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Pressure grows on Guatemala’s Morales as three ministers quit

On 19 September, Guatemala’s ministers of security, Francisco Rivas; finance, Julio Héctor Estrada; and labour, Leticia Teleguario, all resigned.

Pope’s Colombia visit strengthens Santos legacy

Pope Francis provided important validation of the peace process pursued by President Juan Manuel Santos during a five-day visit to Colombia. The trip, the first by a pontiff to Colombia in 31 years despite the country having the seventh largest Catholic community in the world, appeared to put the seal on the peace accord with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc). The pope was careful to focus on post-conflict reconciliation rather than the accord per se but his visit will provide a boost for Santos’s political heirs and a setback for Senator Alvaro Uribe (president 2002-2010), the leader of the right-wing Centro Democrático (CD) which has made opposition to the peace process the cornerstone of its campaign ahead of presidential and congressional elections in May 2018.

Will privatisation kick-start the Brazilian economy?

The politically embattled government of President Michel Temer is turning to large-scale privatisation of public sector assets as a way of stimulating investment and growth. On 21August, the federal government announced that it would sell its stake in the power giant Eletrobras; two days later it said a further 57 state companies would also be put up for sale. While many investors and analysts have responded enthusiastically, opinions remain divided as to whether this will unleash the hoped-for economic rebound in Brazil.

The importance of following the money trail

Most criminal or terrorist enterprises need money. Increasingly, law enforcement is relying on following the money trail to try and combat illicit activity. A report published in August by the US-based Mexico Institute (part of the Wilson Centre in Washington) tracks some of the ways this is being done, and how money laundering is developing in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Uruguay provides object lesson in dealing with political crisis

In the end, it was one scandal too many for Uruguay’s Vice-president Raúl Sendic. On 9 September Sendic resigned over the misuse of corporate credit cards from a state-owned firm to avoid being sanctioned by the ruling left-wing Frente Amplio (FA) coalition after months of being hounded for corruption, mismanagement, and misrepresentation. For the majority of countries in Latin America the sudden resignation of the vice-president for wrongdoing would have produced some serious shockwaves. But Uruguay preserved stability in the face of political crisis, following the letter of the constitution; days later, Lucía Topolansky, the wife of former president José Mujica (2010-2015), filled the vice-presidential void.

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