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Dealflow.la #30 - Starlink 🇺🇸 aids illegal mining in the Amazon rainforest 🇧🇷, MercadoLibre 🇦🇷 to invest $1.5 billion in Mexico 🇲🇽, & Venezuela's oil minister 🇻🇪 forced to resign.
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Proesc 🇧🇷 raised a $1.5 Million Seed round with funding from Square Knowledge Ventures 🇧🇷 to optimize the academic, pedagogical and financial processes of educational institutions allowing school administrators to focus on the quality of education, reduce bad debt, and automate the enrollment of students.
Blumer 🇨🇴 raised a $5 Million Seed round with funding from GoBeyond 🇨🇭 to create a Web3 social network.
Jungle 🇧🇷 raised a $6 Million Seed round led by Framework Ventures 🇺🇸 and BITKRAFT Ventures 🇺🇸 with funding from Stateless Ventures 🇵🇷, Snackclub 🇧🇷, Norte Ventures 🇧🇷, Fourth Revolution Capital 🇺🇸, and Delphi Digital 🇺🇸 to develop and publish hybrid Web3 games. The company's platform sources and acquires underutilized intellectual properties from established game companies and then launch the title with a focus on distribution, growth, and monetization, enabling players to get a quality gaming experience.
Avista 🇨🇴 raised a $22.5 Million in Debt Financing from Accial Capital 🇺🇸 to lend to people reported in risk centers, without a credit history, or with debts in other entities. The company offers data, technology, capital, and credit expertise to contribute to a world of widespread credit access and financial health, enabling salaried and pensioners to build their dreams and those of their families with payroll credits.
Argentina and Ecuador are in a diplomatic clash after a former Ecuadorian Cabinet minister who had been convicted of corruption and taken refuge with the Argentine ambassador escaped from Ecuador’s capital of Quito to Venezuela. Both countries have expelled the other's ambassador as a result of their disagreement over the handling of María Angeles Duarte, who served in the Cabinet of then Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. Duarte had been living in the residence of the Argentine ambassador in Quito with her Argentine son since August 2020 to avoid serving an eight-year corruption sentence. Argentina had offered Duarte political asylum, but Ecuador refused to grant her safe passage. Argentina told Ecuador on Monday that Duarte was no longer in the Quito residence, saying she had left of her own accord. It was later revealed that she left Friday. Ecuador did not hide its anger, summoning Argentina’s ambassador, Gabriel Fuks, and telling him to leave the country. Argentina followed suit and ordered the expulsion of Ecuador’s ambassador in Buenos Aires, Xavier Monge. (ABC)
Argentina is grappling with an unprecedented late-summer heatwave as temperatures soar to record-breaking levels – causing crops to wither, helping wildfires spread, and adding huge pressure to a country already facing an economic crisis. The country’s summer, which technically runs from December to February, was by far the hottest on record, according to Maximiliano Herrara, a climatologist who tracks extreme temperatures across the globe. And, so far, March has offered no relief. (CNN)
Inflation is running at over 100 percent a year, and the government is funding itself by printing money and crippling exchange controls mean a black market dollar is worth almost double the official rate. Cut off from international markets after its ninth default in 2020 and suffering a severe drought, the South American food exporter could lapse this year into hyperinflation or even economic collapse. (Financial Times)
Argentina's inflation rate has soared past 100% for the first time since the end of hyperinflation in the early 90s. Inflation hit 102.5% in February, the country's statistics agency said, meaning the price of many consumer goods has more than doubled since 2022. (BBC)
Bolivia’s soccer federation suspended six match officials after they added 42 minutes in a professional national league match. Palmaflor beat Blooming 3-2 on Monday in a match that was later revised by the country’s refereeing commission. The 132-minute clash took place under heavy rains in the city of Chapare, in the South American country’s heartland. Referee Julio Gutierrez added the time due to a prolonged video review of Palmaflor’s second goal and a brawl that followed two red cards for the visitors. The commission made the decision to suspend the officials late on Tuesday. Blooming said on Twitter that the match officials put its players at a heavy risk of injury due to “excessive added time.” (AP)
“WeAreAStableCountry”, Bolivia’s central bank has said on Twitter repeatedly this month. The long queues of people outside its offices clamoring to buy dollars suggest otherwise. The impoverished South American nation’s foreign exchange reserves have been shrinking for years, threatening the boliviano’s peg to the US dollar. As of February 8, just $372mn of net reserves and $3.5bn of gross reserves remained — not enough to cover even three months of imports. The central bank has not published fresh figures since and investors are asking how long Bolivia can stave off a devaluation. In a sign of the deepening crisis, Fitch on Tuesday downgraded Bolivia’s debt deeper into junk territory, assigning it a B minus rating with a negative outlook. The rating agency cited “heightened uncertainty around the authorities’ ability to manage this situation, as well as around its severity given an ongoing delay in publication of international reserves data”. (Financial Times)
Protesters in Bolivia's lithium-rich region of Potosi are blockading a key processing plant, demanding legislation that guarantees better benefits for local communities and larger royalties from extraction of the electric battery metal. The protests are focused on a plant in Llipi, near the Uyuni salt flats, which hold one of the world's largest troves of the metal whose price has surged so much during the global shift towards electric vehicles that it is now called "white gold." Led by the Civic Committee of Potosi (Comcipo), the protesters have threatened the government with an indefinite strike if Potosí does not receive more public works projects and royalties for lithium. (Reuters/US News)
Musk brought the internet to Brazil’s Amazon. Criminals love it. Brazilian federal agents aboard three helicopters descended on an illegal mining site on Tuesday in the Amazon rainforest. They were met with gunfire, and the shooters escaped, leaving behind an increasingly familiar find for authorities: Starlink internet units. Starlink, a division of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has almost 4,000 low-orbit satellites across the skies, connecting people in remote corners of the Amazon and providing a crucial advantage to Ukrainian forces on the battlefield. The lightweight, high-speed internet system has also proved a new and valuable tool for Brazil’s illegal miners, with reliable service for coordinating logistics, receiving advance warnings of law enforcement raids, and making payments without flying back to the city. Agents from the Brazilian environment agency’s special inspection group and the federal highway police rapid response group on Tuesday found one Starlink terminal up and running next to a pit, an officer who participated in the raid told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity over concerns for his personal safety. (AP)
A senior U.S. official declined on Wednesday at a Senate hearing to comment on the status in the United States of former far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, but said any such request from Brazil would be handled "expeditiously." Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the future of relations with Brazil, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said: "We would handle any request from the Brazilian government expeditiously." Nichols did not comment on a request for a six-month visa to remain in the United States by Bolsonaro, who left Brazil in December two days before his term ended without conceding defeat at the polls by leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (Reuters/US News)
Brazil is reintroducing the requirement to obtain tourist visas for citizens of the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Japan starting Oct. 1, the foreign ministry said. Former president Jair Bolsonaro had scrapped the visa requirements in 2019 to bolster the country’s tourism industry, but the four countries continued to demand visas from Brazilians. The decision to grant the visa exemptions had represented “a break with the pattern of Brazilian migration policy, historically based on the principles of reciprocity and equal treatment,” the foreign ministry said in a statement released quietly late Monday. “Brazil does not grant unilateral exemption from visiting visas, without reciprocity, to other countries,” the ministry said, while noting that the government is ready to negotiate visa waiver agreements on a reciprocal basis. (AP)
Brazil’s new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has so far shown little concern about defying consensus in the West on foreign policy -- even when it comes to dealing with authoritarian governments. In recent weeks, Lula’s Brazil sent a delegation to Venezuela, refused to sign a UN resolution condemning Nicaragua’s human rights abuses, allowed Iranian warships to dock in Rio de Janeiro and flatly refused to send weapons to Ukraine, at war with Russia. These decisions have raised eyebrows in the U.S. and Europe, but experts said Lula is reactivating Brazil’s decades-old principle of non-alignment to carve out a policy that best safeguards its interests in an increasingly multi-polar world. (ABC)
National Guard troops patrolled northeastern Brazil on Thursday after three nights of rioting allegedly ordered by imprisoned gang members left windows smashed, buses ablaze, and at least three people dead. Most of the violence was in Rio Grande do Norte state where a couple dozen cities have seen gun attacks on public buildings and arson attacks on buses and gas stations since Monday night. Rio Grande do Norte’s public security secretary, Francisco Araújo, said Wednesday that the attacks were being ordered from within the state’s biggest prison, after wardens declined to grant prisoners’ demands for televisions, conjugal visits, and electricity. Several Brazilian media outlets also pointed to dire conditions within the prisons, citing a report last year by the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship indicating that detainees were subjected to torture, rotten food, and unsanitary conditions. (ABC)
South American soccer body CONMEBOL announced Wednesday that the region’s qualifying for the 2026 World Cup will kick off in September.
Defending champion Argentina will start at home against Ecuador. Brazil will also play host in its first qualifying match against Bolivia. The dates and venues for those matches are yet to be decided. The United States, Mexico, and Canada are hosting the 48-team tournament. Brazil will host Argentina in the sixth round of the qualifying, which will be played in November. It will be the first match between the two since the cancellation of a World Cup qualifying clash in September 2021 due to health protocols after a few minutes of play. (AP)
Chile's President Gabriel Boric said on Wednesday that the government will strengthen border security in the north in an effort to reduce the flow of unauthorized immigration. In addition to infrastructure and surveillance improvements, Boric said his government will carry out "intense" diplomatic activity with Bolivia and Venezuela to receive deported citizens. "The administrative procedures to be able to carry out expulsion procedures are very cumbersome," Boric said, adding that the current system is a major obstacle in deporting foreigners that commit crimes. "Our priority is to protect the border to ensure migration that is regular, safe, and orderly and that also meets the needs of the country," Boric told reporters during a visit to Colchane, a highland town on the border with Bolivia. (Reuters)
Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Sunday said he had suspended a ceasefire with the Clan del Golfo, the country's largest criminal organization because it had attacked police. "I have ordered the armed forces to reactivate all military operations against the Clan del Golfo," Petro said in a tweet. "We will not allow them to continue sowing anxiety and terror in the communities." The ceasefire with the Clan, also known as the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces, was part of efforts to end the group's part in Colombia's internal conflict, which has killed at least 450,000 people. Announced on New Year's Eve, it was scheduled to last six months. (Reuters)
The death toll from an explosion at a series of connected coal mines in central Colombia has risen to 21, President Gustavo Petro says, after large-scale rescue efforts to free 10 miners who were trapped underground had failed. “Despite all the efforts of the rescue teams, unfortunately, 21 people lost their lives in this tragic accident in Sutatausa,” a town 74km (46 miles) north of the capital, Bogota, Petro said in a tweet on Thursday morning. (Al Jazeera)
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
More than a dozen politicians and former cabinet members in the Dominican Republic — including a former finance minister and a presidential candidate — were arrested on corruption charges in what the government called “Operation Squid.” In a statement Sunday, the Attorney General’s office said 300 National Police had raided 40 separate locations Saturday night and detained several former high-ranking officials. (Bloomberg)
A strong earthquake shook southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least 15 people, trapping others under rubble, and sending rescue teams out into streets littered with debris and fallen power lines. The U.S. Geological Survey reported an earthquake with a magnitude of about 6.8 that was centered just off the Pacific Coast, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Guayaquil, Ecuador's second-largest city. One of the victims died in Peru, while 14 others died in Ecuador, where authorities also reported that at least 126 people were injured. (NPR)
A group of opposition legislators in Ecuador has formally requested to hold impeachment hearings against President Guillermo Lasso on allegations of corruption, which Lasso has vehemently denied. Lawmakers earlier this month backed a report accusing Lasso of connections to possible crimes against state security and public administration, amid investigations by the attorney general's office into alleged graft at state companies. Legislators also voted to declassify files related to corruption investigations in search of evidence to shore up the impeachment attempt, but neither Lasso nor any of his family members appeared in the documents. (Reuters/US News)
🇸🇻 El Salvador
El Salvador’s congress has voted to approve yet another extension of emergency rules allowing police to round up suspected members of street gangs. The vote late Wednesday was widely expected and marks the 12th such one-month extension granted to President Nayib Bukele since the measure was first approved on March 27, 2022. The crackdown has resulted in over 65,000 arrests and thousands of alleged rights abuses but remains popular in a country where gangs once demanded protection payments with impunity. Opinion polls suggest that about 9 out of 10 Salvadorans approve of the government’s anti-crime strategy. (NBC)
An Indigenous female farmworker leader hopes to become Guatemala’s next president. But Thelma Cabrera faces an uphill fight, after the country’s Electoral Tribunal refused to allow her to register her candidacy. There is just one week left in the registration period for the June 25 elections, but Cabrera and her Movement for Peoples’ Liberation are vowing to go ahead with her campaign whether the gets registered or not. It was never going to be an easy fight. Even though the government's last census said around 48% of Guatemalans identify as Indigenous — and some Indigenous groups insist the number is higher — lighter-skinned elites have always ruled. Paradoxically, the tribunal barred Cabrera's running mate from registering their ticket on the grounds he did not supply a letter stating there are no corruption cases open against him — even though it allowed politicians with pending cases to register. (ABC)
Desire for new investment and less debt helped drive Honduras' decision to establish formal ties with Beijing at Taiwan's expense, the government said on Wednesday, potentially opening the door to more spending on flagship infrastructure projects. Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina said the decision by Honduras to switch allegiance was partly because the Central American country was "up to its neck" in financial challenges and debt - including $600 million it owes Taiwan. (Reuters)
The United States is trying to discourage Honduras from following through on its plan to switch diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China, sources close to the matter say, hoping the lack of a formal agreement yet may leave the door open for a change of heart. (Reuters)
Three police officers and one suspect were killed and seven suspected drug cartel members were arrested Friday following a dramatic running gun battle on the eastern edge of Mexico City. It was a glimpse into drug cartel violence that the nation’s capital rarely sees, but which has become frequent in northern and western parts of the country. Police said two officers were killed in a town just east of the capital early Friday when they approached a house where a kidnap and murder gang were believed to be hiding, according to police in the State of Mexico, which borders the capital. They said the suspects also were being sought for murders. (ABC)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador held a massive rally in Mexico City’s main plaza attended by tens of thousands of people Saturday.
Though it was called to commemorate Mexico's 1938 expropriation of the oil industry, many of those attending the rally Saturday agreed that it was the de-facto opening salvo to the 2024 elections that will choose the president’s successor. Perhaps conscious of recent tensions with the United States over U.S. overdose deaths from fentanyl smuggled in from Mexico, López Obrador spent part of his speech praising former U.S. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who didn't actively oppose the 1938 oil expropriation despite the fact many of the firms were American. “The best example of the authenticity of his ‘Good Neighbor’ policy was his respect for our nation's sovereignty," López Obrador said of Roosevelt. (ABC)
Drug war cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico is at its lowest point in decades. What went wrong? Mexican President López Obrador said fentanyl is America’s problem and falsely stated that none of the dangerous drug is produced in Mexico. (NBC)
Latin America’s leading e-commerce company, Mercado Libre, announced on Thursday that it will invest $1.6 billion in Mexico, the company’s second-largest market. The investment is set to be the largest amount the e-commerce and financial services titan has made in Mexico, and comes after a $1.5 billion investment in 2022. (Mexico News Daily)
Miami is often called the capital of Latin America, and it certainly felt that way when the national teams of the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela — which all have large representation in South Florida — opened play in the W.B.C., the quadrennial two-week tournament held during Major League Baseball’s spring training. This tournament is the social gathering for many Latin American baseball fans. The first four games in Miami served as another example of how the sport is ingrained in those cultures and how differently it is experienced. (New York Times)
As the Cuban team boarded their plane back to Havana following a crushing loss to Team USA, Catcher Iván Prieto decided to defect in Miami. (NBC)
On Thursday, Paraguayans who worked on the construction of the Itaipu hydroelectric plant blocked the passage of vehicles to that infrastructure as a measure to demand the payment of an economic compensation that they have not received for more than 30 years. The protesters request US$940 million in compensation, which is part of the "social benefits contemplated in the Itaipu Treaty," former workers' spokesman Ignacio Lisboa said, adding that they will continue protesting until they are attended to by "someone responsible for this debt." (TeleSur)
Peru’s desert coast is bracing for more potentially deadly rains as Cyclone Yaku, which has already left at least eight dead, continues its path. Peruvian President Dina Boluarte announced that schools will suspend classes Wednesday in the capital city of Lima, as the desert metropolis expects the worst rains in recent memory. Peru’s coast is arid and cities by and large don’t have the drainage systems to deal with rain, which leads to quick flooding even with relatively small amounts of precipitation. (Bloomberg)
The constitutional committee of Peru’s congress has rejected the latest proposal for early elections to be held this year. Analysts see early elections as crucial to end the ongoing social crisis. Elections are scheduled to take place in 2026, although they could still be brought forward to 2024. Only a small proportion of the public believes that lawmakers and the government should remain in place until 2026, but agreement this year now looks unlikely after this fifth failed attempt. Elections were proposed for December, with new government and congressional terms starting in May 2024. But leftist lawmakers were critical that the proposal did not include provisions for a change in the constitution, while others claimed it was impossible to organize elections during the social upheaval. (BNA)
🇵🇷 Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico’s governor announced Friday that the U.S. government has shipped three mega generators to the island to help stabilize the U.S. territory’s rickety electric grid and minimize continuing outages. The generators will add 150 megawatts of power, and additional generators that the U.S. is expected to ship soon will supply another 250 megawatts, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said. (ABC)
A ruling by Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court has thrown into limbo hundreds of thousands of business and construction permits issued by a U.S. territory already struggling to attract investors amid an economic crisis. Government officials on Thursday sought to quell anxieties over fallout from the ruling, which upholds the decision of an appeals court that voids a document from 2020 that regulates land use and the granting of permits on the island. The ruling released Wednesday prompted the government to take the unprecedented step of temporarily suspending access to the website where people apply for permits. While access was restored Thursday, confusion still reigned as people began to question whether they’re allowed to operate a new business they opened, keep a new deck they built or start from scratch and obtain new permits if they were in mid-construction of a hospital or other buildings. (ABC)
Venezuela's oil minister Tareck El Aissami said on Monday he will resign and at least six officials were arrested following investigations by police into corruption, including at state-owned oil company PDVSA. "In light of the investigations that have begun about serious occurrences of corruption at PDVSA, I have taken the decision to present my resignation as Minister of Oil, with the intent to support, accompany and totally back this process," El Aissami, who has been minister since 2020, said on Twitter. Venezuelan anti-graft police have arrested a mayor, two judges and three government officials, at least two of whom are connected with PDVSA, in connection with alleged corruption, state television and sources familiar with the matter said earlier on Monday. Arresting government officials for corruption is rare in Venezuela, which rights groups such as Transparency International have described as opaque. (Reuters/US News)
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