We’re covering Pope Francis’ apology for the church’s role in Canada’s notorious residential school system, and China’s new diplomatic strategy in Africa.
Pope apologizes for ‘evil’ inflicted on Indigenous people
Pope Francis offered a sweeping apology for the Catholic Church’s role in running boarding schools in Canada where Indigenous children were sexually and physically abused and where many died.
“I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” Francis said at the site of a former residential school in Maskwacis, Alberta, a place of horrors for the children forced to attend it between 1894 and 1976.
Survivors had long called on the church to take responsibility for its role in the abusive institutions. For some, Francis’ apology was a chance to let go of their pain, while others said a lot more still needed to be done.
The schools inflicted physical, sexual and mental abuse; erased languages; and used Christianity as a weapon to break the cultures and communities of Indigenous people. Christian churches operated most of the schools for the government. Catholic orders were responsible for running 60 to 70 percent of the roughly 130 schools, where thousands of children died.
Related: The U.S. also continues to wrestle with the legacy of its government-run schools for Native American children. An Interior Department investigation released this year cataloged brutal conditions at more than 400 boarding schools that the federal government forced Native children to attend between 1819 and 1969.
Myanmar executes four activists
Myanmar’s military leadership said it had executed four pro-democracy activists, an apparent attempt to instill fear in a resistance movement that has battled the junta since it seized power in a coup last year.
The executions — the first in the Southeast Asian nation in more than three decades — came after the activists were sentenced to death during closed-door trials without attorneys present. Western leaders have sought to persuade the military to free its political prisoners and halt its violence.
Myanmar opposition leaders, human rights groups and the U.N. condemned the executions harshly. “These depraved acts must be a turning point for the international community,” Thomas Andrews, the U.N special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said.
Who they were: The four men who were executed had a history of opposing Myanmar’s vicious army, known as the Tatmadaw. They included U Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, a widely respected democracy activist who rose to prominence as a leader of a student group during nationwide protests in 1988, and U Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former hip-hop artist who was elected to Parliament after spending five years in prison for his activism.
China already dominates trade with resource-rich nations in Africa. Its first overseas naval base is in Djibouti. Now it is more closely integrating financial and diplomatic efforts, offering to mediate in civil conflicts that are causing devastating famine — and, most significantly, signaling a new strategy to resolve billions of dollars in overdue Chinese loans.
In addition, China, which has long promoted its one-party government style in Africa, opened a new training school in Tanzania. The International Liaison Department, the powerful body that promotes China’s ideology and influence, started the school.
Global politics: The campaign is part of a great geopolitical competition between Beijing and Washington, which has intensified since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Data: Trade between China and Africa topped $250 billion in 2021, compared with $64.33 billion between the U.S. and Africa.
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A different path to homeownership
A number of Southern California residents are moving to Tijuana, Mexico, which some see as their best chance of homeownership.
Stories of migrants who cross from Mexico to the U.S. in search of a better life are well known. But for the past decade, a reverse migration has quietly been gaining steam: Americans, priced out of the housing market and frustrated with sky-high costs of health care, electricity and basic goods, are increasingly opting to rent or buy homes in Mexico.
Consumer prices, including rent, are 62 percent lower in Tijuana than in San Diego, according to the cost-of-living database Numbeo. In Tijuana, about $2,500 a month provides a standard of living that in San Diego would cost $6,600.
The pandemic, which unmoored millions from the commute to a physical office, has accelerated this trend, as has the Sentri pass, which allows approved, low-risk travelers a fast lane into the U.S. at the Mexican border.