The New York Times 2024-05-27 01:21:11


Middle East Crisis: Israeli Airstrike in Rafah Kills Dozens in Tent Camp, Gazan Officials Say

Israeli airstrike kills dozens in a Rafah tent camp, Gazan authorities say. Israel says it targeted a Hamas compound.

An Israeli airstrike on a makeshift tent camp for displaced Palestinians killed at least 35 people in Rafah on Sunday night, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The Israeli military said its operation was aimed at a Hamas compound.

Israeli aircraft had used “precise munitions” in the strike, the military said in a statement, adding that it was looking into reports that “several civilians in the area were harmed” by the strike and subsequent fire. A follow-up statement said two Hamas leaders had been killed in the strike.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said its ambulance crews had taken a “large” number of victims to the Tal as Sultan clinic and field hospitals in Rafah, where few functioning hospitals remain, and that “numerous” people were trapped in fires at the site of the strikes.

The strike hit the Tal as Sultan area of Rafah, within what the Israeli military has designated as a “humanitarian zone,” where it had told Palestinian civilians to go for shelter ahead of its offensive in Rafah, the Red Crescent said.

The New York Times could not immediately confirm details of the airstrike. The attack came hours after Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at central Israel, setting off air-raid sirens in Tel Aviv for the first time in months.

Doctors Without Borders said more than 15 dead people and dozens of wounded in the Rafah strike were brought to a trauma stabilization center that it supports in Tal as Sultan.

Dr. James Smith, a British emergency specialist in Rafah who has been working at that center, said the attack had killed displaced people who were “seeking some degree of sanctuary and shelter in tarpaulin tents.”

Speaking from a house a few miles away from the trauma center, a distance that he said had become too dangerous to cross, Dr. Smith said footage shared by his colleagues at the trauma center of injuries from the strike and the fire were “truly some of the worst that I have seen.”

Though the United Nations estimates that more than 800,000 people had fled Rafah in a matter of weeks after the Israeli military announced its offensive, the area remains densely populated, Dr. Smith said.

“These are very, very tightly packed tents,” he said. “And a fire like this could spread over a huge distance with catastrophic consequences in a very, very short space of time.”

The attack was “one of the most horrific things that I have seen or heard of in all of the weeks that I’ve been working in Gaza,” he added.

Patrick Kingsley, Johnatan Reiss and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.

key developments

Cease-fire talks, and other news.

  • Israel’s war cabinet will meet on Sunday night to discuss continuing efforts to reach a cease-fire deal and free hostages held in Gaza, according to an Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the talks. Diplomats are aiming to restart negotiations for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas at some point in the next week, according to three officials briefed on the process. According to the officials, preliminary discussions were held this weekend in Paris.

  • At least seven people were arrested in Tel Aviv on Saturday night as demonstrators protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Featuring a large banner that read “Crime Minister,” the demonstration added to the growing pressure on Mr. Netanyahu over his handling of the war in Gaza. Many in Israel are angry that he has not done more to bring home the more than 100 hostages believed to still be held in the enclave.

  • Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet who recently threatened to quit the government, said he was seeking to establish an independent commission to investigate Israel’s failure to stop the Hamas-led surprise attack on Oct. 7, as well as its conduct in the war. Under Mr. Gantz’s proposal, the commission would also probe whether Israeli military and political officials had acted in accordance with international law. Mr. Gantz said he had submitted his proposal for cabinet approval; it was unclear whether Mr. Netanyahu and his allies would back the move. A rival of Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Gantz has said he would leave Israel’s emergency wartime government unless the prime minister answered major questions about the future of the war.

  • Four U.S. Army vessels broke free of their moorings off the coast of Gaza on Saturday amid rough seas, the Pentagon said in a statement. Two of them were beached on the coast of Israel, near Ashkelon, and were being recovered with the help of the Israeli military. The other two were anchored on the beach near the temporary pier built by the U.S. military to help deliver aid to Palestinians in the war-torn enclave. The pier was still fully functional, the Pentagon said. The episode was the latest hiccup in the U.S. effort, which has struggled to increase the amount of aid getting into Gaza.

  • The Group of 7 finance ministers on Saturday called on Israel to preserve banking services between Israeli and Palestinian banks, arguing that “maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is also critical for regional security.” Meeting in Italy, the group also urged Israel to “remove or relax other measures that have negatively impacted commerce to avoid further exacerbating the economic situation in the West Bank.”

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Hamas fires rockets at central Israel for the first time in months.

Hamas launched a barrage of rockets at central Israel on Sunday afternoon, setting off air-raid sirens in the Tel Aviv area for the first time since at least late January, and showing that the group retains some long-range missile capabilities more than seven months into Israel’s war against the militant group in Gaza.

The Israeli military said at least eight rockets were fired from the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces have been advancing in an operation against Hamas that has drawn global scrutiny. Over 800,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah in the face of the Israeli offensive, deepening the humanitarian crisis in the enclave, according to the United Nations.

Air defenses shot down “a number” of rockets, according to the Israeli military, and there were no immediate reports of major damage.

Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency service, said two women were lightly wounded as they fled to a bomb shelter. Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, took responsibility for the rocket fire, saying it came “in response to massacres against civilians.”

Israeli leaders have insisted for months that a large-scale ground operation in Rafah was necessary to root out the brigades of Hamas militants that remain in the city. The Biden administration, the United Nations and human rights groups have all expressed serious concern over the offensive, which they said threatened the safety of civilians sheltering there.

On Friday, the International Court of Justice appeared to order Israel to halt its military offensive in Rafah, although at least some of the court’s judges said limited operations could continue despite the decision.

The Israeli military said its troops continued to fight in and around Rafah over the weekend, engaging in firefights. And on Sunday, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, visited the city, indicating that the military had no intention of stopping. Mr. Gallant received a situational assessment from troops there and was briefed on the “deepening of operations,” according to a statement from his office.

“Our goals in Gaza are emphasized here in Rafah — to destroy Hamas, return the hostages, and maintain freedom of operation,” he told troops, according to the statement.

Israeli politicians also said the rocket fire demonstrated the necessity of the Rafah offensive. Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, called the incident proof that “wherever Hamas is, the Israeli military must act.”

The rocket barrage briefly disrupted daily life in central Israel, where many people have settled into a kind of wartime routine. Thousands of Israelis called up for the military’s reserves in the aftermath of the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks have returned home, and rocket attacks have been largely aimed at communities close to the border with Gaza and with Lebanon.

Aid deliveries from Egypt resume going into Gaza.

Aid trucks from Egypt entered the Gaza Strip on Sunday under a new U.S.-brokered agreement to reopen a vital conduit for humanitarian relief, the Israeli military and the Egyptian Red Crescent said.

Egypt had blocked aid from entering the enclave via its territory since Israel’s seizure of the Rafah crossing — which provides access to southern Gaza — in early May. The two sides have traded blame over that crossing’s closure, even as aid has piled up on the Egyptian side.

After U.S. pressure, Egypt announced on Friday that it had agreed to divert trucks through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, which is roughly two miles from the Rafah crossing, as a temporary measure.

Some 126 trucks from Egypt containing food, fuel and other necessities entered the Gaza Strip through Kerem Shalom on Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement. The trucks were inspected by Israeli officials, said Ahmad Ezzat, an Egyptian Red Crescent official.

The quantity of food, water and medicines reaching Gazans has plummeted since the war began nearly eight months ago. As a result, the United Nations and aid groups have been warning of widespread hunger in the enclave and urging Israel to open more routes for aid to enter. But in recent weeks, aid shipments into Gaza through the two main land conduits have been interrupted.

One of those crossings is Kerem Shalom, which sits at the intersection of Gaza, Israel and Egypt. Israel temporarily closed Kerem Shalom a few weeks ago after a Hamas rocket attack there killed four of its soldiers. Since then Israel has allowed some aid into Gaza through Kerem Shalom, but its distribution has been a point of contention. Israel says that aid agencies must distribute the aid. But the agencies say that the Israeli military’s activity in southern Gaza has made their job nearly impossible.

The other major gateway for aid is between Gaza and Egypt, at Rafah. Israeli forces captured the crossing as part of their initial advance toward the city overnight on May 6. Since then, Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian officials have been unable to strike a deal to resume aid shipments there.

Israel has been under international pressure to find a way to reopen Rafah to prevent an even greater humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. On Friday, the World Court ordered Israel to “open the Rafah crossing for unhindered provision” of aid. Israel pledged to do so, but said it would also “prevent terrorist organizations from controlling the crossing.”

When the Rafah crossing closed, the Egyptian government also initially held out on sending aid trucks toward Kerem Shalom, in what American and Israeli officials called an attempt to pressure Israel to back down from its operation in Rafah.

On Friday, Egypt and the United States announced that Cairo had agreed to temporarily allow food, basic supplies and fuel to move from its territory into Gaza through Kerem Shalom. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian president, emphasized that the measure was a stopgap until “a new legal mechanism” could be found on the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing.

It remains unclear when the Rafah crossing will reopen for aid. U.S. officials are expected to head to Cairo this week to “support efforts to reopen the Rafah crossing,” according to the White House.

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As Israel continues its Rafah offensive, some Gazans choose to stay.

Gazans have been uprooted time and again during the more than seven months of Israel’s invasion and bombardment. Facing the prospect of having to pack up and flee once more, some in Rafah are putting off leaving, at least for now.

More than 800,000 Palestinians have already fled the southern city of Rafah and its surrounding areas over the past three weeks as Israel presses a military offensive there, according to the United Nations. But many are holding on in what was once considered the safest place in the Gaza Strip, where more than a million had come to find shelter.

They are exhausted, hungry and know that the next place they flee to likely won’t be safe either. Israel has continued to bombard Gaza, even in areas previously designated as safe.

Israeli forces dropped leaflets ordering people to evacuate and launched a military offensive this month in the eastern part of Rafah, and they have been advancing yard-by-yard deeper into the city. The U.N.’s top court appears to have ordered Israel to stop its offensive, but Israel, so far, has signaled that it will continue.

Some in western Rafah are waiting to see what comes before getting out. Others have even fled and returned, having found neither safety nor the essentials of life elsewhere.

“The most despicable word I don’t like to say or hear is ‘displacement,’” 30-year-old Randa Naser Samoud, a math teacher from northern Gaza, said on Thursday as the Israeli military pushed toward the center of the city. “Evacuation means loss of value in life, so much suffering and pain.”

Along with her husband — a dentist — and their three children, Ms. Samoud has already been displaced four times. They are now living in a tent near a U.N. warehouse, and though their area has not received orders to evacuate, about three-quarters of the people around them have already fled.

As Ms. Samoud walked with one of her young sons on Thursday, she saw trucks on the street being loaded with the belongings of families preparing to flee.

“The topic of evacuation is not an easy thing to talk about or decide on,” she said. “I am always talking with my husband about the plans if needed but it’s still hard to decide.”

Her father suggested they move to a school building in one of the cities where many people had fled for shelter. But Ms. Samoud says that the schools-turned-shelters are not good options because of a lack of sanitation and garbage piling everywhere. She worries her children will get sick.

With each displacement, Gazans must start anew, as they often can’t take much with them. Transportation costs can be hundreds of dollars.

“The ultimate horrible thought on my mind is the moment that I have to escape my tent and leave everything I have collected or bought behind me,” she said, pointing to the clothes, dishes and food they have in their tent.

Ahlam Saeed Abu Riyala, 40, said that concerns about access to water have kept her and her family of eight in western Rafah after they were displaced four times.

For months, they have been living in a tent steps away from the Egyptian border — close enough to speak to the Egyptian soldiers on the other side. As Ms. Abu Riyala stood outside her tent speaking to a neighbor, a water truck nearby pumped out clean drinking water for the displaced people in the camp.

“We are now of two minds; I say we should evacuate Rafah before it is too late, but my husband says ‘no,’” she said. “But we cannot leave for many reasons, and water is the top priority.”

The sounds of Israel’s air and ground invasion keep them on edge. They can hear tanks and, at times, Israeli armed drones that play the message “security” in Arabic or the sound of dogs barking, she said.

Even if they choose to leave, the cost of such a trek might be beyond their means.

“Mentally, physically and financially, I’m exhausted and fed up with the word ‘evacuation,’” she said. “I hate my life and all of this suffering.”

Two Deadly Fires in Rapid Succession Expose India’s Gaps in Safety

Seven newborn babies lost their lives after their New Delhi neonatal clinic was engulfed in flames. What remained of the two-story building on Sunday morning was its burned facade, a charred spiral staircase and oxygen cylinders covered in soot.

Hours earlier, in the western Indian city of Rajkot, an amusement park of trampolines and bowling lanes had turned to an inferno. The families of people who had come to enjoy a discounted offer of all-you-can-play to celebrate the start of summer vacation were left trying to identify bodies among the at least 27 dead, many of them children too charred to be recognizable.

As after every such deadly episode, political leaders were quick with messages of condolence, announcements of arrests, creations of inquiries — and finger-pointing. But to analysts and experts who had warned for years about India’s abysmal fire preparedness, the back-to-back disasters on Saturday were the latest reminder that systemic change to make the country safer was still missing.

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A Public Park or Private Spa: A City Debates the Future of an Island Oasis

It was an unusually mild winter day in Toronto, but that did not make Lake Ontario’s icy waters any more inviting. Still, Sara Fruchtman, wearing a bathing suit and a bathing cap, plunged into the lake at Michael Hough Beach.

She was not alone. Seven other people were also there, some gathered around an anemic bonfire. All were part of an informal swimming group that congregated year round at Toronto’s only downtown beach.

But their icy ritual ended a few weeks later after a steel mesh construction fence cut off access to a pedestrian bridge leading to the island where the beach is. A sign said it was closed. The island, known as West Island, is one of two that make up Ontario Place, home to a former amusement park and exhibition pavilions.

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Russia Plans New Offensive in Ukraine’s Northeast, Zelensky Says

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on Sunday that Moscow’s forces were massing for a new ground offensive on the northeast of his country, a day after a Russian missile strike on a hardware superstore in the city of Kharkiv killed at least 16 people and wounded dozens more, according to Ukrainian officials.

“Russia is the only source of aggression and constantly tries to expand the war,” Mr. Zelensky said in a speech delivered in English inside the ruins of a publishing house in Kharkiv that was destroyed last week in a Russian strike.

“Russia is preparing for offensive actions,” around 60 miles northwest of Kharkiv, he said, adding that Moscow was gathering “another group of troops near our border.” Mr. Zelensky gave no further details about the potential attack.

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Optimistic About the War in Ukraine, Putin Unleashes a Purge at Home

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Periodic outcries over incompetence and corruption at the top of the Russian military have dogged President Vladimir V. Putin’s war effort since the start of his invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

When his forces faltered around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, the need for change was laid bare. When they were routed months later outside the city of Kharkiv, expectations of a shake-up grew. And after the mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin marched his men toward Moscow, complaining of deep rot and ineptitude at the top of the Russian force, Mr. Putin seemed obliged to respond.

But, at each turn, the Russian president avoided any major public moves that could have been seen as validating the criticism, keeping his defense minister and top general in place through the firestorm while shuffling battlefield commanders and making other moves lower on the chain.

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Death Toll in Papua New Guinea Landslide Estimated to Be at Least 670

At least 670 people are assumed to have died after a landslide in Papua New Guinea, according to a local United Nations official. The landslide hit a rural region of the island nation early Friday, but search-and-rescue efforts have been hampered by difficulty in reaching the disaster site and by the hazard that the shifting ground continues to pose.

This danger has prompted many survivors to abandon their homes, according to Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration’s office in Papua New Guinea, who estimated that over 250 houses were abandoned and that roughly 1,250 people were displaced.

The region, in Enga Province, is densely populated, according to local officials, and has a young population. The authorities fear that many of the fatalities will be children under 15.

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Amateur Historians Heard Tales of a Lost Tudor Palace. Then, They Dug It Up.

For generations, residents of Collyweston — a village in central England snuggled up against the River Welland — passed down stories of a grand Tudor palace, of royal processions through the valley below, of the mother of a king who had called it home.

Over hundreds of years, the stories persisted, even as memory of the palace’s whereabouts faded. But the lore suddenly came to life when a handful of amateur historians unearthed portions of the long-lost palace, buried under a few feet of soil. Historians from the University of York have verified their findings.

“We are a small village with a small group of enthusiasts, and what we’ve basically achieved here is nothing short of a miracle,” said Chris Close, 49, the chairman of the Collyweston Historical and Preservation Society. “You know, it’s not every day you get to dig up a part of your country’s past.”

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Peru Issued a Decree Calling Trans Identity a ‘Disorder.’ A Backlash Followed.

The bulletin appeared without much fanfare in an official government newspaper in Peru that publishes new laws and regulations. Peruvian health officials say they had no idea the response it would trigger.

They say they wanted to expand access to privately insured mental health care for transgender Peruvians. So the government decree included language classifying transgender identity as a “mental health problem.”

But as news of the regulation filtered out, it provoked outrage among the country’s L.G.B.T.Q. population and advocates.

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Free Food? Modi Makes Sure Every Indian Knows Whom to Thank for It.

Durga Prasad, an 80-year-old farmer, was resting under the shade of a tree in front of his home when the party workers came. An app on their smartphones could tell them in an instant who Mr. Prasad was, whom he might vote for — and why he should be grateful to India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.

“You get installments of 2,000 rupees, right?” asked a local official from Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P. Mr. Prasad concurred. He receives $72 a year through a farmers’ welfare program started and branded by Mr. Modi.

“Do you get rations?” the official then asked, though he already knew the answer. He had made his point.

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Condemnation Slows, but Does Not Stall, Israel’s Assault on Rafah

Despite an international court order to stop its assault on Rafah, Israel says it will continue its operation, trying to walk a line between not angering its American allies too much while trying to achieve strategic aims that it considers too important to abandon.

For now, after many weeks of admonitions from the White House, both the Israelis and the Americans are characterizing this as a “limited operation,” allowing the Israelis to proceed, though more slowly and cautiously than they had in other parts of Gaza.

But as the fighting pushes masses of panicked civilians toward areas near the sea with inadequate housing or medical aid, and the closing of the Rafah border crossing dims hope for speedy delivery of humanitarian aid, Israel’s critics abroad condemn the toll on civilians and are unconvinced by what the Israelis have called restraint.

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Why Do Aid Groups Stay in Lawless Haiti?

Haiti’s bleak humanitarian situation is once again in the spotlight after gangs on Thursday attacked an Oklahoma-based missionary group working in the capital, Port-au-Prince, killing two Americans and the Haitian director of the organization, Missions in Haiti.

The attack left many asking why American missionaries are still working in Haiti considering the immense violence that has paralyzed the country and the grip gangs have over most of Port-au-Prince. Thursday’s episode follows the 2021 kidnapping of 17 missionaries who were working in Haiti with Christian Aid Ministries. A Haitian gang kidnapped 16 Americans and a Canadian in that attack; weeks later, 12 of the hostages escaped and the others were freed.

While Haiti is no stranger to violence and instability, the situation has worsened considerably since the 2021 assassination of the country’s president, Jovenel Moïse. Since then, the state has collapsed and gangs have proliferated, filling the vacuum.

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Calls, Search Parties, Drones: 17 Hours to Find Iran’s President

Shortly before embarking on a fatal helicopter ride on Sunday, Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, and his delegation of senior officials held a communal prayer. Someone suggested having lunch, but the president demurred, saying he was in a hurry to reach his next destination.

Mr. Raisi boarded the aircraft and sat by a window. The foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, stopped for a picture with a crowd that was swarming the tarmac. He smiled and placed one hand over his chest while holding a brown briefcase in the other.

Around 1 p.m., a convoy of three helicopters took off from a helipad on Iran’s border with Azerbaijan, with the president’s craft in the middle. But about half an hour into the flight, the president’s helicopter vanished.

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Xi Jinping’s Recipe for Total Control: An Army of Eyes and Ears

The wall in the police station was covered in sheets of paper, one for every building in the sprawling Beijing apartment complex. Each sheet was further broken down by unit, with names, phone numbers and other information on the residents.

Perhaps the most important detail, though, was how each unit was color-coded. Green meant trustworthy. Yellow, needing attention. Orange required “strict control.”

A police officer inspected the wall. Then he leaned forward to mark a third-floor apartment in yellow. The residents in that unit changed often, and therefore were “high risk,” his note said. He would follow up on them later.

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One of the Deadliest Jobs in Mexico: Running for Office

Gisela Gaytán had just arrived at an event on the first day of her mayoral campaign in central Mexico’s industrial heartland when the gunfire broke out.

Moments later, her lifeless body laid crumpled in a pool of blood.

The assassination in broad daylight of Ms. Gaytán, a 37-year-old lawyer, reflects a gruesome trend in this year’s general election in Mexico. She figures among the 36 people killed since last summer while seeking public office, according to a New York Times analysis, making this one of the most blood-soaked election cycles in recent memory.

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When a Tale of Migration Is Not Just Fiction

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

Mazu, sometimes known as the Goddess of the Sea, is the most widely venerated of dozens of folk deities that many people in Taiwan turn to for solace, guidance and good fortune. The huge annual processions to honor her are noisy and gaudy. And yet for many, they are also deeply spiritual events, acts of faith showing that Mazu and other spirits remain vibrant presences here, alongside Buddhism and Christianity.

Taiwan’s two biggest pilgrimages for Mazu — named Baishatun and Dajia after the temples that pilgrims set out from every year — recently have been drawing record numbers of participants. And a striking number of them are younger Taiwanese, in their teens or 20s, drawn to experiencing the traditions of Mazu, like throwing crescent-shaped pieces of wood in a ritual to divine their futures.


“I didn’t expect there’d be so many younger people taking the pilgrimage like this,” said Chou Chia-liang, 28, a fashion designer who had traveled from Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, for the Dajia pilgrimage, which starts in Taichung on the west-central coast. “People used to think the Mazu faith was for old people from the countryside. Look around here — it doesn’t seem like that.”

Like quite a few other pilgrims, Mr. Chou, in a show of reverence, was pushing along a cart carrying his own small statue of Mazu, usually kept at the temple in Taipei where he typically prays.

“This is a bit different from my family’s religion,” he said. “Most Taiwanese people are very tolerant. They don’t have the idea that ‘this is my faith and that is your faith, and they can’t go together’.”

Many Taiwanese people say they are proud of their right to choose from an abundance of faiths, especially in contrast to the tight controls on religion in neighboring China. Taiwan’s religious diversity and vitality forms a kind of subsoil of the self-governed island’s identity and values.

About one-fifth of Taiwan’s 23 million people count themselves as Buddhist, another 5 percent are Christian, and over half take part in Taoism and a range of related folk religions, including worshiping Mazu, also spelt Matsu. In practice, many people mix Buddhist and folk traditions as they pray for a healthy birth or a high score on an exam.

“Local religions have re-emerged strongly since the ’80s and ’90s,” said Ting Jen-chieh, who studies religions at Academia Sinica, a top research institute in Taiwan. “Before, they were found more in the villages, but now it’s across middle-class society too.”

The largest temples for Mazu and other deities are powerful, wealthy institutions that make money from donations and services, including memorials for the dead. At election times, candidates pay their respects here, as well as at Buddhist temples and Christian churches, mindful of the sway that religious organizations can have with voters.

Beijing also tries to exert influence.

For decades, the Chinese government, which claims Taiwan as its lost territory, has invoked shared religious traditions, including Mazu, to try appeal to Taiwanese people. Mazu also has followers in coastal eastern China where, the story goes, she was born around 960 A.D. in Fujian Province, and used her special powers to save seafarers from drowning.

Whatever Beijing’s efforts, many pilgrims spoke of Mazu as a distinctly Taiwanese goddess, who happened to have been born on the other side of the strait. Some brushed away the politics, and said they were worried that the pilgrimages were being sullied by too much glitz, including the troupes of dancers and pop songs blaring over loudspeakers.

“Many people like the noise and sound and light effects,” said Lin Ting-yi, 20, a professional spiritual medium who participated in Mazu’s pilgrimage in March. But, he added, “Whenever I want to talk to deities, I like to feel and pray quietly, alone.”

For generations, the pilgrimages involved mostly farmers and fishermen who carried Mazu statues through nearby rice paddies and along dirt paths.

Now, the pilgrimages reflect a much wealthier, more urbanized Taiwan. The Mazu processions pass by factories and expressways, where the chanting and fireworks compete with the roar of passing trucks.

During the processions, the Mazu statues have been known to stop at schools, military barracks, and, one year, a car dealership display room, whose employees hurriedly moved a vehicle from the spot where, the carriers told them, the goddess wished to rest.

Along the annual routes, local temples, residents, shops and companies set up stalls to offer pilgrims (mostly) free food and drinks — watermelon, stewed tofu, cookies, sweet drinks and water.

Despite the hubbub, some pilgrims described how, as they fell into a meditative walking rhythm, the noise of the firecrackers and loudspeakers fell away, and they sometimes struck up deep conversations, and friendships, with strangers walking beside them.

“While you’re walking, you can give yourself more time and space to think deeply about things you haven’t thought of before,” said Hung Yu-fang, a 40-year old insurance company employee who was doing the Dajia pilgrimage for a fourth year.

While the nine-day Dajia pilgrimage follows a preset route, the Baishatun pilgrimage is more fluid. It doesn’t set a precise path in advance, leaving followers to intuit which turns in the roads the Mazu statue will take and where she may stop.

When her carriers reached an intersection this year, a tense air settled over the pilgrims, waiting while the statue bearers shuffled and turned this way and that — by their account, waiting for Mazu to decide which direction she wanted to take. They cheered when Mazu headed off again.

At night, the carriers rested the Mazu statue in a temple, and hardier pilgrims slept in the temple or on the nearby streets. unrolling thin rubber mattresses.

As Taiwan industrialized, it seemed possible that such rituals might survive only as symbols of the island’s fading rustic roots.

“For some time, it was for the lower rungs of society. Just a few hundred people would take part in the pilgrimages,” said Professor Ting, the religion researcher. “Now it’s popular, but a lot of the new, younger participants only walk for a few days — not the whole journey — to experience it as Taiwanese culture.”

In recent years, the surge of participants has been spurred by media attention (Taiwanese TV covers the pilgrimages like they were major sporting events), online enthusiasts (Mazu’s progress can be followed on the temples’ phone apps), and ease of travel (trains are fast and efficient).

In 2010, the Baishatun pilgrimage drew around 5,000 registered participants; this year, nearly 180,000 pilgrims signed up, a figure that doesn’t include the tens of thousands who joined informally along the way.

When the pilgrimage reached the Beigang Chaotian temple in southern Taiwan — its main destination before turning home — Mazu was greeted by an eruption of fireworks and gongs, and overwhelming crowds. Nearly 500,000 people turned up that day, a record, said organizers.

Despite the heat and crowds, people lined up for hours to squeeze inside the temple and catch a glimpse of Mazu, wearing an embroidered headdress draped with pearls.

“I couldn’t squeeze inside the temple,” said Mr. Chou, the clothes designer, who this year managed to walk part of both major pilgrimages. “But that didn’t matter. This time I also invited friends along so they could also get a taste of more traditional culture.”

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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The Architect Who Made Singapore’s Public Housing the Envy of the World

The high-rise apartments — some with panoramic views of Singapore’s tropical cityscape — are airy, light-filled and spacious enough to comfortably raise a family. They are also public housing units, and for decades, were emphatically affordable, giving Singapore an enviable rate of homeownership.

Now, however, at least a few of the apartments are being sold at a price that would have been unthinkable not long ago: more than $1 million.

“I’m sad to see that — because public housing must equal affordability,” said Liu Thai Ker, the urban planner who gets much of the credit for creating the country’s widely lauded approach to housing its citizens.

Now 86, Mr. Liu is considered the architect of modern Singapore because of his role overseeing the development of about half of the more than one million apartments that make up public housing in the small and exceptionally prosperous city-state of 5.6 million people.

But in the 1960s, the country’s economic standing was starkly different. It was one of the poorest cities in Southeast Asia, where three out of four residents lived in overcrowded and filthy slums, in ramshackle houses with tin walls known as “squatters.”

At that time, Mr. Liu was working in the New York office of the architect I.M. Pei. He had recently graduated from Yale University with a master’s degree in city planning.

“After four years, I felt that America really did not need me, they had way too many architects,” he said. “So I started thinking about coming back.”

He returned in 1969, accepting a job as head of the design and research unit at Singapore’s Housing and Development Board.

One of his main jobs was to create “new towns,” or planned urban centers, for Singapore, even though no could explain how that would look. So he had to figure it out.

With some research, he decided the new Singapore would include highly self-sufficient neighborhoods with schools, shops, outdoor food stalls and playgrounds.

Mr. Liu also wanted to avoid the kind of public housing he had seen in the United States and Europe, where apartments face one another with a central corridor with little light. People with low incomes were living cheek by jowl, creating what he called “ a concentration of poverty.”

He also wanted to spur a sense of community among residents. To figure out how to do that, he asked sociologists to estimate how many families should live in proximity to maximize social interactions. Six to eight was the answer, so each corridor would share six to eight units; that way, neighbors could mingle.

As the public housing following his vision began to be built — and its success to be recognized — Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, gave Mr. Liu an ambitious goal: resettle everyone still living in the slums by 1982.

By 1985, virtually every Singaporean had a home.

“He used to tell me that the symptoms of a backward city are: one, homeless people; two, traffic jams; three, flooding; and four, polluted air,” Mr. Liu said of Mr. Lee, Singapore’s founding father.

In the Singapore led by Mr. Lee — who was both criticized for suppressing freedoms and celebrated for transforming the country into a global economic power — public housing was about furthering his government’s agenda, as well as putting a roof over people’s heads.

The government linked these affordable flats to its pro-family policies; to support for the ruling People’s Action Party; and to further integration.

In 1989, a year before he stepped down as prime minister, Mr. Lee’s government enacted a policy requiring each block or neighborhood to have a balanced mix of the main ethnic groups in the city — Chinese, Malay and Indian. The goal was to prevent racial enclaves.

Mr. Liu said he supported the idea of integration because of the violent racial conflicts that had occurred around the time Singapore became independent, in 1965.

“In the West, the experts condemned it as social engineering because you’re interfering with the freedom of individuals,” Mr. Liu said. “But we did that — and succeeded.”

Mr. Liu was 6 when he arrived in Singapore in 1944 from Malaysia. His father, Liu Kang, was an accomplished artist in Shanghai who fled to Malaysia during World War II.

After his mother asked him to study architecture to help the family earn money, Mr. Liu obtained a scholarship and enrolled in a part-time course at the University of New South Wales in Australia, where he worked and studied at the same time. He graduated with first-class honors.

Mr. Liu then headed to Yale, where after graduation he was offered a choice to go to Harvard to further study urban design or to work with I.M. Pei. He chose the latter.

It was a crucial milestone in his life. From Mr. Pei, Mr. Liu learned the importance of “flow” and “harmony” in designing buildings, he said, concepts that he put into practice in Singapore.

From 1989 to 1992, Mr. Liu was chief executive and chief planner of Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority. In 1991, he created the “Concept Plan,” dividing Singapore into five regions, making each one a small city unto its own, so people didn’t have to leave an area to go shopping or see a doctor.

“The level of convenience that we experience in Singapore today is largely due to Dr. Liu and his team,” said Heng Chye Kiang, the provost’s professor at the College of Design and Engineering at the National University of Singapore.

After leaving the public sector, Mr. Liu did urban planning work in roughly 60 Chinese cities, including Fuzhou, where he met the highest ranking local official, a man by the name of Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi asked him to design the Fuzhou airport, a project that Mr. Liu initially turned down because he had not done an airport before.

Several months later, Mr. Xi, China’s future leader, came to Singapore and asked Mr. Liu to reconsider, according to Mr. Liu. This time, he agreed.

At 79, Mr. Liu started his own consultancy and is now advising Fiji and the governments of Sichuan and Guangdong in China on urban planning. He works five days a week, which, he says, “slows down the aging process of my brain and my body.”

Mr. Liu said one of his main tasks when working for the government on public housing was ensuring that prices would “rise, but slowly,” so homeowners felt they were “in possession of something with commercial value.” But he also wanted to make sure that prices not rise too fast to “make public housing unaffordable.”

Even though record prices on the secondary market have heightened anxiety about the rising costs of living in Singapore, one of the world’s most expensive cities, public housing remains broadly affordable — at least for those who qualify for government subsidies to buy units.

Today, close to 80 percent of Singapore’s residents live in public housing, and about 90 percent of the units are owned on a 99-year lease.

In a statement, Singapore’s Housing and Development Board said: “The government remains committed to ensuring that public housing remains affordable to Singaporeans.” The million-dollar apartments sold on the secondary market, government officials have said, make up a minuscule fraction of total transactions; as of May, 54 such apartments have sold for more than $1 million.

Families buying in the secondary market are given housing grants of up to roughly $60,000 but they have to meet an income ceiling.

Starting in the second half of this year, singles 35 and older will be eligible to buy a one-bedroom apartment from the government in any location; before the new rule, they had been restricted to certain areas.

Mr. Liu said Singapore’s model could be replicated in other countries, but he acknowledged that his path was smoothed by the government enforcing a law allowing it to buy land at market prices, which made it easier for him to obtain plots for development.

“Most other democratic countries will have difficulty to do that because the landowners will protest,” Mr. Liu said.

Asked about any regrets, Mr. Liu mentioned two: He should have created bicycle paths for the city, he said, and “preserved a few hectares of the squatter huts with the dirt roads and so on for the younger generation to see.”

He added: “Then they would really know how far we’ve traveled.”

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.

Mr. Yeo rented a truck to transport his 7.5-by-5.5-foot canvas to the king’s London residence, Clarence House. There, he erected a platform so he could apply the final brushstrokes to the strikingly contemporary portrait, which depicts a uniformed Charles against an ethereal background.

The painting, which will be unveiled at Buckingham Palace in mid-May, is the first large-scale rendering of Charles since he became king. It will likely reconfirm Mr. Yeo’s status as the go-to portraitist of his generation for Britain’s great and good, as well as for actors, writers, businesspeople and celebrities from around the world. His privately commissioned works can fetch around $500,000 each.

Painting the king’s portrait also marks a return to normalcy for Mr. Yeo, 53, who suffered a near-fatal heart attack last year that he attributes to the lingering effects of cancer in his early 20s. The parallel with his subject is not lost on him: Charles, 75, announced in February that he had been diagnosed with cancer, just 18 months into his reign.

Mr. Yeo said he did not learn of the king’s illness until after he had completed the painting. If anything, his depiction is of a vigorous, commanding monarch. But it gave Mr. Yeo deeper empathy for a man he got to know over four sittings, beginning in June 2021, when Charles was still the Prince of Wales and continuing after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and his coronation last May.

“You see physical changes in people, depending on how things are going,” Mr. Yeo said in his studio, where he had decorously turned the as-yet-unveiled painting away from the gaze of curious visitors. “Age and experience were suiting him,” he said. “His demeanor definitely changed after he became king.”

The portrait was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Drapers, a medieval guild of wool and cloth merchants that is now a philanthropy. It will hang in Drapers’ Hall, the company’s baronial quarters in London’s financial district, which has a gallery of monarchs from King George III to Queen Victoria. Mr. Yeo’s Charles will add a contemporary jolt to that classical lineup.

“What Jonny has succeeded in doing is combining the elusive quality of majesty with an edginess,” said Philip Mould, a friend and art historian who has seen the painting and called it “something of a unicorn.”

Mr. Yeo is no stranger to depicting royals. He painted Charles’ wife, Queen Camilla, who he said was a delight, and his father, Prince Philip, who was less so. “He was a bit of a caged tiger,” Mr. Yeo recalled. “I can’t imagine he was easy as a father, but he was entertaining as a subject.”

Still, a sitting monarch was a first for Mr. Yeo, whose subjects have included prime ministers (Tony Blair and David Cameron), actors (Dennis Hopper and Nicole Kidman), artists (Damien Hirst), moguls (Rupert Murdoch) and activists (Malala Yousafzai).

Mr. Yeo said there was an element of “futurology” to his work. Some of his subjects have gone on to greater renown after he painted them; others have faded. A few, like Kevin Spacey, who was tried and acquitted on charges of sexual misconduct, have fallen into disrepute. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington returned Mr. Yeo’s Spacey portrait, made when the actor played a ruthless politician in the series “House of Cards.”

Gazing back over his A-list subjects, Mr. Yeo has developed a few rules of thumb about his art. Older faces are easier to capture than younger ones because they are more lived in. The best portraits capture visual characteristics that remain relevant even as the person ages. And the only bad subjects are boring ones.

“He didn’t want me to pose, he just wanted me to talk,” said Giancarlo Esposito, the American actor known for playing elegant villains in the crime classic “Breaking Bad” and the recent Guy Ritchie TV series, “The Gentlemen.” As an actor, Mr. Esposito said, he was skilled at projecting a persona, “but there was no way to fool him.”

“It was an opportunity to be Giancarlo, unmasked,” said Mr. Esposito, who said he last posed for a portrait as a child at a county fair.

A loose-limbed figure with a quick smile and stylish eyeglasses pushed far back on his forehead, Mr. Yeo learned his appreciation for the charms and foibles of public figures by being the son of one. His father, Tim Yeo, was a Conservative member of Parliament and minister under Prime Minister John Major, whose career was undone by professional and personal scandals.

At first, the elder Mr. Yeo had little patience for his son’s artistic dreams. “My dad definitely assumed I’d need to get a proper job,” he said, giving him no money when he took a year off after high school to try to make it as a painter. Mr. Yeo’s early efforts showed his lack of formal training, and “obviously, I didn’t sell any pictures.”

Then, in 1993, at the end of his second year at university in Kent, he was struck by Hodgkin’s disease. Mr. Yeo burrowed deeper into painting as a way of coping with the disease. He got a break when a friend of his father — Trevor Huddleston, an Anglican archbishop and anti-apartheid activist — commissioned him for a portrait.

“He asked me mostly out of pity,” Mr. Yeo recalled. “But it turned out spectacularly, better than anyone expected.”

The commissions began to flow, and Mr. Yeo became sought-after for his revealing portraits of famous faces. In 2013, the National Portrait Gallery in London mounted a midcareer exhibition of his work.

“He brought the portrait back,” said Nick Jones, the founder of Soho House, a chain of private members’ clubs, which worked with Mr. Yeo to hang paintings by him and other artists on its walls. “Portraits were always such severe things,” Mr. Jones said. “He was able to add layers and bring out the personality of the people.”

It helps that Mr. Yeo is well-connected, prolific and entrepreneurial. He is cleareyed about the commercial side of his art. “No matter how you dress it up,” he said, “to some extent, you’re in the luxury goods business.”

Successful but creatively restless, Mr. Yeo began experimenting. When aides to President George W. Bush contacted him to do a portrait and later dropped the project, he decided to do it anyway, but as a collage of images cut out of pornographic magazines.

The Bush portrait went viral on the web, and Mr. Yeo created collages of other public figures, including Hugh Hefner and Silvio Berlusconi. It was provocative but time-consuming work — he bought stacks of skin magazines to assemble enough raw material — and his supply dried up when, he said, “the iPad killed the porn-magazine industry.”

Mr. Yeo also became drawn to the uses of technology in art. He worked on design projects at Apple. He painted the celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, via FaceTime during the pandemic. And he created an app that offers a virtual-reality tour of his studio, a well-appointed space in an old workshop that once turned out organs.

But on a Sunday night in March 2023, Mr. Yeo’s busy life came to a terrifying halt. He went into cardiac arrest — his heart stopping for more than two minutes. Mr. Yeo said he believes the crisis was linked to his cancer treatment decades earlier. While he did not see a bright light at the end of a tunnel, as others with near-death experiences have described, he recalled a palpable sensation of floating outside his body.

Mr. Yeo, who is married and has two daughters, clung to life. After recuperating, he found that his vocation as a painter — temporarily diverted by his detours into technology and other pursuits — had been rekindled. Soon, he was immersed in the portraits of Charles, Mr. Esposito and Mr. Attenborough.

“It definitely makes you feel, ‘Let’s not mess around anymore,’” Mr. Yeo said. “It’s like dodging a bullet.”

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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The Capital of Women’s Soccer

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A little more than an hour before the game begins, the gates outside the Johan Cruyff Stadium swing open and a thousand or so fans rush inside. Some scurry to the turnstiles. Others wait patiently at the merchandise stalls, anxious to buy a jersey, a scarf, a commemorative trinket.

The busiest and longest line, though, forms outside a booth offering fans the chance to have a photo taken with their heroes. Within a couple of minutes, it snakes all the way back to the entrance, populated by doting parents and spellbound preteens hoping they arrived in time.

They have come to see the most dominant women’s soccer team on the planet. Barcelona Femení has been Spanish champion every year since 2019. It has not lost a league game since last May, a run during which eight of its players also lifted the Women’s World Cup. On Saturday, the team can win its third Women’s Champions League title, which crowns the best professional team in Europe, in four seasons.

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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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Carlo Acutis será el primer santo milénial

El papa Francisco allanó el camino para que un adolescente italiano se convierta en el primer santo milénial al atribuirle un segundo milagro, anunció el Vaticano el jueves.

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

El adolescente Carlo Acutis es a menudo llamado el santo patrón de internet entre los católicos debido a sus habilidades informáticas, que utilizaba para compartir su fe. Murió de leucemia en 2006, con tan solo 15 años.

Carlo nació en Londres, de padres italianos, y se trasladó con su familia a Milán cuando era niño. Su pasión por el catolicismo floreció muy pronto, según contó su madre, Antonia Acutis, a The New York Times en una entrevista en 2020. A los 7 años, empezó a asistir a misa diariamente. Su fe inspiró a su madre a volver a unirse a la Iglesia, dijo.

Estaba llamado a servir, a encontrar formas de ayudar a los menos afortunados y a hacer donaciones a los que no tenían vivienda, señaló. En los meses anteriores a su muerte, Carlo utilizó sus habilidades digitales autodidactas para crear un sitio web en el que archivaba milagros. También le gustaba jugar al fútbol y a los videojuegos.

Después de su muerte, Acutis contó al Times que personas de todo el mundo le habían hablado de milagros médicos, incluidas curas de infertilidad y cáncer, que ocurrían después de rezar a su hijo.

“Carlo era la respuesta luminosa al lado oscuro de la web”, dijo su madre, añadiendo que algunos admiradores lo habían llamado un “influente de Dios”.

La vida de Carlo “puede servir para mostrar cómo internet puede utilizarse para el bien, para difundir cosas buenas”, añadió Acutis.

El camino de Carlo hacia la canonización comenzó en 2020, después de que la diócesis de Asís, donde su familia tenía propiedades, solicitara al Vaticano que lo reconociera como santo.

En febrero de 2020, el papa Francisco atribuyó a Carlo la curación de un niño con una malformación de páncreas después de que el niño entrara en contacto con una de sus camisas. Carlo fue el primer milénial en ser “beatificado”, o bendecido por la Iglesia, otro paso en el camino hacia la santidad.

El último paso es que el papa apruebe un segundo milagro.

Según el Vaticano, el segundo milagro consistió en la recuperación de una estudiante universitaria costarricense que sufrió un traumatismo craneoencefálico grave tras caerse de su bicicleta en Florencia. La mujer necesitaba una cirugía cerebral mayor y los médicos advirtieron que las probabilidades de supervivencia eran bajas. La madre de la joven viajó a Asís para rezar por su hija ante la tumba de Carlo en el santuario del Despojo y pedir su intervención.

La joven empezó rápidamente a mostrar signos de mejoría en su respiración, movilidad y habla, según el Vaticano. Diez días después de que la madre de la mujer visitara la tumba de Carlo, una tomografía mostró que la hemorragia cerebral había desaparecido y más tarde fue trasladada a un centro de rehabilitación.

El papa dijo el jueves que convocaría una reunión de cardenales para considerar la santidad de Carlo. El Vaticano no anunció una fecha para la ceremonia formal de canonización.

El camino de Carlo para convertirse en el primer santo milénial es un hito, dijo Kathleen Sprows Cummings, profesora de historia en la Universidad de Notre Dame y autora del libro A Saint of Our Own: How the Quest for a Holy Hero Helped Catholics Become American. Carlo utilizó internet y sus conocimientos informáticos para difundir su fe, ofreciendo a la Iglesia católica la oportunidad de mostrar un lado más positivo de las redes sociales, dijo. Canonizar a Carlo también puede ayudar a la Iglesia a conectar con los jóvenes católicos, muchos de los cuales se han desvinculado cada vez más, señaló.

“Se trata de un ejemplo de una persona como ellos, que ojalá pueda atraerlos de nuevo a la Iglesia”, dijo Cummings.


Derrumbe en Mallorca: hay al menos 4 muertos y 16 heridos

Un restaurante de playa en la isla española de Mallorca se derrumbó parcialmente el jueves. El derrumbe mató al menos a cuatro personas e hirió a 16, dijeron las autoridades, y se teme que otras estén atrapadas entre los escombros.

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

Las fotos anteriores al accidente mostraban que el restaurante, Medusa Beach Club, tenía tres niveles, con grandes terrazas en las plantas intermedia y superior que estaban sostenidas por pilares.

Un video de la cadena pública RTVE e imágenes de otros medios de comunicación parecían mostrar que al menos parte de las terrazas se habían derrumbado hasta la planta baja, y los equipos de rescate, con cascos y chalecos reflectantes, buscaban entre los escombros para sacar a las víctimas.

No estaba claro si parte de la estructura situada detrás de las terrazas también había caído en el derrumbe, que se produjo alrededor de las 8 p. m. hora local.

Los servicios de emergencia de Mallorca informaron por X de la muerte confirmada de cuatro personas y de 16 heridos graves. No facilitaron las nacionalidades de las víctimas. Según informes oficiales anteriores, había más de 20 heridos.

El presidente del Gobierno, Pedro Sánchez, escribió en X que seguía de cerca las labores de recuperación y que había ofrecido todos los recursos del gobierno nacional a los líderes locales y regionales.

Mallorca es la mayor de las islas Baleares en el Mediterráneo, un destino muy popular que se llena de turistas del norte de Europa durante gran parte del año. Aunque está separada de la región de Cataluña, muchos isleños hablan catalán, lengua oficial en Baleares.

El Medusa, un restaurante y local de música, está en Playa de Palma, cerca de Palma, la capital y ciudad más grande de la cadena insular. Está en la calle de Cartago, frente a la bahía de Palma.


Richard Pérez-Peña es editor de noticias internacionales del Times, radicado en Nueva York. Más de Richard Pérez-Peña

¿Qué significa reconocer un Estado palestino?

La decisión de tres países europeos —Irlanda, Noruega y España— de reconocer un Estado palestino encaja en un objetivo a largo plazo de los dirigentes palestinos de conseguir la aceptación diplomática, pero parece que el impacto práctico inmediato será limitado.

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En términos generales, reconocer un Estado significa declarar que cumple las condiciones para serlo según el derecho internacional. Normalmente, abre una vía para establecer relaciones diplomáticas y una embajada en el país. Pero los países europeos parecían interesados sobre todo en expresar su apoyo a los palestinos y enviar un mensaje a Israel en un momento de creciente preocupación internacional por su conducta en la guerra.

El ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Noruega, Espen Barth Eide, declaró en una conferencia de prensa que la oficina de representación del país ante la Autoridad Palestina, abierta en Cisjordania en 1999, se convertiría en embajada. No dio ninguna fecha para este cambio, pero dijo que permitiría a Noruega celebrar acuerdos bilaterales.

El reconocimiento también tendría algunos “efectos jurídicos internos en Noruega en ámbitos en los que surjan cuestiones relacionadas con el Estado de Palestina”, afirmó.

Las declaraciones de los líderes de Irlanda y España se centraron en la necesidad de paz en Gaza y en la importancia de una solución de dos Estados, pero no mencionaron embajadas ni otros cambios inmediatos.

“El reconocimiento de Palestina no es el final de un proceso, es el principio”, dijo Simon Harris, primer ministro de Irlanda. Dijo que Irlanda estaba reconociendo el derecho de un Estado palestino a existir en paz y seguridad dentro de las fronteras acordadas internacionalmente, y dijo que hacerlo enviaba un mensaje “de que hay una alternativa viable al nihilismo de Hamás”.

Harris dijo que viajaría a Bruselas el domingo para reunirse con más de 40 socios de Oriente Medio, Europa y otros lugares “para discutir cómo este reconocimiento puede tener un impacto concreto y práctico para poner fin a este horrible conflicto e implementar una solución de dos Estados”.

Hasta la fecha, unos 140 países, principalmente fuera de Europa Occidental, han reconocido un Estado palestino, según el sitio web de la Autoridad Palestina. Entre ellos no figuran Estados Unidos, el aliado más importante de Israel, ni Gran Bretaña, Francia o Alemania.

Los anuncios del miércoles van de acuerdo con una campaña palestina más amplia en favor del reconocimiento diplomático, aunque hasta ahora los avances han tenido escasa repercusión inmediata en la vida de los habitantes de Cisjordania y Gaza.

Las Naciones Unidas votaron en 1947 la creación de un Estado árabe independiente junto a uno judío, pero el plan fue rechazado por los gobiernos árabes vecinos y los árabes palestinos, y el Estado de Israel se fundó en medio de una guerra al año siguiente. En las décadas transcurridas desde entonces, los planes para una solución de dos Estados se han visto obstaculizados en repetidas ocasiones.

Este mes, la Asamblea General de la ONU adoptó por abrumadora mayoría una resolución que declara que los palestinos reúnen las condiciones para ser miembros de pleno derecho de las Naciones Unidas. La Asamblea solo puede conceder la condición de miembro de pleno derecho con la aprobación del Consejo de Seguridad, y Estados Unidos ejercería casi inevitablemente su poder de veto para anular tal medida, como hizo el mes pasado.

Aunque la mayoría de la Asamblea General apoya la creación de un Estado palestino, la resolución era la primera vez que el organismo votaba sobre la cuestión de la plena adhesión, lo que refleja la solidaridad con los palestinos que parece haberse profundizado en algunas naciones como consecuencia de la guerra en Gaza.

Palestina se convirtió en miembro de la UNESCO, la organización cultural de las Naciones Unidas, en 2011, pero fracasó en su intento de convertirse en miembro de pleno derecho de la ONU. Al año siguiente, Palestina obtuvo el estatus menor de observador en las Naciones Unidas, un nivel que comparte con la Santa Sede.

Los observadores pueden participar en las sesiones de la Asamblea General de la ONU, pero no pueden votar. También pueden formar parte de la Corte Internacional de Justicia, que actualmente está juzgando un caso sobre la legalidad de la ocupación israelí de los territorios palestinos.

El fiscal de la Corte Penal Internacional, Karim Khan, solicitó el lunes órdenes de detención contra el primer ministro israelí, Benjamín Netanyahu, y dirigentes de Hamás por crímenes de guerra y crímenes contra la humanidad. Israel no reconoce el tribunal, pero Palestina es miembro de él desde 2015.

Palestina también es parte de varios tratados, y se convirtió en miembro de la Organización para la Prohibición de las Armas Químicas en 2018.

Henrik Pryser Libell colaboró con reportería.

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

China ‘castiga’ a Taiwán con simulacros militares alrededor de la isla

China inició el jueves dos días de ejercicios militares en torno a Taiwán en lo que calificó de “fuerte castigo” contra sus oponentes en la isla autónoma, después de que el nuevo presidente de Taiwán prometiera defender su soberanía.

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Las maniobras fueron la primera respuesta sustantiva de China a la toma de posesión el lunes en Taipéi del presidente Lai Ching-te, a quien Pekín desprecia. El partido político de Lai afirma el estatus de Taiwán como separado de China, y en el discurso inaugural prometió mantener la democracia de Taiwán a salvo de la presión china.

China, que reclama Taiwán como su territorio, había respondido al discurso de Lai con duras críticas. Pero el jueves intensificó su respuesta al anunciar la realización de maniobras marítimas y aéreas que rodearían Taiwán y se acercarían a las islas taiwanesas de Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu y Dongyin, en el estrecho de Taiwán.

Desde el inicio de las maniobras hasta la tarde, se detectaron 15 buques de la armada china, 16 barcos guardacostas chinos y 42 aviones militares chinos alrededor de la isla principal de Taiwán y de islas periféricas más pequeñas, según el Ministerio de Defensa de Taiwán. En una reunión informativa celebrada en Taipéi, los funcionarios afirmaron que hasta el momento ninguno de los aviones y buques chinos había entrado en aguas territoriales de Taiwán.

“Debemos expresar nuestra condena por este comportamiento que daña la paz y la estabilidad regionales”, declaró Sun Li-fang, portavoz del ministerio taiwanés.

La última vez que China realizó un simulacro tan grande en varios lugares alrededor de Taiwán fue en abril de 2023, después de que Kevin McCarthy, entonces presidente de la Cámara de Representantes, se reuniera con la entonces presidenta de Taiwán, Tsai Ing-wen. Pekín se opone a este tipo de intercambios con los dirigentes de la isla.

En agosto de 2022, China llevó a cabo las mayores maniobras de este tipo de los últimos años para protestar por la visita a Taiwán de Nancy Pelosi, quien era entonces la presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes. Estos ejercicios, que incluyeron el disparo de misiles chinos cerca de y sobre Taiwán, abarcaron seis franjas de mar alrededor la isla, tres de las cuales parecían traslaparse con zonas que Taiwán considera sus aguas territoriales. Las maniobras duraron cuatro días, y China siguió realzando ejercicios adicionales durante varios días.

Li Xi, portavoz del Comando del Teatro Oriental del Ejército Popular de Liberación de China, declaró que las últimas maniobras constituían un “fuerte castigo” para las “fuerzas independentistas de Taiwán”, según los medios de comunicación estatales chinos, y “una severa advertencia contra la injerencia y la provocación de fuerzas externas”, en referencia a Estados Unidos.

Aunque Lai se comprometió a proteger Taiwán en su discurso, intentó dar una nota conciliadora por otros medios, al señalar que seguía abierto a mantener conversaciones con Pekín —que China había congelado en 2016— y a reanudar el turismo a través del estrecho.

Pero China se sintió ofendida por la afirmación de Lai de que las partes eran iguales —había dicho que “no están subordinadas la una a la otra”— y su énfasis en la identidad democrática de Taiwán y las advertencias contra las amenazas de China.

Tras el discurso, Pekín acusó a Lai de promover la independencia formal de Taiwán y dijo que el nuevo presidente era más peligroso que sus predecesores. Wang Yi, máximo responsable de la política exterior china, declaró esta semana: “Los desagradables actos de Lai Ching-te y otros que traicionan a la nación y a sus antepasados son vergonzosos”, según el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores chino. “Todos los separatistas independentistas de Taiwán serán clavados en la columna de la vergüenza de la historia”.

Funcionarios taiwaneses y expertos militares esperaban que China hiciera una demostración de fuerza militar tras la toma de posesión de Lai. Ma Chen-kun, profesor de la Universidad de Defensa Nacional de Taiwán, dijo que era probable que el Ejército Popular de Liberación siguiera ejerciendo su presencia, incluso en torno a las islas de Kinmen y Matsu, próximas a China continental.

Según Ja Ian Chong, profesor asociado de Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad Nacional de Singapur, Pekín “parece decidido a presionar a Taiwán, independientemente de lo que Lai haya dicho o dejado de decir” en su discurso.

Los ejercicios podrían enseñar al Ejército Popular de Liberación valiosas lecciones sobre cómo imponer una posible “cuarentena” o bloqueo en torno a Taiwán. Muchos expertos creen que si el gobierno chino intenta forzar a Taiwán a aceptar la unificación, podría intentar primero utilizar un anillo de fuerzas militares para restringir severamente el acceso aéreo y marítimo a la isla.

Chieh Chung, profesor adjunto de estudios estratégicos en la Universidad de Tamkang de Taiwán, dijo que el alcance y la naturaleza de los ejercicios que China ha anunciado indicaban que el simulacro estaba “basado en varias etapas de una invasión a Taiwán”. El ejercicio podría ser una forma de evaluar la inclusión de las islas periféricas de Taiwán en cualquier intento de bloqueo, dijo. A diferencia de los ejercicios de mayor envergadura realizados por China en los dos últimos años, el de esta semana podría incluir entrenamiento para apoderarse de una de esas islas, dijo Chieh.

Los simulacros también podrían brindar a las distintas ramas del Ejército Popular de Liberación y de la Guardia Costera china la oportunidad de coordinar sus fuerzas. La Guardia Costera de Fujian, la provincia costera frente a Taiwán, anunció que llevaría a cabo un “ejercicio exhaustivo de aplicación de la ley” alrededor de las islas de Wuqiu y Dongyin, dijeron los medios estatales chinos.

“La realización simultánea de la actividad de aplicación de la ley con el ejercicio militar del Ejército Popular de Liberación permite además a China entrenar a su Ejército Popular de Liberación para participar en actividades coordinadas con su Guardia Costera en una amplia zona alrededor de Taiwán”, declaró Bonny Lin, investigadora principal de seguridad asiática en el Centro de Estudios Estratégicos e Internacionales.

“Podría ser una experiencia muy valiosa para una serie de operaciones contra Taiwán”, añadió Lin, quien es la autora principal de un estudio que se publicará este mes sobre cómo China podría imponer una cuarentena marítima alrededor de Taiwán.

Lai visitó el jueves una brigada de la infantería de marina taiwanesa cerca de Taipéi. En sus declaraciones publicadas, no mencionó los ejercicios chinos, pero expresó una nota de desafío.

“En este momento, la comunidad internacional está prestando mucha atención al Taiwán democrático”, dijo Lai, según un comunicado emitido por su oficina. “Frente a los desafíos y amenazas externas, seguiremos defendiendo los valores de la libertad y la democracia”.

Chris Buckley colaboró con la reportería.


David Pierson cubre la política exterior china y el involucramiento económico y cultural chino en el mundo. Es periodista desde hace más de dos décadas. Más sobre David Pierson

Amy Chang Chien es una reportera e investigadora para The New York Times en Taipéi, cubriendo Taiwán y China. Más sobre Amy Chang Chien

Un escenario se desploma en un mitin en México y mueren al menos 9 personas

Un escenario en el norte de México, donde un aspirante presidencial estaba haciendo campaña para una candidata local, se derrumbó después de una ráfaga de viento que sopló en la noche del miércoles, dejando al menos nueve personas muertas y al menos otras 70 heridas, dijo un gobernador del estado.

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El escenario se derrumbó en San Pedro Garza García, un municipio de la zona metropolitana de Monterrey, en el estado de Nuevo León, durante un acto al que asistían el candidato progresista Jorge Álvarez Máynez y otros miembros del partido Movimiento Ciudadano. El derrumbe fue provocado por el fuerte viento, según informó el presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, en las redes sociales.

El viento se levantó repentinamente cuando los candidatos estaban cantando eslóganes de campaña en el escenario, según muestran los videos publicados en las redes sociales. Cuando la iluminación del escenario se estrelló contra el suelo, la gente se precipitó fuera del escenario para evitar ser aplastada. Otros entre la multitud huyeron gritando, algunos sujetándose unos a otros por el intenso viento.

Samuel García, gobernador de Nuevo León, anunció a los periodistas a primera hora del jueves el número de muertos y heridos, y dijo en las redes sociales que uno de los fallecidos era un menor de edad. Setenta personas fueron hospitalizadas con lesiones medias y graves, dijo, y otras 11 habían sido dadas de alta.

El presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador expresó su apoyo tanto a las víctimas como al partido Movimiento Ciudadano durante su rueda de prensa matutina del jueves. “Enviamos pues, nuestro pésame a los familiares de los que perdieron la vida, lo sentimos mucho”, dijo.

El escenario, que se había levantado en un campo de béisbol, era el lugar de un acto de campaña de la candidata del partido Movimiento Ciudadano a la alcaldía de la ciudad, Lorenia Canavati.

Álvarez Máynez, que no resultó herido, dijo a los periodistas que se dio cuenta de la fuerza del viento cuando vio que casi se llevaba la batería de la banda que tenía previsto tocar esa noche. Cuando el escenario se derrumbó, él y otras personas saltaron.

“Es una tragedia que las personas que vinieron a vivir un día de fiesta, de alegría, con nosotros, con el conjunto, estén ahora fallecidas”, dijo Álvarez Máynez.

Álvarez Máynez dijo en las redes sociales que se estaba comunicando con las autoridades estatales para determinar lo que había sucedido. Canavati dijo que su equipo estaba coordinando con las autoridades para apoyar a las víctimas.

El partido dijo que había cancelado todos los actos de sus candidatos programados para el jueves después de que “fuertes vientos con rachas huracanadas” derribaran el escenario.

El servicio meteorológico de México dijo el miércoles por la noche que se esperaban rachas de viento de hasta unos 70 kilómetros por hora en el noreste del país y que era posible que se produjeran torbellinos en Nuevo León y los estados cercanos.

García, el gobernador de Nuevo León, dijo en un mensaje de video que la gente debería ponerse a resguardo de la tormenta.

“Estamos presenciando tormentas eléctricas, muy fuertes vientos y viene lluvia intensa las siguientes dos horas”, dijo. “Ya hubo una desgracia”.

Los ciudadanos de todo México votarán el 2 de junio para la presidencia y más de 20.000 cargos locales, estatales y del Congreso.

Movimiento Ciudadano, un partido de centro-izquierda fundado en 1999, está representado en las elecciones generales de este año por Álvarez Máynez, quien se ha presentado como una alternativa de tercer partido a la favorita, Claudia Sheinbaum, de la coalición gobernante Morena, y a la opositora Xóchitl Gálvez. Uno de ellos sucederá a López Obrador, quien no puede volver a presentarse en virtud de la Constitución.

Varios candidatos han sido asesinados durante la actual temporada electoral en México, un país convulsionado por la violencia de los cárteles. No hubo informes de violencia en el acto de campaña del miércoles.

Victoria Kim y Natalie Kitroeff colaboraron con reportería.


Emiliano Rodríguez Mega es un investigador reportero del Times en Ciudad de México. Cubre México, Centroamérica y el Caribe. Más de Emiliano Rodríguez Mega

John Yoon es un reportero del Times afincado en Seúl que cubre noticias de última hora y de tendencia. Más de John Yoon