Friday, January 14, 2011

Daily Headlines: January 14, 2011

* Venezuela: U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said that Venezuela doesn’t pose “a significant threat” to the U.S. but also admitted that he was concerned over the South American country’s arms purchases.

* Brazil: The death toll from a series of landslides and flooding in southeastern Brazil rose to nearly 500 fatalities.

* U.S.: A report by researchers at Seton Hall University found that New Jersey’s day laborers have been the targets of widespread abuse by employers.

* Argentina: Are plans to start a best soccer player in Europe award next season sour grapes over Argentina’s Lionel Messi winning the Ballon d'Or last week?

Image – Carlos Garcia Rawlins/REUTERS via Christian Science Monitor (“Venezuelan soldiers take part in a military parade on June 24, 2009, to celebrate the 188th anniversary of the battle of Carabobo in Valencia, where Simon Bolivar's decisive victory against Spanish forces led to Venezuela's independence.”)
Online Sources- El Universal, The Guardian, Bloomberg, Herald Sun

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Daily Headlines: January 13, 2011

* Brazil: Approximately 400 people are believed to have died as a result of heavy rain, flooding, and mudslides in southeastern Brazil.

* Panama: The government has requested that France extradite former strongman Manuel Noriega.

* Chile: A government spokesperson said that officials would be “open” to modifying gas price hikes after two people died in violent protests.

* Peru: At a judicial hearing on Monday, activist Lori Berenson requested to remain on parole and not return to prison.

Image – Bruno Domingos / Reuters via MSNBC (“An aerial view shows damage caused to a street after heavy rains in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, on Wednesday. Floods and landslides devastated towns in a mountainous area near Rio de Janeiro, killing hundreds of people.”)
Online Sources- Monsters and Critics, Democracy Now, LAHT, CNN

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today’s Video: The media on Haiti, revisited

One year ago today a massive earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck near Port-au-Prince and shook most of Haiti. At least 200,000 people died from the tremor, millions were left homeless, and hundreds of buildings tumbled to the ground.

Days after the earthquake, President Rene Preval declared that "Haiti will not die" but in the twelve months since the tremor the country has been on life support. Wild weather, a cholera outbreak, and political upheaval were just some of the maladies faced by quake survivors who for the most part live in the streets or in unsafe tent camps.

As was written in an article on CNN's website, grim reminders of the quake can still be observed while Haitians continue the Herculean task to rebuild their country:
Five days ago, three more bodies were pulled from the rubble in central Port-au-Prince.
In the upcoming days we'll look at several aspects of post-earthquake Haiti such as the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of billions of dollars in foreign donations. Today, however, we want to revisit a video examining the international press response to the earthquake. British comedian and journalist Charlie Brooker criticized how some media outlets shifted their narrative in order to exaggerate the "signs of conflict" among survivors:

Video Source - YouTube
Online Sources - CBS News. BBC News, The Latin Americanist

Daily Headlines: January 12, 2011

* Central America: Costa Rica took its border dispute with Nicaragua to the International Court of Justice and accused Nicaragua of “tainting Costa Rica's long institutional and democratic tradition."

* Brazil: Heavy rain and flooding killed at least thirteen people in and around Sao Paulo.

* Colombia: An environmental damage lawsuit was filed in the name of 73 Colombian farmers against oil giant BP.

* Mexico: A long-running trade disagreement could soon end after the Mexican government announced changes in certain tariffs on U.S. products.

Image – Momento24 English (Both Costa Rica and Nicaragua have claimed sovereignty of a disputed area near the San Juan River border).
Online Sources- The Guardian, Xinhua, Reuters, MSNBC

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Daily Headlines: January 11, 2011

* U.S.: Jury selection began in the immigration trial of former CIA operative and suspected bomber Luis Posada Carriles.

* Peru: Police in Lima arrested ex-media boss Jose Enrique Crousillat, who was involved in the infamous “vladi-videos” scandal in the 1990s.

* Brazil: Famed author Paulo Coelho claimed that Iran is banning his books and the Brazilian government should intervene in the matter.

* U.S.: Former NFL player Ron Rivera, who is of Puerto Rican and Mexican background, may be hired as head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Image – AP via BBC News (Luis Posada Carriles is wanted in Venezuela and Cuba where he’s accused of masterminding a pair of bombings in 1976 and 1999).
Online Sources- Miami Herald, The Guardian,, BBC News

Sunday, January 9, 2011

LatAm Alphabet Soup

There's UNASUR and MERCOSUR, obviously NAFTA and CAFTA-DR.

ALBA, CAN (Andean Community of Nations), ACS (Association of Caribbean States), OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) ALADI (The Latin American Integration Association which is Mexico plus most of South America but not Central America), and SICA (Central American Integration System).

And of course the US Congress is still evaluating passage of free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, with Canada working towards one with the Caribbean (CARICOM).


For good measure, this year some new ones are being inaugurated: AIP (Área de Integración Profunda) - a new body made up of Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico. And Chile, Colombia and Peru are consolidating their stock markets.

As an aside, since every rising market needs a good name (BRICs, PIIGS, Civets), I'm going to go ahead and dub these the "Andean Jaguars." Can't wait for that to take off.

Ok, you get the idea. But aside from the myriad of summits that led Felipe Calderon to compare Latin American diplomacy to a mountain range, what is the tangible impact of all these agreements?

Despite the seemingly excessive, frequently overlapping agreements and integration systems, the recent rise of "Multi-latinas," a new class of competitive cross-border Latin American firms is one of the most positive developments of all these agreements.

The Multi-latinas are companies that operate across Latin America, primarily with Latin American capital, and that take advantage of their local expertise to find niches and beat international competitors. América Móvil is a perfect example.

Some are true multinationals - Vale, CEMEX, Bimbo, Embraer. Many more operate exclusively within the region. They are big drivers of growth in the region and could turn into what multinationals in Latin America emulate in order to succeed, rather than the other way around.

A provision of establishing the common stock market was that Peru lower its capital gains tax to 5% (previously it had ranged from 5-30%). By comparison, the US capital gains tax is 15% after the "Great Tax Compromise." Granted, it's difficult to actually incorporate a business in Peru. But 5% is attractive nonetheless.

Image Source: AmericaEconomia
Online Sources: Financial Times TILT Blog, Bloomberg, Colombia Reports, Wikipedia, The Economist, La Republica, Americas Society/Council of the Americas, BusinessWeek, Boston Consulting Group