The Naya Indira: India’s New-Old Populism

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 27 Indian democracy has endured for over seventy years, despite the occasional bumps in the road. The most notorious of these was ‘the Emergency,’ a 21-month period marred by mass arrests and the suspension of civil liberties and habeas corpus, declared by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. However, these structures survived largely due to the leadership of its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who took care to display due deference to Parliament in order to strengthen the fledgling legislature. Additionally, one can attribute India’s rapid economic transformation since 1991 to the stewardship of three

Righting Wrongs: The Struggle for Western New Guinea

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 20 Source: WikiMedia Commons In the far east of Indonesia, thousands of miles from the capital of Jakarta, lies the area known as Western New Guinea. Made up of the provinces of Papua and West Papua, it is roughly the size of California and has a diverse population of hundreds of tribes that speak hundreds of different languages. Despite being a part of Indonesia for over fifty years, the marriage between Western New Guinea and the Indonesian state has been ugly, fueling a consistent desire for independence in the region. This struggle has particularly been agitated in recent months, with an incident in August that

Mutually Assured Construction: How Competition from China’s Belt and Road Initiative Could Benefit

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 23 A Belt and Road international forum. Source: WikiMedia Commons China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an unprecedented undertaking. With the financial backing of a trillion U.S. dollars and an established presence in over a hundred countries, the BRI represents the apex of China’s diplomatic and economic statecraft. Naturally, China benefits from its patronage of developing countries. New ports, roads, and railways serve a political and strategic purpose. And while China has been eager to present its efforts as a commitment to regional cooperation, powerful skeptics remain. The United States is particularly wa

Meating China’s Demands: The Alternative Meat Industry as a Market-Driven Approach to Environmental

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 21 Plant-based meat alternatives were first introduced to China over 2000 years ago. The original purpose of these products was to support the Buddhist population and the religion’s commitment to vegetarianism. According to a recent report by the Good Food Institute, out of this demand grew two of China’s leading companies in plant-based alternatives, Whole Food Perfect and Godly, but these products have failed to attract non-vegetarians because of their historical significance and taste dissimilarities with their meat counterparts. However, China could soon see the introduction of “2.0” plant-based meat alternative

It’s Time for the Rohingya to Return

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 25 In late August of 2017, Rajuma stood in a riverbank, alongside dozens of other Rohingya women, when soldiers ripped her baby from her arms, and threw him into a fire. Later, the same Myanmar state soldiers would gang-rape Rajuma and murder her mother, sisters and brother, according to reporting from The New York Times. Rajuma’s story is not unique. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been subjected to mass murder, rape and torture, with the United Nations proclaiming the group under threat of genocide. Now, two years later, most of the Rohingya have ended up exactly where their oppressors claimed they were fro

In Defense of GSOMIA Renewal

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 26 Tensions over colonial history between Japan and South Korea are at an all-time high. In August, government officials in South Korea decided to withdraw from the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), an agreement between the two countries facilitating military information exchanges, specifically focused on North Korea and its nuclear missile programs. While the intelligence agreement has given the two countries leverage against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), a rise in South Korean nationalism prompted populist-backed politicians to back out of this pivotal agreement, rend

Escaping the Giant

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 22 The Shores of Kiribati. Source: WikiMedia Commons Palauan legend tells of an insatiable giant who continuously ate but soon exhausted the resources of his caretakers. The villagers had no choice but to eventually try to slay him. The giant, upon finding out, recognized how his greed had nearly starved those who had raised him and chose to give the people a gift. His body shattered into hundreds of pieces and where they landed into the ocean, the islands of Palau formed. This tale of insatiability parallels our world today, and just as the giant’s hunger had consequences, so too do our actions affect climate chang

Australian Asylum: Not a Pacific Solution

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 24 When it comes to refugee policy, Australia is a land of contradictions. On the one hand, its refugee resettlement program is the third-largest in the world, bested only by the United States and Canada in total refugee intake according to a 2018 United Nations report. Even members of the Coalition, the conservative coalition currently in power, have boasted about the “generosity” of Australia’s humanitarian migration programs. At the same time, anti-immigration sentiments abound as the same party that lauded Australia’s giving spirit also recently ran on a platform pledging to freeze refugee quotas and cut overall

A Mere Seven Words: China’s Power Play on Freedom of Speech

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 19 A mere seven-word tweet posted in mid-October sparked a massive shock and long lasting ripples in sports news, and later, the world. “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” tweeted out by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, resulted in an outburst from the Chinese government, which proceeded to cancel television and internet streaming of the NBA exhibition games being played there. When the NBA released a statement timidly defending Morey’s right to free speech under the First Amendment, China’s CCTV Network responded, “any remarks that challenge [C

The Hidden Radicalization of Trinidad and Tobago

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 10 In the Summer 2016 issue of Dabiq, ISIS’s premier recruitment and radicalization magazine, Abu Sa’d At-Trinidadi urged Muslim Trinidadians to wage Jihad within their home country and “make the streets run with blood.” By singling out his homeland, At-Trinidadi exposed its dangerous secret. Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) fosters the highest ISIS recruitment rate in the Western Hemisphere. For the country with the highest GDP per capita in the Caribbean and Latin America, the soaring ISIS recruitment rate is shocking to many. But, aggravators of radicalization have been present in the country for decades. However, under

Paving the Way: Brazil’s Push for Opening Indigenous Land

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 12 On September 24, 2019, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro addressed the United Nations General Assembly, chastising other member states for their criticism of Brazilian domestic policy. In particular, Bolsonaro addressed his desire to modify Article 231 of the Brazilian Constitution and open indigenous lands for commercial use. Citing vast mineral and agricultural potential, Bolsonaro claimed he would boost the struggling Brazilian economy and “civilize and modernize” indigenous groups. Indigenous leaders and activists swiftly decried the move. A joint statement by the 16 peoples of the Xingu region (the largest

Mexico’s Appeasement of Drug Cartels Will Only Facilitate More Violence

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 13 In early October 2019, a war-like scene broke out in the northern Mexican city of Culiacán after a series of stunning missteps by security officials. A forgotten warrant, escaped prisoners, and no plan for backup were just a few of the massive oversights made by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his military. These circumstances led to a gunfight in the streets of the city between the country’s most notorious drug cartel, the Sinaloa cartel, and militarized police. Children leaving class hid behind cars while prisoners escaped from detention facilities amid the exchange of gunfire. The cart

Mexico and the USMCA: Why Little Will Change for Mexican Workers

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 17 In July 2019, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified in front of the House Committee on Ways and Means to satisfy Congressional concerns regarding the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the Trump administration’s replacement for NAFTA. At the hearing, one of the most controversial provisions in the agreement discussed was the requirement that Mexico would need to reform its labor laws to allow for stronger union collective bargaining and higher wages for certain Mexican workers, particularly in the automobile parts industry. While Lighthizer and his team believe that the USMCA will be a g

How Vietnam Could Mitigate Cuba’s Economic Crisis

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 11 In May 2019, after weeks of intense domestic pressure, the Cuban government began rationing staple foods and basic hygiene products to ease mounting stress on its centrally-planned economy. The drastic move, which resulted in hours-long queues and widespread public outrage, was an attempted response to ongoing regional instability and deteriorating U.S. bilateral relations that have placed Cuba’s financial health at extreme risk. As Venezuela’s economy — ravaged by hyperinflation, reduced exports, and food shortages — flounders amidst a domestic power struggle, Cuba has lost access to heavily subsidized oil and c

Guatemala and the CICIG: A New Era of Corruption in Latin America

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 14 The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) led the charge against corruption across Guatemala since 2007. After the thirty-six-year civil war that rattled the country, many criminal networks and government institutions allied, forming what Amnesty International defined as a “corporate mafia state.” Guatemala was nearing a breaking point in its fragile democracy, and to avoid total collapse, the government agreed to support the CICIG. The initial goal was to limit impunity in the Guatemalan judicial system. Through conducting investigations and collaborating with the Attorney General’s offi

Fighting a Losing Battle: Alberto Fernández and a Struggling Argentinian Economy

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 9 Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (left) with Alberto Fernández (right). Source: WikiMedia Commons On the night of October 27th, 2019, Alberto Fernández became the new president of Argentina. Fernández, a formerly obscure political strategist and university professor, defeated the incumbent president Mauricio Macri by a margin of 8 percent. While Fernandez and his Vice President, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) (no relation) celebrated with ardent supporters in Buenos Aires, the festivities quickly came to an end. The same night Fernández declared victory, Argentina’s government imposed stricter

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Future of the Environment under Populist Leaders and the Exampl

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 15 *Editorial Note: this article was written preceding the resignation of Evo Morales* Bolsonaro and Morales’ interaction with the Amazon rainforest is a critical example of the danger that populist leaders can pose to the environment. As a future plagued by the negative effects of climate change looms nearer, with extreme weather and rising sea levels already posing serious threats, it is becoming more pertinent than ever that international action is taken to mitigate climate change. The international community recognized this in 2015, when almost every nation adopted the Paris Agreement to limit the global tempera

A Hobbled Trudeau Has Much to Prove in His Second Term

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 16 Source: Wikimedia Commons Canada’s recent election exposed deep divisions within a historically harmonious country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, head of the Liberal Party, won a narrow victory in the national election on October 21st to assume his second term. While Trudeau won the election, the Conservatives took more of the popular vote, leaving him to govern with a minority in Parliament. The Conservative Party, led by Andrew Scheer, was heavily supported by Canada’s Western Prairie Provinces. Trudeau carried the vote in the Eastern provinces, highlighting the regional divide within the country. Canadian vot

#ChileDespertó: A Case Study for Failed Neoliberal Politics

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 18 Santiago, Chile “History is ours and it is made by the people.” Source: Orizon Villalobos Chile has been taken over by mass protests with anger and frustration pouring onto the streets. From abroad, this surge in popular activity has taken many by surprise. On a continent where economic stability seems to evade almost everyone, Chile has always been hailed as the exception, and sold around the world as a ‘capitalist success story.’ This uprising is shaking up that image. For about three weeks, Chile has experienced mass turbulence— two massive protests have taken place on the streets of Santiago, where more than

Eight years after the Arab Spring, Tunisia still has work to do

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 6 Source: Wikimedia Commons Although the current discourse touts Tunisia’s success in the Arab Spring, the nation’s recent election results have proved this narrative to be an oversimplification. While the 2011 movement did lead to the ousting of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the implementation of democratic reforms, Tunisia’s democratically elected leaders have failed to fix many of the systemic issues which plagued Tunisia under Ben Ali, including corruption and economic weaknesses. Political outsider Kaïs Saïed’s landslide victory in the 2019 presidential election highlights the animosity many Tu

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