The New York Times 2024-02-19 04:39:39


Against a Canvas of Despair, Gaza’s Artists Trace Their Struggle

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The incessant buzzing of an Israeli drone fills the room.

On one large wall, scenes of death and desperate rescues by hand through twisted metal and crushed rock play out on a video loop. A large mound of rubble — metal rods, bricks and broken plaster — extends nearly the length of the exhibition hall.

Along blue walls meant to evoke Gaza’s sky and sea hang paintings that mostly evoke life before Israel’s intense bombardment and invasion: Palestinian still lifes, native cactuses, music, cats and cows, and even one Catwoman.


The map locates The Philadelphia Museum in the West Bank, north of Jerusalem, as well as Shababek, a gallery in Gaza City.

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A Stunned Russian Opposition in Exile Considers a Future Without Navalny

The death of Aleksei A. Navalny, Russia’s main opposition leader, has stunned Russian dissidents. But it is also spurring some hope that in its desperate moment, the opposition to President Vladimir V. Putin will be able to unite like never before.

Doing so will be a challenge, given the often aloof approach of Mr. Navalny’s movement and the disparate assembly of other leading opposition Russian figures: nearly all of them in exile, and none with his broad national appeal.

Among them is Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oligarch who fell out with Mr. Putin, spent 10 years in prison and in London became one of his most prominent opponents in exile. Then there is Maxim Katz, a YouTube influencer and a former poker champion, who is based in Israel. There is also Ilya Yashin, a longtime liberal politician who is serving an eight-year sentence for publicizing Russian atrocities in Ukraine.

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Arrested for Leaving Flowers, Navalny Mourners Fear Worse to Come

A bishop who planned a public prayer for the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny was detained as he left his house. Two men were arrested for having a photograph of Mr. Navalny in a backpack. Another man who lay flowers at a memorial said he was beaten by police officers for the small act of remembrance.

As thousands of Russians across the country tried to give voice to their grief for Mr. Navalny, who died in a remote Arctic penal colony on Friday, Russian police officers cracked down, temporarily detaining hundreds and placing more than two dozen in jail.

Until Mr. Navalny’s death at the age of 47, many observers had believed that the Kremlin would limit repression until after presidential elections in mid-March, when President Vladimir V. Putin is all but assured a fifth term. But many now fear that the arrests portend a broader crackdown.

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Hungary Snubs U.S. Senators Pushing for Sweden’s Entry Into NATO

Hungary, the last holdout blocking Sweden’s entry into NATO, thumbed its nose over the weekend at the United States, declining to meet with a bipartisan delegation of senators who had come to press the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban to swiftly approve the Nordic nation’s entry into the military alliance.

The snub, which Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, described on Sunday as “strange and concerning,” represented the latest effort by Mr. Orban, a stalwart champion of national sovereignty, to show he will not submit to outside pressure over NATO’s long-stalled expansion.

Despite having only 10 million people and accounting for only 1 percent of the European Union’s economic output, Hungary under Mr. Orban has made defiance of more powerful countries its guiding philosophy. “Hungary before all else,” Mr. Orban said on Saturday at the end of a state of the nation address in which he said Europe’s policy of supporting Ukraine had “failed spectacularly.”

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Israelis, Newly Vulnerable, Remain Traumatized and Mistrustful

Steven Erlanger reported from Jerusalem, Army Base Julis, Tel Aviv, and Beersheba to try to get a sense of Israel’s mood four months into the war against Hamas.

After the Hamas invasion on Oct. 7, Doron Shabty and his wife and their two small children hid in Sderot, near the border with Gaza, and survived. A reservist in the infantry, he went into the army the next day.

He just returned after more than 100 days in Gaza, having lost friends. Mr. Shabty, 31, who sees himself on the political left, said he felt no sense of revenge, even if other soldiers did. Nor did he justify every act of the Israeli military, expressing sorrow over the many thousands of Gazans killed in the fight against Hamas.

But he said he felt certain that to restore Israelis’ faith in their country’s ability to protect them, there cannot be a return to the situation of Oct. 6. “We can’t live with an armed Gaza — we just can’t do that,” he said. “And in order to disarm Gaza, you need to pay a terrible price.”

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Thailand Paroles an Influential Former Prime Minister

Thailand’s ousted former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, a leader once seen as a threat to the country’s wealthy elite, was released on parole on Sunday, after spending only a fraction of his original eight-year prison term in detention — in a hospital.

Mr. Thaksin, who was removed in a coup and spent years in exile, made a stunning return to Thailand last year. He had been convicted in absentia on charges of corruption and abuse of power, and promptly sentenced when he was back in the country. But days later, the king commuted Mr. Thaksin’s sentence to one year, fueling speculation that he had struck a deal with powerful royalists. Last week, the authorities said he would be paroled soon.

A billionaire businessman, Mr. Thaksin remains one of Thailand’s most influential politicians. Analysts say he is unlikely to formally re-enter politics but could still play a significant role behind the scenes in the governing political party, Pheu Thai, the third incarnation of one of Mr. Thaksin’s political parties.

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Large Antigovernment Protest Returns to Tel Aviv, as Criticism of Netanyahu Mounts

Large Antigovernment Protest Returns to Tel Aviv, as Criticism of Netanyahu Mounts

The demonstrations took a pause after the Oct. 7 attacks, but the anger at the Israeli leadership never went away.

reporting from Tel Aviv

Thousands of antigovernment protesters on Saturday filled a central Tel Aviv thoroughfare, the same street where demonstrations riled the nation before the start of the Israel-Hamas war, in the largest show of anger toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in months.

In the immediate aftermath of the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli officials, the nation was in shock and the antigovernment protests were put on pause. The protesters said at the time that they felt a need to be unified as a nation, and many demonstrators were called up to the military reserves or volunteered to help the war effort.

But as the war has passed the four-month mark, protests against the government have been strengthening. On Saturday, calls for an immediate election were heard above a deafening din of air horns. A red flare was lit in the middle of a drum circle that beat out marching tunes. Flag-wielding demonstrators stared down half a dozen police officers on horseback.

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Risking Arrest, Russians Mourn Navalny in Small Acts of Protest

For the second day in a row, mourners walked purposefully along Moscow’s snow-heaped Garden Ring on Saturday carrying bouquets to lay at one of the improvised memorials to Aleksei A. Navalny, the Russian opposition figure who perished in a prison colony the day before.

The flowers, wrapped in paper to shield them from the icy wind, were not only a symbol of mourning. They also served as a form of protest in a country where even the mildest dissent can risk detention. And the people who laid bouquets at the Wall of Grief, a monument to the victims of political persecution during the Stalin era, shared the conviction that the Russian state was behind Mr. Navalny’s death.

“He didn’t die, he was killed,” said Alla, 75, a pensioner who declined to give her last name because of possible repercussions.

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With Prison Certain and Death Likely, Why Did Navalny Return?

There was one question that Russians repeatedly asked the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, who died in a remote Arctic penal colony on Friday, and he confessed that he found it a little annoying.

Why, after surviving a fatal poisoning attempt widely blamed on the Kremlin, had he returned to Russia from his extended convalescence abroad to face certain imprisonment and possible death? Even his prison guards, turning off their recording devices, asked him why he had come back, he said.

“I don’t want to give up either my country or my beliefs,” Mr. Navalny wrote in a Jan. 17 Facebook post to mark the third anniversary of his return and arrest in 2021. “I cannot betray either the first or the second. If your beliefs are worth something, you must be willing to stand up for them. And if necessary, make some sacrifices.”

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‘Dictators Do Not Go on Vacation,’ Zelensky Warns Washington and Europe

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called on world leaders not to abandon his country, citing the recent death of a Russian dissident as a reminder that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would continue to test the international order, and pushing back against the idea of a negotiated resolution to the war.

Mr. Zelensky, speaking on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, said that if Ukraine lost the war to Russia, it would be “catastrophic” not only for Kyiv, but for other nations as well.

“Please do not ask Ukraine when the war will end,” he said. “Ask yourself why is Putin still able to continue it.”

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Five Places Russia Is Fighting to Break Through Ukrainian Lines


Russian gains since Dec. 1
Russian-controlled area

Ukraine is engaged in a desperate fight to hold back the Russian onslaught.

Russian forces captured the longtime Ukrainian stronghold of Avdiivka before dawn on Saturday, Moscow’s first major battlefield gain since it took Bakhmut last May.

But across the entire 600-mile long front, Ukraine is short on ammunition without renewed American military assistance, and it is struggling to replenish its own depleted forces after two years of brutal fighting.

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The Father, the Son and the Fight Over Their King

Old World
Young Africa

The Father, the Son and the Fight Over Their King

The riot police appeared out of nowhere, charging furiously toward the young protesters trying to oust King Mswati III, who has ruled over the nation of Eswatini for 38 years. The pop of gunfire ricocheted through the streets, and the demonstrators started running for their lives.

Manqoba Motsa, a college student, and his fellow Communists quickly slipped into disguise, pulling plain T-shirts over their red hammer-and-sickle regalia. They ducked down a sloped street and raced away, thinking that, somehow, they had escaped.


The map locates Eswatini in southern Africa. It is bordered by the country of South Africa to the north, west, south, and southeast.

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What to Know About the Fall of Avdiivka

Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the eastern frontline city of Avdiivka, Ukraine’s top general, Oleksandr Syrsky, said on Saturday, allowing Moscow to score its biggest battlefield victory in months and dealing a blow to Ukraine’s stretched and outgunned forces as the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion approaches.

General Syrsky said he had ordered the retreat “in order to avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen.” Avdiivka — once a city of 30,000 people before being reduced to ruins — sat in a pocket surrounded by Russian troops to the north, east and south. In recent months, they had been slowly advancing through relentless assaults, in a pincer movement.

“The ability to save our people is the most important task for us,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said Saturday at the Munich Security Conference. He added that Ukrainian troops had been hindered by a shortage of ammunition because of declining Western military assistance.

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‘Shawshank’ in China, as You’ve Never Seen It Before

When a stage production of “The Shawshank Redemption” opened recently in China, it was cast entirely with Western actors speaking fluent Mandarin Chinese. But that may have been the least surprising part of the show.

That the show — an adaptation of the Stephen King novella that became one of the most beloved movies of all time — was staged at all seemingly flew in the face of several trends in China’s cultural sphere.

Chinese audiences’ interest in Hollywood films is fading, with moviegoers turning to homegrown productions. China’s authoritarian government has stoked nationalism and cast Western influence as a political pollutant. Censorship of the arts has tightened.

Yet the production reflects how some artists are trying to navigate the changing landscape of both what is permissible and what is marketable in China. And its success shows the appetite that many Chinese still have for cultural exchange.

“The Shawshank Redemption” — the story of a man wrongfully convicted of murder who defies prison officials’ tyranny and eventually pulls off a daring escape — has been a target for Chinese censors before. Mentions of it were briefly censored online in 2012, after a prominent Chinese dissident escaped house arrest and fled to the American Embassy. In general, the Chinese authorities have shown little tolerance for calls, artistic or otherwise, for freedom and resistance to injustice.

There were also logistical challenges. The production team wanted to use foreign actors to make the adaptation feel more authentic. But the number of expatriates in China has plummeted in recent years, making wrangling enough foreigners who could speak stage-worthy Mandarin — a small pool to begin with — even more difficult. China’s economic slowdown has also made audiences reluctant to spend on the theater.

All of which made the show’s arrival in China maybe not as tricky as a prison escape, but certainly not a sure bet.

“I did accept the project thinking, ‘This sounds like a great idea, if they can pull it off,’” said Mark Rowswell, a Canadian comedian and television personality who played Red, the jailhouse smuggler immortalized in the film by Morgan Freeman.

“But you have to be prepared, you just never know,” continued Mr. Rowswell, who is widely known in China by his stage name, Dashan. He has been performing in the country since the 1980s, when he was one of the few foreigners fluent enough. “You might do two months of rehearsal and the whole thing gets canceled.”

After initially slow ticket sales in Shenzhen, the show’s four-night run in Beijing last month, in a 1,600-seat theater, nearly sold out. The production had a rating of 7.8 on Douban, a crowdsourced review site, and a nationwide tour is planned for the spring.

Casts from overseas productions have long toured in China, and Chinese actors have played Mandarin-language adaptations of roles that originated abroad. But this was billed as the first Mandarin production to feature an all-foreign cast.

The genesis of the idea, in the production team’s telling, was simple: The “Shawshank” film was hugely popular in China, so surely theatergoers would want to see it, too. And since it was a foreign story, why not find foreign actors?

That seemingly straightforward calculus, though, created a host of questions about translation, both linguistic and cultural.

The director, Zhang Guoli, is a prominent Chinese actor and director who was trained in xiangsheng, a form of classical Chinese comedy. The 11 actors came from eight countries, including the United States, Finland and Russia. Fluency in Mandarin was more important than professional stage experience; the hero Andy Dufresne was played by James Clarke, a national director with the Australia China Business Council.

During rehearsals, actors had to reconcile a more vernacular style of theater often found in the West with Mr. Zhang’s classical training.

There were also thornier questions of adaptation, particularly, what would get by China’s censors.

The script the Chinese production used was a translation of a 2009 stage adaptation by two writers from the United Kingdom, Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns. Both the 2009 script and the Hollywood film are filled with profanities and include explicit references to the sexual violence that Andy endures in prison.

The Chinese version used only mild profanity. One character used the word rape, but briefly. Unlike in the movie and original play, there was no mention of homosexuality.

During publicity interviews, the cast and crew leaned into the story’s theme of hope, without emphasizing freedom, said Yao Yi, the show’s producer, knowing the latter could be considered sensitive.

Still, other parts that may have been difficult to include in a contemporary Chinese play remained intact. Characters recited Bible verses. The overall plot — and its sympathetic portrayal of the prisoners — remained unchanged.

Stage productions are often less tightly regulated than movies, given their smaller audiences. Copyright laws also limited how much the production team could alter.

The use of foreign actors may also have reassured the authorities that it was “a purely Western story,” and “not an allegory after all,” Mr. Rowswell said.

Ms. Yao said she was confident audiences would be receptive to the story, too.

“The Shawshank Redemption” is still the highest-rated movie — of all films, not just Chinese ones — on Douban, showing that Chinese audiences had not entirely turned away from Hollywood, she said. And Chinese theatergoers especially were a self-selecting group, hungry for more international perspectives, she said. “People who go watch plays,” she said, “are looking for a kind of spiritual fulfillment.”

But cast members also acknowledged the need to adapt to Chinese audiences’ changing tastes.

Ben Hubley, an American who played the young inmate Tommy, said he hoped the production would be a “subtle but important” bridge between the United States and China amid deteriorating relations. Yet he doubted the show would have been as popular if it had merely been performed in English.

“It feels like the intention behind it is much clearer than just, like, a big American production coming in,” Mr. Hubley said. “I think we’ve gotten to a point where if you want to come here, your intention behind the project is super important.”

After one of the shows in Beijing, the question of how to categorize the production seemed far from many audience members’ minds. As the crowd — which included children, young adults and grandparents — spilled into the lobby of Beijing Tianqiao Performing Arts Center, taking photos with cardboard cutouts of the actors and posing with prop beer bottles, several theatergoers said they went simply because they loved the movie.

Li Zuyi, a recent college graduate, said he at first hadn’t known the cast was foreign. He has seen “Shawshank” more than 10 times — a still of Andy after his escape was his phone background — and he would have gone to see the play regardless.

But another audience member, Annie Dong, 28, said the novelty of seeing foreign actors speaking Mandarin had attracted her. She did want to see overseas stories “localized,” she said, adding that the script’s incorporation of Chinese slang made it feel more relatable.

She hoped eventually to see foreigners acting not only in adaptations of foreign plays, but in Chinese ones too. “This kind of cultural blending and collision is something I look forward to,” she said.

But the factors that made this production hard-won may continue to be an obstacle.

The number of Americans learning Mandarin has fallen in recent years, and the population of foreigners in cities like Beijing and Shanghai has not recovered from its drop during the pandemic. Many Westerners also remain wary of traveling to China amid its inward turn.

Mr. Rowswell was in Canada when he was approached for this play, and until then, he had not known when he would return.

“Perhaps it’s something that will become more difficult in the future, not easier,” he said of similar productions.

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An English City Gave Soccer to the World. Now It Wants Credit.

As far as the man in the food truck is concerned, the patch of land he occupies in Sheffield, England, is about as humdrum as they come. To him, the spot — in the drab parking lot of a sprawling home improvement superstore, its facade plastered in lurid orange — is not exactly a place where history comes alive.

John Wilson, an academic at the University of Sheffield’s management school, looks at the same site and can barely contain his excitement. This, he said, is one of the places where the world’s most popular sport was born. He does not see a parking lot. He can see the history: the verdant grass, the sweating players, the cheering crowds.

His passion is sincere, absolute and shared by a small band of amateur historians and volunteer detectives devoted to restoring Sheffield — best known for steel, coal and as the setting for the film “The Full Monty” — to its rightful place as the undisputed birthplace of codified, organized, recognizable soccer.


Map locates Sheffield, Manchester and London in England. It also shows where Wembley Stadium is in northwest London.

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How John Travolta Became the Star of Carnival

Jack Nicas and Dado Galdieri reported this article among the giant puppets of the Carnival celebrations in Olinda, Brazil

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It was near the start of one of Brazil’s most famous Carnival celebrations, in the northern seaside city of Olinda, and the town plaza was jammed with thousands of revelers. They were all awaiting their idol.

Just before 9 p.m., the doors to a dance hall swung open, a brass band pushed into the crowd and the star everyone had been waiting for stepped out: a 12-foot puppet of John Travolta.

Confetti sprayed, the band began playing a catchy tune and the crowd sang along: “John Travolta is really cool. Throwing a great party. And in Olinda, the best carnival.” (It rhymes in Portuguese.)

The giant John Travolta, perched on the head of a puppeteer, then led a parade through the cobblestone streets.

The “boneco,” as such giant puppets are known in Brazil, wore a bedazzled disco-era turtleneck and suit, with a black pompadour, a la John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever.” Celebrating its 45th birthday this year, the boneco is about as old as that film.

But its resemblance to the real Mr. Travolta?

“It looks nothing like him,” said the man who made the puppet more than four decades ago, Silvio Botelho, 65, in his workshop in the shade of a mango tree. The clay and papier-mâché face has morphed over time, setting the eyes a bit off-kilter. “The humidity took over,” he said. “Everything is warped.”

Mr. Botelho has begged to remake it, but the family who owns the boneco says they — and thousands of their neighbors — love it exactly the way it is.

“The people are in love with this boneco,” said Eraldo José Gomes, 56, a grandfather who was among the group of disco-crazed boys who had the idea to create a John Travolta puppet in 1979. “We’re afraid to mess with it.”

The John Travolta boneco (pronounced BO-neh-koh) is one of hundreds of giant puppets that parade through Olinda for four days every February, becoming the calling card of this city’s renowned Carnival — which winds down with Fat Tuesday celebrations this week — and a show of how the pre-Lent festivities in Brazil are far more than just Rio de Janeiro’s extravagant Samba parade.

For locals here in Olinda, a city of roughly 350,000, the bonecos also serve a deeper purpose. They are totems of sorts, playing an important cultural and community role, and often bringing revelers to tears. Olinda’s oldest boneco, The Midnight Man, is even considered a sacred religious object by followers of Afro-Brazilian religions, with specific religious instructions for his handling.

“I grew up with John Travolta. He is my brother. He is the uncle of my children,” Valeria dos Santos, 41, said of the John Travolta boneco. The domestic worker began to cry when explaining how her mother loved that boneco, ironed its clothes for years and died in 2007, on the day it paraded the streets.

The bonecos first arrived in the region in 1919 in a town seven hours away, when a Portuguese priest told of similar puppets in Europe used for religious celebrations, said Jorge Veloso, an Olinda historian who studies Brazil’s bonecos.

In 1932, Carnival revelers in Olinda created The Midnight Man, which for decades has paraded every Saturday night at midnight, a moment carried live on television.

In 1967, Carnival groups created a second boneco, The Daytime Woman, to be The Midnight Man’s wife — there was a Carnival marriage ceremony — and then, in 1974, came their son, The Afternoon Kid.

Later, a group of seven boys, enthralled with “Saturday Night Fever,” persuaded Mr. Botelho to create a John Travolta boneco. Mr. Botelho, who was just starting out and knew the boys from the neighborhood, agreed to do it for free.

From there, bonecos exploded across Olinda. There are folkloric figures, fictional characters and puppets based on well-known revelers. Local politicians order them for their campaigns, businesses make them for promotions and people order them as gifts.

Most are the creation of Mr. Botelho, a self-taught puppet maker who estimates he and his team have created more than 1,300 bonecos. He used to work with papier-mâché and Styrofoam, but now mostly molds fiberglass and epoxy over a clay sculpture, paints it and adds hair and clothes. “I created a culture,” he said.

About 15 years ago, competition arrived. A businessman, Leandro Castro, began creating bonecos in the metropolis next door, Recife, Brazil’s eighth-largest city. His idea — to create a boneco museum — became a big success, in large part because he had a good gimmick: All his bonecos would depict famous figures.

His one-room museum is stacked with Brazilian and international celebrities, including Elvis, Pelé and Pope Francis.

Mr. Castro attracts lots of coverage in the Brazilian media, in part for his stunts with politics. He has bonecos of President Biden; Xi Jinping, the leader of China; and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. He has staged a meeting between the bonecos of former President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader. And he proudly showed off a message from Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro, thanking him for his own boneco.

While Mr. Castro is the face of the business, the secret to his lifelike bonecos is a little-known sculptor, Antônio Bernardo, who on Friday was in his dingy studio a few blocks from the museum, molding a giant clay head alongside his sleeping dog, Honey.

Mr. Bernardo has sculpted nearly all of Mr. Castro’s 750 bonecos and was now racing to finish a new politician for Mr. Castro’s annual Carnival puppet parade: President Javier Milei of Argentina.

Mr. Bernardo said making his own art fulfills him, while the bonecos are a job. “This gives me no pleasure,” he said, motioning to Mr. Milei’s head. “I am dominated by it.”

The dueling puppet moguls, Mr. Botelho and Mr. Castro, have become rivals of sorts. Mr. Botelho called Mr. Castro a “pirate.” Mr. Castro criticized the craftsmanship of Mr. Botelho’s bonecos, naming John Travolta in particular. Mr. Castro said he planned to make a better John Travolta for next year.

The John Travolta boneco does have an unconventional look — and an undeniable charm.

“It’s horrible, but beautiful,” said Maria Helena Alcântara, 30, one reveler awaiting the boneco’s arrival Saturday night. “He touches our hearts.”

While the crowd grew in the square, more than 100 people partied inside the dance hall at a private John Travolta party. They wore John Travolta shirts, danced to the catchy John Travolta tune and posed with the John Travolta boneco perched in the corner.

“There isn’t much of a link with the actor today. Now he’s John Travolta of Olinda,” said Diego Gomes, 25, a relative of the founders of the John Travolta boneco. He had watched “Saturday Night Fever” for the first time that week. “It was interesting,” he said.

Across the city, several children carried smaller John Travolta bonecos on their heads as their Carnival costumes. And at one point in Mr. Botelho’s workshop, 5-year-old Victor Calebe ran in, took a look at the assorted bonecos and asked, “Where’s John Travolta?”

The boneco founders said they had tried to reach the real Mr. Travolta for years but never heard back.

“He’s going to be like: What insanity is this?” Mr. Botelho predicted. “Are they drunk?”

However, when reached for comment, the real Mr. Travolta felt differently.

“Your music, your dance and your passion fills me with a feeling of completeness!” the actor responded in an email when asked if he had a message for the Olinda revelers. “I am proud and honored to be the icon of your carnival! It makes me so happy! Love always, John Travolta.”

Laura Linhares Mollica contributed reporting.

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‘This Is Where I Want to Be’

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When Ayelet Khon moved back to the Kfar Azza kibbutz with her husband two months after the brutal Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7, the first thing she did was hang a string of rainbow-colored lights up on the front patio.

At night, when darkness drenches this community, the twinkling colors are the only lights visible.

“We are going to keep these lights on and never turn them off — even if we’re out for the evening — they are lights of hope,” Ms. Khon said she told her husband, Shar Shnurman.

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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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Architect Embraces Indigenous Worldview in Australian Designs

Jefa Greenaway will never forget the first time he heard his father’s voice. It was in 2017, when he was watching a documentary about Indigenous Australians’ fight to be recognized in the country’s Constitution.

“It was poignant, surreal,” Mr. Greenaway recalled. “In one word: emotional.”

In the film, his father, Bert Groves, an Indigenous man and a civil rights activist born in 1907, recounts how he was prevented from pursuing an education because of the size of his skull, a victim of phrenology, the pseudoscience that lingered in Australia into the 20th century.

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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 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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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.

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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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Alexéi Navalny, crítico de Putin, muere en prisión, según las autoridades rusas

Andrew E. Kramer y

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Alexéi Navalny, activista anticorrupción que durante más de una década lideró la oposición política en la Rusia del presidente Vladimir Putin, murió el viernes en una prisión en el círculo polar ártico, informaron las autoridades rusas.

Su muerte fue anunciada por el Servicio Penitenciario Federal de Rusia, que declaró que Navalny, de 47 años, perdió el conocimiento el viernes luego de dar un paseo en la prisión a la que fue trasladado a finales del año pasado. La última vez que se le vio fue el jueves, cuando compareció en una audiencia judicial por videoconferencia; sonreía tras los barrotes de una celda y hacía bromas.

[El video a continuación muestra imágenes del medio de comunicación ruso SOTA en donde aparece Alexéi Navalny riendo y haciendo bromas entre rejas durante su última comparecencia ante el tribunal a través de una conexión de video].

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Ucrania afirma que Rusia utilizó por primera vez un nuevo misil hipersónico

Ucrania dijo tener pruebas de que Rusia utilizó por primera vez un nuevo misil de crucero hipersónico en un ataque la semana pasada, algo que, de confirmarse, podría plantear otro nuevo desafío a las ya abrumadas defensas aéreas del país.

Un análisis preliminar de fragmentos de misil realizado por el Instituto de Investigación Científica y Peritaje Forense de Kiev, organismo dirigido por el gobierno, concluyó que se había utilizado un misil 3M22 Zircón en un ataque llevado a cabo el 7 de febrero contra ciudades de toda Ucrania. Según el instituto, en los escombros se encontraron marcas típicas del misil.

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Rusia oculta su número de bajas. Estas son las pistas que tenemos

El verdadero número de bajas en Rusia por su invasión a Ucrania es un secreto a voces. El Kremlin mantiene una política de silencio y muchos rusos no hablan públicamente por miedo a las repercusiones.

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Pero se cree que el número de rusos heridos en combate es abrumador.

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En Venezuela, un día eres crítico y al siguiente estás detenido

De todos los críticos del gobierno, pocos pensaban que Rocío San Miguel sería la que iba a desaparecer.

San Miguel, de 57 años, durante mucho tiempo ha sido una de las expertas en seguridad más conocidas de Venezuela, una mujer que se atrevió a investigar al gobierno autoritario de su país incluso cuando otros huían. También es moderada, cuenta con reconocimiento internacional y parecía tener fuertes contactos en el hermético mundo del ejército venezolano, cualidades que sus colegas pensaban que podrían protegerla.

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Pero a finales de la semana pasada, San Miguel llegó al aeropuerto de las afueras de Caracas con su hija, con destino a lo que un familiar calificó como un viaje corto a Miami, cuando fue detenida por agentes de contraespionaje. Poco después, su familia también empezó a desaparecer. La hija, dos hermanos y dos antiguas parejas sentimentales. Desaparecidos.

Durante cuatro días, la única información pública sobre San Miguel procedió del fiscal general de Venezuela, que afirmó en redes sociales, sin aportar pruebas, que San Miguel había sido vinculada a un complot para asesinar al presidente del país, Nicolás Maduro.

Finalmente, el martes por la noche, sus abogados dijeron que había aparecido, y que estaba recluida en un centro de detención conocido por su crueldad. Su familia también estaba bajo custodia estatal.

La detención de San Miguel, directora de una modesta pero influyente organización sin fines de lucro que monitoreaba a las fuerzas armadas, ha desencadenado un pequeño terremoto en los círculos de derechos humanos de Venezuela, donde hace solo unos meses muchos observaban con cautelosa expectativa cómo Maduro firmaba un acuerdo con la oposición del país, donde prometía trabajar para lograr unas elecciones presidenciales libres y justas este año.

El cambio político, aunque todavía era una posibilidad lejana, parecía un anhelo digno de consideración.

Ahora, el pequeño grupo de activistas, trabajadores humanitarios, críticos, analistas, periodistas y otros que han podido resistir dentro del país —a pesar de años de represión y crisis económica— ven cómo se reducen aún más los estrechos espacios de actuación disponibles para ellos.

Como resultado, el camino hacia la democracia parece tan arduo como siempre.

Una nueva ley propuesta por el partido de Maduro pretende regular estrictamente las organizaciones sin fines de lucro, prohibiéndoles participar en acciones “que amenacen la estabilidad nacional”, lo que hace temer que se utilice para criminalizar a estos grupos.

La principal candidata de la oposición del país, María Corina Machado, ha sido inhabilitada para presentarse a las elecciones presidenciales, varios miembros de su equipo han sido detenidos y una violenta banda afín al gobierno interrumpió recientemente uno de sus actos, ensangrentando a sus partidarios.

“Si esto le ocurrió a Rocío San Miguel, ¿qué le queda a los demás?”, dijo Laura Dib, que dirige el programa sobre Venezuela en la Oficina en Washington para Asuntos Latinoamericanos.

El encarcelamiento de personas que el gobierno de Maduro considera una amenaza no es nuevo. En Venezuela hay 263 presos políticos, según un grupo de vigilancia, Foro Penal, muchos de los cuales llevan años recluidos sin juicio.

Lo que distingue el caso de San Miguel no es solo lo conocida es y lo bien relacionada que estaba, sino que las autoridades detuvieron a toda su familia y luego los mantuvieron a todos sin comunicación durante días, táctica conocida en el derecho internacional como “desaparición forzada”.

En conjunto, estas medidas forman parte de un cambio notable en la represión, dijo Gonzalo Himiob, de Foro Penal, en el que el gobierno busca casos que atraigan la atención de los medios de comunicación y tácticas de detención que puedan aumentar el miedo entre quienes lo desafían.

“El gobierno está cruzando líneas que no había cruzado antes”, dijo.

En el centro de estas acciones parece estar el propio miedo de Maduro. El chavismo, el movimiento que lidera, ha gobernado Venezuela desde que su predecesor, Hugo Chávez, ganó las elecciones presidenciales en 1998.

Chávez, y luego Maduro, dirigieron una revolución de inspiración socialista que al principio sacó a muchos de la pobreza. Pero en los últimos años, la mala gestión gubernamental del sector petrolero, así como la corrupción y las sanciones estadounidenses, han devastado la economía.

Una crisis humanitaria al interior del país ha desbordado sus fronteras, con millones de venezolanos que buscan refugio fuera de él.

Maduro quiere que Estados Unidos retire las sanciones, algo que podría ayudar a mejorar la situación financiera del país, y que Washington ha dicho que hará si Maduro toma medidas para apoyar la democracia.

En octubre, con cautelosos elogios de Estados Unidos y sus aliados, Maduro firmó un acuerdo con la oposición para celebrar elecciones presidenciales.

Días después, la principal candidata de la oposición, Machado, ganó unas primarias con una participación que superó las expectativas y que se consideraron una señal de la debilidad de Maduro.

Las detenciones de San Miguel y su familia, dijo Dib, son un “mensaje a la sociedad civil de que no van a conseguir lo que quieren”. Es decir, unas elecciones de verdad.

Maduro, añadió, “no está dispuesto a perder el poder”.

San Miguel, que tiene doble nacionalidad, venezolana y española, es la directora de Control Ciudadano, que ha publicado una investigación sobre el número de personas asesinadas por las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado y ha criticado una ley venezolana que permite el uso de fuerza letal durante las protestas.

La mañana del 9 de febrero, San Miguel había llegado al aeropuerto en las afueras de Caracas con su hija de 26 años, según Minnie Díaz Paruta, tía de la hija.

San Miguel fue abordada por agentes del gobierno y detenida.

Aterrorizada, la hija volvió a Caracas. Un día después, regresó al aeropuerto para recuperar su equipaje, pero desapareció al poco tiempo y dejó de contestar a los mensajes, dijo la tía. Los hermanos y exparejas de San Miguel fueron detenidos por esas fechas, según Díaz y otros informes.

Dos días después, el fiscal general de Venezuela, Tarek William Saab, anunció en la plataforma de redes sociales X que San Miguel estaba detenida por el Estado, acusada de participar en una operación que, según él, buscaba el asesinato de Maduro.

Aseguró que la detención se había producido de acuerdo con “las normas nacionales e internacionales de protección de los derechos humanos”.

(El gobierno de Maduro afirma con frecuencia haber descubierto complots de asesinato contra el presidente).

A los abogados de San Miguel no se les permitió verla ni se les dijo dónde estaba.

Un grupo de activistas de derechos humanos recorrió algunos de los centros de detención del país con la esperanza de encontrarla, dijo Dib, sin éxito. No está claro cómo dieron con ella finalmente.

La embajada estadounidense para Venezuela, que se encuentra en la vecina Colombia, dijo que las detenciones seguían “una tendencia preocupante de detenciones aparentemente arbitrarias de actores democráticos”.

El Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, que en 2020 afirmó que Maduro había cometido “crímenes contra la humanidad” en sus esfuerzos por silenciar a la oposición, emitió una declaración similar.

Saad dijo el 13 de febrero que San Miguel había comparecido en una audiencia celebrada la víspera, acusada de traición, conspiración y terrorismo. Sus abogados dijeron que no estuvieron presentes.

Más tarde ese mismo día, un miembro de su equipo de defensa anunció en internet que la habían localizado: estaba en el Helicoide, un edificio de la década de 1950 construido como centro comercial que desde entonces se ha convertido en un conocido centro de detención.

La misión de las Naciones Unidas que examina las violaciones de derechos humanos en el país ha entrevistado a detenidos del Helicoide y afirma que han denunciado torturas, incluidas palizas y el uso de descargas eléctricas.

La misión también informó, en 2022, que el director de la principal agencia de inteligencia del país, que ostenta un poder significativo en el Helicoide, recibía órdenes directas de Maduro.

El abogado de San Miguel dijo que una de sus exparejas, Alejandro González, estaría recluido en otro centro, y que ambos permanecerían bajo custodia.

Los otros cuatro miembros de la familia, Miranda Díaz San Miguel, Víctor Díaz Paruta, Miguel San Miguel y Alberto San Miguel, serían puestos en libertad con la condición de que no salieran del país ni hablaran con los medios de comunicación.

La noticia de las detenciones se difundió rápidamente. Jairo Chourio, de 46 años, que vive en la ciudad de Maracaibo, dijo que se enteró de la detención de San Miguel en un grupo de Telegram, donde recibió información del partido socialista del país. Celebró las detenciones, que debían ser “bien merecidas”.

Otros dijeron que las detenciones eran señales angustiosas del estado de la democracia del país.

“En mi familia, todos tenemos miedo de opinar”, dijo Andrea Bracho, de 28 años, también de Maracaibo.

Bracho solo había decidido hablar con una periodista, dijo, “porque ya mañana me voy”.

“Por ahora, no tengo esperanzas”, continuó. “Y lo siento mucho”.

Sheyla Urdaneta colaboró con reportería desde Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Julie Turkewitz es la jefa del buró de los Andes, que cubre Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Perú, Surinam y Guyana. Antes de mudarse a América del Sur, fue corresponsal de temas nacionales y cubrió el oeste de Estados Unidos. Más de Julie Turkewitz


El Carnaval de Brasil solo empieza cuando llega John Travolta (el que mide 4 metros)

Jack Nicas y Dado Galdieri reportaron este artículo entre los gigantescos muñecos de las celebraciones de Carnaval en Olinda, Brasil

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Era casi el comienzo de una de las celebraciones más famosas del Carnaval en Brasil, en la ciudad costera de Olinda, al norte del país, y la plaza de la ciudad estaba repleta de miles de asistentes. Todos esperaban a su ídolo.

Justo antes de las 9 p. m., las puertas de un salón de baile se abrieron de par en par, una banda de música se abrió paso entre la multitud y salió la estrella que todos habían estado esperando: un muñeco de John Travolta de cuatro metros.

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