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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 1st June 2018 > Off the Wall

Off the Wall

As the U.S. debates sealing off its southern border, former Mexican President Vicente Fox has become an outspoken critic of the plan— and a star on social media



VICENTE FOX “JUMPED THE WALL” to come here, he joked to the crowd. It was May 14, and the former president of Mexico was onstage at Cipriani, a restaurant and venue in downtown New York, where he had just received a Webby Award for best internet personality in film and video.

These days, Fox is a celebrity, not just in Mexico but increasingly in America. And his Cipriani speech captured why. Since early 2016, when Donald Trump was still a Republican hopeful, Fox has been one of his most outspoken critics, lambasting the real estate mogul for his desire to wall off the southern U.S. border—and make Mexico pay for it. “I am not paying for that fucken wall,” Fox tweeted last January. Trump’s critics have loved his brash, comedic approach, and his message has catapulted him to social media stardom.

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BIBLE THUMPERS: RUSSIA IS CRACKING DOWN ON JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES It was just after sunrise on April 10th when the doorbell rang at Anatoly and Alyona Vilitkevich’s apartment in Ufa, an industrial city in central Russia. Their early morning visitors: masked police officers armed with automatic weapons. The police’s tactics that morning were the type often used to detain dangerous criminals. But Anatoly isn’t a suspected terrorist, murderer or drug trafficker. Police arrested him because he and Alyona are Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian evangelical movement known for its members’ door-to-door proselytizing. Jehovah’s Witnesses are also committed pacifists who historically have been persecuted by governments all over the world for their refusal to perform military service, or salute the flag. Some of the most brutal repression took place in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. And now it’s the Kremlin, with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church, that’s ramping up the pressure. The state’s crackdown comes as part of a government-backed drive against minority “foreign” religions.