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LANR [November 6, 2023]: Bukele's Re-Election Bid Gets Green Light

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Bukele's Re-Election Bid Gets Green Light

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Bukele's Re-Election Bid Gets Green Light alt_text LATIN AMERICA NEWS ROUND-UP BUKELE'S RE-ELECTION BID GETS GREEN LIGHT CEPR has launched two newsletters in recent weeks, one on Haiti and one on Ecuador. You can sign-up for future editions as well as other newsletters here. Brazil and Southern Cone Brazil's Workers Party slams Israel for holding Brazilians in Gaza. Reuters Argentina’s Milei Has Narrow Lead Over Massa Ahead of Runoff. Bloomberg The New Enemies of Argentina’s Far Right: Swifties and the BTS Army. New York Times Chilean President Boric asks Biden to lift sanctions on Cuba during White House meeting. Miami Herald Uruguay government members resign over passport scandal probe. Reuters Northern Andean Region Exclusive: Venezuela taps oilfield firms to boost output after sanction easing. Reuters Petro urges Biden to stop “massacre of Palestinians”. Colombia Reports Dozens of DEA Agents Exposed in Colombian Prosecutor’s Office Leak. OCCRP and Miami Herald Western Andean Region Japan's Princess Kako arrives in Peru to mark 150 years of diplomatic relations. AP Peru Tries to Diversify Trade Away from China Amid US Pressure. Bloomberg Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean ‘The children screamed for hours’: horrors of Hurricane Otis leave devastation for Acapulco’s poorest. The Guardian El Salvador electoral tribunal green lights Bukele's re-election bid. Reuters Honduras recalls ambassador to Israel for consultations. Reuters Mass protests over copper mine risk Panama’s business-friendly image. Financial Times A Chance Encounter and a Fugitive Linked to a President’s Killing Is Caught. New York Times China's President Xi meets Cuban PM Marrero in Beijing. Reuters Region: Trade, Security, Economy and Integration Biden pledges at Americas summit an alternative to Chinese-led infrastructure and development loans. AP BRAZIL AND SOUTHERN CONE [CONTENTS] Brazil's Workers Party slams Israel for holding Brazilians in Gaza Reuters. November 4, 2023 BRASILIA, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Brazil's ruling Workers Party criticized the Israeli government on Friday for not allowing 34 Brazilians to leave Gaza, saying Israel is playing favorites when deciding who should be allowed to evacuate the besieged Palestinian territory. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told his Brazilian counterpart Brazil's nationals would leave Gaza by Wednesday, a Brazilian foreign ministry spokesman said late on Friday. In three days since the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt opened to allow nationals of other countries to leave Gaza, Brazilians waiting to leave were not on the list approved by Israel, despite diplomatic efforts to include them. "For the third time, the Israeli government denied the departure of Brazilian citizens threatened by the massacre against the civilian population in the Gaza strip," Workers Party president Gleisi Hoffmann said in a social media post. She said the Israeli government has not provided any explanation for what she said was discrimination. Brazil tried to find a negotiated solution to the conflict when it presided over the U.N. Security Council in October, Hoffmann said. "Unfortunately, the Israeli government signals that it has established a political hierarchy for the release of civilians, favoring some countries over others," Hoffmann said. "We cannot allow that Brazilian civilians remain threatened in a region under military massacre," she added. Hundreds of foreign passport holders and gravely injured Palestinians have been evacuated from Gaza via the Rafah crossing to Egypt since Wednesday in a deal brokered by Qatar between Egypt, Israel and Hamas, in coordination with the U.S. Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, which rules Gaza, after the militant group killed 1,400 people and took more than 240 hostages in an Oct. 7 assault in southern Israel. Gaza health officials said on Saturday that more than 9,488 Palestinians have been killed so far in the Israeli assault. A diplomatic source briefed on Egyptian plans said some 7,500 foreign passport holders would be evacuated over two weeks. Brazilian officials said they have no explanation for the failure to let their citizens out of Gaza. Some local media have speculated it is due to positions taken by Brazil at the United Nations and comments by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula has criticized the "terrorism" of Hamas that started the war, but he has also criticized Israel for its "insane" bombardment of Gaza that has killed hundreds of children. _______________________________ Argentina’s Milei Has Narrow Lead Over Massa Ahead of Runoff Manuela Tobias. Bloomberg. November 3, 2023 Libertarian outsider Javier Milei holds an edge over Economy Minister Sergio Massa in Argentina’s Nov. 19 presidential runoff, according to a polling firm whose first-round prediction was among the most accurate. Brazil-based AtlasIntel, in a survey released Friday, puts Milei’s support at 48.5% compared to 44.7% for Massa, the candidate for the incumbent Peronist government who came in first on Oct. 22. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. “Milei is ahead outside of the margin of error and not within a statistical tie with Sergio Massa,” Atlas Chief Executive Officer Andrei Roman said by email. “It is worth noting, however, that the difference between Milei and Massa is lower than one might have expected based on structural factors, such as the poor approval rate of the government and the sum of votes of the right and center-right candidates in the first round.” Massa is overseeing an economy lurching into its sixth recession in a decade, with annual inflation running above 138%. Milei, meanwhile, promises to slash state spending, dollarize the economy and shut down Argentina’s central bank. High prices and inflation were considered the top issue for 78% of those surveyed by Atlas. The outsider and the incumbent are battling to win over more than a third of the electorate that didn’t vote or backed the pro-business opposition bloc. Its leader, Patricia Bullrich, captured 24% of the vote last month and is now supporting Milei. Before the October vote, most pollsters predicted Milei, the frontrunner, would increase his lead. Massa, however, vaulted ahead and won 37% of the vote while the upstart libertarian’s support stagnated at 30%. Atlas was one of the few to call the first round right. In an Oct. 13 survey, the firm’s data suggested Massa would pull ahead with about 31% while Milei’s support would shrink to 25%. The latest poll was conducted online with 3,218 participants, between Nov. 1 and Nov. 3. Discounting blank votes, annulled votes and undecideds, Milei’s lead over Massa in the survey is 52% to 48%. Whoever wins the most votes in the runoff will become Argentina’s next president, with a new government taking office on Dec. 10. _______________________________ The New Enemies of Argentina’s Far Right: Swifties and the BTS Army Natalie Alcoba. New York Times. November 4, 2023 Javier Milei, a far-right libertarian economist, has stayed aloft in Argentina’s presidential campaign on the wings of the youth vote. To win the runoff election this month, he will need to hold on to that key demographic, pollsters say. But now, a major hurdle stands in his way: Swifties. Squadrons of Argentine fans of the pop star Taylor Swift have gotten political. They have trained their online sights on Mr. Milei and his rising libertarian party, framing them as a danger to Argentina, while Ms. Swift herself is preparing to arrive in Argentina next week for the launch of her Eras Tour outside North America. “Milei=Trump,” said one post from a group called Swifties Against Freedom Advances, which is the name of Mr. Milei’s party. After Mr. Milei placed second in Argentina’s election last month, sending him to a runoff on Nov. 19, a group of 10 Argentine fans of Ms. Swift created the group and issued a news release calling on fellow fans to vote against Mr. Milei. They said they were inspired by Ms. Swift’s past efforts to confront right-wing politicians in the United States. “We cannot not fight after having heard and seen Taylor give everything so that the right doesn’t win in her country,” the group said in the statement. “As Taylor says, we have to be on the right side of history.” The two-page missive was viewed 1.5 million times on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, before it suspended the group’s account without explanation, the group said. In the statement, it called Mr. Milei’s positions against legal abortion, his support for the loosening of gun laws and his proposals to overhaul public education and public health care as “a danger to democracy.” The statement also took aim at Mr. Milei’s comments that criticized feminism, claimed a pay gap between men and women does not exist and referred to the atrocities committed by Argentina’s military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983 as simply “excesses.” Mr. Milei, in response, has shrugged off the Swifties. “I’m not the far right,” he told a radio station. “They can express what they want.” His campaign declined to comment. Ms. Swift, who will perform the first of a series of three sold-out shows in Buenos Aires on Thursday, has not commented publicly on the Argentine election. The Swifties’ criticism of Mr. Milei has shifted the conversation to his conservative social views and away from his drastic proposals to reverse Argentina’s economic crisis, which include ditching the Argentine peso for the U.S. dollar and closing the country’s central bank. But it isn’t just Swifties who are organizing against Mr. Milei. He and his running mate, Victoria Villarruel, are also contending with criticism from legions of loyal fans of another musical juggernaut, the K-pop band BTS. They are so active and organized on the internet that they have become known as the BTS Army. Last week, the fury of that army was unleashed upon Ms. Villarruel after a series of her tweets denigrating the K-pop group resurfaced. In 2020, she likened the name BTS to a sexually transmitted disease. She also mocked the dyed pink and green hair of some members. Those tweets prompted such a fierce response from BTS fans, accusing her of xenophobia, that a large BTS fan club in Argentina felt compelled to try to calm their fellow fans down. “The message that BTS always transmits is one of respect to oneself and everyone else,” said a statement from the club, which has been viewed 1.9 million times, according to X. Ms. Villarruel’s only reaction online to the BTS blowback has been a post in which she called her S.T.D. post part of “funny chats” from “a thousand years ago.” Mr. Milei’s political base is particularly reliant on young voters. One survey of 2,400 people in October showed that nearly 27 percent of his support came from people ages 17 to 25, versus less than 9 percent for Sergio Massa, the center-left economy minister who opposes Mr. Milei in the runoff. People under 29 account for 27 percent of all eligible voters in Argentina. Many young voters said they see Mr. Milei, who has taken to wearing leather jackets and wielding a chain saw at his campaign events, as the “cool” outsider candidate who has also become a sort of online meme. “The majority of people our age, from about 16 to 25, are voting for him,” said Mateo Guevara, 21, a student who attended a Milei rally last month in Salta, a northern city. “He is a guy that came out of nowhere.” Mr. Milei and Mr. Massa appear to be headed toward a close contest. A poll published Friday by Atlas Intel showed that Mr. Milei had a lead of four percentage points, with a margin of error of two points. Ms. Swift shunned politics for most of her career. But in 2018 she broke her silence to oppose the Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn in Ms. Swift’s home state, Tennessee, helping to trigger a spike in young-voter registrations in the U.S. midterms that year. Ms. Swift said she felt compelled to speak out against Ms. Blackburn, who was endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump, because the politician’s record “appalls and terrifies me,” including positions on equal pay for women, violence against women and gay rights. Ms. Blackburn wound up winning. Ms. Swift’s song “Only the Young,” a rallying cry that describes young people as agents of change, was featured in an ad from Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, in a push to get out the vote in 2020. And Ms. Swift’s comments in a 2020 documentary, in which she said she had decided to publicly oppose Mr. Trump despite the risk to her career, have been circulating widely in Argentina in recent weeks. BTS fans are their own political force, having most likely helped suppress turnout at a Trump rally in Tulsa, Okla., in 2020 by reserving seats and not showing up. Outside the River Plate soccer stadium in Buenos Aires, where Ms. Swift will perform next week, a contingent of Swifties has been camping out to see the show. Many said they were not eager to mix politics with music. “The reality of the United States is a very different reality than the one that we are living here,” said Barbara Alcibiade, 22, a pastry chef. “It’s true that a large percentage of fans may or may not follow certain ideals or the values that she represents, but that doesn’t mean that represents everyone.” The Swifties behind the anti-Milei news release said they never claimed to speak for Ms. Swift or all her fans. “That’s why we were very careful not to say that Taylor wouldn’t vote for Javier Milei,” said one member, Macarena, 29, who declined to give her last name because she said the group had received threats online. But for Macarena and her friends, the parallels between Mr. Milei and Mr. Trump are clear. “There isn’t any Taylor statement that you can use to say that I’m going to vote for a candidate from the far right,” she said. At a K-pop dance school in Buenos Aires, BTS fans said the 2020 comments by Mr. Milei’s running mate disparaging the group served only to reinforce their aversion to Mr. Milei. “It was really upsetting because it’s always the same thing, xenophobic attacks, treating them as if they’re different,” said Marcela Toyos, 36, a teacher, after dancing to the BTS hit “Mic Drop.” Macarena said she and her friends now have a WhatsApp group of 140 Swifties in Buenos Aires that is planning to put up posters opposing Mr. Milei outside Ms. Swift’s concerts next week. The Swifties are also coordinating with smaller groups in other provinces, she said. Ahead of Ms. Swift’s arrival, the Buenos Aires Legislature voted Thursday to name Ms. Swift a guest of honor. The only officials to vote against the proposal were members of Mr. Milei’s party. _______________________________ Chilean President Boric asks Biden to lift sanctions on Cuba during White House meeting NORA GÁMEZ TORRES. Miami Herald. NOVEMBER 03, 2023 Chile’s President Gabriel Boric asked President Joe Biden to remove Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism and praised the administration for recently lifting some oil sanctions on Venezuela during a meeting at the White House on Thursday. Boric told reporters he asked Biden to lift sanctions on Cuba given “the difficult situation” that the Cuban people are going through. Cuba is going through one of the worst economic crises in several decades, with shortages of food, medicines and oil plaguing the country. Government mismanagement, a botched currency reform and the leaders’ insistence on maintaining a planned socialist economy that has resulted in plummeting productivity are seen as significant drivers of the crisis. Economists also say U.S. sanctions play a part because they have cut the money flowing into the government’s coffers. The island’s government has embarked on a diplomatic and media campaign to get Cuba removed from the U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism, a last-minute decision made by former President Donald Trump before leaving office. Cuban diplomats have made the appeal in interviews with U.S. media and to their counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean. They said several banks have declined to open accounts and process financial transactions involving Cuba, hurting its economy. “It is imperative to lift the sanctions on Cuba and remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism,” Boric told reporters, speaking in Spanish. He said he understood the Cuba issue ignites “strong emotions” in the United States. However, he added, “We must consider that these sanctions are not targeting just a government; they are affecting a whole population. When a people suffer, it should concern all of us.” He said that he didn’t believe Cuba was sponsoring terrorism. Boric and Biden also discussed events in Venezuela during their first bilateral meeting at the White House — they first met on the sidelines of the Ninth Summit of the Americas in June 2022 in Los Angeles. On Friday, Boric also attended the inaugural summit of the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity hosted by Biden. According to a readout of the bilateral meeting sent by the White House, “the two leaders underscored the importance of the international community uniting in support of competitive and inclusive elections in Venezuela in 2024.” “In that regard, I expressed my appreciation for the lifting of sanctions on Venezuela, particularly in matters related to energy investments and other areas,” Boric said. He mentioned that he expressed his commitment to continue working with other countries in the region to ensure that the elections in Venezuela next year “have all the necessary guarantees.” His statements add to a growing debate over sanctions as a policy tool at a time when several countries in Latin America have moved to the left. Some leaders, such as Colombia’s Gustavo Petro or Brazil’s Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, have forged long-term relationships with the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela and the Castro brothers in Cuba and usually abstain from criticizing those governments. In that regard, Boric is an outlier because of his criticism of human rights violations in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico has also become a vocal defender of Cuba and has offered to mediate to improve relations between the United States and the Caribbean island. The Biden administration restored flights to some major Cuban cities and lifted caps on remittances in moves officials said were meant to help Cuban families. The administration also restarted a Cuban family reunification program and included Cubans in a new program allowing migrants to come to the United States with parole if they have a financial sponsor and pass background checks. Senior administration officials also told the Herald the administration was getting ready to make regulatory changes to support the private sector on the island. At the same time, the administration has left in place some measures taken by Trump, including listing Cuba as a sponsor of terrorism. On Thursday, 187 countries voted for a United Nations resolution calling to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba, with only two voting against it — the United States and Israel — and one abstaining, Ukraine. A similar vote has occurred for several years with little impact on U.S. policies. _______________________________ Uruguay government members resign over passport scandal probe Reuters. November 5, 2023 Nov 4 (Reuters) - Uruguay's interior minister and two other members of the government resigned on Saturday over a case that has already prompted the foreign minister to quit, involving a passport issued to an internationally wanted drug-trafficking suspect. Interior Minister Luis Alberto Heber, a cabinet undersecretary and a chief adviser to President Luis Lacalle Pou will no longer be in the coalition government from Monday, the president announced on Saturday evening. Uruguay's presidency did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Heber's resignation. The investigation is examining how Sebastian Marset, the alleged drug trafficker, received a Uruguayan passport while detained in the United Arab Emirates over forged documents in late 2012. He was ultimately let go. Marset is wanted in Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and the United States on drug charges. Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo resigned on Wednesday after the publication of a November 2022 phone call in which he appeared to suggest that his undersecretary withhold evidence related to the passport investigation. Bustillo on Friday denied any wrongdoing, saying he did not know who Marset was at the time the passport was issued. "That's for the interior ministry," he told a two-hour news conference, insisting the foreign ministry had acted correctly in issuing the document. The president, who returned on Saturday from meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, said the passport should have been issued to Marset in accordance with Uruguay's laws. "Do we like that a drug trafficker has a passport? Of course not," Lacalle Pou told a press conference in his first public comments about the scandal. "But that is the current law." He said he was convinced that officials including Heber, Bustillo and the undersecretary "have no legal responsibility" for the passport but could defend themselves in court if a case is opened. NORTHERN ANDEAN REGION [CONTENTS]  Exclusive: Venezuela taps oilfield firms to boost output after sanction easing Deisy Buitrago and Marianna Parraga. Reuters. November 6, 2023 CARACAS/HOUSTON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA is in talks with local and foreign oilfield firms to hire equipment and services that would allow it to revive depressed output, sources close to the meetings said, after the U.S. relaxed sanctions on the country. The U.S. Treasury Department in October authorized for six months the production and export of Venezuelan crude, gas and fuel, the procurement of goods and services, new investments and payments to PDVSA with few limitations on business partners. The general license authorizing those activities is subject to compliance with a key electoral pact between President Nicolas Maduro's government and the opposition that outlines the path to a presidential election in 2024. Washington has said it could reverse the measures if the agreement does not come to fruition. Venezuela only has one active drilling rig left from more than 80 units that were operational in 2014, Baker Hughes' (BKR.O) figures show, which experts say creates big obstacles to rapidly expanding production. As risks of a non-renewal of the license increase amid a fray over the opposition's presidential primary, PDVSA's priority is to find oil service companies that can reactivate rigs stored in Venezuela or that are idle due to lack of parts, the sources said. U.S. oil firm Chevron (CVX.N) will also require at least two drilling rigs of up to 1,500 horsepower next year for a U.S.-approved drilling campaign aimed at boosting its joint venture's production to about 200,000 barrels per day (bpd). The government shared plans to restart drilling after five years of inactivity even before the sanctions relaxation. PDVSA wants to revive 27,966 wells - mostly located at Venezuela's oldest production region in Zulia state - that could add 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd), according to a July presentation by oil minister and PDVSA CEO Pedro Tellechea. However, the spectacular increase from this year's output of 780,000 bpd could take up to a decade of hard work and sustained investment by PDVSA and partners, according to experts. Among companies that have inactive equipment in Venezuela are firms SLB (SLB.N), Nabors Industries (NBR.N) and Evertson International, two of the sources said. SLB said last month that the company was working on a quick return to Venezuela's oilfields, where it was once PDVSA's biggest services partner. SLB did not immediately reply to a request for further comment. Nabors, Evertson and PDVSA did not reply to requests for comment. PDVSA also is negotiating specialized oilfield equipment with companies in Turkey, whose President Tayyip Erdogan has met repeatedly with Maduro in recent years, another source said. The sanctions easing is an opportunity to open up the oil industry, said the head of Venezuela's Oil Chamber, Enrique Novoa, adding there have been conversations between PDVSA and members of the chamber to evaluate investments and projects. NEW FORMULAS Venezuelan officials have made proposals to small private oil contractors to operate some PDVSA oilfields to reverse depleted crude production, six sources familiar with the talks said. Some companies that have approached PDVSA to reactivate business ties have been referred to Camimpeg, an oil and mining services firm owned by the Venezuelan military that has a relationship with PDVSA and often outsources to specialized companies, according to two of the sources. Venezuela's hydrocarbon law requires PDVSA and its joint ventures to operate all crude oilfields, but in recent years PDVSA has signed technical services agreements that delegate well intervention to specialized companies. Prior to the easing of sanctions, PDVSA planned to recover wells and rigs to increase output, especially in the south of Anzoategui state in eastern Venezuela. Local firm Operadora Indioil, which specializes in drill recovery and reconstruction and has presence in Anzoategui, is among firms tapped by PDVSA for rescuing damaged and looted equipment, one of the sources said. Indioil and Camimpeg did not respond to requests for comment. _______________________________ Petro urges Biden to stop “massacre of Palestinians” Adriaan Alsema. Colombia Reports. November 3, 2023 Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro said he told his American counterpart Joe Biden that he “cannot continue to allow the massacre of Palestinians” by Israel’s armed forces. Petro was at the White House in Washington DC for an economic summit that was attended by multiple leaders from the Americas. The meeting with Biden, an outspoken supporter of Israel, took place days after the Colombian president recalled his ambassador from Israel over alleged war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip. Petro has been among the fiercest opponents of the war in the Middle East that erupted after a Hamas attack on Israel that killed more than 1,000 civilians. Subsequent retaliatory attacks on the Gaza Strip killed more than 9,000 people, mostly civilians, according to the Palestinian health ministry. According to Petro, the Israeli attacks on civilian targets constitute genocide, a war crime according to international law. “The breakdown of international law that we are contemplating today produces more violence, more _______________________________ Dozens of DEA Agents Exposed in Colombian Prosecutor’s Office Leak OCCRP and The Miami Herald. November 6, 2023 A cyber breach at Colombia’s prosecutor’s office has exposed the identities of more than 100 agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal law enforcement entities, along with scores of their Colombian and global counterparts. The names of at least 90 DEA agents and at least 15 Homeland Security Investigations agents were revealed in the leak, which was shared with journalists and included a huge trove of emails and other data. Although the DEA itself was not breached and journalists are not publishing the names or any identifying information about the agents, the leak demonstrates a lack of safeguards maintained by Colombia, a strategic U.S. ally in its efforts to counter drug cartels. “It’s one of their nightmares because (cartels) … can identify agents and informants, especially if you are still in-country,” said Mike Vigil, a former DEA international operations chief who helped the agency expand its global intelligence footprint worldwide. “Anytime that unauthorized people have the name of an agent or an informant, it’s not difficult to locate them.” A cartel might not want to risk the consequences of killing a DEA agent, Vigil said, but “to them, informants are fair game because they are considered traitors and will kill them to send a message to others thinking of cooperating.” The leak from the Colombian prosecutor’s office provided the basis for the NarcoFiles, a multinational investigative reporting project by OCCRP along with more than 40 other news outlets, including the Miami Herald. This article is part of NarcoFiles: The New Criminal Order, a transnational investigation into modern organized crime and how it has innovated and spread throughout the globe. The project — led by OCCRP in partnership with Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística (CLIP) — began with a leak of emails from the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office, which were shared with media outlets around the world. Reporters examined and corroborated the materials with hundreds of other documents, databases, and interviews. In October 2022, the Colombian prosecutor’s office acknowledged in a statement that there had been a breach, but it did not say what was exposed in the hack. The leak poses a potentially greater threat to Colombian law enforcement and other authorities since it includes names of undercover agents, witnesses, and key details about informants. A “hacktivist” organization calling itself Guacamaya, a common word in parts of Latin America for the macaw parrot, has claimed responsibility. Guacamaya also said it had hacked the Mexican Defense Ministry, as well as the defense departments of Chile, Colombia, and others — apparently by exploiting a vulnerability in the Microsoft Exchange email server, which is used by companies and governments around the world. (Read more about the leak here.) In its manifesto, Guacamaya called the Colombian prosecutor’s office “one of the most corrupt organizations in the country,” and accused it of being servile to U.S. interests. Once it had hacked the prosecutor’s office, Guacamaya shared the five terabytes of information, including about seven million emails, with two groups, who then shared the data with journalists. Spokespersons for the DEA and Justice Department did not respond to multiple emails requesting comment. U.S. Requests for Assistance The NarcoFiles documents include dozens of requests from the U.S. Justice Department for assistance in providing wiretaps, surveillance, arrests, and extradition of suspects wanted for drug trafficking and money laundering. Because the documents are tied to legal investigations that will be or were used in court cases, they contain the names of agents who worked particular cases — and, in the case of witnesses or informants, often phone numbers as well as other details that could expose them to severe danger. Some documents also contained the cell phone numbers and aliases of suspects the DEA asked for help in tracking. The Colombian documents include extensive personal details about undercover Colombian agents and family members, often documenting personal history drawn from background checks. By contrast, DEA policy requires details about informants kept on special forms that are safeguarded and accessible only under documented circumstances, said Vigil, the former operations chief. He said that informants were given code numbers which were used to identify them. “If the informant was mentioned in any document, it was always that number,” said Vigil, adding that it was never shared with the host country because “there was always the chance of a compromise.” OCCRP identified at least 90 members of the DEA, most of whom work in or with Colombia, in the NarcoFiles. Some appeared in court cases or public documents, but many had no online footprint. Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, a group that brings whistleblower cases against the U.S. federal government, said that the identification of DEA personnel “poses a life-threatening risk to those agents.” “There’s a big difference between rumors and U.S. government confirmation of a working relationship,” he said. Colombia has received more than $13 billion in U.S. foreign aid since 2000, much of it for Colombia’s military and in support of counter-narcotics efforts. It’s unclear to what degree the DEA has funded and advised its partner on information security, or what demands it has placed on protection of sensitive information. Colombia ranked 81 out of 182 nations and territories on the 2020 Global Cybersecurity Index, published by the International Telecommunication Union with input from the United Nations. The index weighs a country’s laws, tech capacity, organizational structures, and global cooperation. “The region’s continuing trend of major governmental cyber crises is strong evidence that coordinated effort at the national and regional levels must be intensified,” the Council of Foreign Relations said in a blog post by experts this March, which cited the Guacamaya hacks. WESTERN ANDEAN REGION [CONTENTS] Japan's Princess Kako arrives in Peru to mark 150 years of diplomatic relations AP. November 3, 2023 LIMA, Peru -- Japanese Princess Kako on Friday arrived in Peru on an official visit to commemorate 150 years of diplomatic relations between both countries. Kako, 28, will spend six days in the South American country, where she will lead a ceremony to celebrate the start of bilateral relations in 1873, when both countries signed a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation. She is expected to visit several landmark sites, including Cuzco, the Andean city that was the capital of the Inca Empire between the 15th and 16th centuries. From there the Princess will head to Qoricancha, or “The Golden Temple” in Quechua language, considered the most important — and most sacred — temple by the Incas. While in Lima, Princess Kako will visit a school for students suffering from hearing loss. According to the Japanese embassy in Peru, Kako has attended speech competitions among deaf students in Japan, where she has given speeches in sign language. Japan is Peru's fourth trade partner, after China, the United States and the European Union. There are seven Japanese mining companies operating in Peru, the world's second largest producer of copper. _______________________________ Peru Tries to Diversify Trade Away from China Amid US Pressure Brendan Murray. Bloomberg. November 6, 2023 To understand the effort needed to hedge your bets in today’s geo-economic environment, consider all the shoe leather spent lately by the trade minister of Peru, the world’s 38th-largest goods exporter. Juan Carlos Mathews was in Spain three weeks ago, New York before that. This week it’s Japan, he said during the London stop last Thursday of a government roadshow aimed at promoting the South American country’s trade, investment and tourism. “We are very active because we do believe that we have to grow through strategic alliances,” Mathews said. A more immediate concern: Peru is going through a recession and private investment is dwindling. Peru is Britain’s 65th-largest trading partner, but like a lot of evolving trade relationships, the bilateral tally of exports and imports between two countries explains only part of the attraction these days. Peru got an estimated 250 RSVPs for its event in the auditorium of the JPMorgan building in Canary Wharf. Read More: Meet the ‘Connector’ Economies Winning the Global Fragmentation Race Less than a decade ago, Peru’s trade was about equally divided between Asia, Europe, North America and the rest of Latin America. Now trade with Asia has reached 40% and China has vaulted past the US as Peru’s biggest trading partner, with most of it being minerals and fishmeal, Mathews said in an interview. So more trade with Europe offers Peru a chance to diversify. For the UK, the freedom to pursue more bilateral trade deals was one of the promises of Brexit, and Peru likes its free-trade deals — it has 22 of them and is pursuing four more, Mathews said. Peru also has a lot of untapped mineral wealth and fresh food production to offer the world, and like nearly every other developed nation during the pandemic and the race to make electric vehicles, Britain got a taste of how vulnerable it feels when such supplies run short. In London, Mathews met with mining companies Anglo American and Hochschild, as well as financiers from Goldman Sachs, Lloyds and RBC Capital Markets. That’s because Peru is seeking more joint venture partners from the US and Europe to go alongside growing participation from China. One of Beijing’s biggest economic beachheads in Peru is currently under construction — a massive container port an hour’s drive north of Lima, in Chancay, built by China’s state-controlled shipping company. Say “Chancay” fast and it sounds similar to China’s biggest maritime trade hub. “The slogan is ‘from Chancay to Shanghai,’” Mathews said. Regional Trade Hub The port, expected to partially open late next year, will operate on such a scale that it has the potential to handle goods flowing well beyond Peru, cutting shipping times from China to Chile, for instance, to 22 days from 32, Mathews said. “In the case of the Brazilians, it means 20 days less,” he said. While that’s likely to heat up regional trade rivalries, it’s the diplomatic balancing act between the world’s economic superpowers that’s as difficult for Peru and other countries to pull off. “Chinese firms are willing and able to acquire and expand critical infrastructure in places where there may be few, if any, alternatives,” said Gerard DiPippo, senior geo-economics analyst with with Bloomberg Economics. “The US can warn of China’s influence over Chancay, but unless the US or its partners can make a better offer, it’ll have little effect. In mid-October, Mathews said, he received a very diplomatically worded letter from the US government questioning China’s role in an industry as strategically important as a deep-sea port capable of receiving the world’s biggest vessels and handling trade across South America. “I said, we are absolutely open to investment — you were invited at the same time,” Mathews said of his response to Washington. “We are absolutely glad to receive investment from Europe, from Australia and from the USA — we have a lot of gaps and needs like new ports and airports. So please, come and participate.” MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN [CONTENTS] ‘The children screamed for hours’: horrors of Hurricane Otis leave devastation for Acapulco’s poorest Lillian Perlmutter. November 5, 2023 In the small hours of Wednesday 25 October, Josefina Maldonado, a grandmother of two in her 60s who lives in the Renacimiento district of Acapulco, watched as the corrugated metal roof of her home flew into the sky, ripped off by 165mph (270km/h) winds. The family home and everything and everyone in it, including two terrified small children, were prey to the torrential rain and the horrors of the hurricane. Most of the furniture, including the beds, was swept away. “It wasn’t that the wind or the water was stronger. Both were working together,” Maldonado says. “We were up all night trying to save what we could, and the children screamed and cried for hours.” Hurricane Otis was the strongest storm ever to hit Mexico’s Pacific coast, damaging more than 200,000 homes and killing at least 45 people, with dozens reported missing. The failure to warn of its intensity is widely accepted as one of the biggest shortcomings in recent meteorological prediction. Just two days before it made landfall, the United States National Hurricane Center classified Otis as category 1 – but changed its prediction to category 5 just hours before the storm hit, by which time few in Acapulco had time to evacuate. According to the centre, the climate crisis has altered water temperatures in the Pacific, making these kinds of quick accelerations more likely. In Renacimiento the day after the storm, residents used scavenged rakes and shovels to pile the debris, including refrigerators, mattresses, food containers, bent street signs and children’s tricycles, in front of their homes, and created a pathway for people to walk through the plots of destroyed properties. Maldonado didn’t find any of her furniture among the debris but was left to queue at the entrance to the area, waiting for a military vehicle to arrive with water. It wasn’t until the next day that she and other inhabitants received enough supply in containers for her family for several days. They would need to find food, medicine and other provisions for themselves. “We’ve received almost no help,” Maldonado says. Two days after the storm, residents received word that marines would dispense tinned beans, rice and biscuits to families in an adjacent neighbourhood. But a large crowd had gathered there, and it became clear there were insufficient supplies for everyone. “People started fighting over the food, at first just yelling, and then pushing and punching one another, and the marines closed up and left,” says Maldonado. “They just decided they didn’t want to give it to us any more.” Many residents had to rely on support from better-off neighbours. Several days after the storm hit, once the city’s main roads were cleared, a disaster economy set in, with prices twice or three times higher than normal. However, many residents no longer had any cash. Some needed help to make collective taxi rides to places up to an hour away where they heard they could find food. While wealthier residents of the city’s hotel districts could afford to leave the city, many living in the working-class areas that provide labour to the tourist zones worried they might lose their remaining belongings if they fled. Also, while they had the option of taking free buses to Chilpancingo, the nearby state capital, they only had enough money to stay there for a few days. “Everyone needs to go back to work, but the jobs, they’re all gone,” Maldonado says, gesturing to the crumpled buildings and their missing walls. Preliminary assessments by local authorities released on Thursday suggest the storm destroyed as much as 80% of Acapulco’s hotels – which would be devastating for the region’s economy, an international tourist spot in one of Mexico’s poorest states. The Mexican government estimates that the reconstruction of Acapulco will cost a total of 61bn pesos (£2.8bn). Numerous prominent politicians in Mexico’s ruling Morena party have offered to add a month’s salary to the pot. The government has also sent 20,000 food ration packs and 200,000 litres of water to Acapulco. Still, hundreds of thousands of people have remained in the city, and the weather quickly returned to a scorching 32C after the storm. “We want everyone to know that if your house is damaged, the government is going to help you,” Ariadna Montiel Reyes, secretary of welfare, said on Monday. She added that the number of sites providing rations would double within the next few days. For some, such as Abdul Ramírez, a taxi driver, such promises appear hollow. “We’re waiting for the government when they decide to come. We’re not necessarily blaming them, but they’re not here,” he says. The country’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said this week that the armed forces would deliver all humanitarian aid so that civil organisations and local governments “wouldn’t try to profit from people’s necessity”. He spoke optimistically about recovery efforts, and hoped that families in Acapulco would be “content by Christmas”. In the La Colosio district, which also sustained severe damage and flooding, desperate people took what they needed from a local Walmart. Without the supermarket, many would have starved for days, as severe flooding kept the area closed off from the rest of the city. The store’s car park was blanketed with large, sharp strips of metal signs, toppled poles and shattered terracotta planters, but several men created a pathway and broke a window to get in. Within two days, the shelves were empty. “By the time we got there, all of the normal food was gone, and there was only candy left, but my husband said, ‘It’s OK, chocolate will give us energy!’” says Laura Díaz, a GP. Lacking a gas supply, residents have begun to cook collectively over fires lit amid the trash heaps. As of last Sunday, 29 October, roads have been open, but La Colosio had still not received any food or water from the government, aside from half-litre bottles handed out sporadically by passing national guard patrols. As the city fills with surveyors carrying clipboards and troops with automatic weapons, Maldonado has begun to wonder why these people who had been sent to help were not dispensing vital necessities such as food and water. “This might be a test from God,” she says. “Maybe this is our penance for something.” _______________________________ El Salvador electoral tribunal green lights Bukele's re-election bid Reuters. November 3, 2023 SAN SALVADOR, Nov 3 (Reuters) - El Salvador's electoral tribunal on Friday approved President Nayib Bukele's candidacy in next year's presidential election, where he will seek a second term that would keep him in office until 2029 if reelected. The decision comes a week after the 42-year-old president formally filed paperwork to run for re-election, despite concerns over his constitutional eligibility to seek a consecutive term. Members of the electoral tribunal are elected by Congress, which is controlled by the president's New Ideas party. Of the five members of the tribunal, four ruled in favor of Bukele's re-election bid, while one abstained. While critics question Bukele's ability to seek a second term, citing a constitutional prohibition, the country's top court ruled he could run in 2021. The judges on that court were also appointed by Congress. In January of this year, Congress approved a reform that punished those who prevented the registration of candidates for elections with up to 15 years in prison. Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, enjoys massive popularity stemming largely from a sweeping crackdown on the Central American country's violent gangs, with over 75,000 suspected gang members arrested to date. Violent crime has plummeted since the policy was launched early last year. A recent poll conducted by the Center for Citizen Studies at the Francisco Gavidia University gave New Ideas nearly 70% support, compared to just over 4% for its closest competitor. _______________________________ Honduras recalls ambassador to Israel for consultations Reuters. November 3, 2023 TEGUCIGALPA Nov 3 (Reuters) - Honduras' government is recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations due to the humanitarian situation affecting Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the country's top diplomat announced on social media on Friday. "Amid the grave humanitarian situation the Palestinian civilian population suffers in the Gaza Strip, the government of President Xiomara Castro has decided to immediately call Mr. Roberto Martinez, Ambassador of the Republic of Honduras in Israel, to consultations in Tegucigalpa," Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said on X, formerly known as Twitter. The decision from leftist President Castro's government follows similar moves from likeminded peers in the region earlier in the week. Chile's Gabriel Boric and Colombia's Gustavo Petro also recalled their countries' ambassadors to Israel for consultations over events surrounding the conflict in Gaza, while Bolivia moved to sever diplomatic ties to Israel. _______________________________ Mass protests over copper mine risk Panama’s business-friendly image Christine Murray. Financial Times. November 4, 2023 Swelling protests in Panama against a large copper mine have shocked politicians and investors, with the strength of opposition to the project and the government response casting a cloud over the country’s investor-friendly reputation. The open pit mine, owned by Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, is one of the world’s largest sources of copper and has faced multiple legal challenges. Thousands took to the streets of Panama City to protest after congress approved a renegotiated contract for the project last month. A broad group bolstered by labour unions, students and indigenous groups has repeatedly demonstrated across the country, closing roads as they carried national flags and signs saying “enough of destroying our land”. The visible fury put pressure on President Laurentino Cortizo’s government, which has promised a referendum on whether to cancel the 20-year contract for the mine, which accounts for almost 5 per cent of gross domestic product. Congress this week banned all new metals mining concessions after holding emergency sessions, but this will not affect the existing contract. “We won’t stop until the mining law is struck down,” teachers’ union leader Álvaro del Cid told local television at a protest this week, referring to legislation approving First Quantum’s latest contract. Mining has long been controversial over its environmental impact and perceptions of corruption, but the protests were also fuelled by high living costs and an unpopular government, said Orlando Pérez, professor of political science at the University of North Texas at Dallas. “This issue is not new, but it has now lit the match over a large woodpile of grievances,” Pérez said. “It could [scare] investors, particularly for other extractive industries, if investors start doubting how secure the Panamanian legal and political environment is.” Over the past three decades Panama has grown more than 5 per cent per year on average, slashing poverty rates and bucking lacklustre economic trends in a region plagued by instability. But the economic progress belies anger over political corruption and inequality. In recent weeks, that fused with worry, especially among younger Panamanians, about climate change as the country’s canal suffers record droughts. “What young people are saying is that they want a model that isn’t an extractivist model,” said Brooke Alfaro Hart, chair of the board of environmental non-profit Centro de Incidencia Ambiental. Rating agency Moody’s this week downgraded Panama’s debt to Baa3 from Baa2 — the lowest investment-grade rating — citing structural fiscal problems but also noting social and political tensions. The possibility of Panama losing its investment-grade rating went from a “tail risk” to a “sizeable risk” after the protests and referendum call, said analysts at JPMorgan. “If the contract is revoked, we think that the probability that Panama loses its investment-grade rating in the short term rises significantly, as lower trust in the country’s institutional framework would likely drive in lower investment and lower medium-term growth,” they added. The analysts said it was more likely that the mine deal would be renegotiated, handed to another company or taken under state control rather than shut down. The project’s opponents argue the original 1990s concession — awarded to a different company — was unconstitutional because it lacked an open bidding process. They also allege the process to approve the latest contract was illegal and possibly corrupt. First Quantum, one of the world’s largest copper producers, has said it operates in an environmentally sensitive manner and that the mine has directly and indirectly created more than 40,000 jobs with more than $10bn invested. It said on Friday it was confident with respect to its legal position and conforms to high standards of ethical behaviour. About half of the company’s 750,000 tonnes of annual production comes from the flagship Cobre Panama mine in a rural, little-populated area near the Caribbean coast. First Quantum’s market capitalisation dropped more than a third this week. Mackenzie Davis, managing partner at SailingStone Capital Partners and an investor in First Quantum, said maintaining rule of law and due process were essential for attracting foreign investment. “I appreciate that there are concerns about the mining industry . . . But the reality is that we need the raw materials and we need the raw materials to be produced as responsibly as possible.” Mining industry executives widely lament that despite huge expected demand for copper, partly from the green energy transition, it is becoming more difficult to develop multibillion-dollar projects for reasons including troubled community relations and unstable government policy. Presidential elections are due in Panama next year, with former president Ricardo Martinelli, who faces a 10-year prison sentence for money laundering, far ahead in the polls. _______________________________ A Chance Encounter and a Fugitive Linked to a President’s Killing Is Caught David C. Adams. New York Times. November 5, 2023 A senior Haitian police official was shopping at his local supermarket on a recent weekday when someone caught his eye: the country’s most wanted man. The official, Ernst Dorfeuille, recognized Joseph Félix Badio, a former military officer who had focused on drug and corruption cases at the interior and justice ministries, immediately because he had once worked with him. Now Mr. Badio was a fugitive, the target of a warrant seeking to question him about the key role the police say he played in an infamous crime: the assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, in July 2021. Mr. Dorfeuille summoned help, and within minutes, four police officers armed with assault rifles arrived and detained Mr. Badio as he was about to drive away from the supermarket outside Haiti’s capital. Mr. Dorfeuille confirmed to The Times details about Mr. Badio’s capture that have appeared in Haiti’s news media, but declined a more extensive interview. How Mr. Badio, who has been accused by some of the men implicated in the assassination plot of giving the order to kill Mr. Moïse, was able to evade the Haitian authorities for more than two years remains unclear. When he was detained, Mr. Badio was driving a vehicle registered to an employee of the Justice Ministry, according to the police. His arrest prompted reactions of gleeful astonishment among many Haitians who have grown cynical in a country where corruption and impunity are often the norm. Pierre Espérance, the executive director of a leading Haitian human rights organization, said the seemingly chance arrest of Mr. Badio raised questions of how aggressively he was being sought. “He was untouchable, because he knew too much,” Mr. Espérance said. Mr. Moïse was gunned down in his bedroom in the early hours of July 7, 2021, after the police say his official residence was attacked by a team of 20 Colombian former soldiers hired by a Miami-area security firm. Two parallel investigations into the assassination are ongoing in Haiti and South Florida. Dozens of people are imprisoned in Haiti, but so far none have been charged. In Miami, 11 people were indicted in February in federal court for their roles in the conspiracy. Three have pleaded guilty, including one of the Colombians, Germán Rivera, who received a life sentence last month. All three were charged with conspiracy to kidnap and kill a person outside the United States. Mr. Badio, who has been described in a detailed Haitian police report as the plot’s “orchestra leader,” has not been charged in the assassination. In Haiti, official charges tend to come much later in the legal process. Matthew Olsen, an assistant U.S. attorney general, in February announcing the indictments of 11 people accused of conspiring to assassinate Mr. Moïse.Credit...Chandan Khanna/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images The Haitian police said Mr. Badio rented two vehicles that transported the president’s killers, as well as a house on the same street as Mr. Moïse’s residence to conduct surveillance. After his arrest, Mr. Badio appeared briefly before a judge and was then transferred to Haiti’s main prison. Jonas Mezilus, a lawyer representing Mr. Badio, said that because his client had not been formally charged, he did not know how he would plead. A year ago, Mr. Badio issued an audio statement to a Haitian news media outlet proclaiming his innocence, saying he was being made a “scapegoat” for Mr. Moïse’s assassination and was willing to speak to the authorities, including the F.B.I. “I’m available today,” he said. “I’m a slave to the law.” U.S. court documents filed as part of the indictment in South Florida refer to an unnamed “co-conspirator” who conveyed the order to kill the president. Some lawyers representing defendants charged in South Florida believe that Mr. Badio is the co-conspirator and that he could ultimately also face legal charges in the United States. A Department of Justice spokeswoman declined to comment about Mr. Badio’s status. Given that Mr. Badio has never been questioned in Mr. Moïse’s killing, legal experts say he could provide vital answers to a case that remains shrouded in mystery. U.S. prosecutors argue that the owners of the Miami-area security firm, Counter Terrorist Unit, planned and financed the assassination, seeking to profit from lucrative contracts under a new government. But they have left open the questions of whether there were other masterminds in Haiti and what role they may have played in the plot. Haiti’s prime minister, Ariel Henry, has praised Mr. Badio’s arrest. “This is a major step forward in the investigation,” he said in a statement. But Mr. Henry himself has been linked to the assassination by Haitian authorities who say phone records show that Mr. Badio called Mr. Henry several times in the days before and in the hours after Mr. Moïse’s killing. Last year when a judge in the case requested that Mr. Henry answer questions about his relationship with Mr. Badio, he was fired by the justice minister and fled the country. At the time, the judge wrote that there were “enough compromising elements” to prosecute Mr. Henry. Mr. Henry has denied any involvement. In response to questions for this article, his spokesman said that Mr. Henry had many phone calls the day of Mr. Moïse’s killing, “but none with Mr. Badio.’’ Mr. Badio is a former Haitian Army officer who worked in strategic communications before entering the civil service. The Times contacted a dozen former and current officials who worked with him, but none would speak on the record. His father emigrated to New York in the early 1960s, according to a person who worked with Mr. Badio in the Haitian government and asked to remain anonymous because he feared for his safety speaking about Mr. Badio publicly. The younger Mr. Badio lived briefly in New York and attended Medgar Evers College, part of the City University of New York system, according to his Facebook page. The college confirmed that someone named Joseph Félix Badio studied there from 1992 to 1993, though there was no record that he graduated. He later bought a four-bedroom house in a residential neighborhood in Rockland County, just north of New York City, where his wife and two children still live, according to property and phone records. A Times reporter visited the house, but no one answered the door. The person who worked with him said Mr. Badio was fascinated with guns and all things related to security and intelligence. He also seemed resentful toward those in power who failed to recognize his talents sufficiently, according to several people who had worked with him and had followed his career. “Badio was extremely well connected across not just the political spectrum, but in security, at a pretty high level,” said Jake Johnston, a Haiti expert at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, who has researched Mr. Badio’s record. Referring to Mr. Badio’s superiors in Haiti’s government, Mr. Johnston said: “He was somebody also that these people relied upon to handle things. He had a reputation as somebody who was always around to get things done.” Mr. Espérance, the director of the human rights group, said he met with Mr. Badio once a decade ago. He recalled that Mr. Badio “talked about his relationship with U.S. agencies, the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration, but you never knew if it was fake or not.” A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that Mr. Badio had attended an anti-gang conference in the United States in 2009. Two months before Mr. Moïse’s assassination, Mr. Badio was fired from an anti-corruption unit in the Justice Ministry for accepting $30,000 from a man in jail accused in the murder of a well-known local radio station owner, according to a letter from Mr. Badio’s boss at the ministry, as well as a ministry news release. Mr. Badio vanished soon after the assassination, to the shock of the former Colombian soldiers who were rounded up hours after the assassination, according to transcripts of WhatsApp messages between the Colombians and Counter Terrorist Unit, the South Florida security firm. The transcripts, which point to Mr. Badio’s involvement in the plot, are part of the prosecution’s evidence in the South Florida case and were reviewed by The Times. In his audio message to the Haitian news outlet, Mr. Badio denounced unnamed members of Haiti’s government who he claimed had also been involved in the assassination plot. “If you think you’re going to get away with it, by executing me,” he said, “well, you’re knocking on the wrong door.” _______________________________ China's President Xi meets Cuban PM Marrero in Beijing Reuters. November 6, 2023 BEIJING, Nov 6 (Reuters) - China's President Xi Jinping met Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Monday, Chinese state media reported, a day after the Cuban leader signed cooperation documents with Xi's deputy at a trade fair. Marrero's visit comes as Cuba's economy, which is heavily dependent on food, fuel and other imports, is close to collapse amid a more than 50% decline in its export earnings, which are needed to purchase imports. The Cuban government blames U.S. sanctions and COVID for the economic downturn. "China will continue to firmly support the Cuban people, oppose foreign interference and the embargo, and safeguard (Cuba's) national sovereignty and dignity," Xi said, according to state media. Marrero was among foreign dignitaries attending the opening ceremony of the International Import Expo (CIIE) on Sunday in Shanghai, a week-long trade fair where countries and companies often strike deals resulting in the world's second-largest economy buying more of their wares. Following a meeting between Marrero and China's Premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the CIIE, Chinese and Cuban officials signed several unspecified cooperation documents, according to a state media report. "It is hoped that Cuba will continue to make good use of the important platform of the CIIE to bring more of its products to the China market," Xi told Marrero on Monday. Cuban officials often laud relations with China as "outstanding" or "historic", and President Miguel Diaz-Canel told China's Xi on the sidelines of a BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in August that ties were at an "all-time high". But analysts doubt China can take its relationship with the diplomatically isolated island much further or do anything significant to support it, not least because Cuba lacks the means to pay back any loans China might be willing to extend. Still, supporting Cuba could reap significant strategic and diplomatic dividends for China. In June, a report claimed China had reached a deal with Cuba to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island, about 100 miles from the U.S. state of Florida. China denied the report as being false. REGION: TRADE, SECURITY, ECONOMY AND INTEGRATION [CONTENTS] Biden pledges at Americas summit an alternative to Chinese-led infrastructure and development loans JOSH BOAK AND FATIMA HUSSEIN. AP. November 3, 2023 WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Friday welcomed government leaders from countries across the Americas to an economic summit by pledging to increase U.S. investment in the region in part to counter China’s influence. The U.S. president did not specifically mention China in his opening remarks at the first Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Leaders’ Summit. But Biden openly alluded to the country that has emerged as a chief geopolitical competitor to the United States that has offered development loans to countries in the Western Hemisphere. “We want to make sure that our closest neighbors know they have a real choice between debt trap diplomacy and high quality, transparent approaches to infrastructure and to development,” Biden said. “By combining the commitment of the United States government to mitigate investment risk with the agility of private sector financing, we believe we can deliver gains for workers and families throughout the region.” Among the other topics being discussed at the summit are migration, supply chains and efforts geared toward environmental sustainability. Australian and Chinese leaders welcome improved ties though disagreements remain Along with Biden, officials from Barbados Canada, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Panama attended summit events. Friday’s event was announced last year at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. The focus on trade comes as competition has intensified between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies. Biden, a Democrat, has provided government incentives to build U.S. infrastructure and for companies to construct new factories. But after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted manufacturing and global shipping, there has has also been an effort to diversify trade and reduce dependence on Chinese manufacturing. In 2022, the U.S. exported $1.2 trillion worth of goods and services to other countries in the Western Hemisphere, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. It also imported $1.2 trillion in goods and services from those countries. But the majority of that trade was with Canada and Mexico. By contrast, the U.S. imported $562.9 billion worth of goods and services from China last year. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen outlined the Biden administration’s goals in a Thursday speech at the Inter-American Development Bank. The U.S. wants to diversify supply chains with “trusted partners and allies,” a strategy that she said had “tremendous potential benefits for fueling growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Yellen, who regularly talks about her friendshoring strategy for increasing supply chain resilience by working primarily with friendly nations as opposed to geopolitical rivals like China, laid out her vision of new U.S. investment in South America at the development bank. The Inter-American Development Bank, which is the biggest multilateral lender to Latin America, would support new projects through grants, lending and new programs. The U.S. is the bank’s largest shareholder, with 30% of voting rights. Increasingly, policymakers in the U.S. have expressed concern about China’s influence at the bank. While the Asian superpower holds less than 0.1% voting rights, it holds large economic stakes in some of the 48 member countries of the bank. alt_text The Latin America News Round-up is a daily email digest featuring a free compilation of articles with the latest English language news on economic and political developments in Latin America. The newsletter is produced by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), and is aimed at educating people on current trends and what policies will best improve the quality of life for Latin Americans. You can subscribe to the Latin America News Round-up and other CEPR updates here. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. CEPR was co-founded by economists Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot in 1999. CEPR's Advisory Board includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Janet Gornick, Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and Director of the Luxembourg Income Study; and Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University. CONNECT WITH US TwitterFacebookFacebook 1611 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20009 (202) 293-5380 [email protected] If this email was forwarded to you, subscribe to CEPR's email lists here. If you believe you received this message in error or wish to update your subscription, click here:
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