Brazil Plane Crash Spawns Two-Woman Presidential Race

The life story of Brazil’s Marina Silva is so unlikely that she explains key moments by divine intervention. Among the most dramatic and potentially life-changing of all unlikely turns came last week, when a private plane in which she was supposed to be traveling crashed, killing Socialist Party presidential candidate Eduardo Campos and suddenly turning her into a formidable contender for the presidency of Brazil.

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How Latin America Can Maximize Its Shale Gas Potential

Thanks to technological advances, shale gas is revolutionizing the world’s energy landscape. The size of reserves within the Western Hemisphere in particular provides the region with an enviable opportunity for leadership in global shale gas. But Latin America still has work to do to maximize its energy potential. The natural resources clearly exist; fully developing shale remains a matter of political will.

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Global Insider

Mexico Making an Effort to Expand Ties in Middle East

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade visited Jordan last month to discuss expanding diplomatic ties. In an email interview, Alejandra Galindo Marines, professor of social sciences at the University of Monterrey, discussed Mexico’s relations with the Middle East. more

Chile’s Bachelet Tacks Center to Pursue Needed Reform at Home

By Eric Farnsworth
, , Briefing

Eyebrows arched in Chile late last month when President Michelle Bachelet canceled her participation in a MERCOSUR summit in Venezuela to focus on her domestic agenda, including education reform. Critics suggested this was because the signature reforms are in trouble. But Bachelet chose to remain in Chile to work on issues of real importance to Chileans, and to her own political fortunes and legacy. more

Diplomatic Fallout

Lacking Primetime Partners, U.S. Remains ‘Indispensable’ Crisis Manager

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s ill-fated attempts to staunch conflict after conflict seem to confirm that Washington’s global influence is shriveling, even as the argument that the U.S. has little choice but to keep fighting diplomatic fires implies it is unable to choose where and when to expend its diplomatic energy. Does the U.S. have to be trapped in this pattern of obligations and setbacks? more

Mexico’s Scaled-Backed Gendarmerie Force No Security Panacea

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto entered office promising to introduce a new 40,000-member police force called the Gendarmeria. However, the force has since been downgraded to a less ambitious 5,000-member unit. Instead of working to build a new heavy-duty force, Mexico is now trying to recalibrate its existing security programs and improve security coordination between federal, state and local government. more

New Agenda Reflects Growing Energy Role for Lusophone Bloc

By Francisco Galamas
, , Briefing

Last week, the 10th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, held in East Timor, accepted a new member: Equatorial Guinea, the third-largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa. With Equatorial Guinea, the CPLP is collectively now the fourth-largest oil exporter in the world, demonstrating its shifting focus from political and cultural issues to economic ones. more

In Need of Investment, Peru Rolls Back Environmental Standards

By Paul Shortell
, , Briefing

President Ollanta Humala recently unveiled reforms intended to stabilize Peru’s slowing economy and shore up investor confidence. Controversially, the new laws will roll back pollution standards and fast-track environmental licensing for new energy and mining projects. Such deregulation threatens to reverse positive environmental protections and will not alleviate broader challenges facing Peru’s economy. more

Global Insights

Putin’s South American Trip Hides Russia’s Strategic Weaknesses

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to South America this month garnered considerable attention. In the U.S., some saw the trip as a tit-for-tat display of influence in Washington’s strategic backyard. However, it is best to keep Moscow’s machinations in perspective. Russia is presenting a number of challenges to important U.S. global interests, but its activities in South America are not among them. more

Global Insider

Argentina Looking to Cement Its Role as Nuclear Power

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Argentina signed a nuclear energy deal with Russia last week, the latest step in Argentina’s push to expand its nuclear industry. Irma Arguello, chair of the NPSGlobal Foundation, discussed Argentina’s nuclear energy policy in an email interview. more

Despite U.S. Efforts, Root Causes of Migration Crisis Prevail in Central America

By Michael Allison
, , Briefing

The United States, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are frantically trying to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding on both the U.S. border and in Central America. They have pursued several initiatives to combat violence, strengthen democracy and promote economic opportunity, to stem the sudden increase of young migrants heading north. But such efforts have not delivered their intended benefits. more

The Realist Prism

U.S. Watches From Sidelines as Global Leaders Gather in Brazil

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

The U.S. missed out on a rare geopolitical opportunity this past week. Vice President Joe Biden, who has emerged in Barack Obama’s second term as more of an alter ego for the president on the international stage, should have taken a short trip to Brazil for the World Cup final. Sure, the U.S. team had already been eliminated, but Biden still had good reasons to drop in at the close of the tournament. more