Supporters of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign rally outside of an early voting location in Hialeah, Fla., Oct. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Lynne Sladky).

Which candidate in America’s presidential race would be better for Latin America? The question is being asked across the hemisphere, further abroad and in the United States, where Washington’s relations with Latin America are a major domestic issue for many voters, with the power to tilt election results. The answer, of course, depends on your personal views. There’s hardly unanimity, but when a Colombian student asked me recently whether President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden would be better for her country, it wasn’t difficult for me to reach a conclusion. Biden has the political philosophy, the background […]

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U.S. foreign policy under Trump does not appear to have a consistent logic. Trump has promised to put “America First,” and pursued that end in a variety of ways. At the same time, he has stocked his Cabinet with hawkish interventionists. While adopting a more unilateralist approach, Trump has neglected the institutions that help formulate and execute U.S. foreign policy. As he nears the end of his first term in office, President Donald Trump’s administration still does not appear to have seized on a consistent approach to dealing with the world. Instead, U.S. foreign policy under Trump has become erratic […]

An anti-government demonstrator bangs on a pan painted with the Colombian national colors during a strike in Bogota, Colombia, Dec. 4, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

The past two decades have brought dramatic changes to South America. Beginning in the early 2000s, Chinese demand for commodities fueled an economic boom that leftist governments across the region used to tackle poverty and inequality, reshaping their countries’ societies and political arenas in the process. But the end of the commodities super cycle in 2013 led to slowed growth, an end to government largesse and a return of center-right parties, while calling into question the sustainability of the previous decade’s gains. In this big picture Trend Lines interview, Frida Ghitis joined WPR editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein to discuss the impact […]

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, during a rally in Managua, Nicaragua, Sept. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Alfredo Zuniga).

A package of laws moving through Nicaragua’s parliament will further muzzle the opposition and curtail the activities of independent media outlets, setting up another phase of repression under President Daniel Ortega. It is Ortega’s latest effort to silence dissent since mass protests against his rule raised the risk of civil war in 2018. Experts say the new measures are a sign of Ortega’s nervousness as he prepares for a presidential election next year, amid an ongoing political crisis and an economic picture that worsens by the day. The unicameral National Assembly, which is controlled by Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front, […]

Luis Arce, then-presidential candidate for Bolivia’s Movement Toward Socialism party, at a closing campaign rally in El Alto, Bolivia, Oct. 14, 2020 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

When Bolivian voters went to the polls Sunday, they started writing a new chapter in the ideological contest that has buffeted Latin America since the turn of the century. Held during the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, the results could offer a hint of what’s to come in the wake of this devastating crisis. But does it mean another “pink tide” is rising? The winner in Bolivia was Luis Arce, the former economy minister under iconic leftist President Evo Morales, of the Movement Toward Socialism, known by its Spanish initials, MAS. Arce’s victory has created excitement across Latin America’s left […]

Belize’s prime minister, Dean Barrow, delivers a speech at a dinner banquet in honor of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Belmopan, Belize, Aug. 17, 2018 (flickr photo by the Office of the President of Taiwan).

At the beginning of 2020, Belize’s ruling center-right United Democratic Party was well-positioned for the general election in November. The economy, while not spectacular, was growing at a stable rate. Inflation was low, and the country’s external debt situation was under control. Prime Minister Dean Barrow had led the UDP to an unprecedented three consecutive election victories since 2008, and was generally popular among Belizeans. Barrow is term-limited by the constitution, but his favored candidate to succeed him, National Security Minister John Saldivar, was elected as leader of the UDP at a party convention in February. With 19 of the […]

Pedestrians walk past a mural depicting the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 6, 2019 (AP photo by Leonardo Fernandez).

Over the past two decades, perhaps no region of the world has seen such a dramatic reversal of fortune as South America. Beginning in 1999, a political shift to the left combined with an economic boom allowed governments across the continent to make dramatic inroads in the fight against poverty. The region’s transformation was held up as a model of what governments can achieve when they make addressing inequality a central priority. But beginning in 2013, the end of the commodities boom led to slowed growth and, in some cases, political instability, calling into question the sustainability of the previous […]

Members of the House of Representatives walk down the steps of Capitol Hill after passing a coronavirus rescue package, Washington, March 27, 2020 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

The global economy is gradually healing from the economic blows dealt by the coronavirus pandemic, but the recovery remains fragile and halting. Reduced trade is more a symptom than a cause of those trends—and what governments do in terms of additional fiscal stimulus will do far more to determine the shape of the recovery in the United States and other countries. Still, trade policy could be a factor, supporting or undermining the nascent recovery. President Donald Trump’s trade wars have already complicated the direct response to COVID-19 infections—by making imports of some critical products more expensive or harder to find—and […]

Then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, right, speaks with Jimmy Morales, Guatemala’s president-elect at the time, in Guatemala City, Jan. 14, 2016 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

From the start of the 2016 election campaign, it was all too clear that a Donald Trump presidency would bring dramatic and destabilizing changes to U.S. foreign policy, especially in Latin America. Candidate Trump publicly pummeled the region, fulminating about “rapists” and drug traffickers crossing from Mexico, and vowing to build a wall to keep Central American migrants from “invading” the United States. The rhetoric was jarring in itself, but it was even more startling because it represented such a sharp departure from President Barack Obama’s administration, when even the most critical measures or sanctions came wrapped in diplomatic language. […]

Mexican National Guard troops stand guard at Las Pilas dam in Camargo, Mexico, Sept. 10, 2020 (AP photo by Christian Chavez).

For nearly 75 years, the United States and Mexico have transferred giant quantities of water to each other each year as part of a system set up to ensure the equitable sharing of water sheds that straddle their border. The terms and obligations are clearly laid out in a treaty the two sides signed in 1944: The U.S. sends 489 billion gallons of water southward via the Colorado River, and Mexico allocates 114 billion gallons northward, from the Rio Grande and the Rio Conchos. To deal with the technical aspects of this water exchange and settle any issues, the two […]

Japan’s then-prime minister, Abe Shinzo, and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera meet on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Aug. 25, 2019 (Kyodo photo via AP).

Latin America and Japan are often thought of as only loosely connected, through a patchwork of free trade agreements and people-to-people ties. But this summer, Chile finalized a deal that indicates a significant convergence of geostrategic interests between Japan and the Americas. After much deliberation, Chile chose an undersea route, backed by Japan, for the first direct fiber-optic cable link between South America and the Asia-Pacific. The Japanese proposal traverses 13,000 kilometers from Chile across the Pacific Ocean—more than 8,000 miles—eventually connecting with existing undersea cables between Japan and Oceania. The new trans-Pacific route would utilize a link between Japan […]