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Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

See more by Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

Shipibo-Conibo women
Society

Urban Indigenous: How Peru's Shipibo-Conibo Keep Amazon Culture Alive In The City

For four years, indigenous photographer David Díaz Gonzales has documented the lives and movements of his Shipibo-Conibo community, as many of them migrated from their native Peruvian Amazon to the city. A work of remembrance and resistance.

YARINACOCHA — It was decades ago when the Shipibo-Conibo left their settlements along the banks of the Ucayali River, in eastern Peru, to begin a great migration to the cities. Still among the largest Amazonian communities in Peru — 32,964 according to the Ministry of Culture — though most Shipibo-Conibo now live in the urban district of Yarinacocha.

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Orhan Pamuk at an event.
Society

Orhan Pamuk On Pandemics, Press Freedom And An Eye On Erdogan's Defeat

Nights of Plague is the latest book by the Turkish Nobel Prize winner, a fictional rendering based on historical reality that draws parallels (political and health-wise) between the past and the present.

MADRID — Orhan Pamuk is a kind of Bosphorus Bridge of literature: He unites two continents, two cultures, two philosophical and religious visions that have, over the centuries, tenaciously turned their backs on each other.

In his country, as the authoritarian drift of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has deepened, the author and public intellectual has progressively become a thorn in the side of the government. However, his run-ins with the Islamo-nationalist regime have not made a dent in his cheerful and optimistic personality.

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A refugee in a shelter in Guatemala
LGBTQ Plus

Unsafe At Home, Central America's LGBTQ Must Flee For Their Lives

Guatemala has become a transit country for migrants seeking to reach the United States, but it is also a hub for those seeking refuge. Hundreds of migrants remain trapped waiting to be considered as refugees. The chances of receiving a positive response are slim, especially for the LGBTQ community.

GUATEMALA CITY — Madelyn is a 22-year-old trans woman. In Nov. 2021, she migrated from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, to Guatemala City after being repeatedly harassed and attacked by gang members in her country.

Every year, hundreds of migrants arrive in Guatemala to request refuge. In 2019, there were 494 people; in 2020, 487; in 2021, 1,054 and 70 more in Jan. 2022 alone. Everyone must wait at least two years for a resolution, and migration statistics reveal that only 1.7 out of 10 migrants receive a yes as an answer to their asylum request. The situation is more dramatic for applicants from the LGBTQ community because only 2 out of 100 people are accepted.

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Photo of Colombian politician Francia Marquez wearing a colorful dress
Ideas

Political Fashion In Latin America Leaves White Men In Suits Behind

Politics has always been associated with image. This is especially true in Latin America, where white men in suits have dominated the field for years. But a new generation of women are shaking up politics — as well as how female politicians are expected to dress.

During "The Great Male Renunciation," toward the end of the 18th century, men stopped using refined forms of dressing in order to be taken seriously, leaving conspicuous consumption of clothing and ostentatious dressing to women. It was an attempt by the bourgeoisie to leave behind all the decadent vanity of the overthrown aristocracy.

Men flaunted their power through the clothing their female counterparts wore, though they themselves could not aspire to that same power. Men could no longer dress extravagantly and had to moderate their "feminine impetus", unless they wanted to be considered weak and frivolous. That is why many women at that time who wanted to succeed in “men's” professions had to dress in a masculine way (like French novelist George Sand), with some going as far as pretending to be men.

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Picture of ruins in Dnipro after Russian invasion
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Traitor, Spy, Pro-Russian: Ukrainians Who Question Kyiv Face Grave Accusations

In Ukraine, those who do not want to fight on the front or who want negotiations cannot say so publicly for fear of accusations of being traitors.

“I don't want to fight. They are sending the soldiers to almost certain death because they have far less means than the Russians. Also, I don't think that (President Volodomyr) Zelensky, Europe or the United States have negotiated enough to try to stop this war. But, of course, you can't say that publicly, nor do we have a way to escape.”

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The young man speaking wants to preserve his anonymity. For uttering statements like this, he can be accused of desertion, collaboration with Russia, or being a traitor or a spy. He could also end up being sentenced to more than ten years in prison. Dimitry, a pseudonym to protect him, no longer even dares to talk about these issues by online chat with his friends.

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A masked woman seen from behind.
Coronavirus

Sin Of Disinformation, The Guatemalan Pastors Who Condemn COVID Vaccines

Vaccination rates in Guatemala are among the lowest in the Americas, and misinformation plays a key role. From their pulpits, some religious leaders spread messages against the use of masks and the efficacy of vaccines.

ESCUINTLA, GUATEMALA — One year since the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 began in Guatemala, only 45% of the population over 12 years old has been fully vaccinated and 15% have received a booster.

The figures are far from the projections the National Vaccination Plan presented in February 2021, with the aim to vaccinate the country's entire adult population within six months.

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Photo of a worker assisting a resident down a stairwell at an elderly residential center, to evacuate her from Toretsk, Ukraine on April 13,​
Society

Up Close With Ukraine's Elderly, Left-Behind Victims Of The War

There are few children left in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, but there are many elderly people, trapped by their health in their homes. Their fate is a mirror of the tragic fate of a nation that was already aging before the war.

KYIV— "When I hear the bombs I get under the table and I cry like when I was a child during World War II," laments Eiludgarda Miroshnychenko.

To get to her house in the heart of the old center of Kyiv, just ten minutes by car from Maidan Square in normal circumstances, we had to pass through 15 checkpoints.

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But Eiludgarda doesn't know this because since the Russian invasion began, more than a month ago, she has only left home to go down to the neighborhood grocer a handful of times. She is 85 years old, has heart problems and is terrified that something will happen to her and that it will take her daughters hours to realize that something is wrong.

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Surrogate babies stranded in the basement of a building in Ukraine.​
Society

Ukraine Hopes These Surrogate Babies Will Stir The Conscience Of The West

BioTexCom is responsible for more than half of the 2,500 surrogate babies born annually in Ukraine. This is how, in the middle of the war, the surrogacy company continues to function.

KYIV — With his right hand, he moves the forceps, emulating how embryos are inserted into a woman's uterus. On the left, he holds the walkie-talkie used to communicate with the soldiers monitoring the surroundings of the clinic.

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Dr. Ihor Pechenoga, with three medical specialties, has been working since 2018 as a spokesperson for the surrogacy company BioTexCom, which is responsible for more than half of the 2,500 babies born annually in Ukraine through this procedure. When the Russian invasion began on February 24, he was appointed with the responsibility of protecting the clinic, located very close to the Kyiv front line.

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photo of destroyed buildings
Geopolitics

Syria, The Laboratory For Putin's Brutality In Ukraine

Putin is increasing his attacks on Ukrainian civilians and may be preparing to use chemical weapons. But these horrific tactics are not new — they were perfected by the Russian army during a brutal war in Syria.

As he walked the apocalyptic streets of Kharkiv last week, BBC correspondent Quentin Sommerville cited what he called the "Russian attack playbook." Indeed, the shattered city in northeastern Ukraine evokes the destruction of the Syrian city of Aleppo.

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The scenes are strikingly similar: at the local hospital, aware that they could be the next target, medical workers pile injured children and women into the corridors. The beds by the windows would be deadly in the event of an attack.

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Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin whispering in Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a meeting in Budapest
Russia

Viktor Orbán, Putin's Trojan Horse In Europe

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is trying to keep the EU and NATO happy without upsetting Vladimir Putin. The war in Ukraine has upped the stakes in Hungary, where tense elections are just a few weeks away.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been engaging in political contortionism in recent weeks to keep his country in the sphere of the EU and NATO without provoking Vladimir Putin. Less than a month before the elections in which Orbán and his Fidesz party will try to keep a majority against a unified opposition, the Hungarian leader maintains his camaraderie with Putin in the midst of the war that is ravaging Ukraine.

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Budapest yesterday authorized the parking and passage of the alliance’s forces through its territory but prohibited the transport of lethal weapons and equipment to Ukraine.

In an extensive official statement, Orbán made it clear between the lines that he does not want to be an enemy of Russia and Putin. “We have to look at this conflict not with American, French or German eyes, we have to look at it with Hungarian eyes. And from the Hungarian point-of-view, the most important thing in this conflict is the peace and security of the Hungarians. To do this, we must stay out of the war." In reference to his administration's denial of arms transit, he declared: "Against those who use these weapons, we will be their enemies."

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Photo Of The Week: This Happened In Mariupol
OneShot

Photo Of The Week: This Happened In Mariupol

A Russian air raid struck a Mariupol maternity hospital, an unthinkable new moral low in Vladimir Putin's war. Soon after the strike, Associated Press photographer Evgeniy Maloletka was on the scene, capturing a powerful image of the horror of war.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine struck a new moral low this past week. The killing of civilians is multiplying across the country, notably in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

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For the past two weeks, Mariupol has been surrounded by Russian troops and Ukraine has tried several times to evacuate civilians through a humanitarian corridor from a city where more than 400,000 people have been without water or electricity for over a week.

On Wednesday, March 9, a Russian air raid struck a Mariupol maternity hospital, an unthinkable target that many have already labeled a war crime. Soon after the strike, Associated Press photographer Evgeniy Maloletka was on the scene, capturing a series of horrific images.

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Screenshot of Disney's Encanto, set in Colombia
Society

How My Role In A Disney Movie Showed Me The True Power Of Representation

Growing up in Colombia, I never saw people who looked like me in books, on TV or even represented in the toys I played with. But working as a consultant on a new Disney movie gave me the chance to rewrite my history — and my country's — by showing the true beauty and diversity of Colombia.

BOGOTA — I was born in 1986 in Colombia. At that time, some families had a machine in our homes that most of us no longer remember or simply never knew about. The rewinder was used to put movies back to the beginning, first in Betamax format and then, from the mid-1990s on, in VHS.

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