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Panama

Panama’s Supreme Court voted unanimously on Wednesday to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate corruption claims against former president Ricardo Martinelli.

Only two countries in Latin America—Costa Rica and Uruguay—can be considered “full democracies,” according to an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study commissioned by BBC for Democracy Day on January 20.

This week's likely top stories: the Panama Canal gears up to expand its Pacific coast facilities; Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro travels to China and OPEC countries; the 114th U.S. Congress starts its session on Tuesday with a Republican majority and plenty of hot button issues for the Americas; the trial of Guatemalan General Efraín Ríos Montt on genocide resumes; Uruguayan First Lady Lucia Topolansky confirms she will run for mayor of Montevideo in 2015.

Ways to tackle the region's problems of crime and violence.

This week's likely top stories: Juan Carlos Varela takes office as Panama's new president; Argentina negotiates a settlement with holdout creditors; the ELN attacks in Arauca; Costa Rica and Colombia advance to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time; Argentine Vice President Boudou faces charges.

This week’s likely top stories: Juan Carlos Varela will be Panama’s next president; talks between Haiti and the Dominican Republic are postponed; marijuana legalization goes into effect in Uruguay; a Colombian mine collapse kills at least 12 people; a Brazilian soccer fan is killed in Recife.

This week’s likely top stories:  Panamanian voters go to the polls on Sunday; Colombian farmers launch another strike; Venezuelan dialogue enters its third week; protesters demonstrate against Mexican telecom reform; the murder of a former colonel could challenge Brazil’s truth commission.

The future of the expansion work on the Panama Canal was put into question on Wednesday over cost disputes between the construction company and the canal’s authority.

Likely top stories this week: U.S. legislators make a last push for immigration reform; Correa visits Bolivia; The Colombian defense minister travels to Central America and the Caribbean; Juan Manuel Santos declines help from Jesse Jackson; a Chilean general involved in the “Caravan of Death” commits suicide.

Panama and Colombia are expected to sign a bilateral free trade agreement in Panama City today, finalizing a commitment that was reached by the two countries last June. Panamanian Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano and Colombian Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Sergio Díaz-Granados will participate in the official treaty-signing ceremony.

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