LatAm Daily Briefing: Argentina Accuses IMF of Imposing Austerity; Mexico’s President Has Covid-19

11 January: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

Posted Tuesday, January 11th 2022
LatAm Daily Briefing: Argentina Accuses IMF of Imposing Austerity; Mexico’s President Has Covid-19

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández has accused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of seeking to impose a program of “austerity” on the country that would limit future growth. Speaking in an interview with local radio station AM750, Fernández said his government is still seeking  a deal to restructure its $44-billion debt with the multilateral lender, but said he would not accept a deal that comes with austerity measures that slow the economic recovery. "The real discussion we are having with the Fund today is to see how the program should be: if it is like the one we are proposing, with the idea that with growth we will be able to meet payments, or if it is, once again, to return to the Fund's eternal recipe, which is more austerity and shrinking the economy. We are not in a position to do that, which is why the discussion is delayed," Fernández said. “We are still looking to find a way out that suits Argentina."

Heavy rainfall in southeastern Brazil has prompted miners including Vale to suspend some operations, after downpours caused deadly floods in the northeast and threatened to delay harvests in the midwest of the country. Rainfall is expected to remain heavy this week in most of top mining state Minas Gerais, after runoff closed roads and railways. The rains may also have contributed to the collapse of a canyon rock face in the state on Saturday, killing 10 people visiting a waterfall on boats. In the northeastern state of Bahia, flooding displaced about 50,000 families and killed some two dozen over the holidays. Vale said on Monday it has partially suspended operations at its Southeastern and Southern iron ore systems due to the bad weather, but reaffirmed its 2022 production target as the Northern system was not affected.

Chile’s President-elect Gabriel Boric said Monday he will present his cabinet in the third week of January. Boric, a 35-year-old left wing former student leader, said his cabinet will be inclusive, gender-balanced and diverse, and that his government will serve all Chileans and not one group in particular. Boric takes office on March 11th. “I will give my best to be at the level of expectations that we have awoken in thousands of Chilean men and women. We take the challenge that we have been given with the greatest responsibility and as a team,” Boric told local media. Boric was officially declared president-elect by the Chilean electoral authorities on Monday.

A Colombian drug trafficker known as ‘the king of submarines’ for his use of submersibles for transporting narcotics has been captured in Medellín. Óscar Moreno Ricardo, who was wanted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, is now awaiting extradition to the US to face drug trafficking charges. Known in Colombia as ‘Cachano’ and ‘The Old Man’, Ricardo is considered to be one of the main traffickers of cocaine from Colombia’s Pacific coast into the US using submarines.

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has tested positive for Covid-19, for the second time since the onset of the pandemic. The president had first tested positive for the virus in January 2021. López Obrador had met with his Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier in recent days, who then tested positive for the virus, and the president showed symptoms during a press conference on Monday before taking a test and receiving a positive result. On Tuesday he called on the population to remain calm in the face of the pandemic, and said he is in good health despite his Covid symptoms.

Peru’s President Pedro Castillo is facing criticism after naming former pro-Fujimori congressman Daniel Salaverry as president for six years of the board of Perupetro, the state company in charge of promoting, negotiating, signing and supervising contracts for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the country. The controversial move follows accusations against Castillo of taking advantage of his position to promote military officers close to his entourage, in addition to having allegedly intervened for a consortium to win a million-dollar bid for highway works, and to have influenced a company to sell fuel to the state for a value of $74 million.