Apology to Caribbeans
British Prime Minister Theresa May apologized this week to the thousands of Caribbeans who have been legal British residents for decades but were recently wrongly identified as illegal immigrants. Members of the “Windrush generation”—Caribbeans from former British colonies, named after the 1948 ship that brought the first wave of foreign workers invited to help rebuild the U.K. after World War II—who arrived before 1973 had an automatic right to settle in the U.K. But some of those immigrants, especially those who arrived as children on their parents’ passports, have been denied services such as health care, and some were deported because of rule changes implemented in 2012. The new rules require residents to prove their legal status, but the Caribbeans were never issued any immigration documents.
Raúl Castro, 86, was expected to step aside as Cuba’s president this week, handing over power to his vice president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, 57. A Castro has governed Cuba since 1959, when Raúl’s late brother, Fidel, led a communist revolution that toppled the island’s U.S.-backed regime. Raúl has been slowly nudging Cuba toward economic and political reform since he took the reins in 2008, and Díaz-Canel has been his close confidant. The Castros aren’t gone, though: Raúl will remain head of the Communist Party; his son, Alejandro, holds a key position in the Interior Ministry; and a former son-in-law, Gen. Luis Alberto Rodríguez, is a top military leader.
The Summit of the Americas, held every three years to cement ties between Western Hemisphere nations, was a desultory affair this year without the U.S. president in attendance.
President Trump is the first U.S. president to skip the summit since it was founded in 1994; Trump remained in the U.S. to oversee the military operation in Syria. Venezuela wasn’t invited, because of its democratic backsliding under President Nicolás Maduro, and five other leaders stayed home. The summit is supposed to focus on open markets, hemispheric integration, and sustainable development. But “Trump does not believe in any of those three things,” says U.S. political scientist Greg Weeks. “It would be natural for leaders to wonder what the whole point is.”
A leading candidate for the Brazilian presidency was charged last week with hate speech against blacks, women, refugees, and LGBT people. The charges stem from a speech by Jair Bolsonaro last year in which, among other things, the far-right politician implied that Afro-Brazilians were too lazy even to procreate and that he would prefer his son to “die in an accident than show up with some dude with a mustache.” Bolsonaro, 63, shrugged off the charges as an overreach of political correctness. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison, but the case is unlikely to be resolved before September’s presidential vote. A poll taken after his arrest showed Bolsonaro in a virtual tie with environmentalist Marina Silva.
U.S. pastor on trial
An American pastor denied charges of terrorism and espionage as his trial got underway in Turkey this week, in a case that has exposed Ankara and Washington’s fractured relationship.
Andrew Brunson, a North Carolinian who has worked as a missionary in Turkey for 23 years, was detained following the failed 2016 coup attempt, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames on the U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. At an emotional court appearance this week, Brunson, 50, said that being called a Gulenist was an insult, because as a pastor, he wants to raise followers for Jesus. His lawyers say he has effectively been taken hostage by Erdogan, who wants to trade him with the U.S. for Gulen.
Zuma allies raided
A wealthy family tied to South Africa’s disgraced ex-president Jacob Zuma is under investigation for corruption and money laundering. South African authorities this week raided the Johannesburg mansion of the Guptas, three Indian-born brothers who built a billion-dollar business empire with interests in areas as diverse as mining, media, computers, and dairy farms. Prosecutors seized some $21 million in assets, including residences, aircraft, and cars. The brothers are alleged to have funneled cash to Zuma, his family, and his favorite allies to win state business and influence ministerial appointments. The Guptas fled to Dubai in February, shortly before the African National Congress party forced Zuma to step down as president.
Messaging app banned
In an unprecedented crackdown, Russian authorities have banned Telegram, one of the country’s most popular social media platforms, because it refused to let Russian intelligence agencies read its users’ encrypted messages. When Telegram tried to evade the ban by routing traffic through servers run by Amazon and Google, state regulator Roskomnadzor blocked some 16 million IP addresses owned by those companies. Telegram founder Pavel Durov announced a “digital resistance,” saying he would donate millions of dollars in Bitcoin to companies that create services that hide IP addresses. Telegram is popular with Russian journalists and members of the political opposition, but has also been used by Kremlin staffers.
Senator loots Senate
A suspended Nigerian senator accompanied by about 10 armed men burst into the country’s Senate during plenary session this week and stole the chamber’s ceremonial mace. Witnesses said Ovie Omo-Agege—suspended last week for criticizing an electoral bill that he says is biased against President Muhammadu Buhari—and his gang snatched the gold-colored mace from its traditional spot and ran out. Normal business resumed in the Senate 15 minutes later, after the missing mace was replaced with a spare. “This action is an act of treason,” said Senate spokesman Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, “as it is an attempt to overthrow a branch of the federal government of Nigeria by force.” Omo-Agege was arrested shortly after his raid on the legislature.
A Russian investigative journalist who wrote about Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria plunged to his death from his fifth-floor apartment in Yekaterinburg this week. Maxim Borodin, 32, had recently helped break a story about Russian contractors with the Wagner group—a private security firm linked to pro-Putin oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin—who were killed when they attacked a U.S. base in Syria in February. Four days before his mysterious fall, Borodin had called a friend at 5 a.m. saying armed security officials were on his balcony and in his stairwell, before calling back to say it appeared to be just a drill. His editor at Novy Den, Polina Rumyantseva, said she did not believe Borodin committed suicide, but police say the death is not suspicious.
Tens of thousands of Japanese protesters called this week for the resignation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. His conservative government has been accused of giving deep discounts on land sold to an ultranationalist school linked to his wife, and then falsifying documents to hide the involvement of Abe, his wife, and Finance Minister Taro Aso. All three deny any wrongdoing. Abe’s approval rating has sunk to 27 percent, the lowest it’s been since he took office for the second time, in 2012. While his party changed its rules last year so he could run for a third term, Abe is not expected to survive this fall’s leadership race. He was out of the country this week meeting with President Trump at his Florida Mar-a-Lago estate.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A Dubai princess who tried to flee the emirate by sea last month was allegedly recaptured at gunpoint and forcibly returned to her home. Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 32, announced in a YouTube video that her escape would be “the start of me claiming my life, my freedom.” French ex-spy Hervé Jaubert, who worked on luxury projects in Dubai but fled the emirate himself in 2009, said he helped organize her escape attempt but that military commandos boarded her sailboat in the Arabian Sea, dragged her away, and beat Jaubert and his crew. Latifa’s father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the ruler of Dubai and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. His government said the princess is safe, and it blamed rival Qatar for starting rumors.
Protests rage on
One person was killed by Israeli sniper fire and hundreds injured by tear gas as some 10,000 Palestinians demonstrated at the border fence between Gaza and Israel last week. While most protesters were peaceful, some threw firebombs and rocks across the fence. Israeli soldiers have killed at least 35 demonstrators since weekly Friday protests began nearly a month ago. The protests—a grassroots movement that was taken over by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza—are intended to highlight the suffering of the 2 million people in Gaza, which has been blockaded by Israel since 2007. Israel announced sanctions on the owners of the buses that bring activists to the border, and said it had destroyed a Hamas attack tunnel that stretched from Gaza into Israeli territory.