Venezuela has faced months of opposition protests as international mediation efforts have proved inconclusive. In an email interview, Michael McCarthy, a professorial lecturer of Latin American politics at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, explained the diverse constituencies the opposition represents. WPR: Who are the major constituencies that make up the political opposition in Venezuela? Michael McCarthy: The Venezuelan constitution currently bans public financing of parties and political campaigns. This creates a structural issue for the 19 political parties formally composing the opposition’s Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), an electoral coalition with the objective of winning support away from the […]

Last month, Ecuador expelled 20 U.S. Defense Department employees from the country. Less than two weeks later, the U.S. announced it would withdraw its anti-narcotics personnel from Ecuador, dealing a further blow to America’s ailing counternarcotics partnerships in the Western Hemisphere. Ecuador’s expulsion of U.S. military personnel “reflects the increase in capacities and resources of Ecuador to directly assume security and defense efforts independently,” said a statement from the Ecuadorean Embassy in Washington. The statement pointed in particular to Ecuador’s own counternarcotics efforts from the previous year. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that while the United States would […]

Uruguayan President Jose “Pepe” Mujica’s May 12 meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington was an important if belated step in the right direction for U.S. engagement with South America, reconfirming to a frequently skeptical region the importance that the United States places on building relationships with leaders from across the political spectrum. Since his election in 2009, the former guerrilla fighter has guided Uruguay as a democratic leftist more interested in results than ideology. Certainly, the successful effort last year to legalize the sale and distribution of marijuana and Mujica’s purposeful outreach to Cuba are among the topics that […]

Since the 1998 election of former President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan government has sought to bolster its state sovereignty and reduce its dependence on the U.S. These efforts have involved, among other strategies, strengthening relations with regional allies such as Cuba and Bolivia, shoring up new regional institutions such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and cracking down on domestic nongovernmental organizations that rely upon U.S. funding for survival. As a petro-state, however, Venezuela remains heavily reliant upon its oil industry for revenues. If Venezuela is to ever […]

Last month, police in Peru destroyed $20 million worth of mining equipment as part of a wider crackdown on illegal mining in the country. In an email interview, Miguel Santillana, an expert on the mining industry at Instituto del Peru, discussed the Peruvian government’s response to illegal mining. WPR: What is the relative importance of the mining sector in Peru’s economy, and what has been the scale of damage to the sector caused by illegal mining? Miguel Santillana: The extractive industry accounted for 11 percent of Peru’s GDP in 2011, up from 5 percent in 2006, according to the IMF, […]

China and Russia have launched a global campaign to regulate content on the Internet that, if successful, would slowly destroy cyberspace as a means of self-expression, freedom and unregulated speech. While they are still far from achieving their goals, Moscow and Beijing sense an opportunity in the outraged reaction to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks to change the global conversation and continue nudging stakeholders in the direction of censorship as the universal default norm. The Russian and Chinese governments already heavily regulate the Internet at home, but they are increasingly seeking to use international forums, organizations and […]

In mid-April, unions across Argentina called a general strike in protest of high inflation and taxes, bringing the country to a standstill for 24 hours. In an email interview, Maria Victoria Murillo, a political science professor at Columbia University who has researched labor politics in Latin America, explained the role of labor unions in Argentine politics. WPR: What has been the recent trajectory of labor unions’ role in Argentina’s politics? Maria Victoria Murillo: Labor unions have always been crucial actors of Argentine politics since the emergence of Peronism—the vaguely defined populist ideology of former Argentine President Juan Domingo Peron—in the […]