The Cuban regime is deploying its much-practiced playbook in response to Sunday's breathtaking eruption of protests across the island. As practically anyone who has reported from Cuba can tell you, the government's approach is a familiar and well-worn one. It is a three-step maneuver that has worked in the past, allowing the regime to stay in power while not responding to the people's demands. This time, there's no guarantee that it will work.
The strategy I witnessed firsthand during reporting trips to Cuba for CNN in the 1990s is simple: First, when protesters take the risk of speaking out forcefully and in numbers, authorities call out masses of supporters to drown out their critics.… Seguir leyendo »
Remember the dictator who sent military fighter jets to force a commercial flight to land so he could arrest one of his critics? That dictator was Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus and one of the world's longest-ruling autocrats. Now, we learn, a month earlier he kidnapped an American citizen.
Youras Ziankovich, a lawyer with American citizenship, has been in Belarussian hands since April. He has long been a critic of the Belarussian strongman and he, too, thought he could protect himself from a repressive regime by staying beyond its borders. But Lukashenko is proving once again that tyrants don't respect national borders.… Seguir leyendo »
Authoritarian leaders like to clothe themselves in the mantle of democratic legitimacy, but Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega may be giving up on the charade. With each passing day, he takes one more step toward throwing off that threadbare disguise and openly embracing outright dictatorship.
Now, with five months until the November election — in which Ortega will run for a fourth consecutive term, his fifth overall — Ortega is bulldozing the opposition, crushing dissent and making a mockery of the election.
In one of his boldest assaults against a fair election, he targeted the leading opposition candidate, Cristiana Chamorro. Just hours after she announced plans to run for the presidency, he dispatched security forces to her home and placed her under house arrest, one of several candidates now under de facto arrest and prevented from campaigning.… Seguir leyendo »
Russians in huge numbers took to the streets again on Wednesday to protest their government’s treatment of Alexei Navalny, a man they fear may soon die because he dared to criticize President Vladimir Putin. While the mass demonstrations across Russia’s 11 time zones inspire respect, the country itself, under its entrenched regime, has achieved precisely the opposite. Putin has made no secret of his goal of restoring Russia’s former glory. Instead, he’s turning it into a global pariah.
Putin notoriously described the collapse of the U.S.S.R. as the greatest “geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.” He clearly didn’t regret the loss of the Soviet Union’s socialist ideals or its cradle-to-grave welfare state, since he has made no effort to restore either.… Seguir leyendo »
Una pandemia catastrófica y una presidencia desastrosa se combinaron para darle a Estados Unidos la peor cifra de fallecimientos en el mundo durante la crisis sanitaria. Eso fue, en el fondo, lo que confirmó Deborah Birx, coordinadora del grupo de trabajo sobre COVID-19 del expresidente estadounidense Donald Trump, cuando admitió en CNN que la mayoría de las muertes en Estados Unidos podrían haberse evitado.
Y aún así —poco consuelo— Trump podría no haber sido el peor líder de la pandemia. Otros posiblemente manejaron la crisis aun peor que él, y esa lista de candidatos revela mucho sobre el estado actual de la gobernanza mundial.… Seguir leyendo »
A catastrophic pandemic and a calamitous presidency combined to give the United States the world’s worst pandemic death toll. That was essentially confirmed by Deborah Birx, President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force coordinator, who told CNN that most deaths in the United States could have been prevented.
And yet — cold comfort — Trump might not have been the worst leader of the pandemic. Others arguably botched the crisis even worse than Trump did, and the list tells you a lot about the state of global governance.
It’s hard to top the response of Nicaragua’s near-eternal President Daniel Ortega and his wife, who responded to news of a pandemic by calling people into the streets for a festive parade they called “Love in the Time of Covid-19” — a perversely fitting allusion to the work of Gabriel García Márquez, whose novels seamlessly blend fact and hallucination.… Seguir leyendo »
If the generals in Myanmar thought seizing power would be easy, they were mistaken. The country’s citizens are showing astonishing determination as they push back against a military coup that trampled what was a young, fragile, imperfect democracy.
Day after day, protesters are taking to the streets, demanding that the generals restore their democratically elected representatives to power. They have continued their nonviolent protests even as the security forces open fire on the crowds. So far almost 150 demonstrators have been killed.
Notably, the protests have included paralyzing strikes and work stoppages and slowdowns that are still going on despite the military’s use of violence.… Seguir leyendo »
When Russian President Vladimir Putin personally announced in August that Russia had approved the world’s first covid-19 vaccine, many reacted with skepticism and concern. Russian scientists hadn’t conducted Phase 3 trials, normally used before deploying a vaccine. Could the vaccine be trusted?
The vaccine’s name, Sputnik V — harking back to a Soviet triumph against the West in the Cold War — suggested the Kremlin viewed the project not as a purely scientific public health endeavor, but as one with enormous geopolitical potential. Many remained suspicious. Even most Russians said they would not take the shot.
In November, U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that its vaccine was 90 percent effective.… Seguir leyendo »
Imagine a parallel world in which Europe lived up to its ideals. In that universe, members of the European Union would react to Russia’s attempted murder of regime critics with a single, unified, emphatic voice and would follow its words with action.
Imagine how the bloc could use its tremendous economic and political weight — 27 countries, 448 million people, one of the largest economies in the world — to impose a cost on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime for its flagrant violations of human rights. A strong and focused European voice would have forced Putin to think twice about his brutal treatment of anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, whom he has tried to assassinate and has now thrown back into prison after a contrived trial.… Seguir leyendo »
If Americans weren't consumed with the historic political contest at home, they would be riveted to the drama unfolding in Belarus.
That's where an unlikely trio of women has led a mass pro-democracy uprising aiming at toppling Alexander Lukashenko, a Soviet-era leader who has held power for more than a quarter-century. The dictator is digging in his heels even as Belarusians in huge numbers fill the streets week after week demanding he allow them to freely choose their President.
The daily events in Belarus, a former Soviet Republic, are worthy of a Netflix drama, full of unexpected twists, spearheaded by heroic protagonists and driven by a righteous cause.… Seguir leyendo »
Sometimes, it seems as if fate is trying to prove its unlimited capacity for cruelty. When the skies over Beirut exploded on Tuesday, sending shockwaves felt all the way to Cyprus, 150 miles away in the Mediterranean, and devastating much of a city that was once known as the Paris of the Middle East, it seemed one of those times.
But the never-ending tragedy that is Lebanon is not the result of the random doings of destiny.
Lebanon's government has blamed a large quantity of poorly stored ammonium nitrate for the blast that rocked the city, killing at least 135 people, injuring more than 5,000 and destroying the capital's critical port, through which most of the goods Lebanon needs -- including food -- enter the country.… Seguir leyendo »
Todavía nos falta saber mucho sobre lo que sucedió en Bolivia. Pero una cosa es clara: Evo Morales, quien renunció a la presidencia el domingo pasado bajo una gran presión —algunos dicen que fue un golpe, otros que la restauración de la democracia— hubiera podido dejar su cargo de mandatario después de casi 14 años en el poder como un personaje aún reverenciado por la mayoría de los bolivianos. Pero se rehusó a aceptar los límites democráticos de su poder.
Morales trató de mantenerse en el mando contra de la voluntad de su pueblo. Ahora su legado está en ascuas, como también el futuro de Bolivia.… Seguir leyendo »
Imagine a man negotiating a crushingly repressive governing machine, doing it from the inside, and sweeping to power. Then imagine him immediately throwing the prison doors open to free thousands of political prisoners and journalists, welcoming back exiles, allowing banned opposition figures to run for office, and quickly reaching a peace deal with a neighboring country after decades of war.
That man is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
In a time when democracy is under assault around the world, the Nobel Committee wisely chose to shine its spotlight on Ahmed, a man who has made it his mission to reverse decades of oppression, push against the global tide, and give peace, freedom and equality a chance in a deeply troubled part of the world.… Seguir leyendo »
Scenes of chaos in the British Parliament. Surprising twists at the top of Italian politics. The recent opposition gains in Turkey. Pro-democracy protests in unlikely places. Shock election results and surprising political mobilizations.
The events in a growing list of countries may seem unrelated, but their near-simultaneous occurrence suggests something important is afoot.
After losing ground for a decade, is democracy making a comeback?
For years, populist, right-wing demagogues have been undercutting democracy in country after country, sowing chaos and stoking political polarization. They rose through old-fashioned fearmongering and political manipulation, modernized for our times with social media strategies and considerable assistance from the Kremlin.… Seguir leyendo »
As a society, we have agreed that some crimes are so horrific that they belong in a separate category. These are acts in which the perpetrators victimize not only their immediate target but all of us — which is why we label them “crimes against humanity.”
And that’s why the effort by hard-right politicians in Guatemala to free war criminals from prison is a matter that concerns everyone.
Not many outsiders realize that a genocide unfolded in Guatemala, less than a thousand miles from U.S. shores. The killing took place during the Cold War and after it, from 1960 until 1996, when the parties signed a peace accord and agreed to the National Reconciliation Law.… Seguir leyendo »
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 »