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.

US-Cuba thaw may rock Caribbean tourism

One of the big questions following President Barack Obama’s decision to significantly expand US tourism to Cuba will be how much it will affect other Caribbean tourism destinations such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica or Cancun.

Probably too soon to call Cuba policy change ‘historic’

While President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday that he will normalize relations with Cuba is the biggest diplomatic breakthrough with the island after six decades of hostilities, his speech may have been less “historic” than he portrayed it, according to numerous US congressional sources and Cuba experts.

Canal calamity looms in Nicaragua

Forget about the Deepwater Horizon. If Nicaragua’s $50 billion transoceanic canal scheduled to start construction on December 22 becomes a reality, it could be the world’s biggest environmental disaster in recent memory.

US colleges seeing more Latin Americans

Latin American programmes to send more students to US universities are beginning to bear fruit, even if the number of Latin American students in US higher education institutions remains way behind those of China, India, South Korea and even Vietnam.

DC marijuana vote will test ‘war on drugs’

Here’s the biggest irony of Tuesday’s mid-term elections: the US government will continue demanding that Mexico, Colombia and other countries fight the marijuana trade as part of its “war on drugs,” while Washington voters have just approved making pot legal in the US capital.

Brazil, US relations unlikely to warm

WASHINGTON – The big question among Brazil watchers in this capital is whether newly re-elected President Dilma Rousseff will improve her government’s ailing ties with the United States during her second term.