This week around the world: April 29–May 5

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April 29 Manila, Philippines

An Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila ended amid controversy over the lack of a joint statement by leaders, mainly due to concerns about backlash from Beijing should the statement address ongoing Chinese expansion in the South China Sea. References to “land reclamation and militarization” present in previous drafts of the statement were omitted in a final version of the report two days later.

May 1 Worldwide

Continuing a long tradition of celebrating and affirming the values of organized labor and the working class, people across the globe marched, protested, boycotted, rallied, and battled to make their voices heard. Common themes included increased benefits and expanded protections for workers, highlighting the contributions of immigrant communities and demands for basic civil rights for citizens.

May 1 South Korea

A newly operational advanced missile defense system installed by the United States in South Korea became operational, as escalated tensions with North Korea have led to security concerns from China and South Korea itself. Disgraced former President Park Geun-hye originally agreed to the installation of the antimissile battery, but the shoe-in candidate to replace her, Moon Jae-in, has promised to review that decision.

May 2 Sochi, Russia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time in two years in an effort to improve bilateral relations. Instead of continuing to press Russia to fulfill terms of the Minsk peace agreements brokered by Germany and France in 2014 and put an end to the fighting in Ukraine, Merkel took the opportunity to press Putin to exert his influence to protect homosexuals in Chechnya from continued, systematic abduction and violence.

May 3 Caracas, Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced plans to rewrite the nation’s constitution while national guardsmen launched tear gas at thousands of protesters who were attempting to reach the National Assembly. Maduro addressed supporters and called for a constitutional assembly to address the ongoing political crisis which has prompted widespread civil unrest and prompted U.S. senators to draft legislation that would sanction corrupt Venezuelan officials and mandate $10 million annually in humanitarian assistance.

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