Friday, May 13, 2016

Daily Headlines: May 13, 2016

* Chile: A “red tide” outbreak of toxic algae off the Chilean coast has led to the deaths of thousands of marine animals and paralyzed the local fishing industry.

* Colombia: Representatives of the Colombian government and FARC rebels agreed to a plan to judicially shield an anticipated peace deal, while prosecutors charged ELN guerilla commanders with nearly 16,000 crimes.

* Brazil: Should the Rio Olympics scheduled for this August be suspended or moved in light of Brazil’s political crisis and worry over the Zika virus epidemic?

* Mexico: Mexico's deputy secretary for finance warned that possible plans of a new U.S. president to use remittances to pay for a border wall could hinder bilateral efforts to prevent money laundering by criminals and drug cartels.

YouTube Source – CCTV America

Online Sources – Voice of America, Colombia Reports, InSight Crime, CTV News, Los Angeles Times

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Petrobras Hit with $358 Million Quarterly Loss

As he begins his first day as Brazilian acting president, Michel Temer, will have to face numerous political and economic challenges in the 180 days when he replaces suspended leader President Dilma Rousseff. Recession, growing unemployment, rising inflation are some of the obstacles in front of him though one more can be added today.

The state-run oil giant posted a $358 million net loss in the first three months of 2016, which comes one year after it earned some $1.5 billion in quarterly profits. Analysts surveyed by Reuters anticipated over $1 billion in earnings during the first trimester this year but ultimately the company sunk to a third consecutive quarter in the red. 

Petrobras also reported in its securities filing that net revenue dropped by 5.4% to nearly $20.2 billion, while the EBITDA margin that helps measure operating profit, dipped 2% to around $6 billion.

Much like other oil firms around the world, Petrobras has been hurt by the low prices of crude in recent months. But the company has also been hit by decreased oil and natural gas production purportedly stemming from increased maintenance at promising offshore sites. The refinery division that had helped Petrobras gain profits over a year ago has stagnated amid declining demand.

On the political side of the equation, Petrobras is the key business entity in the middle of the “Lava Jato” corruption scandal where an estimated $5.3 billion in bribes and kickbacks exchanged hands. Though the impeachment charges against Rousseff are not linked to “Lava Jato”, many figures of Brazil’s political elite have been implicated including ally-turned-adversary Temer:

Daily Headlines: May 12, 2016

* Brazil: In a pair of speeches to the press and followers this morning in Brasilia, a suspended president Dilma Rousseff proclaimed her innocence amid the impeachment process against her and accused political rivals of plotting an illegal “coup”.

* Panama: The Panamanian government has tried to repair the country’s image in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal but fell short by being excluded from an anti-corruption summit hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

* Mexico: A new report claimed that natural disasters and increased violence has led to the internal displacement of some 100,000 people in Mexico last year.

* Haiti: Plans to donate 500 metric tons of peanuts from the U.S. to malnourished Haitian children has backfired and led to an avalanche of criticism from farmers and NGOs.

YouTube Source – CNN (“Brazil's embattled president says there is no reason for her impeachment because she has committed no crime.”)

Online Sources – BBC News, GlobalPost, Bloomberg, Washington Post, The Latin Americanist

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Daily Headlines: May 11, 2016

* Brazil: The Brazilian Senate later today will likely approve holding an impeachment trial against embattled President Dilma Rousseff where she would be suspended from her post for 180 days.

* Colombia: President Juan Manuel Santos claimed that a peace deal with FARC rebels can be reached “in the very near future” hours after his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, called for a “civil resistance” against such an agreement. 

* Nicaragua: A new study blasted planned construction of an interoceanic canal though Nicaragua, which would be disastrous for a number of endangered wildlife species.

* Peru: Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori, continues to post a slight lead in the polls ahead of next month’s runoff.

* U.S.: At least 875,000 eligible Latino voters could face difficulties voting in the upcoming presidential election according to an analysis by National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials.

* El Salvador: The murder rate for El Salvador in the first four months of this year has reportedly surpassed the rates in other Central American countries for 2015.

YouTube Source – AFP

Online Sources – Fox News Latino, Colombia Reports, CNN, Reuters, The Tico Times, NBC News

Monday, May 9, 2016

Daily Headlines: May 9, 2016

* U.S.: Immigration authorities in the U.S. might grant Temporary Protected Status to the members of the Ecuadoran expat community in the wake of a major earthquake last month in the South American country.

* Mexico: Does the transfer of Sinaloa drug cartel head Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to a prison in Ciudad Juarez mean that he will soon be extradited to the U.S.?

* South America: The border dispute between Bolivia and Chile heated up after President Evo Morales claimed that the Chilean military established a base near the disputed Silala River.

* El Salvador: Mauricio Funes of El Salvador could soon be the next former Central American president to face a trial over potential corruption.

YouTube Source – AFP (At least 660 people died following a 7.8-magintude earthquake on April 16, 2016 that devastated areas of Ecuador near the Pacific coast).

Online Sources – Fox News Latin, The Atlantic, Deutsche Welle, JURIST