‘Casas de cambio’ have long been used by criminal networks to launder proceeds. Despite a very weak peso, dollars are still bought at bargain prices by ordinary Colombians, linking the typical role of an exchange house in the early stages of a transnational money laundering operation. Combined with corruption and intimidation, the authorities appear incapacitated to counter this well-tested technique.
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Despite impressive gains in the peace negotiations, the government and the FARC will struggle to meet the 23rd March 2016 deadline set by President Santos. When a deal is eventually signed, Colombia will not have achieved a uniform ‘national peace’. In fact, short term levels of violence will likely spike in the immediate aftermath, primarily because FARC elites will face obstacles in channelling the terms of any negotiation to the sub-factions that operate in isolated rural areas.
Armed vigilantism is becoming more evident across Mexico. They are a product of public distrust in the government’s ability to fulfil law enforcement duties, as well as its failure to prevent and punish acts of violence against local communities. Some movements operate well-organised, complex leadership structures in a uniformed manner, while others are smaller, less formal and more opportunistic. Most are well armed.
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Enrique Peña Nieto closes 2015 as the most unpopular President in the history of Mexican polling. In 2016, Peña Nieto’s ability to continue reducing the influence of domestic monopolies and formally implement a new National Anti-Corruption System will be tested. For their part, investors will have to adapt to adjustments in the regulatory environment whilst successfully navigating the volatile security dynamic.
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The Colombian government is close to a final peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Many commentators believe that a final peace accord will fuel investor confidence in Colombia as a potential economic ‘powerhouse’ in Latin America. However, the country’s volatile and intricate criminal underworld may be about to experience another transformation that could further complicate the ability of foreign companies to safely navigate certain sectors.
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