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More Terms for Bolivia’s Morales?


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+)


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


Peace between the FARC and the Colombian state appears nigh.

Brazil Officially in Recession


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


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Another step forward toward ending a U.S. policy regarding Cuba that was outdated twenty years ago.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


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


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)


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?


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


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


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


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


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


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 […]

Drezner on Cuba


If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend Dan Drezner’s piece on Cuba from yesterday:  Every big question you have about the U.S. opening to Cuba, answered

Some Questions for Those who Oppose an Opening with Cuba

Cuban American Flags

A little round of Qs and As on US-Cuban policy.

Rand Paul Breaks With Other 2016 GOP Contenders In Backing Obama’s Opening To Cuba

Senate Homeland Security Holds Hearing On Federal Programs Equipping Police Departments

Rand Paul is one of the few Republicans who seems to be evaluating the new policy toward Cuba through something other than an outdated Cold War perspective.

US-Cuban Relations and Venezuela


Via Bloomberg:  Obama Makes Maduro’s ‘Insolent Yankees’ a Tougher Sell “Maduro’s anti-US rhetoric is being undercut by the Cuban government,” said Gregory Weeks, head of Latin American studies at the University of North Carolina. “One of the biggest repercussions is that Maduro’s foreign policy is based on exclusion of the U.S. and now its biggest […]

Obama Has Made An Historic Change In U.S. Cuban Relations, It’s A Good First Step

Cuban American Flags

The resumption of diplomatic relations between U.S. and Cuba, and expansion of some commercial trade ties, is historic but it’s only the first step toward the goal of ending an outdated embargo.

American Held By Cuba Released, U.S. And Cuba To Begin Talks On Normalizing Relations

Diana Nyad

An American freed from captivity, and potentially huge changes in America’s diplomatic and trade relationship with Cuba.

Colombia also Feeling the Fall of Oil Prices


Via Reuters:  Colombia Congress passes tax reform to contain deficit Colombia’s lower house passed a tax law that will earn the government 53 trillion pesos ($22.3 billion) over the next four years mostly from businesses, by extending and modifying existing taxes that will expire at the end of this year. The package was passed by […]

Marijuana Legalization, Uruguay Style


Via the BBC:  Uruguay cannabis growers’ clubs: Registration begins Uruguay has started registering cannabis growers’ clubs as part of the government’s plan to legalise the drug. Licensed clubs of up to 45 members will be allowed to grow a maximum of 99 plants each year. In August, growing up to six plants of cannabis at […]

It’s Time To End The U.S. Embargo Of Cuba

Diana Nyad

The U.S. embargo of Cuba, and our lack of diplomatic recognition of the government in Havana, is an outdated relic of the Cold War. It’s time to end it.

Trouble for Rousseff


Via the BBC:  Brazil election: Silva backs Neves in blow for Dilma The Brazilian environmentalist Marina Silva, who came third in Sunday’s presidential election, has backed opposition centrist candidate Aecio Neves in the second round. Mr Neves won 33.5% of the votes in the first round to 41.5% for President Dilma Rousseff, who is running […]

Run-off Time in Brazil

Via the BBC:  Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff to face presidential run-off Brazilian incumbent Dilma Rousseff has won most votes in the country’s presidential election, but has fallen short of outright victory. She received about 41% of the vote and is set to face a run-off against centrist Aecio Neves, who got 34%, near complete official results […]

Second Term Blues?

Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush laugh on stage during a Presidential Leadership Scholars program event at the Newseum in Washington

The sixth year of a presidency leads to some predictable commentary (and some comparative notes).

The ongoing Damage to the Venezuelan Economy


Via the BBC:  Venezuela’s annual inflation rises to 63.4% Venezuela’s annual inflation rate has risen to 63.4%, the highest in Latin America, according to official figures published on Tuesday. The figures are the first released by the central bank since May, which has led critics to accuse the government of withholding data for political reasons. […]

Mexican State Approves Same-Sex Marriage


Via the BBC:  Mexican state of Coahuila approves same-sex marriage The northern state of Coahuila has become the second region in Mexico to officially allow same-sex marriage. Coahuila’s congress approved changes to the civil code which give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, including adoption. In Mexico, laws on same-sex unions fall under […]

Santos Sworn in


Via the BBC from last week:   Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos sworn in. Santos was re-elected to a second term back in June and is the second Colombian president to be re-elected (after the constitution was reformed to allow Santos’ predecessor, Álvaro Uribe, to run for and win a second term). The main issue confronting […]

Debt Default In Argentina


To our south, the nation of Argentina has just defaulted on billions of dollars in loans thanks largely to a dispute with at U.S. hedge fund: The hedge fund firm of billionaire Paul E. Singer has about 300 employees, yet it has managed to force Argentina, a nation of 41 million people, into a position where it […]

Some Facts for the Immigration Crisis Discussion


NBC Bay Area has a pretty good run down of the situation here:  Kids Crossing the Border: What to Know About the Immigration Crisis. A key fact that is useful in trying to determine whether the simplistic narrative that is all about Obama administration policies on immigration or not is the following: Migrant children aren’t […]

Delay in Legal Marijuana Sales in Uruguay


Via the BBC:  Uruguay legal cannabis sale delayed to next year, says president Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has said the start of legal cannabis sales will be delayed until next year due to "practical difficulties". Sales in state-owned pharmacies were due to begin as early as November. Under the new law the following will be […]

Tally me Banana?


Via the BBC:  Cocaine valued at £25m found in banana delivery Cocaine with an estimated street value of £25m has been found hidden in a consignment of bananas from Colombia. Scotland Yard said 150kg of the drug was found packed into plastic bananas following an "intelligence-led" operation. Day-o, indeed.

Institutional Design and Governance


A piece at Foreign Policy provides a chance to give some thought to institutions.

Another Capo Caught


Via the BBC:  Mexican Tijuana cartel boss Sanchez Arellano ‘captured’ The Mexican army says it has captured the leader of the once-powerful Tijuana cartel, Luis Fernando Sanchez Arellano. In the 1990s, the cartel controlled much of the drugs flow from the northern Mexican city of Tijuana to the United States. But it was dealt a […]

Significant Drug Gang Arrest in Colombia


Via the BBC,  Colombia: Rastrojos members held in Barranquilla raid: Colombian police have arrested 46 members of the Rastrojos criminal gang in northern Atlantico department. They are accused of extortion from shop owners and selling illegal drugs in the coastal city of Barranquilla. President Juan Manuel Santos described the operation as "the biggest blow against […]

Colombia’s Presidential Elections


Looking back at the first round and forward to the second.

Colombia’s Presidential Elections, First Round 2014


A Photo Essay.

New President in Panama


Via the BBC:  Outsider Juan Carlos Varela wins Panama election Opposition leader Juan Carlos Varela has won the presidential election in Panama with almost 40% of the votes. Mr Varela, who is currently the vice-president, had distanced himself from outgoing President Ricardo Martinelli. I must confess, it is a bit odd to call the Vice […]

Escobar’s Hippos


Via Worldcrunch:  Pablo Escobar’s Hippos Are Running Wild.

Talks in Venezuela


Via Reuters:  Venezuela’s Maduro meets opposition as death toll from protests rises Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cautioned opposition leaders to keep their expectations modest on Thursday as he hosted them for mediated talks intended to stem two months of deadly political unrest. Maduro has held similar meetings previously but this was the first to include […]

More Rhetoric over the Falklands


Via the BBC:  UK Falklands military exercises ‘provoke’ Argentina Argentina has accused the UK of provocation over plans to hold military exercises in the Falkland Islands. It said drills by British forces would include missile launches and were part of a "pattern" of "hostile acts". The British ambassador in Buenos Aires has been summoned by […]

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