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Thailand's monarchy, Nigeria protests, Bolivia's new president & COVID latest

Watch Ian Bremmer discuss the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

With Thailand's anti-government movement growing, is the monarchy in danger?

No, the monarchy is not in danger. The prime minister, Prayut, is in massive danger. These people want him out. That could lead to, yet another, military coup. By the way, markets don't tend to move because it happens a lot in Thailand all the time. This is a lot of demands for economic reform. A lot of demands for incompetence in the country. The economy has been hit massively. Thailand is massively dependent on tourism and something that is certainly not happening with coronavirus going on. It's extraordinary. There has been a fair amount of anti-monarchy sentiment and willingness to go after them in the demonstrations, which is illegal to do in Thailand, but there's still a lot of support. The royalist at military coordination is very high. That's not going to change the resources they have that they're able to spread around the country for patronage is massive. It is nowhere near the popularity that the former very long-lasting king had, but the monarchy in Thailand, no, is not in danger.

What is happening in Nigeria?

Well, massive protests in Nigeria, too. Big, big security breakdowns, both in the capital, Abuja, as well as across Nigeria's southwest. I was there, actually, a year ago and loved my trip. But there's no question, there were more military checkpoints than I'd ever been through in my life, including some that were a little dodgy. This time around, it is large amounts of popular protest against police brutality, and security shakedowns, and abuses. That has also been taken advantage of by some of the criminal elements themselves using the demonstrations to advance their own gains. The President Buhari has said very little in response, so far. The responses have mostly been at the local level. That's not going to be able to continue for long because we're talking about the capital of a country and pretty widespread instability. But nonetheless, this is a pretty big deal for the largest economy in Nigeria and something we should be watching pretty closely.

Bolivia, all over the world today, elected a new president. Who is Luis Arce, and how will he lead the country?

Well, he was the minister of finance, I want to say, for the former president, Evo Morales. Morales, indigenous leader of the left progressive, did a very good job in lowering inequality in Bolivia, was very popular, but was forced out of power because of charges of fraud in the last presidential vote a year ago. And both domestically and internationally, and the United States agreed, most international observers did, and then, turned out that those allegations of fraud were themselves fraudulent. In other words, he was kind of forced out of power illicitly. And the place holder government, this woman, Jeanine Áñez, who took over as an interim leader, and was from the right, and much more pro-business, pro-market, anti-indigenous people, overturned a lot of Morales' policies, and with significant abuses against his supporters, riot police brought in and the rest, she was thinking about running in election, which would have probably been illegal. She chose not to, smart for her, and ended up supporting the unity candidate on the right, former president, Carlos Mesa. He lost, and he lost in the first round to this President Arce, who has nowhere near the charisma of Morales. But the level of opposition to the way he was forced out so high that he ended up sweeping the win. And it's going to hurt economically. The markets will respond negatively to it. And obviously, this is a very challenging time, economically, in the country. But if you leave aside the Washington consensus, the IMF, and the rest, and talk about the Bolivian people, this is going to lead to a lot more political stability, a lot fewer people getting hurt. And big congratulations to the former minister of finance, now, president.

Final question is, what is the global COVID update?

Oh, save that until the end. We're continuing to see significant expansion of cases across, now, not just Spain, but really all of Europe. In fact, in the Czech Republic, you're seeing the highest levels of cases per capita of any country in Europe, I think, since this whole thing started. Real expansion across the entire continent, Western Europe and much of Eastern Europe. And of course, across, now, the entirety of the United States. It's not a third wave, it's a second wave. In the US, there were lots of first waves in different parts of the United States, so it made it feel like it was expanding at different times. In reality, it's because the US is just really big and diverse. Now, this is increasingly a collective second wave leading to a lot more people getting hospitalized too. The death rates in the United States and Europe are still staying relatively low. In part, that's different by behaviors on the part of the populations that are most vulnerable. In part, it is hospital care improve with having sufficient ICU beds. It is being prepared in terms of better treatment, and also, getting people to recognize symptoms and getting treated immediately. All of that means that even with a very significant... The absolute scale of this second wave is likely probably going to be greater in terms of total cases than the first wave was. And yet, the economic impact, the human impact is likely to be less because we've learned so much more about the virus.

Meet Ian Martin, an English Professor from Glasgow who is now head of Communications for Eni's International Resources. Approaching his work in the same way he used to hold his lectures, Ian is dedicated to listening and making people around him comfortable. Having working in both Milan and London, Ian utilizes his ability to communicate in different languages and cultures to prepare Eni's global messaging strategy. "Communication is a transfer of humanity," he says, and his job is as much centered around people as it as around language.

Watch Ian's human approach to communications on the most recent episode of Faces of Eni.

How to capture the essence of this incredible, terrible year in a few short words and without using profanity? It's not easy.

Thankfully, the dictionary website Merriam-Webster.com has released its list of most heavily searched words of 2020, and they tell the story of an historic year in US politics and the life of our planet. Here's a sample.

The top word, unsurprisingly, was "Pandemic," a disease outbreak that covers a wide area and afflicts lots of people. In 2020, the coronavirus crisis hit every region of the world, triggering a public health, economic, and political emergency on a geographic scale our planet has never experienced. Differing responses to that problem defined the politics (and geopolitics) of 2020.

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While recent news from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the efficacy of their respective COVID vaccines is encouraging, it has also given rise to bidding wars between wealthy countries trying to secure the largest supply of the new drugs for their citizens. Meanwhile, many governments in emerging market economies, where healthcare infrastructure is generally weaker, are worried they'll be kicked to the back of the line in the global distribution process. Indeed, history bears out their concerns: while a lifesaving HIV treatment hit shelves in the West in the mid-1990s, for example, it took years to become widely in Africa, which saw some of the worst HIV outbreaks in the world. But here's the catch: even if wealthy countries manage to obtain large supplies of vaccines to immunize their populations, the interconnected nature of the global economy means that no one will really be out of the woods until we all are. Here's a snapshot of how many COVID vaccines select countries have already purchased.

Afghanistan's small breakthrough: For months, disagreements over a range of political issues have hamstrung the intra-Afghan peace talks brokered by the Trump administration that aim to bridge the years-long conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But this week, a significant breakthrough was made on the principles and procedures governing the talks, that, experts say, will help push negotiations to the next phase. One key advance is agreement on the official name of the Afghan government, an issue that stalled talks earlier this year. Still, progress is fragile. Taliban violence and efforts to seize territory have only increased since the militants and the US reached a deal in February on a blueprint for an American troop withdrawal. And the Trump administration says it aims to pull out all but 2,500 US troops by mid-January, whether the Taliban have kept their end of the deal or not. What's more, while this week's development puts the parties one step closer to an eventual power-sharing agreement, it's unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will even honor the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.

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Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET


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