An elderly patient receives a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Orange Farm, near Johannesburg, South Africa, June 3, 2021 (AP photo by Denis Farrell).

By the late 1990s, an HIV diagnosis was no longer considered a death sentence in the wealthy countries of the Global North. Advances in medical technology had brought new drugs onto the market that could reverse the disease’s progression. However, those life-saving drugs were priced out of the reach of most patients across the Global South, where millions of people continued to die unnecessarily. There are echoes now of that earlier era, as those same regions are largely going without COVID-19 vaccines—even as wealthier countries move on to administer booster shots for their populations. In response to the disparity in […]

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, right, speaks as Vice President Kamala Harris listens, during an event at the Treasury Department in Washington, Sept. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

On Oct. 3, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released 11.9 million confidential files, known as the Pandora Papers, that documented how world leaders, oligarchs and business elites park their wealth in offshore jurisdictions. Like the Panama Papers of 2016, this new leak brought shell companies and offshore jurisdictions under intense public scrutiny for their role in helping the rich and powerful evade taxes and ignore the transparency requirements by which their fellow citizens and competitors must abide. What was perhaps most damning was the inclusion of five U.S. states—South Dakota, Florida, Delaware, Texas and Nevada—among the list of favored offshore […]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, accompanied by first lady Cilia Flores, speaks at a press conference after he voted in the ruling party’s primary elections, in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 8, 2021 (AP photo by Matias Delacroix).

Many Latin American countries have grappled with democratic backsliding in recent years. But recent sham elections in Venezuela and Nicaragua marked a new low.  On Sunday, the regime led by Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro held municipal and regional polls that were widely seen as rigged, resulting in ruling party candidates taking a vast majority of gubernatorial, mayoral and local council seats.  And earlier this month, Nicaraguan strongman Daniel Ortega oversaw his own rigged elections. After putting seven opposition candidates behind bars during the campaign, Ortega claimed a fourth consecutive term in office. According to an independent voting rights group, turnout […]

A man crosses a street blocked by a burning barricade during a protest to demand the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Oct. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Elmer Martinez).

On Nov. 28, Hondurans will head to the polls for one of the most consequential elections in the country’s history. After the 2017 polls were marred by fraud and violence, voters face a stark choice between a corruption-plagued ruling party that has enabled Honduras’ transformation into a violent narco-state on one hand, and an uncertain future on the other. The main opposition candidate, Xiomara Castro of the progressive Liberty and Refoundation Party—or Libre, as it is known in Spanish—will try to break the National Party’s 12-year stranglehold on power. The wife of former President Manuel Zelaya, who was deposed in […]

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez leaves a poll station after casting his vote in the midterm primary election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Marcos Brindicci).

If there is one constant in Argentina’s merry-go-round of political and economic crises, it is the presence of outsize personalities, high drama and policy failures. The results of Sunday’s midterm congressional elections suggest that this cycle is unlikely to be broken any time soon. The election didn’t just throw the system into disarray. It also introduced the latest entrant to Argentina’s pantheon of flamboyant politicians: the wild-haired, far-right economist Javier Milei, who saw his fortunes soar, giving credence to his plan to seek the presidency in 2023. The immediate impact of the Nov. 14 elections was that the center-left Peronistas, […]

Palestinian security forces participate in a drill at the International Police Training Center in al-Muwaqqar, Jordan, a country that receives U.S. support for key counterterrorism training programs, Mar. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Raad Adayleh).

In May of this year, thousands of Colombian citizens took part in weeks of widespread protests against a newly proposed tax reform plan and, more generally, the country's growing economic inequality. The demonstrators included teachers, doctors, students and labor union members, as well as many who were new to protesting. But instead of allowing them to peacefully express their opinions, the Colombian National Police cracked down, killing at least 24 people in clashes that resembled their fights against criminal organizations and insurgents.  Of course, Colombia’s police are not unique in their heavy-handed approach to law enforcement. In 2019, police violence […]

Presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast, from the Republican Party, campaigns in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 2, 2021 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

In the leadup to Nov. 7’s sham election in Nicaragua, incumbent President Daniel Ortega’s crackdown on the opposition and imprisonment of his most viable challengers garnered a good deal of attention. But the Nicaraguan election was only the first in a series of crucial political contests taking place in the region this month. By the time December begins, the path ahead for nearly half a dozen Latin American countries may well have been redrawn. Beyond Nicaragua’s widely criticized parody of democracy, the continent will see pivotal presidential elections in Chile and Honduras, the winners of which could take these countries in […]

U.S. President Joe Biden, center, speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a plenary session at a NATO summit in Brussels, June 14, 2021 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Tensions within NATO over the past two decades have led some to assert that the old military alliances of the 20th century are a thing of the past. Soon, the argument goes, they will give way to looser, ad hoc groupings like the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, comprising Australia, India, Japan and the United States; the AUKUS security pact among Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States; or other “coalitions of the willing” formed to address specific concerns, like those that intervened in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. To be sure, the past 30 years have punched some […]

Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias “Otoniel,” leader of the violent Clan del Golfo cartel, is presented to the media at a military base in Necocli, Colombia, Oct. 23, 2021 (Colombian presidential press office photo via AP).

BOGOTA, Colombia—In the next five weeks, Dairo Antonio Usuga, Colombia’s most-wanted drug lord who was captured on Oct. 23, is expected to be extradited to the United States on drug trafficking charges filed in New York and Florida, according to Colombian authorities. As head of the notorious drug cartel Clan del Golfo, Usuga—more commonly known by the alias “Otoniel”—is accused of steering an international criminal enterprise, processing and shipping more than 160 tons of cocaine each year to the United States and Europe, and wielding control over large swaths of Colombian territory, where his men imposed their own laws using terror […]

A sign reading “Daniel 2021” next to a picture of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on a public transportation bus, Managua, Nicaragua, June 22, 2021 (DPA photo via AP Images).

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which gives a rundown of the week’s top stories on WPR. 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. On Sunday, Nicaraguan voters will go to the polls to choose the country’s next president. In reality, they do not need to wait until those votes are counted to know who the winner will be. The outcome is already a foregone conclusion: President Daniel Ortega will win reelection, with the only uncertainty being the percentage of the […]

Activists from Extinction Rebellion take part in a demonstration near the site of the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 3, 2021 (AP photo by Alastair Grant).

World leaders are gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, for what many consider the most important climate change talks in global history. COP26, as this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference is known, is the largest diplomatic gathering since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The negotiations are meant to be based on scientific findings and policy proposals—not entirely apolitical, but less politically tinged than, say, discussions concerning transnational migration or human rights violations. That’s because, when it comes to climate change, countries are judged on the merits of their plans, not their political systems or their respect for civil liberties. While […]

Climate activists hold up illuminated placards outside the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum as the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 3, 2021 (AP photo by Alastair Grant).

The annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, known this year as COP26, is underway in Glasgow, Scotland. High-profile figures from the private sector and philanthropic organizations, as well as national political leaders, have all gathered to discuss ways to reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases—all while the scientific community warns that the window to avert a global catastrophe is rapidly closing. Today on Trend Lines, Stewart Patrick, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a weekly columnist for WPR, joins Elliot Waldman to discuss the latest developments from Glasgow and the sticking points that are preventing more […]