From Buenos Aires to Brasilia, and Caracas to Mexico City, ULABA's Regional Analysis Committee brings you the latest headlines in news, entertainment and culture in Latin America for the months of December and January.
- Headlines -
Carlos Ghosn's Unbelievable Escape
Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan Motors, was born in Brazil and also holds both French and Lebanese nationalities. Ghosn has been out on bail after being arrested in Japan for financial misconduct charges in 2018, and staged an unbelievable escape from Tokyo to Lebanon on New Year’s Eve.
Nissan CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, claimed Ghosn used corporate money for personal purposes and under-reported his income for years in official company filings to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The French multi-millionaire, however, denies all charges against him.
Carlos Ghosn was reportedly smuggled out his apartment inside a musician’s instrument case and into a private jet to Istanbul and, later, to Beirut. Lebanese authorities reported Ghosn used a French passport and Lebanese ID to enter Lebanon. It is not known, however, if he was holding a duplicate passport or he was issued a diplomatic passport by Lebanon.
On 2 January Lebanon received a "red notice" from Interpol for Mr. Ghosn's arrest - a request to detain a person pending extradition, surrender or other legal action. However, there is no extradition deal between Japan and Lebanon.
Sources: The Guardian
Elections in Bolivia
Bolivian authorities are under pressure to deliver free and fair elections on May 3rd after Evo Morales’ government collapsed amid protests and claims of electoral fraud. Morales first won the Presidential elections in 2006 and remained in power until November 2019, when an audit by the Organization of American States (OAS) found serious irregularities in the vote count.
Following Morales’ resignation, Senator Jeanine Anez assumed the interim presidency. Under her leadership, the government has soothed the ongoing violent protests in Bolivia, established a new electoral tribunal and organized new elections.
Carlos Mesa, Morales’ main rival, announced he will be running in the May elections. Evo Morales is barred from running but has named Luis Arce Catacora and David Choquehuanca, former economy minister and foreign minister, to represent the Movement to Socialism (MAS) party. Anez also announced her candidacy for the elections.
Bolivia's interim government said in December it was expelling top Mexican and Spanish diplomats amid an escalating dispute over allegations that wanted former Bolivian officials sought to leave their refuge at the Mexican Embassy with Spanish help and flee the country.
Source: The Guardian
Mexico's Most Violent Year
President Obrador's promise to reduce violence in Mexico has not held up as 2019 murders were at a record high at 35,000 murders. On the anniversary of his presidency, 127 people were killed being the worst single day for violence. Along with the uptick in murders 61,000 people have been reported missing as a result to cartel violence. Obrador has faced a lot of criticism for failure to quell cartel violence and for his new approach which attempts to reduce violence by attacking corruption and inequality rather than police and military action. In the future, Obrador is planning to overhaul the criminal justice system to use private communications as evidence and limit legal challenges to avoid extradition delays.
Source: Al Jazeera
- Stories -
A Year After Brumadinho Disaster
January 25th marked 1 year of one of Brazil’s worst environmental disasters: a Brazilian dam operated by iron ore miner Vale SA gave way to a wave of 9.7 million cubic meters of mining sludge. The mud and mining waste caused major destruction and took over 6 miles of landscape. Forests were destroyed, rivers polluted, and residents lost their homes. 259 people died and 11 are still missing. Until today, Brazilians call for accountability and official responses.
Vale SA is responsible for cleaning up the sludge and mining residue in Brumadinho to avoid further contamination of the region’s water supplies. Fire fighters continue to look for the missing ones hoping to give local families some closure.
Vale’s market value is already back to pre-accident levels following a R$ 70 billion ($17,5 billion) fall in market capitalization. Despite the financial recovery, Vale now faces numerous judicial charges. Last week, Minas Gerais’ Department of Justice accused Vale’s former president Fabio Schvartsman, 15 other employees for second-degree murder. Vale SA and its auditor, TÜV SÜD, are also accused of environmental crimes. State prosecutors allege that the former CEO knew about the risks but made false statements and hid information to protect the company’s share price.
Given the dam collapse in Mariana, MG (November 2015) and Brumadinho, MG (January 2019), Brazilians still question the type of structure used to contain Vale’s mining operations. In all, Vale has spent $6.3 billion on provisions and expenses related to Brumadinho.
Juan Guaidó: A Year After
It has been a year since Juan Guaidó assumed the interim presidency of Venezuela. This action is supported by articles 233 and 333 in the Constitution, allowing the president of the National Assembly to assume the executive office in case of the president is deemed as unsuitable by the National Assembly and the Supreme Court. By January 2020, he was re-elected by fellow congressmen. Let’s take a look at the highlights of his presidency:
On January 20th, 2020, Guaido arrived in Colombia to hold meetings with president Duque. He defied the travel ban imposed by the Supreme Court. He arrived in Bogotá ahead of the Third Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial. He also met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, He attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and met with the Venezuelan diaspora in Europe. In his speech he condemned Maduro’s regime, accusing it of drugs and arms trafficking. Moreover, in his tour he also met with Canadian president Justin Trudeau and UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Currently he is in Miami, and many speculate he will meet with President Donald Trump.
Protests in Chile have been an ongoing issue during the past four months, ever since they erupted on October 19th. President Sebastián Piñera has taken actions against those who aim for chaos with the purpose of destabilizing the Latin American nation. Many Venezuelans were arrested, following charges of foreign intervention. These individuals were accused of working on behalf of Maduro’s, in his attempts of destabilizing the region and holding a firmer grasp on neighboring countries.
The National Police raided Juan Guaido’s offices in Caracas on January 21st, 2020. While the interim president was on his tour to collect international support in his agenda to oust Nicolas Maduro, his offices were intervened and legislators of the opposition were blocked from entering the premises of the National Assembly.
PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company, is on the verge of bankruptcy after the strict sanctions the United States imposed on the company in 2019. Seeking relief for the national debt and with efforts to reinvent and restore the productivity network of the country, Nicolas Maduro has held talks with Russian companies. He is willing to privatize the industry and selling their local operations to foreign entities, in exchange for foreign investment as a mean to sustain their Revolution in times of crisis. Accepting foreign ownership of PDVSA goes against Hugo Chavez’s ideology during his presidency, the nationalization of companies.
Sources: Washington Post | Bloomberg | Bloomberg
- Entertainment -
Latino Gang at the Super Bowl
Last Sunday Shakira and Jennifer Lopez joined forces with JBalvin and Bad Bunny to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. Apart from putting up an incredible show, the group of artists made history as the first group of Latinos to headline the game's halftime show.
- Music -
New Reggaetón by Emi
Nicky Jam & Daddy Yankee launched a single “Muévelo.” It is their first collaboration since “Hasta El Amanecer” and “Tu Hombre.” The reunion of Los Cangris has sent their fans into a frenzy, launching the song into the top spots in the genre charts.
- Sports -
La Vinotinto Continues Coach Hunt
Following the resignation of Rafael Dudamel in late 2019, Venezuela's national soccer team has not yet found a replacement. Recently, the leaders of the Venezuelan Federation have held meetings with ex-Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli. Sampaoli, however, demands a salary of nearly 2 million dollars, an amount difficult to cover by the country facing a rampant economic crisis. It also known that Diego Maradona turned down an offer to coach the team after being asked directly by Maduro himself. The Venezuelan Federation is running out of time with South American Qualifiers for Qatar 2022 just two months away.
Source: Sport España
- Travel -
Winter Edition's Destination
Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.
Markets: December/January Performance
Latin America Market Indices
Latin America Exchange Rates
U.S. Market Indices
S&P 500: 3.59%
U.S. Treasury Bond Yields