October 28, 2023
Venezuelas path back to democracy is narrow and vanishing
Key players are moving their pieces on the chessboard of Venezuelan politics, raising hopes for a Democratic transition in a country that has been on an authoritarian trajectory for more than two decades. On Oct. 22, Venezuela’s opposition picked longtime activist as its Presidential candidate for elections in the second half of 2024. Machado won her primary with almost 93 percent of over 2.3 million ballots cast. The opposition deserves considerable credit for having managed to hold this primary without the participation of the National Electoral Council, a body hand-picked by the ruling government of Nicolas Maduro, the successor to the late Hugo Chavez. But the fact remains that in June, Machado, whom polls favor to win the general election by a substantial margin, was declared ineligible to hold political office, ostensibly for having supported U.S. sanctions against the regime. The Biden administration is seeking to midwife a successful electoral process with a significant goodwill gesture towards Maduro — that is, the relaxation of sanctions against Venezuela. Biden is granting a and permitting secondary transactions in Venezuelan bonds. However, the administration has stressed that sanctions will be reimposed if Maduro does not fulfill his , including resolving the issue of the opposition candidate’s eligibility. The U.S. has stated its “expectation and understanding” that, by Nov. 30, a process will be initiated for the expedited reinstatement of all candidates for president. The Venezuelan government, for its part, agreed on Oct. 18 to let the opposition choose a candidate and it in fact did let the primary take place. But it remains unclear whether Machado will actually be allowed to run and take office if she wins. Also, the regime agreed to permit international observation of the electoral process and released five political prisoners. On a separate track, it has begun to allow the U.S. to . But in the immediate aftermath of Machado’s victory, the Venezuelan government has apparently decided, at least for now, to go on the offensive. Attorney General Tarek Saab has announced that he will be initiating a into the primary, suggesting that it was fraudulently conducted and that foreign money was used to finance it. It is hard to believe that Maduro has had a sudden conversion to supporting free and fair elections that most likely would oust him from power. Thus, a final determination regarding Machado’s eligibility may remain up in the air until very late. At the last minute, the opposition may be forced to replace her with a less prominent figure, thus discouraging potential voters who have seen rigged elections on multiple occasions in the past. Moreover, international observation may be permitted at first, then slowly curtailed — especially during the vote counting on election night. The opposition may take some hope from its January 2022 victory in the race for governor of rural Barinas state — the home of Hugo Chavez. An initial narrow victory by an opposition candidate was annulled by the courts on the grounds that he was supposedly ineligible to run. However, a substitute took advantage of popular discontent with this crude maneuver and, by a margin which the government felt compelled to respect. However, the stakes are far higher in a presidential race. There is ample reason to suspect that Maduro and his followers would be unwilling to give up the wealth and power that they have accrued over the years and accept the additional risk of being held to account for their Human Rights violations and other crimes, as other authoritarians have after losing power. So why did Maduro enter negotiations with the opposition in the first place? Why did he allow it to move ahead with its campaign thus far? His calculus may be that, if his regime manages to guarantee its victory, while keeping the overall picture sufficiently blurred, it may gain its goal of making sanctions relief permanent, thus obtaining the foreign investment needed to rebuild Venezuela’s debilitated petroleum sector, which produces of what it did at its height. The Biden administration sees the Trump-era “maximum pressure” approach as a dead end. Biden may decide that if Oil prices and illegal immigration rise, he would prefer to avoid a return to that approach. Meanwhile, even a highly flawed election process could give the opposition political space, sending the message that it should bide its time and build on its efforts for a chance to run again at some later, somehow more favorable date. This might sound like the worst case scenario for those hoping to reestablish democracy. But in Venezuela, worst case scenarios are par for the course.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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