Eighth edition of the LAPO
- Map of Latin America by Douglas Fernandes
Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC) recently released its eighth Latin American Political Outlook (LAPO). Edited by professor Olivier Dabène, LAPO is published each year in French by Sciences Po’s Center for International Studies (Les Etudes du CERI series). The Colombian Externado University publishes a Spanish translation. Both versions are available on OPALC’s website.
In its introduction, LAPO describes the political climate that prevailed in Latin America in 2015. In the backdrop of the end of the commodity export boom, the year was marked by a widespread crisis of governability, with presidents’ approval rates at record low levels. The news wasn't all bad in 2015: Cuba resumed its diplomatic relations with the US, and Colombia made significant steps towards a peace agreement that would put an end to 50 years of conflict.
The first part of the report provides insights on five countries that were under the spotlight in 2015: in Venezuela, President Maduro lost the control of the legislative assembly. The Bolivarian revolution suffered its first electoral defeat since 1998. In Argentina, the election of Macri triggered a turn to the right, after twelve years of left-wing domination. In Nicaragua, the president Ortega insisted on construction of a massive canal by a Chinese investor. The Colombian peace negotiations are also closely examined. Finally, the reasons and potential impact of the US/Cuba reconciliation are assessed.
The second part of 2015 LAPO examines the legacy of important historical events: 100 years of violence in Mexico, 30 years of democracy in Uruguay and Brazil, and 10 years of relations between Latin America and Arab countries.
The third part is dedicated to a comparative analysis of electoral outcomes, both at the national and local level. The issue of a possible “turn to the right” is addressed. The writer takes issue with such an appraisal, widely conveyed by the media. It argues that it is too soon to tell if the political shifts in the region are the product of a new ideological inclination or are simply the result of an economic crisis that is penalising the leftist incumbents.
The last part is a lengthy look at the conclusions of recent research. Transparency is an obligation for the extractive industry in the Andean countries.