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Posts Tagged ‘Argentina and President Macri

Headlines from Latin America 2016

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(My new American Thinker post)

Donald Trump’s campaign, and eventual election, took most of the attention in these pages as well as the world. Nevertheless, some interesting things happened south of the border that will show up on President Trump’s agenda sooner rather than later.    

Let’s start with Cuba. Fidel Castro died and this is the one story most likely to impact President Trump in 2017.    

What will President Trump do with President Obama’s policy toward Cuba? I hope that he keeps the U.S. embassy but immediately takes a stand that the embargo will stay until the Cuban government changes its ways.   

Cuba after Fidel Castro will continue to be the same economic wreck. It means that President Trump will have all the cards, the same ones that President Obama refused to play.   

What happens in Cuba? Raul Castro will have to make a choice very soon. Do he reform or keep the failing show on the air? No one is going to bail him out and President Trump should say that he is on the side the Cuban people. My guess is that a lot of Cubans will be happy to hear that.   

Down in Mexico, they may hate Mr. Trump, but they probably despise the surging violence and slow U.S. GDP growth a lot of more.   President Trump should sit down with President Enrique Peña-Nieto and show concern about violence tearing apart areas of Mexico, as we see in this good post from Kirk Semple:

In the first 10 months of this year, there were 17,063 homicide cases in Mexico, already more than last year’s total and the highest 10-month tally since 2012. 

The relapse in security has unnerved Mexico and led many to wonder whether the country is on the brink of a bloody, all-out war between criminal groups.

You can’t have these levels of violence south of the border without impacting cities north of the border. These criminal elements are fighting for space and lanes to the customers up here. They’ve also turned portions of the U.S.-Mexico border into lawless areas where they decide who goes north or south.    

President Trump will make a lot of Mexicans very happy U.S. GDP grows in the 4-6% range. It will do wonders for a Mexican economy heavily dependent on the U.S. We will buy more oil, consume more avocados and visit more of their beaches. They love a strong U.S. economy in Mexico, as they’ve told me over and over again.

Down in Venezuela, we are watching a predictable human tragedy. People are getting more and more desperate, as we can see by the growth of the black market. Let’s meet “los bachaqueros” and it is not a baseball academy that breeds shortstops for the major leagues. It is the story of Venezuelans turning to the black market to survive:

President Nicolas Maduro blames the so-called ‘bachaqueros’ — a new class of black marketeers who resell goods at hugely inflated prices — for the country’s problems. His critics say they are in fact a product of his own government’s inept policies.

Price freezes and currency controls have given way to alarming shortages of basic goods, creating interminable supermarket lines of Venezuelans desperate to get their hands on products like flour or nappies. Many people the Telegraph spoke to said that, in such conditions, hunger and looting are not uncommon.

Bachaqueros can sell basic commodities like rice and sugar at $2 and $3 per kilogram respectively, a great expense for the average Venezuelan on minimum wage. A family of five can consume up to two kilos of rice per week, spending $16 a month if they buy it on the black market — almost half the average monthly salary. 

In supermarkets the same products are sold under government fixed prices at 900 and 380 bolivares for rice and sugar respectively, less than one dollar. But endless queues and scarcity of products has forced many to search the black market.

This is horrible. I shared this article with my mother and it reminded her of their “black market” days in Cuba.

Venezuela is not as much a threat to the U.S. as Cuba or Mexico. However, it is an oil producer, sits next to Colombia, and could explode at any moment.    

Down in Argentina, a center-right President Macri is a shining light and trying to reform many of the excesses of the left. He was elected by a frustrated Argentine middle class that sees a growing bureaucracy that only takes care of bureaucrats. Does that sound familiar?

Over in Brazil, a “samba” of political corruption now rivals the Rio carnival. During the year, a president was impeached but there is more corruption coming out.Brazilians call it “Operation Car Wash” and we hope that they wash it all around. Corruption has been deadly for one of the Top 10 GDP’s in the world.

Elections in Chile and Peru were good news for  center right candidates too.    

Overall, an exciting year. I believe that there are more big things to happen in 2017. Change is coming to Cuba and that’s something to look forward to.

Of course, let’s not forget all of those Cubs fans in Latin America who got hooked on the team when WGN carried the games via satellite.   

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.


Written by scantojr

December 15, 2016 at 6:42 am

Drama in Buenos Aires and it’s not about ‘futbol’ or tango

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Written by scantojr

April 15, 2016 at 7:32 am

Will Argentina ever get to the bottom of the Jewish Center bombing?

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(My new American Thinker post)

Down in Argentina, President Mauricio Macri is hearing it every day: “Justicia” or Justice. 

Many people want to know the truth of who was behind that terrible terrorist attack on July 18, 1994 that killed 87 people.  

According to Jonathan Gilbert, we may get to the bottom of the story after all of these years:

For more than two decades, an investigation into the suicide bombing of a Jewish center here in 1994 that killed 85 people has faced setbacks and controversy. It caused an intractable rift between Argentina and Iran. A former president has been put on trial, accused of orchestrating a cover-up. And a prosecutor involved in the case died last year in murky circumstances.

But now, Argentina’s new government is pledging to finally get to the bottom of a case that cost the country about $3.5 million last year alone, and that took on a life of its own, swallowing up many who touched it.

President Mauricio Macri, who took office in December, has revamped the government department assigned to the bombing investigation and has vowed to introduce legislation that would allow for the trial of suspects in absentia.

The question is whether those efforts, which face considerable legal hurdles and political opposition, will translate into lasting results in the long-running case.

There are many outstanding questions:  

1)  Was Iran’s role covered up by the Kirchner-Fernandez administration?  

2)  Who killed Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor on the case, the night before he was to make a presentation to Congress? 

3)  Will President Macri risk a political crisis to get to the bottom of this? Would it be better for him to focus on more immediate economic problems, such as job growth and a very unhappy middle class?  

As with Benghazi, emotions are high because there are dead people and families seeking answers. Furthermore, there is also a sense that the administration withheld evidence to protect itself.  

We don’t know all of the answers today. We do know that this story won’t go away until someone gets to the bottom of this mess.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.




Written by scantojr

February 2, 2016 at 6:00 am

Iran in Latin America plus Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico and Cuba

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Go, Macri!

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(My new American Thinker post)

He is President Mauricio Macri of Argentina now. Who would have believed that just 90 days ago?  The pollsters didn’t but the people had other ideas.

President Macri must start by blowing up two things holding back Argentina.

First, crony capitalism or the corrupt relationship between big business, public sector unions, and the politicians who carry their water. Sadly, this is the ditch that most of the Latin American democracies have fallen into. It works well for a few but it holds back entrepreneurs and the middle class.

Second, liberate Argentina from the lawless populism of the Kirchner era.

The first one will be more difficult because there are interests that will fight back. The second one is a bit easier.

He can start by reading this interview with James Roberts of the Heritage Foundation:

What challenges lie ahead for Argentina, after 12 years of populism? How long will it take to achieve success?

I don’t think it will happen overnight. It will have to be done with hard work, and incrementally, so as not to make the situation worse. It will have to be done carefully and delicately.

My impression is that Macri is going to handle it. You have to restore confidence, improve relationships with other countries in the region and in the world, and solve the external debt problem.

Do you think Argentina should pay the so-called vulture funds?

Argentina has to settle all of its debts according to international rules and what it understood when they borrowed the money. There are rules that govern the whole world; if there were no rules, there would be chaos, and there would not be any money available for people to borrow.

It is not a question of singling out Argentina. If there were hedge funds that took advantage of buying cheap debt, and are insisting on being paid, that is also within the rules. That is what that federal judge in New York has been saying.

If you start to make exceptions and apply the tactics of victimization, then there’s populism and there’s a Pandora’s box. It means that the whole system could become paralyzed.

What would be your advice for President Macri?

Macri should restore confidence in the rule of law, and he should take steps very soon to solve the foreign-debt problems. It seems to me that the appointment of the young economist [Martin Lousteau] as ambassador to the United States is a good thing, because he was [once] the Economy minister.

He should improve relations with the United States and restore the Central Bank’s independence. The Central Bank should not be used to buy votes or political favors.

Is Macri’s victory the beginning of the end of populism in Latin America?

I don’t know if it’s so much of a question of a push or a new influence as it is a reflection of a change in attitude in the region.

People are disillusioned with the empty, false promises of populism. 

Yes, people are disillusioned with the promises of populism. Incompetence and corruption have been the product of these policies. 

So President Macri has a chance to save Argentina and start a new movement in South America. We wish him the best. We know that there are a lot of “interests” out to stop him, specially the well organized and loud left.

Our advice to President Macri is to look forward because most of the people in Argentina know that “populismo” did not work.    

He will succeed by being decisive.  

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.



Written by scantojr

December 12, 2015 at 6:52 am