The Andes
Francia-Petro

Colombia: pending presidency ‘between two populisms’

Following a first round of presidential elections, “between two populisms” is the catchphrase being used by Colombia’s media for an unprecedented moment. A pair of political “outsiders” are to face each other in the run-off: Gustavo Petro, a former guerilla leader and Colombia’s first leftist presidential contender, versus Rodolfo Hernández, a construction magnate whose pugnacious swagger inevitably invites comparison to Donald Trump. Hernández, an independent candidate and the former mayor of Bucaramanga, rose precipitously in an ostensibly anti-establishment campaign driven by social media, winning him the epithet “King of TikTok.” But Colombia’s political establishment is now lining up behind him to defeat Petro. The former mayor of Bogotá and a veteran of the demobilized M-19 guerillas, Petro is the candidate of a new progressive coalition, Colombia Humana, emphasizing multiculturalism and ecology as well as more traditional social justice demands. (Photo via Twitter)

Central America

Honduras transition in the New Cold War

Hondurans elected self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” Xiomara Castro to be the country’s first woman president. The wife of Manuel Zelaya, the populist president who was removed in a coup in 2009, Castro pledges to revive his program—and take it much further, instating far-reaching reforms. Castro also announced that she will “open diplomatic and commercial relations with continental China,” which was widely taken as meaning a switch of diplomatic recognition. Honduras is currently one of only 14 countries that recognize Taipei rather than Beijing.  It is tragic to see the Central American republics, in their struggle to break free of Washington’s orbit, acquiesce in Beijing’s design to incorporate Taiwan into its own orbit—or, more ambitiously, its national territory.  (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Central America
Darién

Danger grows on Darién Gap migrant route

The Darién Gap, a dangerous jungle route used by a growing number of migrants trying to reach the United States from South America, has become even deadlier, according to Panama’s Forensic Sciences Institute. It reports over 50 migrant deaths to date in 2021, although the figure is believed to be far higher. Towns on the Colombian side of the border are swelling with migrants waiting to cross the Gap—mostly Haitians, Cubans and Venezuelans, but some from as far as Afghanistan and Burkina Faso. Colombian authorities say 67,000 migrants have passed through the border zone so far this year, more than 15 times the number in 2020. Former paramilitaries operating in the area are now preying on the migrants, who face rape, armed violence and extortion. (Photo: David González/TNH)

Greater Middle East

Yemen: rights group accuses UAE of war crimes

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR-UK) called for the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of war crimes in Yemen by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), especially concerning the recruiting of foreign nationals to serve in an army of mercenaries. AOHR-UK alleges that the mercenaries began work under contract to the UAE in March 2015 and have conducted military operations in Yemen, in addition to supervising secret prisons in which Yemeni citizens have been subjected to torture.

Central America

Taiwan sacrificed to Central America geopolitics

Panama is the latest Central American nation to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Bejing—under pressure of China's fast-growing economic presence on the isthmus.

The Andes

Panama Papers pummel Peru politicians

Four of Peru's presidential candidates, including far-right front-runner Keiko Fujimori, have been implicated in the "Panama Papers" revelations.

Central America

Panama: Ngöbe-Buglé set deadline to stop dam

Indigenous leaders give the government until Feb. 15 to cancel a dam they've protested for years. Meanwhile, a former president who promoted the dam has fled the country.

The Andes

Are the FARC narco-traffickers?

Amid peace talks in Havana, Colombia's FARC issued an angry communique insisting "We are not narco-traffickers." But major coke busts supposedly linked to the guerillas continue.

Central America

Panama: victims remember US invasion

US media generally ignored the 25th anniversary of the Panama invasion, the start of a quarter-century wave of bloody US military interventions. The victims haven't forgotten.

The Andes

Colombia: FARC meet army brass, coke flows on

Colombia's top brass held their first meeting with FARC leaders at peace talks in Havana—as Panamanian authorities claimed interception of a massive FARC cocaine shipment.