Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Pan American to buy Exxon assets in South America

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on March 2, 2011

by Reuters, March 1st, 2011.

Exxon sells assets in three South American countries

Pan American set to become integrated energy company (Rewrites with official information, details)

Pan American Energy has agreed to buy an oil refinery and more than 700 service stations in three South American countries from Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), the oil giant’s Argentine unit said on Tuesday.

Pan American, which is owned by Bridas Corp — itself co-owned by China’s CNOOC (0883.HK) and Argentina’s Bulgheroni family — will be buying 500 service stations in Argentina and another 220 in Uruguay and Paraguay.

It will also acquire a refinery in the town of Campana, north of Buenos Aires, that has the capacity to process about 90,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

Exxon Mobil expects to complete the sale in the second half of this year following regulatory approval, the statement said, without putting a value on the deal. Local press estimated the value of the Argentine portion of the deal at $650 million to $700 million. (continue reading… )



South America could be a good friend, but we ignore it

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on September 6, 2010

by Julian Glover for The Guardian UK, September 2nd, 2010.

Development and democracy flourish on the continent, and trade with it would help the UK to escape recession.

Achacachi is a rough little town in Bolivia, one long rutted street lined with greasy beer halls and soup shops skilled at refuelling the poor in a hurry. At dawn, in the cold, it leaves few impressions: a pit stop for country buses in the Aymara tribal heartland of stubborn Andean isolationism, a town notorious for its political temper, given to blocking the road with boulders when it does not get its way.

Evo mi Presidente“, reads the graffiti on Achacachi’s dusty walls, for if Evo Morales’s attempted revolution means anything, it is in places like this. The country has fallen into the hands of its people, the latest and still mostly optimistic participants in Latin America’s saga of leftist disappointments. Buying a round of coffee – thick black syrup in a tin mug, diluted with lukewarm water – I offered a 10 boliviano note, about 90p, and asked the stall-holder to keep the difference. “We don’t need it now,” she said, proudly but without malice, handing me back my change. “The people of Venezuela are helping us.”

It’s decent of her to hope, though the only obvious sign of anything changing in Achacachi is a new football stadium, one of many Morales has built in his name. The first indigenous leader in a country whose people have always been exploited, Morales has the misfortune to play a bit part in Latin America’s endless looped film of student heroes: Castro, Che, Allende, the Sandinistas, and now Chávez. He, at least, is the genuine article. The thing such leaders have in common is a defiant self-reliance, characteristic of Latin America, a reaction against the superpower to the north and a consequence of our own indifference. (continue reading… )

Opinion Briefing: Latin America’s Leftists

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on January 21, 2010

by Steve Crabtree and Jesus Rios, for Gallup, January 21, 2010.

Issue at Hand: Strengthening U.S. alliances with Latin American countries in light of the region’s increasingly leftist politics.

As in other regions around the world, the United States currently has strained relations with several of Latin America’s leaders and an image problem among many of its populations. The perceived failure in the 1990s of “Washington Consensus” prescriptions for market-driven reforms set the stage for a leftward shift in the region. The flag-bearer for this trend has been Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, who over the past few years has fed Latin Americans a steady diet of anti-U.S. rhetoric, regularly calling for resistance against the U.S. “empire.”

Obama’s Stance: Barack Obama‘s general approach to Latin America seems to be one of cautious engagement. During last year’s presidential campaign, Obama criticized the Bush administration’s “negligent” policy toward Latin America, saying it is one reason “demagogues” like Chavez have been successful in the region. Obama has indicated he is willing to open a dialogue with such U.S. adversaries as Chavez and Cuba’s President Raul Castro — but he has also opposed the proposed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, citing ongoing violence against Colombian labor leaders.

Latin Americans’ Perspective: First, it’s important to distinguish between Chavez’s polemics and the general leftist sentiment that holds sway in most Latin American countries. Any U.S. policy toward Latin America needs to recognize that “socialism” is not a dirty word in the region — though Chavez’s conception of it is controversial…(continue reading)

Why Invest in Chile?

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on January 21, 2010

by Ryan Bobik and Conrad Olenik, for The Pulse, January 21, 2010.

After researching this topic and coming across many unexpected statistics, the better question may be why not?  Chile has the number one economy in all of Latin America, resulting from several different factors.

Chile is first among Latin American economies in terms of business and private investment attractiveness, market access, and transportation and communication infrastructure.  Similarly, Chile has the lowest Latin American corporate tax rate of 17%, compared to Peru’s second place number of 30%.  Chile also possesses the lowest inflation rate among major Latin American countries and has the highest GDP per capita in South America.

According to the World Bank, Chile is consistently named the most competitive and stable Latin American economy, as its overall ranking places it ahead of countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, China and India.  As seen in the graph above, its foreign inflows have begun to dramatically outweigh its outflows, showing the worldwide realization of Chile’s potential…(continue reading)

Latin America’s New Cold War?

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on December 8, 2009

by Bernardo Alvarez Herrera and Carolina Barco, for Foreign Policy, december 8, 2009.

Venezuela’s and Colombia’s ambassadors to the United States tell their sides of an increasingly tense story.

Nearly two decades after the global arms race of the Cold War ended, many Latin America watchers today are worried about a new military standoff: between Colombia and Venezuela. As before, Washington is integral to the debate.

Tensions on both sides of the border have run high for several years, but a joint U.S.-Colombia military cooperation agreement signed on Oct. 30 seems to have escalated them to new heights. Critics of the agreement, including Venezuelan officials, accuse the United States of imperial ambitions, while Colombia defends its decision as a means to combat drug trafficking and terrorism.

With accusations of bad faith multiplying, Foreign Policy decided to hear both sides of the story.

After Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez‘s November deployment of 15,000 troops to the porous border with Colombia, some analysts have worried about the prospect of conflict between the two neighbors. It’s not the first time our countries have had disagreements. And, as usual, Venezuela is being blamed in Washington for this dispute. Some go as far as to claim that Chávez has used the conflict with Colombia as a means to whip up nationalist fervor.

But this isn’t about nationalism or petty disputes. As much as some in Washington want to think so, this is no mere spat between Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and our President Chávez. Those that say so just don’t understand the context underlying the tensions between Colombia and Venezuela and the central role that Washington has played in them…(continue reading)