The “Virtual Tidal Wave” and the Upcoming Elections. “Free and Responsible” Citizens…

Monday, May 23, 2011

That’s how the first article of the UNESCO Constitution defines educated people. Free from fear, superstition, ignorance and arrogance, and responsible, aware of their surroundings, willing to commit themselves to the present and future generations, but refusing to be deceived and distracted, preferring to act upon their own reflections. To be –as I have always insisted- full citizens and not subjects; actors rather than spectators.

In that regard, for years we have insisted on the importance of citizen participation for the consolidation of democracy, so that we can be taken into account not only by our votes in elections but also continually by our political leaders, since this is precisely the definition of true democracy: to continually take citizens’ opinions into account and not only when they cast their votes every X number of years. Vote, vote, certainly, to comply with the essential civic duty to ensure that parliaments and governments reflect the true will their citizens, without partisan impositions. But, above all, to gradually create a new type of citizen who can continually and finally express his opinions freely in cyberspace, without restraints.

For years we’ve seen this coming but, as usual, all indications were ignored. The impact of virtual participation should have alerted our political leaders and guided civil society, which was experiencing a new awakening of citizen power. But the former have been so preoccupied with the market crises and the latter overly distracted by the great media conglomerates that they didn’t realize that we now live in a new virtual world until the tidal wave arrived at their doors.

What’s been called an “Arab spring” or “Arabic democratic revolt” is in reality the commencement of a worldwide “spring”, a new beginning that must be peaceful, but that must ensure that the voice of the people is heard at the municipal, regional, national and international levels. Listen to them; understand them; take care of them

Genuine democratic institutions –all power emanates from the people- should appreciate this new capacity for participation, so that parliamentary practice, the word, can serve as the basis for the other possible world to which we aspire… and that now is becoming a reality.

At the same time, on the planetary level a re-founded United Nations, with broad popular participation (“We, the Peoples”) and a Security Council with extended powers over the environment and economy, so that we may comply with our supreme commitment to all generations, leaving a worthy legacy to all of our descendents.

A virtual tidal wave… “free and responsible citizens”… serene but firm evolution through concrete and urgent action –eliminating the groups of plutocrats (G8, G20…), regulating financial flows and immediately shutting down tax havens; reestablishing solvent political action, preventing prevalence and harassment by the markets; social justice …. All of this will enable us to shortly overcome the present systemic crisis, so that –and it’s worth repeating- this will not only be an era of change but rather a change of era.

“What’s happening?”

Teachers remain silent at the announcement of “new educational measures”, especially by the Madrid regional government

Everything that concerns education, which is truly the key to the future based on equal human dignity and social justice that we all desire, deserves special treatment on the part of the authorities.

Before changing present guidelines they should consult with:

a) Above all, the teachers of the students in the grades, courses and ages affected by the projected reform, to ascertain their opinions, which is fundamental for any provisions they intend to adopt. The experience of educators should be a determining factor, supporting any possible change with a broad majority.

b) The parents’ associations, gathering the points of view of those who really attend the meetings, since the participation of fathers often leaves much to be desired. And sporadic or prompted reactions don’t count. The responsibility for educating our children cannot be fully transferred to the schools nor be guided by electoral, ideological or religious interests.

c) National and international persons and institutions of recognized and impartial prestige in education methodology.

If it’s not done this way, the educational models will soon suffer new changes… that are especially detrimental to students and in some cases irresponsibly frustrate the careers of many people…

Education must be above any political debate. A national consensus, which I thought was reasonable, was finally rejected… and now, as attractive bait for the upcoming elections, a series of proposals are being offered that for the sake of education I hope will not later be implemented, which is usually the case.

In general terms, it’s scary to think that they can actually eliminate education in democratic citizenship and human rights, the cornerstone of any education that enables us to “sensibly conduct our own lives” and act upon our own convictions.

And they continue to believe that a teacher’s authority is greater based on the height of the platform from which they teach… when in truth it’s exactly the opposite: a teacher’s authority increases when he “descends” to the level of his students, when he knows them well and “personalizes” his teaching to the greatest possible degree.

And, referring more specifically to the Madrid regional government, apparently giving families more freedom to choose the school their children attend is actually a covert means of achieving segregation, favoring those who have the means and conditions for sending their children to semi-private schools (which, don’t forget, are substantially financed from public funds). This matter is presently well regulated and it would be dangerous to add “privatizing variants”.

Or extending the “other” segregation: separating the “intelligent” children from the “less intelligent” ones… ignoring the unambiguous opinion on the matter of the world’s most reputable educators. We must stimulate emulation, encouraging exchanges and friendships between the best students in certain disciplines with the best in others… The decision to “separate” so many students at a given age, right before they experience considerable changes in their behavior, motivation, learning capacity, and interests… is a serious error. And later it turns out that this categorization was erroneous… and the experience can have a long-lasting negative impact.

In the “new era” emerging in cyberspace, there are no social or material limits to encounters. Ideas, attitudes and creative capacity are what really count.

Although I do not condone the idea that “anything goes” and I have very serious and long-established reasons for not doing so, I can understand that an “anything goes” attitude generates aggressive campaign ads during turbulent elections.

What I can’t understand is the silence of all of those who, peacefully but firmly, should express their opposition: especially teachers. What’s happening?

Only a “(Re)United Nations" could still be able to provide a solution

"Impotence of the West" is the title of an editorial published today (May 9, 2011) in the “Opinion” section of El País.

It underscores that "The Syrian regime is crushing popular protest while ignoring sanctions imposed by the US and EU".

When will they realize that their leadership role has come to an end and that the United Nations (that they have weakened) must now be urgently and categorically supported by all of its member states?

The confusion created in Libya with the intervention of NATO, authorized by the Security Council solely to prevent civilians from falling victim to the outrages of Colonel Gaddafi, armed to the teeth by those who now attack not only his military positions... presently extend to Yemen and Syria, where popular uprisings are being brutally repressed.

And I insist: there can only be one negotiator, the United Nations, with all of the moral authority conferred upon it with the unanimous support of all of the world’s countries.

The EU has enough just trying to free itself from the tyranny of the markets... Let’s hope that its member states realize that the “cuts” they should make should commence with a reorientation of their defense mechanisms and autonomy.

The well-known reactions –which are truly cynical judging from the events of four days ago- of imposing economic sanctions and embargos on arms sales (!) and bank accounts in tax havens located in the heart of Europe (!!) have absolutely no effect and reflect the need for a radical change in world order, after this grave systemic crisis that the “globalizers” have refused to acknowledge.

"The West, an impotent witness to the massacre", for the reasons so well analyzed in this article.

But the present UN isn’t adequate either.

There’s only one emergency exit: a (Re)United Nations!

URGENT: Syria, Yemen... It is essential to support the United Nations as the sole negotiator now... and not later!

Monday, May 9, 2011

I am insisting on this matter because for some time now the “leading” nations, grouped together as the G-8 or G-20 have registered resounding failures –at the price of so many lost lives and so much suffering- when exercising a role that only the United Nations can successfully play, with the support of all countries, without exception, thus demonstrating the UN’s capacity not only to resolve, but also to prevent conflicts.

Above all, to prevent them... because as I’ve often said and am now repeating, there’s no longer any way to stop this “virtual tidal wave”. After, or simultaneously with the Arab countries will come the countries that are being hounded by the “markets”, that with their economies of speculation, corruption and war continue to hinder the implementation of the social policies for which we have fought so many years.

To take preventive measures and enlighten our present confused horizons –because it’s clear that no one leads “democratically” in the world and that plutocracy is destined to disappear in the immediate future- so that regional alliances (USA, EU, League of Arab Nations, OAS, UNASUR...) can promptly regain their purpose and place in a world that urgently needs to recover its lost ethical values and assume its social, environmental, food… responsibilities, before the oppressed and alienated, who yearn for a transition from force to the word, become desperate and decide that they too must resort to force.

It is not possible to continue in this present state of confusion, reflected in the following news items that have appeared in the last few days:

-"The Gulf States are negotiating immunity for the President of Yemen", (article by Ángeles Espinosa in "El País", April 22). What countries? What guarantees are the insurgents being offered? Who will back these agreements?...

-"NATO’s Strategy in Libya" (article by Enrique Vega in "Público", April 22). Operation Unified Protector intends not only to prevent Gaddafi’s military triumph but also to specifically ensure that additional territory doesn’t fall to his control... especially focusing on Bengasi, headquarters of the oil companies that must continue to export their crude. "To protect civilians", reads the United Nations Resolution. Does this include “rebel” civilians, or only “non-combatants"?

- According to Laura L. Caro, in "IDEAL", April 21, “Gaddafi proposes free elections in six months if NATO agrees to halt its military operations”... To whom is he making such a proposal? What are the diplomatic channels used and the veracity of this proposal?

- "Syria Simulates an Opening to Democracy ", by Enric González in "El País", April 20.

All of these news items reaffirm our conviction that it is absolutely essential to immediately choose a valid negotiator with the support of all countries, especially those who in the last few years have distinguished themselves in their efforts to achieve “globalization”.

It’s clear that we can’t accept additional rating agents at the service of the “great domain”, nor continue to buy products from countries who, forsaking the solidarity of their past, now claim to be “ethnical purists”, as is the case in Finland.

Only if we stand united in all our diversity will we be able to change the course of present events. Only with the United Nations. Only with renewed, particularly moral, authority will we be able to regulate cash flows, eliminate tax havens and put some semblance of order in supranational transactions, which are presently dominated by sinister traffickers who act with total impunity.

We cannot permit countries that now so rightly accuse the Libyan dictator to continue so un-rightly with their irresponsible greed, filling the arsenals of other “potential” autocrats with last-generation weapons.

Together, we can. The urgent answer resides with in the United Nations.

Urgent: preclude military intervention in Libya employing all possible means of peaceful conflict resolution

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It would be very dangerous to once again resort to force, in principle, but also because in this case we shouldn’t underestimate Muammar Gaddafi’s military capabilities.

They are quite well known to those who until just a few days ago were selling him armament. In Sirt in September, 1999, along with the majority of African presidents and ambassadors from many European and Eastern European countries, I had the opportunity to witness a formidable “demonstration” of the immense military capabilities amassed by Libya at that time: French fighter planes, thousands of Japanese tanks, armored vehicles on parade against the backdrop of the sea, many types of rockets and missiles...

Military action on the part of the West would create a serious precedent and would have negative effects, possibly undermining the liberation movements already underway in the Maghreb and in the Arab world. We need to talk. We’ve just witnessed the terrible results achieved in Kosovo and Iraq.

In that regard, we should think before quickly accusing Gaddafi of crimes against humanity. After so many deaths and the precedents of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram... it’s difficult to accuse some while exonerating others.

Thus I believe that now, more than ever before, it is essential to grant the United Nations, including Russia and China, the authority to immediately negotiate a cease fire agreement and to seek the appropriate solutions.

With all that has transpired since the beginning of the century, isn’t it time to change our “partial” policies of force and, with a duly reinforced United Nations, to try other formulas that don’t result in so many deaths and so much suffering and displacement?

The West must understand once and for all that the peoples who are now rising up don’t need weapons but rather aid to sustain the development that will provide equal dignity for all.