Some good news coming from the industrial, travel, and high-tech sectors, plus on the eve of Colombia’s presidential election runoff, a little bit of analysis. Are Colombians really choosing between “The Devil and the deep blue sea,” as the WSJ’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady said?
Friends and colleagues, welcome to the first Colombia business news recap brought to you by Finance Colombia. My name is Loren Moss and I have been covering Colombian business and investment sector news since 2014. Let’s get started.
Last week, Barranquilla based Tecnoglass, which trades under the symbol TGLS moved from NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange. While the stock markets in the US continue to convulse, the underlying financial results of Tecnoglass are very strong, with the company breaking quarterly and annual records for revenues and net income.
This past Wednesday, low cost carrier Viva launched its nonstop route between Medellín and Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a very proud moment for CEO Felix Antelo, who happens to be from Argentina himself.
Artificial Intelligence company Cogniflow officially launched its low-code solution that allows non-programmers to use artificial intelligence to solve scientific and practical challenges without coding. Cogniflow has leadership based in Colombia, Uruguay, and the US.
Vostock Capital’s Oil & Gas Congress will take place next Thursday and Friday, the 23rd and 24th of June at the DoubleTree by Hilton Salitre in Bogotá. I will be moderating a couple of panels, so if you also attend, be sure to say hi!
Tomorrow, Sunday June 19, Colombians will go to the polls to elect their next president. This evening at 6pm all land borders in and out of Colombia will close until Monday morning. Alcohol sales will also halt from this afternoon until Monday; the so-called Ley Seca common in many Latin American countries during elections.
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Tomorrow’s runoff election pits Gustavo Petro, a far-left former armed guerilla, former mayor of Bogotá and current senator against Rodolfo Hernandez, a tik tok performing real estate developer and former mayor of Bucaramanga, a populist who does not easily fit into a left / right political categorization.
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Mary Anastasia O Grady from the Wall Street Journal had an interesting take on these elections, she said Colombians are choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Now I am not going to characterize anyone as the devil just yet, but I think what she means by that is that we have one candidate where you know exactly what you are getting based on his past track record, and the other candidate, the alternative, where you don’t really know what to expect.
Petro has stated that he plans to nationalize future pension contributions that currently go into a variety of privately managed pension funds, along with a government option, chosen by Colombian workers. He has said he wants to end new petroleum production in Colombia, where roughly half the country’s foreign exchange comes from petroleum exports, he wants to raise tariffs on imported food because he thinks it will help Colombian farmers, impose rent controls on residential housing, print money to finance public expenditures – which of course would collapse the peso and send inflation skyrocketing, he wants to renegotiate mining concessions, calling foreign mining companies operating in the country “predators.”
Petro’s words, translated here of course:
“I have proposed to cease oil exploration. Colombia has to leave 80% of the coal deposits underground and that merits a whole transition program. When oil exploration ceases, we have 12 years of reserves. If we stop exporting, we have 12 years in which the reserves are going to sustain the internal demand for oil.”
On the other hand, we have Rodolfo Hernandez, an anti-establishment foul mouthed real estate developer who is very fond of his social media accounts. For those of you from the US, this sort of profile sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Hernandez is from Bucaramanga, a lovely 2nd-tier Colombian city of about a million people. He built a real estate empire specializing in subsidized public housing projects where units were sold to moderate income residents with government support. He served 3 years of a 4 year term as mayor of the city, resigning a year early after being suspended for slapping a city councilman. Hernandez has run on an anti-corruption platform, but he is under investigation for allegedly steering a contract to a friend of his son. When he left office in Bucaramanga, he had an 80% approval rating.
Hernandez refused to participate in any of the early presidential debates but built a base of followers of his Tik Tok account. He supports legalizing drugs and treating drug addiction as a public health issue. He supports legalization of euthanasia, he wants to re-establish relations with neighboring Venezuela and reform the police. Even though his father was a kidnapping victim, and his daughter allegedly kidnapped and killed by the ELN leftist guerilla group, he supports the 2016 peace process and wants to offer a negotiated peace to the ELN as former President Juan Manuel Santos did with the FARC.
He also thinks abortion should be legal, so he doesn’t really follow the typical pattern of a conservative pattern. Even though he is sort of a big unknown, as a successful developer, the business community isn’t as afraid of him as they are Petro, who has been very clear about his antagonisms and sympathies.
Polls are showing a very tight race tomorrow. We don’t know who will win, but we do know that whoever it is Colombians will have plenty of drama in Casa Nariño, which is like Colombia’s version of The White House or 10 Downing Street, for the next four years.
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Petro’s own words https://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/toda-la-titulacion-minera-va-a-entrar-en-revision-gustavo-petro/202242/