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King Juan Carlos, Charlie Chaplin And Calling It Quits

Juan Carlos I of Spain in 2011
Juan Carlos I of Spain in 2011
Ricardo Roa

Geraldine Chaplin once recalled her famous father's resilient humor, which persisted even onto his death bed.

At 88, Charlie Chaplin's health was failing, and as doctors and relatives observed him, his eyes closed and barely breathing, Geraldine's mother audibly declared that the "final moment" had come.

"I'm just playing dead," Chaplin muttered back.

He remained to the end the energetic, lively man he had always been. He married four times and had 11 children. Yet one of them, the actress Geraldine Chaplin, has said on a current visit to Buenos Aires that at the age of 69 she feels "like 97." She insists she has felt old since turning 50.

Geraldine is a talented actress. She was and remains a beautiful woman, as as our own recent picture of her shows. But does what she says reflect how she is, or how she wants us to see her?

Old age can take several forms. An old man can feel young, and a young man old. Geraldine may have inherited her father's lively genes, but the desire to live happily is something we gradually construct, in spite of passing time or bumps along the way.

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Geraldine Chaplin in 2012 — Photo: Odessa International Film Festival

Geraldine complains that the human life is "poorly made" when the body ages and youthful desires remain. There is, alas, no rewind button.

Blame the son-in-law

King Juan Carlos's abdication announcement on Monday is also undoubtedly linked to time and age, but perhaps more so to something very different: an unfortunate thing called corruption.

The king is 76 years old now. History will remember him as the monarch that helped steer Spain toward democracy after the death of General Francisco Franco. He helped save it in 1981, intervening against an attempted coup. Franco had anointed him successor, but he chose to confront the past and look to the future. He had a key role in modernizing Spanish politics and democracy.

But all this seemed to have faded in recent years — or at least become partly eclipsed by the failings around him. No, we are not referring to his love affairs, but to the corruption, above all a scandal involving his daughter and son-in-law, which stained the monarch's image and made him the object of increasing suspicion about his reign.

A few years ago, the monarchy was the country's most esteemed institution among Spaniards. Now it ranks sixth. Complicated interpretations aside, we can say that the King is passing on power to his son Prince Felipe not because he feels too old to do what he is doing. He just knows that it is time to go.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Zelensky And Putin Agree On One Big Thing Right Now

Even with the war at a stalemate, and as far away as victory may be for both sides, negotiations are an absolute non-starter for both the presidents of Ukraine and Russia.

photo of zelensky looking tired

Zelensky in Kyiv on Dec. 6 to honor those killed in the war.

Pool /Ukrainian Presidentia/Planet Pix via ZUMA
Yuri Fedorov

Updated Dec. 6, 2023 at 7:20 p.m.


The Russian-Ukrainian war appears to have reached a strategic impasse — a veritable stalemate. Neither side is in a position at this point to achieve a fundamental change on the ground in their favor. Inevitably, this has triggered no shortage of analysts and politicians saying it's time for negotiations.

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

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These conversations especially intensified after the results of the summer-autumn counteroffensive were analyzed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhny, with not very optimistic details.

Though there are advances of the Ukrainian army, it is mostly “stuck in minefields under attacks from Russian artillery and drones,” and there is a increasing prospect of trench warfare that “could drag on for years and exhaust the Ukrainian state.”

Zaluzhny concluded: “Russia should not be underestimated. It suffered heavy losses and used up a lot of ammunition, but it will have an advantage in weapons, equipment, missiles and ammunition for a long time," he said. "Our NATO partners are also dramatically increasing their production capacity, but this requires at least a year, and in some cases, such as aircraft and control systems, two years.”

For the Ukrainian army to truly succeed, it needs air superiority, highly effective electronic and counter-battery warfare, new technologies for mining and crossing minefields, and the ability to mobilize and train more reserves.

China and most countries of the so-called global South have expressed their support for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Meanwhile in the West, certain influential voices are pushing for negotiations, guided by a purely pragmatic principle that if military victory is impossible, it is necessary to move on to diplomacy.

The position of the allies is crucial: Ukraine’s ability to fight a long war of attrition and eventually change the situation at the front in its favor depends on the military, economic and political support of the West. And this support, at least on the scale necessary for victory, is not guaranteed.

Still, the question of negotiations is no less complicated, as the positions of Russia and Ukraine today are so irreconcilable that it is difficult to imagine productive negotiations.

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