May 2019 — CANVAS

Weekly Report: 31 May 2019

Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks on May 29, 2019. (Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/epa-EFE) Cuba  Cuba announced this week that it would legalize private Wi-Fi networks and allow foreign companies to import equipment like routers to the country. The move will expand connectivity across the island, where up until 2013, Wi-Fi could only be accessed at tourist hotels. The new rules will go into effect on July 29 and allow private businesses to provide customers with wifi. The many existing wifi networks built using smuggled equipment will now be legal and regulated, and the creation of new networks will be encouraged. While citizens will now be able to access the internet easier and legally, the state has not loosened their control of the internet, itself. The only internet provider on the island, state-owned Etecsa, will still be the only option for connectivity. Bolivia  Bolivia’s committee for the Defense of Democracy and other large opposition groups claim to declare a “state of emergency” after President Evo Morales and Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera announced their unconditional bid for a fourth term last week. Opposition leaders met Friday in Santa Cruz, Bolivia to demand the resignation of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal after the members sided with the nation’s Constitutional court to allow Morales to seek a fourth term. The opposition parties have also called for all party leaders to step down by May 31st. Opposition leaders argue if successful in his reelection, Morales will become a dictator for life and will set a dangerous precedent for leaders worldwide. Despite Morales’ power grab, opposition leaders, including former President Carlos Mesa, failed to commit to...

Mike Pompeo Is Needed in Sudan

They deserve more U.S. support; Photographer: ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP The U.S. secretary of state could help the cause of democracy with a timely visit to Khartoum. Since Sudan’s dictator Omar al-Bashir was forced out of office in April after months of popular protests, a struggle has played out between the country’s generals and civil society leaders seeking a full democratic transition. The Trump administration has encouraged that democratic transition. On May 8, for example, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan toldthe chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, General Abdel Fattah el-Burhan, to “move expeditiously toward a civilian-led interim government,” something el-Burhan had initially promised to do in negotiations with the democratic opposition. In the last several weeks, however, the generals have reneged on their promises. Some military units have fired on protesters. Negotiations to share power between civilians and the military have stalled. On Tuesday, the opposition called for a general strike. As a headline in Foreign Policy put it, Sudan is now in the midst of a “counterrevolution.” It doesn’t have to be this way. A well-timed visit to Khartoum from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can stop the momentum for a counterrevolution and get Sudan back on the right path. First, Pompeo should meet publicly with leaders of the Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that began the anti-Bashir protests in December, and the allied Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change. Meeting these activists first will help counter the pseudo-legitimacyconferred in the last week by America’s Arab allies: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. All three countries have hosted leaders of the transitional military council. Srdja Popovic,...

Weekly Report 24 May 2019

A woman holds a sign that reads “Fighting cheated election” during a protest following the announcement of last month’s presidential election results outside the Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia. Source: Reuters Cuba Cuba is experiencing a food shortage in response to the current economic crisis in Venezuela. Towards the end of 2018, the country was mostly experiencing a flour shortage, and as the 2019 year progressed, the price of pork and chicken significantly rose in price. Cubans have taken to social media using the hashtag #LaColaChallenge to post pictures and videos showing the long waits in grocery stores, angry customers, and food queues. The government has blamed the lack of food on international providers and the poor state of the milling industry, as well as blames hoarders for preventing others from getting the items they need. This week, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu said that Turkey will continue to support an end to sanctions and the embargo placed on Cuba. Following his meeting with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, he also reinforced Turkey’s support of Cuba through a series of tweets. Gabon President Ali Bongo dismissed both Vice President Pierre Claver Maganga Moussavou and Forestry Minister Guy Bertrand Mapangou this week in the midst of a scandal regarding the theft of nearly $250m worth of hardwood. In March, 392 containers of illegally felled kevazingo wood were found and seized by authorities, but by the end of April, 353 of the containers had disappeared. The kevazingo tree is very rare and therefore protected by law, though it remains in high demand in Asia. Several top Gabonese...

Weekly Report: 17 May 2019

People take part in a rally in support of same-sex marriage near the Presidential Office in Taipei on November 18, 2018, ahead of a landmark vote on LGBT rights on November 24. CHRIS STOWERS/AFP/Getty Images Cuba Cuba announced this week that rationing would begin on basic food items such as chicken, eggs, and sausages, as well as hygiene/cleaning products. In addition to the cut-back on basic supplies, Cuba has also faced a shortage of oil coming from Venezuela in the wake of their own economic crisis. The decision to begin rationing comes after weeks of empty store shelves and markets in the wake of Trump’s increased sanctions against the “troika of tyranny”: Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. The move is part of the Trump administration’s latest effort to put pressure on Nicolas Maduro’s regime and allies. The 12th annual march against homophobia in Havana ended Saturday with a number of arrests and violent clashes between protesters and police. The official “Cuban Conga Against Homophobia and Transphobia” was initially canceled last week because of “new tensions in the international and regional context”. Despite its cancellation, more than 100 demonstrators still showed up to recognize the day. Without permission from the government to march, those present were met with a number of police and state security officers willing to use violence in order to stop the event. Gabon This week, over 350 containers of protected hardwood disappeared in Gabon, the wood worth nearly $250 million. The government of Gabon has vowed to find and punish all who are responsible for the disappearance. The hardwood stolen was from the rare kevazingo tree, which is...

Weekly Report: 10 May 2019

Thousands gathered outside the palace to celebrate the coronation of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Source: BBC Cuba This week, President Donald Trump threatened Cuba with the “highest-level sanctions” following Venezuela’s Juan Guaido’s attempted uprising against Nicolas Maduro and his government. Cuba has been a known supporter of Maduro, along with Russia. Trump stated, “with the right moves, Cuba could do very well. We could open it up but we’re going to end up closing it up if they don’t get out of Venezuela”. The Cuban government decided to cancel its 12th annual Conga Against Homophobia March this week, a move concerning LGBT rights activists. The cancellation of the march comes after Cuba’s decision to backtrack on their plans to approve same-sex marriage under a new constitution. Norge Espinosa Mendoza, LGBT activist, stated, “Not allowing [the parade] is a signal that we are not welcome”. Gabon Ten members of Gabon’s opposition signed a request last week for a neurologist to examine Gabon’s President Ali Bongo to determine if he was fit to continue ruling. The request was quickly dismissed by a trial court, stating that “only a majority of either the government or the parliament’s two chambers can request the Constitutional Court to call for a vacancy of power”. Despite his prolonged absence from the country since his stroke in November, his doctors still expect him to make a full recovery. Nicaragua Nicaragua’s national independent newspaper La Prensa suffered a large-scale cyber attack this week, the latest in Nicaragua’s worsening press freedoms. The attack started Friday night when 11,000 bots per second tried to enter the site, causing the newspaper’s website...