Tag Archives: South America

Sunken British warship with £1 BILLION in gold to be raised from the ocean 250 years after battle

A sunken British warship wrecked off the coast of South America is due to see the light of day once again – along with £1billion in gold coins .

The Lord Clive was blasted by cannon fire in 1763 after an attempt to reclaim Uruguay’s Colonia del Sacramento, a former British colony which had been seized by the Spanish.

Continue reading Sunken British warship with £1 BILLION in gold to be raised from the ocean 250 years after battle


Top Gear Team Driven Out Of Argentina

Top Gear

The stars abandon their cars at the roadside and are pelted with stones by people accusing them of joking about the Falklands War.

The BBC has dismissed accusations that Top Gear deliberately chose a car with a number plate appearing to refer to the Falklands War to cause controversy while filming in Argentina.

The programme’s cast and crew are flying out of the country after facing protests from politicians and army veterans.

Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were reportedly among those who had to abandon their cars at the roadside and flee after being pelted with stones by an angry crowd.

The team used a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people suggested could be seen to refer to the conflict which took place in 1982.

A group of war veterans protested outside their hotel and one local politician said they were escorted to the airport.

Juan Manuel Romano, secretary of social development for Ushuaia in southern Tierra del Fuego province, said: “They have taken the decision to leave.”

The BBC confirmed they were leaving the country, although show bosses have said the number plate was merely a coincidence.

The programme has already run into problems this year, with one episode found to be in breach of Ofcom’s broadcasting code for the use of a racially offensive term during a two-part special filmed in Burma, following a complaint from a couple of viewers.

And Clarkson apologised after unbroadcast footage emerged in which he appeared to use the N-word, although he denied actually saying it.

The team from the show are in South America filming a special on a remote highway passing through Chile and Argentina.

Executive producer Andy Wilman said: “Top Gear production purchased three cars for a forthcoming programme; to suggest that this car was either chosen for its number plate, or that an alternative number plate was substituted for the original is completely untrue.”

Ecuador heralds digital currency to start before year end

Ecuador has announced it plans to start circulating what it calls the world’s first digital currency in December. It also claims it has options for developing its new oil refinery which do not depend on China.

Financial analysts have suggested the introduction of the new electronic currency in Ecuador could be used to increase the money supply and devalue US dollar holdings, a first step to abandoning the US dollar as its currency.

The new currency was approved, and stateless crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin simultaneously banned, by Ecuador’s National Assembly last month.

A young man texts at a market in Quito as government prepares to introduce electronic currency

The electronic currency is to exist in tandem with the US dollar and to be backed by “liquid assets,” according to Deputy Central Bank director Gustavo Solorzano. Officials said it would be geared towards the 2.8 million Ecuadoreans too poor to afford a traditional bank account.

Central Bank officials said on Friday the currency does not have a name and officials would not disclose technical details. The amount of the new currency created would depend on demand, they said. President Rafael Correa has denied there is any plan to replace the US dollar, which Ecuador set as its currency in 2000 after a crippling banking crisis.

Initially payments are to be sent and received on cellphones, Solorzano said. Similar schemes have already been set up by private companies in Paraguay and in Africa – including in Kenya and Tanzania.

Nathalie Reinelt, an emerging payments analyst with the US-based Aite Group, said she does not understand any other motivation for creating such a currency other than to allow Ecuador to increase its money supply and, essentially, devalue its US dollar holdings. But analyst Juan Lorenzo Maldonado of Credit Suisse said “It is far too early to know how they are thinking of making the electronic money work.”

Pacifico Refinery

Ecuador’s minister for strategic sectors (Sectores Estratégicos) Rafael Poveda said he hoped to finalize a $9 billion (6.85 billion-euro) deal with major partner China within the month for a refinery on the Pacific coast to process 200,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

Ecuador is also reported to be asking Beijing about borrowing $1.5 billion more. Including the credit line, total loans from China are equivalent to about 13.6 percent of Ecuador’s GDP as of 2013.

Criticised locally for becoming too dependent on China, Poveda said about the refinery deal, after a week-long visit to southern near-neighbor Chile which ended on Friday: “If for any extraordinary reason, which up to now does not exist, this does not happen, we have an option for this project.” However, he did not elaborate on the options.

A pile of US currency, topped with a mobile phone, reminds us that money talks and can be very persuasive!

China has become Ecuador’s second-largest foreign investor, after the United States, mostly in mining and quarrying sectors. Ecuador has already borrowed over $11 billion from China since 2008, when the Andean country defaulted on $3.2 billion of foreign debt.

Last year, Chinese money helped cover as much as 61 percent of the government’s financing needs. In exchange, China has claimed up to 90 percent of the country’s oil shipments over the next few years. Ecuador has South America’s third-largest oil reserves.

Ecuador recently sold $2 billion in bonds with a 7.95 percent return, as well as obtaining another $400 million from Goldman Sachs in exchange for part of its gold reserves.

The Other 9/11: A CIA Agent Remembers Chile’s Coup

Chilean soldiers guard the presidential palace the day after the coup against Allende. (Reuters)

What role did the U.S. play in the overthrow of Salvador Allende?

Forty-one years ago—on September 11, 1973—Chile’s socialist president, Salvador Allende, was overthrown in a coup.

He committed suicide under mysterious circumstances as troops surrounded his palace, ushering in more than 15 years of military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet. Since that time, the CIA has acknowledged knowledge of—but not involvement in—the plot.

The agency “was aware of coup-plotting by the military, had ongoing intelligence collection relationships with some plotters, and—because CIA did not discourage the takeover and had sought to instigate a coup in 1970—probably appeared to condone it,” the CIA writes in a history of its operations in the South American country.

Jack Devine was a CIA agent in Chile at the time of the coup. In an interview with Atlantic contributing editor and Efecto Naim host Moisés Naím, he discusses the CIA’s role in the insurrection and in supporting the opposition to Allende.

Of the decision not to stop the coup, Devine claims the agency’s instructions came from the White House, which was occupied at the time by Richard Nixon.

“That is a Washington policy decision, that is not a CIA decision,” he says.

Ecuador’s unhealthy dependence on China is about to get $1.5 billion worse

Rafael Correa and Hu Jintao share a champagne toast.
President Rafael Correa has been toasting Chinese leaders for years.

Ecuador, the serial defaulter that had to ship half of its gold reserves to New York this year for a loan from Goldman Sachs, is asking Beijing about borrowing $1.5 billion more. 

According to the Andean nation’s finance minister yesterday, the government is in talks to re-open a credit line with China, a deal that adds to what critics say is the country’s unhealthy, growing dependency on its Asian partner.

Ecuador has borrowed over $11 billion from China since 2008, when the South American country defaulted on $3.2 billion of foreign debt.

Last year, Chinese money helped cover as much as 61% of the government’s financing needs.

In exchange, China has claimed as much as 90% of the country’s oil shipments over the next few years, most of which it thentrades around the world. (Ecuador is home to South America’s third-largest oil reserves.)

China has become Ecuador’s second-largest foreign investor, investing mostly in mining and quarrying sectors:

The credit line would be in addition to $9 billion in financing that Ecuador is seeking from China for the construction of a refinery that will process 200,000 barrels of crude oil a day, as well as a $2 billion loan signed with state oil company Sinopec.

Including the credit line, these loans from China are equivalent to about 13.6% of Ecuador’s GDPas of 2013.

These kinds of deals threaten president Rafael Correa’s reputation with Ecuadorean citizens—he has pledged to cut out private oil traders and middlemen from the country’s oil sector, but allowed a Chinese state firm and a private Hong Kong partner to control and sell as much two thirds of its oil.

Activists are criticizing deals to trade drilling access in the Amazon for loans. And analysts say these loans are just a band-aid for the country’s larger budgetary problems. 

“It’s a short-term fix for still unresolved medium-term solvency,” Siobhan Morden, head of Latin America fixed-income strategy at Jefferies Group, told Bloomberg. 

For China, oil-related financing has become a method of diplomacy in South America, a region that the US has long liked to claim as its natural sphere of influence.

Chinese oil firms have lent least $100 billion in oil-related financing around the world, including in Brazil and Venezuela. 

Riordan Roett, political science professor at Johns Hopkins told Reuters last year, “If China’s control over South America’s oil industry keeps growing, it could become a concern for U.S. policymakers.”

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