A sombre necktie must have seemed more fitting than the faux epaulettes or track gear that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro usually fancies for his rambling national broadcasts. His four-hour economic address yesterday looked like a last stand for the country’s head of state.
In the span of just a few days, the earth has begun quaking beneath South America’s leading resource nationalists. Hugo Chavez’ successor as the Bolivarian revolution’s leader, Nicolas Maduro, stands to lose his grip on Venezuela´s national assembly in tense 6 December elections. Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will reluctantly hand the presidential scepter to her foil Mauricio Macri on 10 December. And formally as of this week, Brazil´s Dilma Rousseff faces possible impeachment.
Latin America is approaching a fin de siècle… again. Populist regimes in Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela are vulnerable, and opponents espousing market-based policy reforms for moribund commodity-based economies are nipping at the heels of power. We´ve seen this movie before. Will it end differently this time?
Colombia is used to patching up its oil pipelines. Anti-government rebels routinely bombed pipelines and other oil facilities as part of a violent armed conflict of more than a half of century. It was bad, but it was largely predictable.
Yesterday´s historic handshake in Cuba between Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and rebel leader Rodrigo Londoño, (alias Timoshenko) ushers in a period that is challenging to assess. This is not likely to be the beginning of the end of the conflict, as the Colombian government says. Rather it is the start of a period of deep uncertainty and division that makes it harder for oil companies to plan ahead. Continue reading
The sound of prison bars slamming shut on ousted Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina reverberated through Latin American capitals last week. Allegations of corruption are dogging heads of state in Mexico City, Caracas, Brasilia, Buenos Aires, and even hallowed Santiago. Corruption is hardly a novelty here. But questions of legitimacy and governability are gripping presidential palaces and many institutions at a time when the prices of oil, minerals and other strategic commodities on which they depend have tumbled.