South America has been a special part of my life for four decades. I have lived many years in Brasil and Peru. I am married to an incredible lady from Argentina. I want to share South America with you.
Brazilian sports fans can be a fickle lot. One moment they were supporting the Iranians in the Olympics, then the Malaysians, then the Spanish – typically whichever athlete was losing, or better-looking or whoever had the funniest name. In the lead-up to the Games, a Datafolha poll also showed that half of Brazilians opposed holding the Olympics in their country. However, when the event finally came to an end with the closing ceremony on Sunday, many went into mourning, flooding social media with messages of sadness that the athletes were finally going home. Local television channels even ran features on coping with the ‘End-of-the-Olympics-Syndrome’.
Brazil’s political spectacle also neared its end this week with the final stage of the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s suspended president who is accused of breaking budget laws and widely blamed for the country’s deep recession. Senators began her impeachment trial on Thursday – a process that is expected to lead to her replacement with her centre-right deputy, Michel Temer, by early next week. For investors, at least, it promises to be a happy ending after years of irresponsible fiscal policies and economic interventionism under the Workers’ Party. However, analysts warn that progress on fiscal reforms may still be painfully slow.
Perhaps the most historic ending of all though took place this week in Colombia – or rather in Cuba.
After four years of talks, Colombia’s government and leaders of the Farc guerrilla group finally reached a peace agreement. The deal, which was signed in Havana, ends the half-century civil war that has claimed more than 220,000 lives and displaced almost 7m.
Iván Márquez, the Farc’s lead negotiator: “We have won the most beautiful of all battles, that of Colombia’s peace.” The agreement must still be ratified by Colombians in a referendum in early October.
In neighbouring Venezuela, though, there is seemingly no happy ending in sight with evidence that ever more are crossing into Colombia illegally in search of food and medicine. One Venezuelan has also reportedly died trying to reach the nearby island of Aruba in a makeshift raft.