El 23 de agosto de 1968, la disidente rusa Natalia Gorbanevskaya, junto con otros nueve opositores, estaba en la plaza Roja de Moscú para protestar contra la invasión de Checoslovaquia por las tropas soviéticas, que había sucedido dos días antes. Natalia llevaba una pancarta en la mano y otra en el cochecito de su hijo de un año, pidiendo la inmediata retirada de las tropas. Antes de que la policía secreta los detuviera, Natalia tuvo la oportunidad de ver un Volga negro que salía del Kremlin y cruzaba la plaza Roja. Dentro del coche oficial se encogía el líder de la Primavera de Praga, Alexandr Dubcek, vencido y aniquilado.… Seguir leyendo »
Earlier this month, the parliament of the Czech Republic approved a new government. And here’s the surprise: For the first time since the fall of communism in 1989, the governing coalition is depending on support from the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM).
This unlikely scenario unfolded after months of negotiations. Nine parties won seats in the October 2017 election, with the populist ANO (Yes) party claiming the largest share — 78 of 200 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. This left ANO short of the majority needed to approve the prime minister and the governing cabinet.
ANO then had to negotiate with other parties to form a coalition.… Seguir leyendo »
La Primavera de Praga, en realidad, empezó un 5 de enero y acabó abruptamente un 20 de agosto, fechas que cabalgan sobre la primavera propiamente dicha de aquel convulso año de 1968. Es curioso que hoy, 50 años después, conservamos recuerdos más vivos de la guerra de Vietnam, del asesinato de Martin Luther King y Robert Kennedy, y por supuesto del famoso Mayo francés. La Primavera de Praga se ha ido esfumando en nuestras memorias, viajas a Praga y el tema puede salir sobre todo con algunos amigos y conocidos que vivieron aquel episodio, que vivieron el drama con 25 años y ahora tienen 75. … Seguir leyendo »
He isn’t the country’s most important politician. In the Czech Republic, as in many European countries, the prime minister is far more powerful than the president. Nevertheless, the Czech president represents his country abroad, speaks on its behalf and generally helps set the tone and tenor of public debate, much like the American president does in the United States. And without question, the reelection of Milos Zeman — who is vulgar and sexist (not to mention aggressively pro-Russian, pro-Chinese, anti-European and anti-NATO) and has been accused of public drunkenness — will set the tone and tenor of public life in the Czech Republic.… Seguir leyendo »
Voters in the Czech Republic are preparing for their most important election since 1989. On Jan. 26, they will begin heading to the polls to pick their next president. The winner of the first round of the two-stage election earlier this month was the incumbent Milos Zeman, who is facing a strong runoff challenge from Jiri Drahos, a pro-western centrist and the former head of the Academy of Sciences. As of now, the race is considered too close to call.
For Czechs, Zeman needs little introduction. He has spent his first five-year term excoriating migrants and Muslims, whipping up fears of terrorism, and praising President Vladimir Putin of Russia.… Seguir leyendo »
Czech party politics used to be fairly simple. But since 2010, its elections have repeatedly delivered instability and fragmentation. And this past Sunday’s voting shows 2017 is no exception.
As expected, Andrej Babiš’s party ANO won the Czech elections with nearly 30 percent of the vote. His victory has dominated the headlines in the United States and Europe, but the election also was striking for the collapse of the Social Democrats (ČSSD), the rise of new political forces and a fragmented Parliament with nine parties.
Why did the Social Democrats do so badly?
ČSSD’s share of the vote slumped to 7.3 percent, its worst performance since the early 1990s.… Seguir leyendo »
As Communist Europe collapsed in the early 1990s, four countries on its western periphery — the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary — came together to form the Visegrad Group. The four were relatively modernized, and the goal of the new organization was to coordinate closer ties between them and the European Union, which they joined en masse in 2004.
The Visegrad Group once stood as a beacon for post-Communist integration, but today it symbolizes the failure of the West to completely integrate Central and Eastern Europe. Across all four countries, leading politicians agitate against the European Union, portraying it as an imposing, undemocratic force, even as the second coming of the Soviet Union.… Seguir leyendo »
The parallels are easy to draw. A rich businessman who has played on anti-establishment and anti-politician appeals looks set to win the Czech elections this week, with voters going to the polls Friday and Saturday. But the real question is not why Andrej Babis, who has inevitably been described as a Trump-like figure, has so much support. It’s why he has managed to increase his support since the 2013 elections.
In 2013, Babis’s party, the Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO), an acronym that spells “yes” in Czech, won 18.65 percent in national parliamentary elections. Its pitch was straight out of the new-party-led-by-a-businessman playbook: Trust me, I’m a successful businessman, and I know how to get things done.… Seguir leyendo »
Monday is the 25th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. To mark the occasion, a bust of Václav Havel, the leader of that revolution, Czechoslovakia’s first post-Communist president and one of the most significant intellectual and political leaders of the Cold War era and its aftermath, will be unveiled Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol. Only three other international figures have been honored in this way — Britain’s Winston Churchill, Hungary’s Lajos Kossuth and Sweden’s Raoul Wallenberg — and Havel eminently deserves to be among them.
When he addressed a joint session of Congress just three months after the revolution, Havel spoke with deep feeling about his country’s indebtedness to the United States, including for President Woodrow Wilson’s great support for the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918, U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
The global economy is still struggling to overcome the effects of the recession sparked by the 2008 financial crisis. But energy — in particular, shale gas exploration — has become one of the strongest engines for the U.S. economy. U.S. natural gas production has increased by one-fourth in the past five years, according to the Energy Information Administration; it has created 600,000 jobs since 2009 and helped drive down gas prices for millions of Americans. Moreover, the United States is now in a position to export gas. This surplus creates opportunities for the United States to again be a geopolitical player in Europe.… Seguir leyendo »
A middle-aged man sits in a cafe, sipping absinthe, the newspaper before him untouched. He stares at a shapely young woman perched mysteriously on the corner of his table. Naked as Eve, she is a translucent green. A waiter hovers nearby. Painted in 1901, Viktor Oliva’s “Absinthe Drinker” hangs in the venerable Cafe Slavia, which opened in 1884 and was a redoubt of dissident artists, from Vaclav Havel to Jiri Kolar, during the Communist era. Its temptress seems a fitting muse for a city where the absurdities of the public realm have often encouraged a retreat into the alcoholic and the erotic.… Seguir leyendo »
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is speaking Thursday at Florida International University on Vaclav Havel’s legacy of freedom. Havel led Czechs in opposing communism and was elected president in the country’s first free elections. He died last winter, but is remembered as Central Europe’s conscience of our times. His personal courage essay, The Power of the Powerless, provides hope to men and women fighting despotism everywhere.
Albright and Havel were born in what Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister and appeaser of the Nazis, called “a far-away country about which we know nothing.” Albright, a scholar who also served as U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
On Oct. 18, 1989, Czech security police arrested me and 15 Czech dissidents in order to prevent us from meeting in a public place in Prague. Vaclav Havel was part of our group, but he evaded arrest because he arrived late. Later that day, after most of us had been released from detention, we met informally at the Intercontinental Hotel. In just one month Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution” would begin, though none of us would have predicted it at the time.
But change was in the air. The dissidents were bemoaning what they saw as a lack of leadership for the future.… Seguir leyendo »
La decisión de nuestra sociedad de apartarse por completo del comunismo, y que últimamente ha adoptado forma de ley, ha tenido como consecuencia lógica el que la atención prestada a los acontecimientos de 1968 en Checoslovaquia se limite ahora fundamentalmente a criticar la falta de entusiasmo y el antagonismo interno de los políticos comunistas de la reforma que entonces dirigían el país. Por consiguiente, sería aconsejable, en el XXV aniversario de la invasión de Checoslovaquia por parte de los ejércitos del Pacto de Varsovia recordar también otros factores y dimensiones de aquellos acontecimientos.
Ante todo, no hay que olvidar que los cambios conceptuales y de personas que tuvieron lugar a principios de 1968 en la cúpula del Partido Comunista, así como en el Gobierno, no fueron sólo una especie de golpe entre los líderes comunistas.… Seguir leyendo »
In a stadium in Prague, 20 years ago today, a hundred thousand people, including my father and me, saw something we were not supposed to see. For decades it had been forbidden. The music, we were told, would poison our minds with filthy images. We would be infected by the West’s capitalist propaganda.
It was a cool August night in 1990; the Communist regime had officially collapsed eight months earlier, when Vaclav Havel, the longtime dissident, was elected president. And now the Rolling Stones had come to Prague.
I was 16 then, and to this day I recall the posters promoting the concert, which lined the streets and the walls of the stadium: “The Rolling Stones roll in, Soviet army rolls out.”
Soviet soldiers had been stationed in Czechoslovakia since 1968, when their tanks brutally crushed the so-called Prague Spring.… Seguir leyendo »
Tema: El miedo a convertirse en Grecia ha influido en las elecciones checas. El perfil del nuevo gobierno: ¿será europeísta o euroescéptico?
Resumen: En la República Checa, país con etiqueta de euroescéptico, se ha formado un nuevo gobierno tras unos inesperados resultados. La mayoría de los votantes han mostrado un enorme deseo de renovación y han barrido con su voto a partidos y líderes que dominaban el escenario político hasta hace unas semanas. El gobierno resultante es producto de las negociaciones de tres partidos: dos de formación reciente (TOP 09 y VV) y el ODS, partido euroescéptico que ha gobernado en este país intermitentemente (desde 1992 a 1998 y desde 2006 a 2009).… Seguir leyendo »
It is often argued that the Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in the world. This claim is usually based on the sociological surveys and census data which show that only a small proportion of Czechs goes regularly to church and that most of the Czech Republic’s population does not report even a formal affiliation to any church
However, the idea that Czechs are almost completely indifferent to any religion is not accurate. The apparent lack of interest in traditional forms of Christianity is accompanied by the massive popularity of what sociologists call “invisible” or “alternative” religion and what could be best described as a belief in magic.… Seguir leyendo »
Veinte años después de la revolución de terciopelo, con la que el pueblo checo puso fin a 40 años de comunismo, Václav Havel esboza una melancólica sonrisa. Nos encontramos en el céntrico Café Louvre de Praga cuando el otoño tiñe de rojo la capital checa, y el ex presidente, para ver todo lo que sucede en la sala, siente la necesidad de sentarse de espaldas a la pared. Debe de ser una costumbre adquirida durante los años de disidente perseguido por las autoridades comunistas.
Empezamos a hablar sobre el fracaso del comunismo: “El final del comunismo representa una advertencia a la humanidad y en especial a los que ejercen cualquier tipo de poder, a menudo desde la soberbia -cuenta Havel, muy convencido y serio-.… Seguir leyendo »
The two politicians have tended to be regarded as twin-like stubborn Eurosceptics, the last obstacles to the ratification of the Lisbon treaty. Still, on Saturday, Poland’s Lech Kaczynski put his pen to paper and ratified the widely expected treaty, formally justifying it with “the will of the Irish people”. At the same time, the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Klaus, who refuses to fly the EU flag outside his presidential residence, remains petrified in his opposition to Lisbon, even if now he stands alone. Those developments clearly show that Kaczynski’s and Klaus’s political agenda, despite apparent similarities, is actually quite different, and impossible to grasp fully without taking into account their political background in Warsaw and Prague.… Seguir leyendo »
En Praga, escasos días antes de que el pueblo irlandés se pronunciara favorablemente sobre el Tratado de Lisboa, 17 senadores, de derechas y partidarios del presidente de la República Checa, Václav Klaus, presentaron un recurso de inconstitucionalidad sobre ese mismo texto. El resultado se sustanciará entre bastidores, no ante los ojos del público ni del Parlamento. El Tribunal Supremo decidirá si el Tratado de Lisboa es compatible con la soberanía checa. Los telegramas de las embajadas y de los corresponsales en Praga van a leerse con mayor atención de la habitual en el resto de las capitales europeas y en muchas de fuera de Europa.… Seguir leyendo »