The New York Times 2024-05-28 10:23:47


Facing Global Outrage, Netanyahu Calls Civilian Deaths in Rafah Strike ‘Tragic Accident’

With international condemnation mounting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Monday that the killing of dozens of people a day earlier at a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah was “a tragic accident,” but gave no sign of curbing the Israeli offensive in the southern Gaza city.

The deadly fire that tore through the encampment on Sunday after an airstrike came at a particularly delicate time for Israel, just days after the International Court of Justice appeared to order the country’s military to halt its offensive in Rafah and as diplomats were aiming to restart negotiations for a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas.

The Israel military said that the target of the strike in Rafah on Sunday was a Hamas compound, and that “precise munitions” had been used to target a commander and another senior militant official there.

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

Access to Aid in Gaza Was Dire. Now, It’s Worse.


The flow of aid into Gaza has shrunk so much in May that humanitarian officials say their operations are at risk of shutting down, and that the threat of widespread starvation is more acute than ever.

The entry of aid trucks through Gaza’s southern crossings, where most aid has arrived since the war began, has nearly ground to a halt since Israel expanded its fighting in the southern city of Rafah. In northern Gaza, new entry points have enabled small amounts of critical aid to reach those who have been most at risk of famine for months. But that aid is insufficient to support the Gazan population, and most cannot reach the central and southern areas, where a majority of people are newly displaced by the war.

A ruling issued by the International Court of Justice on Friday 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 ruling made explicit note of the “spread of famine and starvation” in Gaza and emphasized the need for “the unhindered provision at scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

Last month, Israel had pledged to increase the aid it allowed into Gaza after the killing of seven World Central Kitchen workers in an attack by Israeli forces drew international outrage. Israel’s strict controls on aid and the challenge of distributing it within the enclave had already created catastrophic levels of hunger.

Under pressure from President Biden, Israeli officials began to bring additional aid through the port of Ashdod and opened the Erez crossing in the north, which Israel had closed after the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7. In coordination with Israel, the U.S. military built a temporary pier to bring in aid by sea, a supplement to key land routes in the south.

But in early May, Israel expanded its military operation in southern Gaza after a Hamas rocket attack killed four soldiers near a crossing at Kerem Shalom. Israel closed that crossing as well as the Rafah crossing, where a majority of aid had been coming in. Nearly 300 aid trucks had crossed there in a single day just before the incursion.

“It was a record for us since the outbreak of the war,” said Georgios Petropoulos, the head of the United Nations aid office in Rafah. “We were kind of saying, ‘OK, well, maybe we’re getting to where we need to be.’ And then boom, suddenly it’s gone.”

Israel reopened Kerem Shalom on May 8, but aid workers from multiple organizations have said the vital entry point remains functionally closed, with a daily average of just eight aid trucks entering. One reason is that Egypt has refused to allow trucks from the closed Rafah crossing to continue on to Kerem Shalom.

Mr. Biden and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt agreed on Friday to send aid and fuel to Kerem Shalom until the Rafah border crossing could be reopened. On Sunday, 126 trucks carrying food and other aid from Egypt reached that crossing, according to a statement by the Israeli military. The U.N. distribution trucks that made it to Kerem Shalom to pick up the Egyptian aid were forced to evacuate the crossing because of a security issue, said Sam Rose, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA. Officials including Mr. Rose said the aid had not made it past the crossing as of Sunday.

Scott Anderson, a senior official at UNRWA, and Mr. Petropoulos have said that the crossing area is still an active military zone and that safety and logistical challenges can hold up aid that arrives at the crossing and prevent it from being immediately collected and distributed. An Israeli airstrike on a makeshift tent camp in Rafah killed at least 45 people on Sunday night, according to the Gaza health ministry. The Israeli military said the strike was aimed at a Hamas compound.

Empty trucks coming from inside Gaza en route to load aid at Kerem Shalom often sit in hours-long waits behind commercial trucks carrying goods to sell in Gaza, which officials say number more than 100 or 200 per day. While humanitarian groups say they welcome the arrival of commercial supplies, most people inside Gaza cannot afford them, and the shipments may not include basic necessities.

Getting aid to people in Gaza is also difficult because Israel’s expanded operations in the south and north have forced nearly a million people to flee to areas with little shelter, food or water on the coast or among the rubble in more central regions.

Before the Rafah operation, most people were sheltering in the areas where a majority of the aid was coming in. But now, new entry points in the north — the U.S. pier, and a new crossing called Erez West — are beset with problems. They bring in too little aid to sustain everyone and are located far from the largest clusters of people.

The distribution of the aid that does make it through each crossing also poses significant challenges. Israel’s recent evacuation orders in parts of Rafah and northern Gaza have made many aid agency warehouses unreachable and travel more dangerous. UNRWA announced on May 21 that it had suspended distribution in Rafah, citing security issues, supply shortages and an inability to access its warehouse.

Without consistent, predictable deliveries of aid, many trucks do not make it far through desperate crowds. For instance, on May 18, the World Food Program reported that 11 of 16 trucks were looted after leaving the U.S. pier.

An Israeli military road and checkpoint in the north, which bisects the enclave and prevented the easy movement of aid from the south to the north earlier in the war, is likely to create a similar problem for aid moving in the opposite direction, according to Mr. Petropoulos.

COGAT, the Israeli military agency coordinating aid delivery, has said that increasing the amount of aid going into Gaza remains a priority. It reports daily that it has inspected hundreds of trucks and coordinated their transfer to border crossings, though the figures are often higher than those reported by aid organizations, which track the number of trucks that have collected goods for entry into Gaza and exclude trucks carrying commercial goods.

Neither set of figures accounts for difficulties in distribution that can prevent aid from getting to Gazan civilians. Israel says enough aid is entering Gaza and has blamed aid groups for not distributing it faster to civilians — a characterization the aid groups dispute, saying Israeli forces have made distribution extremely difficult.

Aid organizations have also warned that they will be unable to deliver supplies to anyone if they run out of fuel, and that already inadequate amounts of safe water supplies will disappear. At least 200,000 liters of fuel are needed daily, according to Mr. Anderson of UNRWA. But just a quarter of that amount arrives on average each day since the closure of Rafah crossing, according to U.N. data.

“The fuel limitation means that we often have to choose: Do we keep the generators running at the hospital, the bakery or the sewage plant?” Mr. Anderson said.

Papua New Guinea Landslide Has Buried 2,000 People, Officials Say

More than 2,000 people were buried alive in the landslide that smothered a Papua New Guinea village and work camp on Friday in the country’s remote northern highlands, the authorities told the United Nations on Monday.

Government officials visited the disaster site on Sunday. And even as the official death toll jumped from a few dozen to 670, they warned that far more victims than expected appeared to still be caught under the rubble.

Papua New Guinea Landslide Has Buried 2,000 People, Officials Say – The New York Times

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

North Korean Rocket Carrying Spy Satellite Explodes After Takeoff

North Korea attempted to put a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit on Monday, the South Korean military said, but the rocket carrying the satellite exploded midair shortly after takeoff, marking the country’s third failed attempt to put a spy satellite into orbit.

Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, has made deploying a fleet of spy satellites one of his latest ​military ambitions. He has ​also focused on ​testing what he claimed were nuclear missiles ​capable of targeting the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

North Korea ​has said it needs satellites to ​increase its ability to monitor and target its enemies and to make its nuclear deterrence more credible.

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

Middle East Crisis: Amid Condemnation, Netanyahu Calls Civilian Deaths in Rafah Strike ‘Tragic Accident’

The blast and subsequent fires killed at least 45 people, Gazan officials said.

With international condemnation mounting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Monday that the killing of dozens of people in a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah was “a tragic accident,” but gave no sign of curbing the Israeli offensive there.

His comments came at a particularly delicate time, just three days after the International Court of Justice appeared to order Israel to immediately halt its offensive in Rafah, at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, and as diplomats were aiming to restart negotiations in the next week for a cease-fire and hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas.

The World Court appeared to order Israel on Friday to suspend its military offensive and “any other action” in Rafah that might wholly or partly destroy the Palestinian population there. Some of the court’s judges said that Israel could still conduct some military operations in Rafah under the terms of their decision.

Israel said the strike on Sunday night killed two Hamas officials, but the civilian deaths generated instant condemnation, likely making it harder for Israel to defend its position that the court order allowed it to continue its campaign in Rafah.

Mr. Netanyahu said in a speech to the Israeli Parliament that Israel tried to minimize civilian deaths by asking Gazans to evacuate parts of Rafah, but “despite our supreme effort not to harm uninvolved civilians, a tragic accident occurred to our regret last night.” He accused Hamas of hiding among the general population, saying, “For us, every uninvolved civilian who is hurt is a tragedy. For Hamas, it’s a strategy. That’s the whole difference.”

Israeli military aerial footage of the attack, reviewed by The New York Times, showed a munition striking an area housing several structures and parked cars. The footage also appeared to show at least four people walking around just before the Israeli strike hits.

Multiple videos from the same location after the strike, verified by The Times, showed fires raging through the night as people frantically pulled bodies from the rubble, shouting in horror as they carried the charred remains out of the camp. In one video, a man held a headless child as fire engulfed a structure behind him.

The Israeli military said the strike targeted a Hamas compound. In a statement on Monday, it said it had taken a number of steps beforehand to reduce the risk to civilians, including conducting aerial surveillance and using precision munitions.

“Based on these measures, it was assessed that there would be no expected harm to uninvolved civilians,” the military said.

But at least 45 people were killed by the blast and subsequent fires, according to the Gaza health ministry, including 23 women, children and older people. The ministry said that 249 people were wounded.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, said on Monday that an initial investigation by the military had concluded that the strike may have unexpectedly ignited a flammable substance at the site. Eyewitnesses described intense fires after the strike.

Military drone footage of the attack, reviewed by The New York Times, showed the munition striking an area housing several large, cabinlike structures and parked cars.

Two Israeli officials said that the strike took place outside the designated humanitarian zone that was supposed to offer safe refuge to residents told to evacuate, disputing a claim by the International Rescue Committee that it was within the safe zone. The military produced a map showing what it said was the location of the strike in relation to the designated humanitarian area.

The military named the targets of the strike as Yassin Rabia, the commander of Hamas’s leadership in the occupied West Bank, and Khaled Nagar, a senior official in the same wing of the group.

Hamas did not confirm their deaths, but in a statement it described the Israeli strike on Rafah as “a horrific war crime,” and demanded the “immediate and urgent implementation” of the World Court’s decision.

The strike occurred in Tal as Sultan, in northwest Rafah, according to the military. Israeli ground troops have so far been operating in southeast Rafah, and in a narrow corridor along the Egyptian border.

The order issued on Friday by the International Court of Justice, an arm of the United Nations, came as part of a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza. It called on Israel to immediately halt any actions in Rafah, “which may inflict upon the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that would bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Israeli officials have argued that the ruling allowed Israel to continue fighting in Rafah because it had not, and would not, inflict such conditions.

But even some of Israel’s allies disagree. Germany’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, said on Saturday that Israel’s offensive in Rafah was “incompatible with international law.” And President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Monday that he was “outraged” by the airstrike in Rafah, and that these operations “must stop.”

Legal experts said the World Court’s ruling was worded ambiguously, most likely deliberately, in part out of the need to find common ground among the judges.

But William Schabas, a professor of international law at Middlesex University London and a former chairman of a U.N. commission of inquiry into Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip in 2014, said it was “preposterous” for Israel to take the order as “a kind of carte blanche to continue its military operations without change in Rafah.”

Individual opinions of some of the judges “suggest a lack of unanimity about the extent of any exceptions to the general prohibition on military activity in Rafah,” Professor Schabas said. But “stop means stop,” he said, calling Israel’s argument “a fanciful twisting of language.”

Yuval Shany, a professor of international law at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, said the Israeli position “does make sense” given the obvious ambiguity in the language and the conditional nature of the ruling. But, he noted, the court viewed the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip as already catastrophic and deteriorating, and said that to comply with the ruling, Israel would have to do more to alleviate the risk to civilians and their suffering.

The deadly strike in Rafah “certainly complicates Israel’s position,” Professor Shany said — even if it was intended as the sort of focused, precise strike that Israel’s allies have urged it to switch to.

At times, such deadly accidents have generated enough international pressure on Israel to end rounds of conflict. During an Israeli operation against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 1996, Israeli forces shelled a U.N. compound in the village of Qana, killing more than a hundred civilians who had sought refuge there. That led to a U.N. Security Council call for an immediate cease-fire and a U.S.-brokered understanding that ended the hostilities about a week later.

In 2006, during another conflict with Hezbollah, a turning point came when Israeli forces shelled a multistory residential building in Qana, killing about 28 people.

Neil Collier, Patrick Kingsley, Arijeta Lajka, Myra Noveck , Johnatan Reiss and Christiaan Triebert contributed reporting.

Charred bodies and screams: Witnesses describe scenes of horror after an airstrike at a camp.

Witnesses and survivors described a terrifying scene of tents in flames and burn victims after what the Gaza Health Ministry said was an Israeli strike on a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza.

The health ministry said at least 45 people in the camp had been killed and 240 others wounded.

The Israeli military said that it had aimed a strike at a Hamas compound and killed two Hamas leaders. A legal official with the military said Monday that the strike was under review.

Bilal al-Sapti, 30, a construction worker in Rafah, said he saw charred bodies in the wreckage of the camp in the Tal as Sultan area of Rafah, and people screaming as firefighters tried to put out the flames.

“The fire was very strong and was all over the camp,” he said. “There was darkness and no electricity.”

Mr. al-Sapti said that shrapnel from the strike tore up the tent where he was staying with his wife and two children, but that his family was uninjured.

“What kind of a tent will protect us from missiles and shrapnel?” he said.

UNRWA, the main United Nations agency that aids Palestinians, described on social media a “horrifying” attack and said the images emerging from the site were “yet another testament” that Gaza is “hell on earth.”

Multiple videos from the same location, verified by The New York Times, show fires raging through the night as people frantically pull bodies from the rubble and shout in horror as they carry away charred remains.

By morning, several shed-like structures were flattened, and cars were burned out, the footage shows. The sheds are part of a displaced persons camp known as the Kuwaiti Al-Salam Camp 1.

The Times verified that the locations seen in various videos showing fires raging and burned bodies are from the same camp, by comparing them to previous videos of the site from aid groups. In a statement on Instagram, one of the groups that supports the camp, Al-Salam Association for Humanitarian and Charitable Works, said that, besides dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries, over 120 tents and dozens of toilets were burned and damaged, and that a water well was destroyed.

Adli Abu Taha, 33, a freelance journalist who was at a nearby field hospital run by the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent, said the dead and wounded began arriving there shortly after he heard two loud explosions.

“Several injured arrived without one or more limbs and were severely burned,” Mr. Abu Taha said. “The hospital soon became overwhelmed,” he added.

When Mr. Abu Taha went to the tent camp on Monday morning, all he could see was “destruction” coupled with “the smell of smoke and burned flesh,” he said. He said that some families were dismantling their tents and preparing to find another place to seek shelter.

Dr. Marwan al-Hams, who was at the Tal Al Sultan Health Center in Rafah where many of the casualties first arrived before being transferred to nearby field hospitals, said that of the killed and wounded he saw, a majority were women and children.

“Many of the dead bodies were severely burned, had amputated limbs and were torn to pieces,” he said.

Mohammed Abu Ghanem, 26, said that he and the 13 other people who had been sheltering in a tent with him in the camp were wondering where to go. “I hear that everywhere is being bombed and I have no cash to pay for the trucks that evacuate people,” he said, adding: “We have no other option but to remain here and wait for death.”

Iyad Abuheweila, Johnatan Reiss and Neil Collier contributed reporting.


An Israeli strike near a Lebanese hospital stokes tensions along a volatile border.

An Israeli strike at the entrance to a hospital in southern Lebanon on Monday killed at least one person and wounded 15, according to Lebanese health officials, who condemned the attack as a “war crime.”

The Israeli military said in a statement that it was targeting a member of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah who it said had been in an area near where rockets had been fired earlier into Israel.

However, Lebanese officials stressed that the man was a civilian, and the country’s health minister, Firass Abiad, told The New York Times that the man had been driving his mother to the hospital, in the town of Bint Jbeil, when his motorcycle was hit. It was not clear if the man’s mother was also killed. Mr. Abiad said that 15 civilians, including five health care workers, were wounded in the strike, at the entrance to the Salah Ghandour Hospital.

The health ministry said Israel’s strike violated the Geneva Conventions, as well as international laws that protect health workers in conflicts.

“This brutal bombing is a full-fledged war crime and a new episode in the series of repeated and flagrant violations committed by Israel against health care facilities and health care workers in Lebanon,” the ministry said in a statement.

The attack was the latest flare-up of violence along the volatile Lebanese-Israeli border, where the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel — already the heaviest between the sides in nearly two decades — has shown no sign of subsiding nearly eight months after the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7.

Around 153,000 civilians on both sides of the border have fled. More than 300 Hezbollah fighters and over 80 civilians have been killed in Lebanon, along with 15 Israeli soldiers.

Hezbollah said later on Monday that it had responded by launching dozens of rockets at towns and cities in northern Israel.

Hassan Fadlallah, a Hezbollah lawmaker in the Lebanese Parliament, said after visiting the hospital on Monday that such attacks by Israel would undermine its stated objective of returning the 60,000 or so civilians evacuated from areas along the border.

“These attacks are intended to put pressure on our country, the people of the region and the resistance,” he said, adding that the border violence would end only when Israel stopped its war against Hamas in Gaza.

World leaders denounced the deadly strike in Rafah, saying it shows the need for a cease-fire.

An Israeli airstrike on the southern Gaza city of Rafah that killed dozens of displaced Palestinians drew widespread international condemnation Monday, with world leaders calling for an investigation into the attack and intensifying the pressure for Israel to end its military campaign in the south.

President Emmanuel Macron of France said Monday he was “outraged” by the blast, and he called “for full respect for international law and an immediate cease-fire.”

“These operations must stop,” he said, referring to the strike on Sunday. “There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians.”

The strike came just two days after the International Court of Justice appeared to order Israel to immediately halt its offensive in the city. A legal official with the Israeli military said the strike was under review.

Volker Türk, the United Nations human rights chief, said, “What is shockingly clear is that by striking such an area, densely packed with civilians, this was an entirely predictable outcome.”

Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Albares said at a news conference Monday that he planned to ask other foreign ministers from the European Union’s member states to support the World Court’s rulings against Israel and to take measures if Israel continues with its Rafah operations.

António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, condemned Israel’s actions in a post on X.

“There is no safe place in Gaza,” Mr. Guterres wrote. “This horror must stop.” Tor Wennesland, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, condemned the airstrikes and said he was “deeply troubled by the deaths of so many women and children in an area where people have sought shelter.”

Germany’s public broadcaster reported that the country’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, said on Saturday that Israel’s offensive in Rafah was “incompatible with international law.” Senior German officials had previously warned Israel against attacking Rafah, but Mr. Habeck’s comments appeared to represent a hardening of that tone in a country with a longstanding policy of support for Israel.

“Israel must not carry out this attack, at least not in the way it did in the Gaza Strip before, bombing refugee camps and so on,” Mr. Habeck said.

The Israeli military said the strike was targeting a Hamas compound and that it used “precise munitions” to kill two senior Hamas leaders. But at least 45 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in the strike and ensuing fires, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

In a statement, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, acknowledged that the assault had killed two senior leaders responsible for the Oct. 7 attacks against Israel and said that Israel “has a right to go after Hamas.”

“But as we’ve been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians,” said Eduardo Maia Silva, the spokesman for the council, before referring to the Israel Defense Forces, adding, “We are actively engaging the I.D.F. and partners on the ground to assess what happened, and understand that the I.D.F. is conducting an investigation.”

The assault drew criticism from aid groups, like the International Rescue Committee, which issued a statement saying it was “horrified” and calling the area that was hit a “designated safe zone.” Israeli officials insist that the strike was outside the area they had designated as a safe zone for civilians. The I.R.C. also called for an end to Israel’s assault, a full cease-fire and for the release of all hostages.

Martin Griffiths, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator, denounced the Israeli strike on social media, and, appearing to reference the Israeli military’s activity in southern Gaza, lamented how aid agencies have struggled to pick up goods at the scale needed.

“Such impunity cannot continue,” Mr. Griffiths said.

Philippe Lazzarini, chief of UNRWA, the main U.N. aid agency for Palestinians, described the images coming out of Rafah as a “testament to how Rafah has turned into hell on earth.”

The agency has had difficulty contacting its teams on the ground in Rafah, he said, and some of his staff are unaccounted for.

“UNRWA is doing everything possible not to interrupt the delivery of humanitarian assistance. But with every day passing, providing assistance & protection becomes nearly impossible,” Mr. Lazzarini wrote on X.

Catherine Russell, the executive director of UNICEF, said the continued assaults in Rafah pose “a catastrophic risk to the children sheltering there,” adding that many have already suffered extreme loss and hardship.

“They must be protected, along with the few remaining basic services and infrastructure they need to survive,” Ms. Russell wrote.

A shooting near the Rafah border crossing killed a member of Egypt’s security forces.

A member of Egypt’s security forces was killed near the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip and an investigation is underway, an Egyptian army spokesman said on Monday, after the Israeli military reported a shooting on the border.

Al Qahera News, Egypt’s state-owned television station, cited a “well-informed,” unnamed security official as saying it appeared there was gunfire exchanged between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters, and that the ensuing battle resulted in the death of the soldier. The New York Times could not independently verify the circumstances of the shooting.

The shooting reflected the escalating tension at the border since early May, when the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza, became the focus of Israel’s military campaign to defeat Hamas, an armed group that led a deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

Israeli troops took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing, the main conduit between the territory and Egypt, early this month.

The Israeli military also on Monday reported a shooting at the border, but did not give further details.

“Several hours ago, a shooting incident took place on the Egyptian border,” Israel’s military said in a statement. “The incident is under review. There is a dialogue with the Egyptian side.”

The Egyptian army’s spokesman, Col. Gharib Abdel Hafez, wrote on social media that a member of Egypt’s security forces was killed in the shooting near the crossing.

The Israeli seizure of the Rafah crossing, in what Israel called a limited operation into Rafah, halted the flow of aid into the enclave through that portal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has said the operation is vital to defeat the remaining battalions of Hamas and to destroy its military infrastructure, including tunnels.

Rafah’s population had swollen to more than one million as Gazans displaced from their homes fled to the area earlier in the conflict. The Egyptian authorities said they were concerned about an exodus of refugees across the border and onto its soil. Since then, most people have fled Rafah to areas farther from the Egyptian border.

Israeli leaders have said repeatedly that they needed to control the crossing and a buffer zone along Gaza’s southern border, known in Israel as the Philadelphi Corridor, in order to block tunnels built by Hamas that run from Gaza into Egypt.

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.

U.S. Lawmakers Visit Taiwan and Vow Support in Face of Chinese Military Drills

After China performed two days of military drills intended to punish Taiwan, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas on Monday stood alongside the island nation’s newly elected president, Lai Ching-te, and issued a promise.

“The United States must maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force or coercion that would jeopardize the security of the people of Taiwan,” Mr. McCaul, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said. “That is what we stand for, and that is what we continue to say.”

Mr. McCaul, a Republican, traveled this week to Taipei with a bipartisan delegation of other American lawmakers in an attempt, he said, to show that the U.S. government stood in lock step with Mr. Lai and Taiwan.

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

This Island Wants to Round Up Its Wild Goats. Catching Them Won’t Be Easy.

Come June, a crack team of wildlife experts plans to swarm the volcanic cliffs and natural caves of a small island in the Mediterranean to ensnare what has become an out-of-control species: goats gone wild.

It is the first step in a mission to rid the Aeolian island of Alicudi, just north of Sicily, of hundreds of feral goats that are crowding out the island’s 100 or so year-round human inhabitants, so that the animals can be adopted elsewhere.

“We are all for goats running free, but let’s be clear: These aren’t Heidi’s kid goats,” said Carolina Barnao, a council member in neighboring Lipari, which administers its fellow Aeolian islands. “Some of them could even become dangerous.”


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

Onstage, Witches and Cossacks Strike a Chord With Ukrainians

The lines for the show snake down the block, with people waiting for up to seven hours to buy tickets at the theater in downtown Kyiv. Videos of the performance have drawn millions of views online.

The smash hit isn’t a popular Broadway musical or a series of concerts by a pop star — it’s a play based on a classic 19th-century Ukrainian novel, “The Witch of Konotop,” and the mood is anything but upbeat. Consider the opening line: “It is sad and gloomy.”

Mykhailo Matiukhin, an actor in the production, said that is what has struck a chord with Ukrainians because it shows “what we are living through now.”

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

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

Sign up for Your Places: Global Update.   All the latest news for any part of the world you select.

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.

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

China, Japan and South Korea Hold Regional Summit Overshadowed by U.S.

The leaders of South Korea and Japan on Monday sought to restore economic cooperation with China, their biggest trading partner, after years of souring relations, but their three-way talks were overshadowed by heightened tensions between China and the United States, Seoul and Tokyo’s most important military ally.

The trilateral meeting — featuring President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan and Premier Li Qiang, the second-highest official in China — was the first in four and a half years.

Talks focused mainly on areas where common ground could more easily be found, such as protecting supply chains, promoting trade and cooperating on the challenges of aging populations and emerging infectious diseases. The leaders tiptoed around thorny regional security issues like Taiwan​ and North Korea​.

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

Spying Arrests Send Chill Through Britain’s Thriving Hong Kong Community

Simon Cheng still visibly tenses when he describes his detention in China. In 2019, Mr. Cheng, a pro-democracy activist from Hong Kong and a former employee of Britain’s Consulate there, was arrested after a business trip to mainland China.

For 15 days, he was questioned and tortured, according to his account. Beijing confirmed his detention but denied he was mistreated. When he was finally released, he no longer felt safe in Hong Kong, and in early 2020, he fled to Britain and claimed asylum.

“It’s not hard to adapt to a new life in the U.K. in some ways,” said Mr. Cheng, 33. “But also, I can’t move on from the fate of my home city.”

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

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.”

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

The Deadly Prelude to South Africa’s First Free Elections

New

Listen to this article · 4:05 min Learn more

The photographer, who is based in South Africa, where he grew up, spent the first years of his career documenting the end of apartheid. He has been working for The New York Times since 1997. He took these pictures in 1994, for The Associated Press.

Leer en español

Thirty years ago, Black South Africans voted for the first time as the country celebrated the monumental birth of a democracy. As I write this, South Africa is bathed in warm winter sunlight and South Africans are free.

That day, April 27, 1994, changed the lives of everyone in the country. I was there. But I can only vaguely remember it.

I do, however, vividly remember the cost in human lives that led to that victorious day, as what amounted to a proxy war fueled by elements of the apartheid state pitted ethnic groups against one another. Those who hoped the bloodshed would derail democratic negotiations conveniently called it Black-on-Black violence.

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

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.

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

When a Tale of Migration Is Not Just Fiction

Africa

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.

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.

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

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.

阅读简体中文版閱讀繁體中文版

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.


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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.”

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

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.

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

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.

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

The Capital of Women’s Soccer

Sign up for Your Places: Global Update.   All the latest news for any part of the world you select.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

Sign up for Your Places: Global Update.   All the latest news for any part of the world you select.

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.

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

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.

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

Un deslizamiento de tierra en Papúa Nueva Guinea sepultó a 2000 personas

[Estamos en WhatsApp. Empieza a seguirnos ahora]

Más de 2000 personas fueron sepultadas vivas por el deslizamiento de tierra que asoló el viernes un pueblo y un campo de trabajo de Papúa Nueva Guinea, en las remotas tierras altas del norte del país, según informaron el lunes las autoridades a las Naciones Unidas.

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

Funcionarios del gobierno visitaron el lugar de la catástrofe el domingo. Y aunque el número oficial de víctimas mortales pasó de unas pocas decenas a 670, advirtieron de que al parecer todavía había muchas más víctimas de las esperadas bajo los escombros.

[Las imágenes por satélite muestran el tamaño del deslizamiento de tierra].

Un deslizamiento de tierra en Papúa Nueva Guinea sepultó a 2000 personas – The New York Times

“El deslizamiento de tierra sepultó a más de 2000 personas vivas y causó grandes destrozos en edificios, huertos de alimentos y tuvo un gran impacto en el sustento económico del país”, declaró Lusete Laso Mana, funcionario del centro nacional de catástrofes, en una carta a Naciones Unidas.

La carta subrayaba que las labores de rescate seguían siendo un reto. La carretera principal a la zona está bloqueada, decía la carta, y el terreno sigue inestable porque el agua fluye bajo las rocas, desplaza la tierra y “representa un peligro continuo tanto para los equipos de rescate como para los sobrevivientes”.

La región, en la provincia de Enga, está densamente poblada y se encuentra cerca de la mina de oro de Porgera, operada por Barrick Gold, empresa con sede en Canadá, en colaboración con Zijin Mining, un grupo chino. Es una zona de terreno selvático, remoto y difícil, en un país de unos 12 millones de habitantes que se sitúa justo al norte de Australia. Papúa Nueva Guinea es un país tropical, dividido por líneas tribales, étnicas y lingüísticas, rico en recursos naturales pero en gran medida subdesarrollado, lo que lo hace especialmente vulnerable a las catástrofes naturales, que ocurren con frecuencia.

[El deslizamiento de tierra se produjo en una zona poblada].

Los funcionarios de la ONU han seguido de cerca la situación. Y con el último cálculo en mano, hicieron hincapié en que la necesidad de ayuda sería a largo plazo y complicada.

“Esta situación requiere una actuación inmediata y apoyo internacional para mitigar nuevas pérdidas y proporcionar ayuda esencial a los afectados”, declaró Anne Mandal, vocera de la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones de la ONU.

Durante el fin de semana, la organización calculó que, además del número de muertos y desaparecidos, más de 250 casas habían sido abandonadas por temor a nuevos desprendimientos, lo que dejó aproximadamente 1250 personas desplazadas.

Llegar hasta los sobrevivientes ha resultado ser un reto enorme. Un convoy de ayuda llegó a la zona el sábado por la tarde para entregar carpas y agua, pero no alimentos. El domingo, el gobierno local consiguió alimentos y agua para unas 600 personas, según la ONU, pero el equipo pesado seguía sin llegar, lo que obligó a la gente a buscar cadáveres entre escombros peligrosos e inestables con pequeñas palas y horcas.

Las disputas tribales también han agravado los riesgos para la seguridad tras la catástrofe.

Ruth Kissam, organizadora comunitaria de la provincia de Enga, dijo que habían caído rocas gigantes de las tierras de una tribu a un pueblo residencial ocupado por otra tribu.

“Habrá tensión”, dijo. “Ya hay tensión”.

Incluso antes de la catástrofe, la región había sufrido enfrentamientos tribales que llevaron a la gente a huir de los pueblos circundantes, y muchos acabaron concentrados en la comunidad sepultada por el deslizamiento de tierra. En septiembre del año pasado, gran parte de Enga estaba bloqueada por el gobierno y bajo toque de queda, sin vuelos de entrada o salida.

Ahora, mientras prosigue la búsqueda de muertos y vivos, la ira y la violencia se han intensificado.

El sábado por la mañana estalló una pelea entre dos clanes, que acabó con muertos y decenas de casas incendiadas, según Serhan Aktoprak, jefe de misión de la oficina de la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones en Papúa Nueva Guinea. Añadió que la amenaza de violencia dificulta la entrega de ayuda.

Los funcionarios de Papúa Nueva Guinea también hicieron hincapié en la necesidad de mantener la calma.

“Tras la inspección realizada por el equipo, se determinó que los daños son grandes y requieren acciones inmediatas y de colaboración por parte de todos los actores”, decía la carta de los funcionarios del gobierno que visitaron el lugar.

El deslizamiento de tierra se produjo en el pueblo sobre las 3 a. m. del viernes, cuando muchos residentes dormían. Algunas de las rocas que sepultaron casas y cortaron una carretera principal eran más grandes que contenedores de transporte. Incluso en una región en la que son frecuentes las fuertes tormentas y los sismos, el deslizamiento de tierra ha suscitado intensas muestras de dolor dentro y fuera del país, incluida la Casa Blanca.

“Jill y yo estamos desconsolados por la pérdida de vidas y la devastación causada por el deslizamiento de tierra en Papúa Nueva Guinea”, dijo el presidente Joe Biden en un comunicado tras el desastre. “Nuestras oraciones están con todas las familias afectadas por esta tragedia y con todos los socorristas que se ponen en peligro para ayudar a sus conciudadanos”.

Christopher Cottrell colaboró con reportería.


Damien Cave es corresponsal internacional del Times y cubre la región Indo-Pacífica. Reside en Sídney, Australia. Más sobre Damien Cave

En Perú, un decreto sobre la identidad trans provoca una fuerte reacción

[Ahora también estamos en WhatsApp. Haz clic aquí y empieza a seguirnos]

El decreto apareció sin mucha bulla en un periódico oficial del gobierno de Perú que publica nuevas leyes y reglamentos. Las autoridades de salud peruanas dicen que no tenían ni idea de la respuesta que provocaría.

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

Dicen que querían ampliar el acceso a la atención de salud mental con seguro privado para peruanos transgénero. Por eso el decreto del gobierno incluía un texto que clasificaba la identidad transgénero como “problema de salud mental”.

Pero a medida que se filtraba la noticia de la norma, provocó indignación entre la población LGBTQ del país y sus defensores.

Muchos críticos dijeron que el decreto era otro golpe en un país donde el matrimonio igualitario y las uniones civiles son ilegales; la identidad transgénero no está reconocida legalmente; no hay legislación que reconozca los delitos de odio; y los peruanos trans dicen que se enfrentan a una discriminación y violencia generalizadas.

“Lo que están haciendo es etiquetar a toda una comunidad como enferma”, afirmó Cristian González Cabrera, quien investiga los derechos de los LGBTQ en América Latina para Human Rights Watch.

Pero las autoridades de la salud afirmaron que el enfado y las reacciones negativas se debieron a un error de comunicación y que su intención no era ofender a las personas trans.

El gobierno peruano añadió este mes siete códigos de diagnóstico del sistema de clasificación médica de la Organización Mundial de la Salud a una lista de enfermedades que deben ser cubiertas por los seguros públicos y privados.

Pero la ley utilizaba el lenguaje de una versión obsoleta del sistema de clasificación de la OMS que había catalogado la “transexualidad” y el “trastorno de identidad de género” como “trastornos mentales y del comportamiento”.

Una nueva versión del sistema de la OMS, que entró en vigor en 2022, sustituyó esos términos por “incongruencia de género de la adolescencia y la edad adulta” e “incongruencia de género de la infancia” en un capítulo titulado “Afecciones relacionadas con la salud sexual”.

El cambio, según la OMS, pretendía reflejar “el conocimiento actual de que las identidades trans y de género diverso no son condiciones de mala salud mental, y que clasificarlas como tales puede causar un enorme estigma”.

Las autoridades de salud peruanas dijeron en una entrevista que conocían los cambios de la OMS, pero que recién estaban iniciando el proceso para adoptarlos e incorporar una nueva norma debido a los obstáculos burocráticos.

“Es un camino que ya hemos empezado a andar”, dijo Henry Horna, director de comunicaciones del Ministerio de Salud de Perú, aunque las autoridades no dijeron cuánto duraría el proceso. Así que, por ahora, se mantiene la clasificación actual.

En respuesta al revuelo causado, el ministerio aclaró en un comunicado que “la diversidad de género y sexual no son enfermedades” y que rechaza la discriminación.

Carlos Alvarado, director de seguros de salud del ministerio, dijo que la normativa pretendía facilitar la facturación a las aseguradoras de los tratamientos relacionados con la identidad transgénero.

“No esperábamos la reacción, sinceramente”, dijo.

“El problema ha surgido obviamente por una mala interpretación del sentido de la norma”, dijo Horna. “Las normas se escriben en el lenguaje legal, en el lenguaje frío, en el lenguaje técnico”.

Pero Leyla Huerta, una activista trans, dijo que el acceso al seguro privado es irrelevante para la mayoría de los peruanos trans debido a las prácticas de contratación discriminatorias de muchos empleadores del sector privado.

Afirmó que cualquier beneficio para la comunidad trans se ve superado por la estigmatización que supone el lenguaje utilizado en la normativa gubernamental.

Según activistas y expertos, clasificar a las personas transgénero como enfermas mentales podría abrir la puerta a la promoción por parte de algunos grupos conservadores de la práctica ampliamente desacreditada de la terapia de conversión, destinada a cambiar la identidad de género o la orientación sexual de una persona.

Sin embargo, las autoridades de salud han recordado directrices anteriores del gobierno que declaraban que la identidad transgénero no era una enfermedad mental y desaconsejaban la terapia de conversión.

La controversia actual es solo una de las muchas luchas por ampliar los derechos y la atención a la salud de personas homosexuales y transgénero en toda Latinoamérica, una región con altos niveles de violencia contra las personas LGBTQ.

Sin embargo, incluso en este entorno, Perú destaca porque su sistema legislativo prácticamente no reconoce derechos a los homosexuales y transexuales, señaló González.

El matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo es legal desde hace años en otros países sudamericanos, como Brasil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina y Ecuador. “Perú va muy por detrás de sus vecinos sudamericanos”, dijo González.

El jefe de la oficina de derechos humanos del gobierno peruano, durante su testimonio el año pasado ante el Congreso del país, se refirió a la homosexualidad como “deformidades que hay que corregir“

Y el año pasado, una mujer trans que trabajaba como prostituta fue secuestrada y tiroteada 30 veces en las calles de Lima, un asesinato que quedó grabado en video. Hasta ahora se ha detenido a una persona, pero aún no se ha celebrado ningún juicio.

El gobierno peruano no recopila datos sobre actos de prejuicio o violencia contra las personas transgénero.

Pero un estudio publicado en 2021 por un grupo peruano de derechos humanos, Más Igualdad, descubrió que entre una muestra de 323 peruanos LGBTQ, el 83 por ciento afirmó haber sufrido algún tipo de abuso verbal o físico y el 75 por ciento dijo haber sido objeto de discriminación.

La directora de Más Igualdad, la psicóloga Alexandra Hernández, dijo creer que algunos funcionarios del Ministerio de Salud tuvieron buenas intenciones al emitir esta norma, pero no consultaron a expertos en salud mental LGBTQ.

“Cuando dicen que era beneficioso para nosotros, nosotras, nosotres”, dijo Gianna Camacho García, activista trans y periodista. “En realidad era un beneficio mínimo en comparación a lo mucho que tenemos que perder en otros ámbitos o aspectos de la vida al denominarnos personas con trastornos mentales”.


En México, ser candidato a un cargo público es un trabajo de alto riesgo

[Ahora también estamos en WhatsApp. Haz clic aquí y empieza a seguirnos]

Gisela Gaytán acababa de llegar a un evento en el primer día de su campaña electoral para una alcaldía en el corazón industrial del centro de México, cuando comenzaron los disparos.

Momentos después, su cuerpo sin vida yacía en un charco de sangre.

El asesinato a plena luz del día de Gaytán, una abogada de 37 años, refleja una tendencia macabra en las elecciones generales de este año en México. Gaytán es una de las 36 personas asesinadas desde el verano pasado que aspiraban a un cargo público, según un análisis de The New York Times, convirtiendo este en uno de los ciclos electorales más sangrientos en memoria reciente.

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

Los asesinatos de candidatos señalan una amenaza al corazón de la democracia de México. Los votantes se están preparando para emitir su voto el próximo mes en una animada elección que podría resultar en la primera mujer presidenta del país, un hito en el país de habla hispana más grande del mundo.

Sin embargo, analistas y funcionarios de seguridad afirman que los cárteles envalentonados están sembrando el miedo en las contiendas a nivel local a medida que expanden su alcance a través de la extorsión, el tráfico de migrantes y la producción de alimentos.

Para aumentar la sensación de terror, no solo los candidatos sino también sus familiares están siendo cada vez más el objetivo de los ataques: al menos 14 de esos familiares han sido asesinados en los últimos meses. Algunos casos han sido especialmente espantosos; este mes, en el estado de Guerrero, se encontraron los cuerpos desmembrados de un candidato a regidor de ayuntamiento y su esposa.

Los grupos armados también están convirtiendo algunos de los asesinatos en tiroteos masivos. En el estado de Chiapas, este mes, un grupo de hombres armados asesinaron a una candidata a la alcaldía y a otras siete personas, entre ellas la hermana de la candidata y una niña.

Para maximizar sus ganancias, los grupos criminales necesitan funcionarios electos dóciles. Las amenazas y los sobornos pueden garantizar que el alcalde de una pequeña ciudad o un miembro del concejo municipal se haga la vista gorda ante actividades ilícitas. Pero como deja dolorosamente claro el derramamiento de sangre en localidades de todo México, afirman los analistas, los candidatos que se atrevan a desviarse de esa cooperación corren el riesgo de ser asesinados.

Como resultado, muchos han abandonado las contiendas. Algunos partidos políticos se han retirado de ciertas localidades al no poder encontrar personas dispuestas a postularse. En vez de contactar a los votantes en público, algunas campañas locales se han trasladado en gran medida a internet.

Casi a nivel semanal, más candidatos han sido objetos de ataques. Desde que la muerte de Gaytán el 1 de abril conmocionó a la ciudad de Celaya, al menos ocho candidatos más han sido asesinados en todo el país.

Los ataques se han intensificado en estados donde los grupos criminales se han fragmentado en múltiples bandas delictivas, todas ellas compitiendo ferozmente para obtener poder. Otra razón de la enorme magnitud de la masacre es el gran tamaño de estas elecciones. Con más de 20.000 cargos locales en disputa, es la elección más grande de México de todos los tiempos.

Sandra Ley, analista de seguridad del grupo de políticas públicas México Evalúa, afirmó que los asesinatos mostraban que los grupos de crimen organizado estaban protegidos por funcionarios locales corruptos o intimidados.

Los cárteles, afirmó Ley, necesitan “acceso a recursos e información que le es fundamental en su día a día”.

A pesar de los ataques, el presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador y otras figuras de su partido Morena han, en su mayoría, han minimizado el peligro.

Pero el asesinato de Gaytán, miembro de Morena, conmocionó al país, y López Obrador habló al respecto al día siguiente, en su conferencia de prensa matutina.

“Estos hechos son muy lamentables porque es gente que está luchando para hacer valer la democracia”, le dijo a los periodistas. Pero también sugirió rápidamente que el asesinato estaba relacionado con los altos niveles de violencia en Guanajuato, el estado donde se encuentra Celaya, y no con las elecciones de México.

La semana pasada, la Secretaría de Seguridad y Protección Ciudadana declaró que estaba proporcionando protección a 487 candidatos.

Según expertos en seguridad, parte del incremento de la violencia de los cárteles tiene que ver con la propia estrategia de seguridad del presidente mexicano. López Obrador llegó a la presidencia en 2018 prometiendo reformar la estrategia del país hacia la delincuencia, con énfasis en abordar la pobreza que hace que los jóvenes se unan a bandas criminales en lugar de enfrentar de manera agresiva a los cárteles en las calles.

El plan, al cual López Obrador llamó “abrazos, no balazos”, ha tenido cierto éxito. Coincidió con una disminución de los asesinatos en masa que ocurrieron cuando las fuerzas de seguridad se enfrentaban a los grupos armados, aunque informes recientes sugieren que han habido excepciones durante su gobierno.

“Pero tuvo, digamos, un efecto no deseado muy pernicioso”, afirmó Eduardo Guerrero, consultor de seguridad radicado en México. Al dejarlos en su mayoría en paz, dijo, los grupos criminales se han envalentonado y han expandido su presencia a nuevas áreas.

La violencia electoral ha permeado estados en los que previamente no habían sucedido este tipo de ataques en elecciones previas, más notablemente Chiapas, el estado más pobre de México. La región se ha visto recientemente sumida en masacres a medida que dos cárteles notorios y varias facciones luchan por el control de la frontera sur del país con Guatemala. Al menos seis personas que optaban a cargos públicos han sido asesinadas en Chiapas desde diciembre, según un recuento del Times.

Este tipo de asesinatos están atentando contra la estructura de la democracia de México.

“¿Quién va a querer ir a un mitin donde hay el riesgo de que con un dron pueden aventar una bomba?”, preguntó Guillermo Valencia, líder del Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), en el estado de Michoacán donde, en febrero, hombres armados asesinaron a dos precandidatos a la alcaldía de partidos rivales en la ciudad de Maravatío, el mismo día.

Antonio Carreño, coordinador estatal del partido Movimiento Ciudadano en Michoacán, dijo que al menos siete candidatos de su partido se habían salido de las contiendas, expresando dudas sobre si México podía jactarse de tener elecciones libres y estado de derecho.

“La cuestión es clara: ¿dónde está la democracia?”, dijo.

El estado de Gaytán, Guanajuato, donde una economía vibrante coexiste con desafíos de seguridad latentes, muestra los riesgos que enfrentan las personas que se postulan para cargos públicos.

Acompañada por una mujer guardaespaldas contratada de forma privada, Gaytán acababa de iniciar su campaña, plenamente consciente del peligro que enfrentaba. Apenas horas antes de su asesinato, en un mitin local, había anunciado algunos de sus planes para lograr que la ciudad de Celaya fuera más segura.

Había prometido detener las actividades de los funcionarios corruptos, mejorar los salarios y las condiciones laborales de los agentes de policía e instalar botones de pánico y cámaras de vigilancia en toda la ciudad.

Antes de ser asesinada, el partido Morena había solicitado a las autoridades federales protección para ella y otros ocho candidatos a alcaldías en Guanajuato, afirmó Jesús Ramírez Garibay, el secretario general del comité estatal del partido. Pero la solicitud, añadió, permaneció en un limbo burocrático durante semanas, rebotando entre las autoridades federales y estatales sin ser aprobada.

“Estos candidatos quedaron desprotegidos porque no hubo una intervención rápida del instituto electoral del estado y del gobierno estatal”, aseguró Ramírez Garibay. “Comenzaron sus campañas bajo su propio riesgo, solo con la bendición de Dios”.

En una entrevista, el secretario de Seguridad Pública del estado de Guanajuato, Alvar Cabeza de Vaca, aseguró que su despacho nunca recibió una solicitud de protección para Gaytán. Y según un análisis de riesgo que el estado realizó en diciembre estudiando la vulnerabilidad de cada candidato, ella no lo habría necesitado, alegó.

“Estaba en un nivel bajo de riesgo”, afirmó Cabeza de Vaca. “Pero eso no es tan importante. Lo importante para mí fue pues que no tuve una solicitud. Independientemente de nuestro análisis interno, quien pide protección se le da protección”.

Alma Alcaraz, candidata de Morena para la gubernatura del estado de Guanajuato, declaró tras la muerte de Gaytán que había comenzado a recibir amenazas. “Empezaron a través de redes sociales a decirnos: ‘Usted es la que sigue, prepárese, deje la contienda, retírese.’”, dijo.

Los agentes de la policía estatal y municipal de Guanajuato están protegiendo en la actualidad a 255 candidatos locales, informó Cabeza de Vaca.

Sin embargo, persisten las condiciones que han convertido a Guanajuato —y a Celaya en particular— en un hervidero de violencia.

Guanajuato alberga una serie de plantas manufactureras que forman parte de un auge del nearshoring en el que las empresas han trasladado industrias de China a México. Pero también es un lugar donde dos cárteles, Santa Rosa de Lima y Jalisco Nueva Generación, están involucrados en un prolongado conflicto por el control de operaciones de extorsión y territorio para vender metanfetamina.

Un lucrativo comercio de combustible robado, una fuerza policial debilitada y guerras territoriales criminales han convertido a Guanajuato en un campo de batalla. Los homicidios han disminuido con respecto a los niveles de la era de la pandemia, pero los datos del gobierno muestran que siguen siendo excepcionalmente altos, con al menos 2581 asesinatos registrados en 2023, más que cualquier otro estado del país.

La Fiscalía General del estado de Guanajuato declaró este mes que las autoridades habían detenido a siete sospechosos de una “célula delictiva” no identificada, por su vinculación con el asesinato, y que incluso más personas podrían estar involucradas.

A medida que aumentan las tensiones políticas por el asesinato de Gaytán, otros candidatos locales están analizando lo que significa seguir involucrado en la política.

Juan Miguel Ramírez, profesor universitario que remplazó a Gaytán en la boleta electoral, declaró que hacer campaña se ha convertido en un ejercicio surreal en el que está flanqueado por una decena de soldados uniformados, incluso cuando da clases.

En un día sofocante de mayo, demostró gran confianza en sus posibilidades. Pero, admitió, el clima de miedo en Celaya y la suerte de su antecesora le han hecho diluir lo que dice en la campaña electoral.

Ramírez se abstiene de enfocarse en los desafíos de seguridad de la ciudad como lo había hecho ella.

“Hay muchos grupos delictivos en Celaya”, agregó. “A algunos de los grupos que hay aquí pues no les gustó esa propuesta. Entonces en función de eso yo hago propuestas ahora generales”.

¿Por qué se asesinan a tantos candidatos en las elecciones de México?

[Ahora también estamos en WhatsApp. Haz clic aquí y empieza a seguirnos]

Un candidato fue asesinado con varios disparos mientras se ejercitaba en un gimnasio. Otra aspirante murió después de que unos hombres armados abrieran fuego durante su mitin de campaña. Otra candidata caminaba por las calles con sus simpatizantes cuando estalló un tiroteo.

En todo México, decenas de candidatos, familiares y miembros de sus partidos han sufrido violentos ataques antes de las elecciones generales del mes próximo, que serán las más numerosas de la historia del país en cuanto a número de votantes y cargos. Al menos 36 personas que aspiraban a un cargo han sido asesinadas desde el pasado mes de junio, según un análisis de The New York Times.

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

Es una cifra espantosa incluso para México, donde la violencia ha formado parte de las campañas electorales durante décadas.

El aumento de la violencia que afecta a México puede atribuirse en gran medida a grupos delictivos locales, según analistas de seguridad y funcionarios encargados de hacer cumplir las leyes.

La fractura de las grandes organizaciones criminales mexicanas ha originado bandas rivales que libran encarnizadas batallas por el poder y l0s territorios. En su afán de dominio, esos grupos delictivos han recurrido a la cooptación y la intimidación de las autoridades para ejercer control sobre las comunidades, en un intento de asegurarse protección, obtener información valiosa e incrementar sus operaciones.

Un fuerte aumento de la violencia durante las elecciones no es inusual en México. En el último ciclo electoral, en 2021, cuando los votantes de todo el país sufragaron para elegir a más de 19.900 cargos locales, al menos 32 candidatos fueron asesinados, según un estudio publicado por el Colegio de México, una universidad de Ciudad de México.

“Es como influir en los otros candidatos para que bajen su perfil, sabes? Como recordatorio de que no se mandan solos”, dijo Manuel Pérez Aguirre, politólogo coautor del estudio. “Y también a la ciudadanía de que alguien está ahí. Dígamoslo así: es una democracia. Pero una democracia vigilada”.

En parte, el aumento de la violencia también puede atribuirse a la magnitud de las elecciones y al gran número de candidatos: con más de 20.000 cargos locales en juego y más de 600 a nivel federal, las elecciones de este año son las mayores de la historia de México.

Es difícil determinar con exactitud por qué se ha atacado a determinados candidatos. Muchos de los asesinatos políticos del año pasado y de ciclos electorales previos siguen sin resolverse.

Las autoridades afirman que algunos asesinatos tuvieron un carácter más criminal o personal. Un robo de coche que salió mal. Una pelea con un familiar que terminó de manera trágica.

Pero el Times descubrió que hay sospechas de la implicación de grupos de delincuencia organizada en al menos 28 de los 36 asesinatos de candidatos en esta temporada de campaña, según declaraciones de las autoridades policiales locales, líderes de partidos y la cobertura informativa local. Para aumentar la sensación de terror, el objetivo no solo son los candidatos, sino también sus familiares: al menos 14 de ellos han sido asesinados en los últimos meses.

Para los cárteles, es más eficaz influir en la política a nivel local.

“Estructuralmente, es el más vulnerable, el más débil, el que menos recursos tiene, el que menos fortaleza institucional tiene”, afirmó Arturo Espinosa, director del Laboratorio Electoral, un grupo de investigación mexicano centrado en la democracia, que hasta ahora ha documentado 272 casos de violencia electoral en todo el país, incluidos asesinatos, amenazas, secuestros y ataques.

La tendencia habla de los objetivos de los grupos del crimen organizado que buscan convertirse en gobernantes de facto de las ciudades de todo México, sobre todo por razones económicas.

“Es poder infiltrar los gobiernos municipales, capturar recursos gubernamentales, tener acceso a información que le resulta crucial para su operación, capturar el aparato de seguridad”, afirmó Sandra Ley, analista de seguridad de México Evalúa, un grupo de políticas públicas.

En respuesta a los asesinatos, el organismo electoral del país se ha coordinado con las fuerzas de seguridad federales, como el ejército y la Guardia Nacional, para ofrecer protección a los candidatos que la soliciten. La semana pasada, las autoridades mexicanas declararon que las fuerzas de seguridad estaban proporcionando protección a 487 candidatos.

Los gobiernos estatales también están desplegando policías estatales y municipales para mantener a salvo a decenas de candidatos locales. Pero la falta de recursos, las trabas burocráticas y la debilidad de las policías locales han dificultado mantener a raya al crimen organizado. “Muchas de estas autoridades han quedado vulnerables”, afirmó Ley.

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.