It’s Friday again!
Oh wait. That’s not my line! But since there’s no Friday Roundup today (Adrian is on “vacation”) I guess I can use it anyway.
The end of the year is upon us and as we melt-away in this hellish heat and guiltily stuff ourselves with amazing (yet so inappropriate for the summer weather) dishes, we try to remember what’s so holy about this time of the year. Mind-blowing Christmas lightning that are totally past their prime and assorted religious beliefs aside, early January is known as the moment when you slow-down on the fast-paced stressful year you had and make a balance of the year gone by. The good and bad things it brought to your life, only to blossom as a wiser, spiritually-evolved human being that can learn from experience. So you write some New Year’s resolution and then do absolutely NOTHING to make it happen.
Don’t try too hard; chances are you probably won’t get what you want either. But here is a comforting thought: world leaders and countries in general have a tendency to procrastinate, forget their mistakes and give up on their resolutions just like you and me!
Here’s a list of some of the most relevant events that took place this year that may or may not (probably not) help the world evolve towards world peace, economic prosperity and human enlightenment.
So why not recap everything that happened this year around the world in order to sound more intelligent later? OK, fine. Maybe not everything, but the most relevant parts of the year then.
This is what you should have known throughout the year:
- 2013 didn’t start on a high note for this southern corner of the world. On March 5th (yes, by “start” of the year I mean “once the summer months are over and people remember they have to go back to work”) Hugo Chavez, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela passed away. Perhaps the most charismatic and controversial leader the region’s had since the days of Juan Domingo Perón, Chavez inspired equally passionate levels of admiration and hatred as he led what was known as the Bolivarian Revolution. Although never really defined, Chavez’s “21st Century Socialism” was a source of progress to many, as he rooted for a more participatory democracy while using oil revenues to increase government funding on health care, public education and housing subsidies. He also had a non-democratic strong grip on the press, some unrestrained hatred towards Uncle Sam and a camera-ready interest on show business that he displayed in his 6 to 8 hour-long weekly TV show. Remember when he called former US president George W. Bush the Devil? I mean, who wouldn’t right?
- Don’t fret though; his controversial (and let’s face it, totally charming) style is one of his many legacies that will forever leave on. If not, see how his heir Nicolás Maduro tries to one up him (and fails miserably.) Seriously
- Just when you thought that having perhaps the two best football players in the world (I’m talking about Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, in case you’ve been living under a rock) and a Dutch queen (?) was more than enough to feed Argentina’s world-famed ego, in March Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th pope becoming not only the first Jesuit pope but the first pope from South America (more specifically, from Argentina). And coincidentally, the guy is a major football fan! His progressive views (you know, by Catholic standards) on topics such as same-sex marriage, abortion, corruption and the role of women within the clergy have been revolutionizing one of the most retrograde and archaic institutions in the world, turning him into TIME’s Person of the Year. And most importantly, he will go down in history as the first pope ever to take a papal selfie:
— Fabio M. Ragona (@FabioMRagona) agosto 29, 2013
- Argentina’s infamous histeria syndrome was in full bloom in April as we gleefully embarked in a trip to the olden days of yore. In the wake of the death of Margaret Thatcher, architect of the 1982 war with Argentina over the Malvinas/Falklands Islands, every Argentine righteously condemned the imperialistic ways of an old fashioned monarchy that up to these days claims ownership of overseas colonies all over the world. Outrageous! Monarchy sucks, etc.!
- Until a couple of weeks later, when the whole country was in full monarchic frenzy as we celebrated the crowning of Argentine economist Maxima Zorreguieta as the new Queen consort of the freaking Netherlands! For weeks, news outlets (including us) dissected the details of the big event, the royal protocol and the rules of succession to the Dutch crown as passionately as this guy is over football. And just to prove my point, here’s an interview with Máxima’s Argentine “hat designer”. (full disclosure, I think we could totally start rocking those hats here). Yay! Monarchy is awesome, etc!
- Remember how I told you that the year starts a bit slow but everyone progressively catches up on their to-do list? Well in June, NSA specialist Edward Snowden got to be the start of the ultimate spy thriller when he ousted the PRISM program, which was apparently spying on so many world leaders, trade and defense strategies, and regular citizens that if you weren’t being spied on, you would be feeling like an outcast.
- Snowden not only created the biggest catfight amongst world leaders since the Cold War over who was spying whom, but the manhunt to catch this guy divided countries into several groups, aptly described below:
- Group 1: So willing to be friends with the US that we´ll refuse our airspace to Bolivia’s presidential plane just to prove it. Some European countries, like Spain, France, Italy and Austria willingly fall in this category.
- Group 2: Outrage! Let’s prove the world that we are the good guys and that we are leading a prosperous democratic cooperation among nations. This category includes the leaders of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and particularly Brazil, who led the UN proposal to condemn this terrible offense to the Bolivian… Oh. Wait.
- Group 3: I’m so powerful that I’ll give asylum to Snowden just to prove that you are all, in fact, my bitches. Whatever. Yes, I’m talking about Russia and president Vladimir Putin. A guy who enjoys swimming in the gelid waters of Siberia for fun.
- Just to prove how these guys are major procrastinators as well, half a year after this started, some world leaders still pretended to be annoyed at each other and a UN resolution urging countries to keep surveillance under control was approved. But truth be told, there was no major debate on the subject, surveillance programs are still very much in place and we are all cool with each other. Even Snowden’s happy! Suckers.
- On July 4th, Egypt’s army removed President Mursi from power and suspended the country’s constitution. Mursi had become the first Islamist president to be democratically elected in June of 2012 after the former ruler was ousted by a revolution in 2011. See a pattern here? Of course, the mess didn’t stop right there and while those who opposed Mursi and Muslim Brotherhood were celebrating, the Egyptian Security Forces “cleared” pro-Mursi sit-ins; as in “they killed hundreds of protesters by running them over with their tanks”. You know, this things happen. Long story short, the military are still governing the country and there will be yet another constitutional referendum this month. I’d recommend everyone to chill just like the guys below, but apparently that only happens once every century or so:
- The civil war in Syria gave room to one of those high-school cafeteria scenes among world leaders that I enjoy so much. Although there’s been a tragic civil conflict there for the past two years, hell broke loose when the world found out that the regime led by Bashar al-Assad carried out an extensive attack using a deadly gas cocktail that led to the death of 1,400 civilians. You can add that to the 100,000 people who have been killed since this conflict began.
- After this happened, it all became a blurry “he said, she said” situation in which the US tried to get international support to invade Syria. But thanks to a surprising bout of humanity (or lack of economic interests,) world leaders refused to back Obama on this insane incursion. It all ended with a UN-regulated agreement that forced Bashar to hand in every single WMD he may have possessed. Still, there’s people dying every day in Syria and there are over 2 million refugees hoping to peacefully go back home some day. Just so you know.
- My new favorite real-life villainPSY look-alike dictator, Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, decided to spice things up recently and finish his third year as a diabolic world leader by ordering the execution of his loyal uncle and began a massive purge within the highest ranks of command in his country. Proactive leader much? Apparently, this is pretty normal behavior in his family, as his late father allegedly had ordered the execution of his own brother long ago and Kim himself has already murdered his ex-girlfriend. Look out 90’s basketball star Dennis Rodman! You could be next.
- On December 4th, the world began mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, the heroic leader of the anti-Apartheid movement and first black South African president. His political activism to bring equality, peace and justice turned him into one of the most respected world leaders in history. His legacy will be forever remembered.
- In other world-domination news, China just landed its first rover on the moon. It is the first soft moon landing in almost 40 years and the first one held by a country other than the US and Russia. If this doesn’t provide you with a precise picture of who’s who in the new world power map, you should also be aware of this.
That’s all for this year. If you still can’t decide whether this year’s world events were either dreadful or promising and what consequences they will have on mankind, don’t worry: the waves of looting, the lack of energy and running water, or the fact that the city has turned into our local version of hell will do the trick.
Happy New Year, everyone!