Christopher Sabatini

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de agosto de 2007. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

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 »

A municipal cleaning worker disinfects the central market in Santiago, Chile on 7 April 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Getty Images.

Differing approaches across the hemisphere have had different impacts on presidential popularity and, at least in one case, on democratic institutions and human rights. Yet, even within that diversity, South America’s Southern Cone countries (Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) have shown a sign of solidarity: protecting and facilitating trade flows, sponsoring cross-border research and ensuring citizens’ return to their home countries.

The response from populist leaders

On the extreme have been the responses of presidents of Brazil, Nicaragua and Mexico, all of whom have ignored the science of the virus and of experts and refused to implement isolation policies.  President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil fired his health minister, Luis Henrique Mandetta on 16 April for contradicting him and earlier had claimed that the pandemic was a hoax or little more than a ‘measly cold.'…  Seguir leyendo »

A demonstrator waves a Chilean flag during a protest in Santiago on 21 October 2019. Photo: Getty Images.

Why are these protests happening now?

The truth is, Chile is unequal, even though it actually reduced poverty from 1989, the time of the democratic transition, until today, from 40% to 16%.

There are a number of reasons for the protests. One is the most proximate cause, which is the increase in the subway fares, but that really doesn’t explain the underlying tensions.

One of those tensions is despite reductions in poverty, social mobility remains a large problem in Chile. It remains a very elitist country with limited social mobility. So, poverty may be reduced, but the likelihood that someone in the working middle class would reach the upper middle class has always been a stretch.…  Seguir leyendo »

An area of forest-pasture integration prepared to receive dairy cattle for feeding in Ipameri, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images.

Currently 73% of all UK agricultural imports come from the EU. That heavy dependence sparked a report by the British parliament expressing concern about the UK’s food security in the immediate aftermath of Brexit.

Meanwhile, Latin America’s agricultural powerhouses Brazil and Argentina only accounted for a total of 1.6% of the UK’s agricultural market across eight sectors in 2018. A growing relationship would seem to be an obvious fit post-Brexit – but a number of structural issues stand in the way.

There is certainly scope for increasing Latin American agricultural exports to the UK given current trade patterns. Two of the main agricultural imports that the UK buys from the EU are meat products, representing 82% of UK imports in that category, and dairy products and eggs; 98% of UK’s dairy- and egg-related external supply came from the EU.…  Seguir leyendo »

A counter-narcotics police officer testing a tactical vehicle to spray herbicides on a coca field in Tumaco, southern Colombia, in 2018. (Fernando Vergara/AP)

Cuatro años después de que Colombia suspendiera la polémica estrategia de fumigación aérea para erradicar los cultivos de coca, el presidente Iván Duque tiene intenciones de reiniciarla. Su gobierno ha planteado la necesidad de reactivarla —con el no tan sutil apoyo del gobierno de los EE.UU.— en un momento donde la producción de coca ha alcanzado niveles históricamente altos a pesar del esfuerzo de su antecesor, Juan Manuel Santos, de negociar los Acuerdos de Paz en 2016 para dar carpetazo a 52 años de guerra civil. Y aún cuando el mes pasado, la Corte Constitucional de Colombia decidió ratificar las restricciones para fumigar cultivos de coca desde el aire —decisión dictada a través de la sentencia T-236, prohibiendo al gobierno la implementación de dicha estrategia a menos de que se cumplan seis protocolos específicos— la interpretación de la sentencia deja una puerta abierta para que Duque reanude la fumigación.…  Seguir leyendo »

El esfuerzo del presidente de Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, para provocar el fin del régimen represor de Cuba al aplastar su economía solo garantiza más sufrimiento para los ciudadanos de la isla, que ya padecen suficientes limitaciones a consecuencia del proyecto económico fallido de Fidel Castro.

La Casa Blanca está dañando a la misma gente —los cubanos comunes y corrientes— a la que dice querer ayudar. No solo se están agotando sus posibles fuentes de ingresos independientes (y, con ellas, su autonomía política), sino también su acceso a alimentos y sus esperanzas para el futuro.

Durante décadas, la autocracia cubana ha sido un recordatorio irritante de la impotencia de Estados Unidos para erradicar el comunismo.…  Seguir leyendo »