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Luisa Vieria.

Stories we overlooked in 2022

A handful of stories – the war in Ukraine, China’s zero-COVID policy, and US elections – have dominated much of the media coverage this year. Meanwhile, many other crucial global stories have been woefully undercovered. We take a look at four of them.

Venezuela: The challenge of migrating again

Since strongman President Nicolás Maduro responded with an iron fist to widespread protests in 2014 over shortages of goods and sky-high inflation, Venezuela has been subject to more severe US economic sanctions that have put its already-struggling economy on life support. (One of the first sanctions was imposed by the Bush administration in 2006 over Caracas’ failure to crack down on drug trafficking and terrorism.)

As a result of the economic and political crises gripping the country, more than 7 million Venezuelans have fled since 2015, making it one of the world’s largest migrant crises. For those who stayed behind, their quality of life is abysmal: Joblessness is rife, the medical system is in tatters, and more than 67% live in extreme poverty. Meanwhile, most of those who fled sought refuge in Latin America, mainly in Colombia, where they have struggled to find jobs – forcing many women to resort to sex work or even to sell their hair to survive.

But 2022 brought fresh challenges for Venezuela's migrant population. Global inflation has disrupted Latin America’s gig economy, which many Venezuelan migrants rely on to get by. As a result, thousands have been forced to uproot their lives – again – resulting in new migration routes to North America.

Consider that in the first 10 months of this year, Venezuelans accounted for 70% of people who trekked through the Darien Gap, a perilous crossing between Colombia and Panama that’s submerged in dense jungle and swarming with drug cartels and guerrilla groups. The US recently lifted some sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector in a bid to offset losses from Russia. But Washington is still a long way off from reaching any agreements with the Maduro regime that would rescue Caracas’ economy.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin holds talks with U.S. President Joe Biden via a video link in Sochi, Russia December 7, 2021.

Sputnik/Sergey Guneev/Pool via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Biden vs Putin, Rohingya vs Facebook, Peruvian congress vs president

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin agree to disagree. But what a disagreement it is…. From what we know, during their Tuesday video call, the Russian president made clear that NATO’s flirtations with Ukraine are a red line, and that Moscow is prepared to defend its sphere of influence. The Kremlin also wants to see movement on the 2015 Minsk peace plan, which would give Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine broad autonomy. Biden meanwhile stressed that if Russia stirs up fresh trouble in Ukraine, the US is prepared to impose more severe economic sanctions. The US president also told Putin that Washington doesn’t accept the idea that Ukraine’s interests are subordinate to Russia’s. All of that leaves us more or less where we were before the call: Russia with more than 100,000 troops camped out on the Ukrainian border, and the US sounding the alarm about a possible invasion.

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A soldier looks at a banner attached to a military vehicle outside Myanmar's Central Bank during a protest against the military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 15, 2021.

REUTERS/Stringer

Myanmar is a danger to its neighbors — will anyone step in?

Remember Myanmar? It's been over five months since the military — the Tatmadaw — seized power in a coup, sidelining the quasi-democratic civilian government led by former human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi. Anti-coup demonstrations quickly arose around the country, and the Tatmadaw tried to put them down just as swiftly, responding with brutal violence that killed over 800 civilians.

And although the media has largely moved on, the situation is getting worse in ways that aren't only bad for Myanmar's people, but also for its neighbors.

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Ian Bremmer: Myanmar’s Military Coup Is Nothing Like The US Insurrection | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Quick Take: Myanmar’s military coup is nothing like the US insurrection

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. I've got your Quick Take kicking off the week. Plenty of things we could talk about, but I thought we would actually discuss Myanmar, because it's not generally something in the news. And yet just this weekend, we had a successful military coup and immediately of course you see Americans say, "Hey, that's just like what happened in the United States, could have been us." And the answer is no, no. What happened in the US was an insurrection that failed, but it was not a coup and the reason it was not a coup is because the military played absolutely no role. In fact, all of the former secretaries of defense said that Democrat and Republican, that it was a free and fair election, and that Biden was going to be president. That needed to be respected. The joint chiefs wrote their letter together saying that it was critical to stand for the constitution.

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Protest against the coup in Myanmar in front of the country's embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.

REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Myanmar generals turn back the clock

After weeks of saber-rattling, Myanmar's military took power on Monday. Aung San Suu Kyi and the entire leadership of her incumbent National League for Democracy party are now under arrest. The coup ends a five-year democratic experiment in a country where generals are used to calling the shots.

How did we get here, why was democracy so short-lived, and what happens next?

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'R' is for Rohingya: Sesame Street creates new muppets for refugees

December 21, 2020 12:50 AM

BANGKOK (NYTIMES) - Six-year-old twins Noor and Aziz live in the largest refugee camp in the world. They are Rohingya Muslims who escaped ethnic cleansing in their native Myanmar for refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. They are also Muppets.

Bangladesh ships Rohingya refugees to remote island despite protests

December 04, 2020 1:07 PM

Bangladesh says it is only moving refugees who are willing to go and that this will ease chronic overcrowding in camps.

Bangladesh begins transfer of Rohingya to controversial island

December 03, 2020 4:07 PM

COX'S BAZAR (AFP) - Bangladesh began transferring several hundred Rohingya refugees on Thursday (Dec 3) to what the UN and rights groups worry is a dangerous low-lying island prone to cyclones and floods.

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