Publish in Special Reports - Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Presidents Hugo Chavez and Cristina Fernandez in Brasilia in July last year. (Photo: Anebert Rivera/Prensa Presidencial de Venezuela)
See more of the Latinvex special report on Latin America: 2013 Outlook.
Trouble in Argentina and Venezuela and elections in Chile, Ecuador, Honduras and Paraguay.
BY JOACHIM BAMRUD
Although Latin America will only hold four presidential elections this year, politics play a big role in the region this year.
“The electoral cycle will drive some of the region’s major political stories,” says Cynthia J. Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
From February to December, voters in Ecuador, Paraguay, Honduras and Chile will elect their next president. “With presidential elections coming up in three politically troubled countries - Ecuador, Paraguay, and Honduras - the outlook is complicated,” says Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue.
Meanwhile, major political issues will be playing a central role in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela.
The deteriorated health of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez – and resulting question marks about what will happen if and when he dies -- creates uncertainty not only in his country but also throughout Latin America, especially countries like Cuba and Nicaragua that depend heavily on Venezuelan aid.
Mexico’s new president Enrique Peña Nieto – who assumed office on December 1 last year – will see his first year in office amidst high expectations of reforms and reduced drug violence. “The good news story in 2013 may be Mexico, provided that Peña Nieto and his team are able to show that the PRI has modernized and is in sync with an increasingly open and democratic Mexican society,” Shifter says.
Growing unrest in Argentina is likely to further weaken President Cristina Fernandez as the country prepares for congressional elections in October.
And Colombia’s government continues with peace talks with guerrilla group FARC. “The development with the greatest potential to affect politics in the region may well take place in Colombia, tied to the success or failure of the peace process between the Santos government and the FARC guerrillas,” Arnson says.
Keywords: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Paraguay and Venezuela
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