A Venezuelan raises a sign denouncing the separation of families during U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the Santa Catarina migrant shelter, Manaus, Brazil, June 27, 2018 (AP photo by Marcio Melo).

In the midst of a raging political battle in the United States over President Donald Trump’s unprecedented measures against migrants and asylum-seekers along the southern border, Vice President Mike Pence set out on a tour of Latin America this week. The trip was planned and announced before Trump’s so-called zero tolerance policy against illegal immigration, including forcibly separating children from their parents, turned into a major international news story. Trump has since moved to rescind the family separation policy with an executive order, although his administration, characteristically, is still sending out mixed messages about whether the policy is still in […]

Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou is greeted by former Haitian President Michel Martelly at the airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Aug. 13, 2013 (AP photo by Dieu Nalio Chery).

They may be far from East Asia, but Central America and the Caribbean have become important battlegrounds as Taiwan tries to stave off further international isolation. The regions occupy a disproportionately large place in Taiwan’s foreign relations, home to 13 of its 32 technical missions, and 10 of its 18 embassies—more than Asia and Africa combined. Yet in the past year, China has pulled away two of Taiwan’s oldest allies there, Panama and most recently the Dominican Republic, which severed its diplomatic ties to Taiwan this spring, enticed by some $3 billion in Chinese incentives, according to Taipei. Panama’s decision […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G-7 summit, Charlevoix, June 8, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The new president that Mexico elects this weekend will not take office until Dec. 1, which means there will be little progress for the rest of the year in the negotiations between Mexico, Canada and the United States on a new and “improved” North American Free Trade Agreement. By December, American voters will have elected a new Congress that might have at least one house under Democratic Party control when it convenes next January. And later in 2019, Canadians will hold their parliamentary elections. The electoral calendar often poses challenges for trade negotiators because politicians are loath to make concessions […]

Women watch on a big screen lawmakers vote on a bill that would legalize abortion, Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 14, 2018 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

On June 13, members of the lower house of Argentina’s Congress held an all-night debate on a decisive bill that would legalize voluntary abortion through the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy. Over 11 hours into the debate, lawmaker Fernando Iglesias held up a world map color-coded with each country’s stance on abortion. It showed the United States, Australia and most of Europe and Asia in green, signifying pro-choice legislation. South America and Africa were mostly in red, or orange, representing a complete ban or tight restrictions on abortion. “Think about just one other country you want Argentina to look […]

A poster of Colombia’s former president, Alvaro Uribe, and the new president-elect, Ivan Duque, during a campaign rally, Armenia, Colombia, June 10, 2018 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Last Sunday, Colombians elected their next president in a second round run-off, delivering a strong victory for the conservative candidate, Ivan Duque, as the polls had predicted. That the outcome was largely expected in no way diminishes the historic significance of the election, and it does nothing to ease the complexity of the challenge facing the man some are calling Colombia’s Emmanuel Macron, a young, little-known figure who rose from relative obscurity, vowing to bring change. The comparison to the French president is overdone. Like Macron, Colombia’s president-elect faces high expectations. On the economic front, the center-right Duque, who worked […]

People taken into custody for illegal entry into the U.S. sit in one of the cages at a detention facility in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018 (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector photo via AP).

In Europe and the U.S. this week, callous government treatment of asylum-seekers triggered public outrage and political tensions, which may be enough to soften policy in the short term. Unfortunately, that will not meaningfully address the underlying causes of the migration crises that have become the new political ground zero on both sides of the Atlantic. Long-simmering tensions within the European Union boiled over when Italy’s new populist government refused to allow the Aquarius, a ship carrying rescued asylum-seekers from North Africa, to dock at an Italian port last week. The Aquarius was left stranded in the Mediterranean for days […]

Ivan Duque celebrates his victory in the presidential runoff election, Bogota, Colombia, June 17, 2018 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Bogota—Colombia’s new president-elect, Ivan Duque, has promised to unite a divided country behind his plans to toughen the landmark peace accord with the former FARC guerrillas when he takes office later this year. The right-wing former senator comfortably won Sunday’s run-off election with 54 percent of the vote against his leftist rival, Gustavo Petro, who garnered 42 percent. Duque, who will turn 42 just before taking office on Aug. 8, will be the youngest elected head of state in Colombia’s 132-year history as a republic. His running mate, Martha Lucia Ramirez, who is a former minister of defense, will be […]

Pedro Deschamps helps workers hired by FEMA install a temporary awning roof at his house, which suffered damage during Hurricane Maria, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nov. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Carlos Giusti).

As the Caribbean prepares to face another hurricane season, its islands are still confronting the toll of last year’s disasters. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which tore through the Caribbean last September, led to many deaths, possibly up to 5,000 in Puerto Rico alone, and caused upwards of $100 billion in damage. In the typical way of natural disasters, many islands were spared, while others nearby were devastated. Although much of the attention has focused on the plight of Puerto Rico, other severely affected islands include Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, Antigua and […]

Anti-government demonstrators take cover behind a barricade after gunfire erupted during a march against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Managua, Nicaragua, May 30, 2018 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

At a time when the international order is being challenged and decades-old conflicts appear to be in flux, perhaps it isn’t a surprise that anti-government protests in an impoverished Central American country have fallen under the radar. But the escalating unrest in Nicaragua, less than 1,000 miles from U.S. shores, could well morph into a catastrophe that grabs global attention, if the government there continues along its uncompromising path of repression. The toll of clashes between protesters and government forces has spiked to at least 148 dead and well over 1,000 wounded in recent weeks, according to the Nicaraguan Center […]

A coca farmer shows off his crop, Chapare region, Bolivia, Feb. 11, 2018 (photo by Max Radwin).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the tense Group of Seven leaders’ summit and the implications of President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policies on relations with America’s closest allies. For the Report, Max Radwin talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Bolivia’s coca policy under President Evo Morales, which is meant to protect indigenous traditions but is accused by some critics of fueling the cocaine trade. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter […]

A supporter of Gustavo Petro, the ex-mayor of Bogota who came in second in the first round of the presidential race, attends a campaign rally, Bogota, Colombia, May 17, 2018 (AP photo by Ivan Valencia).

In the first round of Colombia’s presidential election on May 27, Gustavo Petro, the ex-mayor of Bogota, won 25 percent of the votes cast, setting the stage for him to face off against Ivan Duque, a senator and former official of the Inter-American Development Bank who secured 39 percent. Their respective results make Duque—who is running as the candidate of the Democratic Center, the right-wing party that is most critical of the 2016 peace agreement with FARC guerrillas—the clear favorite to win in the June 17 runoff. But despite the fact that Petro can all but rule out taking office […]

A Bolivian coca leaf producer packs 50-pound bags of the dried plant to be sold and delivered to traditional market retailers, La Paz, Bolivia, March 28, 2006 (AP photo by Dado Galdieri).

Just as the expulsion of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration removed a check on drug-related corruption at the highest levels of Bolivia’s government, it has also created space for an alarming increase in lower-level illicit activity. Nevertheless, President Evo Morales maintains he has the market for cocaine in Bolivia under control.On a Thursday evening this past February, two Bolivian men met at a public plaza in the country’s capital, La Paz, to discuss a major cocaine sale. Though they had been texting back and forth all week, each was wary of the other. One of the men, Luis, was an […]

Soldiers destroy illegal coca plants with machetes during a government-organized media trip to the Villa Nueva community of Chimore, Bolivia, Feb. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-part series on Bolivia’s relationship with coca, funded by WPR’s International Reporting Fellowship. The second installment can be found here. Ten years ago, Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which had been tasked with curbing the production of coca in Bolivia, the main ingredient in cocaine. Since then, Morales has championed a nationalized, legal coca market, but critics accuse him of fostering the rise of a narco-state. On a Monday afternoon this past February, around 300 residents of the small jungle town of Chimore in central Bolivia […]

Members of a samba school portray drug traffickers during Carnival celebrations, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Silvia Izquierdo).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss President Donald Trump’s first trade war—not with China, but with Canada, Mexico and the European Union. For the Report, Christopher Looft talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the Brazilian government’s move to militarize security in Rio de Janeiro and the political impact across Brazil. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free […]