Martes, 24 de abril de 2018

Donald Trump talks to opera performers at the Forbidden City during a visit to Beijing in November 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

At first glance, President Donald Trump’s strategy in threatening tariffs on Chinese imports appears aimed at addressing his goals of reducing the US trade deficit with China and bringing back manufacturing jobs. In this he is unlikely to succeed. The US trade deficit is primarily caused by domestic rather than external factors: Americans consume more than they produce. Tariffs may strike Chinese imports in the short run, but soon substitutes from other low-cost labour economies will fill in. In addition, prices of goods affected by the tariffs would rise, threatening American jobs and limiting American purchasing power, while China’s retaliation with counter-tariffs on US exports to China, if implemented, would threaten more American jobs.…  Seguir leyendo »

A mural at a Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria. Photo: Getty Images.

For more than 40 years Morocco and the Sahrawi independence movement, the Polisario Front, have contested claims to sovereignty over the Western Sahara. But two key UN players currently seeking to resolve the conflict are both seasoned and serious politicians who might just be able to provide a breakthrough.

The UN secretary-general and former Portuguese prime minister António Guterres, previously led the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, for more than 10 years. He has a special concern, as he wrote in an annual status report released by his office on 29 March, for the ‘exasperation’ of thousands of Sahrawi refugees stuck in camps near Tindouf in southern Algeria for over four decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jamaican immigrants welcomed by RAF officials from the Colonial Office after the ex-troopship HMT 'Empire Windrush' landed them at Tilbury. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

When Flying Officer Ulric Cross, a tall, elegant black man with a plummy voice, was introduced in the 1943 Ministry of Information film West Indies Calling, the bomber navigator from Trinidad revealed the degree to which West Indians regarded Britain as the motherland, felt awed, privileged, and protected by her, and were keen to “do their bit” in the fight against Hitler. British viewers were also able to see, many for the first time, people from the imagined far-off colonies, who sounded, but for a slight sing-song Caribbean lilt, just like them. For a brief moment, the boundary between Britain and Empire collapsed.…  Seguir leyendo »

a Syrian man rests in the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin on March 31, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Nazeer al-Khatib (Photo credit should read NAZEER AL-KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

When Raqqa fell in 2017, after a long siege by the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), it was generally thought that ISIS was defeated, save for some mopping up. But in January of this year, Turkey invaded Afrin—one of three cantons in Rojava, also called the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. This meant that scores of SDF fighters had to leave the battle against ISIS in order to defend their homes, families, and neighbors in Afrin. After extensive air strikes, the city of Afrin fell on March 18—confronting the already troubled region with yet another humanitarian crisis, as thousands fled to escape the Turkish army and its Syrian National Army allies (which include jihadist rebel groups and some fighters who are either openly aligned with al-Qaeda or even recent members of ISIS).…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi celebrate at Tahrir Square after the presidential election results were announced. Photo: Getty Images.

The Egyptian presidential election has shown that the regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi still enjoys support among the same constituencies that opposed the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in June 2013. However, there has been a noticeable transformation within the regime’s support circles. Part of it has shifted from an active and unreserved support in 2014 towards a passive and conditional one in 2018.

Where supporters of the regime once showed their support by taking to the streets in 2013 and readily casting their votes in the 2014 election, many did not turn out this time. While around 25.5 million votes were cast in favour of Sisi in 2014, he received only 24.3 million this time, despite the total number of citizens with the right to vote increasing from 53.9 million in 2014 to 59.1 million in 2018.…  Seguir leyendo »

Narendra Modi visits the Terracotta Warriors exhibition on a visit to China in 2015. Photo: Getty Images.

Between them, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi have clocked up a little over a decade as leaders of their respective countries. Both men — China’s president and India’s prime minister — have captured international attention by disrupting perceptions of their countries’ roles and prospects. But their fates, and how confidently they deal with each other and the world, rest on the success or failure of their domestic programmes.

In many ways, Xi Jinping seems the more secure of the two. He was reappointed secretary of the Chinese Communist Party at the 19th congress last October. Following last month’s constitutional changes removing time limits on the presidency, he looks increasingly likely to stick around beyond 2023, when his current term ends.…  Seguir leyendo »

People celebrate Serzh Sargsyan’s resignation in downtown Yerevan on 23 April 23. Photo: Getty Images.

Armenia’s former president and just appointed prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan, resigned Monday after a 10-day campaign of nationwide protest and civil disobedience. Protests began as soon as Sargsyan announced 11 April that he would, after previously stating otherwise, seek the ruling Republican Party’s nomination to the newly created post of prime minister.

By doing so, he laid to rest any lingering doubt about the reasons for Armenia’s switch to a parliamentary system. Introduced through a contested constitutional referendum in December 2015, the new system came online just as Sargsyan’s second, and by law final, presidential term ended. Executive powers now lie with the prime minister, and the president is relegated to a largely ceremonial role.…  Seguir leyendo »

Riot police officers stand in front of a broken shop window and writings reading in French "legitimate or not, our anger in your face" during clashes on the sidelines of a demonstration on April 19, 2018 in Paris, as part of a multi branch day of protest called by French unions CGT and Solidaires against French President's policies amid a rail strike and spreading student sit-ins. (Photo by Michel Stoupak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, came to Washington, D.C., this week for a three-day state visit, his first to the US. In the Trump era, the youngest president in French history is seen by many as a savior whose election put a halt to the dangerous progress of right-wing populism in Western democracies, and who seems determined to stand against the tide of nationalism and illiberalism in Europe. In his own country, however, the man who broke the mold of French politics a year ago and proclaimed a profound “democratic revolution” has fallen far short of his promises. In his domestic political record, he seems much like any other French premier with orthodox, even conservative, policies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Asignatura de Religión y Constitución

Hace unos días se hizo pública la sentencia del Tribunal Constitucional de 10 de abril de 2018 en la que se desestimaba el recurso de inconstitucionalidad presentado por 50 diputados socialistas contra una serie de artículos de la ley orgánica 8/2013, de 9 de diciembre, para la mejora de la calidad educativa (LOMCE). De los temas abordados por la sentencia, los de más repercusión mediática han sido el tratamiento de los centros de educación diferenciada y la enseñanza de Religión como asignatura en la enseñanza Primaria y Secundaria. Comencemos por este último.

Acabo de asistir a un Congreso Internacional en Barcelona sobre Las bases identitarias de Europa.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alexander Hamilton (1757-1805) afirmaba en El Federalista que el Judicial es el «más débil de los tres departamentos del poder»; «no posee fuerza ni voluntad, sino únicamente discernimiento, y que ha de apoyarse en definitiva en la ayuda del brazo ejecutivo hasta para que tengan eficacia sus fallos». Este founding father norteamericano concluía que, «por la natural debilidad del poder judicial, se encuentra en peligro constante de ser dominado, atemorizado o influido por los demás poderes».

Hamilton destacaba que su defensa era imprescindible. No puede haber un Estado de derecho sin un poder judicial independiente. Y no puede serlo si está dominado, atemorizado o influido por los demás.…  Seguir leyendo »

Refugiados armenios en la cubierta de un buque francés, huidos del genocidio. UIG/Getty Images

El Archivo Histórico Nacional (AHN) guarda correspondencia de las legaciones diplomáticas y consulares de España en el Imperio Otomano que describen los crímenes de los turcos contra el pueblo armenio que arrancó en 1915. Como cada 24 de abril, miles de armenias y armenios se vuelcan en las calles de Buenos Aires, Moscú, Los Ángeles, París y Ereván para que la sociedad internacional reconozca el primer crimen de masas a gran escala del siglo XX. La aniquilación planificada y sistemática costó la vida a 1,5 millones de personas de la minoría cristiana armenia.

Los legajos incluyen telegramas cifrados, manuscritos, estadísticas, recortes de prensa y mapas enviados a Madrid.…  Seguir leyendo »

«Las comidas largas crean vidas cortas”, decía Alcofribas Nasier, el escritor que hizo del humanista francés François Rabelais un anagrama para escapar de la censura del siglo XVI. Los gigantes tecnológicos empiezan a mostrar un pantagruélico apetito comprador surgido de la enorme liquidez. Es la embrionaria manufactura producto de la monetización tras el olvidado fiasco de las puntocom.Aquella burbuja tecnológica devino en un fenómeno resiliente y voraz que nos retrotrae a la década de los noventa, cuando el Nikkei coqueteaba con los 40.000 puntos y los 18 mayores bancos mundiales eran nipones.

Esos bancos y corporaciones industriales empezaron construyendo trenes como Mitsubishi y terminaron haciendo turbinas, automóviles, electrodomésticos, banca, recorriendo toda la cadena de producción de todos los sectores con los que se topaban.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police faced off against protesters in the town of Qatif, in eastern Saudi Arabia, in 2011. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman blames Iran for demonstrations by Shiite citizens in the oil-rich Eastern province.CreditReuters

Saudi Arabia’s government officials, and particularly its powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, often talk about pushing back a dangerous Iranian threat. But the truth is, despite this talk, the foreign policy emanating from Riyadh is driven primarily by domestic politics. Prince Mohammed knows that a fearful enemy is a key to his own strength.

The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran has oscillated between indifference, hostility, rapprochement and tension over the decades. Prince Mohammad appears determined to intensify the rivalry with Iran as he continues to raise Riyadh’s concerns over Iranian expansion in the Arab world and beyond.

The roots for perpetuating this conflict lie in the domestic context.…  Seguir leyendo »

To Change a Country, Change Its Trains

President Emmanuel Macron of France, on a quest to liberalize the economy, has now confronted a towering foe that has humbled would-be reformers before him: the railway unions.

Mr. Macron wants to turn the state-owned company, SNCF, into a joint stock enterprise and rein in the benefits and pay raises given to railway workers, some of whom can retire on a pension at as young as 52. The unions have responded with a rolling strike that will last into June and could threaten the commutes of the railways’ 4.5 million daily passengers. Mr. Macron is gambling that he can win the contest of public opinion.…  Seguir leyendo »

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visiting Jamaica in 1953. About 500 people immigrated after World War II from the Caribbean to Britain, arriving on a ship called the Empire Windrush.CreditPopperfoto/Getty Images

In August 1947, a Ministry of Works carpenter unscrewed the plaque by the door on King Charles Street in London that read “India Office” and replaced it with one that said “Commonwealth Relations Office.” The jewel in Britain’s imperial crown had become independent India and Pakistan. The plaque was supposed to herald a new era of equality and friendship: a family of nations that had once been under British imperial rule but were now — with Britain’s belated blessing — moving into independence.

This family has had its ups and downs over the past 71 years, but the arrangement has been more or less maintained.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los cinco candidatos a la presidencia de México en el primer debate, el domingo 22 de abril Credit Instituto Nacional Electoral/EPA, vía Shutterstock

El 22 de abril, los candidatos se dispusieron a no perder. Pero eso no los hizo ganadores. En el primer debate presidencial de México no sucedió nada. Margarita Zavala y Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, el Bronco, los primeros candidatos independientes a la presidencia de la historia electoral del país, fueron incapaces de articular ideas: la primera fue torpe; el segundo fue absurdo. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, como líder de las encuestas, solo tenía que mantenerse al margen de las provocaciones; y eso hizo. La falta de carisma de José Antonio Meade le impidió conectar con el público y su filiación priista le impedirá ser una opción viable.…  Seguir leyendo »

La biblioteca de los Machado

La biblioteca de los Machado, mejor dicho, los restos del gran naufragio de una biblioteca, sin duda riquísima, milagrosamente preservados en Burgos por mor de la donación de Eulalia Cáceres, viuda de Manuel Machado, a la Institución Fernán González de Burgos, que tras preservarla en tiempos difíciles ahora la tiene a disposición de todos. Produce vértigo pensar en lo mucho irremediablemente perdido: libros del abuelo, Antonio Machado Núñez, médico y naturalista que se desempeñó como catedrático y rector de la Universidad de Sevilla, amigo íntimo de Francisco Giner de los Ríos, con cuyo apoyo contó para ganar las oposiciones a la cátedra de Zoografía de Articulaciones Vivientes y Fósiles de la Universidad Central de Madrid; libros del padre, Antonio Machado Álvarez, el gran Demófilo, folclorista de relieve histórico; libros, naturalmente, de Manuel, «el poeta de quien es hermano Antonio», que decía Borges; libros del propio autor de «Campos de Castilla», que en el apocalipsis del final de la guerra incivil cruzó la frontera con lo puesto; y libros, en fin, de la madre, y muy en especial uno, como más adelante comprobaremos.…  Seguir leyendo »

La polémica generada en estas últimas semanas en relación con el título de máster de la presidenta de la Comunidad de Madrid, y con otros títulos académicos dudosos que han aparecido en el horizonte, supone un golpe más, el enésimo, al prestigio de los que se dedican a la política. Cuenta Juan José Laborda, antiguo presidente del Senado, que una de las mayores satisfacciones que tuvo en los comienzos de su vida pública ocurrió poco después de las elecciones generales de 1977, en las que resultó elegido senador por Burgos. Una señora que por su apariencia y conversación mostraba que no le había votado se le acercó, en el paseo del Espolón, y le expresó lo orgullosa que estaba de que él hubiese sido elegido por la provincia y lo mucho que esperaban los burgaleses de su trabajo parlamentario.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mercedes Formica

«Lucha la abogada de 40 años de edad, Mercedes Formica, la que pide la igualdad en el Derecho Matrimonial. Hoy tienen que abandonar las mujeres españolas sus hogares y sus hijos cuando se separan. Una disposición que la señora Formica marca a hierro candente y considera injusta». Así describió el periódico alemán Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, el 18 de diciembre de 1953, la campaña que la intrépida jurista había iniciado con el propósito de transformar una serie de leyes que marginaban a la mujer, y que habían existido desde siempre como reflejo de una sociedad eminentemente conservadora que había ido confeccionando un marco jurídico por y para hombres.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las clases medias están huyendo de servicios públicos fundamentales como la educación y la sanidad. De continuar esta tendencia, podrían acabar siendo circuitos de beneficencia más que servicios esenciales para el ejercicio de la ciudadanía moderna. Por la razón que ahora diré, la permanencia de las clases medias dentro de estos servicios públicos es esencial para evitar este deterioro.

El deterioro de la educación no solo perjudica a los más débiles: trae una sociedad más clasista, una política más polarizada y una democracia más aristocrática. La economía también sería menos innovadora y productiva. Pregúntense porqué Francia es el país del mundo con mayores niveles de productividad de sus trabajadores.…  Seguir leyendo »