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Russia and Latin America: Geopolitical Considerations – The World Reporter
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Russia and Latin America: Geopolitical Considerations

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medvedev Cuba President

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev waves
as he walks with Cuba’s President

Posted by Cristina Avram, Geopolitics.ro

Although geographically distant from Russia, Latin America is one of the main priorities of the Russian government’s foreign policy. Russian authorities have come very close, in fact, to some Latin American regimes.  Actually Russia’s spectacular return to this region is part of its overall strategy to strengthen Russia’s interests and position in the world scene. 

Russia’s recent tendency to influence Latin America started in 1997. The collapse of the Soviet Union has precipitated the collapse of the Russian Federation’s influence in South America, as succesor of the Soviet Union. This has determined the Prime Minister Evgheni Primakov to start reviving Russia’s position in Latin America as a global power in 1997. Since then, Russia’s objectives have remained remarkably consistent, as  policy instruments: trade, arms sales political support for those governments who were trying to escape USA’s influence.

In Latin America, Moscow takes full advantage of the open anti-american climate and the diplomatic tensions with Washington (anti-missile shield, NATO’s expansion, the Georgian crisis, the presence of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Black Sea) to implant itself in the American sphere of influence. Thus, Russians reply to U.S. intrusion in the Caucasian and Central Asian region. Actually, Russia wants to gain the loyalty of new economic partners by making bilateral agreements in the aeronautics, energy and military sphere.

Brazil

In Brazil, Russian diplomacy favors, above all, increasing trade and expanding energy, aerospacial and military cooperation. Only in 2008 trade of the two BRIC countries exceeded $ 7.3 billion. The dynamics of the Russian-Brazilian partnership is explained mainly by converging interests in several strategic areas. In the energy sector, Moscow is determined to associate itself with Brazil to exploit Brazilian oil and gas deposits. On the other hand, Brazil wants to purchase Russian equipment for their hydroelectric plants which are under construction, as well for developing their booming rail network. In aerospace, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Rocosmos) signed an agreement with the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) to implement a cooperation and development mechanism for ‘Glonass’, the Russian system for satellite global navigation,  competitor of the American ‘GPS’ and future European ‘Galileo’. Russian military-industrial complex hopes actually to sell to Brazilians military equipment (weapons, helicopters, bombs, planes, submarines) that the country needs to strengthen its military power. In addition, relanching the Brazilian nuclear program also opens the path for stronger cooperation between Moscow and Brazil in civil and military nuclear.

Cuba

With Cuba, relationships were initially damaged after the fall of Soviet Union in 1991. In the world after the Cold War, Havana didn’t hope to matter anymore to Moscow. The comming to power of Vladimir Putin has changed this geopolitical situation. Since Cuba was still suffering because of U.S. embargo established in 1962, the Russian President was personally involved in the Cuban affairs, supporting the lifting of economic sanctions by the UN, on one hand, and by providing financial credit for many areas, on the other hand. In November 2008, Moscow offered Havana a loan of $ 335 million for the purchase of Russian equipment for the oil, mining and transport sectors. In early 2009, the two countries have signed new agreements. These agreements mainly concern the food and fishing industries, cooperation in education, scientific research, sports and tourism. This Russian-Cuban dialogue allows Moscow to have guaranteed new markets for its products, to expand its influence on the castrist regime and to maintain its presence here, at less than 300 km from the U.S. coastline.

Venezuela

Venezuela is the key element in the Russian-Latin-American game. The parallel anti-american positions of Russia and Venezuela are already known: Russia out of interest and willingness to become a respected power like USSR used to be, Venezuela by Chavez’s ideology and willingness to impose himself as a lider in his country as well throughout the South-American continent. For the anti-imperialist sentiment is growing rapidly in an over-exploited Latin-America by the ‘yankee’ ‘s interests for so long.

Caracas is a reliable ally for Moscow in the new energy cold war that is foreshadowing. First producer of gas from South America and fifth worldwide producer of oil, Venezuela incites the Russian gas and oil appetite. In November of 2008, Russian companies Lukoil and Gazprom signed an agreement with the PDVSA oil group which was targeting the exploitation of oil in Orinoco, a river located in the East of the country, hoping to produce more than 1 million barrels per day. If this project materializes, we’ll be talking about the most powerfull alliance in the world of oil. Far from being limited to hydrocarbons, Russian strategy in Venezuela is making profit from Venezuela’s chavist government military ambitions. Between 2005 and 2007 Caracas signed with Moscow 12 contracts for arms worth 4.4 billion dollars, buying 24 Sukhoi fighter jets, 50 fighter helicopters and 100,000 Kalachnicov rifles. In 2010 Caracas obtained from Moscow a loan of $ 2.2 million to buy T-72 tanks and an undisclosed number of S-300 air-defense bombs, in 2011 negociating a new agreement with Russia to get a $ 4 billion loan, half of which is destined to equip and modernize the armed forces. Also, with Chavez’s visit to Moscow in 2010, relations with Russia have been strengthened, Russian President saying that Russia may sell equipment and machinery to Venezuela, and Venezuela might sell agricultural products to Russia. Medvedev claimed that Russia is ready to take part in various regional organizations and Latin American forums which requires a joint task approach such as terrorism, transnational crime, drug trafficking, environmental issues, sustainable development and economic aid. Furthermore, Medvedev considers that Venezuela ‘has acted like a true friend’ when it followed Russia and recognized former Georgian republics South Ossetia and Abkhazia at the last visit Chavez had made to Moscow in 2009.

In the civil nuclear area, Russians and Venezuelans have signed a bilateral agreement on controlled thermonuclear synthesis and safety of nuclear installations and radiation sources. The nuclear cooperation is also accompanied by a military cooperation. On September 10, 2008, two Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear bombs landed at Palo Negro in Venezuela to participate in joint manuevers with Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian armed forces. In December 2008, a similar training of naval forces of the two countries, called “VenRus”, took place in the Caribbean. These military exercises employed 2,300 people of the Russian and Venezuelan fleet, 3 frigates, an amphibious vehicle and 8 patrol vessels. This strategic cooperation serves Moscow’s interests who wants to propose an alternative to the American presence in the region.

In fact, the geopolitical situation between these two countries illustrates how the relationship between Russia and Latin America becomes more important day by day, not only because of the weapons sold in the region, but also because of the diplomatic resources that Moscow had used in South America. The continously cold relationship between Venezuela and the U.S. in addition to Washington’s controversial relationship with Moscow will contribute further to the substantial strengthening of military and diplomatic ties between Russia and Venezuela. This possibility can’t make U.S. happy. The new situation facing Washington is that Russia will be a growing factor when it comes to leftist governments in the region, who want autonomy from U.S. policy makers, and which Washington considers dangerous, but that Moscow considers to be very good.

In conclusion, we can say that the policy led by Moscow in Latin America is the product of old aspirations: to establish Russia the status of a great power and of a country which promotes a multipolar world; in fact, it’s more of a closing towards USA than an economic policy with strategic objectives.

Translated in English from Romanian language, Original Article appeared on our Partner website.

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Employee Training and Development Becomes One of the Most Disruptive Megatrends That Is Shaping the Future of Work

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There is no question about the effectiveness of employee training and development. It’s incredibly important to help your staff advance their skills and knowledge to help grow a business, but the impact of employee learning has often been understated and even neglected. However, companies are now suggesting that employee training and development is one of the biggest megatrends that have completely transformed the future of work. It has overhauled how businesses should be developing and engaging with employees, and it’s leading to an incredibly diverse and talented workforce that is capable of wonderful new things.

Part of the problem of employee training and development is that it’s difficult to measure its impact on the workplace. Employee performance often isn’t a quantitative measurement that is easy to read and link to their output. This is one of the reasons why the effectiveness of employee training and development has been questioned by management experts.

Thankfully, new strategies have been developed to help measure workplace learning and its impact on companies. Below, we’ve included a helpful infographic that covers some of the most important measurements, such as return on investment and how it is calculated in the context of employee learning and development. It should put the effectiveness of employee training into perspective and will help you better understand when training is needed and how development actually improves your business and its productivity.


Infographic by: Ezra Coaching
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Top 10 Simple Health Changes To Boost Your Well-Being

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It does not matter how old you are, where you live, or what your occupation is, your health should always be a top priority. However, most of us are a little bit guilty of letting our well-being slide from time to time. With that being said, read on to discover some of the simple ways you can give your health a boost today.

  1. Get rid of at least one item in your life that contains toxic chemicals – You may be shocked by just how many items in your life contain toxic chemicals. This includes everything from air fresheners to bed sheets. Get rid of one of these items and replace it with something natural instead. This is something you should make a habit to do every few months or so. You will be surprised by just how much of a difference this can make. 
  2. Deep breathe for at least five minutes – Throughout the day, you should make sure you take the opportunity to deep breathe for at least five minutes. Why? Well, there have been numerous studies that have shown that deep breathing can help to lower stress hormone levels. This means that you will feel better, get an improved night’s sleep, and you will have less anxiety too.
  3. Drink more water – You probably expected this to be on the list, but the importance of drinking more water should never be ignored. Your body needs water for almost every function. If you are dehydrated, this could be the cause of headaches, pains, aches, and a number of other symptoms.
  4. Have one veggie night per week – A lot of people eat far too much meat, red meat especially. So, why not have a veggie night once a week? Not only is this good for your health, but it will be good for your bank balance too. There are so many great recipes online that can give you ideas regarding tasty and creative dishes that do not incorporate any sort of meat or fish. Once you start off with one night per week, you may then decide that you want to up it to two nights, and so on. However, it always helps to start off small so that it is easier and more manageable, and you can then get used to it.
  5. Sign up for an online pharmacy – Nowadays, you can easily order your prescriptions and medications over the Internet via an online pharmacy. This can help you to boost your health because it ensures you never experience delays with your medication. If you are someone who often doesn’t take their recommended course of tablets because you cannot get to the doctors in time for a repeat prescription, then this is definitely a good suggestion for you. Your medication will be delivered to your door with a click of a button.
  6. Make a dedicated effort to lower your stress levels – There is no denying that we live in a very stress-filled world at the moment! The world we live in is one that has heaps of pressure, and it can be difficult to stay on top of everything and keep those stress levels low. However, it is vital that you find a way to do so. After all, if you don’t adrenal fatigue and health can start to take a tumble, which is the last thing you want. For those who are unaware, adrenal fatigue relates to a group of different symptoms that impact people who are under a lot of physical, emotional, or mental stress. From being a single parent to having a stressful job, there are a lot of different reasons why you may be struggling. Therefore, we recommend that you look for different ways to reduce those stress levels so that you can enjoy a more calming and peaceful life. Whether it is doing some breathing techniques or taking more regular breaks so you can have moments for yourself, there are a lot of different ways that you can make sure you are keeping your stress levels to a minimum. The importance of this should not be overlooked, as stress can impact our mental and physical health in so many different ways. 
  7. Do something nice for someone every day – You will be surprised by how good this makes you feel, and by how much this has a positive impact on your health. It’s all about mental well being. When you do something nice for another person, you are benefitting their health, as well as your own. First and foremost, there is no denying that it feels good to hear some nice words for someone or to get a helping hand when you need it. You feel recognised and appreciated, and this is something we all need. At the same time, doing something nice for someone else and seeing their reaction can make you feel amazing too. After all, doing something good for someone is a gift for yourself at the same time. You will find that the deed continues throughout the day, making you feel great and happy within yourself. 
  8. Incorporate some movement into your commute – If you do not have an active job, this is particularly important. Sitting at a computer all day can be bad for your health. One way to combat this is by incorporating some movement into your commute. If you can walk or bike to work, you should give this a go. If not, start parking your car further away from your place of work so that you have to walk there and back. You should also start using the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
  9. Start meal planning – You will find it much easier to eat healthily if you plan your meals. At the start of every week, make a menu of what you are going to cook for dinner every evening, as well as what you are going to make for your lunches every day. Not only will this help you to eat better, but you will save money too. Make sure you incorporate some healthy snacks into your food prep for work. This will stop you from going to the vending machine whenever you are bored or your energy is zapped. The great thing about the times we live in at the moment is that you can easily get recipes and meal prep inspiration online. So, if you are struggling, simply do a little bit of digging online and we are sure that you will find a lot of different options when it comes to meal ideas and clever food prep suggestions for the week ahead. Not only is this going to help you to be more organized, but you will find that it actually saves you quite a bit of money in the process. After all, when we do not have a food plan for the week ahead, we tend to spend a lot of money on items we do not need. Food can end up going in the bin because we do not use it. This ends up in an awful lot of waste, and we should all be looking to reduce this, so meal prep is great in many ways.
  10. Keep a journal – Last but not least, keeping a journal is good for a person’s mental health. You should write down your thoughts. It doesn’t need to be a long entry; you can simply jot down a few bullet points every evening. This will help you to articulate your thoughts so that they do not wear you down. After all, it can be very difficult to sleep if you have lots on your mind. A lot of experts advise this approach for people who suffer from insomnia. One of the main reasons why a lot of people struggle to get the hours of sleep they need is because they cannot shut off when they go to sleep; their minds are still going at a million miles per hour. They are thinking about what they need to do the following day and any worries or concerns that they may have. Because of this, it very much makes sense to keep a journal so you can offload some of these thoughts and worries and you can have a much more restful night of sleep. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you will see that it actually does make a significant difference when it comes to drifting off and enjoying a good night of rest. 

So there you have it: some of the best ways to give your health a boost. The suggestions that have been provided are really simple and easy, so there is no excuse not to give yourself a bit of TLC. we are sure that you will start to notice a difference as time goes on. However, as is the case with anything, it requires patience and persistence. You cannot expect to turn your health around in one night.

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Why Buy A Business, Rather Than Start One

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There are good and bad sides to buying a business and starting your own business from scratch. For lots of people, the positives of buying an established business outweigh the positives of starting a business. Here are the reasons why buying an existing business could be the right choice.

Easier To Secure Finance

All businesses will need finance. Unless you can fund your business yourself, you’ll need to secure financing from investors. Most lenders will be more willing to lend money to an established business that they can already see is doing well, rather than risk an unknown factor. 

Income From Day One

One of the downsides of starting a business is that most start-ups will go through an early stage where they don’t make much, if any, money. For some entrepreneurs, this stage can last for several years. 

During this stage, you will need to pay out for things like your premises, as well as equipment, installation of equipment, stock, materials, fixtures and fittings, legal and professional fees, a license, uniforms, and more. 

If you don’t have finance in place or another form of income, this stage can be very tough for a new business owner. If you buy a business, you can start earning from day one, and avoid this tricky period where you might be out of pocket.  

Established Brand

When you buy a business that already exists, you are also buying into a brand that is already known, recognizable, and has a track record. You get the business complete with all the trademarks, copyrights, and websites associated with it, as well as the business locations

This means that your business will already have customers, lenders, suppliers, and other contacts that are confident in the business already. 

Instant Customer Access

An existing business also has customers already, which can help you succeed straight away. You can use a range of strategies and marketing to build on the existing customer base, but won’t have to struggle to build a customer base from scratch. 

Established Network Of Contacts

When you start a business from scratch, a lot of your time and energy has to be put into building up a network of contacts. 

All businesses need to have supplier and marketing contacts, so buying an existing business that already has those contacts in place allows you to hit the ground running.

Like money lenders, suppliers and marketing companies are more likely to offer you more favourable terms if your business has been around for a while and they know it.  

Focus On Growing The Business

When an entrepreneur starts a new business, they will have to put a lot of their energy into getting their business off the ground. This takes a lot of time and can be very tiring. 

On the other hand, when you take over a business that is already established, you’ll be freer to focus on the areas of the business that most need your attention, aiding the growth of the business as a whole. 

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