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CLARIN
Clarin is the largest newspaper in Argentina. It was founded in August 1945 and is based in Buenos Aires.
Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Geopolitics
Carlos Ruckauf*

The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

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Close up photo of a somber-looking flag of the U.S.
eyes on the U.S.
Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, Ginevra Falciani, Renate Mattar

Eyes On U.S. – American Diplomacy Is Unable (Or Unwilling) To Adapt To A New World

Crises worldwide mean we need less nationalism and more cooperation, but the U.S., a weakened superpower, won't accept its diminished status.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — There is widespread international consensus that the post-Cold War period, which began around 1990, is over. Initially, it heralded a "new order" under the guidance of the United States, which promised stability, justice and equity but became instead a run of crises, challenges, conflicts and failures.

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The West has been a chief culprit in this failed promise. For parts of the world, this short phase was both traumatic and predatory, thanks to the wars on terror, drugs and migrants. If it is said to have begun with the fall of the Soviet Union, it definitively ended with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as confirmed in a U.S. National Security Strategy paper published last October.

Yet the first question is whether or not the United States has also modified its grand strategy. The 1990s were intense in terms of foreign policy and defense debates and proposals, though all in a broad guideline: to promote international economic and political convergence in a unipolar framework.

A grand strategy

The terror attacks on New York on Sept. 11, 2001, helped clarify those ideas. The United States would implement a primacy strategy, meaning it would not tolerate an equal power in the world either as a partner (the EU), a resurgent former enemy (Russia) or challenger (communist China). This was implemented by the Republican President George W. Bush, forcefully and unilaterally.

His Democratic successor, Barack Obama, fine-tuned the primacy strategy with a measure of diplomatic tact and increased consultations with allies. Primacy became confused under President Donald J. Trump, who despised the multilateral approach and mistreated allies and rivals alike. President Joseph Biden hasn't abandoned the objective but implements the strategy in doses, seeking concessions to restrict China while fortifying U.S. military projection.

The nuances of the four administrations didn't mean the United States was relenting on its vision of global supremacy. But the country has become weaker. This has affected the domestic and material foundations of its immoderate ambitions and opened a gap between a sense of national superiority and global realities.

Difficulty adapting to a changing world

In that context, a second question is whether or not the United States is willing to adapt to a transformed and changing world.

There are factors and forces that seem to be impeding this, including presumptions of a manifest destiny and a vocation to lead the world, inertia inside civil and military bureaucracies, simple ideas of "friends and enemies" in the minds of decision-makers, the enduring interests of powerful sectors, a reluctance to change the "American way of life", and strong internal polarization. These are all making it difficult for Washington to adjust to the world as it is.

It is not about naively turning inward but forging a grand strategy.

Meanwhile, there is a parallel concept of restraint, which has sought, so far in vain, to challenge the primacy of, well, primacy. Restraint seeks moderation and shuns arrogance. It envisages possibilities and touts pragmatism instead of dogmatism in dealing with them. It won't propose a crusade against dictatorships, and prefers to tend to the welfare of citizens at home and anticipate certain shared challenges facing China and the United States.

It is not about naively turning inward but forging a grand strategy that actually chimes with realities in the United States and abroad. The center of gravity is moving eastward and three centuries of Western dominance (also of its values, beliefs, rules and interests) are setting on the horizon.

The notion of a "polycrisis," a term of the 1990s coined by French analysts Edgar Morin and Anne-Brigitte Kern, has returned to the fore. It is a state of "crises upon crises" that may, in short, entail catastrophic results for everyone.

Standing firm, resisting change

Today we may be facing an accumulation of risks that could run out of control. A response based on global and not just national criteria would be needed, for example, to reverse, if at all possible, the planet's degradation and a tremendous social malaise. Which is why one is skeptical of the United States' willingness to come to terms with the current state of the world.

In several areas, one sees a reaffirmation of sovereignty and a crucial role for defense (which has been given its biggest budget yet), and the predominance of local politics. The United States is turning to protectionism and even considering delinking itself from China in response to its trading dynamism.

The consequences of that break in trade have yet to be seen. The recent Inflation Reduction Act and other measures may prompt trade reprisals, even among partners. We should recall, the United States was 55th out of 64 countries listed in the 2022 Climate Change Performance Index.

In short, the United States seems disinclined in early 2023 to adapt itself to a world with a more diffused power configuration, greater cultural and ideological diversity, and facing new challenges. When it comes to resisting change, it is certainly standing firm.

Juan Gabriel Tokatlian / CLARÍN

In other news ...

📝 IN BRIEF

eularochard/veja

Brazilian CBN podcast reported that newly elected U.S. Rep. George Santos, whom it called “the biggest liar around,” had reportedly participated in drag queen beauty pageants in Brazil, at a time when he claimed to be attending college in the United States.

Since his election, Santos has embraced right-wing policies, expressing support for Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law that bars teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in school and claiming that drag shows are a tool of the liberal agenda to groom and abuse children. “There are a total of 300 drag shows per day in New York City schools,” Santos stated in an interview. The figure was shown as being false.

Santos, son of Brazilian immigrants and the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent, had already been asked by New York Republicans to step down over other fabrications about his career and history.

In an article titled “An avalanche of fibs”, Rio-based culture magazine Piauí recalls a 2022 interview with him: “When asked jokingly if the dogs were named after drag queens, Santos bristled. 'Hey, now. Aurora is from Sleeping Beauty; Elsa, from Frozen; Anastasia, from the movie of the same name; and Electra is the daughter of Poseidon.'”

📝 IN BRIEF, PART II

“Was the Missouri House of Representatives inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale?” asks French public radio FranceInfo, as Missouri lawmakers adopt stricter dress code for women in the state House that will require them from now on to cover their arms.

This is the latest in a long list of references, by U.S. and international media, to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, which depicts a society where women are oppressed by the ruling class and everything in their lives is controlled, from reproduction to clothing.

📰 UP, FRONT PAGE AND CENTER

Japan News features U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kindisha looking chummy and “standing united”. The Japanese leader visited Washington last week, where he and President Biden agreed to strengthen the relationship between their countries. In their two-hour meeting, Kindisha and Biden reportedly discussed issues and challenges related to security strategies, sanctions against Russia, and their mutual goal of creating a world without nuclear weapons.

How Trump’s Legal Troubles Look In Places Where Presidents Get Prosecuted
eyes on the U.S.
Alex Hurst

How Trump’s Legal Troubles Look In Places Where Presidents Get Prosecuted

-Analysis-

What do South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Italy, France, Portugal, and Iceland all have in common? They’re all wealthy democracies that have charged and prosecuted former heads of state or heads of government for criminal acts committed while in office.

The United States is not a member of this club — at least, not yet.

Add to the above list, Argentina and Brazil, though not as wealthy, another pair of more or less mature democracies that have recently seen former leaders face prosecution.

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So how are countries like these, and others, looking at the U.S. House of Representative Committee’s recommendation that Donald Trump be prosecuted for, among other things, inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021? Is the view in their mainstream news outlets informed by their own experiences with charging former leaders?

“The first time in history that Congress recommends criminal punishment for a former president,” notes South Korea’s largest daily, Chosun. Conversely, any indication that the staunchly anti-China former U.S. President might end up in jail received rather scant coverage from Taiwan’s pro-independence Liberty Times.

Israel’s left-wing daily Haaretz duly reported the news, but as a republication from Reuters — perhaps there will be columns forthcoming in the next few days linking potential charges against Trump with Israeli prosecutors’ own attempt to indict and convict former and now once-again Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Trump: nightmare week.”

In Latin America though, which is no stranger to seeing former rulers jailed, Argentina’s Clarin offers an in-depth explanation of the charges the U.S. Justice Department will have to decide whether or not to pursue: “insurrection, obstruction of official process, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and conspiracy to lie, for which he could face jail time and removal from office.”

Brazil’s O Globo says what U.S. media have been hesitant to say straight out: “January 6, 2021 entered into the history of the United States as the first coup attempt during a transition of power.”

In Italy, where former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud, Corriere della Sera writes at more length about what it called “Trump: nightmare week,” and lists out the twice-impeached, single-term former president’s perils: possible charges, a concrete mark on his historical legacy, whether his taxes records will be made public, and the impact of all of that on his support among Republican voters.

In Portugal, former Prime Minister José Socratès was charged with corruption, money laundering, and falsifying documents — though the corruption charges were dismissed, the latter two were upheld in 2021. Of Trump, Lisbon-based Publico emphasizes the thoroughness of the year-and-a-half long investigation, and the 154 page report released Monday.

“Although they do not have legal force, these recommendations have a very relevant symbolism, since this is the first time that a former President of the United States has been referred to a criminal process,” writes Publico’s Joao Pedro Pincha. “If the former president is actually indicted, he faces the prospect of a long prison sentence and jeopardizes his aspirations to return to the White House in 2024.”

From France, where former President Nicolas Sarkozy was convicted and sentenced for corruption, Le Monde is the most scathing. In an editorial titled, “After the assault on the Capitol, the devastating legacy of Donald Trump,” two central lessons are drawn.

The first is that “despite a handful of conservatives who paid with their political careers,” the Republican Party has been “decidedly incapable of opposing on principle the man who has continuously debased it.” The second goes beyond the fate of a single party: that “the gravest threats to American democracy today come from a supremacist extreme-right whose rhetoric Donald Trump has rendered banal.”

Le Figaro saw the latest news as a chance to run a simple online poll for its French readers. “La Question du Jour: “Should Donald Trump renounce his candidacy for the next American presidential election?”

Regardless of what the French think he should do, the whole world by now knows that the question of what these singularly troubling politicians will do is not only impossible to predict, but is bound to reverberate far beyond America’s borders …

— Alex Hurst

In other news …

📰  UP, FRONT PAGE AND CENTER

L’Economia picked tech billionaire Elon Musk as its person of the year. Just as the SpaceX and Tesla CEO’s fate hangs in the balance with his latest venture, Twitter, Italian daily Corriere Della Sera’s economy supplement describes him as “innovative and controversial, over-the-top and visionary, loved and hated.”

🤫 SO AMERICAN

Equally loved and hated is the series Emily in Paris, whose third season is about to hit Netflix. For the occasion, French TV channel BFM met with some of the show’s actors, who hail from both sides of the Atlantic, for a bit of U.S. v. France banter.

Résultat: Cast members trading barbs about U.S. aloofness, French straightforwardness, Parisians being blasés and Americans being LOUD.

🇵🇭🛥🇨🇳 IN BRIEF

Newspapers in the Philippines are focused this week on the latest reports of Chinese naval vessels “swarming” near contested islands in the South China Sea — and the swift U.S. backing of Manila.

In its lead front-page story, The Philippine Daily Inquirer referred to the statement of U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price: “The reported escalating swarms of PRC vessels in the vicinity of Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal in the Spratly Islands interfere with the livelihoods of Philippine fishing communities, and also reflect continuing disregard for other South China Sea claimants and states lawfully operating in the region.”

The Philippine Star offered similar Page One treatment, with the headline: “U.S. slams swarming of China ships in WPS” — referring to the West Philippine Sea, Manila’s official name for the part of the South China Sea that falls within its economic zone of influence.

Photo of ​Chiara Torruella, 19, sleeping in a store
Society
Javier Firpo

Dream Job: Buenos Aires Experiment Puts Sleeping Skills On Display

An experiment in the Argentine capital sought to find out why some people sleep so well. Two young people stood out from the rest thanks to a certain inner tranquility and routines that get them in the snoozy mode. Next thing you know, they're out...

BUENOS AIRES — Chiara and Kevin have an unusual, and occasionally very useful, talent: the ability to doze off at the drop of a hat. Their enviable ability even earned them a little job consisting of, well, sleeping.

I watched them sleeping in two large beds inside a shop front on Godoy Cruz, in the Palermo Hollywood district of Buenos Aires. Chiara Torruella (19) and Kevin Raud (27), both about to graduate as systems engineers, were asked to take a nap there at exactly half-past-three in the afternoon.

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Three-Parent Families Emerging From Legal Limbo In Argentina
Society
Mara Resio

Three-Parent Families Emerging From Legal Limbo In Argentina

Multi-parent families or triple parenting are not yet enshrined in the law in Argentina, a continental pioneer of innovative social rights, but so far and in spite of legal challenges, court rulings have recognized the reality of children with "three parents."

BUENOS AIRES — A woman writes to her children before dying, unwilling to keep a painful secret any longer. On reading her letter, the children realize that the father who had raised them, wasn't their biological father.

Before such situations, Argentina's judiciary usually determines a state of "triple filiation," meaning that a person can have two mothers and a father or two fathers and a mother.

There are 25 such multi-parent families, found in and around Buenos Aires, as well as several provinces including Santa Fe, Tucumán and Córdoba. Each one is quite different.

The first two cases were from 2015, just before a reform to the Civil and Commercial Code went into effect. The adults in question did not take legal action to be recognized as multi-parent families, but the civil courts of the capital and the Buenos Aires province took decisions to resolve their situations.

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Photo of ​Lula with his former chief of staff and former President Dilma Rousseff waving to a crowd in Rio on Oct. 31
Geopolitics
Marcelo Elizondo*

Good Ol' Lula? Brazil's Next President Must Utterly Reinvent Himself — With Moderation

Brazil's incoming president, Lula da Silva, is unlikely to govern the same way he did 20 years ago. Socio-economic conditions will likely push him toward moderation, which will benefit Brazil and the region.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — Political comebacks have become a habit in Latin America. It is a rarity in other parts of the world, but here there is always someone who is "back".

Chile had Michelle Bachelet, Peru had Alan García and Fernando Beláunde Terry, Bolivia had Goni Sánchez de Lozada and Venezuela had Carlos Andrés Pérez — all as presidential "apparitions". In Argentina, we have Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, though as vice-president this time after a previous presidential term.

Now Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (good ol' Lula) has returned as president in Brazil. But don't expect him to govern the same way he did last time.

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photo of Lula giving a victory speech after defeating bolsonaro
Geopolitics
Marcelo Cantelmi

Brazil Divided: Why Lula's Stunning Return Doesn't Mean Bolsonaro Is Going Away

In Brazil, the leftist Lula da Silva's narrow victory margin in the presidential elections must be seen for what it is: a measured rejection, in hard times, of the outgoing Jair Bolsonaro's right-wing excesses, in favor of competent moderation. But it bodes for very uncertain times ahead

-Analysis-

SAO PAULO — October 30 election marks a remarkable return to the presidency for socialist Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, and spells defeat for the sitting president, the "Trump-like" Jair Bolsonaro. And yet, October 30 also is the beginning of a period of political cohabitation between two fierce opponents.

Cohabitation is not an uncommon situation in certain parliamentary systems, though Brazil may lack the necessary shock absorbers found in other democracies. This will be Lula da Silva's third presidential term — a historic feat for the former union leader who was jailed just four years ago over the corruption scandals that stained his earlier presidencies.

Lula, the leader of the PT or Workers Party, should not however be complacent. His victory margin was notably narrow, which can be interpreted as a reward of sorts for the achievements of his earlier administrations, and a rebuke — though not as sharp as some had hoped — for Bolsonaro's antics.

It also remains to be seen how the handover of power will play out, with Bolsonaro still not publicly conceding defeat the day after final results came in.

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In Argentina, A Pet Custody Battle Leads To "Multi-Species Family" Legal Status
Society
Mara Resio

In Argentina, A Pet Custody Battle Leads To "Multi-Species Family" Legal Status

A Buenos Aires divorce court has set a legal precedent for animal rights by resolving a custody battle with a visiting routine for the dogs of a divorced couple. The ruling is helping fill a vacuum around the legal protection of animals and pets.

BUENOS AIRES — When divorces loom, so does the question of who gets the kids.

But in today's era of diverse forms and composition of families, that question is expanding to include those other much-loved family members — pets. For some couples, their pets are their de facto children. So much so that one couple in Argentina went to court to settle custody of their two dogs.

In doing so, they introduced a new term to Argentine family law: "the multi-species family."

Taking the pet's wishes into account

That is the case of Amorina Bascoy (47) and Emmanuel Medina (42), a former couple from Argentina whose divorce settlement included a leisure and exercise regime for "their children," Kiara (9) and Popeye (6), two black dogs they rescued while married. The four constitute a "multi-species" family, a new term in the realm of family law in Argentina.

Earlier in October, a court in San Isidro, Buenos Aires, approved the couple's earlier agreement that Amorina would keep Popeye and Emmanuel would have custody of Kiara. The pact, says Amorina, had taken the dogs' wishes into account, and "each of them chose one of us to live with."

Pets must be seen like people with feelings, not things

"We didn't have children, so our dogs are our babies. It's a pure and noble love," says Emmanuel, stroking Kiara on a day the ex-couple were walking the dogs together in La Lucila, a seaside district. The two did not want their divorce to affect the dogs, and the four now share "walking" time at least once a week.

Amorina says the most important thing is for the dogs to be happy when the four are together. "We don't have a problem seeing each other in spite of getting divorced. We forget about ourselves because just spending time with them makes us smile," she says.

There is a legal vacuum in Argentina around the multi-species family.

Sarandy Westfall

Helping other little animals

The harmony has its limits. "There's no problem" with Emmanuel getting a girlfriend, says Amorina, "unless the new partner doesn't like the doggies." The former couple, who were married 15 years, may also disagree on what to feed the dogs. Amorina favors a "balanced" diet, and Emmanuel slyly buys them meat pies on occasions. The weekly walks are a coordinated affair that relies on "good faith" and "total flexibility" on both sides, says Emmanuel.

Popeye and Kiara do miss each other, Amorina admits. Their "parents" are not indifferent to their moods. Amorina says, "I was depressed, and being with them helped me get better. I just die when they look at me this way," pointing at the dogs beside her. Emmanuel is seated nearby, and says, "They come looking for you when they want to sleep. They stare at you, so you too have to go to bed with them."

The former couple agree that pets must be seen like people with feelings, not things. "If a couple is no longer together, it's a separation between them, and has nothing to do with the animals. It's cruel overlooking the animal just because they can't speak."

They add, a little emotively, "the years will pass and we won't be alive, but Popeye and Kiara will become immortal in that decision. And they'll be helping other little animals."

Adapting the law for pets

There is a legal vacuum in Argentina around the multi-species family. For that reason, lawyer Iván Knobel thought of including an agreement on the pets with the divorce request. He says, "This is the first time Argentinian justice includes in a divorce a visiting routine for the pets. It will create awareness so the Civil and Commercial Code can be changed as was done in Spain, and the welfare of household pets is taken into account when there is a separation."

Current norms in the country still cite animals as "movable property that can move independently or be moved by an outside force." The judicial system has already recognized households including a caregiver and household pets (considered non-human persons) as families.

The non-human animals that live with us are our family

For Diana Sica, the judge who ruled for Popeye and Kiara, "animals and especially domestic animals, are sentient beings that feel, miss, rejoice, suffer and acquire habits." Thus, she said, "there can be no doubt that the change produced by the couple's separation will affect them as well. That means the owners will be in the best position to care for their interests."

The multi-species family was first mentioned in the case of the killing of a dog, Tita, in March 2019 in Chubut in south Argentina. The court considered its two owners, their children, another dog and a cat to have been Tita's family. The killer was a police sergeant Elías Saavedra, who was found guilty of abuse of authority and of violating a law to protect animals.

The judge in that case said that the "non-human animals that live with us are our family. We give them a name, our own surname when we take them to the vet, give them an address (our home), take care of their health, feed and educate them, and ensure they have leisure time."