Friday. 9/12/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Simeon Tegel

Crash and burn

Peruvians rarely have an opportunity for the kind of catharsis presented by Pedro Castillo’s swift journey this week from the presidential palace in downtown Lima to the inside of a nearby police station, where he remains under arrest. The Andean nation has suffered the world’s worst coronavirus mortality rate – losing 0.65 per cent of its population to the pandemic – and is now experiencing a hunger crisis that has been intensified by the war in Ukraine. The glum national mood was exacerbated over the past 17 months as the country’s novice far-left president, Castillo, staggered from one gaffe and corruption scandal to another, all the while seeming to ignore the poor whom he continually claimed to represent. He was clearly out of his depth from day one.

Yet his attempt to unconstitutionally shutter Congress in order to avert his impeachment on graft charges was extraordinarily inept. A wannabe dictator might at least have confirmed that the army was on board with such an authoritarian power grab. But not Castillo, whose hands were shaking as he announced his shock move on TV, precipitating his own ouster just two hours later. Meanwhile, members of the conservative-dominated Congress celebrated. Polls show that ordinary Peruvians intensely dislike both Castillo and the lawmakers. His sudden replacement by vice-president Dina Boluarte (pictured), who has managed to steer clear of his corruption scandals, promises a new dawn. But it remains far from clear whether she will be able to end the political warring that for years has undermined Peru’s governability and economy.

Simeon Tegel is a Lima-based journalist and analyst who reports across Latin America.

Image: Stefan Fuertbauer

Diplomacy / Croatia

Outer limits

Croatia is celebrating becoming a member of the Schengen Area after receiving the green light from EU interior ministers at a meeting in Brussels. The country will officially join on 1 January in the first expansion of the European visa-free travel zone in more than 10 years. The last nation to join was Liechtenstein in 2011, which brought the membership to 26 states. More than 20 per cent of Croatia’s GDP comes from tourism and over half of those arrivals are from just four Schengen countries: Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Poland. Most arrive by road and, at peak times in the summer, have to endure hours of waiting at border crossings. The tourism industry is expecting a boost with the removal of those barriers – especially since Croatia will adopt the euro as its currency on the same day. Meanwhile, the country’s border police will have extra responsibilities, as it will replace Slovenia as a guardian of Schengen’s external borders. Irregular migration along the so-called Balkan route has increased significantly this year. Austria holds Romania and Bulgaria responsible – and has vetoed their bids for Schengen membership.

Image: Reuters

Politics / Indonesia

Uncertain future

Indonesia’s lawmakers have been thrust into the spotlight this week after voting for new legislation that could limit what can be said on the street and done in the bedroom. While international attention has focused on provisions outlawing nonmarital and extramarital sex, civil society groups within the country have been up in arms about new restrictions on public protests and potential penalties for insulting the president.

These revisions to Indonesia’s colonial-era criminal code, which are expected to take several years to implement, come amid mounting concerns about democratic decay in the country. Though president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo must still approve the new law, the mild-mannered leader has been unwilling to veto parliament in the past, even at the expense of his reputation. He should seize this opportunity in the twilight of his leadership to defy expectations. Arresting Indonesia’s slide towards political oligarchy would be a powerful legacy.

Image: Getty Images

Aviation / New Zealand

Flying start

Air New Zealand has announced that it expects its profits for the first half of 2023 to be as much as 47.5 per cent higher than it had previously forecast. According to the Kiwi flag carrier, there has been a bounce in interest for both domestic and international flights; the revised projections assume that demand will rise back to about three quarters of pre-pandemic levels in December. A fall in jet fuel prices has also helped.

The news came as Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus, announced that he expects requests for wide-body jets (such as the Airbus A380) to take off over the next two years. Many carriers still have some way to climb before reaching full capacity but both statements point to the enthusiastic return of long-haul travel. This will surely come as a relief to long-isolated, tourism-dependent countries such as New Zealand.

Image: Shutterstock

Society / South Korea

Awkward age

South Korean citizens are about to become younger. The nation decided yesterday to scrap its traditional method of counting people’s age and adopt the international standard instead. Under the old system, you’re considered one at birth, then a year is added to your age every 1 January. There’s also a slightly different way to work out people’s age for conscription, as well as when they’re allowed to drink alcohol or smoke.

Since the 1960s the international standard has also been in use in the country, mainly in medical or legal contexts. As of June, however, it will be the only legally accepted way to calculate age in South Korea. The change should help to simplify things while also making citizens one or two years younger overnight on official documents – proving that age really is just a number.

Image: Shutterstock

Monocle 24 / Foreign Desk Explainer

Is it all over for Ramaphosa?

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is mired in a corruption scandal. Though that might not be so unusual for the country, it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, explains Andrew Mueller.

Monocle Films / Portugal

Portuguese problem-solving

Lisbon-based architect and artist Joana Astolfi takes us on a journey into the Portuguese word “desenrascanço”, meaning to find an improvised solution to a problem. She explains what it says about Portuguese culture and how it is embodied by an unusual structure in Comporta. Read more stories from the country in Portugal: The Monocle Handbook.

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