Archive for November, 2012

11/30/2012
Don’t Cry For Argentina, The World’s Worst Sovereign Deadbeat
English: ARA Libertad (Q-2), a training ship o...ARA Libertad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Julian Ku

Last month, a court in Ghana detained the ARA Libertad, an Argentine naval training vessel, until Argentina guarantees repayment for a portion of its defaulted government debt.  This minor legal action has now exploded into an international incident.  Argentina has accused Ghana of violating international treaties, sought the intervention of the U.N. Security Council, and suggested that the Ghana courts are facilitating “an act of piracy against a sovereign country by greedy “vulture funds.”  They have also recently sought action by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

But Argentina’s bluster obscures the weakness of their legal position.  The Ghana court’s well-reasoned and thoughtful decision is completely consistent with international law and should be lauded for forcing Argentina to face accountability for its financial impunity.

Like other sovereign deadbeats, Argentina has used its status as a sovereign to avoid the consequences of its financial actions.  Unlike a private corporation, a sovereign government can default on debt it borrowed from private creditors, and then largely ignore demands for repayment by invoking the international legal doctrine of sovereign immunity.  This doctrine generally shields the sovereign governments and their property from lawsuits in the courts of other sovereigns.

Of course as the Ghana court correctly held, Argentina has explicitly waived its right to invoke sovereign immunity defenses against claims for repayment on its bonds.  Because of its past history of defaults, private creditors had demanded Argentina grant this waiver before they would purchase Argentine bonds.  Every court that has reviewed Argentina’s bond contract, including the Ghana court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, and the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court, has agreed that Argentina has made an explicit and valid waiver of all of its sovereign immunity defenses for repayment of its bonds.

Now that those investors have won judgments in the U.K. and the U.S. ordering repayment on those bonds, Argentina is claiming that, under international law, its waiver cannot apply to its naval vessels or any of its government property. Putting aside the fact that Argentina has itself ignored such international law when it seized property off a U.S. air force plane last year, Argentina’s legal argument is simply incorrect.  While naval vessels do enjoy immunity from seizure under international law, there is nothing that prevents countries from waiving that immunity, as Argentina has clearly done here.

Indeed, British courts have long allowed sovereigns to waive immunity for military vessels and many other countries follow the same approach. The main exception, the United States, does not allow execution of judgments on such vessels for domestic policy reasons, and not because international law prohibits such actions.

This is why Argentina’s public relations campaign to delegitimize the Ghana court by hinting at the influence of “vulture funds” is so outrageous.  Rather than condemning the Ghanian court,  we should be supporting its sensible application of international law by refusing to allow Argentina to ignore its own legally binding promises. The weakness of Argentina’s legal case is probably why it is frantically applying political and diplomatic pressure to overturn the court’s decision.  It has no serious legal argument that could do so.

As nations like Greece and Spain continue to struggle against dangerously high levels of public debt, some have suggested those countries would be better off following the example of Argentina. But while Greece and Spain might benefit from joining the ranks of sovereign deadbeats, the Argentina model of debt, default, and financial impunity deserves condemnation rather than emulation.

Julian Ku is Professor of Law and Faculty Director of International Programs at Maurice A. Deane School of Law Hofstra University.

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Low End is a Uruguayan company that does information equipment for stores: POS, inventory, etc. I saw their truck on the road the other day and couldn’t believe my eyes.

2012-11-30 12.19.18 pm

Even the logo has the 😐 “smiley of unamused disinterest”

Come and get your Low End POS 😐

You might think that a price of $120 (USD$6.00) for a 400-gram bag was enough to dissuade Uruguayans from eating potato chips, but clearly they love them too much and continue to buy them. So the genius board of miraculous experts is discussing a special “potato chip tax.”

According to Senator Ernesto Agazzi, “I recognize that this is a somewhat delicate issue because it affects freedom of supply and demand, but, unfortunately, often lower-income sectors consume this shit because they’re cheaper.”

Cheaper??? What? Jesus Christ on a cross, man, have you done your own shopping recently?

Anyhow, you can read the official absurdity here. Thanks to BeelzeBob for the link.

Uruguay Set for Record Homicide Rate in 2012

Original article here.

  • Written by
  • Thursday, 22 November 2012

Uruguay is on course for its most violent year on record, according to a new report, suggesting that organized crime may be increasing its presence in one of Latin America’s historically more peaceful countries.

The Proposal Foundation (Fundacion Propuesta – FP), an organization that monitors security in Uruguay, released figures putting the country on course for a homicide rate of 9.19 per 100,000 in 2012. This marks a jump from 6.27 per 100,000 last year, and means that 2012 will be Uruguay’s most violent year on record, reported EFE.

Nearly half of the 259 homicides so far this year were the result of fights, assaults and robberies, according to the FP, which collects its statistics from press reports of killings throughout the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

While a homicide rate of less than 10 per 100,000 people is still low for the region — neighboring Brazil had a rate of 21 per 100,000 in 2010, for example — the jump of nearly 50 percent in a year is cause for alarm. What’s more, given that the FP collects its statistics from newspaper reports, it is possible that the real figure could be higher.

In January, InSight Crime noted that a spate of gang shootouts and murders in Montevideo pointed to increased organized criminal activity in the country, with officials admitting their concern over rising violence, which they attributed to warring drug gangs.

According to the US State Department, drug traffickers from Colombia, Mexico and Bolivia are increasingly using Uruguay as a transit point for narcotics. Uruguayan officials are also concerned that Brazilian gangs may be using their country as a haven from the attention of Brazilian authorities, and that criminal organizations may even be shifting cocaine production operations to the country.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently reopened its office in Uruguay, 18 years after it was closed, underscoring the country’s growing importance in the international narcotics trade.

Uruguayans return to find: expensive country, and little work.

Original article here on El Pais. Thanks to Beelzebob for the link. Awful translation by yours truly with help from The Google.

Gustavo came to stay, but only for seven months in Uruguay. Claudia took a year because she could not afford to buy a ticket to return to Canada. Returnees say they arrived with “false expectations,” and many decide to leave.

“The reality slaps me. Wakes me from this patriotic dream that I had. What was I thinking when I? (…) Today it starts all over again, my second migration (…) Uruguay has perfect sunsets on the Rambla, and then you have a barbecue with friends, mates, the stars of Cabo Polonio, it can be an enjoyable vacation.” This is one of the messages posted on her blog; it summarizes the feelings of many Uruguayans who returned to the country from abroad and clashed with a reality that was not what they expected.

They say that the consulates lied because the country is not better, as they were assured. “What has improved? You might find a job but you have to work three jobs to pay the rent, bills and eat” says Claudia, who lived in Canada for ten years and then came to Uruguay, where she says she is “just surviving “.

“As survival here is appalling, I am making plans to leave,” she says.

Claudia works in a mall, earns $10,000 (USD$500 per month), lives in a “horrible” pension apartment because, she says, it is all she can afford on her salary. She regrets that she made the decision to return. “This is not my country, my country is Canada that gave me everything and opened my doors. Uruguay gave me nothing,” she says with absolute coldness.

The housing and wages are the two major difficulties faced by returnees who come to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “For income, the Housing Ministry will ask for a deposit of $60,000 and that your balance is above who knows how many thousands of dollars. It’s Ridiculous,” says Claudia.

Gustavo spent seven months in Uruguay, after living eight years in Spain, and was able to rent an apartment from a former neighbor. “As I lived in that building for my whole life and the owner knew me, I was able to rent it, but it did not meet any of the standards that the State promised me,” he says.

Gustavo returned to Uruguay in January. He left Barcelona because he said his country was “very nice and very good to work in.”

“Then I found everything horrible. Aggressive people, dirty city, a lot of crime, and all expensive. It’s a very expensive country to live in. Food in Barcelona is half cost. You take 50 euros ($ 1,300) to the store and you leave with the car full, “says Gustavo.

His contact with the State was asking for help with housing. And the answer was the same that Claudia received. <the following untranslatable due to some weird bureaucratic Uruguayan thing which makes my brain derail, something about the Montevideo Intendencia and possibly an inheritance?>

“In the Administration, I was told that if the estate had no money, my wife should put a notice in the newspaper offering to work. That was all the advice,” he says.

The inheritance did not last long and the only job he got was as a watchman in a building, which received $ 11,000, less than he needed to pay his rent. Gustavo does not regret having returned to the country. “What happened to us was something we had to do to see for ourselves, and unfortunately Uruguay is lacking in many things. We arrived in late July, and we are here today, installed with all the things necessary for life,” he says.

ORGANIZATIONS. Organizations or groups returned to the country say they have made progress but are missing a lot because Uruguay has no return policy. “There is goodwill but that is not enough. The only place that does anything is the Foreign Ministry, which basically solves emergencies” commented the organization “Retornados a Montevideo” which represents 700 people.

The organizations recognize that the advice we must give today to the Uruguayans abroad is, “if you do not have jobs and money to afford safe housing, do not come.”

“From what we can see, most are leaving; and as many turn to go, because the advice we have to give, some people are angry because they don’t want to hear that in this country”, they say.

Guillermo

“It’s hard to leave but harder to be back in Uruguay, I spent five months and still have no job”

Maria

“Whoever says that Uruguay is well, lies; work there does not offer salaries to live”

Claudia

“This is not my country, my country is Canada that gave me everything. Uruguay did not give me anything”

Web retornados

“Today begins my second migration without the pebble in the shoe to look back and think of Uruguay”

Gustavo

“Living in Uruguay is very expensive. The city is unsafe, dirty and full of aggressive people. I found another country”

Paulina

“Outside we used to get the basics covered very quickly and with less work”

TESTIMONIALS

The capital that saved him

GUILLERMO BARRIOS (45)

He went to the U.S. with his wife in 2000 and returned to Uruguay eleven years later because he could never get their papers. “I could bring savings and the car, so I took another way to get here,” says William. He bought shares in a cooperative ambulances and so far works there. His wife, however, has no job. The member of the organization “Volviendo al Uruguay” recognizes that if he got his papers he would go back. “Two months ago my daughter told me ‘you never told me why you came here, I miss everyone`. It killed me. ”

Seven fateful months

GUSTAVO LOPEZ

After spending seven months in Uruguay and returning to Barcelona in July, Gustavo Lopez says he is newly installed in the motherland. “I have my apartment with all my stuff,” he says and claims that the “boom” of Uruguay is a terrible crisis for any European. “Now we are in crisis and I am now as I was before I left,” he says. He insists that Uruguay is a very expensive country to live and that following their experience contacted dozens of people wanting to emigrate again.

El País Digital

David Finzer died a couple of weeks ago. I just received this following communique today; however, it arrived via another source, so I don’t know exactly how long the memo has been out. Thanks to GermanBob for forwarding this to me:

David Finzer, the CEO/owner/operator of Capital Conservator Group LLC
passed away in Novi Sad, Serbia due to complications from his fight with
metastatic melanoma. He was the sole member and sole manager of
Capital Conservator Group LLC. Distribution of membership interests in
the company has been assigned to a temporary board of trustees who
have requested that management temporarily suspend transactions until
such time as a full inventory of the current positions of Capital Conservator
Group LLC can occur effective immediately. Management is attempting to
locate, quantify, and access all assets and liabilities of Capital Conservator
Group LLC.

So until such time the state of the company can be assessed for the prospective
new owners, all transactions (funding of cards and sending of wires) will be
put on hold. Please note, funds already on bank cards are accessible.

Additionally, access to the online brokerage is not affected; however, sending
and receiving funds from the brokerage is not possible during this time.

We apologize for the inconvenience and will do all we can to rectify the situation
as quickly as possible. We will provide updates periodically in this message system
regarding the progress including time frames as more information becomes available.

Regards

Capital Conservator Group LLC

There is such a glut of empty and foreclosed and reposessed housing in Spain, as icing on the cake of their financial woes, that the government has proposed a program to offer permanent residency to foreigners buying properties valued at €160,000 or higher (USD$200,000). The plan has yet to become official policy but maybe they’ll get it drafted into effect in another decade or two.

Read the article here for more information.