March 2019 — CANVAS

Weekly Report: 29 March 2019

Activists and university students gather to demand the first election in Thailand, since the military seized power in a 2014 coup, Jan. 8, 2019. Jorge Silva, Reuters Cuba Prince Charles and Camilla visited Cuba this week, making them the first members of the royal family to visit the country for official reasons. The visit was organized in order to ease tensions between the U.K. and Cuba, who have been rivals in the past. While their visit was criticized by US Senator Rick Scott, who publicly asked the Prince of Wales to cancel the trip, Charles released a statement saying they hoped to showcase “cultural links between the two countries”. Nicaragua Amnesty International released a statement encouraging the international community’s support of Costa Rica in taking Nicaraguan refugees escaping the human rights crisis under Daniel Ortega’s government. There are currently 42,000 Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica that require international protection, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Around 23,000 have started the application process to achieve refugee status in the country. Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director of Amnesty International stated, “Forced migration is a consequence of the serious human rights crisis in Nicaragua. The impact of President Ortega’s government’s repressive strategies is clear even in Costa Rica”. North Korea North Korean officials have returned to the demilitarized zone days after saying they would withdraw from the peace process with South Korea. Analysts have said that the initial move to pull out from the peace process could have been triggered by the deteriorating relationship with the United States following the failed denuclearization summit last month. Kim Jong Un’s decision to return...

Weekly Report: 22 March 2019

People walk on a flooded street in Buzi, central Mozambique, after the passage of the Cyclone Idai. AFP/Getty Images   Cuba This week, the Trump administration announced their plan to end five-year visitor visas for Cubans, making it significantly more difficult for Cubans to visit relatives, or take part in academic exchanges within the United States. The State Department cited this decision as being one of reciprocity, due to Cuba’s only accepting one-time temporary visas from outsiders. News of the suicide of Kenyan Dr. Hamisi Ali Juma shocked news outlets, initiating Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman to hire a team of experts to investigate the events leading to his death. Senators have already alleged to harsh treatment of Kenyan medics in Cuba, potentially being a large factor in the doctor’s death. Senators have called on the government to further investigate the terms and conditions of the exchange program. Gabon President Ali Bongo’s office announced on Thursday that the president would return to Gabon this weekend for the third time since suffering a stroke late last year. In the announcement, the spokesman expressed the president’s excitement to return to his country, as well as his thanks to Moroccan King Mohammed VI for his welcome and support throughout Bongo’s stay. Bolivia This week, Bolivia expelled several Venezuelans that have been accused of conspiring against the Cuban Embassy in La Paz. Bolivian President Evo Morales maintains his close relationship with Venezuela, the relationship forming during Hugo Chavez’s regime. Five Venezuelans have been detained, and have confessed to being a part of political activities. General elections in Bolivia, originally scheduled for October 27,...

Weekly Report: 15 March 2019

A demonstrator shouts slogans during a protest against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s government in Managua, Nicaragua on 23 September 2018. Reuters/Oswaldo Rivas Cuba The work to ease tensions between the United States and Cuba first initiated during Barack Obama’s presidency has now reversed, with tensions now rising higher between the two countries. While experts say Cuba was eager to salvage the relationship, that has changed in Trump’s era of increased threats and sanctions against the island country. With tensions rising, Cuban state television channels have begun to air footage every night last week showing tanks rolling out and soldiers taking position. The airing of these images dubbed as “training for The War of the Whole People” is likely in response to the threat of a US invasion in Venezuela, which could potentially spill over in Cuba. Bolivia In a visit to Athens this week, Bolivian president Evo Morales voiced his continued support of Venezuela’s Maduro, and encouraged Western powers to stop meddling. Morales also said that history has proven Western intervention never bodes well, and encouraged the countries to rather support a dialogue within the country. Nicaragua This week showed both hope and disappointment in Nicaragua, amidst negotiations held between The Civil Alliance, made up mostly of students, entrepreneurs, and activists, and Daniel Ortega’s government. The negotiations were introduced to resolve the year-long struggle, but upon The Civil Alliance’s demands that Ortega release all political prisoners, Ortega’s government refused, and the opposition walked out.         Ortega’s government released a statement on Monday saying they were prepared to continue peace talks, to which The Civil Alliance responded by saying they would,...

Weekly Report: 11 March, 2019

“Lumad” teachers and students join other women’s groups in Mendiola to mark International Women’s Day on Friday. The lumad women paid tribute to their women leaders, teachers and human rights defenders, and protested the attacks against indigenous communities. Source: Earvin Perias Cuba Cuba has joined ten other nations in mentioning climate change in a new constitution through the inclusion of new amendments. The decision was approved by voters in late February, and comes alongside Cuba’s announcement of long-term plans to introduce policies that will tackle global warming. Gabon Gabon’s president Ali Bongo has returned to Morocco once again to continue receiving treatment for the stroke he suffered late last year. Bongo was only in the country for a short 2-day visit to address Gabonese officials. This is only the second time he has visited Gabon since the attempted coup that took place in early January. As Bongo continues to receive treatment in Morocco, officials have also had to shut down reports of his using a clone, or body-double for state visits. Rumors swirled after his visit last week that it was not actually Bongo visiting, though the government has been working to prove this is not the case. Bolivia Bolivia’s Unified Health System (SUS) was launched on March 1, and will cover around 70% of the Bolivian population with free healthcare. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called the system “extraordinary”, and have released statistics showing that Bolivia is one of the first Latin American countries to be active in their fight to reduce extreme poverty. Authorities estimate that SUS will cover around 5 million Bolivians who lacked coverage...

Weekly Report: 1 March, 2019

President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un before a meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam on Feb. 27, 2019. Saul Loeb / AFP – Getty Images Source: NBC Cuba Cubans voted on Sunday to update the country’s constitution while preserving the socialist system of government. Results showed that 87 percent of voters approved the referendum, which updated some of the language on electoral, financial, and criminal laws. While 4.15 percent of ballots weren’t counted because of mistakes, still 9 percent of voters opposed the new constitution – a high number for a country where opposition parties are illegal. Most opposition came from Evangelical Christians who fear the new constitution could eventually allow for the legalization of gay marriage. There was also some opposition from younger Cubans who fear the new wording is still too conservative and will not allow growth for future generations. Gabon Gabonese President Ali Bongo has returned to Gabon on Sunday following his month-long stay in Saudi Arabia for treatment of a health condition. This week he was immediately back to work, overseeing a cabinet meeting and meeting heads of the Constitutional Court and National Assembly and his chief of staff. His prolonged absence left many in Gabon feeling unsettled as the state of his health was not released.   Bolivia Bolivia declared a national emergency this week because of natural disasters caused by heavy rains over the past few weeks. On Wednesday, the country’s Minister of Defense announced that 5200 families have been affected and 59 homes have been destroyed in the 61 affected municipalities. By...