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President Lula proposes to advance the integration of South America

President Lula proposes to advance the integration of South America
Photo: Presidency of Venezuela

May 30 |

The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, opened the summit of South American leaders on Tuesday with a speech in which he stressed the importance of regional integration for “strengthening unity”.

“I have the firm conviction that we need to reinforce our commitment to the region”, assured Lula, who considered that “the integration of South America depends on the feeling of remaining part of the same community”.

The Brazilian leader said that the elements that unite the region “are above ideologies”. “No country can face the current threats in isolation,” he warned.

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The Brazilian president called for overcoming ideological differences that affect the will for integration, when inaugurating in this capital the summit of leaders of South American countries.

“In the region, we let ideologies divide us and interrupt the integration effort. We abandoned channels of dialogue and cooperation mechanisms and, with that, we all lost, Lula declared before 11 leaders gathered behind closed doors at the Itamaraty Palace, headquarters of the foreign ministry in Brasilia.

Lula mentioned the “deep marks” left by the coronavirus pandemic and the danger of hate speech on social networks.

“From Patagonia and Atacama to the Amazon, from the Cerrado and from the Andes to the Caribbean, we are a vast continent bathed by two oceans. We are a human, historical and cultural, economic and commercial entity, with common needs and hopes,” he said.

Lula highlighted his country’s willingness to resume regional integration instruments, such as the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac).

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“South America has before it, once again, the opportunity to walk the path of union. And I do not need to start from scratch,” he said.

The host president also suggested a series of proposals for the development of South America, such as investments in infrastructure and development projects, in the fight against climate change, in vaccination coverage, in the constitution of an energy market, in academic mobility programs, and in the area of defense.

Lula proposed the creation of a “high level group”, formed by representatives of the presidents, to prepare within 120 days a new “road map for the integration of South America”.

He highlighted some of the points to be discussed with the South American presidents: – 1) – To place economic reserves at the service of regional development. 2) – To deepen the regional economic identity in order to reduce dependence on foreign currencies. 3) – To expand cooperation in services, investments, electronic products. 4) – To update the plan of the South American Council of Infrastructure. 5).- To develop actions against climate change. 6) – Reactivate the South American Institute of Government in Health (ISAGS/Unasur).

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International

Biden, Trump campaigns set rules for first pre-election debate on CNN

Campaign committees for U.S. President Joe Biden and businessman Donald Trump agreed on Saturday to the rules for their first debate ahead of the November elections, scheduled for June 27 and hosted by CNN: it will last ninety minutes, be audience-free, and feature muteable microphones.

CNN had indicated since its announcement in May that the debate would proceed without an audience, which is Biden’s preferred format.

It was also disclosed that both candidates’ campaign teams accepted a series of other provisions, including the use of identical podiums and the implementation of muteable microphones to enforce speaking times.

“The microphones will be silenced throughout the debate, except for the candidate who has the speaking turn,” CNN specified, adding that hosts Jake Tapper and Dana Bash “will use all available tools” to “enforce the timing and ensure a civilized discussion.”

The debate will feature 90 minutes of discussion with just two commercial breaks during which campaign teams cannot interact with the candidates, as specified.

Pre-written notes on the set will also be prohibited, but “the candidates will receive a pen, notepad, and a water bottle” for the event.

Biden and former President Trump (2017-2021) agreed to debate twice before the presidential elections on November 5, on June 27 and September 10. The second debate will be organized by ABC News.

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International

Florida declares a state of emergency due to severe floods in five southern counties

The Government of Florida declared a state of emergency on Thursday in five southern counties where severe floods have occurred due to the torrential rains that began last Tuesday.

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, today issued the order covering Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties, where for now there have been no victims but mainly road flooding, putting drivers and their families at risk.

The state government stressed that tropical humidity will continue to cause heavy scattered rains in southern Florida and that the flood alert will remain in effect throughout this region and the Keys of Florida, a succession of islets in the extreme south of the state.

These storms have also caused tornadoes, highway cuts, suspension of classes and flight cancellations, about 200 this Thursday, at the airports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, according to the Flightaware platform.

Several areas in the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale airport were impacted, as well as Hallandale Beach, Dania Beach and Lauderdale Lakes, where floods forced the cancellation of transport services.

Although the storm subsided this Thursday, several sectors remained underwater, including Hallandale Beach, whose residents today asked for more pumps to evacuate it. In addition, several vehicles remained stranded and some were even submerged.

Meanwhile, the Brightline train had to temporarily close its stations in Miami and Aventura, the two further south, and several universities and schools have suspended classes.

The mayor of Miami-Dade, Daniella Levine Cava, declared a local state of emergency on Wednesday night, with immediate effect.

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International

The IMF approves the disbursement of another 800 million dollars for Argentina

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved the eighth revision of the agreement with Argentina, which allows an immediate disbursement of approximately 800 million dollars for the country.

The financial agency indicated in a statement that this disbursement “will support the efforts of the authorities to restore stability and strengthen Argentina’s external viability.”

The total disbursements made under the Fund’s agreement with Argentina amounts to about 41.4 billion dollars.

The IMF stressed that, when completing the review, “the Executive Board considered that the program was firmly on track, with all the quantitative performance criteria until the end of March 2024 met with margins.”

“Non-compliance exementions for a new exchange rate restriction and multiple exchange practices were also approved in the context of some relaxation of the restrictions on the payment of dividends.”

To maintain solid progress, according to the IMF, “it is necessary to improve the quality of fiscal adjustment, to initiate steps towards an improved monetary and exchange policy framework, implement the structural agenda.”

Likewise, “continue efforts to support the most vulnerable, expand political support and ensure agility in the formulation of policies.”

In March 2022, the then Government of the Peronist Alberto Fernández (2019-2023) signed an agreement with the IMF to refinance loans for about 45 billion dollars that the agency had granted to Argentina in 2018, during the presidency of the conservative Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).

The pact includes quarterly revisions such as the one now surpassed on the level of compliance with demanding goals in terms of fiscal discipline, accumulation of monetary reserves and limits on monetary issuance.

The approval for new disbursements to Argentina by the agency depends on the fulfillment of those goals and the approval of each review, funds that, in turn, the South American country uses to cancel its debt to the entity, which amounted to 40,899 million dollars at the end of 2023.

On Tuesday, the Argentine Minister of Economy, Luis Caputo, said that he will negotiate a new program with the IMF after the eighth review of the organization: “From there we will begin to negotiate a new program with them,” he said.

The IMF had highlighted in a statement last May that Argentina reached this eighth review with a “stabilization plan” where it could reach “the first quarterly fiscal surplus in sixteen years,” a “rapid fall in inflation” and “a strong reduction in sovereign risk.”

Argentina had passed this last review in May, but that step had to go through a formal procedure and be approved by the Executive Board of the IMF, something that took place this Thursday, to receive the 800 million.

This eighth review corresponds to the first quarter of 2024, a period marked by the drastic change in economic policy in Argentina after the arrival of Javier Milei to the presidency in December and the implementation of a severe adjustment plan to recover the fiscal surplus this year.

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