Friday, June 24, 2016

FT LatAm Viva FOr 24-6-2016

FINANCIAL TIMES - Latam Viva: Your weekly briefing from the region
Crisis management
By Andres Schipani 
June 24, 2016
"We have a PhD in crises in Latin America. We had 25 crisis in 30 years. We are better managing crises than abundances," the Inter-American Development Bank's chief executive Luis Alberto Moreno told your correspondent on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Medellín. After a commodity boom that placed many into the emerging middle class, he sees a key challenge is to make political actors use those supposed crisis skills to form a "new Latin American citizen" - more educated, more connected, more aspirational and demanding better and more transparent management.
As Venezuelans line up to validate a petition to recall socialist President Nicolás Maduro and call fresh elections, his government had better pay attention to the growing demands of its desperate people. Even China, Venezuela's main lender, is getting itchy and has been approaching the opposition to safeguard debt payments. Venezuela's situation has got so out of control that a gunman opened fire at the central bank as he asked for the board members. Meanwhile, emissaries led by former Dominican President Leonel Fernández are trying to lure the president to unify Venezuela's exchange rates to give oxygen to the ailing economy. 
Economist Francisco Rodríguez believes there is still hope because "Venezuela is a patient in intensive care, not one suffering from a terminal illness." But tension continues to grow with two opposition members locked up, while the Organisation of American States debated if democratic order had broken down. 
OAS' Secretary General Luis Almagro urged regional governments to "stay on the right side of history and defend people who are voiceless." Venezuelan foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez called the meeting pure coup mongering with exaggeration designed to overthrow Mr Almagro. She claimed "there is no humanitarian crisis" even after the country's security forces had arrested hundreds following food riots. So Ms Rodríguez may even be tempted to follow the advice of some fellow southern neighbours and throw a big crisis bash à la bresilienne - and of course, hire scores of waiters.
But while in Venezuela there is food scarcity, in Brazil there is an abundance of crookery probes. Prosecutors are now focused on the Operation Zelotes - the "other" corruption furore alongside Petrobras, which has already implicated Brazil's second-richest man and is closing in on former finance minister Guido Mantega. Based on initial digging, investigators believe that more than 70 Brazilian companies bribed officials and cheated the state out of at least $5.5bn. (That may look like peanuts for the guys at Oi, Brazil’s only major national operator, which was forced to seek protection from creditors owed $19bn.)
Still, not everything is in crisis: while countries like Argentina and Peru have recently come under new and more prudent management - even as the US and Europe flirt with populism - this week the skills and perseverance of Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos, in power since 2010, scored a major victory with his team of peace negotiators. During a "historic day" for Colombia and Latin America, the government and Marxist rebels of the Farc agreed to a ceasefire and the handover of weapons, in a breakthrough to end the hemisphere's only insurgency after nearly four years of negotiations. A final peace deal is expected to be signed relatively soon.
"After more than 50 years of confrontations, attacks, and pain, we have put a full stop to the armed conflict with the Farc," Mr Santos said, "the time for living in peace has arrived." After five decades of a bloodbath that has killed 220,000 people, to give peace a chance is a top lesson in crisis management. Chapeau.
Quote of the week
“Let’s make this the last day of the war” - Farc Commander Rodrigo Londoño, nom de guerre, Timochenko, after the signing of this week's agreements.
Latin America: Under new management
The week in review
Political losses from Brexit will be deep and enduring
Decision to hold referendum will go down as one of history’s great blunders, writes Richard Haass
Rio de Janeiro’s favelas braced for Olympics violence
Brazilian cities have a history of police killings ahead of major events
Brazil makes excess look like child’s play
Notebook: The armies of hired help are incompatible with the fairer society many say they want
Argentina reaches $95m debt deal with Greylock
Fernández optimistic about role as Venezuela’s emissary for peace
Former Dominican Republic president leading economic ‘dialogue’ seeks to prevent a failed state
Colombia lifts rates to 7.5% in inflation fight
Colombia announces ceasefire with rebels
Breakthrough deal paves way for end to one of world’s longest wars
Latin America: Under new management
The region is rejecting populism even as the US and Europe flirt with it
Rory McIlroy pulls out of Rio Olympics over Zika fears
Irish golfer says health risk to him and his family is too high
Prosecutors tackle Brazil’s ‘other’ corruption probe
Prosecutor Hebert Mesquita believes scores of companies took part in Zelotes bribery scheme
The corn shortage that Brazil really can’t afford
Jump in exports due to weaker currency and drought leads to supply shortfall
Political fears hit foreign investment around the world
Brexit and election uncertainty causing companies to delay capital plans, UN warns
Oi bankruptcy spotlights Brazilian debt problems
Telecoms group’s shares suspended after move to freeze payments
Is Venezuela close to boiling point?
Oi files Brazil’s biggest bankruptcy protection request
Move by telecoms operator comes after restructuring talks with creditors fail
US coffee drinkers to get taste of Cuba
Nespresso to be first to end 50-year absence of the beverage
Brazil’s corruption probe means a boom time for lawyers
The ‘lava jato’ arrests provide rich pickings for legal firms, including those from abroad
Mexico enacts sweeping justice reform
Closed system rife with abuses is opened to public scrutiny
China seeks to renegotiate Venezuela loans
Beijing’s envoys seek assurances from opposition on debt in case president falls
Brazil plans budget freeze for up to 20 years
Tough fiscal policy will end uncertainty, says new finance minister Henrique Meirelles
Bermuda hopes America’s Cup will lift it from the doldrums
Yachting competition is boosting a tourist economy fallen on hard times
FT LatAm Viva features commentary by the FT's Latin America team and stories from across the FT.
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