The world says goodbye to 2022 and enters a 2023 with great challenges

2023 stands out with the great challenge of the return of the coronavirus pandemic in China and with the return to power in Brazil, on Sunday, of the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, ex-convicted for corruption who managed to return to power with a tight margin.

For a good part of Humanity, these days will be above all mourning and funeral preparations, after the death on Thursday of the Brazilian soccer star Pelé and the former Pope Benedict XVI, who died this Saturday in the Vatican.

Pele (4).jpg

Pele waves before an Africa Cup of Nations match between Ivory Coast and The Gambia, in Libreville, Gabon, on February 12, 2012.

Pele waves before an Africa Cup of Nations match between Ivory Coast and The Gambia, in Libreville, Gabon, on February 12, 2012.

AP Photo/Francois Mori

But many hope to make up for the years watered down by the pandemic and celebrate New Year’s Eve in style, despite the high cost of living and the fact that the virus, relatively forgotten in recent months, recalled its existence with the new wave of cases in China.

Sydney, Australia, was one of the first big cities to ring in 2023, reclaiming its crown as the “New Year’s Eve capital of the world.” The country reopened its borders and a crowd of people watched a spectacle with more than 100,000 fireworks in Sydney Harbour.

“It’s been quite a good year for us, leaving COVID behind of course is great,” said David Hugh-Paterson, near the Opera House.

The celebrations will take place in all corners of the planet. In Madrid, for example, the Spanish will bid farewell to 2022 with the twelve chimes of the Puerta del Sol square just before midnight, which will be followed from all over the country on television and with the Spanish eating a grape to the sound of each one.

The dream of “a peaceful sky”

For some, 2022 will remain as the year of the online word game Wordle, of Will Smith’s slap to Chris Rock at the Oscars, of the World Cup raised by Messi or of Joan Manuel Serrat’s last concert.

It also meant the goodbye of Pelé and Benedict XVI, as well as the departure of Queen Elizabeth II, the Cuban singer Pablo Milanés, the Spanish writer Javier Marías and the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

But 2022 will probably be remembered first of all for the return of war in Europe.

More than 300 days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, some 7,000 civilians were killed and more than 10,000 injured, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In addition, some 16 million Ukrainians were forced to leave their homes.

Ukraine

The Drama of War and the dead in Ukraine

The Drama of War and the dead in Ukraine

AP/File

Those who have stayed must observe a curfew between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., between blackouts caused by Russian bombing of power plants, in the dead of winter.

In Vladimir Putin’s Russia there seems to be no appetite for big celebrations.

Moscow canceled its traditional fireworks after a consultation with residents by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

Irina Shapovalova, a 51-year-old nursing home worker, admits that her main wish for 2023 is “a peaceful sky over our heads.”

Return of covid?

After several year-ends at half gas due to the pandemic, vaccines have allowed a return to a certain normality in most of the world.

However, China, where the virus was first detected, is facing a new wave, after the abrupt lifting at the beginning of the month of the strong restrictions in force since 2020.

Chinese COVID

COVID-19 patients are placed on stretchers in the corridors of Tianjin First Center Hospital in Tianjin due to a lack of space to treat patients.  December 28, 2022.

COVID-19 patients are placed on stretchers in the corridors of Tianjin First Center Hospital in Tianjin due to a lack of space to treat patients. December 28, 2022.

AFP

The virus is spreading rapidly among a population that until now has hardly been in contact with the disease and has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.

This situation has led many countries to require anticovid tests from travelers arriving from China, for fear of the appearance of new variants.

In Latin America, Brazilians begin with the return of the left, and a new cycle of leftist governments, with ‘newcomers’ like Gustavo Petro, in Colombia, and Gabriel Boric, in Chile, learning to deal with the complexities of power and consolidate the leftist project in the region.

After a turbulent end of the year marked by the removal of President Pedro Castillo, the protests in Peru calling for the resignation of the current government of Dina Boluarte and leaving 22 dead and more than 600 injured could be reactivated in January.

While in Bolivia, the Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS) regime of former President Evo Morales maintains persecution against the opposition.

Cuba and Venezuela continue to sink into poverty, while Nicaragua intensifies the repression against the country and consolidates its dictatorial project.

Meanwhile, thousands of migrants from the region seek to flee their countries to the United States, which has record numbers of migrants and faces chaos at the border and in the immigration system due to the indifference of the Democratic administration in the White House. .

FOUNTAIN: With information from AP