Briefing: Spain threatens direct rule for Catalonia, Brazil President escapes corruption charges

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  • The Spanish government has declared it will move to impose direct rule on Catalonia, after the region’s president, Carles Puigdemont, failed to comply with a deadline this morning. Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy will chair a cabinet meeting in Madrid on Saturday to trigger Article 155 of the Constitution (see below), which allows it to suspend Catalonia’s semi-autonomous status.
  • President Donald J. Trump is deciding whether to name a new Chairperson for the Federal Reserve, the independent institution responsible for setting U.S. monetary policy. Reuters reports that conservative members of congress want President Trump to replace current Chair Janet Yellen.
  • China has called on the U.S. to “abandon its prejudices”, according to CNN. The response came after America’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea challenge international law.
  • Meanwhile Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the Communist Party’s five-yearly congress on Wednesday with a speech pledging to build a “modern socialist country” for a “new era”, and laid out a vision for a more prosperous China.
  • Brazil’s President, Michel Temer, escaped corruption charges in a Congress committee. The Senate justice committee voted 39-26 against corruption charges. It will now proceed to the lower chamber. Mr Temer is accused of obstruction of justice and being part of a criminal organisation. The president denies any wrongdoing and his lawyers have argued that the case is flawed.


What we are reading

  • A month ago a devastating earthquake struck Mexico City, killing 228 people. Here, the Associated Press reports on the recovery efforts of ordinary Mexicans to return home after weeks away.
  • The popularity of bitcoin has led to a trend towards “Initial Coin Offerings” or ICOs in markets. This Reuters story looks at a recent example of a crypto-currency battle.

Sources & References

Spanish Constitution Article 155/Agencia Estatal Boletín Estatal de Estado, https://www.boe.es/legislacion/documentos/ConstitucionINGLES.pdf 1. If an Autonomous Community does not fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the Constitution or other laws, or acts in a way seriously prejudicing the general interests of Spain, the Government, after lodging a complaint with the President of the Autonomous Community and failing to receive satisfaction therefore, may, following approval granted by an absolute majority of the Senate, take the Control of the bodies of the Autonomous Communities Government Delegate in the Autonomous Communities measures necessary in order to compel the latter forcibly to meet said obligations, or in order to protect the above-mentioned general interests. 2. With a view to implementing the measures provided in the foregoing clause, the Government may issue instructions to all the authorities of the Autonomous Communities.

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New Zealand
Charles Anderson is a New Zealand-based editor with WikiTribune. His work has appeared in the International New York Times, the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald and National Geographic Traveller.

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29 March 2018

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