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.
Carnival is over, and cold reality has set in for many in Latin America. That is especially so in Argentina, where people are reluctantly returning to work after their months-long summer holidays. With his spirited state of the nation address in congress on Wednesday, just a day after Donald Trump’s, Mauricio Macri picked up the gauntlet thrown down by the Peronist opposition who have been laying into the former business man over his alleged conflicts of interest.
For many observers, this marked the beginning of election season, with important mid-term legislative elections due in October that could determine the future of Macri’s market-oriented reform programme. But despite a series of recent unforced errors – especially the handling of negotiations over the repayment of a debt his father’s company owed the state after a botched privatisation of the post office in the 1990s – Macri looks well positioned thanks to the utter disarray of the opposition.
Macri’s conflict of interests has also surfaced in a crisis at Avianca, which a year ago bought Macair, an air taxi service owned by his father’s company. Germán Efromovich, the top shareholder of the Colombia-based airline, has defended himself against allegations that a tie-up with United Continental was for his “own benefit”, arguing that the complaint by the company’s second-largest shareholder was a “controversy started without any grounds, because of greed and ego”.
Meanwhile, corporate Mexico has produced more cheery news. BP plans to open its first filling station in Mexico City next week, as the country’s energy sector gradually opens itself up to competition. And Pemex, Mexico’s struggling oil giant, reaped the rewards of a new focus on efficiency as it slashed its 2016 net loss by nearly 60 per cent and hit its production target for the first time in five years.
Even so, the outlook for Mexico’s growth continues to disappoint. And for a very different take on life in Mexico, see Jude Webber’s moving report (and accompanying video) on Hurler and Morquio syndromes, rare genetic disorders that dramatically reduce life expectancy.
Quote of the week
“Peronism is in a state of dissolution. It is over… It is just a memory now" - Julio Bárbaro, a congressman in the 1970s under the final government of Juan Domingo Perón, the movement’s legendary founder.