Group sitting at cafe overlooking the White House

Los nuevos enemigos de la esfera pública

NUEVA YORK – Antes de los ataques terroristas de noviembre en París, organizar una manifestación en una plaza pública de esa ciudad era legal. Ahora no lo es. En Uganda, aunque los ciudadanos que hacían campaña contra la corrupción o a favor de los derechos de los homosexuales se enfrentaran a la hostilidad pública, no se enfrentaban a la cárcel por manifestar. Pero según una nueva ley, temible por lo imprecisa, ahora sí. Hace poco en Egipto, el gobierno allanó y cerró importantes instituciones culturales (una galería de arte, un teatro y una editorial) que en otros tiempos eran lugar de reunión de artistas y activistas.

Parece que en todo el mundo, se alzan muros en torno a los espacios que la gente necesita para reunirse, asociarse, expresarse con libertad y disentir. Aun cuando Internet y la tecnología de las comunicaciones han hecho que hablar en público sea técnicamente más fácil que nunca, la omnipresente vigilancia estatal y comercial asegura que el derecho de expresión, asociación y protesta se mantenga restringido. En síntesis, hablar en voz alta nunca demandó tanto coraje.

En mi caso, el cambio me afectó muy de cerca. En noviembre, Open Society Foundations (la organización benéfica internacional de George Soros, que dirijo) se convirtió en la segunda entidad censurada según una ley aprobada en Rusia en mayo que permite al fiscal general del país prohibir organizaciones extranjeras y suspender la ayuda financiera de las mismas a activistas locales. Como todo aquel que interactúe con nosotros puede ser sujeto a enjuiciamiento y prisión, no tuvimos más opción que cortar relaciones con decenas de ciudadanos rusos a los que ayudábamos a preservar algún resto de democracia en su país.

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