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What We’re Watching: Guyana’s windfall, freedom in Iran, and Maduro babies

What We’re Watching: Guyana’s windfall, freedom in Iran, and Maduro babies

Guyana rags to riches – If you knew your income would triple over the next four years, what would you do? That's the wonderful (and fascinating) problem facing the small South American nation of Guyana after the recent discovery there of one of the world's biggest offshore oil reserves. The country's 780,000 people are currently awaiting the results of the presidential and legislative elections held earlier this week. The winners of that vote will be responsible for guiding this nation through one of the most dramatic increases in national wealth in recent world history. At the moment, Guyana's GDP per person is less than $5,000. As it goes from being one of the Western hemisphere's poorest countries per capita to one of its wealthiest, will Guyana's people prosper? Or will this country fall prey to ethnic divisions as citizens of African and Indian descent fight for the spoils. Will it suffer what political scientists call "the resource curse" as a tidal wave of new money warps the economy and feeds rampant corruption? Stay tuned.


Free Time in Iran – Are you stuck in an Iranian prison and want to go home? Good news. You're free to go. If you have tested negative for Coronavirus. And you're serving a sentence of less than five years. To this point, Iran is home to the deadliest Coronavirus outbreak outside China. Afraid that overcrowded prisons help Coronavirus spread, Iranian authorities announced this week that 54,000 prisoners will be freed temporarily. We'll be watching to see how they spend their "free time," and how difficult it might prove to return them all to jail in the future.

Maduro babies – "Every woman should have six children for the good of the country." So says Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro, president of a country that is home to severe shortages of food and medicine. By having more children, he seems to believe, Venezuela can eventually end its politically driven economic collapse.

What We're Ignoring

A used orb – remember that strange glowing orb that Donald Trump, Saudi King Mohammad Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi all put their hands on during Trump's state visit to the Saudi kingdom in 2017? This video will jog your memory. According to a new book by New York Times reporter Ben Hubbard, that orb is now in US possession. The orb was apparently offered to the US government as a souvenir, one that US officials have no idea what to do with. We're ignoring this story because, though the Signal team is very interested in buying an orb for our office, we don't buy used orbs.

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele is an unusual politician. The 39-year old political outsider boasts of his political triumphs on TikTok, dons a suave casual uniform (backwards-facing cap; leather jacket; tieless ), and refuses to abide by Supreme Court rulings.

Bukele also enjoys one of the world's highest approval ratings, and that's what helped his New Ideas party clinch a decisive victory in legislative elections on February 28, securing a close to two-third's supermajority (75 percent of the vote had been counted at the time of this writing).

His triumph will resonate far beyond the borders of El Salvador, Central America's smallest country, home to 6.5 million people. Now that Bukele has consolidated power in a big way, here are a few key developments to keep an eye on.

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279: All 279 schoolgirls kidnapped last week by gunmen in northwest Nigeria have now been released. The girls were set free after the government negotiated with the abductors, but many observers criticize this approach, saying it only emboldens militants to kidnap children for ransom.

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Now that millions of high-priority Americans have been vaccinated, many people in low-risk groups are starting to ask the same question: when's my turn? Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious diseases expert, has an answer, but probably not the one they're hoping for: "It probably won't be until May or June before we can at least start to get the normal non-prioritized person vaccinated." On GZERO World, Dr. Fauci also addresses another burning question: why aren't schools reopening faster? And while Dr. Fauci acknowledges that reopening schools must be a top priority, he has no quick fixes there, either. In fact, that's kind of a theme of the interview.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Dr. Fauci's Pandemic Prognosis

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

I thought I would talk today, I haven't spoken much about former President Trump since he's no longer president and I intend to continue that practice. But given this weekend and the big speech at CPAC and the fact that in the straw poll, Trump won and won by a long margin. I mean, DeSantis came in number two, but he's the Governor of Florida, CPAC was in Orlando, so that's a home court bias. In reality, it's Trump's party. And I think given all of that, it's worth spending a little bit of time reflecting on what that means, how I think about these things.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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