Months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20th, 2017, relief efforts continue to be stalled by the island’s damaged infrastructure. Outdated power and water systems were already in need of fixing long before the storm’s landfall because of bankrupt public service agencies following the island’s debt crisis. Coupled with previous damage from Hurricane Irma and the fact that many power and water lines were outdated and above ground, Maria’s landfall meant a complete breakdown of both power and pipelines. Contrary to Texas and Florida, which completely restored electricity and water seventeen days after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma respectively, experts predict Puerto Rico is likely to go at least six months without power.
Abstract: The fall of the Soviet Union has created complex intra-national security conflicts previously unforeseen to the United Nations (UN), challenging the institution’s efficacy and complicating the United States’ (US) role within the body. As the US continues to oscillate between a leader in international interventions and a removed state that prioritizes its own national security interests, its selectivity has formed a policy of exceptionalism within the United Nations. Throughout the most recent humanitarian conflicts, the US has selectively chosen the UN missions in which it involves itself, otherwise circumventing the Security Council (UNSC) to unilaterally interfere and/or aligning itself with alternative coalitions of the willing to retain the option rather than obligation to intervene. Most importantly, it has directly blocked multilateral negotiations over the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) (a norm that would codify shared standards under which international intervention is permissible) further complicating the potential for cooperation in crisis. Yet the UN is similarly unequipped to enforce RtoP, as certain institutional barriers such as weak mandates, insufficient communication, and the UNSC unanimity rule impede its ability to enforce and administer peacekeeping operations. Thus, this article argues that both American exceptionalism and institutional UN obstacles hinder the implementation of RtoP, while also reaffirming the norm’s benefits.
On Wednesday, Nov 15th, an Argentine Submarine – the ARA San Juan –vanished 240 miles from the country’s coast with 44 crewmembers aboard. The Argentine Navy reports they first lost signal with the vessel near the Valdez Peninsula while the craft was completing a routine voyage back from Ushuaia in Patagonia to Mar del Plata south of Buenos Aires. On Saturday, Argentine Defense Minister Oscar Aguad remarked the receipt of seven satellite calls seeming to originate from the submarine, signaling hope that the crew is still alive.
Santiago Maldonado, a 28 year old indigenous rights activist for Argentina’s Mapuche people, was found dead in Chubut River near Buenos Aires on Saturday. He had been missing since August 1st after he and other protesters clashed with police at an indigenous rights demonstration in Patagonia. Authorities transferred his body to the city for identification and an autopsy, where his brother Sergio was able to identify him and morticians were able to deny visible wounds on the body. His death has been highly politicized amid Argentina’s upcoming Congressional Elections, with the leftist opposition accusing security officers for his death and President Mauricio Macri of covering it up.
After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20th, the island has seen an influx of aid from American federal agencies. Relief efforts are focused on repairing broken power grids, fixing roads and infrastructure, and draining excess water. However, ten days after the storm’s landing, 90% of the population is still without access to power, food, or water, especially in rural areas.
President Evo Morales has made his legacy in Bolivia by presenting himself as a man of the people. Under his socialist administration, he decreased poverty by more than 60 percent through public spending and social programs, successfully re-nationalized natural resources, and, as the country’s first indigenous president, implemented a new constitution that strengthens Bolivia’s indigenous rights. However, recent events indicate Morales is transitioning from a moderate populist towards an undemocratic autocrat. In addition to corruption scandals, desperate attempts to control free speech, and a falling approval rating, Morales is now attempting to out the constitution to remain in power longer than its term limits allow. Despite a failed referendum that would have allowed him to run for a fourth term, Morales defied the voters and accepted his Movement To Socialism (MAS) party’s nomination for president. But in order to avoid moving Bolivia towards autocracy, Mr. Morales must instead step down and name a successor.
The Organization of American States (OAS) will meet Tuesday in Washington, D.C. to discuss the ongoing politico-economic crisis in Venezuela after fourteen of its members called on President Nicolas Maduro to restore democracy in the country. Venezuela has been experiencing massive inflation due to dropping oil prices, leading to extreme good shortages. Many have criticized Maduro of mismanaging the economy in response to the crisis. Meanwhile, Maduro has also stifled political opposition, indefinitely delaying congressional and recall elections that were projected losses for his party, while mitigating Congressional laws through judges loyal to him.
On Thursday, Brazilian Supreme Court Judge Teori Zavascki, who was in charge of overseeing the corruption investigation against state-run oil giant Petrobras, died in a plane crash off the coast of Partay where he was vacationing. Prosecutors involved in the case previously stated that politicians were handsomely bribed to award government contracts to private companies while overcharging Petrobras. The plane crash comes as Zavascki was set to analyze the plea bargains of 77 Odebrecht executives, a construction firm that has admitted to paying over $1 billion in bribes to obtain contracts.
Last Friday, President Obama ended a 20-year policy that allows Cubans to apply for citizenship in the United States without applying for a visa. Commonly known as the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, the law permits migrants with “at least one dry foot” on U.S. soil to become permanent residents after a year within the country. The Cuban government sees the policy as largely responsible for the country’s brain drain and encouraging migrants to risk their lives travelling to the Florida border. Meanwhile, many Latino communities view the law as unfairly favoring Cuban immigrants as opposed to other migrants.
Last week, Mexicans took to the streets to riot, loot, and blockade streets to protest the government’s January 1st announcement they would raise maximum oil prices by 20%. The move is the first of many steps to deregulate Mexico’s energy sector. Dependent on gasoline imports, policymakers expect the decrease in subsidies will attract foreign investment and increase competition against the state-controlled oil company, Pemex. But it appeared the government was unprepared for the widespread contempt.