Interamerican Watch Newsletter – Issue 69

Interamerican Watch Newsletter

Inter-American Watch

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

The Americas

Washington must respond to China’s growing military presence in Latin America

Latin America experts often discuss Beijing’s trade and investment in the region, especially those projects run under its signature Belt and Road Initiative. However, focusing predominantly on China’s economic and trade relationship to the regions misses an alarming trend observed elsewhere in the world, which may repeat itself in Latin America and the Caribbean: China often leverages seemingly innocuous commercial interests for military purposes.
Foreign Policy: https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/14/china-latin-america-military-pla-infrastructure-ports-colombia/

Situation Report: Russia’s geopolitical projection in the American Hemisphere

As a great power that has risen from the ashes of the former Soviet Union, Russia has gone to great lengths to restore its geopolitical hegemony in the post-Soviet space in order to rollback Western influence, enhance its national security, overturn a correlation of forces regarded as detrimental, and rewrite European security architecture to fulfil its strategic imperatives. But Russian vectors of influence can be seen even in the American hemisphere, far from its natural Lebensraum.
Geopolitical monitor: https://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/russias-geopolitical-projection-in-the-american-hemisphere/

Chile’s new president Gabriel Boric takes office with big plans for change

Former student leader Gabriel Boric will be sworn in Friday as Chile’s youngest-ever president, with plans to turn the country into a greener, more egalitarian “welfare state.”
Buenos Aires Times: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/latin-america/chiles-new-president-gabriel-boric-takes-office-with-big-plans-for-change.phtml

Mom-and-Pop stores: perfect money laundering vehicles on US-Mexico border

This convoluted series of transactions, detailed recently in federal court documents, shows that in addition to relying on bulk cash smuggling, illegal wire transfers and currency exchange houses, criminals in Mexico are still using one of the oldest ways drug traffickers have washed their dirty money: the black market peso exchange.
Insight Crime: https://insightcrime.org/news/mom-pop-stores-money-laundering-us-mexico-border/

Peru

Peru’s Congress to begin impeachment against Castillo

Castillo, a leftist, has seen his popularity plunge to 26 percent since taking office in July, Peru has had five presidents since 2016, including Castillo.
NBC/Reuters: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/perus-congress-votes-begin-impeachment-castillo-rcna20055

Peru’s Castillo comes out fighting after impeachment vote, admits “Institutional Crisis’

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo on Tuesday rejected allegations of corruption and told Congress, which passed a motion to impeach him earlier this week. “Peru is going through an institutional crisis without precedent,” Castillo said in a rare hour-long speech. “We will send to the Congress of the republic a set of reforms that will allow us to overcome this structural crisis,” he said.
US News and World Report: https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-03-15/perus-castillo-comes-out-fighting-after-impeachment-vote-slams-institutional-crisis

Crucial witness in corruption case against Peru’s Castillo denounces pressure from the government to stop collaboration in the probe

The businesswoman Karelim López, who has declared before the Money Laundering Prosecutor’s Office to start an effective collaboration process, indicated that she is being pressured from the government to abandon her collaboration, according to reports published by El Comercio and Peru21.
RPP Noticias, in Spanish: https://rpp.pe/politica/actualidad/karelim-lopez-denuncia-presiones-del-gobierno-para-abandonar-proceso-de-colaboracion-eficaz-segun-prensa-noticia-1392824

Weakening governance a risk for Peru economy, ratings

Continued political instability and policy paralysis in Peru (“BBB’/Stable) is symptomatic of weakened governance and persistent governability challenges, says Fitch Ratings. Tensions among the president, cabinet and congress have undermined policymaking and execution and elevated political uncertainty. This, in turn, has dampened the investment outlook.
Fitch Ratings: https://www.fitchratings.com/research/sovereigns/weakening-governance-risk-for-peru-economy-ratings-15-03-2022

Bolivia

International operation dismantles group that sent Bolivian cocaine to Europe

On February 15, 2022, authorities arrested some 30 people in Brazil and Spain during an international police operation that dismantled a narcotrafficking and money laundering ring. According to authorities, the cocaine that the organization transported was produced in Bolivia. “The main production area of the shipments would be in central Bolivia”, they said.
Dialogo-Americas: https://dialogo-americas.com/articles/international-operation-dismantles-group-that-sent-bolivian-cocaine-to-europe/ – .YjMNfBApBqs

Socialist MAS party crisis deepens with expulsions and complains against Evo Morales

The fracture in the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) deepens with the expulsion of deputy Rolando Cuéllar, whom they seek to remove the seat; and with the denunciations that Evo Morales supposedly imposes a “dictatorship” within that party.
Pagina Siete, in Spanish: https://www.paginasiete.bo/nacional/2022/3/17/crisis-masista-se-ahonda-con-una-expulsion-denuncias-contra-evo-326058.html

High ranking officer assures deputies and leaders in Bolivia “are filling their pockets” with Coca

The Minister of Government, Eduardo del Castillo, spoke about the issue at a meeting with coca growers in La Asunta. The MAS bench demanded that he clarify his statements.
La Razon, in Spanish: https://www.la-razon.com/nacional/2022/03/16/del-castillo-asegura-que-se-estan-llenando-los-bolsillos-diputados-y-dirigentes-con-la-coca-en-el-mas-hay-malestar/

Ecuador

Anti-narcotics agency investigates possible creation of “micro-cartels’ in Ecuador

After nine months of investigations, and five previous police operations in Guayas, the authorities determined that the laboratory made of wood, where 500 kilograms of cocaine were processed per week, had the seal of the Los Tiguerones gang. This criminal organization disputes control of prisons and drug trafficking routes in Ecuador, mainly against Los Choneros.
Primicias, in Spanish: https://www.primicias.ec/noticias/en-exclusiva/antinarcoticos-investiga-posible-conformacion-microcarteles-ecuador/

Gold rush in Ecuador’s Amazon region threatens 1,500 communities

In Ecuador’s central Napo province, legal and illegal gold mining in rivers is expanding, causing freshwater contamination and conflict among communities living in the Anzu and Jatunyacu river basins, according to recent studies and Indigenous organizations.
Mongobay News: https://news.mongabay.com/2022/03/gold-rush-in-ecuadors-amazon-region-threatens-1500-communities/

The dark side of remittances in Ecuador

In 2021, the arrival of remittances to Ecuador broke historical records for two consecutive quarters. Although this money helps the economy of the Austro cantons, part of it feeds mafias of human traffickers and informal moneylenders. According to data from the Central Bank, between January and September 2021, Ecuador received remittances for USD 3,152 million, exceeding by 34% the USD 2,351 million received in the same period of 2020.
Primicias, in Spanish: https://www.primicias.ec/noticias/en-exclusiva/lado-oscuro-remesas-dinamizan-austro/

Argentina

Cristina Kirchner, like Putin, in a trap with no way out

The formula that she invented in 2019 had an error, which her son reminds her of every day: Fernández should not have been president.
La Nacion, in Spanish: https://www.lanacion.com.ar/politica/cristina-kirchner-como-putin-en-una-encerrona-sin-salida-nid16032022/

Argentina inflation soars; president vows “war’ on surging prices

Argentina’s monthly inflation rocketed to 4.7% in February, the state statistics agency said on Tuesday, the highest since March 2021 and far above forecasts as the South American country’s president promised a “war” against spiraling prices.
Yahoo! Finance/Reuters: https://yhoo.it/3qdLiII

Analysis

Ricardo Israel: Boric’s future is at stake in the Constituent Convention

It is most likely that the legacy and fate of a government that has defined itself as a continuation of the work of Salvador Allende, does not depend so much on what he does and does not do, as on what happens in a place for which he was not elected, which is the Constitutional Convention.
Interamerican Institute for Democracy: https://intdemocratic.org/borics-future-is-at-stake-in-the-constituent-convention/

José Azel: Cuba’s phantom time

Like the Church leaders in the Middle Ages, the Castro regime has falsified Cuba’s economic history and the country has lost over 60 years of socioeconomic development. This is Cuba’s phantom time.
Interamerican Institute for Democracy: https://intdemocratic.org/cubas-phantom-time/

A twist in Caracas: is a Venezuela-US reboot on the cards?

The surprise U.S. visit to Caracas has triggered two parallel processes. On one hand, talks appear to be under way to determine whether, and how, Venezuelan oil can start flowing again to U.S. refineries. On the other, the Maduro government and the Venezuelan opposition are assessing the new diplomatic configuration to see what form negotiations on a political and humanitarian agreement might take.
Crisis Group: https://www.crisisgroup.org/latin-america-caribbean/andes/venezuela/twist-caracas-venezuela-us-reboot-cards

How to have a successful Summit of the Americas

As the transatlantic community rushes to build a global sanctions regime to punish a revanchist Russia and limit the spread of war in Ukraine, there is little bandwidth left for advancing U.S. national interests elsewhere. Latin America, however, should not be taken for granted. There is growing evidence that there are serious issues for the United States much closer to home.
The National Interest: https://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-have-successful-summit-americas-201171