Quel Panama was an expression used in France at the beginning of the last century to describe an unsolvable muddle. It became popular after Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps attempted – but failed catastrophically – to dig the Panama Canal after his success with the Suez Canal.
Given the stand-off that has brought work to expand the canal to a near halt, it’s an expression that would well be in vogue again. But after weeks of wrangling the Panama Canal Authority and the construction consortium working on one of the world’s great trade conduits have shaken hands in a deal aimed at finishing the project by the end of next year. Continue reading »
A year ago Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s leftwing president, was riding high after winning a third term in a landslide election.
Some say his party, Alianza País, got too used to winning. This week, Correa was looking more subdued after the opposition won the country’s key mayoralties – Guayaquil, Cuenca and, most painfully, the capital Quito – in Sunday’s local elections. Continue reading »
Demonstrators are still out in the streets of Caracas venting anger over a raft of problems, including rampant shortages of basic goods, which economists say are a by-product of foreign currency restrictions.
Unrest has been mounting in Venezuela, as pro-and anti-government groups keep clashing. Amid such mayhem, the government took some time to fiddle, once again, with its foreign exchange system, this time introducing the new “Sicad 2.” Continue reading »
Those times of stellar annual growth rates of 6, 7 or 8 per cent that Peru experienced in recent years may be gone, and the country might now be dealing with a current account deficit.
But the Andean nation still has quite a vibrant economy, which in 2013 expanded by 5 per cent, the national statistics agency said on Friday. Continue reading »
Peru's Ollanta Humala, Chile's Sebastián Piñera, Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos, Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto and Costa Rica's Laura Chinchilla in Cartagena, Colombia
It’s all about free trade. The Pacific Alliance, a growing bloc in Latin America that stands among the world’s 10 largest economies, sealed a deal on Monday to eliminate tariffs on 92 per cent of goods and services in a move that distances it further from some of its more protectionist neighbours.
“I don’t think there has been an integration process that has taken decisions so fast as the Pacific Alliance has done,” Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, told beyondbrics. Continue reading »
In the last week an international court ordered Bolivia to pay $41m in compensation to UK-based power generator Rurelec for the nationalisation of its assets. After a stream of seizures in recent years, the move could set a precedent for other companies waiting for reparations from the Andean country’s leftwing government.
However, to some observers there is a big question looming: will Bolivia actually pay up? And if so, when? Continue reading »
While once the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena was raided by Sir Francis Drake in the days of the gold-grabbing deeds of Elizabethan navigators, the page was turned on that era of history and for almost a decade now it has been home to a successful offshoot of the UK’s Hay Festival of Literature. Now it seems that the country’s links with the UK are about to be entering yet another new chapter. Continue reading »
It has been a while coming but after a UN ruling on Monday it is finally time for Chile and Peru to put their maritime differences behind them.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague has given Peru a chunk of the Pacific Ocean it did not have before, while Chile has retained its rich coastal fishing grounds. So, despite smug smiles and gnashing of teeth in some corners of both countries, what looks like a split sovereignty ruling should reinforce the pledge Peru and Chile have made to remain good neighbours. Continue reading »
Amid a heavily distorted economy battling a spiralling black market rate for greenbacks, Venezuela on Wednesday finally unveiled plans to reform its tight currency control system that has been in place for more than a decade, a move that market watchers say amounts to a stealth devaluation.
“We are creating a system of bands in a new currency system,” said Rafael Ramírez, the president of the state oil company PDVSA, who is also the energy minister and vice president in charge of the economy, during a news conference. He insisted that, “this is not a devaluation, but a different foreign exchange system, with bands.” Continue reading »
Calling all courageous bond-buyers out there! Ecuador says it is trying to re-enter the bond market, taking advantage of rising demand for emerging market debt.
Patricio Rivera, the minister for economic policy, told reporters on Wednesday the leftwing government might issue debt during the first half of this year. Continue reading »
Ecopetrol's Gutierrez. Will he stay or will he go?
“What’s going on at Ecopetrol?” It’s an often-heard question about Colombia’s state-controlled oil company, producer of most of the country’s 1m barrels per day output.
Ecopetrol’s shares have fallen by 42 per cent in New York over the past year and have come under renewed pressure over the past month. With rumours that its chief executive is on the way out, all eyes are on an extraordinary shareholder meeting set for January 23. Continue reading »
No devaluation here?
As growing distortions wreak havoc in Venezuela’s economy after a decade of price and currency controls, there have been many calls for the government to make an aggressive adjustment, a real devaluation.
Well, according to Wednesday’s state of the union speech by president Nicolás Maduro, it is not going to happen, not this year, not for many years, as he confirmed the current exchange rate of 6.3 bolívars to the dollar. But amid a reshuffle of some of his top economic aides, the president announced what some economists are calling a “disguised”, “gradual”, “implicit” or even “incomplete” devaluation. Continue reading »
More tragic news from the frontline of Venezuela’s crime scene: the murder in front of their five year-old daughter of Mónica Spear, a former beauty queen and soap opera star, and her British-born ex-husband at the hands of a gang of armed robbers this week.
It is doubtful that the assailants had much on their mind beyond armed robbery – which they knew could end in murder, an outcome not unusual in a Venezuela ravaged by violence. In that sense, the deaths are just more statistics in a country with one of highest murder rates in the world, up there with Honduras, El Salvador, Ivory Coast and Jamaica. Continue reading »
The New Year has come but the same uncertainty as last year is still looming over Venezuela. Particularly, the genuine currency devaluation that many economists agree could correct the country’s deep economic distortions and narrow the budget gap is, so far, nowhere to be seen. Continue reading »
Venezuela used to be a telenovelas superpower. Soap operas such as Abigail, Cristal and others were hits all over Latin America back in the 1980s and 1990s. The industry lost some of its shine in the past decade, and a nascent film industry gave birth in recent times to epic movies about South American liberators.
Now, determined to ramp up its production industry, the Venezuelan government is seeking advice from no other than the world’s film superpower: Bollywood. Continue reading »