Wednesday, October 10, 2018

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: International News Clips

The largest nation in South America, long known for its rich culture,
also has a history of political and economic instability. The latter trait
recurs with some regularity in Brazil, the Portuguese-speaking nation
with a population of 210 million, 3.2 million square miles of territory,
and so many natural resources. Settled in 1500 by the Portuguese,
Brazil separated from Portugal in 1822, and began a long history of its
own emperors, corrupt republics, military and civilian dictatorships.
Recent governments held out hope for economic stability and more
democracy, but after a series of scandals, the impeachment and
imprisonment of the president, crime waves, and widespread citizen
protests, a charismatic figure from the right, Jair Bolsonaro has
emerged as the likely new president. A Brazilian legislator for 28
years, Bolsonaro promises Brazilians a stable economy and a
crackdown on crime and corruption. In the first round of the
national elections, he received 46% of the vote, and will now face off
against the leading leftist candidate on October 29. A former army
captain, Bolsonaro has expressed praise for earlier military rule of
the country, which has been criticized by his opponents, but Brazilian
voters seem responding more to his calls to end corruption.

President Emmanuel Macron won as upset victory in 2017, routing all
the established political parties on the right and the left. Not only was
it a personal victory, the new centrist party he created won a majority
of seats in the French parliament. But his efforts to reform French
policies have run into snags as the nation’s economic growth lags
behind the rest of Europe, and chronic unemployment remains in
spite of his programs to create more jobs. This year so far, M. Macron’s
popularity has fallen from 50% to 29%. Asserting that his “cultural
revolution” will take time, his opposition has only stepped up their
attacks on his administration --- although with parliamentary control,
he remains in charge for now.

The long-festering separatist movement  in the northeastern Spanish
region of Catalunya, previously suppressed by the Spanish government
in Madrid, has re-emerged as a divisive force in the modern democratic
Spanish nation. Torn by a civil war in 1936-39 that turned out to be a
rehearsal for World War II, Spain was ruled by a dictator, Francisco
Franco, until 1975. Spain then reverted to a constitutional monarchy
under King Juan Carlos, although political power was in the hands of
a prime minister and his government --- and the parliament (Cortes)
which was democratically elected. Just prior to the civil war, in 1930,
the royal government under Juan Carlos’ grandfather and his powerful
dictatorial prime minister General Primo de Rivera was overthrown by
a coup which soon led to the creation of a brief and weakly constructed
republic. Although Spain had been a European power in its “Golden
Age” and for centuries, and had numerous colonies in North and
South America, Africa and Asia, the country itself was divided into
very distinct regions, including Galicia in the northwest, the Basque
Country in the north central, Andalusia in the southwest, and
Catalunya. Each of these regions has a distinct history and their own
language, but had been united by the Castilian kings in Toledo and
later in Madrid. Regional independence movements were
suppressed under Franco, but reappeared, especially in the Basque
Country. A much more civil movement  existed in Catalunya
and its capital Barcelona ---where much of the nation’s industry was
located. Catalan separatists argued that Madrid took much more
taxes from the region that it returned, and that they wanted to restore
an independent Catalan nation  When the conservative government
was replaced by a socialist government earlier this year, separatist
leaders renewed their call for a Catalan plebiscite on independence
--- which has been ruled illegal by the Spanish courts.


Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has submitted
her resignation to President Trump. Ambassador Haley has been an
outspoken and eloquent spokesman for the Trump administration,
and enjoyed notable popularity among many Republicans. A former
governor of South Carolina, she gained national prominence as a
leading woman conservative before being named to the cabinet
(and high profile) position by the president. At  the U.N., she was a
powerful and unflinching voice for U.S. foreign policy

Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has suffered significant
losses in recent Canadian provincial elections, including Ontario,
New Brunswick, and most surprising of all, Quebec. This shift to the
right and the Progressive Conservative Party marks the first time in
many years that voters have rejected so many candidates of Trudeau’s
Liberal Party in these provinces.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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