Recent Events

On Thursday, October 5, 2017 the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center jointly hosted Mr. Gonzalo Aguirre, Mr. José María Castro, Mr. Giovani Machado, and Ms. Sue Saarnio for a discussion about the changing energy markets in Latin America and the role of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the regional energy mix. The discussion was moderated by the chairman of the Global Energy Center’s Advisory Group and Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center’s nonresident senior fellow, Mr. David Goldwyn.

The event opened with remarks from Mr. Goldwyn, who provided context on economic and energy developments of the last decade throughout Latin America, from increasing hydropower and renewable energy production to fiscal crises that have impacted cross-border trade. Following this introduction, Mr. Aguirre, Director of National Transport and Measurement of Hydrocarbons in the Argentinian Ministry of Energy and Mining, discussed regulatory frameworks for LNG in Argentina, as well as the country’s trade relationships with Bolivia and Chile. When asked about the status of energy in Colombia, Mr. Castro, general manager at Sociedad Portuaria El Cayao (SPEC LNG), touched on the country’s opening of a new LNG import terminal, the government’s mechanisms for financing projects including thermal generators, and the country’s trade relationship with Venezuela. Mr. Castro also called for increased energy integration throughout the region, pointing to a successful trade relationship between Bolivia and Brazil.

Mr. Machado, Head of Natural Gas and Biofuels at the Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (Brazil’s Energy Planning Agency) expanded on the need for growing regional energy trade, and suggested that seasonal differences across South America, particularly between the north and south, could create a synergistic relationship particularly regarding storage capacity. Additionally, Mr. Machado described the role of LNG, wind, and solar power in Brazil. Ms. Saarnio, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources, detailed opportunities for the United States to work cooperatively with Latin American countries on energy security and supply. She agreed on the need for increased regional trade.

Overall, each of the panelists signaled that their respective countries would be interested in further collaboration on these topics. They also agreed that there is potential for regional energy integration, and that LNG markets may contribute to cross-border integration.
Following the end of the second round of NAFTA renegotiations, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center—in partnership with the Council’s Global Energy Center—hosted a discussion on a modernized NAFTA’s potential to revolutionize North America’s energy space on September 7, 2017. The event featured special remarks by Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX 10th District) and followed with a panel of leading experts on trade and energy, including David L. Goldwyn, chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Energy Advisory Group and nonresident senior fellow with the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center; Jeffrey J. Schott, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics; and Shawn Donnan, world trade editor at the Financial Times. The conversation was moderated by Amy Harder, energy reporter at Axios.

The event also marked the launch of a new Atlantic Council Spotlight publication, authored by David Goldwyn, outlining four ways an updated NAFTA can improve North American energy market integration and the region’s global energy competitiveness.
Even by its own standards, Venezuela is experiencing a period of crisis. Daily clashes occur between government and opposition forces as thousands take to the street to protest the government’s consolidation of power. Recently, twelve nations met in Lima to condone the rupture of democratic order in Venezuela. Mexico, Panama, Colombia, and the United States have placed additional economic restrictions on current and former government officials. Yet, despite these efforts, Venezuela’s government has moved ahead with a constitutional overhaul, prompting the United States to threaten stronger economic measures.  

On August 9, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center held a public conference call on with Francisco Monaldi, Fellow in Latin American Energy Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, and David Mortlock, Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, to discuss the Arsht Center’s latest publication, Venezuela: What Are The Most Effective US Sanctions?. The authors provided an in-depth discussion, moderated by center director Jason Marczak, about five US sanctions options and laid out principles to be applied, stressing the need for joint action with the international community.
Since the beginning of 2017, thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets to protest the government’s repressive policies and worsening economic and humanitarian crisis. Following a massive referendum on July 16 in which millions of Venezuelans voted against a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, the international community is again considering its next move.

To discuss the path ahead for the crisis-stricken country, on Friday, July 21, the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center hosted a panel discussion, ‘Venezuela on the Edge: The Time for New International Action’ with Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro. The event also launched the Atlantic Council’s new Venezuela Tracker, which for the first time aggregates a wide range of indicators like inflation and external debt in real time. The beta version is set to be updated over the next few weeks with additional indicators on health and poverty.
Corruption scandals continue to shake Latin America´s political landscape, but several institutions and anti-corruption movements have risen to the challenge. Across the region, vigorous investigations have implicated elite circles of business and politics –deemed untouchable– in major graft cases. Unprecedented in scale and impact, Brazil´s Lava Jato probe stands as the centerpiece of this new anti-corruption wave. As the fight against corruption gains momentum, the Brazilian experience leaves key lessons to share regarding Latin America´s judicial institutions and cooperation. 
On Monday, June 26, the Atlantic Council and the OECD Development Centre launched a new report, ‘Rising Chinese FDI in Latin America: New Trends with Global Implications.’ This report brings a timely update to the discussion on Sino-Latin American relations, and showcases a key component to China’s economic trifecta with Latin America: trade, financing, and now direct investment. A growing Chinese footprint in the region brings repercussions for the global balance of power, Latin America’s ongoing crises, and Hemispheric leadership.
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s anticipated announcement on a change to US-Cuba policy, the United States’ bilateral relationship with the island nation has once again come under scrutiny. To discuss the implications of a potential rollback of US-Cuba relations, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center held a conference call with Brigadier General David L. McGinnis, member of the American Security Project’s Consensus for American Security, José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas Vision of the Human Rights Watch, and Emily Morris, associate fellow at the Institute of the Americas at the University College London. Jason Marczak, Director the Latin America Economic Growth Initiative at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, delivered opening remarks and moderated the conversation.
Ahead of NAFTA renegotiations and amid a changing geopolitical environment, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and Baker McKenzie hosted the 2017 Global Commerce Forum - Mexico’s Role in the World: North America and Beyond on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, in Mexico City. The second iteration of the global commerce forum, this year’s event focused on the opportunities and implications of a potential restructuring of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The half-day event brought together senior-level representatives from international businesses, governments, and the media, along with thought leaders on global policy and international affairs. Experts and leaders in key sectors discussed the state of play with respect to NAFTA, recent developments in other existing and prospective free trade agreements, and the state of Mexico's economy and role in global commerce.

Following introductory remarks by Reynaldo Vizcarra, managing partner at Baker McKenzie, Senator Gabriela Cuevas Barrón, senator in the National Action Party and chairwoman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, provided keynote remarks on Mexico’s positioning in the hemisphere and the future of US-Mexico relations. Remarks were followed by an armchair conversation with Peter Schechter, Senior Vice President and Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center of the Atlantic Council.
After almost twelve months of consultations and deliberations, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center launched on May 17 the Colombia Peace and Prosperity Task Force report: A Roadmap for US Engagement with Colombia. It was the culmination of the work of a notable group co-chaired by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), who strived to provide a roadmap for US engagement with Colombia going forward. The goal was to keep the focus on the US-Colombia partnership as the country implements peace and agenda items compete for priority in the new US administration.

With Plan Colombia, a bipartisan strategic framework sustained over almost two decades, Colombia and the United States consolidated a mutually beneficial relationship. Today, the United States is presented with the opportunity to maintain a major stake in the next phase of Colombia’s transformation. Solidifying a strategic bipartisan partnership with Colombia offers the United States enviable opportunities to reap the national security benefits of its $10 billion Plan Colombia investment.
In early April, President Xi Jinping sat down with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago in what was a highly anticipated event between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies. Coming off a campaign in which then-candidate Trump criticized China, the first meeting between the two was intended to focus primarily on the uneven trade relations and North Korea’s nuclear threat.

Prior to the meeting, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center’s Fellow and the Associate Director of the China - Latin America Initiative, Sean Miner, spoke with Chile’s foreign minister and permanent representative to the UN, Heraldo Muñoz, and Jamie Metzl, senior nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. The trio discussed the ramifications of US and China trade relations for Latin America. Listen to the whole conversation here.