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After centuries of Caribbean orientation, the enclave accentuates its relationship with its neighbours on the continent

Two years ago, Suriname and Guyana became part of the South American football federation, leaving the federation of North, Central America and the Caribbean to which they belonged. It is a clear symbol of the change in geographical orientation that is taking place in this northeastern corner of South America which, as in the case of football, sees the potential for a greater relationship with its southern neighbours.

The Guianas, lost between South America and the Caribbean

article / Alba Redondo

As vestiges of the colonial past of the great European naval powers of the seventeenth century – England, Holland and France – we find in the northeast of South America the three Guianas: Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. In addition to the natural barriers that isolate the region and hinder its connection with the rest of the South American continent – it is more closely related to the Caribbean, although its Atlantic coast is outside that sea – there are also social, cultural and language barriers that complicate its integration into the continent.

Located in the northeast of the South American continent, the region was called Guyana or "land of many waters" by its original inhabitants, the Arawaks. The area It is bordered to the west by Venezuela and to the south by Brazil, countries that also include lands that are part of the Guiana natural region. The humid terrain and coasts dense with mangroves and swamps are combined with the tropical climate of the interior, particularly for its virgin forests, its high plateaus and its great mountain ranges such as the Guiana Shield. Its population, which ranges from indigenous people to European descendants, is located in the area coastal beaches and river valleys.

The Guianas are spoken of as a whole, not only because they form a common territory for the natives, but also because they are outside the continental division made by the two great empires of the Iberian Peninsula. Being a territory not easily accessible from the rest of the continent, the lack of presence of Spaniards and Portuguese led other European powers of the time to seek to set foot there, in exploration campaigns carried out during the seventeenth century. British Guiana gained independence in 1970 and Dutch Guiana won independence in 1975. French Guiana remains a department and an overseas region of France and thus an outermost territory of the European Union in South America.

The Three Strangers

To the west of the region is Guyana, officially known as the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. The country has a population of around 773,000, mostly located in Georgetown, its capital. Hislanguage is English, bequest of its colonial past. The political and social reality of Guyanese is marked by the conflictive coexistence between the two major ethnic groups: the Afro-Guyanese and the Indo-Guyanese. Its domestic policy is characterized by the bipartisanship between the PNC (People's National Congress), made up of Afro-descendants concentrated in urban centers; and the PPP (People Progressive Party), with greater influence in rural areas, made up of descendants of immigrants from India who arrived during the British Empire and who work on sugar plantations.

Despite a recent surge in foreign investment, Guyana is the poorest country with the highest rates of crime, violence and suicide on the continent. In addition, its international image is conditioned by its perception as a area It is a benchmark in the international distribution of cocaine and its high rate of corruption. However, the country's future points to an entry into the world's major oil powers after the finding of one of the largest oil and gas deposits discovered in our decade.

Like Guyana, the political life of the Republic of Suriname is subject to a great ethno-cultural mosaic. The former Dutch colony, with its capital in Paramaribo, is the smallest and least populated country in South America, with just 163. 821 inhabitants. After its independence in 1975, more than a third of the population emigrated to the metropolis (Holland). This produced a major structural crisis due to the lack of human capital in the country. Suriname is made up of descendants from almost every continent: Africans, Indians, Chinese and Javanese, aborigines and Europeans.  Its domestic policy is marked by the influence of Desiré Bouterse and by the democratic aspirations of society. With regard to its foreign policy, Suriname is committed to better control of exports of its resources, mainly aluminium, and to progressive integration in the regional and international sphere, in most cases, together with its neighbouring country, Guyana.

Unlike the other two Guianas, French Guiana is not an independent country, but is an overseas region of France, from which it is more than 7,000 km from France. The capital of this territory is Cayenne. For a long time it was used by France as a penal colony. It has the highest homicide rate in the entire French-speaking territory and is known for its high level of crime. How department It is part of the European Union and home to the Guiana Space Center, hosting one of Europe's main satellite launch stations in Kourou. French Guiana is facing rising unemployment, a lack of resources for Education and the dissatisfaction of its population, which has led to numerous protests.

 

 

Change of orientation

Due to the strong historical relationship with their respective metropolises and their late independence, there has traditionally been a significant barrier between the Guianas and South America. Geographically, they are cornered on the northern coast of South America, with difficulty developing contacts to the south, due to the orography of the Guiana massif and the Amazon rainforest. But there have also been cultural and linguistic reasons that contributed to a rapprochement between this region and the western Caribbean, where England, Holland and France had – and still have in some cases – island possessions.

However, after a long period of relative isolation, with little contact with southern neighbours, the republics of Suriname and Guyana have begun to join the dynamics of economic and political integration in South America.

Traditionally, the two states have had a closer relationship with the Caribbean: both are full members of CARICOM, Georgetown being the seat of this community of Caribbean countries, and are part of the association of Caribbean States (ACS), with the peculiarity of the presence of French Guiana as an associate. In recent years, Suriname and Guyana have begun to look more towards the continent itself: they have participated in the creation of UNASUR and are observer countries of Mercosur. A symbol of this change in orientation was the entry in 2016 of these two countries into Conmebol, the South American football federation, leaving the federation of North America, Central America and the Caribbean to which they belonged.

This greater relationship with its continental neighbours and participation in the South American integration process should serve to resolve some outstanding border issues, such as the dispute between Venezuela and Guyana: Caracas has historically claimed the territory that extends between its border and the Essequibo River, which runs through half of Guyana. However, as other Latin American territorial disputes are resolved in international courts, the Essequibo dispute threatens to perpetuate itself for the time being.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

[Geoffry Sloan, Geopolitics, Geography and Strategic History. Routledge. New York, 2017. 251 p.]

 

review / Emili J. Blasco

Today we are witnessing a frequent use of the term geopolitics that is often devoid of content. After decades of the word being stigmatized, given the contamination it suffered in the first third of the twentieth century by elaborations such as Lebensraum, its employment It has become widespread in recent years as China and Russia have begun to take positions in the new post-unipolar world order. However, it is not uncommon to speak of geopolitics as a mere synonym for international relations, without a specific meaning.

Remembering the strict value of the concept, stripping it of trivializations or misunderstandings, is the purpose by Geoffrey Sloan, a British academic specialising in Halford Mackinder, one of the great names in geopolitics. Sloan understands this as a "tripartite construction" of geography, strategy, and history, elements that give rise to the degree scroll of his book.

The author locates the dawn of geopolitics in a "first wave" of thinkers distant in time and in their philosophical conceptions, such as Aristotle, Machiavelli and Montesquieu, but it was not until the "second wave", at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, when the discipline adopt that name and define its contours with the help of Ratzel, Mahan, Mackinder, Haushofer... After a long period of ostracism, because it was considered that some totalitarianisms had fed on the ravings of certain schools, at the beginning of the 21st century the term geopolitics resurfaces. However, in Sloan's opinion, it is affected by a triple problem: its lack of definition, the lack of bibliography and its confusion with realpolitik.

Geopolitics, Geography and Strategic History

Today, people have begun to talk about geopolitics so often that it has lost its proper meaning. "The term geopolitics has enjoyed a ghostly life after death, becoming used everywhere while being drained of substantive theoretical content, and is used in so many ways that it has become meaningless, if there is no further specification," warns a statement. quotation by S. R. Gokmen.

In contrast to its generic use, assimilated to that of international politics, Sloan defends its original meaning, absolutely attached to geography. "Although all the politics of a state do not derive from its geography," say the 1938 words of Nicholas Spykman—another classic of geopolitics—that open the book, "the state cannot escape that geography. Size, shape, location, topography and climate provide conditions from which there is no escape, no matter how qualified the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or how resourceful the General Staff may be."

The temporal break in geopolitical thought – Sloan notes that no book on geopolitics was published in English between 1945 and 1977 – may explain why many today have lost track of the strict geographical content of the term. But even among those who seem to want to give it a specific meaning, there is the confusion of assimilating geopolitics with the realist theory of international relations. According to Sloan, "Perhaps the most common misconception about geopolitical theory is its symbiotic relationship to the realist approach. It maintains that all thinking about international relations should begin with the recognition of the primacy of power and that geographical factors are a vital part of the evaluation of power." The author warns that in geopolitics there is also room for an idealistic approach, since it is not something tied to the administrative state nor is it exclusively identified with conservative political ideologies.

Sloan proposes a "trinitarian structure" of geopolitics, in a diagram where the relationship between geography and strategy generates geostrategy, the relationship between geography and history gives rise to historical geography, and the relationship between history and strategy derives into diplomatic history.

The approach of the work is in its first part theoretical, and then gives way to certain historical concretions, for the most part in the light of concepts elaborated by Mackinder.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Global

ESSAY / Elena López-Dóriga

The European Union's aim is to promote democracy, unity, integration and cooperation between its members. However, in the last years it is not only dealing with economic crises in many countries, but also with a humanitarian one, due to the exponential number of migrants who run away from war or poverty situations.

When referring to the humanitarian crises the EU had to go through (and still has to) it is about the refugee migration coming mainly from Syria. Since 2011, the civil war in Syria killed more than 470,000 people, mostly civilians. Millions of people were displaced, and nearly five million Syrians fled, creating the biggest refugee crisis since the World War II. When the European Union leaders accorded in assembly to establish quotas to distribute the refugees that had arrived in Europe, many responses were manifested in respect. On the one hand, some Central and Eastern countries rejected the proposal, putting in evidence the philosophy of agreement and cooperation of the EU claiming the quotas were not fair. Dissatisfaction was also felt in Western Europe too with the United Kingdom's shock Brexit vote from the EU and Austria's near election of a far right-wing leader attributed in part to the convulsions that the migrant crisis stirred. On the other hand, several countries promised they were going to accept a certain number of refugees and turned out taking even less than half of what they promised. In this note it is going to be exposed the issue that occurred and the current situation, due to what happened threatened many aspects that revive tensions in the European Union nowadays.

The response of the EU leaders to the crisis

The greatest burden of receiving Syria's refugees fell on Syria's neighbors: Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. In 2015 the number of refugees raised up and their destination changed to Europe. The refugee camps in the neighbor countries were full, the conditions were not good at all and the conflict was not coming to an end as the refugees expected. Therefore, refugees decided to emigrate to countries such as Germany, Austria or Norway looking for a better life. It was not until refugees appeared in the streets of Europe that European leaders realised that they could no longer ignore the problem. Furthermore, flows of migrants and asylum seekers were used by terrorist organisations such as ISIS to infiltrate terrorists to European countries. Facing this humanitarian crisis, European Union ministers approved a plan on September 2015 to share the burden of relocating up to 120,000 people from the so called "Frontline States" of Greece, Italy and Hungary to elsewhere within the EU. The plan assigned each member state quotas: a number of people to receive based on its economic strength, population and unemployment. Nevertheless, the quotas were rejected by a group of Central European countries also known as the Visegrad Group, that share many interests and try to reach common agreements.

Why the Visegrad Group rejected the quotas

The Visegrad Group (also known as the Visegrad Four or simply V4) reflects the efforts of the countries of the Central European region to work together in many fields of common interest within the all-European integration. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have shared cultural background, intellectual values and common roots in diverse religious traditions, which they wish to preserve and strengthen. After the disintegration of the Eastern Block, all the V4 countries aspired to become members of the European Union. They perceived their integration in the EU as another step forward in the process of overcoming artificial dividing lines in Europe through mutual support. Although they negotiated their accession separately, they all reached this aim in 2004 (1st May) when they became members of the EU.

The tensions between the Visegrad Group and the EU started in 2015, when the EU approved the quotas of relocation of the refugees only after the dissenting votes of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia were overruled. In asking the court to annul the deal, Hungary and Slovakia argued at the Court of Justice that there were procedural mistakes, and that quotas were not a suitable response to the crisis. Besides, the politic leaders said the problem was not their making, and the policy exposed them to a risk of Islamist terrorism that represented a threat to their homogenous societies. Their case was supported by Polish right-wing government of the party Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice) which came to power in 2015 and claimed that the quotes were not comprehensive.

Regarding Poland's rejection to the quotas, it should be taken into account that is a country of 38 million people and already home to an exponential number of Ukrainian immigrants. Most of them decided to emigrate after military conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014, when the currency value of the Ukrainian hryvnia plummeted and prices rose. This could be a reason why after having received all these immigration from Ukraine, the Polish government believed that they were not ready to take any more refugees, and in that case from a different culture. They also claimed that the relocation methods would only attract more waves of immigration to Europe.

The Slovak and Hungarian representatives at the EU court stressed that they found the Council of the EU's decision rather political, as it was not achieved unanimously, but only by a qualified majority. The Slovak delegation labelled this decision "inadequate and inefficient". Both the Slovak and Hungarian delegations pointed to the fact that the target the EU followed by asserting national quotas failed to address the core of the refugee crisis and could have been achieved in a different way, for example by better protecting the EU's external border or with a more efficient return policy in case of migrants who fail to meet the criteria for being granted asylum. 

The Czech prime minister at that time, Bohuslav Sobotka, claimed the commission was "blindly insisting on pushing ahead with dysfunctional quotas which decreased citizens' trust in EU abilities and pushed back working and conceptual solutions to the migration crisis".

Moreover, there are other reasons that run deeper about why 'new Europe' (these recently integrated countries in the EU) resisted the quotas which should be taken into consideration. On the one hand, their just recovered sovereignty makes them especially resistant to delegating power. On the other, their years behind the iron curtain left them outside the cultural shifts taking place elsewhere in Europe, and with a legacy of social conservatism. Furthermore, one can observe a rise in skeptical attitudes towards immigration, as public opinion polls have shown.

 

Refugee quote addressed per country vs refugee quote finally received

* As of September 2017. Own work based on this article

 

The temporary solution: The Turkey Deal    

The accomplishment of the quotas was to be expired in 2017, but because of those countries that rejected the quotas and the slow process of introducing the refugees in those countries that had accepted them, the EU reached a new and polemic solution, known as the Turkey Deal.

Turkey is a country that has had the aspiration of becoming a European Union member since many years, mainly to improve their democracy and to have better connections and relations with Western Europe. The EU needed a quick solution to the refugee crisis to limit the mass influx of irregular migrants entering in, so knowing that Turkey is Syria's neighbor country (where most refugees came from) and somehow could take even more refugees, the EU and Turkey made a deal on the 18th of March 2016. Following the signing of the EU-Turkey deal: those arriving in the Greek Islands would be returned to Turkey, and for each Syrian sent back from Greece to Turkey one Syrian could be sent from a Turkish camp to the EU. In exchange, the EU paid 3 billion euros to Turkey for the maintenance of the refugees, eased the EU visa restrictions for Turkish citizens and paid great lip-service to the idea of Turkey becoming a member state.  

The Turkey Deal is another issue that should be analysed separately, since it has not been defended by many organisations which have labelled the deal as shameless. Instead, the current relationship between both sides, the EU and V4 is going to be analysed, as well as possible new solutions.

Current relationship between the UE and V4

In terms of actual relations, on the one hand critics of the Central European countries' stance over refugees claim that they are willing to accept the economic benefits of the EU, including access to the single market, but have shown a disregard for the humanitarian and political responsibilities. On the other hand, the Visegrad Four complains that Western European countries treat them like second-class members, meddling in domestic issues by Brussels and attempting to impose EU-wide solutions against their will, as typified by migrant quotas. One Visegrad minister told the Financial Times, "We don't like it when the policy is defined elsewhere and then we are told to implement it." From their point of view, Europe has lost its global role and has become a regional player. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said "the EU is unable to protect its own citizens, to protect its external borders and to keep the community together, as Britain has just left".

Mr Avramopolus, who is Greece's European commissioner, claimed that if no action was taken by them, the Commission would not hesitate to make use of its powers under the treaties and to open infringement procedures.

At this time, no official sanctions have been imposed to these countries yet. Despite of the threats from the EU for not taking them, Mariusz Blaszczak, Poland's former Interior minister, claimed that accepting migrants would have certainly been worse for the country for security reasons than facing EU action. Moreover, the new Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki proposes to implement programs of aid addressed to Lebanese and Jordanian entities on site, in view of the fact that Lebanon and Jordan had admitted a huge number of Syrian refugees, and to undertake further initiatives aimed at helping the refugees affected by war hostilities.

To sum up, facing this refugee crisis a fracture in the European Union between Western and Eastern members has shown up. Since the European Union has been expanding its boarders from west to east integrating new countries as member states, it should also take into account that this new member countries have had a different past (in the case of the Eastern countries, they were under the iron curtain) and nowadays, despite of the wish to collaborate all together, the different ideologies and the different priorities of each country make it difficult when it comes to reach an agreement. Therefore, while old Europe expects new Europe to accept its responsibilities, along with the financial and security benefits of the EU, this is going to take time. As a matter of fact, it is understandable that the EU Commission wants to sanction the countries that rejected the quotas, but the majority of the countries that did accept to relocate the refugees in the end have not even accepted half of what they promised, and apparently they find themselves under no threats of sanction. Moreover, the latest news coming from Austria since December 2017 claim that the country has bluntly told the EU that it does not want to accept any more refugees, arguing that it has already taken in enough. Therefore, it joins the Visegrad Four countries to refuse the entrance of more refugees.

In conclusion, the future of Europe and a solution to this problem is not known yet, but what is clear is that there is a breach between the Western and Central-Eastern countries of the EU, so an efficient and fair solution which is implemented in common agreement will expect a long time to come yet.

 

Bibliography:

J. Juncker (2015). A call for Collective Courage. 2018, from European Commission Website.

EC (2018). Asylum statistics. 2018, from European Commission Website.

International Visegrad Fund (2006). Official Statements and communiqués. 2018, from Visegrad Group Website.

Jacopo Barigazzi (2017). Brussels takes on Visegrad Group over refugees. 2018, from POLITICO Website.

Zuzana Stevulova (2017). "Visegrad Four and refugees. 2018, from Confrontations Europe (European Think Tank) Website.

Nicole Gnesotto (2015). Refugees are an internal manifestation of an unresolved external crisis. 2018, from Confrontations Europe (European Think Tank) Website.

Categories Global Affairs: European Union Central Europe and Russia World Order, Diplomacy and Governance Essays

Trump has maintained several of the measures passed by Obama, but has conditioned their implementation

Donald Trump has not closed the embassy opened by Barack Obama in Havana and has kept to the letter of the rules allowing only certain travel by Americans to the island. However, his imposition of not establishing commercial or financial relations with companies controlled by the Cuban military-police apparatus has affected the volume of exchanges. But it has been above all his anti-Castro rhetoric that has brought the relationship almost back to the Cold War.

Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, at the baseball game they attended during the U.S. president's 2016 visit to Cuba visit [Pete Souza/White House].

▲Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, at the baseball game they attended during the U.S. president's 2016 visit to Cuba [Pete Souza/White House].

article / Valeria Vásquez

For more than half a century, relations between the United States and Cuba were marked by political tensions. The last years of Barack Obama's presidency marked a significant change with the historic reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and the approval of certain measures of U.S. openness toward Cuba. The White House then hoped that the climate of growing cooperation would boost the modest economic reforms that Havana had begun to implement earlier and that all this would eventually bring political transformations to the island.

The Cuban government's lack of concessions on subject regarding freedoms and human rights, however, was used by Donald Trump to reverse, upon his arrival to power, several of the measures approved by his predecessor, although it has been above all his anti-Castro rhetoric that has created a new hostile environment between Washington and Havana.

Obama era: détente  

In his second term, Barack Obama began secret negotiations with Cuba that culminated with the advertisement in December 2014 of a agreement for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The respective embassies were reopened in July 2015, thus overcoming an anomaly dating back to 1961, when the Eisenhower Administration decided to break relations with the West Indian neighbor in view of the communist orientation of the Cuban Revolution. In March 2016, Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in 88 years.

Beyond the diplomatic sphere, Obama also sought an economic opening towards the island. Given that lifting the embargo established by the US for decades required the approval of the congress, where he faced a Republican majority, Obama introduced certain liberalizing measures by means of presidential decrees. Thus, he eased travel restrictions (he hardly changed the letter of the law, but he did relax his internship) and authorized an increase in the volume of purchases that Americans could make in Cuba.

For Obama, the economic embargo was a failed policy, as it had not achieved its purpose goal of ending the Cuban dictatorship and, consequently, had prolonged it. For this reason, he was betting on a change of strategy, in the hope that the normalization of relations -diplomatic and, progressively, economic- would help to improve Cuba's social status and contribute, in the medium or long term deadline, to the change that the economic embargo had failed to bring about. According to Obama, the embargo had had a negative impact, since issues such as the limitation of tourism or the lack of foreign direct investment had affected the Cuban people more than the Castro nomenklatura.

A new economic relationship

Faced with the impossibility of lifting the economic embargo on Cuba, Obama opted for presidential decrees that opened up trade relations between the two countries. Several measures were aimed at facilitating better access to the Internet for Cubans, which should help to promote democratizing demands in the country. Thus, Washington authorized U.S. telecommunications companies to establish business in Cuba.

In the financial field, the United States allowed its banks to open accounts in Cuba, which facilitated transactions. In addition, Cuban citizens residing on the island could receive payments in the U.S. and send them back to their country.

Another of the measures adopted was the lifting of some of the travel restrictions. As required by U.S. legislation, Obama maintained the restriction that Americans can only travel to Cuba under various circumstances, all linked to certain missions: academic, humanitarian, religious support trips.... Although purely tourist trips were still excluded, the lack of control that the U.S. authorities deliberately stopped applying meant a considerable opening of the hand.

In addition to authorizing banking transactions related to such travel, to meet the anticipated increase in tourists, it was announced that several U.S. carriers such as JetBlue and American Airlines had received approval to fly to Cuba. For the first time in 50 years, in late November 2016 a U.S. commercial aircraft landed in Havana.

The U.S. president also eliminated the limit of expense that U.S. visitors had on the purchase of products for use staff (particularly cigars and rum). Likewise, he promoted the partnership in the medical research and approved the importation of medicines produced in Cuba.

In addition, Obama repealed the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, whereby Cubans arriving on U.S. soil were automatically granted political asylum, while only those intercepted by Cuba at sea were returned to the island.

Trump's review

Since his electoral campaign, Donald Trump showed clear signals about the direction his relations with Cuba would take if he became president. Trump announced that he would reverse the opening towards Cuba carried out by Obama, and as soon as he arrived at the White House he began to strengthen the anti-Castro speech in Washington. The new president said he was willing to negotiate a "better agreement" with the island, but on the condition that the Cuban government showed concrete progress towards the democratization of the country and respect for human rights. Trump raised the prospect of free elections and the release of political prisoners, knowing that the Cuban regime would not accede to these requests. In the absence of a response from Havana, Trump insisted on his previous proposals: maintenance of the embargo (which in any case the Republican majority in the congress is not willing to lift) and reversal of some of Obama's decisions.

In reality, Trump has formally maintained several of his predecessor' s measures, although the ban on doing business with companies controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), which dominate a good part of Cuban economic life, and the respect for the letter in travel restrictions have reduced the contact between the US and Cuba that had begun to occur at the end of the Obama era.

Trump has ratified the repeal of the "wet foot, dry foot" policy decided by Obama and has maintained the diplomatic relations reestablished by Obama (although he has paralyzed the appointment of an ambassador). It has also respected the timid commercial and financial opening operated by the Democratic president, but as long as the economic transactions do not take place with companies linked to the Cuban Army, intelligence and security services. In this regard, the department of the Treasury published on November 8, 2017 a list of companies in those sectors with which no subject of contact US fits.

Regarding travel, the restricted assumptions for American travel to the island are maintained, but in contrast to the blind eye adopted by the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration requires that Americans who want to go to Cuba must do so on tours conducted by American companies, accompanied by a representative of the group sponsor and with the obligation to communicate the details of their activities. The Treasury's rules and regulations requires that stays be in private hostels (casas particulares), meals in restaurants run by individuals (paladares) and shopping in stores run by citizens (cuentapropistas), with the purpose to "channel funds" away from the Cuban army and weaken communist policy.

Reduced tourist expectations led already at the end of 2017 to the fact that several US airlines had cancelled all their flights to the Caribbean island. The Cuban Economics had counted on a large increase in US tourists and yet now had to face, without higher revenues, the serious problem of falling shipments of cheap oil from Venezuela.

Future of diplomatic relations

The greatest tension between Washington and Havana, however, has not been in the commercial or economic sphere, but in the diplomatic sphere. Following a series of apparent "sonic attacks" on U.S. diplomats in Cuba, the U.S. recalled much of its staff in Cuba and expelled 15 diplomats from the Cuban embassy in Washington. In addition, the department of State made a recommendation not to travel to the island. Although the origin of these alleged attacks, which the Cuban authorities deny having carried out, has not been clarified, it could be the accidental side effect of an espionage attempt, which would have eventually caused brain damage to the people being monitored.

The future of relations between the two countries will depend on the direction taken by Trump's policies and the pace of reforms that the new Cuban president may establish. Given that not many changes are foreseen in Miguel Díaz-Canel's management , at least as long as Raúl Castro lives, Havana's immobility in the political and economic fields would probably continue to run up against Trump's anti-revolutionary rhetoric.

Categories Global Affairs: North America World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

[Gabriel Tortella, Capitalism and Revolution. One essay of contemporary economic and social history. Gadir. Madrid, 2017. 550 pages]

 

review / Manuel Lamela Gallego

The main goal The aim of this book is to offer an extensive view of contemporary history, in order to make us able to understand the wonderful, yet overwhelming, complexity of the world in which we currently live. To accomplish this task, the work has a real approach multidisciplinary, with economic history as the focal point meeting and reference letter for the rest of the social sciences. Consequently, the book offers us an accurate economic and social analysis, but without ever forgetting the political, a factor that the author considers essential for the true understanding of past events.

With this look at the past in order to observe the near future with greater lucidity and clarity in the final chapters, Gabriel Tortella completes, improves and nourishes with a greater issue of reflections and thoughts in his previous work, "The Origins of the Twentieth Century" (2005). Economic historian of B After an academic life and internationally recognized, the author presents us with an entertaining study that will undoubtedly awaken in the reader an interest in the study of contemporary history.

To do this, the author takes us by the hand to what he calls the first World Revolution (the author actually goes back to more remote times to, in a brilliant chapter, explain the triumph of Europe and how it will lead and lead this process). This development The historical revolution is made up of the so-called Atlantic revolutions or bourgeois revolutions, led by England (17th) and Holland (16th-17th) and followed by the rest of Europe and the American continent during the last decades of the eighteenth century and almost the entire nineteenth century. Finally, the Industrial Revolution that began in the British Isles during the eighteenth century brought this First World Revolution to a close.

Already here, the author tells us sample his acuity as a historical analyst in distinguishing between the bourgeois revolution and the industrial revolution, concluding that an evolutionary process is being followed: first, a revolution of a political nature is necessary that results in advances both at the social and economic levels, as was the case in England, with an increase in maritime trade, development parliamentarism, changes in agriculture... The latter will eventually lead to an Industrial Revolution where progress and improvement will be total and will encompass all areas of human society. This reflection explains and crystallizes the status It was lived in Europe during the eighteenth century, where we found societies like the English, practically submerged in its industrialization, and at the same time societies like the French, still immersed in its bourgeois revolution.

Capitalism and Revolution. One essay of contemporary economic and social history

The author marks another turning point in the historical evolution at the end of the Belle Époque and the beginning of the First World War, in 1914. As he did previously, he will name the process, which began in the early part of the 20th century and culminated in its second half, as the Second World Revolution. When the author speaks of revolution, he is in no way referring to the Russian Revolution or Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, nor to the series of totalitarianisms that arose during the interwar period. For Gabriel Tortella, these events are nothing more than monstrous experiences destined to remain silent in the dustbin of history. When the author speaks here of revolution, he is referring to the consolidation of the social-democratic state based on the economic theory of John Maynard Keynes.

Next, the author makes a historical-economic review, reaching the economic recession that occurred in 2008. The author concludes by explaining the reason for the triumph of capitalism: a capitalism undoubtedly renewed and shaped by the different crises that have occurred since 1945. A conclusion that can be summed up in the almost prophetic phrase used by the author of: "Tomorrow Capitalism" (p. 498).

Tortella devotes the last pages of his book to reflecting on the present and the time to come. Taking stock of the last 250 years and far from dark futures, we sample how humanity, after several decades of a development Unprecedented, it is at its peak in terms of living standards and conditions. Despite this well-founded optimism, the author also warns us of serious problems that humanity will have to face in order to move forward in its progress. The author considers the overpopulation and lack of demographic control in third world countries to be the great problem of our time.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Global

essay / Alejandro Palacios

The violent revolts in Nicaragua, the war in Syria or the status in Yemen are examples of some of the most bloody episodes that are being experienced around the world. Such episodes are, for the most part, aggravated by the disintegrative mentality that prevails in a large part of the world's societies. The promotion of an inclusive culture of peace is one of the challenges posed by the Norwegian sociologist and mathematician Johan Galtung.

Johan Galtung is considered, due to his long trajectory and wide academic experience, as one of the best experts in the topic of alternative conflict resolution. In addition, he has been the founder of two of the most renowned institutions in the field of conflict resolution, such as the high school International Peace research in Oslo (1959) and the Journal of research on Peace (1964). As a result, his books and essays have been widely echoed in the community of experts in this subject. Here we will focus especially on his work "After Violence, 3Rs: Reconstruction, Reconciliation and Resolution", published in 1999 and still very relevant today, as it sheds light on the causes of the conflict and its possible solutions.

His main thesis is that conflict is innate in society as there are limited resources and overlapping interests, but whether these lead to violence depends on the will of the individual. In his own words: "Violence is not like eating or sexual relations, which are found all over the world with slight variations". That is why the author rejects Hobbes' thesis in the famous sentence "Homo homini lupus", i.e. that man, in his state of nature, tends to his extinction. From this point Galtung provides a series of aspects that the peace worker must take into account for the correct resolution of a conflict.

Galtung emphasizes the need for a deep analysis of the conflict in order to understand its multidimensionality. Otherwise, the peace worker may misdiagnose the conflict. He puts it this way: "One of the problems is not understanding that conflict has a broader dimension. Therefore, sometimes it may not be given the right treatment (as if the doctor says that an ankle inflammation is an ankle disease and not a heart dysfunction // or hunger as insufficient food intake and not a social problem)".

To make this task somewhat simpler, Galtung provides us with two triangles of violence, which are related to each other. The first is the ABC triangle: Attitudes adopted towards conflict or peace-making; behaviors adopted or peace-keeping; and contradiction underlying the (root) conflict or peace-building. The second triangle indicates that there are two types of violence: the visible and the invisible. The visible is direct violence and the invisible is cultural violence (which causes or feeds direct violence) and structural violence. This is why the author insists on the importance of promoting a culture of peace in which peaceful mechanisms to resolve a conflict without resorting to violence predominate, i.e. a culture based on non-violence, empathy and creativity (to go beyond the mental Structures of the parties to a conflict). Thus, the so-called golden rule "Don't do to others what you wouldn't want them to do to you," he says, is a good way to start forging such a culture. Although this, he says, has one problem: that tastes differ.

 

 

Politics, according to Galtung, can help create this culture, which he considers essential to avoid violence as much as possible. Galtung considers democracy to be the best system for creating what he calls a "culture of peace". However, he himself makes a number of criticisms of this political system. First of all, he claims that democracy is equivalent to the dictatorship of the 51% against the rest. This is something that, however, is mitigated thanks to human rights, as he himself acknowledges. Secondly, the author asserts that the sum of all democracies is not universal democracy. An action that affects other states does not have legitimacy just because it has been adopted democratically (something mitigated by international organizations, but which can lead to the status described in the first place). The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that democracy entails a certain Degree of structural violence, but less than with other systems of government.

Finally, Galtung makes a comparison between the Western and Eastern ways of resolving a dispute from the perspective of the temporal dimension of a conflict. While the Western one makes use of a diachronic approach of time, i.e. over time, the Eastern one makes use of a synchronic approach of time, i.e. at the same time. At summary, the Eastern perspective works in the three areas of resolution, reconciliation and reconstruction (the 3Rs) successively and not one after the other, as does the Western world.

Experts on subject of conflicts make a clear distinction between three types of conflicts. On the one hand we have direct violence staff (verbal or physical); indirect structural violence (political and economic exploitation); finally, there is cultural violence. In particular, the English economist Kenneth Boulding criticizes Galtung's analysis on the grounds that it analyzes conflicts from a purely structuralist perspective. In this way, he criticizes, on the one hand, that the method used is very taxonomic, since, according to Boulding, "taxonomy is a convenience of the human mind rather than a description of reality". On the other hand, Galtung's emphasis on equality, as opposed to hierarchies, for conflict mitigation is criticized, since, according to the Briton, Galtung does not take into account that such equality has negative consequences in terms of quality of life and freedom.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Global Testing

essay / María Estrada

development One year after the ruling of the African Court of Human Rights recognizing the Ogiek's right to their land - long since seized by the Kenyan government for logging - it may be timely to review the legal basis for the collective land rights of indigenous peoples and how their recognition can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDG 2030).

The Ogiek are a hunting and gathering people who since ancient times have inhabited the Mau Forest in the Tinet Forest in Molo, Nakuru District. Their existence and continuity depend on the forests because of the close social, spiritual and cultural ties that bind them to them. The May 2017 ruling handed down by the African Court of Human Rights forced a change of attitude on the part of the Kenyan government. The Court based its ruling on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations in September 2007, in whose vote Kenya abstained.

The United Nations Declaration recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to preserve and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to work for their development of agreement to their aspirations and needs. In its preamble, the text recognizes "the particular contribution of indigenous and tribal peoples to cultural diversity, to the social and ecological harmony of humankind and to international cooperation and understanding". development It is also worth considering agreement 107 of the ILO of 1957, which states: "The Declaration of Philadelphia affirms that all human beings have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual welfare in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity".

International law distinguishes between the notions of "land" and "territory" to highlight the difference between a given physical or geographic space (the portion of land itself) and the reproduction or manifestation of the cultural life associated with that space. This cultural life is expressed through different cultural patterns linked to ways of using the land and its resources, ceremonial and spiritual ties and multiple ways of being and conceiving the habitat and the world. The notion of territory does not protect an economic value, but the value of life in general and of cultural life in particular. What is then the amount of land that should be legally regularized in favor of a given people or community? The lands to be handed over must respect the criteria of suitability, sufficiency and traditionality. In other words, they must be of sufficient size and quality to allow the people or community to develop their life plan, in accordance with their options and priorities of development, to live with dignity as an organized people in accordance with their cultural identity, and to guarantee their historical and cultural continuity. The notion of traditionality defines as belonging to a community those territorial spaces that are in the collective report of current generations and that are still recognized as the natural habitat of the people in question, whether it is entirely under their control or has been subject to usurpation and dismemberment in recent years.

Based on these concepts, international law and the domestic legislation of the countries have defined that the right to land and territory implies: a) the submission of lands that are used by the people and community, respecting the different modalities of land and resource use; b) the restitution of lands involuntarily lost and to which they have traditionally had access, and c) the submission of additional or complementary lands to ensure the development and continuity of the people or community.

In addition to these sources of international law, there are other initiatives that would inevitably have led to the triumph of the Ogieks, thanks to the changes that global geopolitics has been undergoing in recent decades.

Firstly, more and more states in the international community are joining the initiatives of sustainable development models, either under pressure from non-state actors such as NGOs or activist groups, or on their own initiative, as governments realize that it is essential to include environmental security in their defense policies. In the field of strategic programs of study , international politics has been dominated since the Cold War by the realist current. This current has a very narrow vision, and considers war and conflict as inherent features of the international system. States are the main actors, and their goal is the accumulation of power, defined in terms of military capability. This approach has remained predominant even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, although new perspectives have gradually been introduced. New currents have emerged that criticize the limited vision of the traditional currents, arguing that there are other non-military factors that are relevant when it comes to recognizing threats to the security of nations and individuals. Several authors, such as Dalby, Floyd or Mathew, among others, believe that it is necessary to begin to include and give priority to environmental security in the international diary ; in other words, to "securitize" the topic. source Some seven million people die every year as a result of climate change, and resource scarcity is often a source of conflict, especially in the least developed countries.

Secondly, in 2015, the Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 were announced, which are grouped into 17 goals and 169 targets. These were proposed in 2014 at the United Nations lecture "Transforming our World", which analyzed the results of the Millennium development Goals (MDGs) of 2000. The MDGs achieved progress in areas such as reducing the issue number of people below the poverty line, but in other areas such as the environment there were setbacks. This time, the SDGs put on the table a more integral and comprehensive diary and have sustainability as a central element, ensuring equitable growth. The great challenge in this case will be their implementation, since the goals are not entirely clear and do not require specific commitments, so there is a risk that states will shirk their commitment. Among the established objectives, two are worth mentioning for the topic we are dealing with. The goal 13 speaks of "taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts" and the goal 15 of "protecting, restoring and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss". The sustainability strategy proposed by the SDGs includes maintaining the integrity of ecosystems through an efficient management of natural resources and a decoupling of environmental pressures from economic growth.

That said, and returning to the Ogiek, there are those who claim that their establishment in the Mau forest can help the conservation of the space, which would be in line with goal 15. The Ogiek consider themselves the guardians of the forest, and believe that it is their duty to contribute to the conservation of the forest and all the species that inhabit it. In African culture - without trying to overgeneralize - the link with the land is more than historical and cultural, it is also a spiritual link. It is there where their ancestors reside, whose spirits guard the people. In addition, one of the main activities of the Ogiek is the production of honey. Therefore, the free disposal of the forest by the Kenyan government would mean the moral and existential uprooting of these people, in addition to other serious consequences for climate change. The forest largely prevents droughts and financial aid to the cohesion of the soil.

In addition to this, we must also take into account the unsustainability of the current capitalist production and consumption model , which only generates inequality through a ferocious skill that is unfair to the most marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples. The Kenyan government justifies uncontrolled logging as necessary for development and income generation. However, other lifestyles must be considered, which in their own way allow for an equally comprehensive development for the people. In addition to preserving diversity and promote cultural enrichment, the lifestyle of the Ogiek people would be the solution for the sustainable development pursued by the SDGs.

In light of this case, it is necessary to raise the idea that perhaps elsewhere on the planet the solution for the conservation of the environment and species is to let the locals who know the land take care of it. This issue concerns many groups of people. In Latin America, disputes are frequent because of abuses by political entities against indigenous peoples, who likewise go to court to seek protection of their rights (to give examples). It is therefore likely that the imposition of a capitalist model without strong social considerations will be counterproductive in terms of achieving development, considered as that which raises people's standard of living. New steps must now find their basis in a broader conception of development, taking into account the diversity of lifestyles in the world, and seeing in the willingness of indigenous peoples to live in and protect forests an opportunity that guarantees forest conservation.

Categories Global Affairs: Africa Trials World order, diplomacy and governance

Central America's Northern Triangle migrants look to the U.S., Nicaragua's to Costa Rica

While migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras continue to try to reach the United States, those from Nicaragua have preferred to travel to Costa Rica in recent years. The restrictions put in place by the Trump Administration and the deterioration of the Costa Rican economic boom are reducing the flows, but this migratory divide in Central America remains for the time being.

Border crossing between Mexico and Belize

▲Belize-Mexico border crossing [Marrovi/CC].

article / Celia Olivar Gil

When comparing the Degree of development of the Central American countries, the different human flows operating in the region are well understood. The United States is the great migratory magnet, but Costa Rica is also to some extent a pole of attraction, evidently to a lesser extent Degree. Thus, the five Central American countries with the highest poverty rates -Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Belize- share their migratory orientation: the first four maintain important flows to the United States, while in recent years Nicaragua has opted more for Costa Rica, given its proximity.

Migration from the Northern Triangle to the U.S.

Nearly 500,000 people try every year to cross Mexico's southern border with the goal to reach the United States. Most of them come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the Central American region known as the Northern Triangle, which is currently one of the most violent in the world. The reasons that lead this high issue number of citizens from the Northern Triangle to migrate, many illegally, are various:

On the one hand, there are reasons that could be described as structural: the porousness of the border, the complexity and high costs of regularization processes for migration, the lack of commitment by employers to regularize migrant workers, and the insufficient capacity of governments to establish migration laws.

There are also clear economic reasons: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have high poverty rates, at 67.7%, 74.3% and 41.6%, respectively, of their inhabitants. presentation Difficulties in budgetary income and pronounced social inequality mean that public services, such as Education and healthcare, are deficient for a large part of the population.

Perhaps the most compelling reason is the lack of security. Many of those leaving these three countries cite insecurity and violence as the main reason for their departure. The level of criminal violence in the Northern Triangle reaches levels similar to those of an armed conflict. In El Salvador, a total of 6,650 intentional homicides were registered in 2015; in Honduras, 8,035, and in Guatemala, 4,778.

All these reasons push Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans to migrate to the United States, who on their journey north use three main routes to cross Mexico: the one that crosses the country diagonally until reaching the area of Tijuana, the one that advances through central Mexico to Ciudad Juarez and the one that seeks to enter the US through the Rio Bravo valley. subject Along these routes, migrants face many risks, such as falling victim to criminal organizations and suffering all kinds of abuses (kidnapping, torture, rape, robbery, extortion...), which can not only cause immediate physical injuries and trauma, but can also leave serious long-term consequences deadline.

Despite all these difficulties, citizens of the Northern Triangle continue to choose the United States as their migration destination. This is mainly due to the attraction of the economic potential of a country like the USA, at status of plenary session of the Executive Council employment ; to its relative geographic proximity (it is possible to arrive by land crossing only one or two countries), and to the human relations created since the 1980s, when the USA began to be goal for those fleeing the civil wars of a politically unstable Central America with economic difficulties, which created a migratory tradition, consolidated by family connections and the protection offered to the newcomers by the already established nationals. During this period, the Central American population in the U.S. tripled. Today, 82.9% of Central American immigrants in the U.S. live in the United States.

 

The U.S. immigration 'watershed

The American immigration 'watershed' [with ABC's authorization].

 

Migration from Nicaragua to Costa Rica

If emigration from northern Central America has been directed towards the United States, emigration from southern Central America has had more destinations. If Hondurans have looked to the north, in recent years their Nicaraguan neighbors have looked somewhat more to the south. The Coco River, which divides Honduras and Nicaragua, has become a sort of migratory'watershed'.

Certainly there are more Nicaraguans officially residing in the U.S. (over 400,000) than in Costa Rica (close to 300,000), but in recent years the issue of new residents has increased more in Costa Rican territory. In the last decade, from agreement with an OAS report (pages 159 and 188), the US has granted permanent residency program permission to a average of 3,500 Nicaraguans each year, while Costa Rica has granted about 5,000 from average, reaching a record 14,779 in 2013. Moreover, the proportional weight of Nicaraguan migration in Costa Rica, a country of 4.9 million inhabitants, is large: in 2016, some 440,000 Nicaraguans entered the neighboring country, and as many exits were recorded, indicating a significant cross-border mobility and suggesting that many workers temporarily return to Nicaragua to circumvent the requirements de extranjería.

Costa Rica is seen in certain aspects in Latin America as Switzerland in Europe, that is, as an institutionally solid, politically stable and economically favorable country. This means that the emigration of Costa Ricans is not extreme and that people come from other places, so that Costa Rica is the country with the highest net migration in Latin America, with 9% of the Costa Rican population of foreign origin.

Since its independence in the 1820s, Costa Rica has remained one of the Central American countries with the least amount of serious conflicts. For this reason, during the 1970s and 1980s it was a refuge for many Nicaraguans fleeing the Somoza dictatorship and the Sandinista revolution. Now, however, they do not emigrate for security reasons, since Nicaragua is one of the least violent countries in Latin America, even below Costa Rica's figures. This migratory flow is due to economic reasons: Costa Rica's higher development is reflected in the poverty rate, which is 18.6%, compared to Nicaragua's 58.3%; in fact, Nicaragua is the poorest country in the Americas after Haiti.

Likewise, Nicaraguans have a special preference for choosing Costa Rica as a destination because of its geographic proximity, which allows them to move frequently between the two countries and to maintain to a certain extent family coexistence; the use of the same language, and other cultural similarities.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

[Omar Jaén Suárez, 500 years of the Pacific Basin. Towards a global history. Ediciones Doce Calles, Aranjuez 2016, 637 pages]

 

review / Emili J. Blasco

In just thirty years, between Columbus' arrival in America in 1492 and Elcano's return to Cadiz after his round-the-world voyage in 1522, Spain added to its domain not only a new continent, but also a new ocean. We all know about Spain's Atlantic dimension, but we often disregard its peaceful dimension. During the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Pacific Ocean was primarily under Spanish dominion. Spain was the European power present for the longest time and with the greatest weight in the entire basin of what began to be called the South Sea. Spain was the first navy that regularly patrolled its waters - the Armada del Sur, based in El Callao, Peru - and Spain was the first trade route that periodically crossed it from side to side - the Manila galleon, between the Philippines and Mexico.

500 years of the Pacific Basin. Towards a global history

In "500 years of the Pacific Basin. Toward a global history", Panamanian diplomat and historian Omar Jaén Suárez does not limit himself to documenting that Spanish and then Hispanic presence in a vast space -one third of the Earth's sphere and half of its waters- whose eastern margin is the coast of Spanish America. As degree scroll indicates, his is a global history. But to approach the last half millennium means that it starts from the fact that the Spanish conquered the Pacific Ocean and that this is a global history. finding of the Pacific by the Spaniards and that determines the approach of the narration.

If Anglo-Saxon historiography would have perhaps used another prism, in this book the accent is placed on the development of the entire Pacific account from the arrival of the first Europeans, with Nuñez de Balboa at the head. Without forgetting the colonizing facts of other powers, the author details aspects that the Spanish do forget, such as the permanent base that Spain had in Formosa (today Taiwan), the attempts of the Crown to keep Tahiti or the voyages through Alaska in search of a sea passage to the north of America, which had as a logistic point the island of Quadra and Vancouver, the great Canadian city today known only by the second part of that name (in fact, Spain neglected to populate Oregon, more interested in the Philippines and trade with the Moluccas): quite a pioneering "turn to Asia").

Being from Panama gives Omar Jaén, who has also lived in Spain, a special sensitivity for his subject study. The Panamanian isthmus has always been the key to the South Sea for the Old World; with the construction of the canal, Panama is also a transit point between East and West.

The careful edition of this work adds an indisputable value. Almost eight hundred maps, graphs, engravings and photographs make it especially visual. The quantity of illustrations, many in full color, and the good weight of the paper make the volume thicker, in a printing that constitutes a luxury for anyone interested in the Pacific. Ediciones Doce Calles has taken great care with this first degree scroll of a new collection, Pictura Mundi, dedicated to celebrating travels, explorations and geographical discoveries.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Latin America

essay / Túlio Dias de Assis [English version].

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, surprised in December with another of his statements, which, like many previous ones, was not without controversy. This time the surprise topic was the advertisement of the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, thus consummating the recognition of the ancient city as the capital of the only Jewish state in the world today: Israel.

Trump's controversial advertisement , on an issue as controversial as it is sensitive, was criticized internationally and had little foreign support. Nevertheless, a few countries joined the U.S. initiative, and a few others expressed ambiguity. Among these, several European Union countries were singled out by the media. Has there really been a lack of internal cohesion within the Union on this issue?

Why Jerusalem matters

First of all, it is worth analyzing status in more detail, starting with a simple question: Why is Jerusalem so important? There are several factors that make Hierosolyma, Yerushalayim, Al-quds or simply Jerusalem so important not only regionally, but also globally, among which the following three stand out: its historical relevance, its religious importance and its geostrategic value.

Historical relevance. It is one of the oldest human settlements in the world, tracing its earliest origins to the fourth millennium BC. Apart from being the historical capital of both the region of Palestine or Canaan, as well as of the various Jewish kingdoms established throughout the first millennium BC in that part of the Levant.

Religious importance. It is a very sacred city for the three major monotheistic religions of the world, each for its own reasons: for Christianity, mainly because it is where the crucifixion of Christ took place; for Islam, apart from being the city of several prophets - shared in the beliefs of the other Abrahamic religions - and a place of pilgrimage, it is also where Muhammad made his well-known night journey; and obviously, for Judaism, for historical reasons and also because it is where the sacred Temple of Solomon was built.

Geostrategic value. At the geostrategic level it also has a great relevance, since it is a crucial point that connects the Levantine Mediterranean coast with the Jordan Valley. Therefore, its owner would have under its control a great geostrategic advantage in the Levant region.

It is not surprising, then, that the status of this city is one of the main points of conflict in the peace negotiations between the two peoples, as is well known. Hence, Trump's intervention has not been of great financial aid help in resuming the peace process; rather, it could be argued, it has been quite the opposite: it has provoked an outcry not only from the local Palestinians, but from the entire Arab world, thus further destabilizing the region. There have been counter-reactions from Hamas, Hezbollah and also from several Islamic governments in the Middle East (among them even Erdogan's, despite the fact that the Republic of Turkey is de jure a secular state). Hamas called for an intifada against Israel: the multiple demonstrations in the Palestinian territories ended with several hundred wounded and a dozen dead, due to clashes with Israeli police forces.

Europe's position

Europe, for its part, is trying to maintain a rather more neutral and balanced position, aimed at achieving regional peace. The European Union's willingness to mediate mainly takes into account the resolutions passed by the UN on this problematic issue topic. The European declarations, considered somewhat unrealistic and utopian from the perspective of many Israelis, are based on four essential points: the two states, refugees, security and the status of Jerusalem.

The existence of two states. According to the EU, a one-state solution would be contrary to the interests of both parties, since it would impose the sovereignty of one of the peoples over that of the other. Therefore, Brussels believes that a two-state solution would be more appropriate: each nation would have its own state and the borders between the two would be based on those in force on June 4, 1967, before the Six-Day War. Even so, changes to these sovereignty boundaries would be allowed, provided both sides so desired and approved.

The refugee issue. The EU believes that durable measures should be taken on the issue of Palestinian refugees outside their homeland (especially in neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan), with the goal that they can return to their country.

Security. Another key issue for the Europeans would be the question of security, for both sides: On the one hand, measures should be put in place to put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On the other hand, the problem of Palestinian terrorism in the area should be tackled with effective measures.

Status of Jerusalem. Taking into account the importance of this city, Brussels considers that there would be no better solution than a resolution in which there would be shared sovereignty between the two hypothetical states. In addition, the holy city of the three religions would also be the capital of both states simultaneously.

However, as previously mentioned, the position of several member states was mistrusted, even to the point of suspecting possible support for the American decision. This was inferred from states such as the Czech Republic or Hungary, due to some statements taken out of context or poorly explained, which made it appear that the dissidence between Brussels and Visegrad continued to grow. However, if there is one thing that stands out in the European response, it is unity and internal coherence.

The Czech government did no more than recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, just as it will do with East Jerusalem once Palestine regains sovereignty over its territory. The Magyar government did not contradict the European positions either, as its only statements were that Europe should not have to pronounce itself on US diplomatic actions. Subsequently, the Hungarian prime minister clarified that the EU should stand firm on the policy it has defended so far and that this is de facto the Magyar position on the matter. Furthermore, French President Emmanuel Macron, during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, already mentioned that France did not support Trump's decision on Jerusalem, and likewise Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs of the European Union, spoke to him, maintaining the neutral mediating stance that the EU has assumed so far.

Therefore, neither the EU nor any of its member states have shown any sign of support for the unilateral American decision. Europeans remain united in their diversity, quoniam "In varietate concordia".

 

Bibliography

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Politico, EU dismisses Netanyahu's Jerusalem prediction, by Jacopo Barigazzi, 12/11/17, 12:29 PM CET

EU Observer, Two EU states break ranks on Jerusalem, by Andrew Rettman, 7th Dec 2017, 16:36

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The Guardian, Death toll rises to 12 in violence after Trump's Jerusalem recognition, Associated Press in Gaza, Sun 24 Dec 2017 18.55 GMT

El País, Hamas announces a third intifada over recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital, Madrid 7 DEC 2017 - 17:49 CET

Le Parisien, Trump sur Jérusalem : "C'est une nouvelle nouvelle humiliation inflicée au monde arabe"., International, par Myriam Encaoua, 08 décembre 2017, 9h47

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Categories Global Affairs: European Union Middle East World order, diplomacy and governance Essays Israel and Palestine