The Trumpian virus 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, writes Carlos Ruckauf in Argentine daily Clarín.
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.
Parliament sacked him, legitimately, and his equally Marxist vice-president, Dina Boluarte, is now using force to suppress her own, former supporters. The crisis is still on-going in both countries.
In the United States, the Republican Party is divided between moderates and radicals. They needed several rounds of voting to choose a speaker for the House of Representatives, because they have yet to resolve in their minds the presidential elections of two years ago, the assault on the Capitol, and ongoing investigations into the incident.
We should see these as alarm calls. When the adversary becomes an enemy, democracy begins to shake and irrational violence replaces ideological debates.
Here in Argentina, the refusal to obey a Supreme Court recommendation and the government's bid to sack some of its magistrates are also alarming signs of intolerance and a refusal to abide by the rules. What does the government want with a parliamentary spectacle that cannot prosper?
One of the main attackers on the government side is Leopoldo Moreau, a radical supporter of the vice-president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. He has accused Supreme Court judges of acting as instruments of the conservative opposition.
The government's parliamentary group will clearly fail to garner enough support to bring charges against the magistrates, as it did before in other spats with the Court. But is this the start of a bid to reject the results of the general elections, due in October, and pave the way for preventing the winner from taking office in December?
The signs are that an opponent of Kirchner and her supporters will become president later this year. No governing party can expect to win elections when the vast majority of voters are seeing runaway inflation destroy their stable revenues. The Economy Minister Sergio Massa is using all the means at his disposal to halt runaway inflation and even build the base for later investments and renewed revenues. The efforts are enormous, but with limited results.
Neither President Alberto Fernández nor Vice-President Kirchner believe in Massa's path. He is being tolerated for now, which can only undermine his success and thus of his possible presidential candidacy.
Millions of Argentines will likely vote "against" rather than "for" something or someone in October, though the rise of outside candidates like the libertarian Javier Milei may further disperse the parliamentary vote. Whoever becomes president will in any case likely face a legislature controlled by opponents. This makes a democratic pact necessary to ensure that political forces can work together, over and above ideological divisions.
There is no drama or tragedy in ceding power in a democracy. Temporarily, some people lose and others win, but accepting that transition ensures stability and avoids violence on the street. Turning political cracks into an abyss is certainly no answer.
— Carlos Ruckauf / Clarín
• New U.S. arms package heading to Ukraine: The United States is readying more than $2 billion worth of military aid for Ukraine that is expected to include longer-range rockets for the first time as well as other munitions and weapons.
• Suspects arrested in Pakistan mosque attack: Several suspects have been arrested in connection with Monday’s suicide bomb blast in a mosque in Pakistan’s northern city of Peshawar that killed more than 100 people and injured more than 200. More arrests are expected in the attack that targeted Pakistani police, with virtually all of the victims employees of the police department that was headquartered in the neighborhood of the mosque.
• Tyre Nichols funeral: Tyre Nichols, whose death at the hands of police in Memphis led to second-degree murder charges against five officers, will be buried at a funeral service today, with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and other senior level Biden administration officials slated to attend.
• UK teachers and civil servants join biggest strikes in years: Up to half a million British teachers, civil servants, train drivers and university lecturers are striking over pay and conditions on Wednesday in the largest coordinated labor action in Britain in a generation. The “Walkout Wednesday” mass strikes across the country have shut down schools, halted most rail services, while the military was called upon to help with border checks. This follows a national strike Tuesday in France, where an estimated 1.27 million people took the streets to protest the government’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.
• Missing radioactive capsule found: Australian authorities have found the coin-sized radioactive capsule of Caesium-137 that was lost in transit more than two weeks ago along a 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) stretch of highway. The capsule was recovered after almost a week-long search involving around 100 people.
• Strikes on Myanmar coup anniversary: Pro-democracy activists in Myanmar are holding a "silent strike" to mark two years since the country's military seized power in a coup and established a highly repressive regime. Protesters have urged the public to remain indoors and for businesses to close for Wednesday's anniversary.• Last Boeing 747 leaves factory:
In a ceremony that was broadcast live online, the last-ever
Boeing 747 to be produced was delivered on Tuesday to its new owner, U.S. air cargo operator Atlas Air, at Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington. This marks the start of the final chapter for the storied jumbo airplane.
Amsterdam-based daily NRC reports on its front page that The Netherlands and Germany have taken a major step in joining armed forces with the integration of the last Dutch brigade into the German army slated for April 1, bringing their combined manpower to 89,000 soldiers.
This is the gross amount of money that was spent by Premier League football clubs in the past month of January, on the transfer market. That’s 90% higher that the previous record of $530 that had been hit back in 2018.
Gluten-free in France: Stepping out of the shadows, heading upmarket
For those in the haute cuisine world of French food, a no-gluten diet (whether by choice or health requirements) has long been a virtual source of shame. But bakers, chefs and pastry makers are now taking the diet to whole new levels of taste and variety, reports David Barroux in Paris-based daily Les Echos.
📈 Living without gluten used to feel punitive; now it feels more like an option. The number of gluten-free products has exploded, in both quantity and quality, and there’s never been a better time to join the "no-glu" camp. In supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants, there are increasingly varied alternatives to gluten. And demand is just as high — €1 billion per year in sales in France alone, according to Nielsen.
🍞 Before, gluten-free meant less tasty. But now, bakeries have worked on different ways to produce bread that can still seduce those with refined palettes. "There’s a growing wave," says Ferréol de Bony, director of purchasing for the posh Left Bank department store. "Like with everything, you have to follow the rule of three B's: bon, beau, bio (high quality, aesthetically pleasing and organic)," she says. "Everything begins with taste, then packaging, and if possible, a touch of good storytelling."
🍽️ Nadia Sammut turned the restaurant l'Auberge la Fenière into the first Michelin-starred restaurant where the cuisine is gluten-free and lactose-free. In 2009, Sammut discovered gluten was acting like a time bomb, slowly destroying her body from the inside. “I decided that I had to rethink everything and open a restaurant for people with severe food allergies like me — but do it in a way that proves that it's possible to offer an incredible gastronomic experience,” she says.➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
“If they lose, we all lose.”
— In an interview with the BBC, Czech President-elect Petr Pavel says that Ukraine should be allowed to join NATO as soon as the conflict ends, as the country would be “morally and practically” ready. Pavel, himself a retired NATO General, has also spoken of the support provided by Western countries to Ukraine, saying that they should not hold back on providing military help to Kyiv: "If we leave Ukraine without assistance, they would most probably lose this war. And if they lose, we all lose," Pavel said.
The last Boeing 747, also known as the “Queen of the Skies,” left the company’s widebody factory in Washington and was delivered to cargo carrier Atlas Air, marking the end of an era for the first-ever “jumbo jet.” — Photo: Jennifer Schuld/Twitter
✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Renate Mattar, Inès Mermat and Anne-Sophie Goninet