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Tearing down the wall before it gets built

AMERICAN Catholic voters may have opted, by a small margin, for Donald Trump. But leaders of the Catholic church, whether in Rome, the United States or Latin America, are gearing up to resist some important parts of the president-elect's declared agenda. One bone of contention is global warming. While Mr Trump has threatened to pull […]

If at first you don’t succeed…

WHEN on October 2nd a narrow majority of Colombian voters rejected a peace agreement under which the FARC guerrillas were to disarm, it was not just a pollster-confounding shock. It was also a rebuke to the government of Juan Manuel Santos, to negotiators who spent four tough years working on the accord and to the […]

Weaker than the storm

They’d rather eat than vote ON A cloud-dampened morning in Jérémie, the capital of the department of Grand’Anse in south-west Haiti, André Tham walks along a muddy road with a loudhailer, urging passers-by to get vaccinations against cholera. Farther on, a colleague empties a small vial into the mouth of a motorcyclist. More than 3,700 […]

A golden opportunity

GEOPOLITICS waits for no man, not even the United States’ president-elect. Little more than a week after Donald Trump’s victory, Xi Jinping, president of the world’s second-largest economy, set off for Latin America—his third trip there since 2013—clutching a sheaf of trade deals. They were proposed long before the change of government in Washington. But […]

League of nationalists

AFTER the sans culottes rose up against Louis XVI in 1789 they drew up a declaration of the universal rights of man and of the citizen. Napoleon’s Grande Armée marched not just for the glory of France but for liberty, equality and fraternity. By contrast, the nationalism born with the unification of Germany decades later […]

Colombia and the FARC strike a new peace agreement

WHEN Colombia’s government reached an agreement in August to end its 52-year war with the FARC guerrilla army, it claimed the deal was the “best accord possible”. After Colombian voters rejected it in a plebiscite on October 2nd the government and the FARC went back to the negotiating table. On November 12th Colombia’s president, Juan […]

Maduro’s boom

LOOK skywards in posh districts of Caracas, the capital of South America’s most economically troubled country, and you will see something surprising: construction cranes at work on rising office towers. Dozens are nearing completion during Venezuela’s most severe recession ever. In the trendy Las Mercedes area, the din of pneumatic drills starts shortly after 7am […]

The limits of technocratic government

THEY might not have realised it, but Peruvians got three presidents for the price of one when they narrowly voted for Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in an election in June. Over a long career, Mr Kuczynski has been an investment banker, a multinational business manager and a public servant. These identities have each been on display […]

The wall that appals

FROM the moment Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in June 2015, the possibility of his victory has been a Mexican nightmare. He made clear from the start that he was running against Mexico as much as against his political foes. He called Mexicans “rapists” and threatened to deport […]

Syrup and sin

EVERY spring schoolchildren in Quebec flock to cabanes à sucre (sugar shacks) in the woods to watch “sugarmakers” boil down the sap of maple trees into syrup and to sample sticky confections. But this sugary pastime has a sinister side, as Quebeckers are now learning through a sensational criminal trial. The defendants are accused of […]

The union flag, waved by brexiteers, could lose its saintly rationale

WITH Britain's political and constitutional future beholden to venerable judges in London, Europhile protests in Scotland and Irish grumbles about a hardening border, lots of hitherto settled questions seem wider open. Only a brave person would bet serious money on the United Kingdom in its existing form surviving long into the 21st century. And if […]

What is to be done in Venezuela?

BOTH the timing and the presentation were inauspicious. On October 24th Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s embattled president, made an unscheduled call on Pope Francis. Meanwhile, in Caracas, a papal envoy announced that the Vatican had agreed to co-sponsor talks between the government and the opposition. The news came just days after the government-controlled electoral authority suspended—and […]

Murder and machismo

POLICE called to a house near the Argentine city of Mendoza on October 23rd made a grim discovery. They found the body of Claudia Arias, a 31-year-old mother of three, alongside the corpses of her aunt and grandmother. The women had been beaten and stabbed to death. Two of Claudia’s children, an 11-year-old boy and […]

Not in my valley

EARLIER this year Arnaldo Kabá, chief of Brazil’s Munduruku people, journeyed from his home in Brazil’s Tapajós valley to London to demand a halt to projects which, he believes, threaten his people’s land. Flanked by activists in monkey costumes, he showed up at the steel-and-glass British headquarters of Siemens, a German engineering firm that makes […]

Free two shoes

Not a model of philanthropy CAPITALISM has clocked the ethical consumer. Shoe brands like TOMS and Skechers tease in customers by matching purchases with a donation of a pair of shoes to a child in need. So far, TOMS has handed out 60m pairs of shoes, letting fashion-conscious consumers feel good about boosting children’s health, […]

Lost in transition

AIR-CONDITIONING doesn’t feel like much of a luxury in parts of India, but the taxman begs to differ. Cooled restaurants are deemed posher. Their patrons are liable to additional taxes the unventilated masses do not bear. Luckily for sweat-prone diners there is a catch: the tax only applies to the service and not the food, […]

Plan v market

Lin-Keynes is on the left IT IS not quite Keynes-Hayek, but Lin-Zhang is a marvel in its own right. Perhaps the most famous debate in the history of economics was that between John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek—a clash over the benefits and perils of government intervention that exploded in the 1930s and still reverberates […]

Turning off the tap

EUROPE has yet to produce a rival to Silicon Valley, but London’s “Silicon Roundabout” by Old Street station is closest. As a funding hub, the city’s venture-capital industry tends to attract more money than rivals in Berlin, Munich or Paris. And more venture capital is invested in Britain, relative to its GDP, than in any […]

Net debt, big returns

AS DONALD TRUMP sees it, America’s trade deficit is a sign of economic weakness, proof that lousy trade deals have sent production overseas. But Uncle Sam does not just import goods from the rest of the world and send nothing in return (though that would be a lucrative arrangement). Rather, the net inflow of goods […]

Political business

AS AMERICA’S presidential election approaches the country’s business class is in its weakest political position for decades. Twenty years ago both parties competed to be the most pro-business. Today they compete to denounce the malefactors of great wealth. The most startling change is that business has lost control of its ancestral party, the Republicans. Donald […]

Lost in the splinternet

FREE-SPEECH advocates were aghast—and data-privacy campaigners were delighted—when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) embraced the idea of a digital “right to be forgotten” in May 2014. It ruled that search engines such as Google must not display links to “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” information about people if they request that they be […]

Will the dollar rise or fall on a Trump victory?

YESTERDAY’s decline in the American stockmarket, on news of a narrowing in the poll gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (under two points according to Real Clear Politics), confirms the argument made in last week’s column. A combination of Mr Trump’s adverse policy proposals on trade, foreign policy and the Federal Reserve, and uncertainty […]

Lutherans and Catholics play down their 500-year-old differences

LUTHERANS and Catholics of any previous generation would have been utterly astonished by the emollient character of the commemorations of the Protestant Reformation that began this week and will continue for a year. It is 500 years exactly since Martin Luther, an intensely pious German monk, issued his “95 Theses” of protest against the practices […]