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AS/COA Online's 2019 Trending Topics

Colombian ballots

A ballot box. (AP)

December 19, 2019

“Out with the old, in with the new” would be a good way to sum up 2019 in Latin America. All six presidential elections in the region saw the governing parties displaced, as well as new presidents running Latin America's two biggest economies. Moreover, we saw unrest and protests break out in several countries as demonstrators demanded change. 

These shifts were reflected in AS/COA Online’s most popular content of the year. Here's a look at the issued and events our readers (and listeners) wanted to learn more about in 2019.

The elections of 2019. Six countries held presidential elections this year, and the votes involved upsets and surprises. Opposition candidates won in Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and Uruguay, while Bolivia saw Evo Morales—Latin America's longest continuously serving president—step down and head into exile following disputed election results.

Get the information on who won, major issues, and more in our 2019 Election Guide.

Our most popular podcast of the year featured an interview with Nayib Bukele, the social media-savvy leader who won El Salvador's presidency, at our annual Washington Conference on the Americas. Hear him tell CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera about his plans for his country.

Revamped visions for Brazil and Mexico. With new presidents at the helm of Latin America's two largest economies, readers joined us in our regularly updated coverage of the first 100 days in office of Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro and Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO. Over the course of the year, we tracked these leaders' approval ratings, as well as views on some of their top initiatives and challenges. AMLO maintained one of the highest levels of support in the Americas, while Bolsonaro's approval ratings reflected a divided population.

Hear more about how these leaders set out on new paths for their countries with two of our top podcast episodes of the year: “Sizing Up the Start of AMLO’s Presidency” with CIDE's Carlos Bravo Regidor  and “Jair Bolsonaro's First 100 Days,” with AS/COA's Roberto Simon and Brian Winter.

Venezuela's political crisis. The year began with a dramatic standoff for the country when on January 23, then-speaker of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó took an oath of office to become the country's interim president, citing constitutional succession and Nicolás Maduro’s dereliction of duty. Months of tension followed amid a standoff between backers of Maduro and Guaidó. We traced the tensions in a timeline covering more than half the year.

Listen to a podcast on this tug-of-war with Guillermo Zubillaga, head of AS/COA's Venezuela Working Group.

It's the economy, stupid. (Um, no, we don't mean you, dear reader.) In the last quarter of the year, we saw protests break out in a number of Latin American countries, with weak and unequal economic growth seen as a culprit. So it's little surprise that our readers were interested in checking regional growth projections. Check our economic outlook charts from the first and second halves of the year. Another chart on income inequality—from late 2017, but still relevant to the unrest we've seen sweep the region—racked up clicks.

Chile's protests broke out in October and pushed for a reform of the dictatorship-era constitution. Hear our latest podcast with constitutional lawyer Claudia Sarmiento on what comes next.

An issue close to home. The future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA, has been in doubt since the Trump administration announced it would end the program in September 2017. DACA and the 700,000 young people in the United States it protects from deportation are now in legal limbo, pending a Supreme Court decision expected in 2020. Our updated explainer on the program's Obama-era origins, how it works, and where it stands was one of our most popular pieces of the year.

Beyond U.S. domestic immigration policy, we explored how migration affects U.S-Mexico relations in this podcast on a bilateral migration deal with the University of Texas at Austin's Stephanie Leutert.