South America has been a special part of my life for four decades. I have lived many years in Brasil and Peru. I am married to an incredible lady from Argentina. I want to share South America with you.
This week, many around the world looked on aghast, fearing the United States had started its final march towards oblivion. Some in Latin America saw scenes from Washington mirroring their own past, and even present: regional, populist caudillos in Caracas, Buenos Aires, Lima or Quito.
Mexicans are, obviously, the most mortified, as Donald Trump’s policies are jeopardising a $580bn relationship with the US anchored in the North American Free Trade Agreement, which also includes Canada. A possible trade war with Mexico could tear apart a partnership worth $1m a minute.
Latin America’s second largest economy and its bigger and richer northern neighbour are supposedly due start talks on the future of the NAFTA in May, although the USA has not actually initiated the required internal proceedings. To compensate, the European Union and Mexico have agreed to “accelerate trade talks” amid a “worrying rise of protectionism around the world,” both sides said in a statement.
That is in stark contrast to the position of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Saturday zapped a tweet praising Trump’s wall building plans with Mexico, hailing it as a "great idea". Three days later, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin telephoned his Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto to apologise.
But his fiery predecessor Hugo Chávez seized the assets of ExxonMobil in the oil-rich country when Tillerson was heading the company. Leaving that personal issue aside, he indicated in a written exchange with Senators little change in US policy on Venezuela: to seek a negotiated transition.
Based on the revelations published by Latin America Goes Global, this should be achieved in cooperation with Colombia, a staunch US ally. Oddly then, Tillerson also reportedly vowed to "review the details of Colombia’s recent peace agreement, and determine the extent to which the United States should continue to support it."
Speaking of Brazil, Eike Batista, formerly the country's richest man, used to proudly show off his expensive hair implants. This week, the police shaved his head to prevent lice after he made his final march to prison. He turned himself in in Rio de Janeiro, in connection with a sweeping investigation into corruption at Petrobras.