Archive for the ‘Argentina’ Category

The Cost of Corruption in Latin America

| May 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Mac Margolis

Guatemalans are steaming. Crowds of them have poured into the streets this month —  some 60,000 on May 16 alone  – to protest  corruption and demand the ouster of President Otto Perez Molina.

Triggered by the scandal over a giant scheme of import tax fraud, the widening crisis already has toppled the nation’s vice president, the energy minister, the Central Bank governor and interior minister.

Social upheaval has a deep history in Guatemala, where Marxist-inspired guerrillas battled security forces from 1960 to 1996, leaving 200,000 dead.

What’s new, and encouraging, is the popular revolt against resurgent corruption, which has reignited partisan feuds and sapped confidence in the country’s still-wobbly democratic institutions at a time when this nation of more than 14.6 million may need them most.

Latin America is no stranger to bureaucrats on the take. The region traditionally merits dismal ratings on Transparency International’s annual corruption perception ... Read More

Frustration with Latin America’s left on the rise

| May 19th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

By JOSHUA GOODMAN

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s socialist government is struggling to put food on the shelves amid runaway inflation. Brazil’s president is facing calls for impeachment. And even Cuba’s communist government, an iconic touchstone for generations of leftists, is embracing closer ties with the U.S.

Whether it’s because of corruption scandals or stagnant growth, the popularity of the crop of leftist Latin American governments that have been running the region since the start of the millennium appears to be waning. Voters who embraced what became known as the pink tide that swept away the pro-Washington, free-market policies dominant in the 1990s are increasingly turning against the populist firebrands they once rallied behind.

Across the region, polling numbers are tanking and street protests are on the rise.

Triggering the growing disenchantment are some serious economic headwinds. Most leaders came into power just ... Read More

Now It’s Argentina’s Turn to Be the Debt Bully

| May 19th, 2015 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY PABLO ROSENDO GONZALEZ AND MICHAEL SMITH

Argentina’s left-leaning leaders have spent a decade vilifying investors who refuse to take massive losses on defaulted government bonds. Yet they have been similarly unforgiving toward the debt of a socialist ally: Cuba.

One result is that Argentina might find it hard to get in on any boom in foreign investment in Cuba if the U.S. proceeds with its push to restore diplomatic relations with the government and lifts a half-century-old embargo.

The debt goes back decades but the friction dates to 2006. By then, Cuba had long since been set adrift by the Soviet Union, its now dissolved protector, and was drowning financially. So it asked then Argentine President Nestor Kirchner to slash the debt it had taken on to fund car shipments dating to 1973.

The original $2.4 billion of debt had more than tripled. The Cubans ... Read More

Susan Kaufman Purcell: The New Normal in Latin America

| May 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Latin American Herald Tribune

By Susan Kaufman Purcell

At the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama, the topic that received the most attention was the U.S. decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. This allowed the historic handshake and the official talks between Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro that ended half a century of diplomatic isolation.

Various polls have shown, however, that that the diplomatic problems between the United States and Cuba have not been a major concern of Latin Americans. Why then were the Latins so enthusiastic about this particular change in U.S. policy toward the region?

The answer was not that normalization would bring an end to the Castro dictatorship, since Latin America has not cared whether Cuba remained a dictatorship. Nor were Latin American governments preoccupied that the inflow of dollars to Cuba following the normalization of relations would mainly benefit Cuba’s unelected and wealthy rulers, especially the military, which controls the ... Read More

Beijing to Unveil South America Investments

| May 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By PAULO TREVISANI and ROGERIO JELMAYER

BRASÍLIA—Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is set to bring greater financial support to South America this week, part of Beijing’s broader effort to reassure developing countries that have been hit by China’s declining demand for raw materials.

On Tuesday, Mr. Li is expected to discuss with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff plans to build a giant railway, corporate acquisitions and the disbursement of billions of dollars for the overhaul of Brazil’s aging infrastructure as South America’s largest economy gears up for the Rio Olympics next year.

Later in the week, Mr. Li will visit Colombia, Peru and Chile, seeking to reassure trading partners that China’s slowdown won’t affect Beijing’s engagement in the region. Beijing is proposing deals in which China buys finished products instead of only commodities. Already, Chinese lenders have become some of Latin America’s top investors.

“China is putting money in companies and assets that are undervalued,” said Sergio Amaral, a Brazilian diplomat and former trade ... Read More

Frustration with Latin America’s left on the rise as leaders hit by economic slowdown, scandal

| May 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Star Tribune

By JOSHUA GOODMAN

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s socialist government is struggling to put food on the shelves amid runaway inflation. Brazil’s president is facing calls for impeachment. And even Cuba’s communist government, an iconic touchstone for generations of leftists, is embracing closer ties with the U.S.

Whether it’s because of corruption scandals or stagnant growth, the popularity of the crop of leftist Latin American governments that have been running the region since the start of the millennium appears to be waning. Voters that embraced what became known as the pink tide that swept away the pro-Washington, free-market policies dominant in the 1990s are increasingly tuning hostile against the populist firebrands they once rallied behind.

Across the region, polling numbers are tanking and street protests are on the rise.

Triggering the growing disenchantment are some serious economic headwinds. Most leaders came into power just as China’s economy was ... Read More

Judges Close Conspiracy Case Against Argentina’s President

| May 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By JONATHAN GILBERT

BUENOS AIRES — A criminal case against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was closed Tuesday when federal judges accepted a prosecutor’s decision not to pursue accusations that she had conspired to shield Iranians suspected of planning the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center here.

The case had originally been brought by another prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in January at his home, hours before he was to present his findings before Congress. Mr. Nisman’s body was lying in a pool of blood, and he had a bullet lodged in his head. A pistol was found on the floor under the body, and a spent cartridge was also at the scene. There was no suicide note.

His death thrust Argentina into its most severe political crisis in more than a decade. A team of experts is trying to determine whether it ... Read More

Argentina sues Citigroup over debt repayments

| May 11th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

Citigroup has said it has been sued by Argentina and that some employees could face criminal charges there due to a court battle between the South American nation and US hedge funds.

Argentinian officials have since late March “taken certain adverse actions against Citi Argentina, including filing a lawsuit against Citi Argentina and instituting a suspension of certain activities”, the US bank said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additional potential sanctions include “the loss of licences to operate in Argentina and criminal charges against bank employees”, Citigroup added.

Citigroup’s travails come amid longstanding litigation between Argentina and US hedge funds NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management, which did not accept a restructuring deal of Argentinian debt. The funds seek $1.3bn (£830m) from Argentina.

US district court judge Thomas Griesa has repeatedly backed the funds’ campaign to attain full debt repayment, ruling that Buenos Aires cannot make payments on the restructured debt to other creditors ... Read More

Hezbollah en América Latina: el narcotráfico, su principal fuente de financiamiento

| May 11th, 2015 | No Comments »
Infobae

Las actividades delictivas del grupo terrorista Hezbollah en la región continúan su ascenso sin que ninguna alarma se encienda en los Gobiernos de América Latina. Incluso en muchos casos, las autoridades de algunas administraciones regionales son cómplices de sus movimientos. Tráfico de drogas, de armas, de influencias, lavado de dinero y otras maniobras ilícitas son las elegidas por las células que la agrupación libanesa mantiene a lo largo de esta parte del mundo.

Desde 2006 a la fecha, fue sobre todo el narcotráfico la vía que más dinero aportó al financiamiento de Hezbollah. Bajo diferentes fachadas, jefes regionales del grupo terrorista se instalaron en diferentes ciudades latinoamericanas para tapar sus verdaderos propósitos. Mezquitas, centros culturales islámicos, comercios y otras organizaciones sin apariencia política reúnen a cientos de fieles, quienes en muchos casos son “utilizados” por la agrupación extremista.

Es la Triple Frontera (conformada por Paraguay, Brasil y la Argentina) la “capital” de ... Read More

Is Argentina’s economy pulling a tango turnaround?

| May 8th, 2015 | No Comments »
From CNN

BY PATRICK GILLESPIE

Its economy is projected to show little or negative growth this year. Argentina is still indebted to American hedge funds, affectionately known as “vultures” in the country. And it remains the poster child of nations that default on their loans.

But there’s new optimism in Argentina, mainly driven by presidential elections coming later this year.

Its stock market is rallying and investors are buying the countries’ debt (amazing news, considering the country is mired in recession and another default.)

“The economy seems to not be falling anymore,” says Eugenio Aleman, an Argentine and senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities. “There are a little bit more positive vibes going around.”

Elections drive economic hope: Lionel Bollini has noticed the better vibes. He owns La Dama de Bollini, a historic bar in Buenos Aires where Argentina’s most famous writer, Jorge Luis Borges, once mingled with friends.

... Read More

Latin America leads world on murder map, but key cities buck deadly trend

| May 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

By Jonathan Watts

Latin America may be the most murderous continent on Earth, but huge improvements in public safety have been achieved in several major cities, according to a new homicide map of the world that is being launched this week.

Several metropolises that were once bywords for violent death – such as Medellín, Bogotá, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro – have seen declines of more than 60% in the murder rate over the past two decades thanks to improved living standards, better education, decelerating urbanisation and more effective policing, say the researchers behind the Homicide Monitor.

But while overall figures are falling, the map reveals that murders are stubbornly concentrated in poor communities, and the victims are mostly young – usually black or mixed-race – men.

The Monitor is an interactive online world map with data on the distribution of murder by country, year, age of victim and – where figures are available ... Read More

Long in charge, leftist leaders struggle across South America

| April 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

By Nathaniel Madden

Argentina may not be alone in South America moving from left to right in the coming days.

A string of leftist leaders across the continent have come under scrutiny in recent months for political scandals, falling poll numbers and economic reverses that, in the case of Venezuela, have produced the world’s second-highest inflation rate after Syria.

Nicolas Maduro, successor to the late populist President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, has seen his approval rating fall to just 28.2 percent, following months of popular protests driven by high levels of violence, food and consumer good shortages, and an inflation rate in 2014 of 63.4 percent. Mr. Maduro’s government recently announced it will soon start to ration electricity, despite the fact that the country by some estimates has even more proven oil reserves than Saudi Arabia.

Corruption and inflation are also driving factors behind the low approval ... Read More

Russia and Argentina agree framework energy deals

| April 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
BBC

Russia and Argentina have signed a series of framework agreements on economic and energy co-operation following talks in Moscow.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Russian leader Vladimir Putin hailed their co-operation as a “comprehensive strategic partnership”.

The agreements include Russian investment in a hydroelectric plant and a nuclear power plant in Argentina.

There was also a memorandum of co-operation on defence.

Correspondents say the Kremlin is keen to boost trade relations with Latin America to offset the effects of sanctions imposed by Europe and the US over the Ukrainian crisis.

Argentina is looking for foreign investment as its battles US hedge funds thwarting its effort to restructure defaulted debt.

Among the framework agreements was a Russian pledge to finance a hydroelectric power plant on Argentina’s Neuquen River.

Russia’s Rosatom nuclear corporation also agreed to build a ... Read More

In Argentina, prosecutor drops allegations against President Kirchner

| April 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
From CNN

By Mariano Castillo

(CNN)A prosecutor has dismissed allegations that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner tried to cover up Iran’s involvement in a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires.

The move by prosecutor Javier de Luca to drop the case could mean a definitive end to the accusations that have roiled the nation, according to Argentina’s state-run Telam news agency.

The case became of high interest globally after the original prosecutor who brought the allegations was found dead in January.

Alberto Nisman was found dead days after making the accusations. His death sparked outrage and conspiracy theories aplenty.

Nisman alleged that Argentina’s government agreed not to go after Iranian suspects in the bombing in exchange for a favorable trade deal.

The 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in the Argentine capital is the deadliest terror attack in the country’s history. Eighty-five people were killed, and ... Read More

A leading presidential candidate in Argentina would lift currency controls, negotiate debt

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
US News & World Report

By PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The man who could be Argentina’s next president wants to put an end to tight government currency controls, make peace with the nation’s creditors and improve severely frayed ties to the United States. In short, Mauricio Macri is promising to undo much of what President Cristina Fernandez and her late husband Nestor Kirchner created over the past 13 years.

It’s a platform that appears to be gaining traction.

The right-leaning Buenos Aires mayor leads many polls ahead of the October elections. His popularity is buoyed by economic frustration and widespread anger over the mysterious death of federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who accused Fernandez of protecting those responsible for Argentina’s most serious terror attack.

Macri believes pro-market reforms will restore confidence in Argentina, both at home and abroad. Those themes are resonating: A handful of polls conducted in March gave him single-digit leads, a big ... Read More

Argentina, A Quiet Link In South American Drug Trade

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
World Crunch-01

By Jorge Ossona

BUENOS AIRES — Whether it’s poor kids sniffing coca paste, or middle class and wealthy youth indulging in refined cocaine, these are the hapless end users in a continental drug chain in which Argentina is now a critical link.

As in the late 18th century, when Spain turned this area into a viceroyalty with Buenos Aires as its capital, Argentina remains a corridor for goods destined for Europe. The trade then was in silver from the mines of Potosí in Peru, which the laws then mandated be exported via Buenos Aires, because it was the shortest route to Spain. The new route worked for decades, until Spain’s colonies began to revolt in 1810, and new states emerged on the continent. Two hundred years later, the country is again a strategic stepping stone, this time for drug cartels that want to ship cocaine from Peru and Bolivia back to the Old World. The decline of the Colombian cartels in the 1980s and 1990s and the problems their lackluster successors have had in taking their ... Read More

Argentina likely to return to capital markets

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Jan Dehn

Whatever the result of Argentina’s presidential election later this year, the country will be in a different place a year from now with a new and more pragmatic government running the country. All the main contenders for president in the next government have similar ‘four pronged’ approach to address Argentina’s economic problems. Investors should look through this election ‘noise’ and towards the new government’s coming macro-economic reforms which we believe will usher in a new Argentina.

The era of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, president, is set to be remembered as a strange epoch that began with default and ended with default. The Kirchners oversaw the restoration of order in Argentina after the chaos that accompanied the 2001 default, but then became bogged down by unnecessary confrontations and economic mismanagement.

The upcoming presidential election later this year will not only decisively mark the end of ... Read More

Una región que arropa la represión

| April 14th, 2015 | 2 Comments »
Felipe Trigos-01

La Séptima Cumbre de las Américas celebrada el pasado fin de semana en Panamá demostró de nueva cuenta la inhabilidad de superar la fascinación con el mito de la revolución cubana y la falta de comprensión sobre los daños que este movimiento trajo, no solo para Cuba, sino para toda la región.

Cuando líderes del hemisferio tienen la oportunidad de coincidir con Raúl o Fidel Castro en reuniones multilaterales, parecería que lo más importante en la agenda es rendir homenaje a los hermanos y aprovechar la oportunidad para la foto, quizás para no provocar la protesta clamorosa de izquierdistas que ven con ojos enamorados ‘la obra’ de los Castro, a pesar de 55 años donde se ha podido constatar la opresión, pobreza y sufrimiento que ha causado a millones que habitan la isla.

La Cumbre en Panamá, que se centraría en temas como la prosperidad y la equidad, acabó sirviendo de plataforma ... Read More

An ‘Obama doctrine’ fail: Cuba still won’t love us

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
New York Post

The two men will cross paths at the Organization of American States’ seventh summit, a meeting of 35 Western hemisphere heads of state that kicks off today in Panama.

Cuba was finally invited to attend the two-day affair this year.

Because the Communist regime’s membership in the OAS has been suspended in 1962 (it only accepts democracies as members), and because in past years Washington insisted Cuba be banned from the summit, the island nation wasn’t being invited before.

But this year, the United States dropped its objections, and so Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama can be expected to hug it out like the bros they’re fast becoming.

It’s all part ... Read More

¿Puede Obama rescatar su fallida política exterior en Latinoamérica?

| April 9th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
Real Clear World-01

El presidente de los Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, ha notado claramente que muchos en América Latina y el Caribe tienen una afinidad extraordinaria con el mito de la revolución cubana. Lo que aún no tiene claro es que la gran mayoría de los ciudadanos de la región preferiría vivir en el Chile construido por Augusto Pinochet que en la Cuba destruida por Fidel Castro.

Durante la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá Obama se encontrará con una región que ha perdido la estabilidad y la prosperidad desde que asistió a su primera cumbre en 2009. A pesar de que esperaba cosechar elogios por su acercamiento con La Habana, Obama recibirá en cambio un trato hostil por parte de varios líderes latinoamericanos, quienes encabezados por Nicolás Maduro de Venezuela y apoyados por Castro están determinados en diezmar la influencia que le queda a Washington en una región de suma importancia para la ... Read More

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