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Zuma´s Regional Drivers of Change May 4, 2009

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by Mathias de Alencastro

South Africa is having one of the hardest socioeconomic crises since the ANC came to power. Although the country is technologically advanced, it hasn’t been capable of sustaining his energetic needs. The Rand, underachiever currency of the year, lost 12% against the dollar in the past months. The growing inflation and the high interest rates slow down the foreign investments. Supposedly the model of Africa’s development, South Africa is recaptured by its own demons. Mbeki’s “Africa’s renaissance” doctrine is not convincing.

Photo by Fábio Zanini

Photo by Fábio Zanini

Jacob Zuma arrival to the head of the ANC and his election as president are taking place through an important transition period in Southern African politics. Presidential elections will be held in Angola and Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe is facing its deepest crisis. Apparently, Jacob Zuma found an external solution for the South Africa internal crisis. This approach might shatter the regional relations in Southern Africa

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Connecting Europe – EU Elections (1) April 21, 2009

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 By Dídac Gutiérrez-Peris 

This is the first of a series of articles related with the June 2009 European Elections.  

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European what?

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The starting point is something called Predict09 (www.predict09.eu), a website where we can find an accurate prediction of the European elections results. Combined with the conclusions of the last Eurobarometer (EB71) (http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb_special_en.htm) one thing is pretty clear: people don’t care about these elections, and more than 40% will probably not even vote. ConnexionOne could argue that that’s the natural reaction when you have an election with an incredible lack of “politicization” but there’s another crucial factor while explaining the social disinterest and that’s the absence of a tough strategy of political communication. What do we have to do to motivate the national media, the newspapers, the radio stations and TV to speak about different subjects from an European point of view?

 

At this point if someone expected a “yes, we can” and a list of things to do he will be probably disappointed. The answer to this question is that these medias will continue to inform mostly about national issues. And the reason is purely economical.

When you have an election where the second major party (the Party of European Socialists) does not present any candidate for President of the Commission (giving almost automatically before the vote the presidency to the conservative candidate J.M Barroso), you don’t have that much to write about.. No political battle, no political interest, no selling, no covering by the traditional media. That’s the equation. That simple. (more…)

Land conflicts in the country of safaris April 19, 2009

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by Vera Quina

p10302671Violent land disputes and forceful evictions of pastoralists have become commonplace in the once calm district of Kilosa, southern Tanzania. Since last January, clashes between pastoralists and peasants have left six people dead, a large amount of properties and houses destroyed and led to the displacement of more than 2,000 persons. The land question is central to the ongoing disputes in this area, but for some reason these events go unnoticed in Tanzania, one of the last peaceful countries in Eastern Africa.

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South American Regional Integration in the labyrinths of a Globalized World April 8, 2009

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by David Díaz

The potential of South America’s regional integration is enormous. Yet, it’s a process that stales indefinetely. Such it is the promise of uniting the continent that even back in 1824 the Libertador Simon Bolivar made it its priority. Back then, most of South America shared the fact of being oppressed by the Spanish. Yet, not even Bolivar’s firm fist could prevent the Gran Colombia to implode, and with it, his ambitions of a united continent. Eventually, South America became a fragmented mosaic of different entities, different pieces of a same puzzle.south_america_map3

      The US’ progressive rise to world hegemony has had an impact in South America like none other factor. The United States’ foreign policy towards the continent has shaped in many respects the structure in which countries evolve; from explicit military interventions to tacit neoliberal domination, the US have effectively organized the Americas mosaic in their own interest. “Pan Americanism” as an ideal of collaboration, of mutual respect between The United States and the rest of the nations of the Americas has proven to be an elusive chimera. In spite of the rhetoric, an undeniable hierarchical relationship has linked the United States with the South American continent.

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Economic crisis: Are we in good hands yet? April 1, 2009

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by Diego A. Zamuner

As the whole world is being affected by the consequences of the worst financial crisis since the Great Crash of 1929, with many gloomy scenarios coming from each relevant economic institution in the world every other week, many questions arise. Why can’t economists -and the government they advise- find a solution to this huge mess? g20leaderswashington15nov08Why with many people being aware of the risks taken by financial institutions all over, the system did nothing to change in the first place? With a few hundred years of development of economic thought, so many star economists out there, and quite a few universities claiming to offer the best economic courses in the world, why do world leaders not manage to agree on a solution? (more…)

The failure of Plan Colombia: a story of success March 16, 2009

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by David Díaz

The name of Cesar Gavíria by itself might not elicit worldwide recognition, but the former president of Colombia will always be remembered for orchestrating the military operation leading to the death of legendary drug lord Pablo Escobar. Such an achievement warrants the former first secretary of the OEA with an immaculate spot in the war against drugs’ hall of honor.

Yet, in a meeting with former presidents Zedillo (Mexico) and Cardoso (Brazil), Gavíria himself turns to be  advocating a change in drug policy, and his new stance stems from a simple conclusion: the war on drugs has been a failure. The latest chapter of this ongoing saga of erratic episodes is the bloodshed crippling the corrupted Mexican state of Ciudad Juarez where drug lords have overtaken the city.

However, in the drug war saga, another country has played a pivotal role in the experimentation of anti-drug policies: Colombia. (more…)

Copenhagen Summit 2009: What Can the EU Expect from Obama? March 11, 2009

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by Marek Kubista 

Obama’s attitude towards the environment creates hope that the US will be more supportive of green issues. The upcoming Copenhagen summit could end in great success. To this end, the US should first secure cooperation with Europe and then both should focus on consulting and including the BRICS.in BusinessWeek EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Copenhagen Summit is a crucial date for the international community, whose outcome will determine the future possibilities of global cooperation against climate change. This date is obviously a challenge for the EU since they consider themselves at the forefront of innovation, but this will be also be a huge challenge for Obama in light of his very ambitious environment. Yet, before an agreement is reached, he will have to restore trust with the EU and secure its cooperation, to stand united against more skeptical countries; the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China).

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France is back – let’s call them “NATO fries” February 26, 2009

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by Anita Kirpalani

Nicolas Sarkozy hit again with his politics of reform. But this time, by deciding to bring France back into NATO’s military command, he struck against the mythology of his own political family. It is too bad that, for once, the Gaullist narrative of independence from the United States is, in France, actually shared by both the left and the right.

NATO Summit: French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. (Photo: AFP)

The fearless President is trying to bring down what appears to be a national monument, creating havoc at a particularly dreary time of strikes and plummeting public support, and not so long after a French NATO soldier was killed in Afghanistan. At least, one must grant Sarkozy that he finally managed to bring consensus amongst the French political elite – against him.

But if Charles de Gaulle would probably turn in his grave in protestation, US President Barack Obama might hope for more. Will France finally become tame and docile and pull the curtain on its dissident period of the opposition to the war in Iraq? Will she take important position in NATO in exchange for sending more troops to Afghanistan, answering Obama’s call? Will she nip in the bud the nascent attempts to create a European defense she actually advocated for? Is this the long anticipated reconciliation between French fries and Freedom Fries? Did somebody actually win?

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Anyone but Barroso February 16, 2009

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by Dídac Gutiérrez-Peris

What makes us democrats? Is it some kind of passion for a set of values and principles? Is it the will to be ruled by ourselves more than by an established, distant, authoritarian power? When is democracy “democracy”? If we have to choose one concept, one word, this would be responsibility. Responsibility understood as accountability, as the power and the guarantee given to the citizens to “judge” the political action of the governors. Max Weber said that a politician needs three things, passion, sense of responsibility and sense of distance to take the right decision at the right moment. Responsibility is what makes us democrats.margot-wallstrom-us-lied14oct03

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Zimbabwe: whose responsibility to protect? February 6, 2009

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By Vera Quina

As I am writing this article, the Zimbabwean parliament is approving a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai that will supposedly solve the almost year-old crisis.

what-crisis

Last March there were general elections in Zimbabwe and the party of Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) seems to have won the first round. However, the elections were tampered by the ZANU-PF party of Mugabe who asked for a second round, denying Tsvangirai an outright victory. Moreover, they unleashed a violent intimidation campaign against the supporters of the opposition; Mugabe’s brutal tactics surely paid-off as he was declared the winner of the June run-off election.

Needless to say that the 84 year-old Mugabe has been the uncontested leader of Zimbabweans for the last 28 years, and that he feels most comfortable in that position; he even went on saying that “only God” can remove him as the head of Zimbabwe. In the meantime, the majority of his 9 million fellow-countrymen are starving (90% of the population is poor), unemployment is massive (over 85%) and there is a rampant inflation (11 Million percent?!), not to mention the recent surge of cholera.

So, is Zimbabwe a case to invoke a responsibility to protect? If so, whose responsibility is it?

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