Latin American leaders are inclined to rewrite constitutions; Venezuela's political crisis has been years in the making; and Mexico's call to buy local has yet to gain traction.
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Colombia's Banco Falabella SA is stepping up its digital banking efforts with the introduction of Sofia, a robot utilizing artificial intelligence and tasked to answer online queries, La República's Vanessa Pérez writes. In addition to giving a different customer experience, the launch of Sofia will also cut transaction time significantly, as the robot is capable of carrying out processes in under one minute, said Hárold Martínez, the bank's innovation and development manager. The service can be accessed through Facebook and the bank's website, but Falabella is also looking to enable Sofia in other channels "where the idea is that communication is not through text but by voice."
The Mexican government's campaign encouraging people to buy local has yet to get off the ground, Juan Montes reports for The Wall Street Journal. The strategy is in response to the nationalist wave triggered by U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist stance and his attacks on Mexicans. However, the campaign has not made a major impact so far, largely due to inflation and low wages that have chipped away people's purchasing power. "I do care about my country, but I care more about my pocket," said a local who still prefers to buy cheaper imported goods. The soft impact of the campaign goes to show that "that the reality of interconnected economies has greater weight than a short-lived wave of nationalism," Montes notes.
The inclination of Latin American leaders to rewrite constitutions will not resolve the region's gamut of problems, Mac Margolis writes for Bloomberg View. On average, the Latin American constitution only lasts 29 years, a result of "the proclivity to treat constitutions like Wikipedia pages, where every political supremo gets a shot at the copydesk," Margolis said. This "Wiki-constitutionalism" further weakens the already fragile political stance in the region, and can only "upend public policy, roil labor relations, and send mixed signals to investors," a constitutional scholar added. In Brazil alone, calls for constitutional reform to spark direct elections in response to its current political crisis "is a sure recipe for prolonging Brazil's political agony," Margolis laments.
Los Angeles Times' Mery Mogollon and Chris Kraul argue that the political crisis in Venezuela is brought about by years of chipping away at democracy from two successive governments. Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez share a history of employing severe measures to take down political opponents, such as interfering in elections, arresting opposition leaders and shutting down news channels. "The cumulative effect of increasingly severe and blatant authoritarian measures can be seen in the wave of street protests in Caracas and elsewhere," a think tank head said. The opposition, which has "consistently hit a wall" in their efforts to take down the Maduro government, may only have public protests as their last recourse, experts said.