Brazil’s new foreign policy is promising

Judging from what Brazil Foreign Minister Jose Serra suggested in an interview, Latin America’s biggest country will make a major change in its foreign policy: It will no longer be an unconditional supporter and ideological ally of Cuba, Venezuela, and other authoritarian regimes.

Peru deals new blow to Latin America’s left

Here’s what’s most remarkable about Peru’s April 10 first-round election, which will result in a June 5 runoff vote between Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski: Nearly 80 per cent of the people voted against a Venezuelan-like leftist-populist model.

Are most Latin American elections rigged?

The Panama Papers, a massive leak of 11.5 million documents from a Panamanian law firm that expose the ultimate owners of thousands of shell companies, have drawn a lot of public attention in recent weeks, but I’m just as intrigued by the lesser-known Bogota Papers.

Brazil’s crisis shows new regional reality

There’s a little-noticed development that says a lot about the rapid demise of Latin America’s leftist populist bloc: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s government is falling apart, and none of the region’s major diplomatic groups is coming to its rescue.

Obama’s tango with Latin America

President Obama charmed Argentines by dancing the tango during his visit to the South American country recently, but his trip may be remembered for something much more important: It may mark the start of a new cycle of much closer US-Latin American ties.

Obama’s impact in Cuba will be limited

  People will assess the impact of President Barack Obama’s historic trip to Cuba for years to come, but a long conversation with Cuba’s oldest and best-known human-rights leader shortly before the US president’s visit left me skeptical that there will be significant changes on the island anytime soon.

Brazil, from bad to worse

Brazil’s political and economic crisis has taken a new turn for the worse with the arrest of the ruling party’s star electoral strategist and presidential confidant Joao Santana, raising the possibility of an impeachment against President Dilma Rousseff or early elections.

Obama’s number one challenge in Cuba

It’s too soon to pass judgment on President Barack Obama’s decision to visit Cuba, but this much can be said: if he doesn’t hold an exclusive meeting with Cuba’s peaceful opposition leaders, his trip will help legitimize the longest-ruling dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.

The Pope’s chance to expose Trump

Pope Francis, who has made the plight of migrants one of the central themes of his papacy, should have no mercy with Republican hopeful Donald Trump when the pontiff visits Mexico in mid-February.

Latin America’s time bomb: the ‘ninis’

There was a lot of despair in Latin America about a new International Monetary Fund forecast showing that the region’s economy will shrink by 0.3 per cent in 2016, but that’s something that could be reversed relatively soon.

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.