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.