Content from IASW Contributors

Central American insecurity fuels U.S. border crisis

By Roger Noriega The surge of illegal immigrants at the U.S. southwest border
should sound the alarm for the President and Congress to lead an
international rescue mission to confront murderous narco-traffickers
and street gangsters who threaten U.S. security along with the lives and
livelihood of millions of Central Americans. Read More-->

La inseguridad de Centro América intensifica la crisis en la frontera sur de Estados Unidos

By Roger NoriegaLa oleada de inmigrantes ilegales en la frontera suroeste de los Estados Unidos,  hizo sonar la alarma para el Presidente y el Congreso e impulsar una misión de rescate internacional para enfrentar a criminales, narcotraficantes y pandilleros que amenazan la seguridad de EE.UU., junto con las vidas y sustento de millones de centroamericanos. Read More-->

Bigger Ships, Bigger Risks: The Expansion of the Panama Canal Brings Opportunities and Dangers

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Newsweek

By Rory Ross

On August 15th, the Panama Canal celebrates its 100th birthday with a ceremony at its Miraflores lock, followed by a Centennial Gala for 2,000 guests including representatives of the international shipping industry, owners, builders, insurers, operators and the like. This event marks the culmination of more than a year’s worth of celebrations worthy of a feat of engineering that took 35 years to complete, and that still holds its own as the oldest of the “seven modern wonders of the world”, rubbing shoulders with the Channel Tunnel and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Regrettably, the intended centrepiece of the centennial – the unveiling of the expanded locks of the canal that will herald a new era for Panama – is not yet ready, nor is expected to be ready until June 2015.

The expansion of the canal was proposed in 2006, and began in September 2007, and was meant ... Read More

Argentina Countdown to July 30 Deadline: Default or Boom

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Camila Russo

Argentina is set to default in less than two weeks unless it reaches a deal with holders of defaulted bonds or U.S. courts grant a delay to allow the nation to continue servicing restructured bonds.

U.S. Judge Thomas Griesa blocked the country’s attempt to make a June 30 bond payment, saying it must also comply with an order to pay $1.5 billion to hedge funds and other holders of defaulted bonds that sued for full repayment. As the 30-day grace period winds down, here are three possible outcomes:

1) Argentina and Holdout Creditors Reach a Deal by July 30

A settlement with creditors holding untendered securities from the nation’s $95 billion default in 2001, including billionaire Paul Singer’s NML Capital Ltd. and Aurelius Capital Management LP, would likely be the best scenario for investors.

“Most importantly it would allow Argentina to regain access to international credit markets,” said Mauro Roca, a senior Latin America ... Read More

Argentina nears cliff in risky debt game

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Benedict Mander

In “Rebel Without a Cause”, the anti-hero played by James Dean is challenged to a lethal game of chicken in which two cars must race towards a cliff. The loser is the driver who jumps out first. Investors in Argentine bonds must feel as if they are in a re-run of the 1955 film.

“There is no better analogy” for the showdown between Argentina and a group of New York hedge funds seeking repayment of bonds still in default since the country’s 2001 debt crisis, says Marco Schnabl, an Argentine lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. “Who is prepared to get closest to the brink?”

Despite a looming July 30 deadline for Argentina to make interest payments on restructured bonds, which it has been prevented from doing by a New York judge unless it also pays its “holdout” creditors in full, Argentine bond prices have rallied sharply in anticipation ... Read More

An Average Of 35 Protests Per Day In Venezuela, A Total Of 6,369 This Year

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

During the first half of 2014, Venezuela endured an average of 35 protests per day across the nation, according to a report released by the NGO Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS).

So far this year, the number of recorded rallies is 6,369, the NGO said.

In the report entitled “Social Unrest in Venezuela in the First Half of 2014,” OVCS indicated that the first six months of this year have had the most protests seen in the last 10 years.

It estimated an increase of 278 percent over the first semester of 2013, when there were 1,687 rallies.

The wave of protests, which intensified in February, began with demands for the right to public safety as a response to astronomical rates of street crime and violence. In the following weeks, the NGO wrote in its report, the theme of the protests expanded to include demands for a range of rights: food, political participation, ... Read More

Obama To Meet With Three Central American Presidents Over Border Crisis, Flow Of Children Slows Down

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

WASHINGTON (AP) –  The presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras will come to Washington next week to discuss the surge of unaccompanied minors from their countries across the U.S border.

The White House says Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, and El Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren will meet with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Friday.

The U.S. has been urging their governments to take steps to stem the exodus of children and warning that the U.S. will take steps to send them back promptly.

An Obama request to Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency spending contains $300 million to help the Central American government repatriate and reintegrate migrants that are sent back.

Meanwhile, the flood of children crossing the Mexican border illegally and without their parents has slowed down in recent weeks, according to two senior administration officials.

Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande ... Read More

Xi heads to Venezuela after inking trade deals with Argentina

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Global Post

China’s President Xi Jinping departed Argentina Sunday for Venezuela, the next-to-last stop of a Latin American tour aimed at bolstering trade with the region.

The Chinese leader’s charm offensive seeks to secure new bilateral trade deals — particularly for coveted raw materials.

Xi hopes to further develop his country’s strategic relationship with Venezuela, just as Caracas’ ties with the United States — the region’s traditional political and economic powerhouse — are arguably at their lowest point ever.

The countries, which have not had ambassadors in each other’s capitals since 2010, had poor relations during the leadership of late president Hugo Chavez and ties have remained strained under his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

- Warming ties with Caracas -

By contrast, relations have been warming between China and Venezuela where bilateral trade has been steadily rising, exceeding $20 billion in 2012. Beijing now is also the second largest buyer of Venezuelan oil.

Xi’s visit to Caracas is sandwiched ... Read More

Russia Rejoins Cuba’s Espionage Apparatchik in the Americas

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

By Jerry Brewer

In order to effectively monitor aggression, hostile intelligence acts, interference, and other forms of insurgency within their homelands, democracies throughout the Americas must immediately address their governments’ counterintelligence missions against those rogue and dictatorial style regimes that pose obvious threats.

Russia’s recent decision to reopen its electronic spying center in Cuba is once again an obvious act that aggressively demonstrates support for the Cuban Castro regime, and a shared dispute versus the United States.

The Lourdes base closed 13 years ago, having been built in 1962. The closing was reportedly due to the economic crisis in Russia, along with repeated requests from the United States.

Lourdes served as a signals’ intelligence (SIGINT) facility, among other applications, located just 100 miles from the United States at Key West, Florida. During what has been described as the Cold War, the Lourdes facility was believed to be staffed “by over 1,500 KGB, GRU, Cuban DGI, and Eastern ... Read More

China’s Goals in South America

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Diplomat

By Shannon Tiezzi

As Xi Jinping travels through South America this week, China’s goals for the region are on display. Even though Xi ’s tour of South America only sees him stopping in three countries (Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina), he has arranged meetings with even more leaders, including the presidents of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Amidst all the diplomatic niceties, what does China actually want to achieve with Xi’s trip?

The most obvious priority is expanding economic ties between China and South America. Trade between China and Latin America (a region encompassing South America, Central America, and the Caribbean) has skyrocketed in the past 15 years, rising from a total value of $12 billion in 2000 to $261 billion in 2013. And there’s still room for growth, as China’s bilateral trade volumes with individual countries remain relatively low. China has grown to be Latin America’s second largest trading partner and may ultimately has its sights ... 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

Argentina Default Worries Renewed as Fernandez Defiant

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Charlie Devereux

Bond trading shows investors are becoming less confident that Argentina will reach a settlement with holders of defaulted debt amid defiant comments by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Two weeks after a U.S. judge blocked Argentina from paying interest on its restructured bonds because it didn’t abide by a ruling to pay holdout creditors that won a court order for full repayment, Fernandez dismissed concern the nation risked reneging on its obligations again if it doesn’t reach a deal. The comment deepened the first weekly drop in Argentine bonds in a month, pushing losses to 5.6 percent since July 11 on benchmark notes due 2033.

While the securities have still risen 7.4 percent in the past month on speculation the nation will strike a deal to avoid defaulting for the second time since 2001, Fernandez’s comment underscores the risk Argentina will refuse to negotiate, according to Patrick Esteruelas, an analyst at ... Read More

Is Mexico Doing Enough to Secure Its Southern Border?

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
FUSION

BY TED HESSON

Sneaking north into Mexico wasn’t easy, according to Brandon, who was 14 years old when he left his hometown in Guatemala last April to rejoin his parents in the United States.

A smuggler hired to get Brandon across the border led him on a five-hour hike across rough terrain and through sweltering heat to avoid Mexican border checkpoints.

“I suffered a lot,” Brandon told Fusion during a recent interview in Virginia. “It was really hot. There were a lot of thorns and my shoes broke. I got blisters on my feet.”

The month-long trip didn’t get any easier after that. The coyote warned Brandon’s group that capture by the Mexican federal police meant deportation or bribery. “He said that if they found us, they would arrest everyone.”

Still, Mexican immigration enforcement was no comparison to what he faced when he entered the U.S. After crossing the Rio Grande border into South Texas, Brandon was ... Read More

Venezuela’s loss of thousands of oil workers has been other countries’ gain

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

In 2003 Venezuela’s then president, Hugo Chávez, fired more than 18,000 employees, almost half the workforce, of the state-run oil corporation, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). Their offence was to have taken part in a strike (pictured) called in protest at the politicisation of the company. Their punishment was to be barred from jobs not only in PDVSA itself but also in any company doing business with the oil firm. The axe fell heavily on managers and technicians: around 80% of the staff at Intevep, PDVSA’s research arm, are thought to have joined the strike. At the stroke of a pen, Venezuela lost its oil intelligentsia.

It was a blow from which PDVSA has never recovered. The firm’s oil production has since stagnated (see chart), despite a big run-up in prices. The financial crisis bears some of the blame for that, as does the economic mismanagement of Chávez and, since last year, ... Read More

Argentina and the holdouts

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

ARGENTINA’S impressive run in the World Cup meant that, for the past few weeks, the country has existed in a state of football-fuelled bliss. Restaurants were strewn with blue and white streamers; bars extended happy hours; and stores offered discounts. Now troublesome reality has returned. Argentina’s vice-president is under investigation for corruption; its economy is in recession; and its inflation rate is the second-highest in the world. Most pressingly of all, it is less than two weeks away from default.

Last month the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear Argentina’s defence against NML Capital, a fund that scooped up steeply discounted debt left over from Argentina’s 2001 default, and has been holding out for full payment of principal and outstanding interest. Argentina had been hoping to appeal against a decision by Thomas Griesa, a judge in a New York district court, barring Argentina from paying the 93% of ... Read More

Report: Russia will reopen spy base in Cuba

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

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO

A report that Russia will reopen a Havana base that eavesdropped on U.S. communications from Key West to Washington has triggered fresh warnings of Moscow’s expansionism and predictions of a continued freeze in U.S.-Cuba relations.

Until its closure in 2002, the Lourdes base was Moscow’s largest intelligence facility abroad, with up to 1,500 KGB and GRU military intelligence officers manning an array of antennas and computers in the super-secret 28-square-mile base.

“If the report is true, there’s no question Washington will put Cuba engagement on the back burner,” said Andy Gomez, a retired Cuba specialist at the University of Miami and now senior policy advisor for the Washington law firm Poblete Tamargo.

Alvaro Alba, a Miami expert on Russia, said reopening Lourdes would underscore President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions and cast a pall on U.S.-Cuba relations as dark as that caused by Havana’s imprisonment of U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross since ... Read More

US should be ready if Petro Caribe tightens credit terms, study says

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Oil and Gas Journal

By Nick Snow

The possibility that Venezuela’s financial support for energy imports in the region could erode quickly makes it imperative for the Obama administration to adopt a wide range of policies to avoid an energy crisis in the Caribbean and Central America, a recent Atlantic Council report said.

“It’s almost 10 years since Venezuela announced the Petro Caribe program, which sells products at market benchmarks, but provides credit financing,” David L. Goldwyn, president of Goldwyn Global Strategies LLC and a senior nonresident energy fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, said during a discussion of the report he co-wrote with Cory R. Gill.

Petro Caribe has been an enormous political success and a significant financial drain for Venezuela, he noted. It also has undermined budgets in the Caribbean and Central American countries that use it by keeping electricity prices high through continued use of fuel oil and diesel fuel to generate power, ... Read More

Mexico makes promises, but little changes at Guatemala border

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Dallas News

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Mexico is promising to stem the flow of Central American migrants to the U.S. by tightening control at its notoriously porous Guatemalan border.

But messages from the country’s top two leaders in little more than a week have provided few details on how. And the scene on the ground is business as usual.

Dozens of Central Americans who paid $1.50 a head could be seen this week crossing the broad Suchiate River on improvised rafts of inner tubes and wooden boards, in full view of Mexican police on the shore and immigration agents posted on a bridge overhead.

“I don’t see anything has changed,” Guatemalan Luisa Fuentes, 56, said as she rode a raft to Mexico.

La Bestia, a decrepit freight train that takes migrants north from the border state of Chiapas, still carried many riders on its roof.

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government says it is catching and deporting far ... 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

Russia’s Ambitious Energy Diplomacy in Latin America

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Oil Price

By Nick Cunningham

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seeking to build alliances to counter Western influence, signed several energy deals in Latin America this past week.

The first stop on Putin’s six-day tour was Havana on July 11, where he met with Cuban President Raul Castro. The two sides reached an agreement that could see Russia exploring for oil in Caribbean waters, which would build up Cuba’s offshore oil industry. Putin also decided to wipe away 90 percent of the $32 billion worth of debt Cuba owes Russia, most of it dating back to the Soviet era.

The agreement was no doubt motivated by Putin’s desire to push back against what he views as U.S. meddling in Ukraine. Exploring for oil only a few dozen miles from the U.S. coast is a finger in Uncle Sam’s eye. “We will provide support to our Cuban friends to overcome the illegal blockade of Cuba,” Putin said on July ... Read More

Top US Airlines Are Fleeing Venezuela Because Of Its Bizarre Currency Regime

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Business Insider

ADAM LEVINE-WEINBERG

In the past month, each of the three top U.S. airlines — American Airlines, United Continental, and Delta Air Lines — have dramatically cut their flight schedules to Venezuela.

Indeed, airlines across the world have been complaining for months about the impact of currency manipulation and government regulations in Venezuela. Several other foreign carriers have stopped flying to Venezuela altogether this year. The U.S. legacy carriers have finally realized that they, too, need to cut their losses.

Venezuela’s bizarre currency regime Whereas most countries today operate with floating exchange rates that vary based on economic conditions across different countries, Venezuela has a fixed official exchange rate. For a long time, this official exchange rate has overvalued Venezuela’s local currency (the bolivar), causing a shortage of foreign currency.

For a while, airlines benefited from this situation. A loophole allowed Venezuelan citizens to exchange bolivars for up to $3,000 dollars at the official exchange rate if they were traveling ... Read More

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