Category: South America

Brazilian Senate Head Renan Calheiros is charged with multiple corruption charges but the call for his suspension the Brazilian Supreme Court overturned. The Supreme Federal Tribunal had voted 6-3 on Wednesday to reinstate Calheiros. The senate leader had earlier disobeyed the suspension ruling but still won the sympathy of the supreme court.

Brazilian President Michel Temer is closely allied to Renan Calheiros. The latter is now deferred presidency because of his 12 corruption cases. If the trial clears him as innocent, he can run for President the next Brazilian elections.

According to sources, before the Supreme Court vote, the Brazilian President has met with the justices. Many suspect that this is to avert a crisis involving Calheiros that can affect the Brazilian government.

Calheiros is called for trial from corruption committed since 2007 receiving kickbacks from several lobbyists including the Mendes Junior Construction company — to which Calheiros denied as something that happened. The tribunals own investigators probes Calheiros’ activities with Petrobas. A former Petrobas director claims that Calheiros demanded to be paid $1.7m or else he will withdraw support for the oil company’s interests.

Another case involves a business executive who claims that Calheiros has received more than $10m in bribes over the last 10 years.

Venezuelans face hunger and extreme looting after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro declared Venezuela is in a state of emergency for 60 days. Maduro said a threat to external security exists and his administration must deal with the threat as soon as possible.

Citizens have become restless. Many are waiting in line for food in relief centres. Meanwhile, looting and social tensions have increased in the city of Guarenas.

According to citizens, some have resorted to eating domesticated animals including dogs, cats and pigeons to resolve local food shortages.

A citizen said most people have no food. Power is cut to only four hours a day and crime is soaring in the country.

Most citizens said Maduro would not take responsibility for the trouble. They said “something has to give.”

Venezuela’s economy is suffering from low oil prices. Combined with limitations to dollar purchases, the country’s import-dependent economy is seeing a shortage on food and medicine. Cases of cancer, HIV, diabetes and hypertension are increasing nationwide.

“Shortages are just going to get worse in the coming weeks and months, and the government’s bet that they can keep the protests and looting … small-scale seems risky,” said David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America. “Venezuelans are not used to hunger and do not have a lot of respect for Maduro as their leader.”

According to Maduro:

“They don’t want a referendum, they want a coup,” Maduro said this week during meeting with foreign journalists. “We have no obligations to hold any type of referendum in this country.”

Brazil’s exported goods have fallen in price but has increased local product prices due to recession. The strengthening currency puts the Brazilian economy to the test with higher prices paid for electricity and gasoline.

Analysts said the Dilma Government’s idea to remove the gas price ceiling and subsidisation of electricity led to this inevitable result, increasing inflation by 9 per cent and a high interest rate of 14.25 per cent.

A Sudden Jerking Reaction

Senior International Economist At PNC Financial Bill Adams said the sudden changes in input and output prices introduced a jerking, shocking movement to the Brazillian economy.

The reduction in the amount of output for Brazil introduced a negative supply shock, sending the local prices skyrocketing. Adams said the recession is “deep and sustained.”

Politicians and Natural Resources

According to analysts, external forces, such as Chinese investors demanding greater quantities of Brazilian ore or the value of the US dollar play huge roles for Brazil’s inflation and investor outlook. Investors would find plenty to invest in Brazil but only few to work with effectively given the outdated business outlook of the government.

This is the trouble caused by Brasilian Politicians, whose actions may contract by 3 per cent Brazil’s real GDP.

Federal prosecutors opened an investigation into the life of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for increasing lobby powers for a Brazilian construction giant. Officials are trying to determine if the popular president had used his influence to help convince international leaders to award contracts to Odebrecht SA and the financing from BNDES, Brazil’s development bank.

Lula’s acts are considered criminal influences as influence peddling is punishable up to five years imprisonment. Lula, who used his influence post-presidency in 2011 to 2014, involved Odebrecth winning numerous big infrastructure deals for nations including Ghana, Angola, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Lula da Silva denied all allegations by local newspaper Epoca, which highlighted the case. Instituto Lula, da Silva’s private foundation, intends to prove that Lula da Silva is innocent from all allegations.

Odebrecht had also denied any wrongdoing and said that it only has an institutional relationship with the ex-president.

It is the first time da Silva’s name had been involved in a criminal investigation. The Workers’ Party, which is the ruling party of Brazil, is further shaken after probes earlier and continue to investigate a corruption scandal involving state-owned oil company Patróleo Brasilieiro SA, which is known as Petrobas.

In light of the scandals, many opposition politicians had called for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, da Silva’s political protégé.

Beijing is still playing its charm offensive on South America despite the controversies on the Amazonian Railroad deal that would reduce costs in transporting essential material out of Brazil’s inaccessible agricultural and mining regions.

The railway faces fierce opposition from South American Environmentalists and indigenous activists who had utterly faced defeat after the construction of the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam near Altamira, the amazon city.

The dam is claimed to have robbed indigenous communities their lands and has fuelled violence and prostitution in the area.

Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff intends to sign 30 agreements with China to help develop its infrastructure and logistics for her country embattled with economic troubles.

The new deals will help avert the £14.8 billion equivalent of a budget cut in Brazil, which would be finalised this week.

According to an opinion section from newspaper China Daily, Brazil is in a precarious situation where it wants to be taken out of its troubles caused by environmental, political and economic crises and that China’s wants into Brazil is timely for both countries.

Xinhua, China’s Official News Agency, said that it is “natural for China and Latin America” to partner up. It also highlighted that the US heightened alert with Beijing’s presence in South America shouldn’t be seen as so because the partnership is not directed against any third party.

On Tuesday, Chile’s Villarica volcano started spewing lava and smoke, prompting officials to evacuate thousands of people in the surrounding area. Erupting around 3AM, evacuations began earlier and during the time the volcano was completely active.

Villarica is one of South America’s most active volcanoes. Standing at 9,000 feet in the central valley of Chile, Tourists hike around the volcano and camp outside.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet said that she would visit the area. She also advised evacuees to remain calm.

Chile had issued an orange alert on Monday with the increased volcano activity. Around 3,500 people had been evacuated, including tourists.

Friday last week, Venezuela gave NSA leaker Edward Snowden an offer of political and humanitarian asylum. The country believes that Snowden did the right thing by exposing the illegitimate activities of the United States. However, one question remains for Edward Snowden; how could he get there?

Snowden is currently stuck in the transit area of the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, which the Russian government treats the transit area as a “neutral ground” not part of the Russian soil. The US had made it clear that it is watching its airspace and is pressuring its allies to deny airspace rights for any plane that carries Snowden.

Last week, the US, due to suspicions that Snowden has stowed away in the plane, stopped the Bolivian president’s flight.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration urged Snowden to leave as soon as possible and take Venezuela’s offer, to which he had agreed. Other countries offering asylum for Snowden are Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

A flight to Venezuela from Russia would pose problems given that it would go over Europe and the US airspace, to which Snowden is denied access. According to analysts, Snowden can most likely take a regularly scheduled flight on the Moscow OAO Aeroflot that flies directly to Havana. Cuba, sharing its Latin American ally Venezuela’s views, would probably let Snowden in the country, if he is not intercepted by the US yet.

Other plans to get Snowden to Venezuela would be a private jet that would fly north to the Barents Sea, Denmark Strait, Newfoundland and Windward Islands. A lacking flying vehicle would need refuelling and only a wealthy supporter or a Latin American government jet can get Snowden to Venezuela.


Spanish Tourists Raped in Mexico

The number of violence took its high toll last year, including gun violence and the violence against women. The countries like the United States and India have already acted on the same issue on violence and are pushing an agreement or possible laws to penalize the criminals involved in such horrific and violent attacks among women, children, and innocent people.

Still new from last year’s uncountable violence, there’s a new incident that happened last Wednesday in one of the resorts in Acapulco, Mexico. There were Spanish tourists who were harassed by unknown gunmen and they were also raped. It is very unfortunate for the number of fourteen victims that were the target of armed men in the resort. Six of the fourteen victims were raped by the said criminals. The said tourists who were apparently spending some time in the beach resort for their vacation did not expect that something horrible would happen to them. The said incident have already spread worldwide and making a lot of tourist fear of their security when traveling.

The Foreign Ministry of Mexico was working with the Spanish Embassy regarding the victims’ situation. The said Spanish tourists were now under the custody of the Mexican authorities who were in charge of investigating the case. The Mexican government also strengthens their ties with the Spanish people and continues to work on the case. All the Spanish victims who were between the age of 20 to 34 years old were protected by the Mexican Police. There were a lot of investigators solving the case and the area were the crime had happen was secured by the authorities.