Big news in 2012
There are some stories that have received relatively little coverage, yet seem to me to be among the most important of last year
The list of big news stories in 2012 is headed by events such as the re-election of Barack Obama, the designation of the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, and the latest operation undergone by Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. However, there are some stories that have received relatively little coverage, yet seem to me to be among the most important of last year. Allow me to share some of them with you:
The report on November 12 that the US will surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2017, and become a net exporter of crude by 2030. This will have a huge impact on world politics. The technological revolution in the US energy industry, thanks to horizontal drilling and the process of oil and gas extraction by means of water pressure, known as "fracking," will make the US ever less dependent on the oil countries of the Middle East.
Reductions in US petroleum imports will also cause world oil prices to fall, which may pose serious problems to "petropopulist" countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, which have not diversified their economies from almost exclusive dependence on hydrocarbon exports.
The statements made on November 20 by the new Chinese leader Xi, that the Communist Party may lose power if it does not overcome the epidemic of corruption. Xi's public admission, following upon that of his predecessor Hu Jintao, was a symptom of the growing social tensions within China, which cast doubt on the general assumption that it is the chief world power-in-waiting.
In China, there is unprecedented discontent there about the fabulous fortunes being accumulated by families connected with the Communist elite
As I observed on a visit in October, there is unprecedented discontent there about the fabulous fortunes being accumulated by families connected with the Communist elite. Whether or not this results in democratic reforms, it can no longer be taken for granted that things will always be the same in China.
The news on July 16 that negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which may become the world's largest trade pact, may conclude in October 2013. This would at first include the US, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, while South Korea and Japan might soon join, creating a formidable economic bloc to challenge the growing power of China in Asia and Latin America.
The November 25 elections in Catalonia, in which about 70 percent of people voted for parties that (though differing in other aspects) all endorse a referendum on the region declaring its independence from Spain. Many fear that if Catalonia was to secede from Spain, this would produce a chain reaction among other regions with separatist movements throughout Europe. The economic crisis in the EU might be accompanied by some sort of political disintegration.
In Latin America - apart from the officially denied, and then admitted, illness of Hugo Chávez - one of the biggest news stories was the decision of the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, to dismiss more than half a dozen ministers on suspicion of corruption. What is more, the decision of the Supreme Court of Brazil to sentence the powerful political boss José Dirceu - former Cabinet head of ex-president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva - to almost 11 years imprisonment for corruption, may mark a turning point in the history of Brazil and serve as an example to neighboring countries where the law is rigged to protect such figures from prosecution.
Probably many other important stories have escaped my attention, but we would do well to take the above ones into account when we speculate about the future in this end-of-year holiday season. Perhaps they are not the stories that have been highlighted above all others in the media, but they will leave their mark in 2013, and further on in the future.
Happy New Year!