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This Week in Latin America: Brazil Protests—John Kerry in Cuba—Haiti Election Results—Panama Canal Workers Threaten Strike

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This Week in Latin America: Brazil protests, Kerry in Cuba, Haiti elections, Panama Canal dispute

Here's a look at some of the stories we're following this week:

Brazil Protests: A nationwide protest in opposition to Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff will take place on August 16. The wide-ranging Petrobras corruption scandal and what many consider a feckless response to Brazil’s faltering economy have led to calls for Rousseff’s impeachment; 66% of Brazilians now favor the measure, according to a recent poll. Turnout at Sunday’s protest, as well as upcoming decisions in two investigations into Rousseff’s use of state and electoral funds in 2014, could help them get their wish.

In a new AQ article, editor-in-chief Brian Winter takes a look at what impeachment would mean for Brazil's future.

John Kerry in Cuba: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Cuba on Friday for the ceremonial opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana. He will be the first sitting secretary of state to visit the island since 1945. The opening follows the inauguration of Cuba’s embassy in Washington, DC last month, and is the most tangible sign yet of improved relations between the two countries. Still, more significant steps toward rapprochement may be on the way: there is growing momentum in congress to lift trade and travel restrictions toward Cuba, with several prominent politicians from both sides of the aisle expressing their support.

Election Results in Haiti: Results of Haiti’s first legislative elections in nearly four years may be announced as early as this week, despite violence and low-turnout that disrupted – and in some cases delayed – voting in much of the country Sunday. Elections observers from the OAS will hold a press conference today to share first impressions of the vote. Two more rounds of elections, including a presidential contest in October, are scheduled for this year. Haiti’s president Michel Martelly, who is barred from running for a third term this fall, has been ruling the country by executive order since January, when parliament was dissolved.

Panama Canal Labor Dispute: Workers on a Panama Canal expansion project say they will go on strike Wednesday if their demands for a wage increase are not met. Negotiations between workers, the government, and the development consortium overseeing the expansion have been ongoing for two months; the workers are asking for an 8% increase, retroactive to July 1. The canal project, scheduled for completion in 2016, will allow “Post-Panamax” container ships, which can carry twice the volume of the largest ships currently using the canal, to pass through the waterway.

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Economy in Brief:

Mexico’s annualized inflation rate in July was 2.74 percent, its lowest level since record keeping began in 1969.

General Electric will supply 156 wind turbines for a 360-megawatt wind energy project in Brazil. It is GE’s largest renewable energy play in Latin America to date.

The year-over-year value of Chile’s copper exports fell 24.3 percent in July, as global commodity prices continue their sharp decline.

Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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