Archives For Politics

taxi driver looks at camera through rear view mirror

I had a remarkable and revealing exchange with a Cuban taxi driver when I was in Santiago, Chile last September. With today’s news about the re-establishing of relations between the United States and Cuba, I thought it a good time to post this.

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young man stands in front of historial Berlin Wall photo outdoors

Franz Hildebrandt-Harangozo at the Berlin Wall memorial trail on Bernauer Strasse, September 2014.

It signalled the end of the Cold War and cleared the way for German reunification, but for a generation of young people born after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, its impact is first and foremost a family affair.

Read the full article on The Local Germany, here.

Germany’s military said on Thursday it was ready to send its first shipment of arms to Kurds fighting Islamic extremists Isis in northern Iraq.

I went out to Berlin’s Alexanderplatz to ask people what they thought of the move.

We embedded the mix of opinions in an article on The Local Germany, which you can find here.

Kurdish Army forces

Kursidh Army, Peshmerga, July 2014. Source: Flickr user bijikurdistan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/112043717@N08/14689372605/)

Germany’s new-found determination under the third Merkel government to take its place on the world stage may be standing on shaky foundations.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier reaffirmed his commitment to increasing Germany’s role in the world’s conflict zones at the annual conference of German ambassadors in Berlin on Monday.

“We need the courage and willingness to intervene,” said Steinmeier amid national debate on whether Germany should send weapons to Kurdish forces resisting the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in northern Iraq.

Read the full article on The Local Germany, here.

Franco Urbina standing in a dimly lit corridor
Photo: My father, Francisco Urbina, in the corridors under the seats of 
Santiago's National Stadium, where thousands of political prisoners were held.

Radio: Black Box – breaking the silence of my father’s past

Last September, Chile marked the 40th anniversary of the military coup that toppled elected Marxist President Salvador Allende, on September 11, 1973. The coup led to 17 years of brutal dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet that deeply affected so many families, like my own.

The anniversary gave me chance to talk to my father about what had happened to him during that dark time, something he’d never talked about before with anyone.

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Juan Guzman stands on a street corner wearing sunglasses

My afternoon with the judge who put Pinochet on trial

The morning had been eventful enough. I’d just finished double-ending an interview for CBC radio’s The Sunday Edition and then conducted my own with former judge Juan Guzmán, the Chilean judge who prosecuted Pinochet for crimes against humanity in Chile. As our interview wrapped up, I made an off-hand comment that set me up for an amazing afternoon.

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a screen grab of an article from cbc.ca

Behind the article: Chile on the 40th anniversary of the coup

The image above is of an article I wrote for the CBC News website while in Santiago, Chile for the 40th anniversary of the country’s military coup, on September 11.

What struck me while I was there was the feeling of being in the midst of a month-long period of national catharsis, both of the people and of the country’s media outlets, an opening of wounds that were never given a chance to heal and a telling of stories that had never before been heard. And they poured out.

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man sits on window sill

Franco Urbina sits at the window in the house in Santiago, Chile that soldiers raided on September 11, 1973.

The morning of September 11, 1973, my father Franco Urbina — 16 years old at the time — went to school like any other day. Unlike other schools, however, the iconic National Institute was only a block from La Moneda, the presidential palace in the heart of downtown Santiago.

At 9:30 the headmaster informed the students that it was best if they all went home because something was going to happen. Young Franco didn’t know quite what to make of it and as other older students gathered to figure out what to do, he and a small group of classmates left the school.

Only steps away from the Alameda, downtown Santiago’s main avenue, the teenagers soon realized the gravity of the situation. Bullets had begun to whiz through the air and they quickly decided to go their separate ways and try to get home.

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PEARL Arctic Research Station

The federal government has renewed funding for the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) in Canada’s high Arctic, one year after the research station in Eureka, Nunavut was shut down.

The government awarded $5-million to PEARL over five years through its granting agency, the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

“It was a big sigh of relief because if we didn’t get the money, my next job would have been dismantling the lab and that would not be a happy job,” said lead PEARL researcher James Drummond in a telephone interview from Germany.

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You heard it on CBC radio’s As It Happens

The federal government has renewed funding for the PEARL Arctic research station, one year after it shut down. I broke this story today with CBC radio’s As It Happens.

Here’s the story based on the As It Happens interview (the audio is at the top left):

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2013/05/17/technology-pearl-high-arctic-research-station-funding.html

Photo: CANDAC