March 15, 2019
1. President López Obrador fulfills his first 100 days declaring to have completed 62 commitments
In recognition of his first 100 days in office, President López Obrador has declared that he has completed 62 of the 100 commitments he made when he took office.
The President stated that the federal government achieved results regarding priority issues like the fight against corruption, austerity measures within the administration and reducing rates of crime and violence. Additionally, he seemed optimistic at the prospect that the economy will grow 4% by year’s end.
2. Mexican Senate chooses new Supreme Court Justice
Yasmín Esquivel Mossa was chosen by the Mexican Senate as the next Supreme Court Justice. Esquivel Mossa will replace ex-Justice Margarita Luna Ramos.
The nomination sparked criticism due to her pro-life leanings, as well as possible conflict of interest, as Esquivel Mossa is married to José María Riobóo, a construction magnate with close ties to President López Obrador.
3. President López Obrador trusts Secretary of Finance and rejects claims of an internal struggle
President López Obrador told press that the Secretary of Finance’s statements regarding the construction of the oil refinery in Tabasco were the result of a misunderstanding.
Additionally, President López Obrador assured they work as a team of professionals, reiterating his trust in the Secretary of Finance and rejected claims of an internal struggle. The oil refinery in Tabasco is slated for completion in three years. Its strategic location would allow for the export of oil.
4. Mexican Senate ratifies the bill to create the National Guard
The constitutional amendment creating the National Guard has been approved by the 32 Mexican state legislatures, and the Mexican Congress.
Once the legislative procedures conclude, the President’s decree and subsequent publication in the Official Gazette of the Federation will officially enact the measure.
Mexico’s Congress will have 60 days to issue secondary laws governing the institution, and 90 days to issue secondary norms regarding the use of force and detention records.
El Heraldo de México: Senado emite declaratoria de constitucionalidad de la Guardia Nacional
5. Mexican House of Representatives approves bills amending public referendums and removal of the President from office
Mexico’s House of Representatives approved a bill amending the process to remove the President from power. President López Obrador has pushed this proposal since his presidential campaign. The decision was met with criticism as it could add the President to the ballot of the 2021 federal elections.
On the other hand, the lower house approved a bill amending public referendums to reduce the required number of registered voters to 1% from 3%, as well as allowing referendums to take place any day, rather than only alongside federal elections.
1. Electoral Court to take over corruption cases with electoral links from Supreme Court
On Thursday, the attorneys of Operation Car Wash were handed a defeat following a ruling by the Federal Supreme Court. The investigation was responsible for revealing a large corruption scheme going on in the country over the past few years. With six votes against five, the Federal Supreme Court decided that corruption and money laundering cases with links to electoral interests will no longer be considered common crimes and will now be handled by the Electoral Court. Attorneys and federal investigators claim that the decision will result in lighter sentences, including less or even no jail time in investigations that are still ongoing in Brazil. In a statement, Transparency International said there is a high risk of significant crimes going largely unpunished due to this change.
Folha de S.Paulo: Lava Jato perde e Justiça Eleitoral julgará crimes comuns
Valor Econômico: Justiça Eleitoral julgará ações da Lava Jato
2. School shooting reopens debate on gun ownership
The murder of a car dealer, five students and three employees of a school located in greater São Paulo, followed by the murder-suicide of the two perpetrators – both former students of the school – reopened the debate on gun ownership in Brazil. The shooters were armed with revolvers, hatchets, homemade bombs and a crossbow. According to police, the former students were victims of bullying and planned for the shooting. The crime left ten people dead, 11 injured and the country in shock. President Jair Bolsonaro, an advocate for broader gun ownership, wished the victims condolences six hours after the shooting. At the beginning of the day, before the crime had happened, the President told journalists he can only sleep soundly when there is a gun by his side.
Folha de S.Paulo: Atiradores invadem escola assassinam alunos e funcionários
O Estado de S. Paulo: Senador diz que funcionário armado reduziria mortes
O Estado de S. Paulo: Grupos de ódio na internet também são investigados
Folha de S.Paulo: Projeto prevê liberação de armas em etapas
3. Bolsonaro expected to sign three deals with Trump during U.S. visit
President Jair Bolsonaro is travelling to the United States on Sunday. He will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House and is expected to sign three agreements that are currently being discussed by both countries. Among the agreements is a partnership for the commercial use of the Alcântara Launch Center in Maranhão for satellite launches. Bolsonaro is expected to arrive in Washington at 4pm ET, and will meet with Trump on Tuesday in the Roosevelt Room. Bolsonaro will then sign the guest book at the American Executive Residence and continue to the Oval Office, where he will talk privately with the American Commander in Chief. At the end of the day, Trump and Bolsonaro will head to the Rose Garden for a press conference of approximately 30 minutes.
4. Food and education cost increases drive inflation rise
The Extended National Consumer Price Index in Brazil – the official inflation index for the country – increased 0.43% increase in February, following a 0.32% increase in January. In the past 12 months the index saw an increase of 3.89%. The index is still under the government’s target of 4.25% a year, with the possibility of it being 1.5 points higher or lower. The official inflation rate for 2018 was 3.75%. Economists consulted by the Central Bank believe the inflation rate in 2019 will be 3.38%. The prices of food and education were responsible for the increase in inflation rates. Beans, a staple Brazilian food, increased in price by 51.58%. Prices in the education sector also increased, with monthly fees 4.58% higher than the previous year. In an attempt to control inflation, the Central Bank might use interest rates to decrease consumption and force prices down.
5. Companies that pay women less than men can be fined
The Brazilian Senate has just approved a bill to put an end to the gender pay gap. The bill changes labor laws and determines a fine for companies that do not pay men and women in similar positions or roles equally. The bill will now be sent to the Chamber of Deputies. Discrimination cases will be evaluated in judicial processes and women who are discriminated against will receive double the amount of the monthly pay difference as compensation. The punishment will also be applied in cases of age, race or class discrimination. According to the author of the bill, the gender pay gap goes against the principle of equality determined by the Brazilian Constitution and the current labor laws.
O Estado de S. Paulo: Projeto obriga pagar salário igual para homens e mulheres
1. President Macri announces subsidies for agricultural sector
During ExpoAgro, one of the two most important summits for the Argentine agricultural industry, President Mauricio Macri announced two lines of credit from Banco BICE earmarked for the acquisition of agricultural machinery (in the form of a lease, with right to purchase), as well as the procurement of trucks and semi-trailers produced in Argentina. On the same token, a fund of ARS $1.5 billion (USD $37.4 million) – with a cap of ARS $20 million (USD $499,251) per company – will be made available for producers to modernize their equipment. Additionally, the government presented a program called “Cosecha Segura” (secure harvest) that will establish a protocol to report stolen merchandise and guarantee security across the entire supply chain, from farmer to port.
2. Minister of Finance meets with IMF and U.S. Secretary of Treasury
Finance Minister Nicolás Dujovne met with IMF Chief Christine Lagarde in Washington, days after the multilateral financial entity approved a new disbursement of funds to Argentina. Lagarde reiterated that the continued implementation of the Argentine government’s economic reforms will prove crucial for a stable economy and sustainable economic growth. Following the IMF meeting, Dujovne met with his U.S. counterpart Steven Mnuchin.
3. February inflation reaches 3.8%
According to a report published by the Argentine statistical agency, February monthly inflation reached 3.8%. The body also released a report detailing that industrial production is only working at 56.2% of its total capacity, levels not seen since the economic crisis in 2002. Finance Minister Nicolás Dujovne stated, “the Argentine economy has already hit rock bottom, and inflation will begin to subside in April.” On a similar note, JPMorgan projected that the Argentine economy grew 1.3% in February and forecasted 3% GDP growth in Q1.
4. Government reactivates system allowing private enterprise to finance public works
After having paused public works projects financed by public-private partnerships last December, the government reactivated the initiative and called on the private sector to participate in the construction of a high-voltage grid in the center of the country. Previously, the government issued a special type of bond corresponding to a certificate in dollars that compensated contractors for each phase of the projected completed, which put pressure on national bonds.
5. Project with financial incentives to benefit knowledge economy sector
President Mauricio Macri signed a bill containing a series of financial incentives for the knowledge economy sector that will replace the “Software Law” which expires at the end of this year. The project would expand the scope of eligible beneficiaries from the ICT sector if passed by Congress. In addition to software companies, biotech, robotics, audiovisual, export consulting services, artificial intelligence and video game sectors will benefit from its passage. Today, the sector exports USD $6.5 billion annually.