The New York Times 2024-02-10 18:25:27


U.N. Agency in Gaza Fought Hamas Infiltration; Not Hard Enough, Israel Says

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When the United Nations launched an investigation a decade ago into whether a handful of its employees in Gaza were members of Hamas, it was not long before a senior U.N. legal officer in the territory started receiving death threats.

First there were emails, sent from anonymous accounts, according to three senior U.N. officials based in Gaza at that time.

Then came a funeral bouquet, delivered to the main U.N. compound, labeled with the legal officer’s name.

Finally there was a live grenade, sent to the compound with its pin still inside, according to two of the officials.

The U.N. evacuated the legal officer, a British lawyer and former military officer, hurrying him to Jerusalem, the three people said.

Previously unreported episodes like this one, from October 2014, form part of the back story to the current crisis embroiling UNRWA, the U.N. relief group in Gaza now sheltering more than half of the enclave’s population.

Current and former UNRWA officials say that the agency has long taken seriously and investigated accusations of infiltration by Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007. The agency has variously responded to tips from Israel, the United States and its own networks. It was the kind of challenge, they said, that all aid groups operating in hostile environments faced, not unique to UNRWA, which has worked in the enclave for decades.

Rather than addressing such issues in a systematic process, they dealt with them in a piecemeal way mostly in private, working with officials at the United Nations in New York. Over the years, several people who had proven Hamas links were fired or left the agency, including after the 2014 investigation, current and former officials said.

Israel has long made a broader accusation: UNRWA didn’t go far enough to root out Hamas and was unwilling to clean up systematically. It has said UNRWA is a completely compromised organization that is too weak to protect against infiltration and needs to be replaced by a more neutral aid group.

Last month, Israel accused 12 UNRWA staff members of participating in the Hamas-led raid on Israel at the start of the war on Oct. 7 or in the raid’s aftermath. It has also said that one in 10 UNRWA employees in Gaza are Hamas members.

These two claims — for which Israel provided some evidence to the United States, albeit not publicly — have led at least 19 foreign funders to suspend donations for the agency. The loss of funding has endangered UNRWA’s existence when the majority of Gazans depend on the group for food and shelter.

UNRWA’s leaders say the agency strives to ensure its 13,000 employees in Gaza uphold standards of neutrality, regularly training its staff to stay above politics and investigating those who do not. But they add that it is impossible for UNRWA — like any large organization that draws its staff from a cross-section of society — to track the private political allegiances of all its employees.

“What we want to make sure is that our staff does not have a public political function, because that would be completely incompatible with the function of a civil servant,” Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner general, said in an interview with The New York Times on Friday.

But, Mr. Lazzarini added, “Our employees are part of the social fabric of Gaza and its ecosystem. And as part of the social fabric in Gaza, you have also Hamas.”

While Mr. Lazzarini fired most of the 12 employees accused of connections to Oct. 7, he said he had not been able to personally investigate the claims, in part because of the dire situation inside Gaza, and that they had been fired without due process. A separate U.N. investigative unit based in New York is now looking into the accusations.

In Israel’s view, UNRWA should have been far more proactive in protecting its neutrality. Israelis have often said the group has done too little to stop Hamas from building military infrastructure close to its facilities, or even from using those facilities to store munitions.

To bolster that argument, the Israeli military this week led a group of international journalists, including two for The Times, to one of the many tunnels dug by Hamas underneath Gaza to house its military infrastructure.

Roughly 20 yards beneath an upscale neighborhood of Gaza City, the tunnel ran in a southeasterly direction from under an UNRWA-run school. After passing under a major road, the tunnel eventually led to a subterranean communications hub, full of servers and computer hardware, that lay directly beneath UNRWA’s sprawling headquarters in the territory.

The journalists entered the tunnel through openings that had been created by the Israeli military since its invasion began in late October; before Israel captured the territory, neither the school nor the headquarters contained shafts that provided access from UNRWA facilities to the tunnel.

The Israeli military said that the tunnel was close enough to the surface that UNRWA workers should have been able to hear its construction. They also pointed to wires that led into the ground from a room inside the UNRWA compound, which they said led directly to Hamas’s subterranean communications hub.

“You have to be very naïve to think that the UNRWA personnel did not know what was happening under their feet,” not least because the construction and maintenance of the tunnel would have required aboveground assistance, said Maj. Nir Dinar, a spokesman for the Israeli military who accompanied the journalists.

“But whether they knew, or whether they didn’t know, it is also important to say that UNRWA, like the population in Gaza, like all of us in fact, are victims of the terrorist organization Hamas,” said Major Dinar.

The Times could not verify whether the wires, which led into the ground from a room on the lowest level of the compound, reached the subterranean servers. The tour of the tunnel was led by the military and The Times was not allowed to move freely in Gaza during the embed.

Mr. Lazzarini said Israel had not brought the claims about the tunnels to UNRWA’s attention. He questioned how the agency could have been expected to know what was happening so deep beneath the ground, and noted that the tunnel network — hundreds of miles long — extended far beyond just the area beneath the UNRWA compound.

“I don’t have the capacity, military expertise or technology — or even the mandate — to monitor what is underneath the city,” Mr. Lazzarini said.

More generally, he said, UNRWA had little communication with Hamas leadership, adding that he had never met Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, or his deputy.

“In any humanitarian emergency, we will deal with any nonstate actor in control of a given population, otherwise you have no access to the population,” said Mr. Lazzarini, who has worked for the U.N. and the International Committee for the Red Cross in at least a dozen countries and territories.

Interaction with Hamas “has always been on a technical nature,” he said. Meetings with the group’s political leadership happen “maybe once a year. Just when we feel that something needs really to be addressed,” he said.

Aid experts are skeptical that UNRWA could ever have completely shaken off Hamas’s influence because of the nature of working in an authoritarian climate.

There is “always some form of infiltration,” said Kilian Kleinschmidt, a former senior U.N. official who helped lead aid operations in several countries.

“There has always been, in every U.N. office I know, somebody who’s placed somehow by the government or by the guys who were in charge, to know what’s going on inside of the organization,” said Mr. Kleinschmidt.

Matthias Schmale, who directed UNRWA’s operations in Gaza from 2017 through 2021, described forming a “pragmatic working relationship” with Hamas that was nevertheless “overwhelmed with tensions and disagreements.”

During Mr. Schmale’s tenure, UNRWA fired an employee who was a member of the group’s military wing. And Mr. Schmale said that, after a “shouting match” with a Hamas official, he successfully persuaded the group to let UNRWA block off a tunnel that U.N. officials had discovered near one of its schools. In addition to providing shelter during wartime, UNRWA operates hundreds of schools and health centers during calmer periods and provides food aid to more than a million residents.

“When I say ‘pragmatic working relationship,’ it doesn’t mean agreeing ideologically or justifying what they do. It means creating the space for where you work,” Mr. Schmale said. “You can’t just walk in as UNRWA and build schools anywhere you like,” he added.

Mr. Schmale was himself forced to leave Gaza early in 2021 after a backlash from both Hamas and UNRWA’s own workers over comments to an Israeli channel in which he was perceived to praise the precision of Israel’s strikes on Gaza.

Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now want to replace UNRWA with a different agency.

But officials from UNRWA and Israel alike warn that such a change would be impossible to enact without worsening the already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

UNRWA has by far and away the largest pool of aid workers on the ground in Gaza. If the agency shuts down, any successor organization would be likely to simply work with the same employees, making any change cosmetic, Mr. Lazzarini said. And absent UNRWA’s school system, which educates around 300,000 Gazan children, there would be no immediate way to get many students back in class, he said.

At a recent interagency planning meeting, Ghassan Alian, an Israeli general who oversees the department within the defense ministry that liaises with Palestinian leaders and aid groups like UNRWA, told fellow Israeli officers that Israel should push to dismantle the agency in the long term, according to a senior military official present at the meeting.

General Alian also warned that any effort to close the agency before the end of the war would harm not only the civilian population but also Israel’s war effort, the military official said. Israel’s ability to extend its invasion is partly reliant on a functional and independent aid operation for Gazan civilians, according to four officials involved in Israeli military planning.

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Lost Images Reveal the History of Rio’s Carnival


Rafael Cosme was at a Rio de Janeiro antique fair six years ago when he found a pile of film negatives on the ground. No one wanted them, the vendor said. They were $2.

“I carried home two bags of negatives thinking: What am I doing with my life?” he recalled.

So began Mr. Cosme’s obsession with the lost and discarded photos of his city’s past. Since that morning in 2018, he has collected more than 150,000 film photos and negatives, nearly all shot by amateurs, that tell the story of Rio de Janeiro from the 1890s to the 1980s, one flash in time at a time.

In his work, he has noticed that one theme keeps popping up more than any other.

Carnival.

It is Rio’s annual collective exhalation — a four-day eruption of art and music, costumes and joy — that began again on Saturday.

The celebration has come to define Rio around the world, while also becoming an influential driver of the city’s culture.

“There is no researching this city without going through Carnival,” Mr. Cosme said.

But through the photos, taken over decades by photographers whose names are lost to history, he could see how Carnival had changed with the city, and vice versa.

From 100-year-old prints with a sepia tint to 60-year-old saturated Kodachrome slides, the images revealed changing trends in society, humor, fashion, drug use and sexual liberalization.

Taken by amateurs with the cameras of their day, the photos often have a ragged beauty to them, compared with today’s digital perfection, and also a special intimacy.

“I realized there are endless stories I could tell about this city,” Mr. Cosme said about his discovery of Rio’s lost photos. “Because inside every house, inside every closet, there is a box with revelations.”

Carnival, a days-long celebration ahead of the Christian observance of Lent, arrived in Brazil with the Portuguese colonizers, and for centuries retained traditions from Europe. It was a costume party of sorts, where revelers would hide their identities to play pranks on neighbors.

By the middle of the 19th century, Brazilians began adding music, dancing and revelry in the street. By the turn of the 20th century, it was a full-fledged party.

Around that time, Rio’s rich elites began parading around the city during Carnival in open cars, according to Maria Clementina Pereira Cunha, a historian who has written books about Rio’s Carnival.

It was partly a way to show off their wealth, she said. But when suburbanites began pooling money to rent cars to parade around, too, the trend fell out of fashion with elites and died in the 1930s.

Even with its constant evolution, Carnival remained a costume party. The photos show that many people, particularly among Brazil’s poor, crafted creative outfits at home using what they could find.

“Mothers sewed and embroidered so their children would look well presented at Carnival,” Ms. Pereira Cunha said. “That’s why they wanted their photograph taken.”

Costumes also were satirical and playful, sometimes referring to pop culture and current events — references that are not always so clear today.

One of the most popular costumes was men dressing as women. They were designed to be a joke, often playing up sexist tropes, and the costumes fell out of favor over time.

Clown costumes were long popular, but over the decades they grew more sinister. People who wore them often tried to scare other revelers.

Eventually, men from Rio’s suburbs created a style called “bate bola,” or roughly “slam ball,” a costume that involved menacing clowns who slammed balls tied to ropes against the street. This type of costume, seen in the fifth image below, became renowned for frightening children and is still common today.

By the 1910s, people began carrying glass bottles of a scented ether-based liquid that provided a brief euphoric high. Later the bottles gave way to pressurized cans. They were called “lança perfume,” or “perfume throwers.”

Revelers would spray the concoction into crowds or at strangers, often to flirt, said Felipe Ferreira, a Carnival historian at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.

The government banned the sprays in 1961, but a stronger version is still used illegally today.

Look closely at these photos to see people carrying the bottles and cans.

The 20th century also brought “blocos,” or street bands, which became an integral part of Brazilian Carnival, and still are today. They are each a social club of sorts that play music on the street, with drums, horns and often matching outfits.

They frequently marched through the city, fueling impromptu parties, with different blocos offering differing styles of music, costumes and themes.

By the late 1920s, the so-called samba schools arrived. These were formal groups of samba musicians and dancers who performed increasingly elaborate shows that told stories through costumes, lyrics and dance.

They were made up of largely Black residents of poorer neighborhoods, and they focused on celebrating their Afro-Brazilian heritage.

As they became Rio’s most popular Carnival attraction, the city shut down a main avenue for the schools’ parades, adding large decorations and bleachers, as seen in the photos below. The schools, meanwhile, adopted even more extravagant costumes and floats.

Today the parade remains the centerpiece of Rio’s Carnival, held in a dedicated stadium built in 1984.

Produced by Craig Allen, Gray Beltran and Diego Ribadeneira.

Lis Moriconi contributed reporting.

On a Frozen Border, Finland Puzzles Over a ‘Russian Game’

Poking up through the snow drifts on the Finnish-Russian border lies a symbol of Moscow’s biggest provocation yet toward NATO’s newest member: a sprawling heap of broken bicycles.

The battered bikes are sold for hundreds of dollars on the Russian side to asylum seekers from as far away as Syria and Somalia. They are then encouraged — sometimes forced, according to Finnish guards — to cross the border. Finns say it is a hybrid warfare campaign against their country, using some of the world’s most desperate people, just as it is staking out a new position in a shifting world order.

“Some of the bikes didn’t even have pedals — sometimes they’d link arms, to help each other keep moving,” said Ville Kuusisto, a Finnish border guard master sergeant, at the crossing near the Russian town of Vyborg.

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Middle East Crisis : Terrified Gazans Await an Israeli Advance in the City Where They Fled

Gazans in Rafah wonder where else there is to go.

As the war has raged, Ahlam Shimali has watched as people have fled fighting and destruction elsewhere in Gaza and packed into Rafah, the territory’s southernmost district, where she lives.

Rents have skyrocketed, and multiple families share small apartments. Tent camps have taken over most open areas. Food and fuel have become so scarce that she burns old clothes and pages from books to heat canned beans and bake flatbread.

Now, Israel’s stated intention to expand its ground invasion into Rafah has left her terrified, with no idea where she and her family could flee.

“What would happen to us if there were tanks, clashes, an invasion and an army?” said Ms. Shimali, 31.

More than half of Gaza’s 2.2 million people are now sheltering in Rafah, many of them after Israel told them to flee south to avoid the war farther north.

Israeli officials have been suggesting that the next step in their effort to destroy Hamas will be in Rafah, and, on Friday, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that “any forceful action in Rafah would require the evacuation of the civilian population from combat zones.”

The Israeli government has not specified which areas these would be and where the civilians now sheltering in them would be expected to go.

Aid groups, the secretary general of the United Nations and officials from the Biden administration have warned that an Israeli attack on Rafah would be catastrophic. The area’s high density would increase the chances of civilian deaths in military strikes, and an advance by Israeli ground troops could further interrupt the delivery of aid.

Already, the overcrowding has taxed the area’s resources, and newly displaced Gazans continue to arrive as fighting rages on in the city of Khan Younis to the north.

“It is very bad; the hygiene level is very low,” said Fathi Abu Snema, 45, who has been sheltering with his family in a United Nations school in Rafah since early in the war. “Here we eat only canned food, which is anything but healthy. Everything else is very expensive.”

He feared that many would die if Israel invaded Rafah, especially since people had nowhere else to go.

“I prefer to die here,” he said. “There is not one safe place to go in Gaza. You could get killed anywhere, even in street.”

Rafah sits along the border with Egypt, although very few Gazans have been allowed to leave during the war, mostly because Egypt, and many Gazans themselves, fear that if they leave, they will never return to Gaza.

That leaves few options for people like Sana al-Kabariti, a pharmacist and skin-care expert.

She fled to Rafah from Gaza City, where both her home and her clinic have since been destroyed, giving her little to return to, she said.

Even if the war were to stop soon, she expects there would be little interest in her skin-care services, since people would be focused on trying to rebuild their homes and lives, she said.

“I am worried about my future in Gaza,” said Ms. al-Kabariti, 33. “I really need to leave the strip.”

Iyad Abuheweila and Abu Bakr Bashir contributed reporting.

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

A 6-year-old girl and the rescuers searching for her have been found dead in Gaza, an aid group says.

A 6-year-old Palestinian girl and the two rescuers who went looking for her nearly two weeks ago were found dead on Saturday, the Palestine Red Crescent said, ending a desperate effort to discover their fates.

Two rescuers with the Red Crescent were dispatched in an ambulance on the evening of Jan. 29 to find Hind Rajab, who was believed to be trapped in a vehicle in Gaza City with six dead family members. The aid group said they had been killed by Israeli fire.

A Red Crescent statement on Saturday accused Israeli forces of bombing the ambulance as it arrived “just meters away from the vehicle containing the trapped child Hind,” and killing the two rescuers inside. It said this happened “despite prior coordination” between the Red Crescent and the Israeli military.

The Red Crescent shared an image of the charred and nearly unrecognizable ambulance on social media.

Neither the Red Crescent nor Hind’s family members who were in the area around the time the ambulance arrived on Jan. 29 reported any fighting between Israeli forces and armed Palestinians there, though this could not be independently verified.

The Israeli military did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the Red Crescent’s allegations. The military said last week that it was not aware of the incident.

A spokeswoman for the Red Crescent said that the girl’s family had discovered the bodies of their relatives and the ambulance crew. It was not immediately clear how Hind died.

The Red Cross had issued a series of desperate posts since the rescuers went missing, trying to draw attention to the harrowing situation.

The search was hampered by the ongoing presence of Israeli forces in the area, making it too dangerous to send more rescuers to the scene, according to the Red Crescent.

Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza has left more than 27,000 people in Gaza dead in the past four months, according to health authorities in the territory. More than 12,000 of the dead are children, according to Gazan authorities.

The U.N. agency for children, Unicef, said on Friday that more than 600,000 children and their families have been displaced to the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Israel’s war in Gaza began after Hamas staged a cross-border attack on Israel which Israeli authorities said killed about 1,200 people.

The two ambulance team members, Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun, were sent after a Red Crescent dispatcher spent three hours on the phone trying to console Hind as she was trapped in the car.

The Red Crescent said it had coordinated the movements of the ambulance with the Israeli military. Similar coordination is done by other aid organizations operating in Gaza, including U.N. agencies.

Some aid groups have reported convoys coming under fire.

The two rescuers confirmed arriving at the scene of the vehicle in Gaza City, in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood, at about 6 p.m. on Jan 29. Then the Red Crescent lost contact with them and had not heard from them since.

The Israeli military’s tanks and forces remained in the vicinity, preventing the Red Crescent from sending other rescuers to the scene, the aid group said.

After the tanks withdrew, Hind’s family went to the area and saw that she was dead in the vehicle and the Red Crescent ambulance had been hit, with the two rescuers dead inside, said Nebal Farsakh, a spokeswoman for the Red Crescent. She added that the family notified the Red Crescent and sent them photos.

“What can we say to the mother of 6-year-old Hind? What can we say to the families of our missing colleagues Youssef Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoon?” the Red Crescent’s final post on the case said on Friday, before the group received confirmation that they were all dead.

“Every day for the past 11 days they have endured the heart-wrenching uncertainty about the location of their loved ones. Their suffering makes us more determined to find out what happened. We must learn the truth.”

Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.

Strikes continue to hit Rafah after Netanyahu signals a planned Israeli advance there.

More than two dozen people were killed on Saturday as Israeli forces continued to bombard the province of Rafah and other parts of the southern Gaza Strip with airstrikes, Palestinian media and The Associated Press reported.

More than a million Palestinians are stuck as the Israeli military says it is preparing for a ground invasion there.

Hundreds of thousands of Gazans have flooded into Rafah during four months of Israeli bombardments, a ground invasion and warnings by the Israeli military to flee south. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled this week that Israel intends to push farther south into Rafah, which he described as the enclave’s last Hamas stronghold.

On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes struck a vehicle and homes where displaced people were sheltering. Palestinian media and The Associated Press reported at least 29 people were killed, including children, but the Gazan health authorities did not immediately confirm that death toll.

Gazan health officials said on Saturday that more than 28,000 people had been killed in bombing and other Israeli military actions, most of them women, children and other noncombatants.

The ongoing Israeli strikes have terrified displaced people in Rafah, who are mostly living in makeshift tents and have nowhere else to flee.

On Saturday, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia joined an international chorus condemning Israel’s stated intention of expanding its ground invasion into the province. Aid groups, the Secretary General of the United Nations and officials from the Biden administration have warned that an Israeli attack on Rafah would be catastrophic.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for the Palestinian Authority in the Israel-occupied West Bank, on Saturday, called on the United States to pressure Israel to stop what he called “the genocidal massacres” of Palestinian civilians. Israel denies it has committed genocide or purposely targeted civilians.

The United States, which sends billions in military aid to Israel every year, has been strongly supportive of the Netanyahu government since it launched the war in Gaza on Oct. 7, after a Hamas-led attack in southern Gaza that Israel says killed some 1,200 people.

The heavy toll on civilians in Gaza has ignited outrage around the world and has eroded support for Israel in the United States, especially in the Democratic Party.

On Thursday, President Biden, who has been a stalwart supporter of Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas, sharply escalated his criticism of the Israel military’s approach to the war, calling military operations in Gaza “over the top” and saying that the suffering of innocent people has “got to stop.”

As hunger stalks Gaza, one family uses animal feed in place of flour.

As the United Nations’ World Food Program warned that famine looms for more than half a million people in Gaza, Um Mohammad Abu Awwad, a 35-year-old mother, said that her family sheltering in the north of the territory has not been able to find any flour to buy for weeks.

Even when flour was available, she said, a bag would cost around $200 — an impossible sum for their family, which has no income amid the war.

Ms. Abu Awwad said that she has had to resort to grinding hay and animal fodder as a substitute for flour. But even animal feed was becoming more expensive now, she said.

“We want food and water to keep our children alive,” Ms. Abu Awwad said in a voice message this week. “The adults can survive, but the children are dying of hunger.”

The World Food Program warned last month that the entire population of Gaza — about 2.2 million people — was suffering crisis levels of food insecurity or worse. In late December, the agency said that nine out of 10 people were eating less than one meal a day, and the situation has worsened as aid groups struggle to deliver the little aid that is entering Gaza.

“If you want to avert the famine, you need to make sure that people have something to eat every day,” the W.F.P.’s director for the Palestinian territories, Matthew Hollingworth, said in an interview on Thursday after visiting Gaza.

And agencies face hurdles to distributing the aid that does enter Gaza, including roads rendered impassable by bombardment and Israeli military operations. Still, the W.F.P. said that it had delivered boxes of 10-day rations, wheat flour and hot meals to an estimated 1.3 million people last month. In northern Gaza, where the agency says needs are greatest, nearly 300,000 people are “almost entirely cut off from assistance,” it said.

Ameera Harouda contributed reporting from Doha, Qatar.

Moody’s downgrades Israel’s credit rating, citing the toll of the war.

Moody’s on Friday became the first major rating agency to downgrade Israel’s creditworthiness, citing the prolonged war with Hamas and the toll it is taking on the country’s finances.

Moody’s, one of three major rating agencies alongside S&P Global Ratings and Fitch, lowered Israel’s rating from A1 to A2. Credit ratings range from a low of D or C (for S&P and Moody’s scales) to AAA or Aaa for the most pristine borrowers. A rating of A2 is still a high rating, but Moody’s also noted that the outlook for the country was negative, dented by the social, political and economic risks arising from the conflict with Hamas.

The rating agency had put Israel on review after the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks, in which more than 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli officials, and more than 250 taken hostage. Both S&P and Fitch also began to reassess Israel’s credit rating in November but have yet to take any action as a result.

In a statement announcing the decision, Moody’s said that it downgraded Israel because “the ongoing military conflict with Hamas, its aftermath and wider consequences materially raise political risk for Israel as well as weaken its executive and legislative institutions and its fiscal strength, for the foreseeable future.”

Moody’s said it expected Israel’s military spending to double 2022’s outlay by the end of this year. That means more debt to fund the increase in spending.

It is typical for rating agencies to reassess a country’s creditworthiness after a major event that is likely to affect its ability to repay its lenders. Credit ratings are required by many investors who buy the debt of companies and countries as an indicator of the likelihood that they will get back the money they lent out.

S&P, which has also been re-evaluating Israel’s credit rating since October, has planned an update to the country’s credit rating for May 10. The rating agency noted in a report in November that Israel’s diversified economy and strong tech sector should give its finances ballast during the war, though it warned that a further escalation of the conflict to regions outside Gaza could strongly affect its decision-making.

“We could lower the ratings on Israel if the conflict widens materially, increasing the security and geopolitical risks that Israel faces,” S&P’s analysts noted. “We could also lower the ratings in the next 12-24 months if the impact of the conflict on Israel’s economic growth, fiscal position and balance of payments proves more significant than we currently project.”

Panamanian Candidate, Facing Prison, Vows to Campaign From an Embassy

As Panama jumps into its boisterous Carnival period, the celebrations this weekend come amid a bizarre political drama playing out in the capital.

A former president, who is also a top contender in this year’s presidential election in May, has holed himself up in the Nicaraguan Embassy in Panama City, accompanied by his furniture, including a sofa and a desk, as well as his dog, Bruno.

Ricardo Martinelli, a 71-year-old conservative businessman who led Panama from 2009 to 2014, was granted asylum by Nicaragua this week after Panama’s Supreme Court denied his appeal of a money-laundering conviction that carried with it a 10-year prison sentence.

Mr. Martinelli, who has faced other criminal investigations, contends not only that the case is politically motivated, but also that Panama’s president and vice president want to kill him.

Instead of going to prison, he said he intends to continue his presidential campaign from the grounds of the embassy, even though Panama’s Constitution prohibits someone who has been sentenced to five years or more for intentionally committing a crime from running the country.

“You have to be very cowardly to disqualify a presidential candidate who is first in the polls,” he said in a statement posted Wednesday on X, the social media platform. He added: “That is an attack against democracy.”

Some polls have shown that Mr. Martinelli is the front-runner. The electoral tribunal has strongly implied he would be disqualified from being on the ballot in the coming election.

Panama’s Foreign Ministry said Friday evening that it would not grant Nicaragua’s request to allow Mr. Martinelli safe passage to its country, citing an article of an international agreement on political asylum, ratified by Nicaragua and Panama, stating that countries cannot grant asylum to people who have been “duly prosecuted” for nonpolitical crimes.

Nicaragua’s Foreign Ministry later responded to Panama’s refusal, saying that political asylum needs to be respected as a humanitarian right.

Mr. Martinelli’s spokesman, Luis Eduardo Camacho, said that Panama’s decision on safe passage wasn’t a surprise “because this is not a democracy. This is a wild state of law.”

Fernando Gómez-Arbeláez, a lawyer in Panama who specializes in international law, said that allowing Mr. Martinelli to flee the country would be a national embarrassment.

“The government of Panama is conscious that letting Martinelli leave the country this way would be a mockery of gigantic proportions of the Panamanian justice system,” Mr. Gómez-Arbeláez said.

It was unclear as of Friday night if the authorities in Panama had issued an order for Mr. Martinelli to be arrested.

Mr. Martinelli was convicted last July in a case in which prosecutors said that funds were obtained from government contractors for the 2010 purchase of a publishing house. In addition to the prison sentence, he was fined $19 million.

The former president has denied wrongdoing.

Several days after the Supreme Court denied his appeal, Mr. Martinelli presented a criminal complaint to Panama’s National Assembly, accusing Panama’s president and vice president of attempted homicide. The complaint alleged that a person close to the president’s office had warned of a plot to kill Mr. Martinelli to prevent him from becoming president.

The current president, Laurentino Cortizo, has denied the allegation.

As the country’s news headlines focused on the Martinelli situation, the streets of Panama City on Friday were congested with people rushing to do their shopping before the start of Carnival, a holiday celebrated over four days before Ash Wednesday that includes parades and dancing in the streets at night.

Some said that they backed Mr. Martinelli, pointing to how he had led the country during a period of strong economic growth, accompanied by a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal.

At a bus terminal, Tais Saldaña, a 23-year-old speech therapy student, said she had planned to vote for Mr. Martinelli — and that if not for the festivities, people would be out protesting to support him.

“Politics is dirty,” Ms. Saldaña said. “The fact that he’s disqualified takes away an opportunity from the Panamanian to freely choose, to support a candidate who because of his experience or what he has done in previous years is a favorite of the Panamanians.”

At the entrance of the Panama Canal, Joel Alvarado, a 28-year-old driver, said that he didn’t believe Mr. Martinelli was a victim of political persecution. “He’s done good things, that’s true, but it doesn’t justify that they steal from us; that we work every day and they steal our taxes is not fair,” he said.

Although Nicaragua is run by a leftist government, the conservative Mr. Martinelli said in an interview with CNN a few days ago that he has “a great fondness and appreciation for Nicaragua.”

Nicaragua has become increasingly authoritarian, and its officials have faced sanctions from the United States for stripping political dissidents of their citizenship. The country has also been seizing the property of its critics.

But Nicaragua has a history of providing safe haven to politicians under criminal investigation, said Manuel Orozco, the director of the migration, remittances and development program at the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank in Washington.

In the last decade, for example, Nicaragua has granted refuge to two former presidents of El Salvador.

Mr. Martinelli has faced previous criminal investigations. In 2021, he was acquitted on charges of wiretapping opponents and journalists. He has also been implicated in a pending legal case related to a multinational bribery scandal involving the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

When asked for comment on the situation in Panama, the State Department mentioned that it had previously banned Mr. Martinelli from the United States for having accepted bribes in exchange for awarding government contracts while serving as president.

“The United States and Panama promote shared democratic values of accountability, rule of law and transparency,” it said in a statement.

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Israeli Settlers Left Gaza in 2005. They Now See a Chance to Return.

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A group of Israelis hoping to live in Gaza at the war’s end has already published maps imagining Jewish-majority towns dotting the territory. Far-right Israeli lawmakers have drafted plans to make such settlements legal. And Israel’s national security minister has called for Arab residents to leave Gaza so that Jews can populate the coastal strip.

After four months of war and a death toll that Gazan officials say exceeds 27,000 killed, international pressure is mounting on Israel to withdraw from Gaza. But a small group of Israelis is pushing for the opposite: They want Israel to retain control of the territory, from which Hamas launched the deadliest attack in Israeli history, and re-establish the Jewish settlements that were dismantled in Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.

“The minute the war is over, we’ll build our homes there,” said Yair Cohen, 23, a reserve soldier, who said his family was evicted from Gaza in 2005. “The question isn’t whether we will return when the fighting is over, but if there will be a Gaza.”

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Putin to U.S.: Let’s Make a Deal on Ukraine (on My Terms)

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia kept returning to one message over and over in his meandering, two-hour interview with the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson: Russia wants to negotiate a peace deal in Ukraine, albeit on the Kremlin’s terms.

That message seemed aimed at the American right and Republicans in Congress, with an eye to undermining support for aid to Ukraine. If so, the day after the long-anticipated interview, it seemed lost in the muddle.

The Russian leader’s discursive historical diatribes, delving into everything from the Rurik dynasty to the Golden Horde, dominated commentary about the interview online and overshadowed the message he intended to deliver.

In Russia on Friday, experts and even some of Mr. Putin’s allies were also puzzling over why he gave short shrift to his main ideological commonality with Mr. Carlson’s followers: opposition to L.G.B.T.Q. rights and other liberal social causes.

Margarita Simonyan, head of the Russian state broadcaster, RT, lamented that Mr. Putin neglected to market Russia as “a safe haven for people who are not ready to send their children to be raised by L.G.B.T. people.”

“This is the only thing on which Russia can and should now build an ideology externally,” Ms. Simonyan said, blaming Mr. Carlson for not asking the right questions. “Just as the U.S.S.R. once built it on the ideas of social equality.”

Instead, Mr. Putin spent much of the interview subjecting a baffled Mr. Carlson to an irredentist teach-in on 1,000 years of Eastern European history, leaving the former Fox News host, by his own admission, “shocked.”

The result was a sense the Russian leader missed a chance.

“I assume that he just didn’t try very hard,” Grigorii Golosov, a professor of political science at the European University at St. Petersburg, said in a phone interview. “If his goal was really to explain himself — and that’s what it seems to have been — then it is unlikely that he reached that goal.”

Mr. Golosov said that Mr. Putin’s main tactical aim was to try to compel the West to make a favorable deal to end the war — one that would cement Russia’s control of the Ukrainian territory it has already captured and, perhaps, lead to a more Russia-friendly government in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

“Putin feels that this is the very best moment to force the West into what he believes is the natural way out of this situation,” Mr. Golosov said. “And that means direct talks with Russia without the participation of Ukraine about how to end the conflict on Russia’s terms.”

Between the historical diatribes, that intent was evident.

Mr. Putin presented negotiations, on his terms, as a way out, now that the West had finally realized Russia was not going to suffer a “strategic defeat” on the battlefield in Ukraine.

“It is never going to happen,” Mr. Putin said. “It seems to me that now those who are in power in the West have come to realize this as well. If so, if the realization has set in, they have to think what to do next. We are ready for this dialogue.”

At another point, he asked, “Wouldn’t it be better to come to an agreement with Russia?”

His pitch comes at a particularly challenging moment for Ukraine.

Kyiv is facing ammunition and personnel shortages, significant opposition to additional aid in Washington and the prospect of a Russia-friendly former president, Donald J. Trump, returning to the White House. A Western-backed counteroffensive designed to retake territory last year failed, and the military leadership is in the midst of a chaotic shake-up.

Mr. Putin offered an alternative to doubling down on support for Ukraine.

“He was quite clearly pitching to the Republican right, trying to expand the number of votes against aid to Ukraine, trying to develop or nurture support in this country for a negotiated solution on his terms,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy. That said, he added, it clearly wasn’t Mr. Putin’s “finest performance.”

In Ukraine, where officials have been deeply skeptical of Mr. Putin’s signaling of a desire for talks in recent months — as Russian missile barrages streak into cities across the country — the suggestion was dismissed as unserious.

“Carlson’s interview with Putin is a two-hour marathon of delusions and fakes,” the Center for Strategic Communications, a Ukrainian government organization, said in a statement.

Ukrainian officials and commentators have said they see in Mr. Putin’s overtures not a willingness to compromise, but rather an effort to undermine support in Congress for military assistance, by suggesting the war might end soon through negotiations.

In the interview, Mr. Putin brought the message of a possible settlement directly to “the masses of Trump’s electorate” on X, Maria Zolkina, a political analyst, wrote in a post on Facebook, suggesting it was aimed at swaying American policies on Ukraine by resonating with Republicans opposed to aid.

The argument that the war could end through concessions to Russia, she said, “fits right in with Trump’s narrative.”

Mr. Putin could see this year as his moment to cut a deal that would allow him to regroup and pursue bigger aims in Ukraine later on. While Russia has seized the initiative on the battlefield, it still faces significant limitations, as well as heavily fortified Ukrainian front lines. As a result, the Russian military is unlikely to sweep across Ukrainian territory and seize any new, big cities in the immediate future.

The content of Mr. Putin’s historical diatribes — designed to portray Ukraine as a fake country without a separate identity — didn’t signal a Russia willing to compromise.

The Ukrainian government has noted Mr. Putin has never backed away from his maximalist demands, interpreting the goal of “demilitarizing” and “de-Nazifying” Ukraine as halting Western military assistance and installing a pro-Russian government in Kyiv.

“We have seen the movie before regarding his view of history and his utter avoidance of the fact that Ukraine became an internationally recognized country with sovereign borders in 1991,” said Mr. Kupchan, the Eurasia Group chairman. “He genuinely thinks that Ukraine was his, is his and will always be his.”

Andrew E. Kramer, Milana Mazaeva and Neil MacFarquhar contributed to this report.

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The Friar Who Became the Vatican’s Go-To Guy on A.I.

Before dawn, Paolo Benanti climbed to the bell tower of his 16th-century monastery, admired the sunrise over the ruins of the Roman forum and reflected on a world in flux.

“It was a wonderful meditation on what is going on inside,” he said, stepping onto the street in his friar robe. “And outside too.”

There is a lot is going on for Father Benanti, who, as both the Vatican’s and the Italian government’s go-to artificial intelligence ethicist, spends his days thinking about the Holy Ghost and the ghosts in the machines.

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Prince Harry Gets Damages in Hacking Case and Calls Out Piers Morgan

Prince Harry has settled his privacy claims against a British tabloid publisher, his lawyer told a London court on Friday, two months after a judge found the publisher guilty of “widespread and habitual” hacking of the prince’s cellphone.

The settlement with Mirror Group Newspapers — which his lawyer said would amount to at least 400,000 pounds, or $504,000 — brings to an end one battle in Harry’s long-running war against the press over its intrusive coverage of his private life.

It was as much a financial victory as a symbolic one, which could help defray the legal costs that Harry has run up in years of litigation against the tabloids. In addition to paying for the costs of the case, the Mirror Group would pay additional “significant” damages, the prince’s lawyer, David Sherborne, said.

“We have uncovered and proved the shockingly dishonest way in which the Mirror acted for so many years,” Harry said in a statement read by Mr. Sherborne outside the high court. Harry, who did not attend the hearing, said he would continue his “mission” of exposing what he called the corrupt practices of the tabloids.

At issue in this case was whether the Mirror Group, which owns The Daily Mirror and other tabloid publications, had engaged in unlawful behavior, including phone hacking and other deceitful techniques, to unearth personal information about Harry and the other plaintiffs, who include British television actors.

In December, the judge, Timothy Fancourt, awarded the prince 140,600 pounds, or nearly $180,000, after finding that Harry had been a victim of hacking. He left the door open to a further settlement, since that ruling was based on only 15 articles, a fraction of the material submitted by Harry’s lawyers.

The lawyers submitted another 115 articles as evidence of unlawful conduct, which could have necessitated two more expensive trials. By agreeing to a settlement at this stage, legal experts said, the Mirror Group is attempting to cap its financial liability since it faces other potential hacking-related lawsuits.

A spokesman for the publisher said, “We are pleased to have reached this agreement, which gives our business further clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago and for which we have apologized.”

In his statement, Harry singled out Piers Morgan, a prominent TV personality and a former editor of The Daily Mirror, saying Mr. Morgan “knew perfectly well what was going on.” Mr. Morgan’s “contempt for the court’s ruling and his continued attacks ever since demonstrate why it was so important to obtain a clear and detailed judgment,” Harry said.

Justice Fancourt said there was evidence that Mr. Morgan was aware of hacking while at The Mirror.

Mr. Morgan, who has been a vocal critic of Harry and his wife, Meghan, has long denied involvement in hacking.

In a post on social media on Friday afternoon, Mr. Morgan wrote: “I totally agree with Prince Harry that ruthless intrusion into the private lives of the Royal Family for financial gain is utterly reprehensible… and I hope he stops doing it.”

Daniel Taylor, a media lawyer at the London firm Taylor Hampton, who represented one of the other plaintiffs in the case, Fiona Wightman, said: “The judge has again today heavily criticized Mirror Group Newspapers for their conduct of this suit and awarded costs at the most punitive level.”

The settlement came at the end of an anxious, hectic week for Harry, the 39-year-old younger son of King Charles III. On Monday, shortly after Buckingham Palace disclosed that the king had been diagnosed with cancer and would halt his public engagements, Harry flew from Los Angeles to London to visit his father.

The two met for less than an hour at the king’s London residence, Clarence House, and Harry returned almost immediately to the United States. On Thursday evening, he turned up at a National Football League awards ceremony in Las Vegas, handing out a prize to a defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cameron Heyward.

In a lighthearted speech that drew chuckles from the audience, Harry did not mention his father’s illness. He said of American football that the United States “stole rugby from us and you made it your own.”

Harry’s case against the Mirror Group is one of several privacy lawsuits against tabloid publishers. He is also suing Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun, and he is part of suit that includes the pop star Elton John against Associated Newspapers, which publishers The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday. These cases also involved allegations of phone hacking.

Last month, Harry withdrew a libel suit against the publisher of The Mail on Sunday over an article about his security arrangements after he and Meghan split with the royal family, moving to the United States in 2020.

Harry’s decision to go to trial against the publishers was unusual for a member of the royal family, which usually resolves these disputes through private negotiations or settlements. His older brother, William, settled a privacy claim against News Group Newspapers for a comparable sum of money.

Last June, Harry became the first senior member of the family to take the stand in court since 1891, when Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Prince Albert Edward, testified in a case about wrongdoing during a game of baccarat at which he was present.

In his sometimes raw testimony, Harry said the stream of negative stories about him and members of his family had led him to distrust even his closest friends. Many stories had focused on Harry’s relationship with a former girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, who he said had found a tracking device on her car.

Another article included details about an episode in which he broke his thumb at school. “Not only do I have no idea how they would know that,” Harry testified, “but these sorts of things instill paranoia in a young man.”

Editors and reporters, he said, “have blood on their hands” because of the lengths to which they went to dig out news about him and his family.

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Ukraine Has a New Military Commander but the Problems Haven’t Changed

Russian forces are razing the already battered city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine to the ground and sending waves of assault units to overwhelm outgunned Ukrainian troops. After months of brutal fighting, the Russian military is threatening to cut off a vital supply line to the city, which could render further defense impossible.

As Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky assumes his role as Ukraine’s top military commander — after a broad shake-up of army leadership on Thursday — he could soon be confronted again with the grim calculus that has been a feature of the two-year war: When does the cost of defending ground outweigh any benefit gained by inflicting pain on the enemy?

It is a bloody equation that General Syrsky has had to try to work out many times as the commander of ground forces in eastern Ukraine, and it is one that critics — including American military officials — contend he has not always gotten right, particularly in the battle for Bakhmut.

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Demolition of Muslim Properties Sets Off Deadly Violence in India

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The demolition of a mosque and a Muslim seminary has led to deadly clashes and an internet shutdown in northern India. The flare-up, in the hill state of Uttarakhand, is the latest bout of sectarian tensions as Muslim sites have become a broader target of the Hindu right wing after the opening of a major temple last month.

The toll of the violence was unclear. An official in Haldwani, the town where the clash took place, said in an interview that two people had been killed and dozens injured, including police officers. Reports in the Indian news media, citing top police officials, said four people had been killed, but this could not be confirmed because the police did not respond to requests for comment. Images from the area revealed vehicles destroyed by fire and debris littering the streets.

Thursday’s unrest began when officials and the police arrived to raze the structures, which the authorities said had been illegally built on public land, and encountered an angry crowd. Witnesses said that the police fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who threw stones at a police station and set vehicles on fire. The police have denied using live ammunition.

The violence unfolded against the backdrop of Hinduism’s rise as a national identity in India, a multiethnic state founded as secular republic, but which in the past decade has been moving steadily further from that vision under the leadership of Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party.

In his 10 years as prime minister, Mr. Modi has fulfilled many of his campaign promises, like building an enormous Hindu temple where a mosque once stood, and stripping the Kashmir region of its semiautonomous status.

Thursday’s demolition was part of a larger government effort that leaders of the opposition say has been targeting Muslims. In 2022, a court in Uttarakhand ordered the destruction of about 4,000 homes of mainly Muslim inhabitants in Haldwani, located on land that the court said encroached on a railway line.

In January 2023, after weeks of protests in which residents who had been issued eviction notices camped out on the street, judges at India’s top court ordered a stay on the demolitions.

In the months that followed, tensions rose. Posters surfaced in another town calling for Muslims to shutter their businesses after two people, a Hindu and a Muslim, allegedly abducted a Hindu girl. Shops belonging to Muslims in another town were marked with black crosses, and members of far-right-wing groups urged Muslims to leave Uttarakhand. The state, home to many Hindu shrines, has increasingly become a major stop on the Hindu pilgrimage route, yet its population is about 14 percent Muslim.

This week, a court ruling cleared the way for the destruction of the mosque and the seminary. Residents and a local elected representative said the government rushed in to demolish them without consulting local residents.

On Friday, the authorities imposed a curfew, shut down schools and colleges, and deployed hundreds of riot control forces.

The demolitions are not confined to Uttarakhand. In a recent report, Amnesty International described what it called “unjust” targeting of Muslim homes, businesses and places of worship between April and June 2022 in five states where the local governments are run by Mr. Modi’s ruling party.

The report urged authorities to halt demolitions of Muslim properties, which it said were being carried out as a “punishment” after episodes of religious violence or protests by Muslims against discriminatory policies.

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Manhattan or Pulau Rhun? In 1667, Nutmeg Made the Choice a No-Brainer.

Richard C. Paddock and

Richard C. Paddock and Muktita Suhartono, along with the photographer Nyimas Laula, spent three days on Pulau Rhun to document life on the remote island.

The isles of Manhattan and Pulau Rhun could hardly be farther apart, not just in geography, but also in culture, economy and global prominence.

Rhun, in the Banda Sea in Indonesia, has no cars or roads and only about 20 motorbikes. Most people get around by walking along its paved footpaths or up steep stairways, often toting plastic jugs of water from the numerous village wells or sometimes lugging a freshly caught tuna.

But in the 17th century, in what might now seem one of the most lopsided trades in history, the Netherlands believed it got the better part of a bargain with the British when it swapped Manhattan, then known as New Amsterdam, for this tiny speck of land.


Map locates the Maluku Islands in eastern Indonesia. It also locates Pulau Rhan, an island in the Banda Island group, which is part of the Maluku Islands.

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Discontent and Defiance on the Road to Pakistan’s Election

Christina Goldbaum and

The reporters traveled along a famed highway in Pakistan’s most heated political battleground to understand how Pakistanis are feeling before a national election on Thursday.

The highway is the most politically charged slice of a politically turbulent country. It winds 180 miles from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, through the fertile plains of Punjab Province to Lahore, the nation’s cultural and political heart.

For centuries, it was known only as a sliver of the Grand Trunk Road, Asia’s longest and oldest thoroughfare, linking traders in Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent. But in Pakistan, this stretch of the smog-drenched highway has become the stage for major rallies and protests led by nearly every famed civilian leader the country has had.

As Pakistan heads into national elections on Thursday, the road is buzzing. Politics dominates the chatter between its vendors and rickshaw drivers, their conversations seeped in a culture of conspiracy, cults of political personality and the problems of entrenched military control.


The map highlights the Grand Trunk Road from Islamabad to Lahore in Pakistan . The towns of Gujar Khan, Jhelum, Wazirabad and Gujranwala along the road are also located.

Nearly every day, hundreds fill the street — its overpasses plastered in green, red and white political posters — to rally for their side. Many more, their preferred party effectively disbanded amid a military crackdown, quietly curse the authorities before an election widely viewed as one of the least credible in the country’s history.

The newsstand just off the main highway in Gujar Khan is little more than a metal chair with newspapers fanned out carefully in a circle. Men gathered around the stand, chatting as they drank their morning tea and electric rickshaws rumbled by. Every day, the papers arrive with a new political advertisement splashed across their front page, said the vendor, Abdul Rahim, 60. But he has not been swayed by any of their catchy slogans or artful headshots.

Like many people across Pakistan, he has become fed up with the country’s political system. After former Prime Minister Imran Khan ran afoul of the country’s powerful military and was ousted by Parliament in 2022, infighting seemed to consume the country’s political and military leaders. All the while, people like Mr. Rahim were getting crushed by the worst economic crisis in Pakistan’s recent history, which sent inflation soaring to nearly 40 percent last year, a record high.

“For five years, I’ve been worrying about how to put food on the table — that’s all I’ve spent my time thinking about,” Mr. Rahim said.

Three governments, led by three different parties, have been in power since inflation began to surge in 2019. None were able to put the economy back on track, Mr. Rahim and some men gathered around the stand explained.

“The rulers are becoming richer, their children are becoming richer and we are becoming poorer every day,” Abid Hussein, 57, a nearby fruit stall vendor, piped in. “This is the worst period in my lifetime in Pakistan.”

The fliers are hidden at major intersections in Jhelum, wedged between the fruits and sunglasses of vendors’ carts and surreptitiously handed out to passers-by. They have a photo of Mr. Khan in the top left corner along with his party’s new slogan: “We will take revenge with the vote.”

Most of the campaigning for Mr. Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or P.T.I., has taken place in these shadows after the military started a monthslong intimidation campaign.

“They are working to crush the party. But they can’t because the party is in the hearts of the people,” the provincial assembly candidate in Jhelum, Yasir Mehmood Qureshi, said as he stood in a large, shaded yard surrounded by around two dozen supporters.

The military’s crackdown was designed to sideline the populist Mr. Khan, but most analysts say it has instead increased his support. While his popularity had plummeted as the economy declined in his last months in office, he now has a cultlike following. Supporters see him — and by extension themselves — as wronged by the military leaders who they believe orchestrated his ouster.

“We are frustrated,” one P.T.I. supporter, Momin Khan, 25, said. “Everyone is angry.”

The young men sat on a dead patch of grass at the edge of a field in Wazirabad, half-watching a cricket match. Bored with the game, Umer Malik, 28, pulled out his phone and began scrolling through TikTok. Within a few seconds, there was a video showing a P.T.I. gathering with the words “Vote Only Khan,” another mocking the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or P.M.L.N., the party seen as favored by the military in this election, and one slow-motion shot of Mr. Khan walking through a crowd.

“Every third video is about political stuff,” Mr. Malik muttered.

Mr. Malik and his friends had been captivated by the flood of political content created by P.T.I. in the past few years. The videos explained in layman’s language how Pakistan’s military had kept an iron grip on power. They taught the history of the military’s several coups. They slammed the generals for Mr. Khan’s ouster.

That content, outside the reach of state censorship, had stirred a political awakening for their generation, which makes up around half of the country’s electorate. While young people in Punjab would once take voting instructions from elders who had been promised projects like new roads by party leaders, they are now casting votes for whomever they prefer.

“The old era is over,” said Abid Mehar, 34, whose parents are staunch P.M.L.N. voters, while he supports P.T.I. “We will vote by our conscience.”

It was nearly midnight when the leaders of P.M.L.N. appeared at the rally in Gujranwala. Hundreds of party supporters crammed into rows upon rows of seats, cheering and clapping as fireworks lit up the sky. Political songs blasted from speakers: “Nawaz Sharif, he will build Punjab!” “Nawaz Sharif, he will save the country!”

Mr. Sharif’s near-certain return to power has offered a redemption of sorts. He has served as prime minister three times — never completing a single term. Twice he was ousted after falling out with the military. Then, in 2017, he was toppled by corruption allegations.

But for a military bent on gutting P.T.I., Mr. Sharif was seen as perhaps the only politician who could counter Mr. Khan’s popular appeal. After spending four years in exile, Mr. Sharif was allowed to return to the country in October to shore up P.M.L.N.’s support.

“When he returned, it revived the party,” said Ijaz Khan Ballu, a P.M.L.N. campaigner in Gujranwala. “All these votes for P.M.L.N. are really votes for Nawaz Sharif.”

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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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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 Child of Another War Who Makes Music for Ukrainians

When the owner of an underground club in Kyiv reached out to Western musicians to play in Ukraine, long before the war, there were not so many takers.

But an American from Boston, Mirza Ramic, accepted the invitation, spawning a lasting friendship with the club’s owner, Taras Khimchak.

“I kept coming back,” Mr. Ramic, 40, said in an interview at the club, Mezzanine, where he was preparing for a performance during a recent tour of Ukraine.

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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.

Ms. Kuroyanagi, who jokes that she wants to keep going until she turns 100, is known for her rapid-fire chatter and knack for drawing out guests on topics like dating, divorce and, now, increasingly, death. Even as she works to woo a younger generation — the Korean-Canadian actor and singer Ahn Hyo-seop, 28, appeared on the show this month — many of her guests these days speak about the ailments of aging and the demise of their industry peers.

Having survived World War II, she broke out as an early actor on Japanese television and then carved out a niche as a feel-good interviewer with a distinctive style that is still instantly recognized almost everywhere in Japan. By fashioning herself into a character, rather than simply being the person who interviewed the characters, she helped establish a genre of Japanese performers known as “tarento” — a Japanized version of the English word “talent” — who are ubiquitous on television today.

“In some ways she really is like the embodiment of TV history” in Japan, said Aaron Gerow, a professor of East Asian literature and film at Yale University.

Ms. Kuroyanagi is distinguished above all by her longevity, but she was also a trailblazing woman in an overwhelmingly male environment.

When she started as a variety show host in 1972, if she asked a question, “I was told I should just keep my mouth shut,” she recalled in a nearly two-hour interview in a hotel near the studio where she had taped three episodes earlier in the day.

“I do think Japan has changed from that era,” she said.

She has championed the deaf and is a good-will ambassador for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. Yet critics say that despite her pioneering career, she has done little to advance women’s causes. “She is an icon for prosperous, good-old” Japan, wrote Kaori Hayashi, a professor of media studies at the University of Tokyo, in an email message.

In the interview, Ms. Kuroyanagi did not dwell on the indignities of being the sole woman in many rooms. She said that in her 30s and 40s, men in the television industry asked her on dates or proposed marriage — offers that she implied were often unwelcome — and that she treated comments that might now be considered inappropriate as jokes.

In a society that she said retained “feudalist” elements in gender relations, she advised women to bootstrap their way through their careers.

“Don’t ever say you can’t do anything because you are a woman,” she said.

Although she said she entered television because she wanted to appear in children’s programming to prepare for motherhood, she never married or had children. “With a unique job, it’s better to stay single,” she said. “It’s more comfortable.”

Her first memoir, about her childhood attending an unusual progressive elementary school in Tokyo, Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, published in 1981, has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. Last fall, she published a sequel recounting the harsh conditions in Japan during World War II, when some days all she had to eat were 15 roasted beans, and she and her mother cowered in a dugout to shelter from air raids over Tokyo.

She said she was inspired to write the sequel in part by the images she saw coming out of Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Ms. Kuroyanagi plumbed her own memories of a wartime childhood, when her mother evacuated the family out of Tokyo to northern Japan.

“Even though I haven’t said war is bad,” she said, “I want people to understand what it was like for a child to experience the war.”

Ms. Kuroyanagi maintains a childlike quality herself. For the interview, she switched out of her signature onion hair bun, concealing her own hair under an ash-blond Shirley Temple-style curly bob wig, secured with an enormous black velvet bow.

It is all part of a nonthreatening persona she has cultivated over the decades. “She’s kind of adorable and cute,” said Kumiko Nemoto, a professor of management in the School of Business Administration at Senshu University in Tokyo, where she focuses on gender issues. “She doesn’t criticize anything or bring up anything political or say any negative things.”

That may be why, Gorbachev aside, Ms. Kuroyanagi has avoided interviews with politicians. “It’s too difficult for them to really tell the truth,” she said. “And I can’t make all of them all look good.”

Although sometimes compared to Barbara Walters, the groundbreaking American newswoman, Ms. Kuroyanagi does not push her interview subjects too hard. Producers ask guests in advance what topics they want to avoid or promote, and Ms. Kuroyanagi tends to oblige.

During the taping this week, her guest was Kankuro Nakamura VI, a sixth-generation Kabuki actor whose father and grandfather were also regular visitors on Ms. Kuroyanagi’s couch. Mr. Nakamura seemed to anticipate some questions about his family before they scrolled on to the teleprompter.

“What I put the highest priority on is that I control the situation with guests so that the audience will not think the guest is a weird or bad person,” Ms. Kuroyanagi said. “If possible I want the audience to realize, ‘Oh, this person is quite nice.’”

When Mr. Gorbachev appeared on her show in 2001, Ms. Kuroyanagi avoided politics. “It would have been a big deal for him,” she said. Instead, she asked him about his favorite poets, and he recited “The Sail,” by the 19th-century romantic poet Mikhail Lermontov. “I said I wished that if I asked such a question of any Japanese politician, it would be great if there was even one politician who could do that,” she said.

As she has grown older, she has forthrightly faced the challenges of her own generation on the sound stage at TV Asahi, the home of her show for 49 years. Before his death in 2016, for example, Ms. Kuroyanagi interviewed Rokusuke Ei, the lyricist of the song “Sukiyaki.” He appeared in a wheelchair, clearly showing symptoms of advanced Parkinson’s disease. Ms. Kuroyanagi frankly discussed his illness with him.

“Old people are definitely encouraged by her presence,” said Takahiko Kageyama, a professor of media studies at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto.

With her speech noticeably slowed, Ms. Kuroyanagi said she was motivated to keep working to inspire older audiences. “To show that a person can appear on TV until I am 100 with a body that is OK and my mind still works,” she said, “if I can show that, I think that would be an interesting experiment.”

Hisako Ueno and Kiuko Notoya contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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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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Playing Soccer in $1.50 Sandals That Even Gucci Wants to Copy

The wealthy pros of Ivory Coast’s national soccer team were resting in their luxury hotel last week, preparing for a match in Africa’s biggest tournament, when Yaya Camara sprinted onto a dusty lot and began fizzing one pass after another to his friends.

Over and over, he corralled the game’s underinflated ball and then sent it away again with his favorite soccer shoes: worn plastic sandals long derided as the sneaker of the poor, but which he and his friends wear as a badge of honor.

Shiny soccer cleats like his idols’? No thanks, said Mr. Camara, a lean 18-year-old midfielder, as he wiped sweat from his brow.

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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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Bolsonaro y sus aliados planearon un golpe de Estado, según la policía de Brasil

Jair Bolsonaro, expresidente de Brasil, supervisó una amplia conspiración para aferrarse al poder al margen de los resultados de las elecciones de 2022, incluida editar personalmente una orden propuesta para arrestar a un juez del Supremo Tribunal Federal, según nuevas acusaciones de la policía federal brasileña reveladas el jueves.

Bolsonaro y decenas de altos asesores, ministros y líderes militares trabajaron juntos para socavar la confianza de los brasileños en las elecciones y preparar el escenario para un posible golpe, aseguró la policía federal.

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Sus esfuerzos incluyeron la difusión de desinformación sobre el fraude electoral, la redacción de argumentos legales para nuevas elecciones, el reclutamiento de personal militar para apoyar un golpe, la vigilancia de los jueces y alentar y guiar a los manifestantes que finalmente asaltaron edificios del gobierno, dijo la policía.

Las escandalosas acusaciones se hicieron en una orden judicial de 134 páginas que autorizó una amplia operación policial federal el jueves que apuntaba a Bolsonaro y alrededor de una veintena de sus aliados políticos, entre ellos el exministro de Defensa, el exasesor de Seguridad Nacional, el exministro de Justicia y el excomandante general de la Marina de Brasil.

La operación incluyó órdenes de registro y la detención de cuatro personas, entre ellas dos oficiales del ejército y dos de los exasesores principales de Bolsonaro.

Al expresidente se le ordenó entregar su pasaporte, permanecer en el país y no tener contacto con ninguna otra persona investigada.

Bolsonaro dijo el jueves que era la víctima inocente de una operación motivada políticamente.

“Salí del gobierno hace más de un año y sigo sufriendo una persecución implacable”, declaró el expresidente al diario brasileño Folha de São Paulo. “Olvídense de mí. Ya hay otro gobernando el país”.

Durante más de un año antes de las elecciones brasileñas de 2022, Bolsonaro sembró abiertamente dudas sobre la seguridad de los sistemas electorales de su país y advirtió que, si perdía, sería por culpa de un fraude.

Cuando, de hecho, perdió frente al presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Bolsonaro se negó a reconocer de manera inequívoca su derrota y sus partidarios organizaron protestas que duraron meses y culminaron con un disturbio en enero de 2023 en el Congreso, el Supremo Tribunal Federal y las oficinas de la presidencia de Brasil.

Bolsonaro ya ha sido declarado inelegible para presentarse a las elecciones hasta 2030 por sus intentos de socavar los sistemas de votación de Brasil. Ahora podría ser arrestado y procesado penalmente.

Lula dijo en una entrevista en la radio el jueves que esperaba que la investigación sobre Bolsonaro fuera justa e imparcial. “Lo que quiero es que Bolsonaro tenga la presunción de inocencia, que yo no tuve”, dijo.

Lula cumplió 580 días en prisión por cargos de corrupción que fueron anulados después de que el Supremo Tribunal Federal de Brasil dictaminara que el juez de sus casos había sido parcial.

Las acusaciones reveladas el jueves muestran cómo el expresidente y sus aliados intentaron subvertir la joven democracia brasileña, incluyendo detalles alarmantes para un país que fue gobernado por una dictadura militar de 1964 a 1985.

En un momento de noviembre de 2022, después de que Bolsonaro perdiera las elecciones pero siguiera siendo presidente, Filipe Martins, uno de sus principales asesores, le llevó un borrador de un documento legal en el que se afirmaba que el Supremo Tribunal Federal de Brasil había interferido ilegalmente en los asuntos del poder ejecutivo, según la policía federal. El documento ordenaba el arresto de dos jueces del Supremo Tribunal y del presidente del Senado y convocaba nuevas elecciones, según la policía.

Bolsonaro ordenó cambios en el documento para que solo se detuviera a uno de los jueces del Supremo Tribunal Federal, señaló la policía. Una vez que el documento fue actualizado, Bolsonaro convocó a los principales líderes militares a la residencia presidencial para presentarles el documento y presionar por un golpe de Estado, dijo la policía. El resultado de esa reunión no estaba claro.

El juez del Supremo Tribunal Federal que habría sido arrestado con esa orden era Alexandre de Moraes, el mismo juez que ha supervisado las investigaciones sobre Bolsonaro y sus aliados durante años, lo que lo convirtió en uno de los archienemigos del expresidente.

De Moraes emitió la orden judicial que autorizaba los arrestos y las acciones policiales el jueves. La orden reveló que la policía federal también descubrió pruebas de que dos de los asesores de Bolsonaro habían vigilado los viajes de De Moraes en caso de que el gobierno intentara arrestarlo.

En la orden judicial desvelada el jueves, De Moraes dijo que la precisión de los asesores a la hora de conocer su agenda daba a entender que podrían haber estado utilizando tecnología para vigilarlo.

La policía federal ha acusado por separado al hijo de Bolsonaro y al exjefe de la agencia de inteligencia de Brasil de usar un software espía israelí, entre otras herramientas, para vigilar a los enemigos políticos del expresidente, incluido De Moraes.

La orden judicial revelada el jueves también detalla una reunión en julio de 2022, tres meses antes de las elecciones, en la que Bolsonaro ordenó a altos funcionarios del gobierno y líderes militares que difundieran denuncias de fraude electoral, a pesar de la falta de pruebas. “De aquí para adelante, quiero que todos los ministros digan lo que voy a decir aquí”, dijo Bolsonaro en la reunión, según una grabación obtenida por la policía.

Las transcripciones de la grabación que aparecen en los documentos judiciales revelan que el expresidente parecía creer, o al menos seguía propagando, varias teorías conspirativas que afirmaban que sus rivales estaban amañando las elecciones.

Afirmó falsamente que los sistemas electrónicos de votación habían sido precargados con los resultados y que los jueces electorales habían recibido decenas de millones de dólares en sobornos.

“No tengo pruebas. Pero algo extraño está pasando”, dijo Bolsonaro, según la policía. “Perder una elección no es ningún problema. Lo que no podemos es perder la democracia en unas elecciones amañadas”.

En otro momento, pidió a sus ministros y líderes militares que firmaran una carta pública diciendo que no se podía confiar en el sistema electoral de Brasil. (Dicha carta nunca se hizo pública).

Sin embargo, varios ministros del gobierno y líderes militares presentes en la reunión coincidieron con la opinión de Bolsonaro sobre el sistema electoral.

Anderson Torres, exministro de Justicia de Bolsonaro, instó a los presentes a actuar, afirmando que enfrentarían consecuencias si Lula se convertía en presidente. “Quiero que todo el mundo piense en lo que puede hacer de antemano porque todo el mundo saldrá perjudicado”, dijo, según la policía.

Paulo Sérgio Nogueira, exministro de Defensa de Bolsonaro y comandante del ejército, dijo que veía a los funcionarios electorales de Brasil como “el enemigo” y que los líderes militares se reunían semanalmente para garantizar elecciones limpias.

“Que tengamos éxito en reelegirlo”, le dijo a Bolsonaro, según la policía. “Ese es todo nuestro deseo”.

Pero también hubo señales internas de duda entre los aliados de Bolsonaro. Dos días después de la primera ronda de las elecciones de Brasil, que llevó a Bolsonaro y a Lula a una segunda vuelta, un oficial del ejército envió un mensaje de texto al asesor personal de Bolsonaro, Mauro Cid, diciendo que esperaba que el equipo de Bolsonaro “sepan lo que están haciendo”.

“Yo también”, respondió Cid, quien fue instrumental en la planificación de un golpe, según la policía. “Si no, voy preso”.

Cid fue detenido poco después de la elección de Lula y acusado de ayudar a falsificar los registros de vacunas de Bolsonaro. Firmó un acuerdo para cooperar con las autoridades.

El oficial del ejército preguntó entonces si el equipo de Bolsonaro había encontrado pruebas de fraude electoral.

“Nada”, respondió Cid, según la policía. “Ningún indicio de fraude”.

Paulo Motoryn colaboró con reportería desde Brasilia.

Jack Nicas es el jefe de la corresponsalía en Brasil, que abarca Brasil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay y Uruguay. Anteriormente reportó de tecnología desde San Francisco y, antes de integrarse al Times en 2018, trabajó siete años en The Wall Street Journal. Más de Jack Nicas


Lo que revelan los videos de soldados israelíes: burlas y destrucción

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Un soldado israelí levanta el pulgar ante la cámara mientras maneja una excavadora por una calle de Beit Lahia, en el norte de Gaza, empujando un auto maltrecho hacia un edificio medio derruido.

“He dejado de contar cuántos barrios he borrado”, reza el pie de foto del video publicado en su TikTok personal, acompañado de un himno militarista.

Desde la invasión israelí en octubre, los soldados han publicado videos en las redes sociales desde Gaza, ofreciendo una mirada inusual y no autorizada de las operaciones sobre el terreno. Algunos han sido vistos por pequeños círculos de personas; otros han llegado a decenas de miles.

The New York Times examinó cientos de estos videos. Algunos muestran aspectos anodinos de la vida de un soldado: sus comidas, cómo pasa el rato o los momentos en los que envía mensajes a sus seres queridos en casa.

Otros muestran a soldados que han destrozado tiendas locales y aulas escolares, también los han captado haciendo comentarios despectivos sobre los palestinos o cuando arrasaban lo que parecen ser zonas civiles y pedían la construcción de asentamientos israelíes en Gaza, una idea incendiaria que promueven algunos políticos israelíes de extrema derecha.

Algunas de las publicaciones de los soldados infringen las normas de las Fuerzas de Defensa de Israel (FDI), las cuales restringen el uso de las redes sociales por parte de su personal, y que específicamente prohíben compartir contenido que pueda “afectar la imagen de las FDI y su percepción ante la opinión pública” o que muestren comportamientos que “atenten contra la dignidad humana”.

Mediante un comunicado, el ejército israelí condenó los videos filmados por soldados que aparecen en este artículo.

“La conducta de las fuerzas que aparecen en las imágenes es deplorable y no cumple con las órdenes del ejército”, señaló la institución en una declaración escrita. Y añadió que se estaban examinando las “circunstancias”.

Sin embargo, siguen apareciendo en internet nuevos videos como estos que recuerdan las muchas maneras en las que las redes sociales están cambiando la guerra. En Rusia y Ucrania, los soldados ahora comparten videos directamente desde el campo de batalla, publican con frecuencia imágenes de combate y a veces incluso ofrecen una perspectiva en primera persona desde cámaras montadas en cascos. También se han publicado videos que muestran torturas y ejecuciones.

Ahora que la guerra de Israel en Gaza está sometida a un intenso escrutinio, muchos de los videos de los soldados grabados en Gaza han avivado las críticas. Uno de ellos se proyectó y otros cinco se citaron como pruebas en el caso que Sudáfrica presentó ante la Corte Internacional de Justicia para acusar a Israel de genocidio, algo que Israel ha negado de manera categórica.

El Times rastreó más de 50 videos hasta las unidades israelíes de ingeniería de combate militar, que muestran el uso de topadoras, excavadoras y explosivos para destruir lo que parecen ser casas, escuelas y otros edificios civiles.

Los expertos en derechos humanos han expresado su preocupación por la magnitud de este tipo de destrucción en zonas bajo control militar israelí, señalando que los estándares internacionales de guerra requieren una clara necesidad militar de destruir propiedad civil.

Los videos de este artículo se han verificado determinando las fechas y lugares donde fueron grabados, o confirmando que los soldados que aparecen en ellos y sus unidades estaban en Gaza en el momento en que se subieron las imágenes.

Ninguno de los soldados que grabaron y publicaron los videos respondió cuando se les pidieron comentarios.

Más de 27.000 palestinos han muerto en Gaza desde que comenzaron los bombardeos y la invasión israelíes del enclave, según las autoridades sanitarias de Gaza. La ofensiva israelí se produjo tras los ataques dirigidos por Hamás contra Israel el 7 de octubre, que mataron a casi 1200 personas, según funcionarios israelíes.

Tras su invasión terrestre a fines de octubre, el ejército israelí estableció bases a lo largo de la costa norte de Gaza. La zona, que los soldados bautizaron como Nova Beach, en referencia al festival de música en el que murieron 364 personas a manos de Hamás y sus aliados el 7 de octubre, es el telón de fondo de muchos de los videos de las redes sociales analizados por el Times.

Antes de la guerra, la zona estaba compuesta por viviendas de familias gazatíes, propiedades vacacionales, invernaderos y campos de cultivo. Una casa dañada en Gaza, en lo que ahora es una base costera israelí, es el escenario de un video publicado en noviembre por un reservista que también es DJ.

El video iba acompañado de una versión paródica de la canción israelí This Was My Home, que apareció en una escena cómica israelí y se ha difundido en internet en los últimos meses entre los usuarios israelíes de las redes sociales para burlarse de los palestinos.

“Esta era mi casa, sin electricidad, sin gas”, dice la canción, mientras un soldado se acomoda entre los escombros de la casa dañada antes de asomarse a la ventana y señalar la escena de destrucción exterior. La casa fue destruida a finales de diciembre, según muestran las imágenes por satélite.

“Es desgarrador, inhumano”, declaró al Times Basel al-Sourani, abogado internacional especializado en derechos humanos del Centro Palestino de Derechos Humanos, organización sin ánimo de lucro con sede en la ciudad de Gaza, “y simplemente demuestra que, en esencia, los israelíes quieren a los palestinos fuera de su hogar, la Franja de Gaza”.

Usando otro meme popular, el mismo soldado también publicó un video a mediados de noviembre al son de un remix llamado Shtayim, Shalosh, Sha-ger, (Dos, tres, lanzamiento). En el video, ampliamente compartido, los soldados bailan frente a la cámara y, cuando se oye la palabra “lanzamiento”, el video pasa a una toma de un edificio siendo detonado.

Poco después de que el Times preguntó a TikTok por los videos que aparecen en este artículo, los videos fueron retirados de la plataforma. Un representante de TikTok aseguró que los clips infringían las directrices de la empresa, incluyendo sus políticas sobre incitación al odio y comportamiento.

Meta, propietaria de Facebook e Instagram, no respondió a la solicitud para hacer comentarios.

Algunas de las cuentas más activas revisadas por el Times pertenecían a soldados de unidades del Cuerpo de Ingeniería de Combate del ejército israelí, que utiliza maquinaria pesada, incluyendo excavadoras, con el fin de despejar caminos para las fuerzas militares, descubrir y destruir túneles, y arrasar estructuras. El Times documentó hace poco demoliciones controladas realizadas por unidades de ingeniería en toda Gaza.

En un video filmado en las afueras de Jan Yunis, en el sur de Gaza, a principios de enero, se puede ver a soldados de ingeniería de combate que fuman pipas de narguile antes de que unas explosiones derriben edificios residenciales en el fondo. Acto seguido, levantan copas para brindar.

​​En algunos de los videos de los ingenieros de combate, los soldados israelíes se burlan de los palestinos mientras destruyen estructuras y propiedades. En otros, que han sido muy compartidos en las redes sociales, los soldados dedican la destrucción de edificios a las víctimas de los ataques del 7 de octubre y a sus familiares. En un video de TikTok, los soldados dedican la demolición de un edificio a Eyal Golan, un cantante israelí que ha pedido la destrucción total de Gaza. Sudáfrica citó este video como prueba de lo que llamó “discurso genocida de los soldados” en su caso contra Israel ante la Corte Internacional de Justicia.

Mientras la topadora se dirige hacia los muros restantes de una casa parcialmente destruida en Jan Yunis, los soldados gritan: “Eyal Golan, nuestro hermano querido, te queremos”. Y añaden: “Esta casa es para ti”.

El 12 de diciembre, un soldado de ingeniería de combate compartió una fotografía en su cuenta de TikTok con tres excavadoras blindadas y un entorno destruido cerca de la base israelí en la costa norte de Gaza.

“Este es el resultado de mucho trabajo… todo el lugar estaba cubierto de vegetación y casas hasta que llegamos allí”, reza el pie de foto.

Casi a 1,6 kilómetros al sur de la costa, se puede ver una destrucción similar en imágenes por satélite captadas a finales de diciembre, que muestran que al menos 63 edificios, incluyendo viviendas, fueron demolidos en un radio de 400 metros de la base. En ese momento, la zona se encontraba a poco más de 2 kilómetros de la frontera del territorio controlado por Israel, según los mapas publicados por el Instituto para el Estudio de la Guerra.

Los escombros visibles coinciden con los métodos de limpieza utilizados por las unidades de ingeniería de combate que se ven en videos filmados en otros lugares de Gaza y analizados por el Times. Israel ha utilizado excavadoras para despejar grandes extensiones de tierra y propiedades en toda Gaza desde finales de octubre.

El Times envió al ejército israelí las coordenadas de cada una de las 63 estructuras y solicitó comentarios sobre la necesidad militar de destruirlas. En una respuesta por escrito, el ejército declaró que Israel “estaba librando actualmente una guerra compleja” y que “hay dificultades para rastrear casos concretos con una coordenada específica en este momento”.

Cuatro expertos jurídicos revisaron los videos de las redes sociales y las imágenes de satélite cercanas a la base y afirmaron que las imágenes podrían utilizarse para demostrar una destrucción ilegal, una violación de los Convenios de Ginebra.

John Quigley, profesor emérito de derecho en la Universidad Estatal de Ohio especializado en legislación internacional de los derechos humanos, señaló en un correo electrónico que “el alcance de la destrucción de edificios residenciales en Gaza sugiere que las FDI están aplicando un estándar para la protección de la propiedad privada que no cumple con las normas internacionales para la guerra”.

En respuesta a las preguntas sobre el derribo de viviendas civiles por parte de los soldados, un portavoz militar israelí, Nir Dinar, dijo que los militares actúan por “necesidad operativa” y siguen las leyes de la guerra. “Las casas que están siendo derribadas son edificaciones que implican una amenaza para las fuerzas que operan, o son un objetivo militar de algún tipo”, comentó al Times por teléfono. “Hay una buena razón para la eliminación de cada objetivo”.

Israel también está llevando a cabo demoliciones controladas a lo largo de los casi 58 kilómetros de frontera terrestre de Gaza con el fin de crear una “zona de contención”. Expertos jurídicos han cuestionado la legalidad de estas demoliciones y señalan que es poco probable que todos los edificios destruidos supusieran una amenaza militar inmediata.

Riley Mellen y Neil Collier colaboraron a este reportaje desde Nueva York, Johnatan Reiss y Patrick Kingsley desde Jerusalén y Mohammed Almajdalawi desde Gaza. Alexander Cardia colaboró con la producción.

Aric Toler es reportero del equipo de Investigaciones Visuales del Times, donde utiliza técnicas emergentes de descubrimiento para analizar información de código abierto. Más de Aric Toler

Sarah Kerr es reportera y productora de la unidad de video del Times y cubre historias y noticias de última hora nacionales e internacionales. Más de Sarah Kerr

Chevaz Clarke es editora de imágenes en directo en The New York Times y trabaja en estrecha colaboración con el equipo de la sección Live en la cobertura visual y se centra en la narración en video. Más de Chevaz Clarke


Ecuador adopta el ‘noboísmo’ como respuesta a la violencia

Annie Correal y Federico Rios reportaron desde Guayaquil, Ecuador.

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Luego de que el mes pasado el presidente de Ecuador declarara la guerra a las bandas criminales, soldados con rifles de asalto han inundado las calles de Guayaquil, una ciudad de la costa Pacífico que ha estado en el epicentro de la espiral de violencia del país, un fenómeno que ya lleva algunos años.

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De los buses y los autos hacen bajar a los hombres, en busca de drogas, armas y tatuajes de pandillas. Patrullan las calles para hacer cumplir un toque de queda nocturno. La ciudad está ansiosa, sus hombres y jóvenes son posibles objetivos de soldados y oficiales de policía que tienen la orden de derribar a las poderosas bandas que se han aliado con los carteles internacionales para convertir a Ecuador en un centro del comercio mundial de drogas.

No obstante, cuando los soldados pasan, mucha gente aplaude o les muestra el dedo pulgar en señal de aprobación. “La mano dura la aplaudimos, la celebramos”, dijo Aquiles Alvarez, alcalde de Guayaquil. “Ha ayudado a tener paz en las calles”.

A principios de enero, Guayaquil fue azotada por una ola de violencia que podría ser un punto decisivo en la prolongada crisis de seguridad del país: las bandas atacaron la ciudad luego de que las autoridades tomaron medidas para recuperar las cárceles ecuatorianas, que estaban en su mayoría bajo el control de los grupos delictivos.

Hubo secuestro de policías, detonación de explosivos y, en un episodio emitido en vivo, una decena de hombres armados tomaron una televisora importante.

El presidente de Ecuador, Daniel Noboa, declaró la existencia de un conflicto armado interno, una medida extraordinaria para cuando el Estado es atacado por un grupo armado. Desplegó tropas contra las bandas que han tomado gran parte de Ecuador en su lucha por controlar las rutas de tráfico de cocaína y han transformado uno de los países más pacíficos de Sudamérica en uno de los más mortíferos.

El alto mando militar de Ecuador advirtió que todo integrante de un grupo delictivo se había convertido en un “objetivo militar”.

La agresiva respuesta de Noboa ha reducido la violencia y brindado un sentido precario de seguridad a lugares como Guayaquil, una ciudad de 2,7 millones de habitantes y puerto clave para el narcotráfico, impulsando la aprobación del gobierno a 76 por ciento en una encuesta reciente.

También ha alarmado a algunos activistas de los derechos humanos.

“Esto no es algo nuevo, innovador”, dijo Fernando Bastias, del Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de Guayaquil. “Y más bien lo que está incrementando son casos de graves violaciones a derechos humanos”.

El enfoque de Ecuador ha suscitado comparaciones con El Salvador, en donde su joven líder, Nayib Bukele, en buena medida ha desmantelado las sanguinarias pandillas, lo que le ayudó a conseguir una arrolladora victoria de reelección y elogios por toda América Latina. Pero los críticos aseguran que también ha pisoteado los derechos humanos y el Estado de derecho al ordenar detenciones masivas en las que personas inocentes han sido capturadas.

“Ecuador es un caso importante porque es casi un segundo laboratorio para las políticas de Bukele”, dijo Gustavo Flores-Macías, profesor de gobierno y políticas públicas en la Universidad de Cornell que se especializa en América Latina. “La gente está tan desesperada que se compra la necesidad de estas políticas de mano dura para bajar la delincuencia”.

Dichas políticas pueden ser efectivas, pero, agregó, “el costo en libertades civiles es alto”.

Al igual que Bukele, Noboa, de 36 años, desea construir megaprisiones, y sus publicaciones en las redes sociales muestran música animada con imágenes de prisioneros esposados y desnudos hasta la cintura. Lo llama “The Noboa Way”.

No obstante, las diferencias son importantes, a decir de Christopher Sabatini, un investigador sénior para América Latina en Chatham House, un grupo de investigación en Londres. Si bien Bukele desdeña la democracia, Noboa “ha presentado a su gobierno como una democracia asediada”, dijo Sabatini.

Noboa también enfrenta un tipo distinto de adversario, dijo Will Freeman, del Council on Foreign Relations.

“El Salvador nunca fue importante para el narcotráfico”, dijo. “Sencillamente es demasiado pequeño”. Ecuador, en contraste, ahora es clave para el comercio mundial de la cocaína, dijo, con vínculos entre los cárteles mexicanos y Europa. Como consecuencia, sus bandas criminales disponen de millones de dólares para armarse y combatir a las autoridades.

Las autoridades de Ecuador han llevado a cabo más de 6000 detenciones después de que el presidente declaró la guerra a las bandas.

En Guayaquil, efectivos militares y agentes de policía destruyen sistemas de cámaras instalados por las bandas para vigilar barrios enteros, invaden zonas que solían estar fuera del alcance de la policía y derriban puertas para descubrir depósitos de armas y explosivos.

Las medidas han tenido algunos resultados.

De diciembre a enero, la cantidad de homicidios en Guayaquil cayó en un 33 por ciento, de 187 a 125. Fuera de la morgue municipal, Cheyla Jurado, una vendedora ambulante de 27 años que vende jugo y pan dulce a las personas que esperan para recuperar los cuerpos, dijo que era evidente que la cantidad de gente había bajado.

“Ahora son accidentes de tránsito, ahogados”, dijo.

En el mayor hospital de la ciudad, la cantidad de pacientes que llegaban con heridas de bala y otras lesiones relacionadas con la violencia ha caído de cinco al día a incluso una cada tres días, dijo Rodolfo Zevallos, médico de urgencias.

El alivio temporal de las matanzas —si bien en sus primeras fases— ha hecho que muchos animen al presidente.

“Nos sentamos afuera de noche”, dijo Janet Cisneros, quien vende comidas preparadas en la zona Suburbio de Guayaquil. “Antes no, estábamos completamente encerrados”.

Noboa, heredero de una fortuna del banano, fue electo en noviembre para concluir el mandato de su predecesor, que terminó prematuramente cuando disolvió la Asamblea Nacional y convocó a nuevas elecciones.

En enero, al estallar la violencia, cambió sus trajes y sonrisa tímida por un mohín, corte al ras y una casaca negra de cuero al anunciar que Ecuador ya no recibiría órdenes de “grupos narcoterroristas”.

El mensaje severo iba dirigido a los ecuatorianos, que volverán a votar en elecciones presidenciales el próximo año, dijo Flores-Macías, el politólogo experto, pero también para granjearse el apoyo de líderes internacionales, en especial del presidente Joe Biden. “Lo que vemos con Noboa es que claramente necesita el apoyo, la asesoría, financiamiento y ayuda de Estados Unidos”.

Hasta el momento, el gobierno de Biden ha brindado a Ecuador equipamiento y capacitación con alrededor de 93 millones de dólares en asistencia militar y humanitaria.

Las autoridades de Ecuador han dicho que el ejército es clave para recuperar los barrios de las bandas que se han convertido en la autoridad fáctica y reclutan a niños de hasta 12 años para mover drogas, secuestrar y matar.

El despacho de Noboa no respondió a las solicitudes de comentarios.

En Guayaquil, la policía cubre los murales que muestran a líderes delictivos y los soldados hacen redadas callejeras en las que sermonean a los jóvenes que son sorprendidos con pequeñas bolsas de marihuana sobre los peligros de las drogas o la vida criminal.

Pero en las redes sociales han circulado videos que muestran a las autoridades empleando tácticas más severas: hombres y chicos agrupados en las calles que reciben golpes en la cabeza o son obligados a besarse entre ellos. En un video muy compartido se ve a un adolescente obligado a restregarse un tatuaje del cuerpo hasta que le sangra el pecho.

En las prisiones a las que el ejército fue enviado para desmantelar el control de las bandas, se llevan a cabo abusos similares, según defensores de las familias de los reclusos.

“A los presos los tienes flagelados peor que a Jesucristo”, dijo Fernanda Lindao, cuyo hijo está cumpliendo condena por hurto en la penitenciaría del Litoral de Guayaquil. “Para los PPL”, dijo refiriéndose por sus siglas a las personas privadas de la libertad, “no hay derechos humanos”.

No obstante, los videos de las detenciones son inmensamente populares y muchos ecuatorianos reconocen a los soldados y al presidente.

“La gente aplaude todo lo que pasa”, dijo Alvarez, el alcalde de Guayaquil, “y no lo aplaude por ser mala persona sino porque está cansada de toda la violencia que ha vivido”.

Para explicar su respaldo a las tácticas de Noboa muchos describen lo mal que estuvo la situación.

“Aquí mataban, aquí dejaban cuerpos botados”, dijo Rosa Elena Guachicho, quien vive en Durán, una zona de Guayaquil sin agua potable ni calles pavimentadas. “Hace un mes encontraron uno en una funda, hecho pedazos”.

Dolores Garacoia dijo que las bandas se habían adueñado de Durán. Los taxistas se negaban a entrar, por miedo de que los robaran o secuestraran, dijo. Ni la policía se sentía segura.

A los dueños de pequeños negocios, como Garacoia, los extorsionaban las bandas. Contó que cerró la tienda que tuvo durante años luego de que la llamaran para pedirle un pago de miles de dólares conocido como vacuna.

“Tuve que cerrar y bajar el letrero, de una”, dijo.

De la misma manera que los guayaquileños se han adaptado la violencia —quedándose en casa, comprando pitbulls— la apariencia exterior de la ciudad también ha cambiado. Las casas se han convertido en jaulas cerradas, rodeadas de barrotes que se alzan dos y tres pisos.

Ángel Chávez, de 14 años, estaba sentado detrás de las barras de metal de un centro comunitario en Monte Sinaí, parte del distrito más peligroso de Guayaquil, en donde se registraron más de 500 homicidios el año pasado.

La llegada de los militares le causaba sentimientos encontrados.

“Eso me parece bien para ver si por fin se acaba esto que estamos sufriendo”, dijo.

Pero añadió que le inquietaba la forma en que los soldados trataban a algunos adolescentes en los videos. “No me gusta cuando los maltratan”, dijo.

No obstante, para muchos en Guayaquil, el miedo es que el ejército se retire.

Cisneros, la cocinera que al fin puede servir comidas afuera dijo: “Que no se vayan, por favor”.

Thalíe Ponce colaboró con la reportería.

Annie Correal reporta desde Estados Unidos y América Latina para el Times. Más de Annie Correal


Sebastián Piñera, expresidente de Chile, muere en un accidente de helicóptero

Sebastián Piñera, un expresidente de Chile que ayudó a fortalecer la joven democracia del país después de convertirse en su primer líder conservador tras la dictadura militar, murió en un accidente de helicóptero el martes, informó el gobierno. Tenía 74 años.

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El helicóptero, que transportaba a cuatro personas, se estrelló en el lago Ranco localizado en la región Los Ríos, en el sur de Chile, cerca de las 3:30 p. m. del martes, poco después de despegar, según informó el gobierno. Tres personas sobrevivieron y nadaron hasta la costa, y la Armada de Chile recuperó el cuerpo de Piñera. No está claro quién piloteaba la aeronave, pero Piñera era conocido por pilotear su propio helicóptero.

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

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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.

El palacio no reveló qué tipo de cáncer padece Carlos, pero un funcionario del palacio dijo que no era cáncer de próstata. Los médicos lo detectaron durante la intervención y el rey comenzó el tratamiento el lunes.

La noticia del diagnóstico de Carlos resonó en todo el Reino Unido, el cual, tras siete décadas de reinado de Isabel, ha empezado a sentirse cómodo con su hijo. Carlos esperó más tiempo para ascender al trono que nadie en la historia de la monarquía británica, y ya era una figura conocida: su vida personal fue diseccionada de forma implacable por los medios británicos en el momento en que se convirtió en soberano.

Sin embargo, como rey, Carlos se ha convertido en un veterano estadista seguro de sí mismo, y le ha impreso un sello sutil pero inconfundible a la monarquía. Ha realizado numerosos viajes y se ha pronunciado sobre temas como el cambio climático, los cuales han sido importantes para él desde hace mucho tiempo.

La preocupación por Carlos se mezcló con la esperanza de que pueda recuperarse rápidamente. Pero a falta de detalles sobre su estado, inevitablemente hubo especulaciones mientras los observadores reales analizaban el anuncio de cuatro párrafos del palacio.

“Durante el reciente procedimiento hospitalario del rey por el agrandamiento benigno de la próstata, se notó otro problema digno de preocupación”, declaró el palacio. “Las pruebas diagnósticas subsiguientes han identificado un tipo de cáncer. Su Majestad ha comenzado hoy un calendario de tratamientos regulares, durante el cual los médicos le han aconsejado posponer los deberes públicos”.

Funcionarios del palacio afirmaron que el rey seguirá desempeñando otras funciones, entre ellas su reunión semanal con el primer ministro, así como la montaña diaria de papeleo que completa como jefe de Estado. Los funcionarios dijeron que no había planes para nombrar consejeros de Estado que actuaran en su lugar, una medida que podría indicar que el soberano era incapaz de cumplir con sus obligaciones debido a la enfermedad.

El palacio dijo que Carlos “permanece completamente optimista acerca de su tratamiento” y que esperaba con interés la reanudación de los compromisos públicos. Regresó de su residencia campestre, Sandringham, a Londres para comenzar el tratamiento como paciente externo, dijeron funcionarios del palacio.

Carlos, que ascendió al trono en septiembre de 2022, ha gozado por lo general de buena salud. De niño sufrió de amigdalitis recurrente, pero de adulto practicó deportes vigorosos como el senderismo, el polo y el esquí.

La revelación por parte del rey de la intervención de la próstata, y ahora de su diagnóstico de cáncer, es inusual en la familia real, cuyos miembros suelen decir poco sobre su salud. Tras la muerte de la reina a los 96 años, el palacio emitió su certificado de defunción, en el que figuraba su causa de muerte simplemente como “vejez.

Aun así, los funcionarios de palacio dejaron claro el lunes que no publicarían actualizaciones periódicas sobre el estado del rey y pidieron a los periodistas que no intentaran ponerse en contacto con las personas implicadas en su tratamiento.

El palacio declaró en su comunicado que el rey había decidido compartir su diagnóstico “para evitar especulaciones y con la esperanza de que pueda ayudar a la comprensión pública para todos aquellos en todo el mundo que están afectados por el cáncer”.

El hijo menor del rey, el príncipe Enrique, ha estado en contacto con su padre y tiene planeado viajar al Reino Unido para visitarlo, según la BBC. Enrique ha estado en gran medida alejado de la familia real desde que él y su esposa, Meghan, anunciaron que se retiraban de sus funciones oficiales y se mudaron a California.

Funcionarios del palacio dijeron que la reina Camila seguirá llevando a cabo un cronograma completo de compromisos oficiales durante el tratamiento de su marido. Ella fue una visitante frecuente durante su hospitalización por el tratamiento de la próstata en la Clínica de Londres, un hospital privado de élite en el vecindario de Marylebone de la ciudad.

La enfermedad de Carlos es el colofón de un periodo de noticias preocupantes relacionadas con la salud de la familia real. Catalina, esposa del príncipe Guillermo, estuvo hospitalizada casi dos semanas tras someterse a una cirugía abdominal. Fue dada de alta la semana pasada, pero el palacio de Kensington ha dado pocos detalles sobre su recuperación, que se espera que dure hasta después de las vacaciones de Pascua.

Sarah Ferguson, duquesa de York y exesposa del hermano menor del rey, el príncipe Andrés, declaró recientemente que le habían diagnosticado un melanoma, un tipo grave de cáncer de piel. Fue su segundo diagnóstico de cáncer en un año. Ferguson, de 64 años, había hablado públicamente sobre su decisión de someterse a una mastectomía y cirugía reconstructiva el año pasado, tras el diagnóstico de un cáncer de mama en el verano.

La noticia de la enfermedad del rey suscitó una avalancha de buenos deseos por parte de líderes británicos y mundiales, así como de otras personalidades públicas.

“Le deseo a Su Majestad una completa y rápida recuperación”, publicó el primer ministro Rishi Sunak en las redes sociales. “No me cabe duda de que recuperará toda su fuerza en poco tiempo y sé que todo el país le deseará lo mejor”.

El presidente Joe Biden, de viaje en Las Vegas, dijo a los periodistas: “Estoy preocupado por él. Acabo de enterarme de su diagnóstico”. Biden, que fue recibido en el castillo de Windsor por el rey el pasado mes de julio, dijo que esperaba hablar pronto con Carlos.

Michelle O’Neill, la líder nacionalista irlandesa que acaba de ser nombrada ministra principal de Irlanda del Norte, escribió en X: “Siento mucho enterarme de la enfermedad del rey Carlos y quiero desearle lo mejor para su tratamiento y una completa y rápida recuperación”.

Los observadores de la realeza se mostraron reacios a especular sobre cómo afectaría la enfermedad del rey a la corona, dada la escasez de información sobre su estado. Algunos señalaron con esperanza la optimista caracterización del estado de ánimo de Carlos por parte del palacio.

“Si el rey enferma de gravedad, entonces habrá cuestiones constitucionales que responder”, dijo Ed Owens, historiador de la realeza que publicó recientemente un libro, After Elizabeth: Can the Monarchy Save Itself? (“Después de Isabel: ¿Puede salvarse a sí misma la monarquía?”).

“Del mismo modo, un periodo prolongado fuera de la atención pública exigirá que el resto de la familia real —ya sobrecargada de trabajo— haga más”.

Owens afirmó que la edad del rey hacía inevitable la preocupación por su salud, y añadió: “Son momentos como éste los que ponen de manifiesto las cualidades muy humanas, y potencialmente frágiles, de la Constitución del Reino Unido”.

En su breve estancia en el trono, Carlos ha sido a la vez una figura de continuidad y de cambio: ha llevado una vida muy parecida a la que ha tenido durante décadas, pero ha adoptado un papel más comprometido políticamente que el que nunca tuvo su madre.

El año pasado, recibió en el castillo de Windsor a la presidenta de la Comisión Europea, Ursula von der Leyen, tras la firma de un acuerdo comercial sobre Irlanda del Norte con Sunak. El momento en que se realizó esta actividad suscitó críticas, ya que parecía darle un visto bueno real al acuerdo, en lo que algunos consideraron una intervención indebida del monarca en la política.

El rey realizó con gran éxito dos visitas de Estado a Europa: se dirigió al Parlamento alemán con un servicial empleo del idioma alemán y atrajo a multitudes entusiasmadas durante un paseo con el presidente de Francia, Emmanuel Macron.

En diciembre, Carlos pronunció un discurso en la ceremonia inaugural de la cumbre climática de Naciones Unidas en Dubái, en el que enumeró una letanía de desastres naturales relacionados con el clima que habían azotado al mundo en el último año: incendios forestales en Canadá; inundaciones en India, Pakistán y Bangladés; ciclones en el Pacífico; y una sequía en África Oriental.

“Estamos llevando el mundo natural fuera de normas y límites equilibrados, y a un peligroso territorio inexplorado”, afirmó. “Nuestra elección ahora es más cruda y oscura: ¿Hasta qué punto estamos dispuestos a hacer de nuestro mundo un lugar peligroso?”.

Mark Landler es el jefe de la corresponsalía en Londres del Times. Cubre el Reino Unido así como la política exterior estadounidense en Europa, Asia y Medio Oriente. Es periodista desde hace más de tres décadas. Más de Mark Landler