Dario Acevedo Carmona
December 14, 2016
BOGOTÁ — Amid pomp and ceremonies befitting a Biblical ruler, Cuba has finally buried its late leader and the Western Hemisphere's most enduring dictator, Fidel Castro. His followers worldwide, a motley lot of left-wing extremists, "progressive" posers and shameless strongmen, have in turn shown their aversion to any moderation with all the praise heaped on the cherished cadaver.
They had a right to do it certainly, and may also continue to hide the shame of ignoring Cuba's suppressed freedoms behind their learned texts and tedious dissertations.
When it comes to their treatment of freedom and democracy, do dictators — both of the Right and Left — not have the same shameful standing? Yet the Left seems to see a gaping difference: While dictators of the Right have been, fairly, thrown into the hell of human judgment, those of the Left, partisans insist, "loved the people." They will tell you without blushing that Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, East Germany's Erich Honnecker and their ilk gave their all for social justice and equality.
If they had to persecute opponents en masse and starve millions to death, it was the "price to be paid" to defend the socialist revolution, and save the party.
By all means
As if dictatorships were not all the same. They legitimize themselves and always claim to represent the people — that opaque mass cited to justify the worst horrors. They prolong their own lives and extend their power and wealth, all the while calling themselves liberators, saviors, defenders of justices. And yet this Leftist church of sanctimony feels bound to denounce the villainous excesses of conservative dictatorships and bless their overthrow by all means and in any place.
When the likes of Fidel and his brother Raúl run dictatorial outfits, they are portrayed as "heroic" enterprises. Their cruelty is justified as self-defense against external foes, and for their partisans, the legitimacy of war and peace always depends on who is fighting!
Castro's fans are keen to cite the "education revolution" the regime has brought to the island, providing a pretty screen to hide a litany of iniquities, so many desperate attempts to flee to the United States, the inefficiency and economic failures. Who could interrupt them as they sing the Castros' praises in unison, if only to point out that Singapore did the same under a right-wing dictatorship, and this alongside a resounding economic triumph.
It is not for democrats to praise any dictatorship's achievements of course, but what would Castro's supporters say about it?
The communist regime did not just pummel freedoms and democracy, but pushed millions — all those Cubans who couldn't flee — into poverty as it forced them to live through one command-economy project after another. To prolong its existence, Cuban socialism became parasitic, living off donations from the Soviet Union, then oil gifted by its Venezuelan pupil, Hugo Chávez. The full face of tragedy revealed itself in the final, forced rapprochement with the United States, the supposed cause of all its ills.
And we should all be clear that Colombia owes nothing to Castro and his allies for the "peace" said to be coming our way. Certain fast talkers here will try to wipe clean with theories and dogmas all that blood spilt by the communist guerrillas they admire, and the trauma these have inflicted on our rural population and society generally. Try as they might to sweeten with sociology the mischief done by the imitators of Castro and El Che, nobody could justify the communist "ideal" that has come crashing down for its own, inherent flaws.
Democracy in Latin America, in its precarious and incomplete state, is no beneficiary but a victim of these armed missionaries who have sown terror to "free the oppressed and exploited." As someone said in a recent column on Cuba: Castro was King Midas in reverse.
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The oldest newspaper in Colombia, El Espectador was founded in 1887. The national daily newspaper has historically taken a firm stance against drug trafficking and in defense of freedom of the press. In 1986, the director of El Espectador was assassinated by gunmen hired by Pablo Escobar. The majority share-holder of the paper is Julio Mario Santo Domingo, a Colombian businessman named by Forbes magazine as one of the wealthiest men in the world in 2011.
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Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
October 18, 2021
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]
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• 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.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
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.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
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.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
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.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"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.
📈💥 IN OTHER NEWS
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 Worldcrunch.com
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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