For more than 50 years, citizens of Communist Cuba have been assured access to basic foodstuffs by the libreta, or ration book. But the subsidised system in increasingly controversial and last year Raúl Castro, the country’s president, rubbished it as “paternalistic, irrational and unsustainable”.
Nevertheless, across the Caribbean, Castro’s friend and colleague Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela is planning a similar system in a bid to combat the shortages that are ravaging the home of 21st century socialism. Maduro said his government would introduce a rationing system using mandatory fingerprinting in supermarkets, calling it “perfect” and an “anti-fraud blessing”. Continue reading »
Is Bolivia ready to improve its image among foreign direct investors? A settlement with one claimant and an order to pay another at the end of last week suggest now would be a good time to do so – especially as the country tries to diversify away from its reliance on commodity exports and as President Evo Morales (pictured) prepares to seek re-election for a third term in October. Continue reading »
Peru’s economy is in the spotlight, going through its worst time since the global financial crisis. But Julio Velarde, Peru’s central bank chief, told beyondbrics on his way to the annual meeting of financial policymakers at Jackson Hole in the United States that this is simply, “a rough patch.”
Maybe more like a pothole, some may say, as the economy expanded just 0.3 per cent in June compared with a year earlier. Growth in Peru’s economy, once feted as a star inSouth America, slowed to 3.3 per cent in the first half of 2014.
A drop in investments and tumbling earnings from mineral exports caused by weaker prices and softer demand from Asia took a heavy toll. Lower mining output in the world’s third largest copper producer was also caused by issues at large mines. Continue reading »
Colombia’s Banco de la República, the central bank, raised the benchmark rate a quarter point to 4.25 per cent on Thursday. This is the fourth consecutive hike, as the bank has been withdrawing monetary stimulus, amid faster growth in the fastest growing of the major Latin American economies. Continue reading »
The sale this month of the Caracas-based newspaper El Universal to a little known Spanish private equity firm raised concerns that it may turn out to be yet another example of the dwindling space for government critics in the Venezuelan media.
The culling of some of the newspaper’s regular columnists this week has brought those fears back into the spotlight. Continue reading »
There has been an outpouring of bitter comments under the hashtag #GuisoChino – “Chinese Stew”, slang for fraud and corruption – in Venezuela sparked by this week’s visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping, who granted more financial support to the cratering economy of president Nicolás Maduro.
China has granted some $50bn in loans to Venezuela in recent years according to the Inter-American Dialogue/Boston University China-Latin America Finance Database, far more than to any other country in the region. Venezuela, after all, has the world’s biggest oil reserves. Continue reading »
Is one of Latin America’s stars losing some of its shine? Amid worsening terms of trade and expected weaker output in mining and fisheries, Peru’s central bank appears to think so, at least for now.
In its latest quarterly report, the BCRP cut its outlook for GDP growth this year to 4.4 per cent from its previous estimate of 5.5 per cent. Next year’s outlook was also revised downwards, to 6 per cent from 6.7 per cent. Continue reading »
Juan Valdéz, the moustached embodiment for Colombia’s coffee industry (along with his loyal donkey), may be grinning from the sidelines. After sourcing coffee from the Andean country for 43 years, Seattle-based Starbucks opened its first store here on Wednesday.
The three-story store is the first of 50 the company plans to open here in the next five years. But to the joy of proud Colombians (even Señor Valdéz), this will be the only country in the world to serve exclusively locally-sourced Starbucks coffee. Continue reading »
Recently re-elected Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos starts his second term in less than a month. As he won the election partly thanks to backing from an array of political actors – from leftists, to conservatives, to liberals – many think he may have some expensive favours to repay.
But foreign investors will probably be relieved that on Monday afternoon he gave his finance minister, Mauricio Cárdenas, a vote of confidence and reappointed him in the post. Continue reading »
With Venezuela’s economy in tatters, corruption allegations abounding and political infighting the name of the game, it may be time for changes at the top.
A fortnight ahead of the ruling socialist party’s third congress at the end of July, President Nicolás Maduro (pictured) is expected to make the first announcements of a government restructuring this week. What’s at stake in the country with the world’s largest oil reserves, but where shoppers struggle to find basics such as toilet paper and powdered milk? Continue reading »
It all seems to be going so well for Colombia: its national football team has reached the quarter finals of the World Cup for the first time, the economy grew by a startling 6.4 per cent in the first quarter, while unemployment hit a new low last week at 8.8 per cent, and economists say confidence is riding high.
But officials appear to be worrying once again about one of the hazards of economic success: the appreciation of the peso. Continue reading »
Colombia’s footballers have made it into the knockout rounds of the World Cup for only the second time in their history. As “yellow fever” grips the nation, the defence ministry has seized the moment and is hoping to use success on the pitch as a lure to draw the country’s armed rebels out of their trenches and closer to a peace deal. Continue reading »