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 »
In February 2013, still aglow after being elected for a third term in a landslide victory, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador told the FT this would be his final term and that, in this regard at least, his foes could “sleep in peace”.
Those foes may now be having nightmares after his ruling party, Alianza País, launched a plan to remove limits on re-election for presidents and other officials, potentially paving the way for the firebrand leftist leader to don the red, yellow and blue presidential sash for a fourth time in 2017 and, who knows, thereafter at four-yearly intervals. Continue reading »
The monetary policy committee of Colombia’s central bank on Friday raised the benchmark interest rate a quarter percentage point to 4 per cent. This is the third hike in three months.
Colombia’s economy has been performing strongly and inflation has been accelerating, leading to a monetary tightening, say analysts. Continue reading »
Colombia’s GDP data for the first quarter of 2014 came earlier than expected on Thursday morning, as if to be sure to avoid any distraction during the national team’s World Cup match against Ivory Coast.
The numbers gave Colombians a reason to cheer ahead of the game: the national statistics agency said GDP grew 6.4 per cent, more than analysts expected. Continue reading »
As your correspondent found out while visiting Caracas this week, it can be hard to take a shower there these days because of drought-fuelled water rationing. But it is also hard to find bottled water if you want to give yourself a splash instead. Of course, you can always just reach for the deodorant and hope it does the job in the heat of the Venezuelan tropics. Or rather, you can’t, because it is increasingly hard to find deodorant.
No hay – Spanish for “there isn’t any” – is a mantra often heard in today’s Venezuela. Continue reading »
Another month, another hike: the monetary policy committee of Colombia’s central bank on Friday night voted unanimously to raise the benchmark interest rate a quarter percentage point for the second straight month, to 3.75 per cent. José Dario Uribe, the bank’s chief, told reporters that “the gradual adjustment of the expansive monetary policy reduces the need for abrupt changes in the future and ensures macroeconomic stability”. Continue reading »