canary in the coal mine Venezuala is in trouble

Asylum applications - canary in the coal mine

With pending elections throughout many countries in Latin America, the spotlight is on the numerous challenges facing the region, and specifically the Venezuela elections.  From organizations fighting “fake news” in Mexico elections to those that are a foregone conclusion such as Venezuela.  Elections have a ripple effect throughout all of the americas and one look no further than asylum applications and immigration numbers to see which countries are in the most trouble.  In a CNN article regarding Venezuelans fleeing the situation in Venezuela a couple of pictures tell the story.

Asylum applications 2017 comparing Venezuela, China and Mexico

Asylum Applications from Venezualans to US 2015-16

The key reason that individuals or families uproot and move to another country where there is still uncertainty is because they are almost certain that the current situation will not improve in the near term.  Whether civil war such as that of Colombia, to gangs such as Central America, to economic mismanagement a la Venezuela immigrants and asylum seekers are merely looking to improve their situation.

I was traveling in Venezuela shortly after the election of Hugo Chavez.  During my travels I met an executive from a global CPG company and very quickly it was evident that they saw the writing on the wall and were going to start moving many key assets out of the country.  Sure enough, the government started to implement policies that made it almost impossible for companies to do business in the country (most recently the government took over Kellogg’s facilities).  For a summary of the current situation in Venezuela this segment from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has brief rundown prior to the Venezuela elections.

 

For the first time Venezuelan asylum seekers to the United States have outnumbered that of Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.  Just like a major influx in Colombian asylum seekers in the past (which has since calmed as the country has stabilized and prospered), one key statistic to signal where in the world major problems are brewing is asylum applications.

While the current government in Venezuela is sure to win the “election” on Sunday May 20, 2018, the more important questions is whether the people of the country will survive another six year term or if something changes.

 


Mexico Elections: Facing challenges in 2018

In a year with multiple presidential elections happening through Latin America, the region and specifically the Mexico elections on July 1, 2018 face challenges. Just like the United States and the much publicized “fake news” phenomena, the issue is a global one and all countries are battling against disruptions in their systems whether from foreign governments, bots, or extremist rhetoric the battle is only beginning.

Slide from Latin America presentation by Le Black Room at Campaign Tech East 2018
Slide from Latin America presentation by Le Black Room at Campaign Tech East 2018

Returning from a political conference in Washington D.C. where “fake news” was a frequent discussion point, I came across America’s Quarterly (free at the American Airlines lounge) and there was an interesting breakdown of the key players in the Mexico election.  Corruption, crime and of course the economy will make the battle on July 1, 2018 an interesting one.  And while the debate may rage on which direction the country should go, and each person has their opinion on which candidate would be the best, the even bigger challenge is to make sure that there is accurate information for the voters to make an informed decisions during the Mexico elections of 2018.

Political advertising itself runs a broad spectrum and each campaign will defend itself as well as work to shine a negative light on the shortcomings of the other candidates.  Now with the proliferation of fake accounts, bots, unscrupulous campaigns now even have more resources to proliferate false information so the challenge is even harder for finding accurate information.  So, what is  or can be done?

  • Don’t just trust a headline or social media post.  The issues with social media are well documented
  • Traditional news sources (broadcast, print, and digital) have a code of journalistic ethics and years of experience.
  • Government voter pamphlets are a starting point for research on initiatives & candidates.
  • Fact checking organizations (again, worth reviewing process and who is supporting).  In the United States there are numerous, however in Latin America there are still some beyond the traditional media such as Verificado2018 / Verificado.MX (Mexico).

For the Mexico elections #Verificado2018 is supported by over 60 publications (from La Economista, Forbes, El Universal, Milenio, Televisa and more) and is non partisan.  While there is nothing that can replace reading and thinking about the information and sources, having these resources may help should you have questions about the information that you are seeing.