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Founded in Lima in 1839, El Comercio is Peru's leading daily and one of the world's oldest Spanish-language newspapers. It became very politically influential during the 20th century, and is positioned on the center-right of the political spectrum.
Soldiers with masks fighting in Tripoli, Libya

Coronavirus — Global Brief: Bitter Irony For Bernie And Universal Healthcare

The insidious path of COVID-19 across the planet is a blunt reminder of how small the world has become. For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on this crisis from the best, most trusted international news sources — regardless of language or geography. To receive the daily Coronavirus Global Brief in your inbox,sign up here.


Coronavirus didn't kill the once promising campaign of Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator's hopes of winning the U.S. presidency were derailed, for all intents and purposes, five weeks earlier, by rival candidate Joe Biden's sweeping victory in Super Tuesday voting, on March 3.

But the pandemic didn't do Sanders any favors either. To mount a post-Super Tuesday comeback, the 78-year-old Vermont Senator needed to command an ever-greater portion of the nation's attention. But as the COVID-19 crisis escalated — and Sanders, like so many people around the world, retreated behind closed doors — frightened U.S. voters turned their thoughts elsewhere. "The campaign has practically disappeared from people's screens," writes Philippe Corbé of the French radio station RTL. "Most Americans don't have their head in politics right now."

Still, the irony of the situation is bitter for Bernie backers, as the pandemic's rapid and deadly spread may have been the definitive proof that perhaps his most controversial stance — universal healthcare — is just plain common sense.

It's likely too that with unemployment numbers now soaring in the United States, more than a few Americans could benefit from the redistributive economic policies that the self-proclaimed democratic socialist championed.

"The coronavirus crisis turned everything that Mr. Sanders promised he was best equipped to do — fix the health care system, call out the dangers of a Trump presidency — into an agenda that was more urgent than ever for the country," Sydney Ember writes in The New York Times.

But in election cycles, timing is everything: As columnist Leo Aldridge writes in the Puerto Rican daily El Nuevo Día, "Politics is the art of the possible, and in this time of pandemia and uncertainty, a Sanders victory in the democratic primary process isn't possible."

Benjamin Witte


  • Infection milestone: Confirmed cases around the world of those infected are approaching the 1.5 million mark.

  • Quarantine easing: Some European countries are starting to ease lockdown measures, with schools and nurseries in Denmark set to reopen on April 15 and Austria planning to reopen its shops in phases.

  • COVID ceasefire: Saudi-UAE coalition fighting Houthi rebels declares a 2-week unilateral ceasefire to help prevent a coronavirus outbreak in Yemen.

  • Oil factor: crucial talks between OPEC and non-OPEC oil-producing nations today to try to break deadlock over production levels that have combined with COVID-19 to put oil at a historic low.

  • How NYC got so bad: The surge in New York cases resulted largely from infected travellers who came from Europe, new study finds.

  • Boozeless in Bangkok: The Thai capital bans alcohol sales for 10 days to prevent residents from partying during Songkran, the Buddhist New Year.

  • Finally alone: A couple of giant pandas that had been living together for 10 years in a Hong Kong theme park without any — erm, action, apparently just needed some privacy.

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Sicily’s Mount Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, spewed ashes and smoke in a new eruption

The Latest: Vaccinegate in Peru, Dubai's Princess Prisoner, Kim Jong-un's Wife

Welcome to Wednesday, where a "vaccinegate" scandal shakes Peru, videos emerge of Dubai princess in "villa prison" and North Korea's first lady reappears after one year. Le Monde goes back in time to understand the proposal of an "immunity passport" for the vaccinated to be free to travel.

COVID-19 latest: New research from Oxford Brookes University shows taking selfies with endangered gorillas in zoos are putting the animals at risk for contracting COVID. Dozens of Peruvian politicians, including former president Martin Vizcarra, are under fire for secretly getting vaccinated before anyone else. Gaza has received its first vaccine shipment after Israel approved the transfer across its border.

• Myanmar coup protests: In the biggest protest yet, citizens block roads despite an internet shutdown, while UN officials warn that the rising number of soldiers in the streets could be a sign that a violent government crackdown is imminent.

• Trump blasts McConnell: Donald Trump ripped Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him a "dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack," just days after the Senator voted to acquit the former president during the impeachment trial, but told the press that, "Trump bears moral responsibility."

• Detained princess in Dubai: The UN has announced it will question the United Arab Emirates about the detention of Princess Latifa, the daughter of the country's vice-president and ruler of Dubai. In videos released by the BBC, she has accused her father of holding her hostage in Dubai since she tried to escape the UAE in 2018.

• Japan wants meetings to look equal: The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has proposed a new plan to make meetings more gender-inclusive. However, the five female observers cannot speak and will only be able to submit their ideas on paper afterward. This comes after the head of the Tokyo Olympics was forced to resign for saying women talk too much.

• Cyberattacks in French hospitals: Three hospital buildings near Lyon have been hit by cyberattacks, with computer systems blocked and attackers demanding payment for their release. The attack forced the suspension of surgeries and intensive care patients were relocated to other hospitals.

• Wife of Kim Jong Un reappears: After more than a year out of public view, North Korean first lady Ri Sol Ju has appeared in a photo of the couple attending a concert. South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) speculated that she has been staying at home to avoid the coronavirus.

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Machu Picchu draws as many as 5,000 visitors a day in high season
Mathieu Pollet

Take 5: Overtourism Pushback From Venice To Machu Picchu To Maya Bay

With many in the Northern Hemisphere now making their way back to the office, it's time to share stories and rankings of our respective summer vacations. One question that always comes up: How crowded was it?

Indeed, travels to popular foreign destinations continue to grow worldwide. In 2018, there were an estimated 1,4 billions international tourist arrivals, according to The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) — which forecasts a 3-4% rise for the current year.

Sure, tourism does generate wealth and creates jobs. Yet certain destinations around the world are now seeing it as more a question of "overtourism." The list of troubles outside visitors brings is long: overcrowding, littering, rising housing and land prices, hidden costs to upgrade infrastructure to meet both tourist demand and to take care of sometimes already endangered, natural habitats and monuments. There is also a broader awareness of travelers' contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

All of this adds up to an "invisible burden" — as dubbed by the charity The Travel Foundation which has been taking on the matter by focusing on different ways to curb mass arrivals. Here are five destinations which have been looking for new ways to, well, push back on the growing crowds:

NEW ZEALAND — Matapōuri

Waitangi and the Matapōuri Mermaid Pools, two New Zealander hot spots, were recently added to the interactive map of the Travel Responsible website of 98 "places that are suffering under the strains of overtourism." Matapōuri had already been closed since April after being polluted by urine and sunscreen, reported the New-Zealander news website Stuff.

Matapouri, with tourists — Source: Google Street View

A nationwide response has been put in place: Since July 1st, every tourist flying to New Zealand has to pay $35 NZD ($23) International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy. This new tax will help combat the environmental damage that overtourism is causing to the country's world-famous natural venues and landscapes.

PERU — Machu Picchu

Peruvian authorities are taking a very different approach when it comes to dealing with the flows of tourists to Machu Picchu. As a cornerstone of the local economy, the government recently approved another airport in the Cusco region, hoping to double the number of tourists to the ancient Inca site that is already visited by more than one million tourists each year.

It didn't take long for UNESCO to send a letter to Peruvian authorities to warn about protecting the Inca citadel, which has long been on the list of world heritage sites, the Lima-based newspaper El Comercio reported. Any construction that may have an impact on protected areas must be cleared with the UN agency. In 2017, the news website Gestíon reported, Peruvian authorities decided to tackle this alarming issue — by introducing a new ticket for a specific period of time, a guide for each group of visitors.

ITALY — Venice

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The city council in Venice, which is bursting with 36 million international tourists annually, implemented a new set of regulations, including fines from 25 to 500 euros and permanent bans from the city center for visitors showing "anti-social" behavior.

The "City of Canals' — Photo: veneziaunica via Instagram

Among the behavior that can be punished: taking part in some sort of noisy celebration (stag, hen, university-degree parties, etc.) Monday to Thursday between 8 A.M. and 8 P.M., eating or drinking outside of designated areas, wearing bathing suits or walking bare-chested, riding or even pushing a bicycle in the historical center, caught singing, shouting or listening to music without earphones from 11 P.M. to 8 A.M. and noon to 5 P.M. Italian daily Il Giornalewrote about two German backpackers who were fined 950 euros (and then banned) for making coffee on a travel cooker on the steps of the Rialto bridge.


Made famous by the 2000 movie The Beach starring Leonardo Dicaprio, the beautiful Maya Bay is closed for business. Initially, the Bay was supposed to be granted a four-month break to allow the local natural ecosystem to recover from the up to 5,000 tourists, on 200 boats, who visited every day. But last May, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation decided to extend the closure of the tourist magnet for another two years, the Bangkok Post reported. It is estimated than 80% of the coral around Maya Bay has been destroyed by human activity.

The decision received mixed feelings from professionals and experts. Some fear that focusing on one spot will just move the damage someplace else, and not really deal with the root of the problem. So, unless authorities tackle the environmental damage caused by tourists more generally — by imposing a limit on tourist number for instance, it may just be a matter of time before other national parks meet a similar fate.


De-marketing as last resort. Last year, an estimated 19 million tourists descended on the 850,000-inhabitant Dutch capital...! Last December, the city decided to remove the "I Amsterdam" letters, a famous selfie hotspot for tourists. Symbolically, it marked the beginning of their intention to "de-market", i.e. stop advertising, the destination, after it reached its breaking point. Locals had had enough of disturbances and were pushed out to quieter areas, outside of the city center.

I (and them) Amsterdam — Photo: Kevin Mcgill

New regulations were introduced in 2018 to fight against mass tourism, as listed in Dutch Review: higher tourist taxes, Airbnb accommodations won't be rented to tourists for more than 30 days per year (in some neighborhoods, there is even a complete ban on holiday rentals), several awareness campaigns. In an interview for Het Parool, Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema has even started considering relocating the Red Light District — famous for its prostitution industry — farther out of the city as it had become an attraction for tourists, and disturbed both sex workers and locals.

 Marcel Hutfilz, managing director of Scooterhelden on the streets of Berlin.
Juan David Romero

Scootergeddon: Electric Scooters Invade World Cities

Love them or hate them, electric scooters are changing the very ways we think about mobility and transportation in a city.

PARIS — They're taking over and flooding the streets all across the globe. Sometimes, you can spot them hanging from trees. Some of them are Birds, but the majority are actually Limes. And some people are terrorized, to a degree that they are not only trashing them, but also pooping on them. I'm actually talking about scooters. Electric scooters. If you're still wondering, just look up #Scootergeddon on Twitter.

There are good things about them, obviously: Scooters are cheap, they help reduce traffic, they are environmentally-friendly, they generate jobs, they don't require any physical exertion, they save time and they're simply fun. However, the negatives can be staggering, particularly for pedestrians and car owners, who have to deal with dozens upon dozens of these machines lying around on the streets, sidewalks, building entrances and random locations — some entirely broken. Not to mention death-related accidents in Spain and the U.S.

Whether scooters are safe, or at least safer than bicycles, is yet to be determined. In Austin, a study said scooters report half the injuries than bicycles. However, this study paints a different picture. The truth is, the variables are so vast: Are accidents being caused by malfunctioning scooters, regular vehicle drivers, a poorly-maintained road or a drunk rider? It's not the same riding a Lime in Paris than in Athens, a city with an entirely different driving culture and with little to no bike lanes. At the end of the day, it will be up to the cities to not simply regulate, but equip and educate themselves and their citizens with the right tools. After all, people don't go around leaving their city bikes everywhere, do they?

What's for sure is that for some people it has already become hard to picture a world without these devilish gadgets. The two primary monster micro-mobility companies Lime and Bird operate in 23 and 10 countries, respectively. According to Forbes, these two transportation rental companies became the fastest ever U.S. companies to reach billion-dollar valuations, achieving this milestone within the first year of inception. Also, both hit 10 million rides in less than a year, a milestone that Uber reached in three years. And they continue to grow. In Europe alone, adds Forbes, five e-scooter companies have already emerged and raised over $150 million of capital since the start of 2018. Uber and Lyft are also jumping in the scooter bandwagon.

Here are five examples of how the electric scooters are beginning to permeate into our society — perhaps permanently:


In France alone, an estimated 15,000 scooters from various companies have invaded the streets, a number expected to go up to 40,000 by the end of the year, according to France24. However, in September, in an effort to prevent this and create more safety for pedestrians, the country will not only regulate the companies, but also ban all electric scooters from pavements, according to Le Monde. Those who break the rule will receive fines of 135 euros, while bad parking that obstructs the movement of pedestrians will be fined with 35 euros.

To make things smoother, the city plans to provide 2,500 dedicated parking spaces, according to 20 Minutes. For such a feat, the city of Paris is asking operators to release data on the use of the scooters and the recorded flows in order to install parking spaces in the locations that make more sense. It will work similarly to the way city bikes work nowadays.

However, these scooters are so useful that not even the police can resist utilizing them. Not too far from Paris, the city of Calvados in Normandy is running a three-month experiment with scooters not for the public, but for the police, which so far seems to be doing pretty well, according to France 3 Normandy.


Hacked scooters are making the headlines down under. After all, users can activate these GPS-enabled scooters remotely via a smartphone. It's no wonder anyone with hacking experience could take advantage of the system's weaknesses and reprogram the scooters to play, for example, racist and sexist messages. This is exactly what happened in Brisbane in April, according to News.com Australia: Riders reported scooters that, upon activation, would yell out things like "I don't want to be ridden." The Lime Queensland public affairs manager Nelson Savanh said he was disappointed: "It's not smart, it's not funny and is akin to changing a ringtone," he said.


Besides hacking, there's also the issue of glitches. Earlier this year, Lime pulled all of its scooters off the streets in Zurich and Basel after a glitch caused the front brakes to automatically activate when the scooters reached their full speed around 24kph. In the most serious of cases, reports The Local, a man fractured his elbow and another one dislocated his shoulder.

Bird electric scooters are now present in more than 100 cities — Photo: Wikipedia


E-scooters crowd the streets not just with riders, but also with those who collect and charge them. A guy working as a Bird charger (as opposed to a Lime juicer, as they like to call them) was caught by the police trying to move a mountain of loose Birds using a convertible in Venice Beach. The video is here, for comedy value:


Getting run over by a scooter is not news on its own. It's been happening pretty much everywhere since the machines started making the rounds, including in Latin America, where micro-mobility companies have been making large leaps into the market. But cities are responding pretty rapidly to these type of incidents.

For example, not too long after Movo from Spanish ridesharing giant Cabify launched in Peru, the municipality of San Isidro was forced to suspend scooters. This happened in April when a 63-year-old woman, who was eventually OK, was ran over, according to La Republica. Five days later the Ministry of Transportation and Communications published a resolution prohibiting the use of scooters on sidewalks, green areas and pedestrian crossings, as noted by El Comercio.


Nicolas Maduro's 'Coup' On Front Page In Peru

el comercio peru coup venezuela

El Comercio

Venezuela slid closer toward dictatorship after a Supreme Court ruling Wednesday night gutted the powers of the opposition-led legislature. Peruvian newspaper El Comercio reports that Peru and other Latin American countries have condemned Venezuela's move toward one-man rule as can be seen on this front page. Peru withdrew its ambassador to Venezuela soon after the ruling. Other countries have suggested removing Venezuela from the regional grouping Organization of American States to punish the country for rolling back democracy.

Police officers in Piura, Peru

Peru Hit By Wave Of Mob Assassinations Of Local Mayors

TRUJILLO — The mayor of the northwestern Peruvian city of Piura was shot dead last week by a masked hitman as he left a restaurant, making him the latest victim in a wave of violence directed at Peru's embattled local officials.

Lima-based daily El Comercio reports that the death of Piura Mayor Ronald Javier Navarro sparked a fresh outpouring of grief and fear among his colleagues nationwide, many of whom live at risk of extortion and kidnapping from organized crime. Nine mayors have been killed by criminal gangs within the last two years, according to the Peruvian Association of Municipalities (AMPE).

"We lament, reject, and condemn acts like these that the country mourns," said Óscar Benavides Majino, AMPE chief. "This assassination only confirms the danger that we live in, we feel afraid and helpless."

Peru's mayors are poorly paid, with those in remote areas receiving as little as 900 sols ($264) a month. The majority of those targeted for extortion are mayors far from the capital of Lima, in more isolated regions. Gangs dealing in illegal mining and drug trafficking, especially in the region surrounding the northwestern city of Trujillo, extort mayors for large sums of money and threaten to kill them or their family members.

Officials like Benavides are urging Peru's Congress to pass a bill, proposed by the mayors themselves, that would provide all district and provincial mayors with bodyguards. At least 70 mayors across the country have received death threats or have been targeted by gangs in 2016, up from 40 in 2015, according to El Comercio.

Hunting in Lima's La Punta quarter

In Lima, A Public Ban On Pokemon Go Sparks Backlash

LIMA — Sometimes it seems the popular smartphone gaming app Pokémon Go knows no bounds. But Lima-based daily El Comercio reports that the capital's seafront district of La Punta recently banned the game in most areas, restricting players to a limited zone.

The district council moved ahead with the ban this week after receiving numerous complaints from local residents, as the area had become extremely popular among Pokémon Go players in the city. The new ordinance also prohibits playing the game between midnight and 6 am, and violators will be fined or have their cell phones taken away by police.

The measure has already drawn strong opposition, with many calling it unconstitutional. Opponents of the initiative have launched several petitions online, with the goal of reaching 5,000 signatures to request a ruling on its constitutionality that would invalidate the measure. "If I'm walking among Pokémon Go players but I'm on WhatsApp or Facebook, am I breaking the law?" asks Mariana Alegre of Lima Cómo Vamos, an NGO. "Where's the limit?"

The regulation went into effect on Sunday, but so far it has only generated scorn among Lima's Pokémon Go players. While the gaming app is prohibited in some countries in the Middle East and in certain sensitive sites in the West, Lima is the first large city to issue such a ban on users. If the first few days have been any indication, it's unlikely the city's police will be able to catch them all.

Building Cuzco's new Sheraton hotel

Sheraton Accused Of Building New Hotel On Top Of Inca Ruins

LIMA — The Sheraton hotel chain is being accused of threatening Peru's cultural patrimony by building a new hotel in protected parts of Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Accusing Sheraton of violating the conditions of an earlier municipal permit, Peru's culture ministry has decided to appeal a local court ruling on July 18 that construction could continue on the hotel, Lima-based El Comercio reported.

Those conditions stipulated that modern buildings in the historical district should not exceed two floors and must include an open space amounting to 30% of the plot, Cuzco mayor Carlos Moscoso told the daily.

Meanwhile, China's Xinhua news agency cited the local cultural heritage chief, Daniel Maravi, as saying that the hotel that Sheraton was building with local contractors clashed with the traditional surroundings, adding that some parts even sat atop ancient Inca pathways.

He said the building could threaten Cuzco's status as a Heritage site. City prosecutors and UNESCO, which can remove damaged sites from its Heritage list, were expected to send teams at the site to assess the situation.

Cuzco is Peru's second leading tourist destination, after the citadel of Machu Picchu, and is expecting around 300,000 visitors for the long weekend beginning on 28 July, the daily Perú 21 reports.