March 2013 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of March 2013.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies (Mar. 5): After 14 years at the helm of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez succumbs to cancer. Elections must be held within 30 days. Maduro will serve as interim president and will run in the election, likely against Henrique Capriles Radonski, who lost to Chavez in October's election.
UN Passes More Sanctions Against North Korea (Mar. 8): In response to the North Korea's nuclear test last month, the UN Security Council unanimously passes another round of strict sanctions against North Korea. In a first, China is involved in drafting the sanctions. The sanctions come shortly after the U.S. and South Korea begin annual military drills near the north-south border. Reacting to the sanctions and the exercises, President Kim Jong-un promises to launch "a pre-emptive nuclear strike" against the U.S. and South Korea and says he has voided the 1953 armistice that ended the war between North and South Korea. Kim's threats are mostly dismissed as bluster, but are nevertheless the most menacing in years by any leader. He continues his bellicose tone throughout March and shuts down not only Red Cross hotlines between North and South Korea, but also military hotlines. At a rare plenary meeting of the Central Committee, Kim says North Korea will continue to develop its nuclear weapons program despite sanctions, saying the weapons ""are neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings." (Mar. 29): The U.S. responds to the growing threat from North Korea by continuing the military drills with South Korea, deploying F-22 stealth fighter jets and B-2 and B-52 bombers to the region in a show of its military strength. The U.S. also increases the number of ground-based ballistic missile interceptors in California and Alaska.
Cardinals Choose Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio to succeed Benedict as Pope (Mar. 13): Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is elected as the new pope, succeeding Benedict XVI. Bergoglio, 76, becomes the Catholic Church's 266th pontiff. He is the first pope from Latin America, where 480 million Catholics live. Bergoglio receives the required two-thirds of the vote after just two days of the conclave. Accepting his election, Bergoglio chooses the name Francis.
Xi Jingping Becomes President of China (Mar. 14): Xi Jingping assumes the presidency of China. Of the 2,956 delegates, only one votes against Xi. Three delegates abstain. Li Yuanchao is named vice president. Assuming the presidency completes the transition of power to Xi. This final step puts him in charge of all three centers of power in China.
Obama Negotiates Reconciliation between Israel and Turkey (Mar. 22): President Obama visits Israel and helps negotiate a reconciliation with Turkey. During Obama's visit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expresses sincere regret to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, for the commando raid in 2010 on a Turkish ship that killed nine people. Israel also offers compensation for the incident. Erdogan accepts Israel's apology. After the apology, both countries announce that they will reinstate ambassadors and completely restore diplomatic relations. President Obama supports the apology in this statement, "the United States deeply values our relationships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them, in order to advance regional peace and security." The press in Israel greets Obama's visit with enthusiasm. Multiple newspapers use the phrase he said in Hebrew during his visit, "You are not alone," as a headline.
Cyprus Bailout Sparks Outrage and Protests (Mar. 24): The European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) offer a $13 billion bailout to Cyprus. The EU and IMF also requests that Cyprus raise $7.5 billion by taxing all bank deposits. Deposits over 100,000 euros will face a rate of 9.9%, while deposits less than that will be taxed 6.75%. The proposal sparks protests in Cyprus and outrage in Russia-many wealthy Russians put their money in Cyprus banks, which are not heavily regulated. Parliament rejects the bail-out, and the threat of Cyprus being ousted from the euro zone looms large.
Italy Overturns Amanda Knox Acquittal (Mar. 26): A new trial is ordered by the Court of Cassation, Italy's highest court, for Amanda Knox, the exchange student from the U.S. who was accused of murdering Meredith Kercher, her 21-year-old roommate in 2007. The ruling means the case will be reheard, this time by a new appeals court in Florence. The new trial will be later this year or in 2014. Currently attending the University of Washington in Seattle, Knox releases a statement through a spokesman and calls the ruling "painful."