Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Monday Memo: U.S. Delegation in Cuba—Venezuela Loan—Caribbean Fiber Optic Cable—Activist Murders in Honduras—Argentina-Falklands Oil

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This week’s likely top stories: U.S. trade delegation arrives in Cuba; Venezuela receives a $5 billion Chinese loan; Caribbean’s longest fiber optic cable nearly complete; NGO says Honduras leads the world in per capita murders of environmental activists; Argentina sues five companies over Falklands oil exploration.

Governor Cuomo and U.S. Companies Visit Cuba: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo led a trade mission to Cuba on Monday, joined by executives from Pfizer, MasterCard and JetBlue, as well as State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and officials from the Plattsburgh International Airport, the New York Genome Center and the State University of New York. The trip is the first of its kind since U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced renewed diplomatic relations between the two countries in December 2014. According to Cuomo, the members of the delegation from New York will “serve as ambassadors for all that New York state has to offer and will help form the foundation for a strong economic relationship between New York and Cuba as legal restrictions on trade are eased in the future.” The delegation plans to meet with several Cuban officials and businesses during their 26-hour trip.

Venezuela Accepts $5 Billion in Loans from China: On Sunday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced that his government has received $5 billion in Chinese financing for development. Maduro traveled to China in January 2015 and announced at the time that the country would be providing Venezuela with over $20 billion in investment. However, Maduro did not confirm yesterday whether the $5 billion was part of that amount. The loan will be helpful for Venezuela, which is currently suffering rising inflation and shortages of goods amid falling oil prices.

Caribbean Fiber Optic Cable Soon to Be Complete: Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica is expected to complete the installation of the Puerto Rican segment of the longest submarine fiber optic cable link in the Caribbean this week. The cable, which originates in Florida, will provide a connection between the U.S. and Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, and other countries. Telefónica plans to finish the link at Isla Verde, Puerto Rico in the coming days. On Saturday, Guillermo Cañete, technological planning and transmission manager for Telefónica, said that the cable would greatly improve connectivity as well as competition and Internet prices in Puerto Rico. The Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS) will extend approximately 6,000 kilometers upon completion.

Report Names Honduras Worst Place for Environmental Activists: International NGO Global Witness released a report on Monday ranking Honduras as the worst place in the world for environmental protesters, with 101 activists killed between 2010 and 2014.  Although more people were murdered in Brazil in the same time frame, Honduras had the highest rate per capita. Meanwhile, almost 75 percent of environmental activist murders occurred in Latin America.  Global Witness reported a 20 percent worldwide increase in the killing of environmental activists in the past year, with a particular jump in the murder of activists opposed to hydropower projects. The NGO also found that 40 percent of those killed in 2014 were members of Indigenous groups, who are facing increasing threats as they fight to retain their land.

Argentina Sues Companies Exploring the Falklands: Argentine Minister for Malvinas Affairs Daniel Filmus announced this weekend in London that Argentina is taking legal action against two U.S. firms and three British firms for oil exploration activities near the contested Falkland Islands, known as the Islas Malvinas in Argentina. The firms, Falkland Oil and Gas, Premier Oil, Rockhopper, Edison International and Noble Energy, are drilling for oil off the coast of the islands, which Argentina claims as its territory. Filmus stated that the government would use domestic and international law to stop the companies, which he accuses of stealing Argentine resources. In response, U.K. Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond called on the country to stop “bullying” and “start acting like a responsible member of the International community.”

Tags: China-Venezuela relations, environmental activism, Falklands Oil, Indigenous Land Rights
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