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Bolivia heads to the polls

On 26 March the official campaign period ahead of Bolivia’s regional and municipal elections formally closed.

Peru’s Humala faces threat of spiralling social conflicts

President Ollanta Humala is desperately trying to douse the flames of social conflict in some of Peru’s poorer regions. Two ‘indefinite strikes’ in a matter of weeks have raised concerns that latent social conflicts elsewhere could ignite and spread like wildfire. This is a disturbing prospect for the Humala administration, which is striving to boost foreign investment in extractive industries to drive Peru’s flagging economy. But with new laws relaxing regulations governing the extractive industries, streamlining environmental impact studies and fast-tracking permit approvals, there could be plenty more ‘indefinite strikes’ in the offing.

Economic storm clouds gather in Brazil

Things are not looking good for Latin America’s largest economy. To try and rebuild confidence, the government led by President Dilma Rousseff is obliged to tighten both fiscal and monetary policy, amid an adverse political situation dominated by the major corruption scandal at the state oil major Petrobras and an increasingly rebellious congress.

President Fernández says a Judicial Party has arisen, bent on destabilising her government

‘What is coming? A coup d’état. By whom? Cristina Fernández [...] On Sunday the President will tear up the constitution.’ This was the prediction made on 25 February by Elisa Carrió, leader of the Coalición Cívica ARI and aspirant to the vice-presidency. She was alluding to the President’s scheduled 1 March address to the legislative assembly (formed by both chambers of congress in joint session). Headliners in the media translated this as ‘Cristina plans an autogolpe’, using a term, literally ‘self-inflicted coup’, first applied to Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) when in 1992 he dissolved congress, dismissed the supreme court and suspended civil liberties.

Correa rides to Maduro’s rescue

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa is championing regional efforts to buttress the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. Correa has delivered the most strident criticism of the US for declaring Venezuela to be an “extraordinary threat to national security” and slapping sanctions on government officials in Caracas suspected of human rights abuses on 9 March. Correa rallied the region to declare full solidarity with the “democratically elected” government in Venezuela and to rebuke the US. While the perceived aggression of US foreign policy fell like manna from heaven for the beleaguered Maduro, it also serves Correa’s purposes. The radical Left is a tight brotherhood in Latin America, but there is also a domestic political rationale for Correa’s actions as he maintains that the opposition is coalescing in Ecuador and conspiring to destabilise his own government.

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