Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Looking Around

Howard’s End

Good news from the Southern Hemisphere. After 11 years in office John Howard has been defeated by the Labor party and it seems that Kevin Rudd is going to be the next PM in Canberra. The Liberal coalition got 58 seats while Labor (not Labour, in this case) won 80 seats.

A couple of comments: first, significantly, like in almost all Anglo-Saxon countries, the Greens have zero seats – there is always a pocket of votes for them but it seems that they are not taken seriously enough in these business-minded societies. Second, about ideological profiles: if Howard is a “Liberal”, my god, what will a conservative be in Australia? The other day I read in a European paper the best description of the former PM: the clone of George Bush in Southern Pacific.

Now let’s hope Rudd keeps his promises and signs the Kyoto agreement (relatively easy) and pulls troops out of Iraq (easier said than done). G’day! to him.

Identity Socialism

Plenty of what is happening in Latin America, in my opinion, can not be understood without the parameter of identity. Formally the debate keeps being between the Right and the Left but then when you scratch just a bit the social surface of any of these countries, what do you see, historically? Very white people in parliament and business, marching in favor of Pinochet, defending the infamous Honduras Contra against the Sandinistas and backing the mafiossi-style Cuban exile community in Miami. And in the other side? Dark skinned people, Aimaras, Quechuas and other indigenous people (more numerous than we think) supporting Evo Morales in Bolivia, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and marching with the pictures of their relatives, kidnapped, tortured and shot by Pinochet’s Death Squads. There is a racial and ethnical cleavage that cannot be ignored. The current trend in Latin America is the Pay Back Day by the masses of poor and the invisible, the ones until recently ignored (if not massacred) hordes of humble but resilient peasants (and no-peasants, of course).

In this context, let’s see what happens in Venezuela this 2nd of November as they are holding a referendum about constitutional changes. Chavez has won ten elections in eight years… if there is someone popular right now in his country, this is the Bolivarian leader.

Last night I saw with a very good friend of mine a documentary called The War On Democracy, by John Pilger. The director was there and made an intro about the film, with several questions afterwards. I really recommend to anyone who feels a bit interested in another point of view about Latin America, to see this piece of art. Impressive.

The Bull… or the Bully?

Spain will hold next March their next general elections. The Southern European country has been thru 13 years of Gonzalez (LOAPA, economical reform, NATO, EU, GAL and corruption) then 8 years of neo-totalitarian Aznar (the short guy with the moustache in the Azores island with Dubya; the guy who closed newspapers and radio stations, magazines and banned political parties in Europe in the XXI century but, hey, who cares – they are just crazy Basques!) and the last 4 years with Zapatero and his “talante”. The politician from Leon has showed that you can be as Spanish nationalist as any right winger… but with a smile. Now, after the collapse of the so-called peace process in the troubled northern provinces the socialist (Labour) party is trying to show to anyone who wants to see that they can be as tough as the populares (Conservatives) arresting people and banning political meetings and peaceful demonstrations. Let’s hope this craziness will change after March.

But who knows?


Chris O said...

This is a really wonderful article, CT. I'd love to read more about this kind of subject.

I sincerely hope and pray that the craziness changes in Spain after March. This is the 21st Century, dammit, and it's time the politicians who have their heads stuck in the sand actually realised what the people are saying.

The time for ignorance has gone now. To pretend that reality doesn't exist helps no-one.


Coffee Tambourine said...

Breaking news...
it seems that Australia has signed already the Kyoto agreement, in the Bali summit, isolating the US as the only developed nation outside the pact.
That was quick!!!