October 11, 2013

Colombia tie guarantees nation World Cup slot; Ecuador moves one step closer

Colombia tied Chile 3-3 tonight and Ecuador beat Uruguay 1-0. The outcome guarantees Colombia a slot in Brazil, ending its 16-year World Cup drought. Barring an upset, Ecuador is almost certain to have a slot, also.

Here are the South America standings as of Friday night:

Argentina 14 8 5 1 30 11 29
Colombia 15 8 3 4 25 12 27
Ecuador 15 7 4 4 19 14 25
Chile 15 8 1 6 27 24 25
Uruguay 15 6 4 5 22 23 22
Venezuela 16 5 5 6 14 20 20
Peru 14 4 2 8 15 22 14
Paraguay 15 3 3 9 16 29 12
Bolivia 15 2 5 8 16 29 11

November 08, 2012

The US elections as seen from south of the Rio Grande

I spent election day on Colombian naval base on the Pacific. Military men are pretty circumspect when it comes to politics, but everyone said it wouldn't have mattered who won the vote, because US-Colombia relations are so institutionalized and far-reaching that they're immune to politics. I'm not sure that's completely true, but thought it was an interesting sentiment.

My colleagues Mimi Whitefield and Tim Johnson take a deeper look at the Latin American reaction to the US vote in today's Miami Herald.  

MEXICO CITY -- There’s agreement across the region that Latin America wasn’t a priority during the first term of President Barack Obama but analysts say there are issues that might raise the profile of Latin America and the Caribbean during the president’s second term. Among them: trade, potential political change in the region, the potent voting bloc U.S. Hispanics have become, immigration, changing U.S. attitudes toward drug policy and security. But, in general, regional expectations for meaningful change in U.S. Latin American and Caribbean policy during Obama’s second term were muted. The campaigns of both Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney “proved that Latin America is not a priority for the United States,’’ said Simon Pachano, a political science professor at the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences in Ecuador. “Latin America existed when they were looking for Hispanic votes, but it wasn’t present in their foreign policy proposals.”

Read the full story here.


September 25, 2012

Ecuador, Venezuela lead ranking of hemisphere's most popular leaders

Mexico's Consulta Mitofsky just put out their regional leadership list. The ranking is based on approval ratings so they're not strictly comparable nation-to-nation, but let's not let that get in the way of a good list.

Approval ratings are usually a good indicator of a candidate's election chances, so we'll have three opportunities in coming months to test that thesis. Hugo Chavez (ranked No. 4) is facing reelection Oct. 7, Rafael Correa (ranked No. 1!) faces reelection in February, and, of course, Barack Obama (ranked No. 10) has his chance Nov. 6. 

Without further ado: 

Top 5 Leaders in the Region based on approval ratings

#1 Ecuador - Rafael Correa 80%

#2 El Salvador - Mauricio Funes 72%

#3 Guatemala - Otto Perez 69%

#4 Venezuela - Hugo Chavez 64%

#5 Brazil - Dilma Rousseff 62%

...And the Bottom 5:

#16 Canada- Stephen Harper 37%

#17 Paraguay - Federico Franco 36%

#18 Chile - Sebastian Pinera 36%

#19 Honduras - Porfirio Lobo 14%

#20 Costa Rica - Laura Chinchilla 13%

To see the full list click here.

December 30, 2011

Inside South America a year in pics: Obama's visit to Chile

Inside South America is on vacation. But over the holidays I'll be posting some of my favorite photos from the year.

I took these pics during Obama's visit to Chile in March. While he was generally well-received, the escalating conflict in Libya and the US's role in the rise of PInochet fueled protests. Below, members of Chile's communist party carry a banner depicting President Pinera as Obama's lapdog. 

The other two pics, were simply amusing things I saw after visiting the country's very impressive human rights museum.






November 01, 2011

Latin American hacktivists and the price of an email address

AnonymousLatin America has been swamped by hacktivism lately, as groups have attacked government sites in Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile and Guatemala among others.

I just wrote this story about the phenomenon.

During Colombia's municipal elections this Sunday, the National Registry - which was reporting the vote tally - says its site was attacked more than 400 million times. Yes, 400,000,000.

There are several factors driving the increase, including the proliferation of computers and online access in the region. (Over the last decade online access has spiked more than 1,000 percent in the region.)

But Nicolas Severino, the director of engineering  in Latin America for Symantec, said another factor driving the surge is the availability of "hacking kits."

Hacking used to be reserved for computer-savvy programmers. Now there are "commercial quality" kits available that make hacking as easy as dragging and dropping, he said. 

"Increasingly, there is this lamentable technology that allows people with low-level technological abilities to do high-level damage," he said. 

One interview I didn't get for the story was with Anonymous Colombia. A person who runs their Twitter account, has more than 40,000 followers and has been calling many of the targets, offered to meet with me, but then disappeared again.

The government is really ratcheting up the pressure on them, so it's no surprise that they would want to stay....anonymous.

Two final things. One very cool site I found is Zone-H, where hackers report their attacks and often provide snapshots of their work. It allows you to search for attacks by website and domain extensions, which is quite helpful.

Also, Symantec provided this scary chart. It shows the going rate for stolen information. 


May 28, 2011

Duff Beer flows in Latam

IMG_4031 BOGOTA -- Homer Simpson would feel at home in Latin America. His favorite beer, Duff, is available in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Chile.

The lager has the same logo as the brew that Homer guzzles at Moe’s, his local bar in the Fox cartoon series. In South America, the beer’s motto is “Yes it does exist!” But nobody seems to be willing to discuss Springfield’s finest.

The makers of Duff in South America say they aren’t allowed to talk to the U.S. media. Duff Mexico — which started the Latin American trend — would not respond to interview requests. And 20th Century Fox, which owns the rights to - Simpsons, said it would not comment on the story and would not say if it has a licensing agreement with any of the Duff producers.

Read the full story here

March 20, 2011

Chile says yes to Duff Beer but no to Springfield

IMG_3681 On the eve of Obama's visit to Chile, several thousand people took to the streets Sunday to protest a nuclear cooperation agreement that both nations signed.

The treaty is limited to capacity building and information exchange, but many here worry that it's a step towards building nuclear reactors in this earthquake-prone country.

Among the banners in the protest was this one reading "Chile is not Springfield." It's a reference to the fictional hometown of Homer Simpson, who works at a nuclear power plant.

Funny thing is, Duff Beer - Springfield's once fictional brew - went on sale here last week.

The Duff Chile site provides very little information about the product, but it does have a continous loop of "Oh Yeah" by Yello.

January 10, 2011

Latin American Optimism: Chile reigns but even Mexico trumps U.S.

Would you rather do business in Maine or Mexico?

For anybody who equates grisly headlines and a rising body count with bad business, check out this global survey by Grant Thorton's. It found that confidence levels among business leaders in Latin America are higher than anywhere else in the world. Chile topped the global list, with 78 percent of those surveyed saying they are optimistic about 2011.

Perhaps more surprising is that violence-rattled Mexico also fared quite well at 71 percent.

The U.S., by comparison, registered a gloomy 40 percent. 

Here's the release. For the full report click on the link below.


CHICAGO, Jan. 10, 2011 — Confidence levels are higher in Latin America than in any other part of the world, with the region leading the way in business optimism into the new year, according to a global survey of 5,700 senior executives by Grant Thornton International Ltd.

Across Latin America, 78% of business executives are optimistic about their region’s economic performance in 2011. Elsewhere, optimism in Europe is at 50%, while in North America it is just 44%, with the Asia Pacific region the least optimistic region at 40%.

Within Latin America, Chile (95%) scored the highest optimism of any country surveyed, followed by Brazil (80%), Argentina (75%) and Mexico (71%). In the U.S., optimism is at 40%.

 Other critical business findings:

 Inflation – highest rates will be in Argentina, India, Turkey and mainland China; lowest rates will be in Japan, Ireland, Greece and Sweden.

Plant and machinery investment – will be greatest in Brazil, Philippines, Armenia and Chile; will be lowest in Greece, Netherlands, Ireland and Japan.

Employment – highest rates will be in the U.S., India, Turkey and Chile; lowest rates will be in Greece, Ireland, Spain and Poland.

Business optimism in China waning – Levels of business optimism in mainland China have taken a dramatic fall over the past 12 months. Only 53% of businesses are now optimistic about the outlook for the coming year, compared with 68% last year. This represents one of the largest negative swings in Grant Thornton’s 2011 International Business Report (IBR).

 The survey of 5,700 business executives was conducted in November and December of 2010.



jim wyss

Inside South America is written by Jim Wyss, the South America bureau chief for the Miami Herald and McClatchy Newspapers.

Feel free to send a story suggestion. Read Jim's stories at MiamiHerald.com.

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