Foreign Policy’s Latin America Brief is back with a summary of Ecuador’s war on organized crime, Brazil’s capital riot anniversary, and Mexico City’s return to bullfighting. To stay updated, sign up to receive the Latin America Brief in your inbox every Friday.
This week in Ecuador, a series of gang attacks on prisons and civilian infrastructure have intensified violence in the country. President Daniel Noboa declared a state of “internal armed conflict” and ordered the military to take action against 22 designated terrorist organizations. The attacks have disrupted daily life, with widespread fear and school closures. They followed anti-corruption raids in December that implicated judges and prison officials involved in drug gangs. However, gangs continue to control drug trafficking routes, despite government crackdowns that have previously led to higher levels of violence in Latin America.
On the other hand, the Panamanian government is considering an engineering project to retrofit the Panama Canal due to water shortages linked to climate change, which could cost up to $2 billion. The canal, one of the world’s most important shipping routes, has been operating under normal capacity, and its financial projections underscore the costs of adapting to global warming.
In Guatemala, Bernardo Arévalo, an anti-corruption advocate, will be inaugurated as president on Sunday. Arévalo has announced that his cabinet will be half women, a first for Guatemala and one of the few in Latin America, demonstrating his commitment to gender equality.
Lastly, after Mexico City’s Supreme Court overturned a 2022 ban on bullfighting, the practice is set to return. Although fighters have been practicing with carts rather than live bulls, they have argued that bullfighting is an important tradition and generates significant revenue for the Mexican economy.
In conclusion, Latin America faces various challenges this week, from gang violence in Ecuador to the economic and environmental implications of retrofitting the Panama Canal. However, there is also progress being made, with the appointment of a diverse cabinet in Guatemala and the reopening of bullfighting in Mexico City.