The New York Times 2024-06-12 00:20:04


U.N. Passes Gaza Cease-Fire Resolution as Blinken Presses Israel and Hamas

The United Nations Security Council on Monday adopted a U.S.-backed cease-fire plan for the Gaza Strip with only Russia abstaining, a sign of the growing frustration among the world’s major powers over the war and the desire to bring it to an end.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told members of the Security Council that Israel had already agreed to the deal laid out in the resolution — although Israel has so far resisted taking a public position on it — and she urged Hamas “to do the same.”

“Hamas can now see that the international community is united, united behind a deal that will save lives and help Palestinian civilians in Gaza start to rebuild and heal,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said.

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Middle East Crisis: Israel and Hamas Signal Openness to Cease-Fire Plan, but Stop Short of Accepting It

Israel says that the cease-fire plan ‘enables’ its war goals.

A day after the United Nations Security Council unanimously endorsed a U.S.-backed cease-fire proposal for Gaza, both Israel and Hamas emphasized on Tuesday that they were open to the plan, even as it remained unclear whether either would formally embrace it.

An Israeli government official said in a statement that the proposal “enables Israel to achieve” its war goals, including destroying Hamas’s capabilities and freeing all the hostages in Gaza. But the official, who could be quoted on condition that their name and office be withheld, stopped short of saying whether Israel would accept the agreement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly declined to take a firm stand on the plan.

A senior Hamas official, Husam Badran, said the group had “dealt positively” with the proposal despite “no clear and public stance” from the Israeli government. Earlier on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had said that the fate of the deal rested with Hamas’s top leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, who has not said whether he supports it.

“All parties involved and following the negotiations know: Netanyahu is the sole obstacle to reaching an agreement that would end the war,” Mr. Badran said in a text message.

The statements offered little clarity to the fate of a cease-fire proposal that President Biden made public a week and a half ago in an effort to speed an end to the fighting. The 14-0 vote in the U.N. Security Council supporting the proposal came as Mr. Blinken met with Israeli leaders on his eighth wartime visit to the Middle East to press Hamas and Israel to agree to a cease-fire.

Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv, Mr. Blinken sought to put the onus directly on Mr. Sinwar, Hamas’s top official in Gaza, asking whether the group would act in the best interests of the Palestinian people by accepting the deal. At least, he said, it would pause the fighting and allow more humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza.

Alternatively, he said, Hamas could be “looking after one guy,” Mr. Sinwar, who is thought to be hiding underground in Gaza, “while the people that he purports to represent continue to suffer in the crossfire of his own making.”

Mr. Blinken said he had received explicit assurances from Mr. Netanyahu in their meeting on Monday that he supported the proposal. The Israeli leader sowed doubts last week when he called the idea of a negotiated permanent cease-fire — which Hamas has called essential — a “nonstarter.”

Mr. Netanyahu has said he will not accept any deal that ends the war before Israel is ready, even as experts cast doubt on whether its war goals can be achieved. The Israeli government official who released the statement on Tuesday doubled down on that view, saying: “Israel will not end the war before achieving all its war objectives: destroying Hamas’ military and governing capabilities, freeing all the hostages and ensuring Gaza doesn’t pose a threat to Israel in the future. The proposal presented enables Israel to achieve these goals and Israel will indeed do so.”

But at the Security Council on Monday, Israel’s representative pointedly did not say whether her country backed the cease-fire proposal endorsed in the resolution.

The resolution adopted by the Security Council calls for an immediate cease-fire and negotiations on reaching a permanent end to fighting, and says that if those talks take longer than six weeks, the temporary truce would be extended. That appears to open the door to a longer pause in the war, one that some Israeli leaders have been loath to accept.

Mr. Blinken emphasized that “the commitment in agreeing to the proposal is to seek that enduring cease-fire,” adding: “But that has to be negotiated.”

Along with the immediate cease-fire, the first phase of the three-phase agreement calls for the release of all hostages being held in Gaza in exchange for a larger number of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons, the return of displaced Gazans to their homes and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory.

The second phase calls for a permanent cease-fire with the agreement of both parties. The third phase would consist of a multiyear reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of deceased hostages.

Mr. Blinken called the Security Council vote a sign that Hamas would be isolated if it does not agree to the proposed deal. The resolution “made it as clear as it possibly could be that this is what the world is looking for,” Mr. Blinken said.

Adam Rasgon and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.

Four Israeli soldiers are killed in Rafah in an apparent ambush.

The Israeli military said Tuesday that four Israeli soldiers had been killed and several more wounded after militants blew up a building where the troops were operating in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Some of the soldiers were in critical condition after the attack on Monday, the military said. Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said that five soldiers had been hospitalized, and that two were in intensive care.

The Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, said in a statement that it had booby-trapped the building where the soldiers were operating. “Our fighters were able to blow up a house rigged with explosives where Zionist forces had fortified themselves inside,” it said.

The apparent ambush targeted an Israeli reconnaissance unit that was scouting what the soldiers thought was a tunnel shaft inside a three-story building, according to Kan. Israeli forces in Gaza have been focusing on destroying tunnels used by Hamas militants.

After the explosives were detonated, Hamas forces attacked with mortar fire as Israeli forces tried to evacuate the dead and wounded, according to both the militant group and the Israeli military.

Fighting in Rafah has raged on and off since early May, when Israeli soldiers moved into the southern city despite strong opposition from the international community. For months, Rafah had housed more than half the residents of Gaza. Israeli forces had directed people to take shelter there from fighting elsewhere in the territory.

Since the Israeli incursion into Rafah, many displaced Palestinians have fled to central Gaza, which in turn has seen clashes and heavy bombardment since Israel announced new military operations there last week. On Saturday, more than 200 Gazans were killed, according to health authorities, in the central city of Nuseirat during an Israeli military operation that freed four Israeli hostages.

In the eight months since Israel launched its offensive in Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks, a total of 298 of its soldiers have been killed, according to the Israeli military. The toll has been many times higher for Gazans: Local health authorities say more than 36,000 people have been killed, a tally that does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Myra Noveck contributed reporting.

After the hostage rescue, the U.N. says actions by both Israel and Hamas may be war crimes.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday that it was “profoundly shocked” by the impact on civilians of Israel’s raid to free four hostages, adding that actions by both Hamas and Israel may be war crimes.

Gazans have described intense bombardment during the operation on Saturday in a crowded area of central Gaza, in which more than 200 Palestinians were killed, according to local health officials.

“The manner in which the raid was conducted in such a densely populated area seriously calls into question” whether the laws of war were respected by Israel’s forces, a U.N. spokesman, Jeremy Laurence, said in a statement.

Amir Weissbrod, a deputy director general at Israel’s Foreign Ministry who oversees relationships with U.N. agencies, responded on social media to the statement by calling it “another moral bankruptcy” by the United Nations. He accused the office of “encouraging terrorists.”

The office also said it was “deeply distressed” that armed groups in Gaza held hostages in violation of international law, particularly in areas where many people are living, “putting the lives of Palestinian civilians, as well as the hostages themselves, at added risk from the hostilities.” Hamas did not immediately respond to the statement.

“All these actions, by both parties, may amount to war crimes,” Mr. Laurence said.

Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting.

As the War in Gaza Drags on, Palestinians in the West Bank Have ‘Reached Rock Bottom’

As the war in Gaza enters its eighth month, Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank continue to face onerous restrictions, economic difficulties and an increased military presence — changes that some worry may become the new normal.

Throughout the West Bank, daily life — restricted before Oct. 7 — has been further complicated by myriad factors. These include regular raids and arrests by Israeli forces, emboldened settlers and regulations that have hampered the economy, such as the cancellation of permits to work in Israel and an increase in internal checkpoints and roadblocks, complicating movement throughout the territory.

The Israeli military said there had been a “significant increase” in terrorist attacks in the West Bank since the beginning of the war and told The New York Times that arrests of suspected “terrorist operatives,” as well as the strategic placement of security forces, were necessary “to improve the safety of all residents of the sector.”

We spent time with two Palestinians in the West Bank to learn how they have been affected by these changes.

In Bethlehem, a city whose economy is largely dependent on tourism, few are arriving to visit sites like the Church of the Nativity, the supposed birthplace of Jesus.

Laith Al-Muti, 29, a local tour guide and taxi driver, spends his days waiting at the main checkpoint from Jerusalem into Bethlehem, hoping to attract local fares. Al-Muti and other drivers said they were making a fraction of what they earned before the war.

“I don’t know for how long people will have energy,” said Al-Muti. “I might be making 20 or 40 shekels, (roughly $5-$11) working in my taxi, but some people haven’t earned one shekel in seven months.”

Thirteen miles away in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron, Widjan Ziadeh, 56, a widow, and her sons live in fear.

Hebron is divided into two zones: H1, where security is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and H2, where security is controlled by the Israeli military.

Tel Rumeida, located in H2, is surrounded by Israeli-run checkpoints. Since the war, Palestinians in the area said they had been subject to increased restrictions and difficulties.

Tel Rumeida, the site of an Israeli settlement, has some who are violent and aggressive, according to Palestinians in the area, and tensions have run high for decades.

Ziadeh said her son Faris, 20, had nearly lost all vision in one eye following a settler attack in 2022, but the family never filed a criminal complaint to the Israeli authorities because of limited expectations of justice.

For now, Ziadeh is determined to stay and keep her house from being taken over by settlers.

“We won’t leave. This is our land and we’ll stay here,” she said. “We’ll live and die in suffering.”

After Weeks of Planning, Seconds Made the Difference in Israel’s Hostage Rescue

When the four Israelis woke up in Gaza on Saturday, they had been held hostage by Hamas for 245 days. The buildings in which they were being kept, two low-rise, concrete apartment blocks, looked much like the other nearby residences in a civilian neighborhood full of Palestinian families.

Within a few hours, the captives, three men and one woman, would be reunited with their own families, the result of a risky, long-planned rescue operation in which the full might of the Israeli military would be used to devastating effect.

“I’m so emotional,” one hostage, Noa Argamani, 26, told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in a phone call after her release. “It’s been so long since I heard Hebrew.”

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Chiquita Held Liable for Deaths During Colombian Civil War

A jury in South Florida has ruled that Chiquita Brands is liable for eight killings carried out by a right-wing paramilitary group that the company helped finance in a fertile banana-growing region of Colombia during the country’s decades-long internal conflict.

The jury on Monday ordered the multinational banana producer to pay $38.3 million to 16 family members of farmers and other civilians who were killed in separate episodes by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia — a right-wing paramilitary group that Chiquita bankrolled from 1997 to 2004.

The company has faced hundreds of similar suits in U.S. courts filed by the families of other victims of violence by the paramilitary group in Colombia, but the verdict in Florida represents the first time Chiquita has been found culpable.

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Seeking Safety in Cyprus, They’re Stuck in Island’s U.N. Buffer Zone

Nearly 30 asylum seekers are stuck in the United Nations-controlled buffer zone between the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus and the internationally recognized south amid a crackdown by the Cypriot authorities on undocumented migration following a steep uptick in Syrians arriving from Lebanon.

The groups — 13 people from Syria and 14 from the Middle East, Africa and Asia — are in different locations in the buffer zone, which extends about 112 miles across Cyprus, a Mediterranean nation that is a member of the European Union, and bisects the capital, Nicosia. They arrived into the area, known as the Green Line, on foot from the occupied north.

If the migrants return to the north, an area that covers about a third of the island and is recognized only by Turkey, they face deportation, because the administration there has no legal infrastructure for providing asylum. Crossing into the buffer zone from the occupied north would also constitute a crime of trespassing under that administration and would be likely to lead to their deportation.

President Nikos Christodoulides of Cyprus said last week that the authorities there would provide migrants currently in the buffer zone with humanitarian aid but would not permit them to enter the south for fear of setting a precedent. “We will not allow the creation of a new route for illegal migration,” he told reporters last Tuesday.

As a member of the European Union, Cyprus is responsible for regulating entry into the bloc, and Konstantinos Letymbiotis, a government spokesman, said last month that the country would “continue its effective supervision along the length of the buffer zone.”

But an official from the European Commission, the E.U. executive arm, said on Tuesday that member states were obliged to allow requests for asylum, even in the buffer zone. The commission’s spokeswoman for home affairs, Anitta Hipper, said in a statement that “the possibility for any person to apply for international protection on a member state’s territory, including at its border or in a transit zone, is established in E.U. law.”

The migrants in the buffer zone crossed into it in two groups over the past three weeks, according to Emilia Strovolidou, a spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency in Cyprus, who expressed concern about their fate amid sweltering temperatures that are forecast to exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit this week.

“These people left their countries to find safety and a better life, and now they’re trapped,” she said. “And we have a heat wave ahead.”

One of the children in the group, a 13-year-old boy, was transferred to a hospital in Nicosia after suffering “psychological problems,” and instances of dizziness and nausea from the heat are daily occurrences, she said.

Toilets and showers have been set up, Ms. Strovolidou said, and the migrants have been supplied with tents and food by aid workers and United Nations peacekeeping forces, who have been stationed in the buffer zone since it was set up in 1974 after the island was effectively partitioned between its Turkish and Greek communities.

But the migrants cannot live indefinitely in tents in the middle of a demilitarized zone, Ms. Strovolidou noted, adding that the United Nations agency had pressed the Cypriot authorities to grant them asylum.

Thousands of Syrians have left Lebanon this year as that country suffers acute economic hardship and tensions rise over neighboring Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. And international aid for Syrians, whose country has been mired in civil war for over 13 years, has dropped as more recent conflicts have drawn the world’s attention.

In mid-April, President Christodoulides said that Cyprus was freezing the processing of asylum claims by Syrians amid a sharp rise in arrivals from Lebanon. More than 2,000 undocumented migrants reached the country by sea in the first three months of the year, compared with 78 in the same period last year, according to Cypriot government figures.

The freezing of asylum processing has left more than 14,000 Syrians in Cyprus in limbo, many of whom have been waiting for a response to their asylum applications for more than a year, according to Ms. Strovolidou.

Most are entitled to food and shelter in Cyprus, though they do not have the right to work. Under the April decision, any who have returned to Syria in the past 12 months via the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus no longer have rights to international protection and face deportation.

The Cypriot authorities have also sent boats to patrol the area between Cyprus and Lebanon. And when Mr. Christodoulides accompanied Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, on a visit to Lebanon in early May, the European official pledged aid of 1 billion euros, or $1.08 billion, to help Lebanon’s economy and crack down on people smuggling.

Those actions have helped curb arrivals to Cyprus via the sea route, but appear to have prompted more activity across the Green Line, which in turn prompted the Cypriot authorities to assign more border guards to the buffer zone.

Migrants have been stranded in the buffer zone in previous years, but not in such numbers, according to aid workers. In one instance in 2021, two Cameroonians remained trapped in the buffer zone for seven months until being relocated to Italy after a visit by Pope Francis to Cyprus.

Ms. Strovolidou noted that migrants who manage to cross into the south are accepted at state facilities, and appealed for help for those in the buffer zone. “They don’t know what’s happening or how long they’re going to be stuck there,” she said. “They’re in limbo.”

Buoyed by Election, Meloni Basks in Spotlight as Italy Hosts G7

Five years ago, when her party won 6 percent of the vote in elections for the European Parliament, Giorgia Meloni tried to pop a bottle of sparkling wine, but the cork awkwardly flopped among some supporters.

This week Ms. Meloni, now Italy’s prime minister, emerged as a big winner in the elections, and she and dozens of members of her Brothers of Italy party celebrated at a five-star hotel in Rome where waiters carried the wine bottles in silver basins filled with ice. The hard-right party took nearly 29 percent of the vote. The victory was all the more significant because Ms. Meloni was the only leader of a major Western European country to emerge reinforced from the balloting.

For Ms. Meloni, the lift could hardly have come at a better time. All eyes are on Italy this week as Ms. Meloni prepares to host a summit of the Group of 7 major economies for three days starting on Thursday. It’s another opportunity to cast herself as a legitimate member of the club of the world’s most influential leaders.

“This nation goes to the G7 and to Europe with the strongest government of all,” she told supporters early on Monday after the results came in. “They could not stop us.”

The European elections represented a rightward shift not just for the European Parliament, but for European politics. Ms. Meloni made herself a figurehead for that movement, working to lead the hard right into the mainstream.

When she became prime minister in 2022, it sent shivers throughout the European establishment because of her far-right, euroskeptic credentials and her post-fascist roots. That establishment now regards her as a pragmatic partner on key international issues.

Ms. Meloni’s approach is serving as something of a model for other far-right leaders looking to make inroads to the mainstream.

In France, Marine Le Pen has softened her own stance on important issues and polished her image. Her National Rally party finished so strongly in the European elections, with more than 30 percent of the vote, that President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the National Assembly and called new parliamentary elections.

“Giorgia Meloni’s government positively contaminated Europe,” said Giovanni Donzelli, a Brothers of Italy lawmaker, on Sunday night. “A wall went down in all of Europe — they realized the right can govern well.”

In recent months, Ms. Meloni has been courted both by the European center right as a potential ally and by parties even further to her right as they attempt to create a united nationalist front.

While the center held in the new European Parliament, Ms. Meloni may yet emerge as a key figure on individual votes, including most immediately the re-election of Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, who needs the approval of the legislature to secure a second term.

Ms. Meloni, experts said, may decide to support Ms. von der Leyen as a way to exert more influence in Brussels.

“Meloni is going to be a major player in Europe,” said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at the Eurasia Group consultancy. “As Meloni leans into the center and is constructive, she is going to take lots of rewards.”

On the broader international stage, Ms. Meloni has also made herself a critical player on issues like support for Ukraine, something that has distinguished her from other parts of the hard right that tend to be more pro-Russian.

That has put her in good stead with the cohort of Western leaders who will gather this week in the southern Italian region of Apulia, especially in the wake of the election.

“All the lights are on her,” said Roberto D’Alimonte, a political scientist at the LUISS Guido Carli university in Rome. “Her image is even more boosted.”

The G7 attendees are to include President Biden, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Rishi Sunak of Britain, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan. Ms. von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, also planned to attend.

Ms. Meloni has also invited Pope Francis; President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine; India’s newly re-elected prime minister, Narendra Modi; and Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, among others, including several African leaders. She has vowed to focus the summit in part on her plan of development and cooperation with Africa.

The meeting will take place in Borgo Egnazia, a luxury resort with gleaming swimming pools surrounded with rosemary bushes and olive trees. Its stone townhouses and villas are filled with baskets of almonds and lemons, and its narrow alleys are lined with rusty bicycles and wooden chariots, bearing the signs of time.

Except that the whole place was built in the early 2000s on land razed by Mussolini to build an air base. The resort reproduces an ancient Apulian town and farmhouse in a project that some locals have likened to a Mediterranean Potemkin village.

The world leaders will follow in the wake of guests such as Madonna, the Beckhams and Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, who were married at the resort.

“Meloni wanted to make a terrific impression, and I am sure she will,” said Romeo Di Bari, 41, a shop owner in the town of Alberobello, which the leaders’ partners are scheduled to visit, and where on a recent afternoon, boyfriends knelt on the cobblestones to photograph their girlfriends pirouetting among the area’s distinctive pointy trulli huts.

Nearby, in the city of Bari, locals praised Ms. Meloni for bringing new prestige to their region and their country.

“Our nation is at the forefront,” said Giovanni Pirlo, 68, a retired surveyor. “Our nation was always sidelined; now with Meloni something is changing.”

Ms. Meloni has played a delicate balancing act by joining the European establishment on international issues while pleasing her base at home with hard-line positions on abortion or L.G.B.T. rights that cost her little in Europe (and in cash).

She has also juggled her roles as a woman of the people and as an international stateswoman. She has insisted on being on a first-name basis with Italians, urging them to write “Giorgia” on their ballots, and she has asserted that she has defended Italy’s interests in Brussels by helping to pass conservative policies on immigration and the environment.

At home, Ms. Meloni is presiding over a stable coalition, supported by two weaker parties that desperately need her to stay in power. Forza Italia, whose founder Silvio Berlusconi died last year, got about 10 percent of the vote in the European Parliament election after it ran a seance-like campaign with Mr. Berlusconi’s name and picture on billboards. Matteo Salvini’s League party, which appealed to the right flank of Ms. Meloni’s electorate, dropped to 9 percent of the vote this year from 34 percent in 2019.

What remained the biggest challenge of Italy’s nationalist leader was perhaps her very nation, experts said.

Italy’s productivity has lagged compared with the European Union’s, and wages are largely stagnant. While employment has grown, youth unemployment remains rampant in the south, and tens of thousands of young Italians leave the country every year.

In the town of Savelletri, around the corner from the resort hosting the G7, locals killed time at a cafe near two newly built heliports as military trucks patrolled.

Stefano Martellotta, a 51-year-old fisherman, said he did not care much about what he called the G7 “show.” What he worried about was that his two sons, 22 and 27, had to move to the Netherlands to work in restaurant kitchens because in Italy “nobody gives them a dignified salary,” he said.

“It’s dramatic for us, our youth leaving us,” said Annamaria Santorsola, 75, a mother and grandmother, adding that her region needed “jobs, not the G7.”

France’s Conservative Leader Calls for Alliance With Far Right

The head of France’s mainstream conservative party on Tuesday called for an alliance with the far right in upcoming snap elections, throwing his party into deep turmoil as the shock waves from President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to dissolve the lower house of Parliament continue to course through French politics.

The announcement, by Éric Ciotti, the head of the Republicans, was a historic break with the party’s longstanding line and its ties to former President Charles de Gaulle. Mr. Ciotti’s call was immediately met with a chorus of angry disapproval from within his own ranks.

No leader of any mainstream French political party has ever previously embraced a possible alliance with Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, or its predecessor, the National Front. But across Europe, barriers to what was long regarded as the extreme nationalist right have been falling as those parties adjust their positions and as a broader consensus forms that large-scale illegal immigration across a porous European Union border must be curbed.

The elections for the National Assembly, the lower and more powerful house of France’s Parliament, are scheduled for June 30 and July 7. Mr. Macron called them last week after his party suffered a bruising defeat in the European Parliament elections, gaining just 14.6 percent of the vote nationwide, compared with about 31.4 percent for the National Rally led by Ms. Le Pen’s protégé, Jordan Bardella. The Republicans fared even worse, with only 7.25 percent.

Mr. Bardella, 28, who became the new and widely popular face of French politics during the campaign for the European Parliament elections, welcomed Mr. Ciotti’s announcement and described it as “putting the interests of the French people before those of our parties.”

In an interview on TF1 television, Mr. Ciotti said on Tuesday that his party had become “too weak” to stand on its own and needed to make a deal with the National Rally to keep a sizable group of lawmakers in the lower house. The Republicans, a party that was long a dominant force in French politics under the presidencies of Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, has only 61 lawmakers in the 577-seat National Assembly and could see those numbers dwindle even further.

If such a deal were formalized — with the National Rally agreeing not to run candidates against Republicans in certain districts — it would be the first time France’s center-right conservatives have worked in tandem with the far right. That would in turn make it more difficult for Mr. Macron to form any sort of coalition after the election that would keep Ms. Le Pen’s party from power.

“We need an alliance, while remaining ourselves,” Mr. Ciotti said. Later, asked by reporters at the party’s headquarters what had happened to the barrier that traditional parties in France usually erected around the far right, he demurred, calling the term “no longer appropriate” and “totally out of step with the situation in France.”

“The French don’t see the cordon sanitaire,” he said, referring to what was sometimes called a “dam” against the extreme right. “They see diminished purchasing power, they see insecurity, they see the flood of migrants, and they want answers. Mr. Macron has been unable for seven years to provide concrete answers, beyond mere words, so today I think we need to change method.”

Many high-ranking conservative politicians, who had warned against any alliance with the far right, immediately said it was unacceptable and called for Mr. Ciotti’s resignation.

Gérard Larcher, an influential Republican leader who is president of the French Senate, said that Mr. Ciotti “can no longer lead our movement.” Valérie Pécresse, the head of the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, said Mr. Ciotti had “sold his soul.” Olivier Marleix, the top Republican lawmaker in the lower house, said Mr. Ciotti had to step down.

He has refused to do so, and it was not immediately clear how many Republican lawmakers might follow his lead and agree to work with the National Rally.

But the shock announcement could herald a split within Republican ranks — the latest sign that the steady advance of Ms. Le Pen’s party has left the mainstream parties that dominated postwar French politics scrambling for relevance.

The Republicans, who have undergone several name changes, can be traced back to the right-wing party founded by de Gaulle after World War II, a historical legacy that for years made any alliance with the far right anathema. De Gaulle, after all, fought and defeated the Vichy government that led France in collaboration with the Nazis from 1940 to 1944.

Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister who quit the Republicans in 2017 to join forces with Mr. Macron, said that Mr. Ciotti “has signed the Munich accords and driven the Gaullist family into dishonor,” a reference to the 1938 Munich Agreement that handed part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler and led Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Britain to declare “peace for our time.” World War II broke out a year later.

“This is shameful. French people, wake up!” Mr. Darmanin added.

The Republicans’ party line has shifted increasingly rightward, especially on crime and immigration, over the past few years. It has become torn between those who favor an alliance with Mr. Macron’s centrists and those who want to lean further right.

Mr. Ciotti is a lawmaker representing Nice, where the far right has performed exceptionally well. The National Rally came out on top there last week with over 30 percent of the vote in the European elections, while the Republicans lagged in sixth.

In a flurry of messages on social media, Mr. Ciotti’s colleagues in the party quickly tried to characterize his announcement as a personal position, not the official line.

“Éric Ciotti speaks only for himself,” said Jean-François Copé, the mayor of Meaux and former minister who used to head the party. “He must resign immediately from the presidency of the Republicans, his praise of the extreme right is unacceptable and contrary to all the values we defend.”

Asked on Franceinfo radio what the next steps were, Florence Mosalini-Portelli, the party’s vice president, was blunt.

“We fire him,” she said of Mr. Ciotti.

That may sound simple, but Mr. Ciotti’s decision to open the door to the far right was not an act of pure personal whim. It reflects a significant current within his party, as well as the ongoing broader acceptance of the notion that the National Rally might one day legitimately govern France.

At Least 49 Dead After Migrant Boat Sinks Off Yemen

CAIRO — The sinking of a boat carrying migrants off the coast of Yemen has left at least 49 people dead and 140 missing, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.

The boat was carrying some 260 Somalis and Ethiopians from the northern coast of Somalia on the 200-mile journey across the Gulf of Aden when it sank on Monday off Yemen’s southern coast, the U.N. agency said in a statement.

It said search efforts were continuing and so far 71 had been rescued. The statement counted 31 women and six children among the dead.

Yemen is a major route for migrants from the East Africa and the Horn of Africa trying to reach Gulf countries for work. Despite a nearly decadelong civil war in Yemen, the number of migrants arriving annually tripled from 2021 to 2023, soaring to over 90,000 from about 27,000, the International Organization for Migration said last month.

To reach Yemen, migrants are taken by smugglers on often dangerous, overcrowded boats across the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden. In April, at least 62 people died in two shipwrecks off the coast of Djibouti as they tried to reach Yemen. The U.N. agency said at least 1,860 people had died or disappeared along the route, including 480 who drowned.

Monday’s sinking was “another reminder of the urgent need to work together to address urgent migration challenges and ensure the safety and security of migrants along migration routes,” said Mohammedali Abunajela, a spokesman for the agency.

Malawi’s Vice President Killed in Plane Crash

The vice president of Malawi and nine other people were killed when their plane crashed in bad weather, the country’s president said on Tuesday.

The plane carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima went missing on Monday morning, prompting a huge search operation in the southeastern African country.

In an address to the nation, the president, Lazarus Chakwera, said that rescue workers had discovered the wreckage in thick forest in the north of the country and that there were no survivors.

“Words cannot describe how heartbreaking this is,” Mr. Chakwera said from the government’s headquarters as a member of Mr. Chilima’s political party wept loudly.

The president described Mr. Chilima, 51, as a “good man, a devoted father and husband and a patriotic citizen who served his country with distinction.”

Mr. Chilima had been expected to run for president in the 2025 election.

The plane, a Malawian military aircraft, had successfully completed a trip just hours before the doomed flight, according to Mr. Chakwera.

“Despite the track record of the aircraft and the experience of the crew, something terrible went wrong with that aircraft,” Mr. Chakwera said.

The aircraft took off at 9:17 a.m. on Monday from the Malawian capital, Lilongwe. The flight — whose other passengers included Shanil Dzimbiri, a former first lady of Malawi; and three members of the Malawian military — was bound for Mzuzu, less than an hour away, according to the government.

The plane was unable to land because of poor visibility caused by bad weather, Mr. Chakwera had said in a televised address late on Monday. The pilot was instructed to turn back, but within minutes, the aircraft disappeared from radar.

The Malawian authorities mounted an extensive search that continued through the night in the Chikangawa Forest, an uninhabited reserve that covers about 440 square miles.

On Tuesday morning, Gen. Paul Phiri of the Malawi Defense Force said at a news conference that nearly 200 soldiers had been involved in the search, which had been hindered by thick fog. Police officers, park rangers and civil aviation employees also participated in the effort, he added.

The Malawian authorities also turned to other nations for assistance. The U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe said that it had lent an aircraft to aid in the search, while Mr. Chakwera said that he had asked neighboring countries, along with Britain, Israel and Norway, for technological support. On Tuesday morning, the Malawi Red Cross joined the search effort, too.

Visibly distraught people gathered on Tuesday afternoon at the headquarters for his political party, the United Transformation Movement, in Lilongwe.

Mr. Chilima died, “before delivering what most of us thought he could do, to turn this economy around,” Newton Kambala, a party member and former energy minister, told local news outlets.

Mr. Chilima was serving his second stint as Malawi’s vice president. He entered Malawi’s political scene a decade ago, leaving his role as head of one of the country’s largest telecommunications companies to become the running mate for Peter Mutharika, who was elected president in 2014.

The two had a falling out in 2019, with Mr. Chilima accusing Mr. Mutharika of corruption. Mr. Chilima went on to start his own political party, the United Transformation Movement.

On Tuesday, Mr. Mutharika said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened to hear about the plane crash that claimed the precious life” of his former running mate.

Once political rivals, Mr. Chakwera and Mr. Chilima formed a coalition in 2019 after Mr. Mutharika won an election marred by irregularities. Mr. Chakwera and Mr. Chilima challenged the result, and, after a judicial panel ruled in their favor, their joint ticket won a do-over election in 2020.

In late 2022, Mr. Chilima was arrested by the Malawian Anti-Corruption Bureau over accusations that he had received kickbacks from a businessman in exchange for government contracts. He denied any wrongdoing.

The Malawian authorities abandoned the case and withdrew all charges against Mr. Chilima last month, but the scandal tarnished his image as a politician who had vowed to clean up corruption.

Mr. Chilima was born in the central Ntcheu District of Malawi. He studied economics at the University of Malawi and earned a doctorate in knowledge management from the University of Bolton in England, according to his official profile. He is survived by his wife, Mary Chilima, and their two children.

A Champion Sherpa Died Guiding Foreigners. Is It Too Dangerous?

Hannah Beech and

Reporting from Kathmandu, Nepal

In July 2023, the mountaineer Tenjen Lama Sherpa guided a Norwegian climber to summit the world’s 14 highest peaks in record time. In a sport that demands an alchemy of sinewy resolve and high-altitude faith, Mr. Lama did everything his client did and more. But she received most of the money, fame and attention.

The kind of lucrative endorsements enjoyed by foreign athletes are not usually given to Nepal’s ethnic Sherpas. For them, the profession of Himalayan guide offers a path out of deep poverty, but also a possible route — strewed with avalanches and icefalls — to a premature death.

Mr. Lama could not afford to rest after guiding the Norwegian, he told The New York Times. Life in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, was expensive. He could not read or write, but he wanted his sons to get the best education, a costly endeavor.

So only three months after climbing the 14 peaks, Mr. Lama was back working as a Sherpa — his name, his ethnicity, his profession and, ultimately, his fate. Another foreigner chasing another record had hired him as a guide. This time, it was Gina Marie Rzucidlo, who was trying to become the first American woman to climb the world’s tallest mountains. Another American woman, also guided by a Sherpa, was climbing separately in pursuit of the same record.

But on Oct. 7, avalanches broke loose on Mount Shishapangma in Tibet. Both pairs of climbers were killed.

Mr. Lama’s death was the latest in a series of tragedies to shear his family tree of siblings. In 2021, Norbu Sherpa, the oldest of the four mountain-climbing brothers, ended his life after a love affair went wrong. And last May, Phurba Sherpa, the second oldest, died during a rescue mission on Mount Everest.

The last remaining brother, Pasdawa Sherpa, learned about Mr. Lama’s death after returning from an expedition to the world’s seventh- and eighth-highest mountains.

For three days, Mr. Pasdawa traveled by foot, bus and plane to Mr. Lama’s apartment in Kathmandu. He knelt before his brother’s Buddhist altar, eight candles flickering above. Marigolds and a ceremonial cloth surrounded a portrait of Mr. Lama, grinning in an orange snowsuit.

Mr. Pasdawa closed his eyes and prayed for his dead brothers. He said he prayed for himself, too. He would have to persevere in the only life he knew.

“I will keep climbing mountains,” Mr. Pasdawa said. “I have no other options.”

This is what a Sherpa does: He lugs heavy packs and oxygen cylinders for foreign clients. He cooks and sets up camp. He navigates through snowstorms and clears piles of trash. He wakes before dawn and spends hours driving metal pickets into the ice so a rope line can protect foreign climbers. He trudges past icefalls where bus-size slabs have buried other Sherpas in frozen graveyards. (On the mountain, he is usually a he; female Sherpas don’t tend to work as guides.)

Compared with the client, a Sherpa spends far more time in the so-called death zone: elevations above 26,000 feet, or 8,000 meters, where human cognition slows without supplemental oxygen and altitude sickness can quickly turn fatal.

Walung, the village in northeastern Nepal where Mr. Lama and his brothers grew up, has produced about 100 expedition guides over the past couple of decades.

Of those 100, 15 have died on the job, locals said.

The high mortality rate highlights the inequity of a life-or-death sport. Roughly one-third of the more than 335 people who have died on Everest are Sherpas. Yet their expertise earns them wages that, while high by local standards, are only a fraction of what most of their clients shell out for their expeditions.

“We help the foreigners,” said Makalu Lakpa, an experienced guide from Walung and a close friend of Mr. Lama’s. “It is very dangerous, but we do it.”

Nepal’s mountaineering industry, a crucial money earner for an impoverished country, caters to those willing to spend upward of $100,000 to summit a single Himalayan peak in luxurious style. Almost all are foreigners. In recent years, their numbers have surged, as have logjams at high-altitude choke points and icefalls, increasing the chance of accidents. Some expedition leaders also believe that climate change is leading to unpredictable weather patterns, increasing the risk of deadly avalanches.

During last year’s spring climbing season at Mount Everest, the Nepali government issued permits to 478 foreigners, the most ever. Eighteen people, including six Sherpas, died on the mountain, another record.

So far this spring, six people have been confirmed dead in their quests to summit Mount Everest, and three are missing.

The boom in expeditions has brought both inexperienced climbers, who are more likely to need rescuing from high elevations, and record-driven mountaineers, who push themselves and their teams to the limits. Each foreign trekker, whether beginner or expert, depends on at least one Sherpa, often several.

Beyond the economic imbalance, Sherpas are often relegated to the footnotes of mountaineering history. With the first ascent of Everest in 1953, Edmund Hillary comes first in the global consciousness, Tenzing Norgay second. One exception is the airport near Everest Base Camp, the Tenzing-Hillary Airport.

In the spring of 2023, Kristin Harila, a Norwegian mountaineer, began her race to beat the record for the fastest ascent of the world’s 14 highest peaks. At the time, the record stood at six months and six days. Before that, the record was eight years.

The slogan of Ms. Harila’s sponsored expedition, a 92-day sprint across the high Himalayas, was “She Moves Mountains.” To succeed, she needed the guidance of Sherpas, especially Mr. Lama.

The first mountain was Shishapangma, where Mr. Lama would die half a year later. Trouble struck early, in the form of paperwork. China refused visas to six of the 11 Sherpas on her team. Mr. Lama lugged and hammered and pulled and hefted, making up for the missing half-dozen men. He was fast and efficient, with no unneeded movements in the thin air, Ms. Harila said.

“Lama did all the jobs,” she said. “No one would have summited if Lama wasn’t there.”

Next was Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth-highest mountain, also climbed from Tibet. With weather threatening and the weight of their supplies too great, the pair decided to leave the others and charge from base camp to the summit, skipping acclimatization stops along the way. What can take other climbers 10 days, Mr. Lama and Ms. Harila accomplished in about 30 hours.

“A Sherpa’s fitness comes by birth,” Mr. Lama told The Times a few weeks before his death.

The pair scaled Nepal’s Annapurna 1, where 476 climbers have made successful ascents and 73 others died trying, according to the Himalayan Database. In Pakistan, they ascended Broad Peak, where Ms. Harila and two Sherpas had nearly been swept away by an avalanche the year before. They summited Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Manaslu, Kangchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and II.

In late July, only one mountain remained: K2, the second-highest mountain in the world, where, just 1,300 feet below the summit, climbers must clamber at a 60-degree angle and squeeze past a gully menaced by huge columns of glacial ice. Nearly all the deaths at K2 have occurred around this bottleneck.

Mr. Lama and Ms. Harila, accompanied by a videographer, reached the choke point around 2 in the morning. Horror awaited them: They found a young Pakistani porter hanging at the end of a rope, upside down and barely alive. The young man, named Muhammad Hassan, was wearing neither gloves nor a snowsuit.

Ms. Harila, Mr. Lama and the videographer clipped themselves ahead of the rest of the team on the rope line and approached the man. Ms. Harila said she stayed there for more than an hour, trying to help. Eventually, Mr. Lama and Ms. Harila continued with their ascent. The videographer and others stayed to try to save Mr. Hassan, feeding him oxygen and attempting to keep him warm.

Mr. Hassan, who had been transporting spools of rope despite warnings that he was not equipped for such high altitude, died. Soon after came criticism that Ms. Harila had chased her record over saving a man’s life.

But a witness who was there that day said it wasn’t clear what Ms. Harila and Mr. Lama could have done. Too big a crowd in the narrow passage would have brought its own dire risks.

“We did, and other people did, everything we could to save him, and it was impossible,” Ms. Harila said. “Everyone tried. Many risked their lives to save him.”

Only when they were scaling the final incline of K2 did Mr. Lama’s faith waver, he told The Times afterward. The Pakistani porter’s plight made stark the dangers of K2. Avalanches tore down the mountain. Sheets of ice shivered and crackled above. Near the summit, Mr. Lama had to clear the snow by hand, each step a soft crunch into potential nothingness.

“It was one of the hardest moments of our climbing,” Mr. Lama said.

At the summit, the 14 peaks traversed in a world-record 92 days, Mr. Lama and Ms. Harila touched hands and cried, he said. They sent triumphant news down by walkie-talkie.

But the death of Mr. Hassan chilled their success. At base camp, someone had organized a celebratory cake.

“No one was in a mood for a party,” Ms. Harila said. “We took this cake and went to bed.”

Whenever he could, after his exploits — 37 summits of the world’s tallest mountains by the time he died — Mr. Lama would return home to Walung, an isolated hamlet in northeastern Nepal. Walung sits in a high-altitude valley below barley and millet fields, where shaggy yaks graze, hunched against the cold. Mr. Lama and his brothers grew up herding livestock. They played soccer with a knot of worn socks serving as a ball.

Three of Mr. Lama’s brothers died in infancy, a common arithmetic in these Himalayan foothills. As the second-youngest child, Mr. Lama was dispatched to the local monastery, which could be counted on to feed an extra mouth. There, he picked up the name Lama, given to monks of the Tibetan Buddhist faith.

At the time, Sherpas who became professional mountaineers mostly came from another part of northeastern Nepal. But in the early 2000s, a climber from Walung, Mingma Sherpa, became the first South Asian to summit the world’s 14 tallest mountains. (Most Sherpas use the surname Sherpa, but that does not mean they are related.)

Mr. Mingma and his three brothers eventually started Seven Summit Treks, which now organizes about a third of all Everest expeditions. Mr. Mingma hired most of his guides from Walung.

Mr. Lama’s oldest brother was too old when the climbing craze began in the village. But the four other brothers joined Seven Summit Treks, turning the company into a true Walung fraternity. Mr. Lama, who had given up the monkhood and married, joined the mountaineering industry about a decade ago. He started as a porter and rope fixer, then graduated to guide.

“We ate the same food, the same tea, but those brothers, they were extra strong,” said Mr. Lakpa, Mr. Lama’s friend from Walung. “Lama was the strongest.”

In 2019, Mr. Lama and his three brothers entered the Guinness World Records, when they climbed Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain. In a photo taken at the summit, the siblings smiled, each in a bright suit, the air light with their exhilaration.

Breaking records, as Mr. Lama did, means substantially more earning power. An average summit earns a guide less than $4,000; an 8,000-meter mountain can bring about $7,500. Mr. Lama, because of his 14-peak achievement, was poised to make about $9,700 per climb, some of the highest fees a Sherpa can command. Still, it is far less than what a top foreign climber can raise through endorsements — and Sherpas’ jobs involve more danger.

In the days after his record-breaking summits, Mr. Lama said that Ms. Harila had not originally wanted to take him along for all 14 peaks.

“She wanted to change the climbing guide every time,” he told The Times. “Maybe she was thinking I would also set the record.”

But Mr. Mingma, the head of Seven Summit Treks, said he persuaded Ms. Harila that this way both a man and a woman, a Sherpa and a foreigner, could set the record together.

“Kristin accepted my idea very easily,” he said. “One Sherpa man and one Norwegian lady, it was good for us and good for her.”

Ms. Harila said that she wanted to share the achievement with a Sherpa from the start.

“They really deserve to be part of a record like that,” she said. “It’s their land and their mountains.”

Even as Walung natives rose to the top mountaineering ranks, the overall number of Sherpas in the business was declining. Some of the most successful have moved overseas, part of an exodus of Nepalis from a country plagued by corruption and poverty. Few guides want their own children to follow in their path.

Before he died, Mr. Lama told his friends that he hoped his boys, now 16 and 14, would stay away from mountain climbing. He had gotten them into a good school in Kathmandu. On the wall of the family bedroom, next to a row of medals, hung one son’s artwork: drawings of a Spinosaurus and a T-rex, a pterodactyl and a dragon, each carefully labeled in English.

In April, Mr. Lama’s older son, Lakpa Sange Sherpa, started a computer studies course. He has no interest in mountain climbing, he said.

He does not speak much Sherpa, the language of his parents who were born at the foot of Makalu, the world’s fifth-highest mountain.

“I like computers,” Lakpa said.

The family of a guide who dies is now entitled to an insurance payout of about $11,250, far more than the few hundred dollars on offer before. But Pema Yangji Sherpa, Mr. Lama’s widow, still worries that might not be enough to keep her boys from the same job that killed their father and uncle.

“I want my sons to leave Nepal, to study abroad in a country where they can have a better future,” she said. “I don’t like the mountains.”

At first there is white snow, blue ice and dark rock. In an instant, gravity, spurred by wind and the tiniest of disturbances, transforms frozen matter into a deadly force. Avalanches thunder, and then they smother.

Shishapangma, in Tibet, is considered the easiest of the 14 peaks. Still, nearly one in 10 climbers dies attempting its ascent. On Oct. 7, Mr. Lama was guiding Ms. Rzucidlo, one of two American climbers making their attempt. Ahead of them were Anna Gutu and her guide, Mingmar Sherpa. With uncertain weather ahead, other climbers retreated. The two Americans and two Sherpas persevered. The women had just this mountain left before a chance at the American 14-peak record.

Separate avalanches claimed each pair.

The rivalry between the two Americans was so intense that it may have spurred them to dangerous heights, other climbers said.

At the start of the 2024 climbing season, Seven Summit Treks ordered Mr. Pasdawa, Mr. Lama’s youngest sibling, to work as a guide on the same mountain where Mr. Lama had died.

“I had requested to them to send me to other mountains, but they have decided on Shishapangma,” Mr. Pasdawa said.

Mr. Pasdawa, along with five others from the Walung area, was being offered up as a high-altitude porter for a foreign client. He was to haul food, tents, ropes and oxygen tanks up the same mountain traversed last year by his brother.

“Everything is heavy,” Mr. Pasdawa said.

A Shishapangma excursion will earn him about $3,000, Mr. Pasdawa said. For the men of Walung, especially those like him who had to leave school after just a couple of years, there are only two jobs: farming and mountaineering.

There is another reason, though, for Mr. Pasdawa to travel to Shishapangma: to recover the body of his older brother, one of the world’s greatest mountaineers.

In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, to which the Sherpas adhere, the dead should be cremated at home. Only then, after the purification of flames, can their souls reincarnate.

In mid-May, a team led by a Nepali climber found the bodies of Ms. Gutu and Mr. Mingmar. Their remains were evacuated from Tibet to Kathmandu.

But as May drew to a close, Mr. Pasdawa was still waiting for his visa to Tibet. The spring climbing season will soon end. Along with Ms. Rzucidlo, his brother is still out there somewhere on the mountain, frozen in his orange snowsuit.

“It’s not certain that I can find his body,” Mr. Pasdawa said. “But I will do my best.”

Nigeria Confronts Its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation

Nigeria is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with skyrocketing inflation, a national currency in free-fall and millions of people struggling to buy food. Only two years ago Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria is projected to drop to fourth place this year.

The pain is widespread. Unions strike to protest salaries of around $20 a month. People die in stampedes, desperate for free sacks of rice. Hospitals are overrun with women wracked by spasms from calcium deficiencies.

The crisis is largely believed to be rooted in two major changes implemented by a president elected 15 months ago: the partial removal of fuel subsidies and the floating of the currency, which together have caused major price rises.


A map of Nigeria locating Kano, Ibadan and the state of Nasarawa. Lagos and Abuja are also located.

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Reconstruction Official Resigns, Highlighting Tensions in Ukraine

A Ukrainian official with a long record of anti-corruption advocacy resigned on Monday from a government agency overseeing mostly Western-financed reconstruction work in Ukraine, citing poor management of funds. His departure highlights the tension inside the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky over the allocation of wartime aid.

The official, Mustafa Nayyem, who had been director of the State Agency for Restoring Ukraine, did not allege any outright embezzlement. But his claims of abuse and mismanagement risked setting back efforts by the government to assuage concerns among the United States and other allies about providing billions in aid to Ukraine’s war effort.

He was the second top official involved in Ukraine’s reconstruction effort to depart in the last month, following the firing in May of Oleksandr Kubrakov, the minister of infrastructure. Mr. Kubrakov’s ministry oversaw the agency Mr. Nayyem headed.

Mr. Kubrakov was perceived in Kyiv political circles as a figure aligned with the United States on spending priorities for rebuilding aid — a stance that grated on other leaders in the government who resented what they viewed as intrusive American oversight. Both he and Mr. Nayyem had spoken out against bribery in the construction business.

The Agency for Restoring Ukraine was established during the war to streamline and safeguard funding for reconstruction, which is expected to eventually draw in tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid, given the scale of destruction during the war. Ukraine and some allies are promoting the seizure of Russian assets to finance the work.

Preventing abuse has been a priority of American policymakers, and it was a concern raised by members of Congress while a $61 billion military and financial aid package was debated earlier this year. That package was eventually approved in late April.

The reconstruction agency that Mr. Nayyem had headed oversaw a budget last year of 100 billion hryvnia, the Ukrainian currency, or about $2.5 billion, largely financed, like most nonmilitary spending in Ukraine, by foreign aid.

Its projects were wide-ranging. The agency financed efforts to construct physical barriers to protect vulnerable electrical equipment at power plants, in cases when air defense systems failed to protect sites. The agency repaired water mains, bridges and roads.

In a telephone interview, and a letter explaining his resignation posted on Facebook, Mr. Nayyem cited no specific instance of corruption. Instead, he listed what he claimed were a slew of bureaucratic obstacles thrown in the way of the agency’s work, delaying project approvals and payments of contractors. Salaries for the agency’s staff were cut, he said, in what he called an effort to undermine the organization’s work.

“Since November last year, the agency team faced constant confrontation, resistance and artificial obstacles,” he wrote in his Facebook post.

The office of Mr. Zelensky did not immediately respond to a query about the resignation or Mr. Nayyem’s allegations of mismanagement.

Despite setbacks, Mr. Nayyem said, most projects were completed.

Last fall, Mr. Nayyem reported two members of Parliament to anti-corruption authorities over accusations they had attempted to pay a bribe. Those cases are in court now.

Foreign aid has been a fraught issue in Ukraine for years, predating the war, with Ukrainian leaders pushing back on Western efforts to leverage aid as a way to steer personnel policies or back overhauls in government that threaten vested interests.

Mr. Nayyem described bureaucratic foot-dragging seemingly intended to sideline the work of the reconstruction agency.

“Transparency and predictability on this issue is crucial because the money is from taxpayers,” Mr. Nayyem said in the interview. “The biggest asset we have now is trust. And at this moment, those who tried to make this system transparent and accountable had to leave.”

Mr. Nayyem’s resignation made for awkward timing, coming a day before a major donor conference on reconstruction in Berlin. Ukrainian authorities had excluded him from the delegation, upending meetings he said he had scheduled with foreign officials about donations for Ukrainian reconstruction.

By evening on Monday, Mr. Nayyem and the government were in open disagreement about why he had been excluded from the delegation. Government officials told the Ukrainian media that the prime minister had scheduled a meeting with Mr. Nayyem for Wednesday, while Mr. Nayyem said he had never received such an invitation.

Despite the urgent need to repair damage to electrical plants, roads, bridges and waterworks damaged by Russian missile attacks, contractors went unpaid for months, Mr. Nayyem said in the interview. Some projects bogged down because of nonpayment, he said.

The agency had financed some military fortification works in the Sumy region, in northeastern Ukraine, and the Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine. Mr. Nayyem wrote in a letter explaining his resignation that payments for these contracts and others had been “delayed for months.”

“All of this negatively affects the country’s defense capability,” he wrote.

The projects that were completed, he said, included building protective barriers around electrical equipment at 103 sites, to safeguard machinery from shrapnel. The barriers helped protect against missile strikes in three regions, he said, allowing engineers to more quickly restore electricity.

Given the tangle of government permits and deals with construction companies needed to repair war damage, some setback are inevitable, said Tymofiy Mylovanov, a former Ukrainian economy minister. “It’s a wartime environment so not everything is working smoothly. You are troubleshooting all the time.”

4 Instructors From Iowa College Are Attacked in Public Park in China

Four instructors from an Iowa college who were teaching in China as part of a partnership with a local university were attacked and injured in a public park there on Monday, according to Chinese and college officials.

Jonathan Brand, the president of Cornell College, a private liberal arts college in the city of Mount Vernon, said the instructors had been “injured in a serious incident” while visiting the park. He said in a statement that they were with a member of the faculty of Beihua University, Cornell’s partner in Jilin City in northeastern China, when the attack occurred.

“We have been in contact with all four instructors and are assisting them during this time,” Mr. Brand said.

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For the First French Town Liberated on D-Day, History Is Personal

Reporting from Ste.-Mère-Église, France

American soldiers in uniforms spill out from the bars and cafes all around June 6 Square, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.

Phil Collins blares from loudspeakers. American flags flutter from chimneys and windows, on overhead lines and even from around the neck of a golden retriever trotting by with her owner.

Is this really France?

“This is the 53rd state,” Philippe Nekrassoff, a local deputy mayor, said as he made his way across the square, with its Roman milestone and medieval church, while U.S. paratroopers wearing maroon berets played soccer with a group of local teenagers. “Americans are at home here.”

Here is Ste.-Mère-Église, a slip of a town in northwest Normandy with one main street. About 3,000 residents live in the town and its surrounding region, with its fields of cows and towering hedges.

Hundreds of U.S. paratroopers landed in the immediate area in the early hours of June 6, 1944. Four hours later — even before the world’s largest armada arrived to the nearby Normandy beaches — one of those soldiers hauled down the Nazi flag and hoisted an American one up over city hall.

“This was the first town to be liberated on the western front,” read two marble plaques, one in French and one in English, in front of the building.


The story of that liberation is now deeply threaded into the town’s identity.

While most villages across Normandy hold annual D-Day commemorations, little Ste.-Mère-Église hosts six parades, 10 ceremonies, 11 concerts and a parachute jump by current U.S. paratroopers.

Statues, plaques and historical panels dot many street corners. Shops have names like D-Day, Bistrot 44 and Hair’born salon. There’s a mannequin of John Steele, the American paratrooper immortalized in the 1962 film “The Longest Day,” hanging from the church steeple as he did on June 6, 1944, his parachute billowing.

At first blush, the town seems, well, too unabashedly and in-your-face American for a country that revels in self-criticism and understatement.

But stick around a bit, and the town reveals a relationship with U.S. paratroopers that is deep, sincere and disarmingly beautiful.

“There is a sense of welcome here that’s nothing like anything else in the region,” said Jacques Villain, a photographer who has documented the village’s celebration for 25 years and was the driving force behind the just-published bilingual book “Ste.-Mère-Église: We Will Remember Them.”

The town’s first D-Day commemoration was small and took place two months later, while the war in Europe was still raging, he pointed out. On the first anniversary of D-Day, Maj. Gen. James Gavin, by then the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, sent 30 soldiers back from Germany for the ceremonies.

Just after midnight on June 6, 1944, wave after wave of low-flying airplanes roared over Ste.-Mère-Église and the surrounding area. Spilling from them were thousands of parachutes, flitting across the sky like confetti.

One parachute floated right down into a trench dug in Georgette Flais’ backyard, where she was huddled with her parents and a neighbor. Attached to it was Cliff Maughan. Ms. Flais refers to him as “our American.”

“He represented, for me, something extraordinary — liberation,” said Ms. Flais, now 96.

She recalled how the German soldier billeted in her house burst into view, his rifle pointed into the trench. Ms. Flais’ father jumped up and begged the German not to shoot. Miraculously, he agreed.

Soon after, the German soldier realized the Americans had taken the town and surrendered to Mr. Maughan, who Ms. Flais described as preternaturally calm, handing out chewing gum, chocolate and cigarettes. He curled up on his parachute for a quick nap before heading out at dawn to fight.

“We kissed him warmly goodbye,” Ms. Flais said. “A friendship was born.”

As the first place to be liberated, Ste.-Mère-Église quickly became the place where fallen American soldiers were first buried — 13,800 in three fields turned cemeteries around the village. Local men dug the graves.

“It was just a little village of 1,300 inhabitants,” said Marc Lefèvre, the town’s mayor for 30 years who left office in 2014. “They were witness to the price of sacrifice, with all those trucks of coffins. That left a huge impact.”

One of the graves was for Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who died of a heart attack five weeks after landing on Utah Beach. He was the eldest son of Theodore Roosevelt, the former U.S. president.

Simone Renaud, the mayor’s wife, was captured laying flowers on his tomb by a Life magazine photographer.

The reaction from grieving mothers in the United States was immediate. Hundreds sent Ms. Renaud letters, pleading for her to visit their son’s graves and send back photos. She complied.

Henri-Jean Renaud, 89, recently flipped through albums of carefully sorted letters to his mother, written in longhand, from 80 years ago.

Some of the women later came to visit the graves themselves. They ate dinner with the Renauds and sometimes stayed in their home. “I am still in touch with a family that had a kid my age,” Mr. Renaud said.

He still visits the grave of one soldier “from time to time, to say a little hello to him,” he said.

Years later, American veterans began to make pilgrimages to Ste.-Mère-Église for its annual D-Day commemorations.

The town had only one hotel, since renamed after Mr. Steele. So Ms. Renaud, who died in 1988, formed the Friends of American Veterans association, and many locals joined and hosted the visitors in their homes.

Volunteers spent afternoons driving around, trying to help the veterans find the exact spot in a field or marsh or tree where they first landed.

“For most of them, it was there they had their first losses, their first powerful emotions, the first friend killed, the first wounded,” Mr. Renaud said. “Those are things that mark you for life. So they were always trying to find that beginning.”

By 1984, Ms. Flais was teaching Greek and Latin in a high school in Alençon, about 140 miles away. On June 6 of that year, she was watching television when she saw on the screen an American soldier who had come back to Ste.-Mère-Église. He was broader, and wore a baseball hat instead of a helmet. But he had that same laid-back demeanor. She jumped in the car and rushed back to her childhood town.

“It was my American,” she said. “We fell into one another’s arms.”

Today, 80 years later, there are few veterans left. Their successors now crowd the town square, where Mr. Steele and his fellow World War II parachutists are celebrated and remembered as veritable gods.

They are joined by the thousands of re-enactment enthusiasts, tourists and French citizens who come to pay their respects.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Jonathan Smith, 43, whose trip here was a retirement present after 18 and a half years of service with the 82nd Airborne Division. “I didn’t make it 10 paces this morning without kids stopping me to ask for a photo and shake my hand.”

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The local tourism office is expecting one million people to come into town over the 10 days of commemorations and celebrations this year.

Among them are the children and grandchildren of the Americans who were in charge on D-Day, from General Roosevelt Jr. to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commander in chief of the Allied forces.

“I find I need to be here and be a part of it,” said Chloe Gavin, the daughter of General Gavin, who himself came back regularly before he died.

On a recent night, local families welcomed more than 200 American soldiers into their homes for dinner.

Across the street from city hall, where the American flag that soldiers hung up in 1944 now hangs framed on a wall, three generations of the Auvray family sat in their garden with three U.S. paratroopers from Puerto Rico. The family matriarch, Andrée Auvray, regaled them with her memories of D-Day.

She was nine months pregnant and living on a horse farm just outside town that had been requisitioned by a battalion of soldiers with the German army. Just days before the Allies’ landing, the soldiers departed for Cherbourg, France, convinced the Allies would attack there, she said.

“We were so lucky,” said Ms. Auvray, now 97 and a great-grandmother of 13. “It would have been a blood bath.”

Three American paratroopers landed in her garden.

An American military hospital was quickly erected next door. Her farm became the health clinic and a temporary home for civilians, fleeing the battle that ensued after German troops tried to retake Ste.-Mère-Église. They fed 120 people for a month. She gave birth to her son, Michel-Yves, on a camp bed because her bed had been given to the injured.

Michel-Yves will turn 80 soon.

Ms. Auvray described the missiles exploding nearby, the gnawing fear that the Germans would retake the town and her gratitude that they did not.

“We lived through such anguish together,” she said of the American soldiers and French residents. “That’s why we have such a precious relationship.”

In the West Bank, Guns and a Locked Gate Signal a Town’s New Residents

Ben Hubbard reported from two towns in the occupied West Bank, the Arab-Palestinian community of Tuqu and the Jewish-Israeli settlement of Tekoa.

From the outskirts of his town in the West Bank, the mayor surveyed the rocky hills stretching toward the Dead Sea where Palestinians had long farmed and herded, and pointed out the new features of the landscape.

New guard posts manned by Israeli soldiers. New roads patrolled by Israeli settlers. And, most tellingly, a new metal gate blocking the town’s sole road to those areas, installed and locked by the Israeli army to keep Palestinians out.

“Anyone who goes to the gate, they either arrest him or kill him,” said the mayor, Moussa al-Shaer, of the town of Tuqu.

On the other side of the gate, atop a bald hill in the distance, stood one of the area’s new residents, Abeer Izraeli, a Jewish settler.

“With God’s help, we will stay here a long time,” Mr. Izraeli said.

The case of the two people on either side of the gate is a particularly clear example of a dynamic playing out across the Israeli-occupied West Bank. As much of the world has focused on the war in Gaza, Jewish settlers miles away in the West Bank have hastened the rate at which they are seizing land previously used by Palestinians, rights groups say.

Dror Etkes, a field researcher with Kerem Navot, an Israeli monitoring group, estimated that since the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that started the war in Gaza, settlers have taken more than 37,000 acres of land from Palestinians across the West Bank. More than 550 of those acres are near Tuqu, making it the largest such expansion by a single Israeli settlement.

The gate is not much to look at — made of orange bars and similar to what one might find on a farm. But Hebrew graffiti on the concrete blocks that hold it up refer to Genesis 21:10, a verse about driving people away.

Since the gate’s installation in October, it has served as a firm divider between the Palestinian Arab inhabitants of Tuqu and the Israeli Jews in the newly expanded settlement of Tekoa.


Map locates the West Bank villages of Tuqu and Tekoa.

Both communities draw their names from where, tradition holds, the biblical prophet Amos was born. In some places, homes in one community sit 500 yards from homes in the other. When the Muslim call to prayer sounds in Tuqu, the Jews in Tekoa hear it, too.

The catalyst for the recent seizures, said Mr. Etkes, was the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, which led to increased Israeli security measures in the West Bank that made it easier for settlers to take control of territory.

“There is a linkage between violence and settler expansion,” he said. “They are taking revenge on the Palestinians by taking more and more land.”

Israel increased its military presence in the West Bank out of concern that it could face widespread unrest or increased attacks on its forces and settlers there during the war in Gaza. Those concerns were amplified by the rise of new militant groups, an influx of weapons smuggled in by Iran and polling that suggests an increase in support for Hamas at the expense of the more moderate Palestinian Authority.

On Jan. 29, a Palestinian from Tuqu, Rani al-Shaer, 19, tried to stab an Israeli soldier and was shot dead by soldiers, the army said in a statement. The army took Mr. al-Shaer’s body and has not returned it to the family, said his brother, Nizar.

The Israeli military and the branch of the Defense Ministry that handles civilian affairs in the West Bank did not respond to requests for comment on the changes near Tuqu.

The United Nations said that 2023 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since it began keeping track in 2005. That violence rose significantly after the war in Gaza began and has continued into this year, with 489 Palestinians killed since Oct. 7 as of May 22. Ten Israelis, including four civilians, have been killed during the same period.

Since Israel occupied the West Bank, previously controlled by Jordan, in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the government has encouraged Jews to settle there, providing land, military protection, electricity, water and roads. More than 500,000 settlers now live among 2.7 million Palestinians in the territory, which is larger than Delaware but smaller than Puerto Rico.

Some Israeli Jews justify settlement on religious grounds, others on the basis of history — both ancient and modern. Many Israelis consider control of the territory necessary to prevent Palestinians from attacking Israel.

Nevertheless, most countries consider the settlements illegal. The Biden administration has criticized the settlements for undermining the United States’ goal of a two-state solution to the conflict, which would include the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.

Among Israelis, Tekoa is known for a hippy vibe, with a mixed community of secular and religious Jews that includes artists and activists. Few, if any, of the town’s residents consider their presence an impediment to peace.

“We were given this land by God,” said Shira Chernoble, 75, who moved from New Mexico to the West Bank nearly four decades ago and works in Tekoa as a massage therapist and spiritual counselor. “I believe in the Torah. It is not just a book of then. It is a book of now.”

Before the war in Gaza, the two populations had limited interactions, mostly through the Palestinian laborers who worked construction in the Jewish town. Settlers have seized land to expand their community over the decades — a process that took another leap forward after the Oct. 7 attack.

The Israeli military mobilized thousands of reservist settlers to protect the settlements and imposed wide-ranging restrictions on Palestinians, blocking the exits from their communities and barring Palestinian workers from entering Israel or the settlements.

That cut off residents of Tuqu from a major source of employment, said Mr. al-Shaer, the mayor. In addition, the gate has prevented Palestinian farmers from harvesting their olives and herders from grazing their livestock.

“They closed everything and took everything,” said Hassan al-Shaer, 24, an electrician who is not closely related to the mayor and who used to work in Tekoa. “There is no work and no money.”

In October, after the gate was erected, residents gathered to breach the barrier and the army shot at them, killing a 26-year-old car mechanic, Eissa Jibril, said his brother, Murad.

He said the Israeli police had questioned him about what happened, but nothing had come of it.

“Who can I complain to?” he said. “The settler who killed him, are they going to arrest him?”

In a statement, the Israeli military described the gathering as “a violent riot” during which “terrorists burned tires, threw stones and shot fireworks” at soldiers, threatening their lives. The soldiers fired back, the army said, adding that it was aware of the “claim” that a Palestinian had been killed.

Since then, the Palestinians have avoided the gate for fear of being shot.

During a recent drive through the area, New York Times reporters saw new roads carved into the hillsides, four new security posts and three plots where settlers had plowed or planted grapes. What had been a settler tent camp now had 10 prefab houses, with electricity, paved roads and streetlights.

Atop a tall hill, Mr. Izraeli and his friends slept in a tent next to a makeshift house inhabited by a couple with two young children. The group raised ducks and chickens and pastured their 150 sheep on the same hills the Palestinian shepherds had roamed before the war.

Mr. Izraeli, 16, had come to the West Bank after dropping out of a religious school in central Israel, he said. He and his friends had lived in a tent camp nearby before moving to the hilltop a few months ago, after the army had barred Palestinians from the area.

He hoped the army would not let them return.

“With God’s help, they will do the right thing and keep them out,” he said.

In response to written questions, Mayor Yaron Rosenthal of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, which includes Tekoa, said the Arabs from Tuqu never had a legal claim to the land. The settlers, he said, had rectified that situation.

“These aren’t their lands,” he added.

The Palestinians had few options, said Mr. al-Shaer, the mayor. Most complaints to the Israeli authorities went nowhere. He and other residents planned to file a court case in Israel, a long process that might not restore their access to the land or stop the settlers from building there.

“The settlers are working on the ground to make a new reality,” he said.

Rami Nazzal contributed reporting from Tuqu, West Bank, and Gabby Sobelman from Tekoa, West Bank.

‘Not Everything Was Bad’: Saluting the Mercedes of Eastern Europe and a Communist Past

As the beige car bounced up to the former Soviet barracks, the rattling of its half-century-old motor overpowered the din of people setting up for the day’s festivities at a temporary fairground.

A man dressed in the dark green uniform of a 1950s traffic cop, replete with an old-fashioned leather cap, blew his whistle sharply and waved the car — a well-maintained 1980 Wartburg, a classic despite the engine’s clatter — through to the parking lot.

The driver of the little sedan, once considered the Mercedes of Eastern Europe, slipped the clutch, jolting the car forward. The lapse earned a rebuke from a costumed parking attendant.

“You are entering the G.D.R. now,” he yelled with mock anger, referring to the extinct East German state. “Leave your Western manners behind!”

For more than a decade, the G.D.R. Museum Pirna has played host to a May Day event in Pirna, just a few miles from the Czech border in Germany’s east, where people can celebrate cars emblematic of the communist era.

Built after the war in state-owned factories, the cars are smaller, less powerful and less showy than most Western cars from the same era. But to the excited visitors in Pirna, who often dress in contemporaneous garb to match the vehicles they arrived in, the polished and pampered cars embody a local pride.

The hundreds of motorcycles, buses, trucks, cars and farming vehicles on display exuded the nostalgia that many here feel for a vanished country that — despite its oppressive dictatorship — was home for decades.

“As a proud Easterner, I’m happy to help revive this iconic car,” said Tom Grossmann, standing in front of his lime green 1985 Trabant, best remembered for a chassis made of a material similar to reinforced cardboard. “If it means that there are more of these cars on German roads, all the better.”

Born in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell, Mr. Grossmann expressed a sentiment typical at the scene in Pirna.

For years, he had been dismissive of the old Eastern-built cars, but in middle age, his view changed. In part, he was drawn by the community that had developed among people who own the cars.

When he bought his sedan five years ago, he paid 3,000 euros, about $3,250, but then spent more than twice that refurbishing his ride, adding a sunroof, wider tires and custom upholstery.

Uwe Röckler, 23, neatly dressed in a G.D.R. police uniform from the 1980s, paraded past the lineup of cars giving out fake parking tickets and posing for photos with passers-by. Mr. Röckler is a stickler for details: The tickets he carefully filled out and pinned under wipers were written on an exact reproduction of the form used by East German police in the 1980s.

“It starts with a belt buckle that you find at a flea market,” he said. “And pretty soon, you’re wearing a full uniform,” he added, noting he had several spares hanging in his home closet.

To Mr. Röckler, whose parents toiled under the communist regime, the era holds a fascination. “Not everything was bad, it was just everyday life,” he said. Of the East German police, which many see as one of the most obvious manifestations of a repressive state, he said: “They were actually pretty good criminalists — in many ways equal to those in West.”

May 1 — formally known as the “International Day of Struggle of the Working Class and the Oppressed Peoples of the World” — was one of the most important dates on the socialist calendar. Though it was a public holiday and nobody had to work, attendance at state-organized parades was mandatory, and civilian brigades of factory workers, socialist youth groups and politicians were expected to march with signs celebrating progress and socialism.

Waiting in line to board a carefully maintained bus from 1958 that would take him on a tour of Pirna, Thomas Herzog, 62, remembers the requirements of that era well. “I’m here because no one is forcing me to be here,” he said with a laugh.

Among those in Pirna celebrating this May Day, 35 years after East Germans last celebrated it in a functioning communist state, many said the era had been rife with problems, including restrictions on speech and travel, with citizens living under the yoke of one of the most restrictive state security systems behind the Iron Curtain.

But as that time recedes into the past, memories of the communist country have become more attractive for many, especially as discontent with the current system grows.

According to a poll from December, 82 percent of Germans nationwide are at least somewhat unsatisfied with the government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Given that level of discontent, it’s unsurprising some people are looking backward.

In eastern Germany, where the disaffection is often more pronounced, many look toward the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, for solutions. In Pirna’s state, Saxony, where voters head to the polls in September, the AfD polls at 30 percent, more than any other party on the ballot.

Conny Kaden, 60, the founder of the G.D.R. Museum, said that despite the benefits reunification brought, there were downsides.

The socialist state, he noted, in addition to offering jobs at state-run enterprises, had fostered a sense of community through mandatory meetings in youth, worker and community clubs. “I’m not saying this is about raising the G.D.R. flag,” Mr. Kaden said. “But we lost something, we lost the cohesion.”

Mr. Kaden built his museum dedicated to all things G.D.R. in 2005 and said ticket sales have been trending up.

The May Day car meet has also become more popular. This year, he estimated he had welcomed up to 3,500 visitors and hundreds of cars, likely breaking last year’s record.

The meet featured some Western cars, too. Two custom stretch limousine Volvos, used by the East German regime’s leaders, were parked in a prominent corner. Over the enormous radio inside of one, a tape of police chatter illegally recorded in 1989 played on a loop.

Mr. Röckler, who played the fake policeman handing out fake tickets, grew up in what had been West Germany, where his family moved after they had lost their jobs following reunification. As an adult, he returned to the former East Germany, in part because he said his hobby of dressing up as a Communist policeman was misunderstood in the West.

He was not sure it would have been completely understood by his late father, either.

Gesturing to his carefully pressed suit, he said, “I wonder what my dad would say if he could see me wearing this.”

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.”

Mr. Close, soft-spoken and warm with a dimpled smile, was raised in Collyweston, with family roots that go back 400 years here. He remembers hearing stories of the palace as a young boy. It belonged to Lady Margaret Beaufort, who played a major role in the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars for the English throne. She acquired it in 1487, two years after her son was crowned king as Henry VII. He, his son Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I all walked the palace halls.

After the Tudor era, which ended in 1603, the palace fell into disrepair. Its contents were sold, portions knocked down or repurposed, and new buildings went up. The palace slowly faded into history, disappearing into the dirt. Almost.

Fast forward to 2017, when Mr. Close became chairman of the historical society — somewhat by chance. History had never been his passion, but he had promised his great-uncle, who once led the group, to help keep it going. A year after his great-uncle’s death, he made good on his promise.

Mr. Close — who, by day, works for a British company that builds new homes — took over the top job at the society at a precarious time. The group’s membership, then mostly retirees, had dwindled, and it had just 500 pounds, about $635, in the bank. Meetings were spent poring over old Collyweston records with little mission, and the few members were considering wrapping things up. Mr. Close knew he needed to inject some energy into the proceedings.

He shifted the society’s newsletter to email, from print. He set up social media accounts. And crucially, he asked members what they really wanted to focus on. The response was clear: They wanted to find the Tudor palace.

The villagers suspected that remnants were hidden under the soil, but with limited expertise and even less money, they did not have much to go on.

“It was our naiveté that’s kind of got us through this, really,” Mr. Close said with a chuckle.

First, they relied on what little they did know about the palace’s history — including local lore that had percolated for years.

Nowadays, Collyweston, population 564, is little more than a few pretty stone houses with picturesque views over sprawling fields. But glimpses of the royal history were visible to anyone who looked carefully, said Sandra Johnson, 68, a retired real estate agent who now does research full time for the historical society — as well as helping take care of her grandchildren.

She noted that local residents had long referred to a walled garden in the area as the “palace gardens,” and that some terraces and fish ponds could still be seen carved into the landscape.

“We knew it was here,” she said, a broad smile growing on her face. “It was just a question of getting the evidence to prove it.”

Over several months, the group trawled through old maps and records. That took them only so far.

Around that time, the group connected with Rachel Delman, now a historian at the University of Oxford who was then doing research on the palace. Her work provided detailed descriptions of palace buildings that she had found in various historical archives.

The research was “a little bit of a light that got shone into the project,” Mr. Close said.

But the amateur historians soon realized that archaeology had become a high-tech pursuit and that they needed to embrace technology, too. They applied for grants and got enough money to hire a company to do a drone survey and geophysical scan of the village. The growing buzz in Collyweston around their activities helped attract new members.

The real breakthrough came from ground-penetrating radar scans in 2021 and 2022 that revealed human-made material under the soil. This guided them on where to dig.

Last May, they found the first evidence of the palace walls: portions of the clearly defined base of a thick wall and a foundation that experts later verified.

The goal is to eventually find enough artifacts to analyze and date. The group hopes to create a digital model of the palace to be displayed in a tiny museum that Ms. Johnson curates in the nave of the village church.

While finds from this era are not particularly unusual in Britain, historians have hailed the discovery because of the significant role the palace played in its time — and because it was found by an amateur group.

Prof. Kate Giles, a historian at the University of York, pointed out that Britain has a wealth of local history societies but that in the case of Collyweston, “the fact that it has a Tudor palace on the doorstep makes its work particularly interesting and exciting.”

Dr. Delman, whose research helped kick-start the hunt, said the discovery had the potential to enrich public knowledge about a onetime royal power base, commissioned by a Tudor woman, “making it a site that is nationally and internationally significant.”

In early February, volunteers took out their shovels for a two-day dig, one of several planned this year, to better understand what the palace looked like.

Down a lane on a small patch of grass, a dozen residents — including young professionals, parents, a former prison guard and several retirees — dug in four small roped-off trenches under the watchful eye of Jennifer Browning, 50, an archaeologist from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services who was hired to lead the dig that day.

In one trench, dirt was carefully brushed from what appeared to be a flagstone floor and foundation stones. In another, part of a wall had begun to emerge.

“We just don’t know exactly what it is, but they are meant to be there,” Ms. Browning said, standing over a 3-foot-by-5-foot trench and pointing at three large stones in a neat line about two feet down. “The problem is, in a small trench like this, you only ever get a little snapshot.”

The excavations so far have been on private land, and although the site is considered a historical monument, under English law that doesn’t give the public a right to gain access to it. The group had permission from the property owners to explore with trenches and then refill, but they had a tight weekend-long window because the owners planned to soon pave over this grassy stretch.

“It’s just interesting to see how this will all piece together,” said James Mabbitt, 42, a volunteer who has lived in Collyweston for the past decade, as he stood in a trench, measuring stones possibly from Tudor times.

His wife, Melissa, 43, and their young daughter wandered by, along with other villagers curious about the work. “For a tiny place, it’s got this amazing history,” Ms. Mabbitt said, excitement in her voice. She noted that ancient Roman ruins had also recently been found nearby. “I think it has captured the local community spirit.”

By late afternoon, the volunteers paused for snacks and cups of tea as they chatted about their finds. Mr. Close congratulated them on uncovering the “clearest evidence to date” of palace buildings.

“I’ve been asked, ‘Why do you get involved in something like this?’” he said. “Look, one day, when everybody departs this world, you can say that you helped to find a Tudor palace.”

When a Tale of Migration Is Not Just Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The audience fell silent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ukrainian Activist Traces Roots of War in ‘Centuries of Russian Colonization’

On a recent afternoon in Kyiv, a professor of literature and a stand-up comedian ​got together to talk about Russian colonialism, a subject that has become ​a preoccupation among Ukrainian activists, cultural figures and bookstore owners.

​The moderator of the discussion, which was recorded for a new podcast for Ukraine’s national public broadcaster, was Mariam Naiem, a graphic designer and former philosophy student who has become an unlikely expert on the topic.

“This war is just the continuation of centuries of Russian colonization,” said Ms. Naiem, 32, ​referring to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. “It’s the same playbook.”

Russia’s long cultural and political domination of Ukraine, first through its empire and then the Soviet Union, had left an indelible mark, the podcast guests agreed, as they lamented being more fluent in Russian poems and films than in their own nation’s cultural treasures.

The goal of the podcast, Ms. Naiem said, was to solve this problem and “talk about our personal and social path of decolonization.”

It may have seemed an odd moment of cultural introspection in a war-battered country with urgent problems like how to repel Russian troops advancing along the front line.

But Ms. Naiem and many Ukrainians say that to understand Russia’s war in Ukraine — and its trail of razed cities, displaced children and looted museums — it is crucial to examine how Russia has long exerted its influence over their country.

The daughter of a Ukrainian mother and an Afghan father, Ms. Naiem is emblematic of a new generation of Ukrainians who, since Moscow invaded in February 2022, have been trying to rebuild their identity free of Russian influence. Much of this effort has focused on examining Russia’s history in Ukraine and highlighting its colonial imprint.

They have read famous theorists of decolonization like Edward Said and Frantz Fanon, talked of “decolonizing Ukraine” in Harvard lecture halls and gone on book tours around Europe to press their case.

Ms. Naiem has emerged as a leading voice in this movement. She studied philosophy at the Kyiv-based Taras Shevchenko National University and has also done a stint as a researcher with Jason Stanley, a professor of philosophy at Yale University.

Last year, she hosted an award-winning podcast on the theoretical foundations of Russian colonialism. In addition to the new podcast she is currently recording, she is now writing a book to help Ukrainians “decolonize” themselves, she said.

“She has seriously influenced me intellectually,” Mr. Stanley told Babel.ua, a Ukrainian online news outlet, last year. He added that she convinced him that Ukraine’s post-colonial history was not being studied enough and that “it should be changed.”

That is not an easy task. To call Russia a colonial empire is to challenge decades of scholarship that has shied away from viewing Russia’s history through a colonial prism. Russia’s shared history with Ukraine is complex and less marked by relations of racial hierarchy and economic subjugation typical of colonialism, many scholars have argued.

But Ms. Naiem and others say Russia’s centuries-long efforts to impose its language on Ukraine, occupy its territory with settlers and rewrite its history from Moscow’s perspective are all hallmarks of colonialism.

Ms. Naiem said it took the war for Ukrainians to take stock of this legacy and finally begin to “decolonize” themselves. She cited the example of the many people who have switched from speaking Russian to Ukrainian.

“This is exactly a decolonial act,” she said.

While many Ukrainians have devoted their time to raising money for the army or rebuilding destroyed houses, Ms. Naiem’s activism has been more intellectual, focused on deconstructing Russian influences, including those that shaped her.

She was born into a Russian-speaking family in Kyiv in 1992. Her father was a former education minister in Afghanistan who left Kabul after the Soviet invasion in 1979. She has two brothers, Mustafa, a leading figure of Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan revolution, and Masi, who lost an eye fighting Russian troops in 2022.

When she grew up in a newly independent Ukraine in the 1990s, the country’s cultural scene was dominated by Russian music, TV shows and books.

At school, classes were in Ukrainian, but “it wasn’t cool” to speak it in the playground, she said. Russian literature was also “cooler” than Ukrainian literature, she recalled thinking, “more mysterious, more complicated.” Some of the novels she read belittled Ukrainians as uneducated people.

“Turgenev pushed me to consider myself more Russian than Ukrainian,” Ms. Naiem wrote on Instagram two years ago, referring to the 19th-century Russian novelist. “Because I didn’t want to be that funny Ukrainian.”

It took Ms. Naiem many years, and many new books, to shake off these views.

During the pandemic, she buried herself in “Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism,” a book by the Polish American scholar Ewa Thompson that argues that writers like Pushkin and Tolstoy helped legitimized Russia’s colonial ambitions.

“I realized that centuries of colonialism had seeped into my mind,” Ms. Naiem said.

After the Russian invasion, she wrote about her research on her Instagram page, which is followed by 22,000 people, arguing that Russia’s efforts to erase Ukrainian culture and identity are rooted in a long history of colonialism.

Her posts attracted attention and persuaded her to spread the word further. In addition to her podcasting, she has given interviews to Ukrainian media on colonialism and filled her Instagram page with more posts, questioning, for example, the place of Mikhail Bulgakov, a Kyiv-born Soviet writer who ridiculed Ukrainians, in Ukrainian school curricula.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

On a recent afternoon at a music festival in Kyiv, a passer-by thanked her for her efforts, one of several people that day who told her they had learned a lot from her podcasts.

Still, much of her time remains spent trying to convince people that talking of Russian colonialism is relevant.

Volodymyr Yermolenko, a Ukrainian philosopher, said the topic had long been viewed with skepticism.

Unlike Western colonies, which were often far-distant, overseas places, Russian colonies were adjacent territories, he said. Russian colonialism also never made racial exclusion a core policy, he added. Instead, it was based on the no-less violent “idea of sameness,” meaning that the colonized should surrender their identity and adopt the norms of the colonizer.

Mr. Yermolenko said colonial motives were evident in President Vladimir V. Putin’s claim that Ukrainians and Russians were “one people.”

“People long didn’t want to hear about Russian colonialism,” Mr. Yermolenko said. “Only now are we kind of seeing the first steps of intellectual debunking.”

Since Russia’s invasion began, some scholars have described it as a “colonial war” or one of recolonization. President Emmanuel Macron, who himself has had to confront the legacy of French colonialism, has accused Russia of being “one of the last colonial imperial powers.”

Ukrainian authorities have also launched efforts to break free of Russian influences, such as toppling Soviet-era statues and banning Russian place names. But they have stopped short of calling it a process of “decolonization,” to Ms. Naiem’s frustration.

“We’re doing the cake without the recipe,” she said. “We need the recipe.”

Still, she is pleased that a discussion about Russian colonialism has taken root.

On a recent afternoon in central Kyiv, Ms. Naiem stepped into a large bookstore and stared at a long table covered with recently published books.

“Let’s see how many are about colonialism,” she said.

“This one, this one,” she said, as she grabbed book after book — one on Russia’s dominance of Ukrainian cultural life, another about rebellious Ukrainian writers of the 1960s — and piled them up on a corner of the table.

After a few minutes, the pile had grown to 21 books.

From the I.R.A. to the Principal’s Office, a Life’s Evolution Echoes Belfast’s

Jim McCann, the vice principal of St. Joseph’s Primary School, made his way through the hallways, pointing like a proud father to the colorful paper butterflies crafted by his students that hung from the ceiling.

He cheerfully greeted each child by name as he passed them. Then he stuck his head into a classroom, where the students addressed him in unison, “Good afternoon, Mr. McCann!”

The school is in the largely Catholic Falls Road area of west Belfast, which was engulfed for decades by the bloody sectarian struggle in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles. Outside, where multicolored fencing provides a bright backdrop to children playing soccer in the yard, gunfire once ricocheted, with army snipers perched on rooftops and armored vehicles rolling by.

But since peace took hold here 25 years ago, the neighborhood feels worlds away from that past. To Mr. McCann, 68, the transformation mirrors his own evolution.

The now-vice principal spent decades involved in the Irish Republican Army, or I.R.A., a paramilitary organization that used violence to try to end British rule in the region. He was convicted of attempted murder and spent nearly 18 years in prison.

Like many of his generation, Mr. McCann’s life was shaped not only by the Troubles, but also by the peace process that eventually ended the conflict.

“There is no need for violence whatsoever now, and those who are still involved in it aren’t doing anybody any favors — they are holding progress back,” he said, in his office at the school earlier this year.

Many Catholics in Northern Ireland have held a nationalist and republican dream for more than a century: undoing the 1921 partition that kept Northern Ireland under British rule and reuniting the territory with the Republic of Ireland. That vision has at times left them in violent conflict with the mostly Protestant unionists and loyalists who believe the area should remain part of the United Kingdom.

Mr. McCann’s ties to the republican movement began after a series of deadly crackdowns in the late 1960s and early 1970s on civil rights marches in Belfast and Derry. At those marches, Catholics protested against discrimination by the Protestant-controlled government and police forces.

As the tensions deepened, communities divided along sectarian lines, and paramilitaries sprang up on both sides. Still a teenager, Mr. McCann watched as the city around him became a war zone. Ignoring his parent’s protests, he joined the I.R.A.

“It was a very strong sense of community, being part of that and the community asserting itself,” he said. “And you knew there was no going back.”

In 1976, when he was 19, he was arrested while on an I.R.A. operation, driving a stolen motorcycle as another man fired off the back at a police officer. The officer was injured but survived. After Mr. McCann’s conviction of attempted murder, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was released in 1994.

By the time the peace accords known as the Good Friday Agreement were signed in 1998, some 3,600 people had died in the conflict.

While Mr. McCann doesn’t glorify the violence of the Troubles, he believes it was a necessary part of a struggle for a more equal society.

“I never, never, never, ever regretted it and have always been proud of what I was involved in,” he said. “I’ve led a very fulfilling life even though I was in jail.”

Robert J. Savage, a professor at Boston College and an expert in modern Irish history, said that to some unionists, “the notion of a former I.R.A. prisoner working in a school with young children would not be acceptable. It would be upsetting.”

While peace has firmly taken hold, memories of the Troubles haven’t fully faded.

“The violence might be over, but there is still this trauma below the surface for many people,” Professor Savage said. “And the I.R.A. was part of that violence, and society remains divided.”

There has been “a real lack of accountability,” in the years since the peace accords, he said, adding, “That’s been a bitter pill for people to swallow, and not just for victims of the I.R.A. but for victims of the British-backed security forces.”

In 2021, Mr. McCann published “6,000 Days,” a memoir of his time in Northern Ireland’s notorious Maze Prison. The book chronicles the daily experiences of the hundreds of I.R.A. prisoners who protested through a series of increasingly extreme, sometimes fatal, measures, like hunger strikes. It also describes a high-stakes prison break that saw 38 men escape. Mr. McCann and 18 others were recaptured within 24 hours.

The details he shares are stark. For years, the men, including Mr. McCann, refused to wear prison uniforms in an act of defiance, becoming known as the “blanket men.” They staged a “dirty protest,” smearing their excrement on the walls. They were beaten by guards who turned fire hoses on them.

Mr. McCann wrote of the grief of watching 10 fellow I.R.A. prisoners die in the hunger strikes of 1981. For those sympathetic to the republican movement, even those who disavowed the violence of the I.R.A., the deaths drew great sympathy and would mark a turning point.

Later that year, the protests were called off and a compromise allowed prisoners to wear their own clothes.

In prison, Mr. McCann struck up a deep friendship with another I.R.A. member, Joe McDonnell, the fifth man to die in the hunger strike. Mr. McDonnell attended St. Joseph’s as a boy and is seen as a hero in the neighborhood’s largely republican community. A plaque near the school gates bears his name. It’s a daily reminder to Mr. McCann of his friend, the area’s violent history and the hopes for a conflict-free future.

Mr. McCann was 38 when he was released from prison as part of the peace process. He soon became a father of three, got married and then, after earning his college degree while imprisoned, became a teacher.

“My father was a teacher, and from a young age, I always knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. “For all those years, it was what I knew I wanted.”

Many of his students’ families had personal connections to the conflict, and some experienced the worst of its fallout, with family members killed.

“They are a diverse group,” he said of his students, pointing out that the decades of peace have brought immigrant families. “But you still have the separation between Catholics and Protestants. Unfortunately, we do still have it. We’re still separated.”

Sitting in his childhood home, Mr. McCann looked over relics of his prison life, including small slips of toilet paper, covered in tiny, neatly written lines of text, where he had scrawled messages to friends and family to be smuggled outside.

While he’s still involved in the politics of the republican movement, Mr. McCann says he is committed to a peaceful pursuit of that goal.

“I realized that the military side of the struggle had run its course,” Mr. McCann said. “It took us so far and it wasn’t going to take us any further.”

He has campaigned for Sinn Féin, a party that was once the political wing of the I.R.A. but that renounced violence and engaged in the peace process. Once on the political fringe, Sinn Féin has risen to become a force, winning the most seats in Northern Ireland’s 2022 elections.

On an afternoon in early February, Mr. McCann went to the Great Hall of Stormont, Northern Ireland’s government building, to see Michelle O’Neill, a Sinn Féin politician, make history when she became the first republican First Minister of Northern Ireland, the top job in the power-sharing government.

Ms. O’Neill has described herself as someone who, like Mr. McCann, represents “the Good Friday generation” committed to cooperation and peace.

It was a moment Mr. McCann thought he might never see.

“It was good to be with people who have spent the vast majority of their life, certainly their teenage and adult lives, struggling not just to get us into Stormont, but to help us progress toward our ultimate objective, which is a united Ireland,” he said of the other members of the republican movement he stood alongside that day.

“But in the interim, to make this a place where everyone can live reasonably happy, that is a place of equality, that is a place of opportunity,” he said. “That’s what matters.”

Audio produced by Parin Behrooz.

Meet the One Man Everyone Trusts on U.K. Election Nights

When Britain votes in a general election on July 4, one person will likely know the outcome before anyone else.

John Curtice, a professor of political science at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, will spend Election Day with his team, honing the findings of a national exit poll. At 10 p.m., before any results have been counted, he will make a big, bold prediction that will be announced on national television: the winner.

“The lovely thing about the period between 10 o’clock and 11.30 p.m. is that nobody knows!” said Professor Curtice with a grin, raising his hands into the air. “It’s that moment when we don’t really have a government.”

While he is right that no one will know the final tally until results roll in from Britain’s 650 constituencies, in the past six general elections his team’s exit poll has proved strikingly accurate, correctly predicting the largest party every time. In five of the six, the margin of error for that forecast was five parliamentary seats or fewer.

That record is part of what has made this 70-year-old professor, with his formidable intellect, unruly tufts of white hair and infectious enthusiasm, an unlikely media star. But his beloved status in Britain goes deeper. He’s frank and scrupulously nonpartisan, making him a rarity in an age of polarization — a trusted source of information across the political spectrum.

“I try to speak in human. I am trying to speak in ways that the general public will understand,” he told The New York Times over a frugal tuna sandwich lunch in the atrium beneath the BBC’s Westminster studios.

“Sometimes I kick one party and other times I kick the other,” he said. “And usually I kick both of them.”

In February, as broadcasters awaited the results of special elections in two parliamentary districts, Professor Curtice was in front of the TV lights at 10 p.m. as a BBC News producer adjusted his earpiece.

His analysis was characteristically fluent, as were the 20 or so other interviews he completed through a night of TV appearances that stretched into breakfast time the following day.

Fueled by coffee and a bowl of porridge consumed around 6 a.m. in the BBC cafeteria, he then strode off to the broadcaster’s radio studios, continuing a media blitz that ended at 4 p.m. It was an exhausting, exhilarating stint of 18 hours.

“You don’t have time to think about going to sleep — it’s adrenaline, it’s intellectual excitement, it’s an intellectual challenge,” he said.

He comes prepared, however, his laptop brimming with data from previous elections, records that may or may not be broken, and his thinking for how he can summarize the most likely scenarios.

Professor Curtice’s first political memory is of the election of Harold Wilson as leader of the opposition Labour Party in 1963. He was 9 years old. A year later, he was allowed to stay up late on general election night, when Mr. Wilson won a small majority, bringing Labour to power for the first time in 13 years.

“Don’t ask me why, I just found it interesting,” he said.

He was raised in Cornwall, on the rugged coastline of southwest England. His father worked in construction, his mother a part-time market researcher and the family was prosperous enough to own a detached house with a large garden (but no central heating).

At Oxford University, where he studied politics, philosophy and economics, Professor Curtice was a contemporary of Tony Blair, who went on to become prime minister, but their paths did not cross. While Mr. Blair played in a rock band called Ugly Rumours, a young Professor Curtice was a choral scholar who spent two hours a day at evensong.

As a postgraduate, he was urged to become “statistically literate” by his mentor, David Butler, a towering figure in British political science who ran the nation’s first exit poll in 1970.

His first TV election night appearance was in 1979, the night Margaret Thatcher came to power. Armed with a calculator he had programmed himself, he provided Professor Butler with statistical backup in case the BBC’s mainframe computer went down.

It was exit polls, however, that really made Prof. Curtice’s name. His first involvement was in 1992, which he later told The Guardian was “not a happy experience” because the poll predicted a hung Parliament instead of the modest majority of 21 that John Major won for the Conservatives.

Since 2001, a new model he created with David Firth, another academic, has improved the accuracy of the forecasts, sometimes to the discomfort of politicians. In 2015, Paddy Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, promised to eat his hat if the exit poll prediction that his party would retain only 10 of its nearly 60 seats proved correct. In fact it won fewer. On a TV show the following night, Mr. Ashdown was handed a hat-shaped chocolate cake.

These days, the exit poll is jointly commissioned by three national broadcasters — the BBC, ITV and Sky News. On July 4, tens of thousands of voters around the country will be handed a mock ballot paper on their way out of polling stations and asked to mark in private how they voted.

In 2017, the poll correctly predicted that, instead of increasing her majority in Parliament, as she and many analysts expected, Theresa May had lost it. In 2019, the projected size of Boris Johnson’s majority was off by just three seats.

Professor Curtice is not complacent, however, and notes that upsets are always possible — as in 2015, when the exit poll projected a hung Parliament, but David Cameron scraped a thin majority. “People think there is some magic, but we are only as good as the data,” Professor Curtice said.

Exit polls are trickiest when elections are close. This time, the Conservative Party, which has held power for 14 years, has lagged the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls by about 20 points for 18 months. While such leads usually narrow in the final weeks of a campaign, the Conservatives would need to make modern electoral history to win.

Professor Curtice puts their chances of forming the next government at less than 5 percent — “the point at which statisticians go: it’s very, very highly improbable.” He adds that this is partly because, even if the Conservatives beat expectations and the outcome is a hung Parliament, they lack allies who would keep them in power as a minority government.

Honored with a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017, Professor Curtice is now famous enough that strangers greet him in the street. His name trends on social media on election nights, and there’s a tribute account on X dedicated to tracking his media appearances called, “Is Sir John Curtice On TV?” (Right now, the answer is often “Yes.”)

Could this be his last general election TV appearance? That, he said, is something he will consider after the vote. “If the next election is in five years, I will be 75, and who knows?”

He has other interests: a passion for classical music, church, family and tending a community garden in Glasgow.

But for now, the country needs him. “There are a lot of experts who know a lot but can’t translate that in a way that is clear to the audience,” said BBC News anchor Nicky Schiller after interviewing Professor Curtice on the night of the February special elections. And, he added, “He’s a joy to work with.”

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

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

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

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

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

But in the 1960s, the country’s economic standing was starkly different. Three out of four residents lived in overcrowded and filthy slums, in ramshackle houses with tin walls known as “squatters.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By 1985, virtually every Singaporean had a home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Families buying in the secondary market are given housing grants of up to roughly $140,000 but they have to meet an income ceiling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Having earned his third star — the maximum — for his Restaurant Kei in Paris in 2020, he has now expanded his ambitions back to Japan, where he has opened four restaurants over the past two years.

The goal, Mr. Kobayashi said, is to become a brand. In that sense he seems to be emulating Alain Ducasse, at whose now-closed Paris restaurant, Plaza Athénée, Mr. Kobayashi worked before opening his own in 2011.

He also joins a line of creative Japanese — including the artists Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami — who first found fame outside their homeland.

Mastering the art of French cooking has become something of a Japanese specialty. In Tokyo, which has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world, four of the dozen restaurants awarded three stars feature French cuisine.

Mr. Kobayashi wants to show how French food can evolve with seasonal Japanese ingredients, he said in the interview, just hours before the official opening of Kei Collection Paris, his new restaurant on the top floor of the Toranomon Hills Station Tower in Tokyo.

At Kei Collection, he has sneaked some classic Japanese comfort dishes onto the menu, including curry and breaded beef cutlet, alongside fancier items like butter-roasted large clams, smoked bonito with white cheese foam, or delicate hand rolls of tuna and caviar.

Scenes from Kei Collection Paris. Clockwise, from top left, snow crab; preparing a place setting; smoked blue lobster; and Akagi wagyu fillet. Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times

For the restaurant’s opening, Mr. Kobayashi, his hair dyed platinum blonde, wore a traditional chef’s double-breasted white coat embroidered with three Michelin stars over black trousers and green suede New Balance sneakers. An Audemars Piguet watch was strapped to his wrist.

He spoke modestly, rejecting descriptors like “first class” or “genius” and saying he never allowed himself to think he had reached the pinnacle of cooking. But Mr. Kobayashi appeared coiled and a little aloof, belying his humble words.

His uncompromising approach is embodied by what he said was his favorite French phrase: “aller plus loin” — go further.

“If you make a compromise, or think ‘OK, this is good,’ then it is time to quit,” he said.

His attention to detail extends beyond the food. “He cares about the furniture selection and the interior, the softness of the sofa,” said Tadashi Nobira, manager of Esprit C. Kei Ginza, another one of Mr. Kobayashi’s new restaurants in Tokyo. “He cares to the last centimeter.”

Just minutes before a guest arrived for a solo lunch with the chef on opening day at Kei Collection earlier this spring, Mr. Kobayashi was adjusting the volume of a curated jazz collection playing in the dining room.

Mr. Kobayashi grew up in Nagano in central Japan, where his father worked as a chef. His mother cooked homemade meals every night, including his favorite, curry rice. But Mr. Kobayashi said he did not learn to cook from either of them.

Instead it was a documentary about the French chef Alain Chapel that first captivated Mr. Kobayashi, who envied the chef’s crisp white jacket. Forgoing high school, he took a job at a local French restaurant, where, as he recalled, he spent four years in which “the chef just kept getting mad at me.”

At 19, Mr. Kobayashi moved to Tokyo to work for Ikuo Shimizu, a mostly self-taught chef who gave his apprentice basic training in how to work with meat and fish.

“He was very mischievous, but he had a strong backbone,” Mr. Shimizu said in an interview at his eight-seat restaurant in a quiet neighborhood in Tokyo, where he serves rustic French meals. “I thought he was really an artisan. He was particular about the details, like the shape of the knives and how to sharpen them.”

Having fixated on French cuisine, Mr. Kobayashi decided he needed to move to France. An acquaintance helped him land a job at Auberge du Vieux Puits in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, where he worked for four years under the tutelage of the chef Gilles Goujon, who has also earned three Michelin stars.

In a video interview, Mr. Goujon said he was immediately struck by the young cook with bleached hair.

With a touch of stereotyping about Japanese prowess, Mr. Goujon first assigned Mr. Kobayashi to the fish station, instructing him with gestures and cookbook illustrations. Even on days off, “he wanted to come and work,” Mr. Goujon said. “So we had to lock the restaurant so he could go and rest.”

After two seasons at the fish station, Mr. Kobayashi tried to convince his boss that he had developed allergies and needed to switch to meat and game. Mr. Goujon was amused, and he eventually moved Mr. Kobayashi to the meat station to learn how to debone birds, deer and wild boar.

Mr. Kobayashi also worked briefly at a patisserie in Provence and at a restaurant in Brittany. The latter didn’t go well, he said. “At the time, there was a movement to make French cuisine more scientific, and I didn’t agree with that,” he said. “I went to learn Breton cuisine, not science.”

He worked at Mr. Ducasse’s Plaza Athénée for seven years before going out on his own, buying a restaurant whose chef was retiring.

“Maybe I was stupid,” he said, “but I figured the cooking would work itself out.” He was worried, however, about whether he could support the staff he was hiring, who “were putting their lives on the line.”

Within a year, he earned his first Michelin star; the second came five years later. After the third, he decided to make the move back to Japan.

In addition to Kei Collection Paris and Esprit C. Kei Ginza, Mr. Kobayashi has opened a restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Tokyo and one in Gotemba, near Mount Fuji. The Gotemba and Ginza restaurants are collaborations with Toraya, a centuries-old Japanese confectionary company.

With Mr. Kobayashi spending most of his time in Paris, he handpicked chefs to run the kitchens at the new Japanese restaurants, relying on them to develop dishes based on local ingredients.

Teruki Murashima, 50, the chef de cuisine at Héritage by Kei Kobayashi at the Ritz, said he talked frequently by phone with Mr. Kobayashi and sent him photos of dishes and lists of ingredients.

“We both may make completely different dishes with the same ingredients,” Mr. Murashima said in an interview at the Ritz. “But we know that about each other, and we respect each other.”

Still, Mr. Murashima said, Mr. Kobayashi is “very particular about certain things, and really gets quite angry if things don’t reach his standards.”

At times, Mr. Kobayashi is prone to remind customers of those standards. If a diner takes out a cellphone to snap a picture of a dish, said Mr. Nobira, the Ginza restaurant manager, Mr. Kobayashi might appear at the table, encouraging the customer to take a bite right away instead.

Is he, then, a king? “I might be close to one,” he said.

Ségolène Le Stradic contributed reporting from Paris.

The Capital of Women’s Soccer

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.

That success has turned the team’s standouts into global stars and the club into what often seems like a juggernaut. It has also transformed Barcelona, and the broader region of Catalonia, into the global heartbeat of women’s soccer, a case study in what happens when the women’s game wins the same prominence as the men’s.

On the city’s streets, jerseys bearing the name of Alexia Putellas or Aitana Bonmatí, Barça Femení’s biggest stars, are just as common as those with the names of an icon of the men’s team. And on the region’s soccer fields, a boom is playing out, with what was once a male-dominated space now awash in women and girls.

The number of registered female soccer players in Catalonia has doubled in the past six years, and it is expected to grow exponentially in the decade to come. There are more coaches, more clubs, more teams, more games, more leagues.

The young fans queuing for a photo were not hoping for a picture with a distant hero. They were hoping, instead, to be close enough to touch the women who have helped make all of that real.

From the age of 11 until she was 14, Marta Torrejón said, she never played soccer against another girl. She had, in her younger days, when she was representing neighborhood teams. But from the moment she joined Espanyol — the smaller of the two professional soccer clubs in Barcelona — her teammates, and her opponents, were all boys.

At times, being the only girl among talents who would grow up to play in Spain’s top league made her feel “out of place,” she admitted, but for the most part she was just thankful.

Torrejón’s first steps in soccer were both typical and not. Typical because she started playing in the late 1990s, when opportunities for girls to do so — in Barcelona, in Spain, in Europe — were scant and when those who joined boys sides were not always welcomed.

“My mother has told me that there were parents asking if she knew there were girls’ teams in some villages,” Torrejón said. “My mother would say, ‘That’s great, but she’s here.’”

And not typical because Torrejón was not only courageous enough to withstand it, but also talented enough to make it. She only rejoined a girls’ team at the age of 14, when Spanish law required her to do so. A few months later, she was in Espanyol’s first team. She won a Spanish title there, and then added another six with Barcelona Femení.

Now, though, her experience feels anachronistic. Despite Spain’s World Cup win last year being clouded by the sight of Luis Rubiales, president of the country’s soccer federation at the time, forcibly kissing Jennifer Hermoso, one of its most celebrated players, on the rostrum — an incident that ultimately led a charge of sexual assault — the exponential growth of women’s soccer in Barcelona is unchecked.

Over the past three years, Barcelona’s women’s team has tripled the money it brings in through sponsorships, merchandise and ticketing. It now earns $8.5 million a season from its sponsors alone. Its stadium is packed. In 2023, the year that brought the World Cup title for Spain, the club’s online sales of women’s apparel increased roughly 275 percent.

For the club, the success of the women’s team has been more than an economic stimulus: At a time when corruption allegations, financial mismanagement and flagging performances have swirled around the men’s team, executives privately admit that the women’s side has proved a welcome tonic for the club’s self-esteem.

Far more significant, though, are the opportunities it has created. Two decades since Torrejón blazed a lonely path, girls hopeful of following in her footsteps have an abundance of choice.

One illustrative example: In 2019, Sant Pere de Ribes, a club on the city’s fringes where Bonmatí started her career, had a single girls’ team, and it had only nine players. Now there are 10 girls’ squads, as well as a senior women’s side.

“We have a lot of girls joining because it’s the team where Aitana played,” Tino Herrera, the club’s president, said.

That growth has been mirrored elsewhere, forcing the body that oversees soccer in Catalonia — the Catalan Football Federation — to modernize, and quickly, to make sure all of the girls who want to play have a place to do so.

To Torrejón, with her memories of being told soccer was not a place for girls, that is a source of immense “pride and satisfaction.”

“What you do creates an impact on other people and a change that wasn’t there before,” she said. “The girls coming now have those references that we didn’t have. They see something in the future of this profession.”

Laura Cuenca tried everything. She took her daughter dancing. Tried ice-skating. Offered cross-country running. But Sonia was adamant: She wanted to play soccer.

Her hesitation was purely logistical. She knew soccer would mean a demanding schedule of training during the week, and weekends eaten up by games. “You can’t ever go away to the beach, for example,” Ms. Cuenca said, just a little ruefully.

Sonia was insistent, though. She loves soccer, and her mother loves her, so surrender was inevitable, really. And so now, Ms. Cuenca finds herself spending another Saturday night at the Sabadell Sports Center, watching as Sonia takes the field. There will be another game tomorrow, an hour or so away in Barcelona. Next week will bring three more training sessions.

It is a lot for Ms. Cuenca, but even more for her daughter. “She’s 16, so there is schoolwork, obviously,” her mother said. “Then there are her friends, her job, her love life. It’s a lot for her to balance.”

Like everywhere else, Sabadell has seen a surge of girls wanting to play: 206 players this year, up from the 84 who registered in 2020, according to Bruno Batlle, president of the center.

Logistically, that is a challenge — there are only four fields, and many more teams demanding to use them — and it leads to certain iniquities that, for parents like Ms. Cuenca, are a reminder that soccer remains a more challenging place for girls than for boys.

At Sabadell, for example, it is the girls’ teams that often must make do with the worst training slots. “Sometimes they do not finish until 11 p.m.,” Ms. Cuenca said. “So Sonia does not get to bed until very late, which means she’s tired for school.”

And while talented players on the boys’ teams might have their registration fees or travel costs subsidized, the girls all have to pay their own way. The revolution, Ms. Cuenca noted, is not yet complete.

The fact that there are battles still to be fought, though, does not mean that the war is not being won. Ms. Cuenca is not sure what percentage of that can be attributed to Barça Femení — there has, she said, been a broader social change that has all but extinguished the “idea that soccer is not for girls.”

She has no doubt, though, that her daughter has been inspired by seeing what is possible, playing out just an hour down the road.

The Premier League’s Asterisk Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before that meeting, he said, FIFA will ask experts to analyze whether Israel’s actions breach the governing body’s regulations. By contrast, in 2022, FIFA acted quickly to bar Russian teams and clubs from competitions after the country’s forces launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Mr. Rajoub has for years pursued sanctions against Israel and its teams over a variety of issues, including freedom of movement for Palestinian players and for allowing teams based in territory overseen by the Palestinian soccer federation to play in Israel’s domestic leagues. Since Israeli forces invaded Gaza last October in retaliation for the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7, all soccer infrastructure in the territory, including a historic stadium, has been destroyed, Mr. Rajoub said.

Israel’s soccer chief, Moshe Zuares, called the Palestinian motion “cynical.” But the possibility of even a temporary ban on its teams could have immediate consequences: Israel is set to compete in the men’s tournament at the Paris Olympics around the time of the FIFA meeting in July, and to begin qualifying for the 2026 men’s World Cup later this year.

Both Israeli and Palestinian officials had used the run-up to Friday’s congress to lobby officials from other national federations. A day earlier, at a meeting of Asian soccer’s governing body, members were shown a video showing the effects of the war in Gaza and then unanimously approved a decision to back the Palestinian federation’s motion.

Palestinian officials addressed FIFA’s 211 members twice during Friday’s meeting, and were followed by an official from Jordan who demanded action from FIFA.

While acknowledging the urgency of the matter, Mr. Infantino declined to call a vote. Instead, he said, the organization’s 37-member governing council would decide what to do in two months.

“FIFA will mandate as of now an independent legal expertise to assess the three requests made by the Palestinian Football Association and make sure that the status and regulations of FIFA are applied in the correct way,” he said.

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

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.

And there on the report’s final page, deep down a list of its authors, was the name of the man positioning himself as FIFA’s savior: Gianni Infantino.

Mr. Infantino, an administrator at European soccer’s governing body, had been enlisted to help sketch out the overhauls. By the time they were announced, he was a candidate for FIFA president. Presenting himself as a clean break from the past, he swept into office a few months later and quickly began enacting many of the changes. The sport’s six regional confederations promised to clean up their acts, too.

Less than a decade later, soccer’s appetite for reform appears to have waned. An outside audit of African soccer’s governing body, commissioned after FIFA took control of the organization, suggested tens of millions of dollars in misappropriated funds. The governing bodies for Europe and for North and Central America have backed away from reforms or ignored promised ones altogether, according to a comparison of public pledges and concrete actions. The Asian soccer confederation will vote this week on scrapping term limits for its senior leadership.

And on Friday in Bangkok, Mr. Infantino and FIFA will ask its members to approve a slate of changes to its statutes that would roll back yet more of the changes he once embraced, and restore structures that he had sought to sweep away.

Critics argue that would move soccer away from sound principles of good governance it adopted amid scandal. “FIFA,” the organization said in response, “does not agree with this sentiment at all.”

FIFA the institution, as well as Mr. Infantino personally, frequently invokes a powerful endorsement of its overhauls whenever questions about corporate probity are raised. While Mr. Infantino rarely grants interviews, FIFA said in response to questions about the undoing of reforms that the changes made since the scandals of 2015 have transformed it “from a toxic institution to a respected, trusted and modern governing body.”

That pivot to model governance, it said, has been “acknowledged by several external organizations, including the United States Department of Justice.”

But American officials said last week that they had never reviewed FIFA’s rules or governance standards, and the prosecutor’s office that brought many of the corruption cases declined to stand behind the federation’s changes.

“Our office has not endorsed the effectiveness of any of FIFA’s current reform efforts,” said John Marzulli, a spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

FIFA, along with two of its regional confederations, has been granted victim status by the Justice Department, reflecting a conclusion that it had been harmed by its own leaders. That designation could allow it to claw back tens of millions of dollars seized from defendants in the case.

But in a signal of the Justice Department’s reticence to endorse FIFA’s claims of being a changed institution, U.S. officials declined to pay $201 million in restitution funds it has awarded to FIFA or its related federations directly. Instead, they took the unusual step of requiring the creation of a U.S.-based bank account for a special fund that received the proceeds.

At the same time, FIFA has moved to alter statutes revised after the scandal. In the 2015 study, for example, Mr. Infantino and fellow report authors called for a dismantling of a bloated committee system that had for years been one of FIFA’s worst excesses: a program of patronage assignments in which soccer officials from around the world could enjoy luxury air travel, five-star accommodations and hefty annual salaries, all at FIFA’s expense, in return for their loyalty, and their votes.

FIFA had 26 such standing committees at the time. The 2015 report recommended a reduction to nine “to improve efficiency.” Currently, there are only seven.

But as part of the proposed rules changes being considered this week in Bangkok, Mr. Infantino will ask members to approve a fivefold increase, to 35 panels, and also for the power to create new ones — and appoint members — when he sees fit.

FIFA said it needed the extra committees because it had significantly expanded its functions and suggested that the roles would create more positions for women. Some meetings, it said, would be held by teleconference. It did not say how appointees to the committees would be chosen, but there is already interest in the roles.

One sports official, who works for another major sporting body but who has served on FIFA committees in the past, smiled when told about their being restored. He asked not to be named because he still has a relationship with the organization. But he said he hoped to be offered a position since the perks traditionally have included access to prized World Cup tickets.

Region by region, promises of change have already been watered down. The Asian soccer confederation’s vote this week to abolish term limits will allow its president and board members to stay on indefinitely. (The A.F.C. said four of its member associations had requested the change.) An effort by the European soccer’s president to stay beyond his 12-year term limit was approved but rendered meaningless when he said he would not run. (He said he had not planned to extend his term but wanted to test members’ loyalty.) And the North American soccer body, Concacaf, which was nearly brought down by the 2015 corruption scandal, has failed to follow through on promised changes like hiring independent board members. (It did not reply to a request for comment on Tuesday.)

At the same time, the cultures of well-paid sinecures and all-powerful presidents have in some ways been enhanced. Members of FIFA’s top board, known as the Council, earn $250,000 to $350,000 annually for a job that can require attendance at as few as three meetings a year. Mr. Infantino has seen his salary more than double since he took office, to nearly $5 million, and he recently oversaw a term-limits modification — specific to him — that could allow him to stay in his position for 15 years instead of the 12 allotted in FIFA’s statutes.

Miguel Maduro, the first FIFA governance head appointed by Mr. Infantino after his election, blamed the culture of the organization for the slide back to old ways. “It’s not enough to take down a few bad apples,” he said, “if the trees that produced them remain in place.”

Mr. Maduro, who left the governance post in 2017, called the weakening of guard rails “a formalization of the reversal away from the reforms.” He labeled the latest changes “confirmation” of a process informally underway for years.

As Mr. Infantino has cemented his position, he has simultaneously rolled back changes intended to reduce the influence of his office. Under the proposed reforms, the president was to become an “ambassador” for the sport, and greater authority was to be transferred to FIFA’s top administrator, the secretary general — a post that was remade to more resemble that of a chief executive.

Yet for most of Mr. Infantino’s tenure, his handpicked choice for secretary general, Fatma Samoura, was rarely involved in major matters. Instead, the most important decisions were increasingly consolidated into fewer and fewer hands, and controlled by a group known as the bureau.

In meetings held behind closed doors, the bureau’s members — soccer’s six regional presidents and Mr. Infantino — have bartered among themselves for top events. In October, they presented the FIFA Council with a plan that reduced the bidders for the men’s World Cup in 2030 to just one choice, a three-continent offer that will take place in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as in Morocco, Portugal and Spain.

That choice, in limiting the field of bidders for the next World Cup to only those from Asia and Oceania, effectively awarded the 2034 World Cup to Saudi Arabia before bidding had begun. Within 24 hours, it had lined up the backing of both Asia’s soccer confederation and Mr. Infantino.

FIFA’s membership still must vote to confirm the hosts for the 2030 and 2034 events. But with just one candidate bidding for each tournament, and Mr. Infantino’s preferred outcome clear, those votes appear to be a fait accompli.

And with Ms. Samoura having recently departed FIFA, the diminishing of her old job is likely to be formalized in Bangkok, too. According to the new draft statutes, any reference to the secretary general’s serving as FIFA’s chief executive will be deleted. Instead, the post, which previously reported to the council, will now also report directly to the president.

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.

And in recent days, pressure on WADA has increased significantly, particularly from the United States, which is one of the agency’s chief funders, and as new questions have emerged about WADA’s appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate the allegations, and whether WADA has provided an accurate account to the public about the appointment, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration’s top drug official — who is also a member of WADA’s executive committee — sent a stinging letter to the antidoping agency laying out how it needs to appoint a truly independent commission to investigate how the positive tests were handled and demanding that its executive board hold an emergency meeting within the next 10 days.

“Let me underscore the extreme concern I have been hearing directly from American athletes and their representatives on this issue,” the official, Dr. Rahul Gupta, wrote in the letter, which was sent on Biden administration letterhead. “As I have shared with you, the athletes have expressed they are heading into the Olympic and Paralympic Games with serious concerns about whether the playing field is level and the competition fair.”

That same day, the senator in charge of the subcommittee that provides funding to WADA, Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, said, “We need answers before we support future funding.” (The United States contributes more to WADA’s budget — pledging more than $3.6 million this year — than any nation.)

Then on Friday, a congressional aide said that a bipartisan House committee investigating the Chinese Communist Party had begun looking into the positive tests.

Lilly King, a two-time Olympic gold-medalist and a member of U.S.A. Swimming’s Athletes’ Advisory Council, said that she no longer trusts that WADA is doing its job to keep athletes who violate antidoping rules out of the Games.

“I am not confident when I get up on the blocks that the people to my right and my left are clean,” Ms. King said in a telephone interview on Friday. “And that’s really unfortunate, because that’s not something I should have to focus on while racing at the Olympics.”

The mounting pressure and growing concerns about the credibility of Olympic competitions have been met with silence from the two groups that account for a major portion of the International Olympic Committee’s revenue: its chief broadcaster and sponsors.

NBC, whose broadcast rights payments comprise a significant portion of the I.O.C.’s total budget, did not respond to a question about whether it was confident it would be broadcasting an Olympics in which viewers could trust that the athletes they were watching would be clean.

The multimillion-dollar Olympic sponsors — Visa, Airbnb, Coca-Cola and Intel — did not respond to messages seeking comment on whether they were concerned about linking their brands with a Games in which athletes have expressed concerns about cheating. Allianz, a German financial services company, also declined to comment.

The Times reported last month that WADA failed to follow its own rules after 23 elite Chinese swimmers all tested positive for the same banned drug in 2021, months before the last Summer Olympics. The drug — trimetazidine, known as TMZ — is a prescription heart medication, but it is popular among athletes looking for an advantage because it helps them train harder, recover faster and quickly moves through the body, making it more difficult to detect.

Two days after the Times article was published, WADA’s president, Witold Banka, and other top officials from the agency held a news conference during which they said they had no choice but to accept the explanation provided by China’s antidoping agency for the positive tests. The Chinese agency claimed that all of the swimmers had inadvertently ingested the drug because they ate food from a kitchen contaminated by TMZ.

In the days that followed, WADA published a lengthy document that again tried to explain its decision.

But neither move satisfied athletes, sports officials and antidoping officials perplexed by WADA’s apparent unwillingness to pursue its own investigation of the positive tests. Within days of the news becoming public, however, WADA appointed a special prosecutor, Eric Cottier, to review its handling of the case.

That decision, too, quickly drew criticism.

Mr. Cottier is a former attorney general of Vaud, a Swiss region that has become the center of international sports, and that is home to several sports organizations, including the I.O.C. But interviews showed that Mr. Cottier had been nominated to lead the investigation by the official who was in charge of auditing the agency’s intelligence and investigations department at the time the Chinese swimmers tested positive.

The auditor, Jacques Antenen, served as Vaud’s police chief under Mr. Cottier when he was Vaud’s attorney general. In a telephone interview on May 3, Mr. Antenen said he had contacted Olivier Niggli, WADA’s most senior administrator, in the days after the disclosure of the positive tests to suggest that Mr. Cottier might be a good choice to lead the investigation.

“I didn’t recommend him; I just said if you need someone, it’s a good choice,” Mr. Antenen said. He said he did not know if others had been considered for the role.

Regardless of Mr. Cottier’s abilities and qualifications, his physical proximity to figures close to WADA, the I.O.C. and the sports movement are problematic, governance experts said.

Mr. Cottier and Christoph de Kepper, the I.O.C.’s director general, were among the people who celebrated Mr. Antenen’s retirement from the police force at a party in 2022. The I.O.C. contributes half of WADA’s annual $40 million budget.

The celebration, which was featured in the police service’s in-house magazine, was first reported by The Associated Press. A caption with a picture of two of the men in the magazine reads, “Attorney General Eric Cottier came to greet his old friend Jacques Antenen.”

A WADA spokesman, James Fitzgerald, said his agency had, in fact, contacted Mr. Antenen first, to ask “if he knew of someone with the requisite credentials, independence and availability to carry out a thorough review of WADA’s handling on this case.”

“These attempts to slur the integrity of a highly regarded professional just as he begins his work are getting more and more ridiculous and are designed to undermine the process,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

There are also new questions about WADA’s public statements related to the appointment of Mr. Cottier. In a statement to The Times, WADA said it had discussed Mr. Cottier’s appointment with its board before formally appointing him to the role.

But Dr. Gupta’s Office of National Drug Control Policy said in a statement that shortly before the formal announcement of Mr. Cottier’s hiring in April, WADA told its board an investigator had already been chosen.

Dr. Gupta said in his letter to WADA that he was “deeply concerned” that the executive committee “was not adequately briefed with essential information throughout this process.”

Current and former athletes are now asking for more testing worldwide heading into the Paris Games, but they acknowledged that their concerns about the global antidoping regulator are unlikely to be allayed in time for the opening ceremony.

Ms. King, the American swimmer, said that when she learned of the undisclosed positive tests, she felt as if this were a replay of her experience from the 2016 Rio Olympics, when she won a gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke over a Russian swimmer, Yulia Efimova, who had failed a drug test earlier that year but was allowed to compete after the result was overturned on appeal.

Katie Meili, an athlete representative on U.S.A. Swimming’s board of directors and the bronze medalist in that race behind Ms. King and Ms. Efimova, said athletes had “put a ton of faith in WADA.”

“Yes, the positive tests are a concern, and that’s a bad thing,” she said. “But even more concerning to me is that the international regulator is not doing their job.”

Amy Chang Chien contributed research.

Japón quiere turistas. Pero no tantos

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En dos ocasiones recientes, turistas extranjeros entraron en la peluquería de Shoji Matsumoto, atravesando una puerta principal que rechina ruidosamente cuando se abre más allá de la mitad. Uno era italiano, el otro británico. Matsumoto, quien tiene 75 años y no habla ninguno de los dos idiomas, no sabía qué decirles, así que tomó las tijeras y comenzó a cortar, con la esperanza de que sus décadas de experiencia le ayudaran a superar esos forzados encuentros.

Los turistas, impulsados en parte por la debilidad del yen, que hace que el dinero rinda más en Japón, han estado acudiendo en masa a este país desde 2022, cuando las restricciones de entrada relacionadas con la covid se suavizaron. Algunos funcionarios, entre ellos el primer ministro Fumio Kishida, han expresado su preocupación por el turismo excesivo. En marzo hubo más de tres millones de llegadas internacionales, un récord mensual, y un aumento de más del 10 por ciento en comparación con marzo de 2019.

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

Casi dos terceras partes de los visitantes internacionales proceden de Corea del Sur, Taiwán y China. El año pasado, el gasto de los turistas extranjeros representó alrededor del 9 por ciento del producto interno bruto de Japón.

Los lugares más populares de ciudades como Kioto, la antigua capital real de Japón, parecen estar cada vez más fuera de control. Los visitantes se desbordan hacia lugares que antes no solían ser considerados como turísticos, como las pequeñas ciudades cercanas al monte Fuji o el distrito comercial de Kioto en el que Matsumoto corta el pelo.

“Antes era normal ver turistas en ciertos lugares”, dijo Matsumoto un sábado reciente, sentado en una silla baja de su peluquería. “Pero ahora se están extendiendo a lugares aleatorios e inesperados”.

Esta afluencia está llevando a sus límites la paciencia de una sociedad normalmente educada.

En Kioto y otras ciudades muy visitadas, algunos residentes se quejan de ya no poder quedarse en hoteles, debido a los altos precios, o de no poder acceder a autobuses y restaurantes por culpa de las multitudes. Otros señalan que los turistas a veces no respetan las costumbres locales, cayendo en actitudes como, por ejemplo, perseguir geishas para fotografiarlas o comer mientras caminan, algo que en Japón es considerado una falta de educación.

Un día del mes pasado, Hiroshi Ban tardó seis horas —el doble de lo habitual— en visitar el santuario Heian Jingu de Kioto. Ban, de 65 años, atribuyó en parte la demora a los turistas que retrasan los autobuses por estar contando las monedas para el pasaje.

“Aquí cada día parece carnaval”, dijo Ban, quien se dedica a organizar eventos. “No podemos disfrutar de nuestra vida cotidiana en paz”.

Incluso quienes se benefician directamente de los ingresos del turismo temen que la situación sea insostenible.

Hisashi Kobayashi, un taxista de Kioto, explicó que el negocio iba tan bien que tomarse un día libre era como desaprovechar un dinero fácil. Sin embargo, agregó, muchas industrias relacionadas con el turismo están batallando para satisfacer la demanda mientras se recuperan de la escasez de mano de obra generada por la pandemia.

“Cuando vienen japoneses, se sienten como si estuvieran en un país extranjero, debido a que hay tantos turistas”, añadió Kobayashi, de 56 años, mientras su taxi se aproximaba a un embotellamiento cerca de un templo popular. “Esto ya no es Kioto”.

Algunas localidades rurales están sintiendo la presión por primera vez. Una de ellas es la ciudad de Fuji, a unos 320 kilómetros por carretera al este de Kioto, en la prefectura de Shizuoka.

Luego de que un puente con vista al monte Fuji empezara a adquirir popularidad en redes sociales a finales del año pasado, el departamento de turismo de Shizuoka declaró, a través de una publicación en Instagram, que ese era un buen lugar para tomar “fotos hermosas, como de ensueño”. Lo que no se dijo fue que el puente se encontraba en una zona residencial sin lugares donde los visitantes pudieran estacionarse, baños públicos ni botes de basura.

Muchos visitantes tiraron basura, se estacionaron en las entradas de las casas y, en algunos casos, sortearon al tráfico para hacer fotos desde la parte central del puente, afirmaron los residentes en entrevistas.

El mes pasado, en un periodo festivo de cuatro días, alrededor de 300 turistas llegaron cada día, formando una fila que se extendía a lo largo de la calle para tomar fotos, dijo Mitsuo Kato, de 86 años, quien vive junto al puente.

“Aparcan aquí sin más”, dijo Kato un domingo reciente afuera de su casa, mientras grupos de turistas afanosos de Corea del Sur tomaban fotos de las nubes que oscurecían el monte Fuji. “Así que hemos tenido que poner carteles”.

Autoridades de todo Japón han respondido a la oleada turística con distintos niveles de eficacia.

Las autoridades de la ciudad de Fuji montaron un estacionamiento improvisado para seis autos e iniciaron la construcción de uno más grande en el que cabrían 15 vehículos y que incluiría un baño, señaló Motohiro Sano, funcionario local de turismo.

En Yamanashi, una prefectura vecina, las autoridades de la ciudad de Fujikawaguchiko colocaron el mes pasado una barrera de malla del tamaño de una valla publicitaria para impedir que los turistas fotografiaran una sucursal de una tienda de conveniencia Lawson que, con su toldo azul bajo la montaña, se convirtió en una popular imagen en redes sociales. La barrera ahora se encuentra salpicada de agujeros lo suficientemente grandes como para poder tomar una foto con el teléfono a través de ellos, según informaron los medios de comunicación locales.

En Shibuya, una zona muy visitada de Tokio, las autoridades anunciaron planes para prohibir el consumo de alcohol al aire libre por la noche, en un intento de frenar el mal comportamiento de jóvenes y turistas.

Y en Kioto, donde los carteles de las estaciones de tren piden a los visitantes que “cuiden sus modales”, el gobierno puso en marcha este mes autobuses especiales para visitantes.

En esa ciudad, en el mercado Nishiki, donde algunos residentes se han quejado de haber encontrado manchas de grasa en su ropa luego de tener que abrirse paso entre una multitud de turistas que no dejan de comer, Yoshino Yamaoka señaló dos carteles que colgaban fuera de su restaurante de anguila a la parrilla.

Ambos decían, en inglés: “Prohibido comer mientras se camina”. Uno de ellos tenía la letra más grande y el texto subrayado en rojo.

“La gente no hacía caso, así que puse este otro con un tono más estricto”, explicó Yamaoka, de 63 años, refiriéndose al cartel más llamativo. Sin embargo, ella se pregunta si su nuevo enfoque no será demasiado estricto.

“El negocio depende de los turistas”, dijo.

Un fin de semana reciente, con la intención de evitar las aglomeraciones, algunos turistas decidieron visitar algunos lugares populares de Kioto al amanecer; otros esperaron 40 minutos para comer en un popular restaurante de ramen a las 11 p. m. Algunos se quejaban de la congestión a la que ellos mismos habían contribuido.

“Es un desastre”, reflexionó Paul Oostveen, un turista de los Países Bajos de 70 años, al salir del templo Kiyomizu-dera, una de las atracciones más populares.

En su peluquería, por el momento vacía, Matsumoto contó que había cortado exitosamente el pelo a sus dos clientes extranjeros, y que no negaría el servicio a otros que entraran por su puerta.

Sin embargo, le preocupa ofrecer un servicio de calidad a los clientes a los que no puede entender. Él prefería que los que no hablaban japonés se fueran a otro sitio.

Aunque el turismo es bueno para el país, añadió sobre el zumbido de una radio, “hay una parte de mí que no está del todo contenta”.

Los gazatíes recuerdan los intensos bombardeos israelíes tras el rescate de los rehenes

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Un día después de que el ejército israelí rescatara a cuatro rehenes retenidos por militantes de Hamás en Nuseirat, los gazatíes describieron un intenso bombardeo durante la redada, seguido de caos en las calles por una operación en la que decenas de palestinos murieron y resultaron heridos.

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Bayan Abu Amr, de 32 años, el sábado llevaba en brazos a su hijo Mohammad, de 18 meses, a las afueras del mercado principal de Nuseirat cuando se vio rodeada por los fuertes estampidos de los ataques aéreos que, según el ejército israelí, iban dirigidos contra los militantes para garantizar la evacuación segura de los rehenes y las fuerzas especiales.

“La gente corría como si fuera el día del juicio final; no sabía adónde correr”, dijo Abu Amr, quien se dirigía a dar el pésame a la familia de su tío por la muerte de dos de sus hijos. “Los niños gritaban, las mujeres se caían mientras corrían”.

Junto con otros gazatíes, consiguió subirse a una camioneta que pasaba por allí y que intentaba sacar a la gente sana y salva en medio de los ataques, recordó. Una niña se separó de su madre en medio de la confusión, mientras que un anciano perdió el control y cayó al suelo, dijo.

Abu Amr llegó finalmente a casa con su hijo horas después, conmocionada por seguir con vida. “No volveré a sacar a mi hijo de casa”, dijo.

Para rescatar a los rehenes, las tropas israelíes entraron en dos edificios residenciales en los que estaban retenidos, según el contralmirante Daniel Hagari, portavoz militar israelí. Hagari dijo que había familias viviendo en los apartamentos, así como militantes armados de Hamás custodiando a los rehenes, lo que hacía “imposible llegar hasta ellos sin lastimar a los civiles de Gaza”.

El número exacto de víctimas mortales seguía sin estar claro mientras las autoridades de salud trataban de recopilar estadísticas en medio de escenas caóticas en los hospitales. Las autoridades de salud gazatíes informaron de que más de 200 personas habían muerto en la redada; el ejército israelí dijo que tenía constancia de menos de 100 bajas, sin especificar si se trataba de muertos, heridos o ambos. Ninguna de las partes proporcionó un desglose de combatientes frente a civiles.

El domingo, los pasillos y corredores del último gran centro médico del centro de Gaza, el Hospital de los Mártires de al-Aqsa, en Deir al-Balah, seguían estando “densamente abarrotados” de nuevos pacientes, después de que el sábado se llevaran allí más de 100 cadáveres, dijo Khalil Daqran, funcionario del hospital. Añadió que la mayoría de los cadáveres ya habían sido enterrados o reclamados por sus familiares.

El centro médico ―ya abarrotado antes de la misión de rescate israelí en la cercana Nuseirat― se desbordó, dijo Abdelkarim al-Harazin, de 28 años, médico que trabaja allí.

“El bombardeo fue inimaginablemente intenso”, dijo al-Harazin. “Todo el hospital se convirtió en una gigantesca sala de urgencias, mientras la gente venía a buscar a sus familiares muertos”.

Cuando al-Aqsa se vio desbordado, muchos de los heridos fueron enviados a un hospital de campaña cercano gestionado por el Cuerpo Médico Internacional, según Javed Ali, funcionario del grupo de ayuda.

Diana Abu Shaban, de 28 años, oyó disparos por primera vez cuando se disponía a tender la ropa cerca de la tienda de campaña donde se refugiaba en Nuseirat. Cuando el asalto se intensificó, dijo a sus hijas que se escondieran antes de darse cuenta de que la frágil carpa no podía protegerlas. Entonces las reunió y corrió hacia el centro médico de Al-Awda, el más cercano a ellas, en una búsqueda desesperada de seguridad.

Contó que su esposo, Saeed, se había marchado antes por la mañana al mercado, donde los residentes palestinos dijeron que los ataques habían sido especialmente intensos.

“Oí montones y montones de misiles”, dijo Abu Shaban. “Pensé que mi esposo moriría o resultaría herido”.

Al cabo de dos horas, el bombardeo amainó y ella y sus hijas abandonaron el hospital, dijo. Más tarde, descubrieron que su esposo había sobrevivido escondiéndose en una tienda cercana.

Abd Al-Rahman Basem al-Masri, de 25 años, quien vive en el extremo norte de Deir al-Balah, dijo que el sábado había sido el peor día que había presenciado desde el comienzo de la guerra.

Al-Masri dijo que él, su madre y su hermano menor habían regresado en auto de la casa de su tío y se acercaban a su casa cuando un ataque aéreo golpeó el suelo junto a ella.

En un video grabado por un amigo que también iba en el auto, se puede ver una nube de humo que se expande detrás del edificio. “En ese momento, perdí la esperanza de que pudiéramos seguir viviendo aquí”, dijo al-Masri.

Otro gazatí que vive en Nuseirat, que habló bajo condición de anonimato por temor a represalias, dijo que él y más de 10 miembros de su familia se escondieron en el interior durante horas mientras los intensos ataques aéreos sacudían el barrio. Dijo que no tenía ni idea de que hubiera rehenes en la zona.

Cuando cesaron los bombardeos, se dirigió a la zona devastada del mercado, donde dijo que vio la calle cubierta de sangre y cadáveres. Los gazatíes maldecían no solo a Israel, sino también a Hamás, culpándolos de haber provocado este desastre.

Afirmó que ni a Israel ni a Hamás les importaba la destrucción mientras trataban de atacarse mutuamente. Añadió que las víctimas eran gente común y corriente.


Aaron Boxerman es periodista becario del Times especializado en noticias internacionales. Más de Aaron Boxerman

Adam Rasgon es reportero del Times en Jerusalén y cubre asuntos israelíes y palestinos. Más de Adam Rasgon

En Perú, un periodista ayudó a derrocar presidentes. Ahora es investigado

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Uno de los más célebres periodistas latinoamericanos, cuyo trabajo ha derrocado presidentes y desencadenado investigaciones penales, estaba recuperándose de un agresivo periodo de quimioterapias cuando recibió otras malas noticias: un fiscal peruano lo estaba investigando por cohecho o soborno.

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El periodista, Gustavo Gorriti, de 76 años, director y fundador de una organización de periodismo de investigación en Perú, no es ajeno a los problemas.

En los noventa, fue secuestrado por miembros de un escuadrón secreto de la muerte sobre el cual los investigadores peruanos determinaron que estaba dirigido por el expresidente Alberto Fujimori. Gorriti había pasado años reportando sobre corrupción y violaciones a los derechos humanos por parte del gobierno de Fujimori.

Más recientemente, ayudó a destapar un enorme escándalo de sobornos conocido como el caso Lava Jato, que ha llevado a la detención y dimisión de funcionarios de toda Latinoamérica.

Ahora, el propio Gorriti está enfrentando un posible encarcelamiento.

Un fiscal supremo de Perú lo ha acusado de soborno, alegando que Gorriti negoció filtraciones de investigaciones fiscales a cambio de coberturas periodísticas positivas. Gorriti ha negado los cargos.

Periodistas y defensores de la libertad de expresión dicen que la acusación está motivada políticamente, para castigar a Gorriti por sus anteriores investigaciones periodísticas.

Según grupos por la libertad de prensa, el caso en su contra se encuentra entre una serie de ataques a medios de comunicación independientes en Perú, y es parte de una amplia ola de esfuerzos para censurar a periodistas en un cada vez más grande número de países de América Central y del Sur.

“Más y más políticos están estigmatizando a periodistas y a los medios en sus discursos”, según Reporteros Sin Fronteras. “Los actores políticos utilizan las campañas de desinformación, acusaciones abusivas y propaganda estatal que abiertamente fomenta la desconfianza en la prensa y alienta la polarización”.

En Perú, la persecución a los periodistas refleja un amplio retroceso democrático, según los analistas.

Una coalición conservadora en el Congreso ha buscado consolidarse en el poder pasando por alto procedimientos legislativos para copar los tribunales del país, los organismos electorales y la Fiscalía de la Nación con sus aliados.

Los legisladores conservadores también han aprobado leyes que hacen más difícil investigar, procesar y castigar casos de corrupción y han modificado la constitución para incrementar el poder del Congreso.

Y, cada vez más, están usando su poder para perseguir a periodistas.

Paola Ugaz, una periodista que ha revelado años de abuso sexual a menores y corrupción en una influyente organización religiosa peruana, ha enfrentado varias investigaciones penales, que incluyen acusaciones de lavado de dinero.

Otros periodistas han sido condenados por difamación por reportar sobre políticos, organizaciones religiosas y funcionarios deportivos.

Organizaciones internacionales para la libertad de prensa coinciden en que Perú se ha convertido en un entorno cada vez más hostil para los periodistas. En los dos últimos años, la posición del país se ha desplomado en la clasificación mundial de la libertad de prensa de Reporteros Sin Fronteras. Descendió del puesto 77 al 125, la caída más grande entre cualquier país de América Latina.

Un estudio reciente de Freedom House, una organización de derechos humanos que evalúa los niveles de libertad en los países alrededor del mundo, bajó la calificación de Perú del año pasado de “libre” a “parcialmente libre”.

La organización dijo que el país había presenciado un “debilitamiento de la independencia judicial” y que “los escándalos de corrupción de alto nivel han socavado la confianza pública en el gobierno, mientras que divisiones irreconciliables al interior de una muy fragmentada clase política han producido agitación política en repetidas ocasiones”.

Gorriti es el director y fundador de IDL-Reporteros, un portal de periodismo de investigación conocido por sus reportajes sobre corrupción que involucran personajes poderosos.

Gorriti se inició investigando el auge del grupo subversivo Sendero Luminoso en los ochenta, y reveló los vínculos del narcotráfico con los altos funcionarios de inteligencia de Fujimori, quien, según las investigaciones, luego ordenó su secuestro.

El secuestro jugó un papel importante en una de las condenas de Fujimori por distintos crímenes, en 2009, por la que recibió una sentencia de 25 años de cárcel.

Gorriti se mudó a Panamá, donde expuso los vínculos entre los funcionarios del gobierno y narcotraficantes, para un diario panameño.

Sus reportajes han implicado en algún tipo de irregularidad a los cuatro presidentes peruanos que estuvieron en el poder entre 2001 y 2020. Uno de ellos, Alan García, murió cuando se disparó en la cabeza en su casa, luego de que las autoridades llegaron para detenerlo.

Gorriti dijo que a pesar de las décadas de lo que él describe como persecución, la investigación por soborno es lo más resaltante.

“En la época en que estaba Fujimori hubo peligro físico inminente”, dijo en una entrevista. Pero ahora, dijo, los actuales funcionarios del gobierno tienen el deseo de “convertir todo el sistema judicial en una herramienta adicional para ellos. Eso ha sido mucho más intenso ahora que en el pasado”.

Artur Romeu, el director de la oficina de América Latina de Reporteros Sin Fronteras, dijo que era “impresionante que se mueva un paso como ese en contra de uno de los periodistas más reconocidos”.

Luego de años del gobierno autoritario de Fujimori en Perú, las elecciones del 2000 marcaron el inicio de una era de democracia, crecimiento económico y fortalecimiento de la libertad de expresión.

Pero en los últimos años, la economía ha tambaleado y la confianza en el gobierno ha caído en picada. Cada vez se recurre más a los tribunales para silenciar a los críticos.

Gorriti y otros periodistas también han enfrentado el acoso de los grupos de extrema derecha que se han manifestado afuera de sus oficinas y han arrojado excrementos en sus casas. Los canales de televisión de derecha frecuentemente esparcen desinformación sobre periodistas independientes, y han acusado a Gorriti de ser una mente criminal.

Como parte de la investigación, los fiscales también han solicitado que Gorriti entregue los teléfonos que ha usado en su reportería y que revele sus fuentes. Gorriti se ha rehúsado a hacerlo.

El caso contra Gorriti ha hecho más difícil que otros periodistas realicen su trabajo, dijo Jonathan Castro, un periodista político y editor de un pódcast.

“Hay fuentes que ya no brindan información porque tienen miedo”, dijo.

En el pasado, la fiscalía ha llevado a cabo procesos de difamación en contra de periodistas, pero cada vez aplican cargos penales más serios.

Ugaz, la periodista acusada de lavado de dinero, dijo en una entrevista que ha enfrentado amenazas de muerte en las redes sociales y abusos verbales en las calles de Lima, la capital, como consecuencia de las campañas de desinformación en su contra. Esta desinformación incluye falsas acusaciones de que ella, junto con la familia del ganador del Premio Nobel Mario Vargas Llosa, contrabandeaban uranio y plutonio.

“No hay ningún filtro”, dijo. “Uno pensaría que todo es tan absurdo que nadie va a creerlo”.


La izquierda gana a lo grande en México. Los inversores están preocupados

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El conteo final de votos publicado el fin de semana sugiere que el partido político de izquierda que gobierna México y sus aliados obtendrían amplias mayorías en el Congreso, lo que podría permitir a la coalición aprobar cambios radicales en la Constitución.

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El conteo final de votos publicado el fin de semana sugiere que el partido político de izquierda que gobierna México y sus aliados obtendrían amplias mayorías en el Congreso, lo que podría permitir a la coalición aprobar cambios radicales en la Constitución.

El recuento oficial de las elecciones de la semana pasada mostró que el partido, Morena, y sus socios parecían en camino de conseguir una mayoría de dos tercios en la Cámara baja del Congreso.

En el Senado, parecía que la coalición no alcanzaría la supermayoría, pero por un pequeño número de escaños, según los analistas, lo que significa que probablemente solo necesitaría el apoyo de unos pocos legisladores de la oposición para modificar la Constitución. Construir esas alianzas “es relativamente fácil” de conseguir, dijo el presidente del partido, Mario Delgado, en una entrevista.

“Somos ahora una fuerza dominante”, añadió Delgado, “por decisión de la gente”.

La composición final de la legislatura aún no está clara porque una parte de los escaños del Congreso mexicano se designan mediante un sistema de representación proporcional en agosto. Las impugnaciones legales también podrían afectar al reparto de escaños.

Pero Morena se ha acercado lo suficiente al dominio total como para provocar una fuerte reacción de un sector que el partido no puede ignorar: los mercados financieros.

En los volátiles días que siguieron a la elección, la alarma de los inversores ha estado a flor de piel, con las acciones mexicanas golpeadas y el peso sufriendo su peor semana desde la pandemia.

La preocupación se centra en la posibilidad de que Morena utilice su amplio mandato para promulgar cambios constitucionales que, según los detractores, podrían eliminar los controles existentes sobre la autoridad presidencial, según los analistas financieros.

Las propuestas fueron presentadas por primera vez por Andrés Manuel López Obrador e incluyen planes para eliminar los reguladores independientes y nombrar a los jueces y funcionarios electorales a través del voto popular, lo que los críticos advierten que podría hacerlos más susceptibles a la presión política. Entre otras preocupaciones, los inversores temen que la alteración del poder judicial podría hacer que sea menos seguro que obtengan una audiencia justa en las disputas.

Los mercados sienten que “bajo la gestión del partido de Morena y, sobre todo, ante el antecedente de este plan pudiera generarse un cambio radical”, dijo Janneth Quiroz Zamora, directora de investigación económica de la casa de bolsa Monex. “El mayor temor tiene que ver con que se anulen otra vez los contrapesos que existen al poder ejecutivo”.

En lo que pareció ser un intento de calmar al mercado, la presidenta entrante, Claudia Sheinbaum, discípula de López Obrador, anunció el lunes pasado que el actual secretario de Hacienda, Rogelio Ramírez de la O, quien es visto como una fuerza estabilizadora, se quedaría en el puesto.

“Es un gran servidor público que da certeza del buen manejo financiero y económico”, dijo.

Sheinbaum ganó la presidencia con la mayor cantidad de votos en décadas y Morena también se llevó la mayoría de las gubernaturas.

Sus comentarios iniciales animaron a los inversores a pensar que “el gobierno era sensible a sus preocupaciones”, dijo Blanca Heredia, analista política residente en Ciudad de México. Eso fue por “la rapidez con la que reaccionó el gobierno”, dijo Heredia, señalando que la nueva presidenta “necesita y quiere crecimiento económico”.

Pero entonces, el jueves, el líder de Morena en la Cámara baja del Congreso, Ignacio Mier, pareció anunciar que el partido buscaría aprobar los cambios constitucionales en septiembre, antes de que López Obrador deje el cargo y Sheinbaum lo asuma.

El peso volvió a caer. Horas más tarde, Mier se retractó en una comparecencia radiofónica en la que dio a entender que los cambios no se aprobarían a toda prisa.

Sheinbaum dijo más tarde a los periodistas que las medidas se someterían a un amplio diálogo. También publicó una foto en la que aparecía reunida con un ejecutivo de la empresa de inversiones BlackRock. “Están comprometidos y entusiasmados con incrementar los proyectos de inversión en México”, escribió en las redes sociales.

Delgado, el presidente del partido, dijo que López Obrador y Sheinbaum tendrían que ponerse de acuerdo sobre cómo avanzar con los planes.

“Son reformas que finalmente tendrán que ser discutidas y su alcance, su versión final, se dará por el propio Congreso. Y el ritmo de su aprobación dependerá de la presidenta”, dijo, refiriéndose a Sheinbaum.

El resultado, según los analistas, es que en un sistema político en el que un partido tiene tanto control, el mercado podría emerger como una fuerza moderadora.

“Creo que esta reacción adversa al mercado va a generar que dentro de de que en septiembre se repiense muy bien qué van a aprobar y en qué forma lo van a aprobar”, dijo Joan Domene, economista principal para América Latina en Oxford Economics, una consultora económica con sede en Ciudad de México.

López Obrador, sin embargo, no parecía inmutarse. En su conferencia de prensa habitual en la mañana del viernes, el presidente reiteró su compromiso con los cambios y parecía minimizar las caídas del peso, diciendo: “la justicia está por encima de los mercados”.

Los mensajes contradictorios mostraron, según los analistas, que la influencia de los inversionistas dependerá de si las personas que dirigen Morena —incluido López Obrador— realmente los escuchan.

“Los mercados son una camisa de fuerza para la política”, dijo Domene. “Pero no para todos por igual”.

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega y Miriam Castillo colaboraron con reportería.


Natalie Kitroeff es la jefa del buró de redacción del Times en Ciudad de México, que lidera la cobertura de México, Centroamérica y el Caribe. Más de Natalie Kitroeff.

Donde ‘no’ no significa nada: escaladoras relatan historias de acoso sexual

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En su autobiografía, publicada en diciembre, la alpinista profesional y ex-Miss Finlandia Lotta Hintsa describe brevemente un incidente desagradable ocurrido con un “escalador muy famoso” al que no identificó.

En marzo de 2023, durante una conversación de negocios en la suite del hotel donde se hospedaba el escalador en Katmandú, Nepal, el hombre besó a Lotta “sin la menor advertencia”, señala el libro, cuyo título original en finés significa Las montañas de mi vida 2. “La situación fue absurda, irreal y desagradable”, escribió.

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

Sin embargo, en entrevistas con The New York Times, Hintsa comentó que su experiencia fue aún más perturbadora de lo que describe en el libro. Su historia muestra una preocupación que las mujeres del mundo del alpinismo han comenzado a expresar más abiertamente.

Hintsa explicó que el hombre era Nirmal Purja, cuyo exitoso proyecto de 2019 para escalar los 14 picos de 8000 metros que hay en el mundo en un tiempo récord fue difundido en un popular documental de Netflix. La alpinista dice que la llevó a la habitación, le quitó la camisa, los shorts y la ropa interior especial, e intentó quitarle el sostén. Señaló que ella le dijo varias veces que no, ofreciendo excusas para que se detuviera sin agitarse. El episodio, dijo, terminó con él masturbándose junto a ella.

Hintsa, de 35 años, recuerda haber pensado en ese momento: “Tengo que salir de esta y hacer como si no hubiera pasado nada”.

A través de su abogado, Philip M. Kelly, Purja rechazó dar una entrevista. En una declaración escrita, Kelly afirmó que Purja “niega categóricamente las acusaciones de haber cometido alguna ofensa. Estas acusaciones son falsas y difamatorias”.

A medida que el montañismo de gran altitud ha ido ganando popularidad, las mujeres se han vuelto cada vez más visibles, y sobresalientes, en un deporte que sigue siendo dominado por los hombres. Las estadísticas del Everest reflejan esta tendencia: el año pasado, 65 mujeres alcanzaron la cima —alrededor del 10 por ciento de los escaladores que lo hicieron— frente a 45 en 2013 y solo 10 en 2003, según datos de Himalayan Database.

Sin embargo, en años recientes, la comunidad de escaladores ha reconocido que este deporte conlleva riesgos invisibles, especialmente para las mujeres. Cada vez más mujeres en el deporte (que incluye todo desde escalada en roca en interiores hasta ascender picos nevados) están alzando la voz para hablar sobre momentos que han descrito como inquietantes o peores.

En 2019, un grupo de escaladoras profesionales abrió una cuenta de Instagram “sobre las fotos, mensajes y solicitudes ridículas e inapropiadas que recibimos”, escribió una de ellas en una publicación. La cuenta, cuyas creadoras explican que fue cerrada por Instagram, compartía capturas de pantalla de mensajes de acoso enviados a mujeres que practican este deporte.

En febrero, un escalador de 39 años llamado Charles Barrett fue declarado culpable de tres cargos de abuso sexual por agredir repetidamente a una mujer que visitaba el Parque Nacional de Yosemite durante una excursión de fin de semana en 2016. El fiscal del Distrito Este de California afirmó en un comunicado que Barrett había “utilizado su renombre y presencia física como escalador para atraer e intimidar a las víctimas, que formaban parte de la comunidad de escaladores”.

Y en entrevistas con el Times, Hintsa y otra mujer (una antigua clienta de la empresa de guías de gran altitud de Purja) describieron experiencias ocurridas en años recientes en las que él las besó sin su consentimiento, les hizo insinuaciones agresivas o las tocó sexualmente en contra de sus deseos. Explicaron haber sentido impotencia, además de miedo de enfadar a Purja.

“No sabía qué hacer”, recuerda April Leonardo, una médica de Quincy, California. Ella cuenta que durante una expedición al K2, la segunda montaña más alta del mundo, Purja la sujetó, la besó y le hizo propuestas en repetidas oportunidades. “Estoy en una escalada loca. Él es mi guía. No quiero hacer nada que me ponga en peligro”.

La declaración del abogado de Purja también negaba categóricamente las acusaciones de Leonardo.

Poco después de los encuentros que las mujeres afirmaron que tuvieron con Purja, ellas compartieron sus historias con amigos y familiares y les enviaron mensajes de texto sobre sus experiencias. El Times examinó los mensajes de texto y confirmó las conversaciones con esas personas.

El mundo de las actividades recreativas al aire libre ha comenzado a abordar el acoso y el abuso sexual, aunque de manera vacilante. En 2018, como respuesta al movimiento #MeToo, miembros de la comunidad de escaladores de Estados Unidos crearon una iniciativa llamada #SafeOutside (a salvo al aire libre) para estudiar el alcance del problema en este deporte. Los organizadores encuestaron a más de 5000 escaladores de más de 60 países y descubrieron que el 47 por ciento de las mujeres y el 16 por ciento de los hombres afirmaron haber sido objeto de comportamientos sexuales no deseados mientras escalaban. Y hace unos meses, The Mountaineers, un grupo de recreación al aire libre del noroeste del Pacífico, creó un comité asesor de prevención del acoso y las agresiones sexuales para abordar el riesgo entre sus 15.000 miembros.

Pero, para las mujeres, sentirse agraviadas en este deporte no es nada nuevo.

“Es la posición más vulnerable en la que puedo imaginarme”, dijo Alison Levine, capitana de la primera expedición femenina estadounidense al Everest en 2002. Ella afirma haber sufrido abusos verbales y comportamientos amenazantes por parte de un guía durante ese viaje. Las alpinistas dieron media vuelta antes de llegar a la cumbre porque las condiciones meteorológicas empeoraron.

“Lo más desafiante, lo más aterrador y la mayor causa de ansiedad y miedo en esa montaña fue un ser humano, no el entorno”, continúa Levine. Ella no volvió a las grandes montañas durante otros cinco años, pero en 2010 regresó al Everest y esa vez alcanzó la cumbre.

“El propio entorno ya conlleva un enorme riesgo inherente”, dice. “Y es más aterrador cuando añades el riesgo generado por las relaciones interpersonales”.

El mes pasado, cientos de alpinistas ascendieron al Everest y otros picos del Himalaya. Por encima de los 8000 metros, los escaladores ingresan en lo que se conoce como “la zona de la muerte”, donde no hay oxígeno suficiente para sustentar la vida humana durante mucho tiempo y se exponen a peligros como la congelación, las cascadas de hielo, las grietas y los edemas pulmonares o cerebrales por la altitud. Dieciocho alpinistas murieron en el Everest durante la temporada de primavera de 2023; este año ya han fallecido cinco y se ha reportado la desaparición de tres.

Los clientes pagan decenas de miles de dólares para intentar realizar estos ascensos —las expediciones al Everest comienzan en unos 40.000 dólares, con experiencias más lujosas que pueden alcanzar montos de hasta seis cifras— y confían sus vidas a los guías.

Con más de dos millones de seguidores en Instagram, Purja, de 40 años, es una de las figuras más reconocidas e influyentes del alpinismo. Conocido como Nims, es ciudadano naturalizado del Reino Unido, donde vive con su esposa y su hija pequeña. En Nepal, donde nació, es venerado como el tipo de superestrella del alpinismo que el país no había visto desde que Tenzing Norgay completó la primera ascensión al Everest en 1953 junto a Sir Edmund Hillary.

Con su empresa de guías, Elite Exped, Purja ha contribuido a abrir paso a una nueva era de escalada comercial en los picos más altos del mundo. A través de las redes sociales ha animado a las mujeres a participar.

Purja ha guiado a clientas de alto perfil como Asma Al Thani, de la familia real catarí, y la modelo rusa Victoria Bonya. “Gracias por inspirarme a superar mis límites. Estoy agradecida por todo lo que me has enseñado”, publicó en el otoño pasado una escaladora suiza llamada Christine Vogondy en Instagram, junto con una foto de ella y Purja en la cima del Gasherbrum I en Pakistán.

Hintsa, quien se convirtió en escaladora profesional en 2018, se cruzó con Purja en los campamentos base de Nepal y Pakistán mientras hacía el circuito de escalada. Comenzaron a escribirse de manera intermitente, hablando sobre las expediciones que realizaban, y Purja la invitó a formar parte de su empresa como guía.

La revisión que el Times hizo reveló que Purja a menudo coqueteaba en esos mensajes de texto, y en sus conversaciones con Leonardo. Las mujeres a veces respondían con bromas, y Hintsa, quien es exmodelo de trajes de baño de Sports Illustrated, una vez le envió una foto suya de la revista. Sin embargo, a menudo cambiaban de tema o no respondían.

Hintsa y Purja acordaron reunirse en Katmandú en marzo de 2023 para hablar de la posibilidad de trabajar juntos en una expedición que Hintsa estaba organizando. La alpinista recuerda que Purja sugirió tomar un café en la suite del hotel donde se estaba alojando para evitar la atención que recibiría en el vestíbulo.

Hintsa explica que, dado el tono de algunos de los mensajes de texto que habían intercambiado anteriormente, ella trató de establecer límites claros. Dijo que le envió un mensaje de WhatsApp para aclararle que no se trataba de “un acostón” y que él estuvo de acuerdo. Hintsa ya no tiene estos mensajes, porque la aplicación de Purja estaba configurada para que desaparecieran después de siete días.

El 30 de marzo, en la suite que Purja tenía en el Marriott, Hintsa recordó haberse sentido “congelada” y “confundida” cuando él la llevó a la cama. Dijo que sintió como si estuviera teniendo una experiencia extracorpórea mientras él le quitaba la ropa aunque ella seguía negándose. Le dijo que tenía la regla, pero él no se detuvo. En cierto momento, le tocó la vagina.

“No puedo hacer que entienda. Está en un estado de extrema excitación en el que un ‘no’ no significa nada”, relata Hintsa. Comentó que tenía miedo de agitarlo debido a su fuerza y al entrenamiento que había recibido en el ejército británico, incluidas sus fuerzas especiales.

Dijo que Purja parecía frustrado porque ella no dejaba de negarse, y que pareció perder el interés cuando ella se resistió físicamente a que le quitara el sostén. Describió que se sintió aliviada cuando él empezó a masturbarse, con la esperanza de que el episodio terminara pronto.

A continuación, Purja se duchó, lo que le dio tiempo para tranquilizarse y vestirse. Salieron de la habitación y él le enseñó la tienda que tiene en el Marriott. Después pidió a un chófer que la llevara a su hotel. Él se comportaba como si no hubiera pasado nada.

Ese mismo día, Hintsa le envió un mensaje de texto a una amiga en el que le contaba su experiencia. El Times tuvo acceso a este mensaje. Más tarde, se lo contó en persona a su amiga Heidi Paananen, quien confirmó la conversación.

Krishna Bahadur Tamang, un chófer de Purja, afirmó en una declaración escrita facilitada por el abogado de Purja que esa mañana lo llevó al Marriott. Dijo que Purja volvió al vehículo “en menos de 20 minutos”. Hintsa recuerda haber estado en el hotel con Purja cerca de una hora, y aportó fotos con la hora marcada que tomó ese día mientras iba camino a encontrarse con él y en su tienda. Estas corroboraron la versión de ella.

Hintsa no hizo negocios con la empresa de Purja.

Los deportes al aire libre tienen factores de riesgo únicos para la conducta inapropiada y el acoso sexual, dijo Gina McClard, una abogada de Oregón especializada en la prevención de la violencia de género. En 2019, ella cofundó una consultoría llamada Respect Outside que trabaja con grupos de recreación al aire libre, como clubes de montañismo y servicios de guías, abordando temas como políticas, procedimientos y capacitaciones para prevenir el acoso sexual y la discriminación.

Estas actividades pueden involucrar expediciones de semanas a lugares remotos, donde los participantes viven y duermen en espacios reducidos. La cultura que rodea a los deportes al aire libre, que celebra la superación de los límites y glorifica a quien logra hazañas poco comunes, también puede crear situaciones en las que el comportamiento inapropiado no enfrente ninguna consecuencia, explicó.

“Gran parte del sector de las actividades al aire libre sigue girando en torno a un círculo de hombres influyentes”, dice McClard en un correo electrónico. “Si no te ajustas a cómo se hacen las cosas te pueden excluir, te dejan afuera del club”.

Barrett, el escalador que este año fue condenado por abuso sexual, fue sentenciado a cadena perpetua el 28 de mayo. Según archivos judiciales difundidos por Outside Magazine, Barrett fue procesado, en parte, debido a la encuesta #SafeOutside de 2018. La mujer a la que había agredido respondió a esta encuesta diciendo que había sido violada por un “conocido escalador profesional de California” en un viaje a Yosemite; otra dijo que había sido agredida sexualmente por un huésped de un escalador profesional al que estaba visitando. Los organizadores de la encuesta las buscaron para averiguar más y las pusieron en contacto luego de que ambas identificaran a Barrett como el agresor. La excursionista de Yosemite denunció a Barrett a las autoridades en 2020.

Barrett era un personaje conocido entre la comunidad de escalada en roca de California. Había escrito guías sobre escalada tipo búlder en áreas populares del estado como Mammoth y Bishop y ascendió por rutas difíciles con el famoso escalador estadounidense Alex Honnold. Un perfil publicado en 2016 por Climbing Magazine que luego fue retirado de su sitio web― describía a Barrett como “un maestro de la escalada en California”.

En el momento de la agresión a la escaladora, él vivía y trabajaba en Yosemite. Según la fiscalía, Barrett la “violó violentamente” tras invitarla al bosque a ver una lluvia de meteoritos, además de agredirla durante una excursión y en la zona de alojamiento de los empleados. Otras tres mujeres, incluida la otra encuestada, declararon en el juicio que él las había agredido sexualmente. Esos incidentes ocurrieron fuera de la jurisdicción federal, y los fiscales estatales no presentaron cargos.

Basándose en su trabajo con grupos del sector de las actividades al aire libre, McClard explica que las políticas de las empresas generalmente se limitan a la seguridad física de clientes y empleados, excluyendo su seguridad psicológica o emocional. La mayoría de las pequeñas empresas de actividades al aire libre carecen de departamentos internos de recursos humanos, y las grandes empresas del sector no han invertido ni el tiempo ni el dinero que, en opinión de McClard, requiere este tema.

“No existe un movimiento que abarque todo el sector”, afirma. “Creo que estamos solas en lo que respecta al acoso sexual en el sector de las actividades al aire libre”.

Leonardo, la médica californiana de 41 años, conoció a Purja en 2021 en una casa de té de Nepal, antes de hacer cumbre en el Everest con otra empresa. Más tarde se enteró de que él estaba organizando una ascensión guiada al K2 para el verano siguiente. Atraída en parte por el peligro de la ascensión, se inscribió y pagó 55.000 dólares por el viaje de dos meses, que comenzó en junio de 2022.

Tras llegar al campamento base del K2, a más de 5000 metros de altura, el equipo realizó una puja, una ceremonia para presentarle sus respetos a la montaña y pedirle una ascensión segura. Relató que durante la celebración posterior, mientras buscaba una bolsa de basura, se encontró con Purja, quien la llevó a una tienda almacén para darle una. Cuando ella se dio la vuelta para marcharse, Purja la tomó del brazo, y la besó. Recuerda que Purja le dijo: “Serás mía”. Aturdida y sin saber qué hacer, se marchó.

“Siento que tengo que evadirlo y evitar que pase algo, pero tengo miedo de hacer o decir algo al respecto”, dijo Leonardo sobre lo que pensó en ese momento. Otro escalador que estaba en la montaña en ese momento dijo que Leonardo le contó que había tenido esa interacción con Purja, y le dijo que no quería estar a solas con él. Esta persona pidió no ser mencionada por temor a repercusiones profesionales o personales.

En otra ocasión, según Leonardo, Purja se presentó en su tienda sin haber sido invitado. Ella estaba en su saco de dormir, en camisa y ropa interior, recordó, y él se puso en cuclillas junto a ella y dijo que quería mirar su rodilla, que se había lesionado. Purja metió la mano en su saco de dormir; esto la hizo sentir pánico, por lo que rápidamente sacó la pierna. Afirmó que él la besó y que después tomó su mano y se la puso en la entrepierna, obligándola a sentir su pene erecto a través de los pantalones. Dijo sentirse atrapada en su saco de dormir, sin poder salir, porque no estaba vestida.

Según Leonardo, Purja le dijo que quería acostarse con ella, pero que tenía que esperar a que no hubiera nadie. Luego se marchó.

También dijo que, en otra ocasión, Purja la sujetó del brazo mientras caminaba sola por el campamento y le preguntó: “¿Cuándo puedo montarte?”. Él sugirió ir a su tienda, pero ella se excusó.

Durante el viaje, Leonardo le envió un mensaje de texto a su padre, Leon Leonardo, diciendo que Purja no dejaba de intentar tener sexo con ella. “No está bien”, escribió en el mensaje, que fue revisado por el Times.

Dos empleados de Elite Exped presentes en la expedición al K2 de Leonardo, Chandra Bahadur Tamang, jefe de cocina, y Ramesh Gurung, guía principal, señalaron en declaraciones facilitadas por el abogado del Purja que ellos se encargaban de la seguridad de la tienda almacén porque había objetos de valor adentro, y que Purja nunca entró en ella durante la expedición. Leonardo dijo que a menudo había gente alrededor de la tienda, pero que cuando ella y Purja entraron no había nadie.

Otro guía, Pasang Tendi Sherpa, afirmó en una declaración que Purja “no estuvo en ningún entorno privado” con Leonardo durante el viaje. Esta declaración no explica cómo sabía esto, y él no respondió a las solicitudes de entrevista. Gurung no accedió a una entrevista. El Times no pudo contactar a Chandra Bahadur Tamang.

Durante varios meses después del viaje, Leonardo tuvo intercambios cordiales de mensajes de texto con Purja, en parte porque estaba esperando el reembolso de algo de equipo que se había perdido, dijo. No volvió a verlo.

Las mujeres que hablaron sobre Purja con el Times explicaron que no sabían qué recursos tenían. Elite Exped es una pequeña empresa dirigida por Purja, y ya que los incidentes ocurrieron fuera de sus países de origen, las mujeres no estaban seguras de qué hacer. No alertaron a la policía ni a otras autoridades.

Hintsa explicó que cuenta su historia con la esperanza de que el deporte del montañismo, dominado por los hombres, se vuelva más seguro para las mujeres. Solo con el tiempo ha llegado a comprender los efectos de su experiencia.

“No estaba consciente de las cicatrices que me había dejado”, dijo. “Me ha hecho darme cuenta de que no solo la caída de rocas o las avalanchas son peligrosas para una escaladora”.

La carrera de Purja ha seguido en ascenso. Como rostro del montañismo de gran altitud, ha colaborado con grandes empresas como Red Bull y Nike, que el pasado invierno sacó a la venta una colección de ropa inspirada en Purja llamada 8K Peaks, y utilizó su imagen en una descomunal valla publicitaria de Manhattan. En diciembre recibió un doctorado honoris causa de la Universidad inglesa de Loughborough. Marcas de equipo para actividades al aire libre como Grivel, Osprey y Scarpa han trabajado con él en productos de marca compartida.

Leonardo dijo que el logro de hacer cumbre en el K2, se vio empañado por la experiencia que vivió. Ella espera que compartir su historia ayude a otras mujeres a evitar situaciones similares.

“No puedo permitir que siga ocurriendo”, dijo. Y agregó: “No quiero que otra mujer tenga que pasar por esto”.

Johanna Lemola y Bhadra Sharma colaboraron con reportería. Kitty Bennett colaboró con investigación.

Jenny Vrentas es reportera del Times especializada en dinero, poder e influencia en el deporte. Más sobre Jenny Vrentas

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