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International pressure mounts on Nicaragua’s Ortega

On 16 July United Nations (UN) Secretary General António Guterres condemned “the ongoing violence against civilians, including against students, in Nicaragua”.

Ecuador’s presidential conflict triggers regional diplomatic realignment

The fallout from the acrimonious political dispute between President Lenín Moreno and his predecessor Rafael Correa (2007-2017) is no longer confined to Ecuador. After Ecuador’s top court ordered the arrest of Correa to face trial for masterminding the 2012 kidnapping of a political opponent, Presidents Nicolás Maduro and Evo Morales, of Venezuela and Bolivia respectively, denounced the decision as political persecution. The Moreno administration promptly issued formal notes of protest to ambassadors of both countries. Moreno then declared the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), the integration movement championed by Maduro, Morales, and Correa, to be an abject failure and that it would be evicted from its swanky headquarters outside Quito. Watching from the wings, the US government, whose vice president Mike Pence had just visited Ecuador, will be thrilled at the prospect of counting the country as an ally against Maduro.

Getting ready for the trade war

A global trade war may, or may not, be around the corner. US moves to slap protective tariffs on imports of aluminium and steel caused an initial ripple of global concern. Further tariffs on imports from China, and Chinese countermeasures, have also worried the markets. Meanwhile, the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) still hangs in the balance. The election of a populist president in Mexico may increase uncertainty over trade. Whether a real storm is on the way, or whether it will end up being nothing more than a passing squall, it is still worth asking how Latin America would cope in a much more protectionist world.

Latin Americans scared of the dark, says Gallup

One way of judging the safety of a place is to ask the local residents how comfortable they feel about going out for a walk at night on their own. Polling company Gallup asked precisely that question in 142 countries last year. It turns out that people living in Latin America and the Caribbean are among those who feel most nervous about going out for a walk in the dark.


The Panamanian government has announced that it is considering a US$5.5bn project, in partnership with China, to build a 450km railway line up to the border with Costa Rica. It is suggested that if in due course Costa Rica adds another segment, we could be seeing the first steps towards a Central American rail network, linked in to China’s ambitious ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) global transport infrastructure initiative. There are, however, some major obstacles to overcome. In this July edition of Latin American Regional Report: Caribbean & Central America, we begin by looking at the project and what these obstacles are.

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