Ask Fausta: Is now the time to travel to Latin America?

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz | February 5th, 2014

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Ask Fausta: Is now the time to travel to Latin America?

Win­ter is pound­ing the USA, it’s Sum­mer in South Amer­ica, and the cur­ren­cies favor the dol­lar, so the WaPo says “Now is when you should take that trip to Argentina”.

The WaPo arti­cle fea­tures a chart com­par­ing the decline of the cur­ren­cies of seven emerging-​market coun­tries in the period from May 2013 to Jan­u­ary 2014.

The cur­ren­cies shown in the chart above from The Econ­o­mist all have their own prob­lems, but Argentina is a spe­cial case. The Argen­tine peso has declined in value steadily since May, and at an accel­er­at­ing rate dur­ing the win­ter months. Fol­low­ing last week’s sell-​off, the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Cristina Fer­nan­dez de Kirch­ner took some extra­or­di­nary steps to pro­tect the value of the cur­rency, which has held steady for sev­eral days now. The gov­ern­ment per­suaded major man­u­fac­tur­ers in sev­eral sec­tors to agree not to raise prices. At the same time, in an acknowl­edg­ment of the seri­ous­ness of the prob­lem, author­i­ties made it some­what eas­ier to trade pesos for dol­lars through offi­cial chan­nels, rather than on the black mar­ket. Econ­o­mists are doubt­ful that these mea­sures will have any last­ing effect, how­ever, they don’t address the causes of the infla­tion. These include the Kirch­ner government’s poli­cies of largesse and the country’s need for for­eign cur­rency to spend on imported energy.

Chile’s cur­rency, also listed in the chart, is down 15%; Brazil’s down 17%. Addi­tion­ally, the Colom­bian peso is at its low­est level since 2007.

So is now the time to travel to Argentina, Brazil, Chile or Colombia?

Yes, it is, with two pro­vi­sos: 1. Don’t get in debt, and 2. Do heed those State Depart­ment travel warn­ings.

I touched on the State Depart­ment travel advice on Colom­bia in a prior post. The infor­ma­tion on Brazil, Chile and Argentina is also very clear, and the coun­tries wel­come mil­lions of tourists every year.

When I was in Argentina, I was with a group who included where at least one per­son who was flu­ent in Span­ish (or Por­tuguese, if in Brazil), we called ahead for taxis before head­ing out — par­tic­u­larly at night (so you can get there and back safely), and always asked at our hotel before head­ing out to a “non-​touristy” place. Don’t expect the locals to be flu­ent in English,

Make sure to stay way from trou­ble spots and demonstrations.

If you’ll be trav­el­ing later this year, avoid Brazil dur­ing the World Cup, unless you are a rabid soc­cer fan and will­ing to pay pre­mium prices for every thing.

The cur­rency exchange rates are favor­able, the weather’s warm, and the food’s good. Bön voyage!

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on Latin Amer­ica and Amer­i­can pol­i­tics at Fausta’s Blog. She won’t be trav­el­ing just now since she doesn’t want to get into debt to pay for the trip.

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Winter is pounding the USA, it’s Summer in South America, and the currencies favor the dollar, so the WaPo says “Now is when you should take that trip to Argentina“.

The WaPo article features a chart comparing the decline of the currencies of seven emerging-market countries in the period from May 2013 to January 2014.

The currencies shown in the chart above from The Economist all have their own problems, but Argentina is a special case. The Argentine peso has declined in value steadily since May, and at an accelerating rate during the winter months. Following last week’s sell-off, the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner took some extraordinary steps to protect the value of the currency, which has held steady for several days now. The government persuaded major manufacturers in several sectors to agree not to raise prices. At the same time, in an acknowledgment of the seriousness of the problem, authorities made it somewhat easier to trade pesos for dollars through official channels, rather than on the black market. Economists are doubtful that these measures will have any lasting effect, however, they don’t address the causes of the inflation. These include the Kirchner government’s policies of largesse and the country’s need for foreign currency to spend on imported energy.

Chile’s currency, also listed in the chart, is down 15%; Brazil’s down 17%. Additionally, the Colombian peso is at its lowest level since 2007.

So is now the time to travel to Argentina, Brazil, Chile or Colombia?

Yes, it is, with two provisos: 1. Don’t get in debt, and 2. Do heed those State Department travel warnings.

I touched on the State Department travel advice on Colombia in a prior post. The information on Brazil, Chile and Argentina is also very clear, and the countries welcome millions of tourists every year.

When I was in Argentina, I was with a group who included where at least one person who was fluent in Spanish (or Portuguese, if in Brazil), we called ahead for taxis before heading out – particularly at night (so you can get there and back safely), and always asked at our hotel before heading out to a “non-touristy” place. Don’t expect the locals to be fluent in English,

Make sure to stay way from trouble spots and demonstrations.

If you’ll be traveling later this year, avoid Brazil during the World Cup, unless you are a rabid soccer fan and willing to pay premium prices for every thing.

The currency exchange rates are favorable, the weather’s warm, and the food’s good. Bon voyage!

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on Latin America and American politics at Fausta’s Blog. She won’t be traveling just now since she doesn’t want to get into debt to pay for the trip.

**********************************************************

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It’s Wednesday and DaTipJar is mired at $32 of our $345 goal less than 10%

Like a political campaign this site needs true believers to keep things going. The question becomes do we have 13 True Believers who can kick in $25 today to get us to a full paycheck to pay the mortgage and full coffers to cover our Magnificent Seven.

That’s up to you, and I ask you to be one of them by hitting DaTipJar below

Only 55 3/4 more subscribers @ at $20 a month are necessary to secure the cost of DaMagnificent Seven & my monthly mortgage on a permanent basis. If you think blogs like this willing to highlight the double standard of the Democrats & media online & on radio are worth it, please consider subscribing and suggesting a friend do so as well.



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