Mayam Mahmoud: Egypt’s first and fearless veiled rapper

Mayam Mahmoud started making headlines last October, as she took to the Arabs Got Talent stage dressed in a light pink outfit and a matching hijab. Performing in front of an audience for the first time, the 18-year-old from Cairo started rapping vigorously about the challenges women they face in the Arab world.

Although she insists “it was never about going on stage in a scarf,” it was her appearance that inevitably caught worldwide attention in the first place. You don’t come across a teenage girl in a hijab rapping every day in Egypt. Or ever.

Participating on Arabs got talent, Mayam told CNN, “was about going on stage and sharing a message.” Her feminist lyrics condemn sexual harassment of women in Egyptian society and stress the importance of girls’ education. In one of her denouncing raps, she goes: “I won’t be the shamed one. You flirt, you harass and you see nothing wrong with it. But even if it’s just words, these are not flirts, these are stones.”

Mayam’s mother introduced her to poetry at the age of 12 and encouraged her to start writing her own poems. Her dad persuaded her to always “talk about something with value”. While they were a bit reluctant when their teenage daughter turned to hip hop to voice her concerns, fearing it wasn’t feminine enough, Mayam says they eventually gave in and never stopped supporting her. When she recorded her first track in the city of Alexandria, they waited in a cafe round the corner. 

The economics undergraduate from Cairo decided to speak out because “Egyptian women undergo harassment and bullying on a daily basis”. Last November, a poll of gender experts concluded that sexual harassment, soaring rates of female genital mutilation and a spike in violence made Egypt the worst Arab country to be a woman. And according to a 2008 survey conducted by the Egyptian Center for Women’s rights, 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women have been sexually harassed. Mayam refuses to accept this reality. She wants to get people talking and inspire others to advocate for civil rights, too. 

With this in mind and as her audience grew, Mayam recently set up “Carnival of Freedom”, a Facebook event page where she challenges people to express themselves freely and post activities that are still considered off limits, such as “women playing football or going to a cafe.” What kind of reaction have her daring activities sparked? According to the Guardian, her fans tend to post up to 50 supportive messages a day on Facebook, but there are also unwelcome messages accusing her of “creating a bad name for Islam,” she said. “Or even that I’m an infidel.”

Last week, Mayam Mahmoud was honoured at the Index Freedom of Expression awards, winning this year’s Arts category. She received her award in a colourful floor-length dress adorned with women’s graffitis, explaining with a smile that each drawing stood for women’s rights – female street artists are a growing (and fascinating) breed in Egypt

“One of the strongest messages I’d like to send is, ‘Freedom is an obligation on others before it becomes my right,” she said. Seeing someone stand up for human rights is always commendable. Seeing a veiled teenager from an oppressed country embarking on such a brave mission is pretty inspiring. Let’s just hope no one silences her. 

For more Arab female rappers, check out Paradise, an Afghan singer who also advocates for women’s rights.

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Prostitution: Legalization or Criminalization?

Prostitution is probably, as many people like to say, the world’s “oldest profession”. It is a universal phenomenon, that exists in every country, in a more or less disguised way.

Mostly, more or less wherever you are, prostitution remains a taboo subject, due to religious beliefs and social stigma. Indeed, selling your body is something that is ill-regarded in any culture and in most civilizations, women are seen as the underlings (the subject of male prostitution being even more of a taboo).

In most countries in the world, prostitution is illegal and often criminalized (in most United States’ states, in Russia, in China etc.), with prostitutes facing severe penalties.

In Western countries, with growing concerns for human rights, came growing concerns regarding this profession, and the public authorities are more and more divided between criminalizing or legalizing.

Countries like Germany and the Netherlands have moved towards a more progressive stance: prostitution is not illegal, but it is a regulated business, with specific strict rules surrounding it. New Zealand, is quite revolutionary in this matter, since prostitution is completely decriminalized and not regulated at all, due to the view that criminalization is negative for sex workers.

In Canada, Portugal or the United Kingdom, prostitution is legal, in the sense that prostitutes can not be punished in the criminal system, but everything that surrounds this business is highly prosecuted: pimping, having a brothel, or public solicitation, are prohibited.

On the other hand, the North of Europe, like Iceland, Norway and Sweden, has yet evolved into something else, position that several other European countries (like France has already) might follow in the future. Going from the idea that it is wrong to exploit a woman’s body, prostitutes are not penalized, but their clients are. Therefore, not only pimping, brothels etc. are criminalized, but the fact of being a client also is. Several groups of sex workers are against this option because it drives prostitution even more into a “back-alley” in our societies.

Like in many other delicate subjects, such as drugs, the question of knowing if it is best to legalize or criminalize prostitution is not an easy one, and one could easily argue for both sides. Nevertheless, it is an interesting debate in societies that are growing more and more concerned with individual rights. For that same reason, it is a question that must be handled in a way that will not be detrimental for the main people who are concerned by it: the sex workers themselves. Maybe they should be the first ones to have an opinion on the place prostitution should hold in each country.

The Paris Massacre of 1961

On October 17 1961, five months before the end of the colonial war that opposed Algeria and France for seven years, Paris witnessed a massacre where more than 150 Algerians were killed by the police forces. The events followed a peaceful demonstration of 30 000 Algerians protesting against an administrative measure which they considered racist. Indeed, a curfew had just been applied to “Algerian Muslim workers”, “French Muslims” and “French Muslims of Algeria” from 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. in order to prevent the spread of Algerian attacks in the French territory.

The head of the police, Maurice Papon – a man convicted in 1998 for crimes against the humanity for his role in the deportation of more than 1600 Jews to concentration camps – had mobilized 7000 policemen to block the demonstration. More than 11 000 people were arrested that day. Although at the time Papon spoke only of 2 casualties, historians have shown that at least more than 150 demonstrators were murdered, many of whom were thrown into the Seine to drown. It was the day where the river “Seine was red”.

Here_are_drown_the_Algerians “Here we drown Algerians”, inscription written on a bridge over the Seine

On October 31, a group of anonymous “republican policemen” published a text declaring that they had a moral obligation to bring their testimonies public. In it, Emile Portzer, who in 1999 admitted being its main author, wrote that “Among the thousands of Algerians brought to the Parc des Expositions of the Porte de Versailles, tens were killed by blows from rifle butts and pickaxe handles (…) Algerians captured in (…) traps were knocked out and systematically thrown in the Seine. (…) Not before having taken their watches and money. Mr. Papon, prefect of the police, and Mr. Legay, general director of the municipal police, assisted to these horrible scenes(…).”

Despite the extent of the killing, the massacre of 1961 remained for many years an absolute tabu. Following the events, the massacre was poorly covered by the French media, which was predominantly supportive of the government’s action regarding Algeria. Furthermore, it took 40 years for the government to acknowledge its responsibility, until the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë put a plaque in remembrance of the massacre on the Saint-Michel bridge.

Somaliland

Somalia is best known for civil war, extreme poverty, lack of governance, corruption, piracy and the development of Islamic extremism. Somalia is best known for being a failed State. However, this country has a northern territory, Somaliland, a self-proclaimed independent State, that is all the opposite.

map-somalia-300x225

In the beginning of the 20th century, the lands on the Eastern horn of Africa were shared by the Italians, the British and the French. Each of these powers held a certain part of Somalia – which was not known by that name at the time. Upon the period of decolonization, the French Somaliland became the independent Republic of Djibouti in 1977, while the British State of Somaliland and the Italian Trust Territory of Somalia united to form the independent Republic of Somalia in 1960. The current self-proclaimed independent Republic of Somaliland is the former State of Somaliland, which was under British rule until 1960.

Although initially Somalia was able to have a constitutional democracy, in 1969 it suffered a coup d’Etat, which would transform it into a military dictatorship. The regime of Major General Siad Barre allegedly committed several human rights abuses throughout the country, including in Somaliland, which had been (and according to Somalia, still is) an autonomous region. Eventually, several resistance and militia groups were formed in the country, which led to the Somali Civil War, which ousted the dictator Siad Barre.

One of those groups was the Somali National Movement (SNM), which was led by one of Somalia’s main clans, and eventually, in 1991, proclaimed that the northern territory of Somaliland was an independent State.

Since then, Somaliland has proclaimed itself an autonomous State, with its own Constitution and government, although very little countries in the world recognize it as such. Indeed, secessions are rarely recognize in the international order, because that could lead to many other regions in the world to declare themselves as independents. Nevertheless, recognition is still one of the major attributes that a State needs to effectively be a State.

Whatever you consider it, the fact is that Somaliland has thrived in one of the most unstable regions of the world. It has its own currency, political system and a private system that actually works. This does not mean that Somaliland is not attained by poverty and many other problems, but rather that it is capable of standing out and this has allowed it to maintain foreign relations (independent from Somalia) with such powerful States as the United States, the United Kingdom or France. Mostly, it has also allowed it to escape the devastation to which Somalia has been put through in the recent decade.

somaliland-iyo-somalia
Somaliland, represented on the left, and Somalia, represented on the right.

As the International Business Times puts it, Somaliland is an “African Story of Success”. Nevertheless, while it has not attained recognition, it is stuck in a limbo, which is quite a shame because this region could be an example for its neighbors. For as long as Somalia refuses to acknowledge this region as independent, it is unlikely that Somaliland will be considered a full State in the international arena.

José Mujica

A good man is hard to find.

A good man who makes a career in politics is probably even harder. Yet in the midst of one of the greatest political crisis ever, where social trust in political leaders is slowly crumbling, one leader from a small Latin American country appears as a breath of fresh air. His name is Jose Mujica, he’s the 40th President of Uruguay, and he’s also known as “the world’s poorest president”.

Born in 1935 from a poor farming family in Montevideo, Mujica joined the Tupamaros guerrilla in the 1960s, a movement which earned the reputation of the “Robin Hood guerrillas”. Among other illicit activities, its members robbed banks and distributed the stolen money to the poor. Mujica was eventually captured by the authorities on several occasions, but escaped in a famous prison evasion from the Carretas Prison in 1971. Nevertheless, in 1972, he was recaptured, and following the military coup in Uruguay in 1973, he was sent to a military prison where he spent 14 years, of which two years in in solitary confinement.

With the return to democracy in 1985, Mujica was freed and later joined the left-wing party Movement of Popular Participation. In 1994, he was elected deputy and in 1999, voted for senator. Only ten years later, in 2009, José Mujica was elected President of Uruguay. He became the President of “No palace, no motorcade, no frills”, and one of his first measures was to donate 90% of his monthly salary to charity. As The Guardian describes, “the only security detail in Mujica’s residency are two guards parked on the approach road, and Mujica’s three-legged dog, Manuela”.

Since becoming the leader of his country, “Mujica has reaffirmed Uruguay as the most socially liberal country in Latin America”. In 2012, he pushed for the same-sex marriage bill, as well as for the legalisation of abortion, making Uruguay the second country in Latin America after Cuba to legalise abortion for all women. In 2013, Uruguay became the first nation in the world to legalise marijuana trade.

In this inspiring and philosophical speech at the UN Rio +20 conference on sustainable development, President Mujica protested against “the blind obsession to achieve growth through greater consumption”. It’s controversial, but definitely worst seeing. Learn more about the exceptional José Mujica here and here.

The strange world of war tourism

Fancy a trip to Iraq? How about the Democratic Republic of Congo? Of course not, it’s too dangerous, right? Well that’s exactly what makes the world of war tourism go around. The thrill of going into active war zones and past areas of conflict where there is “a higher than average level of risk”.

Take Toshifumi Fujimoto, a Japanese truck driver who gets his kicks from going into war-torn Middle Eastern countries. He was most recently spotted in Syria, where he told the AFP that being on the frontline is “very exciting, and the adrenaline rush is like no other.” Syria, which became embroiled in a civil war over three years ago, is also the world’s most dangerous country for journalists. While he claims that it’s more dangerous in Syria to be a journalist than a tourist, Fujimoto himself has been taking photos of the conflict that he shares with friends on his Facebook page. He explained that he’s not afraid of getting killed since he’s “a combination of samurai and kamikaze.”  

 We’ve heard this thrill-seeking discourse before from war journalists, for example. American political satirist and journalist P.J. O’Rourke famously claimed he was a “Trouble Tourist” rather than a “foreign correspondent”, for the latter was “too dignified a title”. In the introduction of his collection of stories, Holidays of Hell, O’Rourke explains that this kind of tourism requires “going to see insurrections, stupidities, political crises, civil disturbances and other human folly because… because it’s fun.”

This obviously doesn’t mean that all journalists desire to see war, but if you find yourself in the media industry, it’s not that unusual to hear adrenaline junkies saying that “war is fun”. Yet this observer’s main point is not to get into the endless debate of real bias. And most war reporters boast they’re documenting armed conflict purely for the sake of alerting the world to human suffering anyway.

But what if you don’t want to venture into a conflict zone on your own? I don’t blame you for not wanting to dodge bullets solo, but in that case you have to be willing to splash up to $40,000 on travel agencies such as Hinterland Travel and Warzone Tours, which specialise in the ultimate extreme travel. Whether it’s Kabul, Baghdad or Mogadishu, these experienced providers – who usually have a military or security background – strive to deliver tour packages that fulfil your excitement requirements.

Just bear in mind that the more ambitious you are, the higher the price tag. Security, logistics and planning in the world’s worst places come at a price. I wonder what the tour guides’ criteria is for accepting war tourists. How do they know that the visitors will be able to keep it cool when their guide drives along dangerous roads, bomb sites or disputed territories? Or that they will not freak out if somehow they end up with an AK-47 pointed to their heads?

Ethical criticism of war tourism is mainly targeted at the exploitative aspect of this niche form of travel, with the number one argument being that this vacation concept is twisted and somewhat heartless. It’s arguably not acceptable to have a fun, adventurous holiday, at the expense of someone else’s worst nightmare. Someone’s bombed home or local business, which will most likely end up on your Instagram account, shouldn’t become your holiday playground.

And, as Laura Moth points out, war tourists may even end up funding an oppressive regime: “think of flying the national carrier, paying for a visa or spending money that inevitably gets funneled upwards to the same old structures of power.” 

The fact that travel agencies are profiting from this is also an ethical concern. But they insist their guides provide the necessary context and encourage visitors to engage with locals. One could also argue that war tourists offer a helping hand to local businesses (the obvious benefit of tourism). And, if visitors happen to sympathise with the victims’ situation, they might try to help in some way.

War tourism is not to be confused with dark tourism – the latter doesn’t deal with active conflict zones – though there are some similarities. As dark tourists, most of us are drawn to “sites of death, disaster or the seemingly macabre”, such as the Tower of London, Auschwitz, Alcatraz Island, Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng Killing Fields or the World Trade Center. This idea that we’re naturally fascinated by death is certainly not new. 

But as far as the specific fascination with death-related sites goes, the Institute for Dark Tourism Research from the University of Central Lincolnshire, launched a couple of years ago, admits that “our understanding of both production and consumption of dark tourism remains limited”. However, they suggest that attendance at events such as Roman gladiatorial games or even medieval executions could be considered dark tourism. I guess that says something about our morbid nature.

Capitalism and Socialism: a reflection

I can see the warning signs as I prepare myself to write about this. It is, in every way, a complicated topic. However, I would like for you to indulge me, it is nothing more but a short reflection. I will start by saying I have no political ambitions, I am a journalist and my purpose is to be a watchdog for those that do. I would also add that I tend to vote more on the right than on the left but I would say I am right there in the middle. Allow me to explain. I believe in market solutions, in private initiative and in a small State apparatus. However, by small I don’t mean non-existent. I believe the State must protect the weakest and most vulnerable and provide for good education, health and social security. All in all, I believe in balance. Having said that, I believe no such system exists.

We all know about the dangers of socialism and its extremes as we have seen with some communist countries, mainly USSR. It seems obvious that it is impossible for everyone to aspire to the same thing, to be awarded the same wage, regardless of merit. Competition is in itself an incentive for excellence and if there is no visible difference in rewards between a dedicated worker and a lazy one, competition is impossible. Also, in a non competitive environment even the most brilliant minds tend to wane. Successful people would feel the disincentive and the results would be ever decreasing productivity. Adding to that, you can be sure to have some environments that are more equal than the others. Despite its negative side, Socialism did have a social consideration embedded in it, an ideal worth preserving.

Capitalism sits on the other side of the fence. It allows one to take the initiative, a fight for new ideas that can have a real impact in our world. It inspires competitiveness, creativity and, hence, excellence. Economic relations are formed and expanded and a stability is welcomed by the system. It is however an unbalanced system and the disparities are huge. As the international organization Oxfam mentions in a new report, the 85 richest people in the world have the same amount of wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest. I cannot begin to comprehend how this is possible, let alone just, or right. As I mentioned above, I believe in a system that rewards merit, where I would include hard work, inventiveness and entrepreneurship. However, it is impossible to believe that 85 people work harder, are more creative, inventive or entrepreneurial than 3.5 billion people. Even if we exclude the 200 million unemployed worldwide, it still seems ridiculously unfair. This level of inequality is visible at a smaller scale as well, when you witness a growth in the wealthiest fortunes, even if their countries are struggling, a practice that has become common not only in developing countries but in western society as well.

Oxfam’s report states that the wealthiest bend the laws in their favor, guaranteeing that wealth continues to be funnelled to the upper echelons of society. We see them investing in political campaigns, huge lobbying firms, lawyers that help them find loopholes in the law and there is always the good old bribe. There are many examples on Forbes top 10, let alone in the top 85, of billionaires with strong political connections that help them maintain their wealth. They use money to buy support, to make sure their interests are in good hands, to make sure they make more money. It is an endless circle, almost of a feudal nature, with and increasing disparity between the richest and the poorest.

Thus, the current system perverts the very essence of democracy, and the consequences are more than just the concentration of wealth on the upper 1%, as the Occupy movement labelled them. As we’ve been witnessing in the last few decades, the oil lobby has managed to keep alternative power sources that can be as or more efficient from being fully adopted (hydrogen, for example), even if some countries seem to be making real progress. Oil companies and their shareholders need to keep their incomes so they prefer if life altering research is kept hidden or just is not investigated any further. They do so through lobbying groups, campaign donations and all the other mechanisms mentioned above. The point is, it is not just about money any more.

The point I am trying to make is that, even though communism was an ineffective economical system, capitalism seems to be showing some of its flaws as well. Just as we realized socialism was not the best way to move forward, I believe we will soon realize capitalism is not the solution either. At least as it is right now, with disregard for communal interests, a lack of a social conscience and lawless markets. A mix between the two ideals may be the answer, I honestly do not know. However, I do know that, as we are today, we are at risk of falling prey to populist rhetoric, anarchy and we endanger our future.

Masdar, the Green City

What should the city of the future be like? Should the focus be on technology? Catering to everyone’s needs? To answer that we would probably need to know what the future is going to be like. Either way, Abu Dhabi went ahead and designed their version of a city made for the future and they have already started building it. It is called Masdar City and it aims to be a sustainable place that relies solely on renewable energy sources. Six square kilometres of environmentally sustainable architecture, with a capacity to house up to 50,000 people, 1,500 businesses and an extra 60,000 daily commuters.

The city will be powered by a mix of renewable energy sources the main one being solar energy. Two gigantic solar power plants will be built on the outskirts of the city and solar panels will be placed on most roofs, with the total production amounting to 130 megawatts. Wind and geothermal energy will also be used to power the city but on a much smaller scale. In addition to these energy sources, Masdar City will have the world’s largest hydrogen reactor.

The aim of the city is not only to produce clean energy but to maximize its use. Thus, the city has been designed to minimize the use of air conditioning. Buildings will be build close together, making sure they shade each other, and carefully positioned as to maximize the cooling powers of wind currents. Most materials, such as the tiles on the floor, will have cooling properties, and the city will have a perimeter wall designed to keep out the hot desert winds.

Masdar City
Masdar City’s architecture and materials reduce the need for air conditioning

As for transportation, the motorized vehicles are banned from the city, to reduced carbon dioxide emissions. The original project intended for people to move around using public mass transit and personal rapid transit (PRT) systems. The idea was abandoned to reduce costs but only electric vehicles will be allowed to circulate inside the city. A minor setback in a project that seems to be worth the wait and that, besides its environmental motivation, has an economic one.

Masdar means ‘source’ in Arabic, and the thought behind this project is also to make sure Abu Dhabi is ready when fossil fuels become obsolete or the country’s reserves run out. In a way, it is a way to diversify the country’s income and energy source. The emirate’s economy is dependent on oil exports so why not diversify? The aim is to spend less on energy production to maximize oil profits, while they last. At the same time, the country’s government, which is main stakeholder of the entire project, is investing in the development of new technology that one day might be sold to every corner of the planet, as the world turns green.

The entire project is expected to cost between 13,4 and 15,8 billion euros and has been delayed due to the global impact of the financial crisis. It was supposed to be completed by 2015, a deadline that has been pushed to 2025. However, despite the delays, some of the city’s facilities are already functional, such as the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a research facility developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and that has been helping with the engineering plans for the city.

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology
The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology

What at first looks like one of the many megalomaniac projects we are used to see in Gulf countries, is actually an interesting endeavour to create a sustainable, efficient and, ultimately, marketable concept of a city that can become essential in years to come. Men’s impact on the planet is less and less up to debate and Masdar City explores solutions to some of the issues posed by our actions on Earth. The idea can inspire others to follow the same path and, hopefully, lead humankind towards a more clean and sustainable way of life.

I recommend watching the following report from Bloomberg Brink for additional information:

Watch the full report here.

Fractured Venezuela: An example of Latin America’s bipolarity? . by Stefano Badalacchi

The ghost of the Cold War seems to continue walking the streets of Latin America.

Since the beginning of the student and political demonstrations in Venezuela, which were strongly repressed by the regime, countries like Uruguay,Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil have expressed their unconditional support for Nicolas Maduro, emphasizing the values ​​of democracy and condemning the alleged incitement by the U.S. to popular insurgency. While Latin America’s dogmatic left and some frustrated revolutionaries applaud the radicalization of the regime in the face of the rise of “fascism”, others, like me, denounce the big irresponsibility of these illustrious hominis politici.

In fact, without any compelling evidence confirming the involvement of Leopoldo Lopez in an alleged coup engineered by the government of Barack Obama, Latin American leaders would be tacitly supporting the totalitarian excesses of Chavez’s regime, accepting the numerous cases of media censorship, participating in the political persecution of the opposition, approving the creation of chavist paramilitary militias and justifying the deaths of students during the protests that massively erupted on February 12 throughout the country’s main cities. Eventually, Latin American leaders would almost become pathetic. Could someone enlighten me, because I do not see it: where is the democracy they so much defend?

However there is an even more disturbing aspect. What motivates countries like Paraguay, which fought until a month ago against the entrance of Venezuela in the MERCOSUR – given that the Venezuelan government did not recognize the new President Federico Franco – , to lean on the side of the Bolivarian Revolution? The answer is simple: fear and dependence. And while the neighboring nations are victims of the oil-diplomacy and prefer to be silent in front of injustice – i.e. subject to Venezuela’s soft-power -, in the country of Simón Bolivar, the shortages of food and other first necessity products have created a great social instability allowing for the proliferation of the underworld in the streets and for massacres in broad daylight. In Venezuela, protesting became a necessity in front of the abuses of the armed forces, against the corruption of institutions, against the lack of independence of the judiciary system. Although it might be hard for us to accept it, protesting is also a necessity when confronted with the joke of having Nicolas Maduro as President, whom, without any solid argument to stay in power, goes on incessantly designating scapegoats to cover the disaster caused by just one year in office.

In my continent, many will say that advocating for the Venezuelan opposition immediately turns a person into a pro-American right-wing capitalist, but I would emphasize that denouncing the abuses that have occurred, are occurring and will continue to occur in Venezuela does not mean having a defined political position. It means having a conscience and a bit of intelligence while facing the facts. The problem is that since Venezuela is a regime which acts under the moto of the eradication of poverty (actually impoverishing all the population) and that encourages the popular struggle against the elite (Which elite? The diaspora of Miami or Bogotá?), we have to shut our mouths before the alleged moral superiority of the so-called revolutionary left. Yes, the same revolutionary left that ended the yoke of dictatorship in Cuba 55 years ago while making it automatically enter another, or the one that today walks through several countries in the region mixing politics with cocaine and terrorism.

Saying that the defence of the fundamental freedoms of the opposition and of the Venezuelan students is an attempt to destabilize democracy, is equivalent to accept that ruthless wars like the one currently waged by Bashar al-Assad might continue. On February 19th, this latter sent a warm and affectionate note of support to Nicolas Maduro praising the “path of peace” that he had initiated.

As such, and by enlarge, after a reiteration by the MERCORSUR of its support for the Venezuelan regime, we enter another vicious circle of two blocks. Just as in the times of the Cold War, we see the countries which back up the Western powers and those which do not. Thus, no matter what is the cause, the idea is always to go against the flow.

Ah, yet, we must not forget: the Yankees are still our main trading partners.

STEFANO BADALACCHI is an Italo-Colombian who has been studying political sciences and international security in France, and is currently working as a risk consultant. He lives in Paris, France and comes from Bogotá, Colombia.