Enero de 2009 (Continuación)

Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons.

-- Associated Press, Dec. 27

Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating.

Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis -- 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years -- deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.…  Seguir leyendo »

It was around 3 a.m. on Jan. 1, 1959, when Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista slipped away to the airport and fled his island nation, hauling as much loot as his aircraft could carry. Hours later, the audacious young man whose badly outnumbered guerrilla forces had defeated Batista's army stepped onto a balcony overlooking Cespedes Park in the eastern city of Santiago. It was the first time that Fidel Castro had faced a cheering crowd as Cuba's unquestioned leader. It would hardly be the last.

The turning of the year marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution -- and yet another reminder of wrongheaded U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Cuban revolution began 50 years ago just as I was starting my second term at university. As history students we were obsessed by the Spanish civil war, a conflict that had ended just two decades earlier, and we were also fascinated by the contemporary struggle of the revolutionary forces in Algeria. Then along rolled the wonderful Cuban revolution, with its charismatic and bearded leadership descending from the hills, young men in their 20s brandishing guns and seizing the cities, and calling for land reform.

In a world dominated by ageing conservative leaders who had risen to power during the second world war or before - Macmillan, Eisenhower, De Gaulle, Adenauer, Khrushchev, Salazar, Franco - the radical and youthful guerrillas, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara especially, put Cuba on the map for students all over the world, and the unknown continent of Latin America suddenly emerged into view.…  Seguir leyendo »

Listening to the feelings expressed by Muslims around the world one gets a sentiment of anger and revolt mixed with a deep sense of helplessness. The current massacres are but a confirmation of the well-known: the "international community" does not really care about the Palestinians, and it is as if the state of Israel, with the support of the US and some European countries, has imposed a state of intellectual terror. Among the presidents and kings, nobody dares to speak out; nobody is ready to say the truth. All are paralysed by fear.

While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sometimes perceived, and experienced, as critical to the relationship between the west and Islam, many Muslims no longer know how to react.…  Seguir leyendo »

China and India are in a struggle for a top rung on the ladder of world power, but their approaches to the state and to power could not be more different.

Two days after last month’s terrorist attack on Mumbai, I met with a Chinese friend who was visiting India on business. He was shocked as much by the transparent and competitive minute-by-minute reporting of the attack by India’s dozens of news channels as by the ineffectual response of the government. He had seen a middle-class housewife on national television tell a reporter that the Indian commandos delayed in engaging the terrorists because they were too busy guarding political big shots.…  Seguir leyendo »

Long after you leave Zimbabwe images linger in the mind, harrowing and ineradicable. An emaciated old woman making “soup” from weeds for her orphaned grandchildren; desperate parents foraging in the bush for a handful of desiccated berries; young men defying crocodiles to catch a handful of tiny fish in the Zambezi; the corpses of cholera victims trussed up in black plastic sheeting; the ubiquitous and debilitated Aids victims; perfunctory funerals in Harare's cemetery while, all around, fresh graves are dug.

The pathetic attempts to grow vegetables on scraps of common land; the queues desperate to withdraw a few pennies from banks before their money loses all its value; the listlessness and despair of a crushed and broken people, the anguish of priests, doctors and aid workers overwhelmed by this tsunami of suffering...…  Seguir leyendo »

Hay oportunidades, sobre todo en política, que sólo se presentan una vez en la vida, y desperdiciarlas puede convertirse en un error irreparable. Este año 2009 que acaba de comenzar, el Gobierno de Rodríguez Zapatero tiene una oportunidad única para transformar la conmemoración de uno de los más trágicos acontecimientos de la Historia de España, el Cuarto Centenario de la expulsión de los moriscos españoles, en un espacio de reencuentro entre Occidente y el Islam. Una tarea que puede encontrar además un clima internacional más propicio en la nueva presidencia de Estados Unidos y que resulta imprescindible para hacer frente a los estragos morales, políticos y sociales generados no sólo por el terrorismo yihadista, sino también por la aberrante reacción antiterrorista promovida por el ex presidente norteamericano George Bush y secundada por el ex presidente del Gobierno español José María Aznar.…  Seguir leyendo »

No hay etiqueta más gastada que la de "corporativismo" para descalificar actitudes de procedencia judicial de las que se discrepa. Conozco, en cambio, modalidades de corporativismo, como el de grupo político, que gozan del impagable privilegio de la invisibilidad. Por algo será. Diré también que reducir lo que está pasando en medios judiciales a mero síntoma de cerrada fijación en sórdidos intereses personales, de quienes sólo buscarían eludir su responsabilidad, es, antes que un error culpable, una miope estupidez.

La situación de la Administración de justicia es gravemente crítica, por la acumulación progresiva de diversos factores. Entre éstos, una correlación de necesidades y medios de ejemplar desequilibrio.…  Seguir leyendo »

Anoche, en una de esas angustiosas llamadas de Año Nuevo para escuchar a la gente querida y lejana, el hermano de un amigo mío le decía a éste desde La Habana: «Ramón, lo que pasa es que este país, Cuba, está muerto».

El hombre, un ex combatiente de Sierra Maestra jubilado, que sobrevive con las remesas que le envían sus familiares desde España, y que se pasó la juventud al servicio de Fidel Castro, remató la frase con este comentario: «Está muerto, pero nadie lo acaba de enterrar».

La metáfora, con todo su trasfondo patético y su mensaje de tedio cardinal, retrata la fatiga con la que los grandes sectores de la ciudadanía cubana reciben el amanecer de los 50 años de socialismo con pachanga.…  Seguir leyendo »

Existen en España ocho Reales Academias domiciliadas en Madrid. Algunas realizan actividades que trascienden las paredes de los edificios que las albergan, pero otras llevan a cabo su trabajo en una semiclandestinidad, sin que la mayoría de los ciudadanos sepan de ellas.

Acaba de producirse un hecho de gran relevancia como es el ingreso en la Real Academia Española de una mujer, la profesora Inés Fernández-Ordoñez, con lo que ya son cuatro las titulares femeninas con asiento en tan alta institución. El hecho ha sido convenientemente presentado en los medios de comunicación.
Unos días antes de este acontecimiento ingresaba en la Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas la profesora Adela Cortina Orts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Si seguimos el consejo de Walter Benjamin de que la verdad de cada cosa aparece en su propia exageración, en el esperpento es donde aparece la verdad de las cosas. En Euskadi siempre es posible superar la realidad y llegar al esperpento. Este año no se ha jugado el tradicional partido entre la selección vasca de fútbol y alguna selección internacional. Ha sido la primera vez en muchos años.

Los aficionados a este partido navideño de la selección vasca de fútbol se quedaron sin fútbol. Pero lo peor es que se quedaron sin nombre. Porque la razón de que no hubiera fútbol es que no hay nombre para la selección vasca.…  Seguir leyendo »

I have just three wishes for the coming year. The first is for the Israeli government to realise once and for all that the Middle East conflict cannot be solved by military means. The second is for Hamas to realise that its interests are not served by violence, and Israel is here to stay. And the third is for the world to acknowledge that this conflict is unlike any other in history. It is uniquely intricate and sensitive - a conflict between two peoples who are both deeply convinced of their right to live on the same very small piece of land.…  Seguir leyendo »

This is the year of the Iraq war inquiry. At least, I have the audacity to hope so. With luck, some time this spring the government will announce a full-scale independent review of the way the decision was made to invade and occupy a major Arab country, a policy that has had a bigger impact on Britain's international standing and domestic security than any other military move since the second world war.

Until now, the government has claimed it would not be right to hold an inquiry as long as British troops were in Iraq. The argument was specious, but now that we know that all except 400 troops will be withdrawn by 31 July it loses any force.…  Seguir leyendo »