Brazil's Upcoming Contentious Runoff Elections

Brazil's runoff elections have piqued the interest of on-lookers in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte in the past week. Both cities are hubs for business and travel in Brazil, with major extractive industries and tech sector companies based there, as well as being the second and fourth richest (GDP) cities in Brazil, respectively. 

Can the OAS Respond to Constitutional Coups and Democratic Erosion?

Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, has faced mounting criticism for his handling of recent democratic crises in Latin America. In particular, people have called Almagro’s approach to Venezuela hypocritical, given his lack of condemnation for the “soft-coup” in Brazil. However, Almagro’s handling of these democratic crises highlights the predicament facing the OAS when addressing threats to democracy in the 21st century. Although the challenges are evolving, the institutional tools for addressing them have not.

Taking a Look at Colombia's Peace Deal Post Plebiscite

boz (James Bosworth, Southern Pulse CEO): Hi everyone

boz: On 2 October, a plebiscite on the Colombian government's peace process with the FARC failed by a very narrow margin. The government and FARC had already signed the agreement and the FARC were moving towards demobilization. The past three weeks since the referendum have been a flurry of activity as the government has worked to rescue the peace agreement and the “no” side lead by former President Uribe has tried to figure out how to manage their stunning upset victory.

We’re going to chat for the next half hour or so about the peace process after the no vote and what it means for Colombia’s future. Let me start with the first obvious question: Will Santos be able to save the peace process?

Networked Notes - 19 October 2016

Eduardo's Cunha's preventive arrest represents a potential problem for the Temer Government and the Brazilian political system as a whole. In the past week, plea deals involving Temer's close confidants and cabinet members --Eliseu Padilha, Moreira Franco and Romero Jucá-- for receiving bribes from Odebretch were leaked. Cunha's arrest puts additional pressure on these key government members, who Cunha now views as political enemies responsible for his downfall. 

Networked Notes - 15 Sept 2016

All polling shows the Colombia plebiscite is likely to pass by a significant margin. Still, the Santos government is not taking victory for granted. Sources close to the government suggest an ongoing press for votes to deliver a giant margin of victory if possible, giving the peace deal the largest possible mandate.

Networked Notes - 30 Aug 2016

Colombia

The FARC leadership expressed sincere gratitude to Venezuela’s government for the success of recent peace negotiations. In reality, it is Venezuela’s government which should be thanking the FARC. The extended peace negotiations are a critical reason why Colombia specifically, and Latin America in general, has been reluctant to more forcefully denounce abuses of human rights and democratic values in Venezuela.

Boom or Bust: The Panama Canal Expansion

Despite the myriad of budget overruns and problems encountered during the construction of the US$5.4 billion Panama Canal Expansion, many hope the expanded canal will increase annual Canal revenue from US$2.6 billion to as much as US$16 billion (Fortune). This is especially true since Cosco Shipping Panama paid US$575,545 for its inaugural trip and Hong Kong-flagged MOL Benefactor (10,000 tea) paid US$829,468 — a US$1 million fee seems likely given the canal can handle higher capacity vessels. However, not only did the Expansion open two years late, it was inaugurated (26 June 2016) during a time when global commodities and shipping have taken a hit. Crawling global trade combined with potential safety and construction issues with the canal put the Canal’s revenue rates at risk.

PPK's Peru: Financial Sector

  • After Peru’s economic growth dropped in 2015, PPK and his team have emphasized improving the economy and returning it to a target growth rate of at least 5 percent through creating policies that formalize the economy and promote sustainable growth, investment.
     
  • PPK wants to implement several tax reform policies that aim to lower taxes, simplify the laws, and improve collection rates, including gradually reducing the IGV from 18 percent to 15 percent by 2019 and providing tax incentive to small and medium businesses.
     
  • PPK will likely have to water down his economic policy proposals, especially tax reforms, to garner approval from an opposition controlled Congress.

PPK's Peru: Extractives

  • PPK seeks to reignite the Peruvian economy’s growth by increasing the value of mining exports by 25 percent, through simplifying bureaucratic processes to open mining projects and reviving stalled mining projects.

  • There are several challenges PPK will have to overcome to achieve his mining sector goals, including garnering congressional support, low commodity prices, social conflicts in areas where mines are concentrated, and illegal mining, which has a production value of US$1.3 billion.

  • The new government seeks to diversify Peru’s energy sector, with a focus on developing natural gas and expanding energy infrastructure, such as widening of the Transportadora de Gas del Perú (TGP) pipeline network and finish the Gasoducto Sur Peruano (GSP).

Rio de Janeiro Overview - July 2016

Rio's security situation took a turn for the worse this year as the state government’s funding ran out. However, the situation improved visibly in July, as federal forces began to enter the city and state coffers got an infusion of federal funds. The money temporarily saved the state government, which used it to pay police salaries. From Marines to Federal Highway Police, patrols and reconnaissance began around 15 July 2016. Additionally, the Military Police and organized criminal groups arrived at an unspoken agreement to stop violence in return for allowing drugs sales to go unmolested by law enforcement. As it is, the city will never be as safe as it will be in the next month and a half during the Olympic Games. The city and country will likely surprise observers with how well they pull off the high profile event.