Work begins in 2014 on the €29bn Nicaragua Canal: backed by Wang Jing, owner of hknd Group, it will link the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and be more than three times longer than the Panama Canal.
Three challenges for mexico in 2014
President Enrique Peña Nieto spent much of his first year passing laws and taking on special interests. His education reforms angered teachers, while his plans to open up Mexico’s oil industry to foreign companies sparked fury on the left; he also proposed radical reforms on dealing with drug crime and telecoms. It has at times made it hard to keep his coalition together and the challenges will become ever harder.
Drug war and legalisation
Since Peña Nieto’s predecessor Felipe Calderón declared a full-blown offensive against the cartels there have been about 60,000 deaths. Peña Nieto’s biggest test will be to either crush the narcos (seemingly impossible) or join the global conversation about decriminalisation.
Kickstarting the economy
Mexico’s economic deceleration is surprising for a country that has 12 free trade agreements with 44 countries. But its main problem is the lack of commercial and market diversity, with 77 per cent of exports going to the US. Peña Nieto may want to start looking to Latin America, noted for its strong economies and increased purchasing power in recent years.
A lack of trust in politicians, the army and police – all tainted by aiding the cartels – has in turn led to the creation of militias in weak areas of the country. Peña Nieto should focus on cleaning Mexico’s political and defence ranks.
Elections to watch
At the start of the year Dilma Rousseff would have felt pretty confident about re-election but the riots that started in São Paulo over a rise in bus fares and spread to more than 100 cities rocked her administration. While no one else is as popular, Dilma’s ratings have slipped dramatically.
It could have been Santos vs Santos – President Juan Manuel Santos’s cousin, Francisco, hoped to stand against him. Instead it will be former finance minister, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, flying the flag for ex-president Alvaro Uribe’s party. Peace talks with the Farc, which Santos has thrown his weight behind, will be one of the biggest issues.
November’s congressional elections will, bizarrely, be viewed through the prism of the 2016 presidential vote – but these ones still matter. Barack Obama has struggled to convince a Republican House of Representatives to back immigration reform and gun control. Can he get a more helpful House for his final two years?
Politician to watch
After getting 20 million votes in the 2010 presidential elections, Marina Silva (pictured right) would have been hoping to mount a serious challenge to Dilma Rousseff in 2014. Currently riding high in the polls, Silva planned to launch her own party, “Rede”, but failed to secure enough signatures from voters.
Instead she has joined the Brazilian Socialist Party and is likely to back the party of Eduardo Campos, a popular governor of the north-eastern state of Pernambuco. Silva will remain a vibrant opposition voice though. With her green agenda and the anti-politics mood of the Brazilian electorate she is well-placed to cause Rousseff problems.
City to watch
A dozen years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg comes to an end on 31 December and the legacy of the administration won’t fade quickly – not least because some of its key developments have yet to break ground, such as the inevitably iconic KPF-designed One Vanderbilt. The skyscraper would tower over, and connect to, Grand Central Station.
The next mayor will have to tackle a lack of affordable housing, a hangover of racial tensions off the back of “stop and frisk” policing and the ongoing Hurricane Sandy reconstruction. Not so simple for a mayor who, unlike Mr Bloomberg, will owe a fair share of political favours.