Bravo, Wikileaks!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

“God, help me to tell the truth in the presence of the strong”.

Mahatma Gandhi

Of course this information should be disclosed!

The first article of the Constitution of UNESCO, a United Nations organization that I had the privilege of directing for several years, says that the “free flow of ideas by word and image” will be guaranteed. Freedom of expression, of information, of access.

Among the thousands of “classified” documents disclosed by Wikileaks, some reveal data concerning the U.S. armed forces from communications intended for the Pentagon. Others refer to “filtrations” of messages sent from different embassies to the U.S. State Department. And this knowledge alone has an incalculable value for, among others, improving diplomatic service and military intelligence. From now on, many people with think twice before sending such information. The “powers” will understand that they must proceed otherwise and that “State transparency” is much better than “State secrets”. Good political initiatives will not be destabilized; only the bad ones will. And this is a positive outcome. The communications media can help prevent absurdities, and cooperate in the right direction. Politics with a capital “P” will be the ultimate beneficiary.

But what no one can ensure is that these messages are indeed authentic. We don’t know whether they are true, especially some that obviously reflect very personal, superficial and anecdotal impressions.

If we are careful to use the term “alleged”, even with those who are known to have committed crimes or who have been accused of doing so, it would now be absurd to hastily reach conclusions based on the Wikileaks documents, without duly verifying their content.

To the extent that the leaks are found to be true, the competent authorities should undoubtedly take measures, some quite severe, and they should now be more carefully monitored by the general public, who will likewise be more vigilant.

What is really important is to support good journalism; journalism that accurately reflects events and knowledge based on criteria of total independence. And journalists who freely write and defend their opinions.

On the other hand, we need to bear in mind that the “news” always reflects something unusual and extraordinary. We must try to see the broad areas of reality that are not present in the news… because they are “normal”, “ordinary”, what’s customary. Seeing those who are invisible and not only those in the media spotlight is very important because (as I never cease to repeat) only if we have a profound knowledge of reality can we achieve a profound transformation of that reality.

In summary: it is very positive to have disclosed the Wikileaks information. It is very bad to have accepted all of it as true, without prior verification, especially on the part of those media that only publicize information that benefits them, which is often totally and blatantly manipulated to reflect the ideology of the media’s owners; and those who actively wail against journalistic transparency, with “sins” of omission and distortion…

We urgently need reliable news sources. These are becoming ever scarcer, due to the concentration of communications media in so few “hands”.

Long live Wikileaks!

And down with those who from their unyielding partisan perspectives are quick to draw the conclusions that best fit their purposes, with the same ease with which they shun objectivity.

Know and confirm, and put everything in context. Knowledge and good judgment. As T. S. Eliot asked over a century ago, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

These are the questions.

When the unacceptable becomes acceptable Honduras... then Ecuador... Then?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The coup d’etat in Honduras, with all of the atypical circumstances that may be offered as an excuse, is a dangerous precedent, because it underscores the immense power that is still held by those who have “always been in charge". What was done was wrong. Mediators were supported and then undermined. The fundamental role of the OAS was downplayed. And due to pressures that have become quite obvious in Colombia, the United States acquiesced "juxta modum", but they acquiesced.

Then it was Ecuador’s turn, one of those great little countries that lives with fears of the past so present, that its democracy only allows non-extendable four-year terms, which only benefit those who “fish in muddy waters”. It’s very difficult to change the traditional tendencies in these countries in so little time. And when a political leader with vision and charisma appears on the horizon, attempts are even made to reduce his term in office, in case he actually makes changes that may disturb secular inertia.

Thus, a warning for “fishing boats and coastal sailing”: reinforce intra-continental alliances and support transparency and clear information to strengthen democracy and its capacity for pro-action and reaction. “Unite, help each other” as Rubén Dario suggested many years ago. Stay alert –with the torches lit day and night – as Oswaldo Guayasamin and Miguel Angel Asturias urged, because they will not accept finally being dispossessed and removed from power. That’s the way democracy is: it must be quickly disguised, or it takes hold to the extent that it’s then hard to remove.

President Rafael Correa was able to put down the rebellion of sectors of the Ecuadorian police that not only sought to remove him from office, but also to assassinate him. It is now essential to determine who was behind this; who is inciting the rebellion; who, near or far, initiated the events in Honduras and now in Ecuador.

They must realize that the age of dominion and imposition is over. The time has come for liberated peoples to decisively take the reins of their own destinies, being constantly suspicious of those who are working in the shadows.

It is essential to mend the tears in the social fabric, which originated with oligarchy, and increased in recent years due to “globalizers” who dismantled the public sector and concentrated so much power in so few hands. It is unacceptable that a country that has so much wealth in the production of bananas and sea food, with oil resources and a formidable tourist trade must see its economy compromised by a few multinational companies and consortia.

If consistent evolution is not achieved –especially advisable in this country in which Darwin, in the Galapagos Islands, discovered the “secret of nature"- then revolution will ensue. As will military coups that must be condemned and counteracted, no matter what their source.

After ten presidents in a decade, the last three having been toppled by resounding military coups, the country now requires profound reforms, attending to the needs of all of the population, but especially the working classes and the notorious indigenous communities. Wealth must be distributed more evenly, and, once and for all, those who have the most must understand that only through solidarity will they achieve reasonable stability to meet their own objectives, and that they cannot continue to enjoy unbridled privileges, as is to be expected in a context of justice and public liberties.

The OAS and UNASUR must adopt strict measures to defend political stability in the Latin American republics, making it known to opposition groups –especially to sectors of the military with an authoritarian and opaque past- that they will use every means within their powers to prevent any change of course towards emancipation in Latin America and the Caribbean, after the bitter years of “Operation Condor”. An important part of that other world that we all desire depends on an intrepid, imaginative and diverse Latin America being aware of its immense potential...

The European Union, seriously “outsourced” and “sequestered” by the market

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Progressive outsourcing of production toward the East, finally ending up in China, the “world’s factory”, has created an enormous paradox: the largest communist nation is now a great capitalist power.

In other respects, for decades talent has been fleeing toward the West. Europe has spent much effort to offer (pre-doctoral, post-doctoral...) scholarships and aid, but later, due to a large extent to less flexible procedures than in the U.S, thousands of scientists and specialists in a wide range of fields have accepted job offers elsewhere, particularly in the United States.

In defense matters we have likewise “partially outsourced” to the other side of the (North) Atlantic.

And in Europe, with respect to services and the “bubbles”, we have been left suffering quite substantially from the “collateral effects” of plutocratic globalization.

We are dominated by financial experts, while the representatives of great capital fortunes, well-positioned and protected from the storm, merely repeat with exasperating monotony that they have the solutions (which they never offer)... while looking the other way.

President Bush already warned us in November, 2008: "the solution to the crisis is the market economy, free trade". I have already referred on several occasions to the tremendous error that Europe, subservient and weak, committed by hurriedly attending the Camp David meeting on that date, when Obama had already been elected, and the U.S. President-elect could have led the recovery from financial (and democratic, and political, and environmental, and ethical...) bankruptcy.

But then, instead of the United Nations, it was the G-20 that ordered the use of public funds to “rescue” the mostly private financial institutions that were floundering. And now, logically, the public sector has a huge deficit which must be paid... by the public sector (!) while introducing budget cuts, including those that support social programs. The market has captured politics, blurring all of the different ideological options.

Europe, like the entire world, has been sequestered by the market. It was aided by announcing regulatory measures and the immediate elimination of tax havens. But deregulation continues; tax havens are still open for business; and the biased, partial, opportunist and hardly disinterested “ratings” and “classifications” continue to be issued (the latest one from Moody’s on the day before Catalonia released its treasury bonds for sale!).

Europe, trampled by horses. Instead of holding the reins like expert horsemen, we are being trampled by the runaway power of the market.

The West has accepted the gradual alienation of the United Nations. It has forgotten its democratic principles, human rights, and the wealth of its diversity. It has embraced the market and is allowing itself to be unduly influenced by the power of the media. And, as in Sweden, it is the far-right that, against all predictions, is benefiting from the crisis. Outbreaks of xenophobia and radicalization are eroding the social-democratic foundations that for years have been the point of reference.

But in times of resistance the seeds of mobilization planted years ago are now germinating, and Internet will be particularly relevant for that purpose.

And more and more seeds will be planted to fill whole fields that will make the means for action available to citizen power. Change will come to citizens who are tired of being subjugated and neglected. It won’t be long, despite those who seek to prevent it through confusion and deceit, and by eliminating education for citizenship from all educational programs.

Yes, the era of “the Peoples” will arrive, as so lucidly predicted in the United Nations Charter. And, with much courage, citizens will demand that the markets be regulated; that alternative funding be found (taxes on electronic transactions, for example); closing, once and for all, harmful tax havens; taking urgent environmental measures, especially to prevent potentially irreversible harm; reducing military spending and weapons, devising new strategies and machinery appropriate for new types of conflicts...

It is in this way, and only this way, will this abduction end, enabling Europe to emerge as a point of reference for global democratic governance.

Instead of disparaging it, let’s support political leadership in the European Union. To be able to resist and overcome the intolerable onslaught of the markets that remain in the hands of so few. To “outsource” only the types of production deemed most appropriate. And, as the European Research Council commenced to do in 2007, let’s actively promote R&D+i in a “un-outsourced” EU, with the “brains” from its Member States.

Design and put into practice your own defensive system. Alliances, yes. Dependencies, no.

The arrogant dragon. China and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I have a penchant for China. I know the Chinese people. I’ve seen how they live and think. And how they look and smile.

And because of this special leaning I have followed with quite some concern, especially in the last few years, the progressive transformation of this great country, which given the ups and downs of history is becoming the world’s strongest capitalist power.

For a long time I have underscored that through outsourcing of production to satisfy greed and to make money by any means, having made China into the “world’s factory” in which, all profits go to the state..., without concern for working conditions or even the most elementary respect for human rights, is not only a huge error and an insult to the Chinese people, but also a serious destabilizing force worldwide.

Being to a large extent guilty of the above, the world’s most powerful countries have exquisitely looked the other way. We don’t really understand the reality of that great country, hiding behind that permanent and traditional smile. We are not allowed to observe what actually transpires there. Since this is China, which buys our treasury bonds and manufactures our trade-marked goods, it is better not to ask. Do we know how many people are executed there for capital offenses each year? Amnesty International estimates that there are several thousands... but the Chinese authorities don’t publicize the figures. Do we know how hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens can defend their rights?

It is essential –and I say this firmly because I love them- to clarify so many dark points. The award of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned as a dissident, demonstrates to what point the authorities act arbitrarily, preventing the news of this brilliant award from being broadcast, so that it wouldn’t spread to the rest of the people, refusing to let his wife give him the news and, immediately thereafter, subjecting him to house arrest.

They must realize that there are limits to their clients’ economic interests and that they have been exalted for ulterior motives, but they must also be aware of how they are perceived by the world, by people who are to a large extent consumers of their products.

It is essential to reach a broad agreement, without violent impositions from anyone, so that within a reasonable period China can change. And those who have offered China so many advantages in exchange for huge profits must understand that they must now also make substantial changes.

It’s clear that the only language it understands is economics. "Made in China" can no longer stand for discretionary monetary, labor and social practices which today render that label so suspect.

With the secular roots of its culture China is capable of making spectacular changes. Now is the time to take a decisive step... from the party leadership down to the rank and file party members. Progressively showing their faces. Opening their society to other countries, obviously none of which are morally authorized to cast the first stone.

It’s not in a dragon’s nature to be submissive. But if it listens to its distinguished fellow countryman Liu Xiaobo –what a fine choice the Nobel Peace Prize Committee made this time!- and to all of those he represents, and if it likewise listens to the voices of all of us who acknowledge and value Chinese culture, it will cease to be arrogant. And we will like its smile. The way it smiles today doesn’t please us at all.

Danger! There’s No Time for Thinking

Monday, November 8, 2010

“We need to reallocate our time”

Prof. María Novo

Thinking is an exclusive and distinctive activity of human beings. To do so unhindered, without restrictions and unconditionally is an expression of our freedom.

And acting upon our thoughts and not in response to the dictates of others is our responsibility. “Free and responsible”: these are the characteristics of educated people, as set forth in the UNESCO constitution.

Education is “sensibly managing one’s own life”, according to Francisco Giner de los Ríos’ superb definition. In consequence, educated people can participate as actors, rather than being mere passive spectators who are fainthearted, obedient, silent and resigned to their fates.

It’s time to think. To attempt to find answers to the essential questions, although it’s not easy because, as José Bergamín wrote, “I flee from myself whenever I meet me”.

And it’s time to observe (that is, to think while looking) what we see.

The news logically always focuses on the unusual, the extraordinary. Although it may be accurate, the news only reflects a small part of what is really happening, of the whole of reality. We have to strain to see those who are “invisible”.

But, in addition, the news is frequently “tinted” with the color of the news source. News that is biased and deceptive.

“Spaniards think that...” I’ve heard this said repeatedly by those who claim to represent “Spaniards”, when in truth they can only speak for a part of Spanish citizens. And the result is merely adding politics to social apathy.

Thus, we must have access to many news sources and time to reflect on the “invisibles” (to be able to achieve the “impossibles”, in the words of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Professor B. Lawn).

It’s time to compare, to appreciate what we have, to realize the “quantity” of welfare we enjoy, and how much welfare others lack.

It’s time to become citizens who participate, and who reject the fact that others must suffer the “collateral effects” of our present system.

We are distracted by Internet, mobile phones, television, Play Stations, and omnipresent sports events. Football at all hours: the Spanish League, the Cup and Super Cup, the Champions League, the European and World Cups …! The entertainment industry has taken on colossal proportions and may be the next “bubble”… It’s almost an addiction. And when is there time for thinking? For imagining? For inventing?

Distracted, we forget what we should remember with each step. We have an obligation to remember; an obligation to be the voice of others.

To reverse the present trends we must begin by changing ourselves and our surroundings.

To mobilize citizens, so that they may cease to be submissive, silent and obedient subjects it is necessary to invent another tomorrow…

Careful! Mental globalization? We must offer alternative formulas and demand democratic government at the local and international levels. We do not want to be led by the world’s 6, 7, 8 or 20 richest countries! We want a strong United Nations –“We the Peoples…” –endowed with the necessary human, technical and financial resources!

We want to be guided by universal ethical principles (social justice, solidarity…) and not by the rules of the marketplace. Citizen Power, Now!

I will end with another saying of María Novo’s: “The big problem is T.D.U. (they’re distracting us)”.

Let’s refuse to be distracted so easily.

Who Owns Africa?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I asked this question years ago (around 1996), as Director General of UNESCO during a meeting on African development.

One of the participants had underscored the difficulties that corruption poses for the proper distribution of aid.

In my intervention I admitted that it might be true in some cases, and that certain corrupt persons were well known. But I added that I was much more concerned about the corrupters. The important question is who are the real owners and who are the real beneficiaries of Africa’s immense (gold, diamonds, oil, bauxite, coltan, uranium) resources?

The exploitation continues. A few multinationals continue to control the energy sources and mineral wealth of the entire continent. Others buy land directly!

There is total impunity at the supranational level, because the G-7, G-8 and G-20 have not been able to replace the United Nations, whether they want to recognize it or not.

The huge oil tankers don’t comply with transportation safety regulations. And the environment is ignored, especially with respect to the exploitation of gold mines…

We recently read about the uranium mines in Arlit, in Niger, which supply French nuclear plants, and where the Maghreb branch of Al-Qaeda kidnapped five employees of the “strategic French multinational” Areva. That same day in the Gulf of Guinea two additional hostages were kidnapped in the oil fields of Taddox, a subsidiary of the Chinese group Sinopec, for which the French company Bourbon provides maritime services…

So let’s take stock. Let’s draw a map showing the real owners of Africa. We will discover many keys for meeting the challenges facing this continent. But we will have to make radical changes. We will have to replace exploitation with cooperation; an economy of speculation and war with an economy of sustainable global development; governance by plutocrats with governance by a renewed United Nations.

And the corrupt? What about the corrupters?

Who owns Africa? (And the world?)

Power (whether it be financial, military, political, technological or the communications media) is in the hands of a very few. But progressively it must change to many. The “peoples” will soon mobilize. They will soon express themselves with voices that are loud and clear. We stand at the dawn of a new era.

VERY IMPORTANT: Alternative Sources of Financing

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I have written about this topic on several occasions (Blogs, 28.05.20, 3.09.10; Manifesto of June, 2010...) because I believe it’s of great interest and quite urgent.

As early as 2004, Presidents Lula of Brazil, Lagos of Chile, Chirac of France and Spain’s President Rodríguez-Zapatero committed themselves to fighting poverty with progressively larger contributions and by seeking alternative sources, particularly through electronic and currency transactions.

Later, French Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner promoted this initiative and Secretary General Ban Ki Moon added the support of the United Nations.

Finally, there exists a way to provide funds for alleviating the poverty suffered by so many; a way which would hardly be noticeable, since these contributions would be a minute percentage of the immense capital transactions.

The topic was recently discussed in New York and our President presented it at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Here everyone could applaud, because many would benefit and no one would be hurt.

However, those who were “rescued” with generous amounts of public funds and who should be so thankful to their now-impoverished “rescuers” who are having to adjust their national budgets, have energetically reacted against alternative financing, arguing that it would only serve to increase the price of credit for families and companies. They must substantiate this threatening affirmation with hard facts, because excellent research has shown that a tax of this nature on international financial transactions would have no real impact and would not increase the price of normal banking operations.

The "rescued" who were helped in their hour of need should now help rescue those who are in a more precarious position. And they should also help to adequately regulate financial activities and to eliminate tax havens.

The time has come to express ourselves through Internet and the communications media at our disposal, to confront an economic system based on speculation and war (I continually refer to military spending that amounts to almost 4,000 million dollars daily) and commence to implement the much needed radical changes (in energy, in the economy, in politics).

These new formulas are not “stupid”, as one of the arrogant bankers termed them, without offering any data that would render his attitude credible.

A. Maalouf once said that "unprecedented actions require unprecedented solutions”.

Let’s listen to him.

Drug Trafficking: Enough is Enough!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Like alcohol and tobacco, the consumption of drugs is one’s personal responsibility. The harmful effects of consuming drugs must be made known. But as Araceli Manjón recently underscored, prohibiting drugs has been an enormous error, creating mafias that threaten the security of entire nations, traffickers that become murderers, and drug addicts who turn their lives and those of their families into an immense tragedy.

“Prohibition” was a failure. When prohibition was lifted, the Al Capones disappeared.

In May of this year I wrote a blog recommending decriminalization, as did the former Spanish President Felipe González a few days ago, amid much media attention.

In my May blog I wrote: "...given the dimension of drug trafficking and its economic and criminal impact, drug consumption affects society as a whole".

A large part of Afghanistan’s problems –and those involving the Taliban- would disappear if suddenly cultivating opium became unprofitable. 90% of the world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan. And each hectare of opium poppies yields 13,000 dollars... when cultivating grain earns less than 500.

The same would occur in Colombia and other American countries: if cocaine prices were to suddenly drop, the mafia violence generated by drug trafficking would finally come to an end.

Europe should lead this great decision, which some oppose in good faith, while others do so to defend the immense benefits they obtain... with no thought for the destruction of personal lives and families... and without having to listen to a guilty conscience, since they long ago sold their souls.

With this, as with so many other questions, we must take a radically different approach. We must consider the matter without prejudice, without taking up immovable positions and rejecting a priori any suggestion of change.

Yes, decriminalization, so that drugs will cost no more than a package of cigarettes or a bottle of wine. And the immediate closing of tax havens, which I recently supported (blog--3.05.10). Both are difficult measures due to the immense benefits they generate, and due to the inertia that prompts our “stable society” to reject any change of course.

Without drug trafficking and without the tax havens that support it, the world would suddenly be a better place.

Let’s awaken from our long slumber and raise our voices to make this happen, through Internet and all of the means at our disposal: drug trafficking, enough is enough!

"It’s time to rise up" (José Ángel Valente)

Monday, October 25, 2010

It’s time for action, for active resistance. Like the great Mario Benedetti’s recommendation to his son: "Son, / don’t give up, / please, don’t give in. /... Because each day is a new beginning".

Don’t give up! Now, more than ever, because change is now possible. Because citizen power can make itself known, thanks to modern communications technology that facilitates distance participation. Because there are more, many more of us each day who don’t want to continue as passive spectators, fainthearted and fearful, but rather we want to say that “we’ve had enough!” of an economic system based on greed, speculation and war, which has led the world to a profound multiple (financial, democratic, environmental, nutritional...) crisis.

The immense power of the media’s “massive entertainment” distracts and lulls us to sleep... without addressing the great global and local problems and challenges that we must face. And tax havens remain open, and all kinds of trafficking continue; and the exploitation of the natural resources of “developing countries” continues; and damage to the environment continues; and, although the most prosperous countries are armed to their teeth, they still lack adequate technology and personnel to respond to natural disasters (floods, fire, hurricanes, earthquakes...); and a group of plutocrats still seeks to rule the world, instead of reinforcing the United Nations and returning values and social justice to the forefront of political action.

For the first time, in a very few years, the influence of the “voice of the citizens”, freely expressed through SMS and Internet, will provide one of the guidelines for authentic democracy, which will no longer be limited to the ballot box.

Yes, it is time to take action, to speak up and to mobilize.

We must refuse to give up.

For that reason, as Pedro Salinas said in "Todo más claro", it is essential to realize that "When a tired man... / stops, / he betrays the world, because he fails / in his supreme duty, which is to continue on...".

And he added: "We tremble with future". Yes! We will tremble with future because –I enjoy repeating— that the future has yet to be built!

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel said that in these times resistance is more important than ever. Let’s follow his advice.

Eduardo Galeano, spur for the urgent mobilization of civil society

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I think it is very important to underscore several aspects of Eduardo Galeano’s address delivered at the meeting sponsored IPS (Inter Press Service) and AECID (Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development) in Madrid on September 7, 2010.

Entitled "Some of the Capital Sins in a World Turned Upside Down”, he emphasized the importance of indigenous cultures; sexist traditions; failure to recognize reality; disdain for work; lies; fear and the "life is killing me" attitude...

Galeano said much that was of extraordinary interest. With his pleasant crosscurrent voice, he noted that “It is said that Núñez de Balboa was the first person to see both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans at the same time.” And then he asked, “so the indigenous peoples were all blind?”

He underscored the naivety of so many citizens who passively accept the guidelines of the present economic system and act uopn its aberrant estimates and evaluations. "Before, price depended on value. Now, frequently, price determines value", he remarked.

How can we speak of “human capital"? "The nobodies, those who own nothing, those who never were and never will be, those who are not human beings but merely hands that work for others..." We should cease to use the expression “human capital”. All people are equal in dignity and every part of them is worthy, especially their heads and their hearts.

We will no longer remain silent, since to become the voice of the voiceless we must first listen. "If you don’t want to be mute, you should begin by not being deaf". All together, then, eyes wide open and ears pricked up. Especially journalists, whose vital profession precisely requires them to reflect events accurately.

He also mentioned the walls of shame existing in the world. The Berlin Wall fell, but what can we say of the one separating the U.S. and Mexico? or Israel and the West Bank? and the Moroccan wall in the Sahara?..." We still have to pull down many walls that are a collective shame clearly violating United Nations resolutions.

And lies... like the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (thousands have died paying the price of that sinister deceit)... and news about the personal lives of show people that hide for a long time things that we should know...

But above all, fear. "Fear of losing our jobs or of not finding one... Men’s fear of fearless women, fear of the masses, fear of solitude, fear of living, fear of dying..."

Fear that is mentioned so prominently in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "The exercise of those rights will free humanity from fear"... From the dawn of time we have feared the powerful on earth and beliefs from above, which threaten us with hellfire rather than offering us comfort, protection and love. Mercy. Friendship...

How long will we continue to accept a world order based on lies and fear?

They will take away our capacity to speak, they will immobilize us... but they can’t take away our ideas or the truth. He finished his presentation with an excellent anecdote: "A man was traveling from one town to another with two mules. He rode on one of the mules and on the other he had tied his harp. He was assaulted and wounded. When he recovered consciousness he exclaimed: "They’ve taken my mules and my harp. They’ve stolen everything... but my music!

September 21, International Day of Peace... another day that's gone unnoticed!

Monday, October 18, 2010

September 18 was the International Day Against Poverty. This past Saturday several events were held, some with massive participation and the publication of excellent manifestos, such as the "Alliance Against Poverty"... which didn't merit even a single mention in any of the major communications media. The press, television, radio... devote much time and space to news that are generally biased to reflect their political preferences, and they are extremely generous with anything related to "popular entertainment" -which may be the new "bubble"- while omitting any reference to the great challenges that have prompted the United Nations to devote to them a special "day ".

Citizens will never get the attention that their great personal and collective objectives deserve until the struggle against poverty, and the goals of peace and conciliation... are made part of their daily lives. Only then will they be able to unite their voices and demand that the communications media give them the attention that they so urgently need.

These dates are ignored because the "globalizers", who replaced democratic principles, values and social justice with the laws of the market, are not very interested in our ceasing to be silent and obedient subjects, permanent spectators of all types of sports events that they offer to keep us dormant.

Peace! We have wished each other "peace" for so many centuries that it has become a mere routine -peace be with you, salam, shalom...- but this doesn't influence our behavior because these are simply expressions that we have failed to actually internalize as something we truly desire. In the Catholic mass the word "peace" is repeated almost as often as the word "God", but contrary to what might be expected, not even the Church observes these days devoted to the great objectives of Mankind.

But, of course, on days commemorating past wars, parades and other activities are promptly broadcast, to fix in the minds of the people the importance of the military event in question.

We must thus transcend from a secular culture of force, violence and war to a culture of dialogue, understanding and peace. We will then be able to celebrate the days of fighting poverty and working for peace in the manner that they so deserve... And it won’t be long, because many citizens have realized that the time for silence and resignation is over. Today, and I’ll never tire of repeating this, distance participation is now possible through ICTs.

In that regard, in a few days, on October 2, the International Day of Non-Violence will be observed. I hope that, at least in cyberspace, many peoples’ voices will be heard.


Friday, October 15, 2010

The time for resignation and silence is over.

We can’t tolerate even one more day the collective shame of over 60,000 people who die each day of hunger and neglect, while 4,000 million dollars are devoted to military spending.

We cannot tolerate the fact that there was no money to support the Millennium Objectives but, suddenly, hundreds of thousands of millions were made available to “rescue” the same financial institutions that, with their greed and irresponsibility, led the world into a serious multiple (economic, democratic, political, environmental and ethical) crisis.

The “globalizers” replaced cooperation with exploitation, aid with loans, social justice and other values for the rules of the market. And the United Nations of all the people was replaced with groups of plutocrats (G-7, G-8, G-20).

In 2008 it was decided to take decisive action against tax havens and the lack of regulation. But nothing was done: unbridled military spending continued, tax havens are still open for business, and the wealthy feel no sense of solidarity.

And the economy of speculation and war continues its course. Nevertheless, the wealthiest nations, armed to the teeth, don’t even have the personal, technical and financial resources to reduce the impact of natural or man-made disasters. They have nuclear warheads, but they don’t know how to handle the consequences of earthquakes, fires or floods.

And production continues to be delocalized in the East, without consideration for working conditions or human rights.

And world governance continues in the hands of only a few countries, while the United Nations is ignored. And the World Trade Organization remain placed beyond its scope.

And no changes have been made in energy sources that pollute. And nothing is done about climate change.

The newly impoverished “rescuers” must now adjust their budgets and reduce their social welfare expenditures.

Those who brought us the dot-com and real estate bubbles, together with large flows of illegal immigration, now criticize those who have to face the consequences of poor neoliberal governance at both the local and international levels.

They are the same ones who comment in huge headlines that the number of the world’s inhabitants who suffer from hunger has decreased, as if they had actually done something to achieve this relative improvement, which is actually almost exclusively due to the efforts and know-how of the countries involved, such as India.

They are the same ones who distort financial reports and block the transition from a market economy to an economy of sustainable global development.

And are against of alternative sources of financing, such as taxes on financial international transactions.

For the first time in history we have a profound knowledge of the reality. For the first time in history, with the increased participation of women, we can make our voices heard loud and clear in the communications media, on Internet and through SMS.

Each day and from now on, thousands of millions of our fellow human beings will prevent us from forgetting, and prompt us into action.

This Alliance Against Poverty, in favor of human dignity, is currently supported by many associations and NGOs, but it must increase exponentially. Let’s soon cease to be mere subjects to become full citizens! Let’s quickly extend this throughout cyberspace, so that they will not only have to hear us, but will be obliged to listen to us too!

A new beginning is now possible. It’s possible for “the peoples”, united in peace, to dictate their own destiny, which is what genuine democracy is all about.

PAKISTAN, ANOTHER RESOUNDING FAILURE of the present system of world governance

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another great tragedy ignored by the leading nations, which refuse to change their model:

-The same world management system (the G-20 instead of the United Nations);

-The same economic model (insisting that those who most consume should consume more, instead of extending less precarious living standards to a larger part of mankind through sustainable global development;

-The market instead of social values;

-Exploitation instead of cooperation;

-Speculation and tax havens instead of strict regulation and transparency;

Preparing for war -over 3,000 million dollars daily spent on arms (I’ll never tire of repeating this) while 60,000 people die of hunger- instead of, together with a United Nations Organization endowed with the pertinent means, creating the necessary alliances for international security and the means for building peace, to assist with all human and technical resources during natural or man-made disasters, in order to finally transcend from a culture of imposition, violence and domination to a culture of dialogue, understanding, conciliation and peace.

In the terrible situation in which it is in, Pakistan would only need an investment equal to ten days of military spending...

We must change. The people –lulled by the immense power of the media- haven’t yet reacted. But it won’t be long before they do.

We Share Martin Luther King’s Dream

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The dream that one day blacks and whites and people of all races could live in America without discrimination, privileges or exclusion.

The dream that one day a black person could become president of the United States.

This dream has become a reality.

We had a dream, that extended to all of the world, for all peoples to live in peace, without making distinctions. “All equal in dignity”. All different, all united.

For that reason I deeply regret the rally that was staged at the same place on the Washington D.C. Mall on August 28. Ms. Palin organized a rally of far-right fanatics (who were all past immigrants) under the banner “Restoring Honor”. But, Ms. Palin, honor was restored years ago by Rosa Parks. Honor was restored by Martin Luther King. Honor was restored by all of the Americans who demonstrated to the world that they really believe in the equal dignity of all human beings.

Our dream is still the dream of 1963. And our dream is that of those whom you represent may reflect on the damage that their attitudes are doing to the U.S.

You, Ms. Palin, are anything but a dream. Rest assured that the immense majority of the inhabitants of the earth dream about achieving the dream that was so beautifully described at the Lincoln Memorial by the Reverend Martin Luther King.

Tax Havens

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tax havens are still open. The other ones are closing down...

In October, 2008 after the election of President Obama, the EU hurriedly reported to Camp David so that President George Bush (in recognition of his many successes!) could lead the world in facing the great financial crisis that was upon us. And as was to be expected (and despite this being a global problem) President Bush ignored the United Nations and delegated decision-making to the G-20, the “enlarged” group of the world’s richest countries.

And he couldn’t come up with a better solution than to “rescue” the financial institutions with public funds, provoking unprecedented indebtedness in those countries. While “rescuing” them (over 700,000 million dollars in the U.S. and around 400,000 million dollars in the EU), they were warned that the “greed and irresponsibility” (in the words of President Obama, which I like to quote) that led to this crisis should be radically avoided in the future, through adequate regulatory measures and, above all, the immediate eradication of tax havens, which enable fraudulent companies to evade taxes and the reach of the courts, and which facilitate trafficking (in arms, capital, drugs...) on a global scale... The worst was that the “rescued market” then imposed its arbitrary laws on the naïve and now impoverished “rescuers”, who have had to make adjustments in the face of attacks from speculators in a global economic system that is way off course.

Two years later, the market has replaced political leaders, money has taken the place of democratic principles... and tax havens blatantly continue to be open, while for millions of citizens directly hit by the “collateral” effects of the crisis, the “other” havens, both earthly and even heavenly, are closing down.

Let us hope that these citizens, so entertained by the immense powers of the media, rebel on time and demand that tax havens be closed and that the havens that they long for remain wide open.

Save Sakineh!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yes, save Sakineh. But let’s take advantage of this great mobilization and the media attention given to this symbolic case to ensure that civil society’s impact on world leaders doesn’t immediately fall off.

We must save all who suffer from torture; the boy-soldiers; the children of Gaza, cruelly murdered in their schools; those who die of hunger each day; the men, women and children who live in extreme poverty, without hope and neglected.

Let’s save Sakineh, but through constant use of citizen power and open and determined resistance let us help ensure that violations of human rights such as those committed in the prisons of Iraq, Afghanistan or Guantanamo are not repeated, so that not only this death penalty but all of the world’s death penalties may become a thing of the past, never to recur again. Let us be the global outcry that prevents the Iranian government from committing this abominable practice; an outcry that will continue so that many other women may obtain the emancipation they so desire.

We must take advantage of these cases that get so much media attention, even with the knowledge that they sometimes reflect hidden agendas, and commence a great transition from force to the word, from a culture of imposition and violence to a culture of understanding and conciliation.

We must change the world. With this permanent will to “intervene democratically”, we must achieve fewer investments in weapons and a lot more solidarity. So that the nations understand that the time of discretionary powers and the use of aberrant and inhumane procedures of coercion and influence have come to an end. This is the time for Humanity as a whole, and not the few who for centuries have held power, to take into their hands the reins of their common destiny.

Budget Cuts for Research?

Friday, September 24, 2010

In the aftermath of the “bubbles", relocation of production in the East, enormous military spending and financial speculation that determines political action and social objectives, we must concentrate our efforts on education and science. We must innovate, we must think and meditate.

Warning! The future requires inventions, including models of government and labor reforms. And in that regard, budget cuts cannot be allowed to affect scientific research.

If, for once and for all, we really seek to change our market economy to a knowledge-based economy in order to facilitate the transition from an economy of speculation and war to an economy of global sustainable development, why are investments in R&D+innovation being reduced, contrary to the “good practices” of years past?

This is a serious error. On the part of the government, but also on the part of the private sector and a civil society that has not been sufficiently mobilized. If millions are invested in athletic performance... if footballers, coaches, racing drivers are paid such huge sums... how can we now take the sap from the “tree of science”?

Mr. President: correct this mistake. Take a cue from the United States and Germany. This time their policies are worth copying

Three unfortunate comments

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The U.S. Ambassador for the Obama Administration should think before offering his comments or, perhaps to give him the benefit of the doubt, he should ensure that their transcriptions and translations are accurate, because in recent statements, among other more fortunate observations, he said the following:

1) "We still haven’t seen any fundamental changes in Cuba...". The country of the never-ending embargo, of constant pressure on the island and, above all, the country of the Guantanamo prisoners during the Bush Administration shouldn’t analyze with such disdain the impact that the Cuban government’s recently-adopted measures may have in a nation that, despite intense duress from its colossal neighbor, has never claudicated.

He answered another question –and he answered it well, quoting President Obama himself- saying that the world’s problems are too important for the U.S. to solve them alone, but that no important problem can be solved without the U.S. Great! Come on, and for once and for all help Cuba after 50 years of boycotting and stifling any possible improvement.

2) "We ask all countries to recognize Kosovo". In 1999, before invading Iraq, against the Security Council and without the support of the United Nations, NATO invaded Kosovo. As the Director General of UNESCO at that time, on several occasions I denounced that act of war, which was a discretional act that once again ignored the UN... But the process of globalization was in full swing, and it was the G-8 plutocrats who, led by the U.S., directed the world. The results are there for all to see: force always breeds suffering, deep wounds that don’t heal, divisions that can only widen, absurd situations and discriminatory treatment....

If actions are taken with impunity in the Balkans, the same will happen in the Caucasus. The desired results will not be achieved by force. Unless, of course, the intended results include deaths, injuries, displaced persons, humiliation... which don’t seem to count when assessing situations of this nature.

3) "Obama will evaluate the real situation before withdrawing troops from Afghanistan"

We didn’t expect less. But the problems of Afghanistan (and I will comment on this topic shortly) cannot be solved exclusively with military measures. The Afghans must be provided with much “personal” aid, opium crops must be replaced, the people must especially benefit from their great mining resources, particularly lithium. I do not doubt that President Obama, who understands the problem well, will endeavor to confront the inertia of the immense war machine establishment, which drops bombs at a distance from unmanned aircraft... The solution lies precisely in the “human face”, including those that are hidden behind burkas.

Innovative financial resources that cannot be postponed

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On various occasions (Blog 28.05.10; actions on the UBUNTU Forum in September, 2008, February-March...) I have written about the advisability of seeking innovative mechanisms for obtaining more funds to devote especially to sustainable development, reducing the impact of natural or man-made disasters, etc.

This can no longer be postponed, because everything is in the hands of the marketplace, of harsh and abusive speculation on the part of the “rescued”, to the point of vacating all political action and measures previously adopted to achieve social objectives.

It is time for alternative mechanisms, for “other” sources of financing. Let’s not let another day pass. Let’s support this in every possible way, in cyberspace, and especially through the Meeting of the Working Group on International Financial Transactions and Development held in Paris on September 1st.

Who regulates the regulators?

Friday, September 10, 2010

This was a question posed by Robert Kuttner in the June 19-20, 2010 issue of the International Herald Tribune.

Why weren’t the rules established by the U.S. Minerals Management Service strictly followed, which would have prevented the tragic oil spill that is devastating the waters and coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico?

Because the petroleum mining companies continued to be granted licenses “due to intense pressure from the industry and its political allies in Washington”, said Kuttner. He added, “U.S. government supervision was particularly lax and corrupt under Vice President Dick Cheney, former executive director of Halliburton... And the Obama administration has not reestablished more efficient monitoring ".

The same has occurred on the “financial front". The rating agencies haven’t been prevented from unduly issuing triple-A credit scores. These regulatory defects continued throughout the Clinton and Bush administrations.

And despite the ongoing claims of unyielding globalizers, there has been no self-regulation in the marketplace.

"Oil companies seek short-term profits and don’t invest in safety as they should".

Regulation requires honest and competent regulators. Only the political will, duly supported by the appropriate civil society organizations will be able to counteract the colossal strength of large enterprises.

Leadership. Political power. And demanding citizens. It is surprising that in the same issue of that newspaper Obama is criticized for “having pushed the limits of his executive authority” in his treatment of British Petroleum, being “determined”, in the words of the President, “to do what the citizens can’t and the companies won’t”.

The political crisis is much more dangerous than the financial crisis.

Let’s wholeheartedly support those who have sufficient “determination” to once and for all change an economic system that has generated so much inequality. Let’s support the progressive transition toward a knowledge-based economy to enable global sustainable development.

To do so requires political leadership. And “honest and competent” regulators ".

First, Life

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Who are those who for ulterior motives dare to criticize the procedures used to free the Spanish aid workers held captive so long in the Sahel in the murderous hands of Al Qaeda’s professional kidnappers?

This will fly back in their faces like a huge boomerang, because everyone will assume that they would have had no qualms about paying any ransom necessary if the aid workers had been their own children. First, life.

Yes: first, life. But immediately thereafter, concerted action and all of the necessary investments, not only to dismantle the refuges from which the kidnappers operate but, above all, to improve the standards of living in the countries in which they conduct these criminal activities. Once again: we can’t invest 3,000 million dollars daily in weapons and military expenditures, when the solution lies in sustainable global development, ceasing to exploit those countries’ resources in oil, gas, aluminum, gold, diamond, coltan… . Overcoming the resistance of the huge war industry conglomerates, it is urgent that we provide all of the means necessary to improve living conditions for all of the inhabitants of the earth, as their equal human dignity demands, so that they will be able to stand firm against those who offer them other compensations in the quagmire of their misery.

Together with this radical international change in the means adopted to counteract and totally annihilate terrorism, it is also necessary for private and public organizations to respect established security measures (remember that the Alakrana was fishing in a non-authorized zone and that, with the best of intentions, some NGOs conduct activities in areas that are also discouraged for security reasons).

First, life. It is priceless. But immediately thereafter, all of the measures, which thanks to the social progress achieved will make actions that warrant unanimous rejection impossible. Yes, unanimous. If we want to understand why, look at the eyes of the mothers of the rescued aid workers. That’s where you will find all of the reasons.

An increased role must be given coordinated international action, with a renewed and adequately endowed United Nations. The era of the G-8 and G-20 is over, leaving an intolerable situation behind.