summer extravaganza: issue fourteen

Eastern South America

Fishing licences causing tensions
by Kate Nuttall

image credit: Aquintero82 (Wikimedia Commons)

Following the rise of tensions between Guyana and Suriname regarding fishing licences, Keith George, Guyana’s ambassador to Suriname, has been summoned to meet the Surinamese Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Whilst Guyana has released statements to explain their efforts spanning several years to resolve the matter diplomatically, Guyanese fishermen have maintained that authorities continue to pursue them unfairly whilst in Surinamese waters. 

The president of the Suriname Seafood Association is critical of Guyanese fishermen obtaining licences with there currently being complaints about overfishing. President Chan Santokhi of Suriname denied Guyanese claims that 150 licences had been promised to fishermen in 2021. President Irfaan Ali of Guyana, however, states that he will not give up attempting to address the matter of licensing which has been a source of tension between the countries.

Chaotic election draws to a close
by Aidan O’Connor

image credit: Ueslei Marcelino (Reuters)

Brazil’s general election is set to take place on 2 October. The election has been tainted by  tumultuous campaigns, threats of political violence and claims of fraud and disinformation. Both the national legislature and the president are set to be elected. The choice lies between left-wing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. The campaign has recently seen Lula pull ahead in opinion polling as the first round of the presidential election comes nearer. If no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote, a second round between the top two candidates will take place on 30 October.

Commonly referred to as ‘the Trump of South America’, President Bolsonaro has cast doubt on the legitimacy of the elections, citing unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud. This has led many to fear that Brazilian democracy will be plunged into even greater instability.

Southern South America

Paraguay weighs in on tense China-Taiwan relations
by Connor Crout

image credit: Aquintero82

Mario Abdo Benítez, the president of Paraguay, has asked Taiwan to invest $1 billion in Paraguay. He claims that this is necessary for the country to resist the apparent “enormous” pressure to change diplomatic recognition to China. During a recent visit to the USA Benítez said that he simply wants to make sure that the Paraguayan people are aware of the benefits of the alliance with Taiwan.

China-Taiwan relations (also known as Cross-Strait or Mainland-Taiwan relations) have deteriorated significantly since the 2016 Taiwanese presidential election, as the winner Tsai Ing-wen refused to accept the ‘1992 Consensus’. This alleged outcome of a meeting set a diplomatic basis for semi-official cross-strait exchanges.

Given that Paraguay is the largest country by area that still officially recognises Taiwan as an independent country, a switch in alliance could be the beginning of a collapse in Taiwan’s international support.

Argentina Vice President stares down barrel of corruption charges
by Harvey Young

image credit: TharonXX (Wikimedia commons)

The attempted assassination of Argentina vice president Christina Fernandez de Kirchner on 1 September 2022 shocked the world. Luckily, the assassin’s gun jammed in front of her face. However, despite this incredibly lucky escape from death, de Kirchner is now potentially facing 12 years in prison on corruption charges.

Lead prosecutor Diego Luciani is charging de Kichner with leading ‘an illicit organisation’ and ‘aggravated fraudulent administration’ from when she held the presidency between 2003 and 2015. It is alleged that de Kirchner defrauded around $926 million during this period by awarding 51 contracts to companies owned by her associate and convicted money launderer Lazaro Baez. De Kirchner has called the case a ‘staged fable’ which is part of a wider conspiracy connected to her attempted assassination.

If found guilty, the consequences, not only for de Kirchner, but for Argentinian politics could be far-reaching.

Western South America

Colombia-Venezuela border opens after seven years
by Eleanor Austin

image credit: Milenioscuro (Wikimedia commons)

The Colombia-Venezuela air and land border officially reopened last week, signalling a positive change in the relations of these states. The Colombian government has stated that by opening the border, they expect trade to amount to around $600 million by the end of this year. This is especially important to communities living  near the border, who have been most drastically affected by the closure. Additionally, over the past seven years an increase in illegal trading, trafficking, and smuggling became prevalent due to the closures. Now, official migrant channels can resume, providing much needed security and protection to these individuals.

This was a key campaign promise of Gustavo Petro, the current president of Columbia, marking the first step in his plan to ensure long-lasting peace within Colombia. Moreover, since becoming president in August, he has made significant developments in rebuilding the diplomatic relationship with Venezuela which had ended in 2019.

Trading prisoners: does this mark a new start to US-Venezuelan relations?
by Neo Allert

image credit: Landov (Reuters)

On 1 October Nicholas Maduro, Venezuela’s president, released seven US prisoners in a rare show of goodwill. Among them were five employees of Citgo, an oil company based in Houston, as well as a former US Marine corporal. In exchange the US released two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores. The two men had been jailed for drug smuggling after being arrested in a DEA operation in Haiti. This prisoner swap marks the largest trade of detained citizens carried out by the Biden administration since taking office.

Biden has been criticised for doing too little to bring home the 60 Americans that are still believed to be held captive by foreign governments. At least four American citizens remain imprisoned in Venezuela. Maduro might use these in a political ploy to rebuild the severely damaged US-Venezuelan relations.

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