The petulance of the current nominal President have diverted attention from some of the other events which have occurred in recent days. This is an attempt to focus on three of them.
In Zimbabwe, at least thirty men are known to be trapped inside a collapsed gold mine. Six miners have been pulled free of the retired Ran Gold Mine near the town of Bandura, roughly forty-five miles south of the nation’s capital.
The mining was not officially sanctioned and is suspected to have been performed without proper safety precautions. This is not uncommon in Zimbabwe because a single state-owned company, Fidelity Printers and Refiners, controls all official sales and provides only 55% of payments in foreign currency with 45% of the returns being in the famously weak national tender. Black market sales of precious metals provide a much higher return in the stronger foreign currencies.
Rescue operations are underway by locals, with the government criticized for failing to render aid. This follows a pattern of behavior demonstrated in September when five miners died in a collapse at the Matshetshe Mine and earlier this month when six miners died following a shaft collapse in the Chegtu mine.
In Poland, demonstrators have been taking to the streets for weeks to protest a tightening of their anti-abortion laws. Legislators are moving to eliminate one of the three existing rationale which render abortion legal in the country, in response to an October 22 ruling from their high court which said that congenital defects were not sufficient cause to allow abortion. While this does leave in place allowances following rape and for the health of the mother, it would eliminate the most commonly used reason for performance of abortions in the country, which has been to terminate fetuses diagnosed with Down’s Syndrom. The decision was rendered in response to the portion of the Polish Constitution, which specifically calls for the protection of human life.
The restrictions have split the country, with a majority backing the decision but a large and energized minority marching in the streets and gaining the support of international organizations including a majority of progressive parties in the European Union. A ban initially was set to be enacted in early November but was delayed in response to the outcry. A response by the government has offered a compromise, amending the new law to allow abortion in the case of fatal defects but rendering it illegal for non-fatal issues. This has not been accepted by those marching to keep the prior abortion laws.
In Peru, civil unrest has recently caused the impeachment and removal of President Martin Vizcarra. He rose to power in 2018 calling for an end to the corruption which he described as rampant in the political system, shortly thereafter moved to dissolve the Congress and take sole authority; his support dwindled after economic turmoil followed, and cratered following the social and economic toll of COVID-19. He has been accused of taking bribes in his former position as a Governor, and was removed from office on those grounds.
This in turn has triggered massive protests from those who viewed him as their chance to clear corruption from a rigged system. Marches and demonstrations in the streets two weeks ago were initially met with attempts at containment, and the interim President, Manuel Merino, called for a firmer hand by the police.
They responded, with water cannons, rubber bullets and more. The demonstrations on November 14 alone resulted in two dead, more than a hundred hospitalized and more than forty people missing. Merino, who had been granted the position primarily because he was expected to give Congressional lawmakers a free hand with the budget, was forced from office, and a new President, Francisco Sagasti, has been seated by consensus vote from the leadership of all nine major parties in the Peruvian Congress. Sagasti, a business-friendly centrist, is fairly liked by the international community and is expected to be able to shepherd the country through the remainder of the COVID-19 era and into elections next year.