On 3 February 2019, Nayib Bukele, a 37-year-old businessman, addressed hundreds of his followers in the heart of San Salvador. Just an hour before his speech, the country’s electoral authority confirmed that Bukele had won the presidential elections, having obtained a robust 53% of the total votes.
Honduras has in recent years stood out for its relative success in making inroads against organised crime and in curbing its sky-high homicide rates. But beneath the veneer of its achievements lie dysfunctional politics, high levels of ongoing violence and deep public discontent — all of which have worked together to spur recurrent waves of social unrest and prompt hundreds of thousands of Hondurans to flee northward in search of a better life.
“The Monroe Doctrine is alive and well”, proclaimed former US National Security advisor John Bolton in April 2019, re-invoking an old vestige of American foreign policy dating back to 1823. A time when an infant United States was attempting to affirm its sphere of influence south of the Rio Grande, declaring that any interference in the region from European powers would be recognised as an unfriendly act against Washington.
In the late eighties most of Central American countries made minor investments in the energy sector, suffered several damaging power shortages and experienced fairly high power prices due to the elevated cost of oil and coal.
On 18th June 2019, senior officials from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama gathered in an annual meeting in Antigua Guatemala with representatives of the European Union (EU) to discuss issues and best practices related to implementation of their Association Agreement. Signed in 2012, the agreement aimed at scaling up the economic and political cooperation between the EU and Central America (CA) going beyond the simple unilateral preferential access granted to Central America under the EU’s General Scheme of Preferences.
The Central American region has a long history in the quest for economic, social and political integration. From the mid-twentieth century to the present, Central American countries – like many other open economies – have gone through two waves of regionalism that marked the emergence of new efforts to form homogeneous and integrated economic blocs capable of expanding markets at the regional level.
Costa Rica is pura vida. This is what an overwhelming majority of Costa Ricans believe. Indeed, according to a recent survey by Unimer, a surprising 87% of Ticos (as the inhabitants of this country are known), reported they were “satisfied with the quality of their personal life”. However, what is considered the oldest, strongest and most consolidated democracy in Latin America faces serious problems in terms of its economic, social and political situation.
From January 2020, Guatemala will have a new president. Alejandro Giammattei, a former director of the Guatemalan prison system and four times presidential candidate, will take office after having won elections in August 2019 in a second round with 58% of votes. He defeated Sandra Torres, ex-wife of former president Alvaro Colom who ended up in prison few weeks later, accused of having received illicit funding during her 2015 presidential campaign.
Instability and political conflict have been a constant in the recent history of Nicaragua. The last episode was the government crisis that broke out in April 2018.
Over the last few months, global TV networks have transmitted images of waves of people fleeing from Central America (CA). Many of them came so far as to risk their lives by trekking 3,700 km carrying children on their backs, crossing two to three borders illegally and fording torrential tropical rivers. These images de facto called attention to a phenomenon that is eradicated in CA, the causes of which bear strong economic and social implications.