President Evo Morales has made his legacy in Bolivia by presenting himself as a man of the people. Under his socialist administration, he decreased poverty by more than 60 percent through public spending and social programs, successfully re-nationalized natural resources, and, as the country’s first indigenous president, implemented a new constitution that strengthens Bolivia’s indigenous rights. However, recent events indicate Morales is transitioning from a moderate populist towards an undemocratic autocrat. In addition to corruption scandals, desperate attempts to control free speech, and a falling approval rating, Morales is now attempting to out the constitution to remain in power longer than its term limits allow. Despite a failed referendum that would have allowed him to run for a fourth term, Morales defied the voters and accepted his Movement To Socialism (MAS) party’s nomination for president. But in order to avoid moving Bolivia towards autocracy, Mr. Morales must instead step down and name a successor.
The failed coup in Turkey last July has resulted in the purges of thousands of public officials. Government representatives are rumored to be investigating suspects’ links to Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Muslim cleric who is said to have sparked the uprising. The crackdown has proven excessive in many sectors of society, leading to the suspension of due process and repression of political opposition in the military, legal system, and police force. Yet the worst-off victim of the crackdown by far has been education.
Since the purge began, the government has closed fifteen universities and 1,000 secondary schools, dismissed 27,000 Ministry of Education staff , suspended 4,255 academics and nearly 10,000 teachers, and asked 1,577 University Deans to resign. The government claims these are security measures designed to safeguard against enemies of the state. Yet the extent of the suspensions and the liberal beliefs of the targeted academics instead demonstrate an attempt by President Erdogan to reform Turkey’s secular education system based on his religious vision. Such actions only confirm Western fears that the purge is an effort to repress political opposition rather than ensure national security.
On October 13th Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for a consultation on a second Scottish independence referendum bill. The consultation marks the first step in the long process of allowing the referendum to go to a vote. But irrespective of whether the country succeeds in its second attempt to pursue independence from the United Kingdom, it faces extensive negotiations with the United Kingdom (UK) in light of its decision to exit the European Union (EU).
Since winning the national elections last December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made waves as the fresh new face of Canadian politics. At 44, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau bolstered Canada’s international image and popularity, leading to a political honeymoon with the promise of reform and a charismatic young leader. The celebration is only heightened when juxtaposed with the near decade-long reign of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. However, this liberal wave, hailed as a potential second Trudeaumania (the term used to describe Pierre Trudeau’s surge in popularity upon his election), proved to be more substantive than empty promises and charm from a relatively inexperienced politician. In his first 100 days in office, the Prime Minister made progress on the 214 promises made during the campaign cycle, demonstrating that Trudeau is an effective foil to his Conservative predecessor.
Desperate for a scapegoat, Venezuela has been brutally deporting Colombian immigrants in an unjust attempt to blame them for its own economic mismanagement and increasing violence. Under the socialist regime of President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has experienced unprecedented violence, a triple digit inflation rate, and prolonged shortages of basic necessities. According to the New York Times, economic growth has fallen and homicides have reached record-breaking rates as a result of these policies. As an oil dependent nation, the roots of these problems are largely due to the 2014 plummet in oil prices. Thus, the source of Venezuela’s instability is not Colombian interference but rather lies in domestic issues, including the decline in oil prices, cumbersome economic regulations, weak gun control policies, and poorly funded public safety organizations.