Skimm for Dec. 4th
Skimm Extra Credit
- The Story:
Fidel Castro burial ends 9 days of mourning in Cuba
Why was he significant:
Castro was celebrated by figures such as Nelson Mandela because he was seen as putting an end to an apartheid system when the West supported it. The impact he had on American-Cuban relations is still seen today, especially due to his involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis, which could have potentially led to a world war. He ruled for 49 years but was never truly removed from politics and the public sphere.
What he meant for the future of Cuba:
Castro’s brother, Raul, has been in power since 2006. Even after ceding power Castro was, and still is, an inspiration to leftists and anti-imperialists all over the world but is also criticized for cracking down on his opponents and dissidents. His brother brokered a deal with President Obama in 2014, whereby the two countries would exchange prisoners. Castro begrudgingly approved the détente but refused to meet with Obama when he visited Cuba, warning the people not to trust everything Obama says. American President-elect Trump has threatened to reverse this détente unless the Cuban government calls for internal changes, which have been rejected by both Castro brothers. So even after Castro’s death, his ideology may still have a crucial impact on Cuban foreign relations.
- The Story:
Thousands take to the streets of Brazil to protest “watered down anti-corruption bill”
What’s going on:
Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of Brazil, particularly in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, after the lower house of Brazilian Congress passed several amendments to an important anti-corruption bill. A vote is being proposed, which the people believe will threaten to undermine an anti-corruption investigation. However, the bill does include a provision about harsh punishment for those who abuse their power. The bill has yet to become law, as it needs to be approved by the Senate first.
Why is all this important?
The team leading the investigation, Operation Car Wash, is important because it unveiled a massive corruption scheme at the state oil company, Petrobas. Apparently, many private Brazilian companies have agreed to bribe politicians and executives. Because so many high-profile politicians and businessmen have been convicted, the Congress decided to take action and water down the anti-corruption bill in order to prevent the investigation team from causing further damage. The protests are also significant because they show what the bill and the uncovering of corruption at the state level mean to the Brazilian people, and that they are taking advantage of their right to protest peacefully.
- The Story: Venezuela issues new banknotes due to inflation
Venezuela is suffering from extreme inflation and has issued higher-value banknotes, as a result. Within the past month, the Venezuelan currency, the bolivar, has fell by 60% against the dollar on the black market. Last week, the credit card and cash machine system in Venezuela froze. Businesses, as a result, were unable to process transactions and had to use cash or even delay payment. The Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the inflation on a cyber-attack and says that the crisis is backed by the United States. The Venezuelan economy has recently suffered by because of the fall of oil prices, which is its main source of income. Strict currency controls have been in place since 2003.
Implications for the future:
The central bank of Venezuela claims that these banknotes will make the payment system more efficient, will facilitate commercial transactions, and will minimize the costs of production, replacement, and transfer. Unfortunately, the International Monetary Fund has estimated that next year’s prices in Venezuela will rise by more than 2000%.