President Rodrigo Chaves at a Press Conference, Presidential House, June 22, 2022 (GDA photo by Roberto Carlos Sánchez via AP Images).
In May of this year, Costa Rica’s newly elected President Rodrigo Chaves declared, “We are at war.” It was significant considering that Costa Rica is one of the few countries in the world that does not have a military. Also atypical is Costa Rica’s opponent in this war: a nonstate hacking organization based in Russia. The organization, Conti ransomware, had taken significant portions of the Costa Rican government’s computer systems offline, threatening the economy and state operations. While the attack likely took months of preparation and planning, it wasn’t revealed until early 2022, when the Conti ransomware group announced that it had [...]
A supporter celebrates after former leftist rebel Gustavo Petro won a runoff presidential election in Cali, Colombia, June 19, 2022 (AP photo by Andres Quintero).
In the second round of Colombia’s election last month, voters faced a choice between Gustavo Petro, a far-left former guerrilla, and Rodolfo Hernandez, a candidate regularly described as a “right-wing populist.” Many citizens who define themselves as centrist and wanted to vote for a moderate candidate found themselves struggling to decide which of these extremes was worse. Second-round polarization has become a common theme in Latin American presidential elections. In the past year, presidential candidates from ideological extremes in Chile, Peru and Colombia made it to second-round votes, while more traditional and centrist candidates missed the cut by large margins. [...]
Confetti explode over a screen showing photos of Gustavo Petro and his running mate Francia Marquez after they won Colombia’s presidential election, Bogota, Colombia, June 19, 2022 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).
In 2022, it’s easy to be an opposition politician, party or political movement in Latin American democracies, where the political environment is about as anti-incumbent as it can get. Including the victory by Gustavo Petro in Colombia earlier this month, the parties of incumbent presidents have lost the past 14 consecutive democratic presidential elections in the region going back to 2018. Latin America has gone from a region where incumbent advantage was a major factor in elections to one where incumbent parties almost never win. Of course, there is an obvious catch to this phenomenon: Once the opposition wins, it is no longer the [...]
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