Interamerican Watch Newsletter – Issue 8

Inter-American Watch

Friday October 22nd, 2021

(Casto Ocando, Editor)

Peru

Pedro Castillo, Peru’s new president, tries to seem less left-wing. Investors are not entirely convinced

When he took office as Peru’s president on July 28th, the bicentenary of the country’s independence, Pedro Castillo declared that he would not govern from the presidential palace. Built on the site of the house of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador, the palace is a “colonial symbol”, he said, which he would turn into a museum. Three months later President Castillo is quietly living and working there after all. It is a sign that whatever Peru’s hard-left president might like, the country is not in the throes of revolution. Rather Mr Castillo’s presidency has been defined so far by his political inexperience and indecision, the extremism and infighting of his allies and his weak mandate.
(The Economist, subscription: https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2021/10/23/pedro-castillo-perus-new-president-tries-to-seem-less-left-wing)

Peru’s president gets congressional approval to travel to Bolivia

Just one day after Bolivia’s ruling party Movement Towards Socialism was reported to have opened up an office in Peruvian territory, Peru’s President Pedro Castillo Terrones gets congressional approval to travel to La Paz, Bolivia on Oct. 30 to participate in the “Presidential and VI Binational Ministerial Cabinet Bolivia – Peru Meeting.” The document, signed by Prime Minister Mirtha Vásquez, points out that the event “constitutes the highest instance of dialogue and political coordination with Bolivia” and explains that discussions will focus on four thematic axes: environment and transboundary water resources; security and defense; economic development, social policies and institutional strengthening; and infrastructure for integration and development.
(Mercopress: https://en.mercopress.com/2021/10/21/peru-s-president-seeks-congressional-approval-to-travel-to-bolivia)

Poll: 73% of Peruvians convinced Castillo’s presidential campaign was financed with corrupt money

Seven out of ten Peruvians consider that the campaign that led Pedro Castillo to the Government Palace was financed with dirty money. According to the latest Datum poll, 73% believe this, while only 15% say this was not the case. That corruption in the Junín province that helped to finance the Peru Libre campaign is what the Prosecutor’s Office has been investigating in the case of Los Dinámicos del Centro (there are audios and witnesses that have provided information on this case), which led to another investigation for money laundering. In both cases, senior leaders of the ruling party, such as Vladimir Cerrón, are implicated.
(Peru21, in Spanish: https://peru21.pe/politica/datum-el-73-considera-que-hubo-dinero-corrupto-en-la-campana-de-pedro-castillo-los-dinamicos-del-centro-peru-libre-noticia/?ref=p21r”>https://peru21.pe/politica/datum-el-73-considera-que-hubo-dinero-corrupto-en-la-campana-de-pedro-castillo-los-dinamicos-del-centro-peru-libre-noticia/?ref=p21r)

Peru’s ambassador to Venezuela banned to leave the country on money laundering charges

A Peruvian National Superior Court banned the recently appointed ambassador of Peru in Venezuela, Richard Rojas García, from leaving the country por six months on charges of money laundering the Attorney General Office is conducting in the case knonwn as Los Dinamicos del Centro. Rojas Garcia reportedly is being charged on transferring and concealing illegal money for the 2021 presidential campaign on behalg of the Peru Libre Party to which he and Peru’s president Pedro Castillo belong.
(Paudal: https://www.paudal.com/2021/10/21/pj-dictates-6-months-of-impediment-to-exit-for-richard-rojas-designated-ambassador-of-peru-in-venezuela/)

Peru’s state-owned oil company plans to return to production for first time since 1990s

Peru’s state-owned Petroperu hopes to once again extract oil in the Andean nation by the end of the year to supply crude to its Talara refinery, the government said on Wednesday. The move, under new socialist President Pedro Castillo, signals a return to oil production for Petroperu after more than two decades focused only on oil refining, transportation, storage and sales. Peru’s state energy company Perupetro said oil operations would begin on Dec. 27, although details are still being worked out. Petroperu plans to extract oil in the so-called Lot I, located in the northern region of Piura, from which it can supply crude to the nearby Talara refinery.
(Reuters, free registration: https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/perus-state-owned-oil-company-plans-return-production-first-time-since-1990s-2021-10-20/)

Related:
Peru energy companies paid US$750 million in royalties to the government

A total of US$749.8 million was paid to the Peruvian state by companies working in the hydrocarbon sector as royalties from January to September 2021, indicated the National Society of Mining, Petroleum, and Energy (SNMPE). The mining-energy guild reported that this figure (US$749.8 million) represented a 130% growth compared to the US$325.6 million paid by oil companies for royalties in the same period last year.
(The Rio Times, subscription: https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/mercosur/peru/peruvian-energy-companies-paid-us750-million-in-royalties-to-the-state/)

Peru’s Foreign Ministers ask U.S. support for Peru to join OCDE

Peru’s Foreign Minister Óscar Maúrtua met with the Secretary of State of the United States (USA), Antony Blinken, to thank his country’s support during the fight against the pandemic and ask for support so that Peru can join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Maúrtua met Blinken during the Ministerial Conference on Migration that took place in Bogotá, Colombia.
(Peru21 in Spanish: https://peru21.pe/politica/datum-el-73-considera-que-hubo-dinero-corrupto-en-la-campana-de-pedro-castillo-los-dinamicos-del-centro-peru-libre-noticia/)

Argentina

Federal Attorney Stornelli requests documentation that reveals how Venezuela sent $21 million for the Cristina Kirchner campaign

The federal Justice requested the statement and documents that reveal that Venezuela would have sent US $ 21 million “in suitcases” for the campaign Cristina Kirchner. This was confirmed by the prosecutor Carlos Stornelli The Thursday evening. “This aims to strengthen the test; we already had indications and proved by the sayings of a repentant. This statement that we have requested would be closely related to what we already had in the file, ”he said.
(The Saxon: https://thesaxon.org/the-federal-justice-requested-the-documentation-that-reveals-that-venezuela-would-have-sent-us-21-million-for-cristina-kirchners-campaign/88589/

Argentina abstains from OAS vote criticizing Nicaraguan government

T he Alberto Fernández administration has once again abstained in an Organisation of American States (OAS) vote condemning the political repression of opponents of the Daniel Ortega regime in Nicaragua. Argentina was one of seven nations not to back a resolution demanding “the immediate release” of political prisoners ahead of next month’s elections in the Central American country. It is the second time that the Peronist government has refused to back an OAS resolution criticising the Ortega regime this year. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires said that its decision to abstain from the vote was consistent with its previous positions on the political crisis. While admitting that this latest resolution “contains elements consistent with the Argentine position regarding the human rights situation in Nicaragua and the arrests of Nicaraguan opposition representatives,” the government said it would only serve to “prejudge the development of an electoral act that has not yet taken place.”
(Buenos Aires Times: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/latin-america/argentina-abstains-in-second-oas-resolution-against-nicaragua.phtml)

A nightmare for Cristina Kirchner may be brewing in New York in conection to “El Pollo” Carvajal

Among others, the former chief of the chavista intelligence service also revealed the huge influx of chavista money to finance the Kirchnerism rise to power in Argentina. He said, for instance, that the suitcase of $800,000 a chavista envoy tried to enter Argentina back in 2007 was just one of many, more than 20 flights to send Caracas money to Buenos Aires, that may total more than $20 millions, that went through without any problem. The revelations may trigger a case in the Southern District of Manhattan, where Carvajal is going to be tried once extradited from Spain.
(La Nacion, in Spanish: https://www.lanacion.com.ar/politica/una-pesadilla-para-cristina-se-puede-estar-incubando-en-nueva-york-nid21102021/)

Ecuador

Ecuador’s Lasso calls protesters ‘putschists’, as he declares state of emergency

“The hand of democratic dialogue will be extended, but if we have to impose the constitution by force to confront putschists, we will do so with decisiveness, with spirit and without fear,” Lasso told a crowd of thousands of supporters in the capital Quito.
(France 24: https://www.france24.com/en/americas/20211021-ecuador-s-lasso-calls-protesters-putschists-declares-state-of-emergency)

U.S. Senate approved extension of tariff preferences for Ecuador

U.S. senators approved the extension of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) so that certain Ecuadorian products can enter that market without tariffs. The approval must be ratifies by the House.
(Ecuador Times: https://www.ecuadortimes.net/ambassador-baki-united-states-senate-approved-extension-of-tariff-preferences-for-ecuador/)

Commercial containers leaving Ecuador will go through an anti-narcotics new scanning system

Ecuador’s Lasso signed Decree 227 which orders all commercial cargo to go through an anti-drug scanning system. At the same time, controls in temporary warehouses, ports, airports and border crossings will be strengthened, accoding to the new National Security Plan.
(Ecuador Times: https://www.ecuadortimes.net/the-merchandise-that-leaves-the-ecuador-will-go-through-an-anti-narcotics-system/

Bolivia

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approves $500 million to support vulnerable populations in Bolivia

The project will support the efforts of the Government of Bolivia to assist the most vulnerable populations to face the economic effects of the pandemic. To do this, it will finance the payment of part of the costs of the “Bono Contra el Hambre” (Bond Against Hunger), a cash transfer program created in response to the pandemic. It consists of a one-time transfer made to people who do not have a stable income, as they do not receive a salary from the public or private sector or a pension or long-term social security income. In turn, the project will finance part of the cash transfers of the Renta Dignidad (Dignified Income), a program in which people over 60 who do not receive retirement income participate.
(Market Screener: https://www.marketscreener.com/news/latest/The-IDB-approves-US-500-million-to-support-vulnerable-populations-in-Bolivia—36747909/)

Russia and Bolivia underscore advance of binational relations in spite of the pandemic

The Foreign Ministers of Russia and Bolivia, Sergei Lavrov, and Rogelio Mayta, respectively, today underlined the progressive development of bilateral ties despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “The pandemic did not hinder the progressive development of our relations and our presidents spoke three times in recent months and defined the steps to develop our cooperation in its entirety,” Lavrov said at the beginning of his meeting with the Bolivian foreign minister. Lavrov, who met with Bolivian President Luis Arce in September during the UN General Assembly, stressed that both countries have already agreed on the “direction of cooperation in the humanitarian fields, peaceful atomic energy, trade and the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
(Swissinfo.ch, in Spanish: https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/rusia-bolivia_rusia-y-bolivia-subrayan-el-avance-de-sus-relaciones-pese-a-la-pandemia/47049164

Other news

Analysis: Mexico’s trade relationship with Peru in light of the binational Free Trade Agreement (CPTPP)

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) became effective in Mexico on 30 December 2018, so expanding Mexico’s network of agreements and giving it preferential access to 49 countries. Mexiso seeks to promote sectors such as the automotive and aerospace industries, and products, such as medical devices, electrical and electronic products, cosmetics, tequila, avocado and beef, among others. Peru is one of Mexico’s main trade partners and the second-largest recipient of Mexican foreign direct investment in Latin America, after Brazil.
(Lexology: https://www.lexology.com/commentary/international-trade/mexico/ramos-ripoll-schuster/mexicos-trade-relationship-with-peru-in-light-of-the-cptpp-1)

Concern about Chile’s elections are making Peru’s bonds a safer bet

Political uncertainty ahead of Chile’s presidential elections and the possibility of another round of pension withdrawals have been pushing the country’s bond yields higher, weakening the peso and hitting equities. That’s also deepening the nation’s divergence with Latin American neighbor Peru, which is enjoying a respite in market volatility amid recent signs of moderation by president Pedro Castillo. Such deviation is visible in their respective country risks, measured by the cost of insuring against nonpayment. Peru’s five-year credit default swaps recently fell below Chile’s for the first time since early 2020.
(Bloomberg, subscription: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-21/chile-s-election-jitters-are-making-peruvian-bonds-a-safer-bet?utm_source=google&utm_medium=bd&cmpId=google)