The far-reaching energy reform that Mexico's Congress approved on Thursday was overdue, but it’s not enough to repair the damage caused by the state's 75-year monopoly of the oil sector.
Politicians intent on modernizing the country's crippled oil business will need to make the sector more transparent, strike deals with oil companies that are advantageous to Mexico, and convince leftist opponents -- namely supporters of the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD -- of the benefits of reopening the industry to foreign investment.Read more »
Whether or not the throngs of protesters in Kiev succeed in ousting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, they have proven one thing: Their civic sensibility is in many ways more mature than that of the political establishment.
Demonstrators occupying the city center have created what is possibly the largest self-organizing, self-sustaining revolutionary commune the world has seen since the 1968 riots in Paris. The Euromaidan -- as the protesters' camp in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, is known -- is increasingly looking like a nation within a nation.
The protests began on Nov. 21 after the Ukrainian government backpedaled from signing an association and free trade deal with the European Union. Now they have swelled into a movement that attracts hundreds of thousands on weekends, and EU integration is no longer the central issue. The Euromaidan wants the president to go and the constitution amended to turn Ukraine into a parliamentary republic.Read more »
One of the most notable aspects of Uruguay’s history-making legalization of marijuana on Tuesday is how ill-prepared the government is to handle the pot business.
First, a plug: Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica is from that rare strain of leftist politician who deserves some respect. Not only is he taking on a new approach to the U.S. government's failed war on drugs, but he also has the political backbone to support a law that almost two-thirds of Uruguayans reject. His administration has passed several progressive laws such as legalizing gay marriage. Plus, Mujica is running manageable budget deficits and low enough debt levels to earn investment-grade credit scores from the three top rating agencies.Read more »
On Thursday, as the smog that has choked Shanghai for much of the last week reached hazardous levels, the city’s environmental authority took decisive action to address the frequent air-quality alerts: It adjusted standards downward to ensure that there won’t be so many.
It was a cynical move, surely made to protect the bureau’s image in the face of unrelenting pollution that only seems to grow worse, despite government promises to address it. At this advanced stage in China’s development, nobody in the country (or elsewhere) -- not even the loyal state news media -- seems to believe that the problem is solvable, at least not any time soon. Even worse, nobody -- not the state and certainly not the growing number of middle-class consumers (and car buyers) -- seems ready to take responsibility for the mess.Read more »
The victory of Venezuela’s left in Sunday’s municipal elections suggests that voters are comfortable with their growing dependence on the government’s generosity. Opposition leaders must help Venezuelans overcome their addiction.
As of yesterday, President Nicolas Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela had captured a majority of the country’s municipalities -- 234 out of 337 precincts -- and had taken 44.2 percent of the vote versus the opposition’s 41 percent, with ballots still being counted.Read more »
The toppling of KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky's statue in Moscow in 1991 sent a powerful signal that the end of Communist rule was nigh. It's less certain what the destruction of Vladimir Lenin's statue in Kiev last night means for the future of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
After three weeks of protests, both sides now find themselves playing a positional chess game, unsure that they can afford serious violence.Read more »
Politicians in Honduras have been cementing the Central American country's reputation for dysfunction. Four and half years ago, the Honduran military -- with a nod from Congress and the Supreme Court -- staged a coup against leftist President Manuel Zelaya in order to halt his plans for populist constitutional reform. The repercussions of that decision have made a mess of the country’s recent presidential election.
Xiomara Castro, a leftist presidential candidate who also happens to be Zelaya’s wife, has so far refused to accept defeat in the Nov. 24 election, despite having apparently received about 28.8 percent of the vote, 8 percentage points fewer than the winner, Juan Hernandez of the conservative National Party.Read more »
It isn't every day that the most interesting foreign news in Indian newspapers is published on the "Tenders" pages. But there it was one day in October: a notice from the Central Public Works Department of Delhi, inviting applications from Indian companies for desks, tables and -- more strangely -- "chairs of different types including built-in cupboards," to supply an under-construction "House of the People."
That house of the people is the new parliament building of Afghanistan, which the Indian government is constructing in Kabul as a gift to the Afghan people for a crucial moment in their history: the 2015 parliamentary elections. Work on the building, on an 84-acre plot on the city outskirts, began in 2008, about the same time that Afghanistan began to take its own steps toward building a multi-tiered system of representative government. The edifice will be ready next year, in time to host the victorious candidates of the parliamentary elections that will follow the presidential and provincial elections scheduled for April 5, 2014. It will be an imposing physical manifestation, in the white marble of Herat and red granite from India, of Afghanistan's aspirations to move toward a peaceful democracy.Read more »
The widespread anti-government demonstrations in Ukraine could be the story of the year in Europe: proof that a poor nation can be guided by an overpowering need for freedom and fairness.
It all started with a seemingly inexplicable act of stupidity. On the night of Nov. 29, there were only a few hundred rebellious students left on Independence Square in Kiev -- the dwindling remnants of a protest against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to halt a major trade deal with the European Union, seen as the first step toward Ukraine's membership in the bloc. Then Berkut, the Ukrainian riot police, attacked. The official reason was that the city authorities needed to set up a gigantic artificial Christmas tree in the middle of the square, and the demonstrators were in the way. Berkut used truncheons indiscriminately on young men and women. About 40 students required medical aid.Read more »