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Javier Farje's Blog

Chile: the remnants of dictatorship are slow to fade

Published on: Mon Oct 20, 2014
Author: Javier Farje
Chile: the remnants of dictatorship are slow to fade

Former LAB editor Javier Farje writes from Santiago about how Chilean society is overcoming the remains of its turbulent past. Retired Captain Renán Ballas is a contented man, a short smiley pensioner with the look of a travelling salesman who has just closed a very good deal. An admirer of dictator Augusto Pinochet, Captain Ballas, a former Ambassador of the tyrant, is very happy to debate with anyone who dares to attack his hero. He does not lose his temper or resort to authoritarian arguments…

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Uruguay: Pepe Mujica, hero, populist, or demagogue?

Published on: Mon Oct 20, 2014
Author: Javier Farje
Uruguay: Pepe Mujica, hero, populist, or demagogue?

“What do you think about President Mujica?” I asked the taxi driver who took us from the airport to our hotel in the centre of Montevideo. “Best president ever” he replied without hesitation. I was not surprised. After all, Mujica's humility and his image as a father figure have, in many ways, put Uruguay on the map internationally. But not everyone seems to agree. A local businessman is not impressed. “I don`t like him”, he tells me, “he talks to us as if we were children or idiots, I can’t stand…

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Cuba: The new man or the new economy?

Published on: Tue Jun 3, 2014
Author: Javier Farje
Cuba: The new man or the new economy?

I am having dinner with Fernando Ravsberg, one of the most respected foreign journalists in Cuba. A Uruguayan, his blog, Cartas desde Cuba, is widely read by those Cubans who have access to the internet, and his opinions matter, something rare in a country where you generally have to be part of the system to be heard. He seems to be quite annoyed with people who come from solidarity movements in the West in search of a utopian Socialist paradise. He has lived in Cuba for almost 25 years and meets,…

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The Cuba Five -- when five minus two makes Five

Published on: Mon Jun 2, 2014
Author: Javier Farje
The Cuba Five -- when five minus two makes Five

The old lady came to us and asked, timidly, while she was pointing at the short moustachioed man who was talking to us: “Is that Fernando?”. “Yes, that’s him”, we told her. Her face lit up. She ran towards the group of women pensioners who gather in this central park in Havana every morning to do their daily exercises, and confirmed what we had just told her: “yes, it is Fernando”, she said, her voice trembling with emotion. Immediately, they stopped their morning routine, turned towards us and started…

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Mexico: Is the "new" PRI worse than the "old" one?

Published on: Sun May 25, 2014
Author: Javier Farje
Mexico: Is the

In 2000, as the new millennium created new expectations, the Institutional Revolutionary Party,  the PRI, lost power after running Mexico for 71 years, from the time of the revolution. During its tenure, the PRI created a vast network of corruption and nepotism that came to an end when the party finally decided to democratise Mexico’s political structure and to compete on equal terms with the main opposition party, the Party of National Action, PAN. It lost. Twice. A year and a half ago, after two…

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