• The End of Corruption Culture in Latin America?

    Accountability in the region creates space for safer investments

    Odebrecht was once synonymous with Latin America’s most ambitious public works projects. Today, those who hear the name think only of the web of malfeasance that has engulfed the region and continues to extend beyond the continent. But, as negative as these new revelations may seem, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and opportunities along the way. The pragmatic efforts of police and judicial actors show that some countries in the region are ready to face impunity head on. If Latin America can continue down the road to accountability, US investors could be the first to benefit.

    What started as a money laundering investigation in Brazil in 2014, the case of Odebrecht, Brazil’s largest construction company, has today developed into the deepest corruption scandal Latin America has seen, with top leaders implicated. Just this week, major newspapers reported the Brazilian Supreme Court has authorized investigations into more than one hundred Brazilian politicians. In December, Odebrecht pleaded guilty in a US court to paying nearly $800 million in bribes to win business in more than ten countries, dating back to the early 2000s. The company was subsequently slapped with a record fine of $3.5 billion by the Brazilian, US, and Swiss judiciaries in December. It seems the times are changing.

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  • Pushing for Peace in Colombia

    US Ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker, cites need to move quickly on achieving an accord acceptable to all sides

    Two ground realities in Colombia—former guerrillas gathered in remote rural cantonments with scarce infrastructure and nationwide elections in the spring of 2018—make it imperative that a peace agreement that is acceptable to all sides is quickly found, according to Kevin Whitaker, the United States’ ambassador to Colombia.

    On October 2, Colombians narrowly rejected the peace accord reached by their president, Juan Manuel Santos, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) following six years of negotiations.

    Polls preceding the plebiscite consistently and confidently predicted a triumph for the “yes” camp in support of the accord. In anticipation of such an outcome, FARC guerillas started to gather in cantonments—isolated rural communities with little infrastructure—as agreed to in the accord. There they would lay down their weapons and prepare for lives as civilians. Now, much like the peace deal, the lives of these people are in limbo.

    “Over time, it is difficult to maintain people in these rural settings without a lot of support structure around them,” Whitaker said in an interview. “The time pressure is there for everyone.”

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  • Marczak Quoted by Foreign Policy on A Nobel Peace Prize for Colombia

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  • Saldarriaga Jiménez in The Cipher: There Will Never Be a Perfect Peace in Colombia

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  • Saldarriaga Jiménez Quoted by Voice of America on Defeated Colombian Peace Deal

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  • Colombia’s Peace Plebiscite: A Divided Nation

    On October 2, Colombians rejected the peace agreement brokered between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The “no” vote won the plebiscite by less than 0.5 percent of the vote with only 37 percent of voter participation. The world is shocked and Colombians astonished.

    Polls leading up to the plebiscite had predicted a two-to-one margin victory for the “yes” camp. The international community was confident Colombians would vote for peace. Both the “yes” and the “no” coalitions thought the outcome was certain in favor of “yes.”

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  • Colombia Votes No to Peace: What Happens Now?

    On October 2, Colombian electoral officials announced the surprise victory of the ‘No’ vote in the national referendum to approve the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

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  • Plebiscite Leaves Colombia’s Peace Process in Limbo

    On October 2, Colombian voters rejected a peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas. This was a “surprising” outcome of a plebiscite that has thrown into question the prospects for peace in the country, according to Atlantic Council analysts.

    “One could argue that it both complicates and eases this problem,” said Peter Schechter, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, referring to the challenge the deal’s rejection poses for the FARC’s leader, Timochenko, to rally his fighters to the cause of peace.

    “The way it complicates this problem is that among those who are the most radicalized, you can see an argument in which they say, ‘We will never make peace with imperialists,’” said Schechter.

    On the other hand, the rejection sends a clear message to the FARC that there are more Colombians who prefer to get tough with them. The group, which has been militarily degraded over the past few years, “could be facing another round of degradation and military assault,” he added.

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  • Schechter Quoted by the Australian Financial Review on the Outcome of the Plebiscite Vote in Colombia

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  • Marczak Quoted by NBC News on Reactions to Colombians "No" on Peace Accord

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