Venezuela has plummeted to new depths. In an act of blatant disregard of the separation of powers, the Supreme Court has stripped the opposition-controlled National Assembly of its lawmaking power and revoked immunity from all assembly members after accusing parliamentarians of “contempt”.
This latest step toward authoritarianism was denounced as a “coup” and “a final blow to democracy” — not just by opposition parties, but by the international community and even some within the government (the state attorney general). Read more
Trump Could Bring Enemies in South America Closer Together
The alliance between Cuba and Venezuela has lost prominence in recent years as the former normalized its diplomatic relations with the United States while the latter doubled down on a self-described anti-imperialist policy.
Now Donald Trump’s presidency threatens to bring the two countries closer together again. Read more
Political Victory for Temer During Anxious Times for Brazil
There was little hope left in October of bringing Colombia’s 52-year old conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to an end, when voters narrowly rejected a proposed peace plan in a referendum. Fears swelled that violence would break out again.
President Juan Manuel Santos, however, was undeterred and set about piecing together a revised peace deal.
Six weeks on, gloom and uncertainty have made way for cautious optimism. Read more
Colombia’s Referendum: Has the Best Chance for Peace Gone?
On Sunday, the people of Colombia unexpectedly rejected what had been dubbed an historic peace deal between their government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). 50.2 percent voted down the proposed accord in a referendum. The peace deal is off.
The 297-page agreement, signed last week after four years of negotiation, was meant to end a conflict that spans back to 1964 and has claimed an estimated 260,000 lives.
In speech after speech, President Juan Manuel Santos has extolled the peace accord’s historic nature. Confident of the referendum’s outcome, he staked his presidency on it. His future is now in doubt as well. Read more
By the end of this month, not only will the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio have come and gone; it is also likely that the left-wing Dilma Rousseff will have finally been removed from the presidency.
Neither will occur without incident. Nor will they solve Brazil’s increasingly confused, complex and confrontational state of affairs, from a messy entanglement of impeachment proceedings to the possibility of fresh elections to the worst economic recession in Brazilian history. Read more
When Venezuela’s opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) won a two-thirds supermajority in the National Assembly last year, it represented an unquestionable shift after sixteen years of socialist rule. There was desire for change. Not just from the traditional array of opponents to the ruling party government, but also from those who still call themselves Chavistas.
Those clamors, in part mobilized by the MUD, have become noticeably louder in recent weeks and months and protests have been firmly met by riot police and tear gas.
The country, home to the world’s largest oil reserves and previously one of the most developed in Latin America, is now suffering from the world’s highest inflation rate, varying between 180 and 700 percent. In the boom times, oil (which accounts for 95 percent of exports) helped pay for a million homes for the poor. Now, after three years of decline, with the sovereign wealth fund depleted and the economy expected to shrink by 8 percent, default is a distinct possibility.
Everyday Venezuelans are feeling the bite through shortages in electricity, food, water and medicine. The bare essentials of society have been stripped away and replaced by blackouts, endless queues for basic household goods, violence and looting. The country has the second highest murder rate in the world.
Desperation is in the air and its manifestations can no longer be passed off by the government as “revolts of the rich,” as was the case following similar protests in 2014. Read more