Europe/Americas update: August 27 2018

EUROPE

UKRAINE

A spate of attacks against Roma in Ukraine has raised concerns both about the violence and about the police response:

However, police stand accused of failing to protect the Roma from a growing number of ethnically-motivated attacks by far-right groups. In recent months there have been at least eight brutal incidents, with two people killed and others injured.

Marking the start of the wave of violence was an arson attack on the Lysa Hora nature reserve settlement in Kiev on 21 April by roughly 30 members of C14, a neo-Nazi group. Police arriving at the scene allegedly failed to protect the families and instead advised them to leave Kiev.

Similar attacks followed. In early July, a Romani woman was stabbed to death in Zakarpattia Oblast in the eighth violent incident against Roma in less than three months. The perpetrators have not yet been identified.

FRANCE

French President Virtus Emmanuel Macron delivered a foreign policy speech on Monday in which he cautioned that “Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security” and called for greater European Union military integration as well as talks with Russia. This is something of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, because while it’s easy to question why Europe was still relying on the US for its security in the first place, we’ve also for the past few years been commemorating the hundred year anniversary of the classic case study in what happens when you let Europeans take care of their own security.

UNITED KINGDOM

Theresa May is visiting South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya on a week-long “please be friends with us after we leave Europe” tour that on the plus side is only slightly more pathetic than it sounds. The notion that any African country, even a Commonwealth member, is going to prioritize doing a trade deal with the UK over managing its commerce with the EU, China, or the US is pure fantasy. But that’s pretty much the world May is living in these days.

AMERICAS

COLOMBIA

The Colombian government announced on Monday that it’s pulling out of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), an organization established by Venezuela to counter US influence in the region. New President Iván Duque, who’s hoping to build closer ties with the US, argued that the organization has been little more than a puppet of the Venezuelan government.

MEXICO

Donald Trump announced on Monday that his administration reached an “incredible” trade deal with Mexico that would replace NAFTA…I guess? It’s not clear what’s actually happening here, as Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale explains in this Twitter thread:

So Trump thinks he’s negotiating separate bilateral deals with Mexico and Canada but his administration is trying to renegotiate NAFTA, except now maybe they’re not. The bilateral deal Trump thinks he reached with Mexico on Monday may actually be a bilateral deal or it may just be the Mexico-US leg of a new NAFTA, which means it’s only a done deal if the rest of the legs also get successfully renegotiated. And if this all is just a renegotiated NAFTA, they may change the name so as to convince Emperor Prion that he’s actually done a brand new Deal rather than an altered NAFTA. It’s impossible at this point to say what the effect of this new deal will be because nobody knows if it will actually go into effect nor do they yet know what the Canadian portion of the whole arrangement will look like.

Trump attempted to call Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in front of reporters to talk about their wonderful deal. It went about how you’d expect:

CANADA

Dale’s piece for the Star manages to clarify things a bit and offers more details about what’s in the US-Mexico arrangement:

The U.S. and Mexico have reached a preliminary trade deal that does not include Canada — and both countries say they are willing to finalize a two-country accord to replace NAFTA if Canada refuses to sign on.

Ratcheting up the pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that he will proceed with a “United States-Mexico Trade Agreement” to replace the three-country North American Free Trade Agreement unless Canada starts negotiating “fairly.”

Trump also threatened to impose tariffs on imports of Canadian-made automobiles if Trudeau does not relent, saying “the easiest thing we can do is to tariff their cars coming in.”

Despite the president’s threats, the breakthrough between the U.S. and Mexico appears to increase the chances of a three-country deal. The U.S. and Mexico resolved issues that had slowed the NAFTA negotiations for months.

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