LatinNews Consulting

Colombia peace referendum campaign begins in earnest

On 30 August Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos presented the single question that is going to be put to the Colombian public on the ‘peace referendum’ in which it will have to chance to approve or reject the definitive peace deal that the government has reached with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc) guerrillas.

Farc deal sealed in Cuba but referendum challenge remains

“The day has come; we can finally say that everything is agreed,” Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos celebrated in an emotional televised address on 24 August. After three years and nine months of intense negotiations, stumbling blocks, interruptions, and threats of rupture, peace talks between the Santos administration and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc) concluded successfully in Cuba earlier that day. The final peace accord now goes to congress which will call a referendum. Santos said this would be held on 2 October. He insisted that it was up to the public to endorse “this historic accord putting an end to this long conflict”, but with recent opinion surveys suggesting serious fluctuations in support for the peace deal this is far from assured [WR-16-31].

Investment needed for recovery

In July the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) published its latest regional economic assessment. With countries behaving quite heterogeneously, it calculates that regional GDP will contract by 0.8% year-on-year in 2016, steeper than the 0.5% fall registered in 2015. Once again, the commission recommends that governments need to do more to promote both public and private sector investment to aid the recovery.

Islamic State considers Latin America

Fears that Islamic State (IS – also referred to as ISIS or Daesh) was seeking to target the Rio Olympic Games, and/or to become more active in Latin America and the Caribbean, were heightened in July when Brazilian police announced they had arrested ten suspects and issued two further arrest warrants for members of a local group calling itself Ansar al-Khilafah (Defenders of Sharia). Members of the group were said to have been trying to make contact with IS and to acquire weaponry. Although justice minister Alexandre Moraes described them as “absolute amateurs” who were “ill prepared” to launch an attack, the development focused attention on the security risk posed by IS activity in the region.

Peru’s new government gets the green light

Peru’s new prime minister, Fernando Zavala, passed his first important test with flying colours when the national congress voted in record numbers to approve the new cabinet on 19 August.

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