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Americas

Creating external crises to deviate from internal problems is a well-known recipe in politics. Unpopular dictators often resort to this tactic to shape the discourse and concerns of the opposition, media, and population. In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has adopted this tactic since day one. The regime’s latest attempt to induce a crisis was fabricating the notion that the opposition, in collaboration with the U.S., sought to end Maduro’s life with a drone attack. Nobody has taken this story seriously. Thus, this piece will not waste time discussing the drone affair but will instead focus on five issues that really matter. Nobody Chose This When thinking about the Venezuelan crisis, one might erroneously believe that people chose this type of …

Come Sunday at 6 p.m. (GMT-5) Mexican citizens will have had elected not only a new president, but also over 3,400 new public officials. Being the largest electoral process in Mexican history, this third federal voting round in the post-transition era determines not only Mexico’s future, but —along with several other elections in the region— it also helps configure the ideological composition of Latin America. Instead of providing an overview of the contenders or discussing the trade-offs and the potential risks of the populist left, I will a) assess the campaign, b) zero in on the topics to look out for during and after election day and lastly, I will also c) identify key challenges for the future. My assumption or rather …

On February 4th, Costa Ricans defied predictions by giving Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz from the Partido Restauración Nacional (PRN) the most votes. With 24,99%, he won ahead of Carlos Alvarado Quesada from the governing Partido Accion Ciudadana (PAC) with 21,63%. As no candidate overcame the 40% requirement to outright win on the first round, these two candidates are now facing each other in the run-off election on April 1st. This outcome represents a remarkable reversal of fortunes, as none of the two candidates surpassed 7% in the polls one month before February’s first round election. How did Alvarado Muñoz, an evangelical singer, who puts his religion front and center, come to lead in the polls going into Sunday’s run-off election? Upending …

On May 20th, Venezuelans are supposed to vote in a presidential election to decide over the fate of their crisis and conflict ridden country. Despite being nominally given the opportunity to choose, the way the Maduro government has set up the electoral process, committed fraud, repressed the opposition and systematically undermined the process of free and fair elections over the past years, all but guarantees authoritarian durability. This article addresses why a) a highly unpopular incumbent is likely to hold onto power, b) the opposition is justified in their decision to boycott the elections and c) how Venezuela might transition to democracy. Venezuela has transitioned from a weak democracy in 1998 to a failing dictatorship in 2018. Over the past …

Costa Rica, the longest running democracy in Latin America, will hold its 17th consecutive election on February 4th, 2018. According to the latest opinion polls, the leading contender is the controversial populist Juan Diego Castro. There is a general lack of any candidate receiving overwhelming support, betraying a certain discontent and apathy about the candidates vying for the office of president. From the thirteen candidates in the running, even the five most popular candidates only receive between 5% and 18% of votes; thus, falling far behind the 40% required for a win in the first round. By far, the largest group are those that remain undecided: One in three voters has not made up their minds about which candidate to …

On Sunday, Argentina will hold highly significant midterm legislative elections in its 23 provinces as well as the federal capital of Buenos Aires. Cambiemos (Let’s Change), headed by the centre-right incumbent President Mauricio Macri, will look to expand its political mandate as the first non-Peronist government in 16 years. While seats will be up for grabs throughout the country, observers have placed most of their focus on the Senate race in Buenos Aires province, a predominantly working class region of Argentina that holds nearly 40 percent of the national electorate. Here, Macri’s current Minister of Education, Esteban Bullrich, is competing against former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who assumed office in 2007 as part of the Peronist ‘Front for Victory’ …

In early hours of Monday, October 17th, after the announcement of the results of the regional elections, the Venezuelan opposition decried foul play and electoral fraud. Such accusations of course are very hard to prove in any case, and even more so in today’s authoritarian Venezuela. Yet, what’s done is done. The regime announced to have won 18 governorships, while the opposition appears to have only won five. Even if the fraud accusations were true, the only certainty, as of today, is that – although 83% of Venezuelans rejected President Maduro’s government as of August 2017 – Venezuela’s political map is still dominated by Chavismo. This latest episode of contested elections adds to the already high levels of political conflict …

Venezuela seems locked in a downward political and economic spiral. But what happens in Venezuela has far broader implications for international security. “Here you must not speak badly about Chávez” — this was the message on banners at a Colombia-Venezuela border bridge I crossed recently on a research trip. It was just one of the signs of the exponential jump in authoritarianism in Venezuela, and the continued unravelling of the regime. Last Saturday, Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega, a critic of the government of President Nicolás Maduro, was dismissed. On Sunday, a military uprising left one dead and several injured, then other military dissidents used social media to call for other soldiers to disobey the president. By Tuesday, parliament was practically …