The power of publicity- An overview of the Central African Conflict

I have been informing myself the last two months about the politics of Sub-Saharan Africa. However, I had mostly took information from governmental sources, so for this interview I decided to take another approach and interview a person who has been on the ground and could give me a different point of view.

The one who accepted this difficult task was Narciso Rosa Berlanga, a UN official from the OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), who has been working on different African countries, especially on the Central African Republic. We decided to focus our conversation in Central African Republic, as it was the country that he was more familiar with.

Ignacio Rosa in the Central frican republic supervising international troops

Ignacio Rosa in the Central frican republic in a mission of evaluation of the territory

To start with I asked him for an introduction to the Central African Republic, as many people don’t know anything about the country. He laughed a little bit with this question, and although I found his reaction strange I totally understand him later on as we will see.

The Central African Republic is a country very rich in natural resources, which has provoked an interest from other countries, Mr. Berlanga told me. In the last years the country has increase its natural instability due to the existence of two different religious groups, Muslims and Christians, as the former dictator, backed by the French government was overthrown by Seleka, and Islamic guerrilla, and his leader Jotoria became the president. However, they were not able to keep peace and shortly after a civil war broke up between Seleka and the supporters of the previous dictator. The international community pressured Jotoria’s government, and a transition government under the presidency of Katherine Samba Panza was established. However when the situation seemed stable, the worst episode came. Anti-Balaka, a Christian civil movement started to kill the Muslim population, accusing them of supporting the Seleka government. This rapidly degenerated into a religious conflict, which has not been resolved at the current date. As in most of the religious conflicts, the civil population has been especially affected, provoking a huge movement of the Muslim population into neighboring countries such as Chad and Cameroon.

Trying to lower the intensity of the conflict, the government tried to demobilize Seleka, by cantoning them in the capital and asking for a disarmament. They were partially successful, as the Seleka guerrilla agreed to cantoned in the cities, but they refused to disarm themselves. This  however left the anti-balaka movement without opposition, so they started to kill all the Muslim population, as well as all the Christians who didn’t support them. Although a peacekeeping force was sent by the African union to keep order, they fled away to protect their home countries from the destabilization of the Central African refugees, creating a lack of institutional power. After this the French government has strongly intervened in the country theoretically to build up peace between the two religious groups.

After this overview of the conflict we decided to talk about the job of OCHA here. They are in charge of raising funds, coordinating humanitarian help and trying to lower the intensity of the conflict. However they don’t have military means, so this operation is very difficult and often unsuccessful. They are also in charge of getting out the child’s who are currently taking part in the conflict and teaching them a job to allow them to live in a peaceful way.

Mr. Berlanga told me that the extermination of the Muslim population is reaching the levels of the Rwandan genocide, but despite of this, raising funds to stop it have been nearly impossible. Surprised, I asked him why it was so difficult to achieve help, he answered me by explaining ‘’the power of publicity’’ : some countries such as Syria and South Sudan are well publicized in the media, and whenever a humanitarian crisis occurs, there are in the opening place of all the newspapers, so gaining help is relatively easy. However, countries such as the Central African Republic are much less ‘’sexy’’, so they are systematically ignored by the mainstream media, so making governments aware of the seriousness of the issue.

To end with I asked him about his perspectives of the country. The future is not encouraging, and unless a strong action is taken fast the country will probably live a religious cleansing.

In his propaganda model Chomsky stated that the first filter for a notice is the property and the orientation of the media. When the owners of the main sources of information have businesses in the Central African Republic, can we expect reliable and not-biased information of the topic? If we don’t make an effort to look for different sources of information we might never be able to learn about the true nature of the conflicts around the world.

By Fernando Martin

Is it possible to end the US Cuba embargo?

The UN General Assembly yesterday, Tuesday 29th, voted, for the 22nd year in a row, against the US Cuba embargo, known in this country as “bloqueo capitalista”.

In 1960, Cuba started to expropriate the properties of US citizens that were living in the island, so US government began a commercial, financial and economic embargo on the island.

In February 1962, in the middle of Cold War, the communist government of Cuba, led by Fidel Castro, introduced several missiles on his territory pointing to the United States, with the help and support of Nikita Khrushchev’s communist Russia. So US President Kennedy made a total blockade of the island.

Afterwards, in 1992 US said that they would remove the lock when Cuba becomes a democracy where human rights are respected. This was accentuated in 1996 with the creation of Helms-Burton Act, which states that any non-US company that has dealings with Cuba may be subject to legal reprisals, and that the leaders of the company may not be allowed to entry the United States.

The resolution reached 188 votes for a total of 193 nations. Israel was the only country that joined Washington in voting against the end of the embargo. In 2012 Palau voted for the interests of US but this year they abstained.

“The human damages caused by the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States are incalculable”, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told the assembly.

“It provokes hardships and is a mass, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights,” he said. “The fact that 53 years later the same policy still prevails is something extraordinary and barbaric.”

To this, the Foreign Minister of US, Ronal Godard, attacked Cuba saying that this country has a restricted economic system towards other countries, that doesn’t allow the progression of the economy, and that the government is hypocrite to ask for economic liberalization when in their own country they imprison people for creating web pages on the Internet, considered by the Cuban government as an attacked to the country’s security.

Still, Godard said that the United States have eased the embargo in this recent years. In 2012 Cuba received more than $ 2 billion in remittances. USA exported to Cuba, even though the restrictions, products that worth nearly $ 465 million, which included food, medical instruments, medicines…

Is this going to be the definitive end of the US Cuba embargo, or there will have to be more votes to solve this problem?

Reform of the Security Council?

The debate if Brazil should have a permanent seat in the Security Council nowadays is an issue that is receiving more and more attention from the international media. Brazil is part of a branch of countries that are named BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). These countries are major powers that are becoming more and more important and influential in the international panorama. Of these three countries, Russia and China are already part of the Security Council as permanent members with veto right.

In the last couple of years there has been talks and discussion about adding more members to the permanent council. There is a sensitive issue due to the importance of being part of this council. The resolutions are law abiding and their effects are really important. Well, the international relations trend suggests that in case of enlarging the members they should be Germany, Brazil, India and Japan. In 2004, these four countries, also known as the G4, claimed that the Security Council has to be reformed. They suggested that the Security Council should be extended from five permanent seats up to eleven. The six new seats should belong to the G4 states as well as to two African countries. Moreover, they want to dispose the veto right.

But does Brazil deserve the responsibility of being member of the council? Let’s have a look deeper into the country. With a population of almost 200 million and the biggest economy in Latin America, is the most influential country of South America. It has a lot of resources and despite of its poverty, the policies from the state are beginning to be appreciated in the general improvement of the conditions. Furthermore, Brazil had an impressive growth of its economy despite the global crises. However, it has a less power and influence in the military aspect. Although being the second biggest country in the whole continent after US, they lack of nuclear powers and they fall behind other countries such as Germany, Turkey or Israel.

But should the military aspect decide if I country can have a permanent seat? And why do the five permanent member still have the veto right?

In my opinion, I think that the structure of the Security Council is not up to date anymore as it was constructed after World War II. Nowadays, the world has changed and more countries became more important. Even though they have also ten members which are not permanent, the five permanent’s power and influence is too high. Moreover, I think that the veto right is a big problem, because it delays or even stops resolutions. But it also has to be considered that the Security Council probably would not exist without it as the political situation was not stable enough when the council was formed. Although there are several reasons against a reform, I support the idea of Brazil and the other G4 countries as it would help to improve the security in the world.

Syrian Civil War: an international problem.

Since January 2011Syriais on great trouble, the population had rise against Baath party’s government and his president Bashar Al-Assad.

The National Syrian Council (NSC) is the main member of the opposition and it have on his hand the rule of most of the troops of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). During the last months the NSC had take the control of most of the important cities of the country, but since May 2011 the governmental troops had developed an offensive against those rebel cities, creating really humanitarian disasters as is happening right now on Homs (a city near the Lebanon’s border) where forces of the FSA are still resisting with the support of the population the siege of the Syrian Army and others militias in favor of Al-Assad’s regime, which bomb everyday the city killing civil population indiscriminately.

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This situation and the rumors about the alleged support which Al-Assad’s regime is receiving fromRussiaorIran’s governments had scandalized the international community. But any real action had been took to stop those crimes: China and Russia had vetoed on the UN’s Security Council any kind of military intervention, because they had very important interest on the zone (Russian Federation had per example a military naval base on Syria which is a vital resupplying base for their ships on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea). It’s true that some countries or institutions had imposed sanctions against Syria (as the European Union or the Arab League that had cancelled Syrian participation on this organization), but others countries had only say that the Government should stop the aggression and to develop a peaceful solution.Image

The last 12th April a cease fire promoted by the former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan came into force. But this truce hasn’t been respected by any part; it’s a failure of the international community.

Written by Marta Saguar, María Cortes, Andrea Sánchez and Víctor Corvera

Latest news from North Korea – New opening

Date: March 22, 2012

By: Ananda Cerdan,Ibón Joung, Sara Setién, Eduardo Márquez and Virginia Mazón

   US said, “Last month, North Korea has agreed to suspend nuclear and long-range missiles and to allow UN inspectors”

“UN nuclear inspectors were invited to North Korea for the first time in three years”
 

  North Korea abort nuclear development and long-range missile tests in return for food help and with it the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is free to visit North Korean´s nuclear facilities after North Korea had expels last inspectors that were studying the nuclear program of Asian countries three years ago.

   Due to North Korean populations poverty since the soviet communism failed, the country has not been able to supply enough food among its territory. North Korea has been asking for alimentary help, and it is after Kim Jong-Il’s death when his son Kim Jong-un invited UN nuclear inspectors to visit the nuclear facilities for the first time in three years, according a deal with the United States. This deal consists of North Korea aborting nuclear developments in return for alimentary support; but weeks after, the agreement was questioned because the city of Pyongyang announced plans to launch a long-range missile. This act was considered a provocative action for South Korea, Japan and United States, that’s why the reconsider alimentary help because any launch would be seeing as a violation to the UN Security Council Resolutions.

“North Korea opens the doors of them nuclear facilities to the United Nations”
 

   The excuse of North Korea was to celebrate the centenary of the last leader Kim Il-sung, so they claim the right to launch a rocket, between the 12 and the 16 April, which will transport a satellite that could observe the space.

   Last North Korea news by KCNA says that South Korea, United States and Japan have considered the North Korean launch as a provocative action just to manifest against its regime.

   This isn´t the first time that North Korea has problems with the international community since North Korea launched in April 2009, the Taepodong-2 rocket with a communications satellite called Kwangmyongsong-2, which went into orbit by the North Korean government, although the intelligence services in South Korea and the U.S. assure that fell into the sea without reaching its goal. The launch of the Taepodong-2 rocket North Korea earned the condemnation from the international community, who played it was a covert test long-range ballistic missile.

   The UN issued at that time a presidential statement that saw the release a violation of resolution 1718 of the Security Council, which restricts the testing of ballistic missiles and nuclear communist country, but failed to enact sanctions for lack of agreement.

“Decisions still on”
 

   This deal will also open new inspections of North Korean´s nuclear program that started three years ago and from that had been unmonitored. This program asks to leave and restart atomic activities.

To conclude, we should remark that the US, Japan, Britain and other countries have urged North Korea to stop the launch because it´s seen as a threat to diplomatic efforts and a warming that would violate a UN ban.

 
 

Some links related:

UN nuclear watchdog invited to visit North Korea BBC News

Corea del Norte abre las puertas de sus instalaciones nucleares a la ONU El Mundo News

Japan and the Security Council

Japan, one of the largest economies and one of the most important states in the world, is the second largest contributor to the UN regular budget, surpassing the current permanent members, except the United States.

Japan’s bid, however, is rejected by some countries in East Asia such as China, South Korea and North Korea, who accuse Japan of trying to hide the atrocities committed by its occupation forces during World War II. Japan holds that China fears the entry of the country in the Council because of the territorial conflicts between both powers.

On the other hand, many Asian countries have relied heavily on Japan, including Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Vietnam, who are some of the receivers of the most important foreign loans and investment from Japan.

Also, most European countries have supported Japan, such as United States and Italy.While supporting Japan, are opposed to accept the group G4 in general. Finally, Russia supports Japan to counter China’s strength but is afraid of the strong ties between Nippon and American.

All eyes are on Libya today

The political strife which started in Tunisia and spread to Egypt is now not only affecting Libya but also the rest of the world. The riots have caused that the prices of oil have reached another peak and the world fears that the prices will continue to skyrockets. The Middle East, as one of the biggest oil exporters has the power to cause another economical crisis. It is also said that the prices of any row materials such as steel and gold will increase.

Due to the reason that the riots have caused many dead people as well as fear in the country but also all around the world, Canadian companies are worried about the safety of their employees in Libya. Therefore the Canadian Oil and gas titan Suncor Energy was the first Canadian company which decided to escort their people out of the country back to Canada. Furthermore they have decided to suspend all of their running projects.

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