When Russia’s Communist party called for a Moscow street to be named after Hugo Chávez in March, the city authorities refused on grounds that the former Venezuelan leader had not been dead long enough to qualify for the honour. However, in a sign of the importance Russia attaches to Venezuelan relations, Igor Sechin, the powerful chief executive of Rosneft, wants Moscow to waive the rules. Visiting Caracas this week to finalize a big oil deal, Sechin said a Chávez street should indeed be added to the map of the Russian capital. Continue reading »
One of my first memories of using mobile phones in Brazil was making calls from the top of a mango tree.
This was in the 1990s, a time when cellphones were still relatively rare. And during holidays on the family farm in the middle of the country, that mango tree was the best place to find reception. Continue reading »
On Latin America’s Pacific rim, deepening free trade appears to be the name of the game, as the region’s pro-markets countries of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile – have agreed to drop most tariffs to speed the consolidation of the Pacific Alliance.
At least, that is what Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, told beyondbrics on the sidelines of the group’s latest summit in the Colombian city of Cali on Thursday. Continue reading »
It shouldn’t have come as a shock. Several indicators had warned about it.
Still, for Mexico’s fans, the country’s disappointing first quarter GDP figures must have been a hard pill to swallow. The economy expanded just 0.8 per cent in the first three months of this year, well below the 3.2 per cent growth it saw in the previous quarter and below the 1.2 per cent increase the market was expecting.
It was, in a nutshell, the weakest performance since Q4 of 2009. Continue reading »
Picasso famously had his blue period. Argentina has its blue dollar – as the black market exchange rate is known. And that’s good news for art collectors and visitors to the ArteBA art fair which kicks off this week.
Managing Argentina’s de facto multiple exchange rates is itself a fine art. But now art itself, among other things, has suddenly become cheap – provided people don’t use the official rate. Continue reading »
Ecuador, the smallest of the OPEC members, is working hard to diversify away from a dependence on oil exports.
So now the country’s leftwing president, Rafael Correa, is pushing for a new law to fast track mining contracts and investments in the Andean country. Continue reading »
Carlos Slim is always on the move: reviewing, restructuring and reinventing his companies.
His latest action in this direction came on Tuesday with his industrial conglomerate, Grupo Carso, exiting its investment in Philip Morris México (PMM). Carso agreed to sell its remaining 20 per cent stake for $700m to Philip Morris International (PMI), which becomes sole owner of PMM.
Continue reading »
If there is a slowdown in Brazil, George Fertitta is not seeing it.
As the head of NYC & Company, New York City’s official tourism board, Fertitta has witnessed the meteoric rise of Brazilian visitors to the Big Apple. Last year, Brazil became the second most important overseas market for the city after the UK: 826,000 Brazilians came to visit, compared with 112,000 in 2006.
“We have never seen anything like it,” said Fertitta. “We have had big surges in visitors from Ireland but the surge from Brazil is unique in scale.” Continue reading »
By Andrew Rosati in Caracas
For a country where consumers are often hard-pressed to find staples like milk or toilet paper, Venezuela certainly has no shortage of scandals. After last month’s accusations of electoral fraud and a saloon-style brawl in congress, now Mario Silva, a TV talk show host, rabble-rouser and the best journalist in Venezuela – according to the late president, Hugo Chávez – has fallen into the fray.
In an extraordinary hour-long recording of what opposition politicians say is a conversation between Silva and a top Cuban intelligence official, the chavista broadcaster delivers a laundry list of backbiting and corruption at the highest levels of chavismo. Venezuelans are wondering what will come next. Continue reading »
Almost a year after America Movil, the largest telecom company in Latin America, made its first acquisition in the US prepaid cellphone market, when it bought Simple Mobile, the company has done it again.
On Monday, it announced the purchase of Start Wireless Group, another mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that will add 1.4m subscribers to TracFone Wireless, America Movil’s US subsidiary. Continue reading »
With consumer defaults on the rise and confidence among shoppers at a three-year low in Brazil, the nerves are starting to show.
Chaos broke out across at least 12 states over the weekend after rumours spread that the government was planning to suspend the nationwide Bolsa Família social welfare programme. Continue reading »
By Samuel George of the Bertelsmann Foundation
They come by it honestly. Much like their European relatives, Latin American leaders have a sweet tooth for the summit, the annual meeting and the commission. Lofty goals and promises of solidarity are sealed with vigorous handshakes, bear hugs and kisses on the cheek. But beyond the ubiquitous photos of smiling presidents, few concrete achievements emerge from these gatherings.
In theory, inchoate integration projects abound, from the regional Mercosur to the continental Unasur. In fact, the dream of a more unified Latin America has progressed little since Simon Bolívar crisscrossed the Andes in the early 19th century. This could be changing. Continue reading »
It’s one of the anomalies in global statistics: South America is home to the world’s highest proportion of entrepreneurs, yet their presence doesn’t often translate into global innovation or broad-based wealth creation.
Chile has been eager to change that reality. And, it seems, its efforts are starting to bear fruit. Several Chilean-bred tech companies have recently been acquired by venture capital funds, and three Chilean-focused VCs vowed to invest some $67m in Chilean companies this year. Is Chile really becoming “Chilecon Valley”? Continue reading »
From Bangkok to Rio, a new-found desire for keeping up with the Joneses among hundreds of millions of people has been helping to keep the world afloat.
But the emerging consumers of Asia, eastern Europe and Latin America are all showing signs of slowing their scramble for clothes, white goods, cars and so on. Daniel Martin at Capital Economics reckons many of them have had to change down a gear for the foreseeable future. The problem is, you guessed it, debt. Continue reading »
Almost like Pavlov’s dogs, journalists and business commentators covering Carlos Slim only have to mention the name before they find themselves following it with the phrase “the world’s richest man”. But as of this week, the Slim watchers out there are going to have to resist their conditioned response.
On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that the Mexican telecoms tycoon had been toppled from the number-one spot on the news agency’s all-time rich list. And guess who’s back in front….yep, it’s Bill Gates. Continue reading »