Archive for the ‘Nicaragua’ Category

Latin America is a region plagued by incumbents

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez

Six weeks after falling for Marina Silva, pro-market souls (and the markets themselves) have bounced back, developing a new infatuation with the man who defeated her in Brazil’s presidential election. Propounding sensible policies and polling strongly, Aécio Neves will face off next month against Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s formidable incumbent. He may yet prevail. Brazil’s anaemic projected growth, coupled with rising unemployment, should be fertile ground for any challenger. Yet if history is any guide there is only one thing Ms Rousseff needs to do for her re-election to be all but certain: run.

Incumbents have an advantage everywhere. They enjoy high visibility and voters tend to prefer the devil they know. Yet the record of sitting Latin American presidents is astonishing. No Brazilian president seeking immediate re-election has ever failed to attain it. As far back as the 19th century, only two governing presidents anywhere in Latin America – Nicaragua’s ... Read More

Rising Dragon? The Chinese Mafia Threat in Latin America

| October 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
From In Sight

By David Gagne

Chinese mafia operations in Latin America are little understood, but a recent report on these groups in Argentina illustrates how they make their presence felt via extortion, human smuggling rings, and the occasional murder. As China deepens its economic relationship with Latin America, it’s possible these mafias may become ever more prominent.

Authorities in Argentina have attributed 31 murders over the last five years, and four in 2014 alone, to seven Chinese mafias operating in the country, reported La Nacion. These mafias reportedly earn revenue by extorting businesses within the Chinese community, and resort to violence when owners do not comply with their demands.

In at least three of the 2014 cases, the victim did not appear to have been robbed, leading authorities to believe they were killed after running afoul of criminal groups in the Chinese community. According to La Nacion, the Chinese mafias (also known ... Read More

El legado de Insulza y el futuro de la OEA

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Pais

POR EZEQUIEL VÁZQUEZ-GER

Corría Febrero del año 2011. Un grupo de estudiantes en Venezuela había decidido iniciar una huelga de hambre en protesta contra el gobierno de Hugo Chávez. En Washington, junto con un grupo de estudiantes venezolanos, decidimos apoyar la protesta pidiendo un pronunciamiento de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA). Lo hicimos a través de decenas de cartas dirigidas a cada uno de los embajadores, notas de prensa, y una protesta frente al Edificio principal del organismo, previo a una sesión de su consejo Perrmanente.

Terminada esta sesión, el secretario general José Miguel Insulza nos otorgó una audiencia privada, en la que nos dijo: “Me compadezco con ustedes, yo también sufrí una dictadura en carne propia y tuve que refugiarme en el exterior. Pero tienen que entender, a Chávez no lo van a vencer con cartas, Chávez es un dictador, y en Venezuela hay una dictadura militar”.

Esta anécdota sirve para describir el ... Read More

Latin American Growth to Slow, World Bank Says

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By RYAN DUBE LIMA, Peru—Latin America is on track this year to post its slowest rate of annual growth since 2009, when the global financial crisis began to be felt in the region, the World Bank said Tuesday.

The bank cut its growth forecast for the region by nearly half to 1.2%, following expansions of 2.4% and 3% in the previous two years. In its semiannual report on Latin America and the Caribbean, the World Bank said the region could grow 2.2% next year, but cautioned that it was still unclear whether the current downward cycle has bottomed out.

“We do not know if this deceleration has hit bottom, or if there is further deceleration to come,” said Augusto de la Torre, the World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America, in a telephone interview. But growth, he said, “is not going to be what it used to be in the past decade, partially because ... Read More

Summit missing a strong agenda

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY DAN RESTREPO

With the ink not yet dry on the invitations, the April 2015 Summit of the Americas is perilously close to failure.

Failure rooted in the simple fact that a summit must be about more than its invite list.

And to date, summit host Panama and leaders across the Americas have done little to prepare other than obsessing about inviting Cuba and waiting to see how Washington responds.

That is not the basis for a mature, modern relationship, and it can’t make for anything but a missed opportunity in Panama.

This is particularly true when one considers the enormous shared opportunities and challenges that stand before the hemisphere and President Obama’s commitment to working as a good partner in the Americas.

From tackling the plague of violence in the Americas; to making good on energy and climate cooperation championed by President Obama at the ... Read More

Single point of failure: Venezuela’s financing programme leaves many Caribbean countries vulnerable

| October 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

“THAT’S how Chávez earned a place in heaven,” said Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s president, on a visit to New York last month. Mr Maduro was lauding a programme begun by his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, to supply heating oil to 150,000 low-income families in the United States. Yet such generosity pales next to PetroCaribe, a Venezuelan energy-assistance programme for the Caribbean and Central America that Chávez launched in 2005.

Under the PetroCaribe programme, ten members of the Caribbean Community, along with the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and El Salvador, buy oil from Venezuela. (St Lucia is preparing to receive its first shipment.) How much they pay upfront depends on market prices. The more expensive oil is, the more of the cost is loaned on very lenient terms: in the past, loans have been extended for 25 years at interest rates as low as 1%. The cash saved is earmarked for many purposes: energy subsidies, ... Read More

Secrecy charge levelled at Nicaragua canal project

| August 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Scidevnet

An ambitious project to build a canal for container shipsacross Nicaragua has moved closer despite scientists’ concerns that the full assessment of its environmental impacts remain unpublished.

Last month (8 July), the China-based HKND Group — the company chosen to build the canal — announced the approval by a committee of government officials, businessmen and academics of one of the five proposed routes (see map below). It estimates construction cost at US$40 billion and says the canal could be open by 2020.

The proposed route for the Nicragua canal is more than three times the length of the Panama canal. Local scientists are worried that it could wreak havoc with Lake Nicaragua’s biodiversity.

The Nicaraguan government granted rights to build the canal to the Chinese group last year. It claims the project will create jobs and tackle poverty. According to government officials the canal would create about 250,000 jobs.

HKND also plans to build holiday resorts alongside the canal. ... Read More

Secrecy charge levelled at Nicaragua canal project

| August 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Scidevnet

[BUENOS AIRES] An ambitious project to build a canal for container shipsacross Nicaragua has moved closer despite scientists’ concerns that the full assessment of its environmental impacts remain unpublished.Last month (8 July), the China-based HKND Group — the company chosen to build the canal — announced the approval by a committee of government officials, businessmen and academics of one of the five proposed routes (see map below). It estimates construction cost at US$40 billion and says the canal could be open by 2020.

The Nicaraguan government granted rights to build the canal to the Chinese group last year. It claims the project will create jobs and tackle poverty. According to government officials the canal would create about 250,000 jobs. HKND also plans to build holiday resorts alongside the canal. Telémaco Talavera, a member of the committee that approved the project, told Nicaraguan TV channel TN8 last month that the resulting rise in tourism will bring broad economic ... Read More

Menor demanda externa reduce crecimiento de América Latina

| August 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

AFP

SANTIAGO – La menor demanda externa de materias primas por parte de los socios de América Latina y el Caribe, principalmente China, llevó a Cepal a reducir su estimación del crecimiento de la región de 2.7% a 2.2% en el 2014.

A la menor demanda externa se suma “un bajo dinamismo de la demanda interna, insuficiente inversión y un limitado espacio para la implementación de políticas que impulsen la reactivación”, sostuvo la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (Cepal) en un informe económico presentado este lunes.

El menor crecimiento de China es “el principal riesgo” en lo que queda de año para los países de la región exportadores de materias primas.

En tanto, el crecimiento de Europa y Japón, otros importantes socios comerciales de Latinoamérica, caerá de 0.5% a 0.2% y de 1.7% a 1.4% respectivamente, lo que también significará una menor demanda de las ... Read More

Putin’s Pirates Of The Caribbean Tour

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
IBD

Geopolitics: Vladimir Putin blew through Latin America last week, handing out goodies to anti-U.S. regimes. But he insists he doesn’t want to reopen an old spy base in Cuba, which we find disingenuous.

The scope of the Russian president’s visit took the U.S. by surprise. Instead of just attending the World Cup final and a summit of BRICS countries, Putin made an unexpected visit to Nicaragua, with talk of a military land base there. He then flew to Argentina, reportedly with promises for two nuclear plants, and on to Venezuela to offer a credit lifeline.

Last but not least, Putin stopped in Cuba to sign deals on everything from electricity output to exploration for oil with Rosneft (the company whose unsavory oligarch, Igor Sechin, was the target of Wednesday’s sanctions over Ukraine). There was also a dramatic announcement that Russia would forgive 90% of Cuba’s $35 billion debt.

But on Thursday, Putin denied that ... Read More

China, Russia leaders seek South American inroads

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By JOSHUA GOODMAN

It’s enough to make an aging U.S. Cold Warrior shudder.

During overlapping visits to Latin America, the leaders of China and Russia have been welcomed with open arms by governments that are among the most hostile to Washington, including Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Together with stops in Argentina and Brazil, which both have distanced themselves from the U.S. in recent years, the tours underscore the mix of ideology and economics that’s allowing the two superpowers to expand their influence in America’s backyard.

“These are all countries the U.S. has some real question marks about,” said Kevin Gallagher, a Boston University economist and expert on Chinese-Latin American ties. “It’s going to require some PR so as not to be interpreted in certain, phobic circles as an overt alignment with left-leaning governments at odds with the U.S.”

Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin said their visits were focused on ... Read More

Putin’s surprise visit to Nicaragua fuels canal rumors

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Nicaragua Dispatch

BY TIM ROGERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Nicaragua as a “very important ally for Russia in Latin America” during a surprise stopover in Managua last night as part of his political/World Cup tour of Latin America.

In brief comments broadcast on Sandinista media outlets, Putin — the first Russian President to ever visit Nicaragua — noted that the two countries are celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations, but that “we have to do a lot to continue developing our relations, especially economically.”

Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, seated next to his wife and his favorite son, Laureano, called Putin’s visit “historic.” He compared it to a “lightning strike” — apparently meant in a happy way.

“We are very happy to have you in our land, which is your land,” Ortega told his Russian counterpart through an interpreter.

Ortega lauded Putin for his efforts to fight the war on drugs and to “fight for peace.”

Putin’s surprise ... 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

Financing still a mystery as Nicaragua plans giant canal

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
seattle-times-logo

What went unanswered were two basic questions: Who’s going to pay for a canal with an estimated cost of $40 billion? Is China’s hidden hand at play?

By Tim Johnson

MEXICO CITY — The Chinese tycoon behind a plan to build a mammoth interoceanic waterway to compete with the Panama Canal whisked into Nicaragua last week and, in several appearances, including one with President Daniel Ortega, affirmed that “the biggest construction project in the history of mankind” has a green light.

In a lengthy appearance on state television Tuesday night, Ortega sat next to Wang Jing, the Chinese telecommunications magnate who has been pushing the plan, and pledged that the proposed canal “will permit the country to eradicate poverty and misery.”

The two promised that environmental damage during construction of the canal — at 173 miles long, more than three times the length of the one in Panama — will be minimal. Construction is scheduled ... Read More

Nicaragua Plots a Rival for the Panama Canal

| July 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Newsweek

By Lucy Westcott

There are a lot of doubts about whether a proposed canal in Nicaragua will ever be built, but the route of the waterway that would link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and potentially radicalize the world’s trading routes has been settled on.

The proposed route of the 173-mile-long canal cuts a path through Nicaragua at a cost of $40 billion, which is nearly four times the annual GDP of the Central American country. The Chinese company contracted to build the canal is expected to start construction in December. HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd. (HKND Group), which is in charge of the building the canal, has said it will be completed in five years.

The construction of Nicaragua’s canal represents a second chance to reap the rewards a major shipping channel can bestow on a country after losing out on the opportunity to build one more than a century ago. With statements from government officials that ... Read More

UN pushes for migrants to be called refugees

| July 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY ALBERTO ARCE AND MARCOS ALEMAN

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – United Nations officials are pushing for many of the Central Americans fleeing to the U.S. to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict, a designation meant to increase pressure on the United States and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum.

Officials with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees say they hope to see a regional agreement on that status Thursday when migration and interior department representatives from the U.S., Mexico, and Central America meet in Nicaragua. The group will discuss updating a 30-year-old declaration regarding the obligations nations have to aid refugees.

While such a resolution would lack any legal weight in the United States, the agency said it believes “the U.S. and Mexico should recognize that this is a refugee situation, which implies that they shouldn’t be automatically sent to their home countries ... Read More

Central America’s Security Crisis is the United States’ Problem, Too

| June 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

With the Obama administration scrambling to address the “humanitarian crisis” of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. southern border, let’s hope it has learned a sobering lesson about how presumably well-meaning (and politically expedient) words and actions on a such a hot button issue as immigration can have serious real-world consequences. Whatever the administration was trying to say or do over the past few years on immigration reform got lost in translation to thousands of Central American families whose only hope in life is to make it to the United States to find safety, security, and a decent day’s wage.

Reports are that the number of unaccompanied minors, primarily from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, detained at the border has more than tripled since 2011, with most of them believing — manipulated by unscrupulous human traffickers –that some sort of legal status awaited them.

As one regional expert told the Washington Post, what the ... Read More

Carter Center blasts Nicaragua’s electoral system

| June 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Nicaragua Dispatch

Electoral watchdog group says Nicaragua’s democracy is in an ‘unfortunate chapter’ and Sandinista-stacked electoral system has ‘degenerated significantly’

he Carter Center today released a statement lamenting the Sandinista government’s recent renewal of its scandal-plagued electoral authorities, calling the move a “significant lost opportunity for this country to strengthen its battered electoral institutions.”

The international electoral and human rights watchdog group started by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said the “image and credibility of the CSE, together with the standards governing democracy and elections in Nicaragua, have degenerated significantly in the wake of the confirmed fraud perpetrated in the 2008 municipal elections.”

The Carter Center added, “On Nov. 6, 2011, this same CSE organized and held the least transparent national election in Nicaragua in the last 20 years, the results of which have proven to be impossible to verify, setting a damaging precedent for the future of democracy in Nicaragua.”

The electoral watchdog group, which ... Read More

In 2013 (FDI) flows to Latin America reached a new historical high

| June 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

According to a report released by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on May 29th, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to Latin America in 2013 reached a new historical high of US$184.9bn. This is welcome news, given weakening growth rates and softening commodity prices, and is testament to the continued attractiveness of the region’s expanding domestic markets and copious natural resources. However, the outlook is not all positive. Growth in FDI inflows is slowing, the region’s share of global FDI remains relatively low, and there is still a long way to go for the region to diversify away from services and natural resources.

FDI flows to Latin America have been increasing steadily since 2003, with the exception of 2006 and 2009, boosted by booming domestic demand (crucial for market-seeking investment) and high prices for commodities exports. In 2013 FDI to the region continued on an upward trend. ... Read More

Full circle

| May 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

ON MAY 9th American customs and border-protection officials launched an aerostat—a fat, tethered balloon—above the coast of Puerto Rico. Its job is to use radar to detect low-flying aircraft, ships and smaller vessels carrying drugs across the seas to the south. This is not the first time the island, a territory of the United States, has been home to an aerostat: an earlier one crashed in a storm in 2011. Now it needs one again.

William Brownfield, the State Department’s senior anti-drugs official, says that 16% of cocaine imports into the United States came through the Caribbean islands last year. That is up from 4% in 2011. For European cocaine imports, the proportions are even higher.

The rising volume of drugs coming through the Caribbean is an example of what drugs wonks call the “balloon effect”, the idea that increased pressure on one drug route produces a bulge elsewhere. Until recently, the ... Read More

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