Compass World: Potential Philippines Name Change
In an interview with CNN on February 19, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced she would run for reelection in 2020. Tsai (pictured) resigned as chair of the Democratic Progressive Party following heavy losses to their rival party, the Kuomintang, in the 2018 municipal elections. For previous coverage of the 2018 Taiwanese elections from The Caravel, click here.
LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
Maduro Government Assembles Coalition
In response to many countries—including the U.S., several European states, and several Latin American ones—recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, President Nicolás Maduro’s government is establishing a coalition of states that will continue to support it. Countries that support the Maduro government include China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, and Syria. Maduro (pictured left) is trying to portray the international support Guaidó has received as an American-led effort to undermine Venezuela’s sovereignty. He claims the U.S. is using sanctions as a weapon to oust his government.
Potential Philippines Name Change
Before a crowd in Maguindanao province on February 11, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (pictured) said he is interested in changing the name of the Philippines to “Maharlika,” a term associated with former-dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Maharlika allegedly means “nobly created,” but historians believe the term’s historical meaning was actually “freemen.” This misconception stems from claims of an ancient kingdom in Southeast Asia called Maharlika. No evidence exists, however, of the kingdom. Marcos claimed to have commanded a group of guerrilla soldiers during World War II known as the Maharlika Unit, but army investigators found the claim to be false. The name Philippines originates from the 16th century King Philip II of Spain, under whose rule the Philippines were colonized. Duterte believes that Maharlika would best capture the country’s Malay identity and remove any links to colonialism from the country’s name.
MIDDLE EAST & CENTRAL ASIA
Saudi Crown Prince Set to Visit India
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured) will arrive on February 19 in India as part of a visit aimed at increasing ties between the two states. This follows a similarly high-profile visit to Pakistan, during which he was conferred with the country’s highest civilian honor. India’s Foreign Ministry said that “trade and investment [and] defence and security” were set to be the primary topics of conversation. Saudi Arabia is currently India’s fourth-largest trading partner, with India being a top consumer of Saudi oil. After the India trip, the prince is also expected to visit China.
EASTERN EUROPE & RUSSIA
Putin Pushes for Annexation of Belarus
Following three days of bilateral talks between Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (pictured left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured right), Putin continued to push for Belarus’ annexation by Russia. He stressed that “fully independent states simply do not exist in the world.” Lukashenko was ambiguous on the issue of potential integration, saying, “Why would we bring up questions of the sovereignty of Russia and Belarus? It is like an icon, it is sacred.” Since 2011, Putin has pressed the issue of integration in accordance with the two countries’ 1999 Union Treaty, which was never implemented. Experts say the potential union would be modeled on the European Union, with a common currency, shared customs, and gradual political integration. Some do fear, however, that Putin may push for complete annexation and assume control of Belarus when he reaches the presidential term limit in 2024. Belarus was a former member state of the Soviet Union and has been an independent country since the U.S.S.R.’s dissolution in 1991.
Nigeria Postpones Elections
The Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission announced on February 16 that the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections would be postponed until February 23. The announcement was made mere hours before voting was set to begin in Africa’s largest democracy. The commission cited logistics as the main reason for the delay, frustrating voters and candidates alike. Voters from across the country traveled long distances to polling stations only to discover that the election had been postponed by a week. Major party candidates accused each other of attempting to manipulate the vote. The incumbent president and All Progressives Congress candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, urged Nigerians to “refrain from civil disorder and remain peaceful.”
WESTERN EUROPE & CANADA
European Commission Backs Merkel
In a blow to environmentalists in Germany, a European Commission court ruled that the federal government could forbid bans on diesel vehicles from city centers. If a vehicle could not meet a particular pollution threshold, then it would be banned from city centers. German Chancellor Angela Merkel opposed such bans and sought recourse through the European Commission’s court system. With frustrations over the federal government’s inactivity on pollution building, environmentalist groups saw the bans as a method of addressing pollution at the local level.
Writing contributed by Ben Richmond and Benjamin Barth.