An anti-narcotics police officer runs toward a helicopter after the destruction of a cocaine lab in Calamar, Guaviare state, Colombia, Aug. 2, 2016 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

In 1821, Gen. Francisco de Paula Santander told a congress full of statesmen, “Guns will give you your independence, but laws will help you keep it.” Santander was addressing representatives of Gran Colombia, the political state that once covered most of northern South America, including what is today Colombia and Venezuela. Ten years later, Gran Colombia split up, and Colombia and Venezuela set off on separate paths. But both countries disregarded Santander’s statement, as their histories have been marked by a string of armed conflicts that eroded laws and justice. Still, after decades spent fighting militias and rebel movements while […]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 22, 2018 (Saudi Press Agency photo via AP Images).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Neil Bhatiya is filling in for Judah Grunstein, who will be back next week. Saudi Arabia continues to face unprecedented criticism from the United States, its longstanding regional ally, over the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul four weeks ago. Earlier this month, Congress formally asked the Trump administration to determine whether Khashoggi’s killing exposed Saudi leaders to sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, a law passed two years ago with broad bipartisan support to punish credibly accused violators of human rights around the world. Saudi Arabia is trying […]

Nigerian soldiers man a checkpoint in Gwoza, Nigeria, April 8, 2018 (AP photo by Lekan Oyekanmi).

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria—Lirfa Dashe, a lieutenant in the Nigerian army, was due to get married this month. Instead he is buried in the cemetery of Mai Malari barracks, alongside other soldiers killed in the seemingly endless conflict against the jihadist insurgency of Boko Haram. At the entrance to the cemetery, located in this city in northeastern Nigeria, is a cenotaph with the names of the fallen inscribed on plaques. There are 1,307 names etched so far, stretching back to 2013. Mai Malari, the home of the army’s Seventh Division, is just one of several sites where soldiers killed in the northeastern […]

Journalists protest against brutality in the course of doing their job after photo journalist Benedict Uwalaka was beaten up in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 16, 2012 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. As Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari prepares his re-election bid for February 2019, he is positioning himself as a leader who prizes good governance, accountability and human rights. But watchdogs point out that his record on press freedom tells a different story, as journalists in Nigeria face an uptick in repression under his watch. In an interview with WPR, Angela Quintal, the Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, discusses the threatening environment for reporters in Africa’s most […]

A protester carries carries a flag featuring a cannabis leaf during a student march in Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 6, 2018 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. While various countries including Canada and South Africa liberalize their drug policies, Colombia is heading in the opposite direction. Earlier this month, President Ivan Duque signed a decree enabling police to search people and confiscate small amounts of drugs. The measure has sparked widespread protests amid concerns that it may violate previous Colombian high court rulings allowing for personal drug possession and consumption in small doses. For more on the context of Duque’s decree and the outlook for the legal […]

A family bathes in one of the irrigation ditches at a hideout in a banana plantation on the island of Mindanao, Philippines (Lindsay Fendt).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the implications of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder for Saudi Arabia’s international partnerships and the Middle East. For the Report, Lindsay Fendt talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the Philippines’ other campaign of extrajudicial killings, this one targeting anti-mining activists in Mindanao’s Compostela Valley. Lindsay’s two-part series of in-depth articles is the second to be funded by WPR’s International Reporting Fellowship. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter […]

Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra attends a ceremony marking the army’s anniversary in Lima, Peru, Sept. 21, 2018 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

Casual observers of Peruvian politics can be forgiven for not being able to keep up with recent events there. Opposition leader Keiko Fujimori was released from jail on Wednesday, just a week after her provisional detention on suspicion of money-laundering. Meanwhile, earlier this month, President Martin Vizcarra strong-armed Peru’s Congress—where Fujimori’s conservative Popular Force party has a majority—into approving a referendum on his signature package of political and judicial reforms. Vizcarra has a good chance of winning that vote, which is set for Dec. 9, but not everyone is convinced that it’s the best prescription for the long-term health of […]

Angola’s newly inaugurated president, Joao Lourenco, shows his ink-stained finger as he faces the media after casting his vote in the recent election, Luanda, Angola, Aug. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Bruno Fonseca).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. A year ago, when Joao Lourenco took over as Angola’s president, tensions between his country and the Democratic Republic of Congo were already unusually high. In a Q&A with WPR at the time, Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at Chatham House, described how Luanda’s patience with Congolese President Joseph Kabila had been exhausted by Kabila’s handling of Congo’s political crisis. The situation has changed somewhat since then. Today, Congo is much closer to holding long-awaited elections—they are […]

A farmer surveys his crops at a hideout in a banana plantation on the island of Mindanao, Philippines (Lindsay Fendt).

Editor’s Note: In July 2019, this story won the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market from the Society of Environmental Journalists. This is the second installment of a two-part series on killings of environmental activists in the Philippines, funded by WPR’s International Reporting Fellowship. The first installment can be found here. MINDANAO, Philippines—On a secluded banana plantation on the Philippine island of Mindanao, nearly 400 people pass each night in tents, huts and makeshift dormitories. They bathe in the plantation’s irrigation ditches, surrounded by blue bags of pesticides that have fallen from the banana plants. The entire […]

A protest at the Saudi Embassy over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Oct. 10, 2018, Washington (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

The disappearance and presumed murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul 15 days ago has focused attention on the U.S.-Saudi relationship. At the center of that relationship—and Saudi policymaking—for the past three years has been Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Known as MBS, the crown prince rose to prominence after his father, King Salman, took the throne in 2015. Quickly consolidating control over the Saudi economy and the kingdom’s foreign policy, MBS raised hopes with his promised program of bold social and economic reforms, while also causing alarm with rash and reckless moves like […]

A new Japan Airlines Boeing 787 airplane with the GE Aviation GEnx engine on it, is shown following a delivery ceremony, March 26, 2012, Everett, Washington (AP photo by Ted S. Warren).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it. The United States Department of Justice announced the extradition of a Chinese intelligence official to the U.S. on economic espionage charges last Wednesday. It is the first time a Chinese government spy has been extradited to the U.S., according to The Washington Post. Yanjun Xu, a deputy division director in the Ministry of State Security, China’s main spy agency, traveled to Belgium last spring, believing he was set to receive “proprietary information about jet […]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 16, 2018 (AP photo by Leah Mills).

The details of just how Jamal Khashoggi met his death in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul are still shrouded in mystery. Given the interests of all sides in covering up what really happened, those shadows are likely to linger even after an official story is concocted and a scapegoat sacrificed. But Khashoggi’s death has already shed light on the level of corruption and rot at the heart of Washington’s ties with the Gulf Arab states. In many ways, this corruption is an old story. The outrage theater currently on display in Washington and corporate boardrooms across the U.S. is as […]

A young protester holds a placard during an anti-mining rally in the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines, April 23, 2007 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Editor’s Note: In July 2019, this story won the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market from the Society of Environmental Journalists. This is the first installment of a two-part series on killings of environmental activists in the Philippines, funded by WPR’s International Reporting Fellowship. The second installment ran Oct. 18. COMPOSTELA VALLEY, MINDANAO, Philippines—It was just after dawn on the southern island of Mindanao, but police officers already had a call to respond to. Winding their way through the scenic green mountains of the Compostela Valley, they approached the scene of the crime, a patch of dirt […]

Police officer Jorge Alberto Canizalez watches the streets from the back of a pickup during a nighttime patrol in San Salvador, El Salvador, Aug. 21, 2018 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the implications for U.S.-Saudi ties. For the Report, Anna-Catherine Brigida talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the dangers facing Salvadorans deported by the U.S., many of whom are returning to a country they barely know. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview […]

A woman walks past empty bread shelves in a shop in Harare, Zimbabwe, Oct. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. When he became Zimbabwe’s interim president following Robert Mugabe’s ouster last year, Emmerson Mnangagwa immediately tried to focus the world’s attention on his ambitious economic agenda. He repeatedly declared that, following years of isolation under Mugabe, the new Zimbabwe would be “open for business.” After being named the winner of July’s presidential election, he spent part of his inauguration address urging citizens “to unite as a nation and grow our economy,” offering a vision of Zimbabwe as a middle-income […]

Liberia’s President George Weah addresses the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

In Liberia, one of the surest signs that a news story has captured the attention of the general public is when someone starts singing about it on the radio. In August 2014, the Auto-Tune-heavy hit “Ebola in Town,” by Samuel “Shadow” Morgan and Edwin “D-12” Tweh, caught fire right around the time the World Health Organization began describing the West African epidemic as an international emergency. During the most recent presidential campaigns, in 2011 and 2017, the candidates’ catchiest theme songs saturated the airwaves as Election Day approached. Recently, to the consternation of President George Weah, a new topical jam […]

Interpol President Meng Hongwei walks toward the stage to deliver his opening address at the Interpol World Congress in Singapore, July 4, 2017 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

Editor’s note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it. When Meng Hongwei, China’s vice minister of public security, was elected president of Interpol in 2016, it was hailed in China as a sign of the country’s ability to lead international organizations. But in a dramatic turn of events late last week, his wife reported him missing to French authorities in Lyon—where Interpol has its headquarters—after not hearing from him since he traveled to China in late September. A text message with an ominous […]

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