Category Archives: Latin America

Venezuela is Part Nation/Part Disaster/All Tragedy

Obviously in Miami, I meet, know, and do business with a lot of Venezuelans. I’ve been reluctant to read anything about the country on the fear that the news will be bad. Well, even so, there are people doing business successfully in Venezuela, and Venezuelans finding opportunities outside of Venezuela. If you’d like to see how, don’t be shy about contacting us.

Venezuela’s President Maduro wants to raise oil prices to $70 – and fast. His plan, announced on Venezuelan television this week, is to somehow stabilize oil prices despite weak demand and near record production from Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran over the past several months. Maduro has a phone and he is using it (when the electricity works) to call every OPEC oil minister and some non-OPEC oil ministers to talk about cutting production. Not only is this strategy going to fail (the most important producing countries are not incentivized to freeze or cut production now), but Venezuela’s oil problems run much deeper.

Venezuela’s great paradox is that it holds the worlds’ largest known oil reserves yet cannot feed its own citizens or keep the lights on in its major cities. Riots around the country are laying bare the effects of corruption and decades of socialist policies. Venezuela’s oil production has been declining for years, going from 3.3 million barrels a day in 1997 to about 1.9 million barrels a day in 2016. Venezuela cannot afford to produce the oil it needs to sell. It costs approximately $18 to produce a barrel of oil in Venezuela, but not all of that cost is due to Chavez and Maduro’s policies. Most of Venezuela’s reserves consist of oil that is expensive to recover, making it less valuable (when still in the ground) and more difficult to exploit.

Venezuela became a major oil producer when easily recoverable oil was discovered in Lake Maracaibo in 1914. Venezuela knew it had heavy oil in the Orinoco Belt, but this oil is difficult and expensive to retrieve. In 2006, the national oil company started accessing it, meaning that Venezuela’s recoverable oil reserves rival Saudi Arabia’s. However, production from the Orinoco Belt is still extremely costly.

Oil production from tar sands is one of the more expensive forms of oil production today. The procedures used to extract oil from the tar sands are expensive. Moreover, once extracted, the heavy oil must be blended for most uses. When the average price of oil was in the upper $20/barrel range, Venezuela was losing money with each sale.

Read Forbes article here:

http://bit.ly/2bblzeH

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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New Congress in Venezuela Anticipates Tension

Venezuela

Well, yeah, what did you expect?

In what’s likely a sign of things to come, the inaugural session of Venezuela’s National Assembly on Tuesday devolved into shouting, shoving and recrimination as the opposition took control of the body for the first time in 17 years.

The ruling-party delegation, long accustomed to holding sway in the legislature, stormed out of congress as they accused their rivals of violating internal regulations.

But beyond the posturing and brinkmanship, the opposition bloc laid out the guidelines of what they said would be their program to rescue the country.

Read Jim Wyss’ Miami Herald article here:
hrld.us/1Zc9N72

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Panama Keeps It’s Eyes on the Chinese in Nicaragua

For a long time, there has only been one game in town for global players in the international shipping business in this Hemisphere.  Now with the help of a visionary and deep-pocketed Chinese partner, Nicaragua is threatening to upset the apple cart.  When  it comes to interoceanic canals, Panamanians speak with a century of experience. So as nearby Nicaragua moves ahead with a plan to build what it claims would be a bigger, better canal, some Panamanians look on with interest and puzzlement. “We take the possibility of construction of a canal in Nicaragua very seriously,” said Francisco J. Miguez, executive vice president for finance and administration of the Panama Canal Authority.  Was it Glen Frey, “Everybody’s talking ‘bout the new kid in town,”, and the old kid is getting uncomfortable.

 

Read Tim Johnson’s Miami Herald article here:

http://hrld.us/1DCkQJR

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Bacardi Rum Gets Design Makeover

To paraphrase: “A Rum by any other label, would still taste as sweet.” After more than a decade, Bacardi Rum is getting a redesign. The company announced Wednesday on its 153rd anniversary that it’s releasing new packaging with an Art Deco-influenced style. The Bacardi bat logo represents good fortune, good health and family unity and was influenced by drawings from the early 1900s. The label draws from fonts used at the Art Deco El Edificio Bacardi, the brand’s former sales office and bar in Havana, Cuba.

Read Rebecca Savransky’s Miami Herald article here:

http://hrld.us/1CBGAXu

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