From Buenos Aires to Brasilia, and Caracas to Lima, ULABA's Regional Analysis Committee brings you the latest headlines in news, entertainment and culture in Latin America for the month of September.
- Headlines -
Who's in Charge of Peru?
Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra dissolved Congress on September 30th and has scheduled to hold new elections after several of his anti-corruption reforms were blocked.
Representatives of Congress decided to no longer recognize Vizcarra as legitimate President, swearing in Vice President Mercedes Aráoz on October 1st. Vizcarra, however, has retained the support of the military and state police.
New congressional elections are scheduled to be held on January 26th and legislators could face criminal charges if they do not leave their posts.
Source: Washington Post
AMLO's Firm Grip on Mexican Oil
President Obrador has taken steps to take-over an oil find discovered by Talos Energy, a Houston-based company.In addition, Obrador has suspended all bids for oil drilling rights further discouraging foreign investment.
So far, Sierra Oil & Gas have sold their 40% stake in Zamas, a Mexican oil field and Premier Oil has put their 25% Mexican stake up for sale.
These news come as Mexico borders a recession, with a low growth of 0.1% in the second quarter, Pemex’s amounting debt and declining foreign investment.
Source: Financial Times
Argentina Election: What You Need to Know
Following a primary vote on August 11th, voters in Argentina will be casting their ballots once again on October 27th, for the election of the president and vice president, and nearly half of congressional seats.
Argentines, suffering from double-digit unemployment and annual inflation of more than 50%, will be choosing mainly between incumbent President Mauricio Macri and his top opponent, Peronista candidate Alberto Fernández.
The odds, however, are against Macri. He was trounced by 16 points in the primary election as Fernandez secured 47% of the primary vote with running-mate and ex-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, which set off a shockwave through markets overnight.
Nonetheless, to win outright a candidate must secure at least 45% of the vote, or 40% while leading an opponent by at least 10 percentage points. Otherwise, the election could lead to a potential runoff vote between the top two candidates on November 24th.
Worried that another economic collapse is looming, this election could be one the most significant for Argentines in the nation’s modern history.
Sources: NY Times | Al Jazeera | Bloomberg
- Stories -
The Planet's Lungs are Burning
This year has seen a 39% increase in Amazon Rainforest fires compared to 2018. Environmentalists and Heads of State blame this increase on President Jair Bolsonaro’s pro-business stance. His efforts to loosen regulations and take advantage of the Amazon’s economic potential have incentivized farmers and cattle ranchers to clear up land, surpassing the legal threshold for burning land for farming purposes.
August 23rd: Bolsonaro authorized 44,000 defense troops to assist in the effort to put down the fires and drafter warplanes to dump water in critical areas. This initiative, however, was not nearly enough to tackle the ongoing fires.
August 26th: Bolsonaro rejected USD22m aid package proposed by G7 leaders. The funds would be made immediately available to assist the current troops on the ground. Mr. Bolsonaro accused world leaders of infringing Brazil’s sovereignty, calling for the support of countries that make up the Amazon region.
September 6th: Seven South American countries signed a deal to protect the Amazon, agreeing to increase monitoring, reforestation efforts and the role of indigenous communities. It is uncertain, however, if Mr. Bolsonaro will align his policies to this agreement.
September 14th: Brazil and the US agreed on a USD100m biodiversity conservation fund, led by the private sector. They claim that opening the rainforest to economic development is the only way to ensure its protection. The question remains as to whether this is a genuine plan or another gateway to increase exploration in the area.
September 19th: Austria’s MPs demanded the government to veto the EU-Mercosur trade deal, calling for more focus on environmental issues. France is also hesitant to ratify the deal following a series of offensive comments between Bolsonaro and Macron.
September 24th: Bolsonaro opened the UNGA with an assertive speech. He reaffirmed the issue of sovereignty over the Amazon and his commitment to sustainable development. He also critiqued the sensationalist media, especially the proliferation of false pictures of the fires, the attacks of the international media and world leaders and the circulating misinformation.
So far, Bolsonaro’s response to the Amazon fires has been criticized by France, Ireland and Austria, threatening the long-awaited EU-Mercosur trade deal. Limitations on beef imports from Brazil are also considered as a mechanism to pressure Mr. Bolsonaro into accepting higher environmental protection standards.
Sources: WPost | CNN
Keeping up with Venezuela: September Edition
September 4th: Nicolas Maduro accused Ivan Duque of harboring paramilitary forces near the border in order to promote conflict in the region. As a response, the executive announced military exercises, which will be carried out in the area. The decision was highly controversial, while one out of five Venezuelans suffer from extreme hunger (United Nations), the national expenditure on military equipment has significantly increased.
September 11th: the National Bolivarian Guard of Venezuela carried out large scale military drills throughout the border. President Nicolas Maduro decided to execute the exercise to show neighboring country, Colombia, the response capacity of its national guard after claiming that Bogotá and Washington were planning an invasion.
September 15th: Juan Guaido’s representatives formally retired from the peace talks in Norway. The news came six weeks after the government of Nicolas Maduro suspended their participation as a protest against the new tightening sanctions issued by the United States. The opposition’s agenda was the proposal of new presidential elections, under free and fair conditions. However, government officials never engaged in its discussion. Norway issued a statement showing their willingness to assist in a peaceful resolution for the country in the foreseeable future.
September 18th: Edgar Zambrano, vicepresident of the National Assembly and Juan Guaido’s deputy, was released from jail. Mr. Zambrano was unjustly incarcelated with charges for treason on May 9th. National police intelligence services (SEBIN) intercepted him as he was leaving his political party headquarters, as a response to Guaido’s “failed coup attempt” on April 30th. The interim president denounced his imprisionment as a “kidnap.”
September 23rd: the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance was called upon as the Maduro regime is seen as a threat to all countries in the region due to the refugee crisis, government ties to terrorist groups and guerrillas, and the human rights violations. The sanctions were travel and financial restrictions on seven of Maduro’s closest circle by the United Statesand the European Union.
September 25th: Vladimir Putin and Nicolas Maduro decided to skip the UNGA 74th session, instead they met in the Grand Kremlin Palace. Moscow reinstated its support for the illegitimate leader, emphasizing the importance of a dialogue between them and the opposition. Additionally, they discussed Caracas’ debts to the Kremlin.
Sources: Al Jazeera | BBC | Reuters
- Culture -
Rock in Rio
Last weekend Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Park had the pleasure to welcome Drake, Bon Jovi, Dave Mathews Band, among other amazing artists.
Rio is now getting ready for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Iron Maiden, Claptone and the Brazilian superstar: Anitta.
Live Stream: Rock in Rio
- Entertainment -
Several countries in Latin America celebrated their national independence day in September!
Brazil 09/07/1821 Honduras 09/15/1821
Guatemala 09/15/1821 Mexico 09/15/1821
Nicaragua 09/15/1821 Chile 09/18/1810
El Salvador 09/15/1821
- Sports -
On the first leg of the cup semi-finals, River defeated Boca 2-0 and Grêmio tied Flamengo 1-1. Second legs will be played on October 22nd and October 23rd.
- Travel -
Hike the slopes of Volcan Fuego in Acatenango, Guatemala.
- Markets -