Venezuelan Elections Amidst U.S. Sanctions: Balancing Democracy and Diplomacy

As tensions rise between the United States and Venezuela ahead of their upcoming presidential elections, the delicate balance of democracy and diplomacy comes into focus. The US had eased sanctions to encourage dialogue, but recent events have sparked renewed friction, leading to the reimposition of sanctions. Venezuela is grappling with economic challenges and diplomatic strains, especially with recent bans on opposition candidates. As both countries navigate these issues, the future of US-Venezuela relations is uncertain, with potential impacts beyond their borders.

BRP Sierra Madre: The Waves of Uncertainty Surrounding the Sentry of the Second Thomas Shoal

The BRP Sierra Madre acts as the Philippines’ stronghold over the Second Thomas Shoal against Chinese advances in the South China Sea. In the past year, tensions in the region have escalated, with both nations’ coast guard services engaged in heated confrontations. Due to the shoal’s strategic location, both countries employed risky strategies to pursue their goals of controlling this location. Hence, turning the shoal and the BRP Sierra Madre into the South China Sea’s new geopolitical flashpoint towards the boundaries of a possible conflict.

The Tian-Shan Gambit: Europe’s Ambitions in Central Asia 

Central Asia is a vast and resource-rich region situated between three major centers of influence. Formerly part of both the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union, its nations have only recently gained independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They continue to be influenced by Moscow, although they have made some significant strides towards autonomy in their own right. The Russian military’s actions in Ukraine have continuously eroded the credibility of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance. This, coupled with a significant loss of soft power in the countries of the post- Soviet space, which traditionally formed part of its sphere of influence, could create an opening for other influential actors to emerge as real alternative partners. The European Union wishes to consider an even more proactive role in Central Asia, given the young nations’ of Central Asia newfound pragmatism in foreign policy and its potential to enhance EU interests.

Is Ecuador Experiencing the Birth of a New ‘Plan Colombia’ Amidst Heightened Security Concerns?

In January, Ecuador experienced a surge of violence, prompting swift responses from both local and international actors. The United States pledged substantial aid to bolster Ecuador’s security infrastructure, marking a significant collaboration. However, this cooperation differs from the historic Plan Colombia due to distinct challenges Ecuador faces, including its role as a transit corridor for drug trafficking.

The Outcome of the EU Parliamentary Elections 2024: The Likelihood of a Far-Right Wave

This text explores the recent success of the far-right in different national elections in Europe to try and determine whether this might translate into a far-right “wave” at the next EU parliamentarian elections.

Lebanon: When everything went South

The conflict between Palestine and Israel has heavily impacted the southern region of Lebanon, exacerbating the situation across the entire country. Israel’s motivations, including concerns over border security and control over certain territories, add complexity to the conflict, particularly in the South. Despite diplomatic efforts aimed at preventing further escalation, internal divisions within Lebanon continue to pose challenges.

Argentina’s Lithium Industry: Reforms and Radical Rhetoric

President Javier Milei’s ultraliberal policies, including the radical deregulation plan signed into decree DNU 70/2023, aim to revitalize Argentina’s economy by reducing state involvement and promoting private sector growth. Argentina’s lithium industry, critical for the global energy sector, stands to be significantly impacted. The country, poised to outpace Chile as a top lithium producer by 2027, faces major changes under Milei’s governance which emphasizes alignments towards U.S. interests and potentially increases foreign investors’ power, raising concerns among local and Indigenous communities about sustainable development.

Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Italy Fights EU On Nutri-Score System

Giorgia Meloni opposes the EU’s Nutri-score system that is proposed to score foods in supermarkets due to the system ignoring benefits of caloric dense products such as olive oil.

EU Affairs: Evolutions in Civic Space from Offline to Online

Civic Space has been situated in the public sphere until the development of the internet, where new restrictions and technology has led to heightened security and means to repress society. In Europe, there has been a rise in surveillance capabilities and lawsuits targeting political participants, leading to the necessity to look into possible restrictions on the freedoms of expression and participation.