Tensions mount in Venezuela

On 30 July the Venezuelan government served a 60-day notice period on a distribution centre rented by companies including Nestlé
SA, PepsiCo. Inc and Empresas Polar SA.

El Salvador under siege as maras go on killing spree

El Salvador’s deteriorating public security situation is taking a sharp turn for the worse. In the course of 72 hours this week mara gang members murdered seven bus drivers and paralysed public transport in and around the capital San Salvador with an enforced strike, in order to ratchet up the pressure on the government led by President Salvador Sánchez Cerén. As the number of homicides has spiralled in recent months to levels not seen since the country’s brutal civil war (1980-1992), the government has refused to hold talks with the maras. It remains defiant. Sánchez Cerén is promising to pour more military on to the streets to support the police, while he and other senior officials in the ruling left-wing Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) are making increasingly wild claims of a multifaceted destabilisation campaign orchestrated by the main right-wing opposition Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (Arena).

Greece, seen from Latin America

The Greek financial crisis has been closely watched across Latin America, as the South European country has zigged and zagged between austerity and heterodoxy, between the Euro on one side and a possible Grexit and emergency revival of the Drachma on the other. Latin American politicians have claimed Greece proves them right – in sometimes-contradictory ways. And economists have argued over whether Greece could or should “do an Argentina” – in other worlds default on its debts, force the creditors to take a “haircut”, and enjoy a post-crisis surge in growth. Here, we try and pick our way through some of the arguments.

New effort to ‘de-escalate’ the conflict in Colombia

It is not yet a bilateral ceasefire ― more like a four-month dress rehearsal which for now is being described as a new effort to ‘de-escalate’ the conflict. The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc) took the first step by announcing a new one-month unilateral ceasefire, soon afterwards extended to four months. The government led by President Juan Manuel Santos responded by once again ordering the suspension of bombing raids against Farc camps. In four months they will ‘appraise’ the situation. This appraisal will not only have to do with developments in the field but, more critically, how much they advance regarding ‘transitional justice’ ― in other words, whether the Farc leaders could end up serving time.

The meaning of El Chapo’s tunnel

It has been a hard story to avoid. Thousands and thousands of printed words, headlines, video and audio have been dedicated over the last few weeks in the international media to the tunnelling escape from a Mexican high security prison by Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Loera Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

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