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.

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

More Show less

While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

More Show less

Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

More Show less

10: Joshua Wong was sentenced along with other Hong Kong democracy activists to 10 months in prison for participating in a vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Wong is currently behind bars for participating in separate pro-democracy protests, and will only start this new sentence after that term concludes in November.

More Show less

What's the biggest foreign policy misconception that Americans have about the US's role in the world? According to international relations expert Tom Nichols, too few Americans believe that the US, in fact, has a critical role in the world, and that the things Americans enjoy, from cheap goods to safe streets, are made possible because of American global leadership. "Americans have become so spoiled and inured to the idea that the world is a dangerous place that they don't understand that the seas are navigable because someone makes them that way. They don't understand that peace between the great powers is not simply like the weather, that just happens," Nichols tells Ian Bremmer. Their conversation is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television – check local listings.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island. But are the consequences of such a move worth the many risks to China and its President Xi Jinping? Ian Bremmer breaks out the Red Pen to to explain why a US-China war over Taiwan is unlikely.

We are taking our red pen to a recent article from The Economist. The Economist, you ask, how could I? I love The Economist, I know, I know. But you'd lose respect if I give this piece a pass. In fact, it was the magazine's cover story this week, so I had no choice. The image and headline say it all. Here it is, Taiwan is now "the most dangerous place on earth" as US/China relations continue to sour in the opening months of President Biden's administration.

More Show less

Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

Would China really invade Taiwan?

The Red Pen

India’s COVID crisis hits home

GZERO World Clips
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal