Wednesday, May 24

Wednesday, May 24

ECUADOR’S PRESIDENT INAUGURATED LENIN MORENO FACES ECONOMIC CHALLENGES After beating a conservative rival in April’s election, leftist Lenin Moreno will

ECUADOR’S PRESIDENT INAUGURATED

LENIN MORENO FACES ECONOMIC CHALLENGES

Photo: Jose Jacome/EPA

Photo: Jose Jacome/EPA

After beating a conservative rival in April’s election, leftist Lenin Moreno will be inaugurated as Ecuador’s new commander-in-chief on Wednesday.

A protégé of incumbent Rafael Correa, Mr Moreno is expected to adopt similar, although slightly more moderate, leftist policies. Correa—a self-professed socialist—embarked on massive spending programs to improve healthcare and education, bringing down poverty and inequality.

However, Ecuador’s social programs were largely financed by oil, a commodity that has lost more than half its value since 2014. Comprising about 40% of the country’s exports, the dip hurt economic growth, which averaged 4% from 2006 to 2014 but has since flatlined—even entering a brief recession in 2015.

A more charismatic and less dogged figure than his predecessor, Lenin Moreno is expected to strike a more conciliatory tone with the country’s opposition; he’ll need to demonstrate more flexibility on economic policy if Ecuador is to find its way back to prosperity.

THAILAND INTRODUCES CYBER LAW

GETS TOUGH ON ANTI-MONARCH SENTIMENT

Photo: Bild

Photo: Bild

Thailand has some of the world’s strictest lese-majeste laws—defaming the royal family can result in up to 15 years jail. The newly amended Computer Crime Act, which comes into effect on Wednesday, will add a cyber angle to these laws by giving authorities sweeping powers to prosecute Thais for slandering the royal family online.

The military junta recently launched legal action to ban images of King Maha Vajiralongkorn walking to an aircraft in a crop top; merely discussing this situation online could now be a punishable offence. The new legislation may well act as an insurance policy to protect the reputation of the party-loving prince-cum-king.

The amendments suggest the military junta is rallying around the new king— once sneered at by Thailand’s conservative elite. The country’s fractious politics have been a problem for years; the junta has repeatedly delayed elections, raising concerns that these laws could be reframed in a way to suppress political opposition ahead of elections next year.

SPANISH DOCK WORKERS STRIKE

DELAYED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Photo: IAPH

Photo: IAPH

Dock workers in Spain were expected to begin eight days of intermittent strikes on Wednesday but have since agreed to just three days after a deal was struck to protect jobs.

Unions have been incensed by the government’s decision to push through labour reforms that target port workers. The changes, mandated by the European Court of Justice, would bring collective bargaining standards in line with the rest of the EU and abolish Sagep, a private company that employers must deal with to hire stevedores.

Approved by parliament last Thursday, workers say the reforms display a “callous disregard for jobs” and could lead to “massive dismissals”.

To combat the changes, unions say they will conduct “go-slow” strikes, with workers laying down their tools during odd hours of the day on June 5, 7 and 9. Similar strikes in February hurt Spanish-based exporters like Ford—which produces some 400,000 vehicles a year at its Valencia plant.

 

HAPPENING ELSEWHERE…

Taiwan’s constitutional court will rule on whether same-sex marriage is legal. If decreed so, Taiwan will become the first jurisdiction in Asia to legalise marriage for same-sex partners. Gay rights campaigners say they’re confident of a positive result.

Donald Trump will meet with the Pope at The Vatican before travelling to Brussels later in the day ahead of tomorrow’s NATO summit. The Pope and Mr Trump haven’t always seen eye-to-eye: the Holy Father has rebuked the president’s closed-door approach to immigration, calling it unchristian. Expect a much more conciliatory tone as two of the world’s most powerful leaders break bread.

A subcommittee in the US House of Representatives will discuss imposing further sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua. Last week, the Trump administration slapped sanctions on senior members of Venezuela’s socialist government. Lawmakers are expected to condemn both governments for delaying elections and other anti-democratic moves.