Hong Kong facing a sharp political crisis

Last month, during the swearing-in ceremony, legislators Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung refused to declare their allegiance to China and carried blue flags reading: “Hong Kong is not China.” Now China has decided to bar the two young legislators, since “those wishing to hold public office must sincerely and solemnly declare allegiance to China”, as China’s rubberstamp legislature affirmed.

About 13,000 people marched on Sunday to protest against China’s last intervention, ending in clashes with police which led to four arrests.

After the United Kingdom gave Hong Kong to China in 1997, the city maintained its own laws, courts and freedoms not enjoyed in continental China, under a framework known as “one country, two systems”. However, many citizens agree that these freedoms have been diminished in the last years.

In fact, previous dissatisfactions led to nearly three months of street protests in 2014 and to the election in September this year of six politicians who demand greater autonomy for the city.

This action is thought to be Beijing’s most direct intervention in the territory’s legal system since the 1997, and it has set up a new conflict between pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps.

The end of the 52-year guerrilla war in Colombia

After four years of tough negotiations in Havana, today the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, and the Marxist rebel leader Timochenko are signing a peace deal which will put an end to a half-century war that has killed a quarter of a million people, blocked the economic system and made Colombia a highly unstable country.

More than 2,500 foreign and local dignitaries are attending the ceremony in Cartagena, where these two leaders will shake hands for the first time in Colombia. The UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, the Cuban president, Raúl Castro, or the US secretary of state, John Kerry are some of the personalities who will be present at the historical peace treaty which will turn the FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla group into a legal political party.

The agreement must be ratified by a plebiscite on 2nd October, but polls indicate that it will pass easily since there is widespread relief in Colombian society at an end to the kidnappings and hostilities of the last decades. Moreover, the revolutionary group will hand over weapons to the United Nations within 180 days.

Colombians and the rest of Latin American countries are optimistic, as peace will bring more positive results than problems. They hope to reduce security costs and open new areas for mining and oil companies, in order to restore social and political stability in the country.