1. Pro-Bolsonaro protesters attempt to storm Brazilian government institutions
After the elections of October 30 last year, the waters seem to be troubled in Brazil. With Lula's narrow electoral victory (he won with 50.9% of the votes, ahead of Bolsonaro's 49.10%), the controversy was ready from the very beginning.
Already in the hours following the progressive candidate's victory, there were multiple demonstrations, roadblocks and even calls for the country's police and military forces to overturn the election results.
Thus, tension has increased over the last few weeks, reaching its peak last Sunday, when the congress in Brazilia was stormed. A crowd of Bolsonaro supporters broke through the police cordon and entered the chamber, destroying the furniture in their path. The intention was to create a "domino effect" that would put Brazilian public institutions in check.
This event, which happens precisely 2 years after the assault on the capitol in the United States, has been condemned by all the members of the EU, as well as by the United States. In turn, within Brazil, a large part of the right wing has also rejected these actions, while the condemnation of the left wing has been absolute. In this line, Lula himself has charged against some of the country's police institutions, accusing them of complicity.
Finally, after the assault, the army itself broke up the remaining pro-Bolsonarist camps around the congress, and some institutions and police stations throughout the country. The number of detainees has already reached 1500, and further interventions are not ruled out. In this sense, the Brazilian government has been categorical: these events will not go unpunished, and a rational but firm response is expected.
To conclude the news, it is worth remembering that Jair Bolsonaro left Brazil a few days ago with a private plane, heading for Florida, United States. From there, he was recently admitted to the hospital due to health problems, and has observed all these events from a distance. His condemnation of the acts of his followers has been timid and terse, and the possibility that he will not return to the country due to the possible opening of legal proceedings against him is increasing, a fact that makes his return to the country difficult.
2. Kevin McCarthy is chosen as the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
After a long journey that has stretched over 4 days of sessions and 15 different votes, the deadlock in the U.S. upper chamber seems to be coming to an end. Kevin McCarthy, 57, a Californian, was elected to the seat with 216 votes in his favor.
Although the Republicans held the majority from the beginning, the cracks in the party between the moderates and the "Trumpists" became evident. Some 20 Republican congressmen negotiated until the last minute to secure their votes. The scenario seems evident, McCarthy's dependence on Trumpism was made explicit in a public statement by the Californian, where he personally thanked the former president for the efforts made so that the negotiation could go ahead.
Thus, through the negotiations that were reformulated after each vote, the wishes of the most conservative sector of the Republicans have been gaining concessions, to the point of making it clear that they will not make it easy for the new president. In fact, the tension within the Republicans is such that after a vote McCarthy even confronted Gaetz, one of the pro-Trump congressmen.
The scenario that is opening up is interesting, but uncertain. McCarthy will have to juggle to please the most right-wing sectors of his party, while at the same time he is aware of the need to rebuild bridges with the Democratic caucus. Even so, for the moment it seems that McCarthy has been more concerned with bringing the most right-wing sectors of his party closer to him, changing his position regarding the assault on the Capitol (which he initially strongly condemned, and to which he has recently kept a more lukewarm attitude) or going to the residence of former President Donald Trump to be photographed and negotiate with him.
3. Iranian protests: executions continue
Throughout the weeks we have been following the protests in Iran. What at the beginning was presented as an opportunity for the country to open up and for changes, both in cultural and economic areas, as well as in the role of women in society, seems to be truncated in a wave of reactive measures.
After the waves of protests, it seems that the regime wants to regain control of the situation by returning to normality. The morality police has been reinstated, numerous demonstrators arrested, as well as important figures in Iranian society.
The arrests were followed by the first convictions. Although in some cases these have been reduced, as in the case of the soccer player Amir Nasr Azadani, initially sentenced to death, but finally sentenced to 26 years in prison. Even so, some of the sentences have been ratified and executed. Thus, 4 demonstrations have reportedly already been hanged, the last two this past Monday.
Ignoring international protests, and on the pretext of having killed a paramilitary militiaman of the Basij forces during a protest, Mohamed Mahdi Karami (22 years old) and Seyed Mohameni Hoseini (39 years old) were hanged. Amnesty International noted that the trial "bore no resemblance to a serious judicial process" due to its brevity (less than 1 week) and that the defendants were not allowed to choose a lawyer and were assigned a court-appointed one. In addition, the defendants claimed that their confessions to the murder had been extracted under torture, after several electric shocks and blows to the head that rendered them unconscious.
Mohameni's father even pleaded for mercy so that his son's execution would not take place. The journalist in charge of conducting the interview was subsequently arrested.
At the international level, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, condemned the acts, as did Robert Malley, the US special envoy to Iran, calling the trial a "farce".
As a final balance, it should be noted that this repressive process is still pending. Although 4 people have been executed so far, 14 have been sentenced to death. In addition, almost 20,000 people have been arrested during the demonstrations, and 517 demonstrators have died during the protests.
4. Pope Benedict XVI dies
On December 31, 2022, at the age of 95, one of the most important figures in recent history passed away. Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned from office almost 10 years ago, in 2013, after only 8 years as pope. Since then, he kept a low profile, which has accompanied him until the end of his days.
Throughout his career, Benedict has had to deal with a number of issues, including his attempts to reform money laundering in the Vatican bank, the emergence of child abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, and his repeated attempts to revitalize theological issues (which moved from liberalism in his youth to hard conservatism later on).
The funeral, held last Thursday, January 5, gathered 50,000 faithful who, under the clouds of St. Peter's Square, jointly said goodbye to him by praying a rosary. At the head of these faithful was the current Pope Francis in his wheelchair. Due to his state of health, the dean Giovanni Battista Re presided over the ceremony, although the homily was given by Francis himself who, in the final moments, remembered the deceased: "Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be perfect in hearing definitively and forever his voice".
5. Russia-Ukraine conflict: Putin issues brief cease-fire, Spain rearming
Regarding the situation in Ukraine, the last few days have brought some new developments.
The first is Vladimir Putin's proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire during Orthodox Christmas. To this proposal, Ukraine responded timidly and suspiciously, rejecting it. As expected, the unilateral ceasefire was not respected. The two countries accused each other of breaking the pact, and Ukraine called it a "trap". In the hours that followed, fighting and artillery fire broke out in different parts of the Donbass, especially in Zaporiya and Luhansk.
The second came simultaneously with the first hours of the cease-fire, and came from the other side of the pond. The U.S. government announced a new military aid package worth 3 billion dollars, including the shipment of armored vehicles. This initiative was joined by France and Germany, which joined the bandwagon of this shipment after negotiating with Joe Biden and agreeing to send new anti-aircraft batteries. Patriot.
The latest news is the public pronouncement of the head of the Spanish armed forces, King Felipe, to increase the defense budget. The king pointed out how Spain should increase the defense budget, which in less than 5 years should represent 2% of the total national GDP. Thus, he connected this increase (mandatory for NATO members) as an immediate necessity, due to the "imminent danger" posed by Putin's Russia.
With the involvement of the various states in the conflict, and the rearmament of these, it seems that the swords are once again up.