The New York Times 2024-05-21 16:22:00

Middle East Crisis: For Gazans Relocating Once Again, Conditions Are ‘Horrific’

Top News

A U.N. official describes dire conditions for people fleeing Rafah.

As Israel’s invasion of Rafah stretches into its third week, hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the southern Gaza city have encountered miserable conditions in their new encampments and shelters.

Shortages of food, clean water and bathrooms have made the experience of relocating particularly dreadful, Gazans say, and price gouging has made the trip unaffordable for those who need transportation, including older and disabled people.

“We’re dealing with horrific circumstances,” said Khalil el-Halabi, a retired U.N. official in his 70s who left Rafah last week for Al-Mawasi, a beachside area that Israel has designated as a “humanitarian zone.”

“We don’t have what we need,” Mr. Halabi said. “We can barely even find water.”

More than 800,000 people have left Rafah in the past two weeks, a United Nations official said on Monday. Israel’s military said the same day that more than 950,000 civilians in the city had relocated since it gave expanded evacuation orders. A military spokesman said about 300,000 to 400,000 civilians remain there.

The latest wave of displacement in Gaza began on May 6 when Israel sent out evacuation notices and launched military operations in eastern Rafah, which is along the border with Egypt. More than half of the enclave’s civilians had been seeking refuge in the city — most of them after fleeing fighting elsewhere in Gaza multiple times.

Ali Jebril, 27, a wheelchair-bound basketball player, said he and his family paid $600 to have 35 people taken from eastern Rafah to Khan Younis by bus earlier this month.

Mr. Jebril, who said his wheelchair can’t navigate in the sandy beachside areas where many have resettled, has moved to a tent on the grounds of a hospital in Khan Younis.

“We’re not living a dignified life,” he said. “We’re confronting a catastrophe.”

The war, he said, has made him feel that he has become a burden on society, frequently asking others to help him.

Since Israel’s incursions into Rafah, the once overcrowded shelters and tent villages in the city have largely emptied out, Edem Wosornu, an official with the United Nations’ office for humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council on Monday. People have moved to areas near Khan Younis and Deir al Balah and set up makeshift camps that lack sanitation, water, drainage or shelter, she said.

“We have described it as a catastrophe, a nightmare, as hell on earth,” Ms. Wosornu said. “It is all of these, and worse.”

Since the beginning of the war in October, three-quarters of Gaza’s population has been displaced, with many people moving four or five times, she said.

Israel has cast the orders as a humanitarian step to protect civilians ahead of further military action, which they say is necessary to root out Hamas fighters in southern Gaza. But aid groups said the additional displacement is worsening an already catastrophic humanitarian situation.

In its latest update, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs described people living in clusters of 500 to 700 tents, many of them fashioned out of blankets, nylon or whatever other materials were available. Some tents were set up on an unstable beach slope, with waste from higher areas rolling downhill past the dwellings into the sea, according to the report.

Mr. Halabi said that food was available in markets, but that his family was so low on money that paying for it was hard.

“After seven months of war, we barely have anything,” he said.

While an increasing number of commercial trucks have entered Gaza recently, aid coming to the south through the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings has come to a near halt. UNRWA, the primary U.N. agency for Palestinian aid, said that in a 16-day period through Tuesday, just 69 aid trucks entered through the two crossings — the lowest rate since the first weeks of the war.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the chief U.N. agency that aids Palestinians, wrote in a social media post that each relocation comes with risks and takes a heavy toll.

“Every time, they are forced to leave behind the few belongings they have: mattresses, tents, cooking utensils and basic supplies that they cannot carry or pay to transport,” he wrote. “Every time, they have to start from scratch, all over again. ”

Key Developments

A deadly Israeli raid in the West Bank, and other news.

  • Seven Palestinians, including a 50-year-old doctor, were killed and 19 others were wounded during an Israeli military raid in Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Tuesday morning, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Health Ministry. It was the latest in a series of near-nightly raids that Israeli officials describe as counterterrorism operations in the West Bank, where over 500 Palestinians have been killed since the war in Gaza began.

  • France expressed support for the International Criminal Court, taking the opposite stance of the United States and some other allies of Israel, after the court’s chief prosecutor said he would seek arrest warrants for leaders of both Israel and Hamas. “France supports the International Criminal Court, its independence and the fight against impunity in all situations,” the French Foreign Ministry said on Monday. But Stéphane Séjourné, France’s foreign minister, stressed on Tuesday that the warrant requests “must not create an equivalence” between Hamas, which he called a terrorist group, and Israel, which he said was a “democratic state” that must “respect international law.”

  • Crowds of Palestinians intercepted one of the first aid shipments to arrive in Gaza through a U.S.-built pier, grabbing and running off with its contents, officials said on Monday. The failed delivery on Saturday highlighted the challenge of securely distributing humanitarian assistance in a territory with serious food shortages.

  • One of former President Donald J. Trump’s closest foreign policy advisers, Robert O’Brien, met with Mr. Netanyahu on Monday as part of a delegation of three former Trump officials that visited a number of Israeli leaders. Mr. O’Brien served as national security adviser to Mr. Trump and is expected to play a significant role in any second Trump administration.

The Israeli authorities seize camera equipment belonging to The Associated Press.

Israel’s Communications Ministry confiscated camera equipment from The Associated Press on Tuesday, claiming the agency had violated a new broadcasting law by providing images of northern Gaza to Al Jazeera.

The seizure was an escalation in Israel’s efforts to punish Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab broadcaster that the Israeli government voted to shut down two weeks ago. It raised questions about how far Israeli authorities would go to cut off the Qatari-funded channel, which has provided extensive coverage of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Lauren Easton, The A.P.’s vice president of corporate communications, denounced the Israeli government’s action, calling it “an abusive use” of a new law that provides the authorities with tools to crack down on foreign news media organizations.

In a statement, the Communications Ministry said inspectors had gone to a location in southern Israel used by The A.P. to broadcast live footage of the border with northern Gaza, which is several miles away. The ministry claimed that the feed was illegally being carried by Al Jazeera and asserted that it was showing the activities of Israeli soldiers and threatening their lives.

The A.P. reported that it adheres to Israel’s military censorship rules, including restrictions on broadcasting troop movements that could put soldiers at risk, and that the feed largely showed smoke rising over Gaza.

It also reported that Israeli authorities had conveyed a verbal order last week to shut down the live feed, but it did not comply.

As a prominent wire service, The A.P. makes its content available to subscribers around the world.

Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s parliamentary opposition, blasted the Communications Ministry for confiscating The A.P.’s equipment, calling the move “insanity.”

“This is not Al Jazeera. This is an American media outlet that has won” dozens of Pulitzer Prizes, he said. “This government is acting as if it decided to ensure at all costs that Israel will be ostracized all around the world.”

Ms. Easton said Israeli authorities should return The A.P.’s equipment so that it could restore the live feed and “continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world.”

The Communications Ministry said it would continue to undertake “enforcement measures as needed to limit broadcasts that harm the security of the state.”

In Israel, Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language coverage has frequently come under criticism for amplifying Hamas’s perspective.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and other Israeli officials have called the network a “mouthpiece” for Hamas, which led the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel from Gaza that set off the war. That day, Al Jazeera repeatedly reported statements from Hamas officials calling for a violent uprising in the West Bank.

Al Jazeera has said that Israel’s decision to shutter its operations in the country violated “the basic right to access of information.” It has asserted that it hadn’t violated professional news media standards.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents Israeli and Palestinian journalists working for international news organizations, called the seizure of The A.P.’s equipment an “outrageous” decision that prevents The A.P. from “providing crucial images of northern Gaza to all other media outlets around the world.”

“Israel’s move today is a slippery slope,” it said in a statement on Tuesday. “Israel could block other international news agencies from providing live footage of Gaza. It also could allow Israel to block media coverage of virtually any news event on vague security grounds.”

Under the new foreign news media law, if the prime minister deems a foreign news media outlet to “concretely undermine” Israel’s national security, the government can temporarily close its offices, confiscate its equipment, remove it from Israeli cable and satellite television providers and block access to any of the channel’s online platforms hosted on servers in Israel or owned by Israeli entities.

Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting to this article.

Gazans say the I.C.C. prosecutor’s pursuit of Hamas leaders is misguided.

Palestinians in Gaza expressed mixed feelings after the chief prosecutor at the world’s top criminal court said he was seeking arrest warrants for leaders of both Israel and Hamas on war crimes charges, a move that many said equated victim with perpetrator.

“We deplore, denounce and are surprised by the decision of the International Criminal Court which places the accused, the victim, and the executioner in one cage,” said Zahir Essam, a 55-year-old living in Gaza City.

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced on Monday his decision to apply for arrest warrants for Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza; Muhammad Deif, Hamas’s military chief; and Ismail Haniyeh, the movement’s Qatar-based top political official. He also said he would seek warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of Israel.

The announcement in effect treated Israeli officials and Hamas leaders in the same way, despite what Mr. Essam sees as a power imbalance between the two sides in the conflict in Gaza, which began when Hamas led an attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

That attack killed about 1,200 people, and about 240 others were taken hostage, Israeli officials say. Israel’s retaliatory war in Gaza has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gazan health authorities, though their figures do not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Many Palestinians view the Oct. 7 attack as a justified response to Israeli violations during the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

“The Palestinian people are defending their most basic human rights and fighting against an occupation and the harshest form of abuse,” Mr. Essam said in a phone interview. He added that he was surprised that the prosecutor would consider “those who defend their rights and their homeland” as equal to “those fighting them with an array of weapons and aircrafts.”

In Israel, the warrants drew the reverse response, with Mr. Netanyahu denouncing the prosecutor’s decision as a “distortion of reality” and defending the war in Gaza as one of self-defense. For now, the announcement is largely symbolic. Israel does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction, and judges can take months to uphold requests for arrest warrants.

Jaber Yahia, a 50-year-old teacher from central Gaza, said that he was relieved by the naming of Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gallant. “I was thinking, finally they will be brought to justice,” he said. But after hearing that warrants would also be sought for leaders of Hamas, his relief was muddied.

“We are under occupation and resistance is a legal right for us,” he said.

Nidal Kuhail, a 30-year-old waiter from Gaza City who was displaced to Rafah, said that he had hoped that the international community and its legal bodies, such as the court, would have first ordered a cease-fire to end the deadly Israeli bombardment.

“The first step was supposed to be a mandatory and immediate stop of the war,” Mr. Kuhail said in a phone interview. “And then bring Gallant and Netanyahu to trial because they committed war crimes documented with evidence,” he added.

Seeking warrants for Hamas leaders, by contrast, was “a wrong decision,” he said.

Abu Bakr Bashir contributed reporting from London.

Iran Begins Funeral Events for President Raisi

Funeral events for Iran’s president and foreign minister were underway in Iran on Tuesday as investigators looked into the helicopter crash that killed them and the country grappled with the shock of losing two of its most prominent leaders at a volatile moment.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has announced five days of mourning for the president, Ebrahim Raisi, 63, and the foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, 60, who died when their helicopter plunged into a mountainous area near the Iranian city of Jolfa on Sunday.

The state news media said the crash had resulted from a “technical failure.” Iran’s Armed Forces said it had begun an investigation and sent a team to the site.

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After Raisi’s Death, Elections Pose Tricky Test for Iran’s Rulers

For decades, Iran’s leaders could point to high voter turnouts in their elections as proof of the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic’s political system. But as voter turnout has plummeted in recent years, the election they will be now obliged to hold after the death of President Ebrahim Raisi will force the political establishment into a decision it does not want to make.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, has two options, each carrying risks.

He could ensure that the presidential elections, which the Constitution mandates must happen within 50 days after Mr. Raisi’s death, are open to all, from hard-liners to reformists. But that risks a competitive election that could take the country in a direction he does not want.

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‘What’s the Problem?’ Zelensky Challenges West Over Hesitations.

Reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine

With his army struggling to fend off fierce Russian advances all across the front, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine urged the United States and Europe to do more to defend his nation, dismissing fears of nuclear escalation and proposing that NATO planes shoot down Russian missiles in Ukrainian airspace.

Mr. Zelensky said he had also appealed to U.S. officials to allow Ukraine to fire American missiles and other weaponry at military targets inside Russia — a tactic the United States continues to oppose. The inability to do so, he insisted, gave Russia a “huge advantage” in cross-border warfare that it is exploiting with assaults in Ukraine’s northeast.

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Haiti’s Gangs Grow Stronger as Kenyan-Led Force Prepares to Deploy

They have a stranglehold on the country’s infrastructure, from police stations to seaports. They have chased hundreds of thousands of people from the capital. And they are suspected of having ties to the 2021 assassination of Haiti’s president.

Western diplomats and officials say the influence and capability of many Haitian gangs are evolving, making them ever more threatening to the Kenyan-led multinational police force soon deploying to Haiti as well as the fragile transitional council trying to set a path for elections.

With their arrival just days away, the 2,500 police officers will confront a better equipped, funded, trained and unified gang force than any mission previously deployed to the Caribbean nation, security experts say.

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Russian Forces Close In on Ukrainian Town in Northeast

Russian forces on Tuesday inched closer to the central part of Vovchansk, a town in Ukraine’s northeast that they have been attacking for the past 10 days as part of a new offensive in the region.

Roman Semenukha, the deputy head of the military administration in the northeastern Kharkiv region, said on television on Monday that Ukrainian forces had lost about 40 percent of the town, with Russian troops pushing from the north.

Open-source maps of the battlefield compiled by independent groups also show that Russia now controls the northern part of the town, which had a prewar population of 17,000.

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Top Oceans Court Says Nations Must Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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The world’s highest court dealing with the oceans said on Tuesday that excessive greenhouse gases were pollutants that can cause irreversible harm to the marine environment. The groundbreaking advisory opinion was unanimous, and experts say it could lead to more wide-ranging claims for damages against polluting nations.

The opinion by the court, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, is not binding, but it said that, legally, nations must take all necessary measures to reduce, control and prevent marine pollution caused by human-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The stance taken by the tribunal, which sometimes called the Oceans Court, is likely to affect how other international and national courts address the growing dangers posed by greenhouse gases that cause the heating and acidification of the oceans.

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One Dead and Dozens Injured After ‘Extreme Turbulence’ on Flight From London to Singapore

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A 73-year-old man from Britain died and seven people were critically injured after a plane encountered “sudden extreme turbulence” about 10 hours into a flight from London to Singapore, officials said on Tuesday.

The plane, a Boeing 777-300ER operated by Singapore Airlines, was diverted to Bangkok, the airline said in a statement, and landed at 3:45 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

In all, 30 people, including passengers and crew members, were injured, officials said. The airline said in its statement that 18 people had been hospitalized and another 12 people were being treated for injuries. “The remaining passengers and crew are being examined and given treatment, where necessary, at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok,” the airline said.

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In Germany, Far-Right Plotters of an Improbable Coup Go on Trial

Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss, the obscure aristocrat who wanted to become German chancellor, and eight men and women who planned to bring him into power by violently overthrowing the government, went on trial on Tuesday in Frankfurt.

Nearly a year and a half after a spectacular nationwide raid involving 3,000 police officers at 150 locations that the authorities say foiled a bizarre, far-right plan to seize power, the prince and the plotters will start facing justice. It is expected to be one of the most complex court cases since West Germany tried Auschwitz concentration camp commanders in the 1960s.

In a temporary courtroom hastily built on the outskirts of Frankfurt, the nine accused will see each other for the first time since most of them were arrested in December 2022. In that time, prosecutors have analyzed thousands of files and chat exchanges and hours of witness testimony to prepare a case they hope will show just how dangerous the would-be insurrectionists — including several retired elite soldiers, a police officer and a former federal far-right lawmaker — were.

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I.C.C. Warrant Request Appears to Shore Up Domestic Support for Netanyahu

If the headlines in Israel were anything to go by, the request by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor for an arrest warrant against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have granted the Israeli leader one of the most fortuitous turnarounds in his long and turbulent political career.

“The Hypocrisy of The Hague,” blared Tuesday’s front page of Yediot Ahronot, a popular mainstream daily that has often been critical of Mr. Netanyahu.

Echoing the outrage expressed by Israelis across the political spectrum, and abandoning any semblance of impartiality, the front page denounced “the intolerable gall” of the chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, for what it described as putting Israel alongside the leaders of Hamas who “seek to annihilate it.”

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Forced to Relive Childhood Horrors in Old Age

Emile Ducke and

When she first heard that Ukraine was under attack by an invading army, Halyna Semibratska, now 101 years old, was confused.

“It’s not the Germans who have attacked us?” Ms. Semibratska asked. No, her daughter, Iryna Malyk, 72, replied. This time it was their neighbor, Russia.

It came as a shock.

Ms. Semibratska is one of a small group of elderly Ukrainians who have lived through not one but multiple invasions.

As children and teenagers, they saw their land and people ravaged in World War II. German troops and tanks swept through in 1941, seizing Ukraine from the Soviet Union, already seen by many Ukrainians as an occupying force. The Soviets reconquered it in 1943 and 1944.

Since 2022, war has once again devastated some of the same towns and cities, and Russian forces are now making new inroads in the north and east. Like those in the 1940s, the invaders have set up new administrations in occupied lands, seized grain and other resources, sent in secret police, abducted community members and instilled torture and fear.

For some Ukrainians, it has all happened within one lifetime — childhoods revisited in old age.

At her home in the port city of Kherson, which was seized by the Russians in 2022 and liberated later that year, Zinaida Tarasenko, 83, recounted how her mother protected her from the Germans who occupied their village, Osokorivka. She was a baby, but the violence she saw still returns in her dreams.

The Germans used the family’s home as a medical clinic: “My mother was pregnant. Germans forced her to clean their shoes, wash their uniform. They drank, sang songs.”

When Russian forces took Kherson two years ago, it was Ms. Tarasenko’s turn to protect her daughter, Olena, now 46, who was abducted from their home by Russian soldiers.


“They took her and kept her for a week. I walked around the whole of Kherson, like crazy, looking for her.”

Zinaida Tarasenko, 83, speaking about her daughter, Olena, 46.

She searched frantically for a week, crisscrossing the city, going to a different prison each day, asking for news of her daughter. Then Olena returned. “She was afraid. I didn’t ask her much. Just: ‘Did they beat you?’” But, she added, “She wouldn’t say much.”

After Kherson was liberated in late 2022, two other women, both World War II survivors, found themselves hospitalized in beds a few feet apart and quickly became friends.

One, Halyna Nutrashenko, 94, ended up in a Kherson hospital after a Russian rocket destroyed her home, leaving her “under the rubble, inside the house,” she said. “I had a house, but now I don’t.”

More than eight decades earlier, she witnessed the brutal Nazi occupation of her home village in the Odesa region. She remembers avoiding German soldiers; she had seen them beating children. They forced her father to labor as a metalworker.

Many others were taken away, including all of the local Jewish population. In total across Ukraine, around 1.5 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

“There were thousands of Jews in Odesa,” Ms. Nutrashenko recalled. “They gathered them and shot them. Some were shot and dropped into the river. We as children were curious and went everywhere to take a look. My mother warned me all the time not to go there: ‘The Germans will kill you too!’”

The life of her neighbor in the Kherson hospital, Yuliia Nikitenko, was shaped by violence even before World War II. The Soviets took her father away and executed him when she was 2 years old, during Stalin’s Great Purge.

“I was growing up in Velyka Oleksandrivka during the occupation,” she recalled, referring to a village in the Kherson region. “The Germans evicted us. We had a small, simple house in the center. They lived there. We moved to another house close to the forest.”

Eight decades later, it was Russian soldiers who came to her home. “They asked me to show my passport,” said Ms. Nikitenko, now 88. “I went to find it. One opened it, looked at it and said, ‘Get a Russian passport.’”

She declined. “I love Kherson and Ukraine.”

She did accept money given by the Russians, as she was no longer receiving her pension. It made her feel like a traitor, she said, “but how else would I survive?”

During World War II, Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, changed hands four times in pitched battles that demolished most of the city. Now, many buildings lie in ruins once again as shelling by Russian forces continues.

Anna Lapan, 100, a Jew from Kharkiv, was 18 the first time German forces attacked the city. As the bombing began, she and her family escaped aboard a cattle train taking them eastward. Her father was conscripted and killed near Stalingrad in 1943. Later that year, she returned to Kharkiv, after the Germans were pushed out for good.


“When the Germans arrived, they were at one end of the city, and we were leaving from the other end.”

Anna Lapan, 100.

Ms. Lapan was forced to flee the city again in 2022, when the Russian assault began. Her sister moved to Israel. Ms. Lapan spent three months sheltering in western Ukraine, and then returned to Kharkiv yet again.

Her home had been damaged and some of its scars remain. “There are still cracks in the house, we have not repaired them,” she said.

Ms. Semibratska, too, was 18 when Nazi forces entered her hometown, Nikopol, in southern Ukraine. She remembers the date: Aug. 17, 1941.

“They were going along a wide street with whole platoons,” she said, adding, “My grandfather dug a big ditch in the backyard and we spent our nights there.” One night, a shell hit the ditch, but the family survived.

For a time, the front line between Nazi and Soviet forces near Nikopol ran along the Dnipro river. Today, the same stretch of river divides Ukrainian and Russian troops. Ms. Semibratska remembered nights when German artillery fired from one bank of the Dnipro, and Soviet artillery from the opposite bank. “There was a lot of destruction.”

As she spoke, Ms. Semibratska sat on her bed in an apartment she shared with her daughter in Izium in eastern Ukraine, where she moved after World War II. When Russian forces began shelling Izium in 2022, days into their invasion, Ms. Semibratska stayed in the bed, paralyzed by fear and too frail to be moved to the basement.

“I couldn’t lift my mum, so I was sitting in the corridor under a load-bearing wall,” said Ms. Malyk, her daughter, now 72. “Everything was shaking.”


“What I faced with my daughter I can’t wish for anyone.”

Halyna Semibratska, 101, and her daughter Iryna Malyk, 72.

Ms. Semibratska couldn’t believe she was witnessing another invasion of her homeland, and this time by a neighboring, “brotherly” country. In a way, that made it seem worse than the war she had known before.

“I understand, even though I’m old,” she said. “I have kept my memory. I remember a lot. But now I can’t understand what’s going on. It’s not a war. It’s not a war, it’s an elimination.”

For the five months that Izium was under Russian occupation, they lived “without water, heating, electricity,” Ms. Semibratska said. With windows blown out, “we wore coats, scarves, hats, everything that we had, we put on.”

Unlike the Germans, who occupied Kyiv, the Russians were pushed back from the capital. But the once-quiet towns nearby soon became known worldwide for the horrors inflicted by Russian troops.

Yahidne, north of Kyiv, was occupied in the first days of the Russian invasion. A Russian soldier there forced Hanna Skrypak, 87, and her daughter into a school basement crammed with more than 300 people.

“I couldn’t get there because my leg had been broken before, I have problems with my back,” Ms. Skrypak recalled. “He grabbed my arms and pulled me there. ‘What are you doing? I can’t walk!’ They shoved me there anyway. There was no space to sit or lie, there was nothing.”

She was held for weeks in the basement. “There was no fresh air. I didn’t go out,” Ms. Skrypak said.


“Among the people of my age only I survived. Now, I’m the oldest in the village.”

Hanna Skrypak, 87.

She had endured wartime occupation before. Ms. Skrypak was 4 years old when German troops reached her birthplace of Krasne, a neighboring village of Yahidne. When her mother went outside, she said, she would hide in a nook above the stove.

Her brother Ivan, 17, was taken to a forced labor camp in Germany. “He died of starvation there.” Another brother died at home, falling sick during the war. Many residents disappeared. “Some people hid in the swamp.”

Ten people died in the basement under the school during the weeks of Russian occupation in 2022, including another woman who survived World War II. That left Ms. Skrypak as the oldest resident of Yahidne, the last one with living memory of both wars.

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This ‘Russian Woman’ Loves China. Too Bad She’s a Deepfake.

The woman declares, in Mandarin inflected with a slight accent, that Chinese men should marry “us Russian women.” In other videos on the Chinese short video platform Douyin, she describes how much she loves Chinese food, and hawks salt and soap from her country. “Russian people don’t trick Chinese people,” she promises.

But her lip movements don’t quite match the audio of the videos, which were posted recently to an account using the name “Ladina.” That is because it is footage of Shadé Zahrai, an Australian career strategist with more than 1.7 million TikTok followers, that has been modified using artificial intelligence. Someone dubbed Ms. Zahrai’s video clips with a voice speaking Mandarin Chinese to make it seem that she was peddling Russian products.

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Back From War, These I.D.F. Soldiers Demand New Leadership

As the Israel-Hamas war drags into its eighth month, there are loud calls within Israel for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition to step aside. Among those demanding change are reservists in the Israel Defense Forces — back from the war and now in the streets. The New York Times spoke with three reservists from different political backgrounds to find out why.

Military service, which is mandatory for most Israeli citizens, has long brought together different sectors of society to serve side-by-side — an experience that has translated into political movements at other pivotal moments throughout the country’s history.

Motivated by a variety of issues — such as the return of the remaining hostages, ending the war, frustration with military draft rules that allow exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews, and a desire to lessen polarization — these reservists are united in calling for new leadership.

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South Africa’s Highest Court Says Jacob Zuma Can’t Serve in Parliament

South Africa’s highest court on Monday ruled that former President Jacob Zuma was not eligible to serve in Parliament, a decision that may deepen political turmoil in the country just over a week before a crucial national election.

The decision threatens the political future of the 82-year-old Mr. Zuma, a former anti-apartheid hero who once led the liberation party, the African National Congress. Mr. Zuma had a bitter falling out with the A.N.C. last year after announcing he was supporting a new political formation.

The Constitutional Court, overturning a special electoral court’s earlier decision, ruled that Mr. Zuma could not stand as a candidate in the May 29 election because of a past criminal conviction.

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When a Tale of Migration Is Not Just Fiction


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Reporting from a movie screening in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar, Senegal.

The two teenagers on the screen trudging through the endless dunes of the Sahara on their way to Europe were actors. So were the fellow migrants tortured in a bloodstained Libyan prison.

But to the young man watching the movie one recent evening in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, the cinematic ordeal felt all too real. His two brothers had undertaken the same journey years ago.

“This is why they refused to send me money to take that route,” said Ahmadou Diallo, 18, a street cleaner. “Because they had seen firsthand how dangerous it is.”

Critics in the West have praised the film “Io Capitano” — nominated for the 2024 Academy Award for best international feature film — noting its visceral yet tender look at migration to Europe from Africa. It is now showing in African countries, and is hitting close to home in Senegal. That’s where the two main characters in the movie embark on an odyssey that epitomizes the dreams and hardships of countless more hoping to make it abroad.

Last month, the film’s crew and its director, Matteo Garrone, took “Io Capitano” to a dozen places in Senegal where migration isn’t fiction. They screened it in youth centers, in schools, even on a basketball court turned outdoor movie theater in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar, where Mr. Diallo and hundreds of others watched it at sunset on a big screen.

“Io Capitano” tells the story of Seydou and Moussa, two endearing cousins who leave Dakar after months of planning, spending all of the savings they earned through straining work on a construction site.

But what begins as an exciting road trip quickly turns into a perilous expedition as the teenagers find themselves in the hands of careless smugglers, then under the control of armed robbers and cruel jailers, before they reach the deadliest step of their travels, the crossing of the Mediterranean.

Seydou, the lead character, ends up captaining the ship taking them and hundreds of other migrants to Italy. The movie never shows them reaching the shore, but when a helicopter from the Italian coast guard hovers over the boat, the viewer is tempted to believe that they will be rescued and that part of their troubles are over.

On the basketball court, some gasped in horror when bandits opened fire on a group of migrants on the screen. Others hid their eyes with their head scarves during scenes of torture.

“People know there’s a risk to lose their lives” in seeking to migrate to Europe, Mr. Garrone said. “But they haven’t seen what it’s like.”

Senegal’s youth make up the majority of its 17 million people, but its fast-growing economy has struggled to offer them jobs with decent pay. Thousands leave every year through the Sahara and the Atlantic Ocean, and deadly accidents are frequent. Increasingly, those who can afford it fly to Central America, hoping to reach the United States that way.

Senegal’s new president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, has promised to improve the economy by financing small businesses and strengthening traineeships in farming, fishing and industrial jobs. Natural gas and oil reserves are expected to turn the tiny coastal country into a hydrocarbon power in Africa.

But in Guédiawaye, where newly built houses sit on sandy streets next to crumbling shelters filled with flies and no access to running water, many young men said they weren’t expecting major changes.

Mr. Diallo, the street cleaner, said he wanted to join his brothers in Paris. He showed videos on his phone of himself and dozens of others in the Atlantic last summer, during one of his two previous — and unsuccessful — attempts to reach Europe.

A few feet away, Barra Gassama, 18, watched “Io Capitano” with sometimes teary eyes. A decade ago, he said, he picked up the phone at home to hear from a stranger that his older brother had died on his way to Spain. “That call changed our lives,” he said in a whisper. “This reminds me so much of him,” he added, staring at the screen.

Despite his brother’s death, Mr. Gassama’s mother later encouraged him to try to leave, too. But he said he had instead chosen to try to make it at home, working hard as a baker, earning up to $6 a day, six days a week.

In the movie, Seydou and Moussa leave Dakar without telling their families. But some of those watching the film said they were having open conversations with their relatives about migration.

Pape Alioune Ngom, 18, a welder, said a few hours before the screening that he was trying to persuade his parents to let him go to Europe. He swore that he wouldn’t leave without their blessing. “What’s there for us here?” he asked. “We all have migration in mind.”

Studies have shown that people aspiring to migrate often ignore warnings about the dangers of trying to enter countries illegally. But Mr. Garrone, the director, said the movie wasn’t intended to persuade people not to undertake the trip.

“I’m mostly hoping to help young people in Senegal realize that once they’ve left their home, they become part of a system that they can’t really get out of,” he said.

To depict the system of smugglers and exploitation, Mr. Garrone worked with Mamadou Kouassi, a social worker now working with migrants in Italy, who spent three and a half years trying to reach Europe from his native Ivory Coast. Mr. Kouassi’s experiences inspired most of Seydou’s and Moussa’s story line in the movie.

Mr. Kouassi also attended the screening, where he stared at the spectators who were laughing at the two young heroes trying to hide cash inside their bodies before beginning their trek through the Sahara.

“They have no idea how Europe and Italy are treating us on the other side,” Mr. Kouassi said.

The first tragedy in the movie followed shortly after, when a migrant fell off a pickup truck and the driver kept racing in the desert, to the horror of the other passengers grabbing onto wooden sticks to avoid meeting the same fate.

The audience fell silent.

Seydou Sarr, 19, and Moustapha Fall, 20, the two actors who play the cousins in the movie, have been touring film festivals in the West, wearing designer clothes at the Oscars and chilling in luxury hotels across Europe, a world away from the lives in Senegal they themselves left a few years ago. Their journey was a little different; they were cast in the film in Dakar, and later moved to Italy, where Mr. Garrone lives.

Mr. Sarr, who won the best young actor award at the Venice Film Festival, said he wanted to continue acting.

For now, they both live in Rome with Mr. Garrone’s mother, and Mr. Garrone said he worried about them. “They get up at 3 p.m., and my mother does the cooking and everything for them,” he said. “They’re kids.”

After the screening, Ndeye Khady Sy, the actress starring as Seydou’s mother, urged the audience to stay in Senegal. “You can succeed here,” she said.

But Mr. Ngom, the welder, had left the basketball grounds.

So had Mr. Diallo, the street cleaner, who said he would try reaching Europe for the third time this summer.

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Dancing Past the Venus de Milo

Reporting from Paris and dancing through the Louvre

I fell in love with the Louvre one morning while doing disco moves to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” in the Salle des Cariatides.

The museum, a former medieval fortress and then royal palace, had not yet opened, and I was following instructions to catwalk and hip bump and point in the grand room where Louis XIV once held plays and balls.

The sun cast warm light through long windows, striping the pink-and-white checkered floor and bathing the marble arms, heads and wings of the ancient Grecian statues around me.

“Point, and point, and point,” shouted Salim Bagayoko, a dance instructor. So I struck my best John Travolta poses and pointed around the room, my eyes landing on the delicate sandaled foot of Artemus, the wings of a Niobid and the stone penis of Apollo.

The woman beside me caught my eye. We giggled.

Over the years, I have felt many things in the world’s most-visited, and arguably most-famous, museum — irritation, exhaustion and some wonder, too.

This time, I felt joy.

With the Summer Olympics coming to Paris in a few months, museums and galleries across the country have been competing to put on Olympics-themed shows. One of the Louvre’s offerings is an hourlong dance-and-exercise circuit through the building, which museum officials call “Courez au Louvre” — meaning both run to and run in the Louvre.

The museum seemed a natural training gym, explained its performing arts director, Luc Bouniol-Laffont. It is so big that the staff wear running shoes to cover its 400 rooms, which, when stretched together, extend more than nine miles. And exercise would offer a different connection to some of the 33,000 works.

“It’s not the spirit looking,” he explained. “It’s the body.”

He offered Mehdi Kerkouche, a local choreographer, a tour with curators and gave him carte blanche to design the sessions — with one small request.

“Forget the Mona Lisa, for once,” Mr. Bouniol-Laffont said. “There are so many other things to see.”

The classes, priced at 38 euros, about $41, for adults, sold out within an hour of going live online. They last through the end of this month.

The biggest draw is the timing. The dancing begins an hour before the museum opens. Each morning, some 60 lucky people — divided into two groups of 30 — get to experience a private viewing normally enjoyed only by the likes of Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

No giant lines, no pressing crowds, no selfie-sticks: We had the Louvre to ourselves.

Here’s a secret: While the French are passionate gallery-goers, they aren’t huge into the Louvre. Some nine million people crowd its halls each year, but the vast majority aren’t French. The place is just too big and crowded. The experience of viewing the Mona Lisa is similar to squeezing into the subway at rush hour; some 30,000 people press before it each day. Why suffer through that when there are more than 100 less-packed museums, full of marvelous things, scattered around the city?

Even Mr. Kerkouche admitted he hadn’t been inside the building since he was a child. “All the Parisians are the same,” he said. “I bike every day in front of it to go from one place to another in the city. But I just don’t look at it anymore.”

Arriving at the Louvre alone, before the crowds, gave me the space to really look at it. And boy, is it breathtaking.

In the center of the outer courtyard, I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid glowed purple-blue in the morning light. I stepped inside it and floated down the escalator into the museum’s modern foyer, the reflection of the building’s ornate stone facades, with its columns and statues, scattered around me.

I felt like a character in a Disney cartoon. It was magical.

Mr. Kerkouche’s idea was to have a four-part session, in four different rooms, tucked close to one another in two of the Louvre’s three wings. Otherwise, he said, the hour would be eaten up by commuting.

He asked four collaborators — three dancers and his gym coach — to help design a 15-minute class for each space. Each one was inspired, energetically, by the room.

Disco in the Salle des Cariatides, which once had held royal balls, was obvious — to him, disco was the modern version of ballroom dancing. “We have to give back the first purpose of this room,” he said.

From there, my group stepped into the next room for some quick stretching beside the Venus de Milo and then ran down to the basement to the oldest part of the building. There, we did warrior training — lunges, squats and jumping jacks to the beats of the AC/DC song “Highway to Hell.”

The activity befit the Louvre’s origins as a fortress built around 1200 to protect the medieval city from the Normans while King Philippe Auguste was on a crusade. Over the centuries, it was converted into a royal palace and greatly expanded. In 1984, while doing a huge renovation of the building, archaeologists unearthed the base of the original rough limestone walls.

We did running races up and down the steps toward the Great Sphynx of Tanis, which guards the entrance to the Egyptian antiquities collection. I imagined its pouting lips smiling just slightly, and its huge stone tail flicking in mild feline amusement.

We whooped and hollered as we ran up the stairwell to the next class, the echoes washing over my body. The instructors played hide-and-seek during their first walk-through together, I was told. They maintained that sense of playfulness.

It was all so otherworldly and silly. I felt the sense of exhilaration and freedom I remember from summer camp when I was a kid.

We were instructed to dance into our next class, through a tunnel made of the massive bodies of two stone bulls with eagle wings and the heads of bearded men. Inside, we were greeted by a reconstructed 2,700-year-old courtyard of Khorsabad, a palace of King Sargon II, leader of the Assyrian empire. Abandoned soon after his death, the palace was unearthed in 1843 in modern-day Iraq by the French vice consul to Mosul. Parts were sent to the Louvre soon after for display.

The giant statues inspired Mr. Kerkouche to offer a class in dancehall, the Jamaican urban dance in which moves are rooted, powerful and sensual.

“We are living statues,” said Queensy Blazin’, the dance instructor who led us through rounds of twerking, stomping while scooping our arms and bouncing forward into squats while barking “ha” to the deep beats of Sean Paul’s “Get Busy.”

The joy was infectious and irresistible.

Even the security guard was dancing at her post. She had never seen anything like it in her 34 years working here, she confided.

Beauty shouldn’t just be stared at, I realized. It should be enjoyed and celebrated.

Our last stop was in the part of the Louvre that was once a parking lot for the Ministry of Finance, which, for more than a century, had its offices in one wing of the building. As part of the 1984 renovation, the museum directors converted the space into a peaceful courtyard with potted trees, benches and Carrara marble statues from the royal gardens of the Marly palace. That was a former getaway spot for Louis XIV, where he’d come to relax in the stunning gardens, resplendent with waterfalls, groves and pools.

And so there we did yoga. The teacher led us through downward dogs and pigeon poses before giant statues of rearing horses and hunters — a homage to the king’s favorite pastimes.

I noticed sea gulls wheeling above the giant glass roof.

“Normally, yoga is very introspective,” Laure Dary, the instructor, explained to me later. “But this is a setting like no other. I have to tell them to open their eyes.”

She directed us to focus on one statue, and take it as a mental memento. I gazed into the stone eye of a marble boar being speared by a hunter in a tunic.

At the end, my fellow rosy-cheeked participants crowded around the teachers to thank them profusely. We were all high on endorphins.

“This was a life highlight,” beamed Benny Nemer, 50, a Canadian artist who has lived in Paris for four years.

My only criticism: 15 minutes was not enough time in each room. I need to go back and examine them all intimately, plus see some other ones I glimpsed while running by. Which was exactly the point, according to Mr. Bouniol-Laffont of the Louvre — to lure Parisians back into the building, and remind them of the place’s majesty.

Because once you fall in love with a place, you don’t want to be parted from it.

Noisy, Gaudy and Spiritual: Young Pilgrims Embrace an Ancient Goddess

Chris Buckley and

Chris Buckley, Amy Chang Chien and Lam Yik Fei spent four days walking parts of two pilgrimages in central and southern Taiwan. On the journey, they interviewed around 20 pilgrims.


In a din of firecrackers, cymbals and horns, a team of devotees carried the shrouded wooden statue of a serene-faced woman, holding her aloft on a brightly decorated litter as they navigated through tens of thousands of onlookers.

As the carriers nudged forward, hundreds of people were lined up ahead of them, kneeling on the road and waiting for the moment when the statue would pass over their heads.

Some wept after it did; many smiled and snapped selfies. “I love Mazu, and Mazu loves me,” the crowd shouted.

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In Western Ukraine, a Community Wrestles With Patriotism or Survival

It was sunset when Maj. Kyrylo Vyshyvany of the Ukrainian Army stepped into the yard of his childhood home in Duliby, a village in western Ukraine, just after his younger brother, also a soldier, had been buried. Their mother was still crying in the living room.

“I can already see that she’ll be coming to visit him every day,” he said that day.

He was right, but he would not be by her side. A few days after the funeral, in March 2022, he was killed in a Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian military base and buried next to his brother, Vasyl.

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A Gen Z Resistance, Cut Off From Data Plans

In the night, the mountain air not quite chill enough to still the insects, young people gathered around a glow. The light attracting them was not a phone screen, that electric lure for people almost everywhere, but a bonfire.

From around the blaze, music radiated. Fingers strummed a guitar. Voices layered lyrics about love, democracy and, most of all, revolution. Moths courted the flame, sparking when they veered too close, then swooning to their deaths.

For months now, these hills of Karenni State in eastern Myanmar have been severed from modern communications. The military junta that seized power in a coup three years ago, plunging the country into civil war, has cut off the populations most opposed to its brutal rule. In these resistance strongholds, where people from around the nation have congregated, there is almost no internet, cell service or even electricity.

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First, He Conquered Paris. Now, a Japanese Chef Wants to Become a Brand.

In cooking, timing is everything. So much so that if the chef Kei Kobayashi spots diners heading to the restroom as he sends a dish out from the kitchen, he stops them. Nature’s call can wait; his culinary offerings should be tasted at peak flavor.

Such imperiousness and exactitude align with what Mr. Kobayashi, the first Japanese chef to earn three Michelin stars for a restaurant in Paris, said he had learned from one of his earliest mentors in France: The chef is king.

“Unless you commit to your worldview to this extent, you won’t be able to be a chef,” Mr. Kobayashi, 46, said during a recent interview in Tokyo.

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After Her Sister Wed at 11, a Girl Began Fighting Child Marriage at 13

When they were children, Memory Banda and her younger sister were inseparable, just a year apart in age and often mistaken for twins. They shared not only clothes and shoes, but also many of the same dreams and aspirations.

Then, one afternoon in 2009, that close relationship shattered when Ms. Banda’s sister, at age 11, was forced to wed a man in his 30s who had impregnated her.

“She became a different person then,” Ms. Banda recalled. “We never played together anymore because she was now ‘older’ than me. I felt like I lost my best friend.”

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A Portrait Artist Fit for a King (but Not a President)

Update: The portrait of King Charles III was unveiled on Tuesday.

Few famous Britons, it seems, can resist the chance to be painted by Jonathan Yeo. David Attenborough, the 97-year-old broadcasting legend, is among those who have recently climbed the spiral stairs to his snug studio, hidden at the end of a lane in West London, to pose for Mr. Yeo, one of Britain’s most recognized portrait artists.

Yet when it came to painting his latest portrait, of King Charles III, the artist had to go to the subject.

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A Novelist Who Finds Inspiration in Germany’s Tortured History

She became a writer because her country vanished overnight.

Jenny Erpenbeck, now 57, was 22 in 1989, when the Berlin Wall cracked by accident, then collapsed. She was having a “girls’ evening out,” she said, so she had no idea what had happened until the next morning. When a professor discussed it in class, she said, it became real to her.

The country she knew, the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, remains a crucial setting for most of her striking, precise fiction. Her work, which has grown in acuity and emotional power, combines the complications of German and Soviet history with the lives of her characters, including those of her own family members, whose experiences echo with the past like contrapuntal music.

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Forbidden to Watch Films as a Child, He Now Directs Somalia’s Top Shows

At the shout of “action,” two actors, costumed in black blazers and sunglasses, erupted into a spirited shouting match, gesticulating wildly as one demanded that the other convince his daughter to marry him.

A cameraman and a boom operator, sweaty under a scorching sun, moved in to capture the altercation in close-up.

Then the director, Abshir Rageh, seated in a foldable chair, removed his headphones and called: “Cut.”

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The Premier League’s Asterisk Season

With five minutes left in his team’s penultimate game of the Premier League season, Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola found the tension just a little too much. As a rival striker bore down on his team’s goal, Guardiola — crouching on his haunches on the sideline — lost his balance and toppled over onto his back.

Lying on the grass and expecting the worst, he missed what may yet prove to be the pivotal moment in the Premier League’s most enthralling title race in a decade.

But the striker did not score. His effort was parried by goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, sending Manchester City above its title rival Arsenal in the standings and positioning it, if it can win again on Sunday, to become the first English team to win four consecutive championships.

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Soccer’s Governing Body Delays Vote on Palestinian Call to Bar Israel

FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, on Friday postponed a decision to temporarily suspend Israel over its actions during the conflict in Gaza, and in the West Bank, saying it needed to solicit legal advice before taking up a motion submitted by the Palestinian Football Association.

The motion calling for Israel’s suspension referred to “international law violations committed by the Israeli occupation in Palestine, particularly in Gaza,” and cited violations of FIFA’s human rights and discrimination statutes.

Responding to emotionally charged addresses at FIFA’s annual congress by the head of the Palestinian soccer body, Jibril Rajoub, FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, said the urgency of the situation meant he would convene an extraordinary meeting of FIFA’s top board on July 25.

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Scandal Brought Reforms to Soccer. Its Leaders Are Rolling Them Back.

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The 12-page report was intended to save soccer’s governing body, FIFA, in its moment of existential crisis.

Filled with reform proposals and drawn up by more than a dozen soccer insiders in December 2015, the report was FIFA’s best chance to show business partners, U.S. investigators and billions of fans that it could be trusted again after one of the biggest corruption scandals in sports history.

In bullet points and numbered sections, the report championed high-minded ideas like accountability and humility. It also proposed concrete and, for FIFA, revolutionary changes: transparency in how major decisions were reached; term limits for top leaders and new limits on presidential power; and the abolition of well-funded committees widely viewed as a system of institutional graft.

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Ahead of Olympics, World Anti-Doping Agency Faces a Trust Crisis

Two months before the Olympics are scheduled to begin in Paris, the global agency tasked with policing doping in sports is facing a growing crisis as it fends off allegations it helped cover up the positive tests of elite Chinese swimmers who went on to compete — and win medals — at the last Summer Games.

The allegations are particularly vexing for the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has long billed itself as the gold standard in the worldwide movement for clean sports, because they raise the specter that the agency — and by extension the entire system set up to try to keep the Olympics clean — cannot be trusted.

Athletes are openly questioning whether WADA can be relied upon to do its core job of ensuring there will be a level playing field in Paris, where some of the same Chinese swimmers are favorites to win more medals.

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A Race the Whole World Is Watching

Taiwo Aina for The New York Times

The race to decide this year’s English soccer champion has captivated fans. But it’s not just an English story.

The Premier League is the world’s most global league, with a reach that carries its games, its teams and its stars to almost every country.

That means a sizable portion of the world’s population is deeply invested in its best title race in a decade.

And for lifelong fans in far-flung places, every moment matters.

A Race the Whole World Is Watching

Muktita SuhartonoElian PeltierShawna Richer and

Elian Peltier tracked Arsenal in West Africa, Muktita Suhartono watched Liverpool in Bangkok and Shawna Richer was with Manchester City fans in Toronto.

The teams might bear the names of English towns, the stadiums might sit on English soil and the stands might still be primarily filled with English fans, but the Premier League slipped its borders long ago. The world’s most popular sports league has, for some time, been a global soccer competition that just happens to be staged in England.

This season has crystallized that perfectly.

For the first time in a decade, three teams — Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City — remained in contention to win the championship as the season entered its final weeks. The fates of those teams have not simply had an impact on anxious, ardent fans in London, Liverpool or Manchester. Their results have been followed just as avidly in North America, Africa, Asia and countless other places, where fans rise early, stay up late and seek out any screen they can to follow their teams.

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Ebrahim Raisi, presidente de Irán, muere a los 63 años

Ebrahim Raisi, presidente de Irán y uno de los principales aspirantes a suceder al líder supremo de la nación, murió el domingo en un accidente de helicóptero. Tenía 63 años.

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

Raisi, clérigo musulmán chiita conservador que participó en algunas de las más brutales medidas represivas contra opositores a la República Islámica, era un protegido del líder supremo de Irán, el ayatolá Alí Jamenei, y un devoto defensor del régimen religioso en el país.

La presidencia de Raisi estuvo marcada por dos acontecimientos importantes: el levantamiento nacional de 2022, liderado por mujeres y niñas, que exigía el fin del dominio de la República Islámica y el brutal aplastamiento de ese movimiento por parte del gobierno; y la actual guerra de Medio Oriente con Israel, con el que tenía un largo historial de ataques clandestinos.

Como presidente según el sistema político iraní, Raisi no estableció la política nuclear o regional del país. Pero heredó un gobierno que no dejaba de ampliar su influencia regional a través de una red de milicias aliadas y un programa nuclear que avanzaba rápidamente hacia niveles de enriquecimiento de uranio apto para armamento tras la salida de Estados Unidos de un acuerdo nuclear.

Raisi respaldaba y apoyaba ambas políticas y las consideraba esenciales para que Irán mantuviera su influencia en la región y ejerciera presión sobre Occidente.

Su muerte ocurrió cuando una guerra en la sombra que llevaba años se convirtió en una confrontación directa a raíz del ataque militar de Israel contra Gaza en represalia por los atentados del 7 de octubre de Hamás contra Israel.

Raisi nació en la ciudad nororiental de Mashhad, en una familia de clérigos, y estudió en el famoso seminario de Qom antes de participar, con 18 años, en la revolución islámica de 1979, que derrocó al sha de Irán. Solo dos años después, Raisi se convirtió en juez de la recién creada República Islámica, iniciando un ascenso constante a la cima de la política iraní.

Al igual que Jamenei y su predecesor, el ayatolá Ruhollah Jomeini, fundador de la revolución islámica, Raisi se puso el turbante negro de los clérigos, reservado a los sayyids, o personas cuyo linaje se remonta al profeta Mahoma.

La cuestión de la sucesión en Irán se ha hecho más acuciante porque Jamenei tiene 85 años y está débil. La selección del próximo líder supremo es un proceso opaco de rivalidades políticas y artimañas. Según la Constitución, un órgano electo de clérigos llamado Asamblea de Expertos elige al líder supremo.

Raisi era considerado uno de los principales aspirantes a ese cargo y contaba con el favor de la facción de línea dura, al igual que el hijo del ayatolá Jamenei, Mojtabai, un influyente clérigo que ayuda a dirigir la oficina de su padre. La muerte de Raisi allana el camino para que el joven Jamenei suceda a su padre.

Los analistas políticos describieron a Raisi como un fiel ejecutor de las políticas de Jamenei y un facilitador del creciente poder del Cuerpo de la Guardia Revolucionaria Islámica en la política y la economía de Irán.

“No era alguien que rebosara de carisma. Sus discursos no motivaban a la gente a salir a la calle. Ejecutaba políticas”, afirmó Sanam Vakil, directora del programa de Medio Oriente y Norte de África de Chatham House. “Por encima de todo, era un conocedor del régimen. Era un ideólogo que trabajaba dentro del sistema y a través del sistema”.

Los partidarios de Raisi, incluidos los comentaristas conservadores en los medios estatales, lo elogiaron por reimponer estrictas reglas religiosas y sociales, ser intolerante con la disidencia y alejar las políticas de Irán de Occidente hacia un mayor compromiso con Rusia y China.

De 2016 a 2019, Raisi estuvo al frente de Astan Quds Razavi, un poderoso conglomerado religioso multimillonario bajo el control de Jamenei y que se cree que es una de sus fuentes de riqueza más importantes.

En 2019, Raisi se convirtió en el jefe del poder judicial de Irán, y durante su mandato supervisó algunas de las medidas represivas más brutales contra la disidencia. Al menos 500 personas murieron durante las manifestaciones que tuvieron lugar en todo el país en noviembre de 2019 en respuesta a una subida de los precios del combustible. Detuvo a activistas, periodistas, abogados y ciudadanos con doble nacionalidad.

Se convirtió en presidente en 2021, en una elección que fue ampliamente vista como orquestada para asegurar su victoria, con sus rivales más serios habiendo sido descalificados.

Raisi hizo campaña como candidato anticorrupción, pero asumió la presidencia bajo una nube de condena por parte de opositores al gobierno y grupos internacionales de derechos humanos. Los grupos de derechos humanos destacaron los antecedentes de Raisi como miembro de un grupo de cuatro personas que ordenó la ejecución sin juicio de 5000 disidentes políticos en 1988, al final de la guerra entre Irán e Irak. Raisi no ha negado haber formado parte del panel y dijo en un discurso que era un funcionario subalterno nombrado para el cargo por el líder supremo en aquel momento.

“Hemos perdido una generación de mentes políticas y activistas que podrían haber desempeñado un papel importante en la sociedad iraní”, declaró Hadi Ghaemi, director ejecutivo del Centro de Derechos Humanos de Irán.

Raisi, sostuvo, participó en varios de los momentos más represivos de la historia de Irán, en particular en la represión de las protestas antigubernamentales de 2009 y 2022.

Raisi asumió el poder tres años después de que Donald Trump, como presidente, se retirara del acuerdo nuclear entre Irán y las potencias mundiales. Tras la salida de Estados Unidos del acuerdo, Trump volvió a imponer duras sanciones económicas a Irán, que afectaron a las ventas de petróleo y a los bancos del país. Un año más tarde, después de que Irán no lograra aprovechar los beneficios del acuerdo nuclear, volvió a enriquecer uranio a un nivel cercano al armamentístico.

Raisi asumió el cargo con la promesa de llevar a cabo una “diplomacia de resistencia”, es decir, un desafío a las potencias de Occidente, pero una apertura a las negociaciones, en particular con Estados Unidos, para volver al acuerdo nuclear y tratar de eliminar las sanciones. Pero meses de negociaciones fracasaron en otoño de 2021 y no se ha llegado a ningún acuerdo con el gobierno de Joe Biden.

Uno de los logros más importantes en política exterior de Raisi como presidente fue uno que sus predecesores habían eludido durante mucho tiempo: el restablecimiento de los lazos con Arabia Saudita, el antiguo adversario regional de Irán. En 2023, ambas naciones firmaron en Pekín un acuerdo para restablecer relaciones diplomáticas. Aunque simbólico en gran medida, el acuerdo se consideró clave para apaciguar su rivalidad regional.

Raisi dio prioridad a estrechar las relaciones con Rusia y China y a alejarse de Occidente, afirmando que Irán no podía confiar en Estados Unidos y Europa tras el fracaso del acuerdo nuclear. El gobierno de Raisi alcanzó un amplio acuerdo económico, militar y de seguridad de 25 años con China: Irán aceptó vender a Pekín petróleo con descuento a cambio de que empresas chinas invirtieran 400.000 millones de dólares en Irán en una amplia gama de sectores.

También viajó con frecuencia a Moscú para reunirse con su homólogo ruso, el presidente Vladimir Putin, e intensificaron las relaciones militares y de seguridad. Irán ha vendido aviones no tripulados a Rusia, que los ha utilizado en su guerra de Ucrania, aunque Raisi ha negado este papel.

El impacto de Raisi en la política interior durante su presidencia se ha dejado sentir mucho más profundamente, y es probable que su legado sea controvertido. Durante su mandato, el país sufrió graves recesiones económicas, impulsadas por las sanciones internacionales y el elevado desempleo.

“Si se quiere pensar en su legado, dejó la economía del país en ruinas, y este se ha vuelto más represivo”, afirmó Sina Azodi, profesor sobre Irán en la Universidad George Washington. “Irán nunca fue democrático ni libre, pero, desde 2021, la represión política ha aumentado. No se tolera ninguna voz disidente”.

Bajo el mandato de Raisi, la moneda de Irán se desplomó a un mínimo histórico, el cambio climático y la mala gestión intensificaron la escasez de agua , y el país fue golpeado en enero por el ataque terrorista más mortífero desde la fundación de la república en 1979.

Raisi también supervisó una brutal represión de las protestas antigubernamentales que estallaron en 2022 tras la muerte de una joven kurda de 21 años, Mahsa Amini, mientras se encontraba bajo custodia de la policía de moralidad iraní. Su muerte desencadenó una oleada de protestas encabezadas por mujeres que se quitaron el pañuelo de la cabeza y pidieron el derrocamiento de la República Islámica.

Después de que muchas mujeres iraníes desafiaran la norma del hiyab obligatorio y aparecieran en público durante más de un año sin cubrirse el cabello, Raisi anunció esta primavera que iba a reforzar la norma del hiyab. En abril, su gobierno envió de nuevo a las calles a la policía de la moralidad, tras haber dicho anteriormente que se había abolido, y muchas detenciones de mujeres se volvieron violentas.

Las acusaciones de abusos contra los derechos humanos, por las que Estados Unidos impuso sanciones a Raisi en 2019, lo persiguieron en la escena internacional hasta los últimos años de su vida.

En diciembre pasado, canceló una visita a las Naciones Unidas en Ginebra ante la preocupación de que pudiera ser arrestado por su presunto papel en las ejecuciones masivas de 1988, ya que Suecia había procesado a un funcionario judicial iraní de menor rango por crímenes contra la humanidad. Sin embargo, Raisi asistió todos los años a la Asamblea General de la ONU en Nueva York, donde pronunció encendidos discursos en los que culpaba de la disidencia en Irán a enemigos extranjeros, al tiempo que presentaba a su país como modelo de buen gobierno y defensor de los derechos humanos.

A Raisi le sobrevive su esposa, Jamileh Alamolhoda, profesora universitaria de Filosofía y Educación e hija de un influyente clérigo de línea ultra dura, Ahmad Alamolhoda. La pareja tiene dos hijas y al menos un nieto.

Farnaz Fassihi es la jefa del buró de las Naciones Unidas para el Times, que dirige la cobertura de la organización, y también cubre Irán y la guerra en la sombra entre Irán e Israel. Radica en Nueva York. Más de Farnaz Fassihi

La crisis del agua empeora en Ciudad de México

En Ciudad de México, una de las ciudades más grandes del mundo, las dificultades por conseguir agua son constantes.

La mala planificación, la expansión urbana y un clima seco y abrasador han puesto a prueba el suministro de agua.

Una reserva clave pronto podría ser incapaz de suministrar agua.

Una confluencia de factores como el cambio climático, la expansión urbanística y una infraestructura deficiente ha llevado a Ciudad de México al borde de una severa crisis de agua.

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El agua subterránea se está agotando con rapidez. Una reserva importante tiene niveles tan bajos que ya no se utiliza para suministrar agua. El año pasado fue el más caluroso y seco de México en al menos 70 años. Y uno de los principales sistemas de agua de la ciudad se enfrenta a una potencial situación de “día cero” este verano, en el que los niveles bajen tanto que tampoco pueda suministrar agua.

“Nosotros estamos sufriendo de que está creciendo desmedidamente la ciudad y no se puede frenar”, dijo Gabriel Martínez, de 64 años, quien vive en un complejo de apartamentos que tiene problemas para recibir agua para sus cerca de 600 residentes. “No hay suficiente recursos”.

Ciudad de México, que solía ser un valle rico en agua que fue drenado para darle paso a una enorme área urbana, tiene una población metropolitana de 23 millones de habitantes, lo que la posiciona entre las 10 ciudades más pobladas del mundo, un gran incremento en comparación a los 15 millones de habitantes en 1990. Es una de varias ciudades importantes que enfrentan una grave escasez de agua, entre ellas Ciudad del Cabo; São Paulo, Brasil; y Chennai, India. Muchas son consecuencia de años de mala gestión del agua, agravada por la escasez de lluvias.

Y aunque los problemas de Ciudad de México están empeorando, no son recientes. Algunas colonias han carecido de agua potable desde hace años, pero hoy en día, comunidades que nunca habían experimentado escasez están lidiando repentinamente con esta situación.

Los expertos advirtieron hace casi dos décadas sobre la disminución del suministro de agua, pero obtuvieron pocos resultados. Si en aquel entonces la red de agua de la capital ya estaba en una situación precaria, ahora “algunas partes del sistema se están cayendo a pedazos”, dijo Manuel Perló Cohen, un investigador de planificación urbana que estudia el sistema de agua de Ciudad de México.

“México es la principal economía del mundo que más agua embotellada consume”, aseveró Roberto Constantino Toto, miembro del comité directivo de la Red de Agua de la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana. Agregó que esto es un reflejo del “fracaso de nuestra política hídrica”.

Las condiciones excepcionalmente secas son la causa inmediata de la difícil situación del agua en la ciudad. México ha sido durante mucho tiempo vulnerable a las sequías, pero casi el 68 por ciento del país sufre sequía moderada o extrema, según la Comisión Nacional del Agua.

El sistema hídrico Cutzamala —una de las redes de presas, canales y tuberías más grandes del mundo que suministra el 27 por ciento del agua de la capital— se encuentra en un bajo nivel histórico del 30 por ciento de su capacidad normal, según muestran las cifras oficiales. En el mismo momento el año pasado, estuvo al 38 por ciento, y en 2022 se mantuvo al 45 por ciento.

Las autoridades han proyectado al 26 de junio como el posible “día cero”, en el que el sistema Cutzamala podría caer a la línea base del 20 por ciento en la que ya no podría utilizarse para suministrar agua a Ciudad de México.

En una de las reservas el nivel de agua llegó a niveles tan bajos que las autoridades cancelaron su uso en abril.

“Es triste”, dijo Juan Carlos Morán Costilla, un pescador de 52 años que vive junto a la reserva, mientras estaba de pie en el suelo agrietado por el calor que solía estar bajo agua.

El agua subterránea, que suministra la mayor cantidad de agua de la ciudad, se está extrayendo el doble de rápido de lo que puede reponerse, afirmaron los expertos.

El suministro de agua de la ciudad, parte del cual llega desde lejos, fluye a través de tuberías viejas a lo largo de una red de más de 13.000 kilómetros de largo vulnerable a terremotos y hundimientos, y donde las fugas han causado una pérdida estimada de agua del 35 por ciento, más de lo que proporciona el sistema Cutzamala.

El problema del agua en la ciudad se ha convertido en un tema importante de las elecciones que se realizarán el próximo mes.

El presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador, cuyos delegados han asegurado que el “día cero” no sucederá, ha insistido que su gobierno ya está abordando los problemas de agua de Ciudad de México. Afirmó que se están cavando nuevos pozos, y que los funcionarios están trabajando para poner fin a la corrupción relacionada con el agua consumida por las grandes industrias. También ha propuesto traer más agua desde fuera de la ciudad.

Claudia Sheinbaum, la protegida de López Obrador que renunció al cargo de jefa de gobierno de Ciudad de México el año pasado para convertirse en la candidata presidencial en el primer lugar de las encuestas, ha defendido la gestión de la crisis de agua de su gobierno.

Hace poco afirmó que los científicos no habrían podido predecir la sequía prolongada, y que, de ser elegida presidenta, presentaría un plan ambicioso para solucionar los problemas.

La Comisión Nacional del Agua no respondió a repetidas solicitudes de comentarios.

Algunas partes de Ciudad de México llevan mucho tiempo sin suficiente agua potable, como por ejempo Iztapalapa, una comunidad de clase trabajadora y la alcaldía más poblada de la capital con 1,8 millones de habitantes. Los residentes dependen de camiones cisterna, o pipas, de la alcaldía para llenar cisternas o tanques de agua en casas o edificios. Si eso no llega a ser suficiente, la gente paga por camiones privados o, en casos extremos, se conecta de manera ilegal a tuberías de agua potable.

Pero a medida que el agua se ha vuelto más escasa, otras partes de la ciudad están afrontando un racionamiento cada vez mayor, como flujo reducido o recibir agua solo durante algunas horas del día o ciertos días de la semana. El agua ha sido racionada en 284 localidades este año, incluso en algunos lugares más acomodados, en comparación con 147 en 2007.

“Las alcaldías que nunca han tenido ese problema en su vida van a conocer lo que es realmente cuidar el agua”, dijo Adriana Gutiérrez, de 50 años, quien administra y vive en un complejo de apartamentos de 154 unidades en Iztapalapa que depende de las pipas de agua. Los residentes tratan cada gota como algo muy preciado y utilizan el agua de las duchas para limpiar sus hogares.

Durante 20 años, Dan Ortega Hernández, de 50 años, nunca tuvo problemas con el agua en su barbería en la alcaldía de Tlalpan, en Ciudad de México. Pero en noviembre, dijo que abrió el grifo y nada salió. Ahora, cuando obtiene agua del plan de racionamiento, llena un tanque de 1100 litros y ruega para que le alcance hasta el siguiente día programado para recibir agua corriente.

Este es un suministro más regular que en su casa, ubicada en otra zona de Tlalpan. Afirmó que los camiones cisterna municipales solían llegar aproximadamente cada cuatro días, pero ahora tardan más, a veces hasta un mes. En lugar de usar agua en casa, lava la ropa de la familia en una lavandería cerca de su tienda.

“Sí da miedo que se nos están acabando los recursos”, dijo.

No hay evidencia de que la sequía en México se deba al cambio climático. Pero los efectos se agravan por las temperaturas cada vez más altas.

La temperatura promedio de Ciudad de México aumentó alrededor de 3 grados Celsius en el último siglo, más del doble del promedio mundial. Según un estudio de 2020, los días excepcionalmente calurosos (más de 30 grados Celsius) se han duplicado en algunas partes de la ciudad. Esto podría deberse en parte al cambio climático y en parte al crecimiento exponencial de la ciudad; el concreto y el asfalto han remplazado a los árboles y los humedales.

El calor agrava la crisis del agua: la gente necesita más agua y esta se evapora más.

El más reciente Atlas de estrés hídrico, publicado por el Instituto de Recursos Mundiales, describe a Ciudad de México como una ciudad que enfrenta un estrés hídrico “extremadamente alto”, su categoría más alta.

Mientras México se prepara para ir a las urnas y elegir un nuevo presidente, los problemas del agua han sido ampliamente opacados por otros temas, como la inseguridad y la economía. Sin embargo, el agua ha sido un tema central en las contiendas por las alcaldías y los candidatos han prometido resolver la crisis.

El agua llegará a toda la ciudad, independientemente de dónde viva la gente, afirmó una candidata. Las fugas de agua que el partido de gobierno no ha podido reparar serán solucionadas, proclamó otro. Se pondrá en marcha un plan maestro, añadió un tercero, para desenterrar los ríos sepultados que atraviesan la capital.

“Ahora pues todo mundo dice: ‘Sí, yo voy a resolver el problema del agua’”, dijo Perló. “Pero ya he escuchado yo muchas veces esta historia”.

Se han logrado algunos avances. En 2019 se abrió un enorme túnel de unos 2000 millones de dólares para llevar aguas residuales desde Ciudad de México a una planta de tratamiento de agua distante. En algunos barrios más pobres se lanzó un programa para recolectar agua de lluvia no utilizada. Se restauró una pequeña sección del lago de Texcoco, en gran parte drenado para construir la ciudad. Se están explorando más pozos y acuíferos.

Pero varios expertos afirmaron que las medidas tomadas hasta el momento no han sido lo suficientemente agresivas y que otras estaban mal enfocadas.

La mayor parte de la atención de los gobiernos municipales y nacionales se ha centrado en buscar cuencas hidrográficas lejanas que abastezcan a otros estados mexicanos para saciar la necesidad de agua de Ciudad de México. Pero la mayoría de las plantas de tratamiento de la ciudad no funcionan a plena capacidad. Muchas dejan que las aguas residuales no sean tratadas y luego se vierten en ríos o lagos, contaminando lo que podrían ser fuentes alternativas de agua.

El costo estimado para abordar la crisis de agua podría llegar hasta los 13.500 millones de dólares, según el Sistema de Aguas de Ciudad de México.

La temporada de lluvias, que normalmente se produce desde junio hasta noviembre, usualmente ayudaría a reponer los sistemas hídricos de Ciudad de México. Pero la capital experimentó niveles bajos históricos de decantaciones durante la temporada de lluvias del año pasado.

La advertencia del “día cero” realizada por algunos expertos ha sido un tema álgido en Ciudad de México, utilizado para fustigar al partido gobernante, que incluye a López Obrador y a Sheinbaum. Pero también ha ayudado a captar la atención del público sobre este problema cada vez más profundo.

“Te crea esta sensación de miedo, de ansiedad, de preocupación”, dijo Fabiola Sosa Rodríguez, investigadora de la gestión del agua y políticas climáticas.

Lizbeth Martínez García, de 26 años, quien vive en una comunidad en una ladera en Iztapalapa donde un camión municipal de agua semanal llena los tanques que suministran el líquido a las cuatro familias de su edificio, dijo que le había preguntado al hombre encargado de la entrega de agua sobre el futuro.

Martínez García contó que el hombre le había respondido que en el futuro se auguraba aún menos agua.

“Tenemos miedo”, afirmó.

El presidente de República Dominicana se encamina a ganar la reelección

El presidente de República Dominicana, Luis Abinader, se encaminaba el domingo a una victoria en su candidatura a la reelección, gracias al apoyo de los votantes a su mano dura hacia los migrantes procedentes de la vecina Haití, a su campaña anticorrupción y a su gestión de una de las economías más sólidas de América Latina.

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Abinader, un exejecutivo de la industria del turismo, obtuvo el 59 por ciento de los votos frente al 27 por ciento de su rival más próximo, Leonel Fernández, quien ha sido presidente en tres ocasiones, y al 11 por ciento de Abel Martínez, un alcalde, con el 21,5 de los votos contados, según la autoridad electoral nacional de República Dominicana.

Tanto Fernández como Martínez llamaron a Abinader la noche del domingo para reconocer la derrota y felicitarlo, a pesar de la falta de resultados oficiales completos, que se espera estén disponibles en los próximos días. En su discurso de victoria, Abinader agradeció a sus rivales y a quienes votaron por él.

“Asumo la confianza recibida”, dijo Abinader. “No les fallaré”.

Las elecciones mostraron cómo un líder político podría convertir los temores alrededor de la migración a su favor.

Este año, República Dominicana está deportando decenas de miles de personas de Haití —a pesar de las peticiones de las Naciones Unidas de que no lo hagan— mientras los migrantes huyen de una anarquía impulsada por bandas criminales. Abinader, está incluso aplicando medidas adicionales, como la construcción de un muro fronterizo entre las dos naciones que comparten la isla caribeña La Española.

“Él se ha puesto los pantalones contra eso”, dijo Robert Luna, un votante en Santo Domingo que trabaja en mercadeo, refiriéndose a las políticas migratorias de Abinader. “Ha luchado porque tengamos un país”, aseguró, “como los padres de la patria quisieron”.

La probable victoria de Abinader en la primera vuelta también deja en evidencia cómo República Dominicana, con una de las economías más sólidas de América Latina, se diferencia de otros países de la región, donde muchos líderes que llegaron al poder en el mismo periodo que Abinader tienen índices de aprobación sombríos.

“Estas sin duda no son unas elecciones de ‘cambio’, como lo han sido muchas otras en América Latina recientemente”, dijo Michael Shifter, miembro de Diálogo Interamericano, una organización de investigación con sede en Washington.

Gran parte del apoyo a Abinader proviene de sus iniciativas anticorrupción. Ganó su primer mandato en 2020 tras prometer erradicar la corrupción arraigada desde hace mucho tiempo en la cultura política de República Dominicana, un país de 11,2 millones de habitantes.

Abinader nombró a Miriam Germán, una exjueza de la Suprema Corte de Justicia, como procuradora general. Germán ha liderado investigaciones que involucran a funcionarios de alto rango del gobierno anterior, incluidos un exprocurador general y un exministro de Hacienda.

Las investigaciones se han enfocado en gran medida en rivales de Abinader, lo que ha provocado críticas de que no ha incluido a su propio gobierno en las averiguaciones. Pero otras medidas, como la promulgación en 2022 de una ley sobre confiscación de activos ofrecen esperanzas de un cambio duradero. La ley de confiscación se considera una herramienta importante y pionera para desarticular y desmantelar empresas criminales, privándolas de bienes adquiridos de forma ilegal.

Rosario Espinal, analista política dominicana, afirmó que Abinader podría haber ganado la reelección simplemente enfocándose en la batalla contra la corrupción, así como lo hizo en 2020, “pero no iba a ser con los márgenes que él quiere”.

En cambio, dijo Espinal, Abinader aceptó con beneplácito las políticas nativistas migratorias que tradicionalmente son impulsadas por la extrema derecha dominicana. “Necesitaba encontrar un tema nuevo que convocara a toda la sociedad”, afirmó Espinal. “Y eso él lo encontró en el tema migratorio”.

La explotación de las actitudes antihaitianas no es nada nuevo en República Dominicana.

Rafael Trujillo, el dictador xenofóbico que lideró el país de 1930 a 1961, institucionalizó una campaña que mostraba a los haitianos como racialmente inferiores y, en 1937, ordenó la masacre de miles de haitianos y de dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana.

Casi todos los demás países de la región ofrecen la nacionalidad por nacimiento. Pero una enmienda constitucional de 2010 y un fallo judicial de 2013 excluyeron de la ciudadanía a los hijos nacidos en República Dominicana de migrantes indocumentados.

En términos prácticos, eso se traduce en que cerca de 130.000 descendientes de migrantes haitianos están viviendo en República Dominicana sin tener la nacionalidad a pesar de haber nacido allí, según organizaciones de defensa de los derechos migrantes.

A medida que Haití se ha ido sumiendo en el caos tras el asesinato en 2021 del presidente haitiano, Jovenel Moïse, Abinader se apoyó en las medidas antiinmigrantes ya consagradas en la ley dominicana.

Abinader suspendió la emisión de visas para haitianos en 2023, y luego clausuró la frontera con Haití durante casi un mes, en una disputa sobre la construcción de un canal en Haití que utiliza agua de un río compartido por ambos países.

“Él tiene que meter mano dura”, dijo Sandra Ventura, 55 años, una empresaria de Tamayo, en el sur del país, sobre las políticas migratorias de Abinader.

Los funcionarios de migración dominicanos han ido mucho más lejos, y algunos han sido acusados incluso de saquear las casas de los haitianos y de embarcarse en una campaña para detener y deportar a mujeres haitianas que estaban embarazadas o que acababan de dar a luz.

Pablo Mella, director académico del Instituto Superior Pedro Francisco Bonó, una universidad dominicana, calificó las políticas de Abinader hacia Haití de “una vergüenza pública, una vergüenza internacional”, en particular el trato a las mujeres haitiana embarazadas.

“Lo que pasa es que eso es lo que da voto”, añadió Mella. “Y los candidatos jugaban a ver cuál es el más antihaitiano de todos”.

En vísperas de las elecciones, una gran mayoría de votantes dominicanos dijo que la crisis en Haití estaba influyendo en cómo votarían. Abinader está claramente beneficiándose de esas preocupaciones, pues cerca del 90 por ciento de los votantes expresaron apoyar su construcción de un muro fronterizo.

A muchas personas de la gran diáspora dominicana se les permitió votar en las elecciones: hay más de 600.000 votantes elegibles en Estados Unidos y más de 100.000 en España.

Abinader ha defendido sus políticas migratorias, al afirmar que no son diferentes a las implementadas en países como Jamaica, Bahamas, Estados Unidos y Canadá para limitar la llegada de los haitianos que huyen de la crisis.

“Debo hacer lo que sea necesario para proteger a nuestro pueblo”, le dijo Abinader a la BBC en una entrevista reciente. “Solo estamos aplicando nuestras leyes”.

El despacho de Abinader no respondió de inmediato a una solicitud de comentarios.

Aun así, algunos votantes no estaban muy convencidos con el candidato. Tirso Lorenzo Piña, portero y cristiano evangélico en Santo Domingo, dijo que estaba molesto con la decisión de Abinader de apoyar el ingreso de Palestina como miembro de las Naciones Unidas.

“Usted sabe que uno tiene su ideología, sus propios conceptos y modos de pensar”, dijo Piña. “Pero no me simpatiza”.

Aun así, Abinader se benefició de una oposición dividida y un amplio consenso en República Dominicana a favor de políticas favorables a los inversionistas que han estimulado el crecimiento económico. Su manejo de la pandemia de covid también ayudó, pues distribuyó vacunas relativamente rápido y permitió que la industria turística dominicana se recuperara mientras otros países seguían exigiendo que los visitantes entraran en cuarentena.

El turismo es un pilar de la economía, y representa alrededor del 16 por ciento del producto interno bruto. El Banco Mundial espera que la economía de la República Dominicana crezca un 5,1 por ciento este año.

Si bien la economía del país se ha expandido en las últimas dos décadas a un ritmo tres veces mayor que el promedio en América Latina, la desigualdad constante ha expuesto a Abinader a las críticas. El presidente ha respondido ampliando los programas populares de ayuda con transferencia de dinero para los residentes más pobres del país.

Simon Romero es corresponsal en Ciudad de México, y cubre México, Centroamérica y el Caribe. Se ha desempeñado como jefe del buró del Times en Brasil, jefe del buró andino y corresponsal internacional de energía. Más de Simon Romero

Fiscal de la CPI pide la detención del primer ministro de Israel y los líderes de Hamás

El fiscal de la Corte Penal Internacional, Karim Khan, dijo el lunes que había solicitado órdenes de detención contra los dirigentes de Hamás y contra el primer ministro de Israel, Benjamín Netanyahu, por crímenes de guerra y crímenes contra la humanidad en relación con el ataque del 7 de octubre y la guerra en Gaza.

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

En un comunicado, Khan dijo que solicitaba órdenes de detención contra Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif e Ismail Haniyeh, de Hamás. También dijo que solicitaba órdenes de detención contra Netanyahu y el ministro de Defensa israelí, Yoav Gallant.

Aunque la petición de Khan aún debe ser aprobada por los jueces del tribunal, el anuncio supone un duro golpe para el gobierno de Netanyahu y probablemente avivará las críticas internacionales a la estrategia de Israel en su campaña de siete meses contra Hamás y a las consecuencias de la guerra para la población civil de Gaza.

No hubo respuesta inmediata del gobierno israelí ni de Hamás. Israel no es miembro del tribunal y no reconoce su jurisdicción en Israel ni en Gaza. Pero si se emiten órdenes de detención, las personas citadas podrían ser detenidas al viajar a uno de los 124 países miembros del tribunal, entre los que se encuentran la mayoría de los países europeos, pero no Estados Unidos.

La declaración de Khan afirmaba que tenía “motivos razonables para creer” que Sinwar, Deif y Haniyeh eran responsables de “crímenes de guerra y crímenes contra la humanidad”, incluido “el asesinato de cientos de civiles israelíes en ataques perpetrados por Hamás”.

“En opinión de mi despacho, estas personas planearon e instigaron la comisión de crímenes el 7 de octubre de 2023, y han reconocido, a través de sus propias acciones, incluidas visitas personales a los rehenes poco después de su secuestro, su responsabilidad en dichos crímenes”, dice la declaración.

Con respecto a Netanyahu y Gallant, el fiscal dijo que creía que los líderes israelíes tenían responsabilidad penal por crímenes de guerra y crímenes contra la humanidad, incluyendo el uso de la inanición como arma de guerra y “dirigir intencionalmente ataques contra una población civil”.

El anuncio del tribunal no es totalmente una sorpresa. En marzo, Volker Türk, responsable de derechos humanos de las Naciones Unidas, afirmó que las restricciones impuestas por Israel al ingreso de ayuda en Gaza y el modo en que estaba dirigiendo la guerra podrían equivaler al uso de la inanición como arma. Se trata de un crimen de guerra según el Estatuto de Roma, el tratado constitutivo de la Corte Penal Internacional (CPI).

Aunque la Corte es un órgano judicial independiente de las Naciones Unidas, la declaración de Türk llamó la atención dada su antigüedad. Funcionarios israelíes dijeron por primera vez a finales de abril que creían que el tribunal estaba preparando la emisión de órdenes de detención contra altos funcionarios del gobierno por cargos relacionados con la guerra.

El 26 de abril, Netanyahu declaró en las redes sociales que su país “nunca aceptará ningún intento de la CPI de socavar su derecho inherente a la autodefensa”. Cualquier intervención de la CPI “sentaría un peligroso precedente que amenazaría a los soldados y funcionarios de todas las democracias que luchan contra el terrorismo salvaje y la agresión gratuita”, afirmó Netanyahu.

La CPI es el único tribunal internacional permanente del mundo con poder para procesar a individuos acusados de crímenes de guerra, genocidio y crímenes contra la humanidad. No puede juzgar a los acusados de rebeldía, pero sus órdenes de detención pueden dificultar los viajes internacionales. El tribunal carece de fuerzas policiales, por lo que depende de sus miembros para efectuar las detenciones. Los sospechosos detenidos suelen ser trasladados a La Haya para comparecer ante el tribunal.

Israel ha negado ser el causante de la crisis de hambre en Gaza o poner límites a la ayuda humanitaria que entra en el territorio. Afirma que Naciones Unidas y otras organizaciones no han distribuido adecuadamente alimentos y otros productos humanitarios. Pero los expertos en ayuda humanitaria han afirmado que la crisis es consecuencia directa de la guerra y del asedio casi total de Israel al territorio.

La situación alimentaria en Gaza se consideraba estable antes de que comenzara la guerra, pero se ha deteriorado drásticamente desde entonces y la perspectiva de hambruna lleva meses en el panorama. Las autoridades israelíes imponen rigurosos controles a toda la ayuda que llega a Gaza, donde viven unos 2,2 millones de personas, y las caóticas condiciones sobre el terreno dificultan las entregas de ayuda.

Matthew Mpoke Bigg es reportero en Londres del equipo de cobertura en vivo del Times, que cubre las noticias de última hora y en desarrollo. Más de Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Patrick Kingsley es el jefe de la oficina del Times en Jerusalén y dirige la cobertura de Israel, Gaza y Cisjordania. Más de Patrick Kingsley

El kitesurf le cambió la vida a un niño wayú, y a su comunidad en Colombia

Reportando desde el soleado y ventoso cabo de la Vela, Colombia

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Vinieron de todas partes del mundo a esta zona remota de la costa caribeña de Colombia. Dos llegaron desde India. Dos viajaron desde Suiza. Uno desde Países Bajos. Otro desde Seattle. Todos querían aprender de Beto Gómez, un kitesurfista profesional, en el lugar donde aprendió por primera vez a practicar ese deporte.

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

La península de La Guajira es ideal para el kitesurfing. En el cabo de La Vela, la localidad donde nació Gómez, con casi 1000 residentes y terreno desértico, la temporada de vientos dura nueve meses y las olas son planas.

Es por eso que durante cinco días de este año, varios kitesurfistas aficionados —atraídos por las redes sociales de Gómez y las competiciones transmitidas en línea— viajaron a esa zona para recibir sus clases.

“En India, lo apoyamos mucho”, dijo Shyam Rao, de 33 años, quien viajó con su esposa.

El kitesurfing, que utiliza una cometa de tracción para impulsar a una persona por el agua y el aire, no es nativo de esta parte del mundo o de los wayú, la comunidad indígena más numerosa de Colombia, la cual gobierna la región.

El deporte llegó al cabo de La Vela hace casi dos décadas gracias a visitantes extranjeros, o arijuna, un término en la lengua indígena wayú que también se refiere a colombianos que no pertenecen a la etnia.

No todos en la comunidad, cuyos líderes han luchado para preservar sus tierras y tradiciones, han aceptado con los brazos abiertos a un deporte que ha traído crecimiento y cambio. Pero el kitesurf ha convertido al cabo de La Vela en un destino cada vez más popular. La familia de Gómez encontró una fuente de ingresos más allá de la pesca habitual o la elaboración de artesanía en una de las regiones más pobres y con mayores niveles de desnutrición de Colombia. Y Gómez, de 24 años, se ganó un boleto de salida, al convertirse en el único kitesurfista profesional wayú del mundo.

“El kite has sido una bendición para nosotros porque abrió la puerta a nuestro pueblo; me permitió salir y viajar por todo el mundo”, dijo Gómez, en la escuela de kitesurf de la cual es propietario junto a su hermano mayor. “Y yo quiero que otros hagan lo mismo”.

Gómez tenía 7 años la primera vez que vio a alguien practicar kitesurf. Observó con asombro cómo los kitesurfistas visitantes se elevaban por el aire.

“Teníamos esa emoción en decir, ‘Uy, llegó algo nuevo y vamos a aprenderlo’”, contó. Pero se convenció de “que nunca lo íbamos a aprender porque no era para nosotros”.

En ese entonces, el cabo de La Vela era mucho más pequeño, explicó Margarita Epieyu, madre de Gómez, y estaba conformada por unas seis familias extendidas, que es la forma en que están organizadas las comunidades wayú.

Los autobuses turísticos solían llegar cada dos meses, solo para viajes rápidos a la playa, afirmó Gómez.

Para sobrevivir, su padre repartía agua, su madre vendía bolsos y hamacas tradicionales wayú y Gómez vendía pulseras. Su familia solía comer una vez al día, normalmente pescado donado por los pescadores de la comunidad.

“No había turismo”, afirmó Epieyu, de 49 años, “entonces aquí no había trabajo”.

Pero eso comenzó a cambiar en 2009, cuando Martín Vega, un instructor colombiano de kitesurf, llevó a estudiantes de una escuela de kitesurf cerca de Barranquilla. “El viento era perfecto”, dijo.

Vega, junto con un amigo, decidieron quedarse poco después; crearon la primera escuela de kitesurf de la localidad en unos terrenos propiedad de un residente wayú local.

Dijo que, un día, un chico intrigado por los kitesurfistas visitantes corrió detrás de su auto. Era el hermano mayor de Gómez, Nelson, quien ya ganaba propinas por ayudar a los turistas y ya había aprendido los conceptos básicos de navegación en el agua.

Vega conoció poco después a Beto Gómez, que en ese entonces tenía 10 años. Bajo la tutela de Vega y con el permiso de su madre, los niños practicaban después del colegio y durante los fines de semana, siempre y cuando hicieran sus tareas y obligaciones.

“Como unos pescados”, dijo Nelson Gómez, de 25 años. “Podíamos entrar a las 9 de la mañana y salir a las 6 de la tarde”.

“La idea era que que los locales nos ayudaran y que vinieran y que aprendieran, y pues eso pasó”, añadió Vega, de 41 años.

Nelson Gómez era un talento natural, pero su carrera competitiva terminó cuando se lesionó gravemente la pierna en 2017, mientras entrenaba en Brasil. Beto Gómez, sin embargo, desarrolló sus habilidades. A los 13 años, terminó en segundo lugar en su primera competición, un torneo regional a unas tres horas de su aldea.

“Esa fue mi primera conexión con el mundo, con la ciudad, con las escaleras eléctricas, con ascensores, los semáforos”, contó Gómez, quien aprendió inglés de los turistas.

Tres años después, Gómez ganó su primera competición, y en 2017, con la ayuda de donaciones, salió de Colombia por primera vez para competir en República Dominicana.

Gómez dijo que, cada vez que salía, la autoridad wayú, el grupo de ancianos que dirigen el cabo de La Vela, tenía que concederle permiso, porque la regla era que “no podemos entrar en contacto con el mundo exterior”.

Pero cuando tenía 18 años y competía en Brasil, los ancianos wayú le negaron su solicitud de quedarse y trabajar allá como instructor de kitesurf. De todos modos, Gómez lo hizo.

Como castigo, Gómez afirmó dijo que le dijeron que se mantuviera alejado durante dos años.

Su madre, que se había casado joven y luego se divorció del padre de Gómez, afirmó que defendió a su hijo y alentó a sus hijos a que buscaran “las oportunidades que yo no tenía”.

Según Gómez, su madre “siempre quiso que nosotros siguiéramos nuestros sueños y fuéramos y viviéramos afuera”. También los exhortó a que fueran a la universidad y salieran con personas que no fueran wayú.

Gómez siguió su consejo. En 2020, se mudó a Argentina tras participar en una competición allí y enamorarse de una mujer de ese país. En marzo pasado, su madre, que nunca antes había viajado en avión, despegó junto a él desde Bogotá para visitar su hogar en Argentina.

A medida que el kitesurf se fue haciendo más popular en el cabo de La Vela, llegaron más turistas, hostales y dinero. Algunos wayú han recibido con los brazos abiertos los cambios, pero otros son cautelosos.

“El impacto negativo en el Cabo ha sido muy mínimo”, aseguró Edwin Salgado, de 29 años, quien es dueño de una escuela de kitesurf. “No es como un turismo tan masivo, y se sigue sintiendo y se representa la cultura wayú”.

Epieyu, que cada mes recibe dinero de las ganancias profesionales de su hijo, dijo que 7 de sus 10 hijos ahora practican kitesurf.

“Aunque la gente no quiera, el kite sí ha cambiado el cabo”, dijo.

Sin embargo, algunos residentes afirmaron que la mayor cantidad de visitantes se ha traducido en más alcohol, drogas, fiestas e influencia externa.

La comunidad wayú considera al cabo de La Vela como una tierra sagrada porque, según sus creencias, las almas van a descansar allí y si permiten la invasión de personas externas, “como que nos vamos a quedar sin territorio”, dijo Elba Gómez, de 73 años, la tía paterna de Beto que forma parte de la autoridad wayú.

Citando “desorden” y personas “no amigables con el territorio y la cultura”, la autoridad wayú, a través de una medida enérgica en 2018, desalojó a dueños extranjeros de negocios porque creía que esos negocios debían ser operados por miembros de la comunidad wayú.

Vega era uno de los dos dueños foráneos de escuelas de kitesurf. (Hoy en día quedan cuatro escuelas). Le vendió la escuela a los hermanos Gómez, y junto a su esposa se mudó a Riohacha, una localidad ubicada a tres horas de allí. Afirmó que, una vez que se mudó, fue fácil criar a su primer hijo y fundar una nueva escuela cerca.

“Yo respeto obviamente la comunidad, sus costumbres y sus reglas”, afirmó Gómez. “Va a cambiar en algún momento la cosa y yo quiero ser parte del proceso, porque a mi me cambió la vida”.

Cada invierno, Gómez regresa a su casa del cabo de La Vela para visitar a su familia, regalarles a los niños locales lecciones gratis de kitesurf y organizar un campamento pago.

Para los invitados que pagan, la madre de Gómez recientemente preparó una cena que consistió en chivo a la parrilla y arepas.

La familia vistió prendas tradicionales, Gómez y sus hermanas realizaron un baile alrededor de una fogata y explicaron su cultura y lengua. Ya sea que esté en Argentina o compitiendo alrededor del mundo, Gómez dijo que siempre pregonará sus raíces wayú.

“Yo quiero promocionar un poquito más el cabo para que vengan y nos visiten y disfruten nuestra cultura”, dijo, “no para cambiarnos y hacer lo que siempre hacen en todos lados, colonizar”.

James Wagner cubre temas de América Latina, incluidos los deportes, y reside en Ciudad de México. Es nicaragüense-estadounidense del área de Washington y su lengua materna es el español. Más de James Wagner