Pope Francis has turned out to be a politically active pontiff who has taken a high-profile role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, Venezuela and other parts of the world -- except in his native Argentina

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At a meeting with a group of prominent economists recently, I heard something I hadn't heard in more than a decade from any serious person -- that Argentina is on the verge of an economic boom

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Cuba's first major independent newspaper in more than five decades was quickly blocked within Cuba, but the big question is for how long the country's regime will be able to maintain its monopoly on the news media

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One of the biggest questions among Latin America watchers these days is whether - as critics say - President Michelle Bachelet is taking Chile radically to the left, endangering its longtime reputation as the region's star economy

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Foreign Minister vehemently denies that Chile's new left-of-center government will distance itself from -- and in effect weaken -- the Alliance of the Pacific, the bloc of pro-free market countries made up of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile

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  • Coverage, analysis, photo and video coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup from Brazil

  • Colombia's opposition candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga says one of his first foreign policy priorities, if elected, would be to demand enforcement of a regional treaty to restore democracy and fundamental freedoms in Venezuela

  • When I interviewed Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, one of the things that most struck me was his claim that if his peace negotiations with the FARC guerrillas succeed, Colombia will grow at more than 7 percent a year

  • In Uruguay, you have to pay a luxury tax to buy bottled water, beer or cigarettes. But if you want to smoke a joint under the country's new marijuana legalization law, critics say there's good news for you - there won't be any such tax on pot

  • Granted, the world needs to find new ways to protect itself from any government intrusion. But, just as important, countries in Latin America should be spending more of their energies into updating their Internet technologies

  • Seeking to calm anxiety in business circles, Costa Rica's President-elect Luis Guillermo Solis says he won't join the ALBA bloc of radical leftist countries, and that he sees himself as a 'moderate' who is not unlike many recent European and U.S. leaders

  • If you think that Latin America is doomed to remain behind in science, technology and innovation - as one could conclude from the latest international rankings of patents of new inventions - you should meet Luis Von Ahn

  • There are many ways to predict which countries will prosper the most and which the least, but one of the most revealing ones is how many applications for patents of new inventions were filed. Latin American countries are filing very few patent applications

  • When Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Moscow is seeking to establish a military presence in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, many of us dismissed it as a private comment by a top official who may have had one vodka too many

  • A poll showing that Enrique Penalosa could defeat President Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia's upcoming presidential election has shaken that country, and says a lot about Colombia's fatigue with its traditional political class

  • Chilean President Michelle Bachelet may turn out to be a better president than her predecessor Sebastian Pinera, but many pro-democracy activists in Latin America may well come to miss his recent views on Venezuela, Cuba and other authoritarian regimes

  • Mexico got its man. Now the question is whether it can keep him. The trophy is Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel. Mexican Marines arrested him in the port city of Mazatlan, in a beachfront condo -- reportedly without a shot fired

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's disastrous government is in much bigger trouble than most people think, not because of the student protests, but by a 56 percent annual inflation rate - the world's highest - that may soon turn his country ungovernable

  • Some conservative members of Congress are asking Obama to impose economic sanctions on Venezuela, starting with a 10 percent cut in U.S. oil imports. But that would be a bad idea. There are much smarter things that the U.S. government could do

  • Dear President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, Since I have repeatedly requested an interview with you, but have never received an answer, I respectfully submit 10 questions to you in hopes that you will be so kind as to respond

  • The recent capture of the world's biggest drug kingpin, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was heralded across the world as a major triumph, but the fact that it was carried out by the Mexican navy should make us skeptical about its significance

  • Chilean President Sebastian Pinera leaves with high popularity and one of the best economic records in Latin America. I was curious to know what was his recipe, and why did the opposition win the recent elections by a landslide

  • A new poll showing that a majority of Miamians support a normalization of U.S. ties with Cuba has drawn a lot of excitement, as many pundits predict that the survey will have a big impact on U.S. policy toward Cuba. Unfortunately, I don't share their optimism

  • When I interviewed the IMF's Alejandro Werner, he didn't mince words about Venezuela descending into even greater economic chaos. He said there is a 'high' probability that Venezuela, which already has the world's highest inflation rate, will see even higher rates

  • A joke making the rounds on the Internet says that if Argentina were a celebrity, it would be Justin Bieber - a rich, spoiled, irresponsible teenager, who always repeats the same mistakes, and always blames others for them

  • The summit of Latin American leaders in Cuba was a textbook case of political tourism and empty pledges, but something very good may have come out of it - saving the four-country Pacific Alliance trade bloc

  • A joke making the rounds in Latin American business circles says Brazil is looking increasingly like Argentina, Argentina is looking increasingly like Venezuela, and Venezuela is looking increasingly like Zimbabwe. Are things really going that bad?

  • Some of the best-known international institutions have just released their economic forecasts for Latin America in 2014, and most of them agree that this will be a better year than 2013 in the region. The big question is whether they aren't too optimistic

  • The arrest of Los Zetas leader Miguel 'Z-40' Trevino Morales marks the most significant capture involving a Mexican organized crime leader since 2008. Trevino's arrest could change Mexico's criminal landscape substantially if Los Zetas begin to unravel in his absence

  • Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's approach to combating Mexican drug cartels has been a much-discussed topic since well before he was elected. Mexico is taking a more holistic approach to the cartel problem but will not abandon the use of force against cartels

  • An amendment to a standing water treaty between the United States and Mexico has received publicity the past six months as an example of progress in water sharing agreements. But the amendment is a glimpse into ongoing mismanagement of the Colorado River on the U.S. side

  • Argentina and Uruguay may be tapped by FIFA to co-host the 2030 World Cup in celebration of the FIFA tournament's centenary

  • It's no wonder that protesters in Brazil held signs reading 'more education, less soccer,' or that there are constant teacher strikes in Argentina, Chile, Venezuela and Mexico - Latin American schoolteachers are among the most miserably paid in the world

  • By now, many people know Honduras is a violent and desperately poor Central American state. But, many people may not realize that the United States virtually created Honduras and plays an important role in maintaining the failed state that the country is today

  • Nicaragua's $40 billion deal with a Chinese company to build a trans-oceanic waterway that will compete with the Panama Canal will either be Latin America's most important economic project in more than a century or the biggest government scam in the region's history

  • As Argentine-born Pope Francis nears his first 100 days in office, there is little question that he has brought about a change in style at the Vatican with his daily gestures of humility. But there are also signs that he may bring about a change in substance

  • The exodus of young Latin American entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley and other U.S. technology centers may soon become a two-way street as growing numbers of American techies are heading south to benefit from generous aid packages for high-tech startups

  • Something very unusual happened at the OAS annual foreign ministers' meeting: the United States and Mexico won a diplomatic victory over authoritarian populist governments that wanted a free hand to suppress human rights monitors and critical media

  • Latin American presidents who support decriminalization of marijuana won a big diplomatic victory in recent days when the 34-country Organization of American States issued a report that considers that option as one of several policies that might help reduce the region's drug-related violence

  • The highly respected Nature Scientific Reports journal has just published a map of the world's leading science cities, and it looks pretty bad for emerging countries: It shows the planet's northern hemisphere full of lights, and the south almost solidly dark

  • The most interesting thing about China's new President Xi Jinping's first official trip to Latin America was that he did not visit Cuba, Venezuela or any other of China's political allies in the region - which would have received a huge propaganda boost

  • The State Department releases a report indicating which countries the United States considers 'State Sponsors of Terrorism.' Currently the list consists of four countries: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Cuba remains on its list. It's a serious mistake

  • With a post-Castro Era looming on the horizon, the United States should muster the political will to prepare for February 2018, when neither Fidel nor Raul Castro will remain at the helm of the Cuban state

  • Mexican cartels have followed a trend of fracturing into regional crime networks for more than two decades. This trend toward polarization, with the cartel landscape largely split between the Sinaloa Federation and Los Zetas, has been reversed

  • U.S. - Mexican relations are strategically important to both countries, and Mexico's period of transition has created opportunities to reshape the partnership. The Pena Nieto administration is working with Washington to center primarily on mutual economic possibility

  • While media coverage of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's inauguration centered on the contested April 14 election results, a dramatic escalation of government human rights violations since the election has gone virtually unnoticed

  • What a pleasant surprise! Mexico, whose government routinely supports human rights violators throughout the region, played a key role in thwarting an effort by a group of countries to weaken the region's most important human rights commission

  • Brazil will have to stop being an inward-looking giant. Brazil can't keep relying on its domestic consumption either, nor on ever-rising commodity prices. If it doesn't cease being a self-absorbed giant, it risks becoming a once-emerging power

  • After decades of unsuccessful efforts to modernize its public education system, President Nieto's government arrested almighty teachers' union leader Elba Esther Gordillo and - perhaps more important - signed a constitutional amendment that will allow key education reforms

  • NAFTA was touted as the cure for Mexico's economic 'backwardness.' Promoters argued that the trilateral trade agreement would dig Mexico out of its economic rut and modernize it along the lines of its mighty neighbor, the United States

  • When Venezuela's opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski says the April 14 presidential election will be a 'David versus Goliath' fight, in which the government's candidate will have a formidable advantage, he's not kidding

  • What scared the United States most about Chavez was not his failures or idiosyncrasies. It was his success. So, what happens next? Venezuela held an emotional funeral on March 8 and is planning for April elections

  • 'Hugo Chavez's Rotten Legacy' bequeathed by The Economist offers many sloppy factual errors regarding the Venezuelan President. In its shamelessly ideologized bushwacking, Chavez is presented as an anti-democratic, autocratic, and anti-private business zealot

  • President Barack Obama's vow in his State of the Union address to seek free trade deals with Asia and Europe has raised a thorny question south of the U.S. border: Will Latin America find a place in the new global economy of giant trade blocs?

  • A new study on corruption in Latin America contains some alarming figures -- an average of about 20 percent of the region's people say they have been asked to pay a bribe by a policeman or another public official in the past year

  • After the election of Argentine Pope Francis, the euphoria over his designation - or 'Francismania' - has unleashed a wave of Catholic fervor in Argentina. But there is a growing debate over whether it will help or hurt this country's leftist-populist government

  • In a courtroom, a gray-haired man sits passively through the trial of the century for Guatemala. At 86, the former dictator Efrain Rios Montt has escaped this criminal scrutiny for decades. Now, he stands accused of genocide and crimes against humanity

  • The fact that the Associated Press news agency decided to ban the term 'illegal immigrant' recently is a big victory for fairness in journalism, but there are other terms used daily in the media that should be revised as well

  • A chess piece has fallen in Latin America. The road to prosperity and peace for the citizens of many countries -- probably even yours -- runs through the recent death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and a counterintuitive deal between two nations

  • One of the biggest questions about Pope Francis is whether he will be a politically activist pontiff who - much as he has done in Argentina - will be a thorn in the side of leftist-populist governments throughout Latin America

  • The Argentine-British dispute over the Falkland/Malvinas islands is once again heating up, and the latest events point at a new diplomatic setback for Argentina's legitimate claims over the South Atlantic islands

  • It sounds like a joke, but it isn't: Soon, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States -- an organization that lists promoting democracy among its top goals -- will swear-in Cuban dictator Raul Castro as its new chairman

  • Defying warnings against going against the constitution by delaying inauguration, the Venezuelan government announced that Chavez would take oath of office before the Supreme Court at a later date

  • The 95-point political agreement signed by Mexico's three biggest political parties may have a positive impact on Mexico, and could teach a lesson of civility to the U.S. Congress as it continues fighting over how to avert a fiscal cliff

  • One of the most interesting things about the latest 174-country ranking of world corruption released recently was that Barbados, Chile and Uruguay ranked alongside the United States among the world's 20 most honest countries

  • If President Barack Obama appoints John Kerry as secretary of state to replace Hillary Clinton when he starts his second term next month, as some administration officials anticipate, you may see a somewhat greater U.S. focus on Latin American affairs

  • Things are not going well for Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Barely a week goes by in which she doesn't do something that raises questions about her political wisdom and emotional stability

  • How will the United States and Latin American governments respond to the Falklands Islands referendum?

  • As Venezuelans anxiously awaited news from ailing President Hugo Chavez and his ministers in Cuba in recent days, I received a tweet that stated, 'This is the first case in history where a country subsidizes another, and is dominated by the latter'

  • Retired Col. Cesar Adan Rosales Batres, a veteran of the elite Kaibil commandos of the Guatemalan Army, is a wanted war criminal and a fugitive with an Interpol warrant on his head

  • There are good reasons to be cynical about the return of the PRI in Mexico. Even so, when it comes to human rights in Mexico, there's plenty of room for improvement

  • New Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will have a big advantage over his two most recent predecessors -- he's lucky. Pena Nieto is starting his six-year-term under highly favorable economic and political conditions

  • Venezuela's Leftist President Hugo Chavez has designated Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his heir shortly after he confirmed the relapse of his cancer in a speech on national television

  • In 2013, violence in Mexico likely will remain a significant threat. Overall levels of violence decreased during 2011, but cartel operations and competition continued to afflict several regions of Mexico throughout 2012

  • The enormous profits from the cocaine trade have not only motivated much of the cartels' global expansion, but have also financed it

  • French movie star Gerard Depardieu made the wrong choice by seeking Belgian and Russian citizenship to avoid paying higher taxes in France. He should have moved to Mexico

  • There are an estimated 244,000 Venezuelans living in the United States, up from about 91,000 in 2000, a year after Chavez took office. Perhaps more interestingly, a majority of these Venezuelans are highly educated

  • The guessing game about President Barack Obama's second-term Cabinet has already started, and one of the biggest questions is who will replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and how that will affect U.S. foreign policy

  • In most Latin American countries, companies complain about the shortage of well-trained engineers. And the experience of China, India, Taiwan, and other Asian countries shows that producing large numbers of engineers pays off

  • Candidates frequently aspire to institute particular policies when elected, but once in office, presidents often find that their policy choices are heavily constrained by outside forces. This concept holds true for the president of Mexico

  • We must give credit to populist leaders in Latin America for doing a masterful brainwashing job -- they have somehow convinced millions that there is a huge world capitalist media conspiracy out there

  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos' peace negotiations with his country's FARC Marxist guerrillas could have widespread international repercussions

  • A recent Peruvian Supreme Court decision on a death squad is a setback for human rights in the country

  • As the European financial crisis intensifies, Spanish corporations have exhibited a rather bold economic game plan in the Latin American market

  • Judging by the vast street protests against his election, Mexicans aren't buying their new president-elect's claims to reform

  • With financial crises spreading across the globe, lessons from Uruguay and Argentina appear paramount in formulating an alternative method for recession-recovery economics

  • President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto is likely to step up Mexico's activism in Latin American affairs, where it has been completely overshadowed by Brazil in recent years

  • Excuse my impertinence, but Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and several other Latin American countries deserve much of the blame for the recent forced exit of former Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo

  • Over the past thirteen years the number of crimes in Venezuela has grown at an astounding rate, making Venezuela one of the most violent and dangerous places in the world

  • With virtually all polls showing that candidate Enrique Pena Nieto is likely to win the July 1 elections, the big question is whether his victory would mean a return to Mexico's corruption-ridden, authoritarian ways of the past

  • The biggest economic bonanza in Argentina's recent history has suddenly turned into a sharp downturn, and optimism has given way to general anxiety, if not panic

  • The United States must stop supporting the perverse Colombian status quo that lies at the heart of the country's prolonged civil war

  • Exerting control over natural resources is nothing new in Bolivia. However, President Morales' nationalization policy appears to be just another component of the populist approach

  • Latin America's response to the massacre in the Syrian town of Houla has been, with a few exceptions, shockingly tame for a region that has suffered gross human rights violations in the past

  • All politicians lie, but the presidents of Bolivia and Ecuador were so off the mark when they asked the OAS to effectively kill its Human Rights Commission that one can only wonder

  • Residents of one Bahian quilombo clashed with members of Brazil's military. The inhabitants of Quilombo do Rio do Macaco drew media attention as officials from the Aratu Naval Base encroached on the community's fringes

  • A U.S. operation sheds light on how drug traffickers are working north of the border and laundering the proceeds

  • There are solid grounds to believe that the new bloc will be different, among other things, because it starts out with a big advantage

  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership could add billions of dollars to the U.S. economy and solidify Washington's commitment to the Pacific. But if the Obama administration fails to calm critics of the deal, there is a growing possibility that it could collapse

  • The recent appointment of Venezuelan-born Rafael Reif as president of the MIT raises an interesting question: why are so many Latin Americans excelling in the world's best universities, but not in Latin America?

  • When I interviewed Colombian rock star Juanes about his work for social causes, I was struck by his insistence that Latin American countries pay more attention to pre-school education. I couldn't agree more

  • Honduras and El Salvador are already the world's two most violent countries. Guatemala is not too far behind

  • For the first time since the United States launched its 'war on drugs' four decades ago, there are signs that the forces supporting legalization or de-criminalization of illegal drugs are gaining momentum across the hemisphere

  • Mexican prison officials are being accused of helping 30 members of the violent Zetas drug cartel escape from a northern Mexico prison after they murdered dozens of their rivals

  • The Calderon administration reportedly plans to capture the leader of the Sinaloa cartel to gain a boost before the July presidential election, but it won't be easy

  • Panama is expected to be Latin America's economic star in 2012, with a 6.8 percent economic growth rate and no money woes in the foreseeable future. Yet, many Panamanians are sounding surprisingly gloomy about their future

  • Latin America should take a close look at the latest U.S. technological innovation figures: They show that, despite signs of progress in several countries, the gap between Asian and Latin American countries keeps widening

  • A key United Nations think tank that has been very bullish about Latin America in recent years is sounding a little less optimistic about the region's economies for 2012

  • President Obama's announcement that he will seek to create what may be the world's largest trading bloc along the Pacific rim raises an interesting question in this part of the world: whether we will see a de facto split of Latin America into a Pacific and Atlantic bloc

  • Despite big increases in tourism, some investments in mining and massive subsidies from Venezuela, Cuba's economy remains in the doldrums. The main constraint slowing the Cuban economy is not U.S. trade sanctions, but Cuba's own outdated economic model

  • Like in every election season, when legislators compete to make headlines, there are some bizarre ideas being discussed in the U.S. Congress these days

  • Although Chile boasts one of Latin America's most stable economies, the economic inequality amidst Chile's growing affluence has been a significant challenge for the well-reputed Andean nation

  • The Cuban government is encouraging the creation of small businesses and private farming. More than 180,000 'self-employment' licenses have been issued since 2010, and the government has turned over four million acres of land to 143,000 private farmers since 2008

  • Central America is experiencing increasing levels of crime and the prospect of heightened competition from Mexican drug cartels in its territory. The institutional weakness and security vulnerabilities of Guatemala and other Central American states mean that combating these trends will require significant help, most likely from the United States

  • Latin America analyst Karen Hooper discusses the killing of FARC leader Alfonso Cano and explains how the violence in Colombia will likely continue

  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is again launching accusations of wrongdoing against the United States after he says his navy chased a foreign nuclear submarine away from Venezuela's coast

  • The online activist collective Anonymous posted a message on the Internet saying it would continue its campaign against Mexican criminal cartels and their government supporters despite the risks

  • The Pew Hispanic Center recently published a report on the growing presence of child poverty in the United States. The child poverty rate of the Hispanic population has come to exceed that of both the black and the white populations

  • President Rafael Correa may remain Ecuador's dominant figure today, but deep fissures have developed among his political supporters. At the same time, his opposition, though relatively weak, continues to gain strength

  • Brazil has been making great strides toward securing a prosperous future, but one of its recent actions has centered on resolving a troubling aspect of the country's past. On October 27, state officials announced a plan to establish a truth and reconciliation commission that will investigate crimes against humanity from 1946 to 1988

  • Endemic corruption in Panama's government threatens to jeopardize the recently enacted free trade agreement with the United States and Panama's economic strength

  • With two years to go before the World Cup in Brazil, already people are questioning the massive evictions caused by the Cup's enormous infrastructure projects and the legal privileges that must be conceded to the all-powerful FIFA

  • Mexico's interior secretary called the latest U.S. State Department travel warning for Mexico 'ridiculous'

  • Latin America rarely comes up as a major issue in U.S. presidential races, but this time it will: There are growing signs that Iran's rising presence in the region will become a contentious election topic

  • It's no big secret that the United States has lost some economic and political clout in Latin America over the past decade, but United Nations economic projections for 2020 should set off alarm bells

  • It is past time to change our policy toward Cuba. For over 50 years, the United States has been obsessed with the Cuba of Fidel Castro's time. It is inappropriate for the Cuba of today

  • Hugo Chavez, the peacock president of Venezuela, called President Obama a 'clown,' and 'an embarrassment.' My suggestion, President Chavez: If you want to find an embarrassing clown, look in the mirror

  • New surveillance equipment and weapons being deployed along the U.S. border with Mexico are prompting some Mexicans to complain that U.S. law enforcement is becoming too military

  • A new United Nations report has good news for Latin America: it says that poverty levels in the region have dropped to their lowest levels in 20 years. But are the U.N. figures about Latin America as great as they sound?

  • Attitudes toward democracy are on the decline in Latin America, and U.S. foreign policy isn't helping

  • The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was officially launched at a summit attended by most of the region's heads of state. The new group aims to work on economic and political integration, as well as to adopt joint stands in global affairs, without the presence of the United States or Europe

  • After the agreement with Panama was passed, President Martinelli spoke of 'fortifying a great and historic friendship between Americans and Panamanians.' Contributing familiar political hyperbole, he diverted attention from the crucial issue of corruption in Panama

  • Mexico's attorney general moved into a political hot seat by asking the U.S. government to extradite six American citizens suspected of smuggling guns during Operation Fast and Furious

  • The president of Colombia and Mexico's former foreign minister suggested that legalizing some recreational drugs might be the only way to stop the violence and smuggling associated with drug cartels

  • A federal judge's decision this week to block part of a tough Alabama law against illegal immigration is casting doubt on whether the law will survive a court challenge

  • In the new crisis-ridden global economy, free trade agreements are no longer what they used to be. In the past, when the U.S. economy was growing fast, gaining preferential access to the U.S. market was a make-or-break deal for countries like Colombia or Panama.

  • Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was re-elected by one of the widest margins in the country's history. Sra. de Kirchner obtained fifty-four percent of the votes while her challenger, socialist Hermes Binner, acquired just seventeen percent

  • Mexican government officials are again concerned that U.S. law enforcement agencies might have trampled their sovereignty by infiltrating drug cartels

  • Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) became the law of the land, millions of Mexicans have joined the ranks of the hungry. Malnutrition is highest among the country's farm families, who used to produce enough food to feed the nation

  • Rethinking Mexico's relationship with the United States is an urgent priority, according to leading Mexican politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

  • Domestic production of marijuana and opium poppy in Mexico are at high levels because of the deployment by the government of soldiers to urban areas to fight criminal gangs

  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's announcement that he will undergo more cancer surgery is raising the possibility for a turnaround in relations with the United States

  • Soon after Ricardo Martinelli became president of Panama, he began championing a distinctive no-holds-barred style. Despite these political antics, the president's ultimate objective was to overhaul the Endara framework

  • The appointment of retired military officers to public security leadership positions over the past three months is being seen by many as a serious challenge to democracy in El Salvador

  • It's hard to believe that this would happen today in a largely democratic region, but the beginning of 2012 finds much of Latin America suffering the worst wave of press censorship since the rightist military dictatorships of the 1970s

  • Mexican soldiers arrested the alleged financial manager of the deadly Sinaloa drug cartel. The man, Jose Sanchez Villalobos, also is wanted in the United States on cocaine trafficking charges

  • Mitt Romney will have a big problem if he clinches the Republican nomination: Hispanic voters

  • Every year brings about changes, but 2012 is likely to be an especially eventful one in the Americas: there will be elections in the United States, Mexico and Venezuela, as well as other news events that could change the political map

  • This time exactly 10 years ago, in December 2001, Argentina was sinking under the weight of its debts and hardly anyone was watching. In Argentina, you could feel the relentless slide towards catastrophe

  • Is a superpower confrontation over the Falkland islands a real possibility?

  • Finally, there is a voice of reason on immigration among the front-runners for the Republican nomination, who until recently seemed to be competing with one another to see who could take the craziest stand against Hispanic immigrants

  • A new report on press freedoms worldwide contains a chilling figure: Only 2 percent of Latin Americans live in countries with a free press. But I wonder whether the report paints an accurate picture of what's going on in the region

  • To believe that capitalism and the United States are in an inexorable decline as Venezuela's ruling party states and a surprising number of Latin Americans believe, flies in the face of reality. In fact, the opposite is true

  • When I watched Peruvian Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa arrive in Venezuela to lend support to student protests of that country's authoritarian government, I couldn't help thinking that he's one of the most courageous intellectuals I've ever met

  • What's most interesting about the World Bank and International Monetary Fund economic projections is not that they forecast a slower-than-expected growth in Latin America for 2014 - we already knew that - but that they foresee a rebound in 2015 and 2016

  • First, Cubans would receive text messages about baseball and music. Then, one day -- bam! -- they would learn via cell phone that they'd been living in a dictatorship for over half a century and would realize that it was time to overthrow the regime

  • A former professor of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has just published a report on Venezuela's political crisis, and his conclusions are disquieting - he says the most likely scenario in that country is a military coup

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won a diplomatic victory by defeating a U.S.-backed proposal that would have suggested an outside mediation to end Venezuela's political crisis. But Maduro's victory could be short-lived

  • There are many theories about why Mexico is cozying up to Cuba's dictatorship and looking the other way as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro brutally represses street demonstrations, but I think the most credible one can be summed up in one word - fear

  • Nearly two thirds of humanity remains offline, that is more than 4 billion people. The internet is a powerful enabler of social and economic progress and everyone deserves to be connected. It is the responsibility of the technology industry to make this happen

  • Stratfor analysts Karen Hooper and Rodger Baker discuss how China views Latin America as a strategic investment opportunity

  • Argentine President, Cristina Fernandez is reversing some of the populist policies that defined her first six years in power and will have little choice but to stick to the new, more pragmatic path

  • Many working-class residents of West Caracas see Venezuela's protests as part of a power grab by the country's elites

  • Facing hyperinflation and shortages of necessities like toilet paper, Venezuelans are spilling into the streets, pleading for Captain America to rescue them from their own chronically poor voting choices. Sorry, amigos, but it's not America's problem

  • Latin America is one of the world's regions where corporations and the wealthy donate the least. This is in part because there are no tax incentives to donate, and there is an expectation that the government should be in charge of taking care of the poor

  • The murder of a former Miss Venezuela and her husband is drawing world attention to the rise of crime in Venezuela, and leading many to wonder whether the crime epidemic is partly fueled by a government rhetoric that glorifies violence

  • It has been 20 years since Zapatista Indian rebels rose up in arms in southern Mexico. I would have never imagined that two decades later, Zapatista-controlled towns would be poorer than before

  • Nicaragua and China have come to an agreement allowing the construction of a new inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua. This won't just increase the flow of goods between China and the Americas. It will also usher China into the region as a major political force

  • Cubans have long been careful about what they say and where they say it. However, recent events suggest that Cubans might feel freer to speak out than they have in the past

  • For Latin American leaders, this year's UN general debate became a forum for widespread dissent and anger at U.S. policies that seek to control a hemisphere that has clear aspirations for greater independence

  • In Latin America, opposition to military intervention in Syria reflects the wariness of a region long beset with U.S. interventions of its own

  • The governments of Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico all called for developing more effective responses to drug trafficking based on promoting public health, respect for human rights, and harm reduction

  • Perhaps Secretary of State John Kerry's lack of attention to Latin America might not be so bad after all - it is moving Vice President Joe Biden to get more involved with the region, and may help turn U.S.-Latin American relations into a White House foreign policy priority

  • It has not been a smooth transition to a post-Chavez political landscape in Venezuela. After 14 years of a highly centralized presidency, it was inevitable that there would be a power vacuum, particularly given that Hugo Chavez was the leader of the ruling party

  • I've read with great attention President Barack Obama's article 'Improving our Partnership' in The Miami Herald on how to improve U.S. relations with Latin America. It was pretty disappointing

  • Forget all the headlines about immigration, security and drug issues during President Barack Obama's visit to Mexico: the most important (and least noticed) result of his trip may have dealt with an entirely different topic - student exchanges

  • Does Carter approve of the results of Venezuela's elections, which according to the pro-government National Electoral Council were won by Nicolas Maduro? Does he give credence to opposition leader Capriles' claims that the election had been stolen from him?

  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos may not have been hallucinating when he said that the Pacific Alliance - the bloc made up of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile - 'is the new economic and development engine of Latin America and the Caribbean'

  • One year after Argentina's nationalization of YPF, the country's biggest oil company, our forecasts have come true: the firm's energy production is falling, its debt is rising, and its board has just awarded itself a generous raise

  • The G-20 agreed to put new pressure on tax havens to lift their bank secrecy laws. The G-20 cited 14 nations, including Panama, Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago, as countries that don't meet international standards of tax information exchange

  • Judging from Republican House leaders' latest objections to the immigration reform bill, it looks like the Republican Party has not learned the lesson from its 2012 electoral defeat - and that they won't win a presidential election anytime soon

  • New economic projections from the World Bank and the United Nations show that Latin America countries will keep growing at moderate rates this year, except for the booming economies of Paraguay, Panama and Peru

  • In those Latin American countries that have decided to abandon neoliberalism in pursuit of social justice, there has been a change in the parameters of political debate in presidential electoral politics

  • Many people are surprised by Rafael Correa's sweeping victory in the Ecuadorean presidential election, despite massive corruption scandals and repression against the media and political opponents. But if you look closer, it shouldn't be surprising at all

  • Food shortages in Venezuela are reaching record levels, and many now have to lurk around behind grocery stores, hoping the merchant will open the back door and sell them corn flour, sugar, cooking oil, chicken for as much as double the state-set price

  • Venezuela's proclaimed president-elect Nicolas Maduro's stunning about face after publicly committing to a recount of the April 14 vote is hurting his own chances of serving his term with an aura of legitimacy, and raises growing questions about the entire election process

  • Peru, Chile and other countries have cut poverty rates while attracting investments and diversifying their exports, while Venezuela's free-spending populist fiesta has scared away investors and has left the country more oil-dependent than ever

  • Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles' impressive show of force -- despite an unfair election process in which his rival enjoyed all the advantages -- has turned official winner Nicolas Maduro into a politically weak president-elect

  • Beginning in the 1980s nearly all of Latin America began to take part in a great experiment, the adoption of neoliberal or capitalist free market economic policies. This policy orientation was built upon the belief that neoliberalism would bring growth

  • I couldn't help being surprised by the scornful reaction of many Mexicans to the growing consensus in the world media that this is 'Mexico's moment' in the global economy. There is a constellation of positive factors working in Mexico's favor

  • With record inflation and skyrocketing crime rates, Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro's best bet to win Venezuela's coming elections will be to campaign on late President Hugo Chavez's memory, and to raise tensions with Washington

  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's death will most likely mark the beginning of the end of Venezuela's political clout in Latin America, but his influence inside Venezuela is likely to last for many decades

  • The most interesting thing about Argentine Pope Francis may be not just that he's the first Latin American to head the Vatican, but also that he may become the Church's biggest champion of interfaith dialogue ever

  • A pope from Latin America brings to Rome an attunement to the nature of poverty. This is the social question of the moment. How far will Francis go to press his natural constituency on the right wing to establish a more just economic order?

  • In a book that is an absorbing mixture of memoir, reportage and investigation, Jonathan Katz tries to find out how the global relief effort backfired so badly in Haiti and what happened to the money raised

  • Argentina has crossed a line by making a deal with Iran to jointly investigate a 1994 terrorist attack against the AMIA Jewish community center, which according to Argentine prosecutors and Interpol was masterminded by top Iranian officials

  • President Obama's immigration plan calling for a huge increase in visas for foreign science and engineering graduates will pose a huge challenge for China, India and Latin America

  • House Republicans don't seem to get it. After getting pummeled by Hispanic voters in the 2012 election, they now want to create an underclass of 11 million people -- mostly Latinos -- by denying undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship

  • John Kerry's confirmation hearing was a perfect example of what's wrong with U.S. foreign policy -- it was 70 percent about the Middle East and South Central Asia, 25 percent about Russia and China, and 5 percent about Latin America

  • Latin America is probably one of the farthest things from President Barack Obama's mind, but there are several - largely domestic - reasons, during his second term, he may become the best U.S. president for the region in recent times

  • After decades of peace and economic development, why is the United States engaged in a major military buildup in Latin America? Why has the U.S. turned a blind eye to two successful, and one attempted, coups in the last three years?

  • Last March, two rival gangs met in a Salvadoran prison to forge an unlikely truce. Here's how this truce between the gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 led to a marked decrease in violence

  • The conventional wisdom is that Chavez's victory in Venezuela's elections will increase his influence in Latin America. But there are good reasons to think that Chavez's political momentum will be short lived

  • Ecuador's populist President Rafael Correa's show to protect Assange is not only part of his effort to repair his own image as a ruthless censor of the press, but is also part of his campaign to become a leader of Latin America's radical left

  • Policies that focus on suppressing drug flows are often ineffective in suppressing organized crime. Illicit economies exist in some form virtually everywhere

  • Chile's image as Latin America's star economy has been battered lately by images of violent student protests, but new economic data suggest that the so-called 'Chilean model' is still very much alive

  • We all know what conventional economists say about the future of Latin America: countries that pursue populist policies will go downhill, whereas countries that pursue 'responsible' economic policies will do great

  • A spirit of 'what is good for the USA is also good for Brazil' once defined Brazil's approach to foreign policy. Yet now Brazil is more aware of its power and influence

  • Conventional wisdom is that Venezuela was the big winner at the Mercosur summit when the country officially joined South America's trade bloc. But for me, the big winner was Brazil

  • China's interest in Latin America is a fairly new phenomenon that has developed with the past decade. Since April 2000, commercial ties between the two regions broadened and deepened

  • The removal of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo is the latest in a series of actions against progressive governments in Latin America

  • You have to give credit to Brazil for what it's doing to combat corruption and solve the worst political scandal in the country's recent history

  • Over time, North America will see two significant powers. In the short run, Mexico's traditional strategic problems will remain

  • It shouldn't come as a big surprise that most Latin American countries ranked toward the bottom of a new U.N. index of innovation

  • There is a real possibility that people in Uruguay will soon be able to buy marijuana legally from a state-regulated company that will be in charge of marketing and selling the drug

  • The recent elections in Mexico have created a youth-led movement for change

  • Despite the drug war's widespread violence and Mexico's besmirched image, the tourism industry has continued to perform in spite of the persistent violence

  • Mexico's president-elect Nieto maintains that there was no vote-buying in the contested vote, but told us that he would support putting behind bars any member of his own party found guilty of electoral fraud

  • If Mexico's president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto gets his way, there will be a major upgrade of the U.S.-Canada-Mexico free trade deal and a 're-adjustment' of the war on drugs

  • Few paid attention to a news item that should have raised eyebrows -- a new ranking of the world's best universities shows a near total absence of Latin American schools

  • If Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto's first tour abroad is any indication of his foreign policy, we won't lose much sleep: it's looking pretty much like Mexico's current foreign policy

  • There has been a lot of speculation that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will rig the vote count in the Venezuelan presidential elections

  • Colombia is widely regarded as the world's most dangerous place to be a trade union member

  • It's not unusual in Latin American politics for presidents to clash with their predecessors who once helped elect them, but the current feud between former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and President Juan Manuel Santos goes beyond anything I've seen in a long time

  • The agreement signed by Colombia and the United States may drive impoverished farmers to grow coca and strengthen FARC

  • A U.S. congressional proposal aimed at expelling Argentina's populist-leftist government from the G-20 group of the world's leading economies faces an uncertain future, not the least because it lacks significant support from unexpected quarters

  • Shortly after Mexican President Felipe Calderon ordered the military to deal with drug trafficking, the cartels began openly offering soldiers jobs

  • Mexico's attempt to clean up corruption may not be what it seems

  • It's not fair to blame Mexicans for portraying cartel operators as Robin Hoods when their police are often corrupt and their president's policies ineffective

  • A suffocated economy is the least of Honduras's concerns

  • Marco Rubio, the rising star of the Republican Party, is trying to rebrand himself from a right-wing Cuban-American politician to a center-right Hispanic one

  • Here's how can the U.S. government do a better job of stanching the flow of drug cartel money across the U.S.-Mexico border

  • Even a competent, well-paid and well-equipped police institution cannot stand alone in a culture unprepared to support it and help maintain its integrity

  • In July, Mexico will elect a new president. Whoever wins will need to address the foremost challenge confronting the country today: the battle against the drug cartels

  • When the recent Summit of the Americas in Colombia decided to commission a study on whether to decriminalize drugs, many thought that would be the end of it, and the whole thing would be quickly forgotten. Well, maybe not

  • Poor Mexico! So far from God and so near the United States. The words are attributed to Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, who governed for a 35-year period ending in 1911

  • Two new studies confirm what we have long suspected: Latin American companies cannot effectively compete in the world economy because their countries' educational systems are totally disconnected from reality

  • One thing seems clear: Argentina's government is pursuing the worse possible course to recover the British-controlled South Atlantic islands

  • Most UN resolutions matter little. This one was an exception. For a British government reeling from its failure to foresee the invasion, humiliated by the Argentine coup de main, it was a lifeline

  • Chile's support is crucial in the longstanding dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom

  • A new definition of bad governments is spreading fast on the internet: Ineptocracy

  • The presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile did a smart thing the other day, which could save Latin America a lot of time, money and insufferable speeches in the future: they held the region's first virtual summit

  • An official Cuban government newspaper accused the United States of encouraging the tragedy of Cuban exiles who flee on makeshift rafts and boats for the Florida coast, only to be lost at sea

  • The Communist Cuban government authorized the legal transfer of private property for the first time since the Castro regime took power in the late 1950s

  • People ask me where I go for a vacation. Europe is certainly my passion and the focus of my work, but Central America has long held a fascination for me

  • Mexicans want change, and Peña Nieto's offer of "responsible change" has more appeal than leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador's calls for social justice, which some fear would lead to a Venezuelan-styled radical populism

  • Mexico's elections will determine if current President Felipe Calderon's bloody strategy of targeting cartel leaders will endure

  • The oddest thing about Florida's new state law to punish companies that do business in Cuba is not that it is an election season gimmick to win Cuban-American votes. It's that it would actually help Cuba's dictatorship

  • The most significant story in Central America right now is also the most underreported

  • Women leaders do not by definition implement policies promoting women's rights

  • In recent years, a new threat has emerged: the mafia state. Across the globe, criminals have penetrated governments to an unprecedented degree

  • Latin American countries are forging a multi-polar world in which the U.S. looks increasingly out of touch

  • Argentina's nationalization of a renegade energy company evokes outrage in the international press

  • President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's decision to nationalize Argentina's biggest oil company has placed her nation in the camp of Latin America's radical populist countries

  • Brazil's magic moment as the world's most promising emerging market in the eyes of international economic elites is waning, and replaced by a wave of gloomy forecasts

  • Iran and other external security issues were left out of Summit of the Americas debate

  • When we talk about the violence that has left nearly 50,000 dead in Mexico over the past five years, we usually focus on Mexico's drug cartels, but it may be time to include the U.S. National Rifle Association cartel

  • Pope Benedict's visit to Cuba will not produce much change, but everybody -- the Pope, the Cuban military regime, dissidents and Cuban exiles -- can claim a semblance of victory from the high-profile event. The key question is who won the most

  • This year marks the 50th anniversary of Washington's embargo against Cuba. It is a grim reminder of the persistence of one of Washington's most egregious foreign policy blunders

  • Diplomatic niceties aside, there are several issues that are raising bilateral tensions between Brazil and the United States

  • Despite more than 47,000 deaths in drug-related violence over the past five years, Mexico is receiving record numbers of foreign tourists. How come?

  • Argentina once again attracted unwanted international attention following another disastrous commuter train crash that claimed 50 lives and injured more than 600 people

  • Caricatures of Cuba as intolerant of political expression may contain a kernel of truth, but they miss the richness of dissent in the daily life of Cuba's political culture

  • Brazil has been able to avoid a major setback from the global financial crisis, due largely to its burgeoning trade relationship with China

  • 'Birds of a feather flock together,' the old saying goes. So, too, do investors. Increasingly, talk is of a 'double-dip recession', 'Euro zone collapse' and the United States and Europe 'turning into Japan' -- that is, experiencing years of economic stagnation

  • If President Obama and Mitt Romney spend any time talking about Latin America during the campaign for the November elections, I can already see the thrust of their discussion -- who lost Latin America?

  • While the development of the Peruvian mining industry has generated robust growthy, it has also been the cause of considerable friction between the indigenous population and the federal government

  • The recent discovery of offshore oilfields in the Gulf of Mexico has given Havana new hopes of establishing rich deposits of its own, thereby decreasing Cuba's present dependence on foreign energy sources

  • A combined Honduras police-DEA raid apparently left innocents dead

  • The rising trade barriers that several Latin American countries, especially Brazil and Argentina, are erecting to protect their industries imports are causing growing concern in the hemisphere

  • This article examines the controversial issue of gun-control in Colombia, a country with high homicide rates

  • Four years after Latin America made headlines by becoming a world leader in giving out free laptops to millions of schoolchildren the first results are in, and they give some reasons for hope

  • Marco Rubio, Florida Republicans' golden politician, has served as the state's Junior Republican Senator. Born into a Cuban immigrant family, Rubio himself has weighed in with his opinion on the immigration reform issue

  • Two new studies confirm what we have long suspected: Latin American companies cannot effectively compete in the world economy because their countries' educational systems are totally disconnected from reality

  • One thing seems clear: Argentina's government is pursuing the worse possible course to recover the British-controlled South Atlantic islands

  • In an election year, presidential candidates spend a great deal of time bowing before the altar of the creaky Cuban embargo

  • To fully understand the Colombian government plan and its implications, it is helpful to examine the nature of Colombia's guerrilla groups and previous government counterinsurgency strategies

  • Mexico will affect America's destiny in coming decades more than any state or combination of states in the Middle East

  • Bolivian President Evo Morales announced that he would rescind the contract awarded to Brazilian company OAS to build a road through the Amazon rainforest

  • Regionalists need a reminder that development doesn't end politics and that contemporary Latin America has its own power dynamics

  • The U.S. State Department wasn't terribly smart when it rejected a demand by Latin American populist leaders that Cuba be invited to an April 14 summit

  • Chavez's admission that his cancer treatment will slow him down and the support for Henrique Capriles Radonski are two factors that are bound to have a big impact on the presidential race

  • With a little under a year remaining until the next U.S. presidential election, a coherent and sustainable area policy toward Latin America remains absent from the campaign literature and both parties' electoral strategies

  • What was most surprising about Nicaragua's election was not that President Daniel Ortega was reelected after a highly questionable electoral process, but that his victory got a seemingly unconditional blessing from 34-country Organization of American States chief Jose Miguel Insulza

  • Following the announcement that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has created two new Cabinet ministries it may be time to propose a new economic theory: that countries' economic development is inversely proportional to their number of ministers

  • While Mexico's bloody war against the drug cartels is making headlines worldwide, there is a little-known fact that is sounding alarm bells among U.S. and Latin American officials: Central America's drug-related violence is far worse than Mexico's

  • Condoleezza Rice, whose boss President George W. Bush vowed during the 2000 campaign to make Latin America a 'fundamental commitment' of his presidency, devotes only two of the 58 chapters of her memoir 'No Higher Honor' to the region. That's about 15 pages of the 766-page book, plus a few sporadic references here and there

  • For more than fifteen years, Mexico's lawmakers -- absurdly -- seemed to prefer to abolish the desire to eat rather than comply with international agreements on human rights signed by Mexico regarding the recognition of the right to food

  • A group of 46 high-profile Mexican politicians and academics from across the ideological spectrum shook this country recently with a daring proposal to end Mexico's political gridlock: forcing whomever is elected president in 2012 to form a coalition government

  • A fence along the U.S. border with Mexico illustrates a lack of understanding of the logistics and costs, the historical motivations driving U.S. immigration, and ignores a profound systemic change that must be achieved in order to address illegal immigration problems in a sustainable and cost efficient manner

  • In GOP primary politics, the U.S.- Mexico border fence is an immigration litmus test, but an apparently unhelpful one. Nevertheless, some 2012 candidates continue to find political capital in touting the fence

  • An Islamic terrorist tried to detonate explosives to destroy the American embassy in Mexico City last year, according to Mexican media reports this week

  • The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti has suppressed both electoral democracy and free speech in Haiti by organizing fraudulent elections and shutting down peaceful protests, which has helped to exclude Haiti's poor majority from participation in the electoral process

  • President Santos, by labeling illegally armed actors as 'delinquents' and 'criminals', marks a significant departure from the hardly nuanced dialogue of his predecessors. It foretells -- perhaps falsely, or at least somewhat optimistically -- the return of dialogue and the embracing of a political solution to Colombia's long-standing armed conflict

  • A Tweet I received after the death of Steve Jobs caught my attention. It said, 'In Spain, Jobs wouldn't have been able to do anything, because it's illegal to start a business in your garage, and nobody would give you a penny.' The comment raises the interesting questions of why there aren't more innovators such as Jobs in other parts of the world

  • The turmoil for reform sweeping most Middle Eastern oil producers is grabbing big headlines today, but that region may lose some of its economic clout in the future: there are signs that the Americas will replace the Middle East as the world's biggest oil-producing region