The New York Times 2024-04-14 10:15:28

Live Updates: Israel Says Confrontation With Iran ‘Is Not Over’


Here are the latest developments.

Israel’s defense minister said early Sunday that its confrontation with Iran was “not over yet,” hours after Iran fired hundreds of exploding drones and missiles in what is believed to be its first direct attack on Israel after years of a shadow war.

Nearly all of the volleys were intercepted, and those that made impact caused only minor damage, Israeli military officials said on Sunday morning. The United States said it had shot down dozens of the drones and missiles.

Iran’s attack, a retaliation for airstrikes on an Iranian Embassy building in Syria on April 1, was not unexpected. The question now is how Israel will respond, and whether the two rivals — which have no direct channels of communication — will be able to avoid dangerous miscalculations in the hours and days ahead.

Here’s what else to know:

  • The attacks set off a flurry of diplomatic activity. President Biden said he would convene a meeting of the Group of 7 leaders on Sunday, and the United Nations Security Council was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting.

  • As Iranians gathered in Tehran to celebrate, Iran’s Foreign Ministry described the attack as a defensive measure, and the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps warned the United States against getting involved.

  • The Israeli military said its fighter jets had struck targets in Lebanon early Sunday that belong to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia backed by Iran. Hezbollah said it had fired dozens of rockets on Saturday at an Israeli barracks in the Golan Heights, a strategic area bordering Syria that Israel controls.

While the Israeli military says nearly all of the drones and missiles in Iran’s attack were intercepted, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, the commander in chief of Iran’s armed forces, said the operation was “completed with full success.”

In a statement, General Bagheri said Iran had targeted the air base Israel used to mount an attack on an Iranian embassy building in Syria that killed three of its top commanders. Israel has not claimed responsibility for that strike.

The cabinet of Jordan, the Arab nation that neighbors Israel, said that its military shot down aircraft and missiles that entered its airspace during the Iranian attack, and that some fragments fell in multiple locations across the kingdom but did not cause significant damage or injuries.

The foreign ministries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates called on Sunday for reducing tensions and exercising restraint after Iran launched a major missile and drone attack on Israel.

Iran’s attacks bring a yearslong clandestine war with Israel into the open.

For decades, Israel and Iran have fought a shadow war across the Middle East, trading attacks by land, sea, air and in cyberspace. The barrage of drones and missiles Iran launched at Israel on Saturday — though nearly all were shot down or intercepted — marked a watershed in the conflict.

It was the first time that Iran directly attacked Israel from its own territory, according to Ahron Bregman, a political scientist and expert in Middle East security issues at King’s College in London, who called it an “historic event.”

Iran has largely used foreign proxies to strike Israeli interests, while targeted assassinations of Iranian military leaders and nuclear scientists have been a key part of Israel’s strategy. Here is a brief history of the conflict:

January 2020: Israel greeted with satisfaction the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the foreign-facing arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in an American drone strike in Baghdad.

Iran hit back by attacking two bases in Iraq that housed American troops with a barrage of missiles, injuring about 100 U.S. military personnel.

American officials said that General Suleimani was behind destabilizing Iranian activities throughout the Middle East and that he was accused of plotting attacks against U.S. embassies and Israeli targets.

2021-22: In July 2021, an oil tanker managed by an Israeli-owned shipping company was attacked off the coast of Oman, killing two crew members, according to the company and three Israeli officials. Two of the officials said that the attack appeared to have been carried out by Iranian drones.

Iran did not explicitly claim or deny responsibility, but a state-owned television channel described the attack as a response to an Israeli strike in Syria.

In November 2021, Israel killed Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and followed up with the assassination of a Revolutionary Guards commander, Col. Sayad Khodayee, in May 2022.

December 2023: After Israel’s bombardment of Gaza began in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks, Iranian-backed militias stepped up their own attacks. And late last year, Iran accused Israel of killing a high-level military figure, Brig. Gen. Sayyed Razi Mousavi, in a missile strike in Syria.

A senior adviser to the Revolutionary Guards, General Mousavi was described as having been a close associate of General Suleimani and was said to have helped oversee the shipment of arms to Hezbollah. Israel, adopting its customary stance, declined to comment directly on whether it was behind General Mousavi’s death.

January 2024: An explosion in a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, killed Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas leader, along with two commanders from that group’s armed wing, the first assassination of a top Hamas official outside the West Bank and Gaza in recent years.

Officials from Hamas, Lebanon and the United States ascribed the attack to Israel, which did not publicly confirm involvement.

Hezbollah, which receives major support from Iran, stepped up its assaults on Israel after Mr. al-Arouri’s death. Israel’s military hit back at Hezbollah in Lebanon, killing several of the group’s commanders.

Later in January, Iran accused Israel of launching an airstrike on Damascus in which several senior Iranian military figures were killed.

March and April: An Israeli drone strike hit a car in southern Lebanon, killing at least one person. Israel’s military said it had killed the deputy commander of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile unit. Hezbollah acknowledged the death of a man, Ali Abdulhassan Naim, but did not provide further details.

The same day, airstrikes killed soldiers near Aleppo, northern Syria, in what appeared to be one of the heaviest Israeli attacks in the country in years. The strikes killed 36 Syrian soldiers, seven Hezbollah fighters and a Syrian from a pro-Iran militia, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group that tracks Syria’s civil war.

Israel’s military did not claim responsibility. But the country’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, wrote on social media, “We will pursue Hezbollah every place it operates and we will expand the pressure and the pace of the attacks.”

Three days later, Israeli warplanes struck an Iranian Embassy building in Damascus, killing the three top Iranian commanders and four officers.

Matthew Mpoke Bigg contributed reporting.

At a hospital in Beersheba, Israel, relatives of a 7-year-old girl who was injured in the attack are keeping a vigil outside of the pediatric intensive care unit. Her mother is in tears, praying in a whisper.

Iran’s Parliament convened on Sunday morning, with lawmakers gathering on the floor of the chamber, fists in the air, chanting, “Death to Israel! Death to America!” and “Thank you, thank you,” in reaction to the attacks launched on Israel, videos on state media showed.

In Tel Aviv, traffic is thin despite it being the first day of the Israeli work week. Bakeries, cafes and stores are open, serving a few people who came out to walk their dogs.

Details of how Israel and its allies responded to the Iranian drones and missiles are starting to trickle out. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, told reporters that most of the 120 ballistic missiles launched at Israel had been intercepted, including “a significant number” that were downed by the country’s advanced Arrow 3 antiballistic missile system.

Admiral Hagari said none of the 170 pilotless armed drones and 30 cruise missiles launched in the attack had entered Israeli airspace, and that 25 of the latter had been downed by the Israeli Air Force. Those numbers could not be independently confirmed.

Hamas said the attack on Israel was a “worthy response” to the April 1 strike on the Iranian Embassy complex in Syria. Countries have a “natural right” to defend themselves against “Zionist assaults,” said Hamas, which is backed by Iran. Israel has not confirmed responsibility for the strike in Syria and has accused Iran of seeking its destruction.

Iran used weapons that were more sophisticated than what Israel has faced recently.

Late Saturday, Iran began firing hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel, including weapons that experts say are more sophisticated than anything Israel had encountered until now in six months of fighting with Hamas and its allies in the region.

Previously, Israel had faced aerial attacks from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, whose rocket arsenal includes short-range (12 to 25 miles) and somewhat inaccurate 122-milimeter rockets of the Grad family, as well as Syrian-made M-302 rockets with a range of about 100 miles. Hamas also has Fajr-5 rockets from Iran and a similar, locally made version of the Fajr-5, both with a range of about 50 miles.

The weapons Iran used on Saturday can travel much farther, and some of them can travel much faster. Still, Israel said that nearly all of the missiles and drones that Iran fired were intercepted, many with help from U.S. forces.

In Saturday’s attack, 185 drones, 36 cruise missiles and 110 surface-to-surface missiles were fired toward Israel, according to Israeli military officials. Most of the launches were from Iran, though a small portion came from Iraq and Yemen, the officials said.

Fabian Hinz, an expert on Iran’s military at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Berlin, said in a post on X that Iran is likely using a cruise missile developed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Paveh 351. It has a range of more than 1,200 miles — plenty to reach Israel from Iran.

According to his post, different versions of that missile have also been provided to the Houthis in Yemen and to the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces.

And Jeffrey Lewis, a member of the International Security Advisory Board at the U.S. State Department, said in a post on X that Iran was using land-attack cruise missiles that could carry around a ton of explosives.

He also noted that much of Iran’s arsenal of ballistic missiles have a long enough range to reach Israel. And though Iran’s drones carry much smaller explosive payloads than missiles, they have the advantage of being able to hover and shift targets.

In recent decades, Iran has largely been focused on deterrence, long-range missiles, drones and air defenses. It has one of the largest ballistic missile and drone arsenals across the Middle East, according to weapons experts, and is also becoming a major arms exporter globally.

Last year, after the attack by Hamas in October, Israel asked the United States for more precision-guided munitions for its combat aircraft and more interceptors for its Iron Dome missile defense system. Israel’s weapons arsenal includes Vietnam-era missiles, some of which have a failure rate as high as 15 percent.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken released a statement condemning Iran’s attack on Israel, and said he would be speaking with leaders among allied and partner nations. “While we do not seek escalation, we will continue to support Israel’s defense, and as the president made clear, we will defend U.S. personnel,” he said.

It’s Sunday morning in Jerusalem. Traffic is light — most likely because of the school closures and upcoming Passover holiday — but people are out and about, if sleepy after the air alarms overnight.

In Israel this morning, the domestic news media is airing footage of operations at Ben Gurion Airport, outside Tel Aviv, and of jets returning to an air base in the Negev Desert that the Israeli military says suffered light damage in the Iranian attack. Television anchors are suggesting the footage is a sign that the country is returning to normal.

Airspace closures that went into effect in Israel and Lebanon on Saturday have now expired, and commercial flights have resumed from Tel Aviv, according to Flightradar24, a flight-tracking site. The airspaces of Iraq and Jordan are scheduled to reopen later this morning.

A total of 12 people were brought in to the Soroka Medical Center in southern Israel overnight, according to a hospital spokeswoman, Inbar Gutter. One, a 7-year-old girl, was seriously injured by missile fragments, taken to the operating room and was in intensive care. Eight others were treated for minor injuries from shrapnel or running for shelter, while three people were brought in for anxiety.

In his first public response to the overnight Iranian assault, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on X on Sunday morning: “We intercepted. We blocked. Together we will win.”

Nearly 99 percent of the aerial threats launched at Israel on Saturday were intercepted, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman for the military, said during televised remarks. He added that the Nevatim air force base in the Negev desert in southern Israel suffered only light damage and was functioning. “Iran thought it would paralyze the base,” Rear Admiral Hagari said. “It failed.”

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, warned in a televised statement early Sunday that the confrontation with Iran “is not over yet.” He praised the militaries of Israel and the United States for blocking the Iranian attack, said the defense against the Iranian assault was “a most impressive achievement.”

Israel’s military said its fighter jets struck a number of targets early Sunday in a complex belonging to Hezbollah’s elite Radwan forces in southern Lebanon. Israeli warplanes struck additional Hezbollah structures during the night, the military said, after Hezbollah sent two explosive drones into Israeli territory on Saturday.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said late Saturday that U.S. forces had intercepted “dozens” of missiles and attack drones launched at Israel from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The U.S. military is ready to protect U.S. troops and Israel, he said.

Austin condemned the “reckless and unprecedented attacks” by Iran and its proxies in nearby countries, and he called on Tehran to halt any further strikes. “We do not seek conflict with Iran, but we will not hesitate to act to protect our forces and support the defense of Israel,” he said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the attack on Israel was a “defensive measure” that shows its “responsible approach toward regional and international peace and security.” The aerial assault has drawn condemnation from Israel’s allies and warnings that it risked further escalation in the Middle East.

The U.S. intercepts dozens of Iranian drones and missiles aimed at Israel.

The United States military said it had shot down dozens of the drones and missiles that Iran fired at Israel on Saturday, as other allies affirmed support for Israel or pledged to help defend it.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel’s chief military spokesman, said that Israel had intercepted most of the 200 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles launched by Iran with “some assistance” from its allies.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said late Saturday that U.S. forces had intercepted dozens of missiles and attack drones launched at Israel from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The United States did not provide further details on its role in intercepting the attacks.

While President Biden has increasingly criticized how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is handling the campaign against Hamas in Gaza, he has consistently affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. In the past six months of war between Israel and Hamas, the United States has countered attacks from Iran’s proxies in the region, including those from the Iran-backed Houthi militia in the Red Sea.

Britain’s defense secretary, Grant Shapps, said in a statement on Saturday that its jets were prepared to intercept airborne attacks within range of its existing missions in the Middle East, adding that additional British jets and air refueling tankers have been deployed to bolster its operations in Iraq and Syria.

France’s foreign minister, Stéphane Séjourné, also condemned Iran’s attack and affirmed support for Israel. Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany called the attacks “unjustifiable and highly irresponsible.”

“Germany stands by Israel and we will discuss the situation with our allies,” he said in a statement on social media.

Eric Schmitt, Patrick Kingsley and Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting.

Here is a look at Iran’s military capabilities.

The start of a direct military confrontation between Iran and Israel has brought renewed attention to Iran’s armed forces. Early this month, Israel attacked a building in Iran’s diplomatic compound in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing seven of Iran’s senior commanders and military personnel.

Iran vowed to retaliate, and did so about two weeks later, starting a broad aerial attack on Israel on Saturday involving hundreds of drones and missiles aimed at targets inside Israel and the territory it controls.

Here’s a look at Iran’s military and its capabilities.

Why is Iran’s military relevant right now?

Israeli officials had said they would respond to any attack by Iran with a counterattack, which could prompt further retaliation from Iran and possibly expand into a wider regional war. There is even a chance that a conflict of that sort could drag in the United States, although Washington has made clear it had nothing to do with the Damascus attack.

Analysts say that Iran’s adversaries, primarily the United States and Israel, have avoided direct military strikes on Iran for decades, not wishing to tangle with Tehran’s complex military apparatus. Instead, Israel and Iran have been engaged in a long shadow war via air, sea, land and cyberattacks, and Israel has covertly targeted military and nuclear facilities inside Iran and killed commanders and scientists.

“There is a reason Iran has not been struck,” said Afshon Ostovar, an associate professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and an expert on Iran’s military. “It’s not that Iran’s adversaries fear Iran. It’s that they realize any war against Iran is a very serious war.”

What sort of military threat does Iran pose?

The Iranian armed forces are among the largest in the Middle East, with at least 580,000 active-duty personnel and about 200,000 trained reserve personnel divided among the traditional army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, according to an annual assessment last year by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The army and the Guards each have separate and active ground, air and naval forces, with the Guards responsible for Iran’s border security. The General Staff of the Armed Forces coordinates the branches and sets the overall strategy.

The Guards also operate the Quds Force, an elite unit in charge of arming, training and supporting the network of proxy militias throughout the Middle East known as the “axis of resistance.” These militias include Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, militia groups in Syria and Iraq and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Power by Proxy: How Iran Shapes the MideastA guide to the armed groups that let Iran extend its influence throughout the region.

The commander in chief of Iran’s armed forces is the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all major decisions.

While the proxy militias are not counted as part of Iran’s armed forces, analysts say they are considered an allied regional force — battle ready, heavily armed and ideologically loyal — and could come to Iran’s aid if it was attacked.

“The level of support and types of systems Iran has provided for nonstate actors is really unprecedented in terms of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles,” said Fabian Hinz, an expert on Iran’s military at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Berlin. “They could be viewed as part of Iran’s military capability, especially Hezbollah, which has the closest strategic relationship with Iran.”

What kinds of weapons does Iran have?

For decades, Iran’s military strategy has been anchored in deterrence, emphasizing the development of precision and long-range missiles, drones and air defenses. It has built a large fleet of speedboats and some small submarines that are capable of disrupting shipping traffic and global energy supplies that pass through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran has one of the largest arsenals of ballistic missiles and drones in the Middle East, Mr. Ostovar said. That includes cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles, as well as ballistic missiles with ranges up to 2,000 kilometers, or more than 1,200 miles. These have the capacity and range to hit any target in the Middle East, including Israel.

In recent years, Tehran has assembled a large inventory of drones with ranges of around 1,200 to 1,550 miles and capable of flying low to evade radar, according to experts and Iranian commanders who have given public interviews to the state news media. Iran has made no secret of the buildup, displaying its trove of drones and missiles during military parades, and has ambitions to build a large export business in drones. Iran’s drones are being used by Russia in Ukraine and have surfaced in the conflict in Sudan.

The country’s bases and storage facilities are widely dispersed, buried deep underground and fortified with air defenses, making them difficult to destroy with airstrikes, experts say.

Where does Iran get its weapons?

International sanctions have cut Iran off from high-tech weaponry and military equipment manufactured abroad, like tanks and fighter jets.

During Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, few countries were willing to sell weapons to Iran. When Ayatollah Khamenei became Iran’s supreme leader in 1989, a year after the war ended, he commissioned the Guards to develop a domestic weapons industry and poured resources into the effort, which was widely reported in the Iranian news media. He wanted to assure that Iran would never again have to rely on foreign powers for its defense needs.

Today, Iran manufactures a large quantity of missiles and drones domestically and has prioritized that defense production, experts said. Its attempts to make armored vehicles and large naval vessels have met with mixed results. It also imports small submarines from North Korea while expanding and modernizing its domestically produced fleet.

How do other countries see Iran’s military, and what are its weaknesses?

Iran’s military is viewed as one of the strongest in the region in terms of equipment, cohesion, experience and quality of personnel, but it lags far behind the power and sophistication of the armed forces of the United States, Israel and some European countries, experts said.

Iran’s greatest weakness is its air force. Much of the country’s aircraft date from the era of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who led Iran from 1941 to 1979, and many have been disabled for lack of spare parts. The country also bought a small fleet from Russia in the 1990s, experts said.

Iran’s tanks and armored vehicles are old, and the country has only a few large naval vessels, experts said. Two intelligence gathering vessels, the Saviz and Behshad, deployed on the Red Sea, have aided the Houthis in identifying Israeli-owned ships for attacks, American officials have said.

Will Israel’s attack disrupt Iran’s military?

The assassinations of the senior military officials are expected to have a short-term impact on Iran’s regional operations, having eliminated commanders with years of experience and relationships with the heads of the allied militias.

Nevertheless, the chain of command for the armed forces inside Iran remains intact, experts say.

A correction was made on 

April 12, 2024

An earlier version of this article misstated the name of a group in the Gaza Strip. It is Palestinian Islamic Jihad, not Islamic Palestinian Jihad.

When we learn of a mistake, we acknowledge it with a correction. If you spot an error, please let us know at more

After Stabbing Rampage, Australia Struggles With Questions of How and Why

On a perfect mid-autumn day, the scene at the upscale mall in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, was as humdrum as it was idyllic: mothers pushing strollers, gaggles of teenagers being young, families whiling away the weekend afternoon.

But in a matter of minutes, any sense of normalcy was shattered. A mile from the famed Bondi Beach, a knife-wielding attacker stabbed nearly 20 people inside the shopping mall, including a 9-month-old girl. Six of the victims, including the girl’s mother, have died, and about a dozen others were being treated at hospitals. The attacker — whose motives remain unclear — was shot and killed by a police officer.

It was one of the deadliest mass killings in Australia in recent decades and has left many in shock, questioning how a tragedy of this magnitude could occur in a country known for its relative safety.

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She Was Kidnapped a Decade Ago With 275 Girls. Finally, She Escaped.

Ismail Alfa and

Ismail Alfa reported from Maiduguri, Nigeria, and Ruth Maclean from Dakar, Senegal.

Saratu Dauda had been kidnapped. It was 2014, she was 16, and she was in a truck packed with her classmates heading into the bush in northeastern Nigeria, a member of the terrorist group Boko Haram at the wheel. The girls’ boarding school in Chibok, miles behind them, had been set on fire.

Then she noticed that some girls were jumping off the back of the truck, she said, some alone, others in pairs, holding hands. They ran and hid in the scrub as the truck trundled on.

But before Ms. Dauda could jump, she said, one girl raised the alarm, shouting that others were “dropping and running.” Their abductors stopped, secured the truck and continued toward what, for Ms. Dauda, would prove a life-changing nine years in captivity.

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A Look at Iran’s Military Capabilities

A Look at Iran’s Military Capabilities

The direct military confrontation between Iran and Israel has brought renewed attention to Iran’s armed forces. What are they capable of?

The start of a direct military confrontation between Iran and Israel has brought renewed attention to Iran’s armed forces. Early this month, Israel attacked a building in Iran’s diplomatic compound in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing seven of Iran’s senior commanders and military personnel.

Iran vowed to retaliate, and did so about two weeks later, starting a broad aerial attack on Israel on Saturday involving hundreds of drones and missiles aimed at targets inside Israel and the territory it controls.

Here’s a look at Iran’s military and its capabilities.

Power by Proxy: How Iran Shapes the MideastA guide to the armed groups that let Iran extend its influence throughout the region.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

State Dept. Is Sending Its Top Diplomat for East Asia to China

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The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia will travel to China on Sunday, the State Department announced, just days after President Biden met with the leaders of Japan and the Philippines in Washington as part of a broad diplomatic outreach in the region to counter China’s aggression.

Daniel J. Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will travel with Sarah Beran, Mr. Biden’s top China adviser on the National Security Council. They will be in China until Tuesday, meeting with officials “as part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and to responsibly manage competition,” according to a statement from the State Department.

China’s moves in the Indo-Pacific region were a focus at the White House this week during a three-day state visit by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan that ended with a first-ever three-way summit with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines. That nation has borne the brunt of China’s intimidation campaign in the South China Sea.

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In Ukraine’s West, Draft Dodgers Run, and Swim, to Avoid the War

The roiling water can be treacherous, the banks are steep and slick with mud, and the riverbed is covered in jagged, hidden boulders.

Yet Ukrainian border guards often find their quarry — men seeking to escape the military draft — swimming in these hazardous conditions, trying to cross the Tysa River where it forms the border with Romania.

Lt. Vladyslav Tonkoshtan recently detained a man on the bank, where he was preparing to cross the river in the hope of reuniting with his wife and children, whom he had not seen in two years since they fled to another country in Europe.

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Cable Car Drops Passengers Onto Mountain in Turkey, Killing One

A cable car ferrying passengers in a mountainous area of southern Turkey broke apart after colliding with part of the metal structure supporting it on Friday, sending its eight terrified occupants plummeting to the rocky hillside below.

One passenger was killed, seven were injured and nearly 200 more were trapped in other cabins in midair, some overnight and then for hours more into Saturday afternoon, as rescuers worked to free them from the crippled line.

Helicopters, cranes and hundreds of rescuers were deployed to the area to evacuate a total of 174 people, Turkey’s interior minister said. Those affected included children, local residents and foreign tourists who were stranded in cabins, some of them dozens of meters above the ground in the Sarisu area of Antalya Province, officials said.

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For Many Western Allies, Sending Weapons to Israel Gets Dicey

For months, Western governments have provided military support for Israel while fending off accusations that their weapons were being used to commit war crimes in Gaza. But as a global outcry over the growing death toll in Gaza mounts, maintaining that balance is becoming increasingly difficult, as was clear on a single day this past week.

On Tuesday, in a United Nations court, Germany found itself having to defend against accusations that it was complicit in genocide against Palestinians in Gaza by exporting weapons to Israel.

A few hours later, in Washington, a top Democrat and Biden administration ally, Representative Gregory W. Meeks of New York, said he might block an $18 billion deal to sell F-15 fighter jets to Israel unless he was assured that Palestinian civilians would not be indiscriminately bombed.

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Protesters in Niger Call for U.S. Military Exit as Russian Force Arrives

Thousands of protesters gathered in the capital of Niger on Saturday called for the withdrawal of U.S. armed forces personnel stationed in the West African nation, only days after Russia delivered its own set of military equipment and instructors to the country’s military.

The demonstration in the capital, Niamey, fit a well-known pattern in some countries in the region, run by military juntas, that have severed ties with Western nations in recent years and turned to Russia instead to fight extremist insurgencies.

“U.S. Army, you leave, you move, you vanish,” read one sign brandished by a protester. “No bonus, no negotiation.”

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In a Global Cycling Capital, Riders Fear Becoming Crime Victims

Reporting from Bogotá, Colombia

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Bicycles are an essential part of the Colombian identity — ubiquitous, cheaper and, in some urban communities, often a faster way to get around.

No Colombian city embodies riding on two wheels more than the capital, Bogotá, where the metropolitan area of nearly 11 million inhabitants has no subway system and some of the world’s worst traffic jams.

The city has over 1.1 million bicycles, according to officials, and records nearly 900,000 bicycle trips per day. On Sundays and holidays, more than 80 miles of major streets are shut down, a tradition that regularly draws two million people at a time.

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New Zealanders Are Crazy for This Fruit. It’s Not the Kiwi.

Kate Evans, who reported from Raglan, New Zealand, grew up eating feijoas and has just written a book about the fruit.

Autumn in New Zealand heralds the arrival of a green, egg-size fruit that falls off trees in such abundance that it is often given to neighbors and colleagues by the bucket or even the wheelbarrow load. Only in cases of extreme desperation do people buy any.

The fresh fruit, whose flesh is gritty, jellylike and cream-colored, is used in muffins, cakes, jams and smoothies, and it begins appearing on high-end menus each March — the start of fall in the Southern Hemisphere. Off-season, it is found in food and drink as varied as juices and wine, yogurt and kombucha, and chocolate and popcorn.

This ubiquitous fruit is the feijoa (pronounced fee-jo-ah). Known in the United States as the pineapple guava, it was first brought to New Zealand from South America via France and California in the early 1900s.

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Haiti in Crisis Sets Up Ruling Council, Clearing Way for an Acting Leader

A new transitional ruling council was finalized in Haiti on Friday to try to bring political stability to a country wracked by escalating gang violence and a worsening humanitarian crisis.

The council’s formation, announced in an official state-run bulletin, comes after gangs who have a brutal grip on much of the capital prevented the prime minister, Ariel Henry, from returning to the country after a trip overseas and ultimately pushed him to announce his resignation.

The presidential transition council is tasked with restoring law and order through the appointment of an acting prime minister to head a new government as well as to pave the way for the election of a new president.

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A Soccer Bridesmaid Readies the Crown, and Germany (Mostly) Likes the Look

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Executives at Bayer Leverkusen, the longstanding but habitually middleweight German soccer team, have been fielding the messages since at least February. Some were delivered in person, a quiet blessing after yet another victory. Others came via WhatsApp, unsolicited and unexpected notes from peers and acquaintances and, to their occasional surprise, foes.

Soccer, after all, is fiercely tribal. Rivals do not easily offer one another encouragement or congratulations. But as the German league season gathered pace, plenty wanted to laud Leverkusen’s impending achievement: It was, with each victory, getting closer and closer to being crowned national champion for the first time.

And, that meant — just as importantly — that Bayern Munich was not.

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Myanmar Rebels Take Key Trading Town, but Counteroffensive Looms

Resistance forces seeking to oust Myanmar’s military regime captured a key trade town on the Thai border this week, one of their most significant gains since the junta seized power in a coup more than three years ago. But thousands of residents were fleeing on Friday as the regime’s troops prepared to mount a counteroffensive.

The town, Myawaddy, which is now held by rebels belonging to the Karen ethnic group, is a hub for imports and exports, with $1 billion in trade last year. Its fall comes as resistance forces have seized dozens of towns and military outposts in recent months in border regions near China and Bangladesh. Rebel groups have also launched drones that hit the capital, Naypyidaw, and military bases when top junta generals were visiting.

“A major border trade hub that serves as Myanmar’s gateway to mainland Southeast Asia has fallen to the resistance,” said Anthony Davis, a Bangkok-based security analyst with the Jane’s group of military publications. “This is huge.”

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War or No War, Ukrainians Aren’t Giving Up Their Coffee

When Russian tanks first rolled into Ukraine more than two years ago, Artem Vradii was sure his business was bound to suffer.

“Who would think about coffee in this situation?” thought Mr. Vradii, the co-founder of a Kyiv coffee roastery named Mad Heads. “Nobody would care.”

But over the next few days after the invasion began, he started receiving messages from Ukrainian soldiers. One asked for bags of ground coffee because he could not stand the energy drinks supplied by the army. Another simply requested beans: He had taken his own grinder to the front.

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5-Star Bird Houses for Picky but Precious Guests: Nesting Swiftlets

With no windows, the gloomy, gray building looming four stories above the rice fields in a remote village in Indonesian Borneo resembles nothing more than a prison.

Hundreds of similar concrete structures, riddled with small holes for ventilation, tower over village shops and homes all along Borneo’s northwestern coast.

But these buildings are not for people. They are for the birds. Specifically, the swiftlet, which builds its nests inside.

Map shows the location of Perapakan in the Sambas Regency on Borneo, Indonesia.

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Israeli Army Withdraws From Major Gaza Hospital, Leaving Behind a Wasteland

The journalists were among a small group of international reporters brought by the Israeli army to Al-Shifa Hospital on Sunday. To join the tour, they agreed to stay with the Israeli forces at all times and not to photograph the faces of certain commandos.

Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, once the fulcrum of Gaza’s health system and now an emblem of its destruction, stood in ruins on Sunday, as if a tsunami had surged through it followed by a tornado.

The emergency department was a tidy, off-white building until Israeli troops returned there in March. Two weeks later, it was missing most of its facade, scorched with soot, and punctured with hundreds of bullets and shells.

The eastern floors of the surgery department were left open to the breeze, the walls blown off and the equipment buried under mounds of debris. The bridge connecting the two buildings was no longer there, and the plaza between them — formerly a circular driveway wrapping around a gazebo — had been churned by Israeli armored vehicles into a wasteland of uprooted trees, upturned cars and a half-crushed ambulance.

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A Stork, a Fisherman and Their Unlikely Bond Enchant Turkey

Ben Hubbard and

Reporting from Eskikaraagac, Turkey

Thirteen years ago, a poor fisherman in a small Turkish village was retrieving his net from a lake when he heard a noise behind him and turned to find a majestic being standing on the bow of his rowboat.

Gleaming white feathers covered its head, neck and chest, yielding to black plumes on its wings. It stood atop skinny orange legs that nearly matched the color of its long, pointy beak.

The fisherman, Adem Yilmaz, recognized it as one of the white storks that had long summered in the village, he recalled, but he had never seen one so close, much less hosted one on his boat.

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Even Before the Olympics, a Victory Lap for a Fast-Moving French Mayor

Reporting from St.-Ouen, France

The mayor grew up in a building so decrepit — filthy hallways, no private toilets, no showers — that his friends in nearby concrete towers pitied him.

Five decades later, that building — in St.-Ouen, a Paris suburb — is a distant memory, and in its place rises France’s Olympic pride: the athletes’ village, with its architectural-showcase buildings that are outfitted with solar panels, deep-sinking pipes for cooling and heating, and graceful balconies from which to look down on the forest planted below. One-quarter will become public housing after the Games.

“All of a sudden, we have the same feeling of pride as people living in the hypercenter,” said the mayor of St.-Ouen, Karim Bouamrane, 51, using his personal shorthand for the glamorous downtown playgrounds of the elites. “There was Los Angeles, Barcelona, Beijing, London, Sydney and, now, there is St.-Ouen.”

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Documentary Filmmaker Explores Japan’s Rigorous Education Rituals

The defining experience of Ema Ryan Yamazaki’s childhood left her with badly scraped knees and her classmates with broken bones.

During sixth grade in Osaka, Japan, Ms. Yamazaki — now a 34-year-old documentary filmmaker — practiced for weeks with classmates to form a human pyramid seven levels high for an annual school sports day. Despite the blood and tears the children shed as they struggled to make the pyramid work, the accomplishment she felt when the group kept it from toppling became “a beacon of why I feel like I am resilient and hard-working.”

Now, Ms. Yamazaki, who is half-British, half-Japanese, is using her documentary eye to chronicle such moments that she believes form the essence of Japanese character, for better or worse.

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From New England to Notre-Dame, a U.S. Carpenter Tends to a French Icon

Notre-Dame Cathedral sat in the pre-dawn chill like a spaceship docked in the heart of Paris, its exoskeleton of scaffolding lit by bright lights. Pink clouds appeared to the east as machinery hummed to life and workers started clambering around.

One of them, Hank Silver, wearing a yellow hard hat, stood on a platform above the Seine River and attached cables to oak trusses shaped like massive wooden triangles. A crane hoisted them onto the nave of the cathedral, which was devastated by fire in 2019.

Mr. Silver — a 41-year-old American-Canadian carpenter — is something of an unlikely candidate to work on the restoration of an 860-year-old Gothic monument and Catholic landmark in France. Born in New York City into an observant Jewish family, he owns a small timber framing business in rural New England and admits that until recently he didn’t even know what a nave was.

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Insooni Breaks Racial Barrier to Become Beloved Singer in South Korea

When she took the stage to perform at Carnegie Hall in front of 107 Korean War veterans, the singer Kim Insoon was thinking of her father, an American soldier stationed in South Korea during the postwar decades whom she had never met or even seen.

“You are my fathers,” she told the soldiers in the audience before singing “Father,” one of her Korean-language hits.

“To me, the United States has always been my father’s country,” Ms. Kim said in a recent interview, recalling that 2010 performance. “It was also the first place where I wanted to show how successful I had become — without him and in spite of him.”

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An American Who Has Helped Clear 815,000 Bombs From Vietnam

On a visit to the former battlefield of Khe Sanh, scene of one of the bloodiest standoffs of the Vietnam War, the only people Chuck Searcy encountered on the broad, barren field were two young boys who led him to an unexploded rocket lying by a ditch.

One of the youngsters reached out to give the bomb a kick until Mr. Searcy cried out, “No, Stop!”

“It was my first encounter with unexploded ordnance,” Mr. Searcy said of that moment in 1992. “I had no idea that I would be dedicating my life to removing them.”

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Adidas Stops Customization of Germany Jersey for Fear of Nazi Symbolism

The sports apparel giant Adidas abruptly stopped the sale of German soccer jerseys created with the player number “44” this week because the figure, when depicted in the official lettering of the uniform’s design, too closely resembled a well-known Nazi symbol.

The stylized square font used by Adidas for the jerseys, which will be worn by Germany’s team when it hosts this summer’s European soccer championships, makes the “44” resemble the “SS” emblem used by the Schutzstaffel, the feared Nazi paramilitary group that was instrumental in the murder of six million Jews. The emblem is one of dozens of Nazi symbols, phrases and gestures that are banned in Germany.

The country’s soccer federation, which is responsible for the design, said Monday any similarity to the logo created by the design’s numbering was unintentional.

“None of the parties involved saw any proximity to Nazi symbolism in the creation process of the jersey design,” the DFB, the German Football Association, said in a statement on X on Monday. Nonetheless, it said, “an alternative design for the No. 4” was being created in time for use in the team’s coming games.

Players on the German national team are assigned numbers — and jerseys — from 1 to 23, as required by soccer’s governing bodies for nearly all major tournaments. The German federation said that it had not reviewed designs featuring higher numbers.

But because Adidas had allowed automatic customization of its clothing, a jersey with the No. 44 could — until the company put an end to it on Monday — be ordered by fans using official websites. The ability to add certain names, like “Hitler” or “Führer,” to the customizable shirt had already been blocked by Adidas when the collection went online.

But as of Monday, the company had stopped allowing customization of its jerseys with any jersey number until the issue with the No. 4 was resolved. “As a company we actively oppose xenophobia, anti-Semitism, violence and hatred in any form,” Adidas said in a statement.

The brief outcry around the lettering of jerseys — and quick reaction by the soccer establishment — is part of a larger debate in Germany around Nazi symbols that has been heating up as a far-right party, the AfD, is surging in the polls. The party has been doing well in Eastern Germany, where three states will hold elections later this year.

Late this month, Björn Höcke, one of the party’s most extreme leaders, will stand trial in the Eastern city of Halle for using a well-known Nazi slogan during one of his campaign stops in 2021.

The original SS symbol is among dozens of Nazi references that are banned in Germany, and even punishable by prison if displayed to a large number of people. Together with the skull and bones, worn by some of the groups’ officers on their peaked hats, the SS logo, which looks like two lightning bolts, became the symbol of the terror of the Nazi state.

The number 88, which is a code that neo-Nazis use to denote the greeting “Heil Hitler” — H is the eighth letter of the alphabet — is already prohibited for use as a player number in official soccer games in Germany.

The discussion about the lettering on Germany’s uniforms is not the first clash over the national jersey in recent weeks. When the team’s official uniforms were unveiled two weeks ago, some politically conservative soccer fans were critical of the pink away jersey that Adidas presented.

But it was the announcement of a major deal with Nike, also last month, which will see the American company replace Adidas as the supplier of Germany’s jerseys starting in 2027 that led to an outcry that included the country’s top politicians.

It will be the first time in Germany’s postwar history that Adidas, a German company, will not make the team’s uniforms.

“I can hardly imagine the German jersey without the three stripes,” Robert Habeck, Germany’s vice chancellor and economic minister, told the DPA, a German news agency. He said he would have wished to see more “patriotism” from those who made the deal.

The quick reaction of Adidas and the German federation, to the design problem over Easter came after social media users started discussing the resemblance between the No. 44 and the Nazi emblem, and after several newspapers, including the powerful tabloid Bild, reported on the issue.

‘Get Ready to Scream’: How to Be a Baseball Fan in South Korea

In the United States, many Major League Baseball games feature long periods of calm, punctuated by cheering when there’s action on the field or the stadium organ plays a catchy tune.

But in South Korea, a baseball game is a sustained sensory overload. Each player has a fight song, and cheering squads — including drummers and dancers who stand on platforms near the dugouts facing the spectators — ensure that there is near-constant chanting. Imagine being at a ballpark where every player, even a rookie, gets the star treatment.

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Canadian Skaters Demand Bronze Medals in Olympics Dispute

Nearly a month after international figure skating’s governing body revised the results of a marquee competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, stripping Russia of the gold medal and giving the United States team a long-delayed victory, a new fight about the outcome erupted on Monday.

Eight members of the Canadian squad that competed in the team competition in Beijing have filed a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport demanding that they be awarded bronze medals in the team event. The court announced the filing but revealed no details.

The Canadians, whose case was joined by their country’s skating federation and national Olympic committee, are expected to argue that figure skating’s global governing body erred when it revised the results of the competition in January after a Russian skater who had taken part, the teenage prodigy Kamila Valieva, was given a four-year ban for doping.

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In Latin America, a New Frontier for Women: Professional Softball in Mexico

Reporting from Mexico City and León, Mexico

Leer en español

In many parts of Latin America, baseball is a popular and well-established sport with men’s professional leagues in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, among others. But women wanting to play baseball’s cousin — softball — professionally had only one option: to leave. They had to go to the United States or Japan.

Until now.

In what is believed to be a first in Latin America — a region where men often have more opportunities than women, particularly in sports — a professional women’s softball league has started in Mexico. On Jan. 25, when the inaugural season began, 120 women on six teams got to call themselves professional softball players, many for the first time.

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Why the Cost of Success in English Soccer’s Lower Leagues Keeps Going Up

Geoff Thompson knows there are plenty of people who want to buy what he has to sell. The phone calls and emails over the last few weeks have left no doubt. And really, that is no surprise. Few industries are quite as appealing or as prestigious as English soccer, and Mr. Thompson has a piece of it.

It is, admittedly, a comparatively small piece: South Shields F.C., the team he has owned for almost a decade, operates in English soccer’s sixth tier, several levels below, and a number of worlds away, from the dazzling light and international allure of the Premier League. But while his team might be small, Mr. Thompson is of the view that it is, at least, as perfectly poised for profitability as any minor-league English soccer club could hope to be.

South Shields has earned four promotions to higher leagues in his nine years as chairman. The team owns its stadium. Mr. Thompson has spent considerable sums of money modernizing the bathrooms, the club shop and the private boxes. There is a thriving youth academy and an active charitable foundation. “We have done most of the hard yards,” Mr. Thompson said.

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Jorge Glas, el exvicepresidente ecuatoriano detenido en la embajada de México, está en coma

Las autoridades encontraron al exvicepresidente ecuatoriano Jorge Glas en un “coma profundo autoinducido” el lunes en la cárcel, unos días después de que fuera detenido por la policía en una captura dramática dentro de la embajada de México en Quito.

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Glas ingirió antidepresivos y sedantes, según un informe policial, y estaba siendo trasladado a un hospital militar para su observación.

El exvicepresidente, que enfrenta una acusación de malversación de fondos en Ecuador, había buscado refugio en la embajada mexicana en un intento de evitar su detención. La semana pasada protagonizó un episodio de tensión diplomática cuando la policía entró en la embajada en Quito, lo detuvo y lo trasladó a un centro de detención.

Un tratado diplomático de 1961 determina que el gobierno del país anfitrión no puede ingresar a las embajadas extranjeras sin el permiso del jefe de la misión, una limitación que solo se ha transgredido en contadas ocasiones.

El nuevo presidente de Ecuador, Daniel Noboa, ha querido dar una imagen de firmeza frente a la delincuencia en medio de una creciente crisis de seguridad en la región, y ha defendido la decisión de detener a Glas, a quien califica de delincuente y no de preso político.

El lunes, cuando se conoció la noticia de la sobredosis de Glas, Noboa reiteró esta postura al afirmar que tenía la “obligación” de detener a personas como Glas o el país se enfrentaría al “riesgo inminente de su fuga”.

“Ecuador es un país de paz y de justicia”, continuó, “que respeta a todas las naciones y el derecho internacional”.

Los abogados de Glas, aliado del expresidente Rafael Correa, afirman que es objeto de una persecución política. Glas fue vicepresidente de Correa entre 2013 y 2017.

Thalíe Ponce colaboró con reportería desde Guayaquil, Ecuador, y Genevieve Glatsky desde Bogotá, Colombia.

Julie Turkewitz es jefa del buró de los Andes, ubicado en Bogotá, Colombia. Cubre Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador y Perú. Más de Julie Turkewitz

El Vaticano emite un documento que consterna a la comunidad LGBTQ

El Vaticano publicó el lunes un nuevo documento aprobado por el papa Francisco en el que se afirma que la Iglesia cree que las operaciones de cambio de sexo, la fluidez de género y la maternidad subrogada constituyen afrentas a la dignidad humana.

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El sexo con el que nace una persona, según el documento, es un “don irrevocable” de Dios “de ahí que toda operación de cambio de sexo, por regla general, corra el riesgo de atentar contra la dignidad única que la persona ha recibido desde el momento de la concepción”. Toda persona que desea “disponer de sí mismo, como prescribe la teoría de género”, corre el riesgo de ceder “a la vieja tentación de que el ser humano se convierta en Dios”.

El documento también declara inequívocamente la oposición de la Iglesia católica a la maternidad subrogada, tanto si la mujer que gesta un bebé “se ve obligada a ello o decide libremente someterse”, porque el niño “se convierte en un mero medio al servicio del beneficio o el deseo arbitrario de otros”.

El documento pretendía ser una amplia declaración de la visión de la Iglesia sobre la dignidad humana, que incluía la explotación de los pobres, los inmigrantes, las mujeres y las personas vulnerables. Aunque lleva cinco años elaborándose, llega pocos meses después de que el papa Francisco disgustara a los sectores más conservadores de su Iglesia al permitir explícitamente que los católicos LGBTQ recibieran bendiciones de los sacerdotes y que las personas transgénero fueran bautizadas y actuaran como padrinos.

Si bien las enseñanzas de la Iglesia sobre temas de la guerra cultural, que Francisco ha evitado en gran medida, no son necesariamente nuevas, ahora era probable que su consolidación fuera abrazada por los conservadores por su línea dura contra las ideas liberales sobre el género y la maternidad subrogada.

También es probable que el documento cause profunda consternación entre los defensores de los derechos LGBTQ en la Iglesia, que temen que el documento será utilizado como un garrote para condenar a las personas transgénero, a pesar de que también advirtió de la “discriminación injusta”, especialmente en los países donde son criminalizadas y encarceladas y en algunos casos condenadas a muerte o se enfrentan y la agresión o la violencia.

“El Vaticano vuelve a apoyar y propagar ideas que conducen a un daño físico real a las personas transgénero, no binarias y otras personas LGBTQ+”, afirmó Francis DeBernardo, director ejecutivo de New Ways Ministry, un grupo con sede en Maryland que defiende a los católicos homosexuales. Añadió que la defensa de la dignidad humana por parte del Vaticano excluía “al segmento de la población humana que es transgénero, no binario o de género no conforme”.

DeBernardo dijo que el documento presentaba una teología obsoleta basada solo en la apariencia física y era ciega a “la creciente realidad de que el género de una persona incluye los aspectos psicológicos, sociales y espirituales naturalmente presentes en sus vidas”.

El documento, afirmó, mostraba una “asombrosa falta de conocimiento de la vida real de las personas transgénero y no binarias” y que sus autores ignoraban a las personas transgénero que compartían sus experiencias con la Iglesia y las tachaban “displicente” e incorrectamente de fenómeno puramente occidental.

Aunque el documento representa un claro revés para las personas LGBTQ y quienes las apoyan, el Vaticano se esforzó por encontrar un equilibrio entre la protección de la dignidad humana personal y la exposición clara de las enseñanzas de la Iglesia, lo que refleja la cuerda floja por la que Francisco ha intentado caminar en sus más de 11 años como papa.

Francisco ha convertido en una seña de identidad de su papado el reunirse con católicos homosexuales y transgénero, y ha hecho suya la misión de transmitir un mensaje a favor de una Iglesia más abierta y menos prejuiciosa. Pero se ha negado a ceder en lo que respecta a las normas y la doctrina de la Iglesia que muchos católicos homosexuales y transgénero consideran que les han alienado, lo que revela los límites de su campaña en favor de la inclusividad. La Iglesia enseña que “los actos homosexuales son intrínsecamente desordenados”.

El Vaticano reconoció que estaba tocando temas candentes, pero afirmó que, en una época de gran agitación en torno a estas cuestiones, era esencial, y esperaba beneficioso, que la Iglesia reafirmara sus enseñanzas sobre la centralidad de la dignidad humana.

El cardenal Víctor Manuel Fernández, que dirige el Dicasterio para la Doctrina de la Fe, escribió que algunos temas “serán fácilmente compartidos por distintos sectores de nuestras sociedades, otros no tanto”, en la introducción del documento, “Declaración Dignitas infinita sobre la dignidad humana”, que, según dijo el lunes, era de gran importancia doctrinal, a diferencia de la reciente declaración que permitía las bendiciones para los católicos del mismo sexo, y pretendía aportar claridad.

“Sin embargo, todos nos parecen necesarios”, escribió, “para que, en medio de tantas preocupaciones y angustias, no perdamos el rumbo y nos expongamos a sufrimientos más lacerantes y profundos”.

Aunque receptivo a los seguidores homosexuales y transgénero, el papa también ha expresado constantemente su preocupación por lo que él llama “colonización ideológica”, la noción de que las naciones ricas imponen arrogantemente puntos de vista ―ya sea sobre el género o la maternidad subrogada― a personas y tradiciones religiosas que no están necesariamente de acuerdo con ellos. El documento dice que en esa visión “ocupa un lugar central la teoría de género” y que su “consistencia científica se debate mucho en la comunidad de expertos”.

Utilizando el lenguaje “por un lado” y “por otro lado”, la oficina vaticana para la enseñanza y la doctrina escribe que “hay que denunciar como contrario a la dignidad humana que en algunos lugares se encarcele, torture e incluso prive del bien de la vida a no pocas personas, únicamente por su orientación sexual”.

“Al mismo tiempo”, continuaba, “la Iglesia destaca los decisivos elementos críticos presentes en la teoría de género”.

En su introducción, Fernández describió el largo proceso de redacción de un documento sobre la dignidad humana, que comenzó en marzo de 2019, para tener en cuenta los ”últimos desarrollos del tema en el ámbito académico y sus comprensiones ambivalentes en el contexto actual”.

En 2023, Francisco devolvió el documento con instrucciones para “destacar temas estrechamente relacionados con el tema de la dignidad, como la pobreza, la situación de los migrantes, la violencia contra las mujeres, la trata de personas, la guerra y otros temas”. Francisco firmó el documento el 25 de marzo.

El largo camino, escribió el cardenal Fernández, refleja un “considerable proceso de maduración”.

Jason Horowitz es el jefe del buró en Roma; cubre Italia, Grecia y otros sitios del sur de Europa. Más de Jason Horowitz

Elisabetta Povoledo es una reportera afincada en Roma que lleva más de tres décadas escribiendo sobre Italia. Más de Elisabetta Povoledo

Nicaragua lleva a Alemania a La Haya por proveer armas a Israel

Nicaragua, que apoya desde hace tiempo la causa palestina, está ampliando la batalla legal en torno al conflicto en Gaza en la Corte Internacional de Justicia al presentar una demanda contra Alemania, uno de los principales proveedores de armas a Israel.

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En las audiencias que comenzaron el lunes en La Haya, Nicaragua argumentó que, al proporcionar ayuda militar y financiera a Israel, Alemania está facilitando que se cometa genocidio en Gaza y violando la Convención para la Prevención y Sanción del Genocidio.

Carlos José Argüello Gómez, embajador de Nicaragua en los Países Bajos, declaró ante el tribunal que “no importa si un proyectil se entrega directamente de Alemania a un tanque israelí que bombardea un hospital” o si se destina a reponer el arsenal de Israel.

“El hecho es que la garantía de suministros y remplazo de armamento es clave para que Israel prosiga con los ataques en Gaza”, dijo al tribunal, y afirmó que Alemania es consciente del “grave riesgo de que se cometa un genocidio”.

Nicaragua pidió al tribunal que emitiera órdenes de emergencia y señaló que, como parte en la Convención sobre el genocidio, Alemania debe suspender inmediatamente la ayuda militar a Israel y garantizar que los suministros que ya tiene en el país no se utilicen de manera ilegal.

Una portavoz de la cancillería alemana, Christine Hoffman, dijo a los periodistas la semana pasada que el gobierno rechazó las acusaciones de Nicaragua. Se espera que Alemania responda al caso el martes por la mañana.

El propio gobierno de Nicaragua se enfrenta a sanciones por sus políticas represivas en el país. Un informe especial de las Naciones Unidas de febrero señaló que los numerosos abusos del gobierno, incluyendo el encarcelamiento y deportación de figuras de la oposición, así como de clérigos católicos, eran “equivalentes a crímenes de lesa humanidad”.

El caso presentado por Nicaragua el lunes en La Haya plantea nuevas interrogantes sobre la responsabilidad de los países que han suministrado armas a Israel para la guerra en Gaza.

Los abogados afirman que Alemania —el segundo mayor proveedor de armas de Israel, después de Estados Unidos— es un objetivo más fácil para una demanda que Estados Unidos. Alemania ha concedido plena jurisdicción a la Corte Internacional de Justicia, el más alto tribunal de las Naciones Unidas. Pero Estados Unidos niega su jurisdicción, salvo en los casos en que Washington da explícitamente su consentimiento.

El caso de Nicaragua es el tercero que se presenta este año ante el tribunal en relación con el conflicto palestino-israelí.

Sudáfrica fue el primero en solicitar medidas de emergencia al tribunal, alegando que Israel corría el riesgo de cometer genocidio, una afirmación que el tribunal consideró plausible pero que Israel ha negado rotundamente. El tribunal ordenó a Israel que garantizara que sus ciudadanos y soldados no violan la Convención sobre el genocidio, que Israel ha firmado. La Convención prohíbe las acciones destinadas a destruir, total o parcialmente, a un grupo nacional, étnico, racial o religioso.

Sudáfrica también ha presentado una petición ante la CIJ por el hambre en Gaza y ha obtenido una nueva sentencia que ordena a Israel permitir la entrega de alimentos, agua y otros suministros vitales “sin demora”. A pesar de la autoridad del tribunal, este no dispone de medios para obligar a Israel a cumplir sus órdenes. Israel ha negado rotundamente las acusaciones de hambruna deliberada en Gaza.

En febrero, el tribunal también se ocupó de un caso solicitado por la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas sobre la legalidad de la ocupación israelí de los territorios palestinos. En esas audiencias, previstas mucho antes de la guerra, participaron más de 50 países, la mayoría de los cuales expresaron su indignación y frustración por los ataques de Israel contra Gaza y el creciente número de víctimas entre la población civil.

El caso presentado por Nicaragua tiene un alcance mucho más amplio que el sudafricano, ya que invoca tanto violaciones a los Convenios de Ginebra como de la Convención sobre el genocidio, y exige la protección de los civiles. También acusa a Israel de otras conductas “ilegales” en los territorios ocupados.

El tribunal aún no ha admitido el caso, pero está obligado a reaccionar con rapidez ante las solicitudes de medidas urgentes, como este.

Israel, que no es parte en el litigio entre Nicaragua y Alemania, no comparecerá ante el tribunal en las audiencias de esta semana, que se prevé duren dos días.

El apoyo a Israel se considera un deber histórico en Alemania a la luz del Holocausto, pero el creciente número de víctimas en Gaza ha llevado a algunos funcionarios alemanes a preguntarse si ese respaldo ha ido demasiado lejos.

La reciente e intensa actividad del tribunal lo ha puesto bajo los reflectores. Los abogados afirman que los países han recurrido al tribunal porque los esfuerzos de las Naciones Unidas y otros negociadores no han logrado hasta ahora detener la guerra en Gaza.

“La CIJ no va a poner fin a la guerra en Gaza, pero es una herramienta diplomática que la política exterior utiliza para ejercer presión adicional sobre Israel”, afirmó Brian Finucane, asesor principal del International Crisis Group, un grupo de expertos en resolución de conflictos. “En el caso de Nicaragua, ejerce una presión adicional sobre Alemania”.

Marlise Simons es corresponsal en la oficina del Times en París, donde se ocupa de la justicia internacional y los tribunales de crímenes de guerra. En sus casi cuatro décadas con The New York Times, ha reportado sobre Europa desde Francia e Italia y anteriormente cubrió América Latina desde Brasil y México. Más de Marlise Simons

La disputa diplomática en Ecuador podría mejorar la suerte política de su presidente

La decisión de Ecuador de enviar agentes de policía a la Embajada de México para detener a un político que se había refugiado allí avivó las tensiones entre dos países que ya estaban enfrentados, pero puede suponer un impulso político para el presidente ecuatoriano.

El presidente Daniel Noboa ha tenido que hacer frente a unos índices de aprobación cada vez más bajos en medio de un aumento de la violencia semanas antes de un referéndum que podría afectar sus perspectivas de reelección para el siguiente año. La disputa con México, que suspendió sus relaciones diplomáticas, puede ser justo lo que necesitaba.

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El político detenido, Jorge Glas, otrora vicepresidente de Ecuador, había sido condenado a prisión por corrupción y vivía en la embajada de México en Quito desde diciembre. El viernes, México le concedió asilo y la policía ecuatoriana entró en acción.

El despacho de Noboa dijo que la detención se había llevado a cabo porque México había abusado de las inmunidades y privilegios concedidos a la misión diplomática, pero el mensaje que envió también estaba en consonancia con el enfoque de mano dura de Noboa para hacer frente a la violencia y la corrupción en Ecuador.

El líder de centroderecha, de 36 años, llegó al poder en noviembre después de que el presidente Guillermo Lasso, que se enfrentaba a un proceso de destitución por acusaciones de malversación de fondos, convocó elecciones anticipadas. Noboa ocupará el cargo hasta mayo de 2025, fecha en la que finaliza el mandato de Lasso.

La capacidad de Noboa para demostrar que puede restaurar la ley y el orden en esta nación de casi 18 millones de habitantes puede resultar decisiva para su reelección, y eso significa enfrentarse a las pandillas del país, así como a la corrupción dentro del gobierno que ha permitido la existencia de grupos criminales, según los analistas.

Muchos expertos dicen que esas aspiraciones políticas parecen explicar el arresto en la embajada, indicio de que el presidente es estricto con la impunidad.

“Hizo esto para cambiar todos estos temas de conversación negativa que le estaban afectando y tratar de tener una conversación a su favor”, dijo un analista político ecuatoriano, Agustín Burbano de Lara.

Glas ocupó varios cargos ministeriales durante la presidencia del izquierdista Rafael Correa, entre los que destaca el de vicepresidente. En 2017, fue obligado a dejar el cargo y condenado a seis años de prisión por aceptar sobornos. Otra condena por soborno en 2020 lo implicó a él y a Correa, y ambos recibieron una condena de ocho años.

Liberado en 2022, Glas acabó pidiendo asilo en México, una medida que tensó las relaciones entre Ecuador y México. El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Ecuador dijo en marzo que había solicitado permiso a México para detener a Glas.

Aunque Noboa es muy popular, las encuestas muestran que su índice de aprobación cayó 11 puntos en los últimos meses, del 85 por ciento al 74 por ciento, en medio de la creciente violencia en Ecuador.

Después de que la ciudad costera de Guayaquil fue invadida por la violencia de las pandillas en enero, Noboa declaró un conflicto interno, una medida extraordinaria que se toma cuando el Estado es atacado por un grupo armado. Desplegó al ejército del país, permitiendo a los soldados patrullar las calles y las prisiones para hacer frente a la creciente violencia de las bandas vinculadas al tráfico de drogas.

La agresiva respuesta redujo inicialmente la violencia y aportó una precaria sensación de seguridad a lugares como Guayaquil, pero la estabilidad no duró. Durante las vacaciones de Semana Santa se produjeron 137 asesinatos en Ecuador, y los secuestros y extorsiones han empeorado.

Dentro de dos semanas, los ecuatorianos votarán en un referéndum para permitir al gobierno aumentar las medidas de seguridad endureciendo las penas de prisión para algunos delitos y consagrando por ley el aumento de la presencia militar.

Los expertos dicen que es demasiado pronto para decir si la detención de Glas beneficiará a Noboa en las urnas, pero varios ecuatorianos dijeron el domingo que apoyaban la acción.

“México ha tratado como tontos a los ecuatorianos, dando asilo a todas estas personas sentenciadas”, dijo Danilo Álvarez, un vendedor de 41 años de Guayaquil, una de las ciudades más violentas del país.

El propio Ecuador una vez concedió un asilo muy comentado en una de sus embajadas. En 2012, cuando Correa era presidente, alojó al fundador de WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, en su embajada en Londres durante siete años.

Álvarez dijo que unos ladrones entraron en su casa hace unos años, le ataron las manos y los pies y le apuntaron con una pistola a la cabeza. Pasaron meses antes de que pudiera volver a dormir bien, dijo.

Sin embargo, no todos los ciudadanos estaban de acuerdo con la detención.

“Se trató de un acto de total irrespeto al derecho internacional”, dijo Delfa Mantilla, profesora jubilada de 62 años. “Parece que fue algo que el presidente Noboa hizo producto de su ego de niño rico, sin empatía”.

Algunos se preocuparon por los efectos que la disputa diplomática podría tener para la gente común. Decenas de miles de ecuatorianos emigran a través de México a Estados Unidos cada año, y los dos países se han enfrentado a un aumento de la delincuencia transnacional, con muchos cárteles mexicanos operando desde Ecuador.

“Parte de mí piensa que está bien, porque Glas debe ir preso”, dijo Mario Zalamar, un ingeniero comercial de 34 años. Pero, añadió, “hay miles de ecuatorianos ahora mismo transitando México a pie para migrar a Estados Unidos y no sabemos cuánto les va a afectar esto”.

Aunque muchos ecuatorianos apoyen la detención en la embajada, es probable que Noboa haya ahondado una brecha diplomática que puede debilitar sus relaciones con otros países de la región.

Honduras, Brasil, Colombia y Argentina se han unido a México y han criticado la detención. Y el gobierno de Nicaragua anunció que suspendía sus relaciones diplomáticas con Ecuador, calificando la detención de “barbarie política neofascista” en una declaración compartida por los medios de comunicación estatales.

Matthew Miller, portavoz del Departamento de EE. UU., declaró: “Estados Unidos condena cualquier violación de la Convención de Viena sobre Relaciones Diplomáticas, y se toma muy en serio la obligación de los países anfitriones, en virtud del derecho internacional, de respetar la inviolabilidad de las misiones diplomáticas”.

Miller hizo un llamamiento a ambos países para que resuelvan sus diferencias.

José María León Cabrera y Thalíe Ponce colaboraron con reportería.

El petróleo de Guyana: ¿bendición o maldición?

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Basjit Mahabir no me deja entrar.

Estoy tratando de convencer a Mahabir de que abra la reja cerrada con candado de la finca Wales, donde vigila los restos desvencijados de una fábrica rodeada de kilómetros de campos de caña de azúcar sin cultivar. El cultivo y la molienda del azúcar de esta plantación, a unos 16 kilómetros de Georgetown, la capital de Guyana, concluyó hace siete años y algunas partes del complejo han sido vendidas como chatarra.

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Tengo mis argumentos. “Aquí vivía yo cuando era niña”, digo. “Mi padre dirigía el laboratorio de campo”. Mahabir es amigable, pero firme. No lograré entrar.

Estas ruinas son lo que queda de una industria azucarera que, después de enriquecer a los colonizadores británicos durante siglos, fue el indicador de la riqueza del país cuando obtuvo su independencia.

Ahora se prevé que esta finca se convierta en parte del auge más reciente de Guyana: una fiebre de petróleo que está reconfigurando el futuro del país. Esta nación alejada de las rutas más conocidas, con una población de 800.000 habitantes, está en la vanguardia de una paradoja global: aun cuando el mundo se compromete a dejar de emplear combustibles fósiles, los países en desarrollo tienen muchos incentivos a corto plazo para duplicar su uso.

Antes del petróleo, los extranjeros iban a Guyana a hacer ecoturismo atraídos por los bosques tropicales que abarcan el 87 por ciento de su territorio. En 2009, la iniciativa de combatir el calentamiento global convirtió esto en un nuevo tipo de moneda cuando Guyana vendió créditos de carbono por un total de 250 millones de dólares, fundamentalmente con la promesa de mantener ese carbón almacenado en los árboles.

Seis años después, Exxon Mobil descubrió un tesoro de petróleo bajo las aguas costeras de Guyana. De inmediato, esta empresa y sus socios del consorcio, Hess Corporation y China National Offshore Oil Corporation, comenzaron la extracción a una velocidad inaudita. Este petróleo, el mismo que en la actualidad se quema principalmente en Europa, está produciendo más emisiones a nivel global, al igual que una riqueza colosal.

Se prevé que, para fines de esta década, este descubrimiento se convierta en la principal fuente de ingresos de Exxon Mobil. El acuerdo que lo hizo posible —y que le otorgó a Exxon Mobil la mayor parte de las ganancias— ha sido un tema de indignación pública y hasta de una demanda, y el consenso aparente es que Guyana salió perdiendo. No obstante, hasta ahora, el acuerdo le ha generado al país 3500 millones de dólares, más dinero del que haya visto, considerablemente más de lo que obtuvo por conservar árboles. Es suficiente para trazar un nuevo destino.

El gobierno ha decidido ir en pos de ese destino invirtiendo todavía más en los combustibles fósiles. La mayor parte de las ganancias inesperadas por el petróleo disponibles en su erario se usarán en la construcción de carreteras y otro tipo de infraestructura, en especial un gasoducto de más de 240 kilómetros para transportar gas natural y generar electricidad.

El gasoducto pasará por la finca Wales para llevar el gas a una central eléctrica y a una segunda planta que usará los derivados para producir gas para cocinar y fertilizantes. Con un costo de más de 2000 millones de dólares, es el proyecto público de infraestructura más caro en la historia de Guyana. Se alberga la esperanza de que el país pueda desarrollarse a nivel económico con un suministro previsible y abundante de energía barata.

Al mismo tiempo, el cambio climático se cierne sobre las costas de Guyana; se prevé que la mayor parte de Georgetown quede bajo el agua para el año 2030.

El gasoducto atravesará una antigua finca azucarera y terrenos privados. El gobierno espera que el proyecto aporte una fuente de energía fiable para diversificar la economía. Al mismo tiempo, el aumento del nivel del mar amenaza la capital, Georgetown.

Los países como Guyana están atrapados en una lucha entre las consecuencias de la extracción de combustibles fósiles y los incentivos para llevarla a cabo. “Desde luego que estamos hablando de países en desarrollo, y si todavía necesitan desarrollarse mucho a nivel social y económico, entonces es difícil exigirles que prohíban los combustibles fósiles en su totalidad”, señaló Maria Antonia Tigre, directora del Sabin Center for Climate Change Law de la Universidad de Columbia. Aun así, insistió, “estamos en un momento de la crisis climática en que a nadie se le puede otorgar ninguna concesión.

Durante varios siglos, las potencias extranjeras establecieron los términos para esta franja de Sudamérica en el océano Atlántico. Los británicos, quienes fueron los primeros en tomar posesión en 1796, trataron a esta colonia como una enorme fábrica de azúcar. Traficaron esclavos procedentes de África para que trabajaran en las plantaciones y luego, después de la abolición de la esclavitud, hallaron un remplazo despiadadamente eficaz con la contratación de trabajadores no abonados, en su mayoría procedentes de India. Mahabir, quien trabajó cortando caña la mayor parte de su vida, es descendiente de esos trabajadores no abonados, al igual que yo.

Hace 57 años, el país se liberó de sus grilletes imperiales, pero la democracia genuina tardó más tiempo en llegar.

No fue sino hasta la década de 1990 que Guyana celebró sus primeras elecciones libres e imparciales, comenzaron a surgir las instituciones de la democracia, como un sistema judicial independiente, y la legislatura aprobó una serie de leyes ambientales muy sólidas.

Ahora que ha llegado Exxon Mobil para extraer un nuevo recurso, algunos defensores de la democracia y el medioambiente consideran que esas protecciones están amenazadas. Señalan al gigante de los combustibles fósiles, el cual recibe ingresos globales diez veces mayores al producto bruto interno de Guyana, de ser una nueva especie de colonizador, y han demandado a su gobierno con el fin de presionarlo a hacer cumplir sus leyes y disposiciones.

Vickram Bharrat, ministro de Recursos Naturales, defendió la vigilancia que ejerce el gobierno sobre el gas y el petróleo. “No existen pruebas de inclinación a favor de ninguna corporación multinacional”, dijo. En un comunicado, Exxon Mobil señaló que su trabajo en el proyecto de gas natural “ayudaría a ofrecerles a los consumidores guyaneses electricidad confiable y de bajas emisiones a base de gas”.

El mundo se encuentra en una seria coyuntura y Guyana está en la intersección. Este país es un puntito diminuto del planeta, pero el descubrimiento de petróleo ahí ha planteado preguntas de una importancia enorme. ¿Cómo se puede lograr que los países ricos rindan cuentas de sus promesas de dejar de usar los combustibles fósiles? ¿Las instituciones de una democracia débil pueden mantener bajo control a las grandes corporaciones? ¿Y qué clase de futuro les está prometiendo Guyana a sus ciudadanos mientras apuesta por materias primas que la mayor parte del mundo está prometiendo dejar de usar?

Hace un año, un hotel en Georgetown, con el afán de aprovechar el nuevo dinero del petróleo, al igual que muchos otros, organizó un evento de cata de ron y cobró 170 dólares por persona. Yo había estado intentando, sin éxito, entrevistar a los altos directivos de Exxon Mobil en Guyana. Cuando escuché rumores de que asistiría su director nacional, compré un boleto y, aunque él no se presentó, me pude sentar con su círculo más cercano.

Uno de los organizadores del evento pronunció un discurso en el que evocó una época en la que “BG”, la abreviatura de British Guiana (Guyana Británica), el nombre del país en la época colonial, también se usaba para referirse a “Booker’s Guiana” (la Guyana de Booker, la mayor empresa de la industria azucarera en Guyana). Ahora, este orador hablaba con toda naturalidad de “la Guyana de Exxon”.

Booker McConnell era una empresa multinacional británica fundada originalmente por dos hermanos que se enriquecieron gracias al azúcar y a las personas esclavas. En algún momento, la empresa fue propietaria del 80 por ciento de las plantaciones azucareras en la Guyana Británica, entre ellas, la de la finca Wales. El ejecutivo de Exxon Mobil que estaba sentado a mi lado no sabía nada de esto y se ruborizó cuando le dije que el orador acababa de inscribir a su empleador en una larga lista de colonialismo corporativo.

El país obtuvo su independencia en 1966, pero los gobiernos británico y estadounidense manipularon la llegada al poder del primer dirigente guyanés, Forbes Burnham, un abogado negro al que consideraron más manipulable que Cheddi Jagan, el hijo radical de unos trabajadores indios de una plantación, quien era considerado como una amenaza marxista. Pero Burnham se volvió cada vez más dictatorial y, en un giro del destino geopolítico, socialista.

Tras la independencia, Booker seguía siendo propietario de la finca Wales, pero a mediados de la década de 1970, Burnham tomó el control de los recursos del país: nacionalizó la producción azucarera y la explotación de bauxita. Al igual que otras antiguas colonias, Guyana quería romper con el imperialismo tanto económico como político.

Burnham impulsó la idea de la independencia económica hasta el punto de prohibir las importaciones. Sin embargo, Guyana no contaba con las granjas ni las fábricas para satisfacer la demanda, así que el pueblo tuvo que recurrir al mercado negro, hacer filas para recibir alimentos racionados y pasar hambre.

La muerte de Burnham en 1985 desencadenó una serie de acontecimientos que empezaron a transformar el país. En siete años, Guyana celebró sus primeras elecciones libres e imparciales y Jagan, quien entonces ya era un hombre mayor, resultó electo como presidente. Pronto, una generación más joven de su partido asumió el poder y adoptó el capitalismo. Una vez más, las empresas extranjeras pudieron competir por los vastos recursos del país.

Luego llegaron las pruebas de los peligros planteados por la extracción descontrolada. En 1995, se desbordó una presa de una mina de oro canadiense. Los 1500 millones de litros de desechos envenenados con cianuro que había contenido contaminaron dos ríos importantes. Simone Mangal-Joly, quien ahora es una especialista en desarrollo internacional y medioambiente, estuvo entre los científicos de campo que probaron los niveles de cianuro del río. El agua se había vuelto roja y los pobladores indígenas se cubrían con plástico para protegerse la piel. “Es donde se bañaban”, recordó Mangal-Joly. “Era el agua que bebían, con la que cocinaban y su medio de transporte”.

La tragedia suscitó la acción. El año siguiente, el gobierno aprobó su primera ley de protección al medioambiente y, siete años después, se añadió a la Constitución el derecho a un medioambiente sano. Guyana logró consagrar lo que ni Canadá ni Estados Unidos, por ejemplo, han consagrado.

Durante un tiempo, el capital natural de Guyana —los vastos bosques tropicales que hacen que este sea uno de los pocos países que son un sumidero neto de carbono— estaba entre sus activos más preciados. Bharrat Jagdeo, el entonces presidente, vendió a Noruega el carbono almacenado en sus bosques para compensar la contaminación derivada de la propia producción de petróleo de ese país en 2009. Los grupos indígenas recibieron 20 millones de dólares por ese acuerdo para desarrollar sus aldeas y obtener los títulos de propiedad de sus tierras ancestrales, aunque algunos se quejaron de haber tenido poca participación. Jagdeo fue aclamado como un “defensor de la tierra” de las Naciones Unidas.

Pero luego Exxon Mobil descubrió petróleo.

La visión de una Guyana ecológica ahora compite con su meteórico ascenso como una de las nuevas fuentes más grandes de petróleo en el mundo. Jagdeo, quien ahora es vicepresidente de Guyana pero sigue imponiendo gran parte de la política gubernamental, es un ferviente defensor del proyecto Wales.

No obstante, un movimiento multirracial de ciudadanos, pequeño pero inquebrantable, está poniendo a prueba el poder de las leyes ambientales. David Boyd, el relator especial de la ONU sobre derechos humanos y medioambiente, califica al país como un frente de batalla para litigios con argumentos innovadores sobre derechos para combatir el cambio climático. Esto incluye el primer caso constitucional de cambio climático de la región, presentado por un guía de turistas indígena y un profesor universitario.

Liz Deane-Hughes proviene de una familia destacada. Su padre fundó uno de los bufetes de abogados más respetados de Georgetown y en la década de 1980 luchó contra cambios represivos a la Constitución. Deane-Hughes recuerda que sus padres la llevaban a los apasionados mítines dirigidos por un partido multirracial que estaba contra el gobierno de Burnham. Cuando tenía 13 años, un día llegó a su casa y encontró a oficiales de la policía registrando su hogar. “Yo viví en Guyana en la década de 1980”, señaló Deane-Hughes, quien trabajó en el bufete familiar antes de dejar la abogacía. “Así que no deseo volver a eso en ningún sentido”.

Hablé con Deane-Hughes, quien ahora es artista y diseñadora de joyería, en la amplia terraza de una casa estilo colonial construida en un terreno que ha pertenecido a su familia durante cinco generaciones. El gobierno ha reclamado una parte de este para el gasoducto de gas natural, el cual pasa tanto por propiedad privada como por la finca Wales. Pero, según ella, el problema va más allá de su patio trasero.

En febrero, Deane-Hughes se unió virtualmente a otros activistas en una audiencia ante la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos con el argumento de que las empresas petroleras han afectado la gestión del medioambiente en Guyana. Este grupo de activistas ha alzado la voz y presentado demandas para poner a esa empresa bajo el escrutinio de las normas y las leyes del país.

Mangal-Joly, quien respondió al desastre del cianuro que dio lugar a esas leyes ambientales, comentó que el gobierno no ha logrado cumplir con sus funciones de vigilancia. Como parte de su investigación de doctorado en la University College London, descubrió que la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de Guyana había suspendido las evaluaciones ambientales de todas las instalaciones de tratamiento de desechos tóxicos o que almacenan materiales radiactivos producidos por la producción de petróleo en altamar.

También a la planta de gas le han otorgado carta blanca. En enero, la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (EPA, por su sigla en inglés) suspendió la evaluación ambiental de la planta propuesta de Wales debido a que Exxon Mobil, aunque no está construyendo la planta, ya había realizado una evaluación para el gasoducto.

La Agencia de Protección Ambiental defendió su decisión. “Es una buena práctica común” basarse en evaluaciones ambientales ya existentes “aunque las hayan realizado otros desarrolladores de proyectos”, escribió un vocero de la agencia en representación de su director ejecutivo. La agencia afirmó su derecho a suspender las evaluaciones cuando lo considere oportuno y señaló que los tribunales no habían revocado sus exenciones: “Sin duda, esto habla del alto grado de competencia técnica y de la cultura de cumplimiento de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental con las leyes de Guyana”.

Mangal-Joly afirma que la central eléctrica está sobre un manto freático que suministra agua potable a la mayor parte del país. “Nuestra capa freática es poco profunda”, explicó. “Hay una generación, así como generaciones por venir, que no heredarán agua limpia. Estamos echando a perder un recurso mucho más valioso que el petróleo”.

La suspensión enfureció a Deane-Hughes y le pareció una farsa la independencia de la junta que atiende las inquietudes de los ciudadanos. Su presidente, Mahender Sharma, encabeza la agencia de energía de Guyana y su esposa dirige la nueva empresa gubernamental creada para gestionar la central eléctrica. En una audiencia de la junta, Deane-Hughes hizo referencia al mandato contra los conflictos de interés en la Ley de Protección Ambiental y le pidió a Sharma que no interviniera. “Yo quisiera que usted no tomara ninguna decisión”, le dijo.

Seis semanas después, la junta tomó una decisión: autorizó que la compañía eléctrica conservara su permiso ambiental sin hacer ninguna declaración de impacto ambiental.

Sharma calificó a los críticos de ser una élite intelectual privilegiada que ignora las privaciones que han orillado a muchos guyaneses a darle la bienvenida a la industria petrolera.

En la reunión con la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Bharrat, el ministro de Recursos Naturales, alegó que su gobierno tiene tanto el derecho como la responsabilidad de equilibrar el desarrollo económico con la sustentabilidad. “El desarrollo de nuestro país y la protección al medioambiente no son objetivos irreconciliables”, les dijo.

Para Melinda Janki, la abogada que está llevando la mayor parte de las demandas de los activistas y una de los pocos abogados locales dispuestos a enfrentarse a las empresas petroleras, la pregunta es si Exxon Mobil puede salirse con la suya y hacer lo que quiere. Janki colaboró en la creación de algunas de las leyes ambientales más estrictas de Guyana. “Pese a que es una empresa petrolera gigantesca, tendrán que obedecer la ley. El Estado de derecho es el Estado de derecho”, dijo.

La iniciativa Headway se financia mediante subvenciones de la Fundación Ford, la Fundación William y Flora Hewlett y la Fundación Stavros Niarchos (SNF, por su sigla en inglés), y Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors actúa como patrocinador fiscal. La Fundación Woodcock financia la plaza pública de Headway. Los financiadores no tienen ningún control sobre la selección, el enfoque de las historias o el proceso de edición y no revisan las historias antes de su publicación. El Times conserva el pleno control editorial de la iniciativa Headway.

Gaiutra Bahadur es autora de Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture. Enseña inglés y periodismo como profesora asociada en la Universidad Rutgers de Newark.

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