WEEKLY ROUNDUP: BOLIVIA, DA VINCI AND PRINCE ANDREW

 

Channel 4 airs fresh revelations in ‘The Prince and the Paedophile’ 

This week, stirrings around Prince Andrew’s involvement with paedophile tycoon Jeffrey Epstein have been revived by an episode of ‘Dispatches’, presented by Cathy Newman and shown by Channel 4. A deeply uncomfortable but necessary watch, the hour-long documentary plunges into the diary records of ‘Randy Andy’, and unearths invaluable connections between the billionaire and the British establishment. Harrowing testimonials from Epstein’s victims, including Andrew’s accuser Virginia Roberts, make this documentary essential viewing for those following the bevy of recent programmes on the subject of sexual violence and power. Perhaps the most pressing question asked by ‘The Prince and the Paedophile’ is why the royal family hasn’t been held sufficiently to account by Scotland Yard; Newman’s interviewees connected with the US investigation make no bones about the fact that the British police have held back from the kind of interrogation that would be applied to non-royals. One wonders whether separate but ongoing controversies among the Windsors – including the escalating ‘rift’ between brothers Harry and William, also exploding in the press this week – might be a diversionary tactic; calculated or not, it has certainly given the papers royal fodder for the past two weeks unrelated to Andrew’s unsavoury relationship with Epstein. – Poppy

 

Bolivian Elections

Bolivian President Evo Morales was just elected to a fourth term in office. Many celebrate Morales as Bolivia’s first indigenous President and credit to him the economic success the country has enjoyed under his presidency. But Morales was not elected without controversy. His local opponent, Carlos Mesa, and supporters of his party have accused Morales of rigging the vote, and the EU has already suggested Bolivia hold a runoff election.

During the counting of the vote, voting officials took a 24-hour pause on reporting official vote counts. After the pause, Morales had gained significant support in the polls. In the end, he only barely cleared the 10-point margin he needed to win outright in the first runoff and avoid a second. In response to protests and calls for a runoff, Morales has declared himself the victor, and has placed the Bolivian government into a state of emergency. – Neil

 

39 die as victims of people smuggling

On the 23rd October, 39 Vietnamese citizens were found dead in a lorry in Essex, having paid in the region of £30,000 to be smuggled into the UK. The lorry was found at an industrial park in Grays, where it had been abandoned by driver Maurice Robinson, who has since been charged with manslaughter and human trafficking. The tragedy is coming to symbolise a wider crisis of immigrants paying to be illegally transported to the UK in inhuman conditions, often becoming ill, being injured, or dying in transit. – Annabelle

 

Da Vinci 5 centuries later, major new exhibition at the Louvre 

Last Thursday, the Louvre Museum in Paris opened the doors to its largest Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition in history, marking the fifth centenary of the artists death. Although the exhibition features less paintings than the famous National Gallery show dedicated to the artist in 2011, the Louvre has redeemed itself in creating an image of Leonardo Da Vinci as a scientist, inventor, engineer, as well as artist. 10 years in the making, the retrospective showcases over 160 works, including pieces that are on loan from Queen Elizabeth II and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its star exhibit, the sketch of the Vitruvian Man, will be accompanied by over fourteen paintings attributed to Leonardo by leading specialists only recently, following the discovery of the Salvator Mundi, now the most expensive painting in the world (NB. The owner of painting has not lend it to the Louvre, raising further questions about its uncertain provenance). Aside from the artworks and artefacts, the exhibition curators, Vincent Delieuvin and Louis Frank, had worked hard to incorporate a scientific approach to Da Vinci’s works. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in a virtual reality experience of the iconic Mona Lisa as well as explore the most recent research findings on the artist’s creative process (eg. the multiple layers of drawings discovered with infrared imaging beneath Da Vinci’s finished pieces). The Da Vinci show is estimated to be one of the world’s most expensive art exhibitions, and it is expected to attract half a million visitors in the next four months, with over 5,000 visitors expected each day. The show is now on display in the Napoleon Hall of the Louvre until February 24th, 2020. – Asia

 

Art by Ng Wei Kai. Words by Poppy Sowerby, Annabelle Fuller, Neil Natarajan, and Asia Éléonore Feliks.