afghan-elections
The Afghanistan election for a new president has been dogged by unrest, cries of fraud and the potential for long-term political fallout among the country’s allies.

If conditions continue, the unrest may trigger a democratic collapse and humanitarian crisis. In its first democratic handover of power since Hamid Karzai took office in 2004, the two lead Presidential candidates have become the center of a political debate that threatens the country’s stability. In the most recent election results, ex-World Bank economist Abdullah Abdullah narrowly beat former anti-Taliban fighter Ashraf Ghani in the second round of elections held June 14. According to the Independent Election Commission (EIC,) Ghani won with 56 percent of the vote, although the final results will not be announced until July 22.

In the meantime, Abdullah and his followers have called for a recount of the votes, renouncing the result a “coup” against the people of Afghanistan. Regardless of the winner, if the strife continues, Afghanistan could see the conflict affecting all levels of the country, most notably the poor.

Afghanistan relies heavily upon allies like the United States and its partners to provide money with which to combat the Taliban and keep its economy healthy. While both candidates support a continued partnership with the United States, following the announcement on Monday, Abdullah spoke of forming a parallel government to combat Ghani’s government.

Parallel governments may be formed when countries severely divided by racial or ethnic differences operate under separate laws and rules, concurrently. A notable example of a parallel government occurred in 1942 in Maharashtra, India where people created a local government independent of British writ that technically governed them.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that an effort to form a parallel government would be met by an end of U.S. aid. “I have noted reports of protests in Afghanistan and of suggestions of a ‘parallel government’ with the gravest concern,” he said during a statement issued by the U.S. embassy. “Any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan the financial and security support of the United States and the international community.”

Afghanistan received approximately 35 percent of its Gross National Income from aid reports Global Humanitarian Assistance, a foreign aid watchdog group. This aid funds everything from Afghanistan’s army to its road maintenance. Dividing these funds between two governments would be impossible to sustain. In light of the deteriorating conditions in Iraq, where the void left by retreating US troops has increasingly been filled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) extremist group, maintaining positive relations with western forces has become progressively more important for Afghanistan.

Restricted foreign aid could trigger a regression to mid-1990s Afghanistan, warned Ambassador James Dobbins. During that time period, Afghanistan encountered widespread disease, war, and the institution of Taliban regime. The Taliban first seized power in Afghanistan in 1996, seven years after the Soviet Army’s departure and a resulting civil war.

The Taliban instituted a hard-line form of Islam that banned women from work and school, jailed men for having too short of beards and instituted stoning, amputations and public executions. The combination of the civil war, Taliban government and implosion of natural disasters in Afghanistan, including the worst drought it had seen in 30 years, created a miasma of human suffering. Millions were expelled from their homes and thousands suffered from malaria, pneumonia, polio, typhoid and cholera. While both men vie for the top spot, preventing another humanitarian catastrophe should remain their top priority.

Emily Bajet

Sources: Aljazeera America 1, Aljazeera America 2, The Guardian, Swarthmore, CNN, Olschimke’s Blog Reuters, Global Humanitarian Assistance, BBC

Photo: The Guardian

world_cup
June 14 marked the kickoff of the 2014 World Cup hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with a match between Brazil and Croatia. Brazil won 3-1, but amid the celebrations, angry Brazilians took to the streets to protest the World Cup.

Many Brazilians are angry that their government has decided to spend $11 billion on the soccer tournament rather than use the money to benefit their own people. These critics feel that the money should have gone to projects like low-income housing, hospitals, and schools.

Before the Brazil/Croatia match, a group of about 100 people took to the streets about seven miles away from the stadium where they threw rocks and started fires in an attempt to block people from reaching the game. The protest resulted in police using tear gas, at least one arrest, and spectators had to walk through rubble and debris to reach the stadium. The police have been accused of using excessive force by Amnesty International, who labeled the protesters as peaceful. Though the protests usually start out as peaceful demonstrations containing a serious message, more often than not a protestor will ignite havoc by throwing a rock or attacking police.

After the game, a group of about 600 people marched through the city carrying signs that read “FIFA go home” and “World Cup Corruption.” This protest is the most recent in a long string of anti-government protests that have taken place in multiple cities throughout Brazil over the past year.

Near the stadium a makeshift town of plastic tents known as the “People’s Cup” lays host to more than 3,000 families, who claim that the cost of rent has risen drastically since the beginning of the stadium-building process. With rent now far exceeding the minimum wage of $360 a month, many Brazilians have been forced out of their homes and into these temporary neighborhoods, reminiscent of the depression’s Hoovervilles.

Many Brazilians who are not directly involved with the protests still show sympathy for the cause and have begun rebelling in their own way. Such rebellions include not supporting their home country in the tournament, and instead rooting for other countries such as Argentina and England. A presidential election is set to take place in Brazil shortly after the World Cup, so there is hope among the people that the government will change radically after the people have cast their ballots.

In addition to the people protesting outside the stadium, there have been strikes led by teachers, police officers and subway workers, as well as marches organized by the Homeless Workers Movement.

— Taylor Lovett
Sources: CNN, The Guardian
Photo: Forbes

labor_leaders
In 1972, six Pakistani workers were gunned down by police during a peaceful demonstration in Karachi as a part of the ongoing labor movement. On Saturday June 7th, the Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research organized a moving memorial for the martyred victims.

The labor leaders in attendance honored the memory of the workers and lamented that the Pakistani labor movement had regressed significantly since 1972. The one thing that has remained constant is the conflict between state officials and labor leaders.

In fact, several of the organizing labor leaders for the memorial have outstanding arrest warrants due their activities in budding labor unions.

The labor movement began in 1971 in response to the widespread firing of workers in Karachi. The textile mill owners had virtually no accountability, either to their workers or to the government. Unjustified layoffs were becoming par for the course in the Sindh province, but the local employees were fed up. They finally decided to organize a protest.

Workers gathered outside Feroz Textile mills in a peaceful demonstration on June 7, 1972. The police opened fire on the crowd with no provocation. The police were trying to disperse the gathering, and they decided to do it with lethal action.

A key organizer, Muttahida Mazdoor Federation Shoaib, was shot and killed in the protest.

The next day, a funeral was held for Shoaib. The funeral was attended by a mourning and outraged crowd of laborers. The funeral turned into a protest over the police’s actions just one day ago.

The police open fire yet again. Five workers were killed this time.

Despite widespread support, the labor movement withered in the face of state-sanctioned violence.

Today, Pakistani labor leaders regret that labor conditions today are even worse than they were in 1972. They said that at least then there were bonafide unions and workers had collective power.

The labor situation in modern Pakistan is as dire as ever. Labor unions are nonexistent since most companies explicitly forbid them in their contracts. Collective bargaining is unheard of, and worst of all, child labor and slavery still exist.

These atrocious labor conditions have wreaked havoc on the already downtrodden Pakistani working class. The country has faced an increase in terrorism from the Afghan war. Floods have ravaged the homes and destroyed the crops of millions of Pakistanis. Unemployment and poverty run rampant, and the working poor are powerless to improve their condition through formal labor unions.

Their only hope lies in the prospect of collective action like their ancestors did in the 1972 labor crisis. This time around, Pakistan should have the backing of the international community. Human rights violations are no longer tolerated so easily.

Despite the upward battle the working poor face in Pakistan, they look to gain inspiration from the sacrifices of those six workers over forty years ago.

– Sam Hillestad

Sources: Daily Times, US Department of Labor, Pakistaniaat, PWF

Photo: marxist.com
Photo: Balochistan Express

labor unrest
Protesting has emerged in Cambodia since the first of 2014. Chevron employees demand wages to be increased from $110 to $160 a month. Over 200 workers from the multi-million dollar company, Chevron, have organized a strike for salary increases. The strike has forced 17 of Cambodia’s Chevron gas stations to temporally close until the strike is over.

The Chevron employees have also been joined by several of the country’s garment factory workers in protesting to raise not only the company’s wages, but the national minimum wage to $160 a month.

Because Chevron is a U.S. company, Cambodia is reaching out to the U.S. government officials for help. The thoughts among Cambodia’s factory and service workers have pushed the labor unrest to continue. Laborers in Cambodia‘s large textile industry staged strikes and protest late last year and in the beginning of 2014 for a higher minimum salary and has steered toward political resistance.

The Cambodia Daily states that local worker “Ly Heng, a 29-year-old gas pumper at the Stung Meanchey station, said he is only paid $75 per month and wanted to join the strike but had feared losing his job.”

Chevron released a statement stating, “We are disappointed that our unionized service station colleagues have taken the drastic action to stop work instead of following legal processes to resolve the matter that would have enabled us to continue the supply of fuel products and minimize inconvenience to the public.”

Chevron has been working with authorities to ensure the safety of civilians and the workers participating in the strike.

In the past, Cambodia has seen a fair share of wage strikes. The garment factory strike was a great success with an estimate of over 200,000 workers that participated. This made it one of the largest garment-worker strikes in the history of Cambodia.

So far this year, factories in Cambodia have enforced an inspection of current safety related policies due to the six deaths related to a garment factory accident. The deaths have resulted in not only a strike, but further inspections on current wage circumstances in Cambodia.

The strikes from the garment workers have inspired other members of the work force to fight for higher wages.

Teachers demand $250 a month because the current $75 a month is not a livable wage. According to the Cambodian Independent Teachers Union, there are 87,000 teachers in the country. Several of these teachers protested for higher wages, shocking Cambodia with the current salary that they receive.

The strike ended with Chevron’s agreement to increase the monthly wage by $20 back in May. The agreement stated that workers would head back to work and end the strike. The Chevron cashiers will have their salaries increased to $150 and petrol pumpers will make $130. Also, the Chevron employees participating in the strike will not receive a pay dock from the time spent during the wage strike.

– Rachel Cannon

Sources: The Associated Press, The Diplomat, Global Post
Photo: VOA

Yuri Kochiyama
Yuri Kochiyama, a prolific civil rights activist, died this past Sunday in Berkeley, Calif. at 93 years old. Known for her friendship with Malcolm X (she held him in her hands as he lay bleeding from gunshot wounds the night of his assassination,) Kochiyama was equally a revered activist in her own right. She, along with her husband, pushed for reparations and a government apology for the many Japanese-American internment camp victims under the Civil Liberties Act, and her legacy and determination has inspired a slew of young activists.

Kochiyama was born in San Pedro, Calif. to Japanese immigrants. After leading a figuratively normal teen life, it would not be until Pearl Harbor in 1941 that she would become involved in political issues after her father was taken into custody by the FBI. Like many other Japanese-Americans, Kochiyama and her family were just one of 120,000 Japanese-American victims who were unjustly sent to internment camps following the attack.

Kochiyama and her husband lived in the housing projects in New York City, where her African American and Puerto Rican neighbors inspired her to become involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Upon meeting Malcolm X, she reportedly challenged his harsh stance on integration — a move causing him to move away from the strict Nation of Islam viewpoint he preached to a more inclusive acceptance of all kinds of people. Upon Malcolm X’s death, Kochiyama continued to fight for the rights of those whose voices needed to be heard. She was constantly fighting.

Her home, which was the permanent “meeting place” for activists in the area, will be forever remembered by Kochiyama’s eldest daughter, Audee Kochiyama-Holman, who described her upbringing as a “24/7” movement. And that it was: until her death, Kochiyama continuously fought for the under-represented voice. Her activism against the discrimination of South Asians, Muslims, Arabs and Sikhs after 9/11 was just one example; her fight toward equality was all-inclusive.

Shailja Patel, poet and activist, is just one of many who remembers Kochiyama in this light. “She made us all larger, reminding us always to think globally and organize locally,” she says. “She emphasized that all struggles for justice are connected — and she lived that truth.”

– Nick Magnanti

Sources: Huffington Post, NPR, The New York Times
Photo: Casa Atabex Ache

food riot
Throughout history, food shortages have led to civil unrest. Most notably in recent history, the Global Food Crisis of 2008 spurred an outbreak of food riots around the world. Now, with food prices increasing at the highest rate since 2008, political leaders are concerned that a similar outbreak of food riots may be on its way.

In the beginning of 2014, international food prices rose 4 percent. In the time between January and April, food prices spiked to a level just short of their all-time high in August 2012. The rapid increase is similar to the surge in food prices in 2007 and 2008 that led to so many food riots.

If history repeats itself, the recent food price hikes give government officials adequate reason to worry.

The difficulty with monitoring food riots is that the term is loosely defined. In broad terms, a food riot is some sort of public disturbance raised in response to food’s availability. Interpretations of this definition, however, are as varied as the riots themselves, leading to a great deal of confusion surrounding the topic of food riots.

How severe must the disturbance be to earn the title of a riot? A food riot is generally a violent protest. Participants have been known to harm other citizens or police forces. In return, police forces respond with brutality to control the situation. Some news articles will only cite occasions that have resulted in casualties as food riots.

Other news sources believe that any public response to food-related issues falls in this category. They report even the most peaceful demonstrations as food riots.

Where is the proper balance? How can the media successfully educate the public on these world events without an accepted definition of a riot?

In the wake of recent food pricing inclines, The World Bank has developed a widely accepted definition to guide examinations of these conflicts. Their 2014 Food Price Watch defines a food riot as “a violent, collective unrest leading to a loss of control, bodily harm or damage to property.”

The definition has helped The World Bank determine which episodes in the recent past were actually food riots. A database of food riots between 2007 and 2014 has since been collected, revealing that 51 riots have taken place in 37 countries.

The cause of food riots also prompts confusion. Increasing food prices are not the only cause of riots. In Vietnam, decreasing prices of coffee have resulted in violent outbreaks in the past. A decline in value of major exports can have just as strong of an impact on a nation as unavailability of food and other resources.

The World Bank has also established guidelines for the causes of food riots, saying that they are “motivated by a lack of food availability, accessibility or affordability,” whether directed at the government or other groups.

There are two types of food riots. In a Type 1 incident, the riots are directed at the government. Distress takes its form in public protests outside of government buildings, often in response to rising food prices. It is the most common form of food riot reported in the media because their causes often have international implications.

In a Type 2 episode, rioters demonstrate near food suppliers because they are not politically driven. They attack supply trucks, stores or refugee camps. These riots are more locally focused and occur during times of drastic food shortages.

Defining food riots helps aid organizations determine how to best help areas experiencing food shortages to prevent violent outbreaks. Government officials know how to respond to rising food prices by studying food riots of the past. By alleviating causes of global hunger, aid organizations and government officials can increase peace in underprivileged nations.

– Emily Walthouse

Sources: Food Price Watch, Global Issues, Slate, The World Bank
Photo: NPR

Since February 2014, Venezuelan protests against the government have been flaring throughout the country. Two Venezuelan politicians, Daniel Ceballos of San Cristobal and Enzo Scarano of San Diego, were placed in jail due to these protests and their clear defiance of President Nicolas Maduro. A State Department official stated that the arrests of these men solely based on their opposition exemplifies that Maduro’s government “continues to persecute political opponents.”

Maduro won the Presidential election in April 2013, but by a very narrow marigin, seeing as Venezuela is notoriously divided into those in favor of the late Hugo Chavez, whose policies are closely followed by Maduro, and those who strongly oppose him.

The new president has been running the country with the same socialist style that Chavez did, but with an increasingly high inflation rate, power cuts and lack of certain staple foods. As a result, defiance against Maduro and his government have been increasing.

Although the President is attempting to keep the opposition down, the wives of the imprisoned mayors continued the fight by running as mayors in their husbands’ places. On May 25, they both won in a landslide, making their constituents’ support clear.

Daniel Ceballos, former mayor of San Cristobal where the protests began, was given a 12-month sentence for civil rebellion and conspiracy after he did not follow an order to halt the protests going on in the city. His wife, Patricia Gutierrez de Ceballos, won the election for mayor with 73 percent of the votes. About the election, the newly elected mayor states:

“They have converted me into mayor and ratified Daniel Ceballos as mayor. And today, San Cristobal has the privilege of having two mayors governing its city.”

She also said that each ballot cast for her represented a sentence of justice and freedom, as well as a blow against “the dictatorship” of Venezuela.

The other imprisoned politician, Enzo Scarano, was placed in jail for a 10-month sentence for his failure to comply with a previous order from the Supreme Tribunal of Justice to take down the barricades in San Diego, in the state Carabobo. Rosa Brandonisio de Scarano, wife of Scarano and former City Council Member of San Diego, won about 88 percent of the votes on May 25.

“The people will remain peacefully in the streets, making people listen, so that it echoes throughout the world that Venezuela right now is going through a very difficult time, economically, socially, morally and politically,” she stated after the election.

On the bright side, the fact that these women were clearly a part of the opposition and won with an overwhelming majority of the votes shows that the elections can be impartial and fair.

The concerning portion of all of this is President Maduro’s possible reaction if the protests continue. He has described the protesters as “fascists and extreme-right thugs” who are attempting to destabilize the government for a coup. As far as future action, he states, “If they go crazy and start burning the municipality again, the authorities will act … and elections will be called every three months, until there is peace.”

– Courtney Prentice

Sources: CNN, Huffington Post, BBC
Photo: Panorama

street art

Street art can be one of the strongest forms of protest. It has the power to reveal complex issues on any urban surface. It is not afraid to look at themes that are far from beautiful. It touches at the ugly and the unjust. It is omnipresent, shouting its message at passersby as they rush through the streets.

The graceless, ungainly entrance of FIFA’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics into the daily fabric of impoverished Brazilians’ lives has projected, on an international scale, the deep-rooted inequalities ailing the giant South American nation. In this climate, several street artists’ images have emerged as honest, indignant reflections of the reality faced by the poorest Brazilians.

Paulo Ito

street_art
Paulo Ito’s wailing child with only a soccer ball to eat has quickly gone viral as an anti-FIFA icon since May 10, when the artist painted the image on the doors of a São Paulo schoolhouse. Ito consciously created the work in the Pompeia district, which is mostly a middle class area. In an interview with Slate, Ito discussed the thought that must go into the placement of street art. He initially wanted to create the mural outside of the Itaquerão Stadium that will hold 70,000 soccer fans at the World Cup opener in the second week of June. Yet Ito decided it is best to avoid placing charged images in poverty-stricken areas where people are already so intimately familiar with the reality he seeks to express in his art.

Ito’s piece critiques the state of Brazilian society. Funding for health care, public transportation and education have been crowded out by the billions of dollars the government in Brasilia is pouring into the two mega sporting events. An increase in transportation fares last year was met by massive protests throughout the country’s subways and bus stations. Many Brazilians are furious.

Ito, when asked about his painting, explained “people already have the feeling and that image condensed this feeling…The truth is there is so much wrong in Brazil that it is difficult to know where to start. I didn’t mean [to say] nobody is doing anything against poverty. But we need to show the world or ourselves that the situation is still not good.”

Haas&Hahn

street_art

Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn (Haas&Hahn) of the Netherlands have been working on their Favela Painting project for close to 10 years. Their goal is to paint an entire favela in Rio de Janeiro in order to shift the discussion of Brazilian favelas from perceptions of danger, crime and poverty, to a discovery of vibrancy, culture and beauty.

The project’s focus, according to the organization’s website, is ”mobilizing people to transform their own communities into social art works of monumental size, to beautify and inspire, combat prejudice and attract positive attention, while offering opportunity and economic stimulus.”

Haas&Hahn began on-the-ground work on the massive project in early 2014. Their plan is to train and hire locals to help with the community project, make repairs to buildings in the favela and develop a local paint factory that will create even more jobs in a sustainable way.

From Paulo Ito to Haas&Hahn, artists are putting street art to good work in Brazil. Through their images they are bluntly pointing out the injustices plaguing Brazilian society and creatively seeking to make Brazil a better, brighter place.

– Kayla Strickland

Sources: Favela Painting, Policy Mic, Slate
Photo: The Slate

Tiananmen Square

The spring of 1989 saw one of the most sensitive moments of Chinese history unfold. Students began leading demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and experienced widespread support from surrounding residents. On June 4, Chinese troops armed with assault rifles attacked student demonstrators, killing anywhere from hundreds to thousands in a bloody crackdown. But in recent years, new stories of the events of Tiananmen Square have come to the surface, and they draw a more complex picture.

By June, student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square had entered month two. Chinese leaders were unsettled, and army commanders were called to pledge loyalty and commitment to the possibility of military force to crush student protest. Maj. Gen. Xu Qinxian refused to do so, and declined to lead troops into Beijing.

The protesters, Xu believed, were a political issue that required negotiation, not military force.

Xu’s defiance is just one example of a complicated and resistant military reaction to Tiananmen Square. One soldier of the 39th Group Army held genuine fears of having to fight Xu’s 38th Group Army as rumors of the general’s actions spread. But the commander of the 39th Group Army never even made his troops enter the square, faking communication problems. Another soldier, seventeen years old at the time of the crackdown, shared experiences of bonding between his unit, stationed in Tiananmen Square for days, and the students who had brought them there. Tears were shed upon the unit’s departure prior to the events of June 4, names and addresses exchanged.

Military documents prior to the crackdown speak just as loudly. A former Communist Party researcher reported that a petition existed at the time that was aimed at withdrawing troops from Tiananmen Square. It was signed by seven senior Chinese military officers, and sported language of service to the people: “The people’s military belongs to the people and cannot oppose the people.”

These stories tell a tale of Chinese soldiers largely unwilling to fire on a Chinese civilian population. They tell a story of Chinese government pressure met with Chinese military hesitance. But they are stories only rising to common knowledge outside of China.

A lot has changed for China in the 25 years since the crackdown: diplomatic isolation ended, China hosted the Olympics and the country made great strides in its space program. 1990 saw China’s first entrance into the stock market. Where products were hard to find for Chinese consumers before, they are now in abundance, and Chinese college graduates now compete for jobs they want instead of leaving college to be assigned a workplace.

The sensitive commemoration of Tiananmen Square, though, remains largely static. This year, celebrations included playing cards, show tunes and confetti.

The events are a representation of political activism buried. Activist groups make attempts each year to pay respect to those killed in the crackdown and call attention to the real events of the Tiananmen Square protests, like the stories of Maj. Gen. Xu that find life outside, but not inside, China. These attempts have yet to succeed.

This is not stopping anyone from trying to get the voices of the past heard. One activist group created a website this year called backtotiananmen.com. It asked simply for people to come to the square, gather and sing or hum a well-known song from the musical Les Miserables: “Do You Hear the People Sing?”

Wen Yunchao, one of the organizers of backtotiananmen.com, pointed out that simply coming to join the group, even without singing, would be a powerful way to commemorate those killed 25 years earlier.

Wen organized the group from New York City, spreading publicity by editing a leaked pornographic video to spread the message to gather and sing. While censored immediately, the video, Wen reported, was still downloaded thousands of times.

Another suggestion for activism was tossing white paper from the skyscrapers of Beijing in the hope that, perhaps, these small, raining scraps would remind China of the lives lost at Tiananmen Square many years ago now. Whatever the method, attempts at remembrance and knowledge are alive and well.

– Rachel Davis

Sources: The Economist, LA Times, New York Times, Reuters
Photo: CNN World

Water_Rationing_Venezuela
“We are facing the worst drought Venezuela has had in almost 100 years,” said Hugo Chávez, the late Venezuelan President in 2010. The drought problems have not improved, and as the country faces issues from an incredibly dry season, officials on May 6 have implemented water rationing in the capital Caracas and nearby regions. This will leave some six million people without water three days a week.

Venezuela’s dry season has, moreover, extended longer than normal, adding to the drought the country has been facing. There are three water reservoirs surrounding the capital city, and one of them has already reached record lows, falling below minimum capacity. The rationing plan is set to last for four months, lasting until August or September.

Critics are blaming the current president Nicolás Maduro and the socialist government for the severity of the problem though, rather than the weather.

“Instead of waiting for storage ponds to dry, the government should have implemented a less burdensome, water-saving plan months ago,” said Carlos Ocariz, mayor of the capital’s Sucre district. He went on to say that no new reservoirs had been built during the last 15 years, possibly leading to the severity of the problem today.

Other reservoirs, though, still contain enough water for the moment. The Camatagua reservoir can continue providing water for 820 more days, according to the country’s environment minister, Miguel Rodríguez. But even when fully operating, the water supply in the capital is below international standards, only providing enough water for household use and not enough to meet commercial and industrial needs.

The drought has caused other problems for Venezuela. Hydropower provides up to two-thirds of the produced electricity, and with the lack of rainfall, power shortages are a constant worry for citizens in rural areas. According to critics, management and underinvestment are also to blame for the shortages.

Neighboring country Colombia is also suffering from the drought, prompting the country to reduce gas exports to Venezuela. This is to ensure that Colombia has enough fuel to run its own power plants, putting further pressure and reliance onto Venezuelan hydropower.

Furthermore, protests occurring in Venezuela have been occurring for more than two months, fueled by resource shortages, crime and inflation. With a lack of constant access to water and related services, the protests could continue to get worse. Already, the unrest has seen 41 deaths as well as over 700 injured.

As the El Nino weather continues in the region, the country faces a water shortage that could cause many problems across the board for Venezuela. The choice by the government to start rationing the water should help ensure a continued supply for the citizens for now, however. With any luck, and with officials hoping the rationing program will only be needed until August, Venezuelans won’t have to suffer long until the rainy season returns to abate the country’s water shortage.

– Matthew Erickson

Sources: ABC News, BN Americas, New York Times: Venezuela looks to Wind and Nuclear Power, New York Times: Electricity Emergency, Raw Story, Reuters
Photo: Construction Week Online