Archive for the ‘Colombia’ Category

Colombia Oil Auction Disappoints

| July 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Colombia announced disappointing results Wednesday from its first oil auction in two years, which sought to attract investment dollars from major foreign oil companies that have the money and the know-how to explore offshore and to dig through shale.

Latin America’s fourth-largest oil producer drew investment commitments totaling $1.4 billion, well short of the $2.6 billion the government said it was hoping for. Of the 95 oil blocks spread out over 50 million acres that were up for bid, 26 of them, or 27%, received offers, compared with expectations for a 40% success rate.

While the total investment dollars didn’t achieve the government’s target, the submitted offers did include a few big names, including those in a bid for the “Colombia Block 4″ area in the Caribbean Sea. A temporary joint venture among Exxon Mobil XOM +0.19%Corp, Norway’s Statoil STL.OS -0.16% and Spain’s Repsol REP.MC +2.14% made the only bid for that block.

Colombia pumps about one million barrels a day of ... Read More

Why Colombia makes a nice alternative to Brazil

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Market Watch

By Peter Kohli

In my previous column on Chile, I explained why I was looking at opportunities in South America that were neither Brazil-focused nor ETFs based on the Andean Exchange. Today I’m going to look Colombia and why looking past the obvious could make for some good investing in this country.

I’m approaching the picks based on specific sectors which I think will do well on their own, namely consumer goods, finance and infrastructure.

Colombia has gone through its political and economic turnaround, and it now offers a very good macroeconomic story. For me, it’s a particularly auspicious sign that the Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, won re-election, thereby giving foreign investors more comfort and the country more stability, to say nothing of the fact that he, unlike his opponent, is committed to ending 50 years of rebel conflict in the country.

Colombia’s economy grew 5.9% last year, according to ... Read More

Juan Manuel Santos: Colombia is ripe for investment

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Mimi Whitefield

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was in Miami on Monday, prospecting for foreign investment as his country puts an era of drug violence and guerrilla conflict behind it.

Santos came to Miami with three key members of his economic team — Finance Minister Mauricio Cárdenas, Luis Fernando Andrade, president of the National Infrastructure Agency, and Clemente del Valle, president of the National Development Finance Co. — to take part in a private Goldman Sachs investor conference on Colombia at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Making his first U.S. trip since winning reelection on June 15, Santos noted at a later news conference that “practically half the country is ripe for investment.” He said Colombia had a very ambitious development agenda that added up to investment opportunities of $26 billion. Santos will be sworn in to a new four-year term on August 7.

As Colombia’s political environment has stabilized, economic growth has increased. ... Read More

Citizens’ security is Latin America’s biggest problem

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

PEDRO RODRÍGUEZ, head of Nicaragua’s youth-affairs police, grabs the shoulder of 17-year-old Axel Matus and gives it a shake. “He was one of our worst cases,” he says. In most of Latin America, a youth with Axel’s background—gangs, drugs, knife-fights, joblessness—would cringe at such attention from a burly police commander. But Axel stands bolt upright and admits: “My life was utter chaos.”

Not any more. Axel now attends the Juvenile Affairs police headquarters in Managua, where he is given free meals and tuition every day. Besides subjects like maths and English, he is learning how to be a barber (his blade skills now applied with scissors). Hundreds of troubled kids voluntarily study with him, and the police chief knows most of them by name. They are neatly dressed and ooze self-esteem.

Nicaragua’s police force is in danger of giving socialism a good name. The country is one of the poorest in the ... Read More

The Ongoing Expansion of Organized Crime in the Americas

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

By Jerry Brewer

Eroding the power, control and influence of violent transnational extremist organizations in this Hemisphere, over the last decade, has been at best a near total failure.

Attributable to this assessment of much more than the intense human carnage, manifested by record breaking murder rates, is the reality of near collapse of societies, instability and ineffective/ungoverned regions, and remaining vulnerable populations – demonstrated most graphically in Central America.

The world’s highest murder rates go to number one Honduras and number three El Salvador, both in Central America. Farther to the south, Venezuela holds the number two position.  And in Argentina violent deaths among youth are at a ten-year high.

Yet there are officials who blindly look south and argue that these threats are not necessarily existential, claiming that they pose no real challenge to borders or national security.

This organized crime-terror nexus has a nucleus and norm of fear, intimidation, extortion, kidnapping, murder, political tampering, and torture. The ... Read More

Lo que está en juego en Colombia

| June 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01


El presidente de Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, fue reelegido para un segundo mandato el día de ayer con un poco más del 50 por ciento de los votos emitidos. Derrotó así a su rival de derecha Óscar Iván Zuluaga. En su discurso de victoria, Santos parecía arrepentido después de una amarga campaña que muchos ven como un referéndum a su primer mandato. Se comprometió a “corregir todo lo que haya que corregir” y “a reformar todo lo que haya que reformar”.

Lo que ocurre en Colombia importa a los Estados Unidos. Las exportaciones estadounidenses y el comercio global con Colombia se han cuadruplicado en la última década; es la cuarta economía más grande de América Latina y un socio económico prometedor. Ocho mil millones de dólares en ayuda de EE.UU. desde el año 2000 ayudaron a ese país sudamericano a domar una amenaza narcoterrorista y recuperar un ... Read More

High Stakes in Colombia

| June 16th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Real Clear World-01


Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos secured a second term yesterday, winning just over 50 percent of the votes cast to defeat his rightist opponent Oscar Ivan Zuluaga. In a victory speech last night, Santos appeared contrite after a bitter campaign that many see as a bruising referendum on his first term. “We’re going to correct what has to be corrected, we will adjust what must be adjusted and we will reform what has to be reformed,” he pledged.

What happens in Colombia matters to the United States. U.S. exports to and overall trade with Colombia have quadrupled in the last decade; it is Latin America’s fourth largest economy and a promising economic partner. Eight billion dollars in U.S. aid since the year 2000 helped that South American country tame a narcoterrorist threat and recover healthy economic growth. Although the Colombian government has reduced coca cultivation by over 50 percent ... Read More

Los colombianos creen que Santos puede conducir a su país a un futuro más prospero?

| June 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
By Roger Noriega

[Traducción por IASW]


Los partidarios del presidente de Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, describen la segunda vuelta electoral del domingo como una “elección entre la guerra y la paz.” Esa descripción tan polarizante oscurece el hecho de que los colombianos no están muy convencidos del liderazgo de Santos y la manera en la que ha dirigido al país. Los votantes del socio más importante de los Estados Unidos en América del Sur no parecen estar seguros si sus políticos tienen una visión viable para el futuro.

En la primera ronda de votación celebrada el 25 de mayo, el 75 por ciento de los votos fueron emitidos en contra de Santos. El 60 por ciento del electorado ni siquiera se molestó en votar. Estos números son devastadores para el presidente y demuestran una inconformidad con las políticas de la administración y sobre la desconfianza que existe en las instituciones y la capacidad ... Read More

Colombia Splits Over How to End War

| June 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Like most Colombians, Susy Abitbol wants to end the country’s 50-year guerrilla war, what President Juan Manuel Santos pledges to deliver if his countrymen re-elect him in Sunday’s election.

But Ms. Abitbol said she also wants justice: Her husband, a policeman, was held hostage by the rebels for 13 years and then executed by his captors during a failed rescue attempt by Colombia’s army. She fears Mr. Santos’s ongoing peace talks with the rebels will whitewash their crimes, with the guerrillas winning seats in congress after disarming.

“I don’t think it’s good to plant seeds of hate or vindictiveness, but the damages have to be paid,” said Ms. Abitbol, a soft-spoken 39-year-old therapist who lives in a high rise here with her teenage daughter, Viviana. “There has to be jail time. They have to feel what innocent people who they hurt felt.”

Mr. Santos’s rival Sunday, Óscar Ívan Zuluaga, a tough-talking ... Read More

Do Colombians think Santos can lead them to a brighter future?

| June 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


Supporters of Colombia’s beleaguered president Juan Manuel Santos describe Sunday’s run-off election as a “choice between war and peace.” Such a polarizing description obscures the plain reality that Colombians are deeply ambivalent toward Santos and his stewardship. Indeed, the key U.S. partner in South America is roiled by anxiety about whether any Colombian politicians offer a viable vision for their future.

In the first round of balloting on May 25, 75 percent of the votes were cast for candidates other than Santos; 60 percent of those eligible did not even bother to vote. These numbers are devastating for the incumbent and they point to broader doubts among Colombians about whether their politicians and institutions measure up to the country’s challenges.

Santos owes his election in 2010 to his predecessor, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, the popular two-term president whose tough, energetic leadership cut two armed insurgencies down to size and restored economic ... Read More

Colombia’s Peace Talks with FARC: A Political Conspiracy?

| June 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Huffington Post


On February 4, 2008, over 12 million people participated in demonstrations in 193 cities around the globe protesting FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). While there is arguable evidence of those protests impacting an retreat of FARC presence despite the release of many who had been abducted in the aftermath, the guerilla forces have since regained strength and influence upon current President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos.

Interested in understanding how this massive protest was organized using Facebook, I engaged the primary organizer, Oscar Morales Guevara, that same year and set out to learn more about FARC, the Colombian government and FARC’s influence on international security. It’s been eye-opening to say the least. Since then, I have kept a close eye on the Facebook page, One Million Voices Against FARC, originally created to organize the massive demonstrations and have noted a significant uptick in posts which have centered around the continuing Peace Talks cited by President Santos ... Read More

Colombia split over peace talks in election battle

| June 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


(Reuters) – Two camouflaged military helicopters dot the sky as Silvio Mora sweeps up remains of a freshly killed chicken at his backyard slaughter house in Colombia’s southern conflict zone of Putumayo.

“At least peace may end that,” he says, pointing toward the troop carriers as vultures pick at the bloody slop he brushed into the jungle behind his concrete shack. “Look at how we live. The war has brought only misery, we need peace talks to work.”

Mora, 45, turned to subsistence farming in the regional capital Puerto Asis after his 20 hectares (49 acres) of coca were fumigated during former President Alvaro Uribe’s hardline rule to stop Marxist rebels using the crop to produce cocaine.

The father-of-four is among hundreds of thousands of Colombians in frontline areas who want President Juan Manuel Santos re-elected on Sunday so he can continue negotiating an end to five decades of war with guerrilla leaders ... Read More

Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013 still not back to pre-global-crisis levels

| June 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Mimi Whitefield

A study released Tuesday shows that the money sent home by migrants from Latin American and the Caribbean reached $61.3 billion last year, with three-quarters of those remittances coming from the United States.

The report by the Multilateral Investment Fund, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, found that remittances to the Caribbean and Central America increased, but money flows to Mexico, which received $21.6 billion in remittances, and South America were down.

Overall, remittances — considered an economic lifeline for many families in the region — still haven’t recovered to the levels before the 2008-2009 global economic crisis. Remittances reached a high of $64.9 billion in 2008 before plummeting by more than 10 percent the next year.

Remittances began to grow again in 2011 but have remained fairly flat since then. There was virtually no growth between 2012 and 2013

The strengthening of the economies of European nations and the ... Read More

Colombia Says It Has Begun Peace Talks With Rebels

| June 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


The government of Colombia announced on Tuesday that it had begun exploratory peace talks with a second rebel group, just days ahead of a hotly contested presidential election that could hinge on how voters perceive the efforts of President Juan Manuel Santos to end decades of guerrilla warfare.

Backers of Mr. Santos’s opponent, Óscar Iván Zuluaga, immediately criticized the announcement as a political maneuver.

Mr. Santos started negotiations with the country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in late 2012. Government negotiators have said they have reached agreements on several central issues with the FARC, including programs to alleviate rural poverty and ways for the group to take part in the political process. A final agreement, however, remains elusive.

The newly announced talks are with a different and much smaller group, the National Liberation ... Read More

Colombia’s Security Export

| June 9th, 2014 | No Comments »

Mexican, Brazilian and even Chilean students pull up seats in Mr. Carlos Ardila Castro’s classroom in the Escuela Superior de Guerra in Bogotá, Colombia. Lesson for the day? How to stop arms trafficking.

At 46 years old and with 23 years of military and intelligence experience under his belt as an officer in Colombia’s military, Mr. Ardila Castro is now a consultant for the United Nations. Colombia is known for exporting coffee and bananas. But Ardila Castro is a provider of Colombia’s new export to the world: war and security know-how.

“There are a substantial number of people who worked in the (Colombian) armed forces, the police … that got a ‘second life’ when they retired,” said Jorge Restrepo, Director of CERAC, a security and conflict think tank.

Colombian military and police officers are in high demand, according to Restrepo, because Colombians have faced decades of internal conflict. They’re seasoned. And they’ve got U.S. ... Read More

Colombia’s Peace Talks Backfire on Santos

| June 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

FARC bombings of pipelines and electricity towers increase while negotiations drag on.


About a year after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos took office in August 2010, he launched secret peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Had he succeeded in getting the narco-trafficking terrorists to put down their weapons, do time for their crimes and go straight, he would by now be a national hero.

But after 34 months of talking—mostly in Havana—Mr. Santos has no agreement, and security in the country is deteriorating. Colombians are increasingly dissatisfied with him as commander in chief and ever more wary of his talks with criminals. The combination could cost him re-election.

To avoid a runoff, Mr. Santos needed more than 50% of the vote in the May 25 presidential balloting. He came up short with 25.7%, behind former Colombian Finance Minister Óscar Iván Zuluaga, who won 29.3%. The latest polls ... Read More

Polls show cliffhanger presidential election in Colombia

| June 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By Peter Murphy

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Three polls showed on Friday that Colombia’s presidential race is too close to call as opposition challenger Ivan Oscar Zuluaga seeks to unseat President Juan Manuel Santos in a June 15 runoff focused on how to end the country’s half-century guerilla war.

A Gallup poll showed the two candidates neck-and-neck, but two other surveys gave solid leads to one or the other.

The uncertainty intensifies the suspense in the final days of a bitter election battle in which Santos began as a comfortable favorite before Zuluaga surged with the backing of still-popular former president Alvaro Uribe.

Santos, 62, a U.S.-trained economist and scion of one of Colombia’s most powerful families, has appealed to the electorate to give him another four-year mandate to complete peace negotiations he began with FARC rebels in 2012.

He is staking his reputation that the talks, being held in Cuba, will end ... Read More

Venezuela Pays Price for Smuggling

| June 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

President Loses Popularity Amid Protests as Cheap Goods Move Across Border to Colombian Consumers


CÚCUTA, Colombia—Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s sliding popularity amid persistent street protests can be partly blamed on the humming smuggling market on this border, which shows how Colombia’s unbridled free-market capitalism is eclipsing Venezuela’s socialism and hurting ordinary Venezuelans.

When Norbis Berrocal, a homemaker on the Colombian side, buys baby formula in a bustling street market here in Cúcuta for a fraction of the usual retail price, Venezuela indirectly pays the rest.

“We’re lucky to have Venezuela so close by,” said Ms. Berrocal, as she bought a case of infant formula for shipment to relatives in Colombia’s interior.

She is one of many Colombian consumers who benefit from a massive smuggling trade involving subsidized and price-controlled goods from oil-rich Venezuela—including near-free gasoline, car parts, corn flour and deodorant, all bought cheap in Venezuela and marked up before being sold ... Read More

Última Gran Encuesta: Zuluaga 49% Santos 41%

| June 6th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

La última encuesta de RCN Radio, RCN TV, La FM y SEMANA antes de la segunda vuelta refleja que Zuluaga llega con ventaja al tramo final.Ocho puntos. Esa es la ventaja que hoy le lleva el candidato Óscar Iván Zuluaga al presidente Juan Manuel Santos según los resultados de la Gran Encuesta de RCN Radio, RCN TV, La FM y la revista SEMANA. El aspirante del Centro Democrático, quien ganó la primera vuelta presidencial del pasado 25 de mayo, lidera la contienda por la Casa de Nariño con el 49 % frente al 41 % registrado por Santos. Esta diferencia entre la carta uribista y el primer mandatario es mayor a los 3,5 puntos porcentuales que separaron a ambos candidatos en la primera vuelta.El panorama para la reelección presidencial se complica en esta última medición antes de la segunda vuelta del próximo 15 de junio. Santos no sólo se rezaga en ... Read More

Latin America’s Great Economic Divide

| June 6th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Raymond Colitt

There’s a rift in Latin America that is neatly defined by two oceans. According to the International Monetary Fund’s latest economic forecasts, the Atlantic-facing countries of Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina, the largest members of the Mercosur customs union, will grow at an average rate of 0.6 percent this year; while Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Mexico—which make up the Pacific Alliance—will expand by 4.2 percent.

The divide has little to do with western Latin America’s orientation toward a dynamic Asia or the eastern countries’ exposure to a stagnant Europe. Blessed with abundant natural resources and an almost 200-million-strong consumer market, Brazil remains the regional economic giant. And Venezuela commands some of the largest petroleum reserves in the world. Yet at the end of a decade-long boom driven by cheap money and strong commodity prices, growth in both countries is lagging behind that of many of their neighbors. The standouts are those ... Read More

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