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Things to Know From Latin America: Puerto Rico Submits Debt Restructuring Plan, Colombians Protest Gas Prices

Third attempt to restructure power company debt

A new plan for restructuring $10 billion in debt owed by Puerto Rico’s power company was filed late Friday in the latest attempt to end a lengthy bankruptcy process, the AP reported.

Friday’s filing comes more than eight years after Puerto Rico announced that it was unable to pay its more than $70 billion public debt, which was accumulated through decades of corruption, mismanagement and excessive borrowing. In 2017, the territory filed for the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Since then, most of the debt owed by Puerto Rico’s government agencies has been restructured, except that of the power company as efforts stalled amid tense and drawn-out negotiations.

If approved, the plan would cut the debt of Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority by nearly 80% to some $2.5 billion. However, it would also increase already-high electric bills for Puerto Rican residents.

On average, residential bills would increase by nearly $9 a month and commercial bills by $35. However, recent electric bill increases have been criticized by the people as the grid was razed by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and suffered power outages ever since.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apprenergydebtFake news warning ahead of Mexican election

With the 2024 Mexican presidential election less than a year away, political analysts and academics warn of a wave of fake news and disinformation making the rounds on the internet, a trend they deem especially worrisome as some of the falsehoods seem to come from the party in power — and the president himself, the AP reported.

Fake news has long been disseminated during electoral campaigns in Mexico, and the current electoral cycle is far from being the exception. However, the avalanche of fake news and electoral disinformation will only get worse as the country enters yet another presidential race.

Political observers and academics say it is worrisome that, on occasions, unsubstantiated accusations against members of the opposition have come from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador himself.

Thousands of protesters on cars and motorbikes took to the streets of Colombia’s main cities on Monday to reject recent hikes in gasoline prices that have drastically increased the price of fuel, the AP reported. The protest comes as discontent grows with President Gustavo Petro’s administration a year after he took office promising to reduce poverty and make peace with the nation’s remaining rebel groups.

Protesters say that the monthly price hikes set by the leftist government of Petro are making it harder for small businesses to operate and could push up the price of food. However, Petro says the gasoline subsidies cost about $11 billion a year and the government must eliminate the subsidies to pay debts to the national oil company and free up more funds for social programs.

Petro has argued that the nation’s gasoline subsidies mostly benefited wealthier Colombians who own vehicles. But he has shown signs that he is willing to negotiate gasoline prices with some groups. Over the weekend, Petro’s administration cut a deal with the nation’s taxi driver unions, under which gasoline prices will be frozen for the country’s estimated 200,000 yellow taxis.

However, members of Colombia’s opposition say that the government needs to go further because gas hikes are also hurting delivery workers, drivers and small business owners who are struggling to recover from the pandemic.

The government of Panama said Thursday it will launch a new campaign to stem the flow of migrants through the dangerous Darien Gap after crossings hit 300,000 so far this year, the AP reported. In April, the United States, Panama and Colombia agreed to try to crack down on the smuggling rings that bring migrants through the gap.

Officials said the massive trekking of migrants through the gap — now running between 2,500 and 3,000 per day — has polluted and damaged the jungle, as well as exposed people to risks and rights abuses.

Migrants from South America — mainly Venezuelans — use the Darien Gap to travel by land through Central America and head on to the U.S. southwestern border. But a growing number of people from other places, including Africa and Asia, travel to South America to use the gap as well.

The plan, named “Darien is a jungle, not a road,” will be launched next week, officials said, but they could barely hide their frustration with neighboring Colombia’s inability to stop migrants from coming to the two countries’ roadless border.

Buenos Aires opened its 20th annual worldwide tango competition on Wednesday, according to a press release from the city’s website. The competition is spread over 30 venues in the cities and features over a thousand dancers competing in different categories like social and stage tango at different ages and expertise levels.

Unlike stage tango, which often features theatrical and elaborate movements, social tango focuses on the intimate connection between dancers within a confined space. It’s improvised and movements are more subtle and compact than stage tango.

After preliminary competitions, 40 social tango couples and 20 stage tango couples will compete in a grand finale on Saturday.

Source : My Record Journall