What We’re Watching: Venezuela Unplugged

What We’re Watching: Venezuela Unplugged

Is Moscow Dropping Maduro?
Moscow has removed the bulk of its defense advisers from Venezuela, because the cash-strapped regime of Nicolas Maduro can't pay them, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Adding to the intrigue, later in the day, President Donald Trump cryptically tweeted that he'd received word from Russia that "most of their people" had left the South American nation. The Kremlin's support has been crucial for Maduro – who has so far faced down a challenge from opposition leader Juan Guaido – and until now, Venezuela has spent a lot of money on Russian weapons. But if the cash is running dry and Moscow's support is fraying, will this alter Maduro's calculus? More importantly, will it alter the calculus of the generals whose continued support is keeping him in power?


Weather Report from the new "Arab Spring": Shots fired, elections cancelled
Earlier this spring, popular protests in both Sudan and Algeria ousted strongmen who had ruled for decades, creating hope for change in two countries burdened with notoriously repressive regimes. But in both cases, the military men who propped up those regimes have held on to power, angering street protesters who want systemic change rather than just a change of faces at the very top.

Over the weekend, that difference of aims turned deadly in the Sudanese capital, when soldiers opened fire on protesters who have camped outside the military's HQ for two months demanding a swift transition to civilian rule. Meanwhile, in Algeria, an interim government made up of old regime figures cancelled fresh elections scheduled for next month after hundreds of thousands poured into the streets to denounce them as a regime-controlled sham.

What we're ignoring

Reports about the purge or execution of North Korean officials – Last week, a South Korean paper quoting a single source reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was so annoyed at the failure of his Hanoi summit with Donald Trump that he'd executed several of his nuclear negotiators and sent his top diplomat, Kim Yong-chol, to a re-education camp. Plausible enough for a guy who's reportedly executed dozens of people, including his own family members. But then, over the weekend, North Korean media showed Mr Kim (the diplomat) seated contentedly alongside Dear Leader Kim at a concert. Either his stint in the camp provided him a remarkably quick reeducation or this is a reminder that it's almost impossible to know what is really happening inside a society as grotesquely repressive and secretive as North Korea's

We pay little attention to the waves of the sea, yet they are the greatest unused source of renewable energy in the world. Meet ISWEC and Power Buoy, two interesting new technologies used to harness this energy. Learn more about the extraordinary power of waves in this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series, where we investigate interesting facts and trends about energy.

Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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Vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens before the rest of the world, has been effective for rich nations like the United States and Israel. But leaving behind so much of the global population isn't just a humanitarian issue. It could prolong the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who argues that what the global vaccination effort most urgently lacks are doses, not dollars. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, she calls for a large increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and suggests we may be seeing alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

India, the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. But it takes issue with those now asking it to clean up its act. Why, the Indians ask, should we give up our right to get rich by burning fossil fuels like you developed economies have done for generations?

That's precisely the message that India's energy minister had for the US and other wealthy nations at a recent Zoom summit after they pressured Delhi to set a future deadline for net zero emissions. For India, he explained, such targets are "pie in the sky" aspirations that do little to address the climate crisis the country faces right now.

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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are nearly a year away, but discussion of a potential boycott is already stoking tensions on both sides of the US-China relationship. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals are coming under mounting pressure from activists to respond to human rights abuses in China. An increasingly assertive Beijing, meanwhile, vigorously rejects any foreign criticism of what it regards as internal issues.

The last time the US boycotted an Olympics was in 1980, when it withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union repaid in kind by skipping the Games in Los Angeles. Would the US and its allies do something like that again? And how might China respond? Eurasia Group analysts Neil Thomas and Allison Sherlock explain the drivers of the boycott movement and its possible fallout.

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In two weeks, US President Joe Biden will be hosting an online "climate summit" to mark Earth Day. He'll ask China and India to sign up to America's ambitious new plan to slow down climate change. Will they go for it? China is the world's largest polluter, but Beijing is rolling out solar and wind power as fast as it's burning coal. India, meanwhile, is loathe to pick up the slack for rich countries that polluted their way to wealth and now want everyone else to agree to emissions cuts. No matter what happens, any successful plan to reduce global emissions will require buy-in from these three nations which, along with the European Union, account for almost 60 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions nowadays. Here's a look at emissions by the world's top polluters compared to everyone else over the last two decades.

Two big Andean elections: This Sunday, Ecuadorians go to the polls for the second time this year in a close presidential runoff, while Peruvians will vote in the first round of their own presidential election. In Ecuador, the matchup is between the leftwing-populist frontrunner Andrés Arauz, who has pledged to blow up the country's IMF agreements and boost national oil production, and Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business candidate who is seen as the choice of continuity with the current market-friendly government. Voter abstention is likely to be high, and the final result could very well be close and contested in a polarized country that was struggling with massive social unrest even before the pandemic struck. Meanwhile in Peru — which recently went through three presidents in the space of a week — the candidate field is hugely fragmented. Those with a decent shot to make it to the second round include "change" candidates like the leftist former lawmakers Yohny Lescano and Verónica Mendoza, as well as the prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, who has recently risen in the polls. Former soccer star George Forsyth is also in the mix, as is Keiko Fujimori, daughter of authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori. Both of this Sunday's elections will serve as a kind of bellwether for the political mood in a region that has been devastated by the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

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