South America 2024: South America Today
In 2016 Colombia finally negotiated an end to its five-decades-long civil war. Meanwhile, with falling oil prices undermining Venezuela's economy and political stability, and protests challenging leftist governments in many nations, Latin America’s Pink Tide crumbled. As Venezuela descended into chaos, its GDP per capita fell below Colombia’s for the first time in modern history.
5 Jun 2012–19 Feb 2014 ALBA nations leave TIAR▲
Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela—the four ALBA members still within the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR, or Rio Pact)—announced their withdrawal from TIAR. Nicaragua left the treaty on 20 September 2012, Bolivia on 17 October, Venezuela on 14 May 2013, and Ecuador on 19 February 2014. United States President Barack Obama’s administration referred to the decision to leave as “unfortunate”, but respected it.
26 Aug 2012–30 Nov 2016 Colombian peace process▲
Negotiations in Havana, Cuba, between the Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) brought about a deal to end the more than 50-year-long Colombian conflict. A ceasefire was agreed on 23 June 2016 and, despite a referendum to ratify a peace deal being rejected in October, the Colombian government and FARC were able to come to an agreement on 24 November. This new deal was ratified by Congress on 29–30 November, marking an end to the conflict.
12 Feb 2014–pres. Crisis of Bolivarian Venezuela▲
By the early 2010s the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s dependency on oil and its policies of overspending and price controls were proving unsustainable. Following the death of President Hugo Chávez from cancer in 2013, his successor, Nicolás Maduro, continued his policies only to face recession, rampant inflation, rising unemployment, and widespread protests. In 2016 alone the consumer price index rose 800% while the economy contracted by 18.6%, leading to hunger in much of the population and a general social collapse.
24 Dec 2014–11 Apr 2021 Conservative Wave▲
In the wake of the 2014 crisis in Venezuela, demonstrations against government corruption and oppression broke out in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and other Latin American countries. Corruption scandals led to political instability in Brazil in 2016, while mass anti-government protests shook almost every other country in Latin America in 2019. The collapse of pro-Venezuelan governments in Ecuador and Bolivia led to those countries withdrawing from ALBA in 2018 and 2019. As a result of the largely popular wave, right-wing governments gained power across the region, bringing an end to the Pink Tide.
26 Feb 2020–pres. COVID-19 in South America▲
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Brazil in late February 2020 and by April the disease had spread across the continent, causing significant havoc. As of mid-January 2024 there were over 708,000 reported COVID deaths in Brazil (second only to the United States), 222,000 in Peru, 143,000 in Colombia, 130,000 in Argentina, 64,000 in Chile, 36,000 in Ecuador, 22,000 in Bolivia, 20,000 in Paraguay, 7,000 in Uruguay, and 5,000 in Venezuela. However, citing a lack of testing, some experts believe that the number of actual deaths may be many times higher than what is being reported in most of these countries.
8 Jan 2023 Invasion of the Brazilian Congress▲
In October 2022 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in the Brazilian general election, but the result was rejected by Bolsonaro’s supporters, who made unsupported allegations of electoral fraud. On 8 January 2023—one week after Lula’s inauguration—thousands of Bolsonaro supporters attacked government buildings in the capital Brasília, including the Supreme Federal Court, the National Congress building, and the Planalto Presidential Palace. Neither Lula nor Bolsonaro were in Brasília at the time, nor was Brazilian Congress active. It took Brazilian authorities over five hours to suppress the rioters.
23 Oct 2023–pres. Guayana Esequiba crisis▲
In October 2023 President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela called for a referendum, asking his fellow citizens whether they favored giving Venezuelan nationality to the 125,000 inhabitants of the Venezuelan-claimed Essequibo territory of Guyana. When they reportedly voted ”yes” on 3 December, Maduro instantly followed up by dispatching troops to the disputed border and allegedly penetrating Guyanese territory with special forces, prompting Brazil, the United States, and the United Kingdom to make moves in support of Guyana. The crisis was partially defused on 14 December, when, at a meeting in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Venezuela and Guyana made a joint statement agreeing to settle their dispute in accordance with international law.