You spend 40 years building a flourishing business and, finally, with age catching up, you hand it over to the only one of your children who has shown pride in your life’s work, understood its importance, and seemed ready to carry on the job. Then, with nary a word to you, she starts to shake up the family firm, offering new products, seeking new markets and undermining everything you believe in.
So do you just stand there and do nothing?
Not if you’re Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France’s extreme-right National Front. After spending years grooming the youngest of his three daughters, Marine Le Pen, he handed over the party to her in 2011.… Seguir leyendo »
Even 70 years on, the liberation of Paris on Aug. 25, 1944, evokes powerful images: men and women firing at German tanks from behind barricades, girls in flowery dresses embracing arriving French and American soldiers, General de Gaulle proclaiming with no little chutzpah that Paris had liberated itself. How could Parisians not be celebrating? After 50 months of German occupation, their war was over.
But when the morning after came, the notion that France was now happily united seemed illusory. Just as in 1940, when Jews, Communists and Freemasons became scapegoats for a humiliating defeat, the hunt began for those who had supported the Nazi enemy and the collaborationist Vichy regime.… Seguir leyendo »
France’s Third Republic lasted 70 years, but it is most remembered for its disastrous performance between the 20th century’s two world wars when a succession of governments — no fewer than 34, to be exact — stubbornly refused to recognize a changing world.
Its failure to adjust, first to the Depression, then to German rearmament, not only highlighted the weakness of an entrenched, self-serving ruling class, but also created a void that, by the 1930s, was filled by extremists of left and right.
Historical parallels are always risky, but it is nonetheless alarming to hear echoes of the Third Republic in France today.… 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 »
It was planned by German and French officials for July 14, 1942, until someone realized that Bastille Day might not be the best moment for a massive roundup of Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris.
Two days later, the operation went ahead, with 4,500 French police and gendarmes seeking out foreign-born Jews at the addresses they had registered with the French authorities. By late afternoon on July 17, 12,884 Jews, including 4,051 children, had been arrested and, for the most part, locked into an insalubrious cycling stadium, the Vélodrome d’Hiver, or Vél’ d’Hiv. All but a handful would be sent to their deaths in Auschwitz.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s not hard to explain why, after 71 uninterrupted years in power, Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party lost the 2000 presidential elections. It earned its defeat through decades of authoritarianism, repression, injustice and corruption and, more recently, through a succession of economic crises that cost the country dearly. Poor PRI, as the party is known, it could no longer even fix elections.
Yet now, just 12 years later, all available polls point to a PRI victory in Sunday’s presidential election. Has amnesia set in? Has multiparty democracy failed? Does the country really want to turn back the clock? Or has the PRI changed, as it loudly claims?… Seguir leyendo »