Do what you like, don’t be exclusive – interview with Ivan Menchero

Izabela Łojewska

Erasmus Programme gave me a lot of new opportunities. One of them is doing an interview. I was always heavily into aviation. That’s why I immediately decided to interview a pilot who I really admire – Mr. Ivan Menchero.  He used to work as a chief flight instructor in China. Currently he works for aircraft management company Business Aviation Asia Ltd.

From the first seconds of the interview I realized aviation is his greatest passion. With such a strong motivation, getting flying license was not a problem. Asked about favorite airport or aircraft Mr. Menchero does not have preferences. I tried to find an answer of the questions that may interest people outside the ‘aviation zone’. It turned out that “pilots have jet lags. It is like everybody else. You cannot get used to them. But, you can accept it and like flying like it is all about or you don’t like it as well. When I have a jet lag, it lasts for seven days but it is not that bad.”

As his job requires constantly travelling, I was curious what are the things Mr. Menchero packs to his suitcase for every flight (except obvious clothes and cosmetics). “I call it plane bag. . It is really small and I cannot leave house for work without it. A flashlight, also different money for a different parts of the world, a national charger, a cellphone, plasters (I can always take them out if there is a need), the headphones for a noise.”

We discussed the advantages of being a pilot. “Firstly, to see a lot of the world. That’s for sure. Most of us love our job so we don’t complain to go to the work. It is like ‘yeah, all right! Let’s work!” I have so much power when I have to do so!”  – states enthusiastically my interviewee. I didn’t pass the medical tests what prevented me from getting a flying license. Disadvantages mentioned by Mr. Menchero helped me deal with it. “The schedule can be a little crazy. For example you are not in your house for a couple of weeks, can be even three or four weeks, then you are back for only one week. You may also have to pick up a plane which is supposed to be there for one week and I spend there five but in general I spend two and a half week working and I have left one and a half.  “

I were talking also about changes in aviation. First experiments with an aircraft were conducted one hundred years ago. Each of the World Wars led to technical advances. Nowadays what matters is not only technology but also good marketing. “I think the biggest change in aviation during my career is degradation of costs and salaries. Comparing aviation twenty or even fifty years ago it used to be a break-down. When I studied, it was OK. Then the low – cost carriers tried to reach the market. Now people work more, earn less. It is going down all the time and it is scary. I think it is quite an issue today.”

I asked Mr. Menchero what will change in civil aviation in the next couple of years. The answer was intrigued me so much to start reading about it. “I don’t know what next couple of years are going to bring. Probably cargo airplanes are going to fly with no pilots. “ At first I couldn’t believe. It emerged 80% of commercial airplane takeoffs and landings are already remote-controlled. There will be only one person to control the flight from the ground. “Flying captains should worry” – adds my interviewee.

My last question was about piece of advice for someone who wants to be a pilot.  “Start with your region, don’t be exclusive”.


I was one of the five students who were assigned Asia as a region to focus on for the International Observatory class and we were told to interview somebody who is related to that region. So I thought that there was no better person to interview than my Mandarin teacher at the Universidad Europea de Madrid, with who I have had the privilege of learning such a difficult yet wonderful language during the second trimester. Her name is Ping Shih Hu Sun and she was born in Taiwan.

I asked her ten general questions about various different topics regarding the region, focusing mainly on China, but also looking at events that have had an effect on China and vice versa.

I am very interested in the whole story about the crisis of the two Koreas, especially the North. Therefore, as an opening question, we can say I was “forced” to ask her about the relationship that exists between China and North Korea.

She said “I think that since they are neighbors, China wants to avoid divergences with North Korea, also because they share a similar political system, Communism, and there aren’t many other Communist states nowadays, so it is important to keep a relationship with them.”

I then continued with a question related to Taiwan, I asked her about the movement that has been going on for years about the complete sovereignty and independence and of Taiwan from China. It is always interesting to hear a personal opinion from somebody who is actually from there.

She said “As a matter of fact, politically and economically Taiwan is totally independent, but I don’t think that Taiwan is capable nor should become a completely independent country because it has been part of Chinese territory for five centuries and due to extraordinary circumstances it finds itself in such situation. No one will ever recognize them as an independent territory and state”.

That question led me to ask her about the Chinese community abroad, specifically in Spain, I was aware of the fact that she was born in Taiwan but I thought that since they are related she could give me an interesting answer, and she did.

She said that “The Chinese community in Spain is like most of the Chinese people, confident about the idea that putting effort into things will lead people to achieve what they aspire.” I immediately agreed with that inspiring statement, because every Chinese person that I know is a very hardworking person.

Manny Ping

After that, I asked her a question that would have taken her ages to answer since it was such an open question therefore she replied in a brief sentence, which made total sense to me. I asked her about some similarities and differences between China and Spain and she replied “Both countries are very hospitable, and are friends of their friends; generally speaking the people are very sociable”.

I then though it was time to move on to talk about more serious issues, so I went back to the North Korea topic, I asked her about the public opinion of the Chinese population about North Korea and its actions whether they support it or oppose it, or whether they just follow what the government says. She gave me a wise answer: “I believe that the people neither support nor oppose the North Korean regime, because the Chinese know that they have their own problems to take care of, they don’t want to pay attention to external problems”.

The next question was along the lines of the previous one. I was skeptical when thinking about asking this question because it involved a very personal answer which many people refuse to give. I asked Ping if she thought that the Chinese regime was too oppressive or if it was improving in terms of democracy, and she said “China is a Communist country, but in some aspects it is improving. However you cannot ask such a big country to make such a drastic change, which would cause chaos like it happened in Russia. China has to make slow progress and the population has to comprehend the real meaning of democracy”.

It seems that the debate about the Tibetan sovereignty has lost media attention years ago, so I thought that it would be interesting to bring it up in my interview, so I asked Ping about her personal opinion on the matter.

She replied by saying that “Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China since many centuries ago. Nevertheless, the international media tends to twist the truth and misreport the facts. I that think what really matters at the end of the day is what the Tibetans want”.

It seems by the type of questions that I am asking her that I am criticizing China by focusing on the saddest happenings, but the fact of the matter is that I love China, its history, culture, language and people. I just focused on those topics because they have created heated debates for years. So, to continue I asked her about the freedom of the press in China. She thinks that “in today’s political system in China, the press does not have total freedom. Freedom is conceded depending on the topic, those topics which are critical about the regime are promptly censured, but those which aren’t are disclosed normally”.

The last two questions could not have been left aside. I had to talk about the economy, so I asked Ping whether this boost of the economy is the right path for China or if it would be better if they slowed down a little, thus respecting some human rights that some workers had had consequently violated due to that boost.

She said that “human rights of the workers are achievements that characterize developed countries. In a society like the Chinese one the rural population moves to the cities looking for jobs wherever employment is offered, so this is the result when there is more demand than supply. The governments may set the rules, but in the end it the companies who really decide”.

I saved the following questions for the end because it is a question that a lot of people ask themselves. I have to say… I did not expect that answer at all, but I have learned to respect all opinions. I asked Ping whether she thought there would be more competition or cooperation between China and the West, especially the United States.

She firmly said “I supposed there will be more competition with the United States because the Americans don’t want China to be on their level, and will make up stories to show that China is not trustworthy.

I enjoyed this interview with Ping, it was nice to know her opinion on these topics of such importance at the international level.

By Emanuele del Tufo

The future of South Asia

Written by Heli Haapanen 10.06.2013

The future of South Asia

I interviewed a team leader Olli Ruohomäki from South- Asia Unit/ Department from Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.  He studied law in the University of Helsinki and completed his doctoral in London.

Before working in Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, he worked for United Nations as development Officer in Cambodia and project manager in Laos.  He started to work in Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1999.

We discussed about relations between Finland and Countries in South Asia and about projects what they have together.

I asked what are the most important countries and projects and also what can possible happen in the future.

One of the most important countries is Afghanistan. The development cooperation between Finland and Afghanistan is a long-term mission.  Finland also finances The United Nations program in the region.

Also, Finland support Nepal through UN women and land program which is mostly concentrated in education, water and sanitation, forestry and natural resources.

According to Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Nepal is one of Asia’s poorest and unstable countries and inequality is a major problem. Majority of the population lives in rural areas and a quarter of the population still lives in extreme poverty. The status of women is not good, common problems are lack of education, illiteracy and sexual violence.

In the rural area the maternal health is poor and this affects children, child malnutrition causes death. But in the last two decades, infant mortality rate has decreased.

Olli Ruohomäki mentioned that, India is estimated to overtake China in population growth in 2025 and people often thinks that China is the future superpower but they forget the India. It will be the most populated country in the world. It is a rich country and its middle class is growing so the demands will increase too. Instead, Europe will tail off.

India is very interesting country both culturally and in economic terms.  India is a diverse and has lot of to offer, not only as tourist destination. It´s role  in international policy is growing.

The international business sector is growing and enterprises should pay attention to its growing potential.

For example, in 2011, India became Finland’s third largest trading partner.

The relationship between India and Europe is also very interesting and it has been developed to extensive co-operation which comprises many different areas, like trade, investments and development cooperation.

Mr. Ruohomäki commented that Young people should take this into account; it is a country where they speak English and there are jobs available.

The human rights problems are big and complicated issue in India. The system and attitudes needs to change but this takes time and it’s not easy.

Violence against women, has received a lot of attention in the media, it has been written international and national magazines. In India, this has caused protests.

The brutal rapes which has caused even death of the victims, for example death of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi in December 2012. There have been many assaults to local and tourist women and it has shocked how brutal these have been and how often this happens. Part of the problem is that the public officers are not reliable; policy officers might even not register the rape (if someone reports a crime)

Attitudes should change at the grassroots level. The police officers should take the reports seriously.

Other problems are corruption, targeting minority groups and the lack of freedom of expression.

When asking about the human rights issues Mr. Ruohomäki mentioned that there is tension between India and European Union because of this. Even though India is defined as a developing country, it is rich and does not want other countries to intervene.

Regardless, South Asia is very interesting region and part of the international system and India´s economic and population growth makes it important in the future. It is impossible to know what will exactly happen but Asia has become more and more important.

Even though, we need to fight against poverty, inequality and human right violations.

iNTERVIEW_ María Pérez López









As i said, i was going to change the person being interviewed for this Final project. This person has a name and also has an important influence in a very famous newspaper in the country of Spain called El Pais, where she works with Asia news, events or other issues and transcribe them into the weekly newspaper.

Naiara Galarraga, a journalist working for the international section in one of the most read newspapers in Spain; focused on Asia region. She was born in 1971 in San Sebastian from Donostia, a town in the north of Spain peninsula. Some of the articles she has written, with titles like ‘’Kazajistan no será hoy o mañana una democracia jeffersoniana’’, and as actual news we can highlight an article about Bangladesh clash, ‘’Inditex y H&M pactan mejorar la seguridad en fabricas bangladesies’’ , has had a lot of influence and also they allow us to understand more deeply the events going on in that part of the World.

Beginning with some reasons that motivates her to do what she is working on nowadays, she talk about the need to travel she had since she was little, and the need also to know what was going on in the world; the curiosity she had about everything was what carry her to the point where she started to develop an idea of what she would like to study for her near future.

She began her studies in the Pais Vasco University in Lejon covering the summer courses that the university provides to the students, were she come across several people that know about different kinds of things; she found diversity between them and then she  went abroad making practices for the whole 3rd year of the degree in journalism and also taking part in a local journal of the Pais Vasco in Spain.

The way she and his group cover the news and also the distribution of the work, consist basically all the group paying attention to the news that can rise up and then try to divide the work by countries of the region. But its also true that the specialization by countries route itself to the news, in does not implies only in transcribing the new, but covering the whole new involves also be in touch with the country history and know more about it historically talking, culture, social live or more. They are covering now and also following a very important event of long duration, the problems and disputes between North and South Korea. They have conclude that it’s a cyclic crisis period, as she also said that ‘’its an environment of maxim belligerency by the side of the North Koreans´´.

What firstly motivates her to focus on that  region  is that it brings together a very considerable part of the world, with a very big amount of young population; is also an area of the world very little known because Spain in concrete and Europe in general has had a very far relation more with that area than with others. Economically speaking it’s a booming and thriving region. Summarizing, is a new field to discover.

She has also worked in the Middle East, another part of the world  she finds interesting.

We have to highlight also another main topic to talk about, the information in journalism has to be biased but not always the truth is being announced. Talking about censured information in that region, it depends from whom does that information comes, as Korea issue if you get the information from the government, from the official agency of news from North Korea, you must know that information provided has been modulate and told with several changes and filters, comparing them with other international agencies like AP( associated press) or Reuters, where the differences are quite clear.

In this topic, we have to take into account the relations between north Korea with China and South Korea with the U.S; all of them are allied in some way, but finally countries stop being friends or start to be friends not only because one cause. Each country has its different interests and they could find others that share the same ones, they create friendship in order to achieve their own interests, but everything can change radically; talking about alliances. Although China and the US are not in the same side they won’t stop being allied between each other, because in this case, for the US, China is a huge trade and from the side of it the US is important for them as it is the global power.

All the international relations among different countries are known as a wide fan of possible decisions and different opinions as well.

Talking finally about the criticism of information, about if there are some critic pressure groups, organizations or forums that criticize the government or the social system of China, we have to say that several think tanks or ONG’s that criticize some Chinese practices or systems . From the Human Rights Watch reports, or the ones from Amnesty International there are quite a lot differences, for example about the death penalty I both countries.

The existence of some kind of opening towards democratic systems of the west, from the Asia region, though all the region is such a huge continent we have to say that in this case, India is the democracy with more habitants with a big amount of serious problems and China is a only party system, but in the lasts months there had been little observations of a possible democracy in a small town in China, where it population rise up in protest and they maintain it several months, and after all the movement the important figures in Chine let them choose their own representatives; it was similar to a democratic process, which doesn’t mean for sure a solid democratic in a near future.

China’s one-child policy…35 long years later

Source: Agence France-Presse

Introduced in 1978 but applied in 1979 is China’s one child policy. The aim of this controversial policy is to control the population growth of China, which saw a doubling increase during Mao Zedong’s rule, when couples were encouraged to build up a large family, who would consequently join the armed forces or contribute to the increase of the workforce. This policy was meant to be a temporary way to control births, but 35 years later, it is still a present-day nightmare of many couples and ever since its application, the policy has been characterized by very strict punishments for those who don’t abide by the rules. Chinese couples are allowed to have only one child in urban areas and two in rural areas. Also, some exceptions are made when twins are born; ethnic minorities are also allowed to have more than one child. The decision to have more than one child will have a high price as couples will have to pay for the education, housing, health and many more perks that only children have for free.  This policy has brought about many controversial debates on whether is goes against human rights and the loss of sovereignty of their bodies by the women.

The one-child policy is reinforced by a “social compensation fee” which is ranging from 3-9 times a household’s annual income. That may devastate poor couples financially. If the pregnant women is unable to pay, she is forced to terminate. The statistics are drastic. According to International Business Times, within 42 years Chinese enacted more than a half-billion birth-control procedures, including 336 million abortions. It is hard to imagine such things in Europe or America. Most of us think that abortion is an immoral act and should not be allowed by governments. However, there are some opponents. “The state needs to stay out of social issues like abortion.”-said Kaye Kory, Fairfax Democrat. Is it really only a social issue? I think abortion is a murder. It is a deprivation of the highest value: a right to life.

The policy has many negatives characteristics to it. First and foremost it has caused a booming increasing in the number of abortion of female fetuses and serious human right violations.
The reason behind this is the traditional thinking that boys are better than girls. Baby girls are neglected, abandoned and many times even killed.
Sterilization and abortion are common birth control methods to avoid fines and so called “illegal births”. Even though, these methods can cause various health problems.
In some cases, women are forced to go through these operations and this is against basic human rights. Everyone should have the right to control their own bodies. Mandatory abortion is common because there are a lot of women, especially in the countryside who can’t afford the fines. No women should be forced to do it. Forced abortion is against the law in China but still happens.
Almost every one of the pregnant women I spoke to had suffered a mandatory abortion. One woman told me how, when she was eight months pregnant with an illegal second child and was unable to pay the 20,000 yuan fine (about $3,200), family planning officers dragged her to the local clinic, bound her to a surgical table and injected a lethal drug into her abdomen“. – said Chinese film director Zhang Yimou.

Discrimination against girls will cause a disproportionate number of men compared to women in the future: “As a result, approximately 30 million more men than women will reach adulthood and enter China’s mating market by 2020
The strict family planning has caused overall, sad results.
According to the Guardian
“Two generations of children have grown up without siblings, uncles, aunts or cousins. Women have lost sovereignty of their bodies. The state owns their ovaries, Fallopian tubes and wombs, and has become the silent, malevolent third participant in every act of love”.

However, the policy is also characterized by some advantages which cannot be denied.

We have to take into account also, a different and perhaps more radical point of view; a perspective which can only show the good things about child control in China. Like most policies, there are many advantages as there are disadvantages and it is necessary to also highlight the advantages in order to avoid getting depressed. Firstly, one child policy provides economic benefits. It enhance the possibilities of reaching objectives so called “Chinese Dream”, the family income will be spent on the only kid. Since 1978 when the law was implemented, it has achieved its primary goal, to control population growth. . The policy is helping the future of China economically because it helps to improve their living standards and save a lot of resources. Chinese couples who only have one child will receive free education and health for their child. Who knows what the population of China would be like without the one-child policy, probably the 1.3 billionth child would have been born decades ago…

In conclusion, we think that the policy is a very good and necessary way to control the population of a country. However, we must also ask ourselves this  question: who are we to put a limit to the amount of children that we must have? And especially, who are we to decide whether a baby girl or a baby boy must live or die?

There is no doubt that China’s one child policy violates human rights in many aspects, but unfortunately the Chinese government still has not found a better way to deal with its fast population growth that causes many issues related with food, space, energy and jobs. These four things are very difficult to provided to such a big population. So far this harsh policy has somehow managed manages to deal with these problems but for the best of its population the government should find a better alternative as soon as possible.

Can you imagine such a policy in The United States or Europe?

Here is a short documentary on China’s one-child policy:

and here is a report by AlJazeera:

Written by Emanuele del Tufo, Izabela Lowjeska, Heli Haapanen, Maria Torres and Dimitar Shadoura.

Terror strikes again, Maoist guerrilla ambush kills 27

A tribal woman (left) picks tomatoes lying scattered on a road as a security person looks on after suspected Maoists set on fire four trucks from Andhra Pradesh at Bundu, Jharkhand, on August 25, 2009.

Source: AP

On Saturday 25th of May a group of Naxalite Maoist guerrillas attacked a motorcade of important political leaders in the state of Chhattisgarh, India. Sources report that ambush has left at least 27 people dead and 32 injured.  No arrests have been made yet, however the government is conducting a thorough investigation to bring those responsible to justice. Included in the casualties were 3 members of the Indian National Congress Party, police officers and some villagers.

The conflict between the Maoists and Indian government, known as Naxalite-Maoist insurgency, takes over 40 years. “The Maoists frequently accuse activists of being informers and warn them against implementing government programs. The police demand that they serve as informers, and those that refuse risk being accused of being Maoists supporters and subject to arbitrary arrest and torture.”- released Human Rights Watch in their report. Naxalities want to make India a communist country. According to The economist, the main target of latest attack was Mahendra Karma, Congress parliamentarian, who was responsible for plundering the state’s tribal areas for their natural and mineral wealth. Moreover, he started vigilante force in 2005 and founded Salwa Judum militaria to combat the rabels. „We are devastated” – said Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who claims assault of Maoists to be an attack on democracy. According to the Guardian, the attackers barred the road by using felled trees across the road. After that, the guerrillas launched a landmine and that blew up one of the stopped cars and opened the fire at Congress leaders and their supporters and ran into a forest. According to New York Times “Officials estimated that 200 to 300 guerrillas were involved

According to the BBC news the suspects are yet to be found, but investigations and lots of efforts are being organized by the government who have made a commitment to find the suspects; but what is clear is that the attack was perpetrated by the far-left wing lobby, the rebels. From the decade of 60s, the militants have said that they are fighting for the underdogs. The authorities suspect that the Maoists possess the support not only in the poorest areas and in the indigenous communities, but also among the young and the intellectuals.

A questioned to be posed now concerning the attacks regards the consequences on the upcoming elections, which will take place in November 2013. . According to The Economist the ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP was expected to keep its power. However now there is more sympathy for Congress, “which may field relatives of the slain as candidates, is quite possible”. Along with that there many doubts have raised about the effectiveness of the long-ruling government of the BJP. We will see the outcome of this event in the months to come.

For a visual report on this story by Al Jazeera click the play button:

Written by Emanuele del Tufo, Heli Haapanen, Maria Torres, Izabela Lowjeska and Dimitar Shadoura

Espionage episode brings memories of Cold War

Source: Associated Press

On the night of the 13th of May, Ryan Christopher Fogle, was arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). The diplomat turned out to be a CIA agent, who was trying to buy confidential information from important personalities, specifically to a Russian official specialized in the fight against terrorism and security issues. Fogle was declared a “persona non grata” by the Russian government and was handed over to the American authorities after being ordered to leave Russia.

The American diplomat, who works for the US intelligence agency, found accused by the Russian government of espionage. His name is Ryan Christopher Fogle, he is a CIA agent and third Secretary of the US Embassy in Moscow. He was given the task to inform Washington about the foreign policy and defense of Russia.  Fogle’s department was dedicated to the analysis of the Russian policies, elections, freedom of speech  and issues related with human rights. Ryan Fogle  was stopped in Moscow, when according to the Russian authorities he was trying to recruit an agent of the secret Russian services. Fogle was arrested and interrogated, he was carrying special tools and written instructions for the Russian agent who was trying to recruit.

Fogle was caught red-handed with “the special equipment, written instructions for a recruited Russian citizen, a big sum of money and masking devices”- says the FSB Public Relations Center  Moreover, photos published by Russian authorities revealed the spy’s possessions: an RFID shield, a knife, a compass, a canister of mace, two wigs, a cell phone and huge amount of cash estimated to be close to $100,000. Among his belonging was a recruitment letter by the CIA offering the recruit around $1.000.000 a year for long term cooperation.

After the announcement of the capture of the American diplomat Ryan Fogle, several versions about the purpose of his task in Russia generated attention. Reuters reports that Russian officials state that Fogle was trying to recruit a Russian counter-terrorist agent in the Caucasus. It is well known that during the Cold War both sides used spies to gather information about the situation in the other side. Fogle hardly looked like a Cold War secret agent, in fact his disguise as cheap as it may have seemed was not the reason for arrest. This event raised doubts and questions about the relations that the United States and Russia nowadays share.

You may think that everything is going nice and smoothly between the US and Russia, but their relationship has in fact been tense, cold and rocky since the Cold War ended. The Cold War was the conflict between United States and USSR after the Second World War, the two superpowers competed to be the sole superpower and threatened each other to use their nuclear missiles, there was high tension but it didn’t end up in an actual war. According to U.S. State Department, despite recent cooperation some issues between the two still remains unsolved.

There have been complications with the cooperation of both countries  Latest events about tension between the US and Russia include the dispute about the CIA spy and issues related to the Syrian uprising, where the United States wants to Russia to stop selling weapons to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which Russia refused to do so. In December 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new controversial law that banned United States citizen from adopting Russian children, sending a clear message about the mistrust that exists among them.

Something that people think that has ceased to happen with the end of the Cold War is the espionage missions that the countries carry out, but in fact this mentality appears to continue as part of their foreign policies, and as Peter Earnest said, “The Cold War ended, the spying goes on.” Also, an FSB operative said that “the CIA has crossed a certain ‘red line’ in professional ethics of intelligence“.

Press the play button for a visual report on the case.

Written by Emanuele del Tufo, Heli Haapanen, Maria Torres, Izabela Łojewska and Dimitar Shadoura