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Reconsidering The Future of Latin America

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By William Tucker
Contributor, In Homeland Security

Two weeks ago, the Colombian government signed a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Cuba. Although not all of the political leadership in Bogota or the FARC’s leadership is pleased with the deal, this is a significant event. For the first time in five decades, there is a real chance that much of the conflict in Colombia may come to an end.

There are other holdouts, however. The National Liberation Army (ELN) is vehemently opposed to the deal; internal divisions within FARC possess the ability to derail this achievement. FARC has made a great deal of money on the drug trade and the thirst for illegal narcotics has hardly abated, making the lure of continuing in the illegal drug trade a difficult habit to break.

Brazil, Other Latin American Countries Experiencing Political Changes

Elsewhere in Latin America, the Brazilian people removed their president, Dilma Rousseff, from power amid charges of corruption. While nations enjoyed the international spotlight of hosting the Olympic Games, Brazil removed Rousseff via constitutional means.

Dilma Rousseff Brazil
Ousted: Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

In Venezuela, opposition protestors have taken to the streets in a show of force against the failing government of Nicolas Maduro. Falling crude oil prices have bottomed out the Venezuelan economy, leaving the government unable and unwilling to address food shortages and other government- subsidized commodities. The situation has become so bad that Venezuelans hammered out a deal to cross the once-closed border with neighboring Colombia to purchase food.

Given the situation in Venezuela, it’s important to point out what hasn’t happened. Social breakdown hasn’t yet occurred.

Understandably, there has been some rioting and theft of foodstuffs across the country. For now, the vast majority of Venezuelans prefer to adhere to constitutional measures to oust Maduro, a remarkable sign of their tolerance.

Other noteworthy events include the failure of Bolivian President Evo Morales to secure the ability to run for another term in office. Nicaraguan President Rafael Correa has likewise backed off from any attempt to extend his tenure as well.

In Argentina, a new government has been formed to replace the so-called counterfeit politics and left-wing populism embodied by the Kirchners.

Could Latin America Become More Peaceful?

A transformation is taking place in Latin America, at least on the surface. This is good news coming from an oft-troubled region of the world.

But it would be disingenuous to simply place these changes in the context of heads of government. What is really important to take away from these events is that countries’ institutions have been used to effect political change. The constitutions, governments and bureaucracies of these respective governments have weathered these internal changes well. As a result, no political coups have taken place.

Any enthusiasm that this situation will become the norm should be tempered. Latin America is a large region with an equally large population that is diverse in language, culture and nationality. Though change is sweeping through the region, these changes are not necessarily related or completely independent.

Something profound is occurring, but this situation could also become completely unhinged. The good intentions and patience displayed by the people of this region is nothing short of remarkable, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Hungry people cannot be expected to suffer indefinitely, nor should people engulfed in a decades-long civil war readily accept peace.

Latin America should be reconsidered as a perpetual region in crisis. Though Latin America has its imperfections, the potential that the region possesses hasn’t been destroyed through war or political instability, and these recent events demonstrate that point.

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