And the Drug War Goes On

A couple of just published pieces of mine in Agora Revista. They were written a while ago but provide useful background and information on the brutal fighting in recent weeks in Tamaulipas between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels and on the arrest of Victor Emilio Cazares, known as “The Bachelor”.  They are in Spanish.

Not Quite Getting Democracy

Libya’s Justice and Construction Party, in other words the Muslim Brotherhood, has issued for the July 7 elections eight principles that they believe all Libyans should observe. Many of the principles are inspiring and recognize the importance of diversity, non-violence and the rule of law in building a democracy. All heartening and good stuff!

But there is also talk of forming a national consensus and principle 8 comes close to contradicting itself. It states: “Laying the foundations of freedom and respect for political pluralism in a cultural and social framework of national unity.”

Principle 7 lays it out more clearly. Libyans should always respect “the higher interest of the nation” and subordinate partisan, regional, tribal or individual interests to it. But who defines the higher national interest? Isn’t there a hint here of totalitarianism? One would have more faith in this blending of national interest and pluralism and diversity, if the months leading up to the elections had been marked by political transparency, both when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood and the National Transitional Council. But it hasn’t.

Decision-making on the NTC has been markedly opaque. An NTC member from Benghazi told me that the NTC has been controlled all along by a cabal of Muslim Brotherhood members and old Gaddafi figures. There are no votes, no regular NTC-wide meetings and no open, formal debate. Decisions are just announced and most NTC members don’t get a look-in. There are no set procedures. Leads one to wonder if the elections will change anything much.

 

The Not So Sweet Life

“Far from tourist crowds savouring Italy’s fabled dolce vita, sipping cappuccinos and chilled Prosecco in big-city piazzas, the walled towns and hilltop villages of Tuscia, in central Italy, are seeing the sweet life disappear.” The opening paragraph in my piece in Maclean’s magazine on the austerity-linked souring of Italian life in this decade of eurozone crisis.