Category Archives: Racism

Systemic Cruelty

When bailiffs broke down his door on the 20th June 2018 they found Errol Graham emaciated and dead. He weighed just four and a half stone (28.5kg). There was no food in the flat except for two tins of fish that were four years out of date, no gas or electricity supply. He was 57, lived alone in Nottingham, England and due to severe anxiety had little or no contact with family or friends. Unable to work he relied on state benefits to pay his rent, cover the bills and feed himself, benefits that were stopped when Graham did not attend a capability for work assessment. It was an isolated, painful life that ended tragically.

The conclusions of an inquest into the death of Errol Graham published last week, suggested “the removal of benefits by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), despite his long history of mental health problems, may have contributed to his death,” The Guardian reported. His daughter-in-law, Alison Turner, went further, blaming the DWP for his death; saying, “he would still be alive. He’d be ill but he’d still be alive.”

This dreadful story took place in Britain, but it, or something like it, could happen anywhere in the world. It is but one of countless examples of institutionalized cruelty and systemic brutality, the greatest example of which is perhaps starvation and food insecurity in a world of plenty.

We have created a world in which the structures, systems and institutions are, by design, devoid of compassion, promoting suspicion and division; unkind policies flow from governments concerned solely with financial development and international dominance. False values are relentlessly promoted and crude methods of motivating people (i.e. competition and desire) to do what the architects of the machine want them to do are employed.

Growing selfishness

This hostile approach to living has infiltrated all areas, including schools and the home; parents, fearful for their child’s future in a brittle world, are more concerned than ever with academic achievement – believing success in this area will somehow enable their offspring to build secure lives for themselves – than with the cultivation of social responsibility. This conditioning into selfishness is borne out by various empirical studies; The Observer reports that, “psychologists find that kids born after 1995 are just as likely as their predecessors to believe that other people experiencing difficulty should be helped—but they feel less personal responsibility to take action themselves. For example, they are less likely to donate to charity, or even to express an interest in doing so.”

In addition to growing levels of selfishness and social isolation a widespread result of systemic cruelty coupled with intense competition – in the workplace, in schools and colleges and in the social arena – is psychological fear on a massive scale; ‘the world’ as currently constituted is seen to be a frightening place, indeed without the resources (physical, mental, family friends and financial) required to live – to ‘face the day’, pay the rent and feed oneself etc.—it is a frightening place.

Institutions and government agencies are regarded as threatening bodies of control; employees are constrained by procedure, drilled in rules and regulations denying flexibility crushing the humane, forming division. Once division is present the distance between procedural enforcement to impatience, and verbal insults to violence, is a good deal less than might be imagined; once an image of ‘the other’ is built and the threshold of self control, decency and mutual respect has been crossed all manner of abuse becomes possible.

For those on the margins of society – those with mental health illnesses; minorities; people who are uneducated or don’t speak the language well; men and women like Errol Graham, and there are many such, dealing with unforgiving inflexible forms of bureaucracy, corporations and bodies of control, is impossible, it literally makes them ill. As a result they retreat, hide away, are unable to follow the suffocating dictates and relentless demands, are overwhelmed by official letters, marketing emails and text messages. Frightened they simply stop responding, refuse to open letters, turn to drugs/alcohol, or some other addicted form of escape. To some the urge to ‘give up’ becomes irresistible and suicide holds out the promise, true or false, of release.

On a larger scale it is systemic cruelty that allows one billion or so people to live in absolute poverty, most of who are in South-East Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. Merely surviving another day in a world that is threatening to crush them totally, is the aim of life; ‘God’ then is a loaf of bread, a bowl of rice, a cup of drinking water. That such injustice and needless suffering exists in a world that is more connected than ever, is aware, more or less, of the problems and has the resources to end them is shameful and inhumane.

When we build systems rooted in injustice and division, devoid of all kindness and compassion, we encourage selfishness, suspicion and fear; and where there is fear there will be anger, and with anger comes conflict – within and without. Mankind is not this dispassionate machine, certainly not just this, and arguably not this at all. But intolerant ways of living beget discrimination and hate, violence triggers violence, hate fuels hate; this much at least we must have learned. And yet the systemic methodology that is feeding division persists, becomes louder, uglier, more extreme. It must end.

Institutionalized cruelty stifles humanity’s natural tendency towards expressions of kindness, concern for others, tolerance of difference and cooperation. All of which are extolled as moral virtues throughout the world, all of which allow a person to feel at ease with themselves and happy. And when a person is relaxed they can think more clearly, more creatively; kindness then becomes a facilitator of intelligence.

Social harmony, whether within a family unit, a school, workplace or a city rests on a series of interrelated pillars; trust is key, sharing helps cultivate trust and in a healthy social setting would be the natural way of things; forgiveness is another essential ingredient, as is tolerance. All of these principles of goodness flow from love – not sentimental emotional pink love, but that vibrant creative force beyond thought that animates all that is good. As the existing systems crystallize and become more extreme, it is upon a foundation of love and compassion that the new modes of living must be built.

Israel’s Palestinian Minority has Good Reason to Fear Trump’s Plan

The Trump administration’s decision to green-light Israel’s annexation of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank grabbed headlines last week. But US support for a related proposal – one equally cherished by Israel’s extreme right – was far less noticed.

Under the terms of the “Peace to Prosperity” document, the US could allow Israel to strip potentially hundreds of thousands of its own inhabitants of their citizenship in a so-called “populated land swap” with the settlements.

Those in danger of having their citizenship revoked are drawn from Israel’s large Palestinian minority – one in five of the country’s population.

These Palestinians are descended from families that managed to avoid the large-scale expulsions by the Israeli army in 1948 that led to the creation of a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland.

The plan would require minor modifications to borders recognised since Israel agreed to a ceasefire with its Arab neighbours in 1949.

The result would be to transfer a long, thin strip of land in Israel known as the “Triangle” into the West Bank – along with a dozen towns and villages densely populated with Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

Unwelcome guests

Samer Atamni, director of the Jewish-Arab centre for peace at Givat Haviva, an institute promoting greater social integration in Israel, lives in Kafr Karia, one the towns likely to be moved under the plan.

“There’s been talk about this idea for a while but mostly from the extreme right. Now Trump has brought it out of the margins and into the mainstream,” he told Middle East Eye.

“The worry is that it will become the basis of any future political solution. It has been normalised.”

Yousef Jabareen, a member of the Israeli parliament from Umm al-Fahm, home to 50,000 Palestinians and the largest community targeted by the “land swap”, said the proposal was a dramatic step-up in a growing campaign to delegitimise the Palestinian minority.

“Even if the plan cannot be implemented yet, it presents us – the native people of the land – as unwelcome guests, as a fifth column, as the enemy,” he told MEE.

“And it will inflame the right-wing’s incitement, including from [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, that Palestinian members of the parliament are representatives for a terrorist population.”

‘Pieces on a chessboard’

Defenders of the plan have argued that it does not violate the rights of those affected because they would not be physically forced from their homes. Instead, their communities would be reassigned to a Palestinian state.

But forcible transfer of the kind suggested in the Trump plan – sometimes referred to as “static transfer” – is likely to constitute a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Atamni noted that families would be torn apart. Those inside the Triangle would be separated behind checkpoints and walls from family members living elsewhere in Israel. It would also cut many off from their places of work, schools and colleges, as well as their historic lands.

“We study and work in Israel. It is the only reality our community has known for decades,” he said.

“It confirms our worst fears that Israel does not take our rights as citizens seriously, that it thinks it can simply issue diktats, and play with our futures as if we are pieces on a chessboard.”

Worse on other side

Jabareen pointed out that residents of the Triangle had no reason to be reassured about their prospects from the Trump document.

“What state is it that we would be transferred to? From the Trump plan it is clear that there will be no Palestinian state, only a series of ghettoes, South African-style Bantustans. Under this plan, we would be placed under Israeli military rule, under occupation and apartheid.”

Baraa Mahamid, a 20-year-old activist with the Umm al-Fahm Youth Movement, agreed. He pointed out that many residents of the Triangle travelled into West Bank cities like Jenin, which is close by.

“We see the greater poverty there, the checkpoints, the walls, Israeli soldiers everywhere. There are many problems for us living here in Israel, but people are afraid their life would become much worse on the other side of the wall.”

Demographic timebomb

According to Israeli government sources quoted this week by the Haaretz daily, Netanyahu was the one who persuaded the Americans to include the transfer option.

He is reported to have been lobbying US officials to adopt the provision since work first began on Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” back in 2017.

It is the first time that an official US peace plan has included such a proposal or produced a map showing how such a territorial exchange would work on the ground.

For Netanyahu and many Israeli Jews, who see the country’s Palestinian citizens as a “demographic timebomb”, with high birth rates that might slowly erode the state’s decisive Jewish majority, the transfer plan is both a demographic and territorial win.

According to polls, about half of Israeli Jews support the expulsion of Palestinian citizens.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, which brings together the main Palestinian political factions, warned this week that the transfer of the Triangle was likely to be only the first stage in wider measures.

The Israeli right, he said, was “conveying a clear message to all of Israel’s Arab citizens: ‘You are not welcome here and your turn will come when the next plan is released’.”

Territorial gains

The transfer of the Triangle offers a twofold gain for the right.

First, it subtracts large numbers of Palestinians from Israel’s population without losing much territory, thereby strengthening Israel’s Jewish majority.

Second, it rationalises Israel’s “reciprocal” annexation of swaths of West Bank territory on which the Jewish settlements are built, thereby defeating any chance of creating a viable Palestinian state.

But critically for those who support annexation, it substantially increases Israel’s territorial area without risking a rise in Palestinian numbers.

According to figures published by Peace Now this week, some 380,000 Palestinians – 260,000 in the Triangle and a further 120,000 in East Jerusalem – would be “swapped out” to a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, some 330,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would need to be “swapped in” – that is, brought under Israeli rule as part of the annexations.

The overall gain would be official US recognition for the first time of territory housing 650,000 Jewish settlers as part of Israel.

“The demographic rationale behind this isn’t being hidden,” said Jabareen. “Israel loses lots of Palestinian citizens and gains lots of territory seized by Jewish settlers.”

Citizenship and loyalty

Schemes to transfer the Triangle have been floating around on the right for nearly two decades. It first came to prominence when a formal plan was published by Avigdor Lieberman, a settler who has served as defence and foreign minister under Netanyahu.

He has been keen to tie citizenship rights to “loyalty” to Israel as a Jewish state. In previous election campaigns, he has run under the slogan: “No loyalty, no citizenship.”

Transferring the Triangle has been seen by the right as a prelude to much wider revocations of citizenship for Palestinians, according to Jabareen.

In recent years more politicians on the right, including Netanyahu, have been explicit that Palestinian citizens are necessarily disloyal to a Jewish state because they hold on to their Palestinian identity.

‘Sword over our heads’

Such imputations of disloyalty were a mainstay of Netanyahu’s two election campaigns last year. He accused Israel’s Palestinian voters of wanting “to annihilate us all – women, children and men”.

He also sent his Likud party’s monitors into polling stations in Palestinian communities in Israel wearing body cameras, implying that Palestinian voters were defrauding the Jewish majority.

Jabareen noted: “In the parliament, members of the ruling coalition openly incite against us. Bezalel Smotrich [a settler leader, and currently the transport minister] says it proudly: ‘Accept your inferior status, or you will go to jail or be expelled.’ For them, the Triangle plan is a sword hanging over our heads.”

Palestinian identity

The assumption of disloyalty is implied in the wording of the Trump plan, which states that residents of the Triangle’s communities “largely self-identify as Palestinian”.

In fact, noted Atamni, the situation is far more complex. Surveys suggest that there is a complicated interplay between the minority’s Palestinian, Arab, Israeli and various religious identities.

“Yes, our national identity is Palestinian, but that doesn’t detract in any way from the fact that our civil identity is Israeli,” he said. “When we struggle in Israel it is for our civil rights, to end the discrimination we face from the state and receive equality as citizens.”

Nonetheless, the transfer proposal contained in Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” is in line with recent legislative moves by Israel that sanction the downgrading of the status of Palestinian citizens.

The most significant is the Nation-State Law, passed in 2018. It confers constitution-like status on Israel’s Jewishness, revokes Arabic as an official language, and makes a top priority of Judaisation – a policy of settling Jews into Palestinian areas inside Israel and the occupied territories.

“Over the last 10 years Israeli society has moved further right very quickly,” said Atamni. “The left in Israel has been a huge disappointment. Most have kept silent about the recent threats to our status.”

Political calculations

Jabareen observed that the ultra-nationalist bloc supporting Netanyahu had a pressing political need to delegitimise the standing of Palestinians as citizens, and especially as voters.

Netanyahu has been unable to form a government for the past year – and thereby avoid an impending corruption trial – because he has twice narrowly lost to an opposition bloc led by a former army general, Benny Gantz, of the Blue and White party.

The bloc under Gantz can only end the stalemate and win power itself if it allies with the Joint List, which represents Israel’s Palestinian minority. But Gantz has embraced the Trump plan, breaking any possible alliance with the Joint List.

If both Jewish blocs again fail to win a majority in the election on 2 March, the pressure will mount on Gantz to enter a rightwing unity government with Netanyahu, probably on Netanyahu’s terms.

Disillusionment from Palestinian voters and a drop in their turnout might also mean Netanyahu’s coalition can scrape over the electoral threshold and win back power.

Additionally, Netanyahu is trying to grow the right-wing bloc by urging his far-right coalition partners to form an electoral alliance with the Jewish Power party, heirs of the outlawed Kach movement. They demand the expulsion of Palestinians from a Greater Israel.

The US decision to support a platform that promotes the transfer of large numbers of Palestinian citizens against their will could help rehabilitate the image of the racists of Jewish Power, making them look more politically respectable.

Internment camps

Before Netanyahu began lobbying for a transfer of the Triangle in 2017, he had sought to persuade former President Obama’s officials of its benefits as early as 2014. According to the Maariv newspaper, Netanyahu argued that the move would reduce the Palestinian minority from a fifth of Israel’s population to 12 per cent.

At the same time, the Israeli foreign ministry produced a document analysing how a “population exchange” might be presented as in accordance with international law. It concluded that the measure would require that either the affected citizens supported the move or the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas backed it.

Polls have consistently shown that a majority of Palestinian citizens are opposed.

Aware of the minority’s hostility, the Netanyahu government staged a drill in 2010 in which Israeli security services trained for an uprising in response to transferring the Triangle. As part of the exercise, internment camps were established for protesters.

Mahamid, the youth activist from Umm al-Fahm, said the plan had at least made the reality of life for Palestinian citizens clearer.

“We were told our citizenship would protect us, that it would get us our rights if we were loyal. But it never did. And now that is being made explicit in the threat to expel us.”

• First published in Middle East Eye

Trump, Racism, and Fascism: More than Just Personality Disorders

After the supposedly post-racial presidency of Barack Obama, what passes for the liberal punditry discovered racism had arisen in the homeland. They never felt so good feeling bad about racism, denouncing what they identified as its primal cause – Mr. Trump, who was sullying that “shining example” of the United States of America. Obscured were those historical antecedents of this “exceptional” republic, founded on the expropriation of indigenous land and extermination of its inhabitants and built in part by African slave labor.

Peculiar institution of US racism

Trump has been reprehensible in pandering to white racism. But the Republicans have no monopoly on this franchise. We should remember the legacy of Jim Crow and Dixiecrat Democrats in high office including six US senators and two Supreme Court justices who were members of the Ku Klux Klan. FDR, arguably the most liberal US president and a Democrat, force relocated and incarcerated in concentration camps 120,000 Japanese Americans, including orphaned children and people with as little as 1/16th Japanese ancestry.

Unfortunately Trump’s performance has had precedents such as Bill “the first black president” Clinton’s Stone Mountain photo op at the birthplace of the modern KKK with a group of mostly African American prisoners used as props. Clinton followed with the mass incarceration 1994 crime bill and “ending welfare as we know it.” Trump is on the same continuum as past presidents, only more vulgar, more overt, and more virulent.

Racism is institutionalized in the “land of the free;” it is not simply a personality disorder. Institutional racism pervades current politics. Trump’s Protect and Serve Act, making attacks on police a federal hate crime, placed killer cops in a protected class. The heinous act passed with a near unanimous 382-35 vote including three-quarters of the Black Caucus and a bipartisan f**k you to the Black Lives Matter movement. Surely racism is endemic in the DNA of the US polity.

The peculiar institution of US racialized politics does not stop at the border. Wherever there are flashpoints of racial or ethnic conflict, the US government can be found fanning the flames to the advantage of the empire, be it Sunni versus Shia in the Middle East or indigenous versus European ancestry in Latin America. Jeanine Añez, the self-proclaimed president of Bolivia after the recent US-backed coup, had announced it was time to take the indigenous out of not only the government but out of the capital city.

Institutional racism is particularly lethal, because it intersects with and is reinforced by class. Police brutality, mass incarceration, welfare assistance, quality public education, and so forth are called “black issues,” but are of concern to all working people and not just working African Americans. White racism is used to obscure the common interests of working folks by creating the illusion that somehow a white Amazon warehouse worker has common cause with Jeff Bezos.

Specter of fascism

In recent years, the press reports of racist young whites attracted to far-right persuasions including flirting with fascism. Were a significant fascist movement to arise in the US, these dispossessed youth – called the “deplorables” by Hillary Clinton – could serve as its base. But are they the cause or the consequence?

Central casting could not have done better than Donald Trump in finding a picture-perfect caricature of a blonde, bullying fascist. But tacky cosmetics and bad table manners, which Trump has in abundance, do not alone qualify him for the Aryan brotherhood. Now three years into the reign of Trump and despite dire predictions to the contrary, the republic has not yet goose-stepped into fascism.

Racism and narrow nationalism have been historically associated with fascism. Yet Trump’s Muslim ban, however odious, pales in magnitude to the perfidy of Roosevelt’s Japanese internment.

The specter of fascism entails more than white nativism. Fascism takes political form as a specific form of governance. As a form of governance, fascism “arises when, in face of working class challenge, finance capital can no longer rule in the old way,” as Greg Godels explains.

Yes, there was Trump’s Charlottesville comment about “some very fine people” regarding angry young men with shaved heads and swastika tattoos. But these marginalized, barely post-adolescents are not the ruling class. The resentful dispossessed are the byproduct of neoliberal policies and the potential recruits for a fascist movement. They are the tinder, but not the match. The danger of fascism comes from the ruling circles and not from the popular classes.

Downward trajectory of neoliberalism

In the 1930s, capital was initially forced by a militant trade union movement in the US to include labor as a junior partner with the New Deal, which was a diluted form of social democracy. New Deal liberalism was eclipsed around the time of Jimmy Carter’s one-term presidency, when he first espoused deregulation and small government, meaning abandonment of the social welfare function of the state. The gospel of neoliberalism got legs with the Reagan revolution. Liberalism’s coffin was nailed shut with the Bill Clinton’s New Democrats as labor was demoted to a special interest group even though it constitutes a vast majority of the citizenry.

Not since Nixon’s presidency has any major liberal legislation been enacted, while the “new liberals” – that is, the neoliberals – are the orthodoxy of both parties of capital. The trajectory of neoliberalism has been ever downward as evidenced by increasing austerity for working people, a more aggressive imperialist extension of US hegemony abroad, and a deepening of the national security state.is downward trajectory of neoliberalism is tied to the concentration of economic power. An ever more authoritarian state serves the interests of ever more concentrated capital.

The increasingly coercive state is obscured behind the electoral charade, where spending obscene amounts of money to buy politicians is protected as free speech and corporations are given the constitutional rights of persons. While nearly half the populace do not vote, the US leads the world in incarceration and military spending.

Given the death of liberalism in mainstream US politics, why would the owners of capital and their bought politicians (the 2016 elections cost $6.6 billion) want to change to brand “fascism”? Brand “bourgeois democracy” has been so terrifically successful in sheep-dogging the people into accepting elite rule and believing they are enjoying real democracy.

Under bourgeois democracy, electoral candidates are allowed to compete to prove who can best serve the ruling elites. Only if the left is strong enough to challenge that agenda and to seriously contest for political power would the ruling circles consider fascism and do away with the façade of elections.

The Sanders Insurgency

Bernie Sanders is not a Marxist revolutionary, but a remnant New Dealer who is soft on imperialism. Sanders, in the context of today’s politics, nevertheless represents a welcome challenge to neoliberal austerity. For now, the establishment is betting that a rigged electoral process (e.g., super delegates), dirty tricks (e.g., the spat with Elizabeth Warren), and a gatekeeper corporate press – all of whom might risk four more years of Trump rather than running a putative progressive against him – will keep Sanders out of serious contention.

But if, say, the Sanders-inspired Our Revolution really became revolutionary and mounted a third-party challenge with prospects of winning, a section of the ruling elites could consider fascism. Neither side of class barricade is there now. Because maintaining a fascist dictatorship is costly and the elites themselves have to give up some of their privileges, the option for trying to impose fascism would likely be made by a just faction of the ruling elites, rather than a unified class.

For the moment, the “f” card is held in distant reserve by those in power in case the insurgency evidenced by the Sanders phenomenon truly ignited, were able to break out of the institutional constraints of the Democratic Party apparatus, and the Resistance ceased being the assistance. Then the struggle could develop in the direction of a choice between socialism and its barbaric alternative.

Preparatory stages of fascism

A critical harbinger of fascism is the growing preeminence of the national security state, which is now seen by the DNC Democrats as a bulwark of democracy rather than the precursor of fascism. The Democrats helped renew the Patriot Act by a landslide, handing President Trump wartime authority to suspend constitutional civil liberties. (Ironically, around the same time, the partisan wargames known as the House impeachment hearings were raging.)

Meanwhile the internet is being weaponized against the left. Elizabeth Warren has proposed censorship of the Web overseen by government in cooperation with big tech companies. These developments, extending the ubiquity of the surveillance state, are the “preparatory stages” of fascism.

The FBI is currently trusted “a great deal” by a 3:1 margin by Democrats compared to Republicans. The saintly visage of former FBI director Robert Mueller and not the snarly appearance of Trump may prove to be the face of fascism in the US. But at least for now, the “f” word is still correctly understood to refer to procreation.

Israel-Palestine: Time for Russia to Step up to the Plate

Is Israel US property? In many ways, yes. Despite its willful ways, Israel is always pushing the envelope with the US. It has been getting away with murder since it was founded, abetted and funded by the US. But the US has failed, and Jared Kushner is the perfect envoy for this latest ultimatum, crafted by Netanyahu for his buddy Donald and his Orthodox Jewish son-in-law.

The Arab puppet regimes are either silent (UAE, Bahrain, Oman) or more ‘urging to negotiate’ (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar). The Palestinians are being told: take this or lose the farm. West Bank settlements will proceed apace, the latest pending, with or without a ‘deal’.

Only Turkey, Tunisia and Jordan dismissed it out of hand. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi of Jordan warned against the “dangerous consequences of unilateral Israeli measures that aim to impose new realities on the ground.”

The deal builds on the Oslo time bomb, which essentially accepted the occupation by creating Area A (under full Palestinian control), and Areas B and C (under Israeli military control), as already part of the State of Israel. The plan also

  1. immediately annexes territories in the West Bank, newly built and under construction, the first stage in the annexation of the Jordan Valley and all the settlements.
  2. redraws Israel’s borders.
  3. proposes a tunnel from Gaza to the West Bank.
  4. cuts off ‘Palestine’ from Jordan.

Israel as Soviet-Russian invention

But Israel is actually beholden to the Soviet Union for its survival in 1948, before its founders turned right and joined the US-led Cold War. Putin is very friendly with Israeli leaders. 20% of Israelis are Russian-speaking immigrants. The founders of Israel, Ben Gurion and Begin, were communists. Ben Gurion wrote an ode to Lenin, and Begin was an NKVD agent. Russian is almost a lingua franca in Israel.

Russia’s intervention in Syria, though problematic and far from peaceful, is considered a success in defeating ISIS, in alliance with Iran. This is actually a revival of Soviet foreign policy, as Syria was an ally of the Soviet Union and modeled itself on the ‘real existing socialism’ of the 1960s-70s. Israel abandoned its socialist roots long ago, and Russia is both feared and respected by Israelis. Putin is no one’s puppet.

The battle for Syria is not over and is not in Israel’s imperial, hegemonic interests. Russia is an ally of Iran there, in opposition to Israel. Both Russia and Israel have lost planes due to Israel’s meddling. Israel acts with relative impunity against Iranian troops. Russian-Israeli relations are complicated.

Reviving Soviet peace policy

Russia is playing a mediating, balancing role, as opposed to the US, Israel and Turkey, all pursuing their own warlike agendas. It looks now as if the Assad regime will survive and Syria will be able to rebuild (China is ready and willing), despite Turkey, Israel and the US. The next step is bringing some semblance of peace to Palestine. Why not a Putin-Netanyahu-Abbas ‘deal of the century’, though it won’t be written by Netanyahu or Gantz, and it will lack Trump’s preening ego.

A Russian solution would be based on UN Security Council resolutions and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, and should/ would include

  1. an end of settlements and negotiations over what to do with existing settlements.
  2. some form of federation allowing for
  3. Jerusalem as a shared city of peace
  4. open borders.

This will require disarming settlers and removing them if necessary, or at least a trade in lands. It will probably be a one-state solution, feasible when Israel has been confronted with its sins, and is finally accepted as part of the geopolitical region on terms of equality, not terror and war.

Whether or not it is called Jewish is a moot point, as long as all citizens are treated equally. Birobaidjan is a Jewish Autonomous Region in the Russian Federation, though only 4% of citizens there are Jewish. Whether Israel-Palestine is 40% or 60% Jewish is not a problem. Muslim states have always been tolerant, believing there is ‘no force in religion’.

Putin is in a unique historical moment. A strong, respected leader, very sympathetic to the plight of Jews in WWII, and respectful of Israel as a powerful, disciplined state (just as Stalin respected Hitler’s powerful German state in the 1930s). But more important, he also has the Soviet legacy of support for third world revolution against imperialism, the same spirit that inspires Palestinians and their supporters today.

Roots of Russian-Palestinian friendship

Reading Ramzy Baroud’s These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian stories of struggle and defiance in Israeli prisons (2019) is like reading a rousing account of Russian communist partisans in WWII or revolutionaries in Tsarist Russian before 1917.

The passion in Dareen Tatour’s Resist, my people, resist them, that Israel considered so dangerous that she was imprisoned for 3 months then placed under house arrest in Tel Aviv, away from her family for 2 years 8 months. Then hounded by the Nazareth district court for another 5 months behind bars. She was told if she wrote any more political poetry, she would be immediately given even more prison time.

In Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds and breathed my sorrows
And carried the soul in my palm
Of an Arab Palestine.
I will not succumb to the ‘peaceful solution’
Never lower my flags
Until I evict them from my land. …

Russians are unapologetic romantics, proud of their leading role in defeating fascism. Alexey Maresyev, a military pilot who became a Soviet fighter ace during World War II despite becoming a double amputee, was portrayed in Boris Polevoy’s bestselling novel, The Story of a Real Man, and inspired Sergei Prokofiev’s last opera. Such heroes remind Russians today of their heroic, tragic past, their responsibility before history. His valour and devotion to the liberation of then-occupied Russia is like a page out of Baroud’s touching testimonials.

The Palestinians see Russia as an ally of sorts, supportive of Hamas, criticizing Israel for its settlements and persecution. Meanwhile, Israel eagerly courts Russia, as was seen at the Auschwitz commemoration in Jerusalem in January, where Russian foreign minister Lavrov wept, and Putin’s address was given the highest respect.

Liberating Berlin photo by (Jewish) Soviet Yevgeny Khaldei


Russia was acknowledged there as the real liberator of Jews in WWII, unlike commemorations in the West that play up the US and Britain as the liberators of Europe, scandalously rewriting history to their liking. Netanyahu is smart, pressing the right buttons, not fearing to slight Poland, which has never owned up to the murder of Jews by Poles under the approving eye of the German occupiers. Ask many Poles who liberated them, and you will see steam coming out their ears.

A firm hand in wrestling a deal with Israel is possible. Putin has respect from both sides, does not have the baggage of condoning and financing settlements, and is not so beholden to an Israel lobby, such as it exists in Russia (though Russian media is uniformly pro-Israel).

Of course, with Trump in office, no Russian proposal will fly. The Middle East Quartet (UN, US, EU, Russia, founded 2002), intended to mediate the Israeli–Palestinian peace process, could be resuscitated under anyone-but-Trump. Just as serious Russian involvement in Syria brought about the defeat of ISIS and stabilization of the state of Syria, Russia spearheading a realistic plan, willing to face down the handful of settler fanatics, could reset the stage for progress.

Ex-prisoner Khalida Jarrar’s words emphasize that the Palestinian struggle is universal.

Someday, the walls of every prison may come tumbling down, ushering in the age of Palestinian freedom.

A small step for man, a giant leap for mankind. The last racist, apartheid state kaput. The was the dream from Soviet days and stands today as the goal of all humanity, with Russia the key player.

Incredible Lightness of Quetzalcóatl

From the far distance sounded the muffled howling of a family of monkeys, monos gritones, passing the night in the crowns of the mighty trees. It echoed through the jungle like the roar of an angry mountain lion. Gruesome and terrifying, it seemed to tear the night apart, but it did not disturb the jungle. It sang and fiddled, chirped and whistled, whined and whimpered, rejoiced and lamented its ever-unchanging song with the constancy of the roaring sea.

B. Traven, “Trozas”

Note: This is part two in a series on Mexico and the passion and the glory of an American (me) rejiggering his relationship to finally yawn out of the swill of this sick North American consumer fiesta and move away. We’ll see how that unfolds, as I too am in the grip of viscous repeated battered country abuse syndrome!

*****

She holds onto her role as daughter in this patriarchal land — Mexico. Not sure how patriarchal it would have turned out if the Spanish sword, swine, syphilis, santos, holy see, germs had never set root in this New World.

She’s 52, unmarried, unable to birth progeny. She spent years in the USA to gain a stake so she might get a sliver of her father’s property for which to build a little casita.

Her brothers get the father’s and deceased mother’s land and small houses, small parcels. Claudia has a small school supply store in Axochiapan (her deceased mother’s for years) but she can’t make a living at it thanks to Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart and other box store cancers. She has her younger sister in Cuernavaca, and she works three jobs to barely survive with her technical degree in computer repair and IT. These two women — Claudia and Alejandra — have more “la capacidad” in their pinky fingers than all of America has in its jowls. Claudia was so broke she ended up buying 30 buenas noches (poinsettias for the Christmas time) to sell on the street in upscale neighborhoods in Cuernavaca. She made no sales as Land Rovers and Lexus coupes zoomed by.

The plague of propaganda, low prices, low quality, and brand loyalty has run rampant in this southern land, like dengue mosquitoes lighting upon the children while still in vitro.

Years ago, both Alejandra and Claudia spent time in a print plant in Gresham, Oregon, and most of their siblings had also thrown in around Portland, and many more hoofed it through the causeway to Minneapolis. Many made it to the El Norte without proper papers from the US Gestapo.

Claudia thinks sometime in 2020 she might be eligible to return to the USA. For Alejandra, that’s five years down the pike. We’ll vouch for and sponsor both of them.

Both are proud, smart, feminist, and self-determined. They are full of empathy, and would give the shirts off their backs to help friends, family, anyone in need.

They worked hard in El Norte, conjoined efforts, lived small, and saved money. Mexico was always in their dreams, and they were here to try and build something back home.

Back home, 90 years of bastard politicians in the two parties  — PAN and PRI —  literally have ripped off trillions from Mexico’s coffers;  and the bastards’ bastard, USA, El Yanqui, and the other financiers and the dirty industry honchos, all have a history of theft and murder, and are still readily staged to exploit, which is another word for steal.

Very little is allowed to be manufactured in Mexico — cars, buses, equipment, more. NAFTA allows for a pipeline of US-made and US-provisioned stuff that the Mexicans could easily produce. We all know what the NAFTA two-step American gut disease is.

Claudia’s hardy but sad, admitting to bouts of depression; and her friend, my spouse, came to see her for the very first time for a visit to Claudia’s homeland. To her small pueblo where cane fields, corn forests and a few cows populate the land. All of that, plus me, new in my spouse’s life with a trainload of history with Mexico, Latin America, La Raza, hatred of El Yanqui, created a unique mix of ingredients that bonded us quickly as we went through by car (a friend of Claudia’s rented a new KIA Sole to us cheap) and saw many parts of Morelos and Guerrero.

These are powerful rendezvouses you’ll never get from Holly-Dirt Netflix originals. This story is not closed, but it’s universal.

In the chaotic Stockholm Syndrome lives of North Americans, nothing about the struggle to overthrow the chains of Capitalism and crony corruption resonates since North America is one flagging mall-dragging country, where the population is compliant in the workplace, but mad as hell on the troll worlds of on-line “discourse.” Sort of the salt peter of revolution and real deterministic radical action — the world wide web; Holly-dirt; Youtube; the infantilism and Chlamydia of mainstream pop culture;  wacko political correctness; the four seasons of  24/7  violence for younger and younger males with their sweaty warped joysticks; the endless joke-joke of Americans relishing in their own stupidity and air power; the endless useless pedantics in academia, the courts, and the state department.

It is so real, how falsely revisionist the North American concept of history for this Turtle Island. Trump is the culmination of all of the superficiality, all the Ponzi schemes, all the bankruptcy courts, the insipid hubris of the stupid, all the PT Barnum hustle, all the smoke and mirrors, all the self-aggrandizement, all the narcissistic syndromes, all the puffed-up faux bravado of a man (and many MAGA men) who would last 10 seconds in a field with some of my former veterans who are mad as hell at the lies of empire, the lies at the top, the failure of ALL POTUS’s.

Not one has the capacity to understand “third” world people, or people in Mexico, or the races, the Indians, the tug of the white supremacists who launched their hairy bodies into Mesoamerica to play their swindle for King-Queen-Captain-Cardinal on a people who had pretty much figured out things for several millennia before the hordes of hustlers and rapists and murderers from Iberia and the Anglo lands penetrated their soil and jungles and bays.

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Cuernavaca

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry was one of my top 100 books a while back. It shows the anachronistic debased values of a British envoy, drunkard, impotent, and the the emerging pathogen of Nazism embraced by the industrialists and that included some in Mexico. The Power and the Glory, too, by Graham Greene. The passion, impassioning, and possessiveness of men. Macario and Treasure of Sierra Madre (B. Traven and John Huston books and scripts respectively) and Night of the Iguana.

Contemporary writers in Mexico and some of their well-known titles also inspire:

In Search of Klingsor by Jorge Volpi.
The Body Where I Was Born by Guadalupe Nettel.
Diablo Guardián by Xavier Velasco.
Down The Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos.
The Uncomfortable Dead by Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Subcomandante Marcos.
Leaving Tabasco by Carmen Boullosa.

More here, Mexico’s Finest Contemporary Writers: Tracing a Cultural Renaissance

More authors I’ve danced with during mescal-induced jaguar nights: Luis Spota, Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo, Jaime Sabines, Martin Luis Guzman, and Valeria Luiselli.

And the simple poetics of Mexicans who were determined to break the yoke of the oppressors:

My sole ambition is to rid Mexico of the class that has oppressed her and given the people a chance to know what real liberty means. And if I could bring that about today by giving up my life, I would do it gladly.

Pancho Villa

In that first blow to the deaf walls of those who have everything, the blood of our people, our blood, ran generously to wash away injustice. To live, we die. Our dead once again walked the way of truth. Our hope was fertilized with mud and blood.

Subcomandante Marcos

Like all of Latin America, Mexico after independence in 1821 turned its back on a triple heritage: on the Spanish heritage, because we were newly liberated colonies, and on our Indian and black heritages, because we considered them backward and barbaric. We looked towards France, England and the U.S., to become progressive democratic republics.

— Carlos Fuentes

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My good friend from Tucson, John, who became bi-lingual early in his life before his three years as an Army LT,  ended marrying a woman from Cuernavaca. I was at the wedding 33 years ago. He’s got three daughters, and he’s been divorced a while. She came from upper class environs, and he was a Navy commander’s son living in the desert. He and I like our motorcycles, and he is now a translator on the international market, from home, via Skype, phone, what have you. He’s single again, living the desert rat life of many a gringo who has gotten a taste of Mexico in their blood and entwined it into his children’s DNA.

He forewarned me to not head to Cuernavaca or the State of Guerrero or anywhere away from the quintessential tourist zones. He was citing US State Department provisos, whichever news feeds he reads, and the broken down minds of his fellow Arizonans.

Of course, he and the State Department are dead wrong, as was Reagan’s idiotic ambassador to Mexico, Gavin. But with Trump and idiotic millionaires like Maddow and the like, the USA is one starched up Marvel comic book world of good and bad, light and evil, where the highest thinkers (sic) are at least a couple of notches below Lex Luther’s mental prowess, for sure.

The result of this xenophobia is a large city, Cuernavaca, that in December had very non-Mexican few tourists. The city is looking tired and worn, as is most of Mexico, excluding the industrial complexes, mining operations, smelting outfits, et al.

The ebb of life, though, even in the threadbare places in Mexico, is compelling. Laughter and hands held. The peek-a-boo amazing sights, sounds, and smells around every corner and in every walkway.

Our second largest trading partner behind Canada, Mexico is a shell of a country in many ways. Ugly Botoxed white women and men on billboards, their green and blue eyes like a cold lizard’s, and on TV, in positions of power, while la gente is continually denigrated and spat upon by the elites.

Axe

We are hatchets of steel and fire.
We live to reap and illuminate.
With the metal,
we fell the trunk.
With the flame,
we illuminate the cut,
the felling of what we are.

Carmen Boullosa

 

Diego Rivera, Liberation of the Peon, B. Traven

Invasions

Trump told the previous president of Mexico that he would be sending in the American cavalry to take care of “those bad hombres.”

He accused Peña Nieto of harboring “a bunch of bad hombres down there” and warned:

You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.

But there is a history of US meddling, both through “diplomatic channels,” through the economic structural violence our hit men are known for, and with troops:

When Woodrow Wilson took office in 1913, he inherited a chaotic diplomatic relationship with Mexico. Two years earlier, the country’s longtime head of state, Porfirio Díaz, had been deposed. Over three decades in power, Díaz had been strongly aligned with American economic interests, which came to control 90 percent of Mexico’s mineral resources, its national railroad, its oil industry and, increasingly, its land. Resentful of the “peaceful invasion” from their northern neighbors, in 1911 middle-class and landless Mexicans overthrew Díaz and installed a noted public intellectual and reform champion, Francisco Madero, in the presidency. Not long after, the military, under the leadership of General Victoriano Huerta, deposed and executed Madero.

Displaying his deep piety and moral conviction, Wilson declared that he would never “recognize a government of butchers” and declared his intent to “teach” Mexico “a lesson by insisting on the removal of Huerta.” To that end, he sent two personal envoys to Mexico City to instruct the country’s political leaders—“for her own good”—to insist on Huerta’s resignation. The mission fared poorly. For one, the envoys—William Bayard Hale, a journalist, and John Lind, a local politician from Minnesota—spoke not a word of Spanish. Lind privately regarded Mexicans as “more like children than men” and conducted himself accordingly, to the detriment of the mission.

[…] At first, Villa sought to align himself with Wilson, but as his grasp on power became more tenuous, he sought to raise additional resources by taxing American corporations and through general banditry. He took matters a step too far when his forces confiscated the sprawling Mexican ranch of American publisher William Randolph Hearst and briefly invaded a New Mexico border town, crying “Viva Villa! Viva Mexico!”

Incensed, Wilson raised a “punitive expedition” of 10,000 soldiers under the direction of General John J. Pershing. Equipped with all the modern trappings of war—reconnaissance aircraft, Harley Davidson motorcycles—the invading army searched high and low for Villa. It was like finding “a needle in a haystack,” Pershing would soon complain. Though Villa’s forces continued to plunder and maraud, the Americans proved incapable of finding and capturing the rebel leader. When Villa surfaced briefly in Glenn Springs, Texas, with his troops, only to disappear soon thereafter, the Wilson administration was left mortified and bereft of an explanation.

American entry into the Great War allowed Wilson and Pershing to save face. In February 1917 the expedition returned to American soil. Within weeks, Pershing sailed for Europe to command the nation’s war effort.

Trump has now warned the new Mexican president that he will deem drug cartels as terrorist organizations, igniting the TNT of war and invasion. This was on all the people’s minds when I was traveling just days ago in Mexico; even in the conservative mass media. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said:

But in these cases we have to act independently and according to our constitution, and in line with our tradition of independence and sovereignty.

War is irrational. We are for peace.

AMLO’s comments came after Trump fired off a series of tweets Tuesday morning offering Mexico “help in cleaning out these monsters.” Trump:

The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!” Trump said. “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!

No matter how barbaric the cartels are, and how in bed they are with the police, army, government, the barbarism of the US is in line with the Spanish and Portuguese slave traders. Each and every weapon manufactured and sold in the USA that gets south of the border is part of that barbarism. Every line of coke and hit of Meth consumed by the great happy USA population is a bullet to the head of the innocents of Mexico.

Like Italy, Mexico is at the whim of the Church and Mafia. Like Western Culture, every blinking moment in every individual’s life is determined by the billionaires, their cabal of financial and retail felons. We are at the whim of the heads of Boeing, Exxon, Raytheon and any number of resource extractors and consumer bombers. Fortune magazine praises the millionaires and billionaires and their disruptive industries, technologies, financial instruments. All of it is still American sodomy of a race, a culture, a place, a land.

In Mexico, the juxtaposition of Nestle bottles everywhere or the VW’s and the Dodge’s is easily supplanted by the hard lives of Mexicans still eking out livings and conjugating their traditions, no matter how deeply Western Plastic Culture and Consumer Goods have infiltrated their land.

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Family Wedded to Culture, Land, History

Yanquis and Stars and Bars flag wavers are the sum total of their genocidal roots destroying First Nations’ peoples and the enslavement of Africans, but also the deep racism and bigotry perpetrated against not just Filipino and Chinese and Japanese, but against the Jew, Eastern European, German, Irish, Italian, et al.

Drowning women deemed witches, complete decimation of the grasslands, the wetlands, the bayous, the slaying of buffalo and wolf and grizzly, and the metal machines cutting into earth and stoking the flames and smoke of today’s generation of cancer-riddled people. I have these trolls attempting to harass me, trolls who listen to that ape of a man, Stephen King of Iowa, who drivels his white supremacist crap on how the white Christian lands/peoples have contributed 90 percent or more of the marvels of modern humanity — from the internet to microscopes, from splitting of the atom to cinema, from supersonic jets to soda pop. These pigs are on the airwaves, both of the Tucker Carson kind and the liberal Hollywood and media types continually showing the great boom of intelligence in the Western White World, or in many cases, the great achievements of the Judaeo-Christian.

“Shit-hole” country may have come out of the racist whites’ moldy mouths decades/centuries before Trump’s bloviating (how many US presidents have shown outright racism against  ALL nations of color?), but it’s in the minds of liberals, democrats, those so-called professional class, the college educated, and the journalists and diplomats. Most Americans see the words “backwards” or “not evolved enough” or “heathen” or “simpleton” when they see Mexico or Mexicans.

[link] The irony is that Trump’s own ancestors came from Africa, as did all mankind. In the book and documentary “The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey,” the geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells traces the human migration out of Africa. He travelled the world for a decade to trace genetic markers by taking blood samples—from Bushmen in the sweltering Kalahari Desert and the Chukchi in icy Siberia to the Hopi in the American West—to prove the trail of the human migration. Wells concludes, “Old concepts of race are not only socially divisive but scientifically wrong.”

In the end we know which country is the shit-hole, the shitty one, and its collective stupidity and infantilism continues to lobotomize the masses. I teach k12, and the food these kids eat and then waste is criminal, but emblematic of the American project of exceptionalism and the right to pollute, throw away, discard, waste, over-consume. The youth have no culture, no art, no interest in anything but making a few dollars fast.

The reality is this throw-away society is right now generating, through this corrupt capitalism, more and more discarded peoples in this country and in other countries. The AI-Robot-GIG-Uber-ization-Amazon-ification-Economies of Scale-Centralization will again generate more and more disposed of humanity — in the USA, and elsewhere.

We know socialistic systems of organizing are the only way to stem this destruction. Read or watch  any number a a million essays, interviews, books on the subject.

What capitalism has done is gut Mexico, forcing families to break up sisters and brothers, sons and  daughters, uncles and aunts, grandkids and cousins, friends and lovers, husbands and wives to head to El Norte tob e exploited by capitalism on steroids and to weather the scourge of racist Americans, police, policies, bureaucracies, attitudes.

The amount of hate against Mexicans or Latino/a people is high in USA.

In their own country, the people of the land in Mexico are now sugar coated, eating crappy food, drinking soda, and hauling their bodies full of hormone disrupters, full of petro-chemicals, GMOs, nitrous oxide, and a million other particulates created by the full-scale NAFTA exploitation and the theft of their own culture, land, resources by the white devils in their own country — the elites educated in the Milton Friedman school of destruction.

Brotherhood

I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.

Netflix, The 43 — This docuseries with Paco Ignacio Taibo II in it, disputes the Mexican government’s account of how and why 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College vanished in Iguala in 2014.

Paco Ignacio Taibo II—leader in the 1968 Mexican student strike, journalist, social activist, union organizer—is widely known for his crime novels, and is considered the founder of the neo-crime genre in Latin America. One of the most prolific writers in Mexico today, more than 500 editions of his 51 books have been published in over a dozen languages. Taibo has won many awards, including the Grijalbo, the Planeta/Joaquin Mortiz in 1992, and the Dashiell Hammett three times, for his crime novels. His biography, Guevara: Also Known as Che (St. Martin’s Press, 1996), has sold more than half a million copies around the world and won the 1998 Bancarella Book of the Year award in Italy. Taibo organizes the Semana Negra (Noir Week), a crime fiction festival held every year in Gijón, Spain.

Taibo: Yes. I wanted to destroy the old idea that history is science and fiction is fantasy. Everybody knows that is not true. It’s a game: Just Passing Through starts asking if it’s really a novel, if it’s rather a history book, because of this and this and this. And then, in the second paragraph, it says: this is a novel, this cannot be a history book, it’s full of fiction. Then, in the third paragraph, what the hell is a novel, what the hell is a history book? The game is trying to destroy this secure attitude of historians to history and this secure attitude of fiction writers about fiction. There’s nothing secure in history. I don’t like security. History shouldn’t be a secure space, a comfortable space. Comfortable for whom? Readers? Writers? It’s the opposite.

We’ll go deeper in this reclamation of what it means to be in, live in, be with, hold onto Mexico and Mexicans!

Indigenous Bolivia Ready to go to War Against Fascism

Bolivia, December 2019, three weeks after the fascist coup. It is devilishly cold. My comrade’s car is carefully navigating through the deep mud tracks. Enormous snow-covered mountain peaks are clearly visible in the distance.

The Bolivian Altiplano; beloved, yet always somehow hostile, silent, impenetrable.

So many times in the past I came close to death here. In Peru as well as in Bolivia. More often in Peru.

Now, what I do is totally mad. Being a supporter of President Evo Morales from the beginning until this very moment, I am not supposed to be here in Bolivia, in the Altiplano. But I am, because these mud huts on the left and right, are so familiar and so dear to me.

My comrade is a Bolivian farmer, an indigenous man. His hands are red, rough. He usually does not talk much, but after the coup, he cannot stop speaking. This is his country; the country that he loves and which has been stolen from him, from his wife and from his children.

We can both get screwed here, but if we do, that’s life; we know the risk and we are happy to take it.

Carlos (not his real name), my driver and a friend, explained:

I called them, the elders, and they said it is ok that you come. I sent them your essays. You know, people here now read, even in the deep villages. After 14 years of Evo’s government, the entire country is covered by the mobile phone network. They read your stuff translated into Spanish. They liked what they read. They agreed to give you a statement. But they said, ‘if he is not really a Russian-Chinese left-wing writer, but instead some Camacho crony, we will break his head with a stone.’

Camacho, Luis Fernando Camacho, a member of the fascist, U.S.-backed Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, and the Chair of the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz since 2019. A major adversary of Evo Morales, a man who during the 2019 Bolivian general election, sided with the West, with the treasonous Bolivian military (trained in the United States), and demanded Evo’s resignation, on 5 November 2019.

I am fine with what they say. We are going.

We drive up, and then, at approximately 4,100 meters above sea level, we level up.

A new, wide road is being constructed. Of course, it is a project from the days of Evo’s presidency.

But it is not only the road building that can be detected all around us. There are water towers and water pumps and faucets in every village. Water is free, for all. There are schools, medical centers as well as sport facilities, and carefully attended fields.

The drive is long, tough. But at one point, we see a few buses and cars parked on the top of a hill.

There is a small plateau, and a giant white speaker sitting in the middle of the field.

People in colorful outfits are scattered all around the site: men, women and children. A group of elders is seated in a closed circle. They are chanting, and their appeal is broadcasted through the speaker. They are addressing what is sacred to them: Mother Earth. They need strength in order to go on, to struggle, to defend themselves.

Indigenous elders

I am first ‘scanned’ by the people, and only then allowed to approach the elders. I explain who I am, and soon, the formalities are over.

“Please record but do not film our faces, for security,” I am told. “But later, you can film the gathering.”

Soon after, I sit down, and they begin to talk:

The situation which we are living in these days in our country, in the communities up here, in the Andean communities is very difficult. In reality we feel frustrated, often abandoned because during the previous government led by President Evo Morales, we as farmers and indigenous people, felt very good. Even if, sometimes, we did not receive too much help, still, the government, the very President Evo Morales, is of our own blood, our own class. For that reason, we were supporting him. And we keep supporting him.

And this, what we have now is a government – dictatorship. They say the contrary, but it is a fascist government. It is a government which is burning Wiphala, our symbol. It dishonors us. We feel humiliated, we feel discriminated against. For that reason, we realize that we cannot fail; we cannot stay here like this, we will continue fighting. There will be elections in our country, and we will continue supporting that one person who has elevated our name; the name of the native people, of workers, of working people, and of the poor.

First, we will go to the elections if, of course, there are elections. We will go and support our people; our leaders. In case that they will produce electoral fraud, then yes, we will rise!

I told them that I have known their country, and Altiplano, for more than 25 years. Everything has changed. The villages consisting of mud huts came to life. They woke up, began to bloom. Water for all began to run through the pipes provided by the government. Modern ambulances have been deployed, serving all corners of the nation. Health centers opened their doors to millions of students, and so did schools, and vocation centers. New roads have been built. The government encouraged ecological farming.

Bolivia, for decades and centuries living under monstrous apartheid, has been exploited, humiliated and robbed of everything, but lately has begun rising to its feet.

I told them this. I told them how I used to come here, again and again, in the 1990’s, from Peru; a country devastated by the so-called “Dirty War” which I have described in my novel Point of No Return. Peru was terribly broken, but here, in Bolivia, people were half-alive. There was no hope, only silent, frightening misery.

Now Bolivia, once the poorest country in South America, has been way ahead of Peru, a state which has been relentlessly cannibalized by the neo-liberal economic model, while still racially and socially divided to the extreme.

I asked the elders whether they agreed. They did.

Certainly. Because with our own eyes we have seen enormous economic changes and we have witnessed how Bolivia rose and after those 14 years, got ahead of this entire Latin American region.

 I filmed, photographed.

Before we left, an elderly woman approached the car and screamed something in a local language.

Carlos translated:

We will all fight those evil beings who declared themselves our rulers. If they don’t disappear, soon again we will close the roads between El Alto and La Paz, and they will have to eat their own excrement. Our people will never again be defeated. Say this wherever you go!

 I said that I will.

 *****

In 1971, the great Uruguayan writer, journalist and poet, Eduardo Galeano, published his book Open Veins of Latin America, which soon became the most important tome for the Latin American left-wing thinkers and revolutionaries.

Inside the book, which was regularly banned all over the continent, Galeano had written about those 500 years of monstrous plunder, deceit and cruelty, committed by the Europeans and the North Americans against the people of South and Central America. Some of the most terrible crimes were committed on the territory which is now Bolivia, particularly in the silver mines of the city of Potosi, which helped to make Europe rich, but whose tens of thousands of people died while forced to live and work as slaves.

Not long before he passed away, I worked with Eduardo Galeano in his café, in the old city of Montevideo.

It was during the heady days of the “Pink Revolutions” wave. We were celebrating our victories, sharing hope for the future.

But at one point, Eduardo paused, and said simply:

You know, all of our comrades who are holding power now have to be very careful. They have to understand that the poor people who voted them in, or who supported them when they were taking power, have only one thing left in their life, and that is hope. You take away their hope, and they are left with nothing. Robbing them of hope is like killing them. That is why, whenever I encounter our left-wing leaders, and I do it very often, I always tell them: ‘Comrades, careful, Do not play with hope! Never promise to people what you cannot deliver. Always keep your word.

Juan Evo Morales Ayma, the first Bolivian indigenous president, understood Galeano and his work perfectly well. He and his Movement for Socialism (MAS), never betrayed the trust of the poor people. That is why he was never forgiven by the West, and by many individuals coming from the treasonous Bolivian elites and the military.

*****

After my meeting with the indigenous leaders, I asked Carlos to drive us around Altiplano, without any particular plan. I wanted to talk to people, to the poorest of the poor of Bolivia.

At one point, we arrived at a tiny hamlet. A dog with a broken leg welcomed us with loud but innocuous barking. There were two sheep near the entrance to the house. An elderly farmer, his blind wife and a daughter were working in the field.

Family of poor Altiplano farmers

They were not afraid to speak, even to be recorded and photographed, as long as I promised not to reveal their names.

The farmer had half of his teeth missing, and he was leaning to one side, but his thoughts and words were clear:

Thanks to Evo for everything. There is his work, and it speaks for itself; that road, infrastructure. Even this little house that we have is because of him.

Here we don’t want that so-called President Añez. She wants to mislead us, she lies to us. We are with MAS; all of us up here are strongly supporting MAS. We are supporting our brother Evo. We have always been suffering here, but Evo came with excellent projects… but now all progress will stop.

The daughter is perhaps 14 years old. She is a product of Evo’s government. Neatly dressed, with nice glasses, she speaks fluently. Her words are well formulated:

Those coup leaders have no pity on us. They have been shooting at us, beating us, gassing us. They have been violating our women. Lately, our mothers, our fathers suffered tremendously in La Paz. People were injured, people died, and the military and the coup leaders have no mercy. We don’t want to be slaves like before.  After the coup, the new government said terrible things about our president; things that we don’t like at all. We don’t want to be slaves nor to be dammed by that new lady-president and by her people. She is a racist. The truth is that she is too racist. They call us ‘Indios’, and say things about us that make us furious. They are discriminating against us in all possible ways.

“But you don’t lose hope?” I asked.

“I don’t,” she smiled. “I am with MAS. And MAS is going to be victorious. We will defeat those who are behind the coup.”

We left, heading towards the main road.

“One more stop,” I asked Carlos.

We drove, randomly, towards a partially damaged dwelling.

“What happened here?” I asked.

The family members spoke over each other:

In November, Camacho sent here several buses full of his supporters  from Potosi. They arrived, and began beating us up, insulting us, killing our animals and destroying our houses. They forced us to our knees, tying our hands behind our backs. They called us the most insulting names. They humiliated us. They said that it is over, that now we will know again where we belong.

I asked Carlos whether he had heard these stories before. He replied, without thinking:

Of course. You can ask anyone up here, and they will confirm what you just heard.

Before descending to La Paz, in El Alto, I asked Carlos to stop at several places where, in November, dozens of people died, blocking the capital as the protest against the coup and against forcing Evo Morales into exile.

Indigenous woman, and bullet holes marked, in El Alto

The bullet holes that damaged the walls were still visible, and they were clearly marked. There were flowers there, where people had fallen. Soon, hopefully very soon, there will be monuments.

The graffiti all over El Alto, spoke clearly and loudly:

“Añez, we will fish you off – you coup-maker!”, “Añez – dictator!” and “Añez – killer!”.

*****

Just half a year ago, I witnessed great fiestas in El Alto. I filmed colorful processions, people dancing, fireworks. I admired the new public spaces, super-modern cable cars, public swimming pools as well as the playgrounds constructed for children.

Now, the city felt like a cemetery. It was eerie, silent, gloomy.

Holy Mt. Illimani observing and waiting

The enormous Mount Illimani, the symbol of this ancient land, was covered by snow. It was beautiful now, but it is always stunning, in good times as well as during the disasters. La Paz, sitting in a tremendous crater, was clearly visible from above.

“The Yankees coming,” said Carlos. “You know, Añez has restored full diplomatic ties with Washington. And their spies and agents are flooding the embassy; all in civilian clothes, of course…”

“With their backs covered by the treasonous Bolivian military,” I uttered, sarcastically.

Carlos was quiet for some time. Then he decided to speak:

When I was young, I was in the military myself. In Cochabamba, you know, during the water crises, and popular rebellion aimed at making water free. I never told you. Those were tough times. People stood up, and some died. Our unit consisted of mainly indigenous soldiers. The officers were white; almost all were. At one point, we let them know that we would not fire at our brothers and sisters. They shat their pants: captains, colonels; you should have seen them: they were running around, in barracks and outside, with no marks of their ranks. You know, at one point, if they were to have forced us to slaughter our people, we would have refused, and slaughtered them, instead.

“They were trained in the West?” I asked.

“Many, yes.”

“And now Carlos? What about now?”

He began whispering, although no one seemed to be around:

I have two relatives in the army. I talked to one of them a few days ago. It is the same as when I was serving in Cochabamba. The upper ranks are with the Yanquis, but the troops, most of them, are with MAS; they are with Evo. You see, if there is a mutiny, and there very well may be one soon, then Añez, Camacho and their gringo friends will all soon be fucked!

*****

I went to the luxury hotel Suites Camino Real in La Paz, for lunch. I had to see “them”, the other side. Those who import exquisite beef from Santa Cruz province, those who consume it here, those who are now celebrating.

And celebrating they were.

Several parties were taking place, simultaneously. People were jumping around, hugging each other, shouting like mad. All white, all “tall and beautiful”, all blonde, peroxide or real. Wine was flowing.

Most of the waiters were indigenous, dressed in Western clothes; hushed and uncertain.

Economist Ernesto Yane

I met a former top economist in Evo’s government, Ernesto Yañez, who at one point served as the vice-President of the Central Bank of Bolivia. It was safe to meet here. We found a quiet corner where we could talk:

I certainly call what happened here, a coup. There was no election fraud.

Without any doubt, Evo’s years in power were marked by great economic stability. Especially in the beginning, there were almost no economic problems. The poverty rate decreased from 55% to below 30%. Quality of life increased dramatically.

“In relatively poor Bolivia, poverty rates are lower than in the richest country on the continent, Argentina, after the reign of the neo-liberal President Macri”, I could not help but mention.

“Yes, but after the coup, the economy here is collapsing,” Ernesto Yañez said.

 Half a year ago, I was here, and there were violent strikes by doctors all over Bolivia. Many of them were educated for free by the state but after that, they were demanding a neo-liberal medical system in which doctors and nurses would gain unrealistically high salaries. Many Cuban doctors have been deployed by the government, all over the country, in order to improve medical care.

Ernesto Yañez further clarified:

During Evo’s government, millions of people moved from lower to middle class. Most of them were young. Which means, before the coup, and after 14 years of MAS rule, many young middle-class people had no idea what it is to live in misery. They took all the achievements of Evo and MAS for granted. Then, when certain hardships arrived, including the slowing down of the economy after 2014, they saw them as the failures of Evo’s government.

You know, for instance the doctors that you mentioned; they thought that if they brought down MAS, all their requests would be immediately fulfilled by the right-wing government. It never happened. Now they have no idea what to do.

“The same as in Santa Cruz,” I agreed with him. “Fuel and utility prices are going up. Now the right-wingers will realize what it is to have their dream come true – a neo-liberal regime. They are getting wiped-out; desperate.”

Ernesto Yañez concluded:

You, know, Evo made many Bolivian businessmen rich, too. The country and its economy were very stable, for years. Before he came to power, the big players were North Americans, Europeans and Chileans. During his mandate, Bolivian companies were given priority. Bolivian elites were always racist, for them, Evo was ‘un Indio mas’ (just another Indian). But they hid their feelings well. It is because Evo did things well. He changed this country for the better, almost for everybody.

But now, things have gone from bad to worse. The new president comes with the bible and cross, burns Wiphala, and people die. Now the Indigenous people want Evo back.

And not only indigenous people, although almost all indigenous people that I met this time in Bolivia, do.

*****

I walked to Plaza Murillo in La Paz, where the Presidential Palace and the National Congress of Bolivia are located.

The police and military were everywhere. During Evo’s government, this was a quiet, open space, full of green trees, children and pigeons.

In front of the National Congress, several ladies dressed in beautiful indigenous clothes, were gathering, talking to each other. These were deputies from MAS.

I pulled out my cameras and approached them. Immediately security dudes in plainclothes began approaching me, but the two lady-deputies made protective gestures with their arms, smiled at me, and rebuffed the security officers: “Leave him alone, he is with us.”

I knew we had no time, and I asked only one thing: “Are we standing, comrades?”

They did not hesitate:

We are standing. They will not defeat us. MAS is the legitimate government of Bolivia.

 

Army is holding the road

And so, this is what I am reporting from the Plurinational Republic of Bolivia:

The country is under attack from the United States and its allies. It has been injured by its treasonous cadres, both military and civilian. Blood has been spilled. The legitimate president and vice-president are in exile. According to Reuters, “Bolivian minister seeks Israel help in fighting alleged leftist ‘terrorism‘”. Meaning, the legitimate government.

But the country is standing. People are not on their knees. First there will be a vote, but if there are any tricks from Washington or from the Organization of American States (OAS), there will be a fight.

Evo Morales and MAS won the recent elections. There is absolutely no way that MAS will not win again. I spoke to people, and now, even more than before, they are closing ranks around the Movement towards Socialism which made Bolivia one of the greatest nations in the Western Hemisphere.

The indigenous people of Bolivia and the rest of South America are not beggars or slaves. Long before the arrival of those brutal religious fundamentalists and badly brought-up looters — the Spanish conquerors — they were the owners of this beautiful land. Their civilization was much greater than that of their tormentors.

Evo’s government did much more than just improving the social situation in his country. He began reversing 500 years of cruel injustice on this continent. He gave power to the powerless. He returned pride to the people who had been robbed of everything.

Washington shows clearly where it stands. Despite its hypocritical “political correctness”, it is on the side of racism, colonialism and fascist oppression. Instead of defending freedom, it oppresses freedom. Instead of promoting democracy (which is “rule of the people”), it is raping democracy here in Bolivia, and elsewhere.

Until Bolivia is free again, the entire freedom-loving world should be waving the Wiphala.

The elders from the Altiplano sent a clear message to the world. Elections will take place, but if the people are robbed of their government, there will be an uprising and an epic battle.

Sadly, if there is a battle, some people will join the Earth. But also, the Earth will not stay idle – it will join her People.

Añez, together with her colonialist symbols, is already being cursed by the majority of Bolivian people, and so are Camacho and several other traitors. But perhaps, technically, they are not “traitors”, after all. Their allegiances are to those nations which had attacked and have been looting this part of the world for several long centuries.

After 500 years of being tormented and humiliated, the mother Earth, Pachamama, is embracing her children. Evo and MAS brought them together. This is a tremendous moment in history. People here realize it. European racist elites realize it. Washington is well aware of it.

Right now, there is a moment of silence; a brief one.

If the fascist coup leaders do not back up, there will be huge thunder, and the people of Altiplano will rise, Wiphala in hand, supported by their ancient, sacred Earth.

• Originally published by 21WIRE

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

Trading Chihuahua Desert Hardscrabble for Coast Range Wet

The word was the ember and the forest was my life.
― Jimmy Santiago Baca, “Coming into Language,” March 3, 2014

We’re at the Flip ‘n Chicken sharing food, swapping stories about El Paso, and philosophizing about what it means to be an educator in the Early Childhood program at Oregon Coast Community College.

His looks are a cross between Lee Trevino (golfer from El Paso) and my buddy the muralist from El Paso, Mario Colin.

My hope is that I can influence high school students to become teachers . . . to be better teachers . . . go to grad school . . . get a master’s degree, get a doctoral. My biggest pleasure would be to see that student who obtained a certificate from Oregon Coast College come back to replace me. — Oscar Juarez, faculty member in early childhood education at Oregon Coast Community College.

As the day unfolds, Oscar leads me from his faculty office to the Flip ‘n Chicken to meet Marco and Ana, the proprietors of the small eatery. For Marco and Oscar, this modest Mexican-styled restaurant serving chicken wings and all-day breakfasts is a hub of activity for the Newport and beyond Latino community.

The journey here for his wife Teresa and five children, aged 22 to 11, is a cultural/intellectual/ spiritual roadmap he’s plotted for his entire life. Leaving a huge metropolitan area with more than 90 percent Hispanic population in El Paso and several million Mexicans right across the border in Juarez, to this almost alien quasi-barren place called the Central Oregon Coast has galvanized into him the word “significant.”

Come November 28 2019, it will be a year since he was hired at OCCC-Newport.

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Oscar Juarez  at Oregon Coast Community College in Newport. (Courtesy photo)

Journeys from Mexico to El Paso – Family Legacy

The legacy of his Mexican roots planted in this country – historically in large part the sanctum of Mexico (or New Spain) for hundreds of years — are still tended carefully.

His parents met in Ciudad Juarez. Jesus Juarez was from Guanajuato and Oscar’s mother Maria Guadalupe from Zacatecas. His mother had a third-grade education, and his father went to college and obtained a business degree while living in Mexico City. Both did not speak English when they arrived to Juarez, Chihuahua.

Soon, a carpet tienda opened up – Alfombras Juarez, both in Juarez and then soon after a sister store in El Paso opened. Oscar and three brothers and sister were born in El Paso. The fifth child, a brother, was born in Juarez as their mother went into labor which necessitated giving birth in Mexico.

For Oscar, their humble beginnings set in motion his own ethos of caring for family and appreciating the little things in life – the gulls, the seals in Waldport where he lives, all the vegetation foreign to a Chihuahua native.

However, it doesn’t take much to precipitate pride in his own country’s history of struggle, and his own belief in the common good of all people, no matter the national borders set down.

Zoot Suits, Gang Bangers, Family Unity

We talk about gangs in El Paso, groups I am familiar with since I was both a college/university instructor who also taught in alternative programs tied to gang activity reduction. Oscar grew up with both parents in the household, and their home was part of two other residences – aunts and uncles with their own broods of 5 and 6 children each.

He attributes that cohesion as to why he, his siblings and cousins never got involved in gangs or drugs.

Where I grew up, one block east was the Barrios San Juan gang. One block west, the Fatherless gang. Two blocks north, the Diablo Sherman gang.

He’s quick to dispel the racist banter about Latinos and gangs.

You can’t judge a book by its cover.Here is one gang, Diablo Sherman, which came from a rundown housing project … they were never given a chance. With both parents working night and day. So, what other outlet do teenagers have? These gangs give them a sense of belonging.

He admits there was pressure to join a gang, but he stifled that by becoming a diplomat, making friends with individuals from every gang.

Given the tight-knit family, the young Oscar had many dreams of what he wanted to be when he grew up. One dream was to become an astronaut. He had aspirations for military life, even wanting to join the Army when the Gulf War began.

Life hit him like ice water to the face several times, the first one being the death of his father when he was killed by a hit and run driver in Juarez when the family was there for a quinceanera.

His mother was 38 years old left alone to raise five boys and a daughter.

Speech Therapy, Learning to Persevere

That’s when my impediment started,” Oscar says. This is one form of trauma precipitated by witnessing his old man die – stuttering, or stammering. “My siblings went to counseling after our father’s death. I was so young I guess they thought I didn’t need to get counseling.

His family was wrong about that. Consequently, his family believed Oscar was faking the stammering, or that he was imitating a cousin who stuttered.

It’s been a blessing for me. It changed my attitude. It made me realize others’ suffering, and to put myself into other people’s shoes.

The “it” is more than a speech challenge/disability – he sees life as a process of challenging any individual to live outside the box.

He was evaluated in fourth grade, received an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), and a speech therapist. For Oscar, during his senior year, the therapist told him his plans for the future – Air Force Academy – were not typical of others with this impediment. “She was telling me how much strength I had by not letting this limit my life, my dreams.”

I took it as a challenge. I never wanted the easy road. It would have been easier to just shy away from public speaking events. I was fortunate I had a few good teachers who made the difference for me.

Teaching is in his Blood

Ironically, it was his family of five children – Clara, 22; Yasmine, 21; Jesus, 18; Oscar, 14; Alicia, 11 – and his wife who chose Newport over a more lucrative offer of an associate professorship (with more pay) at New Mexico State University (his grad school alma mater) in Carlsbad (still close to his large clan in El Paso).

’Let’s get out of our comfort zone,’ Teresa said. ‘We’ve been playing it safe for so long, let’s gamble.’

That gamble means a win-win to the third power for Newport. He says he is really motivated to help transform Oregon Coast College into “the community’s school.”

His multicultural class is helping early childhood instructors see their students’ lives from a broader and multifaceted lens and narrative frame. “I feel I have to be more of an advocate for the college. Being here does provide me with a venue. I want this college to be more inclusive. I tell my students, ‘This is your community college. I am only a steward of the college.’”

He’s all about teaching, even though he was headed for an academy, which didn’t work out. He was a chemistry major at UT-El Paso. He was one semester away from heading to a lab. That didn’t work out.

In fact, Oscar Juarez’s presence in Newport – as he spreads his knowledge, passion and inspiration – is largely because he dropped out of college to take care of an ailing mother. In doing so, he worked odd jobs, including custodian at a Head Start in El Paso. And that’s when the teaching bug hit him hard.

The Benito Juarez Connection

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Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz
Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.
— Benito Juarez, Zapotec Indian, president of Mexico (1861–72)

This quotation Oscar recites while we eat our veggie burrito and chicken wings. It was the second Mexican revolution, against the French (1864–67) – essentially a foreign occupation under the emperor Maximilian.

That was the Battle of Puebla, which Mexico under Benito Juarez won. Think of Cinco de Mayo (5th of May).

He relates how his father spoke no English but opened up a business in both Juarez and El Paso. In fact, Oscar worked in both carpet stores in the summer. And it was his father who told him that he wanted his son to “not work on his knees but with his head” — no trabajar de rodillas sino con la cabeza.

Persistence is another trait Oscar attributes to his father and to the indigenous hero Benito Juarez. As the last child of six to still be at home, Oscar was asked to undertake caring for his mother.

His mother’ one side of her face was hit with Bell’s Palsy, then the other side was also paralyzed, on top of bouts of painful arthritis. He ended up dropping out of college to work odd jobs to support them both.

Those jobs and supporting his mother led her to ask him if it was okay if she married another man.  Oscar speaks fondly of both his mother and step-father, who miss them dearly now that the five grandchildren and daughter-in-law are so far away.

Starting a Family Young

He was working odd jobs when he answered the request to be a volunteer at his daughter’s Head Start. He then got the job as custodian. Then one day one of the teachers asked him to assist with an unruly child. Oscar was a natural mentor. This Head Start mental health provider witnessed Oscar’s calming and instructive response and so asked him to apply to be a teaching assistant.

It was the assistant director of the program who “saw me interacting with my son . . . it wasn’t a classroom setting.” One week later he was offered the job of teacher’s assistant.

That opportunity came with a cut in pay, but Head Start offered him free schooling. Again, baptismal by fire – “The first day on the job the classroom teacher was out on a training and I was left with the classroom all day. I didn’t know the children’s names or the lesson plans.”

He did the TA job for two years, and then he ended up getting two AA degrees, and finally, after one and a half years of on-line school, he finished his bilingual early childhood education bachelor’s degree (2013).

He then found the time and opportunity to go to graduate school in 2016. Back to UTEP, in their grad program in education and curriculum development. He worked at Head Start full=time as a teacher.

Barrage of Applications

He tells me with a smile that in December 2017 he started sending out applications for full-time college gigs in early childhood education. Over 100 were sent out all over the country. One landed an on-site interview, Grays Harbor College.

On his way back to El Paso, he got the call he didn’t land the Washington job. He emphasizes most colleges and universities were looking for PhD applicants.

He was exhausted, and he got one call from NMSU. He then was asked by OCCC for a remote interview. He did so well they invited him out to Newport for a face-to-face interview. He and his eldest daughter drove to Newport, met his (future) boss, teachers and others. He believes a training video Head Start had made of Oscar teaching in the classroom (age 3 to 5) won them over.

In the video Oscar shows how he can easily impart concepts of math and physics to 3-to 5-year old’s, ideas much older students have a difficult time grasping. He attributes his math and chemistry background to that success.

His trip back – he emphasizes how his family was strapped for money – included a blowout in Kingman, Arizona. Luckily, the spare tire was good. He got home on a Wednesday, got an offer from NMSU-Carlsbad, but then he wondered: “I saw the need of this community were high. I also would be in charge of starting the program – bilingual early childhood education. I wanted to leave my fingerprint on a program.”

Challenges and Changes

He tells me about how his Waldport neighbor Rick, two houses down from the duplex the Juarez family is renting, wrote a little piece for the local paper inspired by Oscar, emphasizing how local residents can take many things for granted.

What do I like about the coast? The weather. The scenery, and the green. I like the small things that people might not see. When driving to and from work, I get to see this amazing area. Even the dandelions. I look at them on the ground and I am truly amazed.

Those conversations with Rick from Waldport made Rick realize how much coastal beauty he takes for granted.

This brings up the fact Oscar Juarez and his family’s presence here – as well as all the other new residents from all parts of Mexico and Central America – could be transformative for dyed in the wool locals who are skeptical of outsiders, especially from countries south of the US border.

In fact, the Chicano-Latino connections Anglo residents are making and continue to make could be yet another story in the legacy of this country’s philosophy of being a welcoming country for immigrants. In 2011 the Mayor of Newport signed a Proclamation stating the city is a Welcoming Community – part of a large initiative called, Welcoming America movement, which has spread to more than two dozen states to promote immigrant inclusion, respect and integration.

The reasons I came to Newport and the Oregon Coast College involve my philosophy of making change where it really counts, Oscar tells me.

He sees the need for early childhood educators to be much more attuned to the shifting demographics of America – no matter how insane and inaccurate the current POTUS and his rabid followers are when discussing immigrants in this country.

Increasing the numbers of bilingual teachers across America is a win-win situation, and Oscar is of a generation of adults who was raised to fight for social justice and human dignity. We talk about his Catholic upbringing and beliefs, and we quickly launch into liberation theology, which is centered in activism by nuns and priests supporting indigenous, poor, farming and working communities throughout Latin America in their struggle to break the chains of oppression, structural violence and austerity measures dictated by transnational financial organizations.

We talk about how Lincoln County’s young minds need to be exposed to the big ideas, the big social justice tools, and how to create a more diverse and respectful world.

Advocate for the Young People

I’m at Oscar’s multicultural and early childhood ed classes at OCCC to give my own presentation on an anti-poverty program I am helping direct in Lincoln County.

The young people obviously open up their minds and hearts to the big ideas I am presenting around social IQ, social capital and communitarianism. The principles Oscar brings to the classroom align with my work for Family Independence Initiative: allowing people or families to make decisions in their lives about what progress should look like.

Investing in families is key to raising smart, resilient and resourceful youth. Having early education students understand the overlay of how young kids end up struggling with reading and writing and their behavior is a must for the new crop of teachers of the 3 to 5 year olds.

Oscar has invited many professionals to his class to talk to his students. I was there when Sommer McLeish, Community Health Improvement Program Coordinator for Samaritan Hospital, gave a presentation on early childhood principles and parenting programs. She too is all about building communities within communities.

Sommer brings up ACES — Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, which looks at the variables in a child whose upbringing is rough. The more precarious the parenting, the higher the child’s risks are for later health problems. Abuse, Neglect and Household Dysfunction are just three ACES. Both Oscar and Sommer are looking at arming parents with the tools to make sure the household is one of enrichment, lowered chances of abuse and neglect, and where the children can thrive and get a head start in education.

As I leave his two classes, Oscar runs into a few students – Spanish speaking young men and women who are animated and confident around him.

That is a picture worth more than a thousand words. As more people in our county come to understand the power of the journeys people are making today – sacrifices to leave behind their homelands, communities, families – to live and work here, the more powerful the story of diversity is when traditions and cultural signposts and activities are then shared among all in our community.

A few days earlier, Marco of Flip ‘n’ Chicken showed me the Oceanlake Elementary School Day of the Dead celebration his wife and others in the community put on. Here I was, in this little restaurant, while the Mexican showed me on his android phone the costumes and the dancing and drumming and guitar playing.

Oscar nodded, affirming his role in this county will have a lasting impact for some of those offspring of the Latino and all the other ethnic communities when they take his early childhood education courses to become mentors and guides in the classroom for the next and the next generation of children.

Riffing with the El Pasoan in Ten Easy Questions

My alma mater NMSU called me with the same type of position at almost the exact same time as I heard from Oregon Coast Community College. I felt this was a community that needed me more, and now that I’ve been here for a bit, I feel I made the right choice. I have a lot of experience working with low-income families, and as a Hispanic person, I’ve heard from people that said they were excited to see someone with their skin color that can speak their language, and others saying that seeing me in this job gives them hope.

Paul Haeder: What defines you as a teacher?
Oscar Juarez: I have to give all my best every day. I know being a teacher is my vocation and I enjoy what I do. Another key thing to define me has a teacher is the ability to take a complex problem and break down to its basic element and teach it to my students. I must also have compassion with my students.

PH: What defines you as a father?
OJ: This is somewhat a difficult way to describe. I was fortunate that we had a nuclear family at home with my dad providing the example, but when he passed away my eldest brother took his role. Imagine a 20-year-old being the main male figure in our household but he tried his best and carried a great burden on his shoulders. My wife Terry is the person who has made me a better father. She reminds me when I am wrong and what I did right. Seeing the births of all my children brought me a new sense of security. I will be the first to admit that being a father is difficult and we don’t provide a support system. I always hoped that being a good father made me a better man, and being a good man made me a better father.

PH: What is the best definition of a good teacher?
OJ: A good teacher is a person who has embraced their vocation. Like I explain to my students, teaching is a vocation, meaning you enjoy every single moment and wake up energized each day. As a teacher we make many sacrifices for our families and children. I must emphasize when I mention children, they were my students. I say this because at times I was a stable figure, role model, and sometimes a parent to them after spending 9 months together. A teacher will use their own resources to help provide students the opportunity of giving them a toy or so forth to those who may not have what we all have. There were times, and still currently, financial hardships teachers face but we put a brave face.

PH: What is the main difference being a Latino in Lincoln County vs your life in El Paso?
OJ: The biggest difference is the change in demographics. In El Paso Latinos are the majority group in the city, and in Lincoln County we are the minority group. The food, produce, and language are very distinct from back home. We have found it very difficult to find food and produce that make up our diet. Mexican produce is very limited and expensive here. Another major difference is not being able to speak Spanish with other people. Being bilingual is great, but I still feel the urge to speak my native tongue or even joke around with friends and coworkers.

PH: What are some of the key issues in your multicultural class students might struggle with?
OJ: One of the biggest issues my students are facing is the financial struggle. Poverty has no racial line. Another issue is understanding the views and pressures other cultures have and understanding the similarities of each group. Finally, speaking about the elephant in room, white privilege.

PH: You have seen in your lifetime a real spotlight on Americans’ supremacist history, no? How do you have that conversation with your 5 children about how they might be greeted by cops, officials and even just the public based on the color of their skin?
OJ: Yes, I have seen the American supremacist history in action. Growing up in a majority Latino community, I was still called “wetback” and “illegal.” The attitudes by white Anglo people were very disheartening. Being subjected to injustices and discrimination in school, work, and in society would hamper my ideal of equality, but I became resolute in what needs to be done. When I drove to Newport the first time around, I noticed the same discrimination in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. We have been able to avoid some of the discrimination towards our children. We have taught them we all are equal and have the same value in society, but society has not kept up to the times. I still get the look when I’m driving and notice a police car following me. Or even walking into a store and I hear the “keep an eye code” over the intercom. Yes, I did work in retail, do understand the codes to be vigilant with certain customers. On several occasions, I had sheriff’s deputy officer and Customs and Border agent berate me due to the color of my skin. All of these experiences have only made me more of an advocate for social justice.

PH: What are the key changes need to be made in the entire early education framework?
OJ: The changes I would love to make are “to learn through play,” community involvement, local curriculum needs, and better training of teachers. Learn through play is the easiest change we need in order to allow teachers the freedom to have fun with children. We are teaching children as if we are factory workers. Federal and state mandates have pushed out the ability to have fun. My fondest memories when I taught was when my students and I had fun learning. Allowing them to use their natural curiosity to investigate and develop the correlation of a solution while having fun. I often ask people what is your fondest memory of school. Almost 99% will say when they had fun in a class. The community input is very important in the classroom and outside the classroom. But we have built a wall around schools. Parental involvement is vital to the success of their children. We need them to volunteer in the classroom, we need them feel invested in their child’s learning. They are the experts on their children, not us. When we create an inclusive environment with the community, they will help us identify curriculum needs for their children. If we have a multicultural community, we need to hear and understand their needs. This will go along with using their cultural strengths in school. Lastly, we need to encourage teachers to step out of their comfort zone. We need to bring teachers to use their talents into the classroom by changing how we train teachers. Teacher training usually involves sitting down and listening to a speaker. This is sometimes boring. We need to create training that will foster their skills with hands on activities, learn through play.

PH: What is your favorite thing to do in Lincoln County, on the Coast?
OH: My favorite thing to do in the county is walking on the beach with my family. We are trying to go out every weekend to Seal Rock or Waldport beach and enjoy being together as a family. My wife and I enjoy watching our kids running or enjoying themselves in the natural beauty of the beach. This is a major contrast to our former Chihuahua desert view.

PH: Define community for me.
OJ: A community is helping your family, friends, and neighbors. The mutual cooperation to help each other in a time of need. When I used to be at catechism for confirmation, I had my candidates share the Christmas joy by buying presents to under privileged children in the community. Understanding the hardships and how we could help make the difference in people lives.

PH: Why would you make a good governor of Texas, or Oregon?
OJ: First all is the understanding the daily struggles everyone has. I do not come from a family of wealth or a generation of privilege. In Texas the challenges include affordable housing, Medicaid expansion, education funding, and safety net plans. I know how it feels to live in poverty and the challenges to make ends meet. We have programs that are meant to help families from low socio-economic status with food, housing, and so forth. But when a family is trying to overcome their challenges, the programs that are meant to help instead push families away. For example, if a family is making more money, their SNAP benefits are reduced. We create more obstacles for those families. In education, the funding would go to the Education Agency, in Texas it’s the TEA. They would give the monies according to each district; now the problem here is that more affluent districts would get a greater chunk of the monies and poor districts would get the least.

I wrote some of my graduate work on the importance of changing the formulas to better match the needs of the community by providing more funds to school with high rates of reduced or free lunches. Another issue tied to this is providing more funding to rural communities. I believe that every family that makes $70,000 or less should receive SNAP. Families are struggling to make ends meet, and food takes a big chunk from family budgets. Giving them more for their food will allow them to build up wealth and not live paycheck to paycheck. I believe families should free high-speed internet. We need to build new infrastructure that benefit both rural and urban communities. The one program I would implement is affordable housing. I would take land and old buildings and create new homes. The use of eminent domain in certain areas is necessary to help reduce families living in poverty or homeless. For example, I would take 10 acres of land and build 4 houses on every 1 acre. I would state that companies bidding for contracts must pay a living wage, be local, hire locally, and purchase from local vendors. We would offer homes to low income families and allow them to borrow $20,000 for the closing costs and down payment. The caveat to this would be families would need to live 10 years there and be forgiven the first $10,000; if a family lives in the house for 20 years, the other $10,000 would be forgiven. We would continue to do this for several years. By providing affordable housing, rent prices shall fall. Imagine if we could build homes in rural communities that need the most? It may sound odd, but we would be building new infrastructure in rural and urban areas. And yes, this includes creating partnerships with local native tribes to be included in the infrastructure. Our fellow communities should share the same benefits as everyone in our society. Imagine if we could build homes in rural communities that are in dire need the most? This is why I think I would be a great asset as governor. Hopefully, one day I shall take that bold step.

Image result for Oscar Juarez Early Learning El Paso

Oscar Juarez leads an Early Childhood Education course at Oregon Coast Community College in Newport. (Courtesy photo)

Chief Rabbi Mirvis is Helping Stoke Antisemitism

Chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has not only misrepresented the known facts about Labour and its supposed antisemitism crisis. He has not only interfered in an overtly, politically partisan manner in the December 12 election campaign by suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn – against all evidence – is an antisemite.

By speaking out as the voice of British Jews – a false claim he has allowed the UK media to promote – his unprecedented meddling in the election of Britain’s next leader has actually made the wider Jewish community in the UK much less safe. Mirvis is contributing to the very antisemitism he says he wants to eradicate.

Mirvis’ intervention in the election campaign makes sense only if he believes in one of two highly improbable scenarios.

The first requires several demonstrably untrue things to be true. It needs for Corbyn to be a proven antisemite – and not just of the variety that occasionally or accidentally lets slip an antisemitic trope or is susceptible to the unthinking prejudice most of us occasionally display, including (as we shall see) Rabbi Mirvis.

No, for Mirvis to have interfered in the election campaign he would need to believe that Corbyn intends actively as prime minister to inflame a wider antisemitism in British society or implement policies designed to harm the Jewish community. And in addition, the chief rabbi would have to believe that Corbyn presides over a Labour party that will willingly indulge race-hate speeches or stand by impassively as Corbyn carries out racist policies.

If Mirvis really believes any of that, I have a bridge to sell him. Corbyn has spent his entire political career as an anti-racism campaigner, and his anti-racism activism as a back-bencher was especially prominent inside a party that itself has traditionally taken the political lead in tackling racism.

Rising tide of nationalism

The second possibility is that Mirvis doesn’t really believe that Corbyn is a Goebbels in the making. But if that is so, then his decision to intercede in the election campaign to influence British voters must be based on an equally fanciful notion: that there is no significant threat posed by antisemitism from the right or the rapidly emerging far right.

Because if antisemitism is not an issue on the right – the same nationalistic right that has persecuted Jews throughout modern history, culminating in the Nazi atrocities – then Mirvis may feel he can risk playing politics in the name of the Jewish community without serious consequence.

If there is no perceptible populist tide of white nationalism sweeping Europe and the globe, one that hates immigrants and minorities, then making a fuss about Corbyn might seem to make sense for a prominent Jewish community leader. In those circumstances, it might appear to be worth disrupting the national conversation to highlight the fact that Corbyn once sat with Hamas politicians – just as Tony Blair once sat with Sinn Fein leaders – and that Corbyn’s party has promised in the latest manifesto to stop selling weapons to Israel (and Saudi Arabia) of the kind that have been used to butcher children in Gaza. Mirvis might believe that by wounding Corbyn he can help into power a supposedly benevolent, or at least inoffensive, Tory party.

But if he is wrong about the re-emergence of a white nationalism and its growing entry into the mainstream – and all the evidence suggests he would be deeply wrong, if this is what he thinks – then undermining Corbyn and the Labour party is self-destructiveness of the first order.

It would amount to self-harm not only because attacking Corbyn inevitably strengthens the electoral chances of Boris “watermelon smiles” Johnson. It plays with fire because Mirvis’ flagrant intervention in the election campaign actually bolsters a key part of the antisemitic discourse of the far right that is rapidly making inroads into the Conservative party.

Succour to white nationalists

White nationalists are all over social media warning of supposed Jewish global conspiracies, of supposed Jewish control of the media, of supposed Jewish subversion of “white rights”. It was precisely this kind of thinking that drove European politics a century ago. It was arch-antisemite Arthur Balfour who signed off the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that sought to end Britain’s “Jewish problem” by encouraging European Jews to move far away, to a part of the Middle East then known as Palestine.

That is, of course, why today’s white supremacists love Israel, why they see it as a model, why they call themselves “white Zionists“. In creating a tribal democracy, and one heavily fortified, land hungry, belligerent and nuclear-armed, Israel has done for Jews exactly what white nationalists hope to do again for their white compatriots. The white supremacists’ love of Israel is intimately bound up with their hatred and fear of Jews.

Mirvis has given succour to white nationalist discourse both because he has spoken out against Corbyn without offering evidence for his claims and because those entirely unsubstantiated claims have been echoed across the media.

There is good reason why the billionaire-owned print media and the Establishment-dominated BBC are happy to exploit the antisemitism smears – and it has nothing to do with concern for the safety of Jews. The corporate media don’t want a Labour leader in power who is going to roll back the corporate free-for-all unleashed by Margaret Thatcher 40 years ago that nearly bankrupted the rest of us in 2008.

But that is not what those flirting with or embracing white nationalism will take away from the relentless media chorus over evidence-free antisemitism claims.

Mirvis’ intervention in the democratic process will drive them more quickly and more deeply into the arms of the far-right. It will persuade them once again that “the Jews” are a “problem”. They will conclude that – though the Jews are now helping the right by destroying Corbyn – once the left has been dealt with, those same Jews will then subvert their white state. Like Balfour before them, they will start thinking of how to rid Britain and Europe of these supposed interlopers.

This is why Mirvis was irresponsible in the extreme for meddling. Because the standard of proof required before making such an intervention – proof either that Cobyn is an outright Jew hater, or that white nationalism is no threat to the UK – is not even close to being met.

The left’s anti-imperialism

In fact much worse, all the evidence shows the exact reverse. That was neatly summed up in a survey this month published by The Economist, a weekly magazine that is no friend to Corbyn or the Labour party.

It showed that those identifying as “very left-wing” – the section of the public that supports Corbyn – were among the least likely to express antisemitic attitudes. Those identifying as “very right-wing”, on the other hand – those likely to support Boris “piccaninnies” Johnson – were three and a half times more likely to express hostile attitudes towards Jews. Other surveys show even worse racism among Conservatives towards more obviously non-white minorities, such as Muslims and black people. That, after all, is the very reason Boris “letterbox-looking Muslim women” Johnson now heads the Tory party.

The Economist findings reveal something else of relevance in assessing Mirvis’ meddling. Not only is the real left (as distinguished from the phoney, centrist left represented by Labour’s Blairites) much less antisemitic than the right, it is also much more critical of Israel than any other section of the British public.

That is easily explained. The real left has always been anti-imperialist. Israel is a particularly problematic part of Britain’s colonial legacy.

Elsewhere, the peoples who gained independence from Britain found themselves inside ruined, impoverished states, often with borders imposed out of naked imperial interest that left them divided and feuding. Internal struggles over the crumbs Britain and other imperial powers left behind were the norm.

But in a very real sense, Britain – or at least the west – never really left Israel. In line with the Balfour Declaration, Britain helped to establish the institutions of a “Jewish home” on the Palestinians’ homeland. British troops may have departed in 1948, but waves of European Jewish immigrants were either encouraged or compelled to come to the newly created state of Israel by racist immigration quotas designed to prevent them fleeing elsewhere, most especially to the United States.

The west helped engineer both the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and Israel’s creation to solve Europe’s “Jewish problem”. It provided the components necessary for Israel to build a nuclear bomb that won it a place at the international top table and ensured the Palestinians were made Israel’s serfs in perpetuity. Ever since, the west has provided Israel with diplomatic cover, military aid and special trading status, even as Israel has worked relentlessly to disappear the Palestinian people from their homeland.

Even now, our most prized rights, such as free speech, are being eroded and subverted to protect Israel from criticism. In the US, the only infringements on the American public’s First Amendment rights have been legislated to silence those seeking to pressure Israel over its crimes against the Palestinians with a boycott – similar to the campaign against apartheid South Africa. In the UK, the Conservative manifesto similarly promises to bar local councils from upholding international law and boycotting products from Israel’s illegal settlements.

Rewarding war crimes

The real left focuses on this continuing colonial crime against the Palestinians not because it is antisemitic (a claim the Economist survey amply refutes), but because the left treats Israel as emblematic of British and western bad faith and hypocrisy. Israel is the imperial west’s Achilles’ heel, the proof that war crimes, massacres and ethnic cleansing are not only not punished but actively rewarded if these crimes accord with western imperial interests.

But ardent friends of Israel such as Mirvis are blind to these arguments. For them, one western antisemitic crime – the Holocaust – entirely obscures another western antisemitic crime: seeking to rid Europe of Jews by forcing them into the Middle East, serving as pawns on an imperial chessboard that paid no regard to the Palestinians whose homeland was being sacrificed.

In his state of historical and political myopia, Mirvis cannot begin to understand that there might be political activists who, in defending the Palestinian people, are also defending Jews. That they, unlike him, understand that Israel was created not out of western benevolence towards Jews, but out of western malevolence towards “lesser peoples”. The real left in Britain speaks out against Israel not because it hates Jews but because it holds dear a commitment to justice and a compassion for all.

Mirvis, on the other hand, is the Zionist equivalent of a little Englander. He prefers particularist, short-term interests over universalist, long-term ones.

It was he, remember, who threw his full support behind Israel in 2014 as it indiscriminately bombed Gaza, killing some 550 children – a bombing campaign that came after years of an Israeli blockade on the Palestinian population there. That siege has led the United Nations to warn that the enclave will be uninhabitable by next year.

It was Mirvis, along with his predecessor Jonathan Sacks, who in 2017 endorsed the fanatical Jewish settlers – Israel’s equivalent of white supremacists – on their annual march through the occupied Old City of Jerusalem. This is the march where the majority of the participants are recorded every year waving masses of Israeli flags at Palestinians and chanting “Death to the Arabs”. One Israeli newspaper columnist has described the Jerusalem Day march as a “religious carnival of hatred”.

It was Mirvis and Sacks that encouraged British Jews to join them on this tub-thumping trip to Israel, which they suggested would provide an opportunity to spend time “dancing with our brave soldiers”. Those soldiers – Israeli, not British – occupy West Bank cities like Hebron where they have locked down life for some 200,000 Palestinians so that a handful of crazed religious Jewish bigots can live undisturbed in their midst.

What is so appalling is that Mirvis is blind to the very obvious parallels between the fearful Palestinians who hastily have to board up their shops as a Jewish mob parades through their neighbourhood and today’s white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the west who seek to march provocatively through ethnic minority communities, including Jewish neighbourhoods, in places like Charlottesville.

Mirvis has no lessons to teach Corbyn or the Labour party about racism. In fact, it is his own, small-minded prejudice that blinds him to the anti-racist politics of the left. His ugly message is now being loudly amplified by a corporate media keen to use any weapon it can, antisemitism included, to keep Corbyn and the left out of power – and preserve a status quo that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Baby Shark Coup

I also write from time to time, and if any sweet breath fills my soul, it’s the light of memory … Oh the memory in prison! How it gets here and falls upon the heart, which it oils with melancholy already so decomposed …
In short, I don’t know what these people will do. We soon shall see.

— Cesar Vallejo, Letter to his brother from prison, 1921

Somehow in the shadow of the US-backed coup in Bolivia, several cultural threads seem worth examining in western society right now. One is infantilism, and all that comes with that, and another is a new theistic or cultic consensus on climate (the new *emergency*). And finally the return of and rehabilitation of fascism. Here as a side bar intro to infantilism is this

One might do well to watch Norwegian children’s programming for a compare and contrast thought experiment. (Here from Norsk Wiki….” Climbing mice and the other animals in the Hakkebakkeskogen were first dramatized for puppet theater, and were set up at Oslo Nye Teater in 1959 with Egner’s own towels and decorations and in the author’s staging. The play was played with actors in Copenhagen in 1962 and at the National Theater in 1964, with scenography by the author. Gjøvik summer theater has performed the play as an outdoor walking theater at Gjøvik farm since 2006.”) The animated film Hakkebakkeskogen premiered in 2016.

The Bolivian coup is significant for a profound absence of outrage in the West. And in large measure this is the result of all the above mentioned trends. But most importantly, perhaps, is the effectiveness of western propaganda launched against Evo Morales, a campaign that began about four or five years ago, interrupted to some degree by the campaign against Maduro in Venezuela. The return of fascist style and sensibility goes hand in hand with this new infantilism. Make it simple. Baby Shark simple. And the real point of the smearing of Morales was to impugn his green credentials. The theistic consensus reacts with disproportionate indignation at any climate apostate. Evidence and logic defy the Baby Shark formula.

There is another aspect to all this, too.

In ‘United States Penetration of Brazil’, Jan K. Black writes “It is interesting to note that in 1969, the year when U.S. economic assistance was suspended for a few months in “cosmetic” protest against the dramatic tightening of the dictatorial noose signified by the dissolution of the Congress in December 1968 and the promulgation of the Fifth Institutional Act (AI-5), the number of Brazilian policemen brought to the United States for training almost tripled that of the previous year. The number of Brazilian military trainees in the United States also increased that year and was, in fact, higher than at any other time in the post war period. The marked expansion of the training program also coincided with an increase in documented reports of the systematic torture of political prisoners and of the murders of petty criminals, as well as alleged subversives, carried out by the “Death Squads,” reportedly composed of off-duty policemen. (New York) Governor Nelson Rockefeller, as President Nixon’s special envoy in Brazil and other Latin American countries in 1969, was uninformed, unconvinced, or unconcerned about these reports. Rockefeller recommended that “the training program which brings military and police personnel from the other hemispheric nations to the United States and to training centers in Panama be continued and strengthened.”. The training program to which he referred was that of the notorious School of the Americas, which is now both re-branded and re-tooled as WHINSEC. This agency has been central to the re-configuration of Latin American militaries as glorified police forces, equipped for internal rather than hemispheric defence, since the 1960s.
Despite official US rhetoric against the Brazilian dictatorship’s increasingly egregious human rights abuses, Rockefeller’s tour of Latin America signified an intensification of US support for anti-communist dictatorial regimes who were friendly to US economic investment. On his tour, under robust military security, Rockefeller had been met with violent anti-imperialist protests in almost every city he visited, which were often subject to media blackout.

— Daniel Hunt, Brasil Wire, 2019

Nixon and Rockefeller saw Liberation Theology as a serious threat to their control of Latin America. The antidote to the communistic odor of Liberation Theology was to export a weaponized Pentecostolism. This was a tweeked version of what Oral Roberts and others had been selling during the rise of televangelism that took hold in the late 60s.

There is also a link to the eugenics branch of the climate or new green movement. The eugenics side expresses itself first with the overpopulation argument (one so debunked at this point that only a sort of rabid refusal to think allows it any traction at all…but traction it still has). And, secondly, the eugenicists (David Attenborough, Jane Goodall, Bill Gates, et al) are firmly in line with the protection of western capital. At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio the Rockefeller Foundation created LEAD. And among the leaders for this development scheme was Marina Silva.

Allow me to quote Daniel Hunt again:

The Brazilian branch of LEAD (ABDL) was one of the first, founded in mid-1991 and according to Gazeta Mercantil (06/11/91), “The Rockefeller Foundation intends to invest US $5 million in the next five years in training environmental leaders, with The purpose of preparing opinion makers capable of having a broad view of environmental problems and their economic implications. ” All Binger, LEAD’s international director, said with surprising frankness: “We hope that in ten years many of the fellows will be acting as ministers of environment and development, university rectors and CEOs.”.

The growing Evangelical power base traded support for policy concessions throughout the 1990s and 2000s, supporting Lula and Dilma Governments but it was not until 2010 that they had a potential Presidential candidate of their own – Marina Silva, her platform a marketable synthesis of evangelical christianity, environmental campaigning and Wall Street friendly liberalism. Initially, she accepted the vice presidential candidacy for the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), a party that is socialist in name only.

Heiress to COA Member Itaú Bank, brother of Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission member Roberto, Neca Setubal, was responsible for 84% of funds to Marina Silva’s institute in 2013. Former president of Citibank Alvaro de Souza ran the fundraising for Silva’s 2010 election campaign. Ex-US Chamber of Commerce, Souza had previously served on the boards of such companies as Gol and AmBev, and was chairman of WWF Brazil. In 2008, the WWF, and its President Emeritus, Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, awarded Silva with a medal, championing her work on Amazon conservation.

Already the capitalist class recognized the potential of tying together the desire for new theologies to support and enhance the propaganda and indoctrination of western societies. Evangelicals had grown in power in the U.S. too. Today one has a vice president and secretary of state who are evangelical Dominionists. For the Rockefellers the secular theism of a new ecological movement would mirror the Pentecostal revolution in Latin America (and in the U.S. to a lesser degree and in a slightly adjusted form). The ruling class saw even by the start of the 1990s the potential for massive land grabs, various raids on social security and whatever else was left of the security net, the final destruction of unionizing, and all with enthusiastic support from the white bourgeoisie in the West, most acutely in North America.

And here is a quote from Spencer Latu (on social media)…

The fake left Greta Thunberg PR campaign, billionaire foundation-funded environmental NGO controlled opposition, and boomer memes coalesce into a brutal ruling class praxis: liquidate what remains of social programs desperately needed by the working class so that the ruling class can continue the unsustainable and omnicidal militarized industrialized US/Canada/NATO empire that wreaks havoc on people and the planet and call it “green.”

The political theatre put on by fake left actorvists, paid through laundered corporate money in tax-exempt foundations to fund environmental NGO campaigns from such eNGOs as Greenpeace, 350.org, Sierra Club and World Wildlife Foundation, and right wing corporate tool conservatives who claim everything is fine when the biosphere collapses before our eyes as the ruling class loot, plunder and pillages what is left, keeps us the working class divided and distracted. The only way to rise above the insanity is to openly and honestly investigate the facts. As I’ve stated in multiple posts with countless citations, the fake left (Liberals and NDP) have non-solutions to climate change that will further aid in exploiting the working class through greenwashing imperialism.

The coup in Bolivia provides set dressing for all the above. The new openly racist and Pentacostal opposition (and the singularly proudly racist new President by simple announcement Jeanine Anez) have direct ties to the same ruling class millionaires that carried out U.S. policy against Chavez and Maduro. Jorge Camacho, the leader of the Francoist cadre (complete with fascist salutes) ,that have terrorized supporters of Morales, is a millionaire fanatic with ties to those invisible billionaire backers of global right parties (such as Daniel Thiel, who in turn has direct ties to the CIA).

Everything Camacho does has a strong religious bond: he mentions God in all his appearances, took the Bible to the Government Palace and urges his followers to take the virgin to the mobilizations.
Telesur, Nov 2019

Of course, the rise of Hitler-admiring Jair Bolsanaro in Brazil was the benchmark for the U.S. and its new policy decisions and plans for re-taking Latin America. But western media is governed by the Baby Shark formula firstly, and, secondly, is openly tied to those obscured billionaires who can be seen behind the sudden appearance of figures such Camacho, or Bolsonaro, or Leopoldo Lopez or Juan Guaido. And, of course, the complicit western media was in line with the demonizing of Morales and barely ever corrected the egregious lies regarding Bolivia being behind the destruction of the Amazon, or the singularly bad fires this season in Brazil. And for most left or pseudo left publications in the west, there could be no real support for Morales because he had been tainted with the deadly label of green criminal.

Now the infantilism merges with a kind of new age therapy culture (with residue of Sixties kitsch mysticism). It’s worth noting that demonizing and ridiculing the sixties is itself an entire propaganda campaign that has set in motion the new anti Boomer propaganda. Blame it on the old folks, those silly befuddled guys who fought against the Vietnam War. Media forgets the work of artists who protested the war, figures like Robert Bly and Galway Kinnell, Alan Ginsburg and instead looks at head shops and tie dye and granola. But the migration of sixties mysticism to stuff like aromatherapy and EST, also found it way into the therapy culture overall, and most importantly left itself amenable to the rebranded fascism of the 1930s. Just as behaviourism was never completely eradicated, so white supremacism (and eugenics) expressed itself under cover of an identitarian banner. And it is worth remembering the Jungian associations with National Socialism, and the popularity of Jung for undergrads still today.

Well. I use that term ‘cult’ to describe the social organisation that Jung gathered around himself after his break with Freud. He was living at the time in Küsnacht, Zurich, in Switzerland. Essentially, at first, he gathered primarily German-speaking Swiss around him, and a few Germans, then people from Britain and the United States. His biggest catch was the daughter of John D. Rockefeller who, in 1916, poured more than a million dollars (in 1997 US dollars) into his enterprises.
— Richard Noll, Interview with Ivan Tyrrell

It has been argued that the political ideology of the Nazis concerning racial cleansing could only be carried through by appealing to established spiritual belief systems and myths. This theory derives from the many similarities that can “e seen from the old Pagan traditions that experienced a revival with the many oddities and traditions of the Nazi Party. Early in the twentieth century the Ariosophy movement began as the merging of German nationalism with racism based on occult beliefs which are now described as corresponding to the term völkisch.
— Elizabeth Ping, Michigan State, Graduate thesis

Hollywood, of course, has been profoundly influential in this regard with turning Philip K Dick on his head (Man in the High Castle) to allow for massive displays of National Socialist symbolism. And the revanchism of the volkisch style codes so popular with the Nazis returns via Greta, but also with feature films and TV. And, again, things bleed into one another. A quick sampling of the current TV series Treadstone or Jack Ryan give ample evidence of direct CIA influence in the writers’ rooms of Hollywood, and with a growing open anti-communism. And that anti communism often finds side-bar assists from Israeli propaganda in Hollywood (equating Soviets with anti semitism and not Nazis).

The Orientalism at work in Hollywood is glaring and un-apologetic. The endless numbing repetitions of Muslim caricatures and Serbian or Russian gangsters seem bottomless. And I and others have written about this often. It’s just that by virtue of the sheer volume of these cop and spy franchises (or medical shows or lawyer shows) it seems or feels worse. And maybe it is. But I have noticed something else, too. Moral outrage at consensual sex if the characters are minors. A recent episode of Chicago PD saw a suspect in custody nearly beaten for having sex with a 17 year old (he was mid 20s). A 17 year old (!!). The age of consent in Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, and Wyoming is, in fact, 17. In a few others it is 18 and in the rest it is 16! So the new morality fits with a growing secular climate theism. One which is highly sex negative (for the good of the planet). I have actually had a man write on social media (attacking me) about the “psychosis of breeding”. Such is the new eco-Puritan. And I don’t think this is a ‘MeToo’ effect, I think, rather, it is tied to the influence of a this new religiosity. I will return to this below.

The volkisch nostalgia (which is active now, not just a period curiosity) is wed to the therapeutic new age Green moralism (that makes heretics of climate deniers) and the seamless meshing with de facto but resurgent anti-communism. Now I am speaking of the privileged white bourgeoisie here. That thirty some percent who are educated and visible. They are the courtiers to the ruling class. And like ‘the Squad’, they’re reflexively reactionary. They don’t like the poor, but won’t admit it. They don’t like Muslims or Muslim countries, or Indians or Chinese. None of this admitted. They go on vacation to these countries, but they do not like the people. They do not like Evo Morales. In a sense they are far closer in temperament to Jeanine Azez then they are to Maduro or Chavez or Morales. They are certainly closer to a Joe Biden than they are to Subcomandante Marcos. When pundits wonder why Biden still clings to a poll lead, the answer is because Joe is one of them, if not literally (he has wealth, they do not) he is in spirit. And he represents something of an aspirational class dream. And Joe feels as if he stepped out of a TV show, he is a purely TV character, shallow, banal, and completely forgettable.

The liberals in the U.S. are more in tune with a George Will or Joe Biden than they are with any Marxist critique. They are comfortable in the presence of George Will. And this is why Trump angers them so much. Why Ocasio Cortez drools in admiration for William F. Buckley. Trump does not make anyone, save for his son in law maybe, feel comfortable. George Bush Sr and Jr are the WASP wealth dream, their values are actually exactly the values of the liberal bourgeoisie today. And this suggests that the *issues* that separate them, the issues that are made much of in media, issues that launch a thousand op-eds are perhaps not the important issues. Anything today that gets to the Supreme Court has already been decided. Identity issues …gay rights or the various academic scandals and trigger warnings or the so-called culture wars, or even important stuff like abortion rights are somehow trivialized when forced to go through the apparatuses of government. Official state bureaucracy kills stuff. It is the soul killer for people and ideas. Even when you win, you lose.

Now the climate crisis (or emergency etc) is being trivialized, too. If a woman’s right to her body can be ruled on by a John Roberts, then the climate equivalent is listening to David Attenborough or Bill McKibben or Al Gore. The Extinction Rebellion and the Green New Deal and whatever else is in the pipeline are investment projects. They are not charity and nobody is donating money. Not even Bill Gates. These are investments in control, in furthering the goal of creating a world in their own image. In each case that is a whiter world, a world where the transference of wealth to the top 3% of the populace is complete. And it nearly is already. The goal is a world of free trade zones (slave states) surrounded by national parks and environmental research projects where only those vetted, those with good paper, those with good genes, in fact, can enter or use.

It is useful to go back and read or re-read Mike Davis’ the “Homegrown Revolution” chapter in City of Quartz.

Growth control politics in the Bay Area have been incubated in a specific regional tradition of patrician conservationism represented by the Sierra Club, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and California Tomorrow. ‘Responsible environmentalism’ constitutes a hegemonic discourse in which all sides, developers and their community opponents, must formulate their arguments. The tap-root of slow growth in the South, however, is an exceptionalistic local history of middle-class interest formation around home ownership. Environmentalism is a congenial discourse to the extent that it is congruent with a vision of eternally rising property values in secure bastions of white privilege. The master discourse here – exemplified by the West Hills secessionists – is homestead exclusivism, whether the immediate issue is apartment construction, commercial encroachment, school busing, crime, taxes or simply community designation.

It is a profoundly prescient chapter, in a brilliant book overall. And maybe because I’m from LA, I especially appreciate it (I am also a footnote in it, I’m proud to say). But the seeds of this new white privileged eco-consciousness can be traced back, at least, to the mid-’80s that Davis describes. In one sense the Bay Area (of Northern California) is ground zero for the Arcadian vision of a de-populated and managed landscape of white post card perfect nature.

If the slow-growth movement, in other words, has been explicitly a protest against the urbanization of suburbia, it is implicitly – in the long tradition of Los Angeles homeowner politics – a reassertion of social privilege.
— Mike Davis  (Ibid.)

Social privilege is embedded in the climate discourse and curiously it is rarely a topic of debate. But then debate is pretty much absent from the climate discussion altogether. And this raises again the strange contradictions of the entire climate discourse. The alarmist end of this (expressed best by The Guardian) predicts endless apocalypses (plural) and yet none of the people I have debated with, those who believe in overpopulation and human extinction in the near future are doing anything about it. Not on a personal level. I mean none that I am aware of are hoarding supplies or water, moving to places with more protection from storms or flooding, nothing. This suggests that either extinction is viewed with some degree of appeal, a fantasy version of Hollywood end of time films, or that actually nobody quite knows what to believe. Or maybe it’s compartmentalized denial. I don’t know. But the sex negative theism — apparent when middle-aged white guys come to the defense of Greta’s honor. In reality, most of the educated white bourgeoisie don’t want anything to interrupt their vaguely pleasing lives…even if miserable, they want nothing to interrupt this endless daydream. The new cult of climate provides a purpose, and meaning for lives lived on auto pilot for decades.

It also bears repeating that such manufactured PR narratives take energy and focus away from the real environmental issues, which begin with militarism, mining, and the idea of progress.

Now, the lack of outrage at the right wing fascist coup in Bolivia suggests with clarity that American racism is as deep and indelible as it has ever been. It means there is a belief that only white westerners deserve to make important decisions. The first call of congratulation that Jeanine Azez received was from Mike Pompeo.

So this is the meeting point, the convergence, of radical extremist Pentecostal fundamentalism and the new green theism. Behind both is military muscle.

Before going further let me link to a piece by Luke Osborne on the relationship between pollution and climate and the military.

And allow me another quote from the invaluable Cory Morningstar…

Many Westerners have bought into the “war propaganda” of this global push for a “green” tech fueled, militarily enforced capitalism. As both the economic and environmental situations deteriorate, perhaps the push for widespread adoption will indeed reach the kind of fevered pitch Bill McKibben advocates. This could very well come at a time when the militaries which avoided substantive critique and were instead elevated as potential allies in the “climate fight” come on full display. In this future where comforting narratives like McKibben’s steer the populace away from the much darker truth, manufactured humanitarian disasters provide the palatable cover for the dirty work of securing access to raw materials needed for battery production and wind turbines by armies whose bases are hardened for sea level rise, yet whose tactical vehicles are still necessarily dependent upon dense fossil fuel power. At this time of great uncertainty, a genuine dissent which had languished under the spell of false promises of “green” technology and ignored the mass violence that underpins modern industrial society, emerges out of necessity from the growing direness of global crop failures and economic breakdown. This growing dissent, which threatens the illegitimate power held by the global elites, is met with heavy repression that draws upon decades of unimpeded surveillance tech implementation, the militarization of global police forces, and the use of private security. { } Climate change at its core is about conflict. It is a conflict between how humans live with each other and with the planet, and this conflict builds on centuries of violence and exploitation that are enmeshed, often unseen by the privileged, within the economic, social, and political systems to this day. We can either face our own discomfort and confront the structures of violence that have brought us to this turning point in human history, or we can soothe ourselves with comfortable narratives and allow the internal conflicts inherent in the system to catapult us far beyond the breaking point.”
— Wrong Kind of Green, Cory Morningstar

By the by, Naomi Klein and Greta both have thrown Morales under the bus. In both cases under cover of green concern (Klein by tweets suggesting it was not really, you know, a *coup*) and Greta by retweeting the now rather notorious Minh Ngo tweet that blamed the Amazonian fires on Bolivia and Morales. Now, yes, Greta is just being used. But I’m not sure that matters at this point. For the reality is that white privilege and their disingenuous feigning of concern is in clear agreement with the US and its clients at the AOS.

Western culture, baby shark culture, contains under its new umbrella the institutionalising of art in general. MFA programs and academia has all but killed completely theatre in the U.S. And what they didn’t destroy the extermination of an alternative media has. Not so long ago the alternative press fought heroically against the Vietnam war, while providing a critical dialogue on art and culture. Those days are long gone. I remember when major newspapers changed their arts section to *Entertainment* and started providing figures for what a new film grossed in its opening weekend (formally the province of the business section). So, infantilism, a trend toward sub-literacy overall and resurgent anti-communism (of course, for the underclass there is a clear uptick in interest about communism, but you will never hear that on mainstream media) — is wed to the giant colossus of corporate media and a propaganda regarding the climate and pollution of the planet, and the new theistic psychological life raft of the climate consensus and the offspring of this infernal union is a screen habituated near comatose man child with compulsions for porn, a jaded but numbed attraction to violence, and a 6th grader’s grasp of spirituality. And near total historical amnesia.

A consensus now brought to you by a billionaire class of vampiric white speculators looking to de-populate the poor and take control of literally the entirety of earth. That’s where we are. Worry about rising sea levels may or may not be rational, but before one discusses that it makes sense to consider the death merchants and fanatics who are destroying entire nations and stealing remaining resources. (See Lithium and Bolivia). And, yes, Bolivia has enormous lithium resources. It does not, however, have reserves of it, as I understand it, and in truth Lithium is not all that rare. Argentina has a huge lithium resource, too. As does Chile. Still, it might be a factor in the timing of this coup, though I somehow doubt it. This coup was to push back the Pink Tide, to discipline Latin America and make clear the continent still belongs to the US ruling elite. Lithium is the resource to be stolen. All colonies are stripped of their resources).

Also, at some point there is a question in all this that has to do with science, or rather scientists…and experts in general. Scientists in the capitalist west are tools of the ruling class, and by extension they are tools of corporate power and they instinctively know how to gravitate toward power. They are instruments for “proving” what governments want them to prove. Even if they often just instinctively know what is expected. The climate debate, or non debate, is inextricably bound up with science. The totality of it is science. And some of the challenge is to separate real science from junk science or compromised science. Is all of bourgeois science compromised? Bought? Yes, though that does not mean it’s not true. It only means often it is not.

The trajectory of this tradition, from positivism to the current variety of postpositivist philosophies of science, has reflected the pressure of a complex reality upon conceptions too restricted to give an adequate account of it.
— Helena Sheehan, Marxism and the Philosophy of Science

Science is part of the ideological super-structure of society.

It is not difficult to follow the historical course of his thought in the works collected in the ‘Holy Family’ and in the ‘German Ideology’. Here Marx already advances and solves quite differently from the philosophers who had preceded him the two chief questions, what is nature-the object of natural science, and what is natural science-the science of nature.

Marx criticises Hegel’s formal, abstract, mystical conception of nature. If real nature is a natural-philosophical form of logical foundation, the reflection of the idea, then it is something lower than the idea, nature is “an imperfect being”. The natural sciences from this point of view are directly bound up with theology and teleology, and can have no real importance, since they study the expression of the real creator of reality-the idea. Marx showed that the basis of this mysticism was the divorcing of nature from the practical activity of man. According to Hegel philosophical thinking must combine the practical attitude to nature with the theoretical. But with Hegel the determining basis remains the course of thought, the idea, and not practical activity, So with Hegel the picture of nature is distorted and fixed in its separation from man.

As distinct from Hegel, Marx looked at nature in its development, in its unity with man. Man is himself a part of nature. Man is historical nature and nature is natural history. It might appear at first glance as though Marx in not yet using the category of man as a totality of social relations, completely shares the outlook of Feuerbach. In reality Marx here also, in the works collected in the Holy Family, had already grasped the specific link, industry, which made the foundation for new views both on nature and on its relationship to man, as well as on the specific environment which man makes for himself in the general limits of nature.
— Y.M. Uranovsky, Marxism and Natural Sciences

There is a profound need for a discussion and dialogue on science, on what it is, what it does, and how it functions under capitalism. This is the Enlightenment discussion again and reminds me just how important is Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment.

The coup has also stimulated an outpouring of violent racist hatred directed against Bolivia’s Indigenous peoples. Right-wing opponents of Morales celebrated his resignation by burning the Wiphala flag, which is a symbol of resistance of the Indigenous peoples and Bolivia’s second official flag. The pro-coup Bolivian police, meanwhile, have been filmed cutting the indigenous flag off their uniforms. In his televised resignation speech, Morales said “my sin was being indigenous, leftist and anti-imperialist.
— Fiona Edwards, The Canary, November 2019

With the hostile takeover of all mainstream media by private equity investors early in the 21st Century, investigative journalism died in mainstream newsrooms. This void in mass communication has since been supplanted with propaganda created by public relations (PR) firms hired by transnational corporations.
— Jay Taber, Global Netwar, 2019

I leave you with the opening to Lorca’s New York, Office and Attack. A poem from Poet in New York. Translated by Robert Bly.

Beneath all the statistics
there is a drop of duck’s blood.
Beneath all the columns
there is a drop of sailor’s blood.
Beneath all the totals, a river of warm blood;
a river that goes singing
past the bedrooms of the suburbs,
and the river is silver, cement, or wind
in the lying daybreak of New York.

and Bly’s own great anti-war poem, The Teeth Mother Naked At Last.