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Colombia’s interior minister steps down

On 25 May, the office of the Colombian presidency announced that Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo had tendered his resignation, which was accepted by President Juan Manuel Santos.

Scandal plunges Brazil back into political crisis

The Brazilian government is on the verge of collapse after the supreme court opened an investigation into President Michel Temer, following accusations of passive corruption, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Regardless of whether the president himself survives, the government’s reform agenda is now severely jeopardised with potentially disastrous consequences for an economy that appeared to be on the way out of its worst recession on record. “The Temer government is dead; what remains to be seen is how it will be buried,” MCM Consultores, a financial consultancy, wrote in a note to clients on 18 May.

ECLAC lowers regional growth forecast

The UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has lowered its GDP growth forecast for the region this year to just 1.1%.

Can Colombia’s coca strategy prevail?

The government led by President Juan Manuel Santos is making a concerted effort to address domestic criticism and international concerns about a surge in coca cultivation in Colombia, especially over the last two years. In the second half of May, Santos and several members of his cabinet, particularly his post-conflict minister, Rafael Pardo, visited a number of communities of coca growers in municipalities formerly deep within the areas of influence of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc). So far more than 80,000 families have committed to coca substitution programmes in exchange for state financing. The government aims to eradicate 50,000 hectares of coca over the next year through its substitution scheme. It is an ambitious objective, complicated by the growing presence of illegal armed groups filling the void left by the Farc.

Secret recording could reverse Brazil’s fortunes

The beginning of May marked a period of relative calm for Brazil. President Michel Temer had just completed his first year in office. Much to his delight, the domestic economy was beginning to grow again (albeit slowly) following two years of recession. Investors saw positive returns on the local stock market and the value of Brazil’s currency, the Real, was stabilising. For Temer, all this was a vindication that his fiscal reforms, such as a cap on public spending, were working. But things suddenly took a turn for the worse for Temer following the release of leaked audio recording linking him to a bribery scheme.

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