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Ideas

Orbán And Kaczynski, A Duet In The Key Of Fascism

As the populist leaders face sinking poll numbers and the nearby war in Ukraine, they turn to the tactics of racism and transphobia, which ultimately adds up to fascist tactics.

Caricature featuring Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Polish politician Jaroslaw Kaczynsk​i

Caricature featuring Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Polish politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski

Wojciech Maziarski

-OpEd-

WARSAW — Soaring inflation, economic stagnation, pressure from Brussels and the blockade of European funds, war on the eastern front...

The autocratic governments of Viktor Orbán and Jaroslaw Kaczynski are facing a wave of adversity they have not faced before.

Their governed subjects are starting to get fed up, taking to the streets, blocking bridges (in Budapest), and chanting: "You will sit!". Poll ratings for Orbán's Fidesz party in Hungary and Kaczynski's PiS in Poland keep falling.

So the pair of autocrats are reaching for a tried-and-true method of distraction: inventing alleged "enemies of the nation" and pointing the blame at them.

Kaczynski has taken aim at transgender people to rouse the attention of the God-fearing masses — even if some voters from his party are forced to listen to the leader's stories with amazement and slight distaste.

Orbán, on the other hand, brought out an artillery of a heavier caliber. Last month, in his annual keynote speech he reached for arguments from the arsenal of 20th-century racism and — yes, let's not be afraid of the word — fascism.


He said that soon more than half the population of major Western cities would be from outside Europe and that the races should not be allowed to mix in Hungary. He suggested that inside Europe's open-border Schengen zone, at Hungary's borders, non-white foreigners should be turned away, even if they have the right to stay in the EU. Otherwise, he argues, the foreign element will occupy the Carpathian Valley, homeland of Hungarians.

\u200bHungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orb\u00e1n at the European Union leaders' summit

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the European Union leaders' summit

JP Black/ZUMA

Racism or transphobia, or both?

Orbán chose his words carefully. He thought through his ideas and prepared his speech. This was, after all, his annual keynote address, which is always watched with great attention. It was here in 2014 that he gave his famous speech, in which he announced the construction of "illiberal democracy."

It now remains to be seen what will be the results of the tactics employed by these two well-practiced autocrats, who have taken cues from each other often the past. If I had to guess which of them will turn out to be more efficient, I would bet on Orbán. It seems that the racism he presents can mobilize and fuel public hysteria much more effectively than Kaczynski's absurd transphobia.

And that means that this time the Polish party leader, who after all has already spoken about the germs spread by immigrants, will be the one imitating his Hungarian counterpart.

So listen well to Viktor Orbán's racist theses, for in all probability it will be the leitmotif of the Law and Justice Party's 2023 campaign.

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Economy

What's Driving The New Migrant Exodus From Cuba

Since Cuba reopened its borders last December after COVID closures, the number of people leaving the island has gone up significantly. Migration has been a constant in Cuban life since the 1950s. But this article in Cuba's independent news outlet El Toque shows just how important migration is to understand the ordeals of everyday life on the island.

March for the 69th anniversary of the beginning of the Cuban Revolution.

Loraine Morales Pino

HAVANA — Some 157,339 Cubans crossed the border into the United States between Oct. 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, according to the U.S. Border Patrol — a figure significantly higher than the one recorded during the 1980 Mariel exodus, when a record 125,000 Cubans arrived in the U.S. over a period of seven months.

Migrating has once again become the only way out of the ordeal that life on the island represents.

Cubans of all ages who make the journey set off towards a promise. They prefer the unknown to the grim certainty that the Cuban regime offers them.

Migration from Cuba has been a constant since the 1950s.

In 1956, the largest number of departures was recorded in the colonial and republican periods, with the arrival of 14,953 Cubans in the United States, the historical destination of migratory flows. Since the January 1959 revolution, that indicator has been exceeded 30 times.

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