A waiter serves customers at a private restaurant in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 31, 2018 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

Just three months after Miguel Diaz-Canel took over the presidency of Cuba from Raul Castro, his government has unveiled a new Council of Ministers—essentially, Cuba’s Cabinet—along with the draft of a new constitution and sweeping new regulations on the island’s emergent private sector. While the changes announced represent continuity with the basic reform program Raul Castro laid out during his tenure, they are nevertheless significant milestones along the road to a more market-oriented socialist system. The discussion and approval of the draft constitution was the main event of last week’s National Assembly meeting. The revised charter will now be circulated […]

President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, July 25, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

While recognizing that it could be undone at any time by a single presidential tweet, there appears to be a truce on at least one front in Donald Trump’s trade war. During a visit to the White House last week, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pledged along with Trump to refrain from further escalation of the trans-Atlantic trade dispute and try to work things out. Their joint statement was vague, and the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, and the EU’s retaliatory tariffs, remain in place for now. Trump imposed those duties on supposed national security grounds, […]

Indigenous Brazilians from various ethnic groups take part in a protest against the policies of President Michel Temer, Brasilia, Brazil, April 26, 2018 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

RIO DE JANEIRO—The Brazilian ranchers staged their attack at night, bearing machetes, firearms and slabs of wood as they descended on the settlement inhabited by members of the indigenous Gamela tribe. According to some reports, the ranchers had assembled earlier in the day at a barbecue, where they drank heavily before setting out. More than a dozen members of the Gamela tribe were seriously injured in the ranchers’ assault. Five of them were shot, and two had their hands cut off. There were no reported fatalities. The attack, which occurred in April 2017 in the northeastern state of Maranhao, did […]

Chinese naval officials stand in front of the ship Daqing, San Diego, Calif., Dec. 7, 2016 (AP photo by Gregory Bull).

While the United States Navy struggles to figure out if, how and when it can expand the size of its combat fleet by 47 ships—a 15 percent increase—China continues to crank out around a dozen new large warships a year. In May, the busy shipyard in the port city Dalian put to sea China’s second aircraft carrier, following up on that milestone two months later by simultaneously launching two Type 055-class cruisers. With the U.S. Navy being the only other fleet to operate a large number of vessels of such size and capability, the pace and scale of production at […]

Syrian refugees prepare to cross into Syria from Arsal, Lebanon, June 28, 2018 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

What should international peacemakers read this summer? There are lots of new studies of conflict out there, but I would start with the classic folk story, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Most readers will be familiar with the tale, in which the young girl Goldilocks stumbles into a bear’s house while the bears are out and finds three bowls of porridge on the breakfast table. One is too hot, and another too cold. But the third is “just right,” so she eats it. This leaves the bears quite miffed upon their return. Academics often refer to a “Goldilocks Principle” to […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping is received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president of the United Arab Emirates, after his arrival in Abu Dhabi, July 19, 2018 (Photo by Mohamed Al Hammadi for Emirates News Agency via AP Images).

As dusk fell in Abu Dhabi on July 20, the LED screen affixed to the face of the 65-story headquarters of the emirate’s national oil company presented a peculiar sight: a photograph of Chinese President Xi Jinping stretching over 1,000 feet high, looming over the Persian Gulf. In nearby Dubai, the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, was lit from top to bottom in the colors of the Chinese flag. Even by the standards of a country with little use for subtlety, the United Arab Emirates went all out to mark Xi’s state visit. At a time when China seems […]

An aerial view of the rain forest, including the destruction caused by gold mining in Colombia, near the city of Quibdo, November 27, 2015 (Photo by Georg Ismar for DPA via AP Images).

In early July, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC, and Colombia’s Ministry for Mines and Energy reported that 66 percent of alluvial gold exploitation in the country is considered unregulated. Illegal mining in Colombia is nothing new, but the latest report indicated that the amount of affected land—84,000 hectares, or more than 200,00 acres—is up 6 percent since the UNODC’s first study on the subject in 2014. The list of violent competitors trying to access these gold riches offers a snapshot of Colombia’s various social fault lines and conflicts. It includes the National Liberation Army, or […]

U.S. President Donald Trump at the end of the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018 (Photo by Bernd von Jutrczenka for DPA via AP Images).

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump said that if elected, he might withdraw the United States from NATO largely because, in his words, the other member states “aren’t paying their bills.” At the time, this didn’t receive as much attention as Trump’s other statements on the campaign trail. Candidate Trump said so many peculiar, often offensive things that this one got lost in the shuffle, and few people at the time thought that he stood a chance of winning the election anyway. Even his supporters assumed that if he did, he would temper his more extreme positions once […]

Asylum-seekers during a protest outside a prison in the Negev desert, southern Israel, Feb. 22, 2018 (AP photo by Tsafrir Abayov).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the challenges of covering international affairs in the Trump era. For the Report, Yardena Schwartz talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about how a divisive debate in Israel has left African migrants who arrived there seeking refuge in a state of limbo, neither welcomed nor expelled. 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 […]

Malian presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse gestures during a campaign rally in Yanfolila, Mali, July 16, 2018 (AP photo by Baba Ahmed).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. It was a turbulent home stretch for Mali’s presidential campaign, which formally ended Friday. Though voting was still two days away, the credibility of the results had already been called into question. That’s because some members of the opposition spent the past week taking issue with the voters’ roll, reportedly raising objections after the election commission published an online version that differed from the version that had been vetted by international monitors. Officials from the election commission attributed the […]

A boy walks past campaign posters for Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Harare, Zimbabwe, July 25, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

The oldest man in the world lives in Zimbabwe. His name is Phidas Ndlovu, and he is 140 years old. At least, that is according to Zimbabwe’s Biometric Voters’ Roll, which was compiled ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for July 30. The vote is a milestone in Zimbabwean politics—the first held since the ouster of longtime President Robert Mugabe in November last year, and the first time in the history of independent Zimbabwe that Mugabe’s name will not appear on the ballot. But as much as the country’s political landscape has changed in the past eight months, […]

Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro speaks to supporters during the Social Liberal Party’s convention where he accepted the presidential nomination, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 22, 2018 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

With barely 10 weeks left until Brazil’s general elections, voters in Latin America’s largest country are seething with anger, frustration and disappointment. Many, perhaps most, have lost faith in democracy, in politicians, and in traditional governing parties. Prominent figures are warning of revolution; talk of a military coup is even in the air. Uncertainty leads the polls. Brazil is caught in what may just be the world’s biggest ever corruption scandal, while the economy is struggling to pull out of a deep recession and its most popular politician, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is in prison. In the […]

Cameroonian President Paul Biya attends a signing ceremony at the Great Hall Of The People, Beijing, China, March 22, 2018 (Photo by Lintao Zhang for Getty Images via AP images).

When Cameroon’s 85-year-old president, Paul Biya, announced on Twitter earlier this month that he would be running for a seventh consecutive term in October, it was a chance for the world to marvel anew at his remarkable longevity. Biya came to power 36 years ago, taking over for Ahmadou Ahidjo, Cameroon’s first president. Though the transfer was amicable, the two men were soon engaged in a power struggle that forced Ahidjo into exile. He would later be sentenced in absentia to life in prison for allegedly plotting against Biya, and he never returned, dying in Senegal in 1989. The Ahidjo […]

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad during his swearing-in ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 16, 2018 (AP photo by Yam G-Jun).

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—As Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, from 1981 to 2003, Mahathir Mohamad oversaw crackdowns on the free press. He sought to undermine the country’s independent judiciary. And he arrested and jailed political opponents. Today, however, the 93-year-old Mahathir is not only back in the prime minister’s office, he’s the face of a once-opposition party now being hailed as Malaysia’s great democratic hope. It’s hard to overstate the current level of optimism in Malaysia about the country’s political future. In the eyes of many Malaysians, life changed on May 9, when the opposition won a surprise electoral victory and ousted […]

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, right, looks on as French President Emmanuel Macron kisses France’s Kylian Mbappe after France won the World Cup, Moscow, Russia, July 15, 2018 (AP photo by Martin Meissner).

PARIS—If, as the old saw has it, the United States and the United Kingdom are two countries separated by a common language, the United States and France are surely two countries separated by common ideals. But good intentions on both sides of the Atlantic often get lost in translation, with the latest example being the high-profile dispute between late-night comedy show host Trevor Noah and France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gerard Araud, over the identity of the World Cup champion French national soccer team. (Noah is South African, but his show is produced in the U.S. for an American audience.) […]

Protesters run after cars were set on fire near the Best Western hotel during protests over a fuel price increase in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 7, 2018 (AP photo by Dieu Nalio Chery).

On July 14, Haitian Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned, following a week of protests over a government plan to end fuel subsidies. Although the plan was suspended the day after it was announced, the protests continued and at times descended into violent riots and looting that left at least seven people dead. In an email interview, Robert Maguire, a retired professor from George Washington University and an expert on Haiti, discusses the issues behind the fuel subsidy plan and the protests, and how the episode will affect President Jovenel Moise’s agenda to address Haiti’s long list of challenges. World […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, and European Council President Donald Tusk, right, after their joint press conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 17, 2018 (AP photo by Koji Sashara).

Earlier this month, Japan and the European Union concluded a mega-free trade deal that, when ratified, is expected to provide significant benefits to both sides. But as important as the economics of the deal is its symbolism, demonstrating a commitment to an international trade regime that has been passing through a zone of turbulence over the past year, largely due to arcane protectionist measures from the Trump administration. The U.S. has imposed large tariffs and threatened more on a wide range of products and countries, including allies such as Japan, Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Washington’s turn to protectionism […]

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