Year in photos from Latin America

As Latin America and the Caribbean say goodbye to another year, The Associated Press offers a look back at some of the most interesting happenings of 2015 through the eyes of the region's photojournalists. One of the most important developments throughout the year was the thaw of relations between Cuba and the United States, with a visit to the island by Pope Francis sandwiched in.

The Argentine-born Francis, who is the first Roman Catholic pontiff from the Western Hemisphere, also toured several South American countries. 

Latin America's political spectrum nudged to the right with big election losses by left-of-center governments in Argentina and Venezuela. First, market-friendly candidate Mauricio Macri was elected president in Argentina, where government intervention and regulation have been the norm more than a decade, then the Venezuelan opposition scored its first major election victory in 17 years of socialist rule by winning control of congress.

In Mexico, a national uproar over 43 college students who went missing after being detained by police in the city of Iguala put a spotlight on the country's problem of disappeared people, emboldening other families in the same area to come forward to tell the stories of their missing relatives.

Mexican authorities suffered embarrassment when notorious drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman escaped from the Altiplano maximum security prison west of the capital. He used an adapted motorcycle on rails to race through a mile-long tunnel his confederates dug to his cell. He is still on the run.

Peru's government waged a relentless campaign against wildcat mining in the Madre de Dios region in the Amazon, with police staging multiple raids on settlements to evict illegal miners and blow up mining equipment.

With public anger over corruption spreading in several Central American nations, allegations of wrongdoing forced Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina to resign. He was taken to jail to await trial.

Industrial disaster delivered a deadly blow to the Brazilian town of Bento Rodrigues, which was swept over by roiling floodwaters and mud unleashed when a dam burst at a nearby iron ore mine. The flood of mud and pollution eventually made it to the Atlantic, following the course of the Doce River.

Potential threats from nature kept the region's people on alert as volcanoes erupted — the most ominous being Cotopaxi in Ecuador, Volcan de Fuego in Guatemala, Momotombo in Nicaragua and Cabulco in Chile.

 

Curated by Enric Marti, AP regional photo editor for Latin America and Caribbean.



Sports


The past year was filled with sports events in Latin America, both traditional and not so traditional.

In a region where soccer is undisputed king, Chile won the South American crown for the first time as it triumphed in the Copa America tournament on home ground while world favorites Brazil and Argentina managed to lose once again.

The Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana tournaments saw spirited action as the region's best professional soccer teams competed — though not all the clashes were on the field. In Argentina, tempers flared in the stands and fans threw pepper spray at players for the River Plate club during its match with rival Argentine team Boca Juniors. The game had to be suspended.

The soccer craze even made an appearance at Argentina's Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. When Italy's Valentino Rossi won the MotoGP race, he celebrated by donning an Argentine national team jersey emblazoned with the name and No. 10 of former star and World Cup winner Diego Armando Maradona.

Drivers from around the world took part in the Dakar Rally, which was held again in South America, passing through Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.

The best track and field athletes from the Western Hemisphere competed at the Pan Am Games in Oshawa, Ontario, while in Palmas, Brazil, indigenous peoples from around the world took part in the World Indigenous Games, a nine-day event promoted as a sort of indigenous Olympics.



Text from the AP news story, AP PHOTOS: Editor selections from Latin America for 2015

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