Brazil's runoff elections have piqued the interest of on-lookers in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte in the past week. Both cities are hubs for business and travel in Brazil, with major extractive industries and tech sector companies based there, as well as being the second and fourth richest (GDP) cities in Brazil, respectively.
Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, has faced mounting criticism for his handling of recent democratic crises in Latin America. In particular, people have called Almagro’s approach to Venezuela hypocritical, given his lack of condemnation for the “soft-coup” in Brazil. However, Almagro’s handling of these democratic crises highlights the predicament facing the OAS when addressing threats to democracy in the 21st century. Although the challenges are evolving, the institutional tools for addressing them have not.
Eduardo's Cunha's preventive arrest represents a potential problem for the Temer Government and the Brazilian political system as a whole. In the past week, plea deals involving Temer's close confidants and cabinet members --Eliseu Padilha, Moreira Franco and Romero Jucá-- for receiving bribes from Odebretch were leaked. Cunha's arrest puts additional pressure on these key government members, who Cunha now views as political enemies responsible for his downfall.
The FARC leadership expressed sincere gratitude to Venezuela’s government for the success of recent peace negotiations. In reality, it is Venezuela’s government which should be thanking the FARC. The extended peace negotiations are a critical reason why Colombia specifically, and Latin America in general, has been reluctant to more forcefully denounce abuses of human rights and democratic values in Venezuela.
Rio's security situation took a turn for the worse this year as the state government’s funding ran out. However, the situation improved visibly in July, as federal forces began to enter the city and state coffers got an infusion of federal funds. The money temporarily saved the state government, which used it to pay police salaries. From Marines to Federal Highway Police, patrols and reconnaissance began around 15 July 2016. Additionally, the Military Police and organized criminal groups arrived at an unspoken agreement to stop violence in return for allowing drugs sales to go unmolested by law enforcement. As it is, the city will never be as safe as it will be in the next month and a half during the Olympic Games. The city and country will likely surprise observers with how well they pull off the high profile event.
Costa Rica’s late nomination of Christiana Figueres to be UN Secretary General reshuffled the deck both in Latin America and globally. Many UN insiders were watching the candidacy of Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, a favorite due to her closeness to current UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Her candidacy was considered the strongest from outside of Eastern Europe, which is the most likely region to receive the position. Malcorra even moderated her country’s position on Venezuela at the OAS to prevent a veto at the UN Security Council from Russia or China, two allies of President Maduro.
A slew of over-reaching analyses have been written about the impact of Brexit on Latin America specifically and on emerging markets in general. While the UK’s decision to leave the EU certainly impacts the region in a limited fashion, Latin American governments have taken note of the media attention and are prepared to make Brexit a great scapegoat for their ongoing economic problems for at least the next quarter. Mexico announced pre-planned budget cuts, including some controversial cuts in education, the day the UK voted to leave. Argentine officials are happy Brexit artificially weakened the peso. At least one official in Venezuela made the ridiculous suggestion that Brexit was part of the economic plot against the Maduro government. Expect to see additional Latin American governments in the coming weeks point their fingers at the UK and Europe.
After leaked tapes and now a potential arrest order, Brazil Senate leader Renan Calheiros might be forced out of his job before the impeachment vote on President Rousseff can occur. Calheiros was instrumental in directing the Senate’s impeachment proceedings in an apparently impartial way, without the theatrics of the Lower House. As such, Calheiros has pushed back against speeding up Senate proceedings and limited Senators arguments on impeachment to pertinent matters. It is questionable whether this is good for Dilma Rousseff.
Despite Congressional support for the interim President, Michel Temer is experiencing extreme difficulty in consolidating his power after nearly month at the helm. On average, Temer is losing one minister per week due to public or internal pressure that ranges from ministerial appointees failing to take over because of a lack of employee acceptance to being compromised by revealing wiretaps. Southern Pulse’s experts explore Temer’s challenges and struggles.
Outside of a very small group of governments including El Salvador, nearly the entire hemisphere has decided to ignore Brazil’s change of government, some eagerly and others reluctantly, the administration of Michel Temer in Brazil. While certain media, including Venezuelan-backed Telesur, have tried to portray the Temer administration as a U.S. plot, in reality, most of the hemisphere is de-facto accepting the interim president.