An Interview with Irina Feldman

My name is Pablo Llamas Aparicio and I am a first-year student of Translation at the UEM. On June 9, 2016, I had the privilege of interviewing Professor Irina Feldman, who teaches Spanish language and Latin American literature at Middlebury College, in Vermont, United States. I thought it could be interesting to know the opinion of someone who lives in a state that usually remains unnoticed for Europeans in comparison to some of the states where we get the idea that everything seems to happen. On top of that, being born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ms. Feldman’s own intercultural experience only added spice to this amazing interview.

First, it seemed a good idea to me that Ms. Feldman introduced herself to my readers. She told me that she had moved to the U.S. when she was fifteen years old, short after the U.S.S.R. had dissolved, because her mother –a single mother- was not sure of whether it would be possible for them to live safely in Russia during the transition. After a period of time during which she was not precisely infatuated with the States, Ms. Feldman took her high education in Georgetown, Washington D.C. and graduated in Hispanic literature. After living a couple of years in South America, she got a job in Middlebury College. She explained me that her research focuses on left-winged movements in South America, as well as the authors of those movements, especially in the Andean area (Bolivia, Peru…).

My next question to her was about the origin of her interest on Hispanic literature, given that she was born in Russia and works in the United States. She confessed me that one major factor was the fact that she did not really like the English language when she moved to the U.S. or the country itself, for that matter. She also told me that she had had wonderful Spanish teachers when she was in high school and later at college. She had had really positive experiences with teachers and professors from Spain, so she started studying Peninsularists, that is studies on the Iberian Peninsula, and she was highly interested on Medieval Spain. However, once she got in contact with studies on Latin America, she finally made up her mind and started focusing her studies on Latin America.

Wanting to know more details about what made her like the Hispanic literature so much, I asked her whether Hispanic literature had traditionally had a big impact on the Russian culture, as well as the American. To that question, she answered that actually, it had a great impact on the Soviet culture, when she was young. In that time, the classics from the Golden Age of the Spanish literature, like Cervantes or Lope de Vega, were indeed very famous in Russia. She told me that her first contact with the Spanish literature came when she was young and lived in Russia. She would read all these classics that are so important for the history of Spanish culture and literature. She also told me about a Russian-made movie of El Quijote, saying that it was “a very impressive movie.” As for Latin American literature, she answered that both in Russia and the U.S. it was famous for “the Boom” of authors like Gabriel García Márquez or Mario Vargas Llosa. However, she expressed her disappointment on the newer generations of students in the U.S. due to their little knowledge on Hispanic literature, even in the case of her own students at the very beginning of their degrees.

Next, I thought it was time we spoke about current affairs. Laughing, Ms. Feldman said that she could already guess what I was going to ask her (and she happened to be right). First, given that only two days before, Hillary Clinton had become the first woman to be an official candidate to the U.S. presidential elections, I asked Ms. Feldman why she thought Clinton received so much supporting from the U.S. citizens. She explained that Vermont is a state that traditionally votes as much to the left as it can. So then, she asks, why does Hillary Clinton receive so much supporting? In her opinion, Hillary’s popularity has been supported by her relation with former president Bill Clinton. She thinks that Hillary’s stand on immigration is not progressive, but she receives so much supporting because people think of Hillary as a professional who knows what she is doing. However, according to Ms. Feldman, Hillary’s presidency would not mean the revolutionary change that a lot of people seem to ask for.

When asked about Donald Trump, she answered that it was completely the other way round: people think of Trump as an anti-establishment candidate. From what she told me, a lot of people seem to believe that because Trump is so rich, he will not accept bribes. People, Ms. Feldman says, are sick of the system, they think that the government does not represent the people, they think that the state is corrupted by the big money, and want someone who can change the game. She, however, thinks that these people are wrong. She can’t see the logic behind the bribes argument, and sees Trump as the main example of the decay of the political system in the U.S.

Anti-Trump speech, the lethal weapons of Elizabeth Warren.

By: Delia Porta, Sofía Pachón, Maribel Zapatero and Jessica Navarra.

The accusations’ war has been started between the progressive senator Elizabeth Warren and the republican candidate Donald Trump.

Elizabeth Warren on the left. Donald Trump on the righ. By Sophia Tesfaye for Salon.

Recently, the Anti-Trump critics have been more accentuated. The arguments against the republican candidate, expanded by Elizabeth Warren, at the annual gala for the liberal non-profit Centre for Popular Democracy are an example of that. In the speech the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts remarked the need of the democrats to show the true identity of Donald Trump and why he can’t be a good president for USA.

Responses about the speech has been very variated and contrary. Twitter is having an intense action on this debate. On the republican side it has been interpreted as a poke, and even Donald Trump himself has publish some tweets against Warren, accusing her to be a liar and not native American. He also referred to her as the senator with less action ever in United Stated, “Only talk!” he said.

The accusations made by Donald Trump are only criticizing Elizabeth Warren for superficial irrelevant reasons as if she is native or not, but he can’t say anything about what she says against him, because what Trump does is always criticize the others with no-sense accusations. We needed someone to stop him.

The less sensibility of Trump is unacceptable and it means he won’t do any effort for the weaker people. He wants to get America great again with the only power of the high class, as the senator’s affirmation remarks, “Donald Trump cares about exactly one thing—Donald Trump”.

US is a big power on a global level, and it is supposed to be an example for the other countries in the international scene. Trump is now concentrated on the total elimination of problems with brutal manners, he is not thinking about the humans beside the problem, that situation should never become an example to follow for the rest of countries all over the world.

From our point of view, it was completely necessary to expose the real situation with Trump in order to aware the American people in favour of him about who they are voting and which would be the consequences if he became president. A selfish unconscious person can never be the president of a country. And Elizabeth Warren was the ideal person to show it.

First of all, Donald Trump has been strongly rude against women with hard comments and attacks to the feminine gender. A strong representative woman as the progressive senator of Massachusetts, who is a respected figure in both sides of the democracy in United States, is the perfect person to make him know that women have a strong action in the American society and shatter all his racist, sexist, and homophobic ideas. As Bernie Sanders said, ‘Elizabeth Warren, I think, has been a real champion in standing up for working families, taking on Wall Street’ on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

 

Moreover, she is incredibly good at making herself be understood by the others. As the Bloomberg page says, it is accepted by many analysts that she has an important talent for distilling political messages. She is very clear and coherent, and make things easy to understand for everybody. And in addition, she says what she thinks, but her thoughts are focus on making her country a better place for everyone, not just for herself.

She is popular because of her good deeds and her fight against social injustice and inequality, and not for rude comments on television. BBC exposed as proof of her popularity, the 40 million dollars she collected from the small donations of the people who heard one of her public messages in favour of the equitable distribution of money in United States.

Elizabeth Warren is a representative figure of social justice and human rights. Those are the values we want for the American society. And exactly the values that Donald Trump tears apart every time he talks about immigrants, women, homosexuals or anyone different than him.

It is strongly possible that the newly elected Democratic party will change the lives of Myanmar people?

It is doubtful whether the newly elected NLD party is as democratic as it claims.

The Myanmar’s national elections for almost two decades have been internationally criticized for being fraudulent and the lack of transparency. For example, in 2010 The National League for Democracy (NLD), Myanmar’s main opposition party, boycotted the elections. This allowed the regime-backed up party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to win almost 80% of the contested seats.

However, the election held in 2012 met a higher standard of credibility. The NLD participated that year and won 43 out of the 44 seats it contested. And among the victors was Aung San Suu Kyi, founder of the NLD and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

9320

Source: Gokunming

In the most recent election thought, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in Myanmar after the general elections on 8 November. This year’s election has been referred to as ‘’the first truly free general election” in 25 years. Meaning that this was the first time the votes were conducted without “manipulating” the votes. Nonetheless, such statement is controversial as no one has the actual information about how many votes exactly the NLD party received.

Observers said that the election was reasonably fair but when the voter lists started to be published there seemed to have some inadequacies. That is, names of already deceased people appeared in the list. Furthermore, and in some violent areas voting was not taken place at all. Meanwhile, people in some rural areas were not allowed to vote and also Muslim Rohingyas in a largely Buddhist country have been considered stateless, non-persons ineligible to vote.

_84315243_hi028073978.jpg

Source: BBC

Furthermore, not all the seats of the parliament of Myanmar are up for grabs. The military-drafted constitution guarantees that 25% of the seats will be taken up by unelected military representatives and will be given the veto power if any changes will be presented in the constitution.  This draft has been named as the “disciplined democracy” by the Senior General, Min Aung Hlaing.

The first immediate question that comes into mind: How much power do Myanmar’s armed forces yield?

Let’s not forget though that the military force has been in charge since the 1962 and makes it doubtful whether they are willing to cede. If this turns out to be the case, then the NLD seems to be holding much less power than it may look from the distance. The fact that the Government does not have a complete power over the selected ministers in the Defense and the Home Affairs and Boarder Affairs cabinets is a huge flaw.

And while the NLD has such objectives in mind as to create more equal financial distributions between citizens, to end the war the wars that sapped Myanmar since the independence with the United Kingdom and to improve the infrastructure within the country. It is still questionable whether all these goals will be met.

Such conclusion comes to mind for two apparent reasons that have been mentioned above; either because of the military-drafted constitution, or because the Democratic Party is not all they seem to be. Nonetheless, the judgement of the possible outcomes should be withheld for now. But one thing is for sure, the Myanmar citizen lives are about to change id the NLD is successful and turns out to be as democratic as they declare.

Hillary Clinton – The next US President?

With the upcoming election campaigns in the US taking shape, we argue that Hillary Clinton will make headlines and break boundaries become the first female president of the USA after she announced she will be running for office on April 12th.

Hillary Clinton is a globally dominating figure who actively is promoting gender equality (if not inadvertently) in the USA. Potentially as the first female president Mrs Clinton has the opportunity to bridge the gaps in wage equality and supports that we are all human, therefore Human Rights are for all, we are people as equals.

Clinton represents a strong figure that is defying a patriarchal society and demonstrating that it is possible for females to enter politics and take charge. “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights” – Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s willingness to participate in social media was demonstrated on April 12th. Mrs Clinton used twitter as a platform to announce her running for the US presidency, showing commitment to modern changes and appealing to a wide range of audiences, including connecting with the youth population. Clinton had reached over 95,000 re-tweets by 7am and stated “I’m running for president, everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion”

Clinton has had global support in response to her tweet including the ex President of France Nicolas Sarkozy who tweeted “…I know how strong your passion is for the United States”. Further support came from Madeline Albright the first female secretary of state who tweeted “@hillaryclinton is smart, caring and determined…”

graph2

There are many individuals who believe that Mrs Clinton is in fact not a suitable role model; as she has been criticised for her previous support of President Bush during the Iraq war but nowadays she has made a positive change of mind about this; showing that she accepts her mistakes and listens to the public opinion that was against this idea.

Hillary Clinton also changed her point of view regarding the international environment when referring to the embargo of Cuba. She refused to accept a trade between Cuba and the USA but she recently supported President Obama in his relations with Cuba; Demonstrating that she is an open-minded woman.

Who knows if Hilary Clinton is the right candidate to lead the Democrats in the 2016 Presidential Elections, but what it is clear is that has enough credentials to say that she is fully prepared to occupy such an influential position, much more than Obama was in 2008. Hillary stood by her husband’s side during his time in office and as 2008 was Obama’s first campaign he was not accustomed to it, Hillary is already more aware of the procedures of campaigning and successful campaigning at that. The United States experienced a huge change when Obama became the first black president, and in our opinion, it is the right moment to take another step in the history of United States and embrace the first female in the White House.

A New Treaty of Versailles?

A week after the election of Alexis Tsipras, Germany and Greece are arm wrestling over the debt situation and some politicians do not hesitate to assimilate the policy of Angela Merkel with the third Reich.

La Grèce peut-elle changer l'Europe ?

Picture taken from the website “Latribune”

Hopes are high among the Greek population, after the victory of a radical left leader. The inhabitants expect the situation is going to evolve in a country with a 175% of GDP debt and a 26 % rate of unemployment. These last years, Greece has been negotiating with the European Union, and especially Germany, so as to reduce the debt. The negotiations are increasingly strained.

As the “Washington Post” reported, Tsipras traveled on the memorial site at the range Kaisariani, where in 1944 Nazi soldiers executed some 200 Greek militants in retaliation for the death of a German officer killed in a Greek ambush. It was his first act as Prime minister. Syriza has been outspoken about the need for Germany to atone for his past in Greece, or at least show a little more leniency now as compensation. “We will ask for debt reduction, and the money in Germany we must start from the Second World War, including repairs,” he said earlier this month. It was total war global dimensions, a war of extreme violence in which entire populations were destroyed through the establishment of a systematic extermination policy.

One of the main factors of WW2 was the Treaty of Versailles. In “The Economic Consequences of the Peace”, John Maynard Keynes demonstrated that the problem was that the reparations Germany had to pay were so big that the country would not be able to pay for it. He said that the treaty of Versailles would feed the German nationalism and would be dangerous. Finally, Germany did not pay for WW1. Today, we also know that the peace of 1919 was a time bomb and yesterday’s Germany is the Greece of today.

It is evident that today the roles have changed. Germany became the most powerful country in the European Union and defeated Nazism. The recent event makes us take conscience that history repeats itself. The situation Greece is facing today is very similar to Germany’s situation during the 20’s. The population suffers from rules established by other countries and this idea led Germany to a totalitarian government. The “German bashing” in Greece is really threatening and Germany knows better than others that it is dangerous to impose rules to a population. It is evident that the European Crisis will be solved by encouraging dialog between Germany and Greece because both ways of behaving are risky, but also with the rest of the European Union, so as to avoid the dangerous lack of communication like during the 20’s.

Spain’s King to abdicate due economic and political reasons

The 2nd of June of 2014 the President of the government Mariano Rajoy announced at a press conference that King Don Juan Carlos was decided to abdicate to the throne. Several Members, including Cayo Lara the representative of the Plural Left, were reclaming that a referendum was necessary to decide whether the Spanish society wants a system of monarchical or republican state.

Retrieved From: http://goo.gl/DwZWs5

Retrieved From: http://goo.gl/DwZWs5

The constitutional monarchy is a softened form of monarchy as it assumes that the supreme law or constitution of the region that governs basically controls the king’s power. The constitutional monarchy is much more modern than the absolute monarchy since the former is a response to the abuse of power that the second represented in many parts of the world, especially in some European countries. This power comes from that is granted by the people and not po Divine, as was the case of absolute monarchy. This is because it is considered that the monarchy is part of the tradition of the country, such as in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth component regions in Spain, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and in some regions of Southeast Asia.

Spain has been characterized throughout its history by having a monarchy whose trajectory goes from the dynastic union of the peninsular kingdoms in the descendants of the Catholic Monarchs, reforming for the new regime to the present in Spain, interrupted only in the periods of the first republic from 1873 to 1874, the Second republic from 1931 to 1939 and the Franco regime from 1939 to 1975. since the union of the Kingdom of Castile, the Kingdom of Aragon and the rest of the peninsulare territories have been many changes in monariquia as the arrival of the Habsburg dynasty, with the most important period of the Catholic Monarchs and the arrival of the Bourbons. As the end of absolutism that led to parliamentary or constitutional monarchy.

 

The King abdication occur in a particular economic situation. In fact since last quarter of 2008 and the starting of 2009 Spain has entered in recession for the first time since 1993. GDP in 2009 contracted by 3.7% ending a 15-year growth trend and in march 2009 soared to 17.4% with 4 million of employed people.

The Government tried to boost the economy with a series of economic measures like: spending, extended unemployment benefits, and loan guarantees and at the same time it attempted to cut spending, privatized industries, and boost competitiveness through labor market reforms. But despite the Government’s efforts the unemployment rate raised from 8% in 2007 (pre-crisis level) to 20% in 2010.

To face the problematic situation in 2010 the Spanish Parliament approved 15bn-euro austerity package and in response to thesemeasures thousands of workers demonstrated against government spending cuts and plans to raise the retirement age by two years to 67.

The decline of the construction sector, the oversupply of housing, the falling consumer spending, and the exports collapse perfectly reflected the plight of Spain’s recession. Especially the collapse of construction sector and real estate market has highly exposed the Spanish banks to failure.As requested from Eurozone countries in 2012 the Spanish Government created “bad bank” to offload toxic property assets of indebted banking sector in order to obtain an bailout loan for Spain.

And finally in November 2012 the European Commission approves the government’s plans to nationalize and restructure the troubled banks like Bankia, Banco de Valencia, NCG and Catalunya Caixa, which thanks to loans to home buyers and constructors have obtained great losses.

In Spain and in Europe, the European elections were considered and discussed traditionally as minor elections, but this time, that perception was not true and the results changed the entire political map in Spain. The traditional bi-partisanship now is over with the results of the 2014 elections, the two dominant political parties of Spain, PP and PSOE obtained just the 49% of the total votes, to put it in perspective we need to saw what was the result of the 2009 European elections were both combined obtained the 80% of total votes.

 

The new political sphere in Spain is quite different, divided in three main problems, first of all the end of the traditional bi-partisanship, secondly the ascent of the extreme left-wing party Podemos and at the end the ascent of the traditional secessionist movements in Catalonia and the Basque country.

This huge change in the political map in Spain is causing a lot of changes, first of all the secretary of the Socialist Party (PSOE) Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba presented his resignation due the bad results of his party in the elections.

The king of Spain Juan Carlos I has also been affected by the results of this elections, we need to remind that the principal political parties that support the monarchy are PP and PSOE and now with the new political map in Spain and the end of bi-partisanship it’s not clear if the king will have enough support in the next national elections. Regarding this the King decided to abdicate and with the support of PP and PSOE draw the necessary law that allow his son Felipe to become the new king without wait for the next elections.

 

Retrieved from:http://goo.gl/Gk5qxL

Retrieved from:http://goo.gl/Gk5qxL

There has never been a succession since the re-introduction of the monarchy after Franco’s dictatorship was over. With the Salic Law, the first descendants of King Juan Carlos the Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina can’t accede to the throne, and that is why The Prince of Asturias Felipe VI will be the one who would occupy the throne.

The Senate this afternoon approved the Organic Law to regulate the abdication of His Majesty the King with the support of 90% of the Senators present (233 votes of the 258 cast), 5 votes against and 20 abstentions. Act of abdication in which reading will consist of the Organic Law of Abdication and who will attend the Prime Minister, ministers, presidents of the autonomous communities, the President of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the General Council of Judicial Power . Among others also will be invited Iberoamerican Secretary General and several former government as Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Jose Maria Aznar and Felipe González. So tomorrow, 19th of June, Philip VI will be crowned King of Spain.

 

Javier Cava

Carlos Farré

Simone Pianeselli

Does Croatia really want to enter European Union?

Written By Sean Farrell, Joe Wood, Saskia Schink, Sergio Serrano Perez and Roman Koshivka.

Only one fifth of the citizens able to vote on the election of twelve representatives to European Parliament actually did so. According to the latest results the opposition party has got most of votes. That leads to the question, what is the nation’s real attitude towards European Union Membership?

The population of Croatia stands at around 4.4 million, which means fewer than one million, gave their votes during this election. The topic of joining EU is considered as very important by both European Parliament and by the government of Croatia. Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic stated that the election has a historical significance and that joining the European Community will serve as the base for making big social and economic reforms.  However, the citizens are not as convinced about membership as could be expected as shown by the fact that only 20.8% of voters cast their vote.

One of the possible factors of such a low turnout at the voting stations is that the election campaign only lasted for three weeks and was very soft, most of the citizens were not exposed enough to it to be influenced by it (EU Observer). Another possible reason is that that the selected representatives are only going to be working at the European Parliament for one year, as the reelection is set to be held in each of the EU member states in 2014. “I hope that the impending accession of Croatia to the EU and the work of the country’s newly elected representatives will increase voters’ participation in next years’ elections” said Hannes Swoboda, Chairman of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. Additionally, he congratulated the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which has the largest number of voters and is now considered as the opposition party in Croatia.

The most important factor is that people do not see joining the European Union as a significant and necessary step for improving the situation in the country.  The BBC’s journalist Guy De Lancey said that “the topic of EU entry was a matter of national pride to Croatians in previous years, but now they start understand that it does not automatically mean that the situation in the state will rapidly change”.  As an example he refers to Slovenia which joined the European Union nine years ago. The unemployment rate is continuing to grow and Croatia is still facing economic problems that arose during the crisis in 2009. Such matters take primary importance for the citizens as opposed to more and more election, from which they are tired in general, after holding a referendum about joining the European Union only one year ago. Talking about the low numbers, the SDP’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said in the local Jutarnji List daily that “We will have to reflect why people are deaf to these choices.” One local citizen Dubravka Simac told AFP news “I back EU entry … but our incapable politicians are not worth my effort of going to a polling station,”

In 2012, 66% of citizens voted in favour of joining the EU. Croatia is going to enter the EU and become the 28th member state on 1st July 2013 and the second country from the former Yugoslavia after Slovenia in 2004.

Despite Croatia’s imminent admission to the EU, it seems certain, that the people are uncertain, as to whether this is the road to stability.