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Dealflow.la #23 - A South American 🌎 common currency, Brazil’s Supreme Court 🇧🇷 fines Telegram, & Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 privatizes their crumbling power grid.
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Crecy 🇲🇽 raised a $150,000 Venture Round with funding from Ris3 Labs 🇺🇸 to. build a crypto-backed credit card service intended to offer alternative loans for workers in the gig economy. The company's platform provides access to formal credit products and financial education for people living in Mexico by leveraging open banking and gig platforms' application programming interface, enabling users to get approved loans easily without any hassle.
Littio 🇨🇴 raised a $500,000 Convertible Note from Y Combinator 🇺🇸 to protect money without any hidden costs. The company's application helps people to protect themselves from currency devaluation and improve financial health, enabling users to generate returns in digital dollars.
Leadster 🇧🇷 raised a $685,000 Seed Round led by FGV Ventures 🇧🇷 with funding from Silver Angels 🇧🇷 and Gvangles 🇧🇷 to convert leads via dialogue-driven activities and customize the approach for each visitor according to the origin of access, page visited, and device, enabling businesses to offer an automatic interactive interface that optimizes conversions.
Milio 🇨🇴 raised a $1 Million Convertible Note from Y Combinator 🇺🇸 to provide simple, digital, and interest-free loans under a "buy now, pay later" modality. The company's platform unlocks the potential of B2B commerce in Latin America, by offering embedded B2B payments and lending infrastructure that enables customers to defer the sale in several installments in a quick, easy way and without hidden costs, without any risk to the buyer and seller.
Medsí 🇲🇽 raised a $10 Million Debt Financing from CAPEM Mexico 🇲🇽 to offer credit for patients' treatment or surgery. The company offers financing services for medical treatments, aesthetics, and cosmetic procedures via online loans, helping patients and their families defer the cost of medical and cosmetic procedures.
Genial Care 🇧🇷 raised a $10 Million Venture Round from General Catalyst 🇺🇸 to provide autism care services intended to transform the lives of children with developmental difficulties. The company's services include a network of physical and digital clinics, parent training, an internal academy for therapist training, and personalized care, enabling kids and their families to reach their full potential.
Scanntech 🇺🇾 raised a $41 Million Venture Round with funding from Warburg Pincus 🇺🇸, IFC Venture Capital Group 🇺🇸, and Endeavor Catalyst 🇺🇸 to build point-of-sale software for retail stores. The company offers tech solutions and connectivity in sales points to enable independent supermarkets to process transactions, run inventory management, and provide financial services to consumers through intelligence point-of-sale software.
Argentina and Brazil are discussing plans for a common currency — analysts can scarcely believe it. Analysts are highly skeptical, dismissing the proposal as “pie in the sky.” Argentina and Brazil, the two largest economies in South America, are in early talks to create a common currency, as part of a coordinated bid to reduce reliance on the U.S. dollar. (CNBC)
For another perspective: Some of the world’s top economists have weighed in on Argentina and Brazil’s plan for a common currency: ‘This is insane’ (Fortune/Yahoo)
Argentina sets high hopes on cannabis exports with budding new agency. Argentina on Wednesday launched the first working group of a new national agency to regularize and promote the country's nascent cannabis industry, which ministers hope will create new jobs and exports generating fresh income for the South American nation. "This opens the door for Argentina to start a new path in terms of industrial exports, on the basis of huge global demand," said Economy Minister Sergio Massa in a conference launching the national hemp and cannabis agency, ARICCAME. (Reuters)
US reissues travel advisory for Bolivia amid protests. The State Department reissued its Level 2 warning for the country, advising travelers to "Exercise Increased Caution" due to civil unrest. Across the country, Bolivians participated in a "national assembly" led by the opposition Wednesday to discuss proposals, including whether or not to resume protests that began in December following the arrest of Santa Cruz Gov. Luis Fernando Camacho. Protesters ended blockades earlier this month that had largely isolated the rich Santa Cruz region from the rest of Bolivia for more than 15 days, but leaders said the roadblocks could resume to press demands that the government free the region’s governor. (USA Today)
Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes fined the messaging app Telegram on Wednesday for not suspending the account of a far-right elected official and social media influencer, according to a statement from the Supreme Court. Earlier in January, the court ordered Telegram to suspend Nikolas Ferreira’s accounts and others “to stop the spread of criminal manifestations,” the statement said. Failure to suspend Ferreira’s account “is considered indirect collaboration to the continuing of criminal activities,” the court said. Ferreira, a federal representative from the state of Minas Gerais, has more than 300,000 subscribers on Telegram, 3.6 million followers on Tik Tok, and over 6 million followers on Instagram. He tends to post evangelical and far-right content, and support for former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (CNN)
Brazilian ex-senator takes over as Petrobras CEO; shares fall. The board of directors of Petrobras on Thursday approved former Senator Jean Paul Prates as the firm's chief executive, marking a strategic shift for the state-run Brazilian oil company. A longtime energy consultant-turned-politician, Prates was tapped for the top Petrobras job by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and is expected to oversee a strategic shift to more renewable energy projects and renewed investments in refining. (Reuters)
Brazil police: Businessman ordered killings of men in Amazon. Brazilian police said Monday they planned to indict a Colombian fish trader as the mastermind of last year’s slayings of Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips. Ruben Dario da Silva Villar provided the ammunition to kill the pair, made phone calls to the confessed killer before and after the crime, and paid his lawyer, federal police officials said during a press conference held in Manaus. (AP)
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva fired Brazil’s army chief Saturday just days after the leftist leader openly said that some military members allowed the Jan. 8 uprising in the capital by far-right protesters. The official website of the Brazilian armed forces said Gen. Julio Cesar de Arruda had been removed as head of the army. He was replaced by Gen. Tomás Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, who was head of the Southeast Military Command. Lula, who did not comment publicly on the firing, met with Defense Minister Jose Mucio, chief of staff Rui Costa, and the new army commander in Brasilia at the end of the day. Speaking to journalists afterward, Mucio said the Jan. 8 riots had caused “a fracture in the level of trust” in the army’s top levels and the government decided a change was needed. (AP)
Crime and inflation hammer support for Chile's Boric in tough first year. (Reuters)
38-year-old Staten Island lawyer killed while traveling abroad in Chile. "What they told us is my son was innocently walking down the street, paused for a moment, took a snapshot of a building in a drug-infested area," Garvin said. "And immediately following that, three gentlemen came across the street grabbed my son and stole his phone and shot him three times and he died there on the scene." (ABC)
Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s proposed modifications to the Bogota metro would cost the nation as much as $3.3 Billion extra, according to a government official. Since he was mayor of Bogota, Petro has argued that the system should be underground to reduce the impact on the capital, Transport Minister Guillermo Reyes told Blu Radio. (Bloomberg)
Colombia seized more cocaine in 2022 than any other year on record, the South American country's defense ministry reported Saturday. Security forces seized 671 tonnes of the drug last year, surpassing the 2021 total by about 1.7 tonnes. "It is necessary to combat the illicit income that comes from drug trafficking, which generates evil in our country," said Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez, quoted in the ministry's statement. He credited authorities for the "great results." (Reuters)
Colombia must strengthen the rule of law and the state's presence to tackle violence in areas affected by the country's internal armed conflict, Volker Turk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Wednesday. Turk spoke in Bogota after visiting members of the Andean country's government, including President Gustavo Petro, and praised the leftist leader's pledge to implement total peace throughout the country. (Reuters)
Global food giant Nestle is set to invest $100 million over the next three years in its Colombian operations, President Gustavo Petro said on Friday, part of his push to boost industrialization. The Colombian leader outlined the announcement in a post on Twitter late Friday. The new investment plan builds on $13 million already spent by the world's largest food and beverage producer in the South American country, the government said in a statement, with the new funds to be focused on increasing production capacity and updating technology. (Reuters/US News)
Ecuador's government said on Thursday it has declared illegal mining a national security threat, saying it has connections to money laundering and arms trafficking and said it will take actions to combat it. President Guillermo Lasso is looking to tamp down growing illegal mining activity in various places around the South American country, especially in the Amazon, where there are large reserves of gold and copper. (Reuters/US News)
🇸🇻 El Salvador
Human Rights Watch says it has obtained a database leaked from El Salvador's government that corroborates massive due process violations, severe prison overcrowding, and deaths in custody under the emergency powers put in place last March to confront a surge in gang violence. The global human rights organization said Friday that the database from the Ministry of Public Safety lists details about some 50,000 people arrested between the implementation of the state of exception in late March through late August. (ABC)
Honduran lawmakers will begin choosing the 15 members of a new Supreme Court this week in a process with implications for the administration of President Xiomara Castro, who promised a sharp break with her predecessor’s “dictatorship.” If lawmakers from Castro’s Liberty and Refoundation party, LIBRE, give her control of the high court, she will have the same lock on all three branches of government that President Juan Orlando Hernández enjoyed before her. It was that control that allowed Hernández to seek re-election to a second term despite Honduras’ constitutional ban. He now awaits trial in the United States on drug trafficking charges. (AP)
Mexico City prosecutors said Friday that severed cables and a speeding driver were responsible for a Jan. 7 subway crash that killed one person and injured dozens. One subway train slammed into another between stations, leading city officials to suspect sabotage, though many city residents see the problem as a lack of maintenance. Prosecution spokesman Ulises Lara said a cable serving the subway’s control system was found damaged by “intentional burning and cutting.” He said an investigation into possible sabotage would be opened. But Lara also said the driver of the train that rear-ended another would be charged with homicide and causing injuries. Lara said the driver may have broken a 22-mile-per-hour speed limit. Problems with the signaling system were known before the crash, and drivers were also supposed to wait for orders to proceed, even if they had a green light. The driver in this case may not have obeyed those instructions. (ABC)
The ‘North Koreanization’ of Ortega’s Nicaragua. New restrictions are being imposed on travelers with cameras and binoculars as the regime attempts to restrict reporting on the repression. (ABC)
A judge in Nicaragua's capital, Managua, on Thursday sentenced two French citizens to eight years in jail, according to a human rights group, on charges of conspiracy amid a wave of convictions against relatives of jailed or exiled opponents. Jeannine Horvilleur and her daughter Ana Alvarez, the wife and daughter, respectively, of an exiled opposition leader, were arrested last September and charged with conspiracy and undermining the nation's integrity, an accusation that President Daniel Ortega's administration has repeatedly leveled against opponents. (Reuters)
Counterfeiting, contraband, cocaine: how Panama’s trade hub lost its luster. (The Guardian)
Two sons of Panama’s ex-President Ricardo Martinelli are expected to return to the country after completing prison sentences in the United States for their involvement in an international corruption scandal. Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares and Ricardo Martinelli Linares are slated to arrive in Panama on Wednesday evening after being released earlier in the day, shortly before the completion of their three-year prison sentence in the US. (Al Jazeera)
The United States issued sanctions against Paraguay’s former President Horacio Cartes Jara and current Vice President Hugo Velázquez Moreno on Thursday, unveiling explosive accusations that they participated in widespread schemes of corruption and have ties to members of a terrorist organization. Cartes and Velázquez have been involved “in systemic corruption that has undermined democratic institutions in Paraguay” and have ties to members of Hezbollah, which the United States designates as a terrorist organization, the Treasury Department said. As a result, “these two people are now blocked from using the United States financial system,” Marc Ostfield, US ambassador in Paraguay, said at a news conference. (Washington Post)
Peru has withdrawn its ambassador from Honduras, as Peru’s crackdown on protesters draws criticism from left-wing governments across Latin America. In a social media post on Thursday, Peru’s foreign ministry stated that it was pulling Ambassador Jorge Raffo out of Honduras due to the country’s “unacceptable interference” in Peru’s internal affairs. “As a consequence of the position adopted by Honduras, bilateral relations with said country will be maintained, indefinitely, at the level of charge d’affaires,” the foreign ministry said on Twitter. Leftist leaders from countries such as Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia, and Colombia have criticized the government of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte as security forces use lethal force against protesters calling for her removal from office. About 56 people have been killed as the government steps up efforts to contain the protests, which began on December 7, when former President Pedro Castillo attempted to dissolve Peru’s Congress as the legislature met to vote on his impeachment. Castillo’s move was widely decried as illegal, and he was impeached and arrested. Protests over his detention — spurred forward by poor, rural Peruvians who see Castillo as a victim of a corrupt establishment — have called for the removal of Boluarte, who was sworn in after Castillo’s impeachment. (Al Jazeera)
🇵🇷 Puerto Rico
A new private company will take over power generation units owned by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the public corporation currently in charge of generating energy on the U.S. territory. Genera PR, an independently managed subsidiary of the New York-based energy company New Fortress Inc., has been awarded a multimillion-dollar 10-year contract to operate, maintain and decommission the power generation units on the island. The power generation equipment in Puerto Rico, plagued by ongoing blackouts and decaying infrastructure, is on average about 45 years old — twice the age of those on the U.S. mainland. Some of them have been found to be six decades old. (NBC)
Pending legislation in Puerto Rico would limit the use of short-term rentals in residential areas to 30 percent of the property, a move that an Airbnb official characterized as a “defacto prohibition.” “Thousands of properties in Puerto Rico could be deleted or eliminated, which provide this service, which welcome millions of visitors to Puerto Rico, who have been part of the success of Puerto Rican tourism,” said Carlos Muñoz , Airbnb’s director of public policy and communications for Central America and the Caribbean. House bill 1557, which was introduced in November, would require hosts who seek to use more than 30 percent of their space for short-term rentals to apply for a permit to change the designated use from residential to commercial.
The legislation is geared to thwart short-term rentals’ sometimes-disruptive impact on neighborhoods, including house parties, affordable housing shortages, and escalating rents. (Skift)
The new president of Venezuela's opposition legislature is confident the United States will back the body by continuing to protect foreign assets like oil refiner Citgo Petroleum from creditors, she said on Friday. Venezuela owes more than $60 billion to creditors and is facing legal judgements over nationalizations and delayed bond payments. (Reuters)
The Biden administration has granted a license to Trinidad and Tobago to develop a major gas field located in Venezuelan territorial waters, U.S. and Trinidad's officials said on Tuesday, marking a further easing of some sanctions on Venezuela. The license, issued by the U.S. Treasury Department at Trinidad's request and intended to enhance Caribbean regional energy security, means the island nation can do business related to the Dragon gas field with Venezuela's heavily sanctioned state-run oil company PDVSA. (Reuters)
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