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.
Shortly after his inauguration in 2012, President Enrique Peña Nieto presented a packet of education reforms, which was later approved by both houses of Congress and deemed constitutional in 2013. However, the government has faced growing resistance to the implementation of the education reforms, especially in areas where teacher unions are particularly strong, like Oaxaca.
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 a large initial field has been culled, voters are unhappy with their choices. This is Peru, where voters will cast a second-round ballot for President on 5 June 2016.
Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, is running against technocrat Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK). So far, Keiko is running about 5 points ahead in the last May 2016 poll by Ipsos, despite ongoing investigations into money laundering and ties to drug trafficking organizations. On 19 May, Joaquín Ramírez, the Secretary General of Fujimori’s party, Fuerza Popular, stepped down amid revelations that he is being investigated for laundering money on behalf of Keiko.
Venezuela’s MUD is stuck in a bind. The president and ruling party’s approval ratings are way down while the leading opposition leaders and parties to President Maduro are relatively popular. But popularity doesn’t mean there is a checkmate move in sight. While the MUD is not yet willing to admit defeat, Maduro appears to have successfully blocked the chances for a recall referendum this year. This removes a key path to a democratic transition prior to the scheduled 2019 elections. The hemisphere is debating the ongoing negotiations and Democratic Charter at the OAS this week, but whatever the outcome of that debate, it doesn’t change the fact that a peaceful and democratic transition is unlikely in the short term.
Venezuela’s government has ended its two day workweek, a sign the electricity crisis is easing. Public sector employees will now return to work for half days on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of every week. Government officials declared victory. The extreme measures taken prevented Venezuela’s electricity grid from completely collapsing. However, that is a low bar for success.
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.