Hello, hivers. Here you have the ninth delivery of my #latamreports series, where I review the last trends in Latin America's political and economic landscape. Let's go ride on it ya.
Via Deep Dream Generator
The currencies and stock markets of the region ended the week confirming the negative impact of the fall of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), as we wait for the next Fed monetary policy meeting (it'll be raised 25 basis points on March 22, according to Reuters after consulting with experts). Banking and financial authorities in the area have argued that there is no reason to stress confidence in the national banking systems, but the truth is that it has had an impact.
The Mexican peso fell 1.23% against Thursday's Reuters reference price, ending the week with losses. The main stock index S&P/BMV IPC, with the 35 most liquid companies in that country's market, fell by 1.10%, marking a setback compared to Thursday.
The Brazilian real was down 0.85%, while the Bovespa index of Sao Paulo's B3 stock exchange was down 1.56%. The Argentine peso picked up 0.21%, with the Merval stock index down 0.74%. The Chilean peso moved back 0.49%, for a weekly aggregate of 4.31%; the IPSA —the Santiago Stock Exchange's leading index— lost 1.64%.
The resulting performance of the Colombian peso translates into a negative -0.18%, with the MSCI COLCAP benchmark index retained in the same trend (-0.72%). Finally, the Peruvian sol gave up 0.2%; the Lima Stock Exchange benchmark recovered from a losing start to finish at +0.53%.
This is a very active country generating news these days. Ecuadorian judicial authorities rejected yesterday the 'habeas corpus' recourse applied by former president Lenín Moreno and his wife, Rocío González, to avoid the requirement to periodically attend a criminal court of the National Court of Ecuador, and instead do so at the Embassy of Ecuador in Paraguay, where they are currently located.
Both are being investigated, together with a network that so far includes 35 people, for alleged bribery crimes in the Ina Papers case and whose economic balance exceeds 70 million euros. The defense of the former president argued that Moreno's health condition prevented him from traveling to Quito.
Moreno was originally an ally of former President Rafael Correa but ended up turning to the right and facing the popular sectors in 2019, after taking a group of economic measures that resulted in the erosion of his political capital (he even rescinded the political asylum that had been granted to Julian Assange by his predecessor). So we put an alert on this issue to follow it as it develops.
The diligent dog
The Ecuadorian police, aided by a specialized dog, seized yesterday in the port of Guayaquil about four tons of cocaine (valued at US$ 8 million there but amounting to about US$ 238 million outside), which were destined for Sierra Leone in Africa. Initially, the container was only carrying canned peaches for export, according to statements to the press by the director of the anti-drug investigations in the South American nation.
Photo with part of the cargo. Source: El Universo on Twitter.
Since the beginning of the year, authorities have seized some 40 tons of drugs, with more than 2,500 people arrested for being linked to drug trafficking. Guillermo Lasso has declared war on this scourge, whose perpetrators fiercely dispute transportation routes.
On the same topic but in another country, we have that Colombian anti-narcotics authority yesterday seized 1.6 tons of cocaine (valued at 530 million euros there) that were hidden in commercial boxes of bananas in the port of Urabá, in the north of the country, and were destined for Antwerp, Belgium. Here, too, the police relied on specialized dogs to detect the cargo.
The Brazilian government yesterday released 212 rural sugar cane workers in inhumane conditions, according to a cable from the French AFP. With these, 890 people have been rescued from working in conditions bordering on slavery so far this year. More than 38 million Brazilians work in the informal sector, at a time when, for the first time in more than two years, unemployment has a quarterly upward trend (measured between last November and January), reaching 8.4%.
A prison guard was killed and three houses were set on fire in the early hours of Saturday morning, in the continuation of a series of attacks by a criminal organization in Rio Grande do Norte, in the northeastern of the country (in principle it would be the fifth victim). The events are linked to a drug trafficking organization that is allegedly putting pressure on the authorities to obtain benefits for its imprisoned leaders.
The remains of five of six women who disappeared in Celaya, Guanajuato state, were identified by competent authorities on Friday, who in turn reported that the perpetrators were members of a criminal group based in Tamaulipas. Most of the remains found correspond to skeletal remains that were burned almost entirely.
It is really disturbing that at least the EFE news agency cable that informs us of the event doesn't provide any information about the motives for this barbaric act (the youngest of the women was only 19 years old), so femicide is in the air. Six people have been arrested as part of the investigations. So, if you are following my reports, you can see in a dynamic way the serious problem there is in this region with organized crime (so far we have passed through Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil).
Argentina agreed on Friday with the Inter-American Development Bank on financing programs for US$ 235 million, according to a press release from its Ministry of Economy. The country, as we have already seen, is experiencing an acute economic crisis, with a shortage of foreign currency and also a drought that affects the productive capacity of the main exportable items, essentially grains.
At the close of this report, we learned of an earthquake of magnitude 6.5 on the open Richter scale, registered today in the coastal province of Guayas in Ecuador, which so far has already resulted in the loss of four lives. Our sincere condolences to those who have lost family, friends, or property as a result of this tragic event.
This is all for our ninth report. 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.