Hace algunas semanas estaba leyendo un cuadernillo de investigación de la USAC titulado “El Terrateniente guatemalteco: una aproximación a su concepción ecológica y a los efectos de su práctica productiva sobre el medio ambiente” y me parece prudente mencionarlo ahora que la gente ha empezado a hablar en demasía con términos abstractos como “guatemala” “guatemaltecos” “nosotros” “ellos” y a veces abusan de los términos vacíos con los que pretenden hacer representaciones de unidad. Continue reading “Entendiendo el racismo en Guatemala ¿Qué opinas?”
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”—Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann
Overcoming the goods and bads of Mr. Chavez will not be any easy. Eliminating redistribution of wealth programs will be almost impossible and the surrender of greater virtues like rationality, honesty, integrity, productivity and justice will be most surely sacrificed by the ruling leader for the sake of his reelection. Even now that Mr. Chavez died, the Venezuelan Welfare State supports millions of its voters. Just last year, Venezuela added more than 800,000 people to the rolls of the state welfare system and the number of pensioners reaches nearly 2.5 million, an increase of over 600 percent since 1999 in total pensions paid by the state, all of which are indexed to the national minimum wage (via venezuelanalysis.com). Though he died, his party continues living and his ideas will continue been fostered in the form of more programs in the Venezuelan welfare state. For this and many more reasons I say: Chavez is dead.
In a global scale the death of former President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, will be very limited but noticeable for countries like China and Russia who benefited after Mr. Chavez expelled Western oil companies operating in the country and replaced them with Chinese and Russian state owned companies. This oil companies were the most important strongholds of this two powerful countries in Latin America.
In a regional perspective the disappearance of this controversial figure will have important effects in Latin America as well. Specially, around the league of the group ALBA (Spanish Acronyms for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) in which he played an important role as its founder and main speaker against the North American interventionist policy. Without Mr. Chavez the possibility of a halt of the oil donations to the member countries of this alliance could have an important significance as well. Venezuela donated millions of barrels of oil to needy Caribbean states, particularly Cuba, but also countries like Trinidad and Tobago and this countries in exchange commissioned their doctors to help in the most needed areas of Venezuela. This symbolic gesture has been a constant diplomatic activity of the poor Caribbean states.
Also, Nicaragua benefited from Mr. Chavez anti-American policy. The government of the former guerrilla leader Daniel Ortega and his party’s politburo have been recipient of more than $2.2 billion in Venezuelan petrodollars since 2007. To them, the election of a member of the Chavez regime is fundamental to continue holding control of elections in the next term. Further, the Pulitzer Center reports that “Since Ortega returned to power democratically in 2007, the wellspring of aid from ALBA — a bloc of eight left-leaning Latin American countries underwritten by Chavez — has provided the Sandinista government with an average of $500 million a year in loans, donations and oil credit. In 2011, Ortega’s ALBA allowance jumped to $609 million during his own re-election campaign.” Showing how Venezuelan interventionism in the region was in occasions more powerful than the interventions of the United States of America that are historically hated and protested by leftists demagogues.
Venezuela has been officially (though in contravention to its Constitution) under the rule of the Vicepresident Nicolás Maduro since the death of Mr. Chavez. He is now the interim President of Venezuelafollowing the death of Hugo Chávez. Mr. Maduro will most probably run for the elections with very high chances of winning. Before dying, Hugo Chavez ran for reelection in 2012 and got the vote of 55% of the voters. His approval ratings among the poorest of the voters is very high and his main opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski, will have it very difficult to win. More important to note is the fact that Mr. Capriles is mentioned as being part of the Centre-Right of the country. However, if elected his main policies may end up been very similar to the ones that gave popularity to Mr. Chavez. He may thus be a centre-right from hand-to-mouth and a centre-left activist in practice.
Mr. Chavez ruled the country since February 2 1999 until 5 March 2013. During his 14 years in power he reformed to his convenience the Venezuelan Constitution several times, created dozens of agencies formed by members of his party, formed hundreds of thousands of state-owned cooperatives, fuelled billions of dollars in his stated goal to lower inequality in the access to basic nutrition, and to achieve food sovereignty for Venezuela. Further, he placed Venezuela at the centre of the regional foreign policy with states in Africa, Asia and Europe.
The term Globalization refers to what many different historians considered a process of interrelation (or unification) of the world. It was a process of cultural, political and economic relations that for the first time in history united all mankind. One of these critical events of unification and clash of cultural and political relations took place in February 20 1524. This day is commemorated by Guatemalans to remember the leaders and events of the “The battle of Llanos del Pinal“ ((The Society of Geography and History of Guatemala documented that this battle actually took place on February 12 1524) which took place in the vicinity of the K’iche’ Mayan city of Xelajú (located in today’s mountainous area of Guatemala in Central America).
In this battle, the K’iche’ Rajpop Achij Tecum Umam (Guatemala’s National Hero and K’iche’ Mayan Captain of the army) commanded an army of 72,000 warriors (as narrated by the Chronicler Francisco de Fuentes y Guzmán) that fought against the invading hordes of the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado and his indigenous allies from the territories that are today the South of Mexico. While the invaders defeated the K’iche’ army, the chroniclers of this battle remembered Tecum Umam as the glorious warrior and miraculous hero that started to be referred in the narrations with epic roles and anthropomorphic abilities.
After this battle that “tainted all the neighbouring rivers red of blood” the Spanish conquistadores continued their invasion in the following month of the city of Q’umarkaj (also known as Utatlán). This secured for them the hegemony over the other less powerful cities of Iximche, Mixco Viejo, and Zaculeu that were located in the Southernmost part of the Sierra Madre mountain range.
The aftermath of this battle concluded six years later with the Quauhquechollan alliance of the conquistador Jorge de Alvarado (brother of Pedro de Alvarado) and their Nahuatl allies from the city of Quauhquechollan that gave the Spanish and absolute control of large part of Mesoamerica.
By the beginning of the Spanish conquest the territory of Mesoamerica the Mayan Civilisation was already extinguished and dozens of different indigenous tribes leaded by caciques, warriors and priests controlled weaker and less advanced forced-labor societies. This enabled the conquest of the territories to be fast and easy.
Just a decade later, by the 1540s, the new elite that ruled this forced-labor societies had already established itself with a mixed Spanish-Indigenous head in control and started the process of acculturation, integration, evangelisation, assimilation and reeducation of a society that went from a tribalist type of life into a mercantilist economy ruled from a metropolitan and global Empire with its head 5,400 miles away in the city of Madrid.
Since 1524, Mesoamerica joined the global community of trade, commerce, acculturation and universalisation of traditions and costumes. This is an important junction that should be remembered by all of us.
After only seven years as Head of the Catholic Church, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is an astonishing news. This may be a message on how Globalization affects such global organization. The election of Pope Benedict XVI followed all the rules of the Church but did not listen to the “new” rules imposed by globalization: which include good advertisement, global awareness, and above all intercultural appealing to standards of ‘universal friendliness and empathy’, among others. I wrote an article titled “Parishes Fail to Market Catholicism to Hispanics (pdf available here)” (National Catholic Reporter, Vol. 43, No. 12 2007) discussing how the Catholic Church has failed to Market Catholicism among Hispanics.
Benedict XVI was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave, celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, on 7 May 2005. Today, February 11, 2013, Benedict announced that he would resign the papacy, effective February 28, due to age and ill health.
His health may be have been an issue. However, it seems to me that the real problem started when the Papal conclave of 2005 elected him above the other contestants for the Pope position without taking notice of all the changes that institution has gone through centuries.
Currently, Catholics are 17.77% of the total population in Africa, 63.10% in the Americas, 3.05% in Asia, 39.97% in Europe, 26.21% in Oceania and 17.09% of the world population. (Further information: Catholicism by country)
Globalization is slowly forcing them to adapt to this new demographics and the election of a Latin American (a Mediterranean look would suffice) or African Pope could bring some new Fresh air to this archaic institution. The Latin America region already represents 42 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion-strong Catholic population, the largest single block in the Church, compared to 25 percent in its European heartland.
In 2005 among the “popeable” (one who might become pope) where also the cardinals Carlo Maria Martini, who died last year and obtained 40 votes in the first ballot versus the popular Italian cardinal Camillo Ruini who also was a contestant for the position in that initial ballot. Cardinal Ruini has been very active in the mass media and was one of the cardinals who most often appeared on Italian television, newspapers and magazines. I would suppose that his election as a new Pope in the Conclave of cardinals that will choose the next pope in mid-March is very high. Camilo Ruini is very popular among the “Reformer” side of the Catholic Church as the news inform (he is also more photogenic and could appeal to the Hispanic followers easily).
Lets see what happens in March, 2013 with the new Papal Conclave. Meanwhile, I share with you a documentary on the new face of this Eurocentric organization that is finally (slowly) changing its own look!
The Catholic Church and Africa
I republish information of interest from Blog de la AMHE by Itzayana Gutiérrez
As member of the International Committee of the American Studies Association, I am soliciting panels or individual papers for our upcoming conference (http://www.theasa.net/). Picking up on a now accepted move that transnationalizes the study of the United States, we would encourage analyses of U. S.-Mexican relations (broadly conceived) or that situate an analysis of Mexico in a wider North American perspective using a cultural approach. Among possible topics are those papers examining: how American Studies is approached from outside the United States; whether the current transnational moment in culture study gives us a special purchase on the United States and North America that may not have existed before; how the hardening of borders in politics is matched by a concern for border studies within our academic field. The deadline is Jan 26. See the webpage for more information.
More info (in Spanish): http://www.h-mexico.unam.mx/taxonomy/term/63
The article “More Guns = More Killing” By Elisabeth Rosenthal came to my attention as a good reference of how sometimes more “global approaches” to what we could explain as “local problems” results in sophistic arguments that are of no use.
The article is astonishingly confusing and misleading because the author arguments that it is more/less guns what results in more/less deaths. And as such, that only by decreasing the amount of available guns the deaths can be reduced. In order to defend this position she tries to defend her position by bringing a sometimes useful comparison of explaining local problems (those of the U.S.) by comparison to more global regions (in this case, Latin America).
Rosenthal does not propose a better solution than the one she is trying to question and which was proposed by the NRA (National Rifle Association) to President Obama. Truth, “A society that is relying on guys with guns to stop violence is a sign of a society where institutions have broken down”. Why? Because the bureaucrats and the NRA consider as she does that it are guns the ones that “kill” and as such, it are guns the ones that “give life“. Neither of the cases can be more false.
The parallels between the Latin American countries with high homicide rates and the US Massacre of schools kids cannot be correctly understood behind the “more guns/less-more deaths” causal relationship.
Then, how? As usual in this times of miss-integration of concepts. The events in Latin American countries with high homicide rates and the US Massacre of schools kids have no parallels. The high homicide rates in Latin America are the result of a failed War on Drugs and the institutional decay caused by corruption, state failure in providing rule of law and the reconfiguration of power relations amongst many other causes. In this case the guns are not a cause nor a solution. The massacres in U.S. schools are in my opinion the result of a decay of family values and a philosophical problem of identity that can only be solved behind an urgently much needed moral revolution. In this last case it is not guns or the state which can do much about to change things.
Future massacres in schools can only by stopped from happening when the roots of family decomposition are diminished (divorces, unemployment, family violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, among many others). The murderers in these schools were seeking for revenge from society and saw that killing kids was the perfect way of enacting revenge on those he was angry with. Until we understand this things I see no probable hope for future improvement of any of the cases. As well, for as long we have journalists with a philosophy of life that relies on the State as the “giver” or “healer” of society’s problems things are also going to continue going in the wrong direction…
The neoliberal (a.k.a. crony capitalism) ruling of the world during the last 50 years is usually generalized as a “big fish eats small fish” relationship. The story continues, with the big fish in Washington, Brussels and Moscow fed themselves with the riches of the world and profited from globalization. Meanwhile, the small fish continued breeding and feeding the always hungry lords. This general discourse is repeated in most if not all the academic papers dealing with postcoloniality and globalization.
The impact of the ideas of these intellectuals is widespread and not easily observable for the ignorant masses. As such, when you read the newspapers in Latin America or Africa in regard to the “new” nationalizations being undertaken by the “new” socialist/anti-neoliberal governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Greece, Lithuania, and Sri Lanka since 2011 people usually ignores that there is nothing “new” in these actions.
These nationalizations of privately owned assets have been in many of the cases actual renationalizations of companies that were not owned by the principles of free market ideas, but that had been privatized by corrupt social democratic governments 50, 40 or 10 years before and who created new privately owned privileged companies. As a result of these social democrat and socialist governments many privately owned companies emerged as the bastions of crony capitalism, inefficiency and corruption. The previous, generally increased as closer the national industries were owned by crony private companies that owned single-crop cultive exports and resource rich regions.
To mention short examples of the previous, recently in Argentina Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF; English: “Treasury Petroleum Fields”) was renationalized (not nationalized) by the government under claims of corruption, inefficiency and negative benefits to their national interests. In Bolivia, Transportadora de Electricidad (TDE) was nationalized by Evo Morales government. However, TDE was also a fruit of the neoliberal and crony capitalist deals established in 1952 after a coup d’état that established a military socialist democracy with the party Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) which allied into a military-nationalist clique that lasted for 50 years.
Privately owned companies produce always more efficient and better products than state-owned companies. However, privately owned companies that have benefited from government granted privileges for decades not necessarily will produce more and better services and products than state-owned companies. The previous is something that few of us dare to identify and explain with a non-contradictory historical and philosophical background. Meanwhile, the great majority of academics influenced by collectivist philosophies will start writing articles and books applauding the “successful” renationalizations and condemning those free-market authors who will write back and fight.
Indeed, there is a difficult road in defending private property and privately owned businesses in the context of countries and regions that lack respect for individual rights and the rule of law. As such, to defend the private vs collective in those circles it is necessary that first we identify how the societies are currently organized around the collective inefficient systems of social and economic organization. In the case of Bolivia and Argentina it is necessary for us to identify how these business and societies are not structured and organized around the principles of free market and individual rights. By understanding and explaining this clearly there will be a chance to change the discourse of discussion from “why is renationalization good?” to “why laissez faire capitalism is better than the privately owned business of crony capitalism?”
- Why the Morales govt. in Bolivia is a threat to neoliberalism (redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com)
- Sheldon Richman on Adam Smith vs. Crony Capitalism (reason.com)
- Brian Koenig: Obama’s Crony Capitalism and His Top 2008 Donors (junkscience.com)
- Argentina And Bolivia Are Right To Take Over Private Companies (businessinsider.com)