There are not many things that Argentinians and Brits can politically agree on, but what can be agreed on, is not trusting our governments to follow the rules they make.
In a photo from July 2020, Argentinian president Alberto Fernandez is seen celebrating his wife’s birthday at a large dinner gathering.
This was during a strict lockdown where the only essential meeting was allowed. The president reached an agreement with a federal judge to pay 3 million pesos, the equivalent of £20,000.
Boris Johnson had to pay a fixed penalty notice of £50 – despite attending multiple parties, and for that, I say thank you Argentina. For highlighting the absolute lunacy of British politics.
Pedro Castillo, Peru’s president has changed his cabinet for the 5th time since coming to office in 2021.
He has made Alessandra Herrera energy and mines minister in a bid to solve the tensions in Las Bambas, where indigenous communities are blockading copper production.
This has effectively frozen 20% of the Peruvian copper output and threatens the world’s 2nd biggest supplier.
Over 2% of the world’s copper supply is produced in Las Bambas and locals were resettled over 10 years ago to make way for the opening of the mine.
The Fuerabamba community was compensated by over 600 million soles – $161 million dollars and even had a new town constructed, Nueva Fuerabamba, just under 20km away from the current mine.
Now they want their ancestral lands back and seem intent on stopping any activity happening in the mine.
At 1.5% of Peru’s GDP, this is a huge cause for concern amongst the political elite in Lima and arguably causes Castillo to rethink policies that once swayed towards nationalization.
Protesters from the Fuerabamba community, argue that the initial compensation was not enough.
This sounds like a strong case considering MMG’s revenues in 2019, for the Las Bambas mine alone, were just over $2 billion U.S. dollars.
That makes the initial compensation look like pure exploitation – and for many communities, inexperienced and unequipped in these dealings allows foreign companies to come over and get a cut-price deal.
Governments desperate to get quick wins also usher in this process and in turn opens the veins of South America, in the words of Eduardo Galeano.
Leaders from the local communities met with President Castillo on Tuesday to discuss the current situation and diffuse what is becoming a growing political nightmare. However, the talks failed, and the protesters continue their plight.
The left-wing president was sworn in last year, pledging to redistribute and share Peru’s natural resource wealth – however, has been forced to make a sharp U-turn with many Peruvians feeling the pinch of global price and inflation hikes.
Colombia Election & Medellin’s rising danger
As Latin America pivot to the left, and continues to pick up steam, polling frontrunner and anti-establishment candidate Gustavo Petro is leading in the polls at around 40%, with Conservative candidate, Federico Gutierrez not far off at 25%.
In a heavily guarded campaign, surrounded by bodyguards, bulletproof shields, and wearing a bulletproof vest himself, Petro, a former M-19 guerrilla and more recently, Mayor of Bogota has promised to shift the way Colombia approaches the war on drugs and provide agricultural reform, a transition to greener energy and a solution to Colombia’s vast wealth inequality.
Conservative candidate, Gutierrez, looks to maintain some continuity whilst battling corruption in the country. Going after dodgy financing and petty crimes which he looks to reduce by 50% and aims to digitize the economy, he hopes all Colombians should receive 4G by 2024. A better repayment system for student loans is also among his pledges.
With the electoral system being run-off, only 2 candidates will advance to the final round – with Petro’s current lead looking far from settled. Outsider candidate, Rodolfo Hernandez, in who he presumably doesn’t pip Gutierrez to second place will have his votes redistributed in the runoff – these will decide the election.
Hernandez is a pro-business, anti-corruption candidate so the votes are likely to head in the direction of Gutierrez so by adjusting the numbers it could be a seriously tight result However, I will bring you all the analysis and post-election results in the next week’s episode.
In Brazil, the election race is warming up and so are the observers. According to many electoral authorities and organizations, both regionally and internationally – Brazil is expected to receive more than 100 election observers, after the viability of its electronic voting system has been called into question by current president Jair Bolsonaro.
Many expect him to reject the final vote in a move likened to President Trumps’ results rebuttal in the 2020 U.S. election.
Currently, former president and third term candidate, Lula Inacio Da Silva, is ahead in the polls at around 48% and looks set for a comfortable win.
Among the invited election observers include the OAS (Organisation of American States), Parlasur, and the Carter Center. All are renowned for their commitment to free and fair election reporting.
This all comes amidst a probe into the use of excessive force by the Brazilian Police force after onlookers saw 2 police bundle a man into the back of a police car and set off a teargas grenade. Later, the 38-year-old man was pronounced dead from asphyxiation.
Police violence is rarely reprimanded in Brazil and the disproportionate effect on Brazil’s Afro population is statistically clear, with over 80% of the victims being black.
A huge issue that Lula will no doubt have on his plate if he is to win October’s election.
In Bolivia, 52-year-old, Max Mendoza, a student of 32 years has been sent to San Pedro prison in Bolivia. He has never achieved a bachelor’s degree in all his attempts since 1990 but has held multiple student leadership posts – including the Presidency of the University Confederation. A post that pulled in over $3000 a month, so you can’t knock him for ingenuity but clearly a point of contention when you are earning 10 times the Bolivian minimum wage.
More than 20 U.S. states have filed lawsuits against president Bidens for lifting title 42, a public health order made during the Trump administration to close the border between the U.S. and Mexico. This will allow thousands of migrants to enter the United States after being halted by the covid-19 pandemic order.
Critics of Biden say this will put pressure on states to provide for migrants, increasing the strain on taxpayer funds – whilst others say the migrants will come anyway, keen to avoid the numerous accounts of torture, kidnapping, and extortion they face at the hands of people traffickers.
If it is a matter of money over human life – then it sounds no different to the U.S. gun lobby, which continues to prevent any change in gun laws and holds enormous power over Washington politicians.
This inaction from the right, despite a brutal shooting earlier this week in a majority Hispanic school, killing 19 people, is once again proof in the pudding that the dollar bill continues to be put first in the U.S.
The US is considering inviting a Cuban representative to the Americas summit after a wave of objections across the board considering the decision to not invite Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba initially.
Mexico, the United States’ biggest ally has been most vocal about not attending with AMLO heading objections.
This has made it far easier for other countries to waver including Brazil and Argentina who are clearly hesitant to come to the Los Angeles Summit but have said they will attend.
The Financial Times says it is supposed to show the US is back in its own neighbourhood, but I think this is precisely the problem. Latin American nations have grown weary of Trumps’ America First pivot and under Biden that shift back to internationalism has not been so bold.
Considering the $130 billion impact of Chinese investment in Latin America, it is no secret that much of the region is looking elsewhere for international support and seeing no need to join Biden’s soon-to-be ‘America-only’ party.