Francisco Toro

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de Marzo de 2008. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

El presidente venezolano, Nicolás Maduro, en una conferencia en el Palacio de Miraflores, en Caracas, Venezuela, el 12 de marzo de 2020. (Matias Delacroix/AP Photo, File)

Alguien en el poder sospecha de ti. Por ende, un día, te recogen en la calle. Sería errado decir que fuiste “arrestado”, ya que un arresto es un proceso legal. Eso no fue lo que te sucedió. A ti simplemente te agarraron unos hombres armados y te arrastraron a una casa en las afueras de tu ciudad. No es en realidad una cárcel o algún edificio público conocido. Es solo un viejo almacén, lo suficientemente remoto como para que nadie te escuche gritar.

Comienza el interrogatorio. Te golpean salvajemente, con un bate de beisbol o con objetos afilados. Quizás tienes algunos huesos rotos, quizás haya daño a un órgano interno.…  Seguir leyendo »

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas in March. (Matias Delacroix/AP)

Someone in power suspects you. And so, one day, you’re picked up off the street. It would be wrong to say you were “arrested,” since an arrest is a legal procedure. That’s not what happened to you. You’re just grabbed by men with guns and hauled away to a house on the outskirts of your city. It’s not really a jail, or any known public building at all. Just an old warehouse, far enough away that no one will hear you scream.

The interrogation begins. You’re beaten heavily, with either a baseball bat or sharp objects. Maybe some bones are broken, maybe there’s damage to an internal organ.…  Seguir leyendo »

Juan Guaidó, líder de la oposición venezolana, asiste a una reunión en una universidad en Caracas, Venezuela, el lunes 1 de abril de 2019. (Natacha Pisarenko/AP Photo)

Hace año y medio, tras la reelección burdamente amañada de Nicolás Maduro, Estados Unidos y gran parte de la comunidad internacional se embarcaron en una maniobra osada y de alto riesgo para intentar restaurar la democracia en Venezuela. Rompiendo con la práctica diplomática estándar, reconocieron al líder de oposición Juan Guaidó como el legítimo presidente interino de Venezuela.

Fue una iniciativa basada en la esperanza, pero divorciada de la realidad: aunque Guaidó demostró tener agallas, su reclamo a la presidencia no fue aceptado por ninguna institución del Estado venezolano. La Policía, las Fuerzas Armadas, los tribunales, la burocracia, todos continuaron reconociendo a Maduro como el líder legítimo del país.…  Seguir leyendo »

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in Caracas on Dec. 5, 2019. (Andrea Hernández Brice for The Washington Post)

A year-and-a-half ago, after the crudely rigged reelection of Nicolás Maduro, the United States and much of the international community embarked on an audacious, high-risk gambit to try to restore democracy to Venezuela. Breaking with standard diplomatic practice, they recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela.

It was a move based on hope but divorced from reality: Gutsy though Guaidó proved, his claim to the presidency was not accepted by any of Venezuela’s state institutions. The police, the military, the courts, the bureaucracy all continued to recognize Maduro as the country’s rightful leader. Rather than describing a reality on the ground, recognizing Guaidó was a move designed to conjure a new reality through international pressure.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Todas las historias de adictos son demasiado largas”.

Con esa frase comenzaba un ensayo sobre la adicción a la heroína que leí cuando era adolescente y nunca la he olvidado. Para los adictos, el ciclo de las recaídas suele repetirse una y otra vez, y eso es lo que lo hace una tragedia especial. En tu primera recaída todos tus amigos y familiares están allí, a tu lado. Pero con cada nueva recaída menos personas aparecen, desalentados por la aparente desesperanza de la situación. Algunos sencillamente se aburren de una historia que parece repetirse eternamente y que no llega a ningún lado.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Every junkie story is too long.”

That was the opening line of an essay on heroin addiction I read as a teenager, and it has always stayed with me. For addicts, the relapse cycle too often repeats again and again, and that’s its special tragedy. After your first relapse, all your friends and family are right there on your side. But with each new relapse, a few more of them drop away, put off by the seeming hopelessness of it all. Some simply get bored of a story that seems to repeat endlessly and go nowhere. The concentric circles tighten around you, and since every junkie story goes on long past the point where it made narrative sense to continue it, you end up with just your mom, if you’re lucky, or totally alone if you’re not.…  Seguir leyendo »

In messages leaked by his now former minister of justice, Brazil’s president was explicit about his goal: He wanted the top federal police official to be a man he could call directly, with no bureaucratic hassles. With his children under investigation, Jair Bolsonaro was determined to find a loyalist for the post, someone who would share sensitive information freely and use the power of his office to block investigations that might embarrass the president. When his minister, Sérgio Moro, a former judge respected by many, balked and discussed Bolsonaro’s request in public, it set off a firestorm of condemnation and an official investigation sanctioned by the Supreme Federal Court, and unleashed a wave of speculation about impeachment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Our collective crash course into the topsy-turvy new world of pandemic feels like it’s been going on forever — but it’s been just a little bit more than a month. We don’t exactly know how to navigate our way around this strange new reality, but we all sense that nothing will ever be the same. Contemplating the economic upheaval and the scenes of chaos in hospitals from Milan to New York, the whole idea that the covid-19 pandemic could shift our societies onto a better path may seem not just fanciful but downright callous. Yet, as we familiarize ourselves the world the virus is shaping, we shouldn’t lose sight of this as a moment not just of tragedy, but of unique opportunity.…  Seguir leyendo »

Juan Guaidó, líder de la oposición venezolana, saluda al presidente de Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, en el Congreso de ese país. (Patrick Semansky)

En un discurso del Estado de la Unión por parte del Presidente Trump que pasará a la historia por haber sido literalmente partido por la mitad por la presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes, los momentos de verdadero bipartidismo fueron muy pocos. Sin embargo, una línea del discurso hizo que todo el Congreso —incluida la presidenta de la Cámara, Nancy Pelosi— se pusiera de pie para aplaudir: “Está con nosotros, en la galería, el verdadero y legítimo presidente de Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.”

Para Guaidó, disfrutar de los calurosos vítores y aplausos de congresistas de ambos partidos seguramente habrá sido un momento muy gratificante.…  Seguir leyendo »

What if they held an election and nobody won?

It sounds like a joke, but Peruvians woke up to it splashed across their headlines this week. In a country where voting is compulsory by law, people dissatisfied with their options risk a fine if they stay home. So instead they turned out this Sunday … and cast more than twice as many spoiled and blank ballots as they did ballots for the most popular party.

While Peruvians were certain they didn’t like the parties in their last Congress, the country did not coalesce around an alternative. The result is that as many as 10 parties will have seats in Congress even though no party received more than 10 percent of the total vote once blank and null ballots are included.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sunday saw a new set of bizarre images pouring out of Venezuela as Juan Guaidó — the opposition leader recognized as the legitimate president of the country by the United States and most of the international community — tried to jump a fence to sneak into the National Assembly, of which he is president, only to be stopped by a phalanx of soldiers. Inside the building, a pro-regime rump assembly was busy electing a government-aligned rival to succeed him as parliamentary president, while the regime argued, incongruously, that Guaidó had forfeited his title by failing to turn up to the assembly floor on the appointed day.…  Seguir leyendo »

People march in La Paz Wednesday against Bolivia's president, Evo Morales, following the results of a contentious presidential election. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

Instead of detailed analysis, the Washington foreign policy establishment has long been hungry for generalizations about Latin America. Academics call them “heuristics” — quick-and-dirty mental shorthand that can sum up the story line for the region in just a few words.

In the ’60s it was Fidel Castro vs. Yankee imperialism. The ’80s were the “lost decade” of economic stagnation. In the ’90s there was the turn to neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus, followed by the “pink tide” of elected left-wingers in the 2000s.

Yet the shorthand peddlers may have outlived their usefulness. The region is now facing upheavals that resist easy categorization.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando se trata de Venezuela, la Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos no se contiene. Hace solo unos meses, publicó un informe que detalla una vasta campaña de abusos contra los derechos humanos, incluyendo tortura, el encarcelamiento de cientos de disidentes políticos y más de 5,000 ejecuciones extrajudiciales solo el año pasado. Y no se detuvo allí. La libertad de expresión y el acceso a alimentos, medicinas, justicia: el alto comisionado detalló los abusos más graves cometidos por el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro de casi todos los derechos fundamentales.

Luego, en la mañana del jueves 16 de octubre, la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas eligió a Venezuela para formar parte del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas (CDHNU) por un período de tres años.…  Seguir leyendo »

When it comes to Venezuela, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights minces no words. Just a few months ago, it published an incandescent report detailing a vast campaign of human rights abuses including torture, the jailing of hundreds of political dissidents, and more than 5,000 extrajudicial killings last year alone. And it didn’t stop there: freedom of speech and access to food, medicine, justice — the high commissioner detailed major abuses carried out by the government of Nicolás Maduro of just about every fundamental right.

Then, Thursday morning, the U.N. General Assembly elected Venezuela to serve on the U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

Miembros del ejército venezolano realizan ejercicios en la frontera con Colombia (JOHNNY PARRA/EPA-EFE/REX )

Pensar en las formas en que nuestra crisis podría empeorar se ha convertido en un juego muy popular para los venezolanos. Durante años, el peor escenario fue la guerra civil entre las facciones políticas de nuestro país. En estos días, una perspectiva aún más aterradora ha comenzado a desplazarlo en las pesadillas venezolanas: un conflicto armado con Colombia.

¿La razón? La alianza cada vez más estrecha entre Venezuela y la guerrilla narcotraficante que está en guerra contra el estado colombiano, la cual ha sacudido a Bogotá con tanta fuerza que ahora busca una respuesta hemisférica.

Este miércoles Colombia, Estados Unidos y otros nueve países invocaron el Tratado Interamericano de Asistencia Recíproca (TIAR), firmado en Río de Janeiro en 1947, que compromete a los países del hemisferio occidental a responder a una agresión militar contra cualquiera de ellos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Venezuelan soldiers took part in military exercises on the Colombian border on Sept. 10. (Johnny Parra/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Thinking up ways our all-encompassing crisis could get even worse has become a grimly popular parlor game for Venezuelans. For years, the go-to worst-case scenario was civil war between the political factions in our country. These days, an even scarier prospect has begun to displace that in the pantheon of Venezuelan nightmares: armed conflict with Colombia.

The reason? Venezuela’s increasingly tight alliance with the drug-running guerrilla armies waging war on the Colombian state, which has rattled Bogota so hard it’s now seeking a hemispheric response.

On Wednesday, Colombia, the United States and nine other countries invoked the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, which commits the countries of the Western Hemisphere to respond to military aggression against any one of them.…  Seguir leyendo »

An ELN guerrilla commander in the jungle, in the Choco department of Colombia, on May 25. (Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images)

As Venezuela’s economic and political situation continues to plumb new depths, analysts fret that the crisis is bound to spill over its borders sooner or later. The most obvious candidate for destabilization is Colombia, which lies just across a long, porous, heavily populated border region that stretches over the Andes and down through the Amazon jungle.

It’s no picnic having a failed state on your border. As Rwanda found out in the ’90s when the perpetrators of its genocide set up camp across the border in the vast, ungoverned jungles of Congo, security threats quickly become unmanageable if your foe has a safe harbor just across a lightly patrolled border.…  Seguir leyendo »

If you have the feeling that you’ve been reading about Venezuela heading deeper and deeper into crisis for a very long time, let me assure you, you’re not alone. The satirical news site El Chigüire Bipolar, Venezuela’s answer to the Onion, once “reported” that as the country keeps hitting rock bottom, it just keeps finding oil underneath and pumping it out to finance yet more digging into the bedrock.

That piece came out in 2013.

The latest twist in the saga comes from Norway, which is leading a new diplomatic initiative to try to broker a political settlement. The initiative has been met with almost universal skepticism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Venezuela was convulsed on Tuesday by a … well, it’s not exactly clear what to call it.

An uprising? A coup attempt? As news organizations dissected the semantics, Venezuelans around the world crowded onto Twitter to try to figure out what exactly was going on.

What we know for sure is that early in the morning, a video emerged showing the two highest-profile opposition leaders near a Caracas air force base claiming the final stage of an operation to restore Venezuela’s freedom was underway. From that point on, the day devolved into volleys of online rumor and disinformation, with journalists struggling to confirm even the most basic outlines of the story.…  Seguir leyendo »

As prosecutors and police officers explained they had an arrest warrant, the former president excused himself to go call his lawyer. He stepped into his bedroom. A single gunshot rang out. Hours later, after an unsuccessful operation to try to save him, he was pronounced dead.

Alan García, the two-time president of Peru (1985-1990; 2006-2011), explained in a suicide note that he preferred to take his own life rather than face the humiliation of an arrest on corruption charges. (If you hadn’t heard of it, it’s because his suicide coincided with the publication of the Mueller report, burying the story in U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »