Archive for the ‘Brazil’ Category

Latin America the World’s Most Violent Region

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

BY DANIEL WISER

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

Rousseff Loses Support for Brazil Election in Datafolha Poll

| April 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s re-election bid lost support in a poll conducted by Datafolha as faster inflation and slower growth damaged her government’s popularity. She still had more than the level of support a candidate will need to win the first round this year.

Rousseff’s support fell to 38 percent from 44 percent in February in a poll that pitched her against opposition candidates Aecio Neves and Eduardo Campos. Support for Senator Neves, from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, was unchanged at 16 percent. Former governor of Pernambuco state Campos garnered 10 percent, little changed from February, according to the April 2-3 survey of 2,637 people. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Rousseff, who is expected to run for a second term in October, has been struggling to contain consumer prices while reviving economic growth that slowed to an average 2 percent during her first ... Read More

Brazil and Mexico: Hope or hype?

| April 3rd, 2014 | 1 Comment »
AEI

BY ROGER F. NORIEGA & FELIPE TRIGOS

Key points in this Outlook:

Key Latin American governments, such as Brazil and Mexico, must adopt economic, fiscal, and energy policies that will maximize job creation, sustainable growth, and energy self-sufficiency. The performance of Latin American economies has a disproportionate effect on US prosperity, heightening the costs of the Obama administration’s indifference toward the region. The American economy will benefit from more vigor and vision as US policy encourages economic partnerships with Latin America that cultivate a healthy private sector, energy interdependence, and greater competitiveness in a global market.

During the last three decades, most of Latin America has benefited from important gains in the consolidation of democratic institutions and implementation of orthodox economic policies that have tamed hyperinflation, reined in debt, and liberalized trade. Of course, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries are dramatic exceptions to this regional progress. Even in countries that generally have chosen a more ... Read More

Which Path Will Brazil Choose?

| April 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

BY JAIME DAREMBLUM  

When Latin America’s most-populous nation was awarded the 2014 World Cup back in 2007, it was enjoying strong economic growth and being celebrated as a potential superpower. Brazil grew by 6.1 percent that year and by 5.2 percent the following year, and it suffered only a mild recession after the global financial crisis. In April 2009, Newsweek discussed its progress below the eye-catching headline “How Brazil Became a Superpower.” Later that year, Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, prompting then-President Lula da Silva to declare, “I’ve never felt more pride in Brazil. Now, we are going to show the world we can be a great country.” The Brazilian economy went on to expand by 7.5 percent in 2010, its highest annual growth rate since the 1980s.

Today, with the World Cup just a few months away, the euphoria of the Lula years seems a distant memory, as ... Read More

Machado llega a Brasil para denunciar situación venezolana

| April 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

Brasilia – La opositora venezolana María Corina Machado llegó el miércoles a Brasil con el propósito de “denunciar como diputada” la “grave” situación que vive su país ante miembros de las comisiones de Relaciones Exteriores del Senado y la Cámara Baja.

“La visita es para atender una invitación de ambas comisiones y la intención es plantear, de manera muy directa y en su condición de diputada venezolana, la gravísima situación que vive Venezuela”, dijo una fuente próxima a Machado.

La dirigente opositora llegó a Brasil tras haber encabezado el martes en Caracas una marcha hasta la Asamblea Nacional, que la semana pasada la despojó de su investidura parlamentaria.

Esa decisión fue refrendada por el Tribunal Supremo de Venezuela y se apoyó en que supuestamente Machado infringió la Constitución, según la mayoría de la Asamblea, al aceptar que Panamá la nombrara su representante alterna para poder intervenir en una sesión de la Organización de Estados ... Read More

Brazil grows wary of Venezuela under Maduro, reduces support

| March 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY BRIAN WINTER

(Reuters) - Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy and diplomatic power, has toned down its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro because of disappointment over how he is handling mounting economic problems and opposition-led street protests.

The shift, while subtle, has deprived Maduro of some of the regional backing he wants at a time of food shortages, high inflation and political uncertainty in the OPEC nation.

Broadly speaking, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff remains an ally of Maduro. While Rousseff is more moderate, both are part of a generation of leftist Latin American presidents who grew up opposing pro-Washington governments and believe they are united by a mission to help the poor.

However, Rousseff has been increasingly disappointed by some of Maduro’s actions and has reined in the more enthusiastic support that characterized Brazil-Venezuela relations under his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, according to two officials close to Rousseff’s government.

Rousseff is worried the Venezuelan government’s repression ... Read More

S&P Downgrades Brazil Credit Rating, Citing Weak Growth

| March 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY MATTHEW COWLEY

Standard & Poor’s cut the credit rating on Brazil’s long-term bonds to one notch above junk, citing deteriorating government accounts, rising debt and weakening growth, the latest rebuke for the nation’s once-vital economy.

The rating agency cut Brazil’s sovereign-credit rating to triple-B-minus from triple-B and said its outlook for Brazil was stable. Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings both have investment-grade ratings on Brazil with stable outlooks.

The downgrade marks a turnaround from 2008, when Brazil’s bonds were awarded investment-grade status amid the global financial crisis. The South American nation seemed to shrug off much of the global downturn, spurring an investor frenzy for Brazilian securities. Brazil soared to 7.5% growth in 2010.

But its economy has slowed sharply since, as the competitiveness of local manufacturers has slipped and government policies designed to restart it failed, souring investor optimism. Standard & Poor’s had warned about the possibility of a downgrade in ... Read More

Brazil scrambles to avoid power rationing as costs soar

| March 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY JEB BLOUNT

Brazil is fighting against time to avoid crippling power blackouts and electricity rationing as a drought prevents the world’s most water-rich nation from recharging its hydroelectric dams.

A decade of growth has diversified the electricity system away from hydropower, but policymakers, industrial companies and investors in the world’s seventh-largest economy may find little cause to relax.

Rio de Janeiro-based energy consultancy PSR puts the odds of rationing at nearly 1 in 4.

“Rationing or not, the drought’s impact on Brazil will be large,” said PSR Director Jose Rosenblatt. “There’s no way to avoid it.”

Hydro reservoirs, which generate two-thirds of Brazil’s power, are at near-record lows. To keep the lights on and factories open, all of the country’s main thermal power plants are running full throttle as an estimated 600,000 visitors prepare to arrive for the June start of the soccer World Cup.

The situation is already testing the ... Read More

Petrobras Puts Brazil President Dilma In Hot Seat

| March 24th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Forbes

BY KENNETH RAPOZA

Petrobras’ PBR +0.17% problems are becoming Dilma’s problems.

Brazil’s oil and gas major, Petrobras, can do no right. And now President Dilma Rousseff is being blamed for the problems. Of course, she is being blamed by politicians who don’t want to see her re-elected in October.  They probably won’t succeed at dethroning her, but one thing is certain: the deterioration of the shining star of Brazil’s state owned enterprises happened on her watch. This election season, Dilma isn’t the only one in the cross hairs.  Petrobras is now her problem, too.

Not long ago, as in 2007, Petrobras was heralded as the Latin America Aramco, finding oil deep under the ocean floor far off the coast of Rio and São Paulo states.  Goldman Sachs once put a $60 price target on the stock in early summer 2008. Today, Petrobras shares trade under $12, and its market cap is smaller than Colombia’s EcoPetrol EC +0.32%.

Over the last several weeks, ... Read More

Opinion: Venezuela trapped in violent stalemate

| March 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Deutsche Welle

BY MARC KOCH

Venezuelan students have been protesting for nearly six weeks now. The government is using force to clamp down, and the conflict has reached total standstill. It can only be resolved externally, says DW’s Marc Koch.

Nothing works anymore. Venezuela is trapped. For weeks, the country has been teetering on the brink of a civil war. The hopelessly overburdened government of President Nicolas Maduro can think of nothing better than repression and outrageous rhetoric to solve the conflict with the protesting students. And Venezuela’s opposition is – once more – not able to present itself as a serious, democratic force and a realistic alternative.

No will for a solution

Barricades are set alight every night and people are dying in Caracas and other cities, but there is no solution to the political standstill. The student protests are yielding little for the country and their cause, though they have brought themselves some short-term international attention. ... Read More

Observers: Regional Democracies Must Address Unrest in Venezuela

| March 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon

BY DANIEL WISER

Latin American observers are calling on regional democracies to address the ongoing unrest in Venezuela and take steps to defend democratic norms and human rights.

The Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council, composed of representatives from all 35 countries in the Americas, scheduled a closed meeting on Thursday in Washington, D.C., at the request of Panama to discuss the Venezuelan crisis. At least 18 people have died in protests against President Nicolas Maduro and the country’s rampant crime, inflation, and shortages.

Maduro attributed the announcement of the OAS meeting to “moves by the United States government in accord with a lackey government of a right-wing president” and reacted angrily by breaking off diplomatic and economic ties to Panama. The meeting was already postponed a week after pressure from the Venezuelan government.

Maduro warned the OAS and Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza not to “intervene in Venezuelan home affairs.”

Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs ... Read More

Big Victory for Chevron Over Claims in Ecuador

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

BY CLIFFORD KRAUSS

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 »
Bloomberg

BY CHRISTIE SMYTHE & PATRICIA HURTADO

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 »
Newsweek

BY BENNY AVNI

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

Venezuela, the uprising no one is noticing

| March 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

BY JACKSON DIEHL

There are plenty of reasons to worry about Venezuela. A country with the world’s largest oil reserves now also manages to beat the world in inflation, violent crime and shortages of essential goods. The government’s response consists mostly of arrests of opposition activists, expulsions of U.S. diplomats, and wild propaganda about the supposed threat of a fascist coup or U.S. invasion.

The most discouraging aspect of Venezuela’s agony, however, is its isolation. While European and American diplomats have flooded into Ukraine and President Obama has spent hours on the phone with Vladi­mir Putin, Venezuela’s crisis has been largely ignored by the outside world. No envoys visited Caracas in the past several weeks, even as street battles between government and opposition forces raged. The only would-be broker who has even talked about flying in is 89-year-old Jimmy Carter, who said he might add it to his schedule in April.

The neglect is not because ... Read More

The Roots of Venezuela’s Disorder

| March 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BY MARY O’GRADY

On Wednesday, as Venezuelan strongman Nicólas Maduro was promising more repression to crush relentless student protests, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told reporters that Moscow plans to put military bases in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. A few days later a Russian spy ship arrived in Havana harbor unannounced.

The usual Cold War suspects are back. More accurately, they never left. Former KGB officer Vladimir Putin is warning President Obama that Russia can make trouble in the Americas if the U.S. insists on solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Meanwhile, Latin America’s aging Marxists are lining up behind Mr. Maduro, successor to the late Hugo Chávez.

Russia and Cuba are finally reaping the benefits of the revolution they have long sown in Latin America. Any chance of defeating them requires setting the record straight about how Venezuela got so poor.

Venezuelan politicians sold left-wing populism like snake oil for decades before Chávez came to power in ... Read More

Caribbean ports and the Panama canal: Ripple effects

| February 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

THE wrangling between the Panama Canal Authority and a Spanish-led consortium may soon be settled. Work on the project to expand the canal began again on February 20th, after rows about cost overruns had stalled construction since the start of the year. A preliminary accord between the two parties, reached on February 27th, now sets an end-2015 deadline for completion of the work. For some in the Caribbean, further delays would suit their purposes.

When they eventually swing open, Panama’s new canal locks will reshape the geography of world shipping. The largest ships to squeeze through the existing locks need a water depth of just over 12 metres, and can carry around 4,400 containers. The new locks will accommodate ships which can take almost three times that load and need a draft of over 15 metres.

These monsters will slash shipping costs for Pacific cargo en route for Atlantic ports, and boost ... Read More

Brazil’s economy: Sunny to a fault

| February 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

Guido Mantega, Brazil’s finance minister (pictured), is sometimes accused of being out of touch. Cynics quip that he wants to will growth into existence rather than fix the rigid labour market, impenetrable tax code, burdensome bureaucracy and fragile public finances that have recently conspired to keep the Brazilian economy from expanding faster than a sluggish 1-2% a year. Official figures released on February 27th will have buoyed the famously upbeat Mr Mantega, without quelling concerns about the underlying health of Latin America’s biggest economy.

Brazilian GDP grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, quicker than the chirpiest forecasts, and by 2.3% in the whole of 2013. That outcome, the result of surprisingly perky investment and exports, has put paid to talk of a technical recession (earlier monthly readings has raised the possibility of two consecutive quarters of shrinkage).

Mr Mantega has also been trying to ease concerns about the state of the ... Read More

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