Uruguay’s uncommon strengths and development dilemmas

We focus here on this relatively small Latin American country’s accomplishments amidst the tumultuous economies and political developments of its surrounding neighbors. One of the challenges going forward will be maintaining its social welfare system, which was established over a century ago. While this is a country with a stable democracy and progressive social values, what Uruguay will need as it looks towards the 2019 presidential elections is a candidate that will transform and diversify the economy so that the country can compete with much larger players on the global scale. Among the ways the economy can progress further are greater investments in its renewable energy and banking at the regional level; but issues such as an underperforming educational system and increased perceptions of violence crime might be impeding this development.

Read the full report here.

Rough waters ahead for Chile’s new government

The special report on Chile dives into Chilean President Sebastian Piñera’s upcoming challenges in Chile and Latin America. As his coalition controls a minority in Congress, the country faces international tensions emerging from the unpredictability of the United States’ policies, a tightening on immigration policies and an increase in requirements for migration, and increasing domestic protests amongst student, women, and indigenous Mapuche groups all across the country. President Piñera may have to align with a new, younger, left-leaning coalition called the Frente Amplio in order to restore some control in Congress, as he will need votes from the non-conservatives in government.

Read the full report here.

Opinion: Pieces still not in place for Maduro’s fall

My newest report is a dark follow up of the deteriorating, dystopian situation in Venezuela. The economic situation has reached unsustainable levels as the country approaches a hyperinflation rate of 1 million percent according to the IMF. Each day, as one thinks that it could not possibly get any worse, more and more Venezuelans are fleeing the country in search of relief. Those Venezuelans who stay behind are manipulated by the government through selective distribution of food and supplies only for the government’s loyal supporters – which means that few Venezuelans have the means to stand up to Maduro’s regime at all. Cuba and Mexico may have important roles to play in negotiating between Venezuela and the United States, but both countries will have to put aside existing attitudes towards Maduro’s government, whether in favor or staunching against it. Read full report here.

Opinion: In Nicaragua, the opposition must unite to oust Ortega

My latest report for Geopolitical Intelligence Services addresses the recent popular opposition to President Daniel Ortega; once a leader in the Sandinista movement himself against the Somoza regime, Ortega is now widely regarded as “la misma cosa” – the same thing – as the former dictator, following in his footsteps to create a de facto kleptocracy. One of the strongest opposition forces in the country is the student population, tired of Ortega’s increasing wealth at the expense of the poorest in the country. The political opposition must incorporate these elements of the population to take down Ortega’s regime, without bloodshed. Read the full report here.

Argentina: Macri yet to score on economic reform

When Mauricio Macri became president of Argentina in January 2016, he promised to “return Argentina to the world” and remove the distortions crippling its economy. The president meant to restore Argentina as an effective member of the international community and make it a global player in the positive sense, to exercise its agency – the very opposite of what his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, had brought about. But the reforms that the President wants to enact will take much longer to implement. Political trouble is brewing.

Full report here.

Opinion: Cuba’s two conundrums

At the end of April, Cuba’s parliament, the National Assembly of Popular Power (ANPP), elected Miguel Diaz-Canel president, to succeed Raul Castro. Although Raul remains first secretary of the country’s Communist Party (PCC) and de facto chief of the armed forces, much is being made of a generational shift in the country’s leadership. The new president faces two conundrums which he must solve to keep himself in power and his country stable. The first regards the economy, which is stagnant and cannot come close to satisfying the needs of an increasingly young and internet-savvy population. Now that Cuba’s former patrons, the Soviet Union and Venezuela, no longer provide support, the country must attract foreign capital to revive economic growth. The second conundrum is that just when the President thought Cuba would be welcomed back into the hemispheric community, Cuba lost its geopolitical leverage. The shift to the right in most of South America means that Cuba’s absence of democracy is more important outside the island than it was just five years ago.

Geopolitical Intelligence Services also produced a short video based on this report:

You can read my full report here.

Corruption in Latin America

The Odebrecht scandal has tainted nearly every government in Latin America over the past few years. Those less affected are in countries where the rule of law is strong. Voter anger is leading to sweeping political change throughout the region, in some cases, to candidates and parties on the far right, which may give rise to a number of new geopolitical challenges in Latin America. Economies may sputter as governments scale back infrastructure investments, being just one of the long-term effects of the massive corruption wave sweeping the continent.

Full report here.

Opinion: Venezuela nears the breaking point

The government of Nicolas Maduro has declared May 20 as the date of the next presidential elections. The announcement was met with harsh criticism from the domestic political opposition led by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) and from international actors – especially the Lima Group, which is monitoring the situation in Venezuela on behalf of more than a dozen countries in Latin America and Canada. International outcry, along with a grave humanitarian crisis and debt default, are nearing Venezuela to its breaking point.

Full report here.

Peace process under strain as Colombia gears up for election

This is an election year for Colombia, as it is for half a dozen other countries in the region – Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay and even Venezuela. Colombians went to the polls on March 11 to vote for Congress and will do so again in May for the first round of presidential elections. (It is virtually assured there will be a second round, in June.) Who wins the presidency will determine whether the peace process, begun in November 2016, will move forward (and how fast), stall or fall apart. At this point, it is hard to tell what sort of country Colombians want. It is as if the achievement of peace after years of negotiations has left the public stunned.

Full report here.