Archive for the ‘Argentina’ Category

Argentina considers crackdown on street protests

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

Argentina’s populist government is proposing a crackdown on street protests amid increasing unrest over the souring economy. The new rules dismayed many of its natural allies Thursday, who called it a worrisome retreat after a decade of permissive policing.

Governing party lawmaker Carlos Kunkel wrote the proposed law at the request of President Cristina Fernandez.

It would require every protest’s leader to notify police 48 hours in advance, describing the place, duration and goal of any demonstration. It would be illegal to block traffic, including public services and the circulation of vehicles and people. Anyone who broke the rules would be forcibly removed.

However, the police officers doing the evicting would not be allowed to carry firearms, and no protesters would be removed until a government official was given two hours to negotiate a resolution.

“It seems reasonable to seek some way of establishing how you can demonstrate, and to see what we’ll do ... Read More

Latin America the World’s Most Violent Region

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon


Latin America is now the world’s most violent region but is receiving less U.S. military and financial assistance, according to a recent report and other figures.

Latin America surpassed Africa as the region with the most murders per 100,000 people, according to the new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Several countries in the Western Hemisphere had murder rates that eclipsed 25 per 100,000 people in 2012, compared to the global average of about six.

The report said 30 percent of the homicides in the Americas could be attributed to a proliferation of organized crime and gang-related violence.

For example, Honduras had one of the world’s highest murder rates with 90.4 per 100,000 people. Mexican drug cartels and transnational criminal groups such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and 18th Street gangs have infiltrated the country in recent years.

Some of the violence is fueled by those groups’ drug smuggling operations into the United States. ... Read More

Flexible friends

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

China lends disproportionately to countries that lack other options

THE rise of China has changed every region. But it has reinforced patterns, too. China’s demand for commodities has entrenched Latin America’s position as a supplier of raw materials. The country guzzles oil from Venezuela and Ecuador, copper from Chile, soyabeans from Argentina, and iron ore from Brazil—with which it signed a corn-import deal on April 8th.

Chinese lending to the region also has a strong flavour of natural resources. Data are patchy, but according to new figures from the China-Latin America Finance Database, a joint effort between the Inter-American Dialogue, a think-tank, and Boston University, China committed almost $100 billion to Latin America between 2005 and 2013 (see chart). The biggest dollops by far have come from the China Development Bank (CDB). These sums are meaningful. Chinese lenders committed some $15 billion last year; the World Bank $5.2 billion in fiscal year ... Read More

Huelga contra la inflación e inseguridad paraliza a Argentina

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

Un vagón permanece estacionado en una estación de metro el jueves en Buenos Aires, Argentina. El país amanecióparalizado por la huelga general convocada por los sindicatos opositores al gobierno de Cristina Fernández.


BUENOS AIRES – Argentina se paralizó el jueves por una huelga de 24 horas ampliamente acatada por los transportistas, convocada por tres de las cinco centrales sindicales que reclamaron al gobierno de la presidenta Cristina Kirchner acciones contra la inflación y la inseguridad.

La huelga general paralizó el transporte público, sector clave para que la protesta sindical tuviera éxito en este país de 40 millones de habitantes con una de las mayores tasas de inflación en América Latina: más de 7% en el primer bimestre de 2014, según datos oficiales avalados por el FMI. En 2013 la cifra se situó entre el 25 y 30%, según consultoras privadas.

Los sindicatos que apoyaron la huelga van desde la centro-derecha hasta la ... Read More

Kirchner Targets Argentina’s Military for Revenge

| April 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Popular leaders in Latin America often meet little resistance when they strip unpopular citizens of their civil liberties. But the exercise of even a little authoritarian power is like an appetizer. It increases the hunger for more.

Cuba in 1959 was an obvious example. So too was Argentina’s right-wing military dictatorship, which became a law unto itself in the aftermath of the 1976 coup.

Now Argentine President Cristina Kirchner is taking her country down the same illiberal path by denying due process to some 1,600 prisoners who were members of the military or police in the 1970s. Argentines and the international community have largely remained silent about this travesty of justice, presumably because the military government was so unpopular. They are likely to be sorry.

The Cuban precedent is instructive. Two months after Fidel Castro defeated Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, 43 members of the Cuban air force, selected at random, were tried ... Read More

Argentina’s Economy: Creeping toward normality

| April 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

Acquaintances of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner say obstinacy is her biggest flaw. Since the start of the year Argentina’s precarious economic situation has forced Ms Fernández to show some flexibility. In January came monetary adjustments:devaluation and interest-rate hikes. In February there was a new, more credible consumer-price index to replace the old one, sullied by seven years of government manipulation; a revised GDP estimate for 2013, of 3% growth, has since followed. An agreement with Repsol for the seizure of YPF, the state oil firm, was also notched up.

Now the economy ministry has begun to send signals that it is willing to make important fiscal changes as well. On March 27th Axel Kicillof and Julio de Vido, Argentina’s ministers of economy and planning respectively, announced that the government would slash natural-gas and water subsidies by a total of 20%.Most utility prices have been virtually frozen for the past decade. The initial aim ... Read More

Argentina inches toward economic crisis, again

| April 1st, 2014 | No Comments »

People may pack the pews at St. Benedict the Abbot parish in the upscale Belgrano district of the Argentine capital, but that doesn’t translate into demand for the images and statues of saints that Pedro Atencio sells outside the church.

“Sales are down due to the economy,” he says.

Times have turned tough in Argentina, where vendors such as Atencio blame old economic issues such as inflation and devaluations for sinking sales. Pessimism is rife as prices rise, purchasing power erodes and people prepare for the possibility of another economic crisis — in a country once among the wealthiest in the world, but better known now for recurring crises and calamities.

“This is a country that is constantly on the road to the next crisis,” says Luciana Carcione, economist with Orlando J Ferreres & Asociados in Buenos Aires. “Every 10 years or so, we end up in some sort of crisis, large or ... Read More

REPORT: Argentina To Receive $1 Billion Loan From Goldman Sach

| March 31st, 2014 | No Comments »
Business Insider

Argentina is closing in on a deal to receive around $1 billion in loans from investment bank Goldman Sachs and is in talks with other international banks about similar deals, local newspaper Pagina/12 reported on Sunday. The paper, which has close ties with the government of President Cristina Fernandez, said the two-year loan would be announced in the next few days and carry an annual interest rate of 6.5 percent.

It would be the first time in more than a decade the country has received a substantial loan from international creditors and comes as the government seeks cash to avoid a further devaluation of the peso.

The Economy Ministry did not provide immediate comment on the report.

The government wants the new funds to boost its depleted foreign exchange reserves, the paper said, citing an unnamed government source. The reserves will see a further improvement in April with the export of the country’s ... Read More

Argentina’s Report on Growth Is Key to Its Drive for Credibility

| March 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal


BUENOS AIRES—Argentina faces a key milestone on its long drive toward regaining investors’ trust in statistics issued by the government when it reports 2013 economic growth Thursday. But there is more at stake than the country’s credibility, because a high growth number would trigger billions of dollars in debt payments that Argentina can ill afford.

Argentina has already moved to dispel doubts about its inflation data by publishing a new consumer-price index starting this year. The CPI for January and February showed monthly price gains more than double the CPI it replaced.

Now, investors are wondering when President Cristina Kirchner will tidy up GDP data. According to the government’s monthly GDP proxy, the economy somehow managed to overcome crippling foreign currency shortages, double-digit inflation and import restrictions to expand 4.9% in 2013.

Analysts surveyed by FocusEconomics expect the government to report 4.8% growth Thursday. However, many economists think the economy really grew less ... Read More

Argentina’s Bond Yields Lure Back Buyers

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


Bargain-seeking investors are piling into high-yielding Argentine bonds despite the country’s history of economic mismanagement and financial turmoil. But they are prepared to retreat quickly, displaying a lack of confidence in Argentina’s long-term prospects.

Since the beginning of February, U.S. dollar-denominated bonds issued by Argentina’s government and companies have returned 12.7% to investors, the best performance among 76 developing countries’ dollar bonds tracked by Barclays BARC.LN -1.93% PLC. That compares with a 0.4% gain over the same period for a basket of U.S. bonds.

Some investors say they are encouraged by the steps Argentina has taken to shore up its finances, following the government’s decision in January to devalue the peso and raise interest rates amid increasing concern that the nation won’t be able to pay its debts.

“There’s a window of opportunity to invest in Argentina,” said Pierre-Yves Bareau, global head of emerging-market debt at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, which oversees $1.5 trillion and ... Read More

Is Argentina Paying For Amicus Briefs In Foreign Debt Case Before U.S. Supreme Court?

| March 19th, 2014 | No Comments »


In a last-ditch effort to stave off defeat in its long-running battle with bondholders who want to be paid, Argentina in February asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal from an adverse appeals court decision.  It is now busy trying to line up amici curiae (“friends of the court”) to file supporting briefs with the High Court.  The deadline for filing amicus briefs is next Monday, and a number of groups and foreign countries have given official notice of their intent to file briefs in support of Argentina.

However, there are some indications that Argentina has paid for one or more of the anticipated amicus filings.  The Supreme Court takes a dim view of that practice; it wants each amicus filer to truly be a “friend of the court,” not a “friend of a party.”  The Court does not strictly prohibit the filing of amicus briefs that have been paid for by a party.  But it requires ... Read More

Falkland Islands will be ours, says Argentina’s new minister

| March 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Telegraph


Argentina‘s newly appointed Falklands Islands secretary has said he is convinced that the islands will one day be returned to Argentine rule – and denounced Britain’s “aggressive moves” in the region.

Daniel Filmus said the issue was “a question that runs deep in the hearts of the Argentine people,” speaking two days after Cristina Kirchner, the Argentine president, met with the Pope and is thought to have asked him – as a fellow Argentine – to champion their cause.

And Mr Filmus, a close ally of the firebrand president, told The Telegraph that Argentine people “find it inconceivable – at this stage in the 21st century – that a portion of their territory should be in the possession of a colonial power.”

But surely, three months into his freshly-created role, he cannot seriously believe that Britain’s position on the Falkland Islands will change?

“Yes,” he replied, in a series of emailed responses. “The history ... Read More

Moody’s Pushes Argentina Rating Further Into Junk

| March 18th, 2014 | No Comments »

Moody’s Investors Service cut its rating on Argentina further into junk territory, citing challenges the government faces in addressing capital outflows and a lack of access to international debt markets.

The downgrade by Moody’s comes nearly two months after Argentina devalued its peso, a move that raised fears of a financial crisis in one of South America’s largest economies.

Argentina has faced a dollar crunch, with Moody’s on Monday saying a combination of persistent capital flight and declining trade surpluses have put pressure on official international reserves, which fell to $27.5 billion from a high of $52.7 billion in 2011.

“While reserves have stabilized in the last month, there are continued high risks of further drops, a key credit risk since Argentina lacks international market access and uses central bank reserves to meet its foreign currency debt obligations,” Moody’s wrote in a report.

Too few reserves could prompt the country to default on its ... Read More

Argentina tangos toward collapse

| March 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


Under the administration of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina has embarked on path of economic self-destruction while becoming an increasingly important hub for drug trafficking and money laundering, as noted recently by the U.S. State Department.

Senior government officials as well as leaders of the influential Catholic Church have recently lamented that much of the criminal activity seems to occur with the complicity of government.

Over the past year, the International Assessment and Strategy Center has published three reports documenting these trends. The reports show:

• The broadening corruption scandals at the highest levels of government.

• The enormous rise of the president’s personal wealth since she became president.

• Government attempts to muzzle the independent media.

• Government meddling in the judiciary — including the firing of an aggressive prosecutor investigating millions of dollars in suspicious and lucrative deals between the first family and one of its main business associates.

• The strengthening of ties of the administration with Iran

• Its ... Read More

Argentina foils plot to smuggle cocaine in Spain in skis

| March 7th, 2014 | No Comments »

Police in Argentina say they have foiled a scheme to smuggle cocaine into Europe by hiding the drug in skis.

Five Argentines and one Spaniard have been detained and 14kg of cocaine seized in seven pairs of skis.

The cocaine had allegedly been compressed into tablets which were stuffed into specially build equipment.

Last year, British police found about 400kg of cocaine hidden in a frozen beef container that had been imported from Argentina.

The Argentine Security Secretary, Sergio Berni, said the gang was also involved in selling ecstasy to well-off clients in the capital, Buenos Aires.

“They’ve invented a home-made system. They’d create some kind of plate to attach to the underside of the skis and there they put the drugs. Each ski carried one kilo. They had seven pairs that would be sent to Spain,” Mr Berni told reporters.

The group had been under investigation for about six months, police said.

The operation seized a ... Read More

Argentina Oil’s Bonanza Helping Too Few Led by Political Friends

| March 7th, 2014 | No Comments »


Explosions tear through the Vaca Muerta shale oil deposit, 3,100 meters beneath the desert in western Argentina, cracking open underground rock formations.

Oil workers, braving 40-degree-Celsius heat and vicious swarms of horseflies, operate a battery of massive pumps that roar into action. They force a gelatinous sluice of water, chemicals and sand into the openings created by the explosion, so they can tease out the oil.

“Success!” yells Osvaldo Alarcon, who’s supervising the hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — for the site’s owner, YPF SA, Argentina’s state oil producer. His workers cheer. “The center of the earth is ours,” he says, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its April issue.

The crew of Shale Oil 28, or SOIL 28, as this tract is known, is on the frontline of a push by some of the world’s largest energy companies to unearth Vaca Muerta’s hidden riches.

The Belgium-sized layer of ... Read More

Big Victory for Chevron Over Claims in Ecuador

| March 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


Since losing a $19 billion judgment in an Ecuadorean court three years ago, Chevron has drawn the condemnation of human rights and environmental activists by refusing to pay anything in fines or accept blame for polluting the Ecuadorean rain forest.

The award against Chevron was one of the largest judgments ever imposed by a court for environmental pollution, and it appeared to pit a mighty corporate Goliath against powerless peasants and the principal lawyer who represented them, Steven R. Donziger, as a brave David.

But on Tuesday, Chevron won a major victory. A federal judge in Manhattan ruled that a two-decade legal effort to punish the company was marred by fraud and corruption, making it increasingly likely that the oil company would be ultimately successful in beating back the legal and financial challenge.

In his nearly 500-page ruling, United ... Read More

Chevron Wins U.S. Ruling Calling Ecuador Judgment Fraud

| March 5th, 2014 | No Comments »


Chevron Corp. (CVX) won a U.S. judge’s ruling that a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment issued in Ecuador was procured by fraud, making it less likely that plaintiffs will collect the $9.5 billion award.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said today that the second-largest U.S. oil company provided enough evidence that a 2011 judgment on behalf of rain forest dwellers in the country’s Lago Agrio area was secured by bribing a judge and ghostwriting court documents. Kaplan oversaw a seven-week nonjury trial over Chevron’s allegations.

“The decision in the Lago Agrio case was obtained by corrupt means,” Kaplan said in an opinion that gave Chevron a sweeping victory. “The defendants here may not be allowed to benefit from that in any way.”

Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, was ordered to pay $19 billion to a group of farmers and fishermen by the Ecuadorean court. The award was reduced to ... Read More

La OEA ausente en Venezuela

| March 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
The American

La Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) se mantiene inerte en Venezuela, y la inestabilidad política, la crisis económica y la violencia del gobierno contra los manifestantes estudiantiles son hechos que están apunto de colapsar al país sudamericano. Desde hace años la OEA fue secuestrada por la petro-diplomacia de Venezuela y ha sido atada y amordazada.

El “consejo permanente”, compuesto por los embajadores de la región, tenía previsto reunirse la semana pasada para revisar los eventos en Venezuela a solicitud del presidente de Panamá, Ricardo Martinelli. La reunión fue abruptamente “pospuesta” después de que el presidente de la Republica Dominicana, Danilo Medina,  le pidiera a su representante ante la OEA, quien preside el consejo permanente, que no regresara a Washington para postergar la reunión. Medina siguió las instrucciones de Venezuela. El embajador dominicano regresó a Washington ayer y convocará al consejo con la venia del gobierno venezolano.

Los estados miembros de la OEA ... Read More

Venezuela’s Maduro Looks to Hardline Chavez Tactics as Protests Spread

| March 4th, 2014 | No Comments »


Venezuela’s street protests have shaken up President Nicolas Maduro enough that he has turned to the Hugo Chavez playbook, pulling from it such tricks as launching paranoid salvos against the Yanks and the “international media” they control.

Street protesters have been erecting roadblocks and barricades, while state security forces, beefed up with Cuban security agents and motorcycle gangs, retaliate with widespread arrests and the use of live ammunition.

But don’t even think about Ukraine or Egypt. This is no Arab Spring, says Vanessa Neumann, a senior fellow at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute. “I don’t think we should expect a regime change at this time,” said Neumann, a Venezuela-born government critic.

Nearly three weeks in, at least 500 people had been arrested, 150 injured, and state authorities said 13 had died in protests that erupted as the country’s inflation rate rose to above 50 percent, and ... Read More

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