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This Week Around The World

October 25 Santiago, Chile: In a nationwide plebiscite, 78% of Chileans voted to convene a constitutional assembly with the mandate to draft a new constitution for their republic. The assembly, which will feature an equal number of men and women, is scheduled to begin in April 2021 and complete its work within nine months, with the possibility of a one-time, three-month extension. If confirmed in another plebiscite expected to take place in 2022, the new constitution would replace the current document, which is a remnant from the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet that ended in 1990. “Until now, the Constitution has divided us,” said President Sebastián Piñera according to The New York Times. “As of today, we should all cooperate to make the new Constitution become one home for all of us.” Piñera approved the plebiscite in November 2019 after months of protests against inequality that left 36 people dead. The result of the vote was hailed as a victory by thousands of demonstrators on the streets of Chile’s capital, Santiago.

October 25 Portimão, Portugal: British racing driver Lewis Hamilton celebrated his 92nd race win in Formula One, setting a new record in the highest class of single-seater auto racing. With his victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Mercedes driver overtook seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher in the all-time ranking. “It’s almost a surreal amount of wins,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff according to He went on to praise Hamilton’s dedication: “It’s his absolute passion, energy, everything that he puts into the sport, and the talent, the ability – he’s just standing out.” Hamilton has won six Formula One championships and could tie Schumacher’s record of seven titles with another championship this year.

October 25–26 Kazakhstan: The release of Sacha Baron Cohen’s second satire film featuring the fictional character Borat has sparked controversy in Kazakhstan. The Central Asian country is the home of Cohen’s Borat, a character known for his racist, anti-semitic and misogynist jokes. Critics allege the film ridicules Kazakhstan and reinforces harmful stereotypes about Kazakh people. They organized under the hashtag #CancelBorat, gathering more than 100,000 supporters for an online petition to cancel the film. The government of Kazakhstan banned Cohen’s first movie featuring Borat in 2006, but has since embraced the satire, going so far as adopting Borat’s catchphrase “Very Nice!” as a tourism slogan for the country. “Borat has once again split the Kazakhstanis into two camps,” said Tatiana Fominova, a Kazakh marketing specialist, according to Al Jazeera. “Some people are deeply outraged and say that the film is a lie because it was shot in Romania, not Kazakhstan…the other half understands that the film is primarily about the United States and Sacha Baron Cohen has picked Kazakhstan almost randomly.”

October 28 Vietnam: Typhoon Molave struck Vietnam with winds of up to 93 miles per hour, causing extensive damage and loss of life. AP News reported at least 35 people were killed by the storm and more than 50 were still missing. The casualties included fishermen who were surprised by the winds at sea and villagers whose homes were buried by landslides. According to the Vietnamese newspaper Tuoi Tre, eyewitness Ho Thi Ha said her “whole village was flattened” by a landslide that killed her father. The storm also caused a widespread power outage in the Quang Ngai province which is home to more than 1.7 million people. Officials have called Molave the most powerful typhoon to hit Vietnam in 20 years. It also swept across the Philippines earlier in the week, killing at least 16 people.

October 29 Saint-Louis, Senegal: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced at least 140 people drowned off the coast of Senegal when a boat carrying about 200 migrants caught fire and capsized in the Atlantic Ocean. The vessel was reportedly headed to the Canary Islands, the southernmost archipelago of the European Union, nearly 800 miles north of the shipwreck. IOM raised concerns about a recent increase in people undertaking the risky journey from West Africa to the Canaries. The UN agency estimates 11,000 migrants have arrived on the Spanish islands in 2020 and at least 414 people died while attempting to reach them. Bakary Doumbia, the IOM Chief of Mission in Senegal, called for “unity between governments, partners and the international community to dismantle trafficking and smuggling networks that take advantage of desperate youth.”