A waiter serves customers at a private restaurant in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 31, 2018 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

Just three months after Miguel Diaz-Canel took over the presidency of Cuba from Raul Castro, his government has unveiled a new Council of Ministers—essentially, Cuba’s Cabinet—along with the draft of a new constitution and sweeping new regulations on the island’s emergent private sector. While the changes announced represent continuity with the basic reform program Raul Castro laid out during his tenure, they are nevertheless significant milestones along the road to a more market-oriented socialist system. The discussion and approval of the draft constitution was the main event of last week’s National Assembly meeting. The revised charter will now be circulated […]

Indigenous Brazilians from various ethnic groups take part in a protest against the policies of President Michel Temer, Brasilia, Brazil, April 26, 2018 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

RIO DE JANEIRO—The Brazilian ranchers staged their attack at night, bearing machetes, firearms and slabs of wood as they descended on the settlement inhabited by members of the indigenous Gamela tribe. According to some reports, the ranchers had assembled earlier in the day at a barbecue, where they drank heavily before setting out. More than a dozen members of the Gamela tribe were seriously injured in the ranchers’ assault. Five of them were shot, and two had their hands cut off. There were no reported fatalities. The attack, which occurred in April 2017 in the northeastern state of Maranhao, did […]

An aerial view of the rain forest, including the destruction caused by gold mining in Colombia, near the city of Quibdo, November 27, 2015 (Photo by Georg Ismar for DPA via AP Images).

In early July, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC, and Colombia’s Ministry for Mines and Energy reported that 66 percent of alluvial gold exploitation in the country is considered unregulated. Illegal mining in Colombia is nothing new, but the latest report indicated that the amount of affected land—84,000 hectares, or more than 200,00 acres—is up 6 percent since the UNODC’s first study on the subject in 2014. The list of violent competitors trying to access these gold riches offers a snapshot of Colombia’s various social fault lines and conflicts. It includes the National Liberation Army, or […]

Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro speaks to supporters during the Social Liberal Party’s convention where he accepted the presidential nomination, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 22, 2018 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

With barely 10 weeks left until Brazil’s general elections, voters in Latin America’s largest country are seething with anger, frustration and disappointment. Many, perhaps most, have lost faith in democracy, in politicians, and in traditional governing parties. Prominent figures are warning of revolution; talk of a military coup is even in the air. Uncertainty leads the polls. Brazil is caught in what may just be the world’s biggest ever corruption scandal, while the economy is struggling to pull out of a deep recession and its most popular politician, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is in prison. In the […]

Protesters run after cars were set on fire near the Best Western hotel during protests over a fuel price increase in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 7, 2018 (AP photo by Dieu Nalio Chery).

On July 14, Haitian Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned, following a week of protests over a government plan to end fuel subsidies. Although the plan was suspended the day after it was announced, the protests continued and at times descended into violent riots and looting that left at least seven people dead. In an email interview, Robert Maguire, a retired professor from George Washington University and an expert on Haiti, discusses the issues behind the fuel subsidy plan and the protests, and how the episode will affect President Jovenel Moise’s agenda to address Haiti’s long list of challenges. World […]

Police officers patrol poor neighborhoods in Acapulco, Mexico, June 21, 2018 (AP photo by Marco Ugarte).

As the dust settles on Mexico’s July 1 presidential election results, numerous pressing questions have emerged about how President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, will redefine security policy and the future of United States-Mexico security cooperation. These questions were central to the first high-level meeting between Lopez Obrador and a U.S. delegation led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner last week. Lopez Obrador takes office against the backdrop of Mexico’s deeply troubled security landscape. While he identified the fight against corruption as crucial to his victory, growing dissatisfaction over public security […]

President Donald Trump speaks before signing a memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China, Washington, March 22, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

For decades American presidents pursued multilateral trade agreements and supported international institutions that bolstered liberal trade policies around the world because they believed it was in the United States’ interest to do so. Yes, multilateral trade rules and institutions are relatively more beneficial for smaller, less powerful countries that cannot take on the United States or European Union on their own. And, yes, the rules under the World Trade Organization, or WTO, constrain the United States’ freedom of action, as did the predecessor arrangement, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT. Yet U.S. presidents going back to Harry […]

1

Venezuela should be benefiting from the global rise in oil prices. Instead, the country is seeing its oil income continue to plummet, along with the rest of its economy. The country’s oil operations are in a state of collapse, output is falling and other challenges Venezuela is facing are also weighing down the oil industry. When oil prices started their collapse in 2014, plummeting from well above $100 a barrel to just over $29 by early 2016, the market drama sent shockwaves across the global economy, producing winners and losers. Oil importers benefited from sharply lower import costs, while producers’ […]

Mauricio Funes, then the president of El Salvador, prepares to speak in the National Assembly, San Salvador, June 1, 2012 (AP photo by Luis Romero).

Former President Mauricio Funes is the latest leader to be implicated in corruption scandals that are consuming El Salvador. In June, 32 arrest warrants were issued for Funes, who was in office from 2009 to 2014, along with his first two wives, his two sons, his current partner, his secretary and other members of his inner circle, including businessman Miguel Melendez Avelar, known to Salvadorans as “Mecafe.” Most of them have been accused of corruption, money laundering and embezzlement of some $351 million. Two others have been accused of obstruction of justice. The warrants follow years of investigations into Funes’ […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (AP photo by Saul Loeb).

America’s trade war with China is back on. But where it is headed, no one knows. Just after midnight on July 6, the United States began collecting 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in imports from China. Beijing immediately retaliated with similar duties on U.S. exports. President Donald Trump has already ordered tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese exports for later this summer, after the comment period on the American list closes, and China will retaliate again. Assuming that happens as planned, the Trump administration will have levied tariffs on over $100 billion in imports into the United States. […]

A protest outside the headquarters of the MACCIH anti-corruption mission, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Feb. 16, 2018 (AP photo by Fernando Antonio).

On Friday, Luiz Antonio Guimaraes, a Brazilian prosecutor who was Sao Paolo’s attorney general from 1996 to 2004, was sworn in as the head of the Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras, known as MACCIH. Guimaraes’ predecessor, the Peruvian Juan Jimenez, resigned in February, citing obstruction by Honduran officials and a lack of support by the Organization of American States, which sponsors the mission. The swearing-in came days after Honduras’ legislature re-elected Attorney General Oscar Chinchilla to continue in that key post, and amid a massive corruption scandal known as the Pandora Case that has implicated hundreds of current […]

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s president-elect, delivers his victory speech in Mexico City’s main square, the Zocalo, July 1, 2018 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

The result was almost inevitable, yet Mexico still awoke with a sense of uncertainty Monday as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a veteran leftist and long-time critic of the country’s political establishment, finally captured the presidency in a landslide victory. AMLO, as he is better known in Mexico, fulfilled poll predictions by sweeping aside his rivals, Jose Antonio Meade of the incumbent Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and Ricardo Anaya of the Citizens Front alliance, winning 53 percent of the vote. His Together We’ll Make History coalition captured majorities in both houses of Congress. His victory had appeared a mere formality […]