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Showing posts from January 13, 2014

Venezuela's President Reaches out to the Opposition

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas in December 2013. (LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)


With his presidency less stable than that of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, President Nicolas Maduro appears to be using dialogue to try to gather allies from the political opposition. Maduro met on Jan. 8 with opponents, including former presidential challenger and Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles Radonski. Prompted by the murder of a national celebrity, the meeting focused on Venezuela's soaring crime rate. Maduro's government is attempting to begin a political dialogue with the opposition by increasing the number of meetings between them. If he is able to gain support from opposition members, Maduro would gain the added benefit of exploiting divisions within the opposition coalition, enabling himself to focus on addressing other national issues.


The meeting is one of several formal contacts between the ruling United Socialist Party of Venez…

In India, a Maoist Rebel Leader Surrenders

Indian members of a special tactical unit, including personnel from a group skilled in anti-Naxalite operations, during a demonstration in Bhubaneswar on July 8, 2013. ASIT KUMAR/AFP/Getty Images


Indian media is touting the arrest of Gudsa Usendi, a spokesman for a regional committee of India's Maoist militant rebels known as Naxalites, as a significant victory for the country's counterterrorism efforts. Usendi, whose real name is Gumudavelli Venkatakrishna Prasad, served as the main media contact for the Dandakaranya Special Zone Committee's regional command structure. However, the surrender of a key figure within the country's Maoist insurgent movement is unlikely to be a blow to the Naxalites. As a regional-level public relations officer for the group, Prasad was probably not involved in operational details. Moreover, it takes more than the loss of one personality -- even a major figure -- to seriously degrade a militant network for any period of time.


Thailand: Uncertainty, Unrest and Rumors of a Coup

A Thai anti-government protester at a rally outside Government House in Bangkok on Dec. 15. (PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)


As Thailand's opposition movement prepares to hold mass protests to "shut down" Bangkok on Jan. 13, the entire spectrum of royalist and establishment political forces seems to have hardened its position against the ruling Pheu Thai party and supporters of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck, his sister and current prime minister. Most important, the Royal Thai Army has recently changed its tone in speaking about its willingness to stage a coup.

Anti-government forces have created a situation in which they can either interfere with upcoming elections or deprive Pheu Thai of the authority an electoral victory would typically bestow. Meanwhile, Pheu Thai faces the quandary of retaining power amid these procedural and legal challenges while also managing the upcoming protests without tarnishing its image with b…

China's Economy: Beijing Seeks Reform and Stability for Banks

A Chinese bank staff member counts stacks of 100-yuan notes at a bank in Huaibei, east China's Anhui province, on Aug. 17, 2012. AFP/AFP/GettyImages


China's leaders are looking to balance steady, incremental reforms of the state-controlled banking sector with the need for stability and strong central oversight of the system. Recently released statistics from China's National Audit Office point to the growing imbalances plaguing China's financial system and highlight the need to stabilize credit expansion and reform the relationship between local governments, state-owned enterprises and state-owned banks. These are critical components of Beijing's ambition to move toward a more sustainable model of economic growth.


The need for reform has been echoed in the weeks following the Communist Party's November Third Plenary session, at which President Xi Jinping and his colleagues pledged to allow market forces to play a decisive role in the allocation…