Category Archives: News

AS/COA – Brazil Deploys Troops to Northern, Bolivian Borders

Last week, the Brazilian government sent 8,700 troops to the border with French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela in an effort to combat drug trafficking and environmental crimes in the Amazon region. Brazilian military officials assured neighboring countries the move was not aggressive, but meant to reinforce state presence in that remote area of the country where such crimes are prevalent. Brazilian troops were also dispatched to the border with Bolivia at the beginning of May after Bolivian military crossed the border while expelling Brazilian farmers from the border region. “This is not a retaliation,” said Brazil’s Lieutenant Colonel Danilo Mota. “We are here performing our constitutional duty to protect our citizens and our sovereignty.”

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Latin America saw record FDI in 2011, Brazil was the major recipient

Latin America saw record FDI in 2011. Brazil was the major recipient, receiving 43.8%  of the investment. Following Brazil were Mexico, Chile, and Colombia. the major investors were the European Union (39%), the US (18%), Latin American countries (9%), and Japan (8%).

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Récord de inversión externa en América Latina en 2011 con Brasil en cabeza

 

Santiago de Chile, 3 may (EFECOM).- La inversión extranjera directa (IED) en América Latina y el Caribe alcanzó en 2011 la cifra récord de 153.448 millones de dólares, impulsada por el dinamismo de los mercados internos y el elevado precio de los recursos naturales, informó hoy en Santiago la Cepal.

 

Esta marca histórica representa el 10 por ciento de la IED mundial y un aumento del 31 % respecto de los 120.880 millones de dólares de capitales extranjeros que se invirtieron en la región en 2010, señaló el organismo de las Naciones Unidas en su informe “La inversión extranjera directa en América Latina y el Caribe 2011”.

 

“Esto se debe fundamentalmente al aprovechamiento de los mercados internos y también al precio de las materias primas, que hace que haya un gran estímulo en la extracción y procesamiento de recursos naturales”, dijo la secretaria ejecutiva de la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (Cepal), Alicia Bárcena, al presentar el documento.

 

En 2011, los principales receptores de IED en la región fueron Brasil, con 66.660 millones de dólares -un 43,8 % del total-; México, con 19.440 millones, y Chile, con 17.299 millones de dólares.

 

En los lugares siguientes se encuentran Colombia (13.234 millones de dólares), Perú (7.659 millones), Argentina (7.243 millones), Venezuela (5.302 millones) y Uruguay (2.528 millones).

 

La responsable de la Cepal destacó el “dinamismo” que caracterizó a todas las subregiones y subrayó que algunos países, como Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Perú y Uruguay, registraron récords históricos en IED.

 

En cuanto al origen de las inversiones, el 39 % corrió a cargo de empresas del bloque de la Unión Europea (UE), especialmente de España, que fue las responsables del 14 % del total de la IED en América Latina y el Caribe.

 

El resto de la UE invirtió el 25 %, Estados Unidos el 18 %, la propia región latinoamericana el 9 % y Japón el 8 %, precisó el informe.

 

La secretaria ejecutiva de la Cepal señaló que durante la última década la UE ha invertido, en promedio, un 40 % del total de la IED en la región, con unos 30.000 millones de dólares al año.

 

Se trata, dijo Bárcena, de inversiones “muy diversificadas” y con “un alto contenido tecnológico” que se han concentrado en países suramericanos en industrias extractivas, manufactureras y de servicios.

 

Sin embargo, en la última década América Latina se ha visto desplazada como destino de inversiones europeas por otros países europeos, países asiáticos emergentes e incluso África.

 

“Con la crisis financiera en Europa muchas de estas inversiones han disminuido”, apuntó Bárcena, quien se mostró convencida de que los flujos de inversión europea se mantendrán en niveles similares a los observados durante los últimos años.

 

La economista mexicana consideró que tampoco influirán de forma negativa en las inversiones extranjeras las recientes nacionalizaciones de empresas españolas en Argentina y Bolivia.

 

“Nada indica que esto pueda extenderse a otras partes de la región”, comentó.

 

El informe reveló también que el 46 % de los ingresos netos de IED correspondieron a reinversiones de ganancias, un dato que, para la Cepal, refleja la confianza de las empresas trasnacionales y las oportunidades de negocio en la región.

 

Sin embargo, la Cepal ha observado desde el 2004 un fuerte aumento de la repatriación de beneficios de las compañías a sus países de origen.

 

Según datos del organismo, entre 1998 y 2003 el monto de rentas transferidas a los países de origen fue de 20.000 millones de dólares anuales, mientras que entre 2008 y 2010 el montó alcanzó los 84.000 millones al año.

 

Bárcena explicó que esto se debe al aumento de las reservas de IED y también a la estrategia de algunas compañías, sobre todo europeas, que “han requerido la repatriación de algunas rentas por la coyuntura económica que están enfrentando”.

 

Por otra parte, las inversiones en el extranjero de las empresas multinacionales latinoamericanas y caribeñas sumaron en 2011 un total de 22.605 millones de dólares, lo que supone una caída de casi un 50 % respecto al 2010.

 

La Cepal consideró que las firmas latinoamericanas siguen en expansión y atribuyó el descenso al comportamiento de Brasil, donde los préstamos desde las filiales en el extranjero a las casas matrices se incrementaron y, al mismo tiempo, se redujeron los aportes de capital.

 

Chile fue el país que más invirtió en el exterior en 2011 con 11.822 millones de dólares, seguido por México (9.640 millones) y Colombia (8.289 millones).

 

La Cepal señaló que este 2012 la región seguirá siendo un destino atractivo para la IED, aunque la afluencia de capital puede verse afectada por un hipotético empeoramiento de la crisis en Europa y la posible desaceleración de la economía china.

AS/COA – US suggests possibility of Brazil’s permanent seat at UNSC

Secretary Clinton Promotes Bilateral Cooperation in Brazil

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Brazil this week after attending the Summit of the Americas in Colombia. In Brasilia on Monday, Clinton met with Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Foster to discuss expanding U.S.-Brazilian cooperation for deep-water oil exploration. Clinton spoke before the National Confederation of Industry, where she praised U.S.-Brazilian bilateral trade, but said the two countries could do more to foster collaboration. She discussed the possibility of a double taxation treaty, a bilateral investment treaty, and a potential future free-trade agreement. In a meeting with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, Clinton gave hope to Brazil’s mission for a permanent UN Security Council seat, stating: “[I]t would be very hard to imagine a future UN Security Council that wouldn’t include a country like Brazil.” On Tuesday, Clinton met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at a high-level meeting of the Open Government Partnership, a multi-country initiative to promote government transparency. The United States and Brazil are co-chairs of the partnership. During the meeting, a group of non-profits launched the Brasil Aberto movement to promote transparency and citizen participation in promoting open government.

Click here for original article: http://www.as-coa.org/article.php?id=4106

AQ – Thirty Years Later: The Importance of the Malvinas

APRIL 2, 2012

BY

 IVAN PETRELLA

Today marks the 30-year anniversary of the start of the 74-day Malvinas War. Although control of the islands is often seen as an issue of national pride, the Malvinas (known as the Falklands outside of Latin America) are also important geostrategic and economic assets.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, rhetoric over the islands’ status has yet again escalated in the lead up to Argentina and the United Kingdom marking the hostilities and the 900 soldiers (including three islanders) who died during the conflict.

The Malvinas are two small islands of 4,405 square miles (11,400 square kilometers) a mere 403 miles (650 kilometers) from the Argentine mainland. They remain sparsely populated—about 2,500 islanders in addition to 1,700 British military and civilian personnel at the Mount Pleasant military base. But after the 1982 war the United Kingdom invested $90 million in infrastructure and granted the islanders citizenship. Today, the Malvinas has one of the highest per-capita GDPs in the world ($52,000)—higher than that of Britain ($40,000) and Argentina ($11,000).

Diplomatically, Argentina, in 1965, successfully argued before the United Nations Committee for Decolonization that the dispute be framed in terms of a bilateral conflict over territorial integrity rather than the islanders’ self-determination. The definingResolution 2065 states that the islanders’ “interests”—rather than their desires—are to be taken into account. The ambiguous diplomatic language made clear that self-determination was not the principle for the conflict and opened up room for intermediate solutions.

Future UN resolutions have asked the United Kingdom to sit with Argentina and negotiate a bilateral solution to the dispute. At times it has done so and in different points in the past 50 years it has seemed like a breakthrough was possible, only to fall through. Lately, however, the United Kingdom has argued—in contrast to UN precedent on the issue—that the islanders should be at the table. Still, in the past decade there has been no dialogue at all.

The result is continued chest-thumping on the issue without progress to an eventual solution. Some of the rhetoric has been borderline nonsensical, as when UK Prime Minister David Cameron during a session of the House of Commons accused Argentina of “colonialism” over its sovereignty claim.

Fanning populist-nationalist sentiment helps both Cameron and Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner distract from problems at home. Both are reining in government spending and slashing social services. Kirchner, in addition, has installed tight currency controls and severely restricted imports. As history shows, nationalism is a great tool for diverting public attention from other problems at home.

But the stakes are high and go beyond boosting the leaders’ popularity.

For one, islands are strategically important, especially as cash-strapped global navies, including the United Kingdom, seek permanent outposts for refueling or as a springboard for projecting power.  With the rise in global piracy, islands are a critical asset for guaranteeing the security of navigational routes and international trade. Other nations recognize this as well: Denmark and Canada are currently disputing Hans Island (located between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland) while Japan seeks to recover four of the Kuril Islands (a chain located north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido and south of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula) from Russian control. Like the Malvinas, both are long-standing disputes.

The exploitation of natural resources is another important factor. Fishing licenses granted in the disputed waters bring $58 million to the islands’ coffer. Oil and access to Antarctica are two other critical issues. Currently, Desire Petroleum, Argos Resources, Rockhopper Exploration, Borders and Southern Petroleum, and Falkland Oil & Gas Limited are drilling in waters under dispute. So far only Rockhopper has announced a find: a field that could hold 1.086 billion barrels of oil. But their discovery is hampered by the fact that the exploration is questionable by international law and that South American nations support the Argentine claim and deny port access to Malvinas-bound shipping. The remoteness of the discovery further complicates recovery efforts.

Antarctica, on the other hand, is governed by the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) with its secretariat in Buenos Aires. The ATS freezes sovereignty claims, maintains the Antarctic as a scientific preserve and bans military activity. This treaty makes Antarctica different from the Arctic, which has no such international regime. Thanks to the treaty, Antarctica has traditionally been an area of open cooperation between countries, even among Argentina and the United Kingdom. At the same time, however, Argentine and British claims over the continent overlap, and it is not clear whether the treaty could withstand an eventual scramble for resources.

What is certain is that a negotiated solution is in the best interest of all the parties involved. The islanders need Argentina as a partner in the exploitation of the area’s resources. Only then can companies be assured they will not face legal obstacles and international sanctions. Only then can exploitation take place in a context that protects and preserves one of the world’s last pristine oceans. The United Kingdom, a nation facing an economic crisis as well as a worldwide shift in the distribution of power, cannot afford to continue ignoring an emerging global player such as Argentina.

Today the most important items on the international agenda are food security, innovation, natural resources and energy, nuclear non-proliferation, global warming, and the struggle against terrorism. Argentina will increasingly play a larger global role in each of these issues: it is the largest per-capita commodity producer; it is home to the highest number of biotech firms in Latin America; it exports nuclear reactors, launches satellites into space and is a member of every international agreement that controls the spread of nuclear weapons; it possesses vast untapped mineral reserves, including the third largest reserve of shale gas and lithium in the world;  it is one of 10 countries that house 60 percent of the world’s biodiversity. Argentina will grow in stature and influence as will other emerging nations such as Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, South Korea, Colombia, India, and China—all of which support a negotiated resolution to the Malvinas issue.

Does the United Kingdom want to be seen, in the twenty-first century, as a colonial power by these and other nations?

Perhaps most worrisome is that the islanders, a very small group of people with a powerful lobby, are preventing two important countries from resuming the fruitful and friendly relationship they have traditionally enjoyed. They promote tension in the South Atlantic by encouraging resource development in an area that the UN has stressed is in dispute. This situation complicates investment and trade for both the United Kingdom and Argentina. The continuation of the status quo is of no good to anyone and should be a matter of concern, not of pride.

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Time – Brazil’s Rousseff Goes to Washington

By JAY NEWTON-SMALL

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is expected for her first official visit to Washington on Monday. Though the visit won’t include a basketball game, 19-gun salute or formal state dinner that British Prime Minister David Cameron enjoyed last month, it won’t be the tense, hyper-choreographed reception Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu got in earlier in March either.

The truth is, the U.S. is still trying to figure out if Brazil is an ally or a rival. Relations under Rousseff’s Worker’s Party predecessor, Lula da Silva, deteriorated as Brazil, the largest and fastest growing economy in South America – overtaking the U.K. as the sixth largest economy in the world last year – began to challenge its North American super power on both regional and global levels. Brazil in 2010 attempted to forge an independent civilian nuclear deal with Iran, though Brazil’s declaration that every state has the “inalienable right” to enrich uranium for “peaceful purposes” was somewhat self-serving given that it’s home to the world’s fifth largest uranium reserves.

And last year, Brazil backed Palestine’s unilateral declaration of statehood – a move so opposed by the U.S. as detrimental to the Middle East peace process that Obama was driven to deliver a forceful United Nations speech against it. Brazil also abstained or outright opposed U.S.-backed resolutions on issues such Libya and Syria, arguing against economic sanctions as effective foreign policy. Regionally, Brazil helped create the 12-member Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, which has pointedly excluded its northern neighbor while focusing on U.S. issues such as its military bases in the Americas and its monetary policy. Brazil has also engaged with actors the U.S. would rather leave at the time out table such Evo Morales of Bolivia, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela – who is currently in Brazil seeking urgent medical treatment for cancer, and the Castro brothers in Cuba.

All of which led to Obama’s trip to Brazil last year, just three months after Rousseff was sworn in, in an attempt to reset relations. The end of U.S. tariffs on Brazilian ethanol in January was a sore spot that is now gone and both the U.S. and Brazil are increasingly allied against China’s flood of cheap exports and its unwillingness to allow imports of manufactured goods. Rousseff has backed off helping Iran with its nuclear program. The U.S. has made a real effort to deal with a backlog of Brazilian visa applications in the last year. And Brazil’s booming middle class has become and important market for U.S. exports and Brazil hopes to bolster its sales of aircraft and weaponry to the Pentagon.

“There’s a great deal of connectivity that the two governments are trying to capitalize on and get out of the way of,” says Shannon O’Neill, a Brazil expert with the Council on Foreign Relations. To keep up the drum beat, after the mid-April Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are both expected to travel to Brazil.

Rousseff’s visit will focus on Brazil’s Science without Borders program – the South American country’s push on innovation and technology, particularly through education exchange. “Cooperation in the areas of education and innovation is now one of the priorities of Brazilian foreign policy,” Brazilian Education Minister Aloizio Mercadante told reporters in Brasilia last week, adding that Obama is expected to announce facilitated access for Brazilian students seeking to study in the U.S. as part of the summit. Perhaps more important than her Washington leg, Rousseff will visit Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both schools that expect to accept thousands of Brazilian students in the coming years.

At the same time, Brazil has felt snubbed by Washington politics. Brasilia wanted Rousseff’s dinner to be a state visit, but the Obama Administration replied they didn’t do state dinners during elections years – never mind Cameron’s visit. Brazil also feels a $355 million contract with the Brazilian firm Embraer for 20 fighter planes fell victim to election year politics when it was abruptly canceled in January after complaints from U.S. groups that the contract should go to a U.S. firm – particularly a facility in the swing-state of Florida. And Brazil has smarted at Washington’s refusal to endorse their candidacy for a permanent seat on the United Nation’s Security Council, even though the U.S. last year endorsed India’s bid and in 2009 gave Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the honor of Obama’s first state dinner, as my colleague Tim Padgett pointed out. All of which is probably why no one expects major news to come out of Rousseff’s visit, but some times no news — or little news — isn’t such a bad thing.

There are a few places where the two countries can make progress and the visit is an opportunity to deepen ties between Obama and Rousseff, who seemed to genuinely hit it off in Brazil last year. Brazil has been pushing for Cachaca, the Brazilian grain alcohol in their national drink, the caipirinha, to be considered separate from rum and therefore not subject to the import tariffs that protect rum made in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. And Brazil wants the Administration to come out against a bill recently passed by the Florida Legislature that could prevent a Brazilian company from building a $700 million hotel in Cuba. Given election year politics the former is more likely. So, here’s a tip for Obama: when cheering over caipirinhas, Brazilians say Saude, Portuguese for To Your Health.

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Military & Aerospace – Peru upgrades air defense with $140M plan

March 21, 2012

Peru has embarked on a much-delayed modernization of its air defense system and awarded a $140 million contract to an international consortium of military suppliers.

The Latin America country isn’t in any conflict with neighbors but faces an increasingly violent threat from what the security agencies call “narcoterroists.”

The category covers a range of criminal and militant groups engaged in drug smuggling to finance their continuing operations, following orders from more powerful gangs or simply using militancy as a source of livelihood in the impoverished Amazon region.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala announced extensive military reforms last year and signed approvals for major upgrades to military inventories, including naval units that play an increasing role combating activity along the cocaine trail to North America.

Naval missile systems, trainer aircraft and helicopters are all on the president’s shopping list.

A consortium of Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Polish Bumar Group and Northrop Grumman of the United States won the $140 million contract to supply an air defense system.

Northrop will deliver three AN/TPS-78 radars with a range of 270 miles and Rafael will supply Spyder short-range and medium-range surface-to-air systems fitted with Python 5 and Derby beyond-visual-range missiles.

Bumar will deliver six Poprad self-propelled air defense systems and 150 Grom surface-to-air missile launchers with a range of about 3 miles, the Bumar group said in a statement issued in Warsaw.

The latter two missile systems are also used by the Polish army.

“The complete air defense system is scheduled for delivery to the Peruvian armed forces in 24 months after the contract is signed,” the Bumar statement said.

Other bidders for the Peruvian contract included Russia’s leading arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, and a consortium of Chinese defense manufacturers.

The Peruvian military initially invited bids from some 20 defense companies, Bumar said.

Upgrades to Peruvian naval assets were reported earlier.

Italian-built Lupo class frigates form the high-end of Peru’s naval defenses, with eight of the 3,000-ton Carvajal class ships said to be in service with varying stages of operational efficiency.

Four of the vessels were built under license from 1984-87, while the second batch of four frigates was decommissioned by the Italian navy and sold to Peru in 2004-06.

Most of the upgrades are likely to affect the second batch of the ships, which includes the fourth ship bearing the name BAP Bolognesi, named in honor of Peruvian military hero Francisco Bolognesi. The first ship, Almirante Grau class cruiser BAP Coronel Bolognesi, was commissioned in 1907.

Like the air defense modernization, the naval upgrade is part of an overall strategy to build defenses against increasingly sophisticated and heavily armed drug gangs. Peru is the world’s largest producer of coca, which is used to produce cocaine.

The upgrades to the BAP Bolognesi (FM-57), commissioned in 2006, will add new electronics, radar and decoy countermeasures to ship’s arsenal. Some reports said Peru might also replace the Italian Otomat anti-ship missiles on the frigates with French Exocet MM40 Block III missiles.

Last year the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Peru asked to buy four NATO Sea Sparrow MK57 MOD 10 systems that will replace its existing MOD 2 systems mounted above the helicopter hangar on the four ex-Italian ships from the second batch. The vessels include FM 55-58: BAP Aguirre, BAP Palacios, BAP Quinones besides BAP Bolognesi.

The agency, in its notification to U.S. Congress, said the $50 million sale will “improve Peru’s capability to meet current and future threats of enemy anti-ship weapons,” the agency said. “Peru will use the enhanced capability of the MK57 MOD 10 NSSMS on its four Lupo class frigates purchased from Italy in 2004.”

The frigates have MK57 MOD 2 NATO Seasparrow Systems modified to fire the Aspide air defense missile. The systems retain the ability to fire the RIM-7 Seasparrow missile and Peru intends to move from the Aspide missile to the RIM-7 Seasparrow in a future purchase.

Peru already has MK 57 Missile Systems and will have no difficulty absorbing the additional systems into its inventory, the agency said.

Raytheon Technical Service Co. and Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems are among contractors for the system.

Humala is trying to calm coca growers as he implements new defenses against cocaine traders. Coca growing is an ancient tradition in Peru. Humala is the latest Peruvian head of state to confront the challenge of severing the link between traditional coca agriculture and cocaine production.

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Economist – Opposing worlds: A climate of nationalist agitation

AS THE 30th anniversary of Argentina’s short-lived invasion of the Falkland Islands approaches, President Cristina Fernández continues to ratchet up the pressure in pursuit of her demand for talks with Britain about what her country calls the Malvinas. The industry minister, Débora Georgi, has called on Argentine companies to stop sourcing imports from Britain. Authorities in Ushuaia turned away two cruise ships, with several thousand tourists on board, because they had called at the Falklands. And under the guise of an offer to launch scheduled flights from Buenos Aires, Ms Fernández threatened to withdraw permission for a weekly commercial flight by LAN Chile from Punta Arenas which crosses Argentine airspace.

The government defends all this as a response to what it says is Britain’s “militarisation” of the south Atlantic, with the dispatch of the Royal Navy’s newest destroyer and of Prince William, as a helicopter pilot. Britain says these are routine missions, and refuses to comment on an Argentine claim that a nuclear submarine is in the vicinity.

Even if some Argentines believe that Ms Fernández is using the issue to distract attention from approaching economic problems, most back the demand for sovereignty over the islands, which have been a British territory since 1833. The only sign of dissent came in a thoughtful open letter published last month by 17 writers and academics, who criticised “a climate of nationalist agitation”, pointed out that the issue bears little relation to the country’s main problems, and called on Argentina to accept the rights of the islanders to self-determination. They were greeted by a barrage of insults and death threats.

The islanders, who want to stay British, are stoical about the Argentine measures. A shortage of eggs did not last long. Most islanders keep chickens and grow their own vegetables in their gardens and greenhouses. Staples that they cannot produce, such as milk and rice, arrive by ship from Chile. The economy is more buoyant than it was in 1982, thanks to the sale of fishing licences and tourism.

Ms Fernández has forsworn the use of force to retake the islands. Even if she had not, Argentina’s depleted armed forces would struggle to overcome the British garrison of 1,300 troops backed by four Typhoon jets. (But Britain would now find it hard to oust a better-equipped invader.)

If the deepwater drilling now proceeding around the islands reveals significant quantities of oil, that might prompt Ms Fernández to attempt a full-scale economic blockade. And in a continent that is imbued with resource nationalism, and which backs Argentina’s claim, this might be rather more effective than Britain is prepared to admit.

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