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Alidad Vassigh

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Mapuche family
Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

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Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee
Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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Photo of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln during Rim of the Pacific
Geopolitics

How South American Oceans Can Sway The U.S.-China Showdown

As global rivalries and over-fishing impact the seas around South America, countries there must find a common strategy to protect their maritime backyards.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — As the U.S.-China rivalry gathers pace, oceans matter more than ever. This is evident just looking at the declarations and initiatives enacted concerning the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Yet there is very little debate in South America on the Sino-American confrontation and its impact on seas around South America, specifically the South-Eastern Pacific (SEP) and South-Western Atlantic (SWA). These have long ceased to be empty spaces — and their importance to the world's superpowers can only grow.

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When Friends "Break Up" — The Psychological Damage After Friendships End
Society

When Friends "Break Up" — The Psychological Damage After Friendships End

Society sees friendships as far less important than love and life partnerships. But psychologists warn that the end of a close friendship can leave the "grieving" side in need of therapy.

BUENOS AIRES — It was Wednesday and Sofía, a 31-year-old woman living in Buenos Aires, was having a good day. She'd had a productive work meeting in the morning and her usual gym class in the afternoon. But as she walked home listening to music in her earphones, she felt an acute pain, first in her chest, then throat.

It wasn't a heart attack, but she panicked and began to cry. What prompted the reaction, she realized later, was the music she had just heard: a song that brought back teenage memories of a former friend. Sofía told her therapist the next day that the end of the friendship had upset her greatly, and until that moment had suppressed the grief.

The friend hadn't died, there had been no fight or exchange of ugly words, but the two had drifted apart, irreversibly, Sofía felt. None of this, she told the psychologist, made it any less troubling or hurtful.

The song that had triggered her anxiety was 11 y 6 by Argentine Fito Páez. It took Sofía back to her 16th birthday, which she spent with her friend. That girl "was" her teenage years, she explained and without her "a big part of what we lived together now is gone."

The end of a strong friendship causes bona fide grief, even if it is often ignored. More and more specialists believe that it needs to be processed, and perhaps treated, like one would the end of a love affair or partnership.

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Globe
Ideas

Why The New World Order Is Taking So Long To Get Here

A relative loss of power by sovereign states to non-state actors, as well as China's ascent, are part of a wider reshaping of power structures that is tense, "anarchic" and far from complete.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — In his book The Future of Power (2011), analyst Joseph S. Nye observed in the early 21st century a double transformation of power in the international order. It was a process of both diffusion and transition of power.

In the first case, power had begun to shift from sovereign states to a range of non-state actors with agendas that were outside national interests and state control. The latter refers to a displacement of the epicenter of world economic power from West to East.

A decade later, the evolution has become starker.

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The U.S.-Colombia 'War On Drugs' Has Failed: What Comes Next?
Society

The U.S.-Colombia 'War On Drugs' Has Failed: What Comes Next?

The Biden administration and Colombia's new government seem to agree on the need for a new approach to drugs policy. But will they be able to find support in their countries to forge a new strategy?

BOGOTÁ - Some early directives by Colombia's new president Gustavo Petro suggest he sees the 2016 peace accords with the The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as failed or at best unfinished. Founded in 1964, FARC, the armed wing of the Communist Party, have been fighting the longest-running armed insurgency in the Western hemisphere.

Signed in 2016 under former president Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, the accords were meant to bring peace to the country, yet that peace has been patchy. This is not because another communist guerrilla force in the country, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has refused to join the peace arrangements, nor is it because of the last government's failure to implement the accord.

The problem clearly concerns drug trafficking, which has continued unperturbed since 2016. While drug use remains illegal, drug trafficking, which has long helped FARC fund its insurgency, will always be highly profitable and foment violence. So is it time to decriminalize drug use?

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Chile's "Silent Majority" Reminds Us About The Overreach Of Identity Politics
Ideas

Chile's "Silent Majority" Reminds Us About The Overreach Of Identity Politics

An overwhelming majority of Chileans quietly but very clearly voted to reject a draft constitution, which it feared would lock the country into a radical socialist mould.

-Analysis-

In Chile, the Left has fallen victim to its love of identity politics. Dizzied by the country's social upheavals and calls for change since 2019, it forgot that at the end of the day, Chile is the home of moderation.

The rejection Sunday by most voters of a proposed, new constitutional text comes in spite of the fact that 80% of Chileans still want to overhaul the constitution bequeathed by the country's conservative, military regime of the 1970s.

The vast majority of Chileans have in recent years come to a shared conclusion, that Chile's socio-economic advances and undoubted prosperity must be democratized and fairly shared out among its territories and socio-economic classes.

For the Chilean Left, led by the young President Gabriel Boric, this was the biggest window of opportunity in its history. It had never had such a clear mandate for creating a transformative project based on a new constitution, and this in addition to the symbolic weight of putting an end to the constitution of the late dictator, Augusto Pinochet.


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The Noble Absurdity Of Granting Constitutional Rights To Nature
Ideas

The Noble Absurdity Of Granting Constitutional Rights To Nature

Giving nature rights, as South American nations are keen to do these days, is well-intentioned, but far too limited in scope to make sense.

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — The Webb space telescope's extraordinary ability to "see" has allowed us to observe what was previously hidden by cosmic dust.

Thanks to cameras catching infrared light, which humans cannot see, a new universe has unfolded, thousands of millions of light years away: with unknown galaxies, stars that are born and collapse, cosmic precipices, magnificent explosions and black holes that swallow stars.

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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Geopolitics

Is Mexico's President Pushing For "Mexit" From Trade Pact?

In irking Mexico's chief trading partners with decisions affecting energy firms, the country's leftist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is tinkering with the free-trade pact that is the very engine and ballast of Mexico's vast, and vulnerable, economy.

-OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — The key to having a nuclear bomb is to never use it. Its fundamental value is in its deterrence of other powers wielding the bomb. The same applies to negotiations between governments in areas like investments or trade. Clearly the risk is inferior, as the country will not face physical destruction, which may be why Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) sees no risk at all in raising the stakes in his spat over energy with the United States and Canada — the country's paramount free-trade partners.

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Photo of a sex shop in Medellin
Society

How Medellín Became Colombia's "Open Air" Brothel

Medellín was once a mix of conservative values and hidden perversions, but socio-economic troubles and the pandemic have coincided to make the city, in the words of locals, "Sodom and Gonorrhea."

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — In the 1940s, Medellín wasn't just Colombia's chief industrial city but also boasted the most brothels, sex workers and "red light" districts.

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Man in front of the notorious disfigured Christ mural inside a chapel in Borja​
Society

Holy Mess! Spain's Disfigured Christ Mural Remains A Hit With Tourists

The clumsy restoration of a mural of Christ in a Spanish chapel 10 years ago shocked, then amused Spaniards and millions more abroad, and gave the local town a level of publicity, and tourist revenues, it never had nor could have hoped for. Here's how it looks 10 years later.

BORJA — Among the countless pictures and images of Christ around the world, it might not be outlandish to imagine that one of them might seek revenge — using humidity as the instrument of its vengeance.

One might say this of a by-now notorious mural of Christ inside a chapel in Borja in the province of Aragón, northern Spain.

Painted in 1930 by a painter and academic, the image was smothered in 2012 by Cecilia Giménez Zueca, a local resident and amateur painter. She wanted to help no doubt, but her "unfinished" restoration turned a venerable image of the suffering Christ — an Ecce Homo — into a bloated, indefinable cartoon.

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1970s China Revisited? Venezuela's "Special Economic Zones" Are A Desperate Scam
Economy

1970s China Revisited? Venezuela's "Special Economic Zones" Are A Desperate Scam

Venezuela is to create free economic zones to attract foreign capital into the Venezuelan economy, but who would take "clean" money to a lawless land run by rapacious revolutionaries?

-OpEd-

With full pomp and surrounded by flatterers and opportunists purporting to be Venezuela's new breed of businessmen, President Nicolás Maduro recently announced the promulgation of a law to create Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The concept is from communist China, which began implementing it in 1970 as part of the economic modernization plans associated with its late leader, Deng Xiaoping — a response to the hardships and shortages suffered earlier under Chairman Mao.

SEZs differed from the rest of China's territory for enjoying more liberal norms and fewer restrictions on production or the arrival of direct foreign investment.

That is what Maduro's regime claims it wants to do: attract foreign capital. He expects to succeed even after wasting over a trillion U.S. dollars' worth of oil revenues, shrinking the economy 90% and confiscating thousands of businesses. They declare that Venezuela needs investments, as if this were a revelation and shortages were a new problem, somehow unrelated to 20 years of misrule by himself and his ally and predecessor Hugo Chavez.

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