnap and release of one of the country's leading political pollsters, Emilio Arroyave, earlier this month.

Arroyave, of the polling firm Vox Latina, is doing work for the newspaper Prensa Libre in advance of September's presidential election. He issued a national poll March 30 showing center-left candidate Alvaro Colom, of the UNE party, with a 10-point lead over retired Gen. Otto Perez Molina of the conservative Patriot Party.

Two days later, he was snatched and held for two days. He was released unharmed after his family paid about $5,000, according to the editor of Prensa Libre.

The lack of news stories has fueled speculation over the motive of his captors: whether financial, or political dirty tricks. Prensa Libre editor Gonzalo Marroquin says the kidnappers didn't know Arroyave; only that he was driving a BMW.

Arroyave was too traumatized to talk, said a family spokeswoman. Marroquin promised more details Thursday during a visit to Mexico City.

Posted by Sam Enriquez and Carlos Martinez in Mexico City


A refinery in Central America's future?

Mexican President Felipe Calderon is talking energy with heads of state of eight Central American countries at this week's reunion of members of the Plan Puebla Panama in Mexico's Campeche state. Known by its initials PPP, the project seeks to stimulate trade and attract investment to impoverished southern Mexico and the nations of Central America.

The plan has gotten off to slow start since it was hatched in 2004, but leaders say they are committed to integrating economies of the region. One of their priorities is building a petroleum refinery somewhere in Central America to provide cheaper, more reliable supplies of fuel to Mexico's oil-starved neighbors.

Mexico's national daily El Universal today reported that four companies - Reliance Industries Ltd., China National Petroleum Corp., Valero Energy Corp. and Itochu Corp. - have expressed interest in bidding on the project.

Posted by Marla Dickerson in Mexico City