Showing posts with label south america. Show all posts
Showing posts with label south america. Show all posts

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Paraguay's Subtle Flag Change

Sometimes geopolitical changes make headlines, but other times they slip quietly under the radar. In particular, small modifications to national flags often fail to make the news. To make sure you don't miss anything, here's a report on one such flag change that even we discovered only recently.

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Flag of Paraguay, obverse (front) side, 2013-present
Flag of Paraguay, 2013-present (front)

Flag of Paraguay, reverse (back) side, 2013-present
Flag of Paraguay, 2013-present (back)

Changes to the Coat of Arms of Paraguay made in 2013, with a comparison of the National Seal and Seal of the Treasury as seen on the Paraguayan flag before and after its changes under the administration of President Federico Franco.
The Coat of Arms of Paraguay
(CC BY-SA; source graphics)
By Olga Rodriguez-Walmisley

2013 Flag Change
On July 15, 2013, Federico Franco, at that time the President of Paraguay, announced that the official seals on both sides of the Paraguayan flag would undergo changes in order to better represent the symbols first chosen for it in 1842. These two seals together make up the national coat of arms of Paraguay.

Franco said the modifications were the result of a long debate and “a consensus that is not often achieved among historians”. There had already been several changes to the seals in the past, especially after the Paraguayan War of 1864-1870, which pitted the country against Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Changes made to the National Seal
One of the biggest of the 2013 changes was to the ring around the star, where it says “República del Paraguay”. This ring has been red since about 1988, when it was changed under the rule dictator Alfredo Stroessner, whose political party was represented by that color. It is now white. The blue background behind the yellow star has also disappeared, and the text of the phrase “República del Paraguay” has changed from yellow to black.

Changes made to the Seal of the Treasury
On the reverse side of the flag, the roaring lion is now a light ochre (golden) color instead of yellow, the spear behind the lion is brown, while the cap on top of the spear, which according to tradition symbolizes liberty, continues to be red. The inscription “Paz y Justicia” (Peace and Justice) is now black instead of yellow, and the banner behind the inscription has gone from red to white.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Map: ALBA Has 2 New Member Countries

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Map of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), showing full member countries, including new members Grenada and Saint Kitts and Nevis, as well as special guest members (colorblind accessible).
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). Map by Evan Centanni.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Map: Peru & Chile's Sea Dispute Settled in Court

Two weeks ago, the International Court of Justice released a long-awaited ruling on Peru and Chile's disputed maritime boundary. Many headlines claimed that Peru "won" the case, but in fact it was not a full victory for either country. Below is our detailed map of Peru and Chile's seas and of the dispute, followed by an easy-to-understand summary of the case. 

Map of Chile and Peru's territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), plus the details of their territorial dispute at sea and disagreement of the land border. Shows the results of the Jan. 27, 2014 ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) settling the dispute.
Map by Evan Centanni (country coastlines and land borders from Natural Earth)
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Article by Evan Centanni


Disputed Territory
Chile and Peru have just settled a decades-long dispute over the location of their maritime boundary (the border between their sea zones). A large wedge of sea off the countries' coast was claimed by both sides, in part because of its high value for the fishing industry. In 2008, Peru took Chile to court over the dispute. Their disagreements would be resolved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a United Nations body in the Hague founded for the purpose of settling differences between U.N. member countries.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Map: The Falkland Islands' Disputed Seas

The Falkland Islands, a South Atlantic territory disputed between the U.K. and Argentina, held a status referendum this week in which 99.8% of voters defied Argentina by choosing to remain British. But it's not just about the islands - also at stake are legal rights to the sea for hundreds of miles around.
Map of maritime jurisdiction in the seas surrounding the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), including territorial sea, internal waters, and exclusive economic zone (EEZ)
Zones of maritime jurisdiction around the Falkland Islands, highlighting area disputed between the U.K and Argentina. Map by Evan Centanni (country coastlines from the Natural Earth dataset). All rights reserved.
The Disputed Seas of the Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are administered by the U.K. as an overseas territory, but are also claimed based on historical arguments by Argentina, which calls them "las Islas Malvinas". Both countries have signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which defines ownership and legal rights for the waters surrounding coastal countries. According to the UNCLOS, each country is entitled to three basic zones of control in its surrounding seas:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Venezuela Joins Mercosur, Paraguay Suspended

Map of intergovernmental organizations in South America: Mercosur, the Andean Community, and UNASUR (Venezuela and Paraguy indicated)
South America's intergovernmental organizations: Mercosur in green, the Andean Community (CAN) in (orange), and remaining members of UNASUR in blue (claimed territorial extents). Map by Evan Centanni, based on this map by Wikimedia user Luan.
After over six years of waiting, Venezuela today officially joined Mercosur (the "Southern Common Market"), one of South America's two main trade blocs.

The country was previously part of the continent's other major bloc, the Andean Community (CAN), but left that organization last year in anticipation of the switch to Mercosur (see Venezuela Leaves Andean Community).

By the time the Venezuela left CAN last year, its application had finally been approved by all Mercosur member states except for Paraguay; but despite support from that country's president, an opposition party in its congress continued to block Venezuela's entry into the trade organization.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

News Bits: June 2011

"News Bits" posts cover minor political geography events from the previous month. Although the news may be of great political relevance, these events haven't (yet) affected major changes to the shapes, sovereignty, or international positions of the world's countries.

Abyei's location within Sudan
(yellow). The south (blue) gains
independence this July. Based
on this map (license: CC BY-SA).
Sudan Government Forces Overrun Disputed Abyei
The Abyei Area, subject of a territorial dispute between the central Government of Sudan and the autonomous Southern Sudan region, has been invaded by Sudanese government forces. Southern troops, who had shared joint control of the area with the central government, have been driven out, along with many of the area's inhabitants. Southern Sudan is set to become an independent country this July, based on the 2005 peace agreement that ended Sudan's second civil war. A referendum was planned for Abyei residents to choose whether they would stay in Sudan or join the new Republic of South Sudan, but it was never held due to disagreements about who was eligible to vote. The Sudan government in Khartoum has asserted that it will not give up Abyei, and southern president Salva Kiir has promised not to go to war again over the territory.

Israel with occupied territories (green).
The PLO claims both the West Bank
and Gaza Strip, but they are currently
ruled by rival factions (map source).
West Bank & Gaza Strip to be Reunited
Rival Palestinian political parties Fatah and Hamas have agreed to form a new unity government in the coming months, which will effectively reunite their respective territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Both groups claimed control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government after a brief civil war following the 2006 elections, in which Hamas won a majority of seats in the previously Fatah-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council. The armed clash left Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip, while Fatah retained its authority in the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank. Known to the U.N. as the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the West Bank and Gaza Strip are claimed as the State of Palestine by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), parent organization of the PA. Over half of the U.N.'s member countries have recognized the state's independence, but the U.N. itself has not. Furthermore, the territories remain under military occupation by Israel, which controls much of the West Bank as well as all air space and territorial waters in the region.

Peruvian and Ecuadorian waters, with the newly agreed
upon boundary marked in yellow. My own work, based
on data sources listed on map (terms of use).




Ecuador & Peru Define Sea Border
The neighboring South American countries of Ecuador and Peru have formally agreed on a boundary between their respective territorial waters in the Pacific Ocean. Although the location of the border was never actively in dispute, its acceptance had been called into question by Peru's ongoing territorial dispute with Chile, in which Peru claims a 1952 agreement between the three countries did not technically establish the location of their maritime borders. The new agreement is widely seen as a move by Peru to gain Ecuador's support as the case of the Peru-Chile conflict heads to the International Court of Justice. The agreed upon boundary is located along the parallel of 3° 23' 33.96" S, originating at the point where the countries' land border reaches the ocean.

Libya as of June 1, 2011. Cities controlled by Gaddafi
government in green, rebel-held cities in black, and
areas of ongoing fighting in blue. Public domain map
from Wikipedia (source).
Libyan Rebels Gain Further Recognition
Libya's rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) over the last month gained diplomatic recognition from five more national governments, bringing to 11 the list of countries recognizing its legitimacy. The NTC forms the political leadership of the rebel forces fighting for control of the North African country against dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in a civil war provoked by Gaddafi's violent crackdown on popular protests last February. Although Libya's independence is already recognized by the U.N. and all of it's members, countries have begun to make the special diplomatic gesture of switching their recognition from Gaddafi's government to the NTC. Recent additions to the list are Jordan, Russia, and Malta; two other countries, Senegal and Turkey, have acknowledged the NTC's status as a legitimate opposition group, while still maintaining ties with Gaddafi. Six other countries, starting with France in early March, had all previously recognized the NTC as Libya's sole representative, some of them expelling Gaddafi's diplomats and sending ambassadors to the rebel command center in Benghazi. As Gaddafi's forces continue to face NATO bombing attacks, the war has ground to a near-stalemate, with Gaddafi controlling the capital city of Tripoli and several smaller western cities, while the rebels control the eastern half of the country and some areas of the west.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Venezuela Leaves Andean Community

Country Name: Venezuela (English, Spanish)
Official Name: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (English), República Bolivariana de Venezuela (Spanish)
News Category: Intergovernmental Organization Membership
Summary: Venezuela has withdrawn from the Andean Community (CAN) customs union, in favor of joining Mercosur, another union in South America. The switch has been represented as a protest against free trade agreements made with the United States on the part of CAN members Peru and Colombia. Admission into Mercosur is still pending, though Venezuela remains a member of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

Venezuela (red) has left CAN (orange) in anticipation of joining
Mercosur (green). Other UNASUR members are in blue. Map
includes all claimed territories of the member states. My own
work, based on this map by Wikimedia user Luan (terms of use).

Full Story
Although nation-states are usually considered the basic units of the modern political globe, it has become common in recent decades for countries to work together towards integration at a higher level. The most well known case, and probably the furthest advanced, is the European Union. However, there are a number of other intergovernmental organizations working for integration in other parts of the world. In South America, supranational integration has progressed largely through two major trade blocs: the Southern Common Market (known by its Spanish or Portuguese abbreviations, "Mercosur" or "Mercosul") and the Andean Community (known by the Spanish abbreviation, CAN).

The Andean Community represents a group of countries in the northwestern part South America, while Mercosur is centered around the southeastern region of the continent. The country of Venezuela, located in the north of the continent at the meeting place of the two blocs, has long been a member of the Andean Community. However, in 2006 the Venezuelan government announced the intention to switch its membership to Mercosur. Citing free trade agreements made between the United States and CAN members Peru and Colombia, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez announced that he believed CAN was no longer relevant. After five years, Venezuela fully withdrew this month from the Andean Community. Admission to Mercosur is still pending, though it seems likely in the near future.

CAN and Mercosur have both implemented trade agreements forming customs unions between their members - that is, they have mostly eliminated tariffs between member countries, and have also unified their external customs regulations to be consistent among the whole bloc. They have also proceeded with other cooperative programs, such as coordinating economic policies and setting up courts with international jurisdiction. Over the last decade, they have been working towards integrating with each other to form the Union of South American Nations (USAN or UNASUR/UNASUL), an organization modeled after the European Union. In fact, UNASUR includes all of South America's sovereign states, independently of their membership in CAN or Mercosur, which means that Venezuela will remain a member of UNASUR during its transition period. Venezuela's bid to join Mercosur had originally been seen as a gesture towards integration between Mercosur and CAN, though that is clearly not the case now that the country has withdrawn from CAN.


Wikipedia:
Venezuela
Andean Community (CAN)
Southern Common Market (Mercosur)
Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)