Tag Archives: Bolivia

¡Viva AMLO!

AMLO

Reuters photo

Mexicans are poised to elect democratic socialist Andrés Manuel López Obrador as their new president by double digits today. This is excellent news for freedom, democracy, fairness and justice.

I’ve been meaning to write about Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is expected to be elected as the next president of Mexico today. I’m not too late, as his victory has yet to be announced. As Politico reports today:

Mexico City — Mexicans [today] appear likely to elect a left-wing populist president who has campaigned on standing up to President Donald Trump, potentially ushering in a more confrontational era of U.S.-Mexico relations on everything from immigration policy to trade.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City who styles himself as a champion for rural Mexico, has enjoyed a double-digit lead over the other top candidates from the country’s major parties for months.

His vows to eradicate violence and official corruption — long unaddressed by outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ruling PRI party — have played a major role in lifting him to the head of the pack. But his pledge to defend Mexicans from Trump, coupled with his nationalistic rhetoric, has also bolstered his standing with Mexican voters.

López Obrador traveled through the U.S. after Trump was elected to advocate for Mexican immigrants living in the states and even published a book called Oye, Trump (Listen Up, Trump) that condemns Trump’s plans to build a border wall and “his attempts to persecute migrant workers.”

Mexico “will never be the piñata of any foreign government,” López Obrador, 64, told more than 90,000 supporters at a rally here to close out his campaign on Wednesday.

The election of López Obrador — like Trump, known for his impulsive and nationalistic tendencies — could further strain U.S-Mexico relations. The candidate, nicknamed AMLO, says illegal migration to the U.S. should be addressed with economic development programs, not a border wall.

And while he supports continued talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, he’s also been a critic of free trade in the past, arguing that Mexico needs to be more self-sufficient.

“AMLO won’t hold back the way Peña Nieto has,” said Mark Feierstein, former senior director for western hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council. “Peña Nieto has been very passive toward Trump and toward the United States.” …

Not that the U.S. government won’t do everything in its power to try to cripple the democratically elected López Obrador. The “freedom-loving” U.S. government has a long history of tyrannically violently overthrowing left-wing presidents whom the people of their nations elect to office, including in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Bolivia, Brazil and Chile. Historically, Latin American nations had better elect right-wing candidates who promise to do the bidding of the rich oligarchs in the United States of America, even if this make them fucking traitors to their own people, you see.

However, I don’t see a weakened United States (weakened by years of bogus warfare in the Middle East and weakened by our dumbest “president” ever [George W. Bush is fucking Einstein compared to Pussygrabber]) being able to overthrow López Obrador. Mexico isn’t Guatemala or Nicaragua or Panama or El Salvador or Honduras or the Dominican Republic or some other smaller Latin-American nation that the U.S. government found fairly easy to bully.

Mexico is the big enchilada, not only the most populous Latin-American nation by far, but also, more than 11 percent of Americans are Mexican-American, and Mexican Americans make up almost two-thirds of Latinos in the United States. That and they have their legions of non-Latino supporters, such as yours truly.

If you scoff at that, look at how quickly the unelected, illegitimate, fascist Pussygrabber regime backed down after the majority of the nation, Mexican-American or otherwise Latino and not, was outraged at the fascist’s regime treatment of “illegal aliens” — outrage that continues, and that won’t allow simply exchanging separating and locking up families for simply locking up the families together.

I wish AMLO the best as president of Mexico, and if “my” government tries to cripple his presidency, as is so predictable, I am on Mexico’s side, the side of democracy; the side of the people who have expressed their wishes through their votes; the side of a nation’s sovereignty to democratically guide itself, free from interference from imperialist nations that have only their own greedy interests in mind; and the side of right over wrong, the side of good over evil.

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HELP MEEE!!! I’m DROWNING in all of this FREEDOM!

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro greets supporters as he arrives for a national assembly in Caracas

NSA whistleblower Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is interviewed by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong

Reuters images

To smug Americans for whom freedom is only a word and for whom “freedom” is defined by our corporate and plutocratic overlords, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and American patriot Edward Snowden are easy targets to bash in order to feel better about their small, pathetic selves, so should Venezuela take Snowden in, predictably, the hypocritical rhetoric about how “free” and “good” the United States is and how “unfree” and “bad” Venezuela is will freely flow.

My best guess is that “Public Enemy Number One” Edward Snowden will end up in Venezuela, which, predictably, is going to result in a maelstrom of even more Venezuela bashing here in the United States. (The government of Venezuela, you see, has the audacity to govern the nation as a sovereign nation and not as a satellite of the United States, as a “good” nation “should.”)

Even so-called members of the so-called U.S. left wing mindlessly engage in Venezuela bashing, as though the United States — with its stolen presidential elections, its bloated-beyond-belief military-corporate complex and its bogus wars, its killer drones and its extralegal executions, its Abu Ghraib House of Horrors (and other acts of torture and crimes against humanity), its ridiculous income gap between the rich and the poor, its right-wing Supreme Court that routinely rules against the people and for the plutocrats (gay marriage doesn’t harm anyone’s profits, you see), its bought-and-paid-for-by-the-corporations Congress, and its government’s gargantuan electronic storage of the records of much or most or even almost all of our phone calls, e-mails, Internet activity, and even our snail mail — were the paragon of a truly free and open nation.

Salon.com, for instance, in “seriously” examining Edward Snowden’s options for political asylum, helpfully notes that on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being the most free and 7 being the least free, Venezuela ranks only a 5, according to some organization called Freedom House, which conveniently gives the United States a 1 for freedom.

Wow. Especially after I just learned that apparently all of the snail mail that I receive is photographed* and the images of my snail mail are stored by the federal government (along with my phone-call records, e-mails, Internet activity, etc.), I, for one, don’t feel that the U.S. is No. 1 in terms of freedom. (In Freedom House’s defense, maybe they gave the U.S. a 1 for freedom before NSAgate broke, but I am confident that they’d still give the U.S. a 1, regardless.)

I wonder if Salon.com’s writer even bothered to look up Freedom House on Wikipedia, for fuck’s sake. Wikipedia notes of Freedom House (all emphases are mine):

Freedom House is a U.S.-based non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights. Freedom House was founded in October 1941, and Wendell Willkie and Eleanor Roosevelt served as its first honorary chairpersons. It describes itself as a “clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world.”

The organization’s annual Freedom in the World report, which assesses each country’s degree of political freedoms and civil liberties, is frequently cited by political scientists, journalists, and policy-makers. Freedom of the Press and Freedom of the Net, which monitor censorship, intimidation and violence against journalists, and public access to information, are among its other signature reports.

As of 2010, grants awarded from the U.S. government accounted for most of Freedom House’s funding; the grants were not earmarked by the government but allocated through a competitive process. Freedom House is widely regarded as a reliable source. Nonetheless, some critics have accused Freedom House’s reports of bias or of promoting U.S. government interests abroad.

Well, yeah. Duh. If the U.S. government is funding you, could you give the U.S. government anything but the highest mark possible? I mean, who is going to pay for a report that is unflattering?

That and we need to define “freedom” and truly examine how much freedom a nation’s citizens actually have.

Freedom of the press, for instance — sure, Americans at least in theory have freedom of the press, but unless you are very wealthy, how can you possibly even remotely compete with the corporate media machine, which pumps out pro-corporate and pro-plutocratic and pro-status-quo messages relentlessly? Sure, at least in theory, you can say whatever you want — but who will ever hear you?

Democracy, too — sure, in theory you could run for political office, even for the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate or even for U.S. president, but, regardless of how bright and talented you are, how successful are you actually going to be in your quest for political office without a shitload of money?

About half of the members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are millionaires. The median net worth of the typical American household, by comparison, is not even $70K. (And if you think that the Democrats are on your side, know that the typical Democrat in Congress is even richer than is the typical Repugnican. Really, you’re so fucked. We’re so fucked.)

So — can the average American really run for political office? Or, like freedom of speech is, is it a rich person’s game? Are hundreds of millionaires in D.C. truly representative of the average American’s interests?

What we have in the United States is the veneer of freedom. “Freedom” is defined for us by the plutocrats, and so therefore in the U.S., “freedom” is pretty much synonymous with “capitalism.” We Americans are free (if we have the money) to buy shit that we don’t need. We are free to go into debt (if the all-powerful credit-reporting agencies deem us worthy enough) in order to buy shit that we don’t need. We are free to pick a wage-slave job (McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, etc.). We are free to go to college in order to be in student-loan debt for life while there aren’t any jobs for which we can even use our college degrees for which we can’t afford to pay. We are free to be inundated with corporately produced propaganda telling us how “free” we are, and we are free to vote for pro-corporate candidates, at least around half of whom are millionaires.

So much fucking freedom!

It’s a fucking joke to hear and read Americans boasting about how free and wonderful the United States of America is when there are mountain ranges of evidence to the contrary.

I don’t maintain that other, Latin American nations that even a supposedly left-wing website like Salon.com has bashed recently, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, are perfect nations, are Utopias, but so smug are we Americans, the planet’s biggest fucking assholes, that we apparently are completely oblivious to our own glaringly obvious flaws while we (even those of us who call ourselves “liberals” or “progressives” or the like) gleefully bash other nations as supposedly being less free than we are (“free” according to our plutocratic overlords, of course).

Sick fucking shit.

Venezuela is looking pretty fucking good to me right about now.

P.S. In case you are wondering, on the so-called Freedom House’s “freedom scale” of 1 to 7, I’d give the U.S. a rating of 3.5, maybe 3.0, at best. And from what I know of Venezuela, I’d give it no worse a rating than the U.S.

*We’re “assured” that our snail mail isn’t ever actually opened without a court order allowing it, but that only the outside of our snail mail is photographed. I, however, don’t trust “my” government at all. Human beings tend to abuse their power whenever and wherever they can get away with doing so, and Edward Snowden’s biggest “crime” is exposing such ubiquitous abuse of power here in the land of the so-called “free.”

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Thoughts on the new year from the Island of California



Early explorers thought that California is an island. It might as well be.

2011 should be an interesting political year.

It’s ironic that Repugnican former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been convicted of money laundering just as his stupid white male ilk, led this time by the steely-cold-blue-eyed Repugnican Rep. John Boehner, are ready to take over the House — you know, to bring back the good old days of Tom DeLay & Co.

When we of the left say that Americans are fucktards, this is the kind of thing that we’re talking about: expecting the same bunch of people who sank the nation in the first place to be the same ones to rescue it.

Here in California, things should be at least a little different next year.

On November 2, not a single Repugnican was elected to statewide office here in California, and come early January, gone will be Repugnican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was elected governor in the gubernatorial recall do-over election of 2003. (The Repugnican candidate in the 2002 gubernatorial election, Bill Simon, was an uncharismatic Richie Rich fucktard who lost to the uncharismatic Democratic incumbent, Gov. Gray Davis, although by just under 5 percent, so the Repugs just orchestrated a do-over election the next year with a much more charismatic candidate this time.)

Schwarzenegger promised to turn California around, but of course he leaves the nation’s most populous state in worse shape than it was when he got it. Ironically, in his too-short recall election campaign, Schwarzenegger blamed the BushCheneyCorp’s sins, including the Enron* debacle, on then-Gov. Gray Davis, even though Schwarzenegger had had a secret meeting with Enron head Ken Lay before he went on to run for governor of the state that Enron crippled. By Schwarzenegger’s own logic in 2003, though, we can blame only him for California’s current mess (even though, of course, the unelected BushCheneyCorp has been a huge factor in California’s decline, from 2001 to present). 

In the days of old, it was believed that California is an enchanted island — the long peninsula of Baja California is what gave the early explorers the idea that California is an island; they didn’t realize that Baja California is attached to the rest of the continent. (It is, in fact, attached to Mexico just under California.)

With the Mojave Desert in the southern part of the state and the Sierra Nevada mountain range running along the eastern part of the state, however, geography actually did leave California as somewhat of an island to itself, and for a while, anyway, these natural barriers for the most part kept the hordes of westward-immigrating white people out (two words: Donner party…).

Speaking of white people, it’s fairly clear that brown is the new black, and that as the nation’s population of Latinos continues to grow — here in California, more than a third of us are Latino, and more Latinos live in California than in any other U.S. state — the white supremacists, whose numbers, at least proportionally to the numbers of non-whites, are dwindling, are going to continue to blame the decline of the Great White American Empire on the browned-skinned.

A tea-bagging white-supremacist dipshit here in California (yes, unfortunately, plenty of fucktarded whiteys have made it past the Mojave Desert and the Sierra Nevada to inflict themselves upon the rest of us) has been given the legal go-ahead to try to collect enough signatures to put an Arizona-like anti-Latino law on the state ballot.

I expect the white supremacist, who used to be a Repugnican Party county chair (surprise surprise), to succeed in getting his signatures; it seems that nothing appeals to the voters like hatred, bigotry, ignorance and making scapegoats of minority groups. The voters seem to be loathe to OK anything productive, but to dog-pile upon already historically persecuted minority groups is just great fun! Proposition Hate was evidence of that.

However, while Prop H8 passed in November 2008, I expect a proposition for an Arizona-style anti-Latino law to fail here in California, where, unlike in Arizona, the majority of us are just fine with sharing our state with those of other races, and here in California, Latinos aren’t “other” — they are part of what makes California California, perhaps especially since California used to belong to Mexico, and the names of California’s largest cities are testament to that historical fact: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, etc., etc.

Ironically, it seems that it’s the brown-skinned who most likely can save the sinking United States of America. While the United States’ white overlords seem congenitally unable to do anything but to overextend themselves and to self-destruct, like their British forebears did, progress is being made in South America.

Notes a columnist for The Christian Science Monitor:

One in 10 South Americans – about 38 million people – escaped poverty during the past decade. That’s remarkable progress by any measure.

Contrast that with the United States, where poverty has been growing due to a decade-long stagnation of income for the middle class and the Great Recession. In 2009, the U.S. had more poor people than in any of the 51 years since poverty levels have been estimated.

Of course, America’s poor are far better off than South America’s poor. And the U.S. still has a much lower poverty rate (14.2 percent versus around 70 percent). South America remains infamous for huge income gaps between a tiny elite and masses of people making, often, just $1 or $2 a day.

Still, 10 years of growing prosperity has shrunk that gap. The credit goes to democratic leftist governments that have vastly boosted social spending to help the poor, maintains Mark Weisbrot, a left-of-center economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

Half of that improvement comes from Brazil. Under outgoing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the nation pushed up the minimum wage a real 65 percent in eight years, helping to raise the wages of tens of millions of workers, including many receiving more than minimum wage. A program offered small cash grants to poor families if they sent their children to school.

The results? Real income per person is up some 24 percent since 2000. Illiteracy is down. Poverty has been halved since 2002; extreme poverty is down by 70 percent, says Mr. Weisbrot, pulling more than 19 million people into the middle class.

And the economy hasn’t suffered. Unemployment under Mr. da Silva’s presidency dropped from more than 11 percent to 6.7 percent. Income inequality has fallen considerably.

Other nations with “progressive” governments have made much social progress, notes Weisbrot. He lists Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Venezuela. Under President Hugo Chávez, attacked by the right in the U.S., oil-rich Venezuela has tripled social spending per person since 2003. Attendance at universities has doubled. Most of the poor now get health care under a government program.

The continent weathered the financial crisis relatively well. Social spending rose. So there was no big rise in poverty, says Norbert Schady, an economic adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank, speaking from Quito, Ecuador.

Moreover, prospects for continued economic progress are strong. The Institute of International Finance (IIF), set up by the world’s biggest banks, forecasts 6 percent growth in gross domestic product in Latin America this year, which includes Mex­ico and Central America as well as South Am­er­ica. That growth should shrink poverty further.

By contrast, the IIF forecasts a 2.5 percent growth rate this year for the U.S. At that slow pace the U.S. could see a further rise in poverty. [Emphasis mine.]

South America’s new economic vigor is also causing a geopolitical shift. The U.S. has long considered Latin America part of its political and economic sphere of influence. Officials running South America’s left-of-center governments often charge the U.S. with imperial ambitions.

But as U.S. growth slows, South America’s businesses have reached out to other markets. While 15 percent of South America’s trade is still with the U.S., a greater share is tied to Europe. Also, trade within the continent is growing with a free-trade deal. So South American governments no longer feel so much under the thumb of the U.S.

What the columnist doesn’t note is that the Eye of Sauron, which sits atop the Pentagon, for decades focused its evil gaze upon Latin America, where its Uruk-hai ruthlessly quashed any democratically elected governments that actually dared to put the needs of the people above the greed of American corporations. And that now, with the Eye of Sauron having been focused on destroying the Middle East for the past decade, democracy has been flourishing in Latin America, and consequently, poverty there has been declining, now that U.S. interference there is at its lowest in decades.

Filmmaker Oliver Stone, in his worthwhile documentary “South of the Border” (in which he visits with South American presidents Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, Lula da Silva, Cristina Kirchner [and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner] and Rafael Correa and with Cuban leader Raul Castro), posits that, ironically, it might be the democratization of Latin America, with Latinos’ growing influence on U.S. politics, that finally democratizes the United States of America. (You know, something like that dreaded “domino effect” that the right wing used to talk about where Vietnam was concerned.)

California, with more Latinos than any other state (more than 13 million of them**), and now with Democrat Jerry Brown to take back the helm of the state on January 3, just might lead the way in the democratization of the nation.

The myth of California as a magical island might not be so mythical after all.

It will be interesting to watch the rest of the nation from the Island of California in 2011. I expect to see the nation only worsen under a Repugnican-controlled House of Representatives, and it will be interesting to see which wingnut emerges as the 2012 Repugnican Tea Party presidential nominee. Will it be Sarah Palin-Quayle, who says that we must stand with our “allies” in North Korea?*** It would be rather Kubrickian if a U.S. president nuked the wrong Korea, wouldn’t it?

Stay tuned. I sure will, from my island.

*Such wonderful things come out of the state of Texas: Tom DeLay, George W. Bush and Enron, to name just three. Really, when Repugnican-of-course Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks about secession, we should give him our full support in such an endeavor.

**Texas is at No. 2 in terms of its Latino population, with around 9 million Latinos.

***Really, though, it’s apparent that white privilege makes whites incredibly stupid, probably from their overly comfortable lives and their lack of any challenges.

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Easter celebration or a ‘tea party’?

I was looking at Salon.com’s little slide show titled “Holy Week around the world” when I saw some interesting Reuters images from Brazil and Spain. Boy, did I do a double-take.

Apparently, Brazil celebrates a “Procession of the Torches” in which the participants wear conical headdresses and carry torches

Photos:

Penitents attend the Procession of the Torches during Holy Week ...

Hooded penitents take part in the Procissao do Fogareu (the ...

Penitents attend the Procession of the Torches during Holy Week ...

Reuters and Associated Press photos

Jesus H. Christ — Easter or “Mississippi Burning”?

Anyway, even the Brazilian kiddies get involved in the festivities:

A girl dressed as a penitent prepares before a procession during ...

Young penitents take part in a Holy Week youth procession in ...

Children dressed as penitents prepare for a procession during ...

Associated Press and Reuters photos

Looks kinda like the Teletubbies meet the Ku Klux Klan to me…

And what’s this? A prototype of a “Star Wars”-inspired imperial guard for the increasingly embattled Pope Palpatine?

Penitents take part in the Santo Cepulcro procession during ...

Reuters photo

(Actually, the photo’s caption reads: “Penitents take part in the Santo Sepulcro procession during Holy Week in [La Paz, Bolivia, on] April 2, 2010.”) Also in La Paz:

A hooded penitent attends a Holy Week mass on Good Friday in ...

Associated Press photo

Y en El Salvador:

Penitents carry a statue of Jesus Christ as part of the Via ...

Reuters photo

Not to be outdone by Latin America, Spaniards also don pointy hats this time of year:

Devotees take part in the La Soledad procession during Holy ...

A young girl plays surrounded by Penitents taking part in the ...

Penitents take part in the procession of the 'Jesus Yacente' ...

Reuters, AFP and Associated Press photos

That photo above reminds me of “Logan’s Run” and I find it a bit chilling, actually… 

And even my neighbor Mexico gets in on the pointy-hat act:

Silent procession : Penitents on the procession of silence, ...

AFP photo

It’s all a bit sKKKary, and I think that my Easter has been ruined…

But seriously, why haven’t I seen this before? I’d thought that I’d already seen it all…

Can the pointy hats and the torches be a coincidence? Was the KKK influenced by Spanish and/or Latin American culture?

I just can’t see images like that and think, “Oh, Easter!” I tend to think: “Oh, a lynching!”

At least in their Holy Week celebrations in Spain and Latin America they don’t actually burn big wooden crosses, though — right?

Anyway, I pick on Spain and Latin America (I love them, or I wouldn’t have learned Spanish), but if you are interested in the topic, Yahoo! News has a much larger slide show of Holy Week celebrations from around the world here, including plenty of pictures — like this one:

A Filipino penitent has his feet nailed to a cross during yearly ...

Associated Press photo

— of “penitents” in the Philippines volunteering to have nails driven through their hands and feet (one phenomenon that I have been aware of for many years now).

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