Foreign Policy’s Latin America Brief is back with some key updates this week. A court in Venezuela ruled against a popular presidential candidate, Kenya’s president plans to send police to Haiti despite legal concerns, and a parade honoring the Yanomami Indigenous group is set to premiere at Brazil’s Carnival.
The year started with optimism that changes in other countries’ policies could help open up democracy in Venezuela before the upcoming presidential election. The United States lifted some sanctions last October after a deal in Barbados between President Maduro’s government and an opposition negotiating committee. However, the recent ruling against presidential hopeful María Corina Machado has caused concern, with Washington announcing possible reimposition of sanctions.
Opposition groups in Venezuela were willing to accept the ban on Machado as long as elections were held with more political freedom. However, the latest ruling and the detention of opposition members have led to backlash, with the U.S. expressing doubts about the Barbados agreement. Some are calling for a reimposition of sanctions, while others believe that returning to a failed policy is not the answer.
Argentina is also facing challenges, with President Milei watering down plans for sweeping austerity measures following protests and opposition in Congress. Meanwhile, El Salvador is preparing for its presidential and legislative elections, with incumbent President Nayib Bukele expected to maintain his popular support.
In Brazil, Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival parade will feature a group dedicated to the Yanomami Indigenous group for the first time, drawing attention to their current crisis in the Amazon rainforest. Amidst these developments, the limits of external actors, including the United States, in shaping democratic outcomes in Venezuela have become clear.
In conclusion, despite international efforts, the road to democracy in Venezuela is filled with challenges and uncertainties. The situation remains fluid in both Venezuela and other Latin American countries facing their own political and economic struggles.