July 2019 — CANVAS

Weekly Report: 26 July 2019

Protests in Moscow (REUTERS) Cuba The recent brain scans of Cuba-based American diplomats insinuate some sort of brain damage; in late 2016, multiple staff members at the U.S. embassy in Cuba reported concussion-like symptoms, leading the United States to expel two Cuban diplomats. Dubbed “Havana Syndrome”, the mystery illness led to accusations of sonic attacks by Cuba. While no evidence of sonically capable technology has been found, recent images of the diplomats’ brains shows various abnormalities; although the scans appear to prove something happened, findings are inconclusive. Cuba has denied any possibility of a sonic attack and pointed out that U.S. diplomats have experienced the described symptoms in other locations.  Gabon A former member of the Gabonese parliament, Bertrand Zibi Abeghe, was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in instigating post-electoral violence. The Libreville Criminal Court sentenced Abeghe on charges of “violence and assault” and “illegal possession of a firearm.” His arrest stems from the 2016 elections in which he supported Jean Ping in the disputed election against longtime Gabonese President Ali Bongo, who first came to power in 2009.  Nicaragua A group of students submitted a request to stage a protest for National Student Day, despite the ban on protests that was implemented by the Nicaraguan government in September of 2018. The objective of the protest, the students say, is to reaffirm the demand for university autonomy. Despite direct warning from Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua, the students plan to hold the protest on July 25. A government spokesperson called the students “delinquents,” further causing tension leading up to the protest. North Korea This...

CANVAS Weekly Report July 19th

Cuba Communst-run Cuba passed sweeping governance reforms that solidifies a one-party system, while restructuring its government to have a prime-minister and provincial governors. The new law, which was unanimously approved, amends the 1976 constitution that vested all power into the president by outsourcing power to the legislative body and the prime-minister. The new law allows for two five year terms by the prime minister and shrinks its representative body from an unwieldy 605 to 407–– a number that is expected to shrink even further. The law aims to lighten the bureaucratic load on single-figureheads –– like the president –– and instead boost policy execution by more legislative bodies. Cuba has long touted its governance structure as more democratic than other Western powers but many are hoping that, Miguel Diaz-Canel, who took the presidency from Raul Castro last year, would further restructure its one-party system in light of Cuba’s social and economic over the last decade. Gabon On July 15th, the president of the Gabonese Patriotic Front (FPG), Gérard Ella Nguéma was arrested by the judicial police prior to taking part in a march in the town of Libreville. A FPG spokesman stated: “We still do not know the reason for his arrest,” adding that “it is possible that this is related to the somewhat harsh remarks that Nguema made against the Gabonese authorities during a press conference last week.” The spokesman was referring to a July 7th speech in which Nguéma accused several close relatives of Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who is currently recovering from a stroke in late October of a stroke, of trying to “manipulate” him....

Weekly Reports July 12th

Cuba For the past year, the U.S. has hit Cuba hard with sanctions against its ally Venezuala’s  state run oil company. But stopping the flow of Venezuelan oil to Cuba might prove harder than the U.S. expected. According to data compiled by Bloomberg News, tankers are being renamed and vessels are switching off their transponders to sail under the radar of the U.S. government. The vessel Ocean Elegance, an oil tanker that has been delivering Venezuelan crude to Cuba for the past three years, was renamed Oceano after being sanctioned in May.  Gabon FIFA, the international body governing football relations, has given Gabon’s football federation until Monday to explain how it is addressing salary errors dating back to 2016 totalling just over $1.35 million. As many as 20 clubs in the West African nation that hosted the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations owe money to a number of important players. African football’s ruling body stated that if the errors are not settled by the end of that month, Gabon’s clubs would be barred from continental competition.    Nicaragua Nicaragua’s political opposition says it is willing to resume dialogue with President Daniel Ortega’s government over resolving the country’s political standoff. The announcement to a letter directed to the Organization of American States by the Civic Alliance opposition group on Friday calls for the return international human rights groups in Nicaragua. In its most recent general assembly, the OAS gave Ortega 75 days to fulfill agreements from previous talks and return to the table. The Civic Alliance left talks May 20 after a man detained for political reasons died behind bars,...

Weekly Report July 5th

Cuba According to a report from SBS-AAP, Cuba is considering the use of cryptocurrency in order to bolster its finances. The country’s Communist government announced on state-run TV that it would potentially use crypto as part of a package aimed to boost incomes for as much as a quarter of Cubans and assist with market reforms. The announcement comes in the wake of new sanctions from the United States and Brazil on Cuba this week with the hopes to further cripple Cuba’s ally Venezuela. Venezuela implemented its own form of cryptocurrency last year to curb hyperinflation and economic catastrophe.   Nicaragua In a letter to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers, Human Rights Watch argued that the EU should impose targeted sanctions against high-level Nicaraguan officials implicated in gross human rights violations and condition financial support to Nicaragua’s National Police. The European Union should increase pressure on the Nicaraguan government to curb human rights violations by police and other officials in the wake of anti-government protests, The crackdown on anti-government protests by Nicaragua’s National Police and armed pro-government groups that began in April 2018 led to more than 300 deaths and 2,000 people injured. The HMR wasn’t the only organization to condemn the gross human rights violations, The Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly adopted a joint resolution condemning the Nicaraguan government on Wednesday.  North Korea Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that Alek Sigley is “released and safe” after being detained by the North Norean government. Last week, his family and friends lost contact with him, sparking fears he might have been detained, and these concerns...