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 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Latin American countries have a long history of swift regime change, either by coup or by legitimate institutional processes. The impetus is typically economic decline. That’s what is happening now in Brazil with President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment proceedings. And in Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro is getting dangerously close to a ...

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is the new frontier for cyber attacks, a crime that costs the world up to $575 billion a year, according to a joint study by the Center for Strategic Studies and McAfee. In LAC alone, the cost is estimated at about $90 billion per ...

Online hackers are increasingly targeting Latin America, with Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico most at risk. The Cipher Brief talked with Pablo Dubois, a data center and security product manager based in Argentina, about the current cyber threat landscape. The Cipher Brief: Your company – Level 3, a global network services ...

The number of cyber attacks in Latin America is increasing. Will citizens, governments, and private entities be able to deal with this growing threat landscape? The Cipher Brief spoke with Frederic Lemieux, Program Director for the Master’s degree in Cybersecurity Strategy and Information Management at The George Washington University, to ...

Brazilians have been engulfed in the worst crisis to afflict the country since the end of the military dictatorship in the mid-80s. Although Brazil impeached its first democratically-elected president in 1992, suffered through bouts of hyperinflation, confronted several failed attempts at economic stabilization, and was victimized by serial financial crises ...

For a very long time, the word that most often followed a mention of Colombia was cocaine.  Colombia was the world’s largest producer of the illicit drug.   In the mid-2000s, the South American country turned a corner and made significant progress with its program to systematically eradicate the coca plant. ...

In 1992, Peru produced an estimated 60 percent of the world’s cocaine. At one time, cocaine production was the largest industry in the country, at 17 percent of Peru’s GDP. It provided between four and six billion dollars in revenue to Peruvian drug trafficking organizations. Unlike the Colombians, Peruvians and ...

My name is Pedro José Arenas Garcia. I am a former Colombian congressman and the director of the Observatory on Growers and Crops Declared Illicit in Colombia, a civil society organization that takes interest in the human rights of rural workers associated with coca, cannabis, and poppy production. The Observatory ...

367 members of Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted Sunday to advance impeachment proceedings aimed at ousting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. That’s 25 more votes than the requisite two-thirds majority and may boost Brazil markets today. Camila Abdelmalack, the chief economist of brokerage at São Paulo-based CM Capital Markets, told ...

The government of president Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) have been negotiating in Havana, Cuba for the past four years to put an end to an internal conflict that has ravaged the country since the 1960s. Santos has confirmed that the signing of a ...

President Barack Obama’s arrival in Havana, Cuba marks the first visit by a sitting U.S. President in 88 years.  But more than just a warming of relations with the island nation, the visit is a symbol to the entire hemisphere.   The President will also travel to Argentina this week.  It ...

President Barack Obama’s trip to Argentina and Cuba gives welcome attention to the dynamics and challenges of Latin America and the Caribbean. While designed to capitalize and build upon positive developments in both countries, it also invites reflection on what will be his legacy there. At the beginning of his ...

Frank Mora, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere, told The Cipher Brief that President Barack Obama has two distinct objectives during his Latin America trip:  In Cuba, the President wants to “maintain the momentum” and in Argentina, he hopes to “start a new chapter in ...

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will not be pressured into signing a final peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).   “I will not sign a bad deal to meet a deadline,” Santos said last week, announcing that the March 23rd deadline for Colombian peace negotiations will pass ...

Since 1982, Colombia’s government and the FARC guerrilla group have sat down to negotiate four times. This attempt appears to be the one that will finally end with a peace accord. The negotiators are on the fifth of five substantive negotiating agenda topics, and they appear likely to announce a ...

In light of the announcement by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos of a signed peace deal between the government of Colombia and the FARC, The Cipher Brief revisits Cynthia Arson of the Wilson Center's take on what comes next in post-conflict Colombia. March 23, 2016, the deadline set by the ...

The so-called Northern Triangle in Central America—namely, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—has been depicted as one of the must dangerous and violent regions in the world.  International organizations, human rights groups, politicians, and even churches and other religious entities, not to mention journalists and members of academia, contribute extensively to ...

After 10,500 unaccompanied minors crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, seeking asylum in October and November, many asked, what kind of parents would send their children on such a dangerous journey to an uncertain future?  Well, when you’re from the world’s most violent region not at war, the cost-benefit calculus changes.  In ...

The problems plaguing the Northern Triangle—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—are plenty, but for retired DEA Agent Michael Vigil one stands out among the rest. “Drug trafficking is synonymous with violence and the Northern Triangle is not exempt to this rule,” he explained.  Even more problematic, the resulting violence is not ...

Does the deteriorating security situation in Mexico affect us here in the U.S.?  Is it really a U.S. national security issue?  If Mexico continues on a downward spiral, as long as you’re not vacationing there, does it matter?  The answer is a big yes.  We share a long 2,000-mile border ...

For almost a decade, the Mexican government has deployed the latest version of a much longer effort to address the growing threat of Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs). Previous phases in this effort produced two phenomena: on one hand, the strengthening, sophistication, and territorial expansion of DTOs; and on the other, ...

In the last scene of the movie Sicario, children in Ciudad Juarez play soccer as their parents cheer from the sidelines.  Gunshots are heard in the distance.  Everyone pauses.  And then the game continues. Despite being fiction, this scene symbolizes what is true for people living in Juarez, and many ...

It seems that wherever opportunities for innovation and technological developments arise, cyber attacks are not far behind.  Latin American countries are certainly seeing this trend emerge in their markets.  Latin America may not be the first region that comes to mind when one thinks of technology and innovation.  Indeed, Latin ...

With the growing threat of cyber attacks in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the Organization of American States (OAS) has been a crucial component in analyzing the threats’ origins and methods for defending against them.  Belisario Contreras, the Cyber Security Program Manager at the OAS, spoke with The Cipher ...

Aligned with the global trend, Latin America has experienced colossal growth in access to information, facilitated through the Internet and information communication technology (ICT). Because ICT enables efficiencies across all disciplines, gains realized through advancements in ICT have a compounding effect on many aspects of life—sometimes for good and sometimes ...

Historically, the technology sector in Latin American countries had progressed at a much slower rate than other regions in the world.  Recently, however, we have seen this trend change in some Latin American nations.  Omar Téllez, who has been involved in the development and expansion of numerous technology companies, explains ...

There was a sigh of relief when the Mexican government successfully re-captured drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman last week.  El Chapo, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, is arguably the most powerful drug trafficker in the world, exporting volumns of illegal narcotics globally and spreading violence in its wake.  However, ...

On November 30, 2015, on the sidelines of the United Nation COP21 Climate Change Summit in Paris, the Presidents of Peru and Russia signed an agreement establishing a strategic partnership. The accompanying joint declaration included expanded cooperation in defense, counternarcotic activities, development, next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in ...

Through hybrid warfare and the Gerasimov Doctrine, Russia is increasingly blurring the lines between war and peace, business and crime.  Russia’s involvement in Latin America is starting to follow a similar course. Douglas Farah, President of IBI Consultants, explains why he does not believe Russia’s presence in Latin America is ...

As a native Costa Rican and Professor of political science, Constantino Urcuyo Fournier has a unique perspective into Russia’s increasing involvement in Latin America.  As opposed to China’s growing economic activity in the region, Urcuyo Fournier says Russia is building strategic relationships to irritate the U.S., but he warns the ...

With global attention focused on Russia’s role in the Syria quagmire, the media is barely covering Vladimir Putin's aggressive maneuvers in Ukraine, let alone his foreign policy in America’s own backyard—Latin America. Since Putin came to power, he has attempted to restore Russia’s superpower status around the world, especially in ...

The plan to sign a peace agreement early next year to end the more than 50-year civil war in Colombia appears to be in jeopardy. Earlier this week, a senior Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) negotiator, Jesus Santrick, said the negotiations between the government and the FARC will not ...

Argentina was no stranger to Latin America’s so-called “left turn” during the past two decades, but recent developments suggest that saga may be coming to a close. After two rounds of dramatic elections in October and November, Argentinian President-elect Mauricio Macri will take office today in what analysts are calling ...

The upcoming Venezuelan parliamentary elections on December 6 are taking place in a complicated political scenario. Venezuela has been going through a very important social and economic transition ever since Hugo Chávez’s death and the subsequent transition of power to Nicolás Maduro. According to Datanálisis, a trusted Venezuelan polling site, ...

Major and growing illicit trafficking networks link Latin America to Europe, Asia, and North America. Through these networks, illicit drugs and trafficked human beings flow towards the developed world, while dirty money and smuggled guns flow back in return. The criminal enterprises that administer these networks contribute to making Latin ...

The reach of Latin American illicit trafficking networks extends well beyond the region, according to former U.S. diplomat Celina Realuyo, now a professor at the National Defense University. Realuyo spoke with The Cipher Brief about the nexus between crime and terror, noting that these networks – and the organized criminal ...

Two assumptions about transnational crime disrupt the design of effective security policies worldwide: Assuming that corruption is mainly an economic issue in which private agents bribe officials, and assuming that only pure and “full time” criminals participate and sustain organized crime. To interpret corruption as an economic problem is to ...

With over 30 years working as a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, Michael Vigil has an extensive understanding of illicit trafficking networks.  The former DEA Chief of International Operations shared with The Cipher Brief how drug trafficking in Latin America must be addressed–or risk being a destabilizing force for Latin ...

Last month, The Cipher Brief published a feature commentary on the prospects for peace in Colombia. This month, we continue that conversation with Frank Mora, the former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Mora offered his thoughts on the status of the negotiations between Bogotá and ...

Democracy has become the most accepted form of governance over the last three decades across Latin America. However, opinion polls, as we saw in Latinobarómetro’s 2015 publication, find that Latin Americans are the most unsatisfied with democracy in their countries compared with the rest of the world. Public opinion shows ...

Colombia is not a “typical” Latin American country.   It diverges from common views of the region in ways that are interesting and important.  It has a deep democratic vocation, lacking the repeated coups and dictatorships common elsewhere.  Its one military coup was peaceful and initially enjoyed broad support from ...

Juan Manuel Santos’ administration and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) kicked off peace negotiations in October 2012. The chosen methodology ("nothing is negotiated until everything is negotiated") and the absolute secrecy of what is being discussed at the table have left society uncertain about the country’s future.  There ...