Posts tagged ‘Argentina’
Marching to the Right?
Is populism on the wane in Latin America’s larger economies?
On Thursday (December 9), Argentina’s new business-friendly conservative President Maurico Macri took office after 12 years of left wing government.
Voters recently dealt an electoral blow to the populist legacy of the late Hugo Chavez and his United Socialist Party of Venezuela — electing an opposition majority to the National Assembly.
Meanwhile lawmakers in Brazil are trying to impeach another populist, President Dilma Rousseff, who is is grappling with a severe economic downturn and a massive corruption scandal in her Workers Party government.
But bad news for leftists is good news to foreign investors, according to Bloomberg News (via the Tico Times).
Venezuelan bonds climbed after the opposition won a majority in Congress for the first time in 16 years, Bloomberg reported, adding that the Global X MSCI Argentina exchange-traded fund has seen asses under management climb since polls showed Macri was likely o win the presidency. Investors have also piled into the biggest Brazil stock, ET< since impeachment proceedings against Rousseff were initiated, the business news site said.
The Venezuelan elections could also have significant consequences for Russian oil development contracts and a slowdown of arms sales to Venezuela, according to RBC Daily (via Russia Beyond the Headlines).
Today Venezuela is Russia’s second largest American trading partner after Brazil. Trade relations between the two countries is largely focused on oil and defense. Russia’s state oil enterprise Rosneft is collaborating on five joint oil production projects in Venezuela, including developing oil deposits in the Orinoco River Valley, according to RBC.
Russia has supplied much of Venezuela’s military weaponry including Su-30 fighter jets, T-72 tanks and Grad multiple rocket launchers, according to RBC.
While Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Nicola Maduro, remains president, his party’s capability to influence decisions has been significantly reduced, RBC said. The assembly voting is the worst-ever defeat for the leftist movement founded by Chavez in 1999, according to the BBC.
Argentina’s economy isstuck in a prolonged slowdown and facing a recession next year, according to International Monetary Fund forecasts. But Macri’s room to maneuver will be limited by Congress, where the coalition loyal to his predecessor Cristina Kirchner and her husband Nestor — also a former president — will be the largest party in the lower house and have an absolute majority in the Senate, according to AFP.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s Supreme Court has suspended impeachment proceedings against Rousseff until it rules on a secret vote that apparently stacked a congressional committee with opponents trying to oust her, according to The Independent website.
UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: UPDATE — Wallops Island Drone-port; Drone Business Report; Latin American UAS Market
UPDATES with link to Latin America drone market article in Unmanned Systems (see last item below)
Virginia Drone Port.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today (August 6) that work will begin in the fall on a 3,000-foot runway for unmanned aircraft at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, on the state’s Eastern Shore, according to a Norfolk television report (WVEC).
Flight operations will begin in 2016, McAuliffe told a news conference at Old Dominion University, home of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.
He also said an agreement has been reached to provide funding to complete the approximately $15 million in repairs to a launch pad damaged last year when a rocket exploded. The spaceport is one of only four facilities licensed by the federal government to launch rockets into orbit.
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The Drone Biz.
Aerial photography and land surveying are among the top uses of commercial unmanned aircraft technology that have been approved for flight by the Federal Aviation Administration, we learn from a report by the largest robotics industry group, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
“Businesses across every industry sector have been waiting to use UAS for years and are excited to finally get this technology off the ground,” Brian Wynne, AUVSI’s president and CEO, said in statement.
The first 500 FAA exemptions to the current ban on commercial drone operations approved were examined by AUVSI and compiled in a report published just prior to the FAA’s announcement that the number of Section 333 exemptions it has granted hit 1,000 this week. For more details, see this article in the Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald.
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Latin American Market.
Speaking of the drone business, your 4GWAR editor has a story on the Latin American market for unmanned aircraft in the August issue of Unmanned Systems, the AUVSI magazine.
“From Mexico’s Caribbean coast and the Amazon rainforest to the Argentine Pampas, unmanned aircraft are assessing hurricane damage, surveying timberland and monitoring crops and livestock for government agencies and big corporations.”
Now that August is over, you can see our entire story here.
National Guard, Immigration Bill.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has ordered up to 1,000 National Guardsmen to the border with Mexico to help deal with the crisis of thousands of children crossing over from Mexico.
More than 57,000 unaccompanied minors — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have crossed illegally since October, reports USA Today, noting the influx of children has overwhelmed federal detention centers and Border Patrol offices.
The state acion is estimated to cost Texas taxpayers $12 million a month once it gets underway. No starting date has been set yet. Most of the children are reportedly fleeing drug trafficking and gang violence in their home countries.
Meanwhile, at immigration bill meant to deal with the illegal child immigrant issue is on life suport on Capitol Hill. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner called off a vote on a border assistance bill until Friday (August 1). The day Congress was supposed to take off for a month-long recess, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. And a vote on the Senate version of the bill was blocked until after August.
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Gaza Fallout in Latin America
The fighting in Gaza beween the Israel Defense Force and Hamas may be a world away, but it is starting to have diplomatic repercussions in Latin America.
This week El Salvador became the fifth Latin American country to recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv and not because of safety and security fears. San Salvador recaled its envoy to protest the IDF’s continued operations in Gaza and the disastrous effect it is having on civilians.
Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru have previously called their ambassadors, according to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. Israel’s Foreign Ministry expressed deep disappointment with what it called with their “hasty decision” to call diplomats hom for consultation. Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the ministry, told Haaretz that such actions “constitutes encouragement for Hamas, a group recognized as a terrorist organization by many countries around the world.”
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Argentina’s rocky economy may be in for another shock as the country is on the verge of defaulting on billions of dollars of government bonds. If Buenos Aires doesn’t pay up, it will be country’s second default in 13 years.
Argentina has been battling a group of hedge funds since it defaulted on its bond obligations in 2001. Argentina offered new bonds worth much less than the orginal ones but has been its obligations on them. A small group of bondholders want to be paid in full and the Argentine government has resisted. But a judge in New York has ruled that banks using Argentina’s money to pay the holders of the lesser bonds would be in violation of a previous court order.
The dispute, which weighs heavilly on the Argentine economy, has most likely “pushed up borrowing costs for Argentine companies and depleted economic confidence in a country that is already facing high inflation and sagging growth,” the New York Times explains.
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Venezuelan Official Faces Drug Charges
The former head of Venezuela’s military intelligence is accused of corruption and drug dealing by the United States. Hugo Carvajal was arrested on request
of the U.S. State Department when he got off a plane in Aruba last week.
But officials in the Caribbean Island nation had to let him go — because he had diplomatic immunity — and sent him back to Venezuela even though the U.S. wanted to extradite him. Indictments unsealed after his arrest accused him of being on the payroll of drug traffickers and coordinating massive cocaine shipments, the New York Times reported.
The indictments “open a window onto accusations of ties between Venezuelan military and law enforcement officers and Colombian drug traffickers, a connection that officials in Washington have long warned about and that has been roundly dismissed by authorities” in Venezuela, according to the Times.
Carvajal was traveling on a diplomatic passport as Venezuela’s new consul in Aruba. He was a long-time confidant of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune.
LATIN AMERICA: Fallout from NSA Intel Revelations, Brazil-Argentina Cyber Pact, Colombian Drug Ring Busted
Relations have been strained between the United States and Brazil since disclosures by a rogue contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA) revealed widespread spying by the U.S. on Brazil.
Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, was said to be furious over the revelations that the NSA had been conducting widespread spying on her, her top advisers and Brazil’s largest oil company — Petrobras. . Brasilia has demanded a full explanation from Washington and Rousseff has postponed her planned state visit to Washington, scheduled for late October, according to the New York Times, which called the decision a “sharp rebuke to the Obama administration.
Rousseff’s move was seen as a stunning diplomatic setback for the United States which has been trying to improve relations with South America’s largest country and biggest economy after a shaky relationship with her predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, according to AFP. The Brazilian president has called the spying “an illegal act” and a violation of Brazilian sovereignty.
Brazil-Argentina Cyber Defense Pact
How bad are relations between Brazil and the United States over disclosures that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has collected data on billions of phone and email conversations in Brazil — including President Dilma Rousseff’s personal communications? Pretty bad.
Not only has Rousseff postponed a long-planned state visit to Washington, but Brazil has agreed to a cyber defense pact with Argentina, according to Press TV reports.
The agreement was reached following Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim’s recent meeting with his Argentine counterpart, Agustin Rossi in Buenos as Aires. The military agreement commits Brazil to train Argentina’s military in cyber defense starting in 2014.
Police in Colombia have captured 16 drug dealers that were paert of a ring that grows and distributes marijuana through small convenience in the country’s major cities, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
Four of the suspects were caught ransporting 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of marijuana by truck” in Bogota,” according to the national police.
The police said the drug ring paid a “gram tax” on marijuana to the country’s largest armed rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The Colombian government has accused the FASRC of involvement in drug trafficking — as has the United States. The rebels deny the charge. The FARC and the government are currently holding peace talks in Havana, Cuba, to put an end to five decades of fighting.
Both sides ended their 14th round of negotiations Thursday (September 19), issuing a joint statement saying they had made progress, according to Reuters.
The statement said the parties “continue advancing in developing and writing up accords … around the second point of the agenda on political participation,” including rights and guarantees for the exercise of political opposition, Reuters said. But the FARC accused the government of trying to impose unilaterally the conditions on any future peace agreement.
The government in Bogota wants a peace accord by November when the national electoral cycle starts. But both sides say that deadline won’t be met and may complicate the presidential vote in May 2014.
Don’t Mess With Me, Argentina
Argentina, South America’s second-largest country, has been making a lot of headlines lately: saber-rattling over the Falkland Islands as the 30th anniversary of that war with Britain nears … getting back into the arms business … and threatening to pick a fight with another European nation over a giant energy company.
You Say Falklands, I Say Malvinas
Thirty years ago this month, a Britsh battle group led by the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, sailed for the South Atlantic to reclaim the Falkland Islands, which Argentina had invaded a few days earlier and claimed as its own as Las Islas Mavinas – not Falkland Islands.
The Brits drove Argentina’s military junta to the peace table within a few months of fighting. The embarassing loss also drove the junta from office.
Now Argentina’s government is making noise about the windswept islands in the middle of almost nowhere, even threatening to invade them again. Most of Latin America is siding with Argentina, calling the UK’s position there since 1833 an occupation.
At a summit of Western Hemisphere leaders in Colombia over the weekend, the U.S. and Canada declined to join a declaration supporting Argentina’s rights to the islands.
The Planes of Argentina Are Called Pampas
Argentina is hoping to revive its defense manufacturing industry with the production of Pampa combat and training aircraft. According to UPI via Defense Industry Daily, Buenos Aires was inspired by Brazil’s resurgent arms industry.
For a start, production will be for the demands of the Argentine Air Force and Navy but analysts say government planners are looking to enter the export market.
Fadea, the government-controlled aircraft factory in Cordoba plans to build 100 Pampa II in association with German aerospace company Grob Aircraft AG, according to press reports. Grob Aircraft won a contract last year to build turbo prop-powered trainers for the Indonesian Air Force.
In addition to yanking the British Lion’s tail over the Falklands/Malvinas, Argentina is picking a fight with Spain over a huge energy company. The Argentine company, YPF, was privatized and sold to Spain’s Repsol in the 1990s. But Argentine President Cristina Fernandez decreed the seizure of Repsol’s 51 percent stake in the company, claiming that Argentina needed to reclaim sovereignty of its natural resources.
The move outraged the Spanish government, which vowed retaliation — both legal and economic, Reuters reported. Fernandez’s decision cheered voters who have grown disenchanted with her government in recent months. It also spooked international investors, according to the Associated Press.
Fernandez had been dropping in popularity polls before the saber-rattling and nationalization tactics, which reminds us of the moves taken by the military junta in 1982 when its popularity was waning. Stay tuned.