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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 …

On Sunday, the Colombian people rejected the recent peace deal that the Colombian government had reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after 52 years of civil war. The plebiscite narrowly failed: 50.2 percent rejected the peace accord, while 49.8 percent were in favour. What, exactly, were Colombians voting on? Colombians cast votes on whether they support the peace agreement, reached in August and formally signed on Sept. 26. The content of the 297-page peace accord had been made public before the vote. Who voted no? The “no” vote is not representative of all Colombians. Less than 40 percent of Colombians voted in the plebiscite, leaving many voices unheard. This was partly related to weather conditions; the Caribbean …

On Aug. 29, 2016, the Colombian government and the leftist insurgent group FARC initiated a cease-fire. The two parties had reached a remarkable peace accord a few days earlier, hoping to end 52 years of civil war. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the peace deal will be formally signed Sept. 26, which would trigger the 180-day demobilization of the FARC. Colombia’s armed conflict, the longest-running in recent global history, left more than 220,000 people dead and about 6.7 million displaced within the region. The cease-fire formalizes the end of combat activities between state forces and the FARC, formally known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — and all hostilities against civilians. After decades of brutal violence and several failed peace processes, this …

The groundbreaking news reached me when I was in Bogotá in a meeting with the head of the Colombian Army: after more than 50 years of armed conflict, and four years of negotiations, the Colombian government and the leftist guerrilla group, the FARC, have reached a final peace agreement. The historic deal looks set to bring to an end the longest running war of recent history. The agreement is cause for huge celebration, but an official end to war with the FARC is only the start of the road to peace. Securing sustainable peace needs a balance of addressing the immediate security risks during the period of transition, as well as anticipating the long-term challenges that may emerge. ‘Yes’ or …

Donald Trump is probably not a Manchurian candidate planted by Vladimir Putin to disrupt the American political landscape. That is just the latest attempt to explain how, of all people, the crude thrice-married billionaire from the outer boroughs became the Republican nominee for President of the United States. While the “Trump as Russian sleeper agent” theory is far-fetched, several well thought-out explanations have caught on. Too often, though, these fail to explain why Trump specifically became the standard-bearer of the GOP and stands a shot at winning the election. The jump from “what is happening” to “why him,” is key to understanding the Trump phenomenon. Bearing this in mind, I argue that Donald Trump is the candidate of schadenfreude. Not …

The “how” and the “when” of Colombia’s latest peace breakthrough are of course important — but so is the “where” and “with whom.” On June 23, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC) signed a bilateral ceasefire agreement, after more than five decades of armed conflict. For Colombia’s peace process to succeed, it will need to break the cycle of conflict, organized crime and state neglect in Colombia’s border regions. The agreement stipulates that the FARC lay down its weapons within 180 days of a final peace deal, which has a July target date. The disarmament will take place in 23 specific “normalization zones” and eight camps, all of which cease to exist after these 180 days. The …

A cornered government, a legislative short of legitimacy, a contaminated judiciary and polarised protesters put Brazilian institutional balance to the test. Immoral deals, Machiavellian manoeuvres and outright dishonesty. No wonder comparisons between Brazilian politics and the American TV show House of Cards are tempting and widespread. Even Netflix made the connection to promote the release of its fourth series in Brazil. This clever marketing initiative prompted Maurício Santoro, a political scientist, to joke on Twitter that “Netflix is the only institution enjoying the trust and esteem of Brazilians these days.” But Brazil’s plight is not fiction, and the quip accompanies a concerning realisation. For some time, even in the face of turmoil and economic meltdown, it was possible to believe …

As any country with a minimally functioning democracy, Brazil has an ambivalent relationship with its mass media. And as in all countries with a minimally functioning market economy, Brazilian mass media have been disrupted by personalised digital platforms. Understanding To two elements, and how they became entangled, is essential if we are to grasp the role of the media in the social turmoil that has engulfed Brazil in the past year or so. But in spite of their deep flaws, newspapers and broadcasters cannot be blamed for the toxic political environment that has taken over the country.