Week in Review
25 May 2018
DEMOCRATIC CHARCADE. Venezuela’s recent election has resulted in the re-election of President Nicolas Maduro. Amid allegations of vote inflation, Maduro claimed that nearly 50% of the population voted - 68% for him - while the opposition claimed it was closer to 30%, immediately calling for new elections. With most of the opposition either being banned from the election or arrested, there was little in the way of a Maduro victory anyway. There were not even large riots afterwards, with the population exhausted from a poor economy, little to eat, and months of protest. Without the ability for the people to challenge the dictatorship, there seems to be little hope that democracy will return anytime soon.
THE PRESIDENT HAS THE NUCLEAR GITTERS. On 24 May, President Trump announced the cancellation of his much anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It appears Trump rushed into the meeting, seeing an opportunity to show America and the world what a great deal-maker he is, only to cancel it once he saw that North Korea was not going to give in to America’s wishes. It is difficult to know what will come from this. On the one hand, this prevents Trump from possibly making a bad deal with Kim, but also may lead to increased military engagement now that the two nations are not communicating as much.
A BRIGHT LIGHT FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS ILLUMINATES THE DARK SIDE OF THE NEW POLICY. Saudi Arabia has legalized driving for women under the new leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Yet, activists who were fighting for this right have been cracked down on, with 11 arrests being made this week. The government has labeled them traitors in an attempt to demonstrate the new rights as a gift from the Prince instead of being pressured from Western democratic norms. While the Prince has made some changes to better human rights, Saudi Arabia is not about to upend its entire system.
PRIVACY AT LAST, BUT AT WHAT COST. The European Union has passed legislation increasing internet privacy of users by requiring companies to gain consent before gathering personal data. Called the General Protection Regulations (GDPR), which goes into effect today, is considered a win for personal data, but what other effects may it have? An early concern voiced is that this will force companies to comply with the biggest ‘ad-tech vendors’ in the market, predominantly Google. Thus, in an attempt to protect people, the EU may have created an environment for even larger consolidation of power by some of the world’s largest corporations.
THE FORGOTTEN ROHINGYA. A report recently published by Britain’s International Development Committee has labeled the crisis a “deliberate state-sanctioned, long-term ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people”- nearly a genocide. Without any sort of international intervention the situation is bound to devolved into more death and violence. It will soon be nine months removed from the height of the Rohingya’s expulsion meaning many raped women will be having babies as well monsoon season beginning in South Asia. The United Nations Security Council must respond adequately, and hold Myanmar’s government and military accountable.
EUROPE’S FIRST REAL POPULIST GOVERNMENT. Since Brexit, Europe has been hampered by populist sentiment throughout the continent. Yet, none of these movements have materialized into fully governing parties with the Netherlands, France, and Germany demonstrating resistance to these uprisings. Now Italy has the first real populist government with two populist parties joining to form a coalition. While they have starkly different ideologies, they both are Eurosceptic and could cause great disruption if they can see past their differences. This is no small wave. Populism has established itself in Europe. The rest of continent must do more to prevent it from spreading.
GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE -- NO MATTER THE PERPETRATORS. Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group, has tormented much of Western Africa, in Nigeria alone they have kidnapped thousands of girls and caused over 1.8 million people to flee from their homes. Recently, the Nigerian military has had success campaigns, reclaiming territory, but not without controversy. Reports of the military raping women and girls as well as forcing them into detention based on their previous abduction by Boko Haram. This is not the first time allegations have been raised against this military, leading to a larger question about how modern conflicts is shaped by the gender of the people involved, particularly women and girls.