Francisco Toro

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de diciembre de 2007. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

Un cartel que exige liberar al empresario colombiano Alexander Saab, extraditado a Estados Unidos, en Caracas, Venezuela, el 17 de octubre de 2021.(Federico Parra/AFP vía Getty Images)

El 18 de octubre, seis ejecutivos de Citgo Petroleum —cinco ciudadanos estadounidenses y un residente permanente— estában pasando su tercer día en una de las cárceles políticas más importantes de Venezuela. Sin embargo, llamarlos prisioneros sería erróneo. José Ángel Pereira, Gustavo Cárdenas, Jorge Toledo, José Luis Zambrano, Tomeu Vadell y Alirio José Zambrano son rehenes. Fueron secuestrados por el gobierno venezolano en represalia por las acciones legales estadounidenses contra el principal financista del régimen, Alex Saab, quien acaba de ser extraditado a Estados Unidos desde Cabo Verde tras una batalla legal de 16 meses.

Un gobierno normal, al descubrir que un empresario de alto perfil con el que tenía relaciones ha sido arrestado bajo los cargos de orquestar un sistema masivo y mundial de lavado de dinero para sacarle provecho a la crisis económica y humanitaria del país, se sentiría avergonzado.…  Seguir leyendo »

The dissident FARC rebel leader known as Jesús Santrich, during a news conference in 2019 in Bogota, Colombia. Santrich was reportedly killed in Venezuela on Monday. (Fernando Vergara/AP)

What if there was a shooting war less than three hours flight time from the U.S. and nobody heard about it?

For two months now, Venezuela has been locked in a nasty conflict along a portion of its vast border with Colombia. The tiny war is already generating the kinds of refugee flows and human rights abuses you associate with much bigger conflicts. There are reports of Venezuelan soldiers being taken hostage by Colombian rebels. And on Tuesday, the fighting appears to have claimed the life of one of Colombia’s most powerful rebel commanders, the dissident FARC leader Jesús Santrich, who was reportedly killed in murky circumstances in the area.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Peru's presidential candidate Pedro Castillo stand in front of the party headquarters in Lima on April 20. (Sebastian Castaneda/Reuters)

At the moment, Peru's politics look like the result of putting a mad political scientist in a lab to think up nightmare scenarios for how a democracy might go off the rails. Nearly everything that could go wrong has gone wrong there, leaving the country to face a presidential runoff election between two extreme ideologues while the public, disgusted by corruption and ineffective governance, appears to have rejected the entire political class.

How did Peru get here? The roots of dysfunction go back to the 1980s, when extreme populist overspending led to a devastating bout of hyperinflation that wiped out the nascent middle class’s savings.…  Seguir leyendo »

El presidente Nicolás Maduro durante un acto en el palacio presidencial de Miraflores en Caracas, Venezuela, el 12 de febrero de 2021. (Ariana Cubillos/AP Photo)

A finales de marzo, los venezolanos vieron con asombro —pero no realmente con sorpresa— cómo el presidente Nicolás Maduro anulaba un acuerdo cuidadosamente elaborado para permitir que la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) llevara vacunas contra el COVID-19 al país. Citando preocupaciones de seguridad ya desacreditadas sobre la vacuna AstraZeneca que estaba ofreciendo la OMS, el régimen apeló a la “soberanía sanitaria” para esperar por una vacuna diferente.

Esto ha sucedido en un momento en el que el país está lidiando con una nueva oleada mortal de casos del virus, que ha dejado a los hospitales desbordados con la variante brasileña y a Maduro esparciendo desinformación en forma de curas milagrosas.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Nicolás Maduro during an event at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on Feb. 12. (Ariana Cubillos/AP)

Last week, Venezuelans watched astonished — but not really surprised — as President Nicolás Maduro killed a carefully crafted agreement to allow the World Health Organization to bring coronavirus vaccines into the country. Citing now-debunked safety concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine the WHO was offering, the regime appealed to “sanitary sovereignty” to hold out for a different vaccine.

This happened as the country grapples with a new deadly surge in virus cases, leaving hospitals overrun with the Brazilian variant, and Maduro peddles misinformation in the form of miracle cures. His callousness in delaying a WHO vaccine rollout was certainly appalling; it was by no means unprecedented.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Nicolás Maduro shows his ballot during elections to choose members of the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sunday. (Ariana Cubillos/AP)

On Sunday, many Venezuelans turned up at polling places, had their names checked against voter rolls and were then ushered to a private area, where they could choose among candidates and parties on a ballot. Nicolás Maduro’s impoverished regime devoted considerable resources to giving the exercise the look and feel of a legislative election. Few were fooled.

The elaborate sham, with the look and feel of an election, was no such thing.

Global headlines underlined that the opposition had boycotted the vote, but this isn’t quite right. Through its wholly subservient Supreme Court, the regime had secured a series of court victories giving regime supporters control of the main opposition parties’ spots on the ballot.…  Seguir leyendo »

Independientemente del resultado de estas elecciones en Estados Unidos, una cosa queda clara: los instintos políticos del presidente Donald Trump han sido reivindicados, sobre todo en Florida. La política hiperbeligerante de su gobierno contra los atroces regímenes de Cuba, Venezuela y Nicaragua no ha tenido éxito alguno en lograr cambiar el liderazgo o el panorama político en esos países, pero sí logró otorgarle al presidente el premio electoral más crucial de Estados Unidos.

La victoria sorprendentemente cómoda de Trump en el estado del sol es un testimonio de su visión de que, si quieres ganar a lo grande en esas comunidades de exiliados, la postura “de macho” es una estrategia más efectiva que una diplomacia cuidadosa.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »