Christopher Sabatini

Este archivo solo abarca los artículos del autor incorporados a este sitio a partir del 1 de noviembre de 2006. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

Members of a polling station count ballots after the opposition's primary elections in Caracas, Venezuela, on Oct. 22, 2023. Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

For the first time since its election in 2013, the government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela looks scared. According to a recent public opinion survey, 66 percent of Venezuelans hope that the July 28 presidential election will bring political change to their country, and opposition candidate Edmundo González leads Maduro in opinion polls by between 20 to 30 percent. Stealing this contest won’t be as easy as it was for Maduro in 2017, 2018, or 2020.

Still, he is trying. With the specter of being turned out of office by a popular vote, the president’s government, and his electoral commission, have been doing everything in their power to throw the election in Maduro’s favor.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators gather next to anti-riot police officers in front of the National Congress in Buenos Aires on June 12, 2024. (Photo by TOMAS CUESTA/AFP via Getty Images).

Reforming Argentina’s infamously dysfunctional, crisis-prone economy was never going to be easy for President Javier Milei. But on 12 June, the country’s Senate approved a slimmed-down omnibus bill that when eventually signed into law will give Milei broad executive powers and open up Argentina’s closed economy.

Predictably, the streets of Buenos Aires erupted in violent protest, with the powerful labour union Confederación General de Trabajo (CGT) marching to the capitol building and barricading roads.

The Senate narrowly approved the bill 37 votes in favour to 36 against, with the vice president casting the deciding vote. It will now pass to the lower house for final revisions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Maduro is flouting his commitment to hold free elections in Venezuela. The US must respond – carefully

On 18 April a deadline looms for the US, the EU, and especially Venezuela. On that day, the US must decide whether to ‘snap back’ economic sanctions that it loosened on 18 October 2023. At the same time, the EU will decide whether to continue personal sanctions on Venezuelan government officials.

The future of international sanctions on Venezuela ultimately rests with the government of President Nicolás Maduro. At a summit in Barbados on 17 October 2023, it committed to ensure competitive and inclusive elections in 2024 in return for relief from some US sanctions. As the country heads to the 28 July elections, things don’t look promising.…  Seguir leyendo »

People on a motorcycle carry their belongings as they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, following gang violence in March 2024. (Photo by CLARENS SIFFROY/AFP via Getty Images).

A massive jailbreak of more than 4,700 prisoners on 3 March 2024 saw chaos grip Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and much of the rest of the country. The shocking event, organized by powerful criminal gangs, follows a horrifying uptick of violence since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on 7 July 2021.

There are many reasons for Haiti’s lamentable condition, including the legacy of almost 30 years of brutal rule by the Duvalier family, and the 28 years of fraught elections, aborted governments, coups and coup attempts that followed.

59 per cent of the country’s 11 million people live in poverty, aggravated by environmental collapse, extreme weather and natural disasters.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ecuadorean soldiers patrol outside the premises of Ecuador's TC television channel after gunmen burst into the state-owned television studio live on air on 9 January, 2024, in Guayaquil, Ecuador. (Photo by MARCOS PIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Rarely do the horrors of narco-terrorism play out so publicly as they did on 9 January in Ecuador. In response to a state of emergency declared by President Daniel Noboa a day earlier, criminal gangs seized a public television station, detonated bombs in major cities, kidnapped police officers and invaded a university. It was, in their words, a declaration of war against the government.

In the aftermath of the narco-terrorists’ frightening display of force, Noboa promised to ramp up his war on domestic crime – imposing a curfew, naming 22 gangs in Ecuador as terrorist organizations, and calling on the military to oversee national security and the prison system.…  Seguir leyendo »

President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference on the day after Venezuelans voted in the referendum about the border conflict with neighboring country Guyana. (Photo by Gaby Oraa/Getty Images)

On 3 December, the Venezuelan government held a referendum on Venezuela’s right to annex two thirds of Guyana – formerly British Guyana.

In addition to calling for the absorption of Guyana’s Essequibo region the referendum also put to a vote whether to offer Venezuelan citizenship to the 200,000 or so Guyanese citizens living in the area. The measures were approved with over 94 per cent of the vote.

President of Guyana, Mohammed Irfaan Ali, said that the international community stands with Guyana’s sovereignty. The International Court of Justice in The Hague condemned any action by Venezuela to remake its borders.

The outcome of the vote was never in doubt, but voter participation is: the move does not appear to have energized Venezuelans.…  Seguir leyendo »

A supporter of newly elected President of Argentina Javier Milei of La Libertad Avanza celebrates after the polls closed in the presidential runoff on November 19, 2023 in Buenos Aires. (Photo by Tomas Cuesta/Getty Images)

Argentina has taken a step into uncharted territory. In Sunday’s election, nearly 56 per cent of voters chose outsider candidate Javier Milei over Sergio Massa of the incumbent Peronist government. In doing so, a majority voted to overturn Argentina’s political class and historic economic model.

Milei rose to political prominence promising to throw out the ‘political caste’ that had overseen an economy that by 2023 was suffering 140 per cent inflation, an international debt default and an expected 2.3 per cent contraction of GDP this year alone.

What isn’t clear is how much Argentine voters were paying attention to the practicalities of economic proposals and their likely impact.…  Seguir leyendo »

Javier Milei celebrates the results of the primary elections with his sister Karina Milei at his headquarters in Buenos Aires on August 13, 2023. (Photo by ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP via Getty Images)

Javier Milei is leading polls in the run up to Argentina’s first-round presidential elections on 22 October. An economist and former television commentator who served one term in congress, Milei calls himself an anarcho-capitalist and radical libertarian.

He has promised to trash Argentina’s currency, the peso, in favour of the US dollar, abolish the central bank and cut public spending by at least 15 per cent of GDP.

Should he win, his largely untested fringe economic ideas will run up against an Argentine state and society accustomed to public largesse via subsidies and generous (though chronically less-than-effective) social safety-net programmes.

The likelihood of a Milei victory depends in large part on his opponent in a probable second round vote.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »