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from The Human Impact:

Votes for cash, beer and bricks in Colombia’s upcoming elections

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In Colombia, it’s easy to tell when election season is in full swing.

Potholes are suddenly filled with cement, stretches of roads are paved and local officials rush to inaugurate often unfinished public buildings. It's one way to show that public funds have been well spent under their watch as a way of helping the political party they represent to do well at the polls.

Election campaign posters and pamphlets stuffed in postboxes say “no to corruption” and “public funds are sacred”.

Yet election-rigging scandals, allegations of election fraud and vote-buying are an all too common feature of the political landscape in Colombia.

In Colombia’s parliamentary, local and presidential elections over the decades, local media have reported ineligible voters casting ballots, including some using fake or stolen identity cards, and tampered electoral registers that include the names of dead citizens or have names listed twice.

from MacroScope:

For workers, the long run has arrived in Latin America

The outlook for emerging market economies over the next decade looks more challenging as long-term interest rates start to bottom out in the United States. Here is another complicating factor: ageing populations.

That problem is not as serious as in Japan or Europe, of course. Still, investors probably need to cut down their expectations for economic growth in Latin America over the next years, according to a report by BNP Paribas.

from Photographers' Blog:

On safari with my mentor

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Hato La Aurora nature reserve, Colombia

By Jose Miguel Gomez

I've been a photographer for over 20 years, but this was to be my first bird-watching safari so I took along a 70-300mm lens, thinking it would be enough. We also expected to do lots of hiking in heat, and it’s the lightest of my long lenses.

I traveled with my son and 18 other explorers of whom some were amateur photographers. We had four guides plus a well-known ecologist, but the real treat for me was master photographer-adventurer Andres Hurtado, who organized the trip. Andres was leading us to the Hato La Aurora nature reserve, in Casanare province.

from Global Investing:

Emerging Policy-Doves reign

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Rate cuts are still coming thick and fast in emerging markets -- in some cases because of falling inflation and in others to deter the gush of speculative international capital.

Arguably the biggest event in emerging markets is tomorrow's Reserve Bank of India (RBI) meeting which is expected to yield an interest rate cut for the first time in nine months.

from Breakingviews:

Review: Latin America needs more Uribes

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By Raul Gallegos
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Latin America needs more leaders like Alvaro Uribe. “No Lost Causes,” the former Colombian president’s account of his administration, may at times be self-serving. But it shows how he helped turn a war-torn Colombia from a near-failed state to a top investment destination. Uribe’s security gains remain frail, but his successes dwarf those of his leftist peers in Latin America.

from Global Investing:

Emerging Policy-More interest rate cuts

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A big week for central bank meetings looms and the doves are likely to be in full flight.

Take the Reserve Bank of India, the arch-hawk of emerging markets. It meets on Tuesday and some, such as Goldman Sachs, are predicting a rate cut as a nod to the government's reform efforts. That call is a rare one, yet it may have gained some traction after data last week showed inflation at a 10-month low, while growth languishes at the lowest in a decade. Goldman's Tushar Poddar tells clients:

from Photographers' Blog:

A fallen cadet

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Bogota, Colombia

By Jose Miguel Gomez

When a television journalist called to her cameraman to come running, I thought it was just to get a better angle of some VIP arriving to celebrate the 121st anniversary of the National Police, and the new graduating class of the academy. I’m farsighted and didn’t have my glasses on, but I did have a 400mm lens on the camera.

A few more moments went by and I still didn’t catch what the fuss was about, and the only colleague near me was busy shooting. That was when I spotted the cadet on the ground, apparently fainted in the middle of the ceremony, and I instinctively began photographing. Help was so slow in arriving that I was able to shoot from different angles this curious scene of a policewoman lying unconscious, face down on the ground in her best uniform. It was at least five minutes before a couple of police officers finally carried her away.

from Global Investing:

Emerging policy-Down in Hungary; steady in Latin America

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A mixed bag this week on emerging policy and one that shows the growing divergence between dovish central Europe and an increasingly hawkish (with some exceptions) Latin America.

Hungary cut rates this week by 25 basis points, a move that Morgan Stanley described as striking "while the iron is hot", or cutting interest rates while investor appetite is still strong for emerging markets. The current backdrop is keeping the cash flowing even into riskier emerging markets of which Hungary is undeniably one. (On that theme, Budapest also on Wednesday announced plans for a Eurobond to take advantage of the strong appetite for high-risk assets, but that's another story).

from Global Investing:

Emerging Policy-The inflation problem has not gone away

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This week's interest rate meetings in the developing world are highlighting that despite slower economic growth, inflation remains a problem for many countries. In some cases it could constrain  policymakers from cutting interest rates, or least from cutting as much as they would like.

Take Turkey. Its central bank surprised some on Tuesday by only cutting the upper end of its overnight interest rate corridor: many had interpreted recent comments by Governor Erdem Basci as a sign the lower end, the overnight borrowing rate, would also be cut. That's because the central bank is increasingly concerned about the lira, which has appreciated more than 7 percent this year in real terms. But the bank contented itself by warning markets that more cuts could be made to different policy rates if needed (read: if the lira rises much more).

from Photographers' Blog:

Dancing away the violence

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Meta, Colombia

By John Vizcaino

The last time I was in Colombia’s Meta Province was to photograph 35 body bags containing the remains of rebels killed in clashes with the Army. That was last March, and for years before that nearly all the news we covered in Meta had to do with violence.

This time was different. What brought me to Meta was the Joropera dance festival in the village of Acacias. I wanted to show the cultural richness in this village affected by the conflict for so many years.

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