Domingo, 7 de febrero de 2010

Recluido durante la primera parte del vuelo en su cabina de la sección delantera del Airbus, Mr. Shoemaker ha repasado y pulido cada una de las palabras del discurso con la minuciosidad y mimo de quien desmonta la maquinaria de un reloj para asegurarse de que funcionará a la perfección. Luego, mientras el avión presidencial se zambulle hacia la base de Andrews, me enseña con orgullo la composición de la mesa en la que estará sentado: Obama, Michelle, Hillary, Biden, el jefe de la junta de jefes de Estado Mayor, la estrella del fútbol americano (y de las campañas antiaborto) Tim Tebow… Pero sigue sin soltar prenda sobre el pasaje de la Biblia escogido.…  Seguir leyendo »

Me pasó hace algunos años con Javier Cercas y ahora me acaba de pasar de nuevo con Héctor Abad Faciolince. Cuando leí la extraordinaria novela de aquél, Soldados de Salamina, no sólo me quedó en el cuerpo -bueno, en el espíritu- ese sentimiento de felicidad y gratitud que nos depara siempre la lectura de un hermoso libro, sino, además, una necesidad urgente de conocerlo, estrecharle la mano y agradecérselo en persona. Gracias a Juan Cruz, uno de cuyos méritos es estar inevitablemente donde se lo necesita, no mucho después, en una extraña noche en que Madrid parecía haber quedado desierta y como esperando la aniquilación nuclear, conocí a Cercas, en un restaurante lleno de fantasmas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando Eva Duarte se encontró por primera vez con Juan Domingo Perón en Luna Park, la noche del 22 de enero de 1944 en que se daba una función artística de beneficencia por los damnificados del terremoto de San Juan, ella le dijo cuando estuvieron sentados lado a lado: «Gracias por existir». O no se lo dijo nunca para los términos de la historia mezquina que resiente de imaginaciones, porque la frase la inventó Tomás Eloy Martínez, que acaba de morir en Buenos Aires, en su novela Santa Evita. Pero se lo dijo. La historia fue modificada a partir de la novela, igual que los propios personajes de la historia argentina, y de la novela, Juan Domingo Perón y Eva Duarte fueron modificados y ya no serían nunca más los mismos desde que pasaron por las manos de su novelista inevitable.…  Seguir leyendo »

En su epílogo al libro de don Gregorio Corrochano «Qué es torear. (Introducción a la Tauromaquia de Joselito)», plantea don Emilio García Gómez una cuestión fundamental: la Tauromaquia es, por definición, un arte efímero. (Añado yo: igual que sucede con el teatro o la música en vivo, frente a otros productos «enlatados», reproducidos y reproducibles mecánicamente).

Por ello, no pueden dar cuenta completa de lo que ha sucedido en el ruedo ni la fotografía, ni el cine, ni el vídeo. Pasado el momento mágico, nos queda sólo – y ya es bastante- el recuerdo, con todas sus deformaciones sentimentales. Sin embargo, el escritor tiene la misión imposible pero necesaria de eternizar esa fugacidad con su palabra.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tras meses de incertidumbre, la solución de la ecuación parece ahora más sencilla. Por un lado, están las industrias culturales (cine, televisión, radio, música, videojuegos…), acuciadas por la crisis. Por el otro, una tecnología como la telefonía móvil y el resto de dispositivos portátiles (iPhone, Blackberry y demás), con unas unas tasas de crecimiento prodigiosas en términos de usuarios y rentabilidad económica.

Entonces, ¿podrían estos aparatos, que han entrado a formar parte de la vida del ciudadano común con una facilidad enorme y una rapidez inusitada, aliviar la ansiedad de los empresarios del entretenimiento y la comunicación?

Pues a tenor de lo que se presentará en la edición del 2010 del Mobile World Congress, la principal feria del mundo en el sector, que se celebrará en Barcelona entre el 15 y el 18 de febrero, sí.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los arqueólogos e historiadores del mundo antiguo han estado riñendo durante mucho tiempo. La suya, después de todo, no es una ciencia exacta, sino un oficio. Indios y pakistaníes, por ejemplo, han mantenido discusiones encarnizadas sobre la civilización del valle del Indo. Durante treinta años ha habido asimismo una guerra encarnizada entre el arqueólogo bíblico y sus críticos. Era costumbre, hasta hace escasas generaciones, utilizar el Antiguo Testamento como una guía para excavar en Tierra Santa, aunque los escépticos han abundado durante mucho tiempo.

La escuela de los minimalistas (también llamada la de Copenhague-Sheffield) sostuvo que la Biblia podría ser indudablemente una gran obra literaria y teológica pero que como guía para la antigua Palestina es inútil e incluso susceptible de inducir a error.…  Seguir leyendo »

So many of the scenes from this earthquake have reminded me of the early days.

I first stepped onto the broad central square that was the heart of the Haitian government on the morning of Feb. 7, 1986. Just hours earlier, when it was still night, I’d seen Jean-Claude Duvalier, heir to his father’s dictatorship, flee the country with his wife, children and mother, driving a BMW sedan down the airport road and taking it onto a United States cargo plane bound for France. He’d left so late that I was exhausted when dawn came, but still we all descended on the sprawling plaza to see what the new day would bring.…  Seguir leyendo »

In 1999 I made a day trip from the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, up to the wanly charming town of Kenscoff, a couple of hours drive into the mountains. I’d done this journey before, but not in several years, and as the road wound upward I couldn’t help being astonished by the sprawling mansions that had taken over the hillsides.

Where this road had once offered peaceful views of terraced fields, patches of forest, clusters of modest farmhouses, there now hulked villa after mind-boggling villa, as if the McMansions from Dallas’s flat-as-a-pancake suburbs had been transplanted to the mountains overlooking Port-au-Prince. Had oil been discovered in Haiti?…  Seguir leyendo »

Twenty years ago, I was in Qincheng, the most well-known of China’s political prisons, along with several hundred other students and intellectuals who had taken part in the student movement of the previous summer. On a particularly cold winter morning, I sat on my bed and picked up my copy of The People’s Daily, the government newspaper we were allowed to read, and saw that Nelson Mandela had been released from prison.

I was overwhelmed by complicated feelings. We had not known much about Mr. Mandela’s story, but the message of his release was instantly clear to me: in the pursuit of freedom, there are times when we must pay the price of losing our freedom.…  Seguir leyendo »

News of Nelson Mandela’s release dominated the radio broadcasts by the BBC and Voice of America on Feb. 11, 1990. I felt I understood why he had resisted so long, because in Burma, as in South Africa at the time Mr. Mandela was in jail, the majority of people were struggling to make their voices heard. Within three months, the military junta would refuse to recognize the results of our national election — and I would be locked up in Rangoon’s Insein Prison for leading a demonstration.

Released in 1993, I was sent to prison again in 1994. It was during my second sentence that I managed to read a magazine article describing Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nelson Mandela has won the battle, I said to myself in my cold, tiny cell in the military prison in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Thank God, at last justice and freedom win.

The news of Mr. Mandela’s release had just come over the radio that stood on a shelf in the canteen for prison guards directly in front of my cell. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Justice and freedom will win here in Indonesia, too, I thought, and I will be free. My people will be free from President Suharto’s military regime.

I had been in jail for seven months — nothing compared with Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nine months before Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa, the Chinese police cracked down on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, and in August 1989 I was sent to Hebei Prison for incitement to overthrow state power. My cellmates, like so many Chinese people at the time, were pessimistic about China’s future. “Why do you persist?” they would ask me. “Democracy and freedom are good, but there is not much hope for them in China.” The prison guards would tell me, “We have guarded many political prisoners before. The smarter ones have been promoted by the Communists to ranks as high as ‘political consultant’; the ones who persisted in defiance never ended well.”…  Seguir leyendo »

I was in Mikuyu Prison in Malawi when Nelson Mandela was released. Hearing the news, whispered to me by a daring prison guard, I instantly thought back to the day, a year earlier, when the same guard had told me the rumor that President F. W. de Klerk of South Africa was holding secret talks with Mr. Mandela. Rumors played a critical, if therapeutic, role for us; they were more reliable than the clippings from local newspapers that were smuggled into prison.

In Mikuyu, we had adopted Mr. Mandela as our hero. We had dubbed a fellow prisoner, Martin Machipisa Munthali, the Nelson Mandela of Malawi for his fortitude.…  Seguir leyendo »

It was back in the 1970s, when I was doing diabetes research in Britain, that I first learned of the political drama surrounding Nelson Mandela. At the time I never would have predicted that one day I, too, would be imprisoned by a repressive regime for advocating human rights and democracy.

By the time of his release from prison many years later, I had already spent 10 years in many labor camps and prisons in Vietnam, and was under house arrest. The Vietnamese communist government had never held a trial.

As I listened to the BBC on a small portable radio with earphones, the word of Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

During the dictatorship of Hissène Habré in Chad, I was wrongfully accused of political activity and imprisoned. Our jail was infested with insects, and the heat was nearly unbearable. Packed in our cells, we had to take turns to sleep, often on top of the corpses of other prisoners who had died from torture, disease or malnutrition. We were forbidden to pray aloud. And every night, President Habré’s political police took away prisoners who never returned.

As we were cut off from the outside world, our only news was that brought by new prisoners. It was thus that Brahim, a man who would later die in jail, told us that Nelson Mandela had been freed and had walked out of prison a hero.…  Seguir leyendo »

When I last wrote about my Papa, Austrel Valbrun, on these pages, just five days after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, my family had not heard a word from him. Although the capital and surrounding areas were destroyed, I knew in my gut that he, a stubborn old widower with a young man’s zest for life, had survived. I even joked about him appointing himself the neighborhood block captain in charge of organizing barbecues of stray chickens.

Now I can tell you. He did survive. But the reality was much more serious — and sad.

His tale is one of amazing survival at age 82, yes.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Post asked pollsters and others to explain the politics of changing the ban on gays serving openly. Below are responses from Scott Keeter, Ed Rogers, Dan Schnur, Michael Buonocore, Douglas E. Schoen and Sue Fulton.

By Scott Keeter, Director of survey research at the Pew Research Center.

Support for allowing gays to serve openly in the military has been stable for several years and is significantly higher in many polls than it was when President Bill Clinton raised the issue in the 1990s. When the Pew Research Center asked about this issue last March, we found 59 percent saying they favored «allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.»…  Seguir leyendo »