Noviembre de 2012

It’s no secret that the Chinese government’s human rights record falls short of international standards. Dissidents are imprisoned and harsh policies are imposed on Tibet and Xinjiang. Religious groups that operate without government approval are persecuted and a one-child-per-family policy is still pursued. Though the number of executions has dropped sharply, more than 3,000 people are still put to deathevery year.

Yet China has made important strides in at least one crucial area: the treatment of juvenile suspects and offenders.

Police arrested about 80,000 juveniles — those between the ages of 14 and 18 — in 2010. That same year, 64 percent of juveniles whose cases were heard received custodial punishment.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Saturday, Mexico will inaugurate a new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, just as President Obama is setting course for his second term. Obama’s administration is focused on more distant lands — rebalancing toward Asia and struggling with turmoil in the Middle East. Yet this week’s meeting of the two men highlights an opportunity for the United States to strengthen its continental base and leverage the dynamism of the Western Hemisphere as part of a global strategy.

The North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 was the United States’ first international innovation outside the traditional Cold War security system. Over the past 20 years, U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Como salida a la actual crisis de la deuda y financiera, la Unión Europea debería enfilar la senda de unos Estados Unidos de Europa. Esta senda nos conduce hacia una mayor democracia y un modelo de gobierno que extrae las enseñanzas adecuadas de antiguos errores.

«¡Un día vendrá en el que las armas se os caigan de los brazos, a vosotros también! Un día vendrá en el que la guerra parecerá también absurda y será también imposible entre París y Londres, entre San Petersburgo y Berlín, entre Viena y Turín, como es imposible y parece absurda hoy entre Ruan y Amiens, entre Boston y Filadelfia.…  Seguir leyendo »

The barrage of international criticism against President Mohamed Morsi’s latest constitutional declaration, which places him above the law, oversimplifies Egypt’s situation and largely comes down to one sentiment: “I told you so.” The dark forces of Islamism have reneged on their commitment to democracy (as everyone expected), and are being fought tooth and nail by the gallant supporters of liberty and legality. How much simpler can it get?

Just a scratch beneath the surface reveals that this newest wave in the two-year turmoil is yet another byproduct of the paradox that has haunted the revolt from the start: how can a regime be overthrown using the very same crooked laws and legal agencies it had set up for its own protection?…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraq’s politicians are set to reach agreement soon on an issue they have been arguing about for almost a decade: a new national anthem.

It may sound trivial, but Iraq has been searching for one ever since Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003. The U.S. administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, selected the current song, “Mawtini” (My Homeland), after hearing it at a concert in 2004. But it was always meant to be a stopgap.

The reason it has taken so long is ethnicity. Any suggestions put forward over the years have soon collapsed over arguments about whether the author was Sunni, Shiite or Kurd, and what part he played in Saddam’s regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

Aunque su descalabro es muy grave, la primera víctima de las elecciones catalanas no ha sido el presidente Artur Mas sino la idea, extendida en los últimos tiempos, de que la tierra —en particular la de Catalunya— era plana.

“¡Segundos, fuera!”, decidieron los partidos dominantes, que llegaron a pedir votos prestados. “¡Se ha acabado la ambigüedad!”, clamaron los intelectuales orgánicos para dibujarnos el plano a cartabón de una política bipolar sin medias tintas. Y resulta, que al final, más que un western a dirimir entre héroe y villano, hemos vivido uno de esos thrillers sorpresivos en los que resulta imprescindible esperar hasta el final para que todas las piezas encajen.…  Seguir leyendo »

Detrás del drama de los desahucios hipotecarios generalmente está el drama del paro, y detrás del drama del paro está la crisis económica que de forma prolongada (doble recesión) está afectando severamente a nuestra economía.

El mismo ordenamiento jurídico que ha posibilitado a varias generaciones de españoles acceder a la propiedad de su vivienda, ahora por la crisis se está poniendo en duda y quizás en riesgo. En España el acceso a la vivienda se ha realizado vía propiedad y no en alquiler como es común en gran número de países avanzados donde sólo son propietarios las capas sociales económicamente más favorecidas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lo habrá, tarde o temprano lo habrá. Habrá un estallido social. El mundo que prometía un bienestar sostenido está roto. Los políticos no lo ven, o no lo saben o quizá sea que han llegado a ese estado de ceguera, necedad y estupidez que les impide salir de su discurso hueco, repetido y refractario. Es el bloqueo del poder partitocrático tal como lo conocemos. E intuyo que lo que se prepara es el control del estallido.

Como ciudadano pensante podría hacer un análisis negativo, incluso muy negativo, y no dejaría de ser realista. Pero se impone partir de una esperanza: la sociedad europea, sobre todo la del sur o medio-sur, sigue viva, avanza, crece, palpita, mira hacia el horizonte y no se resiste.…  Seguir leyendo »

Es bueno sacar los grandes asuntos culturales –en este caso históricos– de los círculos especializados, por razones demasiado obvias. Sin embargo, con frecuencia los profesionales del cine y la TV abordan la historia, sus argumentos y motivos, las temáticas históricas con excesivo desparpajo, banalidad y ningún respeto por los hechos comprobados, por la realidad conocida. Dando por sabido y aceptado que una ficción no es –ni tiene por qué ser– mero trasunto de un estudio erudito, hay grados y maneras, que pocas veces se toman en cuenta. Viene esto a propósito de la serie Isabel que está emitiendo TVE.

El cine histórico en España tiene antecedentes muy dignos en filmes como Jeromín, Alba de América o Locura d eamor, que se produjeron con mejores intenciones que medios y acordes a las pautas culturales a la sazón vigentes, pero cuando la situación cambió y hubo con qué trabajar mejor faltaron las ganas porque los cineastas, bien encuadrados en el pensamiento único de izquierdas, decidieron que mostrar la historia era de derechas y que, a fin de cuentas y a oleta de las subvenciones socialistas, se vivía bien con la eterna matraca de la lucha antifranquista retrospectiva y no pocas veces imaginaria.…  Seguir leyendo »

El gran partido de la oposición francés, la Unión por un Movimiento Popular (UMP), fue creado en el 2002 para aglutinar la derecha clásica y el centro en apoyo de la candidatura de Jacques Chirac a la presidencia de la República. Tras el fracaso de Nicolas Sarkozy frente a François Hollande, había de elegir en fecha reciente a su líder, con dos aspirantes a tal posición. Los miembros del partido, 325.000, debían votar el pasado 18 de noviembre por JeanFrançois Copé o por François Fillon, primer ministro de Nicolas Sarkozy. Resultado: el 50% cada uno, con unas decenas de votos de diferencia.…  Seguir leyendo »

En julio de este año, el presidente del Banco Central Europeo, Mario Draghi, declaró que el BCE hará “lo que sea necesario” para preservar el euro, y en septiembre, el BCE decidió avanzar con su programa de “transacciones monetarias directas” (TMD) para la compra de bonos públicos de los países de la eurozona que enfrentan dificultades. Desde entonces, Europa viene experimentando la calma que sigue a la tormenta. Las sobretasas de los bonos públicos de Italia y España se han reducido abruptamente; las empresas privadas han vuelto a emitir bonos; y por el continente ha comenzado a extenderse una sensación de normalidad.…  Seguir leyendo »

The ongoing debt crisis in the eurozone has given rise to a predictable genre of tasteless humor directed at the ailing nations on its periphery. A typical example would go like this: An Italian, a Portuguese and a Greek go into a bar and have a round of drinks. Who pays? The German.

Although it is unfortunate that the crisis fosters ill-advised national stereotypes, such jokes do raise the serious question of why nations in the eurozone’s Mediterranean area seem unable to deal with their fiscal problems. At some level, their problems are simple — they boil down to basic math.…  Seguir leyendo »

Croatia’s national independence finally has been secured. This is the real meaning of the recent ruling by the U.N.war crimes court in The Hague to overturn the conviction of Croatian Gen. Ante Gotovina. Last year, the U.N. court convicted Gen. Gotovina, along with junior Croatian Gen. Mladen Markac, of responsibility for war crimes in the 1995 military operation that led to the recapture of territory seized by rebel ethnic Serbs. The tribunal’s appeal judges, however, in a 3-2 decision last week ruled that both men are innocent. The court’s chief justice called it the “final verdict.” Croatia has rightly cheered the decision.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the ebb and flow of major clashes in Cairo’s Tahrir Square since the Arab Spring began nearly two years ago, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details of who’s doing what to whom on any given day. Americans must take a step above the fray and look at Egypt and beyond from a broader, strategic level.

What we’re seeing unfold in Egypt — similar to what took place in Libya, Tunisia and Yemen with leaders toppled by the “Arab Street” — represents the most significant geopolitical shake-up since the Russian Revolution of 1917 ushered in the Soviet Union and Iran’s Revolution of 1979 gave us the Islamic Republic of Iran.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, a heavily armed rebel militia, M23, took control of the eastern Congolese city of Goma, the economic center and capital of the country’s North Kivu province. Unfortunately, to those of us who work in eastern Congo, the only surprise in this turn of events was how little attention it received.

Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote in The Post about the bloodiest war since World War II and its continued toll on the Congolese people. From 1998 to 2003, eight African nations fought on Congolese soil, killing millions, forcing tens of thousands of children to become soldiers and, in some areas of Congo, subjecting as many as two of every three women to rape and other forms of sexual violence.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mexico’s outgoing president, Felipe Calderón, was never much loved. His election in 2006 was overshadowed by claims of fraud by a leftist challenger. He then struggled with a deep recession brought on by the global financial crisis. And throughout his term he sponsored an army-led “war on drugs,” which has left a death toll variously estimated at between 65,000 and 100,000. Little wonder that most Mexicans are eager to see him leave office on Saturday.

But there also isn’t much enthusiasm about what comes next. The incoming president, Enrique Peña Nieto, a former state governor with a pretty-boy image, represents a restoration of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled the country between 1929 and 2000 through a mixture of repression, corruption, co-option and vote-fixing.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cities seized by rebels. Civilians fleeing from their homes. Murders, abductions, rapes, looting. Foreign forces backing insurgents and denying they are doing so. Rumors of other regional powers sending in military support. It sounds like a drama we have watched before.

Sadly, we have, over and over. Since 1994, when Rwandan Hutu refugees fled there, the provinces of North and South Kivu of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been in an uninterrupted state of armed conflict.

From 1998 to 2003, this enormous country was the scene of Africa’s first world war, with the armies of at least half a dozen countries blasting away at each other while their commanders filled their pockets.…  Seguir leyendo »

This year has seen a lot of concern about the confrontation between China and Japan over a group of islets in the East China Sea.

Less attention, though, is being paid to what may be a more destabilizing development: next year Japan plans to bring its long-delayed Rokkasho reprocessing plant online, which could extract as much as eight tons of weapons-usable plutonium from spent reactor fuel a year, enough for nearly 1,000 warheads. That would add to Japan’s existing stockpile of 44 tons, 9 of which are stored in domestic facilities.

Japan has repeatedly vowed never to develop nuclear weapons, and there’s no reason to doubt that now.…  Seguir leyendo »

When watching the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, many have held on to a profoundly mistaken idea. I heard it again just recently from an otherwise well-informed observer. The conflict, this acquaintance confidently declared, will not be resolved until Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza.

The trouble with this line of thinking is that it ignores everything Hamas itself has stated about its goals, beliefs and strategy.

To understand the dispute it is not necessary to listen to a single word Israel says. A good starting point is Hamas’ charter, easily found in many places online, including this one from Yale University at avalon.law.yale.edu/ 20th_century/hamas.asp.…  Seguir leyendo »

More than 5,600 dissidents, journalists and human-rights activists have been arrested or detained in Cuba between January and the end of October of this year, a leading human rights group reports.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation recorded 520 detentions in October alone. For the year, the group says it has documented 5,625 cases, which is “consistent with the high level of political repression in Cuba over recent years.”

The Hablemos Press Information Center reported that 4,542 people had been either arrested or detained during the same period. However, the group’s records do not include all of Cuba.…  Seguir leyendo »