Its mainly peaceful transition to democracy over the last 15 years has made Indonesia a shining light for political reform in the developing world. The fact that it is also the world’s most populous Muslim nation makes Indonesia glow even brighter in the eyes of the West, which has struggled for more than a decade against Islamic extremism.
But as with many countries in the region — Thailand being the most prominent example — Indonesia’s democracy remains fragile. A troubling trend of religious intolerance and a failure by the leadership to uphold constitutional guarantees of pluralism threaten to undermine the progress made since the end of President Suharto’s military-backed authoritarian rule in 1998.… Seguir leyendo »
The Egyptian Army’s intervention to remove President Mohamed Morsi may have pleased liberal opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood that backed his election last year, but it has dashed hopes that the middle-class-led overthrow of the Mubarak regime in 2011 would yield a stable democratic order.
The recent events in Egypt illuminate the challenges any country faces when making the transition to democracy: Authoritarian leaders may come and go, but the security forces that back them seldom submit so easily to the will of people. For even as military leaders make it possible for unpopular leaders to be removed, they tend to linger in the wings, ready to reassert their power when fragile popularly elected transitional governments fail, as they often do.… Seguir leyendo »
Wandering into a small park shaded by fruit trees in Old Havana, I was surprised to come across a bronze bust of Hans Christian Andersen. Havana is a city of surprises, the biggest of which is the miracle of its preservation. It’s not just that half a century of socialist revolution has kept modernization at bay; it’s just as much about the Cuban people’s abiding sense of history and deep cultural pride.
Speaking as an innocent in the Latin context, this is of no small significance. For as you wander around the exquisite baroque cathedral square in Old Havana, where the bones of Christopher Columbus were once interred in the cathedral, you sense the legacy of Old Spain and its role in the vanguard of discovering the American continent, with all that has meant for the wider world.… Seguir leyendo »