The United States, the country that stumbles over the same stone every day

The shootings in the United States are hardly news anymore. They are such a common occurrence that they do not attract attention. In fact, light weapons leave 4 dead per 100,000 inhabitants there. It is a rate that multiplies the average of developed countries by 18 and that of Spain by 40. In the last five years, almost 110,000 people have been shot dead in the American superpower, where there have already been almost two events a day with multiple victims so far this year. The last one, at least as I write these lines, was Lewinston: 18 dead at the hands of a former military man.

As if that were not enough, the country accounts for 44% of all suicides that occur with firearms in the world, more than 23,000 in 2019. They are 50 times more than in China, a giant that multiplies its population by four. Despite this, the debate on whether the regulations on gun ownership should be modified cannot begin. And what is even worse, the leading economic power serves as an inspiration for populist leaders such as the Argentine Javier Milei, who wants to legalize weapons, or the Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro, whose relaxation of restrictions has already been reversed by Lula da Silva.

For this reason, today we come a little closer to the problem of light weapons – those that really produce massive destruction – in the United States.

These are the three topics we will address today:

  • More than 35,000 shot dead in one year

  • China bids farewell to former premier Li Keqiang with fear

  • Germany will speed up immigrant deportations

  1. Shot in the United States

    More than 35,000 deaths in one year

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to own arms. This is what many there use to avoid the tricky debate about whether that should change. “We have the right to defend ourselves, because this is a dangerous country,” the owner of a gun store whose walls were lined with semi-automatic rifles told me in Texas. «In addition, we do not sell weapons to just anyone. They have to pass some controls,” he added. However, the Lewinston shooter, Robert Card, had a different background and had even been confined to a psychiatric hospital because he heard voices. And no one took away the weapons with which he shot himself before blowing his head off.

Robert Card, during his deadly hunt.

Robert Card, during his deadly hunt.


The second amendment to the American Constitution was ratified in 1791. The federal government itself explains on its website that that was another world. That of the duels at dawn in the Wild West. “A civil militia was necessary to protect the security of the State,” he emphasizes. But it is no longer, “because a huge security apparatus has assumed that role.” But conservatives and many Democratic Party voters continue to defend tooth and nail that the rule should not be touched, despite the enormous cost in human lives. More than 35,000 people have died in the last twelve months in shootings, according to Gun Violence Archive. 15,700 so far in 2023, to which we must add 31,000 injured. It is not surprising considering that in the United States there are more light weapons than people. Specifically, 120 per hundred inhabitants. In Spain, 7.5. Serbia is the European country with the highest rate, and remains at 39.1.

Vigil for the Lewinston victims,

Vigil for the Lewinston victims,

Reuters


44% of Americans live in a home where there is a gun, and the rate at which they are sold is not slowing. In March 2021, the FBI processed the largest number of checks to grant permission to possess weapons: no less than 4.7 million. For one to get lost or end up in the hands of someone who should not have it is extremely simple. And the consequences are clear: as many people are shot dead in Washington as in Brazil, which appears in sixth place in the number of homicides with light weapons. Statistics make it clear what the problem is and how to fix it, but the Wild West mentality is impervious to reason.

  1. The shadow of Tiananmen

    China bids farewell to former premier Li Keqiang with fear

In China, the president and prime minister usually belong to different factions of the Communist Party. Because, in the absence of parliamentary plurality, a balanced leadership in which the different sensitivities of the political formation are represented is good: one tends to be more progressive and liberal, and the other more conservative. This is how President Xi Jinping even worked during his first two terms, between 2013 and this year. Next to him was Prime Minister Li Keqiang, a man who gradually lost prominence until disappearing into the shadow of Xi, who removed the restriction on governing more than two terms and is already in his third.

Li, who was the most liberal and open-minded, left office in March and died last Friday of a heart attack that has aroused suspicion and sparked some conspiracy theories. He was 68 years old and his death can become a headache. Not in vain, the Government has asked that spontaneous tributes be avoided while waiting for him to be cremated tomorrow. There is a danger in the air: that what happened in 1989 will be repeated.

Li Keqiang greets a Maori leader.

Li Keqiang greets a Maori leader.

AFP


Then, the death of another reformist politician, Hu Yaobang, sparked student protests that led to what is known as the Tiananmen massacre. However, although some alarmists have been quick to draw similarities, it is impossible for Li to cause a similar situation. Firstly, because he was a gray man, without charisma, who did not appear as a person close to the people, as his predecessor in office, Wen Jiabao, was.

Moment of tension when former president Hu Jintao was evicted in front of Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang.

Moment of tension when former president Hu Jintao was evicted in front of Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang.

AFP


Secondly, because the China of 2023 is not the one of 1989. The second world power has managed to create a welfare state hitherto unknown in the country. And, although it is going through an economic downturn, the seeds of political discontent that always sprout in more democratic countries do not take root in its population. The closest thing to a revolt that is known this century are the demonstrations that managed to end the zero covid policy last year. And there it was shown that the Government is smart: it knew how to reverse a nonsense that was causing immeasurable pain. So unlike Xi, a political monster, Li will go down in history without leaving a mark.

  1. Asylum and migration

    Germany will speed up immigrant deportations

Immigration climbs positions on the list of the issues that most concern Europe. The avalanche of arrivals across the Mediterranean, and also through the Canary Islands, is putting stress on the European Union and threatening to widen the fissures that separate its members. Not in vain, the figures are surprising: according to the International Organization for Migration, as of October 30, 243,029 migrants have arrived in Europe, the highest number since 2016. Some 220,500 arrived by sea, and it is estimated that almost 3,000 have perished. in the water, the vast majority in the Mediterranean, trying to reach Italy.

Data from the International Organization for Migration.

Data from the International Organization for Migration.


The thing is that many do not seek to stay in the first country they set foot in the EU. Their path will take them to more prosperous ones, such as France or Germany. And both are increasing their restrictions to prevent them from achieving that goal. The German country has been the one that has toughened its policy the most with the aim of making deporting irregular immigrants faster and easier. What’s more, Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated in an interview with Der Spiegel that “too many are arriving” and that Germany “must launch mass deportations.”

There is concern that the reception facilities will be overflowing and that the extreme right will gain votes with the situation. In any case, it seems logical that the law should be enforced and that those who do not meet the requirements to remain in the country – in any country – are returned to their places of origin. But it is also true that legal immigration must be facilitated, so as to make up for existing labor shortages and compensate for the aging of the population. Opening channels for regulated migration will make it possible to filter out criminals who can sneak in another way.

Is all for today. I hope I have explained well some of what is happening out there. If you are signed up, you will receive this newsletter every Wednesday in your email. And, if you like it, it will be very helpful if you share it and recommend it to your friends.

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