Posts Tagged ‘politics’

End of 2008 petition…

As we reach the end of 2008, it seemed appropriate to make some kind of balance of the year… but I must be true to the fact the I know very little about what is going on around the world, and that most of the events taking place worldwide exceed the limits of my critical thinking… At the same time and on the same basis, making a balance of my personal life seems somewhat ignorant and insensitive so, instead, I chose to make a plead to the few readers that bump into this blog.

As I look back only a couple of months, I remember people in many corners of the world celebrating Obama’s election and Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, together with the forecoming 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. In the midst of celebrations and reminiscences of victorious freedom fights, we still find around the globe countless cases of oppression, imperialism, racism, ethnic cleansing, genocide and so on (attempting to name all the evils would be too pretentious). Just in the last 24hs, Israel has bombed the Gaza strip causing more than 230 people to lose their lives and 700 injured. Meanwhile, I type on my web browser and I find that the “featured” articles include titles such as: 3 losses & a hair-raiser, Best new cars for the money and Toddler retells ‘Star Wars’. Yeah, ok, somewhere down there was a link to a news article on the conflict, but… seriously?!?

What comes to my mind, too, as I recall all the celebrations around Madiba’s 90th birthday, is the fact that South Africa neighbouring country, Swaziland, is going through a political, economical and social crisis. One that has been going on for many years, but which has been worsening during the past years. However, little do we hear in the international press. We celebrate the liberation of South Africa but we fail to hear (and respond to) the desperate cry of the Swazi nation against the minority oppressive and exploitative tinkhundla rule. In the last months a series of bombings to government buildings (like one of the King’s palaces) have determined the passing of a Suppression of Terrorism Act (read: a suppression of freedom of expression) that is now used as an excuse to arrest any person who represents a threat to the rule of Swaziland’s absolute monarch and his family. Such was the case of Mario Masuku, of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), who was arrested on charges of terrorism and later charged with sedition (more on this here). 

One would think (or at least I would like to think) that more than a decade after the people of South Africa attained their freedom, the survival of an oppressive regime in Southern Africa, such as that of King Mswati III, would be unsustainable. 

What are we doing wrong?


As we arrive to the end of the year 2008, I ask you to sign the online petition to release Masuku, and to support the Swazi nation in their struggle for freedom and a multi-party democratic government.

The petition reads:


‘Mario Masuku is the President of the Peoples’ United Democratic Movement – Insika Yenkhululeko YeMaswati – of Swaziland. For 25 years this organisation has been banned in Swaziland because political parties are illegal. PUDEMO has called for multi-party democracy since its formation, it believes a government should be of the people and for the people. 

‘After 25 years of struggle the royal family (the Dlamini clan of king Mswati III) has now forced government to label this organisation “terrorist” and Mario Masuku has been detained without charge since Saturday November 15th. 

‘We of Swaziland and the international community call for the immediate release of Mario Masuku. We urge the government of Swaziland to begin sincere negotiations with civil society, political organisations, and unions so that all in the nation can prosper and reach their potential. We are shocked that the king has declared war on the people of Swaziland. We do attribute the escalating violence to his decision to use force rather than dialogue.’



Postcards of the city #2 // Greetings from the farm

The political and economical situation that, together with the intentional grass burnings and the eruption of the Chaitén, has left Argentina under a cloud of preoccupation and unrest for the last months, has not prevented the major players in the conflict from having some sense of humor…
If you were asking yourself if penguins were aggressive animals, this post might shed some light on that doubt… As to whether a bull and a penguin could engage in a duel in the middle of a city, it seemed unrealistic to me until today, when I witnessed what is seen in the pictures below (I wonder if it could have anything to do with global warming…)
Now back to reality (and trust me, it is equally hard for me to believe that this is our reality) these are the instruments of propaganda exploited in a conflict that has kept Argentineans with an arm around their pig and a foot on the horse

(note: the penguin speaks on behalf of the president, the bull on behalf of the rural economic sector)


While rebellion took place in the farm, world leaders (including our president) gathered together in Rome to discuss the global food crisis . The worldwide rise of food prices has rendered it impossible for the poor to afford even the basic grains like corn and rice (more on this topic here).
In some countries, like Haiti, people have taken the streets and cried out plain and loud: “we are hungry”. Everywhere in the world, hundreds of millions of people are victims of hunger, violence and disease; they die slowly, under the indifferent eye of the very nations that have now – finally- decided to unite forces and help.
Meanwhile, false commitments are professed by our leaders, reality is masked with bogus statistics, responsability is evaded with fabricated accusations, and opposing voices are silenced by explicit aggression. Milk is spilled and food is left to rot in a country that, despite having enough resources to feed around 400 million people, fails to provide for its own, and is undoubtedly too incapable of solving its own problems to even dare think about giving a hand of relief to countries in a worse situation…


At first, and taking advantage of the beautiful mascots depicted above, I wanted to write a fable to convey how ridiculous and illogical the recent actions of our government seem to me, but then I figured that someone else – a brilliant author from a different (?) time – had spoken about matters like this with a wit that is hard to match. I decided to quote some parts of one of his books, so here it goes:

Napoleon was well aware of the bad results that might follow if the real facts of the food situation were known, and he decided to make use of Mr. Whymper to spread a contrary impression. Hitherto the animals had had little or no contact with Whymper on his weekly visits: now, however, a few selected animals, mostly sheep, were instructed to remark casually in his hearing that rations had been increased. In addition, Napoleon ordered the almost empty bins in the store-shed to be filled nearly to the brim with sand, which was then covered up with what remained of the grain and meal. On some suitable pretext Whymper was led through the store-shed and allowed to catch a glimpse of the bins. He was deceived, and continued to report to the outside world that there was no food shortage on Animal Farm.

Nevertheless, towards the end of January it became obvious that it would be necessary to procure some more grain from somewhere. In these days Napoleon rarely appeared in public, but spent all his time in the farmhouse, which was guarded at each door by fierce-looking dogs. When he did emerge, it was in a ceremonial manner, with an escort of six dogs who closely surrounded him and growled if anyone came too near. Frequently he did not even appear on Sunday mornings, but issued his orders through one of the other pigs, usually Squealer.

One Sunday morning Squealer announced that the hens, who had just come in to lay again, must surrender their eggs. Napoleon had accepted, through Whymper, a contract for four hundred eggs a week. The price of these would pay for enough grain and meal to keep the farm going till summer came on and conditions were easier.

When the hens heard this, they raised a terrible outcry. They had been warned earlier that this sacrifice might be necessary, but had not believed that it would really happen. They were just getting their clutches ready for the spring sitting, and they protested that to take the eggs away now was murder. For the first time since the expulsion of Jones, there was something resembling a rebellion. Led by three young Black Minorca pullets, the hens made a determined effort to thwart Napoleon’s wishes. Their method was to fly up to the rafters and there lay their eggs, which smashed to pieces on the floor. Napoleon acted swiftly and ruthlessly. He ordered the hens’ rations to be stopped, and decreed that any animal giving so much as a grain of corn to a hen should be punished by death.


Meanwhile life was hard. The winter was as cold as the last one had been, and food was even shorter. Once again all rations were reduced, except those of the pigs and the dogs. A too rigid equality in rations, Squealer explained, would have been contrary to the principles of Animalism. In any case he had no difficulty in proving to the other animals that they were NOT in reality short of food, whatever the appearances might be. For the time being, certainly, it had been found necessary to make a readjustment of rations (Squealer always spoke of it as a “readjustment,” never as a “reduction”), but in comparison with the days of Jones, the improvement was enormous. Reading out the figures in a shrill, rapid voice, he proved to them in detail that they had more oats, more hay, more turnips than they had had in Jones’s day, that they worked shorter hours, that their drinking water was of better quality, that they lived longer, that a larger proportion of their young ones survived infancy, and that they had more straw in their stalls and suffered less from fleas. The animals believed every word of it. Truth to tell, Jones and all he stood for had almost faded out of their memories. They knew that life nowadays was harsh and bare, that they were often hungry and often cold, and that they were usually working when they were not asleep. But doubtless it had been worse in the old days. They were glad to believe so. Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out.

George Orwell, Animal Farm (1945)