Christopher Sabatini

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The Supreme Federal Court of Brazil was severely damaged in the riot led by radical supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia after the 2023 election result. Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images.

Immediately following the violent storming of Brazil’s congressional building, supreme court, and presidential palace, comparisons to the infamous events of 6 January 2021 in the US came quickly and easily – and with good reason.

Both Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro built a fervent – albeit inchoate – political base of grievance which included Christian evangelicals, gun enthusiasts, and the disenfranchised. Both cynically spread doubts about the election victories of their successors without evidence. And it has been claimed both incited their supporters to overturn these results.

But this list of similarities extend beyond mere politics. The attack on democracy in Brazil was recorded, amplified, coordinated, and funded by exactly the same technologies used by the protesters in the US on 6 January.…  Seguir leyendo »

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, November 2022. Leonardo Fernandez Viloria / Reuters

At last, some encouraging news is emerging from Venezuela. In November, the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and leaders from the country’s opposition movement restarted negotiations in Mexico. That same month, the White House granted Chevron a temporary license to restart oil production in Venezuela. Both initiatives—the talks and the easing of draconian U.S. sanctions—offer hope that the country might be able to break out of its political stalemate and address a humanitarian crisis that has spurred some seven million Venezuelans to flee their country.

To be clear, U.S. President Joe Biden’s moves were modest. The authorization allowing Chevron to operate in Venezuela will be reviewed every six months; the Biden administration is also maintaining sanctions on the Venezuelan economy and on 22 individuals close to the Maduro government.…  Seguir leyendo »

Playing football at the Morro da Lua favela in Sao Paulo, Brazil during the 2022 presidential election campaign. Photo by ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP via Getty Images.

The second round of Brazil’s presidential elections is shaping up to be far closer than expected with leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva running at only 1-8 percentage points ahead of the current right-wing incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro – a clear sign of the division currently within a country struggling to cope with a multitude of crises.

The description of Jair Bolsonaro as right-wing applies more to his social views and disregard of environmentalism than any commitment to economic orthodoxy. As with many other populists on either end of the ideological spectrum, Bolsonaro was willing during COVID-19 – and twice during the presidential campaign – to loosen the state’s purse strings in order to build popular support.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘The thin margin separating the two candidates promises an even more bruising campaign in the lead up to the runoff on 30 October.’ A Brazilian newspaper the day after the presidential elections on 3 October. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

The first lesson from Brazil’s election on Sunday is that public opinion surveys severely misfired. Just a few days before the contest, many reported a 15% lead for Luiz Inàcio Lula da Silva over the incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro; and many also predicted a Lula first-round victory. The second lesson is that, far from being a flash in the pan – as many had hoped – the rightwing populist movement Bolsonarismo is an organised political force, and it is here to stay, at least for the medium term.

Bolsonaro finished five percentage points behind the leftist former leader Lula – as he is popularly known.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is an opportunity to revise a dead-end sanctions policy on Venezuela that would serve both US geostrategic interests and the goal of democratic transition.

Three days before President Joe Biden announced that the US was imposing a ban on Russian oil and gas, Justin Bieber’s   private jet set off from Washington, DC to Caracas, Venezuela with high-level Biden administration officials on a quiet diplomatic mission to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The rumoured purpose of the trip was to offer relief to global oil markets and rising gasoline prices in the US—though later after a political backlash against a seeming oil for human rights trade, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki denied it.

The truth was more complicated. Nevertheless, as the original logic went and continues, by lifting US restrictions on investment in and export of Venezuelan crude can help resolve energy price spikes and peel Maduro away from his government’s alliance with an increasingly scorned and isolated Vladimir Putin.…  Seguir leyendo »

The mother of Junior Gaitan, shot during 2018 protests against Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega's government, places flowers on her son's grave in Masaya. Photo by OSWALDO RIVAS/AFP via Getty Images.

It is hard to pinpoint at what point in Nicaragua’s long slide into dictatorship that democracy died, but November’s corrupted, farcical elections were certainly its wake. With leading opposition candidates in prison or under house arrest, independent media muzzled, and more than 160 political prisoners and 40 civic and political leaders in jail, the re-election of Daniel Ortega as president and his wife Rosario Murillo as vice-president was a foregone conclusion.

The only question leading up to the election was how many voters would bother to cast ballots – a measly 18.5 per cent according to the civic group Urnas Abiertas in sharp contrast to the government’s claims of 65 per cent.…  Seguir leyendo »

UK-Latin America trade: Room to grow

In 1999 the then director of Chatham House, Victor Bulmer-Thomas wrote in his monograph British Trade with Latin America in the 19th and 20th Centuries that commercial and investment ties between the UK and Latin America had been underperforming since the 1970s.

Little has changed since then. Potential remains for increased trade and investment in areas such as agriculture (primarily exports from Latin America to the UK) and financial services and technology (primarily investment and exports from the UK to Latin America).

In an informal survey, Chatham House asked investors and commercial attachés on both sides of the Atlantic why commerce and investment numbers were so low.…  Seguir leyendo »

Estados Unidos necesita una política de sanciones que funcione

Antony J. Blinken, el secretario de Estado estadounidense, anunció hace poco la imposición de sanciones en contra de siete funcionarios públicos en El Salvador y Guatemala, incluidos cinco magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de El Salvador, quienes quedaron incluidos en la lista oficial del Departamento de Estado de “actores corruptos y antidemocráticos”. Este grupo se sumó a una lista de más de 300 personas en Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador y Guatemala a las que Estados Unidos ya les había impuesto sanciones, además de las sanciones diplomáticas y financieras a los gobiernos de Cuba, Nicaragua y Venezuela.

Si bien el gobierno estadounidense ha aplicado sanciones a países y líderes de todo el mundo acusados de abusos en contra de los derechos humanos y corrupción, en América Latina las sanciones se han convertido en uno de los pilares centrales de la política estadounidense para defender la democracia y combatir la corrupción.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman prays during a rally in support of Cubans demonstrating against their government at Freedom Tower in Miami, USA. Photo by EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images.

The rights and wrongs of the US embargo of Cuba have come back to the fore with the latest anti-government protests resulting in President Miguel Diaz Canel laying blame for the country’s long-collapsed, rudimentary economy on perceived US attempts to ‘destroy Cuba’, while embargo supporters herald the protests as some kind of redemption for a failed 60-year-old policy.

The reality is neither of these are true as, once again, the opposite ends of the embargo debate meet in giving it too much credit – whether for the suffering of Cubans or for the myth of redemptive, imminent regime change. The protests are really about a failed regime, a long-suffering people, and a political system which resolutely refuses to be accountable to its own citizens over the preservation of its leaders’ power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protester wrapped in a Colombian flag sings a hymn during a demonstration against the government of President Iván Duque. Photo by Jesus Merida/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Although unprecedented for Colombia, the prolonged social protests currently sweeping the country and paralyzing the government are not a surprise.

In 2020, COVID-19 put on hold a wave of protests which had started in late 2019 led by labour unions and indigenous and Afro-descendent community groups over low wages and the slow pace of social programs promised in the 2016 peace agreement.

But when the government recently proposed a new tax hike, even the threat of COVID-19 was not enough to keep Colombian citizens from the streets as national protests erupted.

The proposed tax reform is relatively small in reality, focusing mostly on the rich but also extending taxes to lower and middle income workers and expanding value-added taxes.…  Seguir leyendo »

People queue at a polling station on 11 April 2021 in Huaraz, Peru. Peruvians are voting amid a surge in cases of COVID-19 and an economic and social crisis pushed by the pandemic. Photo: Getty Images.

The spectre of populism – both of the left and right variety – has hung over Latin American politics and economics since the 19th century but, for the last two decades, a new wave of populist movements and leaders has developed as a result of ongoing economic dislocation and popular anger at the political class.

Although too early to assess the impact of the recent elections in Ecuador and Peru on populism’s future in the region – with 18 presidential candidates in Peru only narrowly being winnowed down for a 6 June 2021 run-off with the two leading candidates boasting just a combined total of around 30 per cent of the vote – for many countries in the region the long-term effect of COVID-19 on economic growth and social mobility casts a dark shadow.…  Seguir leyendo »

Venezuelan street vendors sell pineapples and pumpkins at the outskirts of the public market in Boa Vista, Brazil, in August 16, 2018. (Gui Christ for The Washington Post)

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the developing world’s informal economy hard. Existing on the margins, with no access to social safety nets such as unemployment insurance and pensions, many of the 2 billion informal workers around the world were already barely keeping their heads above water before the lockdowns. One analysis estimated that 1.6 billion informal sector workers worldwide would suffer a 62 percent decline in income in the first few months of the crisis alone, with workers in lower-income countries projected to see their earnings shrink by 88 percent.

But the pandemic may finally bring a much-needed evaluation by governments and international financial institutions of their failures to effectively understand and address labor inequalities that have created a semipermanent marginalized, vulnerable underclass of global workers.…  Seguir leyendo »

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris addresses the media on November 10, 2020 at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

1. Resistance to Biden is likely

Hans Kundnani

The result of the election made it clear America has not rejected ‘Trumpism’ and remains deeply polarized. Donald Trump remains an important figure within the Republican Party, and perhaps even its leader.

Some senior figures in the party support his efforts to convey the impression the election was ‘stolen’ from them, and analysts such as Max Boot and Timothy Snyder are even comparing this to the Dolchstosslegende (myth of a stab in the back) in Germany after World War I.

Assuming Joe Biden does take over as president on 20 January, the question is what form any ‘resistance’ to his administration takes.…  Seguir leyendo »

The authors of this collection consider the most pressing foreign policy challenges for the next US president, and examine how the outcome of the 2020 election will affect these.

The president will determine how the US’s diplomatic, economic and military resources are invested, and what value the administration will attach to existing alliances and multilateral institutions.

Whoever sits in the White House will shape the trajectory of the US–China relationship and the global economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as international cooperation on climate action, international trade and technology policy, and health.


  • The last four years have confirmed that the choices the US makes are highly consequential for international politics.
…  Seguir leyendo »

Experts across Chatham House shared their views on Trump and Biden’s performance and their key takeaways from the last debate. More than 47 million Americans have already cast their vote and few voters are undecided, but the debates still provide a good lens into these two very different candidates.

Throughout the presidential race, there have been concerns regarding foreign interference in the election. How did candidates respond to this threat?

Leslie Vinjamuri: The candidates deflected the question, but it could not have been more timely. Only two days ago, John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, and Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, announced that Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration data and used this to send threatening emails to voters.…  Seguir leyendo »

People watch the first presidential debate between US President Donald Trump and Former US Vice President Joe Biden on 29 September 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Photo: Getty Images.

What role do the presidential debates serve in encouraging voter turnout?

Leslie Vinjamuri: Going into the debates, 74% of Americans were set to tune in and watch according to a new Monmouth Poll. This is striking since more than 90% have already decided who their candidate will be, and many have already cast their ballots.

During President Donald Trump’s time in office, Americans have been far more politically engaged than in previous periods. A record 49.3% of the voting eligible population turned out to vote in the 2018 midterm elections, according to the United States Election Project. This was the highest voter turnout since 1914, and it also reversed a downward trend.…  Seguir leyendo »

A taxi driver wears a face mask while driving tourists around Havana on 19 March 2020. Photo: Getty Images.

It’s easy to take a look at the array of economic and diplomatic punitive policies that the sanctions-happy Trump administration has slapped on individuals and countries from Argentina to Iran and conclude that they have failed to achieve their objectives. With US oil sanctions on Venezuela, trade sanctions on select Argentine, Brazilian and Canadian exports and the tightening of the US embargo on Cuba, sanctions have become a go-to tool of the current administration.

Have they worked so far? Some have. Some haven’t. All of this leads to a legitimate question: when do they? The most extreme example, the US embargo on Cuba – first imposed by executive order under the Trading with the Enemy Act in 1961 and then codified into law by the Cuba Democracy Act (1992) and Libertad Act (1996) passed by Congress – has failed miserably, but remains an article of faith among its advocates, the bulk of them in southern Florida.…  Seguir leyendo »

La cruzada desmedida y partidista del gobierno del presidente de Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, contra las instituciones internacionales ha llegado al banco multilateral más importante del hemisferio occidental.

Rompiendo con 60 años de tradición, la Casa Blanca ha nominado a un estadounidense sin el conocimiento de la región ni la capacitación en economía necesarios para convertirse en el nuevo presidente del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID).

La nominación de la Casa Blanca de Mauricio Claver-Carone parece estar muy influenciada por la política interna estadounidense, como parte de una estrategia republicana para ganar los 29 votos electorales de Florida en las elecciones presidenciales de noviembre.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Trump administration’s intemperate, partisan crusade against international institutions has extended to the Western Hemisphere’s most important multilateral bank.

Breaking with 60 years of tradition, the White House has nominated an American with neither the knowledge of the region nor the training in economics to become the new president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The White House’s nomination of Mauricio Claver-Carone seems certainly informed by domestic politics — part of its strategy to win Florida’s 29 electoral votes in November. Currently the senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council, Claver-Carone’s previous experience was running a one-man lobbying shop for the U.S.-Cuba…  Seguir leyendo »

A demonstrator wears a face mask during a protest against Chilean President Sebastian Piñera's government in Santiago on 16 March 2020. Photo: Getty Images.

This article is not about the coronavirus.  Or at least not directly. It’s about the elections, political processes and protests in Latin America and the Caribbean that only a few months ago seemed destined to shape many countries’ democratic futures.  In Bolivia, Chile and the Dominican Republic, public health concerns over COVID-19 have forced the postponement of critical elections; in all three countries social and political upheaval preceded the delays.

In the best of circumstances elections serve as a safety valve for political and social tensions.  What will their postponement mean as the countries feel the economic and social effects of the pandemic?…  Seguir leyendo »