Posts In Category

Americas

It is tempting to speculate about what will happen next in Brazil after the abrupt and tantalizing unfolding of a new chapter in the country’s ongoing political crisis. Yet, it is important to first pause to note what is at stake: the country has just entered one of the most uncertain moments of its modern history. The foundations of the republic are crumbling before our eyes and the country’s long-term future is as unclear today as it has ever been. What the future of Brazil will be depends on the next few days and weeks. There is mounting pressure on President Michel Temer after the audio of a private conversation between him and Joesley Batista, co-owner of JBS (the world’s …
Side by side photos of the Mexican President AMLO (waving) and former Brazilian President Lula (giving thumbs up).

For the last two decades, observers and scholars of Latin American politics have wondered about the electoral fate of the left. Some analysts in particular have highlighted how the end of the ‘Pink-tide’ precipitated the comeback of right-of-centre governments across the region. But in this regard, Mexico has been running in dissonance to its regional counterparts. The right-of-centre parties Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) and then the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) occupied the executive office from 2000 to 2018 while most Latin American countries turned to either a radical or a reformist left.  Now, however, left-of-centre Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) hold the Mexican presidency. To delineate what the future might hold for AMLO, we can look to the previous experience of the …

One of the great surprises of the 2018 Mexican election was not the largely predicted landslide victory of Andrés Manuel López Obrador but the commanding performance of his political party, Morena. In just its second federal election, Morena won a vast legislative majority in the federal Congress and control of state governments across the country. The party was a relative newcomer on the scene— it was founded just 5 years prior as a civic project of the left. However, in the run-up to the 2018 election, the party ballooned in size, absorbing members from across the political spectrum. Still, Morena was able to present itself as a fairly unified front in the 2018 election.  However, in the past few months, the once latent internal …

In a farewell speech to Colombia’s armed forces last year just prior to leaving office, ex-president Juan Manuel Santos boasted: “Today we have the best armed forces in our history.” Proudly, he added: “We’re a global reference!” And indeed, it seems as though Colombia had opened a new chapter. Since the 2016 peace accords with the country’s largest guerrilla organisation, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the nation appears to be on an uphill climb.  With the FARC at the negotiation table, the story goes, the country was finally able to look ahead and dedicate its resources to transition and reconstruction: the reintegration of former combatants, the redistribution of formerly occupied territories, and the recovery of an economy weakened by decades …

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia since 2006, resigned on November 10 following weeks of demonstrations triggered by a disputed election in October. Morales won the election amid allegations that the result was rigged in his favour. The turning point in Morales’s departure from office was the intervention of Williams Kaliman, commander of the Bolivian armed forces. Speaking at a press conference, Kaliman urged Morales to resign “for the good of our Bolivia”. Morales has since gone into exile in Mexico and the manner of his departure has sparked passionate debate about whether it was tantamount to a military coup. Two years ago this month, the Zimbabwean military placed former President Robert Mugabe under house arrest. Subsequently, SB Moyo, a major …

When Uruguayans head to the polls for the second-round of the Presidential elections on 24 November, they are not only deciding on the next government but also the future of legal marijuana. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legally regulate cannabis from seed to smoke. Despite international acclaim, cannabis reform was highly controversial in Uruguay. Public opinion overwhelmingly rejected the reform and the bill passed both the lower and upper houses of Congress with votes exclusively from the left-of-centre Broad Front. Notwithstanding its past, marijuana legalization’s future seems surprisingly safe, in spite Broad Front being in danger of losing the presidency it has occupied since 2005. In the first round on 27 October 2019, Broad …

Today is the 28th day of the mass protests that have gripped Chile; it is also the one-year anniversary of the killing of Camilo Catrillanca, a young Mapuche leader, by Chilean police. A year ago, popular mobilisation of the scale witnessed today in Chile seemed almost unimaginable, especially after I spent months in the Araucanía region in Southern Chile (or the Wallmapu to the Mapuche), where anything but the most innocuous collective organising has been heavily repressed. While simmering discontent was mixed with fear in the South, in the capital it seemed the frustrations of the student movement (see for example Donoso, 2013) and the return of the right-wing Sebastián Piñera to the presidency in 2018 made an eruption of …

Anette Idler summarizes some of the findings from her new book Borderland Battles, which reveals how violent non-state groups compete for territorial control, co-operate in illicit cross-border activities and replace the state in exerting governance functions in borderlands. Borderlands are like a magnifying glass on some of the most entrenched security challenges of the world. In unstable regions, border areas attract violent non-state groups ranging from rebels and paramilitaries to criminal organisations who exploit their neglect by central governments. These groups compete for territorial control, cooperate in illicit cross-border activities, and substitute for the governance functions usually associated with the state. Studying the Colombian borderlands where armed conflict and organised crime converge demonstrates that the gap between state-centric views on …

As Venezuela’s crisis continues, so too do its serious repercussions for neighbouring countries. Of the four million Venezuelans that have left the country – the largest migrant crisis in the region’s recent history – more than 1.3 million have arrived in Colombia, on Venezuela’s western border. But this comes at a time when Colombia itself still faces high levels of violence. Though its government signed a peace deal with the FARC guerrilla group in 2016, their counterparts in the National Liberation Army (ELN) have yet to give up arms. Elsewhere, the number of FARC dissidents is rising, and other violent non-state groups – from right-wing paramilitaries to Mexican drug cartels – are jostling for position in the race to fill the void created by demobilisation of …