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Introduction to the project cooperation of 12 EU countries located between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas.

In addition to the East-West integration efforts of EU enlargement, a number of North-South linking initiatives have been added between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, such as the Three Seas Initiative. The goal is aimed at overcoming the road infrastructure deficit and improving connectivity between these nations, which will enhance cooperation in the region and in the EU as a whole.

▲First meeting of the new forum, in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, in August 2016 [i3].

article / Paula Ulibarrena

What is it and what does it aim to achieve?

It is an initiative of Poland and Croatia that brings together 12 countries located between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas and is therefore also known as the Baltic, Adriatic, Black Sea (BABS) Initiative.

The key goal is promote that these countries of the European Union have greater cooperation in infrastructure development , economic development , economic cooperation and above all in energy resources. Polish President Andrzej Duda expressed the hope that the Three Seas Initiative would contribute to the modernisation, integration and unification of Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the entire European Union.

How and where was this forum born?

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, much progress has been made towards a united, free and peaceful Europe. The entrance of Central European countries in the European Union and NATO has contributed to the security, stability and prosperity of the entire continent. But this work is far from complete. And the cohesive role of infrastructure will be crucial in achieving this.

For more than half a century, efforts to develop European connections and infrastructure focused on the East-West axis. After the fall of the Wall, governments in the region focused on integrating their economies into Western markets, leaving the development of a North-South interregional infrastructure on the back burner. After decades of disinvestment, a major effort has been made in the last twenty years to catch up: 5,600 kilometres of motorway have been built. But the imbalance between the two Europes is still glaring: a citizen of old Europe has twice as many kilometres of motorway as a citizen of central Europe, average.

▲Wikimedia Commons [JayCoop].

goal With the aim of reversing status, the presidents of Poland and Croatia, Andrzej Duda and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, respectively, launched in 2015 a project for the construction of energy, transport and telecommunications infrastructure in Central Europe. They called it the Three Seas Initiative.

By whom is it formed?

The initiative aims to modernise economic links between the twelve EU nations located between the Baltic, the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). This region accounts for 28% of the European Union's territory and 22% of its population. But it accounts for only 10% of its GDP.

In 2016, Poland and Croatia were joined by most Eastern European countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Romania. Thus a north-south axis that, with the exception of Austria, corresponds to the former communist countries.

The so-called Three Seas Initiative held its first session on 25-26 August 2016 in Dubrovnik and ended with a declaration of cooperation on subject economic cooperation, particularly in the fields of energy, transport and communications. In addition to the member states, representatives of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US Homeland Security committee attended as guests.

The second meeting took place on 6-7 July 2017 in Warsaw, with US President Donald Trump as a guest. In fact, this visit was a slight snub to other EU countries.

The third meeting will take place in Romania in 2018, although the city has not yet been fixed.

How is it financed?

150 billion from the Structural Funds, plus additional money from the Connecting Europe Facility and the European Investment Bank. However, more than 384 billion still needs to be invested in another 2,000 projects to fill in or modernise these corridors.

An investment of this size is beyond the possibilities of public institutions, so infrastructure companies and financial institutions will have to play a key role. Up to now, this subject of financing has been much less important than state contributions. However, the increase in public debt makes it increasingly interesting to have sources that minimise the impact on public accounts.


Faced with this magnitude of resource requirements, the question arises as to whether Central Europe is really an attractive market for investment. In this respect, two points can be made. This is a region with, firstly, very good economic growth prospects (expected to outpace Old Europe over the next five years), and secondly, with a construction sector that is expected to grow at a rate of 3.1% per annum average (compared to 2.3% for Western Europe), according to data by BMI Research. This is certainly attractive for investors.

The other side of the story is that we are still an emerging region. And, of course, this, in addition to generating reserves, brings with it a higher level of risk. In this sense, we also have very different situations depending on which country in the region we are looking at. For example, Estonia right now is what investors call a "sweet spot", with very high returns and low risk. But it is the only country in the region in this category. There are countries - such as Lithuania, Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia - where the risks are equivalent to those of Greece or Italy, but the returns are relatively low. And others have the opposite problem: high returns but too much risk.

The experience of those players already present in this area -some of them Spanish, such as Ferrovial, Bankia or BBVA-, shows that although each country has significant peculiarities, there are some common risks. To mention them briefly: lack of political support; regulatory regimes that lack transparency; very complex contracting processes - such as PPPs and concessions -; lack of projects with the necessary level of maturity to arouse investor appetite, and the lack of skill in the public sector in these countries to take advantage of private-sector funding schemes, among others.

In an increasingly competitive and global Economics , the prosperity and well-being of a united Europe will depend on how quickly it adapts to today's world. In that process, building a connected, safe, affordable and sustainable transport network connecting the EU from north to south is core topic. Doing so will have a direct impact on increasing the competitiveness of all European countries, and consequently on the economic growth of Europe as a whole.

Categories Global Affairs: Central Europe and Russia Logistics and infrastructure Articles

Washington's Antilles energy diversification initiative moves forward

Given the success of Venezuela's oil diplomacy in the Caribbean countries (the islands account for 13 of the 35 votes in the OAS), the United States launched its own initiative in 2014 so that these small states have greater energy diversity and do not depend on Venezuelan crude. The Maduro regime's financial difficulties have reduced Chavista influence in the Caribbean, but Trump is also cutting back on U.S. aid. Diversification of energy sources, however, is moving forward because it is a real need for the islands.

▲ The tourism boom increases electricity consumption in the Caribbean islands, where there are hardly any energy sources of their own.

article / María F. Zambrano

In the Caribbean islands, energy security is at the center of national strategic concern, due to their high dependence on fossil fuels, mostly imported. Energy security is the focus where the geopolitical, diplomatic and economic interests of these small states converge, and not only of them: the great vulnerability due to the lack of their own energy sources was taken into account by Venezuela to promote in 2005 the Petrocaribe cooperation agreement , which gave it great influence in the Antilles; since 2014, the United States has been trying to counteract that program with the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI), launched by the Obama Administration.

The rivalry between the two energy diplomacy initiatives will not really be settled by a political pulse between Caracas and Washington, but by the real need of the Caribbean islands to diversify their energy sources. This will reduce Venezuela's influence in the region and open the way for the U.S. offer, focused precisely on promoting alternative sources.

The main risk to national security in the Antilles lies in the high costs of Caribbean electricity. On the one hand, the islands have replaced historically agricultural economies with others driven by tourism, which forces them not only to meet the needs of their citizens but also to rely on the fixed cost of an industry with high levels of electricity consumption. On the other hand, production does not have diversified generation Structures . With the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Belize, the islands are supplied by oil as the only installed production capacity; in addition, 87% of primary energy (basically crude oil) is imported. We are facing a problem of high consumption and another of oil dependence.

In view of this status, and given the demands posed by energy security, understood as the physical protection of infrastructure and also the effort to guarantee the continuity of supply, Petrocaribe became a clear option for Antillean interests. Generous financing credits -from 5% to 70% for a 25-year period- contributed to the extension of the program. During the first 10 years of Petrocaribe's existence, from agreement with data of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA), Venezuela covered on average 32% of the energy demand of the participating States; the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Haiti received 87% of the supplies. The agreement also led to investments in the islands' refineries, which increased their processing capacity to 135,000 barrels of crude oil per day between Cuba's Camilo Cienfuegos refinery (65,000), the refinery near Jamaica's capital (36,000) and the Dominican Petroleum refinery (34,000).

The alliance alleviated for these countries the rise in the price of crude oil, but the region was left in the hands of the volatility of market prices and those of the main supplier. A November 2017 IMFreport estimates that real crude oil price movements affect GDP growth in the Caribbean by 7%, with wide variations from country to country: 15% in Dominica, 9% in Jamaica and less than 1% in Guyana. In turn, the continued drop in Venezuela's production, which began to allocate fewer barrels to Petrocaribe, left the area predisposed to new approaches that would reduce its exhibition to market shocks.

Caribbean Energy Security Initiative

This expectation was addressed in a new energy security framework that sought to increase independence and reduce vulnerability through diversification. Taking advantage of the steep drop in crude oil prices in 2014, which relaxed energy costs for the islands and gave them more room to maneuver, Washington launched the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI). The program has focused on supporting countries in diversifying electricity generation, addressing their significant renewable energy potential. Thus, through CESI, US$2 million in technical support has been allocated to C-SERMS (Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy), a roadmap developed by CARICOM's energy policy division. This roadmap had already harmonized the goals of the 15 member states at subject in terms of energy efficiency and the implementation of renewable energies: two strategies that sought to solve the problems previously mentioned.

The Inter-American Bank of development (IDB) estimated that for the implementation of the C-SERMS roadmap the Caribbean energy sector would require an investment of 7% of the regional GDP between 2018 and 2023. Countries with stronger financial sectors would have the capacity to finance the projects without altering debt sustainability, with these projects being self-financed over a 20-year period.

In the framework of the U.S. initiative, energy efficiency was materialized in the CHEER program (Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency and Renewables program) that has provided attendance technical assistance to the hotel industry, the main consumption source . However, in this field, the IMF urges the implementation of broader public policies to further reduce oil imports and increase GDP in the long term deadline.

In the implementation of renewable energy, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has promoted infrastructure with public-private financing. Among other projects, it financed the construction of a 36 MW wind power plant and a 20 MW solar power plant, both inaugurated in 2016 in Jamaica. These projects also have macroeconomic influences on reducing dependence on crude oil; in the case of Jamaica, however, dependence has been decreased mainly by the expansion of natural gas receiving capacity, which has allowed that country a reduction from 97% to 80% dependence on imported oil (in fact, it no longer imports Venezuelan crude oil). Since 2016, the business New Fortress Energy has been working on the submission of liquefied natural gas to Jamaica's Bogue plant.

Since its launch, OPIC has financed up to $120 million in energy agreements. Added to that are those promoted by the CEFF-CCA fund, also from the U.S. Government, which provided $20 million non-refundable for projects in initial phases; in 2015 began the project "Clean Energy in the Caribbean", with a duration of five years and with special incidence in Jamaica.

Venezuela... and Trump's clippings

The U.S. initiative for energy diversification in the Caribbean had its response from Venezuela. In 2015, Petrocaribe held a special summit where it quadrupled the ALBA Caribe fund, raising it from $50 million to $200 million, destined to finance mainly social projects, along the lines of what Javier Corrales and Michael Penfold have called "social power diplomacy". However, Venezuela's severe economic crisis and the reduced finances of its national oil company, PDVSA, have forced the government of Nicolás Maduro to cut back on Venezuelan oil diplomacy.

For its part, the arrival of the Trump Administration has led to a significant decrease in the investment earmarked for CESI. In the framework of a generalized cut to financial aid programs abroad, Washington reduced to $4.3 million the amount earmarked for boosting new energy sources in the Caribbean.

The United States, in any case, is not the only one trying to occupy the energy space previously filled by Venezuela. In 2015, the Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Center was inaugurated in Barbados, promoted by UNID (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) with the support of Austrian and German funds. In addition, last year Russia made fuel shipments to Cuba, replacing supplies that Venezuela had not been able to cover.

Categories Global Affairs: Energy, resources and sustainability Articles Latin America

Moscow continues militarization of the peninsula to prevent other forces from entering the region

Since the turn of the century, Russia had been losing economic, political and military influence in several Black Sea littoral countries; the seizure of Crimea attempted to correct the status. The Kremlin has just deployed a new missile group on the peninsula, in the framework of a long-term rearmament program deadline that seeks to ensure that operationally the Black Sea is a Russian 'lake'.

▲Putin in Sevastopol during the 2014 celebration of the victory in World War II [Kremlin].

article / Vitaliy Stepanyuk

"The bear will not ask anyone's permission." This was the allegory used by Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a Valdai Discussion Club meeting in October 2014, to reflect that Russia will not seek anyone's permission when pursuing its national interests and those of its people.

These words were pronounced a few months after the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula. The process of change of government had been initiated and troops had been mobilized to the newly incorporated territory, making any subject Ukrainian intervention to regain their land impossible. Approximately four years later, the militarization of the peninsula continues its course by the Russian Federation.

Thus, the deployment of a new defense system in Crimea has just become known, an action justified by Moscow as a measure to protect the airspace over the Russian-Ukrainian border, and also to deal with continued threatening activity on the border, arising mainly from the presence of NATO.

Since the occupation of Crimea, the Kremlin has initiated a long-term rearmament program deadline to achieve a zone (A2/AD) that would prevent other forces from accessing the region. This zone would limit the freedom of both air and ground maneuver for potential invaders. Together with other missile systems in Armenia, Krasnodar and elsewhere, this establishes a truly comprehensive anti-access zone. The establishment of advanced defense systems, the update of radars, the modernization of the Black Sea Fleet and the deployment of fighter aircraft are some of the initiatives undertaken to create such a blockade zone against any outside advance. In the coming years, six new attack submarines and six new surface ships are planned to be added to that Fleet, which could operate beyond the Black Sea, even supporting military operations in Syria.

Moving away from the old satellites

The increase in NATO troops and their presence in countries bordering Russia is seen by Russia as a threat to its security. Countries such as Poland, where NATO mobilized in January 2017 about 3.500 soldiers, and others such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary see the deployment as necessary in view of the status occurred in Ukraine and Russian military exercises near their borders: a clear example is Zapad 2017, a set of strategic and military exercises carried out jointly by Russian and Belarusian troops, in Belarus, in the Kaliningrad Oblast and along the entire northern strip bordering NATO countries.

Map from Wikimedia Commons

Looking back over the recent history of the last 20 years, we can see how Russia has been losing economic, political and military influence over the territories bordering the Black Sea since the beginning of the century. Thus, in Georgia (2004) and Ukraine (2005), more pro-Russian presidents were replaced by more pro-Western ones. In addition, Bulgaria and Romania had become members of NATO, while Georgia and Ukraine were working on it.

Operations in the Black Sea area

Threatened by this status, Russia decided to do everything possible to prevent Georgia and Ukraine from becoming NATO members, while at the same time developing strategies to remove the remaining states from NATO's influence.

With the invasion of Georgia in 2008, the Kremlin showed its determination to contain NATO, maintaining to this day a B military influence in various regions of that country. The same happened in Ukraine after the flight of former President Viktor Yanukovych, when Russia invaded Crimea in March 2014. In this way, it secured control over the naval base of its Black Sea Fleet located in Sevastopol (Crimea). It also militarily supports pro-Russian separatists in the war in Eastern Ukraine, destabilizing the country.

In other countries bordering the Black Sea, Russia has acted differently. In the case of Bulgaria and Romania, the only countries bordering the Black Sea that are members of the European Union, Russian influence prevails in supporting pro-Russian political parties and establishing strong ties at subject business. However, Romania is another region that constitutes a challenge to Russian foreign policy, due to its impetus in defending NATO's presence in the Black Sea.

In the case of Turkey, which unlike several of the countries mentioned above was not part of the USSR or the Soviet bloc, the Kremlin has supported the authoritarianism carried out by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seeking mainly two basic objectives: to dissociate Turkey from NATO, to which it has belonged almost since its beginnings (1952), and to ensure its friendship with the country that exercises control over the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits, which allow access to the Mediterranean Sea. If Turkey were to close the straits, the Russian fleet would be isolated and unable to exert its influence beyond the Black Sea. This could happen if Turkey and Russia were to find themselves at odds with each other in a conflict. In such a case, as the second strongest military power in the region, Turkey could be a clear threat to isolated Russian troops. On the other hand, the relationship with Turkey presents numerous challenges for Moscow: one example is the disagreement over the Syrian conflict, where Turkey opposes the Assad regime, while Russia supports it. 

Importance of the Black Sea

At final, Russia seeks to strengthen its influence and dominance over the Black Sea. This is mainly due to some essential characteristics: firstly, this sea is an important strategic point, as it would allow access to the various adjoining territories; secondly, control over ports and trade routes would give the power to obstruct trade and energy supplies (it is a territory crossed by a multitude of energy transport pipelines); finally, Russia could greatly influence regions that share a common history with Russia, infringing on its relationship with NATO.

Immediate challenge

In conclusion, it is interesting to understand that the main challenge facing Russia is to maintain the status quo, according to Yuval Weber, a professor at Harvard University. To do so, Russia has to be able to maintain the separatist group in the Ukrainian war, until the Kiev government falls and can then engage in conversation with a possible puppet government that will accept a solution on Russian terms. However, maintaining such a state of affairs implies having to deal simultaneously with international intervention and Russia's own weak domestic economic status , where there is growing social dissatisfaction over wages, cutbacks in services, poverty in some regions, among other problems.

Both Russia's internal and external status , as well as that of its territories of influence, are contingent on the results of the upcoming Russian presidential elections, to be held on March 18, 2018. The World Cup is not the only thing at stake.

Categories Global Affairs: Central Europe and Russia Security and defense Articles

High levels of corruption and impunity in the region make it difficult to eradicate millionaire bribes in public procurement contracts

The confession of the construction and engineering company Odebrecht, one of the most important in Brazil, of having delivered large sums as bribes to political leaders, parties and public officials for the awarding of works in various countries in the region has been the biggest corruption scandal in the history of Latin America. The B budget increase during the "golden decade" of raw materials occurred in a framework of little improvement in the effectiveness of the rule of law and control of corruption, which led to high levels of illicit deviations in public contracts.

article / Ximena Barría [English version].

Odebrecht is a Brazilian company that conducts business in multiple industries through several operating sites. It is engaged in areas such as engineering, construction, infrastructure and energy, among others. Its headquarters in Brazil are located in the city of Salvador de Bahia. The business operates in 27 countries in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Over the years, the construction company has participated in public works contracts in most Latin American countries.

In 2016, the U.S. Justice department published a research denouncing that the Brazilian company had bribed public officials in twelve countries, ten of them Latin American: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. The research was developed from the confession made by Odebrecht's own top executives once they were discovered.

The company provided officials in these countries with millions of dollars in exchange for obtaining public works contracts and benefiting from the payment for their execution. The business agreed to submit millions of dollars to political parties, public officials, public candidates or persons related to the Government. Its purpose was to have a competitive advantage that would allow it to retain public business in different countries. 

In order to cover up these illicit capital movements, business created fictitious corporations in places such as Belize, the Virgin Islands and Brazil. The business developed a secret financial structure to cover up these payments. The research of the U.S. Justice department established that bribes in the aforementioned countries totaled US$788 million (almost half in Brazil alone). Using this illegal method, contrary to all business and political ethics, Odebrecht obtained the commissioning of more than one hundred projects, the execution of which generated profits of US$ 3,336 million.

Lack of an effective judiciary

This matter, known as the Odebrecht case, has created consternation in Latin American societies. Its citizens consider that in order for acts of this nature subject not to go unpunished, countries must have greater efficiency in the judicial sphere and take more accelerated steps towards a true Rule of Law. 

From agreement with World Bank indicators, none of the ten Latin American countries affected by this bribery network reaches 60% of effectiveness of the rule of law and corruption control. This would explain the success of the Brazilian construction company in its bribery policy.


source: World Bank, 2016


Judicial independence and its effectiveness is essential for the resolution of facts of these characteristics. The proper exercise of justice shapes a proper rule of law, preventing the occurrence of illicit acts or other political decisions that may violate it. Although this is the ideal, the countries involved in the Odebrecht case do not fully comply with this due judicial independence.

Indeed, according to the Global Competitiveness Report for 2017-2018, most of the affected countries obtain a leave grade regarding the independence of their courts, which indicates that they lack an effective judiciary to judge the alleged people involved in this case. This is the case, for example, with Panama and the Dominican Republic, ranked 120th and 127th, respectively, in terms of judicial independence, out of a list of 137 countries.

One of the problems suffered by the Judicial Branch of the Republic of Panama is the high issue of files handled by the Supreme Court of Justice. This congestion makes it difficult for the Supreme Court to work effectively. The high number of processed files doubled between 2013 and 2016: the conference room Criminal Court processed 329 files in 2013; in 2016 there were 857. Although the Panamanian Judicial Branch has improved its budget, that has not represented a qualitative increase in its functions. These difficulties could explain the Court's decision to reject an extension of the research, even though this could mean some impunity. In 2016, there were only two detainees for the Odebrecht case. In 2017, of the 43 defendants who could be involved in the acceptance of bribes valued at US$60 million, only 32 were prosecuted.

The Dominican Republic is also at a similar status . According to a survey of 2016, only 38% of Dominicans trust the judicial institution. This low percentage may have been contributed to by the fact that active members of political parties were elected to serve as Supreme Court judges, something that tarnishes the credibility of the judiciary and its independence. In 2016, Dominican courts only inquired about one person, when the U.S. Supreme Court estimated that the Brazilian business had given $92 million in political bribes, one of the highest amounts outside Brazil. In 2017, the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic ordered the release from prison of 9 out of 10 allegedly involved in the case due to insufficient evidence.

Need for greater coordination and reform

In October 2017, public prosecutors from Latin America met in Panama City to share information on money laundering, especially in relation to the Odebrecht case. Officials expressed the need to leave no case unpunished, thereby contributing to solving one of the biggest political, economic and judicial problems in the region. Some prosecutors reported having suffered threats in their investigations. All of them valued positively the meeting, as it highlighted the need for greater fiscal coordination and legislative harmony in Latin America. However, it is important to note that the Dominican Republic was absent from meeting.

Any awareness of public ministries in Latin America is essential given the correlation observed between the countries affected by Odebrecht bribes and their poor ranking in indexes provided by different international organizations and centers of research. Ineffective rule of law and lack of control of corruption enable companies like Odebrecht to succeed in their bribery policy to gain a competitive advantage. 

The shortcomings of the judicial systems in countries such as Panama and the Dominican Republic, in particular, may make it possible for public officials to go unpunished for crimes committed. In addition, the Odebrecht case, of great magnitude in the region, could further congest judicial activity if effective reforms are not made in each country. 

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

The constant expansion of the crop in Mercosur countries has led them to exceed 50% of world production.

Soybean is the agricultural product with the highest commercial growth in the world. The needs of China and India, major consumers of the fruit of this oleaginous plant and its derivatives, make South America a strategic granary. Its profitability has encouraged the extension of the crop, especially in Brazil and Argentina, but also in Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay. Its expansion is behind recent deforestation in the Amazon and the Gran Chaco. After hydrocarbons and minerals, soybeans are the other major commodity in South America subject .

article / Daniel Andrés Llonch [English version].

Soybean has been cultivated in Asian civilizations for thousands of years; today its cultivation is also widespread in other parts of the world. It has become the most important oilseed grain for human consumption and animal feed. With great nutritional properties due to its high protein content, soybeans are marketed both in grain and in their oil and meal derivatives.

Of the eleven largest soybean producers, five are in South America: Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay. In 2016, these countries were the origin of 50.6% of world production, whose total reached 334.8 million tons, according to FAO's data . The first producer was the United States (34.9% of world production), followed by Brazil (28.7%) and Argentina (17.5%). India and China follow on the list, although what is significant about the latter country is its large consumption, which in 2016 forced it to import 83.2 million tons. A large part of these import needs are covered from South America. South American production is centered in the Mercosur nations (in addition to Brazil and Argentina, also Paraguay and Uruguay) and Bolivia.

Strong international demand and the high relative profitability of soybeans in recent years have fueled the expansion of soybean cultivation in the Mercosur region. The commodity price boom, in which soybeans also participated, led to profits that were directed to the acquisition of new land and equipment, allowing producers to increase their scale and efficiency.

In Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay, the area planted with soybean is the majority (it constitutes more than 50% of the total area planted with the five most important crops in each country). If to group we add Uruguay, where soybean has enjoyed a later expansion, we have that the production of these five South American countries has gone from 99 million tons in 2006 to 169.7 million in 2016, which is an increase of 71.2% (Brazil and Bolivia have almost doubled their production, somewhat surpassed by Paraguay and Uruguay, a country where it has tripled). In the decade, this South American area has gone from contributing 44.7% of world production to total 50.6%. In that time, the cultivated area increased from 40.6 million hectares to 58.4 million hectares.




As the second largest soybean producer in the world, Brazil reached in 2016 a production of 96.2 million tons (28.7% of the world total), with a crop area of 33.1 million hectares. Its production has known a constant increase, so that in the last decade the volume of the crop has increased by 83.5%. The jump has been especially B in the last four years, in which Brazil and Argentina have experienced the highest rate of increase of the crop, with an annual average of 936,000 and 878,000 hectares, respectively, from agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) department .

Argentina is the second largest producer in Mercosur, with 58.7 million tons (17.5% of world production) and a cultivated area of 19.5 million hectares. Soybean began to be planted in Argentina in the mid 1970s, and in less than 40 years it has made unprecedented progress. This crop occupies 63% of the country's areas planted with the five most important crops, compared to 28% of the area occupied by corn and wheat.

Paraguay, meanwhile, had a 2016 harvest of 9.1 million tons of soybeans (2.7% of world production). In recent seasons, soybean production has increased as more land is allocated for its cultivation. From agreement with the USDA, over the last two decades, land devoted to soybean cultivation has steadily increased by 6% annually. There are currently 3.3 million hectares of land in Paraguay dedicated to this activity, which constitutes 66% of the land used for the main crops.

In Bolivia, soybeans are grown mainly in the Santa Cruz region. According to the USDA, it accounts for 3% of the country's Gross Domestic Product, and employs 45,000 workers directly. In 2016, the country harvested 3.2 million tons (0.9% of world production), on an area of 1.3 million hectares.

Soybean plantations occupy more than 60 percent of the arable land in Uruguay, where soybean production has been increasing in recent years. In fact, it is the country where production has grown the most in relative terms in the last decade (67.7%), reaching 2.2 million tons in 2016 and a cultivated extension of 1.1 million hectares.



Increased demand

Soybean production represents a very important fraction of the agricultural GDP of South American nations. The five countries mentioned above, together with the United States, account for 85.6% of global production, making them the main suppliers of the growing world demand.

This production has experienced a progressive increase since its insertion in the market, with the exception of Uruguay, whose expansion of the product has been more recent. In the period between 1980 and 2005, for example, total world soybean demand expanded by 174.3 million tons, or 2.8 times. During this period, the growth rate of global demand accelerated from 3% per year in the 1980s to 5.6% per year in the last decade.

In all the South American countries mentioned above, soybean cultivation has been especially encouraged, due to the benefits it brings. Thus, in Brazil, the largest regional producer of the oleaginous grain, soybeans contribute revenues estimated at 10 billion dollars in exports, representing 14% of the total products marketed by the country. In Argentina, soybean cultivation went from representing 10.6% of agricultural production in 1980/81 to more than 50% in 2012/2013, generating significant economic benefits.

The outlook for growth in demand suggests that production will continue to rise. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that global production will exceed 500 million tons in 2050, double the volume harvested in 2010. Much of this demand will have to be met from South America.

Categories Global Affairs: Energy, resources and sustainability Articles Latin America

The project 'One Belt-One Road' aims to consolidate China's rise as a superpower.

Xi Jinping's ambitious initiative to connect China to the rest of the Eurasian continent may prove costly and difficult. But unlike the overland route through the Central Asian republics, the sea route may not take long to become a reality on certain stretches, as China has already built some ports along part of the route.

▲The land and sea routes of the Chinese initiative [yourfreetemplates].

article / Jimena Puga Gómez [English version].

Following Chinese President Xi Jinping's 2013 revitalisation of the ancient Silk Road speech , the initiative that started as an idea has become the Beijing government's biggest economic challenge: a revolution that, if realised, will change the Asian continent's passenger, freight and hydrocarbon transport infrastructure, as well as high-tech. Dubbed OBOR-OneBelt-One Road, the plan is intended to be the core topic of China's rise as a regional superpower.

The OBOR initiative is a grand plan to reshape China's strategic environment, project Beijing's economic power, secure the communist country's access to energy and mineral supplies, and boost economic growth in the west of the People's Republic. OBOR seeks to achieve these goals by fostering greater and faster connectivity between China and Europe through intermediate points in Central, West and South Asia, as well as with Russia.

For its part, the maritime route that will form one of the pieces core topic of the OBOR initiative, also known as the Silk Road of the 21st century, counts on the fact that seven of the ten largest ports in the world are in China and, as is well known, these infrastructures make the Asian giant an important exporter of port services management . 

The Eastbound Maritime Silk Road will start in Fujian province and pass through Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan, before heading south to the Strait of Malacca. From Kuala Lumpur, the Route will continue to Kolkata and Colombo, then cross the rest of the Indian Ocean towards Nairobi. From there, it will travel through the Horn of Africa, seeking to cross the strategic Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. Beijing's plan aims to create sufficient infrastructure to allow Chinese ships to safely reach the Mediterranean after sailing through the Suez Canal. But the People's Republic's ambition does not stop at the EU's doorstep, as China wants to reach Athens via the Aegean and from there to Venice, where it will look for land routes to move its goods throughout the Union. Chinese investment has focused, among other things, on the port of Piraeus, with a new logistics centre, and on the development of a network of logistics infrastructures through the Balkans and Hungary.

The South Pacific has also been included in this strategic route map devised in Beijing. Thus, the maritime Silk Road has two routes. The first, as mentioned above, originates on China's east coast and, via the South China Sea, aims to establish strategic control of the Spratley Islands, the Strait of Malacca and the entire Indo-Pacific area, including the Bay of Bengal, in order to reach the heart of Europe. The second sea route will also cross the South China Sea to direct its ships to the coastal ports of the South Pacific. In this way, China would also control the routes for the essential raw materials that come from Latin America.

Although this is a long-term economic project deadline , the Chinese government has already begun the construction of certain infrastructures and the necessary negotiations with different countries. A clear example is Germany. The European Union is China's largest trading partner , while the People's Republic of China is the EU's second largest provider . sample . Germany is a country that not only enjoys an excellent reputation as a reliable partner in China, but is also regarded as "Europe's trade gateway". test This is why, at a meeting in Duisburg, the world's largest inland port and an important transport and logistics hub in Europe, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to Germany "to work together to realise the ambitious project of the revival of the economic belt of the new Silk Road of the 21st century". Germany and China are currently connected by the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Duisburg international railway line.

The ports built by China at Hambantota and Colombo in Sri Lanka, the China-Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone in Egypt, Kazakhstan's negotiation of the right to clear its imports and exports through the Chinese port of Lianyungang, and a new alliance between ports in China and Malaysia are further examples of China's ability to leverage its new skill as a port moderniser and manager to support its strategy.

The New Silk Road initiative is a project that will require multi-billion dollar investments in order to build smooth, safe and efficient transport infrastructures. The effects of this economic network ensure benefits not only for China, the leader of the OBOR initiative, but also for all countries affected by it. However, the financing of project is still a question mark that needs to be clarified.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Economics, Trade & Technology Logistics & InfrastructureArticles

The well-trodden step, decisive in the strategies of both countries to counter each other

A thermometer to measure the future pulse of forces between China and India will be the Strait of Malacca, a passage through the Strait of Malay core topic for the connection between the northern Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific region. India is responding to the further expansion of Chinese maritime interests, which force Beijing to pay close attention to Malacca, by advancing positions towards the western mouth of the strait.

▲Map of the Indo-Pacific [US DoD]

article / Alejandro Puigrefagut [English version]

Sea routes are the basis of trade and communication between more than 80% of the world's countries. This fact makes the natural geographical location of States of great strategic importance. A particularly important point for maritime traffic is the Strait of Malacca. core topic for the trade of the most populous region on the planet.

The Strait of Malacca, which links the South China Sea with the Burma Sea on its way to the Bay of Bengal, is the world's busiest commercial passage and is therefore a strategic location. This corridor , which surrounds the western coast of the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is used by approximately 60% of the world's maritime trade, exceeding one hundred and fifty ships per day, and is the main oil supply route for two of Asia's main consumers: the People's Republic of China and Japan. This geographical point is core topic for the entire Indo-Pacific region, ensuring the free movement of ships is strategic. That is why many states in the region, including China and the United States, see the need to protect this passage in order to be able to supply themselves, export their goods and not be blocked by the control of a third country over this area.

In relation to China, it is not easy to think that a blockade of its supply due to problems in the Strait of Malacca will happen. For this to happen, an armed conflict of extraordinary dimensions would have to be generated, propitiating this blockade by a subject that could control – and potentially interrupt – the passage to the other countries of the region. This potential risk, which today can only be generated by the U.S. Navy, forces China to be vigilant and have to develop sufficient military capabilities to protect what it considers its territories in the South China Sea and, by extension, the supply of vital resources that must necessarily pass through the Strait of Malacca.



The Asian giant's positions and presence in the South China Sea and in the areas adjacent to the Strait of Malacca have increased in recent years, with the aim of increasing its influence over the states of the region. Moreover, in order to defend its supplies of oil and natural gas (from the Persian Gulf), China has extended its presence to the Indian Ocean, although this is not enough. The reality is that in this area there is a large skill between two of the most influential Asian powers in the region: China and India. Due to the growing presence and influence of the People's Republic in the Indian Ocean, India has been forced to take proactive measures to improve peace and stability in the region, mobilizing and expanding its presence from its east coast to the vicinity of the Strait, in order to rebalance the regional balance of power. In this way, India can dominate the western access to the Strait and, consequently, have a longer reaction time to manoeuvre in the Indian Ocean as well as in the Strait itself and even access the waters of the South China Sea more quickly.

At the same time, India's growing approach to the South China Sea is watched with concern in Beijing, and some analysts even see India as a threat in the hypothetical case of a war between the two regional powers and India blocks the Strait and, therefore, China's access to certain raw materials and other resources. For this reason, China has conducted a number of joint military exercises with third States in the Strait of Malacca over the past three years, especially with Malaysia. During the first exercises in the area, the Ministry of Defense of the People's Republic of China concluded that bilateral relations with Malaysia were strengthened in terms of security and defense cooperation and that the joint response capability to security threats was "increased." In addition, for China, the protection of the Strait is a priority because of its great strategic value and because countries such as the United States are a key factor in the protection of the Strait . The U.S. and Japan also want to control it.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Security & Defence World Order, Diplomacy & Governance Articles

Continental U.S. neighbors are having a hard time interpreting the first year of the new Administration.

Donald Trump arrives at his first anniversary as president having set some recent fires in Latin America. His rude disregard for El Salvador and Haiti, due to the volume of refugees welcomed in the United States, and his intemperate attention to Colombia for the increase in cocaine production worsen relations that, although already complicated in the case of Mexico, have had some good moments throughout the year, such as the dinner of presidents that Trump convened in September in New York in which a united action on Venezuela was outlined.

▲Trump, on completing 100 days as president [White House].

article / Garhem O. Padilla [English version].

One year after the arrival of the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald John Trump, to the White House -the inauguration ceremony was on January 20-, controversy dominates the balance of the new Administration, both in its domestic and international performance. The continental neighbors of the U.S., in particular, show bewilderment over Trump's policies toward the hemisphere. On the one hand, they regret the U.S. disinterest in commitments to economicdevelopment and multilateral integration; on the other, they note some activity in relation to some regional problems, such as Venezuela. The balance for the moment is mixed, although there is unanimous agreement that Trump's language and many of his manners rather threaten relations.


agreement In the economic field, the Trump era began with the withdrawal final of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on January 23, 2017. This made it impossible for entrance to enter into force, as the United States is the market for which the TPP was created agreement, which has affected the prospects of the Latin American countries that participated in the initiative.

The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), demanded by Trump, was immediately opened. Doubts about the future of NAFTA, signed in 1994 and which Trump has described as a "disaster", have been prominent so far in his administration. Some of his demands, which Mexico and Canada oppose, are to increase the quota for products manufactured in the United States and the "sunset" clause, which would oblige the treaty to be reviewed methodically every five years and would cause it to be suspended if any of its three members were not in agreement with agreement. All of this stems from the U.S. president's idea of fail the treaty if it is not favorable to his country. 

Cuba and Venezuela

If the quarrels with Mexico have not yet reached a conclusion, in the case of Cuba Trump has already retaliated against the Castro regime, with the expulsion in October of 15 Cuban diplomats from the Cuban embassy in Washington as a response to the "sonic attacks" that affected 24 U.S. diplomats on the island. The White House has also reversed some of the Obama Administration's conciliatory measures, when it realized that Castroism is not responding with openness concessions.

As far as Venezuela is concerned, Trump has made forceful efforts to introduce measures and sanctions against corrupt officials, in addition to addressing the political status with other countries, so that they support those efforts aimed at eradicating the Venezuelan crisis, thus generating multilateralism among American countries. However, this policy has its detractors, who believe that the sanctions are not intended to achieve a long-term goal deadline , and it is unclear how they would promote Venezuelan stability.

Although in these actions on Cuba and Venezuela Trump has alluded to the democratic principles violated by the rulers of Havana and Caracas, his Administration has not particularly insisted on the commitment to human rights, democracy and moral values, as had been usual in the argumentation of U.S. foreign policy. Some critics point out that the Trump Administration is willing to promote human rights only when they fit its political objectives.  

This could explain the worsening opinion in Latin America about the United States and relations with that country. From agreement with the survey Latinobarómetro 2017, the favorable opinion has fallen to 67%, seven points below the one at the end of the Obama Administration, which was 74%. Said survey sample a relevant difference for Mexico, one of the countries that, without a doubt, has the worst levels of favorable opinion towards the Trump Administration: in 2017 it was 48%, a drop of 29 points compared to 2016, when it was 77%.



Immigration, withdrawal, decline

The restrictive immigration policies applied would also explain the rejection of the Trump Administration by Latin American public opinion. In the immigration section the most recent is the decision not to renew the authorization to stay in the United States of thousands of Salvadorans and Haitians, who once arrived fleeing calamities in their countries.

It is also worth mentioning Trump's efforts to achieve one of his main objectives since the beginning of his political campaign: to build a border wall with Mexico. The U.S. president has not been very successful so far in this goal, since despite having sought ways to finance it, what he has managed to introduce in the budgets is very insignificant in relation to the estimated costs. On the other hand, his decision

Trump's protectionism entails a retreat that may be accentuating the decline of the United States as a leader in Latin America, especially vis-à-vis other powers. China has been increasing its economic and political engagement in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Venezuela. Russia, for its part, has strengthened its diplomatic and security relations with Cuba. It could be said that, taking advantage of the conflicts between the island and the United States, Moscow has sought to keep it in its orbit through a series of investments.

Security threats

This leads us to mention the new US National Security Strategy, announced in December. The document, presented by Trump, addresses the rivalry with China and Russia, and also refers to challenge the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes, for the alleged security threats they pose and the Russian support they receive. Trump expressed a strong desire to see Cuba and Venezuela join in "shared freedom and prosperity" and called to "isolate governments that refuse to act as responsible partners in advancing hemispheric peace and prosperity."

Similarly, the new U.S. Security Strategy alludes to other challenges in the region, such as transnational criminal organizations, which impede the stability of Central American countries, especially Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. However, the document devotes only one page to Latin America, in line with Washington's traditional focus on the areas of the world that most affect its interests and security.

An opportunity for the United States to get closer to Latin American countries will be the Summit of the Americas, to be held next March in Lima. However, nothing is predictable given the President's characteristic attitude, which leaves a great deal of room for possible surprises.

Categories Global Affairs: North America World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

The cycles of the Latin American Economics are closely linked to mineral prices: the graphs are astounding.

Public attention on the price of commodities is often focused on hydrocarbons, preferably oil, because of the direct consequences on consumers. But although Latin America has major crude oil producers, minerals are a more cross-cutting asset on the region's Economics , especially in South America. This is demonstrated by the largely parallel lines that follow the evolution of non-energy minerals and GDP growth, both in times of boom and bust.


article / Ignacio Urbasos Arbeloa [English version].

Mining is a fundamental activity for many Latin American economies. The sector has an enormous weight in exports and foreign investment, making it one of the main sources of foreign exchange. In contrast to the general perception of non-energy mining as a mature industry, the sector continues to be attractive to investors and is capable of continuing to generate employment and wealth. Latin American mining receives 30% of the world's investment in the sector, which expects a recovery in prices. The impact of these fluctuations has direct consequences on the economies of the continent, some of which are highly dependent on the exploitation and sale of these resources. The goal of this analysis is to articulate a convincing explanation of the Degree in which these price variations affect national GDPs.

First of all, it is important to detail the chronological evolution of prices of the main minerals exploited in Latin America. The general trend in commodity prices over the last two decades has been marked by enormous volatility. The so-called commodity super cycle [1] given approximately between 2003 and 2013, with a setback between 2008 and 2009, occurs at the same time as the so-called golden decade in Latin America. This status was produced by an unprecedented rise in world demand, thanks to emerging countries led by China, which has transformed foreign trade in the region, displacing the USA as the first partner of most of these countries.

The evolution in prices has followed a very similar patron saint in non-energy mining, which by rule generally follows the price trends of the rest of the raw materials. As we can see in Figure 1.1, the Latin American and Caribbean region has had an economic growth very similar to the average evolution of gold, silver, tin, nickel, lead and copper prices. It is important to mention that the relationship between these two variables is not isolated, and should be analyzed in the above-mentioned context of a general rise in the prices of other raw materials of vital importance for the region, such as hydrocarbons or agricultural products. 


[The graphs are based on World Bank Data and national statistics from Peru and Chile] [The graphs are based on World Bank Data and national statistics from Peru and Chile].


The case of Chile can be extremely useful. Chile has a Economics particularly specialized in non-energy mining, highlighting the exploitation of copper, an activity in which it is a world leader and which accounts for 50% of its exports. The mining sector in Chile [2] reached almost 20% of GDP in the mid-2000s; in 2017 it has accounted for around 9%. In Figure 1.2 we see how the price of copper sets the country's economic path, with the greatest periods of Chilean economic growth coinciding with the increase in copper prices. Despite being one of the most developed economies in the region [3], with a 74% weight of the services sector in GDP, the country is still conditioned by the situation of its primary sector and specifically mining.



Another interesting case is Peru, a country whose exports include a good share of non-energy minerals [4], reaching 46% of exports in the case of gold (18%) and copper (26%). Similarly to Chile, the share of mining in the Economics is 15% of GDP. Again, we can appreciate the correlation between the prices of certain strategic non-energy minerals and economic growth.



This relationship is logical and responds to several realities. On the one hand, the great quantitative value of raw materials in Latin American economies, which concentrate their exports in agricultural, mineral and energy products. On the other hand, its qualitative importance since the sector generates large amounts of employment (up to 9% in Chile), is the object of many of the main companies in the region (5 of the 20 largest in Latin America are dedicated to extraction), is the main source of foreign currency and leaves enormous benefits for the coffers of the States, since they are governed under a particular tax system more burdensome. Likewise, a good part of the payment of foreign debt is covered by these revenues, and price instability could bring back the ghosts of the debt crisis of the eighties, something that is already a reality in the case of Venezuela.

Although the countries of Latin America cannot be analyzed as a heterogeneous unit, in general terms the region does face a common challenge : to be able to reduce the dependence of its economies on the exploitation and export of raw materials. An activity that has problematic elements such as its impact on the environment, a particularly complex issue in the region due to the reticence of indigenous groups, or the quality and stability of the employment they generate. In any case, the region's industrial development is still deficient and there are more and more voices warning that the golden decade of 2003-2013 was not used to make the necessary structural changes to mitigate this status [5].

The existence of complex realities partner-politics in Latin America has often led to the use of the benefits derived from extraction in short term and electoral policies, a scourge that increases the exhibition of social welfare to the ups and downs of the mining and energy sector. Although commodity price predictions point to an imminent recovery [6], status is not expected to be similar to the one around 2008 when prices reached historic highs. This new situation will demand the maximum from Latin American economies, which will not be able to count on such a favorable status from the international Economics .

Categories Global Affairs: Energy, resources and sustainability Articles Latin America

Russia's GLONASS positioning system has placed ground stations in Brazil and Nicaragua; the Brazilian ones are accessible, but the Nicaraguan one is open to conjecture.

At a time when Russia has declared its interest in having military installations in the Caribbean again, the opening of a Russian station in Managua's area has raised some suspicions. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, has opened four stations in Brazil, managed with transparency and easy access; in contrast, the one it has built in Nicaragua is shrouded in secrecy. The little that is known about the Nicaraguan station, strangely larger than the others, contrasts with how openly data can be collected about the Brazilian ones.

article / Jakub Hodek [English version].

It is well known that information is power. The more information one has and manages, the more power one enjoys. This approach should be taken when examining the station facilities that support the Russian satellite navigation system and their construction in close proximity to the United States. Of course, we are no longer in the Cold War period, but some traumas of those old days can perhaps help us to better understand the cautious position of the United States and the importance Russia sees in having its facilities in Brazil and especially in Nicaragua.

That historical background of the Cold War is at the origin of the two major navigation systems we use today. The United States launched the Global Positioning System (GPS) project in 1973, and possibly in response, the Soviet Union introduced its own positioning system (GLONASS) three years later. [1] Nearly 45 years have passed, and these two systems are no longer serving as a means for Russians and Americans to try to obtain information about the opposing side, but are collaborating and thus providing a more accurate and faster navigation system for consumers who purchase a smartphone or other electronic device. [2]

However, to achieve global coverage both systems need not only satellites, but also ground stations strategically located around the world. With that purpose, Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos has erected stations for the GLONASS system in Russia, Antarctica and South Africa, as well as in the Western Hemisphere: it already has four stations in Brazil and since April 2017 it has one in Nicaragua, which due to the secrecy surrounding its function has caused distrust and suspicion in the United States [3] (USA, for its part, has GPS ground stations in its territory and in Australia, Argentina, United Kingdom, Bahrain, Ecuador, South Korea, Tahiti, South Africa and New Zealand).

The Russian Global Navigation Satellite System(Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sputnikovaya Sistema or GLONASS) is a positioning system operated by the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces. It consists of 28 satellites, allowing real-time positioning and speed data for surface, sea and airborne objects around the world. [ 4] In principle GLONASS does not transmit any identification information staff; in fact, user devices only receive signals from the satellites, without transmitting anything back. However, it was originally developed with military applications in mind and carries encrypted signals that are supposed to provide higher resolutions to authorized military users (same the US GPS). [5]

In Brazil, there are four ground stations used to track signals from the GLONASS constellation. These stations serve as correction points in the western hemisphere and help to significantly improve the accuracy of navigation signals. Russia is in close and transparent partnership with the Brazilian space agency (AEB), promoting the research and development of the South American country's aerospace sector.



In 2013, the first station was installed, located at campus of the University of Brasilia, which was also the first Russian station of that subject abroad. Another station followed at the same location in 2014, and later, in 2016, a third one was placed at the high school Federal Science Education and Technology of Pernambuco, in Recife. The Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos built its fourth Brazilian station on the territory of the Federal University of Santa Maria, in Rio Grande do Sul. In addition to fulfilling its main purpose of increasing the accuracy and improving the performance of GLONASS, the facility can be used by Brazilian scientists to carry out other types of scientific research . [6]

The level of transparency that surrounded the construction and then prevailed in the management of the stations in Brazil is definitely not the same applied to the one opened in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. There are several pieces of information that sow doubts regarding the real use of the station. To begin with, there is no information on the cost of the facilities or on the specialization of the staff. The fact that it has been placed a short distance from the U.S. Embassy has given rise to conjecture about its use for eavesdropping and espionage.

In addition, vague answers from representatives of Nicaragua and Roscosmos about the use of the station have failed to convey confidence about project. It is a "strategicproject " for both Nicaragua and Russia, concluded Laureano Ortega, the son of the Nicaraguan president. Both countries claim to have a very fluid and close cooperation in many spheres, such as in projects related to health and development, however none of them have materialized with such speed and dedication. [7]

Given Russia's increased military presence in Nicaragua, empowered by the agreement facilitating the docking of Russian warships in Nicaragua announced by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during his visit to the Central American country in February 2015, and also concretized in the donation of 50 Russian T-72B1 tanks in 2016 and the increasing movement of the Russian military staff , it can be concluded that Russia clearly sees strategic importance in its presence in Nicaragua. [ 8] [ 9] All this is viewed with suspicion from the U.S. The head of the U.S. Southern Command, Kirt Tidd, warned in April that "the Russians are pursuing an unsettling posture" in Nicaragua, which "impacts the stability of the region."

Undoubtedly, when world powers such as Russia or the United States act outside their territory, they are always guided by a combination of motivations. Strategic moves are essential in the game of world politics. For this very reason, the financial aid that a country receives or the partnership that it can establish with a great power is often subject to political conditionality. In this case, it is difficult to know for sure what exactly is the goal of the station in Nicaragua or even those in Brazil. At first glance, the goal seems neutral-offering higher quality of navigation system and providing a different option to GPS-but given the new value Russia is placing on its geopolitical capabilities, there is the possibility of a more strategic use.

Categories Global Affairs: Central Europe and Russia Security and defense Articles Latin America