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Alidad Vassigh

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Photo of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visiting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran on June 11. Venezuela is one of Iran's closest allies, and both are subject to tough U.S. sanctions.
Geopolitics

Venezuela-Iran: Maduro And The Axis Of Chaos In The Americas

With the complicity of leftist rulers in Venezuela, Bolivia and even Argentina, Iran's sanction-ridden regime is spreading its tentacles in South America, and could even undermine democracies.

-Analysis-

CARACASThe dangers posed by Venezuela's relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran is something we've warned about before. Though not new, the dangers have changed considerably in recent years.

They began under Venezuela's late leader, Hugo Chávez , when he decided to turn his back on the West and move closer to countries outside our geopolitical sphere. In 2005, Chávez and Iran's then president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, signed collaborative agreements in areas beyond the economy, with goals that included challenging the West and spreading Iran's presence in Latin America.

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Photo of a world map
Geopolitics

Our World Is "Flat" No More: Welcome To The Era Of Pure Geopolitics

The dominance of a single narrative of globalization and liberal democracy is over.

-Analysis-

MEXICO CITY — As the Bolshevik leader Lenin once observed, there are decades when nothing happens and weeks in which decades take place. The big turns in history tend to go unnoticed in their decisive moments because daily life doesn't suddenly change for most people around the world.

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Yet in retrospect, certain moments become crucial. Everything suggests the invasion of Ukraine is one of those turning points, with enormous implications for the world's future.

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The Meaning Of Petro: A Former Guerrilla As President Is Colombian Democracy At Work
Ideas

The Meaning Of Petro: A Former Guerrilla As President Is Colombian Democracy At Work

Gustavo Petro's victory is not only a response to the social ills of today, but having been part of a Marxist guerrilla group that negotiated with the state decades ago, and returned to the social fold, he embodies the nation's democratic future.

-Editorial-

BOGOTÁ — After decades of stigmatizing anything to do with the Left — to the point of annihilating an entire political party for its ideas — Colombia has elected for the first time — and quite decisively — a president of the Left. The election of Gustavo Petro and his vice-president, Francia Márquez, was itself one of the promises of the peace Colombia has sought for so long: with an orderly handover of power, the inclusion of all political positions and the possibility to work through our differences by voting.

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We Should Use The Pandemic To Rethink Death, And Life
CLARIN

We Should Use The Pandemic To Rethink Death, And Life

Two years of restrictions and millions of deaths brought on by the pandemic might have had us reflect on the reality of suffering and death, but as booming pharmaceutical and retailing figures suggested, nothing can distract modern folk from their love of distraction. A view from an Argentine physician.

-Essay-

BUENOS AIRES - Talking about death gets bad press. Our culture hides it, and we shun it and can barely accept it as the final point of our lives. For philosophy, however, death is a star that has irradiated its dim light from the very dawn of thought. For medicine, it is akin to a calendar.

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A hook for shark fishing.
Society

Iran Caught In Persian Gulf's Record Rise In Illegal Shark Hunting

The Persian Gulf has become lucrative fishing territory. Sharks, a threatened species, are being hunted to be used in cooking and medicines. Local fishermen are being arrested, but the operation involves people much higher up the food chain.

LONDON — Iranians were informed in mid-May of another piece of endemic lawlessness in their country: illegal fishing of sharks in the Persian Gulf, with the catch destined for unspecified destinations and part of an ever bigger black market .

Authorities found a haul of 8,000 dead shark and shark fins in the port of Chabahar in south-east Iran, and 2,500 shark fins on the island of Kish, in the south-west of the country, in less than a week earlier in May. The chief environmental officer of the Sistan-and-Baluchestan province described the consignments, found in cold storage facilities, as the biggest so far.

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Photo of a person under an umbrella looking over the Los Angeles cityscape
Geopolitics

Summit Of The Americas: Why Washington Needs To Tend To Its Own Backyard

With Washington's attention fixed on Russia, Ukraine and China, the upcoming Summit of the Americas will likely not be the "breakthrough" gathering to forge the equal ties Latin America has long sought from the United States. But Washington would be wise to invest in stronger unity in its own hemisphere.

-Analysis-

SANTIAGO — As we approach the next Summit of the Americas, the only meeting of leaders from the countries of North and South America, slated to begin in Los Angeles on June 6 , it will no doubt be hailed yet again as a unique opportunity for the United States to reboot its relations with the region.

It is a cliché that has taken on new weight since the darker period of the Trump administration, when Latin America kept falling as a priority for Washington. Yet that administration, with its less-than-cordial discourse toward Latin nations, merely exacerbated a trend that was already well underway.

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Photo of people holding a presidential election ballot in Bogota, Colombia
Geopolitics

Showdown Of Populists From Left And Right Looms In Colombia Presidential Runoff

Colombians spurned the establishment candidates in the first round of presidential voting. In the second round, on June 19, they will have to choose between Gustavo Petro, a former Marxist guerrilla, and Rodolfo Hernández a "tough-talking" businessman being compared to Donald Trump.

-Editorial-

BOGOTÁ — Colombians went out on May 29 to make themselves heard. Early figures showed participation was higher than the first round of presidential elections in 2018, and what we saw was a motivated citizen body actively taking part in the elections to make an impact. It was a relief that — after years of social tensions — Colombians found in voting an eloquent language with which to express themselves.

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A Russian soldier in Moscow in 1999.
Ideas

Nothing More Dangerous Than A Clash Of Two Superpowers In Decline

The war in Ukraine is hastening the fall of major world powers Russia and the United States. There can only be one true victor from their protracted battle — China — and far too many risks for the rest of us.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — Worse than the Thucydides trap — a tendency towards war when a rising power threatens to displace an established one — is the struggle between two declining powers. In 1958, the sociologist C. Wright Mills published a book with a title relevant to our time, The Causes of World War Three. Four years later, the United States faced the Cuban missile crisis, which took the world to the brink of a nuclear war. Luckily, the leaders of both superpowers knew how to step back when a single miscalculation might have set the planet on fire.

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Mills elaborated in the book his controversial theory of the power elites. In both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, he stated, the system's three great pillars — military, industrial and political — merged at the top to form a narrow, cohesive group that wielded most of the power. That was his power elite. In the United States, the power elite manipulated a two-party, liberal democratic system, while in the Soviet Union, it ran a totalitarian state through a single party and top-down social and economic management.

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A farmer and his tractor in a wheatfield in Argentina.
Future

Agrotokens Let Farmers Turn Surplus Grain Into Tangible Cryptocurrency

Digital currencies may be volatile, but one company in Argentina has found a way to allow farmers to purchase goods and services online using surplus grain.

BUENOS AIRES — Amid a boom in the price of farming products, an Argentine firm has devised a way for local farmers to turn surplus grain into digital credits that can be used to purchase goods with a debit card.

In partnership with Visa, Agrotoken, a firm founded by Eduardo Novillo Astrada and Ariel Scaliter, has created a card accepted by 80 million shops and businesses associated with its tokenized grains program. The firm is effectively linking Argentine farmers and exporters who have surplus grains with a global business network.

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Photo of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico voting​
Geopolitics

AMLO Power Grab: Mexico's Electoral Reform Would Make Machiavelli Proud

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO, says his plans to reform the electoral system are a way to save taxpayer money. A closer look tells a different story.

OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — For supporters of Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) the goal is clear: to keep power beyond the 2024 general election, at any price. Finally, the engineers of the much-touted Fourth Transformation, ALMO's 2018 campaign promise to do away with the privileged abuses that have plagued Mexican politics for decades, are showing their colors.

Current electoral laws date back to the 1990s, when unending electoral disputes were a constant of every voting round and impeded effective governance in numerous states and districts. The National Electoral Institute (INE) and its predecessor, the IFE, were created to solve once and for all those endemic disputes.

Their promoters hoped Mexico could expect a more honest future, with the electoral question resolved. The 2006 presidential elections, which included AMLO as a recalcitrant loser, showed this was hoping for too much. That election is also, remotely, at the source of the president's new electoral initiative.

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​People in the streets of Bogotá
Economy

The Bogus Concept Of "Carbon-Neutral" Oil

The Colombian president recently said that the country had exported one million barrels of carbon-neutral or offset oil. But in an unregulated carbon market, such a claim is pure greenwashing.

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ - In March this year, various national and corporate leaders met in Houston, Texas, for CERAWeek, an annual conference to discuss the world's energy challenges. Colombia's President Iván Duque took the opportunity to remind participants that his country produced just 0.6% of the world's carbon emissions even as it had raised crude production to one million barrels a day.

He said oil should not be seen as an enemy, since the fight was really against greenhouse gas emissions. He also revealed at the event that the country's national oil firm, Ecopetrol, had sold the Asian market its first million barrels of carbon-neutral or offset crude, consisting of the entire extraction, production and exportation chain.

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Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ideas

García Márquez And Truth: How Journalism Fed The Novelist's Fantasy

In his early journalistic writings, the Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez showed he had an eye for factual details, in which he found the absurdity and 'magic' that would in time be the stuff and style of his fiction.

BOGOTÁ — In short stories written in the 1940s and early 50s and later compiled in Eyes of a Blue Dog, the late Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia's Nobel Prize-winning novelist, shows he is as yet a young writer, with a style and subjects that can be atypical.

Stylistically, García Márquez came into his own in the celebrated One Hundred Years of Solitude. Until then both his style and substance took an erratic course: touching the brevity of film scripts in Nobody Writes to the Colonel, technical experimentation in Leaf Storm, the anecdotal short novel in In Evil Hour or exploring politics in Big Mama's Funeral. Throughout, the skills he displayed were rather of a precocious juggler.

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