Latin America

COLOMBIA AT A CROSSROADS: NEGOTIATING IN THE MIDST OF BULLETS

COLOMBIA AT A CROSSROADS: NEGOTIATING IN THE MIDST OF BULLETS

The situation in Colombia is currently very delicate. After weeks of an increasing number of attacks and kidnappings by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the FARC declared a second unilateral ceasefire on 08 July 2015, set to last for a month.

The situation has been deteriorating since the FARC suspended their unilateral ceasefire agreement in May 2015, in retaliation to a military bombing that resulted in the death of twenty-seven militants including one of its leaders negotiating in Havana, Cuba. Since then, the FARC has been targeting energy towers, pipelines and highways that has seriously affected the population and has caused grave damage to the environment and infrastructure.

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SOUTHERN COPPER’S TIA MARIA MINE PROJECT IN PERU: A “TICKING BOMB”

SOUTHERN COPPER’S TIA MARIA MINE PROJECT IN PERU: A “TICKING BOMB”

A protest that began in 2009, very localised against the Southern Copper Tia Maria project in Islay, in the Arequipa region, has now spread to most of the region along with all the other neighbouring southern provinces. The protest that had a clear environmentalist focus against the mining project has now turned political including a heavy criticism of the state and presidential managing of the crisis, amidst a continuing deteriorating approval rate for Peruvian President Ollanta Humala.

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THE NEW DRIFT TOWARDS ECONOMIC PRAGMATISM IN CORREA’S GOVERNMENT

THE NEW DRIFT TOWARDS ECONOMIC PRAGMATISM IN CORREA’S GOVERNMENT

Amidst an economic downturn the Ecuadorian Government held a meeting with union leaders and businessmen and other fifteen authorities including ministers, superintendents and directors of the national productive sector on 02 March 2015. The delegation of private enterprises was constituted by union leaders of the National Federation of Chambers of Industry of Ecuador, the Ecuadorian Business Committee and the Alliance for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The meeting centred around five axis proposed by the private sector focusing on strengthening private investment as a driver of economic growth, moving away from the monopoly of state intervention in Correa’s national project. This meeting is politically very important, as there had not been direct dialogue between the private sector and the president for over two years and a half. The meeting culminated with the compromise of the president and vice president to elaborate a private-public plan containing short-term goals for 2020 in a clear step towards public-private cooperation.

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THE CURSE OF THE BLACK GOLD? – THE IMPACT OF FALLING OIL PRICES ON OPEC STATES

THE CURSE OF THE BLACK GOLD? – THE IMPACT OF FALLING OIL PRICES ON OPEC STATES

The price of benchmark Brent crude dropped to below US$65 a barrel on 10 December 2014, the lowest in five years after the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said it expected global demand for its crude next year to fall to its lowest level in more than a decade, far below the current output. Prices falling below US$100 a barrel, nearer a benchmark of US$80 in November 2014 was expected to see OPEC act to stabilise the market. The lack of impetus is a recognition that OPEC can’t be the swing producer, a role taken by the US and as a result it has decided that it will not cut production and will rely on nation states, oil buyers and consumers to attempt to rationalise the market and bring prices up themselves. Moreover, it is likely that the market will be oversupplied for the coming six to eighteen month period and crucially that the oil price will be lower for longer.

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CENTRAL AMERICA’S FALLING HOMICIDE RATES: TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

CENTRAL AMERICA’S FALLING HOMICIDE RATES: TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

Central America has gained fame for being one of the most violent regions in the world. For example, the Guardian published an article in June 2014 on “The 10 world cities with the highest murder rates – in pictures” based on the recent data released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime that shows that eight of the ten most violent cities in the world are in Latin America; the Central American cities are Guatemala City, Belize City, Tegucigalpa, Panama City and San Salvador. However, amid this negative press, excellent news has been announced by the Guatemalan and Honduran Presidents; that their latest homicide statistics indicate that instances of homicide have dropped over ten and twenty points in the past two years, respectively. Is this good news just too good to be true?

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CAN OPTIMISM CONCERNING PEACE PROCESS WITH COLOMBIAN FARC AID INVESTMENT?

CAN OPTIMISM CONCERNING PEACE PROCESS WITH COLOMBIAN FARC AID INVESTMENT?

The international image of Colombia has changed drastically over the past decade. During the 1990s it was internationally known not only for the persistent guerrilla warfare but also exorbitant rates of violence related to drug trafficking. However, the security environment is known to have improved considerably as well as the possibilities for international investment. President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) first advocated an economic policy that strongly encouraged international investment in Colombia. Simultaneously, he implemented the policy of seguridad democrática targeting the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the largest guerrilla group in Colombia, militarily. US aid in the form of Plan Colombia was crucial in this context as huge amounts of military aid allowed Uribe to modernise the Colombian military. The FARC was weakened substantially as a consequence of this policy. This context of increased security in Colombia was used to attract foreign investment by Uribe’s government. This openness to foreign investment has continued under President Juan Manuel Santos since he assumed office in 2010.

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