2019 Elections in Central & South America: Improvement or Status Quo?

On the heels of the 2018 elections that brought Colombia’s (Ivan Duque), Mexico’s (AMLO Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador) and Brazil’s (Jair Bolsonaro) new leaders to the top post in Latin America, the 2019 elections may not be seen as reaching the same level of impact on the world stage.  However, for the six countries planning elections in 2019, elections are always key to defining whether the future for which path these countries take.

Latin American Countries with elections in 2019

  • Argentina
  • Uruguay
  • Bolivia
  • Panama
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala

For details of the election timing and key concerns, Americas Society / Council of the Americas is a great resource.

While Argentina represents the largest economy and a country facing numerous challenges, for the U.S., there is definitely a focus on Central America which is a key source of the immigration debate.

For Central America, the challenge is how to combat the violence and corruption that has been a key challenge to these developing countries.  For example, Guatemalans, who in the last election elected an ex comedian on a slogan of  “not a thief, nor a crook” who has ended up in a constitutional showdown with the UN-backed anticorruption CICIG and seems to be the opposite of his slogan.  Will there be a return to politics as normal, or will the next president go beyond slogans and actually embrace international anticorruption efforts.

No Easy Answers:

There are no easy answers for many of these countries.  While Argentina is facing a recession and inflation after Macri’s first term is trying to help the country rebound from more than a decade of Kirchner’s, Guatemala and Bolivia have constitutional challenges, and countries such as El Salvador have spent so many years of violence there are questions as to whether any politician will be able to make significant changes and bring stability to their countries.

Is there Hope?

As long as the people have a choice and elections are relatively fair, the politicians at the very least have to answer to the public.  Large protests against Guatemala’s president trying to oust the UN backed CiCIG to the judicial systems still maintaining some sort of check on power there is some hope.  However the road is full of challenges for many of these countries.