Author Archive

Argentina Sale Seen by Goldman as Buoying Informal Peso

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Katia Porzecanski

Argentina’s first dollar-linked bond sale in at least a decade may help shore up the peso in the nation’s informal currency markets, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The Economy Ministry said in a statement Oct. 17 that the government will take offers for as much as $1 billion of two-year securities Oct. 23-28. The bonds will be denominated in dollars and pay holders in pesos at the official exchange rate, with annual interest of 1.75 percent. Argentina hasn’t sold debt in international markets since defaulting on a record $95 billion in 2001.

The securities, which will be sold locally, offer protection against a peso devaluation and are being offered as the government tightens controls on informal currency markets. Mauro Roca, a Goldman Sachs economist, said today in a research note to clients that the sale will help strengthen the peso in the so-called ... Read More

UN Human Rights Chief Calls on Venezuela to Free Lopez & Protestors

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Latin American Herald Tribune

GENEVA — The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed serious concern on Monday at the continued detention of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, as well as more than 69 other people who were arrested in the context of public protests that took place across Venezuela over several months starting in February this year.

“The prolonged and arbitrary detention of political opponents and protestors in Venezuela is causing more and more concern internationally,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “It is only exacerbating the tensions in the country.”

According to information received by the UN Human Rights Office, over 3,300 people, including minors, were detained for brief periods between February and June, and more than 150 cases of ill-treatment, many of them torture, were reported. At least 43 people were killed during the protests, including one public prosecutor and nine members of the security forces. Journalists and human rights defenders ... Read More

Brazilian Poll Shows Rousseff Gaining Momentum as Election Nears

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

(Reuters) RIO DE JANEIRO — President Dilma Rousseff gained steam but remained locked in a dead heat for votes with challenger Aecio Neves ahead of Brazil’s Oct. 26 presidential runoff, an opinion poll showed on Monday.

Rousseff had 45.5 percent of voter support versus 44.5 percent for Neves, according to the survey by polling firm MDA, its first since the election’s first-round vote on Oct. 5. The difference between the two is statistically insignificant because it is within the poll’s margin of error.

Excluding undecided voters, spoiled and blank survey responses, Rousseff has 50.5 percent against 49.5 percent for Rousseff.

Recent surveys by the more closely watched Datafolha and the Ibope pollsters showed Neves slightly ahead of Rousseff, but within the surveys’ margin of error.

Still Monday’s poll echoed indications in the last ... Read More

Federal police take control of 13 towns in Mexico

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By Maria Versa

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Federal police have taken control of 13 municipalities in southern Mexico where local police are suspected of links to organized crime and possibly to the case of 43 missing students, a top official said.

The municipalities are all within a roughly 125-mile (200-kilometer) radius of Iguala, the town where the students from a rural teachers’ college disappeared more than three weeks ago after a confrontation with police. Twelve of the municipalities are in Guerrero state and one is in Mexico state. Among them are the tourist destinations of Taxco and Ixtapan de la Sal.

National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said Sunday night that authorities investigating the disappearance of the students found “irregularities” and “presumed links to organized crime” in the 13 municipal police forces.

Federal police have assumed control of public security in the municipalities, the police chiefs have been sent to a ... Read More

Colombia police arrest Venezuelan troops after illegal border crossing

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Colombia Reports

By Craig Corbett

Five members of the Venezuelan military were arrested on Sunday morning after illegally crossing into Colombia.

The armed troops allegedly crossed into La Parada in North East Colombia by mistake, and were attempting to return to Venezuela when they were stopped and arrested by Colombian police.

Local police had been notified by concerned locals, who witnessed the truck containing armed Venezuelan troops crossing the border via the Simon Bolivar International bridge.

Representatives from Colombia migration authorities said the five Venezuelans “entered Colombian territory without realizing that had crossed the border, at a time when conducting an inspection in the town of Ureña in Venezuela.”

The troops were escorted to migration authorities in Cucuta. Police and government authorities were met by Venezuelan representatives to discuss the issue, and to negotiate the troop’s release.

Venezuelan authorities released a statement saying that “thanks to the timely intervention of the Colombian law enforcement a problem was avoided and delivery ... Read More

Maduro supporters, foes stage rival protests in polarized Venezuela

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) – Red-clad “Chavistas” rallied in central Caracas on Saturday to protest the killing of a young ruling party lawmaker, while across town a protest called by the opposition’s new leader failed to attract as big a crowd.

The government says the stabbing to death of the 27-year old Robert Serra in his home earlier this month is part of a wider plot by an elitist, self-interested opposition to bring down Venezuela’s socialist experiment, created by beloved late president Hugo Chavez.

“Do you know why they killed Robert Serra?,” President Nicolas Maduro said at the rally in front of a podium emblazoned with the slogan “Against terrorism”.

“To silence us! The right-wing fascists are scared of young rebels, young revolutionaries,” said Maduro, clad in a yellow, blue and red Venezuelan tracksuit.

Several arrests have been made in Serra’s case, including one of his bodyguards. Maduro has also blamed Colombian paramilitaries, although some ... Read More

Caribbean nationals join forces with ISIS

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Martine Powers


When Shane Crawford calls his mother for a weekly phone chat, their conversation centers on family, on how much he misses her and on her latest bout of computer woes.

What they don’t talk about: How he spends his days as a member of the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Crawford, 28, has been in Syria since November fighting for ISIS, under the adopted name “Asadullah.”

“This is his choice,” Joan Crawford told the Miami Herald in an interview this week about her son’s decision to join ISIS. “Nobody is going to love him less for his decision.”

As the jihadist group gains membership and traction after beheading hostages, including Pinecrest journalist Steve Sotloff, and capturing large portions of Syria and Iraq, intelligence agencies are finding that its cultural pull stretches to the Caribbean, which has struggled with militant activities.

Related Galleries Related Stories Related Blogs Related Links

Shane Crawford, who grew ... Read More

Argentina Planning $1 Billion Dollar-Linked Bond Sale

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Katia Porzecanski

Argentina plans to sell as much as $1 billion of dollar-linked bonds this month, the first sale of its kind by the sovereign in at least a decade.

The country, which hasn’t sold debt in international markets since defaulting on a record $95 billion in 2001, will take offers on the two-year local securities beginning Oct. 23, the Economy Ministry said in a statement Oct. 17. The bonds will be denominated in dollars and pay holders in pesos at the official exchange rate, with an annual interest rate of 1.75 percent. The sale will close Oct. 28.

The securities offer protection against a peso devaluation and are being sold as the government tightens controls on informal currency markets. Argentines who can’t or don’t want to get government permission to access U.S. currency pay as much as 73 percent more for dollars in the black market.

“Despite the capital gains in pesos ... Read More

Scandal Over Brazilian Oil Company Adds Turmoil to the Presidential Race

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By Simon Romero

RIO DE JANEIRO — Paulo Roberto Costa was living an oilman’s dream.

He had a house in a luxurious gated community here. He bought a yacht and drove an armored Range Rover. He had more than $25 million stashed in bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

But that dream evaporated recently when the police arrested Mr. Costa and charged him with orchestrating a bribery scheme on an epic scale at Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil company, and funneling the proceeds to the governing Workers Party and its allies while enriching himself.

The case has presented a major challenge to President Dilma Rousseff, who is in a bitter re-election fight against Aécio Neves, a centrist who has been gaining momentum as the vote next Sunday approaches.

With ... Read More

Falling oil prices put pressure on Russia, Iran and Venezuela

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Editorial Board

THE SILVER lining in the recent financial market turbulence has been the continued decline in the price of oil, which is down about 25 percent since June. In addition to creating a windfall for U.S. consumers — one analysis reckoned the savings could amount to $600 per household — the drop, if sustained, will place considerable pressure on three problematic petrostates: Russia, Iran and Venezuela. The aggressively anti-American foreign policies pursued by all three countries in recent years have been financed in large part by soaring oil revenue.

Though separated by culture and continent, the regimes of Vladi­mir Putin, Ali Khamenei and Nicolás Maduro have in common autocratic government and ambitions to dominate their regions. More than half of their state budgets come from petroleum exports, and their spending plans depend on high prices: $100 a barrel in the case of Russia, $120 for Venezuela and $140 for ... Read More

Venezuela Vulnerable to Oil’s Fall

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Sara Schaefer Muñoz and Ezequiel Minaya

CARACAS—This week’s plummeting world oil prices are throwing into doubt financial stability in Venezuela, which relies on the commodity for most of its income.

Oil exporters from Russia to Iran are suffering with the lowest crude oil prices since June 2012. But few are as vulnerable as Venezuela, where a free-spending populist government had already been grappling with a recession, widespread shortages, and massive protests earlier this year.

The price of the Venezuelan barrel—heavier and more expensive to process than Middle East oil—fell to $77.65 on Friday, the lowest price since late 2010. The price drop was due to “ample” supply and weakening worldwide demand, the ministry said in its weekly oil price report Friday. Venezuelan oil has now tumbled nearly $15 since early September.

“We were already in a critical and precarious situation with oil prices ... Read More

Mexico students: Guerreros Unidos gang leader ‘arrested’

| October 18th, 2014 | No Comments »

Mexican authorities say they have captured the suspected leader of a criminal gang allegedly involved in the disappearance of 43 students.Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado is said to be the main leader of the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) gang.

The students, from a teaching college near Iguala in western Guerrero state, were last seen being bundled into police vehicles three weeks ago.

It came during clashes with police during a demonstration.

There have been demonstrations in support of the students across Mexico.

Mexico’s attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam said the arrest would open up new lines of investigation into what had happened to the students.

He added that 36 police officers and 27 members of Guerreros Unidos had already been arrested.

The mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, is also being sought by police on organised crime charges along with his police chief.

The congress in the state of Guerrero has impeached the mayor.

On Friday, thousands of protesters marched ... Read More

Pacific Rubiales Gains on Pact With for Mexican Ventures

| October 18th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Andrew Willis

Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. (PREC) signed an agreement with Petroleos Mexicanos to study oil and natural gas ventures as Mexico opens its energy sector to private investment for the first time in 76 years.

The Bogota- and Toronto-listed company entered into a three-year arrangement with state-owned Pemex to analyze potential projects including deep-water and onshore heavy oil ventures, Pacific Rubiales said today in a statement. The shares fell 1.7 percent to 29,200 pesos at the close of trading in Bogota after earlier surging as much as 7.9 percent.

“We expect Mexico will be a significant driver of future growth for Pacific Rubiales,” Chief Executive Officer Ronald Pantin said in the statement.

The former Petroleos de Venezuela SA executive is looking to Mexico’s energy liberalization for diversification as production growth slows at the company’s Colombian fields. Pacific Rubiales has more than $1 billion ready to invest in ... Read More

Obama to allow 100,000 Haitians into America without a visa

| October 18th, 2014 | No Comments »

Calling it “an irresponsible overreach of the executive branch’s authority,” Senator Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is criticizing an executive order issued by the president that would allow at least 100,000 Haitian nationals into the United States to be “reunited with their families.”

Washington Times:

“Which countries are next on President Obama’s list?” Mr. Grassley said. “Will there by medical screenings before entry? Will work permits be granted automatically? How will this affect American workers?”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that handles immigration benefits cases, announced Friday the program to unite Haitians already living in the U.S. with family members abroad will ramp up in 2015.

At that time the State Department’s National Visa Center will begin notifying families who may be eligible to take part in the program. Those immigrants will allowed to apply for work ... Read More

Conservatives gaining force in Brazil Congress

| October 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — With its Carnival reputation and skin-baring beach life, Brazil may look like a liberal bastion. But unease over a worsening economy and deteriorating public safety, plus a backlash against recent gay-rights gains, are propelling a conservative rise that will shape the next administration, regardless of who wins the presidency.

The general election held earlier this month saw a greater share of Brazil’s National Congress seats go to various conservative caucuses, which now control nearly 60 percent of the 513 seats in the lower house. They include evangelical lawmakers who oppose gay marriage or access to abortion; the “ruralistas” whose pro-agriculture positions counter environmentalists and indigenous groups; and a law-and-order faction that demands a crackdown on crime.

Ahead of the presidential runoff Oct. 26, there’s no doubt such conservatives are giving greater support to center-right challenger Aecio Neves ... Read More

Argentina Black Market Proving Irresistible to Tourists

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Charlie Devereux and Lucia Baldomir

Ana Laura Estefania, a 29-year-old Uruguayan, decided to vacation with her family in Buenos Aires last month after the tumble in the Argentine peso made everything from eating out to hotels more affordable.

“We wanted to go somewhere with my parents and all the family,” Estefania, the owner of a publishing company, said by telephone from Uruguay’s capital of Montevideo. “Buenos Aires is close and we thought it would be cheaper because of the exchange rate. Eating is cheap, transport is cheap, accommodation is cheap, everything is much cheaper.”

Like many of the tourists traveling to Argentina, Estefania turned to the illegal black market to take advantage of the peso’s plunge after the nation defaulted in July. There, the local currency costs 73 percent less to obtain than at the official exchange rate. That’s depriving the central bank of the dollars tourists are bringing into the country ... Read More

Chile Policy Makers Signal Rate Cut May Be Last in Current Cycle

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Javiera Quiroga

Chilean policy makers signaled that yesterday’s benchmark interest rate cut may be the last in the current cycle following eight reductions in 13 months.

Policy makers, led by bank President Rodrigo Vergara, reduced the overnight rate a quarter point to 3 percent, as forecast by 19 of 22 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Three analysts expected no change in the rate.

The central bank removed a reference to evaluating the convenience of further reductions in a statement accompanying yesterday’s decision, while reiterating its commitment to meeting the 3 percent inflation target. They also said that previous rate cuts were having an impact on credit conditions, even as the economy grew at the slowest pace in more than four years.

“The bias is now clearly neutral,” said Andres Osorio, an economist at Credicorp Capital in Santiago. “More reductions in the short term are highly unlikely.”

The economic slowdown has proved longer and deeper than ... Read More

Ibovespa Climbs as Petrobras Rallies After Presidential Debate

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Filipe Pacheco

The Ibovespa rose for the first time in three days as Senator Aecio Neves’s performance in yesterday’s presidential debate bolstered speculation he’ll win election and reduce intervention in state-run companies.

Government-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA contributed the most to the equity gauge’s gain, rallying as crude oil advanced. Meatpacker Marfrig Global Foods SA climbed after Standard & Poor’s raised its credit rating one step to B+. Marisa Lojas SA declined after Deutsche Bank AG cut its recommendation to sell from hold.

The Ibovespa added 1 percent to 54,816.88 at 10:41 a.m. in Sao Paulo, paring its drop this week to 0.8 percent. The real gained 0.5 percent to 2.4605 per dollar. West Texas Intermediate crude added 0.3 percent to $82.91 a barrel.

Brazil’s benchmark equity index has rallied 22 percent from this year’s low in March on speculation that President Dilma Rousseff will be voted out of office as the ... Read More

Venezuela’s Election to UN Security Council Can’t Hide Its Weakness

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Ben Cohen

The good news is that Turkey didn’t manage to get itself elected to the UN Security Council. The bad news is that Venezuela did, as was expected. So come January, the chavista regime will have an unprecedented say in world affairs for a two-year term as one of the Security Council’s non-permanent members.

This marks the fifth time in the UN’s brief history that Venezuela will serve on the Council. The last occasion was in 1992-93, when its representative was Ambassador Diego Arria, who distinguished himself by highlighting the genocide then raging in Bosnia, and by speaking out on behalf of human rights more generally. Two decades later, the situation has flipped entirely–the current crop of genocidaires, rogue states, and terrorists, particularly in the Middle East, will discover to their satisfaction that there are few friends more loyal than Venezuela’s present rulers.

As Arria himself pointed out in a recent ... Read More

Colombia gang ‘behind Venezuela lawmaker Serra’s murder’

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says a Colombian paramilitary group was behind the killing of a governing party lawmaker and his partner on 1 October.

Robert Serra and Maria Herrera were stabbed to death in Caracas.

Mr Maduro said Mr Serra’s bodyguard had confessed to conspiring with a Colombian gang to kill the member of the National Assembly.

The president also said that there had been a series of attempts to kill other top socialist party officials.

‘Incriminating footage’

Mr Maduro had previously blamed “ultra-right” opposition groups in Venezuela and in neighbouring Colombia for the murder.

In a news conference on Wednesday he gave more details of the evidence he said had emerged since.

He played an out-of-focus video of a man apparently confessing to the murder. In it, the man said that he was convinced by someone he refers to as “the Colombian” to “get rid” of Mr Serra.

A surveillance video showed four men entering ... Read More

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