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Obama And Biden Will Skip Castro’s Funeral

Diana Nyad

Neither President Obama nor Vice-President Biden will attend Fidel Castro’s funeral.

Oops: Dell Offers $33 Laptops in Mexico

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Via the BBC:  Dell error hands Mexicans $33 laptop bargain Mexican officials have ordered Dell Computers to honour the sale of laptops that had been mistakenly advertised online for just 679 pesos (£27; $33). The computers normally sell for up to 50,000 pesos (£1,990; $2,500). But because of an apparent software malfunction, only the shipping […]

A Photo for Friday

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Since Colombia has been in the news this week, here is a photo I took of the opening ceremonies of the first round of the 2014 presidential elections, where I was acting as an electoral observer.  This process eventually led to Juan Manuel Santos’ second term in office.  This issue of the peace plan was central to that […]

Santos Wins Peace Prize

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Via the BBC:  Nobel Peace Prize for Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the 52-year conflict with left-wing rebels. The Nobel committee in Norway praised him for his peace agreement with Farc rebels, signed last month after four years of […]

On Referenda

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The NYT has a really good piece on why referenda are problematic instruments:  Why Referendums Aren’t as Democratic as They Seem Though such votes are portrayed as popular governance in its purest form, studies have found that they often subvert democracy rather than serve it. They tend to be volatile, turning not just on the merits of […]

Colombia’s Vote for Peace

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Today Colombians got to the polls to vote in a plebiscite on the FARC peace accord.

President Trump and Latin America

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Andres Oppenheimer:  A Trump victory could push Latin America to the left and away from U.S. Judging from what I heard in recent interviews with several Latin American presidents, a victory by Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 election would chill U.S.-Latin American ties, moving even the most pro-American presidents in the region to distance themselves […]

Looking to Peace with the FARC

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By me at ORIGINS: Current Events in Historical Perspective Colombia: On the Brink of Peace with the FARC?

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Convicted, Removed From Office On Impeachment Charges

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was convicted and removed from office on impeachment charges by the nation’s Senate earlier today: BRASILIA — Brazil’s Senate ousted Dilma Rousseff as president Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to impeach the leftist leader in the culmination of a protracted process that has divided the country. The vote to impeach Rousseff was 61 to […]

The Deepening Disaster in Venezuela

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Via CNBC:  Venezuela calls for mandatory labor in farm sector The government of Venezuela has issued a decree that “effectively amounts to forced labor” in an attempt to fix a spiraling food crisis, according to a new report from Amnesty International. A Venezuelan ministry last week announced Resolution No. 9855, which calls for the establishment […]

A FARC Primer

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For anyone interested in more on the FARC as the peace process progresses, here are two useful BBC pieces from about a week ago: Who are the Farc? and Colombia’s Farc rebels – 50 years of conflict.

One Major Step Closer to Peace in Colombia

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The final major piece of the negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government appears to be in place.

Info on the Panama Canal Expansion

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A nice set of inforgraphics:  Weekly Chart: Panama Canal Trade before and after the Expansion

Zika Virus Concerns Lead To Calls To Postpone or Move 2016 Olympics

Zika Virus

Concerns about the Zika Virus are leading some doctors to call for the 2016 Summer Olympics to be moved or postponed.

The Horror of War and the Challenge of Peace in Colombia

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If Colombia makes peace, the post-conflict era will be rife with challenges.

Twitter War between Head of OAS and President of Venezuela

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This is amazing, amusing, and very Twenty-First Century, via the BBC:  Venezuela Maduro OAS: Latin American ‘traitor’ row escalates The head of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, has accused the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of being “a traitor”. In a series of Twitter posts addressed directly to Mr Maduro, Mr Almagro also […]

Same Sex Marriage in Colombia

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Via the BBC: Colombia legalises gay marriage Colombia’s top court has legalised same-sex marriage, making the country the fourth in Latin America to do so. Civil unions had previous been legal. The rest of the region:   Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have previously legalised same-sex marriage. […] In Mexico, gay marriage is legal in the capital […]

Brazil’s President Impeached

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With just a few months to go before the nation takes center stage, Brazil’s President is now facing impeachment: BRASÍLIA — Brazilian legislators voted on Sunday night to approve impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, the nation’s first female president, whose tenure has been buffeted by a dizzying corruption scandal, a shrinking economy and spreading disillusionment. After […]

If you Want to Feel Better about our Presidential Candidates…

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…read up on Peru’s options:  An Alleged Killer, a Plagiarist, and a Jailed Ex-Leader’s Kid: Meet Peru’s Presidential Field. As I tell my students:  one of the great reasons for studying Latin America is that you really can’t make this stuff up.

Obama to Visit Cuba

Cuban American Flags

The futility of US policy towards Cuba is obvious to anyone who gives it even a passingly objective assessment.

U.S. To Resume Commercial Air Travel To Cuba

Cuban American Flags

Another step forward with regard to the American-Cuban relationship.

Guatemala Inaugurates President

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Via the BBC:  Jimmy Morales inaugurated as new Guatemala president Guatemalan former TV comedian Jimmy Morales has been inaugurated as the country’s new president. He was elected in October after huge anti-corruption demonstrations that led to the prosecution of a former president and vice-president. Mr Morales has no previous experience in government. In his inaugural […]

Economic Crisis Continues in Venezuela

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Via the BBC:  Venezuela economy: Nicolas Maduro declares emergency The Venezuelan government has announced a 60-day economic emergency to deal with the country’s worsening crisis. President Nicolas Maduro will govern by decree for two months. The edict includes tax increases and puts emergency measures in place to pay for welfare services and food imports. The […]

Medical Marijuana Legalized in Colombia

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Via the BBC:  Colombia fully legalises medical marijuana Colombia’s president has signed a decree fully legalising medical marijuana in a shift away from preventing drug crop production. Juan Manuel Santos said the move put Colombia “in the group of countries that are at the forefront…in the use of natural resources to fight disease”. But, he […]

Electoral Fraud in Haiti

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Via the Miami Herald:  U.S. observers: Haiti’s presidential elections deeply flawed. A team of U.S.-based lawyers who witnessed last month’s Haitian elections say there is mounting evidence showing a clear pattern of systemic fraud, voter confusion and intimidation, and in some areas disenfranchisement. The report paints a grim picture of a flawed, chaotic electoral process […]

New President in Argentina

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Via the BBC:  Argentina’s President-elect Macri lays out new course Mr Macri won Sunday’s run-off election by a narrow margin over Daniel Scioli, who was backed by outgoing president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. He said one of the key problems was the lack of accurate information about the state of Argentina’s economy. […] Mr Macri, […]

Mexico’s Supreme Court Opens The Door To Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana Plant

A decision from Mexico’s Supreme Court has opened the door to legalization of marijuana south of the border, but it’s likely to proceed much slower than in the United States or Canada.

Argentine Election Time

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Via the BBC:  Argentina elections: Voters pick new president. Candidate basics: President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has served two consecutive terms and, under Argentina’s constitution, cannot run again. Her hand-picked successor, left-winger Daniel Scioli, is leading polls. But he is expected to face stiff competition from Mauricio Macri, the centre-right mayor of Buenos Aires. Another […]

More Terms for Bolivia’s Morales?

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Via the BBC:  Vote may allow Bolivia president to seek re-election Bolivia’s Congress has voted to amend the constitution to allow the country’s President Evo Morales to run for re-election again in five years’ time. The vote went through by a two-thirds majority in a congress dominated by his supporters. He has been in power […]

Background on the FARC (and Remembering the FARC’s Terrible, Horrible, no Good, very Bad Year+)

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The seeds of the current peace deal date back to 2007-2008 (plus some longer-term background notes).

Major Step Forward for Colombian Peace Process

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Peace between the FARC and the Colombian state appears nigh.

Brazil Officially in Recession

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The economic news has been poor in Brazil for a while now, and with the release of new GDP figures the country is officially in recession, the BBC reports: Brazil has entered recession after official figures showed the country’s economy contracted by 1.9% between April and June compared with the previous three months. Analysts had […]

Symmetry in Cuba

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Via CNN:  Marines who removed flag at U.S. Embassy in Havana see it raised again The gap between the flag coming down and going back up (54 years) was such that my first reaction was to to be mildly surprised that the three marines in question were still alive.

U.S., Cuba Reopen Embassies For First Time In 54 Years

Diana Nyad

There are mutual embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time in 54 years. It certainly took long enough.

U.S. And Cuba To Reopen Embassies After 54 Years

Cuban American Flags

For the first time since 1961, there will soon be an American Embassy in Havana, and a Cuban Embassy in Washington. It’s well past time that this happened.

It’s Time To End The Cuba Travel Ban

Diana Nyad

It’s easier for an American citizen to go to Iran or North Korea than it is for them to go to Cuba, That’s insane.

Marriage Equality Is Coming To Mexico

Mexico Marriage

Thanks largely to a series of court decisions, same-sex marriage is effectively legal in all of Mexico.

Cuba Removed From List Of State Sponsors Of Terrorism

Diana Nyad

Another step forward toward ending a U.S. policy regarding Cuba that was outdated twenty years ago.

An Odd Incentive in Venezuela

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Via the BBC: Venezuela mango-thrower gets flat from president A Venezuelan woman has had her wish for a flat granted by President Nicolas Maduro after she made her point by hitting him on the head with a mango. Marleny Olivo threw the fruit at the president while he was driving a bus through the central […]

Cuba To Be Removed From List Of Terrorist States

Cuban American Flags

Another step forward for U.S.-Cuban relations.

US-Latin American Relations

Barack Obama, Raul Castro

Some thoughts on a column by Roger Noriega on the Obama administration and Latin America,

Most Cuban-Americans Support Obama’s Opening To Cuba

Diana Nyad

New polling on President Obama’s opening to Cuba is likely to surprise some, and disappoint others.

Some Charts for the Morning: Latin American Economies

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Via The Telegraph:  Colombia: from failed state to Latin American powerhouse Some regional comparisons:  

From the “You Can’t Make this Stuff up” File (TP for Oil Edition)

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Via Bloomberg:  Tissue Paper-for-Venezuelan Oil Swap Offered by Trinidad. The absurd nature of the headline aside, this is not a funny story at all given the utter disaster that is the Venezuelan economy.  The unnecessary and man-made nature of the the situation just adds to the tragedy.

Latin American Stall?

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An ominous headline from The Economist:  Latin America’s progress has stopped For the past three years, the poverty rate has stayed stubbornly at around 28% of the population, according to household surveys collated by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The proportion that is extremely poor (with a daily income of […]

Cuban Activists Released; US-Cuban Talks Set

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Via the BBC:  Cuba releases dozens of opposition activists The Cuban authorities have released at least 36 opposition activists since Wednesday, according to dissident organisations. They are believed to be from a list of 53 activists the United States requested to be freed as part of efforts to mend links. More info at the link. […]

Venezuela Officially in Recession

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Via the BBC:  Venezuela recession confirmed as Maduro attacks US ‘oil war’ The Venezuelan economy is now officially in recession after the central bank released figures showing that it has been shrinking all year. The bank said the economy had declined by 2.3% in the third quarter of 2014. It also revealed for the first […]

Rousseff Starts Second Term

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Via the BBC:  Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff sworn in for a second term Representatives from more than 130 countries attended the swearing-in ceremony, which also saw Vice-President Michel Temer take his oath. The presidents of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro; Uruguay, Jose Mujica; Bolivia, Evo Morales, and Chile, Michelle Bachelet were among the leaders present. US Vice President […]

Public Opinion on Cuba

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Via WaPo‘s The Fix: Sixty-eight percent support ending the trade embargo with Cuba — up 11 points from 2009 — and 74 percent support ending travel restrictions to Cuba — a jump of 19 points from five years ago. The main issue over time: More info at the link.

Comparative Human Rights Abuses

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Via the Monkey Cage (Putting Cuban human rights violations in some context), Erik Voeten notes In a recent article (ungated) in the American Political Science Review, Penn State political scientist Christopher J. Fariss develops a smart measurement model that captures the common component among different measures of physical integrity rights. Moreover, this model generates measures […]

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