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Argentine presidential candidate Javier Milei gestures during the closing event of his electoral campaign ahead of the November 19 runoff election, in Cordoba, Argentina, November 16, 2023.

REUTERS/Matias Baglietto

Milei’s win raises pressure for completion of EU-Latin America trade deal

Javier Milei’s victory in Argentina’s presidential election could rapidly accelerate negotiations for a trade treaty between the Mercosur trade bloc and the EU. Milei, a self-declared anarcho-capitalist, vowed to pull Argentina from Mercosur altogether if he won. His victory raises questions about the future of the bloc and talks surrounding the treaty.

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Industrial engineer and former lawmaker Maria Corina Machado holds up a Venezuelan flag as she reacts to the vote count after Venezuelans voted in a primary to choose a unity opposition candidate to face Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in his probable re-election bid in 2024, in Caracas, Venezuela October 23, 2023.

REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

Oil exports or no, Maduro won’t let Machado win

Just two weeks after sealing a historic election pact with the opposition, the Venezuelan government announced Monday that it would suspend “all effects” of opposition primaries, thereby jeopardizing a six-month pause of US sanctions on Caracas’ oil.

The decision comes just days after strongman President Nicolás Maduro called the contests a “fraud” — but he’s really afraid of the winner, popular opposition leader María Corina Machado. The election deal was supposed to lift a ban on her and other opposition figures holding office until 2030, but state harassment evidently continues. Fortunately for the ordinary Venezuelans brave enough to go out and vote in an opposition primary, organizers say they destroyed the voter sheets, making state retribution more difficult.

So, will the US keep buying Venezuelan oil? Washington said it would swiftly shut off the taps if Caracas doesn’t follow through with its democratic commitments, but as we wrote earlier, leverage is limited. If Maduro’s options are keeping oil revenue and losing power, or accepting sanctions he’s survived for a decade to stay in control, which do you think he will choose?

Risa Grais-Targow, Eurasia Group’s director for Latin America, says the US will likely find discretion to be the better part of valor under these circumstances. Before snapping back sanctions, she continues, “the US will still wait and see if Maduro takes steps toward allowing candidates to participate in the general election, even if the ruling yesterday seems to go in the other direction.”

Colombian President Gustavo Petro gestures after casting his vote during the elections for governors, regional lawmakers and mayors, in Bogota, Colombia October 29, 2023

REUTERS/Vannessa Jimenez

Has Petro petered out?

President Gustavo Petro saw his allies lose elections across Colombia’s largest cities this weekend in what is widely viewed as a rebuke to the government and its reform agenda.

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Supporters of Argentina's presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich of Juntos por el Cambio party attend the closing event of her electoral campaign ahead of the October 22 general election, in Buenos Aires, Argentina October 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Martin Cossarini

Argentina’s wild presidential election

Argentines will vote on Sunday in the country’s most unpredictable, topsy-turvy election in recent memory.

The leading candidate is shaggy-haired firebrand Javier Milei, a social-media-savvy political outsider who describes himself as an “anarcho-capitalist.” Milei wants to radically shrink the government, adopt the US dollar, and ban sex education.

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A demonstrator holds up a model depicting a Chilean constitution book that reads 'The new Kastitucion' in a play on the word 'Constitution' and the name of far right-wing politician Jose Antonio Kast, while protesting against ongoing Constitutional process lead by right-wing parties, in Santiago, Chile, October 3, 2023.

REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

Chile’s constitutional efforts look doomed, again

Chile is in the tortuous process of drafting a new constitution to replace one drafted by its former military dictator. A new draft reads like a partisan wishlist – just like the left-leaning document voters rejected last year – but this time the far-right holds the pen.

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Undocumented Immigrants from West Africa, Mexico, and Venezuela camp outside the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.

Catherine Nance / SOPA Images/Sipa USA via Reuters

Biden approves hundreds of thousands of work-visas for Venezuelan migrants

As President Joe Biden left the Big Apple last night, his administration announced that Venezuelans already in the country could legally live and work in the US for the next 18 months.

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Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council and head of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

What We’re Watching: Worsening clashes in Sudan, Biden’s waiting game, Lavrov’s Latin America tour, a Chinese police station … in NYC

Violence spreads in Sudan

Fighting in Sudan raged on for a fourth day Tuesday, and it’s unclear who is now in control of the country. Many of Khartoum’s 5 million residents are hiding in their homes as street fighting and air raids continue in the capital. So far, more than 1,800 people have been injured, while the death toll is nearing 200.

Who is fighting? Two military factions are vying for control of the oil-rich country that’s been trying to transition to democracy since longtime despot Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the country's army chief and de facto leader since 2021, is facing off against Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the RSF militia. (For more on the rivalry, see here.)

Amid a battle for control of key infrastructure, Khartoum's international airport has been subject to ongoing shelling, while a US diplomatic convoy also came under attack Tuesday. And while the UN, US and regional bodies have called for a truce, both sides have rejected ceasefire calls.

Still, we’re watching to see whether regional heavyweights – including Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – that have a vested interest in the outcome have any luck in getting the two sides to stand down.

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Optimism about Mexico's political and economic future
The future of Mexico | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Optimism about Mexico's political and economic future

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here. A happy Monday to you and a Quick Take to kick off your week. I'm just back from Mexico, Mexico City myself, and lots of fascinating meetings, lots of takeaways. Thought I would give you some of my sense of what is happening there, Mexico and Mexico's context in the world.

First thing I would say is I come away pretty optimistic about where the country is heading overall, and some of that is the context of Mexico in an environment where China-US relations are getting a lot more challenging. There is some significant national security and strategic decoupling that is happening at the behest of US administration, governors, members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans. And also, there's a lot more uncertainty about doing business in Xi Jinping's China itself, given the rapid and sudden changes on COVID, on how to do business as a technology company, on rules and regulations for the private sector, rule of law and its absence, local competition, you name it. And so, even though I still fairly strongly believe that China's going to become the largest economy in the world by 2030, the idea that US corporations will be able to take as much advantage of that is increasingly uncertain. Almost any business leader you talk to in the United States is saying, "Yeah, China is an important market for us, but we are being more cautious about how much we want to invest there, going forward. At the very least, we're putting a pause on some of the big decisions we're making." And in many cases, they're starting to reduce some of that forward looking exposure.

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