A Big “Thank You!”/What I’m Watching in 2017

central america

Happy 2017! Apologies for the tardiness. It’s taken a while to get my feet of the ground this year.

First off, a personal note: I’d like to say “thank you” for checking out this blog.

WordPress users are able to see how many hits their pages receive. I’m happy to say that over the course of one year, the number of visitors who frequent notesbyhenry has steadily increased. I sincerely hope you walk away from this blog learning something new, or at the very least, walk away with something to think about. We live in a time of news-bombardment; highlighting some of the stories and issues in Latin America has been my objective since Day 1.

A lot happened in 2016. A lot of it has carried over to 2017. Here’s some of the stuff I’ll be watching this year:

Cuba: A lot has happened in US/Cuban relations in recent months, particularly Fidel Castro’s death and President Obama’s announcement that America’s “wet foot, dry foot” policy—which granted Cubans entry into the US—would end. On top of that, as of Jan. 20, Donald Trump is the new US President. How does Cuba move forward? Will Trump affect the relationship between the US and Cuba?

Venezuela: Recent months haven’t been good for Venezuela’s struggling economy. In December, it was reported that new, higher-value banknotes would be circulated by the government to help with food shortages and daily living, but they were never issued.  The minimum wage was also increased by 50 percent according to the Associated Press (to 104,358 bolivars, or about $30 a day), but that offered little relief in a country troubled by food scarcity. Looting and protests have become commonplace.

Colombia: After two attempts, the Colombian government and FARC agreed to a peace treaty last year. Politics may have triumphed, but how will everyday Colombians react to former FARC rebels re-integrating into Colombia?

El Salvador: Violent gangs continue to run El Salvador’s streets. How will the country address this issue? There have been reports that one of the country’s predominant gangs, MS-13, has asked to speak with the government with the goal of dissolving the gang completely, but this puts the government in an awkward position—there’s a lot of public anger projected toward gangs in El Salvador. The NY Times also reported that El Salvador went one complete day without a homicide, but its important to note that this only includes homicides that have been reported (not to be pessimistic).

Immigration: Illegal US border crossings were at an all-high time high in 2016. Some speculate that it was because Latinos wanted to get into the US before Donald Trump’s presidency. Others attribute it to the ever-present danger of gangs and socio-economic instability in Latin America. Whatever the reason, 2017 will be interesting to watch in terms of border security.

There’s also much more going on in the region—increased Mexican migration to Canada, corruption charges in Argentina and Nicaragua, the ongoing war on drugs. It doesn’t take too much effort to dig up a story.

What story will you be watching?

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