4 June 2017   Leave a comment

Today is the anniversary of the brutal repression of the Tiananmen Square protests in China in 1989.  The event was observed in Hong Kong, but only sporadically in the rest of China.  We actually do not know how many people were killed in the military action against the protesters, who were primarily young activists calling for greater freedoms.  That event marked the point at which an implicit contract was make between the Chinese Communist Party and the people of China: that political freedoms could be circumscribed as long as economic development continued to lift the Chinese people out of poverty.  That contract underlies most of the Chinese government economic policies and why it regards economic growth as a necessary condition for all its policies.  The event also signaled one of the most iconic expressions of the human desire for freedom as “Tank Man” confronted military tanks sent to put down the protests.



The situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate.  Uri Friedman writes in The Atlantic:

“Three-fourths of Venezuelans reported involuntarily losing an average of 19 pounds in 2016 because of rampant food shortages and runaway inflation, which is making basic goods unaffordable. A third of Venezuelans reported eating two or fewer meals a day last year—triple the number recorded a year earlier. Child malnutrition has reached crisis levels.

Part of the explanation for the economic collapse in Venezuela has to do with the collapse in oil prices in 2014. But the most compelling explanation rests on miserable governance.   Both Hugo Chavez, the former President, and Nicolas Maduro, the current President, have completely disregarded key constituencies in Venezuela and trampled on democratic rules of procedure.  They did so in the name of the poor in Venezuela, and there is little question that the lives of the poor improved temporarily under their rule–the continued support of the poor for Maduro makes the current situation so intractable.  A young man, identified as a supporter of Maduro, was burned by an angry mob and has died. 

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day war between Israel and Syria, Egypt, and Jordan.  In that time there have been countless hours spent negotiating on the disposition of the territories occupied by Israel during that war and there is little to show for those negotiations.  Both the Israeli and the Palestinian side obviously see advantages in the stalemate, but the dispute continues to roil the region.  There is no resolution in sight, nor does there appear to be any desire to resolve the conflict by any side.

Jerusalem territory map

Posted June 4, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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