Tuesday, March 6: Latin America News Briefing
Trump’s name is stripped from Panama hotel, US aides and Venezuela open backchannel over jailed American, and more.
Every morning and afternoon PanAm Post gives you a briefing on the most important news from the Americas.
These are the top stories this morning:
Cypriot businessman Orestes Fintiklis declared victory on Monday, as he had Trump’s name struck down from the organizations only property in Latin America. But the situation remains unclear, as the WashingtonPost reports that it was unable to verify exactly who was given control over the property. The Trump Organization’s legal team claims that the judge simply transferred the hotel to a third party while the dispute continues to be litigated.
The Associated Press reports that Senator Orin Hatch (R, Utah) was able to establish a “back channel” with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to discuss the release of Joshua Holt, a Utah man who’s been jailed in the country since December 13, 2017.
It’s not clear exactly which staffer met with Maduro to discuss the release of the unlawfully jailed American, but AP reports that it was a meeting between Foreign Relations committee aid Caleb McCarry and Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores that sparked interest in negotiations.
There is, according to the report, no indication the State Department or the Trump administration had any hand in the negotiations.
The Financial Times writes an interesting brief on the state of the Brazilian economy. Oddly, for a financial newspaper, it criticises the country for cutting its debt and following through on interest payments. It is critical of a focus on the “wealthy over the poor” in the nation’s budget, despite in the same sentence saying 35% of the budget goes to pensions.
The truly odd position taken in the piece is that Venezuelan’s have it easier with their tax filings that Brazilians since it takes them less time. Nevermind, of course, this is probably in the part due that there’s little income to declare in Venezuela at this point and rampant tax fraud.
It seems that, for the FT, an economy that experienced growth for the first time since 2014 needs to revert back to what it was doing before 2014; spending money it didn’t have on projects it couldn’t sustain.
CaracasChronicles has a deep, and heartfelt, exposé on why CITGO’s bonds, despite being part of the troubles PDVSA oil company, are still highly valued in the market. The article breaks down CITGO’s corporate structure, the value within each shell-crop. housing the subsidiary, and the risk (or lack of) to investors in the event of a – likely – CITGO default.
The FinancialTimes sees a worried NAFTA negotiations team, striking a “conciliatory tone” after House Majority Leader Paul Ryan and others expressed alarm at President Trump’surmp’s decision to not exclude Mexico and Canada from his proposed steel tariffs.
Both Mexico and Canada seem firm in their convictions to retaliate should a tariff be put in place. The words from the president have, FT says, pushed negotiators to reach a draft deal within the next month, avoiding Mexico’s July election and the U.S. midterms in November.
The Academy Awards show may have had the worst TV ratings in its entire history, but that doesn’t mean that Latin America has any less reason to celebrate. Mexico took home the award for best director with Guillermo del Toro and Chile got best foreign language film for the film A Fantastic Woman. Among other Latin American winners was Mexico, who’s had Pixar produce a depiction of the day of the dead in ‘Coco’, which was wildly popular this year.