Archive for the ‘Ecuador’ Category

Ecuador: Celebrities for hire

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Well, it’ll come as no surprise to anyone who reads Paul M. Barrett’s book Law of the Jungle, but the Ecuadorian government paid celebrities to tour areas of the rainforest allegedly contaminated by Texaco.

Allow me a Capt. Louis Renault moment,

Apparently Mia Farrow received from PR firm MCSquared $180,000 and Danny Glover $300,000. As you may remember, Danny reportedly received US$18 million bucks from the late Hugo Chavez for making a movie about Toussaint D’Overture, the Haitian slave that led the revolt against the French and declared himself emperor.

We’re still waiting for Danny’s movie.

But back to Mia, she and filmmaker Phelim Mcaleer engaged in a discussion on Twitter,

after which she deleted the tweet and blocked Mcaleer, to the amusement of those following the exchange,

[Meme translation:
Danny, we’re broke and forgotten.
Mia, let’s go to Ecuador. The Boss is sure to give us dough
]

Bianca Jagger is another celebrity who headed to Lago Agrio, and later protested against Chevron in New York,

Is that a fur coat?

Daryl Hannah, Sting and wife Trudie Styler, and Al Gore also turned up at the old Texaco site, as Barrett reports in Law of the Jungle. No word on how much they got.

AND,
I posted yesterday on Law of the Jungle. For a full book review, read When oil first flowed through a new pipeline in 1972…


Ecuador: If Correa ain’t happy . . .

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

. . . he hires Putin’s PR people.

Two items from Ecuador,

First:

I’ve been hesitating to review Paul M. Barrett’s new book, Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who’d Stop at Nothing to Win about fraudster Steven Donziger.

While the book is interesting, I find statements like “While not a materialistic person driven by financial rewards, Donziger sometimes groused about the cost of his career choices” (page 134) exasperating. Paul Barrett may believe that Donziger was not “driven by financial rewards” while setting up a Gibraltar corporation to hold proceeds of the judgment, but readers of Law of the Jungle should read Judge Kaplan’s 497-page decision, which quotes Donziger’s personal notebook on April 4, 2007:

. . . I sit back and dream. I cannot believe what we have accomplished. Important people interested in us. A new paradigm of not only a case, but how to do a case. Chevron wanting to settle. Billions of dollars on the table. A movie, a possible book.I cannot keep up with it all.

That said, Barrett is now under attack by the Republic of Ecuador’s U.S. public relations advisers, New York-based Ketchum. His article, What It’s Like to Be Attacked by Putin’s American Flack explains the latest,

Ketchum’s memo about my book connects the dots regarding why Ecuador cares so passionately about the case. Among the “difficult questions” Law of the Jungle raises, according to Ketchum:

Barrett’s book does raise many questions, among them,

• “Ecuador took the biggest part of the income obtained from petroleum extracted from the Amazon, approximately $23.5 billion against $1.6 billion for Texaco-Chevron.” The precise figures are subject to dispute, but according to government records, the split was roughly 90-10 in favor of Ecuador. This contradicts a central theme of the plaintiffs’ (and Correa’s) narrative: that Texaco derived all the benefit from industrializing the rain forest and left the host country with only the nasty side effects. The Ketchum memo warns the embassy that my reporting raises additional questions: How did Ecuador spend its majority proceeds from oil exploitation? Why wasn’t this money spent on environmental controls? Why was the money not used to help those harmed by the drilling?

Make sure to read Barrett’s full article. You can find all of his very interesting Business Week/Bloomberg articles here.

Ecuador engages in “widespread repression of the media”; now they try to export the repression to our shores via a public relations firm.

The second item:

As you may recall, president Rafael Correa has come up with a fake currency to cover up a fiscal deficit, including debt service, of some $9.2 billion.

Correa claims there’s no plan to replace the dollar. Steve Hanke, who 14 years ago was the chief intellectual architect of the nation’s switch to the dollar, is skeptical,
Ecuador’s Dollarization Architect Doubts Correa’s Pledge

“What Correa’s trying to do is kind of loosen the straitjacket that dollarization has him in,” Hanke said. “If you go off, the fiscal deficit gets bigger, the level of debt gets bigger, inflation goes up and economic growth goes down. All the economic indicators just go south.”

Correa is expected to run for a fourth presidential term in 2017, having changed the law on presidential term limits.

Ketchum may be looking forward to it.

RELATED:
For Ecuador’s PR Firm, Celebrity Backing Carries Hefty Price Tag
MCSquared paid more than $500,000 for Mia Farrow, Danny Glover junkets

UPDATE,
Linked to by Bad Blue. Thanks!


The third Monday in September Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 15th, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Judge Thomas Griesa Rules Against NML Capital in Argentine Debt Case
Citibank Doesn’t Have to Hand Over Documents in Hedge Fund’s Bid to Block Next Interest Payment

Argentina: Down the Tubes, Again

BOLIVIA
A Nuclear Bolivia? Why Not?

BRAZIL
Pelé unveils unique football pitch where players’ energy produces electricity
Brazillian football legend launches a revolutionary artificial pitch that converts players’ energy into electricty to power Rio de Janeiro favela

Brazilian Tycoon Faces Criminal Charges
Brazil’s federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against Brazilian businessman Eike Batista, compounding the legal woes of the once high-flying entrepreneur.

CHILE
Memory is not history
“Dirty war” memorials should not be used to rewrite the past

The historical truth silenced by “memory” is that the cold war in Latin America was fought by two equally authoritarian sides. Argentina’s coup in 1976 was triggered in part by the violence of the Montoneros, a leftist-nationalist guerrilla group of which several of Ms Fernández’s officials were members.

In Chile, too, memories of history can be incomplete. The museum in Santiago is not trying to impose an interpretation of history, just recounting facts, Ms Bachelet told Bello in July. Yet the only clue that Allende’s government, through its attempt to impose a Marxist programme, had itself contributed to the breakdown of democracy and “the destruction or weakening of many points of consensus” is contained in a quote from a Truth Commission of 1991, which is inscribed on a wall tucked away by the toilets. Allende will be commemorated on this week’s anniversary of the coup as a fallen hero of democracy, with no mention of his own mistakes—even Zhou Enlai, then China’s leader, warned him that he was moving too fast towards communism.

Chile MP charged over 1981 killings
Chilean MP Rosauro Martinez is charged with the killing of three left-wing militants during the dictatorship of Gen Augusto Pinochet.

COLOMBIA
Chikungunya infections spread to Colombia

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica seizes 1.5 tons of pot in chase at sea

CUBA
Cuba to send doctors to Ebola areas

Cuban Political Prisoner of the Day, Daniel Enrique Quesada Chaveco, Sept. 13, 2014

Gerard Depardieu, great friend of the Castro dynasty, avatar of hypocrisy

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Poll Shows Dominicans Most Worried About Crime, Economy

ECUADOR
State Oil Firms to Invest $400 Million in Ecuador Oil Block
Exploration in the 490,000-Acre Oil Concession to Start in January

Ecuador’s Petroamazonas will have a 51% stake in the project, while Sipetrol SA, a unit of Chile’s state-owned Empresa Nacional de Petroleo, or Enap, will own 42% and Belarus’s Belorusneft will have the remaining 7%.

EL SALVADOR
Even Stronger: Truce Between El Salvador Gangs Has Unintended Consequence

But free of violence does not mean free of gangs. The entrance to Ilopango is still controlled by the Mara Salvatrucha, while a northern stretch of the suburb is controlled by 18th Street. Nothing about the agreement has impeded Gonzalez or any of his gang from walking around freely and exerting full control. In fact, it’s only strengthened their power.

GUATEMALA
Firms from Russia, China, Spain, U.S. Interested in Guatemala Pipeline

Companies from Russia, China, Spain and the United States are interested in participating in the construction of a pipeline linking Mexico and Guatemala, the Central American nation’s economy minister said Thursday.

HAITI
Ex-President of Haiti Put Under House Arrest

JAMAICA
In Jamaica, Rastas Ready for Pot Decriminalization

MEXICO
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif calls for deepening of ties with Mexico

ICE OFFICIALS DEPORT MEXICAN NATIONAL WANTED FOR MURDER

NICARAGUA
Nicaragua Requests U.S. Help in Investigating Meteorite

PANAMA
Egypt issues stamps to mark new Suez Canal – but uses pictures of Panama Canal
The multi-billion pound scheme to widen the canal was announced last month, but officials have suffered a series of false starts

PARAGUAY
Paraguayan bus drivers in crucifixion protest

PERU
Assassinations in the Amazon: how will Peru respond?
Indigenous leaders killed near Brazil border following logging and land title battle

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Finds It Has New Friends in Hedge Funds

VENEZUELA
Venezuela to charge two opposition activists deported from Colombia last week
Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles, two Venezuelan opposition activists, will face charges after they were deported last week from Colombia.

Venezuela Arrests 64 for Anti-Maduro Protests: Rights Group

Now what? Venezuela on static noise

Venezuela’s ongoing collapse

Glen Chavez?

The week’s posts and podcasts:
Venezuela: The next default

Venezuela: Deadly new illness

Today’s illegal invasion headlines

En español: Unidad de quemados

Chile seeks foreign help in subway bombing case

September 11: In memory of Joe Angelini, Jr.

55 years a slave: The new Cuba-Brazil human traffic

Venezuela, springboard for Hezbollah

Puerto Rico: Trump golf course defaults

Chile: Terrorist attack injures 14

This week’s podcast:
US-Latin America stories of the week with Fausta Wertz editor of Fausta’s Blog

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
“Obama’s Betrayal of the Constitution”

Gov. Walker and the curious case of the district attorney’s wife

The postponed amnesty Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 8th, 2014

LatinAmerHow convenient: Abandoning his pledge to act by the end of summer, President Barack Obama has decided to delay any executive action on immigration until after the November congressional elections, White House officials said.

ARGENTINA
Argentine High Court to Rule on Right-to-Die

Behemoth Argentine dinosaur Dreadnoughtus made T. rex look puny
Researchers are studying the remains of a colossal, long-necked dinosaur, named Dreadnoughtus meaning “fearing nothing”, that shook the Earth about 77 million years ago

Gustavo Cerati: Argentine rock legend dies after long coma

BOLIVIA
Blind jazz prodigy, aged nine, wowing Bolivian audiences

BRAZIL
Auto Production Falls Sharply in Brazil

Brazil’s Politicians Often Play the Clown in Ads

CHILE
Central Bank Cuts Forecast for Chile’s Growth in 2014

COLOMBIA
Colombia Expels Venezuelan Opposition Student Activist Lorent Gomez Saleh

ECUADOR
Correa-Tied Anti-Piracy Firm Targets Reporters Investigating Ambassador
Days after Ecuadorian news outlet exposed potential corruption, Ares Rights filed a copyright complaint

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador ex-head hands himself in
El Salvador ex-President Francisco Flores hands himself in to a judge after months on the run from allegations of corruption.

GUATEMALA
Prisoner Faces New Charges

HONDURAS
Gun Deaths in Honduras Double in 9 Years

JAMAICA
Unresponsive plane crashes into seaIn this July 11, 2009, image obtained from the US Navy, Two F-15 Strike Eagles assigned to the Louisiana Air National Guard 159th Fighter Wing fly over southern Louisiana’s wetlands during a photo exercise
A private plane tailed by US fighter jets when it failed to respond to air traffic control, crashes off Jamaica, with an American couple on board.

MEXICO
Amnesty says torture rife in Mexico
Torture is still rife in Mexico and routinely used to extract confessions, human rights organisation Amnesty International says.

Billboard Drives Home Extent of Corruption as Schools Suffer

NICARAGUA
5 gold miners still trapped in Nicaragua

PANAMA
Panama Canal expansion dredges up treasure

PARAGUAY
Peru’s Congress Denounces Former President Toledo for Money Laundering

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Luring Buyers With Tax Breaks

URUGUAY
Pepe Mujica a Libertarian? If Only…
Talk Is Cheap for Uruguay’s “Humble President”

VENEZUELA
Dude, Your Strategic Fund Has Less than a Week’s Worth of Imports In It

There IS Too Much Money To Be Made In The Bolivarian Revolution Part II: The Cadivi Rackets

Ciudad Guayana: In Venezuela’s model city, a dream sputters
Amid labor conflicts, a once-proud industrial city is a monument to the nation’s economic woes.

PDVSA Said to Hire London PR Firm as Venezuela Struggles

The week’s posts:
Brazil: Marina Silva is now frontrunner

US Signs Agreement with Mexico to Protect Mexican Workers–Including Illegals

Iran’s tango with Latin America

En español: Jennifer Lawrence en la Unidad de Quemados

Chile: $30m of cocaine and marijuana seized

Corruption: Brazil not on the map

US can’t locate 60,000 on student visas

Venezuela: Chavista Lord’s Prayer UPDATED

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
The week in the administration

Just what are “immigration rights”?


The ISIS border terror alert Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 1st, 2014

LatinAmerJudicial Watch has an Imminent Terrorist Attack Warning By Feds on US Border, which, as Andrew McCarthy explains,

this is not a surprise — particularly less than two weeks before September 11. But it is nonetheless jarring to read.

ARGENTINA
Argentina workers claim general strike ‘successful’
Labour groups opposed to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez say the second general strike of the year has been a success
.

More bat-shit craziness: Argentina contemplates moving capital from Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is seen as being geographically remote from much of the rest of the country
Buenos Aires could be replaced as capital of Argentina by a city 600 miles to the north [Santiago del Estero], under a plan floated by Cristina Kirchner

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Seizes Guns Bound for Brazilian Crime Outfit, the intended for the gang known as the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital, or PCC).

BRAZIL
Other than post-Chavez Venezuela, Brazil is the worst out of 11 countries ranked by a joint study conducted by Brazilian and German economic think tanks.

Brazil Falls Into Recession
Brazil’s economy fell into a technical recession and cut its growth forecast, delivering another blow to President Dilma Rousseff’s re-election hopes.

Inside the all-woman village desperate for men
The women of of Noiva do Cordeiro are “appealing” for eligible men
Video
Harry Wallop visits the small rural Brazilian village of Noiva do Cordeiro, populated by beautiful women who are looking for love

CHILE
Immigration: Minister of Defense Warns Against “Entering Chile without Authorization”

Chile Manufacturing Falls More Than Forecast as Retail Slows

COLOMBIA
Fugitive Colombian Warlord Nabbed in Panama

Hoy en La Noche grupo de cubanos espera en Colombia respuesta a solicitud de refugio político:

CUBA
Why work? You earn more selling three avocados a day.

The Vatican’s man in Havana says Cubans’ only hope for a better life is to escape Cuba

Internet for Cubans vs. Helping Castro’s Censorship

Oh! Oh! Canada: Party girls UPDATE

DOMINICA
Dominica Will Be First Nation with Universal Bitcoin Possession
70,000 Island Residents Get a “Bitcoin Drop” March 2015

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominican Republic investigate ex-nuncio for pedophilia
Wesolowski appealing def[r]ocking by the Vatican

DRUGS
Drug Use and Drug Spending: How the Washington Post and the President Get It Wrong

ECUADOR
The Future of Dollarization in Ecuador

Ecuador to bring in digital currency
Ecuador says it will introduce the world’s first digital currency issued by a central bank and it will go into circulation in December

GUATEMALA
Jews ‘forced’ from Guatemala villageMen from a Jewish community load furniture onto a lorry in San Juan La Laguna
Some 230 members of an Orthodox Jewish group begin leaving a village in western Guatemala after a bitter row with the local indigenous community.

HONDURAS
Honduras Knocks on Door of Development Bank to Fund ZEDEs
Catrachos Seek Peace with Neighbors in Sensitive Gulf of Fonseca Region

JAMAICA
Jamaican Ends Legal Challenge to Anti-Sodomy Law after growing fearful about violent backlashes.

MEXICO
Mexico Looks to Raise Wages
Mexico City’s leftist Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera raised pressure on the federal government with a proposal to lift the federal minimum wage—which lags only behind Haiti in the hemisphere—to $6 per day for 2015.

Mexico’s Pemex Forecasts 6.7% Drop in Crude Production in 2014
The head of Pemex’s exploration and production division said production will fall from 2.52 million barrels per day in 2013 to 2.35 million bpd at the close of 2014

More Than 134,000 Petition Obama Admin. to Demand Release of Sgt. Tahmooressi — Here’s the Response They Received Instead

NICARAGUA
Nicaragua Landslide Traps Gold Miners
Rescuers in Nicaragua raced to reach at least 24 freelance gold miners trapped by a landslide, including 20 who have been located and have managed to communicate with emergency crews.

PANAMA
Widened Panama Canal may threaten West Coast port jobs

PARAGUAY
Brazil, Worse Than Paraguay

PERU
Peru Moves Van der Sloot to Tougher Prison

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Lures Franklin as Equity Funds Buy Junk: Muni Credit

URUGUAY
More than 20 companies bid to supply legal pot in Uruguay

VENEZUELA
Venezuelans Feel Less Safe than Any Population on Earth
Residents Rate “Law and Order” Worse than War-Torn Syria

Health Secretary: Venezuelan Medical Care in Critical Condition
Gustavo Villasmil Details How the Brain Drain and Supply Shortages Feed the Crisis

Venezuela’s Black Market Bolivar Slides to Record Low

Venezuela is becoming a crude importer. Discuss.

Chavismo promoting CITGO sale tells us more than what we care to know

There Is Too Much Money To Be Made In The Bolivarian Revolution I: The Gasoline Racket.

“Los venezolanos en el callejón sin salida del chavismo”

The Venezuela Case Study In How Not To Help The Poor

A Proposal of a New Flag from a Opposition Movement to Chavismo and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela {Venezuatu}…! THE NEW COUNTRY OF: Venecian Guiana !

HUMOR
HAHAHA You go to the beach and run into Hugo Chavez

The week’s posts and podcast:
A day in the life of the Panama Canal

ISIS border terror alert?

Colombia: Former Pablo Escobar lead henchman goes free

En español: Unidad de quemados

Brazil: 3 beheaded in prison riot

Today’s illegal alien invasion headlines

Argentina: Enter Soros

Peña Nieto goes to LA

Colombia: Was military intelligence hacked?

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
The audacity of taupe

Warren Buffett and his American dollars for Canadian doughnuts

Podcast:
Gloria M Strassburger, author, plus Fausta Wertz editor of Fausta’s Blog


The prehistoric seals Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 25th, 2014

LatinAmerThere you have it: Seals helped Europeans wipe out Native Americans
Europeans have long been blamed for wiping out 95 per cent of Native Americans by bringing foreign diseases to the New World. But a new study suggests seals could be partly to blame

The research shows that tuberculosis is likely to have spread from humans in Africa to seals and sea lions, who then carried the disease to South America and transmitted it to Native populations long before Europeans landed on the continent.

ARGENTINA
Argentina Presents Plan to Bypass U.S. Courts, Pay Creditors; later, Argentina debt plan ruled ‘illegal’
Argentina’s plan to ask investors holding defaulted bonds to swap them for new locally issued debt is ruled “illegal” by a US court.

Companies fear radical turn in Argentina

The government’s unorthodox economic management came under further scrutiny on Thursday when beef exports were suspended to combat inflation, despite dollar shortages.

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Exports More Than 20,000 Metric Tons of LPG in 1H 2014

BRAZIL
Brazilian Police Officers Acquitted of Murder Charges
A jury has acquitted four police officers of murder charges in the 2012 shooting death of a suspected car thief, a case that attracted attention to the lethality of Brazilian police.

CHILE
Rerun time: Peru in Diplomatic Squabble With Chile
Map Shows Triangle of Land as Belonging to Peru

COLOMBIA
Rebel Attacks in 2014 on Colombia Oil Infrastructure Cause $531 Million in Losses

[The president of the Colombian Petroleum Association, Francisco Jose Lloreda] called on the government to provide security guarantees irrespective of whether a peace deal is reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group in talks in Havana dating back to 2012.
. . .
The FARC and ELN have carried out numerous attacks in recent months on oil infrastructure, particularly pipelines and tanker trucks in the northern provinces of Arauca and Norte de Santander, which border Venezuela, and in Putumayo, which borders Ecuador

CUBA
Moringapalooza Cretin Summit 2014: Caracastan’s Maduro visits his master Nosferatu in Havana

Must-Read: Cuban Catholic Youth Activists Write Pope Francis

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Miley Cyrus Banned from Performing in Dominican Republic on ‘Morality Grounds’

ECUADOR
Ecuador President Rafael Correa Seeks Law Allowing Perpetual Re-Election
Popular Leader Setting Stage for Expected Fourth Run in 2017

Top-Down Digital Currency Coming to Ecuador, with Ban on Competition
Imminent Prohibition Covers All Unofficial Physical, Digital Currencies

EL SALVADOR
Saving El Salvador: Why The Vatican Needs To Make Archbishop Romero A Saint; I disagree.

GUATEMALA
General Dies in Crash
A top Guatemalan general and four other officers were killed on Wednesday when the helicopter they were in crashed near the country’s northern border with Mexico, Guatemala’s government said.

“Meet the Press” covered Rand Paul’s pro bono eye surgery in Guatemala and larded it with impugnment of his motives. Paul has been doing pro bono work for decades.

HONDURAS
In Honduras, U.S. deportees seek to journey north again

LATIN AMERICA
ALBA Meets UN Security Council Over Gaza

Why the Pacific Alliance Puts Mercosur to Shame
Protectionist Panderers No Match for Liberal, Free-Market Integration

Build the Border Fence Already!

MEXICO
Mexico Unveils New Police Force
President Enrique Peña Nieto inaugurated a 5,000-strong unit of the federal police that is tasked with protecting key parts of Mexico’s economy from violent drug gangs.

Are we supposed to believe that Mexican authorities are keeping track of who’s crossing? Mexico Dismisses Perry Claim Islamic State Could Have Crossed U.S. Border
The Mexican embassy in Washington Friday dismissed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s claim that “there’s a very real possibility” extremists from the Islamic State have already snuck into the U.S. over the southern border.

NICARAGUA
Nicaraguans, safe at home, feel little reason to flee to U.S.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/18/4296029/nicaraguans-safe-at-home-feel.html#storylink=cpy

PANAMA
New Challenges for Panama Canal at 100

PARAGUAY
Paraguay seizes nearly one ton of cocaine in DR Congo-bound rice

PERU
Peru’s Congress Rejects Prime Minister’s Cabinet for Second Time
Various Lawmakers Demand Changes to President Ollanta Humala’s Administration

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico to Use Old Traffic Network to Lay Fiber-Optic Cables

URUGUAY
The Rights Abuses Uruguay Doesn’t Want You to Know About
A small South American country has been making big strides in human rights. But it’s still got some work to do.

VENEZUELA
VenEconomy: Venezuelan Government Goes for More Censorship, Barbarism

Got Shortages? Chavistas Sic “Operation Queue Killer” on Cash Registers
Pricing Superintendent Rebukes Defective Checkouts, Announces Biometric Rationing

The week’s posts and podcast:
Ecuador’s new fake currency

Good luck with that!

TSA: Illegals without ID can fly with ‘Notice to Appear’

Argentina’s shell game

Colombia: Luis Carlos Cervantes murdered

Is Populism beatable?

Would “gender mainstreaming” fix the border crisis?

Argentina: “Qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent”

Briefly interrupted

The Panama Canal Centennial roundup

At Da Tech Guy Blog
Biometrics and the police state

Podcast
Panama Canal, Argentina, Mexico & US-Latin America stories of the week


Ecuador’s new fake currency

Monday, August 25th, 2014

And it’s not even bitcoin.

Mary O’Grady writes about Ecuador’s Phony Bitcoin Ploy
President Correa’s new ‘electronic currency’ will make it easier to engage in monetary devaluation.

This year Ecuador will run a fiscal deficit, including debt service, of some $9.2 billion, more than 9% of GDP. That’s what happens with budgeting that forecasts that oil prices will grow to the sky. It will be hard to shrink bloated state payrolls and subsidies, and the cost of servicing rising debt levels isn’t getting any cheaper.

To return this year to the international capital markets with a $2 billion 10-year bond, Ecuador had to pay a whopping 7.95% coupon. It also took out a $400 million three-year loan from Goldman Sachs against Ecuadorean gold to meet budget shortfalls. China holds $11 billion in Ecuadorean debt, not including billions of dollars in loans from Beijing secured by future oil shipments at an undisclosed price.

Now Mr. Correa is planning for when he runs out of other people’s money. The central bank says its new money will be a parallel currency backed up by dollars or the “equivalent” and used to pay its 500,000 bureaucrats in a “hygienic” manner. But if so, why not use dollars? In today’s world, there’s nothing special about transferring money electronically. Implying that this is a “virtual” currency is an attempt to lend Bitcoin-like cachet to what will essentially be IOUs issued by a country with a rather dodgy credit history.

And, if you think Ecuador may be a good place to retire, keep in mind that

Ecuadoreans are not free to speak against this threat to their earnings and savings. Mr. Correa is well known for using the judicial system and the army to threaten and silence his critics. Earlier this month he won the passage of a new law that makes it a crime—punishable by up to seven years in prison—to “publish, broadcast or spread” news that creates “economic panic.”

Panic indeed.

A “parallel currency backed up by dollars”? Don’t be the next Lord Crawley.

The Venezuelan show trial Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 18th, 2014

LatinAmerWhy is the Venezuelan regime so intent in making the trial of Leopoldo Lopez such a travesty?

Let me make that clear for the reader: the defense will not be allowed to present its evidence nor its witnesses. The only evidence and witnesses that will be allowed in court are the ones from the prosecution. The defense, we hope, will be only able to cross examine that evidence. Since we know that Venezuelan judges under chavismo can silence cross examination as they want, there you have it. Of course, I am sure that as the trial moves on the judge may allow the defense an item here, an item there, just to pretend that a trial did take place, but is not going to fool anyone. It is also true that in any serious trial the judges can dismiss useless evidence such as the nephew of the accused selling boy scout cookies as a character reference, but this is not the case here. What is going on here is outright denial of justice, it is a show trial, a kangaroo court, a pre-ordained execution.

Why is the regime taking such an international risk with a figure that has already won in international courts sentences establishing that the regime was unfair towards him?

One word: force.

ARGENTINA
Argentina’s Financial Troubles Pile Up
Creditor Plays Down Hopes of Deal to Bring Nation Out of Default; Peso Tumbles on Rate Cut

What could possibly go wrong? Argentinean Senate Introduces Sweeping Soviet-Style Economic Plan
Dictatorship-Era Law of Supply Not Interventionist Enough for Kirchner

Bat-shit crazy: Argentina says will use anti-terror law against U.S. printing firm

Fernandez said the printing firm had ties to foreign investors whose decade-long debt battle against Argentina in the U.S. courts led Argentina to default on its debt last month for the second time in 12 years.

BOLIVIA
With Subway in the Sky, Valley Meets Plateau

BRAZIL
Silva ‘to run’ for Brazil president
Former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva agrees to run as the Socialist Party’s presidential candidate after Eduardo Campos’s sudden death, an adviser says.

Brazil’s Economic Activity Index Down 1.2% in Q2

‘Water war’ in Brazil as Rio’s supply threatened
São Paulo and Rio authorities battle over scarce water resources as reservoirs run dry

CHILE
Airport heist in Chile sees gunmen escape with £4m
Largest robbery in country’s history as trucks transporting cash targeted in audacious raid in Santiago

Chilean Police Defuse Bomb Planted at Bank

COLOMBIA
Odebrecht-Led Consortium Awarded Colombian River Contract

Colombian Journalist Denied State Protection, Murdered Three Weeks Later
Press Associations, Human-Rights Groups Demand Justice for Luis Carlos Cervantes

Santos and the Company He Keeps: Populist Progressives Encircle Colombia
New Allies Threaten to Reverse Liberalization, Development Process

Colombia victims join peace talksRepresentatives of the victims join the talks in Cuba for the first time, 16 Aug 14
A group of victims of five decades of conflict in Colombia for the first time join government negotiators and Farc rebel leaders at peace talks.

COSTA RICA
Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica

CUBA
Castro’s WTO Blackmail

Cuba: A country where toilet paper is rarer than partridge

Photo essay of the day: The glorious legacy of the so-called Revolution

ECUADOR
Pie in the sky: Ecuador Seeks To Build A Silicon Valley Of Its Own

GUATEMALA
A Reminisce: Grand Theft Auto Murder

RAND PAUL HEADS TO GUATEMALA TO CONDUCT CHARITY EYE SURGERIES

Baja California and Guatemala sign Accord in re Migrants

HAITI
UN troops disperse Haiti protesters supporting Aristide

JAMAICA
Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born review – a persuasive account of Ian Fleming’s Jamaica
Matthew Parker brings the outpost of empire where the 007 novels were written to vivid life

MEXICO
Kidnappings in Mexico surge to the highest number on record

Mexico’s kidnappers used to target the rich. Now even shopkeepers and taco vendors are victims.

PANAMA
At 100, Panama Canal looks to the future
Panamanians reflecting on the past 100 years say the biggest legacy of the canal is its contribution to the economy. ‘Without the canal, we wouldn’t have half the things we have now,’ says one shopkeeper.

100 Years of the Panama Canal
One of the supreme engineering feats of the early 20th century, the canal has been an immense boon to shipping and of major geopolitical benefit to the United States.

PERU
Gold, Peru’s New Cocaine

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Power Bonds Rally on Loan-Delay Deal
Utility to Delay Loan Payments and Work on a Business-Revamp Plan

URUGUAY
Not The Onion: Migrant Thinks He’s Arrived To U.S., Actually In Uruguay

VENEZUELA
Ten years of funk
Today marks the tenth anniversary of the day the opposition lost its groove.

Venezuela Oil Price Falls to Lowest Since 2012 Even as Mid-East and Ukraine Simmer

What Government Control Of The Media Means In Venezuela

The week’s posts and podcast:
Mexico: The dancing ‘dipu-tables’

Coming soon to a school near you, 37,477 illiterate students

Brazil: Socialist Party candidate dies in plane crash

En español: Barbara Padilla

Socialism: making it harder to get a drink since 1848*

Brazil: Hacking the reporters

Cuba: The end of the deepwater oil lie

Brazil: Opposition now has Arminio Fraga

Venezuela: El Pollo as big fish

At Da tech Guy blog:
The Economist lowers the bar on low expectations

The Pontifical Council denounces ISIS

Podcast:
US-Latin America stories of the week


The wine squeeze Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Producers of cheap Malbec are getting squeezed by inflation, according to the WSJ,

Wine has been hit harder than agricultural products like soy because picking the grapes is so labor intensive. Analysts say producers’ costs have risen at least 100% in the past four years.

That means fewer bottles of cheap Argentine wine are making it to the shelves of restaurants and liquor stores in the U.S. and Europe.

As if things weren’t tough enough already.

ARGENTINA
Judge Threatens Argentina With Contempt Over Its Statements

Argentina seeks legal case against U.S. in The Hague

Argentine grandmother leading search for stolen children reunited with own grandson after 36 years
Country celebrates as Estela Carlotto, head of the renowned Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, finds the grandchild taken from her daughter by the military regime almost four decades ago

BOLIVIA
‘King Midas’ Bat From Bolivia Identified As A News Species

BRAZIL
Brazil anger over gynaecological tests for teachers
Brazilian women’s rights advocates denounce Sao Paulo state’s requirement for prospective female teachers to undergo gynaecological test

Women’s rights advocates in Brazil have denounced requirements by the country’s most populous state for prospective female teachers to submit to gynaecological exams or prove their virginity in order to work.

The education department of Sao Paulo state requires female prospective teachers to undergo a Pap smear in order to prove they are free of a variety of cancers, or to present a doctor’s statement verifying they have not been sexually active.

Until recently, it also required women to have a colposcopy, a type of visual examination used to detect disease.

CHILE
Chile youth leader freed in Venezuela, going to Santiago

COLOMBIA
Colombian rebels attack oil field
Colombian rebels attack an oil field in the north-west of the country although no-one is hurt, the state-owned company Ecopetrol says.

CUBA
Cy Tokmakjian – Imprisoned in Cuba No Charges. No Justice

Cuba and the outside world
Rekindling old friendships
Cuba is once again resorting to geopolitics to support a failing economy

Museum enshrines the history of Cuba according to “The Godfather II”

ECUADOR
Ecuador to open embassy in ‘Palestine’, president cancels visit to Israel

What Can Tens of Millions of Dollars Buy Ecuador in the ‘Empire’?

GUATEMALA
Guatemala Receives Deported Children from U.S.

IMMIGRATION
BORDER PATROL AGENT: CARTELS USING CHILDREN AS ‘SHIELDS’

JAMAICA
Jamaica: The good, the bad and the ugly

LATIN AMERICA
Why is Latin America Coddling Hamas?

The Spin of Things to Come

Russia Slaps Embargo on Western Food Imports and Looks to Latin America

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CYNTHIA MCKINNEY? She’s at TeleSur, which is

funded by the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Venezuela.

MEXICO
Mexico Gains Winning Edge By Opening Energy Market

Mexico Mulls Over Raising It’s Shockingly Low Minimum Wage

NICARAGUA
Costa Rica seeks investigation of immigrant bribes to Nicaraguan military

PANAMA
Has Panama weaned itself off drugs and cleaned up?

PARAGUAY
Pope Benedict XVI OK’d abusive priest in Paraguay, local bishop says

PERU
PERU HAS REOPENED ITS OFFICE OF UFO INVESTIGATIONS

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Ricans Are Fleeing the Economic Disaster That Is Their Home Island

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan weather vanes

Evil in the Bayou

The week’s posts and podcast:
Venezuela: Derwick in the news

Today’s illegal invasion headlines

Nicaragua: A reminder on the sandinistas

Venezuela: What a show trial looks like

“once every 5 years”

Ecuador: Like bitcoin, but not as solid

Need a coyote? Check Facebook!

Mexico: Knights Templar chief La Tuta’s on YouTube

Illegal immigration: Just who is getting in?

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Pope Francis reinstates Marxist to the priesthood (update DTG)

And now, for a “train deal” with Mexico

The week’s podcast, with Silvio Canto.


Ecuador: Like bitcoin, but not as solid

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Anyone investing in Ecuador?

Bitcoin-Like Money Is Ecuador’s Latest Dollar-Saving Plan (emphasis added):

After mortgaging most of Ecuador’s oil and gold to finance spending, President Rafael Correa is planning to create virtual money to pay the nation’s bills.

Congress last month approved legislation to start a digital currency for use alongside the U.S. dollar, the official tender in Ecuador. Once signed into law, the country will begin using the as-yet-unnamed currency as soon as October. A monetary authority will be established to regulate the money, which will be backed by “liquid assets.”

What do they mean by “liquid assets”, if it can’t be swapped for government bonds?

How reliable is Ecuador?

Less than six years after repudiating $3.2 billion of its dollar-denominated debt

And don’t forget the 1999 default.

UPDATE:
Since the “currency” is yet unnamed, I suggest we name it bullcoin.