President’s Column Q1-2024

President & CEO Column

Assessing the various key developments across Latin America, we, at the Institute of the Americas (IOA), see 2024 as a pivotal year with many socio-economic and political changes on the horizon.   

This year, Latin America will see five forthcoming presidential elections in Panama, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela.  Last month, El Salvador also held elections re-electing President Nayib Bukele – the self-described “world’s coolest dictator” – with a landslide victory, though his second term remains controversial given that country’s constitutional ban on re-election. Though 2023 proved to be a year that favored anti-establishment candidates, as seen with the election of Javier Milei in Argentina and Bernardo Arévalo in Guatemala, that trend is unlikely to continue in 2024.  

Across the region, security remains an ongoing concern, particularly in Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico.  Ecuador, once among the secure countries in the region, has in the past year experienced a rapid rise of violence attributed to the activities of internationally operating narco-gangs and crime syndicates. 

On the economic front, market watchers are keeping a close eye on Argentina, Latin America’s third-largest economy as newly elected President Milei implements his controversial “Chainsaw” economic austerity reform plan amidst ongoing hyperinflation, street protests and political turmoil.  As for Mexico, there are growing aspirations for new nearshoring-driven foreign investment, but this will largely depend on the country’s ability to provide greater access to clean energy and regulatory certainty as well as address continuing security concerns, issues that the next President of Mexico will need to contend with. By contrast, all eyes will be on Brazil this year as the host country of the G-20.  In 2024, Brazil is positioned to maintain modest real GDP growth this year driven by its export of key commodities (vegetable products including soy and strategic minerals), particularly to China.  Still, China’s recent economic slowdown poses future downside risks for Brazil’s exports.   

Across LAC, climate change-related risks are growing. Presently, a third of Mexico is experiencing extreme drought and neighborhoods in Mexico City have already begun rationing water, a trend likely to continue.  Historic droughts across Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil are directly impacting the agricultural sectors of these three countries and negatively impacting hydro-electric power plants that these countries count on for their power needs.  

Amidst this backdrop, IOA remained active this part quarter responding to the changing market demands and priorities across the region.   

In early January, IOA’s Energy Program published the 2024 Energy Outlook:  A New World Order Report, highlighting expected regional impacts on the energy market and across Latin America and the Caribbean.  Later that month, IOA’s Energy Steering Committee met in Buenos Aires to meet with President Milei’s new economic and energy leadership team during its first hundred days in office.  Concurrent with our in-country meetings, IOA issued a new report entitled Milei & Energy: First 100-Day Priorities & Honeymoon Checklist 

In response to industry demands to decarbonize the maritime sector in Mexico, in February, IOA’s Environment & Climate Change (EC2) program co-convened, with World Wildlife Fund-Mexico and the World Maritime Forum, the 1st Binational Forum on Sustainable Maritime Transports and Port in La Paz, B.C. To learn more about IOA’s sustainable shipping initiative and new industry alliances formed click here.   To address the need for more energy-efficient and eco-friendly buildings, IOA’s EC2 program also recently published Smart Cities:  A Blueprint for Urban Transformation in Latin America.

IOA’s continued collaboration and regional leadership to promote expanded regional economic integration across North America continues.  Most recently, IOA collaborated with the Wilson Center to translate and publish the Spanish e-book of the book North America 2.0: Forging a Continental Future co-edited by Alan Bersin and Tom Long.   IOA is now in the process of supporting the publishing print edition of Norte América 2.0.

IOA has also seen important developments with changing and new leadership in our board of directors.   Recently, IOA welcomed two new board members:  Abraham Zamora, the Chief Public Affairs Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer for Sempra Infrastructure and Daniel Parfait, the former CEO of Sanfran-Mexico and the former French Ambassador to Colombia and Mexico.   

After 30 years, IOA’s Chair Emeritus, David Weaver, stepped down from the board. We are deeply grateful for David’s many years of service and generosity in support of IOA and all that he did to further our organizational mission including providing critical funding for our Weaver Conference Center at IOA. 

Looking ahead, IOA is now busy with last-minute planning for our forthcoming Madrid Energy Conference scheduled for April 9-11, as well as our Western Hemispheric Dialogue on Climate Adaptation & Resiliency as part of the Cities Forward Initiative scheduled for June 17-18 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.   More on these upcoming events in this and next issues of Enlace.

We look forward to seeing you at the Institute’s programs over the coming months.   Thank you for your continued support.


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Richard Kiy

President & CEO