A demonstrator wearing a gas mask and carrying a shield calls for others to join him in confronting Venezuelan National Guardsmen blocking the entry of U.S.-supplied humanitarian aid, La Parada, Colombia, Feb. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

It wasn’t very long ago that Venezuela anchored one side of a left-right divide in Latin America, with the late President Hugo Chavez inspiring a wave of leftist electoral victories across the hemisphere. More recently, the region’s leftward drift has stopped, even reversed, but Venezuela is again the catalyst in the new political alignments. The current crisis in Venezuela has forced governments everywhere, but especially in Latin America, to clarify where they stand on the future of Nicolas Maduro’s presidency. It is no longer possible for Latin American leaders to issue fuzzy statements now that the Venezuelan opposition has declared […]

Colombian President Ivan Duque and Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez, left, take part in a march to repudiate terrorism in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

In January, after the Colombian guerilla group ELN carried out a car bomb attack against a police academy in Bogota that left 21 cadets dead, the government of President Ivan Duque called on Cuba to extradite ELN leaders—including their top commander—who are in Havana as part of a suspended peace process. Cuba’s refusal to honor the request, which would violate an agreement guaranteeing the ELN negotiators safe return in the event the talks are abandoned, is the latest point of tension between the two governments. In an email interview, Michael Camilleri, director of the Peter D. Bell Rule of Law […]

The heated debate in America over migrants and asylum-seekers seeking to cross into the country from Mexico has often overshadowed the origins of the problem: the push factors that drive so many to flee from the so-called Northern Triangle states of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Download your FREE copy of Central America’s Migration Crisis to learn more today. Crime and insecurity coupled with corruption and lack of accountability make life precarious for many of the region’s most vulnerable populations, who are preyed on by criminal gangs and at times the state. U.S. policy has in the past contributed to […]

Demonstrators participate in a rally against terrorism in Bolivar Square, Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Last month, a man linked to the National Liberation Army, or ELN, rammed a truck laden with explosives into a school in Bogota where cadets were training for the Colombian National Police. The blast, which killed at least 21 people and injured 68 more, jolted Colombian society and brought back memories of similar attacks in the early 1990s. Hundreds of thousands of Colombians took to the streets to condemn terrorism. After the ELN claimed responsibility for the attack, President Ivan Duque suspended peace talks with the guerilla group indefinitely. Many observers worried about the prospect of a return to widespread […]

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

Colombia’s new president, Ivan Duque, has set his sights on the challenge of reuniting a divided country. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). It came as no surprise in June when Colombians delivered a strong victory to Ivan Duque, the conservative candidate that the polls had predicted would win the country’s presidential election. 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 […]

Venezuelan Bolivar bills arranged on a table in a bookshop in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 28, 2019 (DPA photo by Marcelo Perez del Carpio via AP Images).

A country’s gold reserves are meant to provide stability and financial ballast, not cash for everyday purchases. Only in the most extreme cases do they become a source of currency for vital supplies. That is exactly what is happening in Venezuela, where the political crisis has triggered the kind of international intrigue usually scripted in Hollywood. The embattled government of President Nicolas Maduro is trying to cash in its reserves while the opposition and its foreign backers maneuver to keep the country’s gold and any hard currency from its sale out of Maduro’s hands. This intrigue involving bank vaults and […]

A poster of Fidel Castro and Raul Castro in Havana, Cuba, April 18, 2018 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

After a return of tension to U.S.-Cuba relations, will a new Cuban leader be able to revive the brief thaw? Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). Just three months after Miguel Diaz-Canel took over the presidency of Cuba from Raul Castro, his government unveiled 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. For the economy, […]

Police guard the scene of a murder after a man was shot to death in Acapulco, Mexico, Jan. 2, 2019 (AP photo by Bernardino Hernandez).

Murders in Mexico rose by 33 percent in 2018, shattering the previous record for the second year in a row, according to an official tally released last month. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO as he is known in Mexico, campaigned on a new approach to the country’s spiraling security crisis, promising to de-militarize law enforcement efforts and address the social issues that he says are the root causes of violence. But in an interview with WPR, Eric Olson, a global fellow and security expert with the Mexico Institute at The Wilson Center in Washington, says a closer look […]

El Salvador’s president-elect, Nayib Bukele, at a press conference in San Salvador, El Salvador, Feb. 3, 2019 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

Is there any chance that President Donald Trump would see the recent election in tiny El Salvador as an opportunity to take a different, more humane approach to his campaign against the influx of migrants and asylum-seekers from Central America? That seems like a very long shot, but Trump would do well to consider the possibility. In the presidential election earlier this month, Salvadorans sent a powerful message to their own leaders—one that may also just hold a key to reversing the stream of desperate families pouring out of their country toward the United States. At the very least, El […]

El Salvador’s president-elect, Nayib Bukele, accompanied by his wife, Gabriela, waves to supporters in San Salvador, El Salvador, Feb. 3, 2019 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador—In a landslide earlier this month, voters in El Salvador elected 37-year-old Nayib Bukele as the country’s next president. Bukele, who many observers described as a populist for his direct communication style and reliance on social media to connect with voters, defeated the two most powerful political parties on an anti-corruption platform that attacked the failures of 25 years of post-civil war governance. Bukele was also cast as a political outsider, although he was most recently mayor of San Salvador and, before that, the city of Nuevo Cuscatlan—and a member of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation […]

President Donald Trump announcing the nomination of David Malpass, undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs, to head the World Bank, in the Rosevelt Room of the White House, Washington, Feb. 6, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Can multilateral development institutions survive the era of Trump? Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump nominated a new president of the World Bank, a post traditionally occupied by an American. Aid experts were worried, if not necessarily surprised, that the White House nominee—Treasury official David Malpass—has a history of criticizing bodies like the bank. Commentators picked up on congressional testimony by Malpass from 2017, in which he supported the administration’s view “that globalism and multilateralism have gone too far,” and promised to limit or end U.S. support to underperforming aid institutions. He was more positive about the World Bank in […]

Venezuelan protesters wearing helmets and gas masks near La Carlota air base, Caracas, June 24, 2017 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

As unrest grows in Venezuela, oil production mismanagement is turning the disaster from bad to worse. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). 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’ economies, particularly those that rely on oil for the majority of their exports, went into crisis mode. That was the case in Venezuela, where oil production remained the […]

Paramilitary fighters from the “Banana Bloc” arrive at a rural area outside the northwestern Colombian town of Turbo to turn in their arms, Nov. 21, 2004 (Photo by Julio Cesar Herrerea for El Tiempo via AP Images).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the implications of the upcoming second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the potential consequences of a content-free diplomatic process. For the Report, Mariana Palau talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about Colombia’s post-conflict land restitution program, which is not only struggling in its mission to help landowners reclaim property that was stolen during the country’s civil war, but is also in some cases driving a new cycle of displacement. If you like what you […]

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno holds a press conference with the foreign media in Quito, Ecuador, July 5, 2018 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. Eighteen people were killed last month in a fire at a drug rehabilitation center in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second-largest city. The blaze was reportedly caused by patients who rioted in a bid to escape the clinic, which was operating illegally. In an interview with WPR, Carla Alvarez, a titular professor of political science at the State University of Milagro in Ecuador, discusses the pervasive problem of illegal rehabilitation clinics and explains why Ecuador’s government should focus on preventing drug addiction instead […]

A man holds a sign that reads in Spanish “They attack for oil” during a march in support of the state-run oil company PDVSA, in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 31, 2019 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

Weeks into Nicolas Maduro’s disputed second term as Venezuela’s president, his prospects for political survival appear more uncertain than ever. Many countries, including the United States and many South American and European countries, have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido, president of the National Assembly, as the legitimate interim president, as he declared himself last month. It is risky to predict the end date of a regime whose leadership has already weathered nearly six years of economic crisis, but if it is approaching, there should be plans for reviving the economy of an oil-rich but desperate nation. Guaido is already devising […]

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, center, walk down the House steps to take a group photograph of the House Democratic women members of the 116th Congress, Washington, Jan. 4, 2019 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

The standoff pitting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro against National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president two weeks ago, continues to paralyze the country. It has also highlighted a political divide outside Venezuela—in particular in the U.S. between advocates and critics of the Trump administration’s pursuit of regime change in Caracas. That debate has broader implications for the formulation of a progressive foreign policy framework in the runup to the U.S. presidential election in 2020. After the U.S., joined by most of the governments of South America and Europe, recognized Guaido as the legitimate head of state, a […]

A helicopter flies over the mud in search of bodies, days after a mining company’s dam collapsed in Brumadinho, Brazil, Jan. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Andre Penner).

The death toll continues to rise in southern Brazil after the collapse of a tailings dam at a mine last month triggered a massive mudslide. In what is being called the country’s worst environmental disaster, 134 people have been confirmed dead and another 199 are still missing in the nearby town of Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais state. Five people have been arrested as part of an investigation into the collapse, and a Brazilian court ordered the mine’s operator, Vale S.A., to stop using eight other tailings dams, which are constructed out of the waste materials left over from mining operations. […]

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