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.
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.
With 367 votes in favor, the margin of the vote in Brazil’s lower house was well above the 342 votes needed to impeach President Dilma Rousseff and move the issue to the Senate. That total was padded by a number of defections by former allies of President Rousseff and former President Lula including four former cabinet ministers from Rousseff’s government. The PT has a long memory and the party is likely to throw resources at defeating at the people they view as traitors in the future.
The approval rating for Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa fell from 60 percent in January 2015 to 41 percent by December, as mentioned in La Hora on 29 December 2015. The “Hechos y Personajes 2015” poll by Cedatos also showed Correa is the personality most Ecuadorans would burn in effigy as part of the traditional year-end ritual. The ire against Correa also shows the pessimism of the three out of five respondents who feel the country is heading in the wrong direction. The poll concluded anti-government protests organized by opposition forces were the most important political news story of 2015. Aside from political strife, Correa faced a weakening economy resulting partly due to the strengthening U.S. dollar and plummeting earnings from oil sales. Yet, El Comercio reported on 31 December 2015 that Central Bank Director Diego Martinez said the Ecuadoran economy has not fallen into recession in 2015.