Compass World: Spanish PM Under Fire
LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
Nicaraguan Opposition Consider Going Into Exile
In the face of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s crackdown on political activities by the opposition, the regime’s detractors have considered going into exile. The situation has become more dire in recent years, with human rights groups being shut down, journalists being jailed and protesters charged under anti-terrorism laws. The economic conditions in Nicaragua continue to deteriorate as capital flees the country and unemployment skyrockets. The 73-year-old Ortega has served as president since 2007 and previously served as president from 1985 to 1990. However, since 2017, with the election of his wife as vice president, he has consolidated power in the executive branch.
Second Rocket Man-Dotard Summit
At the State of the Union address on February 5, President Donald Trump announced that on February 27 and 28, he would once again meet with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, this time in Vietnam. The Trump administration’s special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, is currently in Pyongyang. He has said that the United States wants to see clear evidence that North Korea is moving toward denuclearization. During the speech, Trump appeared confident in the progress that America has made with Kim, boasting of the relationship between the two men.
MIDDLE EAST & CENTRAL ASIA
Ballistic Missile Tests in Iran
Iranian news agency Fars reported on February 7 that the Revolutionary Guard has developed and tested a surface-to-surface ballistic missile. Western countries have called on Iran to discontinue the program in the past. The European Union claims that under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the country must refrain from ballistic missile activity for at least eight years, but Iran argues that such a promise was not made definitively. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord in March 2018. Iran claims that the missiles have a 2,000 kilometer (1,243 mile) range, putting American and Israeli military bases within reach.
EASTERN EUROPE & RUSSIA
Latvian Government Preserves Public Media
Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins announced on February 7 that a government coalition has arrived at an agreement to secure funding for the public media organization Public Broadcasting of Latvia. There were concerns over the future of the organization in recent weeks as lawmakers were unable to agree on its financing. Known by its Latvian acronym, LSM, the public broadcaster provides television, internet, and radio coverage of news in Latvia in Latvian, English, and Russian. It has been operating since 2013 under the ownership of the Latvian government.
Economic Reform in South Africa
With an election scheduled for May, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined his plans for economic reform in an attempt to regain the confidence of voters and investors amid an economic slump. The plan focuses on splitting debt-laden state energy firm Eskom into three separate entities. Ramaphosa also has to worry about not angering other members of his African National Congress (ANC) party with too much liberalization. Some ANC factions and aligned unions continue to oppose job cuts and privatization attempts at Eskom, but other state firms Ramaphosa calls “non-strategic” will be partially privatized.
WESTERN EUROPE & CANADA
Spanish PM Under Fire
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez received heavy criticism from conservative lawmakers after he allowed a “rapporteur” to mediate talks between parties in the separatist region of Catalonia on February 7. Conservative opposition parties called on their supporters to take to the streets in protest of Sanchez and what they have characterized as a concession to Catalan independence activists. Sanchez, whose Socialist Party governs in coalition, is depending on the votes of Catalan-based political parties to approve his budget and stay in power until the 2020 general election.
Writing contributed by Benjamin Barth and Ben Richmond.