Category Archives: Central America

All Aboard Miami: All Aboard

What do you get if you put Hitachi’s Japanese engineers, their counterparts from the Italian rail firm Ansaldo, a schoolgirl choir and the mayor of Miami together in the swamps of Florida?

A new metrorail system that Miami’s urban planners hope will bring commuting from the city to its ribbons of suburbs into the 21st century.

But behind the hoopla and celebration surrounding the $375m project unveiled last week is a serious effort to switch US commuters in a major regional city from overcrowded, inefficient and polluting dependence on cars to a model that resembles the European or Asian adoption of mass transit.

Miami, like many other cities across the US, is attempting to redress decades of under-investment in the sector. While cities such as Charlotte, San Diego and Dallas have been successful with the new light rail commuter-moving systems, other cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC, report falling rider numbers despite enormous and costly efforts by transportation officials to entice people out of their cars.

There have been other, unsuccessful attempts to build a light rail in Miami and other cities have run into issues with their own plans, but the engineers here are quietly optimistic that any incoming administration will increase infrastructure budgets, some of which would be targeted to mass transit.

Hillary Clinton has vowed to increase federal funding by $275bn over a five-year period, warning “it is not possible to remain economically competitive in a very, very competitive global economy if we don’t have the infrastructure we need”.

Here on the border of the Everglades, the gleaming new blue and silver cars look enticing: clean-running, silent, with free Wi-Fi and other enticements, but will they help turn the tide against Miami’s congested roadways?

The city’s construction boom has caused chaos on its roads. Coupled with fears that rising sea levels could begin to make tidal flooding more frequent, as well as the intermittent threat of hurricanes, have added to the incentive to overhaul its transportation systems.

For Hitachi, which now owns Italian manufacturer Ansaldo, is looking for deeper penetration in the US market. Current projects include a driverless system in Honolulu scheduled to open next year.

“We believe the rail business in the US is sustainable and growing because many cities have a mass transit system,” noted Kentaro Masai, head of Hitachi global rail. “We’ve already received support from the government, but were optimistic that ridership, especially among young people, will grow. There are challenges but we are optimistic.”

Read Edward Helmore, The Guardian article here:
http://read.bi/1TeIjts


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Haiti in Club Med Revival: Destination Haiti

Haiti in Club Med Revival: Destination Haiti

Lucio Garcia-Mansilla had long heard about the former Club Med property tucked along the Haitian Riviera, 123 acres lined with lush vegetation and a mile-long expanse of white sand.
But it wasn’t until decades later — when Haiti’s investment climate began to welcome international brands — that the Argentine founder of Colombia-based Decameron Hotels & Resorts would get there.

Read Jacqueline Charles’ article here:
http://hrld.us/1WCIo9d

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Turkey Spends Over $1M on its New, Miami Embassy. I Think They’ll Stay for Awhile

If you spend money in a place, it usually means you like it.  If you spend a lot of money in a place, it usually means you’ll be staying for a while.  With the new non-stop airline route from MIA to Ankarra, I think the Turks are getting comfortable in Miami.

Amicon Construction is putting the finishing touches on Turkey’s new Miami consulate. Turkish-born and U.S.-based Murat Mutlu designed the 7,500-square-foot space in the Brickell City Tower, at 80 Southwest Eighth Street.

The Consulate General of the Republic of Turkey’s new consulate features a modern, monochromatic design, and ballistic-rated glass, wall paneling and doors, Amicon project manager Jay Richmond told The Real Deal. He said the cost of the buildout was more than $1 million. It includes a reception area with multiple teller stations. “When you’re doing a high-security buildout, you’re dealing with materials from specialty manufacturers with long lead times,” Richmond said.

While the space opened in time for the Turkish election in November, the consulate is still tweaking finishes and has yet to hold a grand opening reception. Other tenants of the 33-story office building include Uber, Verizon, Lamex Agrifoods, Inlingua Language School, Chase Bank, Moye restaurant, the Beacon Council and the Consulate General of Japan.

Property records show that Banyan Street Capital owns the building. Danet Linares, vice chair of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, is the building’s exclusive leasing agent. Linares told TRD Brickell City Tower is currently 87 percent occupied with two new leases that will bring its occupancy up to 93 percent.

The Turkish consulate signed a 10-year lease about a year ago and moved into a temporary space in the building before the new office was ready. “Their space required a complete renovation,” Linares said. Amicon also built out the space of the French consulate in the Espirito Santo building nearby at 1395 Brickell Avenue.

Read Katherine Kallergis The Real Deal article here:

http://bit.ly/1QVwrLm

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Venezuelan strives for better U.S. relations

Maximilien Arvelaiz does not look or sound like a hardened socialist tactician going toe-to-toe with the U.S. government.

Instead of military garb emblazoned with medallions, the young Venezuelan diplomat wears designer suits and vintage glasses. His talk isn’t peppered with vitriolic attacks on Yankee imperialism, but with references to pop culture and U.S. television.

Yet Arvelaiz, 43, is at the center of one of the most acrimonious relationships in the Western Hemisphere. For the last year and a half, Arvelaiz has been working behind the scenes trying to re-establish a functional relationship with U.S. officials.

Read FRANCO ORDOÑEZ article here:
http://bit.ly/1OCxVrw

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Colombia glitters abroad amid grumpiness at home

By any yardstick, Colombia is poised for a stellar year. It’s expected to sign a peace deal that will end the hemisphere’s oldest civil conflict, have the re-gion’s strongest economy, and play host to high-profile visits from both Pope Francis and President Barack Obama. To top it off, it’s even in the running for an Oscar.

But talk to people on the street and the mood is de-cidedly sour. Pocketbooks have been strained by the twin woes of a devalued currency and nagging infla-tion. And an El Niño-related drought is threatening water and energy shortages.

In that sense, Colombia is likely to have both a ban-ner and a bummer of a year. And whichever senti-ment tips the balance could have deep repercussions for President Juan Manuel Santos.

Read JIM WYSS Miami Herald article here:
http://bit.ly/1OuHpoL

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China not Amused by Taiwan’s 1st Female President

China not Amused by Taiwan’s 1st Female President

“Sisters are doing it for themselves”, and their broth-ers seem not to be cool with that. For example, Tai-wan elected Tsai Ing-wen as its first female presi-dent Saturday, handing her pro-independence party its first majority in the national legislature and reject-ing the China-friendly party that has led the self-governing island for eight years.

The result seems to be deeply unsettling to China, which may respond by further reducing Taipei’s al-ready limited ability to win diplomatic allies and participate in international organizations.

In a statement issued after Tsai’s win, the Chinese Cabinet’s body for handling Taiwan affairs reaf-firmed its opposition to Taiwan independence, but said it would work to maintain peace and stability between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. It’s the Asian Century just in case you’re not paying attention.

Read ABC News Christopher Bodeen and Ralph Jennings article here:
http://abcn.ws/1Q4vLRL

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Belize Borders on Broke

Beautiful Belize is known for its diving, its wildlife, and its lose banking regulations.  Soon, it could be known as being bankrupt!  The country, which is seeking restructuring of its $544 million ‘superbond’ has a 30-day grace period to make a payment that was due Monday.  A default by Belize won’t have the ripple effect of a Greece’s economic melodrama, but it sure won’t be fun.

Read Mimi Whitefield’s Miami Herald article here:

http://hrld.us/NDh4Zs

Brought to you by Bob Arnold from Miami International Business Attorney.

Panama and U.S. Trade Deal Soon To Go Live

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk was in town recently. Among his messages:  He expects the long-delayed U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement to go into effect shortly.  Shortly thereafter, Panama will finally be annexed as the 51st U.S. state.  That last part is not true, but it seems like it could be.

Read Mimi Whitefield’s Miami Herald article here:

http://hrld.us/Vb6LfY

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In Nicaragua, Artisanal Chocolate at the Source

Cooking traditions usually survive if they are half decent, or part of some kind of ritual.  In a small corner of the world in Nicaragua, one tradition which has survived is both heavenly and divine.  It involves chocolate!  A Nicaraguan company makes high-end chocolate in the Mesoamerican heart of cacao bean.  Doesn’t it make your mouth water?

Read Tim Johnson’s Miami Herald article here:

http://bit.ly/R0zekw

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Panama is Hotter than Miami, Literally and Financially

You don’t know from heat until you’ve been to Panama in the summer.  Now, many foreign investors – including U.S. retirees – are heating things up financially in Panama as well.

Imaginate, hotter than Miami?!  If you’ve witnessed the real estate cycle in Miami in the last few years, you’ll be familiar with the real estate market in Panama.  The shifting tides of Panama’s real estate market reflect trends in Miami, just a little further south in latitude, and a few degrees north on the thermometer.

Read Mimi Whitefield’s Miami Herald article here:

http://hrld.us/11kUVSB

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