'Pico Pa' Arc de Triomphe! Defacing Other Countries' Monuments

Getting rid of rude French (and Chilean) graffiti
Getting rid of rude French (and Chilean) graffiti
Benjamin Witte

The outpouring of rage and resentment that erupted in last weekend's "yellow vest" demonstrations in Paris made headlines around the world. In far-flung Chile, which has had plenty of its own experience in recent years with large-scale, anti-government demonstrations, there was keen interest in the French protesters taking umbrage with leaders who seem out of touch with the everyday struggles of working families.

But those parallels aside, there was something else about the events in Paris that raised eyebrows in the long-and-skinny South American country: graffiti.

To the left of where someone spray-painted the capital's Arc de Triomphe with the words Les gilets jaunes triompheront ("the yellow vests will triumph") was another widely seen tag: Pico pa Macron. It is a message in profane Spanish or, to be more precise, profane Chilean Spanish — at least according to news outlets like the Santiago-based Radio Bío Bío.

"Typical Chilean?" an article on the radio station's web site asks about the wording of the graffiti, which translates roughly as "a d**k for Macron" or "suck a d**k Macron."

No one has claimed authorship for the monument-marring message, but speculation is high in Chile that one of their countrymen (or women) was almost certainly involved. "A popular chilenismo (Chilean slang expression) making reference to the male reproductive apparatus was spray-painted on the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, in a tone that was not very friendly to the French president, Emmanuel Macron," the Chilean news site Cooperativa reported.

It wouldn't be the first time someone from Chile got caught messing around with another nation's national monument. In late 2004, a pair of young Chileans were arrested in neighboring Peru for spray-painting on an ancient Incan wall in the historic city of center of Cuzco. Peruvian authorities held the pair in custody for several months, contributing to what the BBC described in 2005 as a "border row" between the two nations.

Easter Island "Moai" statues (minus one ear) — Photo: Thomas Griggs

In 2008, it was Chile's turn to be on the receiving end of an act of foreign vandalism. While visiting Easter Island, a Chilean territory, a tourist from Finland was arrested after chipping an earlobe off an ancient Moai statue — and on Easter weekend, of all times!

The man, Marko Kulju, was eventually allowed to fly home, but only after paying a $17,000-fine and agreeing not to return to Chile for at least three years. In comments published by the Santiago-based daily La Tercera, Kulju called it "the worst mistake of my life."

When in Rome? — Photo: Bence Boros

Finns aren't the only people in Europe to behave badly abroad. Just last year, police arrested a 45-year-old French woman who reportedly used an "ancient coin" to carve the words "Sabrina 2017" into a wall of Rome's world-famous Colosseum, the Italian daily La Stampa reported.

A Russian man was nabbed a year earlier for doing the same thing. Italian authorities eventually sent him packing, but not before charging him a cool 20,000 euros for his "contribution" to the Colosseum.

Watch out, Abe — Photo: Patrick Perkins

Not to be outdone by his neighbor, a man from the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan tried to make his mark last year on one of the best-known monuments in the United States: Washington's Lincoln Memorial. The 21-year-old culprit, Nurtilek Bakirov, allegedly used a penny to carve the words "HYPT MAEK" in the fifth pillar of the monument's north side. Bakirov was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property.

What's not clear, as acknowledged by the Washington Post, is what exactly "HYPT MAEK" means. Perhaps next time, Bakirov should consider writing his messages in Chilean. "Pico pa señor presidente?"

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Spencer Tunick Nude Installation in Israel

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salam!*

Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.

[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]


Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.

• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.

• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.

• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.

• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.

• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.

Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.


Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.



China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.


7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good

Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.

⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials

.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.

✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.

➡️


"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."

— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.


​Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians

The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:

⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.

☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.

🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.

Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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