Discover more from Dealflow.la
Dealflow.la #26 - Cabify 🇪🇸 to end Ecuador 🇪🇨 operations, Mexican 🇲🇽 political parties courting Texas voters 🇺🇸, & Brazil’s 🇧🇷 Carnival is back.
Latin America is rising. Subscribe to Dealflow.la to keep up.
Wibo 🇨🇱 raised a $450,000 Funding Round from Daedalus Ventures 🇨🇱 and Hero Capital 🇨🇱 to build a shopping platform designed to enhance the experience of customers. The company offers various services like receiving and delivering sales orders, scheduling orders, connecting customers with push notifications, creating surveys, and analyzing, and providing users and businesses with a quality experience through digital mode and mobile ordering and discount coupons for store purchases.
Omnix Corp 🇨🇱 raised a $1.4 Million Seed round from Plug and Play 🇺🇸 to provide AI and web-based end-to-end supplier collaboration management services intended for retail and telco companies. The company connects to all customer systems, managing their information and triggering actions when there are operational failures, enabling organizing partners and supplier collaboration, drop shipments, and inbound transportation.
Estoca 🇧🇷 raised a $6.2 Million Venture round with funding from Astella 🇧🇷 to build their decentralized logistics platform designed to provide management of all processes related to logistics. The company's platform is enabled with a predictive algorithm that allocates goods to a warehouse, from the wide network of company warehouses, which is closer to potential customers, enabling businesses to organize a hassle-free and quick last-mile delivery process.
Vexi 🇲🇽 raised an $8.1 Million Series A round led by Magma Partners 🇨🇱 with funding from Redwood Ventures 🇺🇸, Noa Capital 🇬🇧, Clearstone 🇺🇸, and Alpha4 Ventures 🇺🇸 to build finance and banking applications designed to assist in day-to-day transactions. The company's application is linked to credit cards that can be used for secured store and internet purchases without any annuity charges, enabling users to avail of credit benefits with a lesser amount of documentation and manage expenses easily.
Traveling home to Argentina soon? Then customs officials may be digging into your social media posts right now and drawing up your risk profile. It’s part of the South American nation’s latest attempt to stem the flow of dollars out of the economy, clamping down on passengers who they suspect are bringing goods into the country to sell. (Bloomberg)
Argentina-based fintech company Ualá has launched a credit card offering in Mexico. The service is being offered through Ualá’s partnership with Mexican bank Abc Capital. It aims to allow consumers to establish credit histories that are recognized by the nation’s credit bureau, which is not possible with cards issued by fintechs without a banking license. (RBI)
Scientists Wondered if Warming Caused Argentina’s Drought. The Answer: No. Researchers found that climate change didn’t make the dry spell more likely, though extreme heat probably made it hurt more. (New York Times)
For another perspective: Extreme high temperatures in Argentina linked to climate change exacerbated the impact of a historic drought that has hit the South American country's farm regions since last year, scientists said in a report on Thursday. Scientists affiliated with the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group said that a rapid analysis showed climate change did not reduce rainfall directly, but that high temperatures likely reduced water availability and worsened the impacts of drought. (Reuters)
Hospitals in Bolivia’s eastern Santa Cruz region struggled Wednesday to keep up with an outbreak of dengue that has killed at least 26 people.
It marks the largest outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease since the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the almost 7,000 cases detected since January have been in Santa Cruz, the country’s most populous region, where two of the most lethal variants of the illness have been detected. (AP)
Brazil’s glitzy Carnival is back in full form after the pandemic. Outrageous costumes were prepared again. Samba songs were ringing out ’til dawn at Rio de Janeiro’s sold-out parade grounds. Hundreds of raucous, roaming parties were flooding the streets. And working-class communities were buoyed, emotionally and economically, by the renewed revelry. (AP)
A health ministry record indicates that former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a vocal skeptic of COVID-19 vaccines who vowed to never get the jab, may have received one in 2021, the country's comptroller general's office said on Friday. The office said it was examining a vaccine card provided by the health ministry recording the far-right former president's vaccination, though in a statement it cautioned that the card could have been altered. (Reuters)
The defense and security unit of Brazil's Embraer SA is aiming for greater presence abroad in 2023, focusing on boosting sales of its transportation aircraft the C-390 Millennium, the head of the division, Bosco da Costa Junior, said. The Brazilian planemaker showcased the C-390 at an event in India earlier this month, and sees it ideally suited for the country as well as countries in Europe and the Middle East, said Costa Junior, tapped to lead the division in late 2022, in an interview with Reuters on Thursday. (Reuters)
Germany's Bayer has been ordered by Brazil's Supreme Court to return to Brazilian soybean farmers $252 Million in royalties they were charged for a GMO soybean seed. The Feb. 13 ruling by Supreme Court Justice Nunes Marques relates to a GMO technology commercially known as Intacta RR2 Pro, created by Monsanto, which was later acquired by Germany's Bayer. In 2017, Mato Grosso farmers sued Monsanto over that same genetically modified seed, seeking to cancel its patent protections by claiming it did not bring any technological innovation. (Reuters)
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva confirmed he will appoint former President Dilma Rousseff to head the New Development Bank (NDB) when there is a vacancy, Lula said on Thursday referring to the institution the BRICS group of emerging economies established. Rousseff, a member of Lula's leftist Workers Party, succeeded him in the presidency in 2011 and won re-election three years later, but ended up impeached in 2016 during a harsh recession on charges she manipulated budget accounts. (Reuters)
Rio de Janeiro will welcome an estimated five million revelers at its Carnival celebrations this weekend, signaling a comeback for Brazil after two years of Covid-19 put celebrations on hold. The biggest event in the country’s annual cultural calendar, Rio’s festivities were canceled altogether in 2021 and only held on a limited form last year as the virus was still being brought under control. Rio’s mayor is optimistic about Brazil’s economy under Lula. A top priority is making Rio’s downtown more residential. (Bloomberg)
Cattle, not coca, drive deforestation of the Amazon in Colombia. Authorities have blamed the growing of coca – the base ingredient of cocaine – for clearcutting, but a recent study shows otherwise. Successive recent governments have used environmental concerns to justify ramping up their war on the green shrub, but the research shows that in 2018 the amount of forest cleared to cultivate coca, the base ingredient of cocaine, was only 1/60th of that used for cattle. (The Guardian)
The presidents of Colombia and Venezuela met on their border Thursday to sign an agreement designed to improve trade between the two countries and lift import duties on dozens of manufactured goods. The deal comes as relations between the two countries improve following the election of Colombia’s first leftist president. Recently Colombia and Venezuela opened their border bridges to commercial cargo trucks for the first time in seven years. “This is not only about making trade easier, but also about making it easier for people to move between both countries,” Colombian President Gustavo Petro said. “There has to be legality here, so that the rights of people are protected.” Trade between Colombia and Venezuela fell drastically after 2015 amid political disputes that led to frequent border closures. In 2019, Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, shut the border for months, had shipping containers put on bridges connecting the countries, and cut off diplomatic ties. (AP)
Thousands of people in Colombia have taken to the streets to rally in favor of proposed economic and social reforms put forward by President Gustavo Petro. The left-wing president presented his healthcare plan before Colombia’s Congress on Monday, introducing initiatives that include greater access, increased pay for health workers, and subsidies for the poor and elderly. The proposal is expected to face opposition from conservative legislators who have argued that the reforms are too risky. Petro’s push for expanded healthcare access fits into his larger platform of reducing poverty and economic inequality in Colombia, where he was elected last June as the first leftist president in the country’s history. “I do not want two countries, just as I do not want two societies. I want a strong, just, and united Colombia,” Petro said in his inaugural speech in August. (Al Jazeera)
Ecuador turns seized cocaine into concrete. Huge quantities of seized drugs in Ecuador are presenting the Andean country with an unlikely new construction material: cocaine. Under President Guillermo Lasso, a conservative ex-banker, Ecuador has ramped up efforts to fight gangs who use the country as a transit point for shipping cocaine to the United States and Europe. The amount of drugs seized in Ecuador almost doubled in 2021 versus the previous year to more than 210 tonnes, mostly cocaine, according to the country's police. Now the country is using some of the excess cocaine in construction materials. Using the so-called encapsulation method, with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Ecuador pulverizes seized bricks of cocaine in industrial machines with other refuse at a waste disposal plant before mixing the resulting fine powder with cement, sand, and water to create concrete platforms. (Reuters)
Ride-hailing application Cabify will end its operations in Ecuador in mid-March after a "constant process of analysis" on the market, the company said on Wednesday. Cabify, which has operations in a handful of other Latin American countries and Spain, said in a statement that the decision would cut its services in the cities of Quito and Guayaquil and that a dozen employees would be affected. Late last year, the company, which says it has more than 42 million registered users, said it would invest $300 million through 2024 to expand its presence in Latin America. It did not specify how many users or drivers were affected by the closure in Ecuador. (US News)
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)
🇸🇻 El Salvador
Improved security in El Salvador following the government’s crackdown on gangs could eventually boost investment as firms and consumers gain confidence, according to Moody’s Investors Service. There is “significant anecdotal evidence” that crime has dropped in the Central American nation, Moody’s analyst Jaime Reusche said, which could encourage local companies to boost investment. (Bloomberg)
Migrant shelters in Guatemala are under threat from legal reforms. Critics of recent immigration reform fear laws could criminalize religious groups and volunteers who work with migrants and asylum seekers. (Al Jazeera)
A Japanese company opened the first auto parts plant in Guatemala on Wednesday as part of an effort to boost the region's economy and curb outmigration. The plant is run by Yazaki North America, Inc. and makes automotive wiring harnesses. The $10 million plant was opened with assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development. It was part of an appeal by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in 2021 for companies to invest in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The idea is to create jobs for people in the region so they wouldn’t have to emigrate. The Yazaki plant in the western province of San Marcos will employ about 1,000 people. USAID provided funding for advisers. (ABC)
Tesla’s quest to build its first factory in Mexico reveals some of the shaky underpinnings of the country's rise as a nearshoring darling, with proximity to U.S. buyers weighed down by concerns over power supply and political interference. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Nuevo Leon at the U.S. border and Hidalgo in central Mexico are the two states leading the race for the coveted investment, and his foreign minister said on Friday that the electric vehicle maker led by billionaire Elon Musk was close to announcing expansion plans in Mexico. (Reuters)
Mexican political parties are courting voters living in Texas ahead of Mexico’s presidential election Mexican migrants in Texas could play a role in choosing the country’s next president next year, and Mexican political leaders are setting up outreach networks — including one in Dallas — to court expat voters. (Texas Tribune)
Cubans with relatives already in Mexico will be eligible for new expedited applications for Mexican visas, the country’s Foreign Relations Department announced Wednesday. Special visa appointments will be held starting in April at the Mexican consulate in Havana, the agency said. Deteriorating economic conditions and political dissent in Cuba have caused an exodus from the island, and many Cubans cross into Mexico seeking to reach the U.S. border. (AP)
Dozens of migrants have been killed in a bus accident in the Central American nation of Panama, where a bus carrying more than 60 migrants plunged off a cliff. At least 39 migrants were killed and about 20 injured in the accident on Wednesday. Officials have not shared information on the nationalities of those in the group, which had reportedly crossed the dangerous Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama. (Al Jazeera)
A substantial hike in children crossing the Darien jungle - linking Panama with Colombia - is expected this year, the United Nations said on Friday, amid a surge in migrants making the dangerous journey to reach the United States. By the end of 2023, more than 300,000 migrants are set to have crossed the jungle, over 60,000 of which could be minors, said Diana Romero, an emergency protection specialist at the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF. (Reuters/US News)
For more on the Darien Gap: The Darien Gap was no man's land. Now it's a popular migrant path to the U.S. (NPR)
Paraguayan President Mario Abdo on Saturday sought to calm jitters that an election in April could see his country ditch long-standing ties with Taiwan in favor of China, saying at the end of a Taipei trip that nobody would dare to end relations. 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's Congress passed a constitutional complaint on Friday against ousted former President Pedro Castillo for alleged corruption, a step towards a formal judicial charge. Castillo has been held in pre-trial detention in Lima since his abrupt Dec. 7 ouster and arrest after he tried to illegally shutter Congress to avoid impeachment over the corruption accusations, which he denies. The political storm has sparked Peru's worst unrest in decades. Dozens of people have been killed in violent clashes between protesters and police, as well as traffic accidents and other issues related to road blockades that have followed. (Reuters)
Peruvian President Dina Boluarte pledged a crackdown on "narcoterrorism" on Monday, speaking at the funeral of seven police officers gunned down in an area where drug traffickers operate in alliance with remnants of Shining Path militants. The officers were ambushed on Saturday as they traveled through the remote Andean and jungle region known as VRAEM, according to the Interior Ministry, an area which is believed to produce around three-quarters of the country's cocaine. (Reuters)
The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu will reopen on Wednesday as protests shift to Lima. The Unesco World Heritage site, which is visited by thousands of tourists a day, was closed more than three weeks ago as anti-government protestors blocked key access routes. Officials said they would ensure the ancient monument and the transport links leading to it were safe. Protests continue in the capital, Lima, and other regions in the south. Tourism is key to Peru's economy and the losses caused by the ongoing political crisis are estimated to amount to more than $6 Million. Train services to Machu Picchu resumed last week with limited service. They had been suspended after protesters had placed boulders on the line. (BBC)
The former security chief to Uruguay's president was sentenced Wednesday to more than four years in prison, the prosecutor's office announced, in a scandal involving the issuing of fake passports to Russians. Alejandro Astesiano, who was the head of President Luis Lacalle Pou's security detail, was found guilty of an array of crimes including influence peddling, criminal association, and revealing state secrets, the office said in a statement. He had also been investigated for allegedly spying on opposition politicians. (France24)
U.S. oil producer Chevron Corp is on track to ship more than 100,000 barrels per day of Venezuelan crude to the United States this month under a license from the U.S. Treasury Department, according to shipping documents and data seen by Reuters. The U.S. government authorized Chevron to expand production in the sanctioned country and to resume exports of Venezuelan oil, which had remained frozen for years as Washington tried to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to agree to elections. (Reuters)
European oil companies are pressing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for greater control of their operations in Venezuela after US driller Chevron renegotiated its contract last year. Italy’s Eni SpA and Spain’s Repsol SA are reviewing drafts of contracts after holding a series of meetings with high-ranking members of the government in which they asked for operational control at oil and gas ventures jointly held with state energy company PDVSA. (Bloomberg)
If you were forwarded this email and enjoyed it, make sure to subscribe at Dealflow.la :)