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This Week in Latin America: Colombia's Peace Campaign

Campaigning for Colombia's peace plebiscite heats up. Plus: Ban Ki-moon visits Argentina, the Rio Games continue, and more.
Mintic Colombia (flickr) July 27, 2012 CC by 2.0

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Colombia's Peace Campaign: Colombian officials are preparing for the end of hostilities with the FARC despite indications that many in the country oppose a proposed peace deal. Government, FARC and U.N. representatives will today begin verifying 23 "concentration zones" in which the guerrillas will remain for up to six months after a final accord is signed. But 50 percent of respondents in a poll published over the weekend said they would vote "no" in a plebiscite on the deal, with just 39 percent saying they intended to vote in favor. President Juan Manuel Santos is also facing some of the lowest approval ratings of his six-year administration and staunch opposition to the deal from former President Álvaro Uribe. Still, "yes" supporters have cause for optimism, with some other recent polling showing their side with the advantage.

Ban in Argentina: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Argentina yesterday for what will likely be his last visit to the country before his term expires at the end of this year. Earlier today, Ban met with Argentina's Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, who was his deputy at the U.N. and is now one of two Latin American candidates to replace him next year. Though considered a dark horse to win the job, Malcorra's candidacy got a boost following suggestions that she is the U.S.' preference for the post. (U.K. concerns over her position on the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) may yet scupper her chances.) In addition to meeting with Malcorra, Ban also met this morning with President Mauricio Macri and is scheduled to visit a monument to the victims of Argentina's military dictatorship. 

Cuba Migration: Many of the roughly 1,200 Cuban migrants who had been stranded at the Colombia-Panama border are headed home after Colombian officials announced plans to deport them. As of Saturday, some 500 migrants had come forward to be voluntarily sent back to Cuba, with Colombian officials saying they received assurances from the Cuban government that the returnees would not face any type of reprisal. A surge in Cubans trying to make their way to the U.S. that began in 2015 has picked up pace through the first half of 2016, an influx that has tested immigration systems in Costa Rica, Mexico and elsewhere. The Cuban government last week said the U.S. was to blame for the increase due to preferential immigration policies; many believe that the ongoing detente between Cuba and the U.S. will mean an end to the U.S.' "wet foot, dry foot" exception.

Summer Games: The Rio Olympics continue this week after a well-received, relatively low-budget opening ceremony on Friday that the LA Times called an "earnest celebration of the country's multicultural heritage" and an "unapologetic call for action on climate change." The ceremony, produced by "City of God" director Fernando Meirelles, reportedly cost less than half of the $42 million the ceremony racked up in London in 2012. As of Monday morning, two Latin Americans had taken home medals: Argentina's Paula Pareto won gold in judo, while Brazilian Felipe Wu won silver in the 10-meter air pistol. Most prognosticators don't see Latin American countries figuring heavily in the final medal count, but there are plenty of athletes to watch as events this week in cycling, fencing and more offer competitors from the region the chance to take home hardware. 

Economy in Brief

Two high-profile members of a commission to analyze financial transparency in Panama have resigned.

Ecuador's housing and urban development minister says the country needs tourism in order to recover financially from the April earthquake.

Mexican participation in the U.S. economy rose to 14.6 percent in the first six months of 2016.

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Tags: This Week in Latin America

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