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April 13, 2016
As January is drawing to an end, it is the perfect time to reflect on the year 2013 in South America and look ahead to 2014 and beyond. Last year brought about many ups and downs for the region. It saw growth in its economy with countries such as Colombia, Peru and Chile setting their stalls out and making their claim as becoming the new kids on the block. Latin America also had its fair share of historical events such as the death of Hugo Chavez as well as some downs most notably the Brazilian riots that spread throughout the country. There is no doubting that 2013 was a rollercoaster year and as we take a look back we can also use the lessons from 2013 when looking forward to the year ahead.
When Hugo Chavez died in 2013, there were those who mourned and those who celebrated the death of the Venezuelan politician who had been in power since 1999. Millions of his supporters flocked to the streets in incredible fashion to queue up for almost 12 hours to pay their respects to who they saw as the father of Venezuela. This important event in not only Venezuela’s history but also the region and to the world re-energized the opposition parties which only narrowly lost to Nicolas Maduro who happened to be Chavez’s right-hand man. From a giant man in the region to the giant nation, Brazil was subject to an uneasy period spread out of several weeks of riots and protests. An unforgettable moment, as the press from around the world beamed the images of millions of rich, poor, young and old Brazilians taking to the streets leaving politicians scrambling for water to put out the fire.
Already at the beginning of 2014 we are seeing important events taking place. In Colombia, a key presidential election will take place in May with current centrist Juan Manuel Santos seeking a second term in power but will see fierce competition from the political right and progressive left. Meanwhile in Havana, the Colombian government and FARC rebels continue their closed-door peace talks meaning it is safe to say that Santos’ political and party future very much depends on the result of the Havana talks as much as in Bogota. With presidential elections in Uruguay, there will definitely be a change in power. The interesting character, Jose Mujica, the mastermind behind the legalisation of marijuana and abortion is constitutionally banned from running for re-election. The new president will be faced with managing the controversial new marijuana law which will no doubt be under the world spotlight as countries continually discuss this matter. Another interesting election taking place is in Bolivia, with the countries’ first indigenous leader, Evo Morales, running for a third term, a position he’s held since 2006.
Both the UN COP 20 climate change summit and the 6th BRICS summit will be held in Peru and Brazil respectively. Both will bring the eyes of the world to centre on these two countries as well as a host of world leaders who will spend their time discussing today’s big world issues. However, it goes without saying that 2014 is likely to be Brazil’s year on the international stage with the FIFA World Cup kicking off in Sao Paulo on the 12th June. With just a few months to go, Brazil seems to be feeling the pressure with incomplete stadia, hotel and flight prices shooting through the roof as well as construction site tragedies. President Rousseff will certainly be sat uneasily throughout the spectacle not only due to the football, but a couple of months after she will be seeking re-election in the polls. While support for Rousseff is by no means at its highest, as a result of the protests, the early polls suggest that she has clawed back some of the lead with her opposition beginning formal campaigns in the coming months.
There is certainly a lot to keep an eye out for in 2014 with plenty of political, sporting and most probably controversial events set to take place throughout the year. With important elections and the powerful looking to make a name for themselves in this ever-developing and exciting continent it is important not to get swallowed up by these events. As the riots in Brazil showed, it is vital not to forget to pay attention to the average Latin American, especially the youth who are finding their voice and is the most powerful and numerous. Therefore 2014 looks set to be the year of people power rather than the people in power as once the populations find their voice, there is certainly no stopping them and no way to ignore them.
What we can say is that 2014 promises to be an exciting and eventful year and we look forward to sharing with you the most important business, technology, medical and translation news from this fascinating region.
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