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Luisa Vieira

Is Latin America’s new “pink tide” for real?

Since it’s August we obviously can’t ask much of you, but try this for fun: take out a red marker and a black and white map of Latin America.

Now, color in all the countries currently led by leftist leaders. You’ll immediately be filling in five of the largest economies — Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Perú. By October, you’ll likely have added Brazil, the biggest of them all.

Along with stalwart leftists in Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and the new presidenta of Honduras, your map will have a big splash of rojo/vermelho bigger than any we’ve seen in at least 15 years. That’s when observers first hailed — or feared — a new “pink tide” in Latin America.

But is the region really back in the red, so to speak? Or is this pink tide different from previous ones? Spoiler: they are not the same. Let’s look at what’s going on.

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Somalia appoints former al Shabaab spokesperson as minister in Mogadishu

REUTERS/Feisal Omar

What We're Watching: Somalia's new cabinet, takeaways from US primaries, Peru's president in peril

Somalia appoints former al-Shabab militant to cabinet

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has named former al-Shabab spokesperson, Muktar Robow, as Somalia’s minister for endowment and religious affairs. A veteran of the Afghan war, who was training with al-Qaida in Afghanistan during 9/11, Robow helped found al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow the Somali government in a bid to invoke a strict interpretation of Sharia law. The militants have killed tens of thousands since 2007, and they’ve recently been involved in cross-border attacks in Ethiopia. Robow (aka Abu Mansour), who once had a $5 million bounty on his head, broke from the al-Qaida-linked militants back in 2017. Arrested by Somali authorities in 2018 to prevent him from running for office, Robow had been under house arrest in Mogadishu until last year, when he was taken back into custody. This week, he was released just before his new role was announced. As the new face of Somalia’s war against al-Shabab, Robow is tasked with helming the ideological battle against the terrorists. Some believe this will strengthen the government’s hand against al-Shabab, but critics fear it could lead to sectarian violence.

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President Pedro Castillo during the appointment of the new Prime Minister, Aníbal Torres.

Latin America News Agency via Reuters

New president falls victim to Peru’s messy politics

A series of scandals and resignations have forced Peruvian President Pedro Castillo to shuffle his cabinet four times in his first six months in office. Lawmakers have already tried to impeach him once. Though his latest cabinet shuffle could bring some respite, Castillo is not out of the woods yet — and may never be. Why all the turmoil? We asked Eurasia Group analyst Yael Sternberg.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin holds talks with U.S. President Joe Biden via a video link in Sochi, Russia December 7, 2021.

Sputnik/Sergey Guneev/Pool via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Biden vs Putin, Rohingya vs Facebook, Peruvian congress vs president

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin agree to disagree. But what a disagreement it is…. From what we know, during their Tuesday video call, the Russian president made clear that NATO’s flirtations with Ukraine are a red line, and that Moscow is prepared to defend its sphere of influence. The Kremlin also wants to see movement on the 2015 Minsk peace plan, which would give Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine broad autonomy. Biden meanwhile stressed that if Russia stirs up fresh trouble in Ukraine, the US is prepared to impose more severe economic sanctions. The US president also told Putin that Washington doesn’t accept the idea that Ukraine’s interests are subordinate to Russia’s. All of that leaves us more or less where we were before the call: Russia with more than 100,000 troops camped out on the Ukrainian border, and the US sounding the alarm about a possible invasion.

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A protester wearing a protective mask stands in front of a banner during the demonstration. Thousands of people marched through Central London in protest of what the demonstrators call Ethiopia's and Eritrea's "genocidal war" on the region of Tigray.

Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

What we’re watching: Tigray ceasefire, Peruvians protest endless election, North Koreans cry for Kim, Tour crash suspect vanishes

Ceasefire in Ethiopia: In a stunning about-face, Ethiopian forces on Monday withdrew entirely from the Tigrayan capital of Mekelle, and declared an immediate, unilateral ceasefire. War has raged in Tigray since November, when a dispute over election dates ignited long-simmering tensions between Tigrayan militants and Ethiopian government forces. Since then Ethiopian government troops, aided by soldiers from neighboring Eritrea as well as irregulars from other parts of Ethiopia, have waged a brutal campaign in the region — pushing it to the brink of famine and, human rights watchdogs say, committing war crimes. In recent weeks, Tigrayan forces had mounted a forceful counterattack, regaining control over vast swaths of the region. The current ceasefire is meant to last until the end of the planting season, in September. Can the central government and the local Tigrayan leadership reach a more durable political agreement before then? After eight months of war, there is little trust and lots of bad blood.

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Peru's socialist presidential candidate Pedro Castillo addresses supporters while holding an oversized pencil, a symbol of the Peru Libre party, at a rally in Lima.

REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda

Peru makes a radical choice. Will it pan out?

Fed up with years of political dysfunction, and wracked by the world's worst per capita COVID death toll, Peruvians have made a radical new choice for president.

After a day or so of nail-biting uncertainty, the results of Sunday's runoff appear to show that Pedro Castillo, a Marxist-leaning former schoolteacher who gets around on horseback and carries an oversized pencil with him everywhere, has edged out Keiko Fujimori, the authoritarian-minded daughter of the country's former dictator.

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