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Incoming Colombian president begins transition talks

On 21 June, Colombia’s outgoing president, Juan Manuel Santos, met with his elected successor, Iván Duque, at the Casa de Nariño presidential palace to discuss the government transition process ahead of Duque’s formal inauguration scheduled for 7 August.

Duque triumphs in Colombia but congress holds key

Iván Duque will become Colombia’s 33rd president on 7 August. Duque defeated Gustavo Petro on 17 June in the second round of the country’s most polarised presidential elections, which was reflected in a record high turnout. In his victory speech, Duque placed the emphasis on his determination to lead an inclusive government and root out the entrenched corruption of the political elite. But his reform agenda will hinge on his ability to build consensus in a congress controlled by traditional centrist parties representing that elite. Petro will lead the opposition to Duque’s government from the senate and the street, especially if he seeks to roll back the peace accord with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc).

Call to think big on trade

Over roughly the last three decades the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has been laboriously building up a patchwork of free trade agreements and sub-regional trade blocs. A new report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Connecting the dots: A road map for a better integration of Latin America and the Caribbean, suggests there is a lot more to be done to reap the potential benefits offered by regional integration. In fact, if the existing 33 separate agreements were to be blended into a single trading bloc, the report suggests that US$11bn in additional trade could be generated.

Crime in numbers

At the end of April Brazil-based Igarapé Institute, a think tank, published a report on citizen security, Citizen Security in Latin America: Facts and Figures. While the report does not break new ground, it is nevertheless highly valuable as one of the most comprehensive compendiums currently available of the underlying data on violence and crime in the region. If nothing else, it helps define the real dimensions of the problem.

Introduction

It is the midpoint of the year, and the June edition of the Regional Report: Brazil and Southern Cone focuses on some outstanding issues that have yet to be addressed by incumbent governments in the sub-region. Some of these issues are shared by more than one country. Others are more specific to a particular country or have yet to crop in neighbouring nations. But they are all pressing and require the attention of the respective governments.

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