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MACRI’S ELECTION SIGNALS END OF AN ERA IN ARGENTINA; PEACE PROSPECTS FOR COLOMBIA

04/01/16

MACRI’S ELECTION SIGNALS END OF AN ERA IN ARGENTINA; PEACE PROSPECTS FOR COLOMBIA

Dear LAB Supporter and Friend,

Happy New Year from the LAB team!

This month we have some analysis of Mauricio Macri’s recent election victory in Argentina, two pieces from Colombia (including an analysis of progress in the Havana peace talks), two articles on Mexico, and a blog piece on environmental devastation in Brazil:

END OF AN ERA IN ARGENTINA

Macri’s surprise election victory in November brought to an end 12 years of government by husband and wife team Néstor Kirchner (2003-07) and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner [CFK] (2007-15). Capitalising on disillusionment with CFK’s divisive style, Macri came to power on a “happy” campaign which was as upbeat as it was light on concrete political content. In an excellent, in-depth analysis, Marcela López Levy digs into Macri’s past as mayor of Buenos Aires for some clues as to what a Macri administration might mean for Argentina. (Read more…)

With leftist governments elsewhere in Latin America on the back foot, some analysts have suggested that Macri’s victory is the latest manifestation of a regional shift to the right, a turning back of the so-called “pink tide”. However, in an article on Open Democracy, Matías Bianchi suggests that with the region’s greater democratic maturity and level of political engagement, Macri and other emerging right-wing political actors would be naïve to assume that voters are handing them a blank cheque to continue with “business as usual”. (Read more…)

 

COLOMBIA: IS PEACE ANY CLOSER?

The peace talks in Havana between the Colombian government and the FARC have been so protracted that many readers will have lost track of their progress and lost faith in their conclusion. In an exclusive blog for LAB, Gwen Burnyeat has been examining the peace process at both national and local level. She hails the signing, on December 15th, of the agreement on victims, the fifth point on the talks agenda. Only the one point remains to settle: the ending of armed conflict. (Read more…)

Meanwhile, in Bogotá, Gwen’s own students, in their choice of essay topics, provide remarkable insights into the lives and experiences of young people in Colombia. (Read more…)

 

MEXICO: CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY IN “SLIMLANDIA”

In Mexico, people continue to protest the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in Guerrero state in 2014, though with the government and the courts dragging their heels, it looks increasingly unlikely that the truth will ever come out. Nick Caistor argues that the government’s response to the scandal betrays its distance from the people it claims to represent. Moreover, with opposition on both left and right weak and fragmented, and popular belief in politics seriously eroded, democracy remains an uncertain and precarious concept in Mexico. (Read more…)

And yet, while nearly 50 million Mexicans live in poverty, the country is home to the individual many consider the world’s richest man: Carlos Slim. Nick Caistor traces Slim’s ascent, from his origins in Mexico City’s Lebanese community, to his expansion at the end of the 1980s through the purchase of former state assets, to his current position as a global oligarch and friend of Bill Clinton, Larry King and Sophia Loren. (Read more…)

 

ENVIRONMENTAL DEVASTATION IN BRAZIL

On our Latin America Inside Out Blog, Catherine Morgans reports on current environmental devastation in Brazil. With several states hit by forest fires towards the end of 2015, on top of the Mariana dam disaster in Minas Gerais, Brazil is paying heavily for its failure to properly regulate human activities such as logging and mining. But with Congress dominated by powerful lobbies, the tendency seems to be to weaken regulation rather than strengthen it. (Read more…)

 

IN OTHER NEWS

Nicaragua: With the Chinese stock market crisis having wiped out nearly 85% of the wealth of billionaire mogul Wang Jing, the main player behind the Grand Nicaragua Canal, the project appears to be going nowhere fast. Russell White reports. (Read more…)

Cuba: Cuba’s easing of travel restrictions has seen thousands of migrants leave the country and head to the US. However, many have become stranded in recent weeks as third countries close their borders and refuse to let them pass. Coromoto Febres Cordero reports. (Read more…)

Nicaragua: Louise Morris interviews Sandra Ramos, a central figure in the Nicaraguan women’s movement. Ramos is concerned about recent regressive changes to the law in Nicaragua, as well as changes in funding restrictions for civil society organisations. (Read more…)

With best wishes,

The LAB team