A large crowd wearing masks commutes through Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, Japan, Mar. 3, 2020 (AP photo by Jae C. Hong).

For everyone around the world, in every country and continent, 2020 was dominated by a single story: COVID-19. For all of us, though the date may have varied, there was a definitive before and after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The thirst for thoughtful analysis of such a historic world event—from big picture articles examining the broad sweep of the pandemic’s global impact to more focused pieces detailing its implications for particular countries—is reflected in our list of this year’s most-read stories. Of course, WPR also closely covered the U.S. presidential election, the Black Lives Matter protests that spread […]

Photo by 692 Productions, courtesy of Dambisa Moyo.

“It’s very easy for us to forget that things in the global economy and geopolitically were already somewhat precarious before COVID hit in earnest,” says Dr. Dambisa Moyo. “As we start to think about what a post-pandemic recovery looks like, I think it’s very important to have that context in mind.” This is why, for Dr. Moyo, “COVID is an accelerator to the challenged environment that was already occurring.” Dr. Moyo is a widely acclaimed economist and author of four New York Times bestselling books, most recently, “Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy Is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth—and How to […]

President Donald Trump during a roundtable on Venezuela in Doral, Florida, July 10, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

When President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, he will inherit two types of problems from his predecessor. The first will involve repairing the damage President Donald Trump created through neglect: the alliances, partnerships, multilateral organizations and U.S. government institutions to which Trump paid too little attention the past four years. Though not negligible, these problems will in most cases be relatively straightforward to address through methodical diplomacy—the simple art of showing up. The second category of problems has to do with the damage Trump created by paying too much attention to an issue: most of all, his campaigns […]

President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

SAO PAULO—When Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, went to New York in 2019 to address the United Nations General Assembly, he crossed paths in a hallway with one of his favorite politicians, President Donald Trump. Visibly anxious, the Brazilian leader exclaimed, “I love you,” in heavily accented English. Trump shook his counterpart’s hand, murmured “nice to see you again,” and walked away. While the episode showcases Bolsonaro’s deep personal admiration for Trump, it is also a vivid example of how Brazil’s foreign policy toward the United States over the past two years has been predicated on the Brazilian leader’s efforts […]

Then-Vice President Joe Biden during a press conference in Mexico City, Feb. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Ties between the United States and Mexico took a hit in October, when Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, a former Mexican defense minister, was arrested in Los Angeles on federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges. U.S. investigators had allegedly identified him as a high-level collaborator with Mexico’s powerful drug cartels, known to the cartel members as “El Padrino”—The Godfather. Mexico’s government was outraged at Cienfuegos’ arrest, with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador—or AMLO, as he is widely known—decrying it as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, even reportedly threatening to expel U.S. drug enforcement agents from Mexico if the charges weren’t […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks at a closing campaign rally for the upcoming National Assembly elections, in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 3, 2020 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

Venezuelan opposition leaders and the governments that back them just saw their strategy for dislodging the increasingly tyrannical regime of President Nicolas Maduro culminate in failure. Last Sunday, in farcical elections for a new legislature, Maduro’s supporters took control of the last remaining bastion of the opposition, the National Assembly. The legislature had served as the tip of the spear for a coordinated international campaign to remove Maduro, which was promoted by the Trump administration and supported by European and Latin American democracies. That plan, which launched two years ago, had tried to capitalize on the opposition’s control of the […]

Women participate in a "Day Without Women" strike for International Women’s Day at Mexico City’s main square, the Zocalo, March 9, 2020 (AP photo by Fernando Llano).

MEXICO CITY—One Saturday night last month, Bianca Alejandrina Lorenzena left her home in Cancun and never came back. Two days later, on Nov. 9, protesters took to the city’s streets to demand justice for her death. Authorities had found the body of the 20-year-old Lorenzana, who was known by her nickname, Alexis, dismembered and wrapped in plastic bags. Her brutal slaying was the spark for the protest, but activists also demanded a response to a spate of recent femicides—the killing of women and girls for their gender—in the state of Quintana Roo, of which Cancun is the capital. The state […]

Then-Vice President Joe Biden, left, with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was a candidate in Mexico’s presidential election at the time, Mexico City, March 5, 2012 (AP photo by Alexandre Meneghini).

In contrast with Donald Trump’s single-minded focus on immigration, President-elect Joe Biden has promised a return to a more conventional, multidimensional approach to the United States’ relations with Mexico. But if President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s reluctance to congratulate Biden on his victory is any indication, a return to normalcy may not be what Mexico wants. This week on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Duncan Wood, the director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, to discuss the challenges ahead for U.S.-Mexico ties and how Biden might be able to use some […]

Then-Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Carlos Raul Morales, Guatemala’s foreign minister at the time, in Guatemala City, Jan. 14, 2016 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

President Donald Trump has mostly ignored Central America save for his attempts to bully the region’s leaders into helping him slash the number of immigrants entering the United States, but President-elect Joe Biden is promising a radically different approach. With extensive foreign policy experience and a genuine interest in Central America stemming from his time as vice president, when he served as former President Barack Obama’s chief regional emissary, Biden has vowed to directly address the brutal conditions that are at the heart of the migration crisis in Central America. Biden has also pledged to “immediately do away with” President […]