Police officers stand guard the entrance of the Mariana Paez demobilization zone, one of many rural camps where rebel fighters are making their transition to civilian life, in Buenavista, Colombia, June, 27, 2017 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

When he took office earlier this month, Colombia’s new president, Ivan Duque, was introduced at his inauguration by the president of Congress, Ernesto Macias, a wily politician from the country’s coffee-rich state of Huila. Before Duque’s inauguration speech floated over the windy ceremony in the capital, Bogota, Macias served up his own view of the president’s inheritance. Macias painted a dark, pessimistic picture of Colombia: An economy going down the drain; gangs running rampant over the countryside; coca plantations through the roof. Was there a culprit? Of course: outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos. The scene evoked the Wild West, where […]

Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Warsaw, April 19, 2018 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

In a special end-of-summer episode this week, we look back at three of our most popular Report interviews so far this year: the veil of secrecy over the U.S. military’s growing presence in West Africa; Bolivia’s controversial coca policy, which has been called both a solution to drug trafficking and part of the problem; and the role historical memory plays in Poland’s contentious politics. 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 woman holding a sign with a message that reads in Spanish, “Rich women have abortions, the poor ones die,” during a demonstration in front of the Argentine Embassy in Lima, Peru, Aug. 8, 2018 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

Earlier this month, Argentina’s Senate rejected a bill to decriminalize abortion by a vote of 38 to 31. The bill, which narrowly passed the lower Chamber of Deputies in June, would have legalized abortion up to 14 weeks. It was a disappointing, though perhaps not unexpected, outcome for the thousands of abortion rights activists who made up Argentina’s “green wave” demonstrations. Activists’ hopes were buoyed by recent successes in Chile in 2017 and Ireland in 2018, where restrictions on abortion were overturned. While a majority of Argentines reportedly supported the bill, Argentina’s #NiUnaMenos, or “not one less,” movement faced a […]

Brazilian President Michel Temer, left, greets U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at Planalto Palace, Brasilia, Brazil, June 26, 2018 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

This summer has seen consecutive visits to Brazil by senior U.S. officials, first Vice President Mike Pence in late June and then Defense Secretary James Mattis last week. The visits took place amid domestic political turmoil in Brazil and the ongoing crisis in neighboring Venezuela. According to Riordan Roett, professor and director emeritus of the Latin American Studies Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, these American overtures are unlikely to have any tangible impact on bilateral relations in the coming years. In an email interview, he explains why. World Politics Review: How has the Trump administration […]

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reviews Brazilian troops before meeting with his Brazilian counterpart, Joaquim Silva e Luna, Brasilia, Brazil, Aug. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Mateus Bonomi).

America’s foreign policy under President Donald Trump can be confusing. That is true in Latin America just as it is in Russia, Asia or Europe. One moment the president boasts of his great relationship with Russia; days later the U.S. imposes new sanctions. One day Trump heaps praise on North Korea’s leader; days later Pyongyang accuses the U.S. government of behaving like the mafia. The explanation, as I’ve written, is that America today has two foreign policy tracks, often contradictory and at times in conflict with each other. One is Trump’s, the other is the rest of the government’s. That […]

Colombia’s former president, Juan Manuel Santos, center, welcomes President Ivan Duque at the presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia, Aug. 7, 2018 (Colombia’s presidential press office via AP).

A day before Nicolas Maduro accused Juan Manuel Santos and the “Bogota oligarchy” of orchestrating an audacious attempt on his life with explosive-equipped drones earlier this month, Colombia’s outgoing president reminded his Venezuelan counterpart of the reality that divides their two nations. “Eight years ago we agreed with Chavez and Maduro that history would judge which economic system was better,” Santos wrote on Twitter. Inflation in Colombia, he noted, was 3.12 percent. In Venezuela, it was a stunning 1 million percent. “The verdict is clear.” Reining in inflation is one of a number of economic achievements from Santos’ eight years […]

A demonstrator holds up a sign that reads, in part, “Maduro giving oil to Cuba and the people dying of hunger, Enough is enough,” in front of a line of police officers during a protest, Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 16, 2018 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

Venezuela’s flailing oil industry has helped prop up global energy prices even as Saudi Arabia and Russia open the spigots and global oil demand remains robust. Though oil prices have recovered from their lows during the price collapse in 2015, Venezuelan output has since seen an incredible decline of 1 million barrels per day. The drop in oil production is further squeezing the Venezuelan economy, which faces critical shortages of goods and ballooning inflation that is expected to reach an astounding 1 million percent this year. But could Venezuela’s oil production decline even more steeply? Three evolving developments will largely […]

A Nicaraguan refugee sits in a camp in a small town on the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, La Cruz, Costa Rica, Aug. 10, 2018 (DPA photo by Carlos Herrera via AP Images).

The ongoing crackdown by security forces in Nicaragua against anti-government demonstrators has left hundreds dead and thousands wounded, causing many Nicaraguans to flee to neighboring Costa Rica. According to the Costa Rican government, around 17,000 Nicaraguans have presented asylum applications or have appointments to do so in the coming weeks, taxing the resources of a small country that has historically been friendly to migrants from Central America and beyond. In an email interview, Caitlin Fouratt, an anthropologist and professor at California State University, Long Beach who conducts research among migrants and refugees in Costa Rica, discusses the political, budgetary and […]

People and motorists are reflected on an electronic display panel showing video footage of Chinese President Xi Jinping near the central business district of Beijing, China, May 30, 2018 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

While the U.S.-China trade war has been getting the headlines, investors from China are running into resistance in countries around the world, including the United States. Typically, governments welcome foreign investment, especially local governments, as a mechanism to create—or save—jobs, reinvigorate their economies and gain access to new technologies. Growing investment outflows from China, however, are pushing some national governments to take a more skeptical look at Chinese money. In a measure aimed primarily at China, Congress strengthened the ability of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, known as CFIUS, to review and block transactions that might […]

Wearing the presidential sash, Colombian President Ivan Duque speaks during his inauguration ceremony, Bogota, Aug. 7, 2018 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Three days before Ivan Duque was sworn in as Colombia’s new president on Tuesday, a scene of cinematic mayhem unfolded in neighboring Venezuela. On Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro was delivering a speech at a military parade in Caracas when the formations suddenly scattered in a flurry of panic. Armed drones reportedly packed with explosives had detonated near the reviewing stand in what looked like an attempt on the president’s life. Barely three hours later, Maduro, who was not hurt, went on television to make a stunning accusation. The attack, he claimed, could be traced to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, […]

The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa, Canada, Aug. 5, 2018 (Photo by David Kawai for The Canadian Press via AP Images).

On Aug. 2, Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, posted a statement on Twitter criticizing the arrest of a prominent female activist in Saudi Arabia, Samar Badawi, one of several civil society activists, many of them women, to be detained recently in the kingdom. The next day, Canada’s Foreign Ministry posted another critical tweet, calling on Saudi authorities “to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.” The Saudis quickly responded by expelling the Canadian ambassador and halting all pending trade and commercial agreements, and the spat is still escalating. So far, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to shift […]

An indigenous man lies on top of a Brazilian flag representing indigenous people who were killed fighting for their land, Brasilia, Brazil, April 26, 2018 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, discuss the outcome and aftermath of Zimbabwe’s presidential election and the prospects for international engagement with the country. For the Report, Ciara Long talks with Robbie about the devastating impact of Brazilian President Michel Temer’s two years in office on the country’s indigenous groups. 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 preview article every […]

Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, May 19, 2017 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

Rumors of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange getting booted from his refuge at Ecuador’s Embassy in London have been floating around for months. But late last week, Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, confirmed the impending ouster, saying he is negotiating with British authorities to get Ecuador’s highly complicated guest out of the embassy and ensure Assange’s safety once he is evicted. The announcement raises the question: Why now? The answer shines a light on the astonishing political transformation that has occurred in Ecuador in recent years—and how WikiLeaks, which is a key factor in the special counsel investigation in the U.S. into […]