Venezuela’s deepening political and economic crisis has spawned a crisis of leadership in both the ruling PSUV and the opposition coalition. With presidential elections slated for 2018, it has become increasingly unclear who will face off on the ballot. Diosdado Cabello could replace Nicolás Maduro as the face of the PSUV, while billionaire businessman Lorenzo Mendoza could step in to lead the fractured opposition. An election pitting Cabello against Mendoza would present voters with two radically different visions for Venezuela’s future.
In an attempt to secure his political survival, Brazil’s President Temer appears to have sold out to the agribusiness lobby. Confronted by corruption charges and declining public support, Temer has been seen to accommodate FPA requests, ostensibly opening up agri-sector opportunities to the detriment of environmental protection.
Venezuela’s new National Constituent Assembly (ANC) unlocks another arena of struggle between President Nicolás Maduro and his long-time rival, Vice President of the PSUV, Diosdado Cabello Rondón. As a member of the ANC, Cabello is well-positioned to shape a political future in which his power is entrenched, possibly at Maduro’s expense.
At a time of growing isolationist political thinking in the West, enterprises and investors should capitalise on the opportunities offered by China’s OBOR.
China has been on a global port buying spree, and the pace is quickening. Beijing believes that China needs to rule the waves to truly secure its status as a great political and economic power. If it plays its diplomatic cards carefully, its strategy of influence through ports will continue to gain traction.
King Salman’s one month tour of Asia produced several bilateral agreements of note between Saudi and China, particularly in the energy sector. However, the intentions of these may be more-deep rooted.
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By placing increasing strategic importance in Djibouti, Beijing can turn the country into a major trade hub and a gateway to African economies. Although the construction of China’s Djibouti naval base has been perceived as a security threat to the ‘West’, it brings good news for global investors.
Should the US take a backseat in African affairs during the Trump presidency, China would have ample opportunity to increase its dominance over the continent.
Shortly after his inauguration in 2012, President Nieto announced a major package of reforms to revitalise Mexico’s stagnant economy. The PRI administration introduced new education, energy, political, fiscal and telecommunications legislation. However, many of the reforms soon became open to influence from informal actors, primarily the business elite, who undermined their fundamental objectives.
While controlling the SNTE teachers union for almost 25 years, Elba Esther Gordillo garnered vast political influence and a reputation of being virtually ‘untouchable’. She was also able to amass a considerable personal fortune, allegedly using misappropriated funds to subsidise her lavish lifestyle. However, Gordillo's illusion of invulnerability was swiftly shattered by the Peña Nieto administration.
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Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, the founder of the Sinaloa Cartel, has risen to become one of the world’s most powerful drug lords, with a billion dollar transnational empire. Prior to his latest capture in January 2016, he had operated with relative impunity, surviving Calderón’s ‘war on drugs’, which conveniently wiped out most of his competition. This assessment addresses the long-held suspicions that he received direct governmental protection during this time.
The assassination of Gisela Mota, Mayor of Temixco, highlights how her political status was used by criminal networks to secure a favourable operating environment.
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