International Headlines: Politics


Venezuela to Review Relations with Guyana2015.07.09 Venezuela Analysis President Nicolas Maduro has temporarily withdrawn Venezuela’s ambassador to Guyana due to a disagreement over longtime disputed waters. The “Essequibo zone,” which lies between the two, originally belonged to Venezuela in the 1600s, before being subsequently granted to the former British colonial rulers of Guyana in 1814 by the Dutch. The land has been under UN mediation since 1966. While the disputed territory has been addressed principally through diplomatic routes for decades, relations between the two countries have come under significant strain after March of this years when the Guyanese government made a US$200 million deal with Exxon Mobil to allow it to start drilling offshore in the oil rich territory. The move was immediately contested by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, which maintains that Guyana is not authorised to give permission to explore and drill on disputed territory and requested that exploration be halted until the dispute is resolved. Maduro initially issued a maritime decree outlining Venezuela’s maritime borders as including the disputed area, a move which caused the Guyanese government to warn Venezuela to stay away from the drilling project and to label Maduro’s decree as illegal. Maduro has since announced a revision of diplomatic relations between the countries, the convocation of a diplomatic meeting between the two mediated by the presidency of CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), and an acceptance of an offer from the UN to mediate.

USTR officially announces TPP Hawaii meeting 2015.07 It’s Our Future The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative officially announced the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in Maui, Hawaii, but steered clear of calling it the conclusive meeting that could wrap up more than five years of negotiations. “Since they last met in May, trade ministers from the 12 TPP countries have been working continuously. As a result, we have made considerable progress in closing gaps on remaining issues, and we continue to work intensively to address specific issues bilaterally.  The upcoming ministerial provides an important opportunity to build on this progress as we work to conclude the negotiation,” the agency said in a statement. TPP trade ministers will meet July 28-31, but their gathering will be preceded by a July 24-27 meeting of top negotiators from each country.

"Something Big Is Happening": John Nichols on Bernie Sanders’ Surge and Rising Power of Movements 2015.07.14 Democracy Now! John Nichols, political writer for The Nation, recently introduced US Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at an event that drew a record crowd of more than 10,000 people. Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, is pulling the largest crowds of the election season, moreso than any other Republican or Democratic candidate. According to Nichols, however, the 2016 presidential candidacy is not about Sanders, but the movements that have developed over the last six years since the 2008 financial meltdown, in which people have begun to organize around economic issues and bring them to the fore. Both Democrats and Republicans are being profoundly influenced by movements demanding that income inequality, wage gaps, and wage stagnation be addressed - an “American equivalent of the global movements raising austerity issues,” according to Nichols.

We Know Why Obama Changed US Policy Toward Cuba. But Why Did Cuba Change Its Policy Toward the US? July 25, 2015 TIME Havana’s recent decisions are deeply rooted in what can best be termed as Cuba’s “revolutionary pragmatism.” Such an approach has guided Cuban engagement with the world from the 1960s to the present. Since taking power in 2008, Raul Castro has been open to reforms in an attempt to make socialism work for the twenty-first century. A key to the reform agenda will be attracting foreign investment, and the US would be a good partner. Finally, Raul is poised to step down from power in 2018. An improving relationship with Washington may help his likely successor better navigate the transfer.

This is an astoundingly good Iran deal July 16, 2015 VOX World The Iran-US deal is highly favorable for the US: Iran would be giving up a bulk of its nuclear program. Currently, if Iran decided to build a nuclear warhead, it would take 2 to 3 months. After implementation of the deal, it would take a year to build one warhead. One of the most important aspects of the agreement is strong inspections. Inspectors would not only be able to visit enrichment sites, but also centrifuge factories, uranium mines, and the mills where uranium ore is processed. Furthermore, inspectors would be required to pre-approve all sales to Iran of nuclear-related equipment that can be used toward a nuclear program. Even Iran’s relatively small program of approved centrifuged and energy-grade uranium would be under constant monitoring. If the US thinks that Iran is violating the agreement, then it would be able to automatically bring back sanctions against Iran.