South America

  • The Growing Russian Challenge and What Should Be Done About It

    All around the world, Russia is increasingly asserting itself, propping up dictators, and, in some instances, posing a direct challenge to US interests. Russian President Vladimir Putin held his first-ever meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vladivostok on April 25. Kim’s visit to Russia, an old ally, came as diplomacy with US President Donald J. Trump has faltered.

    Trump and Putin spoke on the phone for over an hour on May 3. Venezuela and North Korea were among the topics the two leaders discussed.


    We take a look at some areas of confrontation, what is driving Russian interests, and how the United States is responding to this challenge.


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  • Juan Guaidó’s Operation Freedom Gives Venezuela a Shot at Democracy

    At dawn in Caracas on April 30, security personnel carried out two bold moves in support of the interim government—and in defiance of Nicolás Maduro’s regime. These developments mark the best chance yet for Venezuelans to begin the next wave of reclaiming democracy and ending years of suffering.

    Opposition politician Leopoldo López was released from house arrest—nearly two years after being placed under house arrest and more than five years after being detained—by agents of the Venezuelan intelligence service who had been guarding his home. Move one in defiance of Maduro.


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  • US Envoy Sees a Role for Chavismo in a Democratic Venezuela

    Supporters of the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, should have a place at the table in a democratic Venezuela, US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on April 25.

    Nicolás Maduro currently leads the party founded by Chavez—the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). While the United States and more than fifty other countries recognize National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela, Abrams said PSUV should not be excluded from participating in a future Venezuelan democracy.


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  • Spotlight: Next Steps with Venezuela

    Despite increased, coordinated international pressure on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, he continues to cling to power. Maduro’s staying power has outlasted the Trump administration’s optimistic timeline, but, in this case, the stated goal of regime change is one worthy of perseverance. The need for a timely solution is exacerbated by the extreme humanitarian crisis – created by years of Maduro regime mismanagement – that has already prompted 3.7 million Venezuelans to flee. In order to achieve its policy objective, the Trump administration’s strategy should be broadened beyond sanctions.

    Sanctions are a useful tool when incorporated into a broader strategy, but rarely can sanctions—particularly primarily unilateral sanctions as in the case of Venezuela—fully achieve their stated objective. Even less likely a result from the application of unilateral sanctions is a timely outcome. The Trump administration is nearing the limits of what it can achieve in Venezuela through sanctions alone and a reconsideration of the current strategy is warranted.


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  • Russia’s Venezuela Challenge

    The first major showdown of our new era of great power competition, unfolding with accelerating speed over the past ten weeks in Venezuela, has entered a dangerous new phase. That is true, most of all, for the Venezuelan people, but also for Latin American democracies and for vital US interests in the Western Hemisphere.

    How this drama turns out may mark the most significant test yet of the Trump administration's credibility, following a highest-level chorus this week of President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, who all declared – in one way or another – that Russia had to get out of the country.


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  • Russia Ups the Ante in Venezuela

    With the arrival of its troops and military advisers in Caracas this past weekend, Russia has upped the ante with the United States over how to deal with the crisis in Venezuela.


    While the United States — along with dozens of other countries — recognizes Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela, Russia has thrown its lot behind Nicolás Maduro.

    And so it was that two Russian military aircraft carrying advisers and troops — as many as 100 troops according to some accounts — arrived in Caracas on March 23.


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  • Digital Resilience in Latin America: Automation, Disinformation, and Polarization in Elections

    2018 saw political tides turn in three of Latin America’s largest democracies. These elections also saw deep polarization and distrust in institutions among Brazilians, Mexicans, and Colombians in an information environment ripe with disinformation. Following a year-long effort in which the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and its Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) exposed and explained disinformation around key elections in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, on Thursday, March 28, 2019, the teams launched a comprehensive report that outlines trends and lessons learned from the 2018 presidential elections in Latin America.


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  • Has Progress Been Made in Containing Disinformation?

    The spread of online disinformation during the 2018 election campaigns in Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil demonstrated to social media companies that they need to “make sure that we are not solving just the problems that we saw in the US in 2016, but that we are really thinking steps ahead,” according to Katie Harbath, public policy director of global elections at Facebook.


    The three high-profile elections in Latin America made up “one of our very first big test cases” for new measures meant to limit the spread of false information on Facebook, Harbath said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on March 28. But while Facebook has had some success in limiting harmful activity on its platform, Harbath explained “we have to have different solutions for all of our different platforms.”


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  • Key Takeaways from Brazilian President's Visit to Washington

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s choice of the United States for his first official international visit as president did not come as a surprise given his vocal desire to reposition Brazil closer to the United States and his admiration for US President Donald J. Trump.

    Bolsonaro was joined on his March 18-19 visit by six of his twenty-two ministers, including Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, Justice Minister Sérgio Moro, and Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo. The Brazilians had a clear agenda: expand and deepen the areas of cooperation between the two largest economies in the Western hemisphere and gain the support Brazil needs to further attract trade and foreign direct investment.


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  • Braga quoted in NYT on Bolsonaro's Meeting with Trump


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