Thursday, June 27, 2013

Peru Pushes for More Investment; Banking Reform in Mexico; Golf Courses Part of Tourism Promotion in Cuba

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for June 26-28

Colombia's Peace Process Makes Significant Headway
After a half century of setbacks, so serious that they were manifested in a war that has taken a toll of hundreds of thousands of persons dead, exiled, or displaced, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the guerrillas of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) reached an initial agreement on the central issue of the conflict--which in 1964 led to the birth of the rebel organization: land ownership and use. On May 26, when the two sides, meeting for talks in Havana, Cuba, acknowledged signing the far-reaching agreement, the entire political spectrum, except the far right, applauded. Days later, on June 18, the government and the guerrillas resumed talks to work on the second point on the preset agenda: integration of the guerrillas into legal life and the guarantees they will receive, once demobilized, to participate in political activity. -Andrés Gaudín    Read More

Court Ruling, Political Potshots Challenge El Salvador’s 15-Month-Old Gang Truce
An experimental tregua (truce) signed last year by rival street gangs has cut El Salvador’s horrific homicide numbers by more than half. And yet, for all of its apparent success, the 15-month-old gang truce currently finds itself on shaky ground. A mid-May ruling by the Consejo Suprema de Justicia (CSJ) forced the government’s point man on the project, then Security Minister David Munguía Payés, to resign. Shortly afterwards, El Salvador’s main opposition party began to openly attack the truce, saying there will be "no more negotiating with criminals" should it win back the presidency in the February 2014 national elections. Gang leaders say they are still committed to the cease-fire, though just how much control they exercise over their tens of thousands of criminal underlings remains an open question. -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar      Read More

Mexican Candidate Loses Election to Head World Trade Organization to Brazilian Rival
President Enrique Peña Nieto was hoping that strong support from the US, the European Union (EU), and Japan would be sufficient to elect Mexico’s Herminio Blanco as director of the World Trade Organization (WTO). But the vote from those countries—which comprise the majority of the members of the Group of Eight (G8) nations—did not give Mexico’s former trade secretary enough votes to overcome the strong backing that Brazil’s Roberto Azevêdo received from African countries and members of the five-nation bloc of emerging economies (BRICS), which include Azevêdo’s home country of Brazil, plus Russia, India, China, and South Africa. -Carlos Navarro   Read More

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Declares Investment Promotion in "National Interest"
With the aim of reversing economic actors' loss of confidence following the slowdown in economic growth in the first quarter of this year, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala in late May declared investment to be in the national interest and announced seven measures to boost it. The measures announced by the president include creating a task force to oversee mining-investment projects in energy and infrastructure. The president also announced a supreme decree aimed at reducing bureaucratic hurdles for obtaining approval for environmental impact studies (estudios de impacto ambiental, EIAs). The decree calls for approving EIAs in less than 100 days. -Elsa Chanduví Jaña     Read More

Cuba Gambles on Golf and Moneyed Travelers to Increase Tourism Industry Income
Banned by Cuba's communist government for more than five decades, golf has returned to the island in style and has become the tourism industry's new, big venture. It is projected that the construction of eleven golf courses at five-star megadevelopments will attract well-heeled tourists who will leave more cash on the island. The Cuban government is holding talks with a dozen foreign companies, including Canadian, French, Italian, and Spanish firms, regarding the creation of eleven golf-related real estate developments, according to sources within the Ministerio de Turismo and as quoted by the official newspaper Granma. -Daniel Vázquez    Read More

President Enrique Peña Nieto, Congress Considering Reforms to Banking System that Would Boost Lower-Cost Credit, Promote Growth
In early May, President Enrique Peña Nieto and leaders of the three major parties teamed up to introduce a banking-reform bill that would boost bank loans in a country where credit availability is far behind other major economies in Latin America. Among other things, the legislation would offer commercial banks more incentives to lend to individuals and businesses as well as increase the role of government development banks in helping expand credit. The measure, which has yet to reach the floor of the Chamber of Deputies, also contains clauses that would increase the accessibility and accountability of financial institutions. -Carlos Navarro    Read More

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