The Latin American Report # 14

Hello, hivers. Here you have the fourteenth delivery of my #latamreports series, where I review the last trends in Latin America's political and economic landscape. Today we go deep with the 28th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government, as we cover as well other recent events.

Official photograph of the XXVIII Ibero-American Summit

The 28th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government advanced its second and last session this Saturday in Santo Domingo, debating important regional issues such as food, economy, migration, and democratic development. These forums serve mainly to set foreign policy positions in a diplomatic and generalist way, although sometimes there have been rougher and more direct speeches. Attention to the effects of climate change and the war between Russia and Ukraine also occupies the agenda of the leaders gathered there. Let's remember that Ibero-America is a sort of geopolitical and historical construction that includes Latin American countries together with Spain and Portugal (from the Iberian Peninsula). The members occupy a total of 15.3% of the Earth's surface and comprise 8.7% of its population. ECLAC, a United Nations body, reports that in 2021 the share of Ibero-American GDP in the performance of this variable on a global scale was 8.6%.

The presidents of Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Honduras, Uruguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Portugal, as also the King of Spain, Felipe VI, and his head of government, Pedro Sánchez, participated in the plenary session. Harsh statements were reported by Gabriel Boric of Chile in relation to the situation in Nicaragua, specifically in reference to its president Daniel Ortega. It was initially speculated that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro would attend the meeting but at the last minute, it was his foreign minister Yván Gil who was in charge of representing the oil nation at the forum.

Pedro Sánchez

Growth projections in the region are bleak (below 2%), while the cost of a healthy diet is the most expensive in the world: US$ 3.89 per capita per day, which would be leaving out 22.5% of the population, according to UN statistics. With regard to the climate issue, it was once again demanded, particularly by the Colombian Gustavo Petro, that the countries that emit the most carbon should bear the greatest burden in financing clean energies.

Gustavo Petro

Alberto Fernández of Argentina spoke of an issue that is critical and decisive for his country, such as the high level of indebtedness that puts pressure on decision-making and the availability of resources to enhance the welfare of the people. "We are witnessing an international scenario characterized by high and unsustainable levels of indebtedness that condition the growth of our countries", said Fernandez, who was explicit in labeling the rates imposed by the International Monetary Fund as "abusive". We have just learned that the state-owned companies of the South American nation are obliged to exchange bonds in dollars for new instruments in national currency to curb the imbalance of international reserves, in a context of unstoppable exchange rate pressure.

Alberto Fernández

The migratory phenomenon

Boric also addressed the need for greater "coordination" in the face of the migratory crisis. His country is targeting upcoming negotiations with Venezuela to generate a collaborative approach, including migrants' rights and shared responsibilities. "Migration management is perhaps one of the greatest regional challenges", and "any sustainable solution depends on being able to work together between countries of origin, transit and destination", urged the Chilean, who also put the spotlight on the insufficiency so far to deal decisive blows to transnational crime networks in a general sense (human and drug trafficking).

Gabriel Boric

Venezuela, Cuba, Honduras, Ecuador, and Nicaragua are among the countries that are generating the greatest migratory pressure, each one due to causes inherent to their history and in some cases also stemming from the relationship with the United States. On Monday we will close our summary of this summit with its official declaration.

Regional quicks

  • The Honduran nationality of two individuals found dead on a freight train in south Texas was learned today, according to information provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "We will continue to address the serious threat to public safety posed by human smuggling organizations and their reckless disregard for the health and safety of the people they smuggle," spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said. There were 15 survivors in this probable human smuggling case, which involved two Union Pacific Railway cars.

  • Venezuelan authorities updated today on the progress of the anti-corruption investigation that has detained 10 officials and 11 businessmen so far, with 11 more arrest warrants issued. Operations, in this case, started in October, and include among the bodies under investigation a government entity that oversees cryptocurrency transactions. There is US$ 21.2 billion in trade receivables in favor of state oil company PDVSA from 2020, including US$ 3.6 billion potentially unrecoverable, Reuters reported. Tareck El Aissami, one of the historic members of Chavismo, resigned as minister of the referred sector since the investigation became public and the first charges were announced.

  • Two Cuban migrants pinned their hopes on a motorized hang glider to travel from the island to Key West, Florida. They made it safely to the airport in the city, which has a long historical tradition in its relationship with Cuba, dating back to the very beginnings of the United States as a nation. The government of Joe Biden introduced recent changes in the immigration policy towards Cuba, where this type of illegal entry to U.S. territory can lead to immediate deportation, although it's never known if they have the capacity to resist the pressure that the Cuban community in Florida will surely exert to prevent them from being returned.

This is all for our fourteenth report. All the photographs were downloaded from the official Twitter account of the Summit. I have referenced the sources dynamically in the text, and remember you can learn how and where to follow the LATAM trail news by reading my work here. Have a nice day.

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