Venezuelans are not getting their hopes up. They have tried many times to oust the regime now led by Nicolás Maduro, only to see protesters killed in the streets and Maduro entrenched in power despite the country’s social and economic collapse. Still, they turned out by the hundreds of thousands Wednesday, responding to a call by the opposition — under new leadership — to execute a risky new strategy.
As marchers in Caracas and other cities swarmed the streets, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the head of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president. President Trump, the Organization of American States and almost a dozen other countries promptly recognized him as the legitimate president, putting more international pressure on Maduro.… Seguir leyendo »
By almost any measure, 2018 has been a disastrous year for democracy. Authoritarian leaders have made decisive moves to tighten their grip on power by eroding practices indispensable to a functioning democracy, such as the rule of law and a free press, and blithely ignoring or violently suppressing mass protests in places such as Hungary, Nicaragua, the Philippines and elsewhere.
And yet, there are parts of the world where, quite unexpectedly, the struggle for democratic reform made giant strides — a reminder that the right mix of activism, leadership and circumstances can suddenly change the course of history. The good news came from starkly different countries, where undemocratic practices had been playing out in unique ways.… Seguir leyendo »
I have a vivid memory of standing by a muddy road on a dark December afternoon in 1995, when I was chatting with two friends, one a Bosnian Muslim, the other a Bosnian Serb. We were all in the Bosnian city of Tuzla, working on CNN’s coverage of a war that had already claimed 100,000 lives and displaced millions — the worst conflict in Europe since World War II. The warring parties had just signed the U.S.-brokered Dayton Accords, meant to put an end to three years of carnage.
I asked them whether they thought peace would hold, and they nearly winced at the question.… Seguir leyendo »
What will it take for the European Union to stand up for the democratic principles it claims to promote? How much longer will it allow itself — and the taxpayers who fund it — to be played for fools?
Hungary’s Viktor Orban — Europe’s top exponent of the new global wave of autocracy — has just won an ugly election to his fourth term. His country will now accelerate its march away from the values so clearly spelled out in the E.U. charter — even though Orban has happily taken advantage of European subsidies to boost his own political career. It is time for Brussels to turn off the tap.… Seguir leyendo »
The images from Spain this weekend have shocked the world — and many Spaniards, too. Yes, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had warned unequivocally that he would not allow Catalonia’s independence referendum to go ahead. Yet despite the crescendo of tensions ahead of Sunday’s vote, few expected to see bloodshed, much less on such a large scale.
By the time the chaotic day was done, at least 840 people had been injured in dramatic clashes with riot-gear-clad national security forces. The National Police and Civil Guard, armed with truncheons and shields, managed to confiscate millions of ballots and forcibly drag people from the voting stations.… Seguir leyendo »
Who could have imagined that the final weeks of President Obama’s tenure would bring a flurry of mutual recriminations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration?
Who? Anyone who was paying attention.
For months we have been hearing that Obama planned a parting shot, perhaps allowing an anti-Israel resolution to pass without a U.S. veto at the U.N. Security Council. I heard about it as far back as last summer.
But as Obama wounded feelings in Israel and enraged Netanyahu, the paradox behind this unseemly quarrel between two good friends, the United States and Israel, is that the biggest losers here are the Palestinian people and their hopes for the establishment of a Palestinian State.… Seguir leyendo »
On June 28, 1914, a 19-year-old Serbian nationalist named Gavrilo Princip fired into an open-top car traveling through the streets of Sarajevo, carrying Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
Within a month, the assassination set off a chain reaction that unleashed World War I, leaving tens of millions dead and ultimately setting the stage for World War II and, indirectly, many of the conflicts we see today.
On December 19, 2016, a 22-year-old Turkish police officer named Mevlut Mert Altintas, pulled out a pistol in an art gallery and killed the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov.… Seguir leyendo »
The world is at last, reluctantly, looking at the horrors unfolding in Aleppo. The dictatorship of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with the support of Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and other Iran-organized Shiite militias, has all but pulverized parts of the city, deliberately attacking hospitals and homes and targeting non-combatants and civilians.
They are carrying out a new form of ethnic cleansing, with Shiites expelling Sunnis and making it impossible for them to return to their destroyed homes.
This is hardly unexpected. It’s been unfolding gradually, for all to watch. The immediate culprits are the direct perpetrators, let that be clear. But this episode marks a supreme failure of our 21st century society, our leaders, our institutions and the people who claim to care about more than their own well-being.… Seguir leyendo »
Back in March 2014, with Russian-speaking forces patrolling the streets of Crimea, until then a part of the sovereign country of Ukraine, I wrote an article arguing that, “We have entered a new Cold War.” Fast-forward to this surreal moment in American — and global — history, and it appears that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is handily winning this Cold War 2.0.
This is no longer a battle between Communism and capitalism/democracy. This is Putin against the West, against democracy, and Putin is winning.
It’s no secret that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted Donald Trump to win. He also wanted Hillary Clinton, whom he despises, to lose.… Seguir leyendo »
There is no shortage of outrages and lies spewing forth from high places these days, but one lie that received little attention deserves close notice: UNESCO, the United Nations cultural and education body, approved a resolution that goes a long way toward denying Jewish and Christians ties to Jerusalem’s Old City.
It is a resolution that denies reality, that erases facts and, most importantly, one that marks a step against reconciliation and peace. It will serve only to embolden extremists on all sides and confirms Israelis’ fears that the international community, especially the United Nations, remains committed to an anti-Israel agenda.… Seguir leyendo »
The news that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize came as the second shock in a week to the Colombian people — including Santos.
The first shock came five days earlier, when Colombian voters rejected the peace agreement Santos had negotiated with the guerrilla group known as FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Practically no one expected Santos to win after voters had said “No” to his peace plan in last weekend’s referendum. Pollsters had incorrectly predicted a landslide victory for the agreement, and in the aftermath of its razor-thin defeat, the head of Peace Research Institute Oslo told journalists that, “Colombia is off any credible list.” So when Santos won the Nobel, the reaction, initially, was disbelief.… Seguir leyendo »
Events in Latin America typically garner little attention in the United States. But from Brazil to Venezuela, from Colombia to Cuba, an avalanche of important stories has helped the region pierce the shield of indifference to find a place in the headlines.
Some stories, like Donald Trump’s quick trip to Mexico, have obvious and immediate relevance to the US news cycle. But don’t be fooled by the largely domestic nature of some of the other stories coming from south of the border. The reality is that we will be hearing more and more about the transformation taking place in the region, and why that will matter for the agenda of the next US president.… Seguir leyendo »
Sometimes a bathing suit is just a bathing suit. But not today. Europeans — Muslims, Christians, atheists and others — are fiercely debating the question of what women should be allowed to wear at the beach. It seems like a trivial matter, but it isn’t.
More than a dozen French cities, along with some towns in other European countries, have banned the so-called burkini, a bathing suit designed for Muslim women who want to cover more of their body than a bikini or a regular one-piece bathing suit does.
With that, French authorities, aiming to protect women’s freedoms, have missed their mark by a mile.… Seguir leyendo »
The look in his eyes is hypnotic.
Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, his face covered in dust and blood, sits quietly in the orange chair of the ambulance, his tiny bare feet barely dangling over the edge. Photographers snapped the picture after rescue workers pulled Omran from of a collapsing building in the city of Aleppo, in Syria, after it was hit by a Syrian government or Russian airstrike.
The picture has spread at lightning speed across social media, making him a symbol of the relentless suffering being experienced at this very moment by millions of Syrian civilians, including countless women and children.… Seguir leyendo »
Imagine a presidential election campaign in which a bombastic candidate campaigns by insulting people, and by making promises and threats that sound so outlandish that people think, surely, he must be exaggerating.
Now imagine that candidate wins.
Welcome to the Philippines, where Rodrigo Duterte, also known as “The Punisher” assumed the presidency on June 30. The experience should prove informative for people considering the election of another “tell-it-like-it-is” politician, America’s very own Donald J. Trump.
Duterte just caused an international incident when he called the US ambassador a “gay son of a bitch,” during a recent speech to a military group.… Seguir leyendo »
Last Friday, a military faction in Turkey tried to topple President Recep Tayip Erdogan. The effort failed, but since then Erdogan has been leading his own coup, crushing the foundations of democracy and attempting to establish himself as the country’s authoritative ruler.
Right now, it appears his coup is succeeding.
Erdogan’s plan to use the military uprising as a pretense to cement his hold on power became clear when he declared the failed coup “a gift from God,” as he landed at Ataturk Airport early Saturday morning. Within hours of his arrival in Istanbul, the President moved to take control of the country and remake it to his liking.… Seguir leyendo »
These are crucial moments for the women and men fighting the self-described Islamic State on the Syrian battlefields. In the past few days, troops pushing against ISIS have achieved significant victories, and more successes appear within reach. But the warriors paused this week to say a solemn, tearful goodbye to one of their most beloved commanders, the man known as Abu Layla.
The depth of feeling for Abu Layla matters not only because it reminds us of the harsh reality of what is happening in that battlefield and the individual lives lost in this dismal chapter of Middle East history. It also matters because it tells us something important about the ideas and values of some of the people engaged in the conflict.… Seguir leyendo »
Take a look around the world and the phenomenon is hard to miss: the call of the strongman echoes in all corners of the world. Indeed, while Donald Trump might seem like a one-of-a-kind to many Americans, he’s simply the Made in the USA version of a familiar figure around the globe.
Unfortunately, we have seen this movie before — narcissistic, muscular politicians who promise to solve the country’s difficulties by the sheer force of their personality. Look at Vladimir Putin in Russia, or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, who promised much, but ended up delivering a steady erosion of democratic freedoms.… Seguir leyendo »
Last Saturday night, the Dutch journalist Ebru Umar was reportedly resting at her vacation home in the Turkish resort town of Kusadasi when she heard a knock at the door. Umar, a fierce critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was about to become an example of the very practices against which she has been fulminating in her newspaper columns and her Twitter account.
“Police at the door. No joke,” she tweeted.
Turkish police reportedly detained her for 15 hours, and questioned her about tweets in which she quoted her own articles criticizing Erdogan. By Sunday afternoon she had been released, but was ordered not to leave the country while Turkish authorities decide whether to prosecute her under a law that makes it a crime to insult the President.… Seguir leyendo »
Let’s face it: tragedies that occur in Africa don’t often capture the world’s attention. It is a shameful reality. This time, however, it was different. When women in Nigeria spoke out two years ago after terrorists kidnapped hundreds of girls from school, they stirred a sense of global outrage reserved only for the greatest of injustices in a world where suffering and injustice are all too common.
Two years later, despite the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign and the forces it unleashed, the girls from the town of Chibok are still not back. Yet the feeling of outrage continues. As it should, because bringing back our girls and keeping in mind the horrors perpetrated against them by their captors, Boko Haram, is as important now as it was then.… Seguir leyendo »