When ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez publicly anointed Nicolas Maduro as his desired successor a year ago, Chavez apparently forgot to hand over one element of his power: his more than 4 million Twitter followers. Chavez’s account, @chavezcandanga, has not posted a new message since Feb. 18, 2013, about two weeks before the populist leader’s death on March 5, 2013. The account retains Twitter’s coveted blue checkmark for “verified” accounts and, if anything, has gained followers since Chavez’s death. A triumphant press release issued by the Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S. a day after that final tweet noted that the […]

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The continuing clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Venezuela are being watched with a view toward the national interest in Caribbean and Latin American countries, most notably Cuba, which is feeling the impact of the contest for Caracas with particular intensity. The fall of President Nicolas Maduro and the end of the policies instituted by his mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez, would have strong repercussions in the region. Even if Maduro holds on, the Chavista goal of exporting Venezuela’s “Bolivarian” revolution and bringing Chavez’s brand of “21st century socialism” to the rest of Latin America has already […]

The arrest of two elected mayors in Venezuela last week demonstrated that repression is ramping up in the oil-producing and deeply troubled country. The arrests—on trumped up charges of inciting and tolerating a rebellion in which 33 protesters have already been killed—signaled that the government of President Nicolas Maduro has shifted from systematically but subtly dismantling institutional checks and balances and independent media to purging the government of elected officials. Sadly, Venezuela’s neighbors are unlikely to do anything about it, and this collective failure to protect democratic norms and human rights has placed the U.S. in the position of coming […]

Colombia’s congressional election Sunday proved a modest setback for President Juan Manuel Santos. A new party loyal to former President Alvaro Uribe, a conservative populist and vocal critic of Santos, made a reasonably strong showing, though without securing enough seats to either pass or block legislation. Santos may now find it more difficult to move legislation forward, but his agenda as a whole will survive. Uribe, now Colombia’s most prominent new senator, served as president from 2002 to 2010, and is popular for having overseen a military buildup and offensive that weakened the country’s large leftist guerrilla groups and sharply […]

In February, Mexico City lawmakers introduced two bills that would decriminalize and regulate the consumption of marijuana in the Mexican capital. Possession of marijuana for personal and medical uses would no longer be subject to incarceration as a first response, and legal marijuana dispensaries would be allowed in the capital. Mexico City’s move follows others in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado, which approved initiatives by popular vote in late 2012 to legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana for adults 21 and older, as well as commercial cultivation, manufacture and sale. Together with Uruguay, which became the […]

Strengthening Britain’s bilateral relationships throughout Latin America has become a strategic priority under the U.K.’s current government. Nowhere is this more evident than in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, where recent visits by senior British officials highlight enhanced collaboration in the spheres of security and economic cooperation. Yet as Britain looks to build upon these successes, it must overcome some major hurdles if it is to truly unlock the wealth of potential opportunities available to it throughout the wider region. In February 2014, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague undertook his first official trip to Colombia, marking the latest episode in what […]