The Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly met for the first time several days ago amidst a flurry of critical international commentary. The U.S. State Department issued a statement referring to the assembly as “the illegitimate product of a flawed process designed by the Maduro dictatorship to further its assault on democracy.” Opposition candidates were forbidden from participating in the election to form part of the Constituent Assembly, and the authoritarianism in Venezuela continues to increase. Other Latin American countries are concerned about increased violence throughout the region, and Venezuela has been excluded from several organizations of Latin American countries. I responded to these developments in my recent interview on Venezuela with RT News.
The economies of many Latin American countries are growing significantly for the first time in several years. This change is due to several factors, including increased market prices of commodities exported from the region as well as the strengthening of trade alliances within Latin America. This latter development is a result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s signaling of a protectionist path. In response to anticipated policies from Trump’s administration, Latin American countries are working to boost their relationships with non-U.S. trade partners.Whether this growth is sustainable is yet to be seen. The deep and persistent inequality in most countries in the region is a significant obstacle, and major elections (both presidential and legislative) in many Latin American countries in 2017 and early 2018 will impact economic stability and growth as well.Read my full report on the Geopolitical Intelligence Services website.
President Mauricio Macri of Argentina was a successful businessman for many years before becoming the Mayor of Buenos Aires then the President of the country in 2015. He proposed plans to guarantee economic stability, but thus far the success has been moderate. Changes in the coming months, like increased prices for utilities and gasoline, will exacerbate the rising public discontent, and the position of the dissident Peronists will likely strengthen. Unrest is growing particularly quickly among particular sectors, like farmers, who were waiting for Macri to cut the tax on soy as promised. Now, there is no sign Macri will cut the tax, and this example illustrates a larger trend in the implementation of Macri’s economic plans. Read more in my recent report for the Geopolitical Intelligence Services, “Argentina’s Macri in the Crosshairs.”