23 November 2019   Leave a comment

Colombia should be added to the list of states this year that have been rocked by protests. Protesters have taken to the streets of Bogotá demanding the resignation of President Iván Duque. Duque is a right-wing populist who was elected last year and began to revise the terms of the peace treaty the state had signed with guerrillas who had been actively opposed to the government over a long period of time. The BBC outlines the issues raised by the protesters.

“Colombians have taken to the streets over possible changes to the minimum wage, pension and tax reforms, and the privatisation of state companies. The government insists there are no planned pension or labour reforms and that any changes would take place in consultation with labour groups.

“Protesters are also angry about alleged corruption and what some see as the government’s failure to honour a 2016 peace deal with left-wing Farc rebels amid a rise in violence.”

The protests likely have been amplified by the protests in other Latin American countries, Bolivia, Chile, and Brazil. In response to the protests, the government has imposed a curfew in the major cities.

The US Navy has indicated that it may proceed with the expulsion of Edward Gallagher from the SEAL program despite US President Trump’s decision that he should not be expelled. Gallagher was convicted of war crimes during his deployment in Iraq in 2017. According to Reuters:

“On Thursday, Trump lashed out at the proceedings, declaring on Twitter: ‘The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!’

“The Navy responded with a statement saying it would follow ‘lawful orders’ from the president to halt the review but was awaiting further guidance, suggesting his Twitter post was not considered a formal directive.”

The charges against Gallagher were serious:

“Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher was charged with killing a wounded ISIS captive and shooting civilians during his time in Iraq in 2017. At the end of his court-martial, a jury acquitted him of the most serious allegations and convicted him of the offense of posing for photos with the body of the deceased fighter.

“A military jury sentenced Gallagher to four months’ confinement, which he served before trial, and reduced his rank to petty officer 1st class, or E-6.

“On Nov. 15, President Donald Trump restored Gallagher’s rank to E-7, or chief petty officer. The same day, Trump pardoned two Army service members accused of war crimes. His action on Gallagher’s behalf was not a pardon or an exoneration.”

The matter should not be controversial. Gallagher was convicted in a lawful court martial and maintaining discipline within the ranks is of critical importance to the US military. The idea that military discipline should be undermined by political considerations is anathema to the US military, and that standard should be rigorously supported by civilian authorities.

The Chinese have blasted the US at the meeting of the G20 being held in Japan. According to Reuters:

“…Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi did not hold back in his criticism of the United States.

“’The United States is broadly engaged in unilateralism and protectionism, and is damaging multilateralism and the multilateral trading system. It has already become the world’s biggest destabilizing factor,’ China’s Foreign Ministry cited Wang as saying.

“The United States has, for political purposes, used the machine of state to suppress legitimate Chinese businesses and has groundlessly laid charges against them, which is an act of bullying, he added.

“’Certain U.S. politicians have smeared China everywhere in the world, but have not produced any evidence.’

“The United States has also used its domestic law to ‘crudely interfere’ in China’s internal affairs, trying to damage ‘one country, two systems’ and Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity, he added.”

The statement reflects growing tensions over the trade war between the US and China, as well as Chinese anger over the US Congress’s passage of a law requiring the US to monitor human rights violations in Hong Kong. The statement reflects Chinese anger over a bizarre statement by US President Trump on Hong Kong as related by the South China Morning Post:

“‘If it weren’t for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated within 14 minutes,’ Trump boasted in a phone interview on Fox & Friends, his audiovisual Wikipedia of world news. Chinese President Xi Jinping ‘has got a million soldiers standing outside of Hong Kong that aren’t going in only because I asked him, please don’t do that’. “

We will see whether Trump vetoes the Hong Kong Democracy and Human Rights Act in order to curry favor with President Xi. The votes in both houses of Congress were overwhelming and large enough to override such a veto.

Posted November 23, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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