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Dealflow.la #25 - Mafia-led Russian 🇷🇺 birth tourism in Argentina 🇦🇷, Murdered mayoral candidate 🇲🇽 wins election, & US 🇺🇸 takes custody of Venezuelan 🇻🇪 Embassy in Washington D.C.
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Talent Academy 🇧🇷 raised a $580,000 Seed round led by ACE Startups 🇧🇷 with funding from Bossanova Investimentos 🇧🇷 and 1289 Capital 🇧🇷 to build a talent development, consulting, and career counseling platform. The company's platform offers online tools of assessment, coaching, and e-learning to help employees find and connect with their purpose, enabling businesses to increase engagement, development, and retention by supporting workers to achieve their career goals.
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Paketá 🇧🇷 raised a $3.1 Million Series A round led by IOB Group 🇧🇷 to offer credit payroll to employees through their employer. The company's platform facilitates the work by providing a simple and functional tool that accelerates employees' dreams through payroll loans and financial education content through a fully digital environment, enabling clients to manage the payroll loan benefit easily.
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tembici. 🇧🇷 raised a $31 Million Venture round with funding from The Brazilian Development Bank 🇧🇷 to provide micro-mobility services intended to facilitate the integration of the bicycle with the urban transport network. The company's transport services provide shared electric bikes renting and parking lots, enabling public and private spaces and residential and corporate clients to move in urban areas comfortably without using much space.
Argentine officials are expressing concern over the large number of pregnant Russian women who have recently entered the country to give birth as a way to obtain an Argentine passport, claiming three Russian spies who were recently detained in Slovenia were citizens of the South American country. (AP)
Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay make a joint 2030 World Cup bid. The South American nations will compete against a joint bid by Spain, Portugal, and Ukraine to host the tournament in its 100th year; 100 years after the first tournament was held in Montevideo, Uruguay. (Al Jazeera)
Argentina's government wants to boost relations with the People's Republic of Bangladesh and will re-open its Embassy in Dhaka as it seeks to capitalize on the furor in the Asian country's following last year's World Cup win in Qatar. The national side – and especially star forward Lionel Messi – has a massive fanbase in the South Asian country, where cricket is king but football is building a devoted following. Millions of Bangladeshis threw their support behind the Albiceleste during the Qatar 2022 World Cup. The extent of the support was even remarked upon by President Alberto Fernández, who expressed his gratitude to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a series of messages. (BA Times)
Suffering under the worst heat wave in more than six decades, Argentina has issued health warnings to nine southern and central provinces, the National Meteorological Service, said Saturday. This is the eighth heat wave to hit the country in this Southern Hemisphere summer, with temperatures close to 40ºC/104ºF. (VOA)
Argentina's center-left President Alberto Fernandez will elevate the country's current spy chief to lead the Cabinet, an important reshuffle as the embattled Peronist government looks to win back voters ahead of an October general election. The Peronists, Argentina's foremost political power, are reeling in opinion polls with inflation running at nearly 100% and fears over increasing debt, with infighting between factions over who should even be its main presidential candidate. The Peronists were badly beaten in 2021 congressional elections, which showed the conservative opposition well ahead. The main opposition party, however, also has yet to unite behind a single candidate, leaving many questions open about the race. (Reuters)
Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro said on Saturday he plans to return to Brazil "in the coming weeks," after having spent more than a month in the United States. Bolsonaro flew to Florida two days before incumbent Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as the new president on Jan 1, and later applied for a six-month tourist visa to continue his stay in the United States. "There is no place like home ... We know Brazil is a fantastic country," Bolsonaro told a gathering of Brazilians in Boca Raton. (Reuters)
Lula meets with Biden at the White House. Earlier in the day Lula met Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, where they discussed how to increase international cooperation to protect the Amazon and preserve the environment for future generations. Lula also had talks with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been a staunch voice against the U.S. granting refuge to Bolsonaro. (NPR)
At least 26 dead and 2,000 injured as wildfires rage out of control across Chile. More than 889,000 acres of forests have been destroyed so far. Over 1,500 homes have also been completely destroyed by the fires, leaving thousands more homeless as a heatwave has enveloped the region with temperatures reaching upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. (ABC)
Chilean parties split over candidates for upcoming constitutional rewrite in May. Chile’s main political blocs presented multiple candidate lists for the body that will help draft the nation’s new constitution, increasing the odds of a more moderate charter rewrite. Both leftist and right-wing opposition parties late on Monday each presented two lists of contenders for the 50-seat constitution council that voters will elect in May. Political divisions, particularly in President Gabriel Boric’s base of support, should help candidates with centrist views, according to analysts. (Bloomberg)
Peace talks between the Colombian government and the largest remaining rebel group in the South American country, the National Liberation Army (ELN), are to resume this week in Mexico City. While left-wing President Gustavo Petro’s administration has expressed optimism over the renewed negotiations, tensions between Bogota and the ELN have grown since the last round of talks ended in December in Caracas, Venezuela. (Al Jazeera)
Colombian Central Bank Chief says Latin America needs a prolonged bout of tight monetary policy. President Petro is respectful of the bank’s independence, Villar Says. Latin America’s major economies are likely to keep monetary policy tight for a prolonged period after overshooting their inflation targets for years in a row, according to Colombia’s top central banker. There’s a consensus among the region’s policymakers that interest rates will need to stay high “for an important amount of time,” to ensure that sticky inflation slows decisively, Governor Leonardo Villar said in an interview Wednesday. (Bloomberg)
Colombia's government on Monday presented a $247.1 billion four-year development plan to the country's lawmakers, laying out details of its projected social and economic investments. The so-called National Development Plan must get the seal of approval from Congress, where leftist President Gustavo Petro has forged a coalition that comfortably passed tax reform last year, although dissent has risen amid proposed reforms of pensions and the health system. (Reuters)
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
The Chinese embassy in Costa Rica admitted the overflight and delivered a formal apology, for an incident which the Costa Rican president, Rodrigo Chávez, said had “generated stress in geopolitical relations.” The stakes involved in the Latin American balloon incident may not have been as high as in the US case, as it did not bring the aircraft of one nuclear weapons power in direct conflict with the aircraft of another, and there was not the same public clamor to resort to military action. But the legal issues are the same, as are the questions it raises about the future of global surveillance, and rivalry at the very edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. (The Guardian)
A candidate for mayor in Ecuador, who was murdered just hours before polls opened, has won the election in the city of Puerto López. Omar Menéndez, 41, was shot dead by gunmen who burst into the room where he was with campaign workers on Saturday. A teenager was also killed in the attack. Police are still investigating the possible motive behind it. A member of Mr Menéndez's party is expected to replace the murdered politician as mayor. The municipal elections were held during an escalating crime wave linked to the growing influence of violent drug gangs in the Andean country. Mr. Menéndez was not the only politician to be killed in the run-up to the election. Two weeks earlier, the candidate for mayor of the coastal town of Salinas, Julio César Farachio, was also shot dead. (BBC)
Ecuador, one of the few countries in South America with a conservative leader, saw its politics thrown into confusion in early February when President Guillermo Lasso received a double rebuke from voters. A package of constitutional amendments he proposed was voted down, to the surprise of pollsters and investors, and the left-leaning opposition had a strong showing for mayoral races in key cities. The country’s bonds plunged at the possibility that the market-friendly Lasso won’t be able to finish the two years left in his term. (Washington Post)
Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso on Monday accepted defeat in a referendum on allowing extradition for organized crime, among other reforms, but added he would continue to fight drug trafficking and keep working to improve social conditions. (Reuters)
🇸🇻 El Salvador
Risks over El Salvador's embrace of bitcoin "have not materialized," but use of the cryptocurrency still requires transparency and attention, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Friday in a statement after a visit to the Central American country. "Given the legal risks, fiscal fragility and largely speculative nature of crypto markets, the authorities should reconsider their plans to expand government exposures to bitcoin," the IMF said in a statement. The annual visit by IMF staff followed a $600 million bond payment by El Salvador last month amid investor concerns over its financing sources and fiscal policy. The IMF's so-called "article IV" visit has been sharply critical in the past. El Salvador's move to make bitcoin legal tender in September 2021 effectively closed the doors to IMF financing. While the lender noted that risks "have not materialized due to the limited bitcoin use so far," it said the cryptocurrency's "use could grow given its legal tender status and new legislative reforms to encourage the use of crypto assets, including tokenized bonds." (Reuters)
Ex-Honduras president bribed by prominent family, U.S. prosecutors say. Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was bribed by the country's prominent Rosenthal family, which owned a "massive" group of businesses in the Central American country, U.S. prosecutors said on Friday. Hernandez, a former U.S. ally who led Honduras from 2014 until January 2022, was extradited to the United States last April on charges of receiving millions of dollars from drug-trafficking organizations in exchange for protecting them from investigation and arrest. He has pleaded not guilty. (Reuters)
Mexican authorities said Thursday that former top security official Genaro Garcia Luna embezzled as much as $745.9 million from government technology contracts. Pablo Gómez, the head of Mexico’s anti-money laundering unit, said Garcia Luna and associates set up companies that got 30 dubious government contracts while he was Mexico’s top security official in 2006-2012 and for six years afterward. Garcia Luna “put together a network of corruption and money laundering to benefit himself and his close associates,” Gómez said. Gómez described some of the properties the Mexican government is seeking to recover in a lawsuit filed in Florida against Garcia Luna and his alleged associates, who he described as a “family business conglomerate.” Garcia Luna moved to Florida after leaving office in Mexico. García Luna is currently on trial in New York, accused of accepting millions of dollars to let the Sinaloa cartel traffic tons of cocaine to the U.S.. The lawsuit is separate from the criminal trial. Garcia Luna allegedly channeled money from prison security and government intelligence technology contracts to offshore accounts, many in Barbados, then sent it to Miami to buy fancy condos and vintage cars. (AP)
The new U.S. agriculture trade chief on Thursday told Reuters that he has given Mexico until Feb. 14 to respond to a U.S. request to explain the science behind Mexico's planned bans on genetically modified corn and glyphosate herbicide. Doug McKalip, the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) new chief agricultural trade negotiator, said that Mexico's response will help the trade agency decide next steps in its quest to resolve a long-running dispute over Mexico's biotechnology agricultural policies. (Reuters)
In the latest chapter in Mexico’s love-fest with Cuba, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel will be awarded Mexico’s highest medal when he visits the southern Mexico city of Campeche on Saturday. The Friday edition of the Mexican government’s official gazette said Díaz-Canel will be awarded the “Order of the Aztec Eagle,” presumably with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador placing it around his neck during the Cuban leader’s visit. The award — the country’s highest honor for foreigners and decided mainly by the president — has previously been given to leaders ranging from Fidel Castro to the Shah of Iran. The award notification said the Cuban leader “has promoted cooperation between the two nations on health issues.” López Obrador praised Cuba on Friday for sending doctors to Mexico, some of whom serve in dangerous or remote areas. But those doctors, and the salaries they are paid, have raised controversy in Mexico. Some said the jobs should go to Mexican doctors, while other suspected that much of their salaries would go to the Cuban government. As president, López Obrador has gone out of his way to buy as much as he can from Cuba. But his purchase of everything from Cuban crushed stone ballast to the Abdala coronavirus vaccine have raised eyebrows. (AP)
5 priests were sentenced to 10 years for conspiracy. A court in Nicaragua has sentenced five Roman Catholic priests to 10 years in prison after convicting them of conspiracy. (ABC)
Paraguay's president, Mario Abdo, will visit Taiwan next week as the island seeks to shore up ties with one of its oldest allies ahead of an election in April that could see the Latin American country ditch Taipei in favor of Beijing. Paraguay is one of only 14 countries to have formal diplomatic relations with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, and Beijing has been stepping up efforts to get those remaining allies to abandon Taipei. Paraguay would cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and open relations with China if the opposition wins the election, its presidential candidate Efrain Alegre has said, hoping to boost economically important soy and beef exports. (Reuters/US News)
Peru has called on citizens to report social media users suspected of supporting or inciting “acts of terrorism”, as the country reels from two months of violent anti-government protests which have claimed at least 59 lives. In a move widely condemned by human rights organizations, the country’s interior ministry said on Monday that the criminal definition of “apology for terrorism” was being modified to include the use of social media, after the first jail sentences for the alleged crime last month. In a statement, Amnesty International said it rejected the measures that “threaten freedom of expression”. It warned that the creation of a virtual platform to report the crime could lead to wrongful convictions. A Peruvian court sentenced two men to eight years in prison in January for allegedly praising Abimael Guzmán, the late leader of the Shining Path terror group, on their Facebook accounts. (The Guardian)
Peru's biggest copper mines have been able to maintain production despite road blockades, attacks, and protests that have roiled the Andean nation for over two months and led to warnings of production halts, an analysis showed on Wednesday. The analysis of power usage data by Reuters at some of the key mines in Peru, the world's no. 2 copper producer, indicates that activity at the deposits remains near normal levels, although a source close to one major mine said the risk of stoppages was rising. (Reuters)
🇵🇷 Puerto Rico
Residential electric bills in Puerto Rico could increase by an average of $19 a month if a federal bankruptcy judge approves a proposal filed Thursday to restructure the staggering debt held by Puerto Rico’s power company. The plan would cut by nearly half the more than $10 billion debt held by the Electric Power Authority — the largest of any government agency — and has the support of at least three major classes of creditors, according to a federal control board that oversees the U.S. territory’s finances and filed the proposal. Board Chairman David Skeel noted that customers are not to blame for the power company’s bankruptcy, and that the legacy charge would be painful for residents and businesses already paying high power bills amid ongoing blackouts, but that there is no way to completely erase the company’s liabilities. (ABC)
Credit cards are becoming increasingly useless in Venezuela because of high inflation and government restrictions, hurting people already struggling to meet daily needs on low salaries, banking industry sources, analysts and consumers said. The country's government imposed strict lending requirements during Venezuela's economic collapse - allowing banks to lend a maximum of 27% of their cash flow - sending local business owners abroad to seek loans. (Reuters)
The State Department took custody of Venezuela’s embassy and official residences in Washington and New York after Juan Guaidó was voted out as interim president and the country was left without diplomats recognized by the US, people familiar with the matter said. The US assumed control of all of Venezuela’s diplomatic properties as of Feb. 6, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t yet public. A State Department spokesperson confirmed that the agency had taken stewardship of the property and will keep control of it until Venezuela has a new diplomatic mission. (Bloomberg)
Venezuela's opposition is hoping a presidential nominating contest will rally supporters after years of futile attempts to unseat the government of President Nicolas Maduro, but it faces deep voter apathy as people struggle to afford food and other basics. Opposition lawmakers recently named a new three-person leadership for their parallel legislature, which is recognized by many Western countries as Venezuela's last remaining democratic body. Now, they need a presidential candidate who can persuade voters to make him or her the next leader of Venezuela. But after years in the political wilderness, the opposition is disjointed - at a time when Maduro is enjoying renewed relations with neighbors Colombia and Brazil and some loosened U.S. restrictions. And voters are disillusioned. (Reuters)
Venezuela's governing and opposition parties are making progress toward the creation of a $3.2 billion U.N.-administrated fund that would aim to use the country's frozen assets for humanitarian purposes, the top lawmaker from the country's ruling party said on Monday. (Reuters)
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