By Patrick Pierson.
The US is ratcheting up pressure on Cuba. Mexico’s Lower House has approved a constitutional reform that would allow referendums to shorten the constitutionally-mandated presidential term of six years. Mexican President AMLO is cracking down on immigration and customs agents after they were accused of extorting migrants en route to the US. The Nicaraguan government has released 50 political prisoners in a bid to make headway in ongoing negotiations with the opposition. Runaway inflation in Venezuela is cutting into the profits of robbers and kidnappers. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó continues his push for free and fair elections. Is Colombian President Iván Duque undermining the peace deal with the FARC? The opposition certainly thinks so, and the UN is also pushing back against President Duque. In a bid to improve faltering approval ratings, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra has sworn in former actor Salvador del Solar as Prime Minister. Brazil has agreed to allow the US to use a space launch base in the northeast of the country. Five students and three administrators were killed this week in a school shooting in Brazil.
Threats against politicians are on the rise in Europe. Here’s a quick Brexit roundup after another turbulent week of UK politics. Knife attacks are on the rise in Britain. Spain is preparing to exhume the body of former dictator Francisco Franco. France is partnering with Facebook to combat anti-Semitism online. The US ambassador to Germany has been the target of a number of recent threats. Germany is extending a unilateral halt on arms shipments to Saudi Arabia until the end of March. Last week, hundreds of thousands poured into the streets of Milan to protest against racism. The Austrian government is releasing a code of conduct for how tourists should interact with grazing cows. Is the US military preparing to erect Fort Trump in Poland? Amnesty International is accusing the EU of complicity in human rights abuses against migrants on the Croatia-Bosnia border. Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that Russia foiled the efforts of nearly 600 foreign spies in 2018.
As of this week, the Syrian civil war has been raging for more than eight years. What does the future of Syria look like? Can Syrian refugees ever return home? Saudi Arabia has rejected calls to cooperate with a UN-led investigation into the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Women activists continue to face severe repression in the kingdom. The US Senate has voted to end support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. A Bahraini court has sentenced 167 for their involvement in a sit-in outside the home of the country’s leading Shiite cleric. Five Afghan soldiers were killed by friendly fire this week when US planes mistakenly struck a military base. In Afghanistan, talks between US forces and the Taliban continue. India and Pakistan held bilateral talks this week after nearly going to war earlier this month.
Experts are sounding the alarm in India amid allegations that the government is manipulating economic data in the run-up to elections. In Myanmar, nine policemen were killed during an ambush in Rakhine state. Authorities in Malaysia closed more than 100 schools this week in the aftermath of a suspected chemical leak. The Philippines is facing a major water shortage. Filipino officials discovered more than 1500 smuggled turtles and tortoises this week. A prominent Vietnamese historian has been ousted from the ruling party after criticizing the government’s policy towards China. Cambodia and China have launched their third annual joint military exercises. China has promised that a new investment law will treat foreign companies more fairly. General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that the Chinese military is benefitting from Google’s work in the country. North Korea is considering suspending talks with the US concerning the country’s nuclear program. Forty-nine people were killed this week in an anti-Muslim terror attack in New Zealand.
In Egypt, dozens of suspected militants were killed this week in operations in the Sinai Peninsula. Protesters have deterred President Bouteflika from running for a fifth term in Algeria, and members of the ruling party are now trying to distance themselves from the ailing leader. Warlords continue to vie for control of Libya. Authorities in Niger are sounding the alarm over a fake meningitis vaccine. The diplomatic spat between Rwanda and Uganda continues. MPs in Kenya are beginning to ask questions about a border fence with Somalia that cost $35 million…and stretches for a full 10km. The DRC’s new President, Felix Tshisekedi, has pardoned nearly 700 political prisoners. Efforts to curtail an Ebola outbreak in DRC continue to face an uphill battle amid ongoing attacks from armed militants. Three officials from the Ghanaian foreign ministry stationed in the US have been suspended for misappropriating funds. A former Cameroonian defense minister and his wife have been jailed on embezzlement charges. Angola is set to receive a $1 billion loan from the World Bank. Roughly 200,000 people have been displaced by recent floods in Malawi.