Latin America and the Caribbean saw some of the most momentous events in their recent history in 2016, with Barack Obama becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in 88 years, a peace deal being reached to end Colombia's bloody conflict and a visit by Argentine Pope Francis, the first pontiff to come from the heavily Roman Catholic region.
But tragedy also haunted the continent as a plane carrying a soccer team crashed in Colombia and Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti.
Mexicans were angered by comments from now U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that were seen as disparaging to migrants. Cubans mourned the death of their longtime leader, Fidel Castro.
The year saw history made when Obama landed in Cuba as part of Washington's detente with the Communist Party-run nation, pushing decades of acrimony between the Cold War foes deeper into the past. Marking a cultural opening, the Rolling Stones played to a huge crowd in Havana.
Another half-century-long standoff was brought to an end in Colombia, where the government of Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Juan Manuel Santos reached a modified peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebel movement. The conflict had left 220,000 people dead.
But there appeared to be no end in sight for Mexico's war against drug cartels. Mexican security forces recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman after he humiliated the government of President Enrique Pena by escaping from prison through a tunnel. Pena Nieto also suffered a political backlash at home over his surprise meeting with Trump.
Brazil was rocked by protests over corruption that led up to the historic impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. The political turmoil came as the country prepared to host the Summer Olympics in August while struggling with an outbreak of the Zika virus, which health experts believe causes the birth defect microcephaly. Brazil was also wracked by grief as most of its Chapecoenese soccer team was killed in the planer crash in Colombia.
Hurricane Matthew carved a path through the Caribbean, devastating the southwestern corner of impoverished Haiti, which was simultaneously trying to overcome political turmoil and protests caused by delayed elections.
Central America continued to be plagued by violence and gangs. In El Salvador, inmates were transferred from the Cojutepeque prison, which housed more than a thousand members of the 18th Street gang, to other medium-security prisons.
The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along its Pacific coast, sending the Andean nation into a state of emergency.
Venezuela was wracked by a severe economic crisis, hyperinflation and shortages of food and basic goods fueled by economic mismanagement and low oil prices.
In Bolivia's capital, police cracked down on people with disabilities demonstrating for better state benefits and equal rights. Argentine authorities investigated former President Cristina Fernandez for alleged corruption, dividing the country between her supporters and foes.
The year closed out with a death that marked the end of an era. Placed in a small coffin, the ashes of Fidel Castro were driven along the streets of Havana to start a four-day journey across Cuba to their final resting place in the eastern city of Santiago. The bearded revolutionary died at age 90.
In this Jan. 8, 2016 photo, a handcuffed Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is made to face the press as he is escorted to a helicopter by Mexican soldiers and marines at a federal hangar in Mexico City. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced Guzman was recaptured six months after escaping from a maximum security prison. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
In this Jan. 12, 2016 photo, a handcuffed Brayan Jimenez, the former president of the Guatemalan football federation, is escorted by police into a courthouse in Guatemala City. Jimenez has been a fugitive for a month after Guatemala issued warrants for his arrest. Jimenez allegedly took a bribe to sell television rights to the 2018 World Cup qualifying matches. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
In this Feb. 2, 2016 photo, a woman carries her parrot as a health ministry worker fumigates for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes inside her house at the Bethania neighborhood in Guatemala City. The Aedes aegypti is a mosquito that can spread the Zika virus which has suspected links to birth defects in newborn children. There is no treatment or vaccine for the mosquito-borne virus, which is in the same family of viruses as dengue. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
In this Feb. 5, 2016 photo, an anti-government protester drops a large cinderblock on the head of Neroce R. Ciceron, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A former captain of Haiti's disbanded army, Ciceron was beaten to death during a clash between members of the abolished military and protesters who were demanding the resignation of Haiti's President Michel Martelly. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Feb. 9, 2016 photo, a health worker fumigates against the Aedes aegypti mosquito at the Martires 19 de Julio cemetery on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. As part of the "war" on the Zika virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says can cause devastating birth defects, Latin America launched an offensive against the pest, employing hundreds of thousands of troops to fumigate and educate people about how to eliminate its habitats. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
In this Feb. 14, 2016 photo, Pope Francis kisses a child on the forehead during his visit to the Federico Gomez Pediatric Hospital, in Mexico City. History's first Latin American pope traveled to Mexico in February for a weeklong tour. The highlight of the trip came on the final day, when Francis traveled to Ciudad Juarez and prayed at Mexico's northern border for all who have died trying to cross. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
In this March 29, 2016 photo, a man shoulders a coffin with the remains of a loved one, who was slain more than two decades ago by Shining Path guerrillas, while walking to the cemetery for a mass burial service, in Huanta, Peru. The remains of 40 victims were returned to their loved ones in a ceremony supported by the International Red Cross. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Feb. 14, 2016 photo, mariachis backdropped by a mural depicting Pope Francis, as they wait for the popemobile to pass following the end of a Mass, in Ecatepec, Mexico. Francis condemned the drug trade's "dealers of death" and urged Mexicans to shun the devil's lust for money at the huge open-air Sunday Mass for more than 300,000 people in this violence-riddled city. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
In this March 20, 2016 photo, a Cuban wearing a U.S. national flag applauds as President Barack Obama's convoy passes by in the rain along the Malecon into Old Havana, Cuba. Obama's trip to the island nation was a crowning moment in his and Cuban President Raul Castro's ambitious effort to restore normal relations between their countries. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
In this March 21, 2016 photo, Cuban President Raul Castro, right, lifts up the arm of President Barack Obama, at the conclusion of their joint news conference at the Palace of the Revolution, in Havana, Cuba. Obama was joined by wife Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha in the first visit by a sitting president to the island nation in 88 years. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In this March 21, 2016 photo, soldiers stand guard outside the Planalto presidential palace where protesters have projected the word "Impeachment" on the building, as they call for the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, in Brasilia, Brazil. About six months later senators voted to impeach and remove Rousseff, Brazil's first female president, from office. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this March 25, 2016 photo, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger performs in Havana, Cuba. The Stones unleashed two hours of shrieking, thundering rock and roll on an ecstatic crowd of hundreds of thousands of Cubans and foreign visitors, capping one of the most momentous weeks in modern Cuban history with a massive celebration of music that was once forbidden here. The week opened with the arrival of President Barack Obama in Air Force One. (AP Photo/Enric Marti)
In this March 28, 2016 photo, government supporters argue with lawyers who came to the National Congress to show their support for the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, in Brasilia, Brazil. As the economy worsened, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in early 2015, with many demanding the ouster of Rousseff. Her foes in Congress introduced a measure last year to impeach and remove her. In April, the Chamber of Deputies approved and in May, the Senate voted in favor. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this April 11, 2016 photo, Argentina's former President Cristina Fernandez, left, is greeted by followers upon her arrival at the airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After spending four months in Patagonia, Fernandez' supporters gave her a hero's welcome at a Buenos Aires airport before facing a court over her possible role in an alleged scheme to manipulate the country's currency. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
In this April 17, 2016 photo, a woman cries as she stands next to a house destroyed by the earthquake in the Pacific coastal town of Pedernales, Ecuador. The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along its Pacific coast, sending the Andean nation into a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
In this April 17, 2016 photo, a government supporter cries after the lower house of Congress voted to impeach Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, outside the National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil. Rousseff, who was accused of using accounting tricks in managing the federal budget to maintain spending and shore up support, was eventually removed from office in September. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this April 17, 2016 photo, anti-government demonstrators yell as they watch the vote count on a screen, as lawmakers vote on whether or not to impeach President Dilma Rousseff on Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Chamber of Deputies approved the measure 367-137 and in May, the Senate voted 55-22 in favor. Rousseff was suspended and Vice President Michel Temer became interim president. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
In this April 18, 2016 photo, a waiter walks in to serve water to Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff during a press conference where she spoke about her impeachment process, at Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia. Rousseff, Brazil's first female president, was removed from office in September after a grueling impeachment trial that ended 13 years of the Workers' Party rule. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this April 19, 2016 photo, Fidel Castro clasps hands with his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, right, and second secretary of the Central Committee, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, during the closing ceremonies of the 7th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, in Havana, Cuba. Fidel Castro, who formally stepped down in 2008 after suffering gastrointestinal ailments, died on Nov. 25 in Havana at age 90. (Ismael Francisco/Cubadebate via AP File)
This April 17, 2016 photo shows covered in sheets, the bodies of a mother and daughter who were killed when their home collapsed on them during a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, in Pedernales, Ecuador. The death toll from Ecuador's quake surpassed that of Peru's 2007 temblor, making it the deadliest quake in South America since one in Colombia in 1999 killed more than 1,000 people. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
In this April 19, 2016 photo, Maria Victoria, 89, who was injured when a column fell on her after 7.8-magnitude earthquake collapsed her home, is comforted by her daughter Mariana in Estancia Las Palmas, Ecuador. President Rafael Correa had said the quake caused $3 billion in damage and warned that the reconstruction effort will take years. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this April 23, 2016 photo, a boy illuminates his home with a candle during a 24-hour blackout, in the El Calvario neighborhood of El Hatillo, just outside of Caracas, Venezuela. Energy rationing was added to the hardships faced by Venezuelans overwhelmed by inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and rising crime. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
In this May 3, 2016 photo, a woman in a wheelchair hangs from a rope under a footbridge during a demonstration demanding better state benefits and equal rights for people with disabilities, in downtown La Paz, Bolivia. People protested for almost two months but to no avail. Many who had traveled from the countryside returned home empty-handed. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
In this May 3, 2016 photo, protesters push against police who eventually failed to block them from reaching a footbridge where they planned a demonstration in downtown La Paz, Bolivia. The demonstration called attention to the group's demand for an increase in state benefits for those with disabilities. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
In this May 5, 2016 photo, Irama Carrero is aided by fellow shoppers after fainting in a food line outside a grocery store, in Caracas, Venezuela. Carrero, who said she hadn't eaten that day, had spent hours staring blankly ahead in the line for the elderly when her gaze suddenly became more fixed. She tilted backward and no one broke her fall. Her head smacked the concrete and when she came to she started vomiting. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this May 10, 2016 photo, diver Jose Luis Cifuentes covers his face in exhaustion and frustration inside his mother-in-law's home, saying he has no money to buy food, in Ancud, Chiloe Island, Chile, as the country faced its worst ever "red tide" environmental disaster, threatening the livelihoods of the local fishermen. The government declared an emergency zone along the southern coast that encompasses these islands known known for its dramatic landscapes, rich wildlife, quaint stilt homes and colonial-era churches. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
In this May 21, 2016 photo, masked protesters attack a police water canon in front of a burning pharmacy near Congress where President Michelle Bachelet was presenting the state-of-the-nation report, in Valparaiso, Chile. The anti-government protest began as a peaceful march but turned rough as some demonstrators threw rocks at police and gasoline bombs at buildings, resulting in the death of one man who reportedly died of asphyxiation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
In this June 16, 2016 photo, inmates ride in a bus out of the Cojutepeque prison in El Salvador. This prison, which houses more than a thousand 18th street imprisoned gang members, was closed down by the government, because it was unable to prevent the amount of illegal activities happening inside the prison walls. Inmates were relocated to other medium-security prisons. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)
In this July 7, 2016 photo, police exchange gunfire with drug traffickers at the "pacified" Alemao slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Half a dozen officers had entrenched themselves behind a cable car station while they shot it out with suspected drug traffickers in the sprawling cluster of slums in north Rio. Shootouts erupt daily, even in slums where community policing programs had successfully rewritten the narrative in recent years. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this July 16, 2016 photo, police responding to a call find the body of a young black man in the middle of a residential street in Caxias, greater Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio's ambitious security push to bring crime down and seize control of certain slums ahead of the 2016 Summer Games crumbled. Overall slayings increased in 2016, the victims overwhelmingly young, black men. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this July 17, 2016 photo, a woman carrying a bundle on her head wait in line to cross the border into Colombia through the Simon Bolivar bridge in San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela. In July tens of thousands of Venezuelans crossed the border into Colombia to hunt for food and medicine that are in short supply at home. It was the second weekend in a row that Venezuela's government opened the long-closed border with Colombia. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
In this Aug. 2, 2016 photo, a police officer pepper sprays demonstrators as a scuffle breaks out during a protest against the money spent on Rio's 2016 Summer Olympics on the route of the Olympic torch, in Niteroi, Brazil. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
In this Aug. 31, 2016 photo, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump walks with Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto at the end of their joint statement at Los Pinos, the presidential official residence, in Mexico City. Trump called his surprise visit to Mexico City a 'great honor.' A week later one of Nieto's closest advisers and confidants, Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray, resigned in a move seen as linked to the unpopular decision to invite Trump to visit Mexico. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
In this Sept. 25, 2016 photo, members of the marine wildlife conservation organization Sea Shepherd monitor the fuel tanker Burgos, as it continues to burn a day after it erupted in flames off the coast of the port city of Boca del Rio, Mexico. The tanker carrying gasoline and diesel off Mexico's Gulf coast was put out a day after the blaze began. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)
In this Sept. 16, 2016 photo, rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) arrive to El Diamante in southern Colombia. FARC rebels are gathered for a congress to discuss and vote on a peace accord reached with the Colombian government to end five decades of war. Historically secretive, this congress was the first one open to civilians. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
In this Sept. 26, 2016 photo, rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, embrace in Yari Plains, southern Colombia, as they watch the ceremony where President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, signed a peace accord to end more than five decades of conflict in the Caribbean city of Cartagena. In late November, Santos signed a new peace agreement with the country's largest rebel movement nearly two months after the original deal was rejected in a referendum. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
In this Oct. 3, 2016 photo, Haitian migrants receive food and drinks from volunteers as they wait in line at a Mexican immigration agency with the hope of gaining an appointment to cross into the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico. A surge in border crossings and a lack of immigration jail space prompted the federal government in November to start releasing Haitian immigrants who entered the country in large numbers in previous months, backtracking on a pledge to jail the migrants. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
In this Oct. 6, 2016 photo, a girl helps her mother to remove mud after Hurricane Matthew flooded their home in Les Cayes, Haiti. Haitian and international agricultural officials said it could be a decade or more before the southwestern peninsula recovers economically from Hurricane Matthew, which struck hard at the rugged region of more than 1 million people that is almost completely dependent on farming and fishing. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Oct. 7, 2016 photo, residents carry a coffin containing the remains of a pregnant woman, a victim of Hurricane Matthew, in Jeremie, Haiti. People across southwest Haiti dug through the wreckage of their homes, salvaging what they could of their meager possessions after Matthew killed hundreds of people in the impoverished country. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Oct. 6, 2016 photo, an elderly man, who was in a hospital before Hurricane Matthew hit, is carried home on a hammock in Baracoa, Cuba. He was carried back on foot because the roads were impassible due to damage caused by the storm, blocking all motor vehicle traffic to the area. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In this Oct. 8, 2016 photo, women from the Laguerre family cry as the coffin carrying Roberto Laguerre is taken out of the morgue, to bury him at the cemetery in Jeremie, Haiti. Roberto, 32, died when the wall of a church next door to his home fell during Hurricane Matthew. Matthew slammed into Haiti's southwestern tip with howling 145 mph winds Oct. 4. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Oct. 9, 2016 photo, a salvaged chair hangs in a tree amidst nearby homes destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, in a seaside fishing neighborhood of Port Salut, Haiti. Nearly a week after the storm smashed into southwestern Haiti, some communities along the southern coast had yet to receive any assistance. Residents who lost their homes and virtually all of their belongings struggled to find shelter and potable water. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
In this Oct. 22, 2016 photo, a guard lies dead inside the Civil Prison after a jail break in the coastal town of Arcahaiea, Haiti. Over 100 inmates escaped after they overpowered guards who were escorting them to a bathing area. Police officers searched cars and boats for escaped prisoners and captured about a dozen of the escaped inmates. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
In this Nov. 10, 2016 photo, a banner with an image of Donald Trump promotes an exhibition titled; "Trump: A wall of caricatures," surrounded by intricately-cut tissue paper known as papel picado, inside the Caricature Museum in downtown Mexico City. The exhibition, which featured dozens of works by Mexican and international cartoonists, mocked amongst other things the president-elect's derogatory statements about Mexicans and his plans to build a wall between the two countries. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
In this Nov. 21, 2016 photo, people walk through the charred remains of market shops gutted by an overnight fire in the Petion-Ville suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A major fire ripped through the central market in the hillside district above the capital. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
In this Nov. 29, 2016 photo, rescue workers recover a body from the wreckage site of an airplane crash, in La Union, a mountainous area near Medellin, Colombia. A LaMia jet carrying 77 people slammed into the Colombian mountainside just minutes after the pilot reported running out of fuel. The crash killed 71 of 77 aboard, including members of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team and a group of journalists who were traveling to the Copa Sudamericana finals. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
This Nov. 29, 2016 photo shows a television broadcasting black and white footage of Fidel Castro delivering a speech at a memorial in his honor in Guanabacoa on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba. With a shaking voice, President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died at 10:29 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25. He ended the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan: "Toward victory, always!" (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
This Nov. 30, 2016 photo shows a flag-draped cedar coffin containing the remains of the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro driven through the streets of Havana, Cuba. Castro's ashes made a four-day journey across Cuba from Havana to their final resting place in the eastern city of Santiago, to retrace in reverse his triumphant march into Havana nearly six decades ago. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
In this Dec. 2, 2016 photo, a man uses an image of Fidel Castro to shade himself from the sun while waiting for the convoy carrying the ashes of Cuba's late leader, along the central road near Yarigua, Las Tunas, Cuba. The convoy traced in reverse the victory tour Castro and his bearded rebels took after overthrowing the forces of strongman Fulgencio Batista in 1959, to his final resting place in the eastern city of Santiago. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Dec. 3, 2016 photo, a former combatant of the Revolutionary Army, Paulina Ballard, 81, weeps after watching the funeral procession carrying the ashes of Cuba's late leader Fidel Castro, in Santiago, Cuba. The ashes were interred Dec. 4, ending the nine-day mourning period for the man who ruled the country for nearly 50 years. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Visual artist and Digital Storyteller at The Associated Press