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About Ivan Briscoe

Ivan Briscoe is Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the International Crisis Group, the international conflict-prevention organisation. Twitter: @itbriscoe

Ivan Briscoe es director del programa de América Latina y el Caribe del International Crisis Group, organización internacional para la prevención de conflictos.Twitter: @itbriscoe

Articles by Ivan Briscoe

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Migration bottleneck in southern Mexico

Hundreds of thousands of Central Americans flee their countries, beset by extreme poverty and intolerable violence, collapsing the southern border. Mexico and the US must do much more. Interview. Español

Cuello de botella migratorio al sur de México

Cientos de miles de centroamericanos huyen de sus países hacia el norte, acosados por una pobreza extrema y por una violencia intolerable. México y EEUU deben hacer mucho más. Entrevista. English

Colombia: paz real en tiempos de guerras tramposas

Mientras se rumorea que un "nuevo Plan Cóndor" acecha en América Latina, Colombia podría necesitar en los próximos años algo más que una mirada de reojo de sus ensimismados vecinos. English

Colombia: real peace in an era of phony war

While a "new Condor Plan" is rumoured to be stalking the region, Colombia might need more than a sideways glance from self-absorbed neighbours in the years to come .Español

Crime and the state: Latin America’s season of scandal

In Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, major scandals have highlighted the murky links between serious crime and the political arena. Why have hopes of reform been dashed? Español.

Crimen y estado: tiempo de escándalo en América Latina

En Argentina, México y Brasil, una serie de escándalos mayúsculos ha puesto de relieve los turbios vínculos entre la gran delincuencia y la escena política. ¿Por qué se han visto truncadas las esperanzas de reforma?  English

Mali: a colonel in his labyrinth

Western states have reflexively diagnosed the continuing violence and lawlessness in Mali's fragmented north to the ills of global jihad, willfully ignoring the region's deep links to the transnational criminal racket that sustains both the criminalized state and its criminals. 

Venezuela: taking the counter- out of revolution

Venezuela is politically polarised and so is much of the coverage of it. But just as the violence is now kaleidoscopic the international response must become more complex.

Back to basics for Colombia's rebels

As on-going peace talks in Havana address narco-trafficking amidst Colombia's continued economic growth, remnants of the FARC are more likely to turn to what were once the very seeds of the rebel movements: social banditry. 

London and Lampedusa, the two extremes

Just as the wandering elites of Damascus, Cairo or Tripoli seek salvation in London, the peripatetic poor and needy of the very same countries are drowning to the distant putting sound of an indifferent life-boat.

Chávez to eternity

This indeed is the authentic measure of the late president’s achievements: there is now no simple switch in Venezuelan public ideology – no going back. The turn in the post-colonial history of the region is unequivocal.

Will UK and Argentina ever reach reconciliation over the Falklands / Malvinas

Interstate conflict used to be the norm. Now, as old battles are being put behind us, Ivan Briscoe asks if the UK and Argentina can reconcile their differences over the Falklands/Malvinas.

Deals with the devil

Talk of a pact with criminals is beyond the pale in Mexico’s presidential election campaign. But the tentative success of a deal with gang leaders in one of Central America’s most violent countries suggests the time may have come to explore a new style of negotiations aimed at reducing appalling levels of violence.

YPF in the world

The sudden expropriation of Argentina’s YPF’s oil firm has stirred alarm across Spain, the EU and international business. But the galloping radicalization of economic policy led by a group of young officials in Buenos Aires is grounded in lessons drawn from the global crisis and the errors of European austerity. The results are uncertain, but the reasons are resounding.

Shots across the ocean: joining the dots of modern violence

Two bouts of gunfire on either side of the Atlantic gave the inspiration to this week’s series of articles. But if the statistics show that war is declining and criminal violence in most regions is flatlining, how should we read the redoubts of extreme insecurity? Are they holdovers from the past, or signs of the future?

Unsentimental partners: Obama goes south of the border

Obama’s trip to the stable democracies of Brazil, Chile and El Salvador beginning on March 19 is a sign of maturing relations between the US and Latin America. Nevertheless, a toughening approach towards security issues and the hard-headed calculation of US national interests will be a dominant theme.

A soundbite for the poor

How should civil society convey the countless loopholes, miseries and quiet victories of development in this digital era of time-compressed argument and ideological insinuation?

Tomás Eloy Martínez and the Argentine dream

The work of the Argentinean writer Tomás Eloy Martínez is intimately bound with the country’s modern history of political delusion and personal liberation. Ivan Briscoe reflects on a fiction-reality fusion that made a unique contribution to “inventing Perón”.

Saving Chávez

The political projects of Latin America’s radical leaders have democratic rhetoric at their core. But their dynamics, as in Hugo Chávez's Venezuela, often seem to pull in another direction. The tensions will come to a point of decision in this decade, says Ivan Briscoe.

The writing on the wall: media wars in Latin America

A contest over the media has become a defining symbol of Latin America's ideological and political divides. But the forces at play are more fluid and surprising than it may appear, says Ivan Briscoe.

The Americas and Washington: moving on

A wave of change across the Americas is transforming states and societies, creating new intra-regional and global alliances, and challenging the United States's hegemony. As the fifth Summit of the Americas gathers, Ivan Briscoe assesses these interlocking shifts.

Lockdown in Vienna: the UN’s drug summit

The global orthodoxy on the international narcotics trade lags far behind its spreading realities, says Ivan Briscoe.

Venezuela: troops, polls and an itch at the top

A crucial round of elections finds Hugo Chávez's tumultuous revolution at a historic impasse, finds Ivan Briscoe in Caracas.

(This article was first published on 21 November 2008)

The mirror stage: Obama and the Latin left

Last year, Time magazine made her the "Latin Hillary." It was a comparison which President Cristina Kirchner seemed to fancy, just as Germany was the country she wished Argentina to become. A few months later, bruised in the opinions polls and beaten in the convulsive struggle over farm taxes, she faced the press - for the first time in her presidency - and let it be known that Obama was her new idol. "I've never been as interested in a presidential election in the United States," she said.

Argentina: a crisis of riches

A seething revolt over farm-taxes has polarised Argentina in the early months of Cristina Kirchner's reign. But, says Ivan Briscoe, the dispute exposes a deeper crisis as the unresolved tensions of Argentina's modern political history return to confront its leaders and people alike.

Bill Richardson in Madrid

The Hispanic vote in the swing states, on a plate. This, in the kind of clumsily indiscreet code language that serves as competition for Obama’s vice-presidential slate, is what New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson regards as the key to Democrat victory. It is not hard to see that he wants the job: when asked directly, he recited the names of those undecided states, Colorado, Nevada and Florida, as if they were courses of a fine banquet.

This was a Monday morning under the gilded fronds and angelic chorus of the Casa de América, central Madrid. Ambassadors to Spain were there, as were the literati, the politically wired, and the media. Miguel Barroso, director of this excellent cultural centre and one of Prime Minister Zapatero’s closest friends, sat by Richardson’s side.

From the shadows: Spain’s election lessons

A cautious left outguns an intransigent right - just. But now José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government faces an even bigger political test, says Ivan Briscoe

Latin America’s dynamic: politics after charisma

The collision of epic ambition, popular mobilisation, elite resistance, ideological passion, consumer expectation, and messy reality is forcing Latin America's hyped-up leaders to face the unpredicted consequences of their own political projects. Ivan Briscoe maps the coordinates of the emerging new era.

(This article was first published on 19 December 2007)

Guatemala: a good place to kill

Guatemala's election is taking place against the background of a corroded state, riven society, disconnected elite and paralysed people. Ivan Briscoe's riveting essay dissects the elements of an unfolding crisis.

Venezuela: is Hugo Chávez in control?

"Everything is broken, and there is total movement." Ivan Briscoe plunges into the maelstrom of the "Bolivarian revolution" and emerges with a forensic assesssment - both panoramic and ground-level - of a major political experiment.


Argentina and the Malvinas, twenty-five years on

The story of how Argentineans have responded to defeat in the Malvinas/Falklands war of 1982 contains a quarter-century of contradictions, says Ivan Briscoe.

The great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, who had been raised to admire gauchos and English gentlemen in equal measure, was gravely aggrieved by the sight of his two favourite nations at war in the south Atlantic. "Two bald men fighting over a comb", was his bitter putdown.

A ship with no anchor: Bush in Latin America

The lives of north and south Americans are becoming both more intermingled and more unequal. This may be as significant for long-term United States interests as the region’s political polarisation, says Ivan Briscoe.

Hugo Chávez's operatic pursuit of a political "corpse" up and down the Americas provided the principal drama, but the most telling signs of the United States's radically reduced influence in its own landmass came in a more discreet fashion.

Spain: trials and tribulations

Three years after the Madrid bombings, Ivan Briscoe sees strength and weakness in Spanish counterterrorism.

Evo Morales: the unauthorised version

Bolivia's first indigenous president has the most potent life-story of any world leader. But a year after he took office, he governs a country as polarised as ever. Bolivian journalists Roberto Navia and Darwin Pinto tell Ivan Briscoe that 2007 will be make-or-break for the enigmatic Evo Morales.

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