How will Latin American leaders—and their countries—fare in 2019? Penn law professor William Burke-White and Benjamin Gedan, a senior adviser to the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, share their perspectives on the challenges facing Latin America as part of the “2019: A Look Ahead” series.
In the last 12 months, Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico elected new leaders. Meanwhile, Argentina is preparing for fresh elections, and Venezuela faces continued upheaval in the face of Nicolas Maduro’s re-election.
In Brazil, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has promised economic liberalization, safer days, and a cleaner regime compared to the violent crimes and widespread corruption that plagued previous governments. In Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, its first leftist president in seven decades, faces challenges in containing migrants headed from countries to its south to the U.S., while adjusting to a new economic order after NAFTA was renegotiated last October.
In Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel is the country’s first president in 50 years to be a non-Castro, but he is finding his efforts at economic liberalization undermined by the Trump administration’s hostility and the resulting disenchantment among investors it hopes to attract. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macri is struggling to cope with the legacy of his predecessor’s populist policies and a sluggish economy in an election year. The outlier in the region is President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, who was sworn in last week for a second term, even though his re-election is branded illegitimate and the once-rich country is in economic turmoil.
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