I’m in Silvio Canto’s podcast, US-Latin America stories of the week. Live at 8PM Eastern, and archived for your listening convenience.
My latest article, Ecuador’s “dirty hand,” and Mia Farrow’s greased palm is up at Da Tech Guy Blog.
Don’t expect the case to be over, either.
Vigilantes in Mexico students search
Hundreds of members of self-defence groups join the search in the Mexican town of Iguala for 43 missing students who disappeared almost two weeks ago. None of the missing are known to have crime connections:
The students, from a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, travelled to the nearby town of Iguala to protest against what they perceived as discriminatory hiring practices for teachers.
After a day of protests and fundraising, they wanted to make their way back to their college.
Accounts of what happened next differ.
Members of the student union say they hitched a lift aboard three local buses, but the police says the students seized the buses.
In the hours which followed, six people were killed when armed men opened fire on the three buses and that of a third division football team which they presumably mistook for one carrying students.
Three students, a footballer, the driver of one of the buses and a woman in a taxi were shot dead. Many more were injured.
Municipal police gave chase to the students, and are believed to have fired at them.
Twenty-two officers have been detained in connection with the shooting.
But there are also reports of other armed men opening fire on the students. Eight people not belonging to the municipal police have also been arrested.
Following the incident on the night of 26 September, 57 students were reported missing.
On 30 September it was announced that 13 of them had returned to their homes.
One name was found to have appeared in the list of the missing twice, leaving 43 students unaccounted for.
On 4 October, prosecutors announced they had found six shallow graves containing the remains of at least 28 people.
Authorities are investigating the possible involvement of a local drug gang called Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors, a pun, since the state’s name is Guerrero), led by a thug nicknamed El Chucky, and are affiliated with the Beltran Leyva cartel. Additionally, Iguala’s mayor, Jose Luis Abarca Velazquez, his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, and the police chief have not been seen since the events on 26 September. However, so far the biggest suspect is Mexico’s Police
The state prosecutor investigating why the police opened fire on students from their vehicles has found mass graves in Iguala — the small industrial city where the confrontations occurred — containing 28 badly burned and dismembered bodies.
The prosecutors had already arrested 22 police officers after the clashes, saying the officers secretly worked for, or were members of, a local gang. Now they are investigating whether the police apprehended the students after the confrontation and deliberately turned them over to the local gang. Two witnesses in custody told prosecutors that the gang then killed the protesters on the orders of a leader known as El Chucky.
More police officers arrived, accompanied by gunmen in plainclothes. Prosecutors have now identified these shooters as members of a cell of assassins called “Guerreros Unidos” or “Warriors United,” who work for the Beltran Leyva cartel. The cartel’s head Hector Beltran Leyva was arrested last week following the incident.
Federal agents are now in charge instead of local police.
Paco Almaraz features the governor of the state of Guerrero in the burn-out unit (in Spanish),
In the wake of Dilma’s dismal administration, Aécio Neves will campaign until the Oct. 26 run-off against failing state-run economics. He has Marina Silva’s backing:
Brazil Candidate to Hit Rival on Economy
Brazil’s pro-business candidate Aécio Neves plans to hammer the state-centric economic policies of his rival, President Dilma Rousseff, before their Oct. 26 electoral showdown.
While blaming the president for Brazil’s 6.5% inflation rate, stagnant growth and lackluster productivity, Mr. Neves will tout his achievements as a former two-term governor of prosperous Minas Gerais state, taking credit for rescuing it from near-bankruptcy by cutting expenses and boosting revenue under a program dubbed “management shock.”
And he will criticize a series of scandals that have tarnished Ms. Rousseff’s center-left Workers’ Party, or PT, which has dominated Brazilian politics for 12 years, including alleged widespread corruption and cronyism at state-owned companies like oil giant Petrobras.
From commenter N,
there are some interesting voting maps around (on the web) showing that Dilma Roussef’s votes correlate almost perfectly with he number of people receiving federal government’s handouts.
Neves has his work cut out for him,
Ms. Rousseff starts the runoff as the favorite given the leftist drift of Brazilian politics, but Mr. Neves has a chance if he can convince voters that her policies are responsible for Brazil’s current malaise and that he has a better agenda. Brazil’s populist, redistributionist policies have squandered its potential for decades, and more of the same for another four years won’t bring the change the country needs.
I wish him luck.
“When we saw people on Twitter getting upset we took the plate off. But they still attacked us so we made a break for it to our hotel in Ushuaia.
“The mob just descended on the hotel and encircled us. State representatives came and ordered us out of the country.”
Here’s the car that caused the fracas,
This is my car on its last day in Argentina. Note the plates that everyone says caused offence. pic.twitter.com/mCfncbMa6F
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) October 4, 2014
Video of the police escorting them.
They include corruption, political machinations with the state-controlled oil company, and delays and overspending on a multibillion-dollar oil refinery that Brazil needs desperately.
Extreme skiers Auclair and Fransson die in Chile avalanche
Police in Chile have found the bodies of two extreme skiers who had been missing since an avalanche struck a mountain in southern Chile on Tuesday.
Former Haiti president Duvalier diesJean-Claude Duvalier
Haiti’s notorious former ruler Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier has died of a heart attack in the capital Port-au-Prince, reports quoting official sources say.
Leader of Cartel Is Captured
The leader of one of Mexico’s largest cartels, Héctor Beltrán-Leyva of the Beltrán-Leyva gang, has been captured, the authorities said Wednesday night, giving President Enrique Peña Nieto another high-profile victory against organized crime.
Hayes agreed to negotiate a long-held border dispute between Argentina and Paraguay, and the decision gave the nation 60 percent of its land.
Venezuela Oil Price Continues Tumbling
Venezuela’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum reports that the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending October 3 fell to its lowest price since January of 2011. The Latin American Herald Tribune notes that the Ministry continues to post an inaccurate average for the year and reduced the average price for the whole of 2013 by $1.41 without explanation
Venezuela: Lawmaker Killed in His Home, Police Say
A day after Robert Serra, a rising star in Venezuela’s governing party, was stabbed to death in his home, officials said Thursday that it was a carefully planned murder.
The week’s posts and podcasts:
Brazil: Aécio goes to the runoff
At Da Tech Guy Blog:
I’m a tax exile, and proud of it
The week’s podcast:
Let’s chat with Alina Garcia-Lapuerta, author of “La Belle Creole”
While the local and international press were busy talking about Marina Silva, voters were looking at pro-market senator Aécio Neves:
Mr. Neves has said he would go after Ms. Rousseff on what he considers her vulnerability: Brazil’s struggling economy. He has vowed to slash government ministries, simplify Brazil’s tax code and tackle inflation.
Popular with investors and businessmen, Mr. Neves has said that, if elected, he would appoint respected economist Arminio Fraga, the former head of the central bank, to be his finance minister.
The reason for Neves’s ascendance?
the economy is undergoing a wrenching U-turn. Brazil slipped into recession this year after four years of stagnation, and inflation is on the rise. The state-owned oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA is mired in alleged embezzlement and other scandals. Since Ms. Rousseff took office, the real has lost a third of its value against the dollar and the stock market is down by 21%.
Silva was Dilma-light, and Dilma promises “More Changes, More Future.”
The question is, Does Aécio have the personality to sway the uneducated, low-information, low-income voter?
“There were hundreds of them. They were hurling rocks and bricks at our cars. They were trying to attack us with pickaxe handles.
over a license plate that reminded people of the Falklands.
I kid you not.
The Argentinians call the Falklands the Malvinas, but, all the same, look at this,
The locals had their two minutes of hate, and the lads needed police escort to get out of the country safely.
For the only accurate account of what happened in Argentina, read the Sunday Times tomorrow.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) October 4, 2014
The Economist reports on Pre-election spending in Brazil
A final splurge
The primary deficit (before interest payments) reached 14.4 billion reais ($5.9 billion) in that month, the fourth in a row in which the government has failed to put aside cash to pay creditors. The consolidated primary surplus in the eight months to August stood at just 0.3% of GDP. Most of that came from the states; the central government managed just 1.5 billion reais, a piffling 0.05% of GDP and the worst result for the period since 1998. The overall budget deficit climbed to 4% of output, the highest level since Ms Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, embarked on a huge stimulus package in 2009, as the global financial crisis took hold.
On September 30th the ratings agency told an investors’ conference in São Paulo that it will refrain from re-appraising Brazil’s credit risk until 2016, once it becomes apparent what the next government is doing to tackle weak growth (which will average just 1.5-1.7% a year during Ms Rousseff’s four years in power), and a wonky budget.
On paper, Marina Silva, candidate of the centrist Brazilian Socialist party, promises a more responsible fiscal policy. So does Aécio Neves of the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy, the most market-friendly of the main contenders.
The odds odds Neves winning are slim-to-none. Silva is getting a lot of media attention, particularly in foreign media outlets, but Dilma will most likely win, as a commenter points out,
Perhaps you`re right, and that awful woman will be reelected. But not only because she has a “huge… and well funded political machine”. She also has absolutely no scruples whatsoever about lying, scheming and – most importantly – putting the gigantic State machine to work full-time for her campaign. Disgraceful. Worse times ahead for us Brazilians.
Tras los hechos sangrientos ocurridos en su municipio mientras él bailaba en una fiesta del DIF local, José Luis Abarca llega a la Unidad de Quemados… y en el Cineclub de Nicasio: Cantinflas… jajajaja… nah… El Justiciero
Incurable optimists are betting that Argentina has hit rock bottom:
Argentina’s economy is projected to contract by 2.1% this year and its inflation rate is among the world’s highest. In July, Argentina defaulted for a second time in 13 years. A U.S. judge on Monday found Argentina in contempt of court for its handling of the debt.
Investors see a potential turning point in presidential elections scheduled for October 2015, from which Mrs. Kirchner is constitutionally barred.
Contenders for her post have vowed to work toward exiting default and to adopt policies aimed at righting the economy.
Money managers hope to get in front of a stampede into Argentina should a new government succeed in restoring the country’s credibility in global financial markets.
Well, yeah, if I won the Power Ball I may make it to the Forbes 400.
Snark aside, Argentina has been defaulting on its debt since 1826. The country’s stock market is small, another devaluation is looming, the peso has dropped to a record low against the dollar, the country’s foreign exchange laws and business environment are negative, public spending is out of control, Steve Hanke estimates a 68% annual inflation rate, and, while yields may be high, the central bank’s reserves are dwindling and the government does not have a strategy to solve its domestic economic problems.
Oh yes, it can get worse. When the airlines don’t sell tickets more than 90 days in advance for fear they won’t get paid, you know things are not about to get rosy.
The Merval’s up. Take that as a sell signal.