Argentina’s leader off to a good start

After spending a week in Argentina, I concluded that there are six reasons why President Mauricio Macri — who took office a month ago after 12 years of radical populist governments — is off to a very good start.

Latin America’s economic drama

Latin America’s exports fell for the third year in a row in 2015, drawing new attention to a problem that explains much of the region’s economic problems: lack of export diversification.

The most important news of 2015

When people ask me what was the most important news of 2015, my answer is that — aside from the global rise of Islamic State terrorism — it was several things that in some cases barely made headlines.

Obama’s big opportunity in Latin America

President Barack Obama has never been terribly interested in Latin America, but the new political winds in Argentina, Venezuela and the latest events in Brazil offer him a golden opportunity to improve US relations with the region.

Beware of post-election coup in Venezuela

Judging from Venezuela’s leftist regime’s past behaviour, its reaction to a likely defeat in Sunday’s crucial legislative elections may be to stage a slow-motion post-election coup once international attention shifts away from the country in coming weeks.

Latin America eyes US colleges

Here’s some good news for Latin America: after decades of relative academic isolation, the region’s two biggest countries — Brazil and Mexico — are dramatically increasing their numbers of students attending US universities.

A new day in Venezuela?

Venezuela’s December 6 congressional elections will be the most undemocratic Latin America has seen in recent history, with the exception of Cuba’s.

Bravo! OAS has awakened!

At long last, after a decade of timid leadership that condemned it to near irrelevance, the 34-country Organization of American States came back to life this week with a courageous letter by Secretary General Luis Almagro denouncing Venezuela’s efforts to rig its December 6 legislative elections.

A new day in Latin America?

Here’s a scenario that seemed highly unlikely only a few weeks ago, but has a 50 percent chance of happening in light of the political earthquakes that are rocking Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, and could mark the end of a 15-year-old leftist populist cycle in South America.

A new day in Latin America?

Here’s a scenario that seemed highly unlikely only a few weeks ago, but has a 50 per cent chance of happening in light of the political earthquakes that are rocking Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, and could mark the end of a 15-year-old leftist populist cycle in South America.

A Nobel winner’s advice to Latin America

When I interviewed the 2015 Nobel Prize winner in economics Angus Deaton a few days ago, I asked him a simple question: “If you had to give one piece of advice to Latin American countries, what would it be?” He answered it in four words: “Improve your data systems.” Indeed, the 69-year-old Scottish-American Princeton University professor, who is best known for his studies on how to measure poverty, says that Latin America has some of the most unreliable poverty statistics in the world.

The fall of Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela

The Trans-Pacific trade agreement signed last week between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries will be another nail in the coffin of the populist governments of Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and other countries that will be left even more isolated from the global economy — and poorer — than before.

The demographic revolution

When young people ask me what will be the jobs of the future, my answer — contrary to the prevailing view in marketing circles — is simple: anything related to older people.

Latin America’s new era of disenchantment

At a conference in Chile last week, I heard a statement that left me thinking: “Latin America has always been the land of hope, and the land of frustration.” The line, by former Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, couldn’t be more timely this week, as much of the region is facing a perfect economic storm, and a new era of disenchantment.

Chile’s leader hopeful despite growing setbacks

SANTIAGO, Chile — When I interviewed President Michelle Bachelet earlier this week, there were news reports that she was ill or secluded and depressed by the latest polls showing that 75 per cent of the Chilean people disapprove of her presidency.

US, Cuba share common fear: chaos in Venezuela

If you ask me what was the most interesting thing that Secretary of State John Kerry told me in an interview the week before last, it wasn’t any of his statements about human rights in Cuba that made headlines, but his open admission that the United States and Cuba are talking about ways to solve the Venezuelan crisis.

It’s time for Kerry to engage with Cuban dissidents

If Secretary of State John Kerry is serious when he claims that the Obama administration will keep pressing for democracy and human rights in Cuba, this is the least he should do: invite Cuban dissidents to the flag-raising ceremony at the US Embassy in Havana when he travels for the historic event there on August 14.

Latin America beats China, India in creativity

Interesting: a new world ranking shows that many Latin American countries are way ahead of China and India in creativity, and suggests that — if they improve their education and technology standards — they could be among the world’s most competitive economies.

Maduro’s campaign strategy: a border war?

Eager to divert attention from a world-record inflation rate, massive food shortages and other self-inflicted economic problems that could lead to an opposition victory in the Dec 6 legislative elections, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is pulling a trick of last resort for embattled demagogues: reviving a dormant territorial controversy to stir nationalist passions.

UN makes fool of itself rewarding Venezuela

What a joke! Venezuela, a country facing severe food shortages where people have to make long lines in hopes of finding milk, flour or coffee, has just received an award from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for its allegedly great success in combating hunger.

Mexico makes its worst mistake in many years

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s decision to indefinitely suspend teacher evaluations — the core of his much-applauded educational reform — is a catastrophic mistake that stains his presidency and is likely to hurt Mexico for decades to come.

Immigration ruling will hurt Republicans in 2016

This week’s decision by a federal appeals court to continue blocking President Barack Obama’s order to stop deportations of more than 4 million undocumented immigrants was almost universally seen as a major setback for the administration’s immigration policy.

US drug probe won’t topple Venezuela regime

There has been a lot of excitement among critics of Venezuela’s authoritarian populist government about new reports confirming that US authorities are investigating Venezuela’s No 2 official on drug trafficking charges, but — unfortunately — the news will have very little political impact in that country.

Immigration: Will China be the new Mexico?

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton will have a formidable weapon to disarm Republican anti-immigration candidates who want to virtually seal the US southern border — there are already more Chinese than Mexican immigrants who enter the United States every year.

Summit showed region’s ‘ideological fatigue’

PANAMA CITY — The handshake between President Barack Obama and Cuban ruler Gen Raúl Castro was not the only symptom of changing political winds at the 35-country Summit of the Americas: Much of the region showed signs of ideological fatigue and a new yearning for pragmatism.

Summit final document aims at US

PANAMA CITY — We’ve known for a while that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was planning to stage an anti-US show at this weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Panama, but a copy of the draft final declaration of the meeting that I obtained this week shows that he will seek much more: a formal, region-wide condemnation of the United States.

In Venezuelan elections, too many dead vote

While US and Latin American officials say that Venezuela’s political crisis should be solved through upcoming legislative elections, recent testimony before the US Senate raised many questions: It said Venezuela’s voting registry includes the names of so many dead, many states have more registered voters than people.

Cruz’s candidacy is good news — for Democrats

US Senator Ted Cruz’s announcement that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination is great news for Democrats: He will push the other Republican hopefuls to the right on immigration, further scaring away Hispanic voters and making it more difficult for Republicans to win next year’s elections.

Prognosis for Brazil: indefinite paralysis

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s political troubles are growing by the day following a March 15 anti-government protest that drew much bigger crowds than expected — about 1.5 million people nationwide — and new corruption charges against key members of her ruling Workers Party.

Obama’s sanctions may play into Maduro’s hand

The big question about the US sanctions on seven top Venezuelan officials accused of human rights violations is not whether they deserve them — of course they do — but whether the measure won’t give Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro a golden excuse to usurp even more powers and further clamp down on the opposition.

Latin America’s shameful silence on Venezuela

Judging from the shamefully weak response from Latin America’s regional organizations such as the OAS and Unasur to the arbitrary arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma and other opposition leaders in Venezuela, it’s hard not to conclude that they have become mutual protection societies for repressive regimes.

Oil-rich Venezuela’s miracle — record poverty

The recent history of oil-rich Venezuela should be taught in universities around the world as a textbook case of an economic miracle in reverse: despite having benefited from the biggest oil boom in recent history, the country has managed to be poorer.

Ex-leaders can play a big role in Venezuela

The recent visit by three former Latin American leaders to Venezuela has not only helped draw attention to their assertion that the region’s democracies have “abandoned” Venezuela, but has shown that former presidents can play a larger-than-expected role in pushing for democracy in Latin America.

Prosecutor tied Iran’s leader to 1994 bombing

Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman made headlines before his mysterious death last weekend by accusing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of trying to cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, but there was another — more important — leader who was at the centre of the deceased prosecutor’s probe: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

Many Latin leaders reacted weakly to Paris terror

The official reaction of Venezuela, Argentina, Ecua-dor and several other Latin American countries to the Islamic radicals terrorist attack against the French magazine Charlie Hebdo was not only weak, but shameful; they condemned the bloodshed but not its intention to silence the press.

Latin America’s innovation tasks for 2015

Here are a few little-noticed actions that experts agree Latin American countries should take in 2015 to improve their innovation, science, technology and education systems, which are rated very poorly in international rankings and are key to their economic future.

Latin America 2015: A leaderless region

The start of 2015 finds Latin America turned into a leaderless region, in which the countries with the biggest political clout in recent years — Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico — have been significantly weakened by domestic troubles.