Brazil: Recession confirmed

On 31 August the national statistics institute (Ibge) confirmed that Brazil has slipped into technical recession, with a 0.6% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) contraction in real GDP in the three months ending in June.

Mexico launches stripped-down new police force

The long wait is over. Mexico’s new gendarmerie was finally launched this week, some 20 months after President Enrique Peña Nieto took office. The fact that Peña Nieto’s ambitious reform agenda has largely been carried out means that the focus will increasingly shift back onto the serious public security concerns he inherited and what he has managed to do to address them. It is far from clear that the gendarmerie will have a significant impact, still less enable the return to barracks of the military, whose prominent presence in the fight against organised crime was one of the fiercest criticisms directed by Peña Nieto at his predecessor Felipe Calderón (2006-2012).

Colombia: looking good but no room for error

President Juan Manuel Santos began his second four-year term in office on 7 August. He made some adjustments to his ministerial team, but re-confirmed Mauricio Cárdenas as his finance minister. Many business groups will applaud the decision: Colombia has kept strong market-friendly economic policies in place, and seems set to experience continuing real GDP growth of around 4%-5% per annum, coupled with low inflation (a combination that currently seems beyond the grasp of regional giants Brazil and Mexico). But looking at the economy from the perspective of the challenges posed by a possible future peace settlement shows that there is little room for complacency.

Rio police bring charges against planners of World Cup violence

When on the eve of the World Cup final the police in Rio de Janeiro arrested 28 people on charges of conspiring to commit acts of violence, there was instant uproar among rights advocacy groups and social organisations. The police were accused of acting without any solid evidence with the sole purpose of repressing social protests. Just over a week after the event, when the media gained access to the report on the police investigation, the picture had changed dramatically: either there was fabrication of evidence on a grand scale, or there had indeed been a substantial organised attempt to disrupt the event with violence.

Ollanta bounces back - but for how long?

President Ollanta Humala is bouncing back in the opinion polls. His approval rating has moved up for two months in a row. He may be benefiting from the popularity of his new interior minister, Daniel Urresti, and his new prime minister, Ana Jara. Analysts are unsure whether he is on a sustainable path of improvement, or just on a smooth section of Peru’s rollercoaster political cycle.

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