Prison overcrowding is widespread in Latin America, but Costa Rica has slowly started to implement politically sensitive, but needed, reforms. This includes vocational training programs and resisting tougher drug-sentencing laws.
The US Agency for International Development was alleged to have been using its programs as cover to undermine the Cuban government. It's far from the first recent claim of political meddling for the US aid arm.
Venezuela has faced increasingly tough economic and political times since the death in March 2013 of Hugo Chávez. President Maduro is promoting religious imagery related to the former leader and creating a 'civil religion' around his legacy.
Crime and the economy are motivating many Central Americans to leave the region, however, the link isn't straightforward. Murder rates, for example, improved slightly in El Salvador and Guatemala in recent years.