Navanti News Regional Forecasts | Latin America | 2021 |

Navanti News Regional Forecasts | Latin America | 2021 |

The year 2021 will be a year of elections across North, Central, and South America as popular discontent and economic woes caused by COVID-19 continue to spur social unrest and threaten peaceful transitions of power. Socio-economic disparities, a lack of democratic reforms, and political crises may continue to fuel insecurity and encourage populist leaders.

  • Mexico’s deteriorating security poses increasing challenges: In Mexico, violence has surged despite the pandemic as cartels sought to quickly take advantage of the extended lockdown and further entrench their presence. Criminal groups have used the time to concentrate on recruitment efforts and expand territory, winning hearts and minds by providing food and medical aid to local communities affected by the economic downturn. Likewise, turf wars have dragged on in strategic areas such as Guanajuato where the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (CSRL) have been waging a bloody war for control of the state’s smuggling routes. Coming out of quarantine, authorities will face empowered criminal groups, bolstered by new recruits, reinforced local support, and expanded smuggling operations.

  • US to face mass wave of Central American migrants: Chronic economic issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic, fueling gang recruitment, violence, unemployment, and continued mass migration from the northern states of Central America. In January 2021, a caravan of approximately 7,000 migrants clashed with Guatemala’s border security forces, with some successfully breaking through the blockade. Large numbers of migrants are expected to arrive at the US border later this year amid high hopes for relaxed border restrictions under the Biden Administration.

  • Maduro maintains tight grip on power in Venezuela: President Nicolas Maduro has secured his grip on power for at least the near future with the January 2021 announcement that the European Union will no longer recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president. Nevertheless, the country’s severe economic downturn is likely to continue under a combination of rampant inflation and US sanctions. Support from Russia, China, and Cuba show no signs of waning, and as of yet, there is no credible domestic risk to Maduro’s rule in 2021.

  • Social unrest to continue as distraction of the pandemic wanes in Colombia: Vast opposition to President Duque’s economic and social policies, as well as his management of the peace agreement with the FARC, could see a resumption of nationwide protests after the lifting of lockdown restrictions. Thus far, Duque’s response had employed only limited force, but a risk of escalation remains as public anger continues to boil over assassination campaigns targeting rural civil society leaders in the countryside. Meanwhile, the FARC’s rebranding as the Common People’s Party (Comunes) in January 2021 will seek to remedy the group’s negative image among much of the population, moving past decades of violent conflict towards legitimizing the group’s political participation.

  • Stabilizing Peru’s democracy: Peru will hold a general election in April 2021 in the hopes of putting an end to the ongoing political crisis that has seen the turnover of three presidents since 2016. Right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori is currently polling third in preliminary polls and has already stated her plans to pardon her father, Alberto Fujimori, a former president currently serving a 25-year prison sentence. Any newly-elected president will face substantial challenges to their agenda as the four-year crisis has widened the gulf to form an effective legislative coalition.

  • A challenge to Brazil’s democracy: Calls by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for a printed ballot may be seeking to lay the groundwork to challenge the outcome of the 2022 presidential election. Bolsonaro, who has vocally supported conspiracy theories that the US presidential election was fraudulent, has claimed that Brazil’s voting system may also be vulnerable to tampering. Despite Bolsonaro allies winning key positions in congress in February, November 2020 municipal elections showed an outpouring of support for new leftwing challengers to Bolsonaro’s government. Bolsonaro has increasingly flirted with authoritarian tactics to cement his political future, causing concern for the longevity of Brazil’s democracy.