Earlier this month, reports emerged of a massacre by illegal prospectors of approximately 20 indigenous people from the Warikama Djapar tribe in Vale do Javari, along Brazil’s border with Peru. If confirmed, it would be the deadliest incident between miners and indigenous people since the 1993 Haximu massacre. The news ...

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro are in a tit-for-tat of name-calling. Trump, in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York earlier this month, called Maduro a socialist dictator and said, “This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a ...

The brutal battle against the Cali Cartel enters a new chapter in the war on drugs, with the Season 3 premiere of the Netflix series Narcos on September 1st. It follows the previous seasons that tracked the life and eventual demise of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The Drug Enforcement ...

The stability of Colombia has improved significantly over the past year, according to the Fund for Peace’s 2017 Fragile States Index, which measures 12 social, political, and economic indicators to determine a country’s vulnerability. Colombia’s progress is due largely to the peace agreement the government reached with the armed FARC ...

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has called for military exercises on August 26 and 27, after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he would not rule out a “military option” to quell the turmoil in the South American country. Vice President Mike Pence, who is traveling through South America this ...

Homicides in Mexico surged by 255 percent from 2015 to 2016, and extortion cases increased by 30 percent, according to a recent American Enterprise Institute report. In cities previously identified as success stories – Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, for example – violence has returned to record levels. This year, the ...

Mexico was ranked the most-worsened country this year on the Fund for Peace's Fragile States Index (FSI), tying with Ethiopia for the bottom spot. Although Mexico has long faced violence, corruption, and organized crime, these problems all worsened during the past year, countering a decade-long trend of increasing stability there. ...

Mexico’s stability affects the U.S., and U.S. policy has an effect on its southern neighbor’s stability. The recent Fund for Peace Fragile States Index showed Mexico worsened in terms of stability during the past year. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with the former chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, ...

As Venezuela spirals into economic and political chaos, the Organization of American States (OAS) has failed for a second time in just one month to reach a resolution that would condemn the current Venezuelan regime led by President Nicolas Maduro.  At least 73 people have died in anti-government demonstrations since ...

As the Trump Administration proposes cutting aid to Central America – and as American, Central American, and Mexican leaders met in Miami last week to discuss development and security in the region – The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder asked Michael Shifter and Ben Raderstorf of the Inter-American Dialogue why Central ...

Central America, particularly the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, is notorious for violence and drugs. The region acts as a transit point for drugs going from South America to the United States, and the flow of drugs northward shows no signs of easing as U.S. demand ...

Heads of government from Central America, Mexico, and the United States convened in Miami on June 15 and 16 to discuss security in the Americas, while the Trump Administration plans to cut aid to Central America. “President Trump has made clear our commitment to this region by requesting an additional ...

Venezuela is on the verge of implosion. Inflation has skyrocketed, shortages of food and other basic necessities abound, and Venezuelans are increasingly fleeing the country and relocating around the region. Calls for President Nicolás Maduro to go are getting louder and louder. Over the past few weeks, thousands of protestors ...

Venezuela is teetering on the edge of implosion, with intertwined economic and political crises spinning out of control. The country is entering its second month of mass protests where tens of thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets daily to call for President Nicolás Maduro to go. The demonstrations ...

Chaos, it seems, has become a new norm in Venezuela. In the past month, masses of peaceful protesters opposed to President Nicolás Maduro have been violently dispersed by state security forces almost every day. Masked demonstrators burn barricades and face off regularly with armed quasi-paramilitary motorcycle gangs, known as colectivos, ...

Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was one of the world’s most notorious narcotics traffickers, and Steve Murphy was one of two U.S. drug enforcement agents who brought him down. Working with his DEA partner Javier Peña and a special Colombian police unit, known as the DIJIN, Murphy was also instrumental ...

Aside from a “big, beautiful wall” and so-called “bad hombres,” references to the southern border and illegal immigration, the U.S. campaign season has largely neglected any discussion of policy toward Latin America.  As the presidential election looms ahead, the winner has the potential to either build on the initiatives of ...

The Obama administration has been criticized for a policy of undue passiveness around the world, including in Latin America. It may be a stretch to call it “benign neglect.” After all, the United States has dramatically increased cooperation in Central America and Mexico, while maintaining strong ties with allies like ...

Since the turn of the century, perhaps earlier, there has been a consistent distancing between the U.S. and Latin America. Today it is difficult, perhaps even fanciful, to talk about U.S. policy toward the region as a whole; region-wide policies are mostly a thing of the past. During the Cold ...

Across Venezuela, opposition supporters protested Wednesday in reaction to President Nicolas Maduro shutting down the option of a recall referendum against him. On October 20, Maduro alleged fraud in the collection of the more than 200,000 signatures needed for a referendum – thereby, making a referendum impossible. Maduro’s decision established ...

Latin America is challenging the status quo.  Rather than be seen as one more area for competition between the United States and China – two of its largest trading partners – key dynamics are making the future of great power politics in Latin America harder to predict. The previous, commonly-held ...

In recent months, the People’s Republic of China has successfully faced and largely overcome a significant crisis in its relationships with Latin America, even while the United States, as it approaches the upcoming presidential election, plunges into a new phase of uncertainty in its own relationship with the continent. Although ...

From Washington’s perspective, the majority of recent changes in government in Latin America have been welcome.  The Cipher Brief asked Shannon O’Neil, the Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America at the Council on Foreign Relations, to explain why she thinks Latin America is a “good news story” with ...

After the surprising results of the Colombian peace referendum on Sunday night, both the government of Colombia and the FARC must try again to reach a deal to end the 52-year war in their country. The Cipher Brief spoke with Andrea Saldarriaga Jiménez, a researcher at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne ...

The unexpected vote in Colombia to reject the peace deal with the FARC has left the country in shock and its leaders scrambling to determine a path forward.  In a conversation with The Cipher Brief, I. William Zartman, a Professor Emeritus at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International ...

On Sunday, Colombians were called upon by their government to answer a simple question, “Do you support the final agreement to end the conflict and build a stable and lasting peace?”  Their answer shocked the world: by a razor-thin margin, Colombia voted down the peace agreement brokered by their government ...

Colombia’s pollsters, who are usually pretty accurate predictors of vote results, didn’t foresee this. Public opinion surveys showed a clear majority of voters in the South American nation—from 55 percent to as many as 72 percent—intending to vote “yes” in an October 2 plebiscite to approve or reject a peace ...

Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators flooded Venezuela’s capital Caracas yesterday to protest President Nicolás Maduro after three years of recession, extreme inflation, and a severe lack of basic goods. The protestors are asking for a recall referendum to be held this year, when an opposition politician has a chance ...

Venezuelan opposition leaders and other anti-government protestors flooded to the capital Caracas yesterday to demand a recall referendum on President Nicolás Maduro sometime this year. The military, while prepared to quell any violence, did nothing to suppress the protests. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with former U.S. Ambassador to ...

As demonstrators spread through Venezuela’s capital Caracas yesterday demanding a recall referendum of President Nicolás Maduro, the military, notably, did not suppress the demonstrations. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Harold Trinkunas, the Director of the Latin America Initiative at the Brookings Institution, about the Venezuelan military and its ...

Brazil’s Senate has voted 61-20 to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office, finding her guilty of manipulating the country’s budget. Rousseff’s Vice President Michel Temer, who has been the country’s Interim President throughout the impeachment proceedings, will remain President until the end of his term on January 1, 2019. The ...

The Olympic Games have come to an end – without a major hitch – and now Brazil must once again face its internal issues: a political crisis threatening to oust suspended President Dilma Rousseff and an economy that has been on the downturn for quite some time. The Cipher Brief’s ...

The Olympic Games have been a nice distraction for Brazil but will leave the country with nothing gained – the negatives balancing out the positives – and needing to quickly refocus on its own political and economic misfortunes. “The affect of the Olympics is almost null,” Director-General of the Rio-based ...

With the Rio Olympics wrapping in just a few days, The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Director of Research at the Rio-based Igarapé Institute, Robert Muggah about what’s next for Brazil. TCB: When the Olympics end, suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment trial begins. How do you see this ...

The Olympic Games are supposed to bring international prestige to host countries, if all goes well. But Rio 2016 is an example of a government placing desire for prestige before sound policy, says Phil Chicola, the former Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Brasília, Brazil (2005-2006). The Cipher Brief’s ...

The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro – starting today – had the potential to boost Brazil’s international image. Director of the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute and Brazil native, Paulo Sotero, tells The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder that this was always an exaggeration. However, he says the Games are somewhat ...

The Rio Olympics – which kicks off tonight with the opening ceremony at the Maracanã Stadium – is a missed opportunity for Brazil to assert itself on the world stage, experts and Brazilian natives tell The Cipher Brief. That being said, the expectations for the Games are so low that ...

The Olympic Games kick off today in Brazil – a country plagued by a political crisis and economic downturn. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke to Andrea Murta, associate director at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, about the stakes for Brazil. Murta, a Brazil native, says expectations ...

The threat level of an organized Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) attack during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – which kick off next week – is low, analysts tell The Cipher Brief. Still, Brazilian authorities have arrested a dozen suspected ISIS sympathizers, who may ...

Shortages of basic food products in Venezuela are estimated at 80 percent, which means that 80 percent of these products are not available at a given store at a given time. Lines to buy whatever products might arrive at mostly empty supermarkets start before dawn. Food shortages have brought the ...

The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas this week signed an historic ceasefire, bringing the two sides one step closer to ending over fifty years of bloody conflict.  Despite this landmark achievement, however, new challenges lie ahead. The agreement, announced in Havana, Cuba, is a ...

Filling the big shoes of a larger than life leader presents special challenges for leadership succession. Under a larger than life leader, the roles and responsibilities of office likely became entangled with the person’s distinctive style. Inheriting an office dominated by a personality creates incentives to both emphasize the legacies ...

Deterioration of democracy, humanitarian issues, and an economic crisis in Venezuela have the potential to cause an implosion that destabilizes the greater region.  As The Cipher Brief’s Erica Evans reported last week, the government is running out of money and resources; food, water, and basic necessities are scarce; and while ...

Venezuela is facing the most serious political and economic crisis of any country in Latin America. The situation is extremely volatile. Riots have intensified over the last months, and the worst of it is likely yet to come. According to Datanálisis, President Nicolás Maduro’s approval rating has plummeted to 26.8 ...

The Venezuelan economy was forecast to contract six percent in 2016; following a 5.7 percent contraction in 2015, the latest period for which official government data is available. Inflation is expected to reach 720 percent this year, rivaling Zimbabwe in the 1990’s and Bolivia in 1985. Unemployment is at six ...

In Venezuela, everything is running out.  Food, electricity, and basic necessities like toilet paper are scarce.  Foreign reserves have been depleted, and the government is frantically selling its gold. And, as the country is running out of money and resources, President Nicolás Maduro is running out of time.  Pressure is ...

Argentina’s new government that came to power last year is embarking on major economic reforms. The Cipher Brief spoke with Director of Global Business and Economics at the Atlantic Council Andrea Montanino about what this overhaul looks like and what it means for investment. Montanino is also a former Executive ...

Argentina is throwing itself back into the international economic community, after a 2002 default that thwarted the country’s access to world capital markets. The center-right Macri government, which came to power last December, is moving full speed ahead with economic reforms. And just last month, a U.S. appeals court cleared ...

During his visit to Buenos Aires in March, President Barack Obama praised his Argentinian counterpart and called him “a man in a hurry.” Indeed, many in Argentina and abroad have been surprised by the determination with which Mauricio Macri has implemented reforms to open the economy, remove excessive restrictions, and ...

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff has been suspended from office and will face an impeachment trial after the vote on Thursday in the country’s senate. Although Vice President Michel Temer — who assumes the presidency while Rousseff’s trial gets underway — has been seen as a market-friendly politician, is there really ...