One important development for us in the past year is the change of our name. We kept the same acronym, but we became Latin America Digital Beat (previously the Latin America Data Base) and launched a redesigned website.
We look forward to continuing our detailed coverage of Latin America into the new year. We will begin our new coverage of the region in January. However, we would like to take a quick peek at some of the events that affected Latin America in a significant way during 2017 (and many of these same issues are very likely to resurface in 2018).
Colombia and Venezuela
One of the most important topics we covered was the implementation of a peace accord in Colombia, an agreement that ended more than half a century of conflict. There is resistance to the accord from some sectors of the Colombian political spectrum, so watch for more coverage of this topic in 2018.
We also saw the near collapse of the the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro, but a divided opposition and clever political maneuvering have allowed the administration to remain in power.
Electoral developments were important part of our coverage during the past year. Presidential elections were held in Ecuador and Honduras and a primary election took place in Chile. In addition, regional and/or legislative elections were held in Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. We also covered the installation of new or incumbent leaders in Haiti and Nicaragua, and electoral maneuvering in Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Mexico ahead of important elections in 2018 and beyond. Corruption scandals also were the topic of our coverage, particularly in Brazil, Guatemala. El Salvador, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, Chile, and Peru.
The Trump Effect
The arrival of a new administration in the United States also had a very deep impact on the region, particularly on immigrants from Mexico, the Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) of Central America, Cuba, and Haiti The Trump administration's protectionist policies have also had significant economic implications for Mexico, particularly the push to renegotiate and/or its threat to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Continued violence against journalists in Mexico, particularly Veracruz state, ensured that the country remained one of the most dangerous places in the world for the news media. Violence also remains a constant in Central America, even though the region is official "at peace." Two countries, El Salvador and Chile, moved to reduce some restrictions on abortion, but policies remain fairly restrictive in the region as a whole. Uruguay legalized limited sales of marijuana, while Mexico's Congress passed an initiative approving the use of pot for medical purposes.
In Hati, the Senate approved a harsh law that would make same-sex marriage––and any pro-diversity expressions––punishable by both prison and an exorbitant fine. In Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s campaign to legalize same-sex marriage throughout Mexico suffered a major setback when a key committee of the Chamber of Deputies rejected an amendment to the Constitution allowing such unions
The Catholic Church remains a major source of opposition to liberalized laws on abortion, same-sex marriage and legalization of marijuana. Conversely, the Vatican under the leadership of Pope Francis is moving toward promoting a church that is more open and responsive to the poor in Latin America with the appointment of new leaders in Mexico and Costa Rica.
Disastsers also were part of our coverage during the past year, including two major earthquakes in Mexico, one in the southern region of the country and the other in Mexico City, Three major hurricanes caused significant damage in the Caribbean and Cuba.
Below are excerpts from some of the pieces we covered and the journalists who wrote the articles. Here are biographies of our 2017 Editorial Team and occasional writer Janelle Conaway.
|With Rev. Raul Navarro, S.J.|
-Elsa Chanduví Jaña, NotiSur, September 29, 2017
*(Elsa is also our Assignment Editor)
çao. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) recently called on countries in the region to take special measures to protect Venezuelan migrants -Janelle Conaway, NotiSur, May 5, 2017
|Lindajoy is also a Translating Editor|
-Lindajoy Fenley, SourceMex, September 13, 2017
-Andrés Gaudín, NotiSur, August 4, 2017
-Crosby Girón, NotiCen, June 15, 2017
-Johanna Marris, NotiSur, May 12
-Carlos Navarro SourceMex, February 22, 2017
-Louisa Reynolds, NotiCen, July 13, 2017
Northern Triangle: If they manage to enter US territory after an extremely perilous journey through Mexico, migrants from the Northern Triangle of Central America are now faced with a new risk: Anti-immigration stalwart Donald Trump as the new tenant at the White House. But the magnitude of the violence in their home countries––El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras––is such that it is not likely that their numbers will decrease in the immediate future.
-George Rodríguez, NotiCen, January 26, 2017
-Luis Ángel Saavedra, NotiSur, April 21, 2017
-Gregory Scruggs, NotiSur, July 28
|Ben is also a Translating Editor|
Our Editors and Administrative Unit
|Ileana Oroza Copy Editor|
|Carlos Navarro Managing Editor|
|Vickie Madrid Nelson (right) Associate Director for Busiesss Operations at LAI (with Carlos Navarro (Left) and Greg Scruggs (Center)I|
|The Staff of the Latin American and Iberian Institute|