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Peru

In Peru, A Grammy-Winning Diva Takes The Political Stage

Recently elected Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has made something of a surprise appointment for his new culture minister: Susana Baca. A well-known singer, Baca is also thought to be Peru’s first black cabinet minister.

Singer Susana Baca was recently appointed as Peru's new cultural minister
Singer Susana Baca was recently appointed as Peru's new cultural minister
Chrystelle Barbier

LIMA -- When Susana Baca was appointed as Peru's culture minister in July, it took the whole country by surprise. Despite her lack of political experience, the Afro-Peruvian singer accepted the offer made by Ollanta Humala, Peru's new left-wing president. "This appointment comes at a time in my life when I feel it is my duty to accept it," said the artist.

Before getting into politics, Susana Baca de la Colina was mostly known for her suave voice and enchanting melodies played on the guitar and the cajon, the instrument created by black slaves on Peru's coast. The Afro-Peruvian music ambassador even had international success. She was awarded a Grammy in 2002. But despite her thriving career performing on stages around the world, the 67-year-old woman didn't hesitate when Humala asked her to take over the Culture Ministry. "I will be a minister/singer," she told reporters following her.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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