Who knew that Moscow was on the way from Hong Kong to Quito?
As I write this, Edward Snowden waits in a "capsule" at a new hotel at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport until he takes off for Havana at 2:05pm tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, he has been seen by an Ecuadorian doctor and Ecuador's ambassador to Russia, and has asked Ecuador for asylum. Snowden will have spent less than 24 hours in Russia, and will not have seen any of it: he can't leave the airport as he doesn't have a Russian visa.
As the revolt that started this past winter in Tunisia spread to Egypt, Libya, and beyond, dissidents the world over were looking to the Middle East for inspiration. In China, online activists inspired by the Arab Spring called for a “jasmine revolution.” In Singapore, one of the quietest countries in the world, opposition members called for an “orchid evolution” in the run-up to this month’s national elections. Perhaps as a result, those watching from the West have been positively triumphalist in their predictions.
Last year, Hugo Chavez amended Venezuela's constitution and abolished term limits. The entire business was a bit odd, but not because the constitution was changed, which is quite common in Latin America. Nor was it because the changes involved extended his rule (which is equally common). No, what was unusual about the constitutional reform of 2009 was that abolishing term-limits was all it did. You see, constitutions are uniquely plastic in Latin America.
Tensions are rising across South America this month as Venezuela signed three oil deals with Iran and a 2-billion-dollar arms deal with Russia, causing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to speculate about a possible arms race. The Venezuelans, along with Bolivia and Ecuador, have responded by pointing to a new U.S. agreement with Colombia to make use of six military bases in the country. A meeting Tuesday of UNASUR, a group of 12 South American nations, ended without any plan or agreement to deal with escalating tension in the region.
Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus GarveyBy Colin Grant (Oxford University Press, 530 pp., $27.95) I. In the pantheon of the past century's African American leaders, Marcus Garvey holds an exceedingly ambiguous place.
While Neil Armstrong was taking his giant step for mankind on the Moon in 1969, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was soaring back on Earth. By meeting President Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to land a man on the Moon within the decade, NASA had proven communism was no match for American knowhow and the American way of life. A decade of race riots, assassinations and war culminated with the stars and stripes planted in the Sea of Tranquility. But following the Moon landing, NASA went through a postpartum depression on a grand scale.