Americas/Western Hemisphere December 2019- February 2023

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Latin America 2013 – 19

18 February
From a secret safehouse, Peru’s Indigenous revolt advances
Two months into Peru’s angry insurrection, emotions have hardened. …
The tumult, which has left at least 60 dead, was triggered by the impeachment in December of President Pedro Castillo. To Peruvians like Fonseca, the leftist rural teacher was a symbol of their own exclusion, while Boluarte’s ascension to power from the vice presidency in cahoots with Castillo’s conservative enemies in Congress is seen as an unforgivable class betrayal.
The impasse has given a jolt of self-confidence to Peru’s Indigenous movement. Unlike neighboring Bolivia, where Indigenous groups were emboldened by Aymara coca-grower Evo Morales’ election as president in 2006, or Ecuador, where ethnic groups have a long tradition of toppling unpopular governments, Peru’s Indigenous groups had long struggled to gain political influence.
Although Peruvians of all backgrounds take pride in the history of the Inca Empire, the country’s Indigenous population is often treated with neglect and even hostility. Little is done to promote Quechua, despite its being spoken by millions and being an official language since 1975.

9 February
‘This is huge’: Nicaragua frees 222 political prisoners and flies them to US
Daughter of former foreign minister Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa says he is among detainees released, adding: ‘Everybody is on the plane’
(The Guardian) More than 200 prisoners jailed by Nicaragua’s authoritarian regime during a ferocious two-year political crackdown have been freed and flown to the United States.
Aguirre-Sacasa said the released Nicaraguan prisoners included key members of Nicaragua’s political opposition such as the former presidential candidates Cristiana Chamorro and Arturo Cruz. … Nicaragua’s crackdown began in June 2021 as Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, moved to obliterate any challenge to their Sandinista government before the November presidential election. Over the following months scores of opponents were thrown in jail before Ortega – a former revolutionary icon who has been in power since 2007 – won another five-year term in an election the US president, Joe Biden, claimed had been “rigged”.
Nicaragua’s government made no immediate comment on its decision but state-controlled media outlets carried remarks from a magistrate who said the prisoners had been deported in order to protect national security, public order and peace.
‘We are in this nightmare’: Nicaragua continues its brazen crackdown (12 August 2021)

25 January
The US opens up Caribbean energy supplies with a sanctions exception for Venezuela. What does it mean for the region?
By Atlantic Council experts
The United States announced Tuesday that it would allow Trinidad and Tobago to develop a gas field located in Venezuelan territorial waters. The agreement would boost Caribbean energy supply while creating an exception for some US sanctions on Caracas—though the United States says no cash payments will be allowed to go to President Nicolás Maduro’s government as part of Trinidad and Tobago’s deal with Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA. What does this mean for the US stance toward Venezuela, and for energy resources in the Caribbean?
This is a make-or-break year for US-Caribbean relations
By Wazim Mowla, associate director of the Caribbean Initiative at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center
(Atlantic Council) Bahamian Prime Minister and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chair Philip Davis’s trip to Washington last week shows that, because the United States recently “reengaged” with the Caribbean, 2023 could be transformative for US-Caribbean cooperation. But for that to happen, the United States must change its Caribbean strategy by focusing on making good on its promises, letting the Caribbean lead, and updating security partnerships.
The United States has historically been the Caribbean’s preferred ally, mainly due to proximity. The movement of goods, people, and services to, from, and within the Caribbean often involves the United States. But despite the historical strength of the relationship, there remains a simmering frustration among Caribbean leaders about the United States’ empty and unfulfilled promises and an absence of consistent attention from US officials, which have kept the US-Caribbean relationship from truly deepening. The Caribbean has always seen the potential benefits of its relationship with the United States, but the same cannot be said the other way around.
Last year did see the United States making critical investments in its partnership with the Caribbean. In June, on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, US Vice President Kamala Harris announced the US-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030)—a new framework created to support climate and energy resilience in the Caribbean. The next day, US President Joe Biden met with Caribbean leaders, and the convening was praised by many across the region. And in a show of the region’s appetite to work with the United States, five Caribbean leaders met with Harris in September to discuss improving future cooperation; at the meeting, the United States announced new commitments to support the region’s energy, food, and financial security.

Atlantic Council: The top 23 risks and opportunities for 2023
3. The United States loses Colombia—and with it, increasingly, Latin America
Jason Marczak, Senior Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin American Center
Colombia has long served as the linchpin of US policy in Latin America, and it is currently the only major economy in South America that does not have China as its largest trading partner. But all that may be set to change in 2023. In pursuing his policy agenda, the country’s new president, Gustavo Petro, could generate a backlash in the US Congress, particularly the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Those policies include Petro’s efforts to reimagine (and potentially scale back) cooperation with Washington on judicial issues and criminal extradition, achieve a possible agreement with Colombia’s National Liberation Army guerrilla group, and move away from lockstep coordination with the United States on eradicating drugs and overall drug policy (a joint approach that has been the fundamental tenet of US-Colombia relations over the last twenty years). Fallout in the United States, could, in turn, offer China an opportunity to increase its clout in Colombia. More broadly, inflation and other economic woes in the United States could have outsize consequences for Latin American countries, including greater political polarization and social unrest that leads to democratic backsliding as well as sovereign-debt issues. China could then position itself as a provider of desperately needed relief for countries grappling with these challenges. In such a scenario, US policymakers might be at risk of increasingly losing influence in not just Colombia but Latin America as a whole. A secure position in its near abroad has long been a predicate for America’s robust global posture. Is that position now poised to further erode, even with a longstanding ally? (20 January 2023)

10 January
Death Toll in Peru Rises to 47 Amid Extraordinary Violence
(NYT) In a matter of hours, at least 17 civilians and one police officer were killed in the chaos of demonstrations, according to the country’s ombudsman office, an extraordinary spasm of violence that complicated the new president’s attempt to stabilize the country.
The killings, in the city of Juliaca, near the border with Bolivia, drew widespread condemnation of Peruvian security forces, which appear to be responsible for most of the deaths, and have been accused by protesters and human rights groups of using lethal force indiscriminately against civilians.
The country’s demonstrations began shortly after authorities arrested Mr. Castillo on charges of rebellion on Dec. 7. Over the last month, some protests have been peaceful; in other cases marchers have used slingshots to fling rocks, set up roadblocks on vital highways, burned government buildings and taken over airports.
When the new president, Dina Boluarte, a former ally of Mr. Castillo’s, declared a state of emergency in December, the military took to the streets to maintain order.

4 January
Latin America’s challenges and changes ahead
by Arturo McFields Yescas
(The Hill) Looking back on 2022, it closed as the year in which Latin America swerved to the left, dictators received a blank check and an unprecedented migratory hemorrhage opened the veins the region.
The new year starts with a pyrrhic economic growth projection. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in a context of external uncertainties and domestic restrictions, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean grew 3.7 percent in 2022, just over half of the 6.7 percent rate recorded in 2021. It is estimated that the economic deceleration will continue in 2023, reaching a 1.3 percent growth rate.
The political map could change — more
In October, the elections in Argentina aim to take a new turn to the right. A timely slap in the face to Peronism for its erratic economic policies. In 2022, Argentina registered the second-highest inflation in the region, only surpassed by the failed Venezuela of dictator Nicolás Maduro. In an electoral year, political leaders like Mauricio Macri, Patricia Bullrich or the current mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, seem to gain popularity among public opinion. (4 Jan 2023)


22 December
Latin America’s ‘pink tide’ may have hit its high-water mark
(Reuters) – Dramatic elections in Brazil, Chile and Colombia brought leftist governments into power across much of Latin America in 2022, capping the region’s second “pink tide” in two decades.
However, their struggles amid stubborn economic headwinds suggest the wave may have crested. An anti-incumbent streak that lifted the left could soon swing major elections the other way.
To have the same staying power as the left-wing renaissance at the turn of the century, governments will need to reignite economies that have frustrated voters and investors alike during a decade of mostly mediocre growth.

Peru clashes with Mexico as political crisis deepens
(GZero) Peru has ordered the Mexican ambassador to leave the country after Mexico City granted asylum to the family of former leftist President Pedro Castillo, who was recently arrested for trying to dissolve Congress and stage a coup. Simply put: Peru is a hot mess. Castillo, a former rural school teacher with no prior political experience, was accused of corruption and ineptitude and faced multiple impeachments during his year and a half in office. Castillo’s wife is also being investigated for partaking in alleged corrupt activities. Peru’s government, now led by Dina Boluarte, recently declared a state of emergency to manage mounting social unrest that’s led to at least 26 deaths. Crucially, Mexico isn’t the only state criticizing Lima. Fellow leftist regimes in Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia released a joint statement expressing concern over Castillo’s “undemocratic harassment.” Meanwhile, Peruvians continue to protest, with some calling for new elections and others demanding Castillo be released. While Peru’s Congress is set to greenlight early elections, they wouldn’t take place until April 2024. That’s unlikely to placate the angry masses.
Family of ousted leader Castillo leaves for Mexico
The family of Peru’s ousted President Pedro Castillo has left Peru for Mexico after the latter offered them asylum.
Mr Castillo remains in detention in Peru.

15 December
Peru Political Crisis Threatens to Widen Latin America Rifts
(Bloomberg) — Peru’s political crisis is threatening to widen rifts in Latin America, with the administration of President Dina Boluarte saying late Wednesday that it had received the backing of governments in Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
The comments tweeted by Foreign Minister Ana Cecilia Gervasi came just days after the leftist governments of Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia threw their support behind ousted President Pedro Castillo.
Gervasi also said she met with ambassadors from the US and Canada, who sided with the new government. The Foreign Affairs Ministry has previously responded to the countries opposing Boluarte by saying the transition of power obeyed the constitution.
Chile’s Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola “expressed her critical position regarding the breakdown of democratic order occurred on Dec. 7,” while Ecuador’s Juan Carlos Holguin agreed to continue working to strengthen bilateral relations, according to the Twitter posts.

13-14 December
Peru’s new government declares police state amid protests
(AP) — Peru’s new government declared a national emergency Wednesday as it struggled to calm violent protests over President Pedro Castillo’s ouster, suspending the rights of “personal security and freedom” across the Andean nation for 30 days.
Acts of vandalism, violence and highway blockades as thousands of Peruvians are in the streets “require a forceful and authoritative response from the government,” Defense Minister Luis Otarola Peñaranda said.
The declaration suspends the rights of assembly and freedom of movement and empowers the police, supported by the military, to search people’s homes without permission or judicial order. Otarola said it had not been determined whether a nightly curfew would be imposed.
Peru explodes into fiery protest as anger over political crises ignites
By Marco Aquino and Adam Jourdan
Voters are fed up with the constant political infighting that has seen six presidents in the last five years and seven impeachment attempts.
(Reuters) – As Peru careers from one political crisis to another, the country has exploded in protest, with at least seven dead in the last week and the smoke of fires and tear gas hanging over city streets. A way out seems distant.
…the ouster and arrest of leftist leader Pedro Castillo after he tried to dissolve Congress illegally. …followed a months-long standoff where lawmakers impeached him three times, the final time removing him from office.
Peru has been one of the economic stars of Latin America in the 21st century, with strong growth lifting millions out of poverty. But the political turmoil is increasingly threatening to derail its economic stability, with ratings agencies warning of downgrades, blockades impacting major mines in the world’s no. 2 copper producer, and protesters demanding Congress and new president Dina Boluarte step down.

7 December
Peruvian politician Boluarte sworn in as interim president after Castillo’s removal
(Reuters) – Peruvian politician Dina Boluarte was sworn as interim president on Wednesday, hours after Pedro Castillo was removed in an impeachment trial during a day of high political drama in the Andean nation.
Boluarte, elevated from vice president, becomes Peru’s first ever female president, following Castillo’s attempt to dissolve the legislature by decree to avoid the impeachment vote, which sparked a wave of resignations by ministers and criticism from allies.
Peru’s parliament ousts President Castillo despite his attempt to dissolve legislature
Peru’s parliament ousted President Pedro Castillo on Wednesday, shortly after Castillo tried to dissolve the legislature ahead of a scheduled vote on his removal. Peruvian media later reported that Castillo had been detained by the National Police.
Facing his third impeachment attempt in almost 18 months of power, Castillo announced in a televised address to the nation that he was dissolving Congress and would rule by decree in what was criticized as a coup.
The former school teacher, who unexpectedly took power from Peru’s traditional political elite, has faced non-stop crises, with repeated cabinet reshuffles, multiple corruption investigations and protests since he was elected in July last year.
“This intolerable situation cannot continue,” the 53-year-old said, announcing he was “temporarily dissolving Congress… and installing an exceptional emergency government.”
A look at years of political chaos in Peru
Peruvian politics marked by series of corruption cases and crises, the latest being removal of President Pedro Castillo.

30 October
Experts react: Lula defeats Bolsonaro in Brazil. What should the region and the world expect?
By Atlantic Council expert Jason Marczak, senior director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center
When Lula becomes president again on January 1, 2023, his third term will signal a likely return to the South-South diplomacy that characterized his previous terms, in which Lula cast himself as the leader of the Global South. It is expected that he will increase collaboration between Brazil and other governments with similar perspectives such as those in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Colombia. Characterizing Lula’s election as part of a shift to the left in the region oversimplifies the state of regional politics. Rather, the shift is a sign that people want leaders who they think will govern with a deeper interest in making the average person’s life better, especially as inflation and high food and energy prices take hold.

28 October
A Belt & Rough Road?: China-Latin America Relations
The writing has been on the wall for several years, as China’s economic engagement with the region has tapered, especially greenfield investment and sovereign lending, once-prominent features of the China-Latin America relationship.
(Wilson Center) Xi’s work report, delivered during the party congress, gives insights into how China will respond to challenges in its domestic and foreign policy, and the implications for Latin America could be significant.
In addition to rubber-stamping Xi Jinping’s third term as Chinese Communist Party general secretary, the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which concluded last week, offered signs of a bumpy road ahead for China. The country is confronting both economic troubles and an increasingly unfavorable geopolitical environment.
The highly choreographed proceedings alluded to China’s economic headwinds, which will limit economic growth rate to about 3 percent this year. The slowdown will leave Beijing with fewer resources to commit to its once-expansive foreign policy agenda, including in Latin America. The writing has been on the wall for several years, as China’s economic engagement with the region has tapered, especially greenfield investment and sovereign lending, once-prominent features of the China-Latin America relationship.
Overall Chinese lending in Latin America is unlikely to return to its previous peaks.
For Latin America, that suggests a narrower and more modest approach to Chinese investment, focused on sectors considered critical to China’s economic growth. In Latin America, that has included a focus on industries known in China as “new infrastructure” – such as 5G, electricity transmission, high-speed rail, electric vehicles, data centers and artificial intelligence – that are also of considerable interest to governments in the region. Indeed, “new infrastructure” was a theme of the 7th China-LAC Infrastructure Cooperation Forum last year.
Top U.S. and Canadian Officials Meet to Consider Armed Intervention Force in Haiti
(Democracy Now) Canada has sent a delegation to Haiti to assess security and humanitarian concerns as the country faces worsening political instability and gang activity. Canada’s foreign minister and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ottawa Thursday as the two countries push for an international armed intervention in Haiti. Haitians have taken to the streets in recent weeks denouncing foreign aid and occupation, saying the U.S. and other powers have contributed to the destabilization of Haiti. Protesters are also demanding the resignation of U.S.-backed Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

15 October
After armoured vehicles from Canada land in Port-au-Prince, here’s a look at Haiti’s latest security crisis
On Monday (17 October), UN Security Council could discuss Haiti’s request for military intervention
Haiti: Gangs use sexual violence to instill fear – UN report
Over the course of the past year, gang violence has spiralled out of control, particularly in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince and in some regional cities. Sixty percent of the capital is now reportedly under the control or the influence of gang elements who have easy access to high calibre weapons and ammunitions trafficked from abroad.
Ensuring immediate access to adequate medical and psychosocial care to prevent further physical and psychological harm is a crucial first step towards victims’ rehabilitation. Victims are also entitled to remedy, including access to justice and reparation. However, the efforts of national and international actors working in this field to guarantee the rights of survivors have generally been insufficient due to multiple challenges and barriers detailed in this report. … the efforts of national and international actors working in this field to guarantee the rights of survivors have generally been insufficient due to multiple challenges and barriers detailed in this report.
22 September
As gang violence consumes Haiti, donor nations — Canada included — seem reluctant to get involved
Haiti has been lurching from crisis to crisis for a long time. But at no point in the recent past — perhaps not since the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake — has the country’s plight seemed so hopeless to so many of its people as it does today. Caribbean leaders, traditionally opposed to outside interventions, are facing an influx of Haitian boat people fleeing what Bahamian PM Philip Davis calls “a failed state.”
The Dominican Republic has deployed its army to the border with Haiti to prevent spillover from what its president Luis Abinader calls a “low-intensity civil war.”
Haiti was certainly a topic of discussion as world leaders gathered in New York this week for the 77th UN General Assembly. But there was little sign from any country of a willingness to commit to Haiti the kind of resources needed to restore a semblance of law and order to the capital.

13 September
Bloomberg New Economy: Feeling the Squeeze
Inflation may be peaking in parts of the world, but tell that to hard-squeezed voters in Latin America.
Electorates from Mexico to Brazil are demanding urgent government action to cushion the blow of soaring food and fuel prices.
As Maria Eloisa Capurro, Matthew Bristow and Maya Averbuch explain here, that’s putting severe strains on political and economic systems across what has long been the world’s most unequal region.
Interest-rate rises of 250 basis points or more this year in at least seven of the region’s nations have yet to make much of a difference, leaving governments to pick up the slack.
Yet Latin America leaders do not have the resources of their counterparts in Europe or North America. In any case, raiding fragile public finances for tax cuts and social programs risks undermining local currencies and further driving up food costs.
Voter anger at inequalities that were exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic has already translated into the election of radical leaders in Peru, Chile and Colombia in the past 18 months. Evidence that persistent high inflation weighs most heavily on the poorest is stoking further upheaval.
Latin America is know for its volatility. But the current pain from inflation is creating instability that governments worldwide facing similar price pressures would do well to heed.

4 September
Chilean voters decisively reject leftist constitution
…for many Chileans, the proposed changes were too drastic. With 99.9 percent of ballot boxes tallied Sunday night, about 62 percent of voters rejected the charter, while 38 percent approved it, according to Chile’s electoral authority.
Chileans vote on a constitution unlike any other in the world
The ballot asked voters to approve or reject replacing the country’s 1980 dictatorship-era constitution — considered one of the most business-friendly in the world — with one of the most egalitarian and inclusive constitutions in the world.
Chileans head to polls to decide on proposed constitution with big changes
Chileans voted on Sunday to approve or reject a progressive new constitution that would replace its current market-friendly text dating back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
The new text is the result of an agreement reached to quell violent protests against inequality in 2019 and focuses on social rights, the environment, gender equality and indigenous rights.

19 June
Gustavo Petro has become Colombia’s first leftist leader after narrowly defeating real estate tycoon Rodolfo Hernández in the country’s runoff election on Sunday.
(AP) It was Petro’s third attempt to win the presidency and comes as Colombia faces rising inequality, inflation and violence. Petro, a former rebel with the now-defunct M-19 guerrilla movement, has been a senator and mayor of the capital Bogotá. His vice president will be Francia Márquez, an environmental activist, who will serve as the country’s first Black vice president. Petro reached across the aisle during his victory speech, calling on the opposition to work together “to discuss the problems of Colombia.”
Gustavo Petro Wins the Election, Becoming Colombia’s First Leftist Leader
The former rebel and longtime senator’s victory sets the third largest nation in Latin America on a sharply new path.
(NYT) His victory sets the third largest nation in Latin America on a sharply uncertain path, just as it faces rising poverty and violence that have sent record numbers of Colombians to the United States border; high levels of deforestation in the Colombian Amazon, a key buffer against climate change; and a growing distrust of key democratic institutions, which has become a trend in the region.

9-12 June
Biden ducks summit ‘debacle’ in Los Angeles. But it wasn’t smooth.
The Summit of Americas still got overshadowed by drama over the guest list and a lack of concrete achievements.
(Politico) …it was clear the president salvaged something — however modest — out of his tough circumstances.
“Some people thought it would be a ‘debacle,’” said Gerardo Munck, an expert on the region from the University of Southern California who participated in a summit-related discussion Friday. “The absences of Mexico and three Central American countries was certainly a loss for the administration. But I see things looking better for Biden and Co. now.”
Despite the absence of the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, along with Mexico and several other nations, Munck said Biden still advanced the discussion on a set of specific U.S. proposals focused on the hemisphere: In the Los Angeles Declaration, a nonbinding migration blueprint unveiled by the summit leaders Friday, the group established legal pathways to enter the countries and set new parameters around aid.
Fact Sheet: The Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection U.S. Government and Foreign Partner Deliverables
Messy Summit of the Americas highlights contrast in US, China hosting styles
(SCMP) Agenda and guest list not finalised until days before, a controversy that could have been defused if handled earlier: one critic calls it ‘amateur hour’
Disarray contrasts with China’s approach to similar events, which involve exhaustive preparation, highly scripted events, no detail left to chance
Summit of the Americas: A squandered opportunity at critical time
US President Joe Biden’s decision to exclude the presidents of three countries has overshadowed the summit’s agenda.
(Al Jazeera) A fiasco, a flop, a disappointment: These are just some of the ways that political analysts and Latin American and Caribbean leaders are describing the Summit of the Americas, which is being hosted by US President Joe Biden in Los Angeles.
Even before the summit began this week, the main subject of conversation was not how regional leaders would tackle key common challenges, such as migration, climate change, and economic disparity and cooperation.
Biden, Looking for Unity, Faces Criticism From Latin American Leaders
The U.S. president called for concrete commitments on several major issues, but other leaders said the United States is doing too little to meet the moment.

11 June
(The World) Nicaragua has authorized the arrival of Russian troops, planes and ships into the country for training, law enforcement and emergency response purposes. President Daniel Ortega has been a staunch ally of Moscow for decades. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed the decision. “We are talking about a routine — twice a year — procedure for the adoption of a Nicaraguan law on the temporary admission of foreign military personnel to its territory in order to develop cooperation in various areas, including humanitarian and emergency responses, combating organized crime and drug trafficking,” she said.

8 June
Biden is hosting the Summit of the Americas, but Mexico’s president won’t be there
(NPR) The Summit of the Americas — an event bringing together leaders of countries from Chile to Canada this week — was supposed to be a chance for the White House to demonstrate its leadership on big regional issues such as migration, climate change and recovering from the pandemic.
But the agenda has been overshadowed by who won’t be at the table. Several leaders, including Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, turned down the chance to meet with President Biden in Los Angeles.
The absences are drawing attention to the waning influence of the United States in the region and raising questions about U.S. commitment to Latin America.
As vice president, Biden visited the region more than 16 times, so there was a lot of optimism when he took office about a more collaborative relationship with the hemisphere. But after more than a year in office as president, Biden has devoted more time to pressing issues in Russia and China.
Biden turns to his old friend Chris Dodd for a sensitive job
Biden needed to avoid embarrassment by ensuring a good showing at this week’s Americas summit. Dodd, a former senator and lobbyist, went to work, visiting leaders in the hemisphere, listening to their concerns and, in some cases, offering enticements.
In the end, weeks of cajoling and bargaining has meant only a handful of countries boycotted, including Central American leaders who object to Biden’s anti-corruption and migration policies. Most of the rest are showing up this week in Los Angeles, where Dodd has been on hand to greet them at the airport before Biden’s Wednesday arrival.

6 June
The Summit of the Americas is often messy, and this year’s looks to be no different

3 June
A Policy for a Post-American Latin America
How Washington Can Reset Relations With a Region That Needs It Less
(Foreign Affairs) Hosting the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles from June 6 to June 10 was supposed to be a golden opportunity for U.S. President Joe Biden to forge closer ties with Latin America and the Caribbean. But in the run-up to the first gathering of leaders from across the hemisphere held in the United States since the inaugural meeting in 1994, the Biden administration has faced significant pushback. Biden has indicated he will exclude the dictators of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, prompting Mexico’s leftist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to threaten to boycott the event. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is attending, but he rejects Biden’s views on democracy and the environment. Instead of marking the opening of a new era, the summit may well reveal the fragmented, troubled, and leaderless state of the America.

2 June
Digital mapping reveals network of settlements thrived in pre-Columbian Amazon
Ruins of monuments, villages, causeways and canals hidden in the dense rainforest are evidence of ‘Amazonian urbanism’
(The Guardian) Mysterious mounds were first noted in the region by archaeologists more than 100 years ago.
Since then, excavations have unearthed evidence of the Casarabe culture, which developed in the area from AD500 to 1400.
Remote sensing had revealed the possible presence of hundreds of settlements. But the difficulties of working in the tropics – and a thick cover of vegetation – obscured the true extent and pattern of the sites.
In 2019, the archaeologist Heiko Prümers and his team began flying over the region by helicopter, mapping the land beneath them with a laser. They were then able to digitally strip away the vegetation, revealing the topography of the ground underneath.
Within the largest sites, they found monumental platforms and pyramids, some 20 metres (65ft) high. Smaller settlements surrounded the larger ones, linked by causeways running for kilometres. Canals and reservoirs show how the Casarabe shaped the land for agriculture and aquaculture.
The authors describe it as a new form of urbanism in Amazonia.

29-30 May
Colombia presidential election: leftist former guerrilla and populist outsider head to runoff
Rivals Gustavo Petro will face Rodolfo Hernández on 19 June amid growing discontent over inequality and inflation
Colombia goes to the polls in historic election that could see turn to left
Presidential frontrunner is former leftist guerrilla Gustavo Petro in country ruled for decades by the right
Colombia could elect first black female vice-president as poll leader names pick
Francia Márquez, 40, an environmental campaigner who has survived at least one assassination attempt, is leftist Gustavo Petro’s running mate (23 March)

3 April
Costa Rica elects maverick Chaves as president in break with establishment
(Reuters) – Anti-establishment economist Rodrigo Chaves clinched Costa Rica’s presidency on Sunday, upending decades of political consensus in the Central American country that is grappling with growing social discontent and mounting national debt.
Chaves, a veteran former official of the World Bank, was projected to win about 52.9% of the vote in the run-off ballot, a preliminary tally by the electoral tribunal showed, based on returns from some 97% of polling stations.
Unheralded Costa Rican economist’s unlikely path to presidency

30 March
‘I have to speak out’: Nicaraguan ambassador resigns, denounces govt as dictatorship
The ambassador of Nicaragua to the OAS, Arturo McFields, said that he’s afraid for his family’s safety, but that he had to stand up to corruption and the inhumane treatment of dissidents. McFields spoke with The World’s host Marco Werman from Washington.


20 December
Gabriel Boric’s triumph puts wind in the sails of Latin America’s resurgent left
The decisive victory reflects Chileans’ revolt against a threadbare welfare system and a society systematically stacked in the favour of the rich
(The Guardian) …on Sunday, Boric, 35, trounced José Antonio Kast – a Catholic law-and-order candidate nostalgic for the bloody dictatorship of Gen Augusto Pinochet – by a 12 percentage-point margin to become the youngest president in Chilean history.
Turnout on Sunday was the highest – at nearly 56 percent – since voting became voluntary in 2012. When he takes office on 11 March, Boric will be Chile’s most leftwing leader since Salvador Allende was overthrown in 1973 – and the first from outside the centrist blocs that have swapped the presidential sash since the return of democracy in 1989.
The triumph of the avowed feminist and environmentalist has also been hailed as historic by his progressive counterparts across Latin America, who after nearly a decade in the doldrums have won a string of electoral victories in the past year – and are set to notch up even more in 2022.
16 December
‘Very worrying’: is a far-right radical about to take over in Chile?
As election run-off looms, José Antonio Kast’s opponents sound the alarm

26 August
Frustrated integration
(The Economist) Latin America’s more economically dynamic and free-trade oriented economies have generally gathered under the banner of the Pacific Alliance, a trade bloc centered on the continent’s western coastline. With Ecuador on a pathway to joining and an upcoming free-trade agreement with Singapore, it is one of the few free trade blocs with expansion momentum behind it. However, beyond the possibility of a new member and ratification of the Singapore agreement, inertia seems the most likely outcome for the next 12 months at least.
Political pressures are clearly affecting the quality of policymaking in many Latin American countries. In the Pacific Alliance, major stumbling blocks are going to be in Peru and Chile. In Peru, the expected tensions between the recently elected far-left president and the opposition-led Congress look set to produce gridlock and instability. Chile, long one of the most pro-market governments in the region, is in a phase of heightened appetite for populist policies, following protests about inequality throughout 2020 and with a general election due later this year. These domestic uncertainties are likely to frustrate any efforts towards greater regional economic integration for the time being.

7 August
In Haiti, a clouded assassination probe prompts fears of political crackdowns
(WaPo) Nearly a month after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, none of the dozens of detained suspects have been taken to court. Some of the judges and clerks investigating the killing have gone into hiding, fearing for their lives and claiming they faced pressure to tamper with reports.
Now, with the plot and motives still murky, many Haitians have begun to believe the authorities are also using the investigation as cover to crack down on political foes of the administration trying to keep power after gunmen killed Moïse on July 7.
A prosecutor for Port-au-Prince has issued a series of arrest warrants against political opponents — high-profile evangelical pastors, a former justice minister and Moïse critics — who all say they had nothing to do with the assassination.

30 July
Vortex of Inequality
Bloomberg: Even before the pandemic, Latin America was already a poster child for inequality. Now it’s facing a jobs crisis that’s poised to worsen the disparities that have stoked political unrest across many nations.
In countries including Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, over 60% of the new jobs are informal — that is, typically paid in cash, without salaried contracts — a review of late 2020 showed. Without organization, workers are unable to fight for better wages or basic benefits like healthcare.
Argentine waiters, construction workers, candy-vendors and other informal workers saw a 36% pay cut, taking inflation into account, last year — nearly quadruple the losses for those with salaried jobs.
Besides leaving millions trapped in poverty, the surge in the share of precarious jobs is setting up a vicious cycle of economic and social decline:
Weaker growth→ lower tax revenue → more social spending → bigger government debt → higher inflation and interest rates → weaker growth.

28 July
Leftist rural teacher sworn in as Peru’s president
(AP) — Pedro Castillo, a leftist political novice who has promised to be a champion of his country’s poor, on Wednesday became Peru’s new president.
The rural teacher who has never held political office before was sworn in less than two weeks after he was declared the winner of the June 6 runoff election. He is Peru’s first president of peasant origin.
In a ceremony in the capital of Lima, Castillo made a commitment “for God, for my family, for my peasant sisters and brothers, teachers, patrolmen, children, youth and women, and for a new Constitution.” He then he sang the national anthem, taking off his signature hat and placing it over his heart.

24 July
Hundreds protest ouster of Guatemalan anti-graft crusader
(Reuters) – Hundreds of Guatemalans protested outside the presidential palace on Saturday against the ouster of anti-graft fighter Juan Francisco Sandoval, who fled the country overnight after being stripped of his post in a move that sparked a global outcry.
Guatemala’s Attorney General Maria Porras removed Sandoval from his post on Friday as the head of FECI, which was originally created to tackle investigations spearheaded by the U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) but was ousted from the country in 2019.

21 July
Census Delays Threaten Latin America’s Vulnerable
(Bloomberg City Lab) As Covid-19 ravages Latin America, countries like Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia have postponed their census surveys. This could have crippling effects in the region for years to come, warn experts. Besides counting residents, national censuses provide data on aspects like living conditions and employment, and help inform social policies that distribute federal aid. Outdated numbers can leave neighborhoods that have grown poorer or more populous with insufficient resources.
There may also be a political dimension to the postponements, experts tell contributor Raphael Tsavkko Garcia: A new census in Bolivia — which has been delayed until 2024 — could, for instance, reveal population growth in areas that generally oppose the current socialist-led government. Census delays in many countries predate the pandemic, but further disruption threatens to accelerate “the loss of once-public knowledge.”

17 July
Key diplomats, including from Canada, support Haiti’s designated PM, snub interim leader
Statement from Core Group does not mention interim PM Claude Joseph
A key group of international diplomats on Saturday appeared to snub the man currently running Haiti by urging another politician, the designated prime minister, to form a government following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has been leading Haiti with the backing of police and the military, despite the fact that Moïse had announced his replacement a day before being assassinated.
Joseph and his allies argue that the designated successor, Ariel Henry, was never sworn in, but he pledged to work with him and Joseph Lambert, the head of Haiti’s inactive Senate.

12 July
Thousands march in Cuba in rare mass protests amid economic crisis
US sanctions and coronavirus crisis lead to food shortages and high prices, sparking one of the biggest such demonstrations in memory
Is Cuba’s Communist Regime in Trouble?
Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel, who succeeded Raúl Castro this year as first secretary of the Communist Party, sought to depict the protests as a U.S.-sponsored attempt to destabilize Cuba. …  Díaz-Canel, the first non-Castro family member to lead Cuba in six decades, has struggled to maintain public support in the face of a mounting economic crisis. In January, the government devalued the peso as part of a monetary-reform program intended to unify Cuba’s longstanding, complicated dual-currency system. In recent months, the devaluation has contributed to skyrocketing inflation. That, in combination with rising food prices on the global market, has left many Cubans struggling to afford food and basic goods.

15 July
As Cuba erupts, Cuban-Canadians accuse the Trudeau government of turning its back
The gap between the Biden administration and the Trudeau government this week on Cuba was wider than the straits that separate Havana from Key West.
(CBC) U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States “stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights. And we call on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence in their attempt to silence the voices of the people of Cuba.”
The protests — which saw thousands of Cubans march through cities across the island — are a “clarion call for freedom,” said Biden.
When CBC News asked for one, Global Affairs Canada issued a statement through spokesperson Ciara Trudeau on the protests in Cuba. The department has not posted it with other statements on its website.

9 July
Haiti Is in Peril, and There Are No Simple Options
The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti on Wednesday will force a reluctant Biden administration to focus more carefully on its next steps concerning the troubled country.
(NYT Opinion) Haiti was never able to shake off the foreign yoke, except, one might argue, during the darkest days of the Duvalier regime. Over the years it has been at the mercy of the United States, of course, and of the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the Organization of American States and the United Nations, which deployed a peacekeeping force there from 2004 until 2017. Yet Haiti has ended up just as poor and unstable as ever, if not more so. And the country never truly recovered from a devastating earthquake in 2010.
Assassination of Haitian president becomes complex international web
“a yarn befitting a Netflix series”
(WaPo) The mysterious plot that led to the brazen assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse — apparently without significant resistance from his own guards — has taken on the dimensions of an international affair, bringing together Colombian former military commandos traversing the Dominican Republic, the two Haitian Americans from South Florida and triggering a standoff at the Embassy of Taiwan.
The tale emerging is a convoluted one, where truth or lie could be behind any corner, and the cast of self-interested suspects vast. But the armed foreign mercenaries, Florida men, and claims of being misled by enigmatic mission masterminds for the promise of coin was eerily familiar, if of far greater consequence.
In an unrelated mission last year, a murky Florida-based ex-Green Beret lured two other former American military veterans — Luke Denman and Airan Berry — into a bizarre and bungled operation to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro by falsely telling them it had been sanctioned by the U.S. government. Like Solages and Vincent, they ended up in foreign jail. In 2019, another group of five heavily armed American mercenaries were arrested — then mysteriously released — following a murky mission in Haiti that was never fully clarified.

4 June
Protests in Colombia, Elections in Peru, and Other Chaos in the Andes
Hopes for a sustained democratic rebirth in the seven Andean nations have waned, again.
By Jon Lee Anderson
(The New Yorker) In the eight years since the death of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, at the age of fifty-eight, his vaunted “Bolivarian” revolution to unify the Andean nations of South America has gone the way of most fever dreams. The region remains in ferment, beset by varying degrees of social, economic, and political chaos.
Venezuela and Colombia ended their military dictatorships in the late nineteen-fifties, but Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru did not experience democratic restoration until the late seventies and early eighties, and Chile was the last to see off a dictator, Augusto Pinochet, in 1990.
Now hopes for a sustained democratic rebirth have waned, again, in the face of rampant official corruption and unresolved social inequities. Populism, authoritarianism, and military participation in politics remain in vogue. (The syndrome also holds in non-Andean neighbors, notably Brazil, as well as in the Central American nations of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala.)
During the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has made the situation much worse. Latin America accounts for less than nine per cent of the world’s population but nearly a third of the global pandemic death toll, which can be explained, in part, by the bungling or negligence of a number of governments. In most countries, the vaccination rollout has been abysmal, and without major outside assistance the pandemic will persist long after it has been contained elsewhere.
Unattended social, political, and economic maladies sparked social unrest in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Bolivia before the pandemic. Now, entirely predictably, the unrest has returned—most seriously, so far, in Colombia.

12 May
Colombia Is in Turmoil. Biden Must Push It Toward Dialogue.
The protest started on April 28 over an unpopular tax overhaul. Led by labor unionists, students, small-scale farmers and advocates for the rights of women, Afro-Colombians, Indigenous communities and L.G.B.T. people, marchers are now voicing many other grievances over stark economic inequality, the government’s failure to carry out a 2016 peace accord with the country’s largest guerrilla group and violence against social justice activists. They’re also denouncing the response of security forces to the protests, which has been brutal, disproportionate and indiscriminate.
Colombia can’t afford to see the clashes on its streets escalate, and Washington needs to help the country find a way out of the turmoil. Demands need to be channeled into real dialogue between the protesters and the government. Dialogue has to be the priority before there’s more death, before the possibility of resolving differences peacefully is extinguished.

6 May
Colombia enters second week of violent unrest as police crack down on protests
(The Guardian) As many as 37 people have died and at least 89 reported missing since protests began on 28 April
Colombia has entered its second week of violent unrest as riot police continued a brutal crackdown on nationwide protests against poverty and inequality exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Demonstrations began over an unpopular tax reform but have since grown into outburst of rage over poverty, human rights abuses and the authorities’ heavy-handed response to protests.
‘No food and no fuel’
President Iván Duque, whose three years in office have been marked by nationwide protests, has been powerless to quell the unrest despite ordering the militarization of major cities and withdrawing his tax plan. His government has attempted to frame the protests as the work of “terrorists” from dissident rebel groups.

29 April
After a Year of Loss, South America Suffers Worst Death Tolls Yet
As vaccinations mount in some of the world’s wealthiest countries and people cautiously envision life after the pandemic, the crisis in Latin America — and in South America in particular — is taking an alarming turn for the worse, potentially threatening the progress made well beyond its borders.
Last week, Latin America accounted for 35 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the world, despite having just 8 percent of the global population, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
Latin America was already one of the world’s hardest hit regions in 2020, with bodies sometimes abandoned on sidewalks and new burial grounds cut into thick forest. Yet even after a year of incalculable loss, it is still one of the most troubling global hot spots, with a recent surge in many countries that is even more deadly than before.

Cuba After the Castros
Sixty years after the Bay of Pigs, the Castro brothers are gone from the main stage, and Cuba is a threadbare place facing an uncertain future.

16 April
Cuba’s Raul Castro steps down, ending the era of his famous clan at the country’s helm
(CNN) When Raul Castro announced three years ago that he would step down in 2021 as head of Cuba’s all-powerful communist party, he surely envisioned the island on firmer economic footing and the transition to a new generation of leadership nearly complete.
Things have not worked out exactly according to Castro’s plan.
As Castro announced he was stepping down on Friday, his country is deep in crisis. The tourism-dependent island has been battered by the pandemic; the economy shrunk at least 11% in 2020 according to government estimates. Cubans each day spend hours in long lines to find increasingly scarce food, medicine and other necessities.
While Cuban officials have made an all-out effort to thwart the spread of the coronavirus, cases are at an all-time high on the island. It will likely take many more months to know if Cuba’s ambitious, “Hail Mary” plan to develop the island’s own homegrown vaccines will prove successful.

12 April
Far-left candidate leads Peru into run-off presidential polls
Leftist Castillo in lead with 16 percent of the vote after surprise comeback as Peru deals with economic, COVID crises. Conservative Keiko Fujimori was in fourth place also with 12.9 percent but was gaining ground as votes were counted. The fast count predicted she would come second in The election that voters don’t want anyone to win

10 February
President Biden Should Not Underestimate Challenges in Latin America
The new administration will have trouble finding partners to defend democracy in the region.
(NYT) President Biden’s rapid turn toward a more humane immigration policy sends a powerful message, and he has promised an approach driven by national (not personal) interests and values, with a renewed commitment to democracy, human rights and anti-corruption. He has also assigned urgency to combating climate change.
The harsh realities facing Latin America could thwart the new team’s goals and aspirations in a region racked by pervasive violence and appalling inequalities.
Latin America’s downward spiral, which began in 2013, has vaporized economic and social gains made over the preceding decade. Both left- and right-leaning governments have failed to deliver: The middle class has shrunk while extreme poverty and joblessness have surged, triggering social discontent and upheaval.
The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed institutional weakness, entrenched political and corporate corruption, and systemic failures in health, education and other public services. Latin America’s economies will likely not recover their pre-pandemic per capita gross domestic product until 2025, according to the International Monetary Fund. Many economists predict the region could face another lost decade, similar to or worse than the debt crises of the 1980s. Most worrying, the region has never been more fragmented and leaderless. Countries are moving in different directions, and cooperation among them is notably weak.


1-3 December
Democracy is under siege in both the United States and Peru
(The Conversation) A recent report by the group Varieties of Democracy has revealed that currently there are more non-democratic than democratic countries, and a majority of the world’s population lives under a non-democratic regime. … Latin America has also regressed to worse non-democratic levels than were seen in the early 1990s. The decline of democracy around the globe is evident.
There are two recent high-profile examples of democracy in decline in the Americas: Peru and the United States.
But little to no attention has been paid to the situation in either Peru or the U.S. by the Organization of American States (OAS) which, under the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter, is supposed to ensure that democracy is upheld in the Americas.
Peru’s democracy faces greatest trial since Fujimori dictatorship after two presidents are ousted in one week
Peru’s new interim president took office on Nov. 17 under unenviable circumstances.
Francisco Sagasti became the South American country’s third president in a week after President Martin Vizcarra was impeached for “moral incapacity” in what many Peruvians saw as a coup by Congress. Then Vizcarra’s successor, congressional president Manuel Merino, was quickly forced to resign after furious public protest.
New president Sagasti must now steer a shaken nation not just toward elections, scheduled for April 2021, but also toward renewed faith in democracy.

27 July
United Tesla Company: Widespread Condemnation of Elon Musk’s Bolivia Coup
(Mintpress) The coup d’état in Bolivia – It’s all about the country’s rich Lithium deposits!
Musk’s company, Tesla, relies on lithium batteries for its electric vehicles. Bolivia is right in the center of the Lithium Triangle” — a region high in the Andes mountain range where over half of the world’s known deposits of the metal lie. With the world beginning to transition away from fossil fuels, the need for energy storage devices is expected to grow exponentially. Morales, a resource nationalist, had for a long time seen lithium as the way forward to industrialize and improve the country’s economy, hoping to keep the technology and profits from battery generation inside Bolivia. Musk’s plans to open a car plant in Brazil and use cheap Bolivian lithium had hit a snag with the defiant president refusing to give him a sweetheart deal. Morales’ successor, the military-backed Jeanine Añez, immediately began privatizing the country’s key resources, and there is widespread speculation that such a deal is imminent after Añez’s running mate in the now-suspended 2020 elections asked Musk to build a factory inside the country.”
The former president, who was forced to flee to Argentina or face a lifetime in prison, said that Musk’s words were “more proof that the coup was due to Bolivian lithium; and two massacres as a balance. We will always defend our resources!”

26 July
The sisters regrowing forests helped by their dogs (video)
Francisca and Constanza Torres and their three dogs, are planting seeds in areas of Chile devastated by wildfires. The project, which uses dog backpacks, is done in their own time and has already gained international recognition.

22 July
Earliest evidence for humans in the Americas
(BBC) Humans settled in the Americas much earlier than previously thought, according to new finds from Mexico. They suggest people were living there 33,000 years ago, twice the widely accepted age for the earliest settlement of the Americas.
The results are based on work at Chiquihuite Cave, a high-altitude rock shelter in central Mexico.
Archaeologists found nearly 2,000 stone tools, suggesting the cave was used by people for at least 20,000 years.
During the second half of the 20th Century, a consensus emerged among North American archaeologists that the Clovis people had been the first to reach the Americas, about 11,500 years ago. … But in the 1970s, this orthodoxy started to be challenged. In the 1980s, solid evidence for a 14,500-year-old human presence at Monte Verde, Chile, emerged.
And since the 2000s, other pre-Clovis sites have become widely accepted – including the 15,500-year-old Buttermilk Creek Complex in central Texas.

9 July
In Peru, President Martín Vizcarra calls for general elections for April 2021
(LABS) Vizcarra became president in March 2018, after having been vice president of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who resigned. He will not run for election

4 July
Latin America sees half of all new Covid-19 infections as health systems flounder
(CNN) At the end of April, video emerged from the main hospital in the Brazilian city of Manaus of bodies lined up in corridors, the victims of a sudden surge in the coronavirus. At the same time, the city began digging mass graves for hundreds of people who’d not even had the chance of treatment.
Since then, similar scenes have played out across Latin America, which has seen an explosive spread of the coronavirus. In Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, coffins were fashioned from cardboard boxes as bodies were left uncollected. In the Chilean capital Santiago, public hospitals were overwhelmed as lockdown was eased too soon.
In the last week of June, coronavirus deaths averaged more than 2,000 a day in Latin America and the Caribbean — half of all recorded deaths worldwide, according to a CNN tally of WHO data. Most forecasts suggest the picture will get much grimmer — with nearly 440,000 deaths expected across the region by October, according to the University of Washington.

23 May
The right to education of Venezuelan migrant and refugee children and adolescents: multidimensional risks and exacerbation of vulnerabilities during the pandemic
(UNESCO) The situation of Venezuelan refugee and migrant families that were in a fragile situation before the pandemic is now aggravated by their loss of employment, difficulties in accessing emergency services and benefits, and lack of access to healthcare systems.
As they no longer have the livelihoods to stay in their host countries or have been unable to access emergency responses due to the States’ pressure and redefinition of priorities, many Venezuelans have decided to return to Venezuela. Throughout different cities in the region, many Venezuelan families are awaiting humanitarian assistance that will provide them with options to return, exposing themselves to risks of infection due to irregular movements between countries and across borders.
In educational matters, 100% of the Venezuelan children and adolescents who were enrolled in their host countries are currently out of school and without a certain return. The interruption of learning has also spread among children and adolescents who had already had their studies interrupted when they started their displacement. There are also those who, despite being enrolled in educational centers in their host countries, due to confinement have not been able to begin their school year, losing contact with their educational communities.

18 February
Fringe religious party gains power in crisis-stricken Peru
(The Conversation) Peru’s Jan. 26 special election was exceptional.
Not only did voters elected 130 new legislators, replacing their entire Congress; they also brought into the fold a messianic religious group called the Israelites of the New Universal Pact.
After 40 years of failing to qualify for a national election, the political party of the Israelites – called the Agricultural People’s Front of Peru, or Frepap – won 15 congressional seats. In a fragmented Congress with nine parties, that makes the Israelites the third-largest legislative bloc.
The line between religion and politics has long been blurry in Peru. Both its mainstream parties – Acción Popular, the first-place vote-winners; and Alianza para el Progreso, with the second-most seats– have historical ties to Christian Democracy, a Catholic movement that gained popularity in 1950s Latin America with its centrist approach to economic development and conservative social values at a time of divisive Cold War rhetoric.

27 January
Peru election: Crushing blow for president’s opponents Popular Force
The party dominated Congress before the body was dissolved by President Martín Vizcarra in September.
Mr Vizcarra took the drastic step arguing that lawmakers were obstructing his anti-corruption agenda.
No party won an overall majority but centrist parties have made gains, which could ease the passage of reforms.

23 January
Bloomberg Business:
Scorned friend | The U.S. has long leaned on Colombia, its staunchest ally in Latin America, as a bulwark against China’s effort to boost its influence on the continent by flooding it with cash. But since Trump attacked President Ivan Duque for his failure to curb cocaine trafficking last March, Chinese companies have closed deals worth billions of dollars, exceeding the total investment from the previous 15 years.
On a roll | Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra has enjoyed high approval ratings since dissolving the legislature and calling early elections to break a stalemate with the opposition-controlled congress last year. If Sunday’s voting for its replacement turns out as polls suggest, he’ll get a new parliament more willing to push ahead with his agenda of political and judicial reform


30 December
Latin America’s tumultuous year turns expectations on their head
2020 could bring another year of turmoil for Latin America after the dramatic events of 2019 from the Caribbean to Chile
by Tom Phillips, Latin America correspondent
(The Guardian) The final year of the decade was only 23 days old when the turmoil began with an explosion of dissent on the streets of Venezuela that most observers felt sure would displace its authoritarian leader, Nicolás Maduro.
Mass protests, frantic predictions of Maduro’s imminent downfall, and a botched military uprising followed before Juan Guaidó’s campaign to topple Hugo Chávez’s heir fizzled and an uneasy calm returned.
But elsewhere the action was only just beginning, as a wave of protests and violence swept Puerto Rico, Haiti, Ecuador and Bolivia – where President Evo Morales was forced from office amid a bloody military crackdown – leaving some wondering if a Latin American Spring had arrived.
In Peru the president dissolved congress; in Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner staged a dramatic political comeback; and in Colombia hundreds of thousands flooded the streets in opposition to the rightwing president, Iván Duque.
Even Chile, supposedly a haven of Latin American stability and affluence, was sucked into the mayhem as a hike in subway fares triggered its worst unrest in decades, leaving a trail of destruction and President Sebastián Piñera’s future in doubt.
As the year draws to a close, minds are turning to what comes next.
In a new report the Economist Intelligence Unit warned of a high risk of “protest contagion”, noting how Colombia’s protests were inspired by rebellions in neighbouring countries.
“There is a strong chance that 2020 will be another volatile year for Latin America,” the report said, predicting particularly choppy waters in Lenín Moreno’s Ecuador.
[Ivan Briscoe, the International Crisis Group’s Latin America chief] saw three likely 2020 flash points: Venezuela, as it fell deeper into political and humanitarian ruin; Brazil and Argentina, as a diplomatic spat intensified between their ideologically opposed leaders; and Mexico, where President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is struggling to control a historic murder crisis claiming almost 100 lives a day.
Observers are split on whether Latin America’s biggest economy runs the risk of unrest, with former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva recently urging followers to “follow Chile’s example” and rebel against the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

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