The Latin American Report # 127

in Deep Dives3 months ago (edited)


The battle for a mining contract in Panamá threatens to go to international courts

First Quantum Minerals (FQM), a Canadian company that manages the largest open-pit copper mine in Central America, notified the Government of Laurentino Cortizo of its intention to introduce an arbitration process, due to the practical impossibility of maintaining its commercial operations as a result of the blockades carried out by certain Panamanian civil society groups. The problem here is an agreement that FQM signed with the Government, considered as beeing too much favorable for the former, and also harmful to the environment. The Canadian company's complaint would be based on an alleged violation of the bilateral Free Trade Agreement in force since 2013. The Supreme Court is currently assessing the constitutionality of the agreement, as part of the State's response to the enormous social pressure that has been sustained since October. The blockades in particular have resulted in a stress on local and international supply chains—there is talk of some 1.7 billion dollars in losses—, with some protests that have turned violent due to both police repression and the attitude at times of the demonstrators, who reportedly threw stones at a bus carrying local mining workers on Sunday, injuring eight of them.


Panamanians have been protesting massively against the contract approved in favor of FQM for more than a month now (source of the image).

Another blow to drug trafficking in Costa Rica

Authorities in the Central American country have dealt another blow to criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking, with the raid of some thirty establishments belonging to a gang that in addition to drug trafficking also laundered money, and has certain responsibility for the murders of three people who were part of it. The investigation that led to Monday's raid took almost three years and resulted in the arrest of 15 individuals, including Costa Rican natives and Colombians, who "imported" cocaine—destined for "re-export"—and marijuana—destined for the local market—from Colombia, using speedboats that plied the Pacific. The Judicial Investigation Agency plans to seize real estate and vehicles that were used in the illegal activity, among other assets. According to authorities, six out of ten homicides in the country are related to drug trafficking, whose managers have assimilated the practices and methods of Mexican cartels.


Costa Rican authorities are on a crusade against drug trafficking organizations (source of the image).

Paraguay to acquire radars to expand surveillance coverage

Authorities in Asunción have recognized that the country lacks the technology to monitor the sky covering some 90,000 hectares in the desert area of Chaco, where clandestine airstrips proliferate so "anyone can go up and down". Paraguay, therefore, must rely on the surveillance systems of Brazil and Argentina to achieve full protection of its jurisdiction. "We are going to buy our own radars, to have sovereignty over our skies and to cover our entire geography, without the need for neighboring radars", the Minister of the Interior told a local radio station. The chronic lack of primary radars means that the country is unable to deal more successfully with "unfriendly flights", in which the pilot tries to evade the control of the authorities.

A spokesman for Latin American interests

For the time being, I believe that the administration of the current President Santiago Peña has been very successful. Along the way—indirectly—he even has been pointing out the governmental debts of the outgoing one, even though they represent the same Colorado Party, although from different factions. Today he was in the Vatican meeting with Pope Francis, discussing critical issues such as the fight against poverty, a scourge that affects almost a quarter of Paraguayans. During the dialogue, Peña presented himself as an effective mediator so that Latin American presidents can discuss common problems and challenges without differences blocking consensus. He shows a very interesting vocation for integration, exemplified with the relationship he is building with presidents such as Lula or the Chilean Boric, who come from political worldviews very different from the conservatism he represents. He has proposed to Milei to also appeal to that dynamic in his foreign policy.


Santiago Peña with Pope Francis this Monday (source).

"We are at (war) with ourselves"

We spend little time in the Caribbean in our reports. There, countries like Jamaica are also trying every day to wash away the wounds produced by the inability to achieve a harmonious, organic social development. The fastest nation in the world lives a bleak picture in terms of security, shamefully closing the top 10 countries with the highest crime rates globally. "Jamaica is not a country that is at war, but our murder rate, our deaths from violence, is equivalent to countries that are at war", said Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who is proposing to integrate certain government agencies into one Ministry to control this "epidemic". Both in 2022 and also in this year, more than 1100 murders have been counted, according to the police. What seems important to me is that Holness' perspective is not to fight crime per se, but to look for the roots of the phenomenon, which he finds in the development of families and communities (the new agency could be named "Ministry of Peace and Human Development").

#Jamaica | Jamaican authorities are now working to amend the gun control law to tighten regulations as part of efforts to reduce the high crime rate on the country's streets.https://t.co/aOKcRJf9iF

— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) November 24, 2023

Your quick regional roundup

  • In Perú, the attorney general dismissed a prosecutor who was investigating her for leading a network that coordinated with legislators the appointment or dismissal of key judicial officials. The congressmen, by supporting the attorney general's efforts, allegedly got rid of investigations against them. Corruption again and again hovering over the Andean nation. At the same time, the same head of the Public Prosecutor's Office denounced the disputed president Dina Boluarte before Congress, for the death of about 50 Peruvians during the protests following the chaotic departure from power of the now imprisoned former president Pedro Castillo.

  • The U.S. Government once again suspended the processing of vehicles arriving from México through the Eagle Pass International Bridge 1, in Texas, due to a new escalation in the arrival of undocumented migrants that "requires" the temporary movement of agents. The migratory crisis has not stopped, and it is very unlikely that it will do so as long as there is no comprehensive improvement of life in the main sending countries.

  • Finally, the Ecuadorian Congress will resume the political trial against the now former president Guillermo Lasso, although the repercussions of an eventual sentence against him—for the crime of embezzlement—would be his disqualification to hold political office. Let us recall that in view of the progress of the trial against him by the previous legislature, Lasso appealed to the constitutional resource of "cross death", dissolving the Congress and calling for early elections, which were surprisingly won by a young Daniel Noboa, who is trying to move forward a country immersed in violence and poverty.

And this is all for our report today. 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.



Edited with Canva.


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