Lobbying is an integral part of democracy, but multiple scandals throughout Europe demonstrate that a select number of voices with more money and insider contacts can come to dominate political decision-making – usually for their own benefit.
The visit to Cuba of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Mar. 23-24, and the forthcoming visit in May planned by French President François Hollande, have fast-tracked the agenda of relations between the European Union and Cuba.
“They mistreat you, they don’t respect you. I’ve seen beatings, suffering, and you can’t defend yourself. When you’re locked in there it’s as if you were in another world,” Salif Sy, a Senegalese man who in 2011 spent eight days in an immigrant detention centre (CIE) in Madrid, told IPS.
The world is clearly splitting into two parallel worlds, with each going their own way, in what we could call the ‘Acapulco paradox’.
“I would get asbestos in my mouth, spit it out and carry on working,” said 52-year-old Francisco Padilla. Exposure to this deadly mineral fibre over most of his working life has resulted in cancer and the removal of his left lung, the lung lining and part of his diaphragm.
Political and institutional corruption has become the main concern of Spanish citizens after unemployment and the dramatic social consequences of the economic crisis, according to opinion polls.
The fact that in a referendum Switzerland has taken a path that goes in the opposite direction from that of Europe is an unusual fact which calls for reflection, especially because Switzerland has taken a much more progressive path, while we all were accustomed to see it as a very conservative country.
After the Italian sea search-and-rescue operation Mare Nostrum at a cost of nine million euros a month, through which the Italian Navy has rescued nearly 100,000 migrants – although perhaps up to 3,000 have died – from the Mediterranean since October 2013, Europe is now presenting its new face in the Mediterranean.
Mexico can charm, irritate, wound, inspire and confuse the casual visitor as well as the informed researcher. But no one is ever left indifferent by it. Mexico leaves an indelible mark.
“I would like to have a big house, and I wish my family didn’t have to go out and ask for food or clothes,” Encarni, who just turned 12, tells IPS in the small apartment she shares with five other family members in a poor neighbourhood in the southern Spanish city of Málaga.
“It’s easy to end up on the street. It’s not because you led a bad life; you lose your job and you can’t afford to pay rent,” says David Cerezo while he waits for lunch to be served by a humanitarian organisation in this city in southern Spain.
The new European Commission looks more like an experiment in balancing opposite forces than an institution that is run by some kind of governance. It will probably end up being paralysed by internal conflicts, which is the last thing it needs.
José María Gómez squats and pulls up a bunch of carrots from the soil as well as a few leeks. This farmer from southern Spain believes organic farming is more than just not using pesticides and other chemicals – it’s a way of life, he says, which requires creativity and respect for nature.
It’s two in the afternoon, and María stirs tomato sauce into a huge pot of pasta. School is out for the summer in Spain, but the lunchroom in this public school in the southern city of Málaga is still open, serving meals to more than 100 children from poor families.
Little Samir covers his face with his hands as he plays under the orange tree in the centre of the inner courtyard of the Spanish Refugee Aid Commission (CEAR) centre in the southern city of Malaga. He is four years old and has spent nearly a year in Spain, where he arrived with his parents, fleeing the war in Syria.