Friday, November 4, 2016

FT LatAm Viva For November 4, 2016

8:59 AM (30 minutes ago)
to me
By Benedict Mander 
November 4, 2016
Latin Americans are bracing themselves for the prospect that Donald Trump could become the 45th president of the United States – ironically, at a time when technocrats are in the ascendant in a region notorious for its populist leaders. Indeed, sometimes awkward comparisons between the US property tycoon and Latin America’s most infamous populist of recent times, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, have abounded in the media. 
Notice, however, that no one is yet comparing “the Donald” with Chávez’s oafish and obdurate successor, Nicolás Maduro. Divine intervention appears to have staved off the worst in Venezuela for now, although the threat of further street protests remains. No progress has been made in fixing the plight of ordinary Venezuelans – even if their unenviable predicament can, sometimes, bring out the best in people, not just the worst. Just to make the tense situation even more precarious, the threat of default continues to hang over Venezuela’s nearly $100bn in foreign debt, despite the recent debt swap by PDVSA, the state oil company.
Venezuela is not the only country in the region in which citizens are fed up with their political overlords. The second round of local elections in Brazil on Sunday showed that disenchantment with the country’s dysfunctional political system remains as strong as ever, despite the ouster of their unpopular president two months ago. A record number of voters either abstained or opted for political outsiders. The turnout was far worse in recent municipal elections in Chile, where little more than a third of voters bothered to go to the polls. But even though the result of Colombia’s recent referendum over its peace negotiations with the Farc rebels was a disappointment for many, officials argue that there is still good reason to be optimistic.
Certainly, no one in the hemisphere has it worse than the Haitians. Not only do they have to put up with politicians who are manifestly incapable of fixing their country’s chronic problems, but those on the south of the island are having to cope with the devastation wreaked a month ago by the fiercest storm in nearly half a century. Their response to how they will rebuild their shattered lives after Hurricane Matthew is always the same: “Bondye konnen” – only God knows.
Quote of the week
“It is a game of chicken. Will there be a crash, or will one side swerve out of the way first?” Felipe Pérez, former Venezuelan minister
Image of the week
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The week in review
Caracas Diary: John Paul Rathbone on finding deep humanity in unexpected places
Venezuela is a reminder that crisis can bring out the worst in people, but also the best
‘I tracked down my mother in the Amazon rainforest’
David Good on being reunited after almost 20 years
Mexican peso’s swings are measure of US election race
Twists and turns of presidential campaign reflected in currency’s volatility
Day of The Dead
Mexican economy bounces back in Q3
Pemex narrows losses despite falling crude prices, output
Daniel Ortega and mystical poet wife prepare to lead Nicaragua
Veteran revolutionary bars election observers and praises one-party rule
Vatican struggles in role as Venezuela peacemaker
Pope Francis will find Caracas more resolute than Cuba or Colombia
Angry voters push Brazil’s politicians to reform
Lawmakers look for solutions to profusion of parties and rickety coalitions
Haiti looks to local resources after hurricane aid falls short
Aid agencies urged to avoid mistakes made after devastation of 2010 earthquake
Venezuela’s opposition suspends national protest
Coalition heeds Vatican’s call to focus on talks after dissidents released
Venezuela dices with debt and discontent
Maduro plays for time with Pope talks as threat of Venezuela defaults loom
Argentines fearful as president wages ‘war’ on drug traffickers
Insecurity has now displaced inflation as number one concern
Venezuela’s crisis comes to a head in the streets
An increasingly radicalised opposition calls march on Presidential Palace