James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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The World Next Week: Obama Visits Myanmar, Catalonia Votes, and International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women Is Marked

by James M. Lindsay
November 16, 2012

Marchers wave Catalonian nationalist flags during a demonstration on Catalan National Day in Barcelona on September 11, 2012 (Albert Gea/Courtesy Reuters). Marchers wave Catalonian nationalist flags during a demonstration on Catalan National Day in Barcelona on September 11, 2012 (Albert Gea/Courtesy Reuters).


The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed President Obama’s trip to Myanmar; elections in Catalonia, Spain; and the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

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The highlights:

  • President Obama is headed to Southeast Asia to attend the East Asia Summit as well as the annual ASEAN meeting. While in the region he will visit Myanmar and meet with its president, Thein Sein, as well as Burmese opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The visit, which would have been unthinkable just a year ago, attests to how far Myanmar has come in its political opening. Beijing will no doubt be watching the visit closely.
  • Voters in Catalonia, Spain, the region centered around the wonderful city of Barcelona, head to the polls on November 25 for an early parliamentary election that is widely seen as a de facto referendum on whether Catalonia should declare its independence. Catalans have long bristled at Madrid’s rule. This nationalist sentiment has gained force in recent months over concerns that the teaching of the Catalan language is being restricted and over building anger over what Catalans call fiscal looting—the fact that Catalonia sends far more tax dollars to Madrid than it receives back in the form of government spending. A dramatic showdown could be in the offing. Madrid has threatened to prevent a formal independence referendum from being held, and the European Union has no rules on what to do if a member state breaks up. At a minimum, future games between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona will be even more heated.
  • November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which the United Nations first established in 1999. The date commemorates the 1960 assassinations of the Mirabal sisters, three political activists in the Dominican Republic who were murdered at the order of the country’s dictator. The level of violence against women around the world is appalling. To take just one eye-opening statistic, the World Bank estimates that women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women marks the first of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, which concludes with Human Rights Day on December 10
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is Xi Jinping. My Figure of the Week is 21. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.

For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:

President Barack Obama visits Myanmar: Bloomberg Businessweek writes on the changes in the economic relationship between the United States and Myanmar. Foreign Policy warns that Obama might be visiting Myanmar too soon. The Irrawaddy remarks that ordinary Burmese citizens are generally indifferent to Obama’s visit. ABC News reports that Obama will also visit Thailand and Cambodia, centering his trip around the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh.

Catalan parliament holds early elections: El Pais writes that Catalan independence is the central issue of parliamentary elections. Bloomberg reports that Catalonia would consider seeking independence even if it could not join the European Union. Reuters points out that while Catalonia makes up one fifth of Spain’s economy, it is also the most indebted region in the country. The Guardian reports that Catalan regional president Artur Mas has identified the Scottish referendum for independence as a model for Catalonia and Spain.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is marked: The United Nations recounts the history of this day and provides statistics on gender violence.  UN Women’s Say No to Violence Campaign has uploaded a YouTube video in which Ban Ki-moon explains the role of youth in eradicating violence against women. The Daily Star describes a 36-month long program put forth by the Tunisian National Bureau for Family and Population in order put a stop to violence against women. Joburg outlines several events taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence.

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