A protest in front of the Chinese Consulate in Makati city, Philippines, July 12, 2021 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

On April 21, a suicide bomber struck the four-star Serena Hotel in Quetta, Pakistan, killing five people and wounding 12 more. Initial reports indicated the target was Nong Rong, the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, who was staying at the Serena but was not present at the time. The Tehrik-i-Taliban, or TTP, a jihadi terrorist group active along the Pakistani-Afghan border, later claimed responsibility for the attack, vaguely saying it had targeted “locals and foreigners” staying at the hotel.  A few months later, in mid-July, another suicide attack targeted a convoy of Chinese workers headed to the construction site of a hydroelectric dam […]

A protester holds a sign with “Resign, Thief” printed over a portrait of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei outside the National Palace in Guatemala City, July 24, 2021 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

The Biden administration’s strategy to combat mass migration from Central America by tackling its “root causes” just suffered a harsh blow in Guatemala with the ouster of the country’s top anti-corruption official. Juan Francisco Sandoval, the respected chief prosecutor in the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity, known by its Spanish acronym FECI, was fired Friday and promptly fled the country, fearing for his life.   Sandoval’s ouster prompted street protests and demands for the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei and Attorney General Consuelo Porras. Above all, Sandoval’s dismissal, and his belief that he might be killed if he remained in […]

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the Mercosur Summit in Santa Fe, Argentina, July 17, 2019 (AP photo by Gustavo Garello).

Relations between the four members of South America’s Mercosur trade bloc—Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay—are at their worst since the group’s establishment three decades ago. For months now, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has been blocking a demand by Brazil and Uruguay to reduce Mercosur’s external common tariffs, in an attempt to protect domestic companies and prevent even further disruption to an economy mired in high inflation, currency problems and a prolonged recession. Frustrated, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou announced earlier this month that he would seek trade deals outside of Mercosur, which is prohibited by the bloc’s rules. Uruguay’s decision is not […]

Anti-government protesters march in Havana, Cuba, July 11, 2021 (AP photo by Eliana Aponte).

When I became a correspondent covering the Caribbean and portions of Latin America—my first overseas job for the New York Times—in the spring of 1990, Cuba’s then-leader Fidel Castro already seemed like an antiquated figure to many observers, a literal greybeard at the age of 63. This impression was accentuated for me in part due to the youthfulness of his country’s population, not to mention my own. It also derived from political history, as well as the geopolitical context of the moment. Castro had already been in power since 1959, making him one of the longest-serving leaders in the world. […]

A man holds a banner showing the eyes of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a protest against the government’s alleged use of powerful spyware to spy on opponents, Budapest, Hungary, July 26, 2021 (AP photo by Anna Szilagyi).

Like picking up a rock in the garden, the NSO Pegasus spyware scandal exposes a repulsive world teaming with life in the muck and mire—so much so that it is tempting to put the stone back in place and pretend that world doesn’t exist. There are many layers to the story: the human cost, the murky ethics of selling powerful spy tools to states with poor human rights records, and the complexities of trying to regulate the global market for such software. They all point to a challenge that will be with us for some time, despite the popular outrage […]

Artists and activists pose for photos next to a mural at the United Nations International Commission Against Impunity, CICIG, headquarters in Guatemala City, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

The word corruption tends to evoke images of self-dealing politicians and bureaucrats, and for good reason. In Central America, graft is so endemic among public officials that it constitutes a “root cause” of out-migration from the region, according to U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration.  But the private sector can play just as central a role in sustaining corruption. In recent years, traditional business elites in Central America have bankrolled efforts to roll back progress made by prosecutors and civil society groups to strengthen the rule of law.  This poses a key challenge for the Biden administration. While it has shown […]

A screen displays a notice on an iPhone in New York, Oct. 29, 2019 (AP photo by Jenny Kane).

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Explosive revelations this week from the Pegasus Project detailed the widespread use of the Pegasus surveillance software program by repressive governments and three democracies—Hungary, India and Mexico—to spy on their own citizen activists and journalists, but also on foreign journalists and even heads of government. The software, developed and sold by the Israeli […]

Young minors lie inside a pod at a detention center for unaccompanied children run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Donna, Texas, March 30, 2021 (AP photo by Dario Lopez-Mills).

Over the past few weeks, activists led by former border patrol agent turned refugee advocate Jenn Budd gathered at Fort Bliss military base outside El Paso, Texas, to protest the continued detention of children, many of them unaccompanied, in crowded conditions while they await asylum hearings. The protests are a continuation of direct action sparked off two summers ago by then-President Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies, which included forcing immigrants to await asylum hearings in the dangerous city of Juarez, Mexico, rather than in El Paso; separating children from their parents or guardians upon detention, while deporting 1,400 parents back to their […]

Gabriel Boric addresses supporters after receiving the news of his victory in Chile's primary elections, July 18, 2021 (AP photo by Felipe Figueroa).

Primary elections in Chile over the weekend brought a sigh of relief to those in Latin America anxious about growing polarization in their countries. Many observers have feared that the crises roiling the region will prompt voters to flock to the extremes, on both the right and left, and create further instability and uncertainty. Those concerns were heightened after Peru’s first-round presidential election, featuring 18 candidates, catapulted the far-right and far-left candidates into a tense runoff, followed by a perilous period of uncertainty that only came to a close this week, six weeks after the votes were cast.  But voters in Chile […]

Soldiers patrol during a military operation in Macarena, southern Colombia, Feb. 20, 2010 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

BOGOTA, Colombia—Carlos Martinez joined the Colombian military at the age of 17, a minor who had to obtain his parents’ written permission to enlist. “I didn’t have many options. There aren’t a lot of opportunities in this country for someone like me who grew up poor,” he said, “but war will always be profitable.” Martinez spent almost 10 years on active duty in the army, eventually joining an elite special forces unit that fought armed groups and drug traffickers in the Andean countryside. Colombia, which currently boasts some 250,000 active-duty armed forces personnel, produced millions of soldiers like Martínez during […]

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks via video conference during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 29, 2020 (AP photo by Graeme Jennings).

There are a few things Facebook executives don’t want you to know. They don’t want you to know that some of its engineers have breached company rules about accessing users’ personal details to stalk women online. They don’t want you to know that members of their security team watched Russian hackers game Facebook’s algorithms and fleece its users for months before the FBI announced its investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They would prefer that you not think about the fact that it has failed to appoint a single computer science expert to its Oversight Board, […]

Anti-government protesters march in Havana, Cuba, July 11, 2021 (AP photo by Eliana Aponte).

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. The outbreak of protests in Cuba this week represents a shocking departure from the status quo, while also fitting into familiar narratives that have been playing out for a while now. We’ve become used to seeing periodic, small-scale protests in Cuba—most recently involving an artists’ collective known as the San Isidro Movement—that, while […]

A nurse prepares a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

The worst of the coronavirus pandemic has receded considerably in countries with high vaccination rates, despite the new challenge posed by the more contagious delta variant. So far, this mostly means that rich countries are finding it possible to restart their economies safely, while lower- and middle-income countries, whose populations continue to be brutally battered by the pandemic, are struggling with massive public health demands, along with the economic and political crises ignited or worsened by COVID-19. Nowhere is this relentless predicament more urgent than in Latin America, which is why multilateral organizations are urging the rich nations that have […]

Residents of the Port-au-Prince slum Cite Soleil make their way to the downtown market by foot due to an oil embargo, Oct. 26, 1993 (AP photo by Michael Stravato).

During my first reporting trip to Haiti, in January 1988, on my very first day in the country, I rode 50 miles from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to St. Marc, a coastal city to the north, to write about the atmosphere in the provinces on the eve of national elections. At a roadblock just shy of St. Marc, armed remnants of the feared militia of the country’s former dictatorship, the Tonton Macoutes, were burning vehicles and extorting money from passengers in broad daylight. One of the militiamen warned me that if they allowed me to pass, I would not be permitted […]

Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado, March 2, 2021 (GDA photo via AP Images).

On June 14, the Costa Rican authorities conducted dozens of raids on private residences and public agencies as part of a sweeping anti-corruption investigation. The operation, whose targets included the office of the president’s main adviser, was a coordinated sting on a scale never seen before in a corruption case in Costa Rica. It was the culmination of more than a year’s worth of efforts by the Judicial Investigative Police and the Attorney General’s Office, which had been tapping phones and gathering evidence against a massive bribery ring involving government officials and public infrastructure contractors.  It is no exaggeration to […]

Signs on a bank of computers at the public library in Wilmer, Texas, tell visitors that the machines are not working, following a ransomware attack on local Texas governments’ networks, Aug. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Tony Gutierrez).

The recent Fourth of July holiday weekend in the U.S. brought the latest installment in the wearying litany of colossal cyberattacks. The breach of the Miami-based software company Kaseya, which combined a supply chain attack with ransomware, affected hundreds of organizations all over the world—from kindergartens in New Zealand to a Swedish supermarket chain representing 20 percent of the country’s food retailers.  The company at the center of the incident, Kaseya, offers “complete, automated IT management software for [managed service providers] and IT Teams,” according to its website. Put another way, Kaseya software has low-level, privileged access right across the […]

Pakistani activists take part in an International Women’s Day rally in Lahore, Pakistan, Oct. 9, 2020 (AP photo by K.M. Chaudhry).

Of the many injustices in the contemporary world, modern slavery is among the most shocking. The trade in humans is a worldwide phenomenon. It spans the poorest and wealthiest countries and is deeply embedded in global supply chains. This is not only an ethical outrage but a threat to international security, prosperity, good governance and development. As the world seeks to “build back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic, it must tackle the scourge of human bondage. Slavery is one of the oldest human institutions, and it remains stubbornly persistent. The global abolitionist movement, which originated in the late 18th century, […]

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