Watchlist: Juan Orlando Hernandez Sworn in Among Protests

Week of January 29th

Protesters March in Tegucigalpa (Source: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)


Cape Town To Run Out of Water

Cape Town is the first major city to completely run out of water. Recently, city officials have pushed up the “run out” date 10 days from April 22nd to April 12th. Cape Town’s largest reservoir has been diminished to a mere puddle and dam levels have reduced 1.4% in the last week. Starting in February, residents will be limited to the consumption of 50 liters of water per day in hopes of preventing the “run out” date from occurring. This would limit the average Capetonian to a short minute-and-a-half shower per day. While many residents have accepted this new way of life, others have prepared to move out of the city, to both escape the new way of life, and lift the burden off the other residents of the city. If the “run out” date were to occur, security forces will gather throughout the city at distribution points, limiting residents to only 25 liters of water to consume per day. How Cape Town deals with this water crisis will be a precursor to how other industrialized cities deal with an ever-so pressing issue. JEREMY WAXMAN


China to Develop Arctic Trade Route

China has announced plans to construct a “Polar Silk Road” by developing shipping lanes through the Arctic. Researchers say that global warming has provided a unique opportunity to connect Asia to Europe. China’s interests in the Arctic region include tourism, oil, and gas, specifically Russia’s natural gas project, Yamal. Using the route for trade would also make the voyage from China to Rotterdam twenty days shorter than the one currently used via the Suez Canal. Speaking of the project, Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said, “Some people may have misgivings over our participation in the development of the Arctic, worried we may have other intentions, or that we may plunder resources or damage the environment…I believe these kinds of concerns are absolutely unnecessary.”​ MAYA ZREIK


Honduras Presidential Sworn In for a Second Term Amid Protests

As previously reported in the Watchlist, the Honduran Presidential elections that saw incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández victorious have been disputed since November. However, the commission casted with a complete recount of the votes affirmed Hernández’s victory, and he was sworn in at the national stadium in the capital of Tegucigalpa on Saturday for a second term, the first Honduran to serve two terms. The capital was also full of protesters blocking roads and demonstrating outside of the stadium, most in support of the main opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla. These rivals of Hernández have faced police violence which has killed at least 30 since they called for a recount in late November 2017. The international community has reported excessive use of violence by police, and reports of threats and harassment have arisen against journalists and activist. The opposition has claimed both that the whole process has been a sham. They hold that the recount for the election was biased, completed a commission appointed by Hernández, and also that the extension of term limits allowed by the Supreme Court, also controlled by Hernández, is unconstitutional. Hernández’s full consolidation of power is nearly complete, and his second term now officially underway. ANDREW MITCHEL


Puigdemont Prepares to Return

As Catalonia's Parliament prepares to elect a new leader on Tuesday, the governing body faces a dilemma. Ex-President Charles Puigdemont settled in Brussels after the country attempted to secede last October. At present, Catalonia's majority parties have only considered Puigdemont as the region's next leader, planning to re-elect him even while he lives in exile via video conference. However, a decision by Spain's highest court on Saturday complicates the election, requiring the candidate be present in Parliament during the vote. Currently a fugitive, Puigdemont faces almost certain imprisonment on counts of sedition and rebellion should he re-enter the country. Although the three pro-independence parties that compose the parliamentary majority hope to reinstate the former leader, party officials have admitted they are willing to oust him from the role if his presence interferes with reestablishing a proper, autonomous Catalan government. ANNA HAYNES

Middle East

Violence in Southern Yemen

On Sunday morning clashes broke out in Southern Yemen between separatists who are backed by the United Arab Emirates and forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who has the support of Saudi Arabia. The separatists, officially called the Southern Transitional Council (STC), are leading a movement to form an independent South Yemen. On Sunday, Hadi’s army tried to prevent separatist protesters from entering the city of Aden, which led to clashes between the two forces and ended with ten people dead and many more wounded. The separatists seized several government buildings in the city, and Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher has accused them of staging a coup. Zaid al-Jamal, secretary to the leader of the STC, has said, “We have announced a new program of popular uprising that will start tomorrow. People have already started flooding into al-Orouth Square and will not leave until the government is overthrown.” MAYA ZREIK

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