Alidad Vassigh

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​The inauguration of the mural in memory of the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in Bogota, Colombia
Geopolitics

New Revelations Of García Marquez's Ties To Cuba And Nicaragua

Like other intellectuals of his time, the celebrated Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez admired Cuba's Fidel Castro. What's just been revealed, however, is also, as one text reveals, the Sandinista rebels who have stifled Nicaraguan democracy in past years.

BOGOTÁ — Entirely isolated and criticized by the international community, Daniel Ortega was again sworn in earlier this month as president of Nicaragua.

Ortega has now outdone Anastasio Somoza, the despot he helped topple in his youth, with a record 26 years in power and starting a fifth mandate, including a fourth consecutive one and the second with his wife Rosario Murillo as vice-president.

After Cuba's Fidel Castro, he is the regional tyrant most frequently cheered by Colombia's leftist intellectuals, and praised as his people's emancipator from "yankee oppression."

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Why U.S. Vaccine Diplomacy In Latin America Makes "Good" Sense
Coronavirus

Why U.S. Vaccine Diplomacy In Latin America Makes "Good" Sense

Echoing its cultural diplomacy of the early 20th century, the United States is gifting vaccines to Latin America as part of a renewed "good neighbor'' policy.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — Just before and during World War II, the United States' Good Neighbor policy proved a very effective strategy to improve ties with Latin America. Initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the policy's main goal was non-interference and non-intervention. The U.S. would instead focus on reciprocal exchanges with their southern neighbors, including through art and cultural diplomacy.

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​Chinese walk past the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, in Beijing
Economy

China's Loose Credit Gambit

While other major economies are taking steps to tighten credit, China is acting to cheapen it, in order to revive its economic activity and help big firms repay their debts. But will it fuel global inflation, or worse, stagflation?

-Analysis-

It has recently become clear that Chinese economic growth is losing steam after a third consecutive negative quarter and a fragile 4.9% annual growth rate. This is starkly below China's average historical long-term growth rates and has depressed its stock market values. But China is not a country easily deterred by challenges and has decided to apply the principle that big problems need big solutions.

We are now seeing the world's economic blocks take drastically different approaches. The United States and Europe are envisaging restricting credit flows in the economy by raising interest rates, while China has chosen the opposite: pulling out all the stops to inject cash and increase liquidity.

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Argentine Millionaire To Buy And "Pulverize" Nazi Warship Artifact
Society

Argentine Millionaire To Buy And "Pulverize" Nazi Warship Artifact

Recovered in 2006 off the Uruguayan coast, the the Swastika-laden crest of the warship Admiral Graf Spee risked becoming a prized collection item in the growing market of Nazi artifacts.

An Argentine businessman has vowed to buy the eagle and swastika crest of a German warship that sank in 1939 in Uruguay, and was recovered in 2006, in order to "blow it to smithereens" and prevent it becoming a fetish for Nazi sympathizers.

The Admiral Graf Spee warship, which been disrupting Allied shipping in the early months of World War II, was damaged in fighting and then scuttled in Montevideo's harbor on the orders of its captain. Its wreck was recovered in 2006, and a Uruguayan court has ordered it sold to repay the two brothers who financed the operation.

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Are Rich Latin Americans Creating A Miami Real Estate Bubble?
Economy

Are Rich Latin Americans Creating A Miami Real Estate Bubble?

Wealthy Latin Americans have been among the most active home buyers in Miami, which now may be creating a "tough" sellers' market perceived by some as simply a haven for assets threatened by instability in home countries.

-Analysis-

MIAMI — If New York is the city that never sleeps, Miami may well be the city that never stops growing. Florida's bilingual paradise with dreamy beaches is expanding both upwards and sideways, and has received almost 1,000 new residents a day since 2020, according to figures from local realtors ISG Realty and ISG World.

The attraction has spread to surrounding districts and counties, both for Florida's climate and beaches and for the security and stability the United States assures. Geraldo, a financier from Peru, has been living in Weston, in Broward County north-east of Miami, for almost a year. He decided to buy a house with a garden there for the area's reputable schools, infrastructure and "impressive security." These and other factors like Florida's lower personal taxes have all fueled demand for homes in several districts of southern Florida and also in Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa.

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In COVID Times, Diary Of A Noted Hypochondriac
Ideas

In COVID Times, Diary Of A Noted Hypochondriac

Every pang or cough could be the virus, or something worse.

-Essay-

MADRIDI had a slight pain recently on the left-hand side of my torso, just above my hip. Appendicitis, I thought. Or maybe a still undiscovered COVID symptom? The nagging mind chatter that has accompanied me for as long as I can remember continued its monologue: What, you thought you'd be healthy forever? Millions have died over the past two years while you were sitting pretty. That's over! You'll die alone, in a foreign land...

Or was the pain on the right-hand side? Where does appendicitis strike? I cannot recall, but the pain of sorts came and went. Like a warning shot!

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Photo of Mexico's President López Obrador
Geopolitics

Mexico: AMLO's Myth-Making Hits Its Limits

Oblivious to his lackluster performance in government, Mexico's President López Obrador is revving up efforts to make himself a transcendental figure of Mexican history, like other unsung predecessors.

-OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — His discourse, body language and tone are increasingly intolerant and suggest rising desperation. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka AMLO) has become so verbally radical this year that he has indiscriminately attacked educational institutions, journalists and individuals who, paradoxically, had been among those who defended and promoted him — or at least his causes. The change in his demeanor compared to when he took office is patent and, nevertheless, none of this has altered the devotion of his electoral support base.

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Dark photo of a man sitting cross-legged, holding a video game controller
Society

Mexican Foreign Minister: U.S. Gun Makers "Financing Violent Video Games"

Mexico has filed a lawsuit against several U.S. video game firms. The legal action is an escalation of cross-border tension between the countries, as Mexico blames U.S. gun laws for fueling crime in the country.

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon has accused U.S. arms manufacturers of backing violent video games, which he said encourage crime and violence in the United States and Mexico.
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People pass in front of a mural that reads ''live your dreams'' in a polling place during the second round of the presidential elections in Santiago, Chile.
Geopolitics

Chile's Elections Bring Youthful Promises — And Uncertainty

Will Chile's president-elect Gabriel Boric and his team lead the country toward a European-style social-democracy in partnership with business, or will the country turn sharply left if traditional economic powers resist their reforms?

SANTIAGO DE CHILE – What just ended, and what is beginning in Chile, with the overwhelming victory of the leftist presidential candidate, Gabriel Boric?

The 35-year-old of the Broad Front (Frente amplio) won the Dec. 19 general elections with 55.9% of all votes cast, against 44.1% for the very conservative José Antonio Kast. This removes all doubts on the desire for fundamental changes among the majority of Chileans, especially when the results come in the wake of violent protests in October 2019 against growing inequality, privatization, and increasing corruption. The outcome is also voters' clear endorsement of the October 2020 plebiscite on the adoption of a new constitution, which was in response to the 2019 demonstrations.

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The Madrid Neighborhood Where The Spanish Literary Giants Live On
food / travel

The Madrid Neighborhood Where The Spanish Literary Giants Live On

There is a charming little sector of central Madrid where towering figures of Spanish literature lived, loved, wrote ... and mocked each other.

-Essay-

MADRID — Many people think that in contrast with politics (where it's all daggers drawn, spite and calumny), the denizens of the Republic of Letters — novelists, intellectuals and poets — get on very well. If they were ever to quarrel, they would do it with elegance and arguments devoid of envy or calculations.

In fact, the opposite has long been the case, at least since the Greek playwright Aristophanes mocked Socrates, possibly contributing to his execution by the city of Athens. Envy, hate, backbiting and rivalries are commonplace in the Republic of Letters. It is, literally, a republic of missives, as its luminaries exchanged letters wherein they condemned certain peers and praised others. Alliances were made in those letters, and groups and currents founded in opposition to other schools or literary cliques.

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Colombian former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt
Geopolitics

Betancourt Is Back, Again! Former Hostage Can Set Colombian Politics Free

With a personal history of suffering and a humane discourse, the liberal Ingrid Betancourt's return to Colombian politics, even if not a presidential candidate next year, may prompt voters to shun the extremes.

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — I am glad Ingrid Betancourt — once a disruptor of political corruption in Colombia who aspired to be president in 2002, only to end up for six years a hostage in the jungle — has returned to politics ahead of the 2022 presidential elections.

When I think of her, I see the image many have seen, which show her despondent and emaciated after years of unjust confinement at the hands of the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). But the famous image also reveals her enduring resolve.

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Biden's Democracy Summit: The Sad Truth About The Invitation List
Ideas

Biden's Democracy Summit: The Sad Truth About The Invitation List

Can the countries the United States have invited to an exclusive summit on democracy safeguard and spread a system that is inherently flawed and fragile?

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — Don't expect much from the Summit for Democracy, summoned by the U.S. President Joe Biden.

Slated later this week, it follows other initiatives to defend and promote democracy worldwide, and will convene by video remote the representatives of 110 invited countries, which the U.S. State Department considers democracies.

Its three stated objectives are: defense against authoritarianism, fighting corruption and promoting respect for human rights.

The first controversy around the gathering emerged from the guest list, which includes some of the United States' chief regional allies.

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