The New York Times 2024-02-06 12:31:53


Mideast Crisis: Blinken Takes Bid to Avoid Wider War to Qatar and Egypt

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Jerusalem Feb. 6, 3:17 p.m.

Blinken is on his fifth Mideast trip since the start of the Gaza war.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was set to meet with leaders in Egypt and Qatar on Tuesday, the second day of a Middle East tour that is aimed at preventing an exchange of attacks with Iran-backed militias from spiraling into a broader regional war and to rally allies around a proposed cease-fire agreement for Gaza.

Mr. Blinken, on his fifth trip to the region since the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, arrived in Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt before traveling to Doha later on Tuesday for discussions with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani, the country’s prime minister and foreign minister.

Mr. Blinken began the trip by meeting in Saudi Arabia on Monday with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, discussing how to achieve “an enduring end to the crisis in Gaza,” as well as the need to reduce tensions across the region, according to a State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller. He is also scheduled to hold meetings with leaders in Israel and the West Bank during the trip. All are key players in negotiations over a potential pause in the fighting in Gaza.

Egyptian and Qatari mediators have presented Hamas with a proposal, backed by the United States and Israel, that would pause the fighting between Israel and Hamas for the first time since a one-week cease-fire in November during which more than 100 hostages were freed.

The Biden administration and its Arab allies are still awaiting a response from Hamas to a framework for the deal, which would involve the exchange of more than 100 additional hostages held in Gaza for a pause in fighting and the release of Palestinians detained in Israeli jails.

A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail the diplomatic efforts, said Mr. Blinken would tell American allies in the region that the Biden administration’s recent strikes against Iran-backed militias should not be interpreted as an escalation of fighting in the Middle East.

American and British warplanes, with support from allies, have carried out a series of airstrikes against the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen in an effort to deter the group from attacking ships in the Red Sea.

Mr. Miller said Mr. Blinken and the crown prince discussed the “urgent need to reduce regional tensions,” citing the Houthi attacks from Yemen that are undermining freedom of navigation.

The U.S. has also conducted dozens of military strikes in recent days on targets in Iraq and Syria, in retaliation for the killing of three U.S. service members at a base near the Syrian border in Jordan.

When he visits Israel on this trip, Mr. Blinken was expected to convey American concerns about the civilian death toll in Gaza, according to U.S. officials.

Mr. Blinken will also discuss what diplomats call the “day-after” plans for governing Gaza after the fighting ends, including a possible role for the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Amnesty International accuses Israeli forces of killing Palestinians in the West Bank with impunity.

Amnesty International said on Monday that Israeli forces were killing Palestinians in the West Bank with “near total impunity” as the world’s attention focused on Gaza, demanding in a new report that the International Criminal Court step up its investigation into Israel’s conduct in the Israeli-occupied area.

In the West Bank, Israeli forces have used live fire to disperse Palestinian protests, attacked people trying to help the injured and carried out deadly arrest raids that have spread fear throughout Palestinian communities, Amnesty International said in its report. It said the Israeli forces’ actions add to the country’s “well-documented track record of using excessive and often lethal force to stifle dissent and enforce its system of apartheid against Palestinians.”

The human rights organization said that Israel’s use of unlawful force in the West Bank had sharply escalated since Oct. 7, when a Hamas-led attack from Gaza killed more than 1,200 people in Israel, according to Israeli authorities. Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed more than 27,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to health officials there.

The Israeli military has described its actions in the West Bank as counterterrorism efforts necessary to prevent further attacks. Israel has strongly denied prior accusations that it has committed the crime of apartheid.

Israeli military operations have raised alarms from several human rights groups, including the United Nations human rights office, which called in December for Israel to “end unlawful killings” of Palestinians in the West Bank and to immediately stop the use of “military weapons and means during law enforcement operations.”

Since Oct. 7, Israeli forces in the West Bank have killed at least 360 Palestinians and injured 4,270, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Sunday. Last year was the deadliest for Palestinians in the West Bank since the office began recording casualties in 2005, and about 70 percent of those killings were reported during Israeli military operations, O.C.H.A. has said.

Amnesty’s report detailed its investigations into four incidents that it said were emblematic of the recent escalation, and renewed its call for the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, to take action. In 2021, the I.C.C. opened an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Israeli-occupied areas, but many Palestinian groups have criticized the pace and focus of the inquiry.

Amnesty’s director for global research and policy, Erika Guevara-Rosas, called for Mr. Khan to investigate the killings in the West Bank as possible war crimes, saying in the report thatan international justice system worth its salt must step in.”

Among the incidents investigated by Amnesty was an Israeli raid that began on Oct. 19 and lasted more than 24 hours in Nur Shams, an area that originated decades ago as a refugee camp for Palestinians displaced in the wars surrounding the founding of Israel. Israeli forces killed 13 Palestinians during the raid, including six children, according to Amnesty and Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.

One of those killed during the raid, Amnesty said, was Taha Mahamid, an unarmed 15-year-old shot by Israeli forces when he peeked out of his house to see if they had left the area. His father was shot and seriously injured when he went to retrieve Taha’s body, and the family’s home was raided by Israeli forces about 12 hours later, Amnesty said.

One of Taha’s sisters told Amnesty investigators that her brother was shot in the leg, then in his stomach, then in his eye.

“They did not give him a chance,” the human rights group quoted her as saying. “In an instant, my brother was eliminated.”

Maps: Tracking the Attacks in Israel and GazaSee where Israel has bulldozed vast areas of Gaza, as its invasion continues to advance south.

Russia and China sharply criticize the U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria at the U.N. Security Council.

Russia and China used an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday to sharply criticize recent U.S. retaliatory strikes on Iraq and Syria, calling the military action a violation of the territorial integrity of those countries that would further destabilize the Middle East.

U.S. tensions with Russia have been high since that country’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin, ordered his forces to invade Ukraine almost two years ago. The Security Council has frequently been a platform for U.S. and Russia’s spats over Ukraine, Syria and, most recently, the war in Gaza.

China has sided with Russia on those issues and maintained a consistent policy of denouncing actions that undermine a country’s sovereignty, even as its own territorial aspirations have drawn increasing U.S. opposition. In the conflicts in the Middle East, China has close ties to many of the key actors, including Russia and Iran.

Russia requested the emergency meeting, which focused on three days of American strikes that started on Friday, aimed at what the United States said were targets linked to militias backed by Iran. The U.S. strikes followed what the Pentagon said had been more than 160 attacks on American forces in the region during the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, including one on Jan. 28 that killed three U.S. soldiers at an outpost in Jordan.

Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vasily Nebenzya, called the strikes “another unlawful and irresponsible act of the United States in the region of Middle East” and said the country wanted to draw bigger adversaries, like Iraq and Iran, into war. The Biden administration has repeatedly said it is seeking to avoid such an expansion of hostilities, and has forecast its strikes to minimize casualties.

Mr. Nebenzya also sought to connect the strikes to the U.S. election year, saying, “We see in these ‘flex their muscles’ attempts, first of all, a desire to influence domestic political landscape in America, a desire to somehow correct the disastrous image of the current American administration on the international arena as the presidential election campaign is heating up.”

Robert Wood, a U.S. ambassador, defended the military’s actions as “necessary and proportionate” and in line with both international law and the right to self-defense. The killing of American soldiers by Iran-backed militia, he said, “was unacceptable, and attacks like this cannot continue.”

Mr. Wood blamed Iran for enabling the network of militia in the region that has opened fronts against Israel during the war in Gaza, launching near-daily attacks on U.S. soldiers and disrupting shipping in the Red Sea, a key conduit in global trade.

He urged countries with connections to Iran press it to rein in its regional proxy militias. And he said the U.S. strikes on the militias’ command and intelligence bases and logistic and supply chains had successfully degraded their capabilities.

Representatives of Syria, Iraq and Iran also condemned the U.S. strikes, saying that, in contrast to the stated U.S. aims, they had killed civilians.

China backed that criticism. “The security of one country can’t be achieved at the expense of another country,” said Zhang Jun, the Chinese ambassador to the U.N., broadly accusing the United States of using excessive force around the world and manipulating public opinion about its intentions.

And Iran’s ambassador to the body, Saeid Iravani, rejected the idea that Iran has military bases in Iraq and Syria or commands proxy militias, despite significant evidence to the contrary. He eventually took a conciliatory tone, reflecting comments from Tehran that have stopped short of threatening revenge for the strikes.

“Iran has never sought to bring its dispute with the United States into Iraq’s territory,” Mr. Iravani told the Council, reiterating Iran’s stance that it does not seek a war with the United States.

Many Council members repeated their calls for an immediate cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war, which has killed more than 27,000 people, according to the health authorities in Gaza, and has destabilized the region. Efforts to pass a resolution calling for a cease-fire have garnered wide support at the U.N. and at the Council, but have been blocked by the United States, which as a permanent member of the Security Council wields veto power. Algeria, the only Arab member of the Council, has drafted a new resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza. Its terms are still under negotiation.

The U.N.’s top political chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the Council that, after the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 set off the war in Gaza, the risk of a wider conflict was obvious. The attacks killed 1,200 people and led to the abduction to Gaza of 240 others, Israeli officials said.

She cautioned all sides “to step back from the brink and to consider the unbearable human and economic cost of a potential regional conflict.”

The strikes in Iraq and Syria on Friday hit most of their targets, the Pentagon says.

American warplanes destroyed or severely damaged most of the Iranian and militia targets they struck in Syria and Iraq on Friday, according to the Pentagon, the first major salvos in what President Biden and his aides have said will be a sustained campaign.

Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said on Monday that “more than 80” of some 85 targets in Syria and Iraq were destroyed or rendered inoperable. The targets, he said, included command hubs; intelligence centers; depots for rockets, missiles and attack drones; as well as logistics and ammunition bunkers.

It was the first military assessment of the strikes carried out in response to a drone attack in Jordan by an Iran-backed militia in Iraq on Jan. 28 that killed three American soldiers and injured at least 40 more service members.

“This is the start of our response, and there will be additional actions taken,” General Ryder told reporters without elaborating. “We do not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else, but attacks on American forces will not be tolerated.”

But the assessment also shows the limits of the American campaign so far. In particular, U.S. officials acknowledge that the militias targeted still retain the majority of their capability to carry out future attacks.

There were no initial indications that Iranian advisers were killed in the strikes on Friday, military officials said, but General Ryder said there probably were casualties. Syria and Iraq have said that at least 39 people — 23 in Syria and 16 in Iraq — were killed in the Friday strikes, a toll that the Iraqi government said included civilians.

The attacks in the two countries, as well as U.S.-led strikes on Saturday against 36 Houthi targets in northern Yemen, have edged the region closer to a broader conflict even as the administration insists it does not want war with Iran. Instead, U.S. officials say they are focused on whittling away the militias’ formidable arsenals and deterring additional attacks against U.S. troops, as well as merchant ships in the Red Sea.

The militias seem undeterred, however. Hours after the strikes on Friday, an Iran-backed militia fired two rockets at a U.S. military outpost in northeastern Syria where troops are helping stamp out the remnants of the Islamic State. On Sunday, an explosives-laden drone was fired at another U.S. outpost in northeastern Syria. The rockets caused no damage or American injuries, the Pentagon said. On Sunday, the military’s Central Command said U.S. forces destroyed five Houthi land-based and anti-ship cruise missiles that posed an imminent threat.

On Monday, U.S. forces carried out a strike against two explosives-laden naval drones that Central Command said posed an imminent threat to ships in the region.

Overall, Iran-backed militias have carried out at least 166 drone, rocket and missile attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and Jordan since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that killed 1,200 people in Israel. The Houthis have conducted at least three dozen attacks against ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The militia says its attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas.

National security experts and officials say privately that to truly degrade the capability of the Shiite militias, the United States would have to carry out a yearslong campaign similar to the six-year effort to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Even then, the officials say, the militias, with Iran’s backing, could probably survive longer than the Islamic State, which was pressured by the United States and Iran, and even Russia.

American officials over the weekend and on Monday warned that more strikes were in store in what is emerging as an open-ended campaign not just in Yemen — where the United States and Britain first launched major retaliatory strikes on Jan. 11 — but now also in Syria and Iraq to avenge the deaths of the three Army reservists, who were killed at a remote supply base.

“The president was clear when he ordered them and when he conducted them that that was the beginning of our response and there will be more steps to come,” Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, speaking about the strikes in Iraq and Syria.

Mr. Sullivan said he did not want to “telegraph our punches” by revealing details of future action. But he said that the goal was to punish those targeting Americans without setting off a direct confrontation with Iran.

Analysts say there are already signs that the most recent strikes are having an impact in Tehran, where a widely unpopular government already struggling with a weak economy, outbursts of mass protest and terrorism has little appetite for an all-out war with the United States.

But regional specialists say reining in Iran’s proxies, which rely on Tehran for weapons, intelligence and financing, may prove more difficult.

“Around 2020, Iran began to give blanket clearance to these groups to attack United States positions in Iraq and Syria,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., a retired head of U.S. Central Command, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “They have the opportunity to generate these attacks without directly going back to Iran.”

A major question for Mr. Biden and his national security aides is what additional targets in Iraq and Syria could be struck.

On Friday, American B-1B bombers and other warplanes hit targets at four sites in Syria and three sites in Iraq in a 30-minute attack, U.S. officials said. John F. Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, said the targets at each site were picked because they were linked to specific attacks against U.S. troops in the region, and to avoid civilian casualties.

By avoiding targets in Iran, the White House and Central Command are trying to send a message of deterrence while controlling escalation, U.S. officials said. It is clear from statements from the White House and from Tehran that neither side wants a wider war. But, as the strike in Jordan showed, with any military action comes the chance of miscalculation.

Helene Cooper contributed reporting.

The U.N. names an outside panel to examine the workings of UNRWA.

The United Nations on Monday named the former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna to head an independent investigation into the conduct of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, in the aftermath of Israeli allegations that 12 members of the agency’s staff in Gaza participated in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks.

The independent investigation is to run parallel to the U.N.’s internal investigation into the conduct of the accused workers at UNRWA, which plays a crucial role in providing shelter and aid supplies to displaced Gazans.

Ms. Colonna, who stepped down as foreign minister last month, will work with three Scandinavian groups to examine how UNRWA works and whether it needs to strengthen its methods or adopt new ones for “ensuring neutrality,” according to an announcement by the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres. That is likely to include how it vets and monitors its 13,000 workers in Gaza to be sure they are not combatants.

The agency has said that nine of the employees were fired and two were dead. The U.N. has said the accused could face criminal charges.

The Scandinavian groups are the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway and the Danish Institute for Human Rights. The investigators, collectively known as the Review Group, are to begin work on Feb. 14 and are expected to deliver an interim report to Mr. Guterres by late March and a final report in late April, which will be made public, the U.N. said.

The accusations against the 12 UNRWA staff members, based on Israeli intelligence gathered from their phones, led the United States, followed by more than a dozen other countries, to announce the suspension of funding to the agency while the U.N. investigated. It is set to lose $65 million by the end of February as funding cuts begin to kick in, according to internal accounting documents reviewed by The New York Times.

Mr. Guterres and other senior U.N. officials, including Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, have warned that defunding the agency threatens the delivery of crucial aid to 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza. They say that most of the population is displaced, at the brink of starvation and living in an active war zone, in what Mr. Guterres described as “one of the largest and most complex humanitarian crises in the world.” UNRWA says that nearly a million people are sheltering in or near its facilities.

Vedant Patel, the deputy State Department spokesman, said that the Biden administration was “looking at what options exist for supporting civilians in Gaza through partners like the World Food Program, UNICEF” and other nongovernmental organizations. Mr. Patel noted that of $10 billion earmarked for humanitarian assistance in a supplemental spending bill crafted by Senate negotiators, the department expected $1.4 billion to be allocated to Gaza.

But eight major international aid agencies, including Mercy Corps, Oxfam and the International Rescue Committee, said in a joint statement on Monday that no other aid agency could “replicate UNRWA’s central role in the humanitarian response in Gaza” and noted that “amid the current crisis, many will struggle to even maintain their current operations without UNRWA’s partnership and support.” The statement urged the donors to resume their funding.

Michael Crowley contributed reporting from Washington.

UNRWA is set to lose $65 million by the end of February, documents show.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the main aid agency in Gaza, is set to lose $65 million by the end of February as donors’ funding cuts begin to kick in, according to internal accounting documents reviewed by The New York Times.

At least 18 states or institutions, including many of the agency’s biggest funders, announced they were suspending their donations to the agency, known as UNRWA, after accusations emerged last month that several employees participated in the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

Some of those suspensions will take time to take effect. Countries deliver their donations at intervals throughout the year, and some of the countries were not scheduled to make their payments for several months. For example, the United States had already made the first of its three installments in January, and the second U.S. payment is not due until May, according to the documents.

But Finland missed a payment of $5.4 million in January, and three more countries — Germany, Japan and Sweden — are set to miss payments throughout February that are collectively worth almost $60 million.

Because UNRWA has no significant reserves, the shortfall means the agency will have no funds of its own in March to pay its 30,000 workers across the Middle East, of which 13,000 are in Gaza, according to Tamara Alrifai, a spokeswoman for UNRWA.

The agency could bridge the gap by applying for a loan from a centralized U.N. reserve, Ms. Alrifai said.

UNRWA’s operation plays a critical role in the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. More than 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.2 million people have been displaced by the war, and more than half of the population are now sheltering in repurposed schools and centers run by the agency.

UNRWA also oversees the distribution of the meager supplies of aid that arrive each day to Gaza by truck. Already, aid agencies are warning of famine amid profound food shortages and the collapse of the health care system.

Since donor states began suspending their funds, the agency has received an unusually high number of private donations from individual citizens seeking to fill the void. In the five days after the allegations surfaced, Ms. Alrifai said, UNRWA received roughly $5 million from private donors — more than the agency would typically receive from individuals during any single month.

But the donations are not enough to fund the agency for more than a few days: It has an annual budget of more than $1.5 billion, Ms. Alrifai said.

What Israeli Soldiers’ Videos Reveal: Cheering Destruction and Mocking Gazans

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An Israeli soldier gives a thumbs up to the camera as he drives a bulldozer down a street in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza, pushing a battered car toward a half-collapsed building.

“I stopped counting how many neighborhoods I’ve erased,” the caption reads on the video posted to his personal TikTok, accompanied by a militaristic anthem.

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A Russian Bank Account May Offer Clues to a North Korean Arms Deal

Russia has allowed the release of millions of dollars in frozen North Korean assets and may be helping its isolated ally with access to international banking networks, assistance that has come after the North’s transfer of weapons to Moscow for use against Ukraine, according to American-allied intelligence officials.

The White House said last month that it had evidence that North Korea had provided ballistic missiles to Russia, and that the North was seeking military hardware in return. Pyongyang also appears to have shipped up to 2.5 million rounds of ammunition, according to an analysis by a British security think tank.

While it is unclear whether Russia has given North Korea the military technology it may want, new banking ties would be another sign of the steady advancement in relations between the two countries. The expanding partnership has most likely emboldened the North, as it has issued a stream of belligerent threats in recent months, U.S. officials say.

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President’s Assassination Case Yields an Unexpected Name: the First Lady’s

A Haitian prosecutor has recommended charges against 70 people for the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Among the former Colombian soldiers and Haitian government officials accused in the case is one unexpected name: former First Lady Martine Moïse, who was seriously injured in the attack.

A copy of a criminal complaint filed by a public prosecutor and submitted to a Haitian court that was obtained by The New York Times does not accuse her of planning the killing or offer any direct evidence of her involvement.

Instead, it says that she and other accomplices gave statements that were contradicted by other witnesses, suggesting that they were complicit in the attack and notes that one of the main suspects in custody in Haiti claimed Mrs. Moïse wanted to take over the presidency.

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Houthi Attacks and U.S.-Led Strikes Dash Hopes for Quick Yemen Peace Deal

For nine years, Yemen was torn by a war that erupted when the Houthis, a Yemeni militia supported by Iran, ousted the government and took control of the country’s northwest.

Alarmed by an Iran-linked group taking control across the border, Saudi Arabia assembled a military coalition and launched a bombing campaign, backed by American weapons and support, in an attempt to reinstate the government. Instead, hundreds of thousands of people died from fighting, starvation and disease, and the coalition pulled back under international pressure, leaving the Houthis in power.

When 2023 dawned, it looked as if the Houthis and the Yemeni factions they had been fighting were finally ready to sign a peace deal. But then the war in Gaza began, and now the prospect of peace is unraveling.

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Many Israelis Want Netanyahu Out. But There Is No Simple Path to Do It.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is on his last legs, it is widely believed, and will be forced to relinquish his post once the war against Hamas in Gaza ends.

He is historically unpopular in the opinion polls and blamed for the governmental and security failures that led to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, the killings of an estimated 1,200 Israelis and the difficult war that has followed. He faces a long-running trial on a variety of corruption charges.

And he has defied President Biden on American efforts to create a postwar path to a two-state solution, with a demilitarized Palestine alongside Israel. While opposition to a Palestinian state is popular among Israelis, defiance of Washington is considered risky.

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Zelensky Hints at Major Shake-Up of Ukraine’s Government

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said that a broad overhaul of the country’s military and civilian leadership was needed to reboot the war effort against Russia, suggesting that a major shake-up of his government was imminent.

Mr. Zelensky’s comments, in a broadcast on Sunday night, indicated that his plans would likely go beyond replacing the top military commander, Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny. And they signaled a search for a new strategy among Ukraine’s leadership at a precarious moment, with depleted Ukrainian forces on the defensive and leaders in Kyiv waiting to see whether the United States will provide much-needed military and financial assistance.

“A reset, a new beginning is necessary,” Mr. Zelensky told the Italian media outlet Rai News. “I have something serious in mind, which is not about a single person but about the direction of the country’s leadership.”

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Tragedy, Resilience and a Miracle at Chile’s Burned Botanical Garden

On Friday afternoon, several hundred people were roaming the idyllic grounds of Chile’s national botanical garden, mostly unaware that, just across some hills and a highway, a raging wildfire was galloping toward them.

The danger quickly became clear. Rangers began racing around the park on motorbikes, shouting for visitors to flee to the exits. But by the time many got there, the fire had already arrived.

“Thick black smoke was billowing above us, so we laid down on the grass just inside the gate,” Alejandro Peirano, the park’s director, recalled Monday morning. “One of my rangers turned to me and said, ‘Director, are we going to die?’”

Wildfires in Chile’s Valparaíso region

Burning in the last day
Previously burned
Source: NASA Notes: Data is as of 8:31 a.m. Chile Summer Time on Feb. 6. Areas marked in red indicate where active burning was detected within 24 hours of the most recent fires reflected on the map. Exact fire boundaries may differ from the map by 500 meters or more. By Madison Dong, John Keefe and Matthew Bloch

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King Charles Is Diagnosed With Cancer

King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer and is suspending his public engagements to undergo treatment, casting a shadow over a busy reign that began less than 18 months ago after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

The announcement, made by Buckingham Palace on Monday evening, came a week after the 75-year-old sovereign was discharged from a London hospital, following a procedure to treat an enlarged prostate.

The palace did not disclose what form of cancer Charles has, but a palace official said it was not prostate cancer. Doctors detected the cancer during that procedure, and the king began treatment on Monday.

News of Charles’ diagnosis reverberated through Britain, which, after seven decades of Elizabeth’s reign, has begun to get comfortable with her son. Charles waited longer to ascend the throne than anyone in the history of the British monarchy, and he was a familiar figure, with a personal life relentlessly dissected by the British media by the time he became the sovereign.

As king, however, Charles has become a confident elder statesman, putting a subtle but unmistakable stamp on the monarchy. He has traveled widely and spoken out on issues like climate change that have long been important to him.

Anxiety for Charles mixed with hope that he would recover swiftly. But in the absence of details about his condition, there was, inevitably, speculation, as royal watchers parsed the palace’s four-paragraph announcement.

“During the king’s recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted,” the palace said. “Subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer. His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties.”

Palace officials said the king would continue to carry out other duties, including his weekly meeting with the prime minister, as well as the daily pile of paperwork he completes as Britain’s head of state. Officials said there were no plans to appoint counselors of state to act in his place — a procedure that could signal that the sovereign was unable to fulfill his duties because of illness.

The palace said Charles “remains wholly positive about his treatment” and that he looked forward to resuming public engagements. He returned to London from his country residence, Sandringham, to begin treatment as an outpatient, palace officials said.

Charles, who ascended to the throne in September 2022, has generally been in good health. As a schoolboy, he suffered from recurring tonsillitis, but as an adult, he enjoyed vigorous sports like hiking, polo and skiing.

The king’s disclosure of the prostate treatment, and now of his cancer diagnosis, is unusual for the royal family, whose members often reveal little about their health. After the queen’s death at 96, the palace issued her death certificate, which listed her cause of death simply as “old age.

Still, palace officials on Monday made clear that they would not issue regular updates on the king’s condition, and they asked reporters not to attempt to contact those involved in his treatment.

The palace said in its statement that the king had chosen to share his diagnosis “to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer.”

The king’s younger son, Prince Harry, has been in touch with his father and planned to travel to Britain to visit him, according to the BBC. Harry has been largely estranged from the royal family since he and his wife, Meghan, announced they were withdrawing from official duties and moved to California.

Palace officials said Queen Camilla would continue to carry out a full program of official engagements during her husband’s treatment. She was a frequent visitor during his hospitalization for prostate treatment at the London Clinic, an elite private hospital in the city’s Marylebone neighborhood.

Charles’s illness caps a period of troubling health news for the royal family. Catherine, the wife of Prince William, was hospitalized for almost two weeks after undergoing abdominal surgery. She was released last week, but Kensington Palace has released few details about her recovery, which is expected to last until after the Easter holiday.

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York and ex-wife of the king’s younger brother, Prince Andrew, said recently that she had been diagnosed with melanoma, a serious type of skin cancer. It was her second cancer diagnosis within a year. Ms. Ferguson, 64, had spoken publicly about her decision to undergo a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery last year after a breast cancer diagnosis in the summer.

The news of the king’s illness brought an outpouring of well wishes from British and world leaders, and other public figures.

“Wishing His Majesty a full and speedy recovery,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak posted on social media. “I have no doubt that he’ll be back to full strength in no time and I know the whole country will be wishing him well.”

President Biden, on a trip to Las Vegas, told reporters, “I’m concerned about him. Just heard about his diagnosis.” Mr. Biden, who was welcomed to Windsor Castle by the king last July, said he hoped to speak to Charles soon.

Michelle O’Neill, the Irish nationalist leader just named as first minister of Northern Ireland’s government, wrote on X, “I am very sorry to hear of King Charles illness and I want to wish him well for his treatment and a full and speedy recovery.”

Royal watchers were reluctant to speculate on how the king’s illness would affect the crown, given the paucity of information about his condition. Some pointed hopefully to the palace’s upbeat characterization of Charles’ mood.

“If the king becomes seriously unwell, then there will be constitutional questions to answer,” said Ed Owens, a royal historian who recently published a book, “After Elizabeth: Can the Monarchy Save Itself?” “Likewise, a prolonged period out of the public eye will require the rest of the royal family — already overstretched — to do more.”

Mr. Owens said the king’s age made worries about his health inevitable, adding, “It is moments like these that bring into sharp focus the very human, and potentially fragile, qualities of the U.K.’s constitution.”

In his brief time on the throne, Charles has been both a figure of continuity and change: conducting his life much as he has for decades, but embracing a more politically engaged role than his mother ever did.

Last year, he played host at Windsor Castle to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, after she signed a Northern Ireland trade agreement with Mr. Sunak. The timing drew criticism, since it appeared to give a royal imprimatur to the deal — in what some considered an improper intervention by the monarch in politics.

The king made two highly successful state visits to Europe, addressing the German Parliament in serviceable German, and drawing excited crowds during a walkabout with President Emmanuel Macron of France.

In December, Charles addressed the opening ceremony of the United Nations climate summit in Dubai, listing a litany of climate-related natural disasters that had afflicted the world in the last year: wildfires in Canada; floods in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh; cyclones in the Pacific; and a drought in East Africa.

“We are taking the natural world outside balanced norms and limits, and into dangerous uncharted territory,” he said. “Our choice now is a starker and darker one: How dangerous are we actually prepared to make our world?”

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Cancer Diagnosis Like King Charles’s Is Not Unheard-Of

A patient checks into the hospital for a routine procedure to treat an enlarged prostate. And, unexpectedly, a test done in the hospital — perhaps a blood test or an X-ray or an examination of the urethra and the bladder — finds a cancer.

Apparently, something like that happened to King Charles III. When the British monarch was treated for an enlarged prostate in January, doctors found a cancer that the palace said is not prostate cancer. Charles started treatment Monday. The palace did not disclose what had led to the king’s diagnosis.

While some prostate specialists like Dr. Peter Albertsen at the University of Connecticut called such situations “pretty rare,” other doctors said they were not unheard of.

Dr. Otis Brawley, an oncologist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, said a man had come in for routine prostate surveillance to monitor a low-risk cancer. One of Dr. Brawley’s residents ordered a chest X-ray “for no reason,” he said. But to the surprise of Dr. Brawley, the X-ray detected a lung cancer.

Some cancers demand immediate treatment, while for others, treatment can wait, oncologists said. The palace did not describe the severity of Charles’s diagnosis, nor what treatment he was receiving.

Some blood cancers are among those that need immediate treatment, Dr. Brawley said.

“We even have a few leukemias and lymphomas where we want to start therapy less than 24 hours after suspicion,” he said. He said he doubted Charles had one of the most aggressive blood cancers, acute myeloid leukemia, nor Burkett’s lymphoma. But if he did, treatment would not be put off.

Those are cancers “which we jump on,” Dr. Brawley said. He added, “Those are things we start treating in the middle of the night if we have to.”

It’s not known if the king’s cancer was found as doctors prepared for surgery, which can be preceded by something like a blood test, a CT scan or an MRI. Doctors also may detect another kind of cancer when passing a scope through a patient’s urethra during treatment of an enlarged prostate.

Dr. Benjamin Breyer, a urologist at the University of California, San Francisco, noted that if a cancer is found incidentally in a man’s prostate and it turns out not to have originated there, that can be a dire situation.

“It is by definition a metastasis,” Dr. Breyer said. Cancers that can spread to the prostate include melanomas, he said. A type of bladder cancer known as a urothelial carcinoma could also show up in the prostate.

That sort of bladder cancer is the most likely non-prostate cancer to be found as part of treatment for an enlarged prostate, said Dr. Scott Eggener, a urological oncologist at the University of Chicago. The inner lining of the bladder has becomes cancerous and spreads through the urinary tube, he explained. The cancer can be found during the prostate treatment “when you scrape away the prostate from the inside.”

There are two types of this bladder cancer, said Dr. Judd Moul, a urological oncologist at Duke. One is “more of a nuisance condition,” he said. The cancer is scraped off surgically and medicine is put in the bladder periodically to treat any residual cells.

The other type, called muscle invasive, is serious. Treatment is complete removal of the bladder.

“Let’s hope and pray it’s not that,” Dr. Moul said.

But by far the cancer most often found during treatment for an enlarged prostate is prostate cancer. That happens about 5 percent to 10 percent of the time, Dr. Breyer estimated, although one study reported that prostate cancers were found 26 percent of the time when men were treated for enlarged prostates.

With King Charles, there is just too little information to guess what sort of cancer he has or how it was discovered, Dr. Bryer and others said.

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Parisians Vote to Triple Parking Fees for Big S.U.V.s and Other Hefty Cars

Voters in Paris have approved an effort to drastically increase parking fees for large sport utility vehicles and other heavy cars, the latest move by Mayor Anne Hidalgo to reshape the French capital with environmentally conscious and pedestrian-friendly policies.

The new parking fees are expected to be approved in May by the Paris City Council, where Ms. Hidalgo’s Socialist Party and Green allies have a majority. The new fees are then expected to come into effect in September, Ms. Hidalgo said.

Some car owners have complained that they are being shut out of the capital, but Ms. Hidalgo was unrepentant at a news conference on Sunday night. “Parisians made a clear choice,” she said, adding that, “We are very proud of this result.”

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As Canadian Hockey Players Face Assault Charges, Officials Are on Defensive

The police chief whose department has filed sexual assault charges against five hockey players, all of whom played on National Hockey League teams, apologized on Monday to the victim for the six years it took to bring the case.

Five former members of Canada’s national junior hockey team were charged last week over an episode that followed a celebration of their victory in the 2018 world championships, a marquee event on Canada’s sports calendar.

“I want to extend, on behalf of the London Police Service, my sincerest apology to the victim, to her family, for the amount of time that it has taken to reach this point,” Chief Thai Truong told reporters at a news conference Monday afternoon.

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After the Quake: One Turkish Family’s Struggle

Ben Hubbard and

Ben Hubbard and Safak Timur were present when four members of the Karapirli family were pulled from their collapsed apartment building in Gaziantep, Turkey. Over the past year, with the photographer Emin Ozmen, they visited the family members repeatedly and interviewed their doctors, relatives and friends to track their recovery.

Read in Turkish

Finally, 106 days after the ambulances rushed their battered bodies to the hospital, the couple were cleared to leave.

Ibrahim Karapirli hobbled back from physical therapy on crutches to protect his aching leg. His wife, Pinar, wrangled their twin toddlers, unsure how she would care for them with her one remaining arm.

The couple were still mourning their two sons who were killed when a powerful earthquake pancaked their six-story apartment building in southern Turkey before dawn last February.

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Welcome to ‘Dalifornia,’ an Oasis for China’s Drifters and Dreamers

To find the dance circle in the bed-and-breakfast’s courtyard, drive north from the bedsheet factory converted into a crafts market, toward the vegan canteen urging diners to “walk barefoot in the soil and bathe in the sunshine.” If you see the unmanned craft beer bar where customers pay on the honor system, you’ve gone too far.

Welcome to the Chinese mountain city of Dali, also sometimes known as Dalifornia, an oasis for China’s disaffected, drifting or just plain curious.

The city’s nickname is a homage to California, and the easy-living, tree-hugging, sun-soaked stereotypes it evokes. It is also a nod to the influx of tech employees who have flocked there since the rise of remote work during the pandemic, to code amid the picturesque surroundings, nestled between snow-capped, 10,000-foot peaks in southwest China, on the shores of glistening Erhai Lake.


Map locates the city of Dali in southwest China, on the shores of Erhai Lake.

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For New Moms in Seoul, 3 Weeks of Pampering and Sleep at a Joriwon

Four mothers sat quietly in the nursing room around midnight, breastfeeding their newborn babies. As one mother nodded off, her eyelids heavy after giving birth less than two weeks earlier, a nurse came in and whisked her baby away. The exhausted new mom returned to her private room to sleep.

Sleep is just one of the luxuries provided by South Korea’s postpartum care centers.

The country may have the world’s lowest birthrate, but it is also home to perhaps some of its best postpartum care. At centers like St. Park, a small, boutique postpartum center, or joriwon, in Seoul, new moms are pampered for a few weeks after giving birth and treated to hotel-like accommodations.

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London’s Highline Will Echo Its New York Inspiration, With Local Notes

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The derelict rail bridge stretches across a busy north London street, green foliage peeking out of the gaps between the beams overhead, where bright blue paint flakes from rusting steel.

Farther east, the railway’s grand Victorian-era arches span a small slice of park wedged between two streets, where tents belonging to homeless people, a discarded mattress and broken bottles are scattered about.

While the elevated train line and some of the areas it cuts through may look neglected now, if all goes according to plan, it will become the site of the Camden Highline, a planned public park that aims to turn this disused stretch of the city into a thriving green space.


Map locates the proposed Camden Highline in Camden Town in north central London. It also locates the town of King’s Cross, east of Camden Town.

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An Italian Town Full of the Elderly Wants to Feel Young Again

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As the traveling brass band ended San Giovanni Lipioni’s annual holiday concert with a rendition of Wham’s “Last Christmas,” the gray-haired villagers seated in the old church of the central Italian hill town gazed dotingly at the few young children clapping to the music.

“Today there is a little movement,” Cesarina Falasco, 73, said from the back pew. “It’s lovely. It’s different.”

San Giovanni Lipioni used to be known — if at all — for the discovery in its countryside of a third-century B.C. Samnite bronze head, a rare Waldensian Evangelical community and an ancient annual pageant with pagan roots that venerates a circular cane garlanded in wild cyclamen flowers. (“It represents the female genital organ,” said a tourism official, Mattia Rossi.)


Map locates the the town of San Giovanni Lipioni in the Abruzzo region of Italy, as well as the town of San Salvo, also in Abruzzo. It also locates the region of Molise, south of Abruzzo, and the cities of Bologna, and Ribordone in northern Italy.

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New Utopian Enclave? Or a Testament to Inequality?

Simon Romero and

Reporting from Guatemala City

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Try going for a stroll in much of Guatemala City: It is a pedestrian’s nightmare.

Motorcycles speed down crowded sidewalks. Rifle-grasping guards squint at each passerby, sizing up potential assailants. Smoke-belching buses barrel through stop signs.

But tucked within the chaotic capital’s crazy-quilt sprawl, there is a dreamlike haven where none of that exists.

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Cleaning Latrines by Hand: ‘How Could Any Human Do That?’

When he came to fully realize exactly what his parents and older brother did for a living, and what it likely meant for his own future, Bezwada Wilson says he was so angry he contemplated suicide.

His family members, and his broader community, were manual scavengers, tasked with cleaning by hand human excrement from dry latrines at a government-run gold mine in southern India.

While his parents had tried hard to hide from their youngest child the nature of their work as long as they could — telling Mr. Bezwada they were sweepers — as a student Mr. Bezwada knew his classmates viewed him with cruel condescension. He just didn’t know the reason.

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A Woman Who Shows Age Is No Barrier to Talk Show Stardom

Pushing a walker through a television studio in central Tokyo earlier this week, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi slowly climbed three steps onto a sound stage with the help of an assistant who settled her into a creamy beige Empire armchair.

A stylist removed the custom-made sturdy boots on her feet and slipped on a pair of high-heeled mules. A makeup artist brushed her cheeks and touched up her blazing red lipstick. A hairdresser tamed a few stray wisps from her trademark onion-shaped hairstyle as another assistant ran a lint roller over her embroidered black jacket. With that, Ms. Kuroyanagi, 90, was ready to record the 12,193rd episode of her show.

As one of Japan’s best-known entertainers for seven decades, Ms. Kuroyanagi has interviewed guests on her talk show, “Tetsuko’s Room,” since 1976, earning a Guinness World Record last fall for most episodes hosted by the same presenter. Generations of Japanese celebrities across film, television, music, theater and sports have visited Ms. Kuroyanagi’s couch, along with American stars like Meryl Streep and Lady Gaga; Prince Philip of England; and Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union. Ms. Kuroyanagi said Gorbachev remains one of her all-time favorite guests.

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They Thought They Knew Death, but That Didn’t Prepare Them for Oct. 7

At 76, David Weissenstern has collected the remains of the dead for most of his adult life. But after the Oct. 7 attacks, in which Hamas-led fighters killed about 1,200 people along Israel’s border with Gaza, he can no longer stand the smell of grilled meat. The odor, he says, reminds him too much of burned human flesh.

His son Duby Weissenstern, 48, has lost track of time after working successive days and nights to recover those killed on Oct. 7. He now marks time in relation to that date.

And his son-in-law Israel Ganot, 32, now gags at the smell of food that has turned rotten. He was in the second wave of recovery workers who reached bodies that had been trapped under rubble for weeks.

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The Year in People: Our 12 Favorite Saturday Profiles of 2023

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A teenager jailed in Egypt, determined to bear witness to the abuses he suffered during years of detention. A proponent of peace in Colombia, shadowed by death threats. A father in India, fighting his own patriarchal impulses to give his two daughters a better life.

With reports from six continents and 34 countries, the Saturday Profile in 2023 revealed people making a difference, mostly under the radar. Every week, our correspondents often sought out not the famous nor the powerful, but the unheralded with stories worth hearing.

A Muslim cleric in Ukraine, now a medic on the front lines of the war. An anticorruption whistle-blower in Bangkok, with (he’d be the first to admit) a disreputable past. A scientist and hair salon owner in Paris, dedicated to styling curly hair.

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Russian Skaters Stripped of Olympic Gold, Setting Up New Fight for Medals

International skating’s governing body on Tuesday sought to put an end to a two-year-old controversy by revising the disputed results of a marquee figure skating competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. But in stripping Russia of its victory in the team event, awarding the gold medal to the United States and denying Canada the bronze it had been expecting, the sport may have only set the stage for yet another protracted legal fight.

The revised finishes were announced by the skating body, the International Skating Union, one day after the teenage Russian star Kamila Valieva was banned for four years for doping. Disqualifying Valieva, a 15-year-old prodigy who had led Russia to an apparent victory, had the most immediate effect on the Olympic team standings: elevating the U.S. to gold and Japan to silver, while, surprisingly, dropping Russia just enough that it could still claim the bronze.

Within hours, Russia’s Olympic committee, already furious about Valieva’s ban, announced that it would appeal any outcome that denied it the team gold. Canadian officials quickly threatened to appeal the ruling as well. That left skating officials and the International Olympic Committee, which had chosen not to award medals in the team event until Valieva’s doping case was resolved, wondering how they could at last arrange a “dignified Olympic medal ceremony” for an ugly dispute that appeared nowhere near its end.

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FIFA Convictions Are Imperiled by Questions of U.S. Overreach

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Nearly a decade after police officers marched world soccer officials out of a luxury hotel in Zurich at dawn, revealing a corruption scandal that shook the world’s most popular sport, the case is at risk of falling apart.

The dramatic turnabout comes over questions of whether American prosecutors overreached by applying U.S. law to a group of people, many of them foreign nationals, who defrauded foreign organizations as they carried out bribery schemes across the world.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year limited a law that was key to the case. Then in September, a federal judge, citing that, threw out the convictions of two defendants linked to soccer corruption. Now, several former soccer officials, including some who paid millions of dollars in penalties and served time in prison, are arguing that the bribery schemes for which they were convicted are no longer considered a crime in the United States.

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Depardieu Sexual Assault Suit Dropped Over Statute of Limitations

A sexual assault lawsuit filed against Gérard Depardieu by a French actress has been dropped because it was past the statute of limitations, prosecutors in Paris said on Monday, but the French actor is still under investigation in a separate case.

In the lawsuit that was dropped, the actress Hélène Darras had accused Depardieu of groping her on the set of “Disco,” a comedy released in 2008. Her suit had been filed in September but was made public only last month, shortly before she appeared in a France 2 television documentary alongside three other women who also accused Depardieu of inappropriate comments or sexual misconduct.

The documentary, which showed Depardieu making crude sexual and sexist comments during a 2018 trip to North Korea, set off a fierce debate in France that prompted President Emmanuel Macron and dozens of actors, directors and other celebrities to defend Depardieu, splitting the French movie industry.

Depardieu, 75, has denied any wrongdoing, and he has not been convicted in connection with any of the accusations against him.

On Monday, the Paris prosecutor’s office said that Darras’s suit was dropped in late December because the statute of limitations had run out on the alleged assault, an outcome that was widely expected — including by the actress herself. She told Agence France-Presse in December that she still “wanted to respond to the defense that plays down our allegations by saying they’re ‘just’ witness accounts.”

In France, adult victims of sexual assault have six years after an alleged crime to file a lawsuit.

Another lawsuit, filed in Spain by Ruth Baza, a Spanish journalist who has accused Depardieu of kissing and groping her without her consent when she was in Paris in 1995, could face a similar fate.

Depardieu has been charged with rape and sexual assault in a case involving Charlotte Arnould, a French actress who says he sexually assaulted her in Paris in 2018, when she was 22. That investigation is continuing, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

While allegations of Depardieu’s sexual misconduct had been growing for years, criticism of the actor resurfaced recently after the France 2 documentary.

Darras was one of 13 women — actresses, makeup artists and production staff — who in April had told Mediapart, an investigative news website, that Depardieu had made inappropriate sexual comments or gestures during film shoots over the years.

In the France 2 documentary, and in interviews with Mediapart and other outlets, Darras said that in 2007, on the set of “Disco,” Depardieu had groped her repeatedly in between takes, touching her hips and buttocks, and had propositioned her, even after she refused.

Darras, who was 26 at the time, had said that no one on set had reacted to the groping because Depardieu was treated like a “king,” and that she had been afraid to speak out because she was just starting her career and was worried about being blacklisted.

In a news conference this month, Macron — who had condemned what he called a “manhunt” against Depardieu — said he had “no regrets about defending the presumption of innocence for a public figure.”

But, he added: “If I have one regret, at that moment, it’s that I didn’t say enough about the importance of the voice of women who are victims of this violence, and how essential this fight is for me.”

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An Olympic Dream Falters Amid Track’s Shifting Rules

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Maximila Imali, a top Kenyan sprinter, did not lose her eligibility to compete in the Paris Olympics because she cheated. She did not fail a doping test. She broke no rules.

Instead, she is set to miss this year’s Summer Games because she was born with a rare genetic variant that results in naturally elevated levels of testosterone. And last March, track and field’s global governing body ruled that Ms. Imali’s biology gave her an unfair advantage in all events against other women, effectively barring her from international competition.

As a result, Ms. Imali, 27, finds her Olympic dream in peril and her career and her livelihood in limbo.

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Luis Rubiales, Ex-Chief of Spanish Soccer, to Face Trial Over World Cup Kiss

Luis Rubiales, Spain’s onetime soccer chief, is due to be tried over his nonconsensual kiss of a star player during the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony last summer after a judge recommended on Thursday that he face a court’s judgment in a high-profile case that has upended the sport in Spain.

The judge also recommended that Mr. Rubiales and three officials with the Royal Spanish Football Federation, soccer’s governing body in the country — including Jorge Vilda, who was fired as the women’s team coach in the wake of the incident — be tried on charges of coercion for exerting pressure on the player, Jennifer Hermoso, to show support for Mr. Rubiales in the immediate aftermath of the kiss.

The judge concluded that the kiss by Mr. Rubiales, after the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney, Australia, “was nonconsensual and was a unilateral and surprise act.” The judge also found that even if the kiss was more celebratory than sexual in nature, Mr. Rubiales’s behavior was within the bounds of the “intimacy of sexual relations” and he should be held to account.

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El rey Carlos es diagnosticado con cáncer. Hay preocupación y pocos detalles

El Times  Una selección semanal de historias en español que no encontrarás en ningún otro sitio, con eñes y acentos.

El rey Carlos III ha sido diagnosticado con un tipo de cáncer y suspenderá sus compromisos públicos para someterse al tratamiento médico, lo que ensombrece un ajetreado reinado que comenzó hace menos de 18 meses tras la muerte de su madre, la reina Isabel II.

El anuncio, hecho por el Palacio de Buckingham el lunes por la noche, se produjo una semana después de que el monarca, de 75 años, fuera dado de alta de un hospital londinense, tras una intervención para tratar un agrandamiento de la próstata.

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Nayib Bukele se adjudica la victoria en El Salvador

El Times  Una selección semanal de historias en español que no encontrarás en ningún otro sitio, con eñes y acentos.

Nayib Bukele, el presidente milénial que reconfiguró su país con una serie de medidas enérgicas contra las pandillas y las libertades civiles, se adjudicó una victoria aplastante en las elecciones de El Salvador del domingo, lo que podría extender durante años su control sobre cada área del gobierno.

Si bien no se han dado a conocer los resultados oficiales, las encuestas habían insinuado durante semanas que Bukele ganaría por mucho, mostrando que los votantes casi con certeza le darían otro periodo de cinco años y ampliarían la mayoría absoluta de su partido en la legislatura.

La noche del domingo, el presidente dio un discurso a miles de sus seguidores que se reunieron en la plaza central de San Salvador, la capital, en el que aseguró haber conseguido más del 85 por ciento de los votos y dijo que su partido, Nuevas Ideas, logró casi todas las curules de la Asamblea Legislativa, descartando las preocupaciones de que bajo su mandato se habían efectuado prácticas represivas y deteriorado las normas democráticas.

“Sería la primera vez que en un país existe un partido único en un sistema plenamente democrático” dijo Bukele a la multitud. “Toda la oposición junta quedó pulverizada”.

Los problemas con el registro del recuento de los votos paralizaron la transmisión de los resultados preliminares el domingo por la noche, y el lunes por la mañana los colegios electorales tuvieron que pasar a registrar los votos a mano, según informó la autoridad electoral. La página web con los resultados preliminares mostraba que, con el 70 por ciento de las actas procesadas, Bukele había obtenido el 83 por ciento de los votos.

El lunes por la mañana no se había aclarado el conteo para la legislatura.

Los juristas afirmaron que Bukele violó una prohibición constitucional al buscar un segundo mandato consecutivo, pero los votantes lo respaldaron de todos modos.

Desde que impuso un estado de excepción en la primavera de 2022, el gobierno de Bukele ha encarcelado a miles de personas sin un debido proceso, inundado las calles de soldados y suspendido libertades civiles cruciales. Sin embargo, las pandillas que alguna vez gobernaron el país han sido diezmadas, otorgándole al líder de 42 años una enorme popularidad.

“La mayoría de salvadoreños estamos de acuerdo en que Nayib Bukele siga”, dijo David Lobato, de 38 años, afuera de un centro de votación en San Salvador, la capital. “Ha dado un giro al país, las cosas están distintas”.

Los cinco candidatos presidenciales de la oposición no lograron casi ningún avance en las encuestas. Entre ellos, los contendientes del partido de derecha Arena y del partido de izquierda Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, o FMLN, que dominaron la política salvadoreña por 30 años.

El lunes, el secretario de Estado de EE. UU., Antony Blinken, felicitó a Bukele en la plataforma de redes sociales X. “Esperamos seguir priorizando la buena gobernanza, la prosperidad económica inclusiva, las garantías de un juicio justo y los derechos humanos en El Salvador”, dijo.

Ricardo Zúniga, que fungió como enviado especial del Departamento de Estado de EE. UU. a Centroamérica durante la presidencia de Joe Biden, dijo que la decisión de Bukele de buscar la reelección “es una demostración de poder”.

“Quieren demostrar que pueden hacerlo”, dijo. “Que tienen el apoyo popular para hacerlo, y quieren que todos simplemente se resignen a ello, sin importar lo que diga la Constitución”.

Los críticos dijeron que les preocupaba que la votación del domingo solo incentivara a Bukele a profundizar sus ataques a los medios de comunicación, los grupos civiles y cualquier otra persona que representara una amenaza a su control.

El compañero de fórmula de Bukele para la vicepresidencia, Félix Ulloa, declaró al Times que ambos estaban “eliminando” un sistema democrático que solo benefició a los corruptos y dejó al país con decenas de miles de personas asesinadas. “A esta gente que dice se está desmantelando la democracia, mi respuesta es sí. No la estamos desmantelando, la estamos eliminando, la estamos sustituyendo por algo nuevo”, dijo Ulloa.

En una conferencia de prensa el domingo, Bukele dijo: “Nosotros no estamos sustituyendo la democracia porque El Salvador jamás tuvo democracia”. Y añadió: “Esta es la primera vez en la historia que El Salvador tiene democracia”.

El argumento más fuerte de la candidatura de Bukele fueron los casi dos años de estado de excepción que su gobierno impuso luego de que las pandillas que dominaban las calles desde hace mucho tiempo cometieron una ola de asesinatos en marzo de 2022.

Las autoridades han arrestado a unas 75.000 personas desde entonces, incluidas 7000 que finalmente fueron liberadas y miles más que no son miembros de pandillas pero siguen tras las rejas, según organizaciones defensoras de derechos humanos. También han presentado informes sobre reclusos que han sido torturados y privados de alimentos.

Pero la transformación de El Salvador ha sido innegable. Las tres pandillas que convirtieron al país en uno de los lugares más violentos del mundo al parecer han perdido todo vestigio de poder.

“El principal pilar sobre el que ha construido este respaldo social es lo que ha hecho el gobierno en materia de seguridad”, afirmó Omar Serrano, vicerrector de Proyección Social de la Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas. “El estado de excepción es lo que la gente más valora”.

Bukele, descendiente de una familia de migrantes palestinos que llegaron a Centroamérica a principios del siglo XX, es uno de 10 hermanos y medios hermanos criados en la Escalón, una colonia de clase media alta en San Salvador, la capital. Bukele estudió en un colegio bilingüe de élite.

Después de trabajar como publicista en varias campañas electorales, Bukele incursionó en la política y rápidamente saltó a la fama. Con 30 años, se convirtió en alcalde de Nuevo Cuscatlán, un pequeño municipio a las afueras de San Salvador, representando al partido de izquierda FMLN. Tres años después se convirtió en alcalde de San Salvador, un cargo que es considerado como un trampolín para la presidencia.

En vísperas de las elecciones presidenciales de 2019, Bukele fundó su propio partido, Nuevas Ideas, pero se postuló como el candidato de un pequeño partido de derecha, GANA, a fin de cumplir con los requerimientos legales para competir. Obtuvo la victoria gracias a la promesa de romper con la política corrupta del pasado.

Sin embargo, una vez en la presidencia, Bukele viró hacia tácticas que muchos percibieron como un retorno al liderazgo autocrático por el que el país había librado una guerra civil de 12 años que terminó en 1992.

Envió soldados a la Asamblea Legislativa para presionar a los congresistas a aprobar financiación para el gobierno y luego reemplazó a un fiscal general que investigaba casos de corrupción en su gestión.

En 2021, tras ganar la mayoría absoluta en el Congreso, su partido reemplazó a los jueces principales de la Corte Suprema, la cual pocos meses después reinterpretó la Constitución para permitirle competir de nuevo por la presidencia.

Hay algunos focos de resistencia hacia Bukele, especialmente entre aquellos que dicen que sus familiares fueron encarcelados injustamente.

“Nosotros como ciudadanos estábamos en la obligación de venir y demostrar que por lo menos hay un porcentaje que no está de acuerdo con las políticas que se están llevando”, dijo Nelson Melara, de 41 años, que votó en la capital el domingo por la tarde.

“Hay cosas buenas con este gobierno, pero también hay cosas malas que merecen muchas interrogantes”, dijo.

Sin embargo, su atractivo apenas ha menguado en el país y entre un notable contingente de admiradores en todo el hemisferio. Políticos de Colombia y Ecuador han prometido emularlo.

“Los de mi generación pensamos que, aunque el poder se esté concentrando en una persona, siento que valdría la pena”, dijo Natalia Pérez, de 27 años, resaltando que por primera vez en mucho tiempo puede caminar de noche y sentirse segura. “Hemos visto acciones y cambios”, añadió.

Natalie Kitroeff es jefa de la corresponsalía del Times en México, Centroamérica y el Caribe. Más de Natalie Kitroeff


Los incendios forestales en Chile consumieron un jardín botánico de 107 años

El Times  Una selección semanal de historias en español que no encontrarás en ningún otro sitio, con eñes y acentos.

El viernes por la tarde, cientos de personas deambulaban por los idílicos terrenos del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Viña del Mar, en Chile, en su mayoría ajenos a que, justo al otro lado de unas colinas y una carretera, un voraz incendio forestal galopaba hacia ellos.

El peligro no tardó en hacerse patente. Los guardaparques empezaron a recorrer el lugar en moto, gritando a los visitantes que huyeran hacia las salidas. Pero cuando muchos llegaron allí, el fuego ya había arribado.

“Un humo negro y grueso se alzaba arriba de nosotros, así que nos tiramos al pasto justo dentro de la reja”, recordó Alejandro Peirano, el director del jardín, el lunes por la mañana. “Uno de mis guardaparques me miró y me dijo: ‘Director, ¿vamos a morir?’”.

En otro lugar, otros tres guardaparques intentaban rescatar a una compañera, Patricia Araya, de 60 años, cuidadora de un invernadero que vivía en el jardín y cuidaba de sus dos nietos y de su madre, de 92 años. Llegaron a la puerta de su cabaña, pero el fuego se acercaba. “Sentía que el calor me quemaba la espalda. Me di cuenta que me caían encima pedazos” de corteza, dijo Freddy Sánchez, de 50 años, el lunes, mientras resguardaba la entrada del parque.

“Tuvimos que volver”, dijo. “Lo único que el cuerpo quiere es buscar cómo escapar del calor”.

La multitud que se apiñó en el jardín delantero sobrevivió. Fue una especie de milagro, dado que el 98 por ciento del jardín de más de 400 hectáreas fue destruido.

Araya, su madre y sus dos nietos no lo hicieron, convirtiéndose en cuatro de las 122 muertes confirmadas en uno de los incendios forestales más mortíferos de la historia moderna.

El lunes, las autoridades continuaron la búsqueda de cadáveres con perros rastreadores en los casi 65 kilómetros cuadrados arrasados por los rápidos incendios del viernes en la provincia de Valparaíso, una popular zona turística cerca de la costa central de Chile.

También hicieron balance de la destrucción general, incluidas unas 15.000 viviendas y una de las joyas nacionales de Chile: el Jardín Botánico Nacional de Viña del Mar, de 107 años de antigüedad.

El jardín botánico, que se extiende a lo largo de unos cuatro kilómetros cuadrados, es uno de los más grandes del mundo, y es también un centro crucial de conservación e investigación para la región. Durante décadas, el personal ha construido y estudiado un jardín diverso, con más de 1000 especies de árboles, entre ellas algunas de las más raras del mundo.

Debido a la aislada geografía de Chile, un país incrustado entre la cordillera de los Andes y el océano Pacífico, el país alberga muchas especies vegetales endémicas, es decir, que no aparecen en ningún otro lugar en estado salvaje.

El jardín ha sido fundamental para preservar esas especies, entre ellas muchos cactus raros. También ha albergado plantas medicinales, plantas exóticas de Europa y Asia, una gran colección de especies de las remotas islas Juan Fernández, en el Pacífico, y algunos de los últimos árboles Sophora toromiro conocidos del mundo, originarios de Rapa Nui, o Isla de Pascua, pero extintos en estado salvaje.

“Es una pérdida terrible. Años y años de investigación que muchísima gente ha hecho en el jardín, cultivando colecciones especiales”, dijo Noelia Álvarez de Román, especialista en América Latina de Botanic Gardens Conservation International, una red mundial de jardines botánicos.

Peirano dijo que el parque había sido dañado por incendios en el pasado, incluyendo en 2013 y 2022, con alrededor de una cuarta parte de los terrenos quemados. Comentó que el personal está habituado y que patrullan diariamente las zonas más susceptibles al fuego, limpiándolas y concientizando a las personas.

“Pero este incendio fue totalmente inesperado”, añadió. “Nunca hemos visto nada de esta magnitud”.

Wildfires in Chile’s Valparaíso region

Burning in the last day
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Source: NASA Notes: Data is as of 8:31 a.m. Chile Summer Time on Feb. 6. Areas marked in red indicate where active burning was detected within 24 hours of the most recent fires reflected on the map. Exact fire boundaries may differ from the map by 500 meters or more. By Madison Dong, John Keefe and Matthew Bloch

Peirano subrayó que las vidas perdidas eran mucho más devastadoras que los daños físicos. Araya había trabajado en el parque durante unos 40 años, y esta semana había planeado celebrar una nueva ceremonia de matrimonio con su pareja de muchos años para luego irse de vacaciones juntos, dijo Peirano en una entrevista en la televisión.

Ya se había tomado el viernes libre en el trabajo, y sus nietos, de 1 y 9 años, habían llegado a quedarse con ella ese mismo día.

Las autoridades reiteraron el lunes que creían que los incendios habían sido provocados de manera intencional.

El gobernador de la provincia de Valparaíso, Rodrigo Mundaca, declaró a la prensa que las autoridades habían determinado que al menos un incendio de grandes proporciones comenzó hacia las 2 p. m. del viernes en cuatro focos diferentes, a pocos metros unos de otros.

“¿Me parece que eso puede ser espontáneo, natural? No”, dijo, y añadió que los trabajadores de los bosques nacionales habían apagado fuegos provocados intencionadamente un día antes. “Por lo tanto”, añadió, “yo lo he dicho: aquí hay una intencionalidad manifiesta y esperamos que la justicia pueda dar con los responsables”.

Dos personas fueron detenidas el domingo como sospechosas de intentar provocar incendios cerca del jardín botánico, pero posteriormente fueron puestas en libertad porque la policía dijo que no tenía pruebas suficientes. Las autoridades dijeron que mantendrían los toques de queda nocturnos mientras proseguían la investigación y la recuperación de los incendios.

Las altas temperaturas y la sequía que precedieron a los incendios crearon condiciones peligrosas en Chile. El fenómeno climático cíclico conocido como El Niño ha contribuido al calor y la sequía en algunas zonas de Sudamérica, y el cambio climático global también ha provocado un aumento generalizado de las temperaturas.

Los fuertes vientos del viernes hicieron que los incendios se propagaran rápidamente, lo que sorprendió a las autoridades y dejó a muchas personas atrapadas tratando de escapar de los asentamientos en las laderas. El lunes, los bomberos habían controlado en gran medida las llamas.

En el jardín botánico, el humo de los bosques de eucaliptos quemados todavía flotaba en el aire, mientras los trabajadores talaban los árboles caídos con motosierras y helicópteros con enormes cubos de agua sobrevolaban la zona. Peirano estaba claramente entristecido, y calificó los jardines carbonizados que tenía a sus espaldas de “un tesoro para los chilenos”, pero también se mostró decidido a que el bosque volviera a crecer.

“Los bosques nativos volverán a brotar, pero vamos a necesitar que lleguen las lluvias y esas no van a llegar antes de mayo”, dijo. Añadió que algunas de las especies exóticas del jardín también sobrevivieron al infierno, al igual que el histórico baniano de 150 años de Lahaina, Hawái, del cual empezaron a brotar hojas pocas semanas después de que un incendio forestal destruyera gran parte de la ciudad.

Entre las plantas supervivientes se encontraban algunos de los casi extintos árboles Sophora toromiro de Rapa Nui, así como árboles Ginkgo biloba del “Jardín de la Paz” del parque, formado por plantas que sobrevivieron a la bomba atómica de Hiroshima, Japón.

El lunes, en una entrevista en la televisión, dijo que estas plantas habían tenido fuerza “para brotar después de Hiroshima”. Y añadió que, ya que el incendio les pasó por encima, tendrán “doble fuerza si superan esta etapa”, y su significado será doblemente fuerte.

Daniel Politi y Lis Moriconi colaboraron con la reportería.


La primera dama y el bolso Dior: una crisis política sacude Corea del Sur

El Times  Una selección semanal de historias en español que no encontrarás en ningún otro sitio, con eñes y acentos.

El presidente estaba enfrentando una economía en desaceleración, una mortífera avalancha humana y amenazas nucleares de un vecino beligerante. Luego se presentó un escándalo mucho más personal: las imágenes de una cámara oculta que mostraban a su esposa aceptando como regalo un bolso Dior de 2200 dólares.

Se ha convertido, rápidamente, en una de las mayores crisis políticas para el presidente Yoon Suk Yeol de Corea del Sur, quien se ha destacado en la política exterior al alinear su país más estrechamente con Estados Unidos y Japón, pero se ha visto empantanado con controversias en casa. Y muchas de ellas involucran a la primera dama, Kim Keon Hee.

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La censura china busca acallar a las voces que critican sus políticas económicas

Daisuke Wakabayashi y

Reportando desde Seúl

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La principal agencia de inteligencia de China emitió el mes pasado una ominosa advertencia sobre una amenaza creciente para la seguridad nacional del país: los chinos que critican la economía.

El Times  Una selección semanal de historias en español que no encontrarás en ningún otro sitio, con eñes y acentos.

En una serie de publicaciones en su cuenta oficial de WeChat, el Ministerio de Seguridad del Estado pidió a los ciudadanos que comprendieran la visión económica del presidente Xi Jinping y no se dejaran influir por quienes buscan “denigrar la economía de China” mediante “falsas narrativas”. Las autoridades del ministerio dijeron que, para combatir ese riesgo, los organismos de seguridad se centrarán en “reforzar la propaganda económica y la orientación de la opinión pública”.

China intensifica su represión mientras lucha por recuperar el dinamismo y el rápido crecimiento económico del pasado. Pekín ha censurado y ha tratado de intimidar a economistas prestigiosos, analistas financieros, bancos de inversión y personas influyentes en las redes sociales por sus valoraciones críticas de la economía y las políticas del gobierno. Además, se están suprimiendo los artículos periodísticos sobre personas que pasan apuros económicos o sobre el bajo nivel de vida de los trabajadores inmigrantes.

China ha seguido dando unas perspectivas positivas para la economía, señalando que el año pasado superó su previsión de crecimiento económico del 5 por ciento sin recurrir a medidas de estímulo arriesgadas y costosas. Sin embargo, más allá de las cifras, su industria financiera batalla por contener enormes cantidades de deuda de los gobiernos locales, su mercado bursátil se tambalea y su sector inmobiliario está en crisis. El lunes se ordenó la liquidación de China Evergrande, una promotora inmobiliaria ambiciosa que estaba acuciada por una deuda de más de 300.000 millones de dólares.

El alcance de la nueva campaña de información es mayor que el de la labor habitual de los censores gubernamentales, quienes siempre han vigilado de cerca las conversaciones sobre economía en internet. Ahora sus esfuerzos se extienden a los comentarios económicos generales que se permitían en el pasado. La implicación de las agencias de seguridad también evidencia cómo los intereses empresariales y económicos entran en la visión cada vez más grande de Xi acerca de lo que constituye una amenaza para la seguridad nacional.

En noviembre, el Ministerio de Seguridad del Estado, autodenominándose como “firmes guardianes de la seguridad financiera”, afirmó que otros países utilizaban las finanzas como arma en los juegos geopolíticos.

“Algunas personas con segundas intenciones intentan crear problemas y sacar provecho del caos”, escribió el ministerio. “No se trata solo del ‘mercado del oso’ y ‘los vendedores en corto’. Estos agoreros del mercado intentan sacudir la confianza inversora de la comunidad internacional en China y desencadenar una agitación financiera interna en nuestro país”.

En el último año, China ha fijado su atención en las empresas consultoras y asesoras con vínculos en el extranjero mediante redadas, detenciones y arrestos. Estas empresas, que ayudaban a las compañías a evaluar las inversiones en el país, se han convertido en un daño colateral en la campaña de Xi para reforzar la seguridad nacional. Estos esfuerzos por frenar el flujo de información, restringir la publicación de datos económicos desfavorables y limitar el discurso financiero crítico solo parecen aumentar la preocupación de los inversores y las empresas extranjeras sobre el estado real de la economía china.

“En mi opinión, cuanto más suprime el gobierno la información negativa sobre la economía, menos confianza tiene la gente en la situación económica real”, dijo Xiao Qiang, investigador científico de la Escuela de Información de la Universidad de California en Berkeley.

Las nuevas inversiones extranjeras en China cayeron un 8 por ciento en 2023, su nivel más bajo en tres años. El índice chino CSI 300, que sigue a las mayores empresas cotizadas en Shanghái y Shenzhen, cayó un 12 por ciento el año pasado, frente a una subida del 24 por ciento del S&P 500. El índice chino ha bajado otro 5 por ciento este año, hasta mínimos de casi cinco años.

El primer ministro Li Qiang pidió el lunes medidas más eficaces para estabilizar el mercado bursátil, en un contexto de informaciones sobre un posible paquete de rescate del mercado de valores.

Xiao, el investigador académico, dijo que en la segunda mitad de 2023 empezó a notar que los censores chinos retiraban con más rapidez muchos artículos de noticias financieras. Entre ellos: un artículo de diciembre en el sitio de noticias financieras Yicai que citaba una investigación según la cual 964 millones de chinos ganaban menos de 280 dólares mensuales.

Este mes, también se retiró de internet un documental de NetEase News sobre trabajadores inmigrantes que soportaban un nivel de vida extremadamente bajo. Los resultados de la búsqueda del documental titulado Working Like This for 30 Years, también se restringieron en Weibo, un sitio de redes sociales similar a X.

Desde junio, Weibo ha restringido que decenas de cuentas publiquen después de que, según dijo, “publicaran comentarios que hablaban mal de la economía” o “distorsionaran” o “desprestigiaran” las políticas económica, financiera e inmobiliaria de China.

En noviembre, Weibo advirtió a los usuarios que no fueran “maliciosamente pesimistas” sobre la economía ni difundieran sentimientos negativos. El mes pasado, la empresa dijo que esperaba que los usuarios ayudaran a “incrementar la confianza” en el desarrollo de la economía.

Otros servicios de redes sociales también están tomando medidas para censurar el discurso negativo sobre la economía. Douyin, la versión china de TikTok, tiene normas específicas que prohíben la “malinterpretación maliciosa de las políticas relacionadas con el sector inmobiliario”.

A Liu Jipeng, decano de la Universidad China de Ciencias Políticas y Derecho de Pekín, se le prohibió publicar o añadir nuevos seguidores en Douyin y Weibo el mes pasado, después de que dijera en una entrevista que no era el momento adecuado para invertir dinero en acciones. También escribió en Weibo, donde tiene más de 500.000 seguidores, que a la gente le resultaba difícil invertir con seguridad porque había muchas instituciones poco éticas. Su cuenta de Douyin, en la que tiene más de 700.000 seguidores, tiene un aviso que dice que el usuario “tiene prohibido ser seguido debido a una violación de las normas de la comunidad”.

Los bancos y las sociedades de valores también están sometidos a un intenso escrutinio por el contenido de sus estudios económicos. En junio, la Oficina Reguladora de Valores de Shenzhen advirtió a China Merchants Securities, una agencia de valores con sede en Shenzhen, sobre un informe “elaborado descuidadamente” un año antes, en el que se advertía que las acciones nacionales seguirían bajo presión debido a la economía.

En julio, Goldman Sachs provocó una venta masiva de acciones bancarias chinas después de que uno de sus informes de investigación calificara con la etiqueta de “venta” a tres grandes prestamistas y advirtiera que los bancos podrían tener dificultades para mantener los dividendos por las pérdidas derivadas de la deuda de los gobiernos locales. Securities Times, un periódico financiero estatal, contratacó diciendo que el informe se basaba en una “interpretación errónea de los hechos” y que “no es aconsejable malinterpretar los fundamentos de los bancos chinos”.

Un economista de una sociedad de valores extranjera dijo que un funcionario del gobierno chino le había pedido recientemente que fuera “más reflexivo” al redactar informes de investigación, especialmente si el contenido podía interpretarse de manera negativa. El economista pidió no ser identificado por temor a represalias.

Incluso un comentario que antes era aceptable se ha vuelto problemático a la luz de los actuales retos económicos de China.

En una entrevista de 2012, un año antes de que Xi asumiera el poder, Wu Jinglian, un famoso economista chino, advirtió que el país se encontraba en un punto de inflexión. Afirmó que China podía avanzar con una economía de mercado regida por la ley, o podía dejarse influir por quienes buscaban una agenda alternativa de fuerte implicación gubernamental.

Wu dijo en la entrevista que los problemas sociales de China “son fundamentalmente el resultado de unas reformas económicas incompletas, un grave retraso en las reformas políticas y una intensificación del poder administrativo para reprimir e interferir en las actividades económicas privadas legítimas”.

La entrevista se volvió a publicar el año pasado con motivo del 45 aniversario de la apertura de la economía china. Fue ampliamente compartida y es considerada como un reproche a la política económica de Xi —que ha impulsado un mayor control estatal a expensas de las reformas del mercado— antes de que fuera retirada de WeChat.

Pero la campaña de presión se ha intensificado tanto que está convirtiendo en críticos a quienes suelen defender las políticas de Pekín. Hu Xijin, influyente comentarista y exredactor jefe de Global Times, periódico del Partido Comunista, escribió en Weibo que la labor de las personas influyentes era “ayudar constructivamente” al gobierno a identificar los problemas, “en vez de encubrirlos activamente y crear una opinión pública que no es real”.

Daisuke Wakabayashi es corresponsal de negocios en Asia para el Times, con sede en Seúl. @daiwaka

Claire Fu cubre noticias en China continental para The New York Times en Seúl. @fu_claire