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Jailed Hip Hop Star Leads Democratic Movement In Angola

Luaty da Silva Beirão in on a hunger strike.
Luaty da Silva Beirão in on a hunger strike.

A new wave of democratic protests has been spreading across Africa, from Angola to Burkina Faso and beyond, as several long-time leaders look to extend their rule for as long as they can, often defying their country's own constitution.

Front and center in these popular movements have been several prominent hip hop stars. The French-language weekly Jeune Afrique reports that Luaty da Silva Beirão, a 33-year-old Angolan rapper has now been kept in preventive detention for four months — well above the 90 days allowed by law.

Beirão, who goes by the stage name Ikonoklasta, was arrested on charges of conspiring to overthrow President José Eduardo dos Santos, Africa's longest-serving leader after more than 36 years in power.

Beirão was arrested together with 14 other militants during a meeting to discuss Gene Sharp's From Dictatorship to Democracy, the book that is said to have influenced the "Arab Spring" and the popular movement in Ukraine.

After going on a hunger strike September 21 to protest his arrest, Beirão has lost 15 kilograms and since been hospitalized But Jeune Afrique suggests that the regime's crackdown on the popular entertainer could backfire, risking turning him into a martyr. NGOs and the authorities in Portugal (of which Angola is a former colony and of which he's also a citizen) are reportedly increasingly concerned over his health and treatment. Beirão's trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 16, and he faces a prison sentence of up to 12 years.

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Ideas

A Writer's Advice For How To Read The Words Of Politics

Colombia's reformist president has promised to tackle endemic violence, economic exclusion, pollution and corruption in the country. So what's new with a politician's promises?

Image of Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaking during a press conference in Buenos Aires on Jan 14, 2023

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, speaks during a press conference in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 24, 2023.

Manuel Cortina/ZUMA
Héctor Abad Faciolince

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — Don't concentrate on his words, I was once advised, but look at what he's doing. I heard the words so long ago I cannot recall who said them. The point is, what's the use of a husband who vows never to beat his wife in January and leaves her with a bruised face in February?

Words are a strange thing, and in literal terms, we must distrust their meaning. As I never hit anyone, I have never declared that I wouldn't. It never occurred to me to say it. Strangely, there is more power and truth in a simple declaration like "I love her" than in the more emphatic "I love her so much." A verbal addition here just shrinks the "sense" of love.

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