Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, at a press conference after the resignation of Justice Minister Sergio Moro, Brasilia, April 24, 2020 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

The coronavirus pandemic has so far proven to be a boost for many autocratic leaders around the world, who have managed to exploit the crisis to expand and tighten their hold on power. But the situation is different for at least one far-right demagogue, for whom the pandemic is shaping up to become the key line in his political obituary: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro. The political future of a president who has been called the “Trump of the Tropics” now hangs in the balance as Bolsonaro continues to actively exhort Brazilians to reject public health measures, even as the number of […]

Burkina Faso paratroopers participate in an annual counterterrorism exercise in Thies, Senegal, Feb. 18, 2020 (AP photo by Cheikh A.T Sy).

State security forces in Burkina Faso summarily executed 31 unarmed people in the northern town of Djibo earlier this month, just hours after they were taken into custody, according to a recent report from Human Rights Watch. It described the killings as a “brutal mockery of a counterterrorism operation that may amount to a war crime.” The victims were suspected of collaborating with jihadist groups that have been operating in the area. Shocking as the massacre may be, it is by no means an anomaly in northern Burkina Faso and the neighboring region of central Mali, which have become epicenters […]

Iraqi soldiers man a checkpoint as oil wells burn on the outskirts of Qayyarah, Iraq, Oct. 19, 2016 (AP photo by Marko Drobnjakovic).

Competition over scarce natural resources is often a key driver of the tensions that fuel armed conflict in different corners of the world. Yet in the heat of battle, environmental considerations are often relegated to afterthoughts, as smoke from burning buildings clouds the skies and toxic byproducts of munitions poison the soil and groundwater. As former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in 2014, “The environment has long been a silent casualty of war and armed conflict.” Conflict-related environmental damage directly and indirectly affects the wellbeing of nearby civilians by threatening their health, ecosystems, livelihoods and economies. Accordingly, humanitarian organizations […]

French police officers patrol a street during a nationwide lockdown to counter COVID-19, Paris, April 15, 2020 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

The violent protests in Paris’ banlieues this week, after an incident of police brutality, are a clear indication of the social tensions fueled by France’s strict national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Neither the violence by police nor the riots come as any surprise, given the history of both in the suburban ghettos surrounding France’s major cities, where much of its immigrant and immigrant-origin population lives. But the tensions between France’s overstretched security forces and its population extend beyond the banlieues. Combined with popular dissatisfaction over French President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the pandemic, they risk making Macron […]

Demonstrators hold a banner with the names of murdered activists during a protest march in Bogota, Colombia, July 26, 2019 (AP photo by Ivan Valencia).

The first victim in March was Julio Gutierrez Aviles, the president of a local community action group in Campoalegre, a small town in the rural, mountainous department of Huila in western Colombia. Gutierrez had taken part in recent protests to support Huila’s farmers, trying to make a difference in a region that has long been seen as strategic by various armed groups in Colombia. According to local news, he was on his way home when he was attacked by a group of men, who shot him without saying a word and then left his body on the road. In the […]

The United Nations Security Council votes during a meeting at U.N. headquarters, New York, Sept. 11, 2017 (AP photo by Jason DeCrow).

United Nations-led efforts to forge a global cease-fire are gaining momentum, as dozens of parties to conflicts around the world have joined Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call to lay down their arms amid the coronavirus pandemic. The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote soon on a resolution codifying the global cease-fire, although disputes among the U.S., China and Russia—all veto-wielding permanent members of the council—could still impede the process. For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, long-time U.N. watcher and WPR contributor Richard Gowan joins Elliot Waldman for a conversation about conflict resolution and peacemaking efforts amid the pandemic. Gowan […]

A couple walks through a popular shopping mall in Beijing, April 13, 2020 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. China’s nearly half-century-long run of growth came to a screeching halt earlier this month, as data released by the Chinese government revealed that its once-booming economy shrank year-on-year during the first three months of 2020. It was one of the most remarkable signs of the destruction inflicted on the global economy during the COVID-19 pandemic: an end to an economic boom that had weathered calamities like the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, the SARS epidemic of 2003 […]

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

The relationship between the United States and China has waxed and waned over the years, but it has felt more like a roller coaster ride under President Donald Trump. China-bashing was a centerpiece of his election campaign, yet once in office, Trump hailed his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, at Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, saying they had “great chemistry.” More than two years later, after Trump had launched his damaging trade war with China and with no deal to resolve it in sight, Trump called Xi an enemy and “ordered” American firms to leave China. By January of […]

Guyana’s president, David Granger, addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 20, 2016 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

Despite growing signs of a dramatic and global economic downturn stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the small South American country of Guyana appears poised for a period of spectacular economic growth. In its recent semiannual report on Latin America and the Caribbean, the World Bank forecasts a 4.6 percent contraction for the region’s economy in 2020, followed by an expansion of 2.6 percent in 2021. However, the World Bank sees Guyana’s economy skyrocketing by 51.7 percent in 2020, before leveling off to 8.7 percent in 2021. The reason for this very rosy outlook? In December, ExxonMobil began pumping oil from […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech at his office in Jerusalem, March 14, 2020 (pool photo by Gali Tibbon via AP Images).

After three weeks of negotiations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leading opposition figure Benny Gantz agreed to form a national unity government last week. While the idea of a unity government between Netanyau’s right-wing Likud party and Gantz’s centrist Blue and White bloc had been discussed on both sides over the past year, what finally broke the logjam after three inconclusive elections since April 2019 was the public health crisis and economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Gantz, facing the difficult choice of breaking his core campaign promise to not serve alongside Netanyahu or taking Israel to a […]

Outside view of a U.S. passport service center in New York City, April 21, 2020 (photo by Anthony Behar for Sipa USA via AP Images).

Late on the night of April 20, President Donald Trump abruptly announced on Twitter that he would “temporarily suspend immigration to the United States” as the toll from the coronavirus pandemic continued to rise. Trump cast the decision as a response to COVID-19 and its economic devastation—“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens,” as he tweeted. The move, which caught his own administration off guard, elicited fevered commentary over his legal authority to do so, and its potential economic costs. After an outcry from […]

Austrian soldiers wearing protective masks at a military ceremony in Vienna, April 27, 2020 (AP photo by Ronald Zak).

“We are at war,” French President Emmanuel Macron stressed while announcing a nationwide lockdown last month. He was not alone in his choice of rhetoric, as leaders around the world have invoked battlefield metaphors to galvanize national responses to the coronavirus pandemic. The drama of the analogy certainly makes it a convenient political instrument to justify radical state-led interventions. Yet it also blurs the differences between the current public health crisis and an actual war. During an armed conflict, militaries face human opponents with wills of their own, but there is no such enemy during this pandemic—only an unfeeling virus. […]

Soldiers stand guard after the start of a curfew to slow the spread of the coronavirus, in Lima, Peru, April 22, 2020 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

LIMA, Peru—Even before his quick, decisive response to the novel coronavirus, the irony of Martin Vizcarra’s accidental yet popular stint as president of Peru was not lost on many of his constituents. When voters here are asked to explain their reformist leader’s apparent honesty and effectiveness, they often respond cynically, “We didn’t vote for him.” They have a point. All five of Peru’s elected presidents between 1985 and 2018, when Vizcarra stepped up from the vice presidency to replace the scandal-plagued Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, have been linked by prosecutors to corruption. One, Alberto Fujimori, is serving a 25-year jail sentence. […]

People watch a news program about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, April 21, 2020 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Steven Metz is filling in for Candace Rondeaux this week. On April 15, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to make his annual visit to Kumsusan Palace in Pyongyang to celebrate the birthday of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who is interred there. In North Korea’s dynastic cult of personality, it was a shocking break from tradition, and sparked reports that Kim had undergone major heart surgery and might even be near death. The secretiveness of the North Korean regime always makes it difficult to know exactly what is going on inside the country or […]

A protester waves the Israeli national flag during a demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv, Israel, April 19, 2020 (AP photo by Oded Balilty).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Elliot Waldman and Prachi Vidwans talk about the deal struck between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nemesis over the past year, the Blue and White party’s Benny Gantz, to form an emergency government. Gantz justified his decision to break his repeated promises to never form a government with Netanyahu by the need for national unity to tackle the country’s coronavirus outbreak. Judah, Elliot and Prachi also discuss the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on recent elections in South Korea and the U.S., as well as its broader implications for […]

Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, center, arrives for the opening session of the 33rd African Union Summit, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 9, 2020 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Ghana this week became the first African nation to begin rolling back some of the restrictions it had put in place to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, as President Nana Akufo-Addo voiced concern about the economic toll of extending the lockdown further. As several African leaders prepare to follow suit, they will be watching closely to see if Akufo-Addo’s gamble pays off. Ghana only confirmed its first two COVID-19 infections in mid-March, but the number of cases rose quickly, spurring […]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in attends the ASEAN Plus Three virtual summit at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, April 14, 2020 (Blue House photo via AP Images).

Just six months ago, South Korean President Moon Jae-in was stuck in a downward spiral. His scandal-plagued justice minister had resigned after only five weeks on the job, prompting Moon to issue a public apology. The economy was sputtering, relations with neighboring Japan were at rock bottom, and Moon’s signature policy of détente with North Korea was going nowhere. In October, his approval ratings sank to a historically low 39 percent. It took nothing less than an unprecedented public health crisis to reverse Moon’s fortunes. Widespread approval of his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic led South Korean voters to […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 781 2 3 5 Last