Abortion rights activists protest outside the Constitutional Court where judges review a lawsuit that seeks to decriminalize abortion in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 20, 2022 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Across the Americas, abortion rights appear to be heading in very different directions. Looking solely at the U.S., the recent leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion suggests that the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling—which established a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions—could soon be overturned. If so, it would be a symptom of a general assault on reproductive rights as well as civil rights more broadly. However, looking further south, a different story emerges. Throughout Latin America, feminist movements are winning major victories on abortion rights, and their lessons are instructive: Organizing matters, but so […]

Federico Gutierrez, right, and Gustavo Petro take part in a presidential debate in Bogota, Colombia, May 23, 2022 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Colombians will go to the polls Sunday for the first round of a presidential election that represents a turning point in the country’s politics on several levels. The front-runner in the race, Gustavo Petro, would be the most progressive Colombian president since the 1930s should he win. A former leftist guerrilla, Petro has promised to expand the country’s social safety net, including improved access to health care and education, and reconfigure its economy by moving away from dependence on mining and hydrocarbons. His running mate, Francia Marquez, is one of five Afro-Colombian vice presidential candidates; prior to this year, no […]

Paraguayan Attorney General Sandra Quinonez holds an image of the late anti-drug prosecutor Marcelo Pecci, Asuncion, Paraguay, May 13, 2022 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

Two weeks ago, on May 10, Paraguayan prosecutor Mario Pecci and his wife of 10 days, the TV journalist Claudia Aguilera, were lying on a beach at an exclusive resort on the Colombian island of Baru, where they were spending their honeymoon. Suddenly, two men on jet skis approached the shore. One walked over to them, aimed a gun and shot Pecci once in the face and then, as he lay dying, in the back. The killing, as Mathew Charles noted in WPR last week, demonstrated “the strength and influence of organized criminal groups” in Paraguay. And indeed, from the […]

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele participates in the closing ceremony of a congress for cryptocurrency investors in Santa Maria Mizata, El Salvador, Nov. 20, 2021 (AP photo by Salvador Melendez).

As cryptocurrency investors nervously watched the value of their assets sink, one of Bitcoin’s greatest boosters announced this week that he was doubling down. Nayib Bukele, the hip, young president of El Salvador, hosted a meeting Monday with representatives of 44 countries to discuss the “benefits in our country” of using Bitcoin—another questionable move for a man who has put his country’s economy at risk to gamble on digital money. Bukele, a former public relations executive who now leads one of the hemisphere’s poorest nations, has been touting the so-far-elusive benefits El Salvador has gleaned from his controversial move last September to make Bitcoin the country’s […]

A man waving a Cuban flag in a rally outside the White House in Washington, July 13, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

President Joe Biden has finally learned the lesson that each of his 11 predecessors had to grudgingly accept when it comes to Cuba: Some U.S. interests can only be advanced by engaging with Havana. After a policy review that lasted 15 months, during which former President Donald Trump’s draconian economic sanctions remained in place, the State Department recently announced it will relax the measures that have had the greatest direct impact on the Cuban people. The change comes at a moment when irregular migration from Cuba is aggravating the crisis on the U.S. southern border and Latin American heads of […]

Police stand guard over seized cocaine that is displayed to the press at the Special Forces Police headquarters in Asuncion, Paraguay, July 28, 2021 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

The assassination of a top Paraguayan prosecutor while on vacation in Colombia last week has raised major concerns about the strength and influence of organized criminal groups in the country, one of the world’s top marijuana producers and a key transit point for Andean cocaine. Marcelo Pecci, an organized crime specialist, was shot dead on May 10 on the island of Baru, south of the Colombian city of Cartagena. Pecci was on honeymoon with his pregnant wife when two assailants arrived on jet skis and gunned him down. He died on the spot from three wounds to his face and torso. […]

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Chile’s recently inaugurated president, Gabriel Boric, campaigned on a platform emphasizing urgent reforms to shore up social rights in Chile, particularly health care, education and pensions, all of which were a focus of the protests that erupted across the country in October 2019. He also emphasized the need to establish a new relationship with Chile’s historically marginalized and oppressed Indigenous peoples, which represent around 12 percent of the country’s population. But to do so, he will have to overcome formidable obstacles, including the daunting prospects facing the Constitutional Convention that is currently drafting a new constitution which is central to […]

A demonstrator wearing a mask of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and brandishing a fake chainsaw marches in defense of the Amazon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sept. 5, 2019 (AP photo by Silvia Izquierdo).

For everything else that makes Jair Bolsonaro unique as a Brazilian president, he is also the first in the country’s recent history to pursue an explicitly anti-environmental agenda. Since taking office in January 2019, he has promoted deforestation in the Amazon for the sake of economic development, criticized the Paris Agreement and used nationalist rhetoric to vehemently reject European criticism of his handling of the massive Amazon wildfires in 2019. Since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, Bolsonaro has slightly moderated his discourse, but has changed little in terms of his policies. Moreover, in what could be […]