Conflict https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/6647/all cached version 23/05/2018 17:37:12 en Problems for the Frente Amplio in Uruguay https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/agust-n-canzani/problems-for-frente-amplio-in-uruguay <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Uruguayan Frente Amplio, a political reference for most Latin American progressives, is perceived as a bulwark against the "turn to the Right" in the region.&nbsp;<em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/agust-n-canzani/uruguay-el-frente-amplio-en-la-encrucijada">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/LOgAq8TLM3vs_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/LOgAq8TLM3vs_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="245" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Frente Amplio supporters. Source: Nueva Sociedad. All Rights Reserved. </span></span></span></p><p class="blockquote-new">This article is being published as part of the partnership between Nueva Sociedad and democraciaAbierta. You can read the original&nbsp;<em><a href="http://nuso.org/articulo/el-frente-amplio-en-la-encrucijada/">here</a>.</em></p><p>The spirit of the&nbsp;<em>Frente Amplio</em>&nbsp;(FA), the main party of the Uruguayan progressive Left and the governing force in the country, has always been the resolution of divergence through consensus.</p><p>Conceived as a large family in which a variety of groups representing different political traditions and ideologies coexist, the Broad Front finds itself immersed today in a process marked by internal tensions and debates. It is facing the challenge of outlining a new progressive vision for Uruguay.&nbsp;</p><p>In this process, it must avoid becoming what it has never wished to be: a testimonial radical Left for which tenure of office is merely anecdotal, or a decaffeinated Social Democracy steadily losing its social base.</p><p>Considered to be a political reference for much of the Latin American Left, the Broad Front is a Uruguayan creation which has proved its great capacity for survival and its ability to govern.&nbsp;</p><p>The reproduction of its name as a prestigious "brand" in several countries in the region is a good indicator of its notoriety and popularity.&nbsp;</p><p>It is perceived abroad as a bulwark against the so-called "cycle change" which is apparently doing away with progressive governments in Latin America and replacing them with neoliberal, conservative or rightist administrations.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">It is perceived abroad as a bulwark against the so-called "cycle change" which is apparently doing away with progressive governments in Latin America.</p><p>This cannot be ignored in any analysis from Uruguay, but it should also include the clouds in the sky which might jeopardize not only the FA’s electoral chances in the future but also its political project.</p><p>As has been said, the FA is like a large family in which different groups representing different political traditions and ideologies coexist in creative tension.&nbsp;</p><p>They coalesce around a political commitment which combines complex internal checks and balance mechanisms for regulating its operation, with a political culture which favours agreements and decisions by consensus.&nbsp;</p><p>Although Uruguayans are used to this way of doing politics, observers from abroad find it difficult to understand how is it that groups ranging from the Communist Party to Christian Democratic Party, Socialists, Social Democrats, different shades of the Latin Americanist Left and national-popular groups can actually agree on a wide range of issues and have managed to stay together for more than four decades, including almost fifteen years in government.</p><p>This has been made possible because the AF, from the start, was conceived as a programmatic alliance and not as an ideological agreement.&nbsp;</p><p>This has allowed the different groups to keep their identity and at the same time to reach agreements both on a&nbsp;<em>macro</em>&nbsp;dimension (great principles, or rather values) and a&nbsp;<em>meso</em>&nbsp;dimension (direction and content of the main policy measures for a given term of office).&nbsp;</p><p>Thus the representatives elected at national and subnational level have enjoyed some degree of autonomy within these directives.</p><p>This structure combines with a style of internal relations based on dialogue and permanent political negotiation, creating a dynamics focused on seeking consensus acceptable to all sides.&nbsp;</p><p>This is why in Uruguay we usually say that any political synthesis which includes to some extent the different interests related to a controversial issue has been reached using the "Broad Front code". That is, overcoming internal conflict through a position which incorporates at least some of the different viewpoints at stake.</p><h3><strong>The consensus logic and the "social block of changes"</strong></h3><p>Historically, the FA consensus has rested on two pillars: the greatness of the majorities and the loyalty of the minorities. It works like this: the majority, even though it knows full well its numerical strength, makes the effort of listening to and valuing the vision of the minority.&nbsp;</p><p>And the minority, which has been included in dialogue and negotiation and has had its positions attended to in some respect, even though it is quantitatively less important, responds by supporting the position agreed upon.&nbsp;</p><p>This mechanism has given rise to a historical style of relation where the process of reaching a decision is often more important than the content of the decision itself.&nbsp;</p><p>The downside is, of course, that this way of doing things entails relatively high transaction costs, which is something that does not necessarily combine harmoniously with the timings the dynamics of government require.</p><p>Political interaction does not end there, however, but goes on forward "outside the wall". The FA has always considered that its political project is based on the so-called "social block of changes", a conceptual construction which assigns a relevant role in the political process to popular sectors.</p><p>Although theoretically diverse, in practical terms the trade union movement plays a decisive role in that space.</p><p>In a country where two historic parties - among the oldest in the world - persist, this political engineering has allowed the FA to emerge and play an increasingly important role in Uruguayan politics right up to the point when, twenty years ago, it became the largest political party in the country.&nbsp;</p><p>It has won the last three general elections with an overall parliamentary majority and has acquired dominant party features.&nbsp;</p><p>It can exhibit, in addition, a set of achievements that are not by any means trivial: sustained economic growth for more than a decade, substantial reduction of poverty and extreme poverty, improvement in income distribution, important redistributive labour, tax and healthcare reforms, and a broad agenda on rights including equal marriage, decriminalization of abortion and regulated sale of marihuana.</p><h3><strong>Turn to the Left or defense of progressivism?</strong></h3><p>But significant changes have occurred during the current term in government placing the FA in another context and in a different situation.&nbsp;</p><p>The slowing down of economic growth and worsening problems in the region have significantly reduced the possibilities of further progress in a number of public policies and highlight the limitations of the current tools for pursuing a redistributive model.&nbsp;</p><p>The higher fiscal deficit also sets limits to increased spending and questions some forms of public management. Changes in the regional integration processes and the new global protectionist reality challenge the foreign policy model.&nbsp;</p><p>And the change of mood in some social sectors restricts the room for maneuver in tax policy. Finally, some unintended effects of certain reforms require rethinking, and this entails political erosion.</p><p>In addition, these issues arise in a period where the effectiveness of the political operating mode seems to have diminished, and where the demands and pressures from the “social bloc” have increased and diversified.&nbsp;</p><p>Lack of sync between the government, the parliamentary caucus and the organizations within the FA has been more frequent, as have the differences of opinion between these groups and the social movements.</p><p>Differences of opinion within the FA can be divided into two large groups: one implies overall disagreement, and one involves debates around specific issues.&nbsp;</p><p>In the first group, some growing currents within the FA are suggesting that "progressivism" is exhausted by now and that a shift to the Left and a change in several policy lines - for example, heavier taxation for certain social sectors and economic actors, or changes in the tax exemption mechanisms – are needed.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Looking towards the future, it should avoid becoming what it has never been: a radical, testimonial Left for which being in power is merely an anecdote, or a decaffeinated Social Democracy prone to losing its social base</p><p>This is opposed by those who believe that, in the current regional and global economic and political context, the government should prioritize the protection of progress through careful macroeconomic management, which leaves little room for altering the tax frontiers.&nbsp;</p><p>In the second group, there are differences of opinion on specific issues such as international integration, as evidenced by the debate that has just been staged in the FA National Plenary regarding the Free Trade Agreement with Chile.&nbsp;</p><p>By a narrow margin, a majority of the delegates voted for a set of changes to a base document which restrict significantly the possibility of signing free trade agreements – and thus question the parliamentary approval, by a large majority, of the agreement signed a year ago by the government.</p><p>The trade union movement is not alien to this scenario. At its congress at the end of this month, critical strongly-supported positions will surface in relation to the government and some FA policies related to the public sector and the non-tradable sectors of the economy.</p><h3>How to continue?</h3><p>All of the above defines a scenario characterized by low approval ratings of President Tabaré Vázquez, a climate of opinion dominated by economic pessimism, and decreasing electoral support for the FA.&nbsp;</p><p>This process combines with the fact that the governing political force seems to be facing increasing difficulties in reaching internal consensus - the "Broad Front code" is harder to apply.</p><p>This situation does not put into question the continuity of the FA as a political tool – there is wide agreement on this -, but it does pose a big dilemma: how to continue?</p><p>It seems quite clear that the “material fatigue” symptoms of the political synthesis that allowed the FA to access power in 2004 are evident both within the FA itself and in the population at large.&nbsp;</p><p>What is less obvious is how much maintenance is essential and how much change should a new formulation include. "What has been achieved is worth the same as what remains to be done", said a recent slogan that tried to reconcile both perspectives. But a new political synthesis looks complex.</p><p>How to continue is not just a political question. The next elections in 2019 are a crucial test. By then, this new political synthesis should be able to build a consistent narrative claiming the achievements made, recognizing the errors, and offering an exciting promise for the future.</p><p>The task ahead is not a minor one, but it should perhaps be compared with the one faced almost half a century ago by the "founding fathers" of the FA, who had to deal with a variety of issues related to their different party stances and ideological matrixes, and who decided to go ahead with the project.</p><p>On occasions, the FA has experienced an inferiority complex due to criticism leveled by "purists" on both sides. The most radical processes in Latin America have often questioned the FA’s moderation, while the traditional European center-left has reproached what it considers the FA’s nostalgic and outmoded retrospective vision.&nbsp;</p><p>But if we analyze how these critics’ political experiences have headed to and how Uruguay is doing today, a good part of what their criticism can surely be played down. Perhaps the time has come for the FA to value its history as a sound basis on which to build its future.&nbsp;</p><p>Looking towards the future, it should avoid becoming what it has never been: a radical, testimonial Left for which being in power is merely an anecdote, or a decaffeinated Social Democracy prone to losing its social base. In Latin America, too many people are looking to the South for the FA to ignore this challenge.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/shaun-lawson/mounting-paralysis-of-latin-america%E2%80%99s-left-part-1">The mounting paralysis of Latin America’s Left (Part 1)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/shaun-lawson/mounting-paralysis-of-latin-america%E2%80%99s-left-part-ii-uruguay">The mounting paralysis of Latin America’s Left (Part II): Uruguay</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blog/web_opendemocracy_net/uruguayan_women_in_post_conflict">Uruguayan women in Post-conflict</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Uruguay </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Uruguay Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality International politics Agustín Canzani Wed, 23 May 2018 12:05:06 +0000 Agustín Canzani 118021 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Problemas para el Frente Amplio en Uruguay https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/agust-n-canzani/uruguay-el-frente-amplio-en-la-encrucijada <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>El Frente Amplio, referente político para buena parte del progresismo latinoamericano, es visto como uno de los bastiones que resiste el supuesto “giro a la derecha” en América Latina. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/agust-n-canzani/problems-for-frente-amplio-in-uruguay">English</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/LOgAq8TLM3vs.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/LOgAq8TLM3vs.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="245" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Partidarios del Frente Amplio. Fuente: Nueva Sociedad. Todos los Derechos Reservados. </span></span></span></p><p class="blockquote-new"><em>Este artículo se publica en el marco de nuestra alianza editorial con Nueva&nbsp;Sociedad. Lea el original&nbsp;</em><em><a href="http://nuso.org/articulo/el-frente-amplio-en-la-encrucijada/">aquí&nbsp;</a></em></p><p>El espíritu del Frente Amplio (FA), el principal partido de la izquierda progresista uruguaya y la fuerza gobernante en el país, ha sido siempre el de la resolución de las divergencias a través de los consensos.&nbsp;</p><p>Concebido como una gran familia en la que conviven diferentes grupos que representan tradiciones e ideologías políticas distintas, el Frente Amplio se encuentra hoy en un proceso de tensiones y debates internos. </p><p>Tiene ahora el desafío de promover una nueva mirada progresista para Uruguay. En ese proceso debería evitar convertirse en aquello que nunca ha querido ser: una izquierda radical de mera vocación testimonial y pasaje anecdótico por el poder, o una socialdemocracia descafeinada que pierde su base social.</p> <p>Considerado un referente político para buena parte de la izquierda y el progresismo latinoamericano, el Frente Amplio (FA) es una creación uruguaya que ha demostrado una gran capacidad de sobrevivencia y una razonable habilidad de gobierno.&nbsp;</p><p>La sola reproducción de su nombre a manera de “marca” prestigiosa en muchos países de la región es un indicador de su notoriedad y popularidad.</p><p>Incluso desde fuera del país se lo ve como uno de los bastiones que resiste el supuesto “cambio de ciclo” que parece llevarse puesto a buena parte de los gobiernos progresistas de América Latina, sustituyéndolos por otros de tintes neoliberales, de clara tendencia conservadora, o simplemente derechistas.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Desde fuera del país se lo ve como uno de los bastiones que resiste el supuesto “cambio de ciclo” que parece llevarse puesto a buena parte de los gobiernos progresistas de América Latina, sustituyéndolos por otros de tintes neoliberales.</p><p>Un análisis desde Uruguay no debe ignorar esa valoración, pero también necesita señalar que hay nubarrones en el horizonte y ellos comprometen no solo sus chances electorales sino también su proyecto político. El FA es una gran familia en la que conviven en tensión creativa diferentes grupos que representan tradiciones e ideologías políticas distintas.</p><p>Éstas se organizan en torno a un compromiso político que combina complejos mecanismos de contrapeso interno (los famosos<em>&nbsp;checks and balances</em>&nbsp;en la jerga técnica) que regulan su funcionamiento, con una cultura política de búsqueda de acuerdos y adopción de decisiones por consenso. </p><p>Aunque los locales ya estamos acostumbrados, para quienes lo miran desde fuera del país es relativamente difícil entender dónde está la clave que explica que grupos que van desde el Partido Comunista al Partido Demócrata Cristiano, pasando por el socialismo, la socialdemocracia y distintas vertientes de izquierda latinoamericanista y grupos de inspiración nacional-popular, puedan acordar en temas tan diversos y mantenerse unidos por más de cuatro décadas, incluyendo casi tres lustros de gobierno nacional.</p> <p>Esa trayectoria ha sido posible porque el FA se ha concebido siempre como una alianza programática y no como un acuerdo ideológico. </p><p>Eso permite a los diferentes grupos mantener su identidad, a la vez que establecer acuerdos que tienen como base una dimensión macro (grandes principios, más bien cercanos a valores) y una dimensión meso (relacionadas con la orientación y los grandes contenidos de las principales políticas públicas en un período de gobierno). </p><p>Los ejecutivos electos a escala nacional y subnacional gozan así de cierta dosis de autonomía, encuadrada por esas directivas y en ciertos casos controlada por los organismos partidarios.</p> <p>La estructura se combina con un estilo de relacionamiento interno que implica diálogo y negociación política permanente, en una dinámica en la que el esfuerzo principal se concentra en buscar un consenso aceptable para todas las partes. </p><p>Es por eso que cuando se logra una síntesis política que contempla en alguna medida los intereses diversos respecto a un tema polémico se suele decir:&nbsp;“salimos en clave de Frente Amplio”. </p><p>La expresión alude a la superación de una situación de conflicto interno con una postura que contempla al menos algo de los diferentes puntos de vista que están sobre la mesa.</p> <h3><strong>La lógica del consenso y el “bloque social de los cambios”</strong></h3> <p>En la historia del FA el consenso ha sido posible sobre dos bases: la grandeza de las mayorías y la lealtad de las minorías. Las primeras, aún sabiéndose más numerosas, hacen un esfuerzo por escuchar y tratar de contemplar la visión de las minorías. </p><p>Estas, habiendo sido integradas al diálogo y la negociación y atendidas en algún aspecto de sus posturas aún siendo menos importantes cuantitativamente, responden apoyando la posición tomada.</p><p> Estos mecanismos han dado lugar a un estilo histórico de relacionamiento en el que, en muchas oportunidades, llega a ser más importante el proceso que el contenido mismo de esa decisión. </p><p>La contrapartida de este estilo es que implica costos de transacción relativamente altos, algo que no necesariamente se combina de manera armónica con los tiempos requeridos por la dinámica de gobierno.</p><p>La articulación política no termina allí, sino que se traslada “extramuros”. El FA siempre ha considerado que su proyecto político está basado en el “bloque social de los cambios”, una construcción conceptual que atribuye a los sectores populares un rol relevante en el proceso. Aunque teóricamente variado y diverso, lo cierto es que el movimiento sindical ejerce en ese espacio un rol determinante.</p> <p>En un país donde persisten dos partidos históricos que están entre los más antiguos del mundo, esa ingeniería política le ha permitido al FA nacer y hacerse un lugar cada vez más importante en la política uruguaya, hasta transformarse hace veinte años en el partido más grande del país y encaramarse en las últimas tres elecciones al gobierno nacional con mayoría parlamentaria propia y rasgos de partido dominante. </p><p>Adicionalmente, puede exhibir un conjunto de logros nada despreciable: más de una década de crecimiento económico sostenido, baja sustancial de la pobreza y la indigencia, mejora de la distribución del ingreso, reformas importantes con vocación redistributivas en temas laborales, tributarios y de salud y una amplia agenda de derechos que incluyen el matrimonio igualitario, despenalización del aborto y de la venta regulada de marihuana.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">El FA siempre ha considerado que su proyecto político está basado en el “bloque social de los cambios”, una construcción conceptual que atribuye a los sectores populares un rol relevante en el proceso.</span></p> <h3><strong>¿Giro a la izquierda o defensa del progresismo?</strong></h3> <p>Pero el actual período de gobierno muestra cambios relevantes, que sitúan al FA en otro contexto y en una situación diferente. La moderación del crecimiento económico con problemas agravados en la región han reducido de manera importante las posibilidades de avance en algunas políticas públicas y muestran límites de las herramientas actuales para la continuidad de un modelo redistributivo. </p><p>El incremento del déficit fiscal también limita el aumento del gasto y cuestiona algunas modalidades de gestión pública. Los cambios en los procesos de integración regional y la nueva realidad proteccionista desafían el modelo de política exterior. </p><p>El cambio de humor de algunos sectores sociales restringe el margen de maniobra de la política tributaria. Algunos efectos no deseados de ciertas reformas requieren pensar en una “segunda generación”, con el consiguiente desgaste político que ello implica.</p> <p>Adicionalmente, estas cuestiones se plantean en un período en el que parece haberse reducido la eficacia de la articulación política, y en que aumentan y se diversifican demandas y presiones desde el bloque social. </p><p>Han sido más frecuentes los desajustes entre el gobierno, la bancada parlamentaria y los organismos de la fuerza política, y también más habituales las diferencias de parecer entre estos y grupos y movimientos sociales.</p> <p>¿Dónde residen las diferencias? Aunque los temas son variados, podrían agruparse en torno a dos grandes grupos: uno que implica desacuerdos de tipo general y otro que supone debates en torno a cuestiones más específicas. </p><p>En el primer caso han crecido corrientes que sugieren que el “progresismo” está agotado y que el gobierno deberá experimentar un viraje hacia la izquierda, con los consecuentes cambios en algunas líneas de política –por ejemplo, tributación más exigente a ciertos sectores sociales y actores económicos, o cambio en los mecanismos de exenciones fiscales. </p><p>Estas posturas se enfrentan a quienes consideran que, en el actual contexto económico y político regional y mundial, el gobierno debe priorizar la protección de los avances a través de un manejo macroeconómico prudente en el que existen pocas posibilidades de modificar la frontera tributaria. </p><p>En el segundo caso, se presentan diferencias en torno a temas concretos como la inserción internacional, para lo que sirve de ejemplo el debate que acaba de escenificarse en el Plenario Nacional del FA respecto al Tratado de Libre Comercio con Chile. </p><p>Por estrecho margen, una mayoría de los delegados aprobó un conjunto de cambios a un documento de base que restringen de manera importante la posibilidad de firmar acuerdos de libre comercio, lo que cuestiona la aprobación parlamentaria del acuerdo suscrito hace un año por el gobierno y con el que se habían manifestado de acuerdo la gran mayoría de los legisladores.</p> <p>A este panorama no es ajena la interna del movimiento sindical. Para su próximo congreso de fines de mayo, también se delinean posturas críticas con el gobierno y algunas políticas del FA, en muchos casos con fuerte apoyo de sindicatos, especialmente algunos del sector público que se ubican en sectores no transables de la economía.</p> <h3><strong>¿Cómo seguir?</strong></h3> <p>Todo este “combo” dibuja un escenario que se caracteriza por bajos niveles de aprobación del presidente Tabaré Vázquez en un clima de opinión en el que predomina el pesimismo económico y desciende el apoyo electoral al FA. </p><p>Este proceso se combina, al mismo tiempo, con una fuerza política que parece enfrentar cada vez mayores dificultades para lograr consensos. La “clave del Frente Amplio” está siendo más difícil de lograr.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Un futuro que debería evitar que se transforme en algunas de las cosas que nunca ha sido: una izquierda radical de mera vocación testimonial y pasaje anecdótico por el poder o una socialdemocracia descafeinada que pierde su base social.&nbsp;</p><p>El elemento más importante es que esta situación no cuestiona la persistencia del FA como herramienta política, algo sobre lo que existe un acuerdo extendido, pero sí plantea una gran disyuntiva: ¿cómo seguir?</p> <p>Parece bastante claro que la síntesis política que llevó al FA al gobierno en 2004 muestra síntomas evidentes de “fatiga de material”, tanto hacia dentro del FA como en la población. Pero menos evidente es cuánto debería tener de mantenimiento y cuánto de cambio una nueva formulación. </p><p>“Vale tanto lo logrado como lo que queda por hacer” decía un slogan manejado recientemente que, sin duda, intentaba conciliar ambas perspectivas. Pero la nueva síntesis política se antoja más compleja.</p> <p>Cómo seguir no es solamente un interrogante político. En un sistema democrático con regla electoral como es Uruguay, la próxima elección en 2019 es también una prueba crucial. </p><p>Para entonces, esa nueva síntesis política tiene que ser capaz de construir un relato consistente que a la vez que reivindique logros, reconozca errores, y proponga también una promesa de futuro capaz de entusiasmar.</p> <p>La tarea por delante está lejos de ser menor, pero para ponerla en perspectiva quizás sería bueno compararla con la que tuvieron planteada hace casi medio siglo los “padres fundadores” que enfrentaron cuestionamientos diversos de sus propias tiendas partidarias y sus matrices ideológicas para apostar por un proyecto como el FA.</p> <p>En ciertas oportunidades, el FA ha experimentado cierto complejo de inferioridad por las críticas de los «puristas» de uno y otro lado. </p><p>Los procesos más radicales en América Latina le cuestionaron muchas veces su moderación, mientras que las centroizquierdas europeas más típicas le reprocharon una mirada retrospectiva que consideraban nostálgica y atrasada. </p><p>Viendo donde están hoy esas experiencias y donde se ubica Uruguay, buena parte de esas recriminaciones pueden relativizarse. Quizás ha llegado el tiempo en el que el FA pueda valorar su historia como una base para construir su futuro. </p><p>Un futuro que debería evitar que se transforme en algunas de las cosas que nunca ha sido: una izquierda radical de mera vocación testimonial y pasaje anecdótico por el poder o una socialdemocracia descafeinada que pierde su base social. En América Latina hay demasiada gente mirando al sur como para ignorar ese desafío.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/shaun-lawson/par%C3%A1lisis-creciente-de-la-izquierda-en-am%C3%A9rica-latina-segunda-parte-u">Parálisis creciente de la izquierda en América Latina (Segunda Parte): Uruguay </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/shaun-lawson/par%C3%A1lisis-creciente-de-la-izquierda-en-am%C3%A9rica-latina-primera-parte">Parálisis creciente de la izquierda en América Latina (Primera parte)</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Uruguay </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Uruguay Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Agustín Canzani Wed, 23 May 2018 11:32:13 +0000 Agustín Canzani 118018 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How polarized is Colombia? https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/democraciaabierta-humberto-de-la-calle/how-polarized-is-colombia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Presidential candidate Humberto de la Calle, a key figure in reaching the peace agreement with the FARC, on the challenges Colombia faces if it is to preserve democracy<em>. Interview</em>.&nbsp;<em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta-humberto-de-la-calle/se-polariz-colombia-humberto-de-la-calle-responde">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-33815423_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-33815423_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Humberto de La Calle, presidential candidate to 2018 ellections in Colombia, photographed in July 2017. (Photo by Daniel Garzon Herazo/NurPhoto/Sipa USA). PA Images, All rights reserved..</span></span></span></p><p class="blockquote-new"><em>This interview is part of the series&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https//opendemocracy.net/eleccionescolombia">Colombia elections 2018: de-polarization and disinformation</a>&nbsp;</em> <em>produced in partnership with </em>Nueva Sociedad <em>and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.</em></p><p><strong>DemocraciaAbierta:</strong> What is your perception of the use currently being made of issues such as the peace agreement for the sake of creating populist agendas which polarize Colombian society?</p> <p><strong>Humberto de la Calle: </strong>As I have said in the past few days, I believe that the peace agreement is at risk. This is due, on the one hand, to an opportunist and populist approach on the part of some political actors and, on the other hand, to the slow pace of its implementation and the scandals surrounding it.</p> <p>It is hard to understand how you can polarize peace. But ever since the plebiscite campaign in October 2016, we have witnessed an opportunistic use of the peace agreement. It is very worrying that peace has become a tool which some use at their convenience, according to electoral calculations.</p><p>The campaigners for the NO vote pettily played on fear and alleged gender ideology to obstruct the peace agreement. Now, in the current election campaign, some have moderated their discourse and say that they no longer intend to tear it to pieces but only wish to suggest some changes, while others have gone from stating that they were always against it to supporting it overnight. Opportunism in relation to peace is all-pervading, and several candidates have been changing their minds about the peace agreement depending on which way the wind blows, like wind vanes.</p> <p><strong>DA:</strong> What effect does polarization before the May 27 elections have on the traditional political parties? Does it strengthen them, or weaken them?</p> <p><strong>HC:</strong> Political parties in Colombia are currently facing major challenges. The main challenge is the fact that citizens have lost confidence in democratic institutions. Just look at the sheer number of candidates seeking endorsements for these elections. Polarization is definitely one of the factors contributing to the weakening of traditional parties, to which I would add exacerbated personalism and the widespread tendency to spread fake news, memes and deceptive headlines which ignite like gunpowder and are taken for certain by large numbers of people – which, in turn, increases polarization and hostility towards anything that smells of traditional politics. We are faced with a real paradox.</p> <p>This does not detract from the importance of an undeniable fact: parties have failed citizens. Corrupt practices (or, at best, patronage) and the pressure that congressmen and other politicians put on the government to get budget allocations in exchange for their support to legislative initiatives, have greatly harmed the perception that ordinary citizens have of politics.</p> <p>I myself do recognize that the Liberal Party faces important challenges and I have said it on many occasions: we must renew the party so as to make sure we prevent those who have indulged in corruption from staining the liberal flag and undermining the confidence of citizens any longer. The situation, however, is actually more encouraging than it might seem at first sight: the Liberal Party is united around my candidacy and draws support from people throughout the country. At the March 11 congressional elections, we were the second electoral force in Colombia.</p> <p><strong>DA:</strong> Do these elections entail a collapse of the middle ground in Colombian politics?</p> <p><strong>HC:</strong> There is, indeed, an exacerbation of the right and left extremes at these elections, fueled by discourses appealing to fear, hatred and populism. This is not an exclusively Colombian phenomenon, it is a rising tide all over the world.</p> <p>Despite increasing polarization, I do not believe that the middle ground is collapsing. On the contrary, it is precisely there where the alternatives to overcome radicalization and polarization are to be found. My political project revolves around consolidating a political proposal at the center, far from the extremes, allowing us to overcome the dilemma of choosing between two extremes and to actually build collaborative solutions to the great challenges of the country.</p> <p><strong>DA:</strong> How does your campaign manage to promote agendas which do not polarize and misinform society?</p> <p><strong>HC:</strong> In the proposals I make, in the debates, the interviews and the campaign events I attend, I always try to transmit rationality, truth and experience. I have never resorted to fear or false information. I have even put forward issues for discussion which are not very popular in a campaign, such as the need for tax reform.</p> <p>My campaign stands out for being the cleanest, the one that does not play foul or claims to have false followers in social media. Throughout my life - in the Constituent Assembly, in the Organization of American States, in the negotiations in Havana - I have helped to solve differences that seemed irreconcilable and I have tried to come up with solutions to big problems. This is the spirit of my campaign. I can say that I have done the opposite of polarizing - that is, reconciling.</p> <p>Now, it is important to emphasize that seeking an alternative far from the extremes does not mean not taking stances. Quite the contrary: being at the center and, in my case, the liberal center, means assuming with all due vehemence the banners of non-discrimination, away from fanaticism and hatred. The center I am promoting puts the dignity of the person at the core of the discussion and considers that economic and political freedom must be a reality.</p> <p>I believe in capitalism with a conscience, with social responsibility, because Colombia cannot continue to fight for a place at the podium of the most inequitable countries on earth. I believe in striving for a society that recognizes itself as multiple, diverse and pluralistic, but above all inclusive. In other words, I believe in leveling the ground for everyone.</p> <p><strong>DA: </strong>What is the most important challenge that these elections pose for preserving democracy in Colombia?</p> <p><strong>HC:</strong> In my opinion, the great challenge for Colombian democracy comes from the extremes. The antidemocratic mood of some of my adversaries, a certain <em>caudillista</em> touch and some of the proposals we hear being made at debates and interviews, are very worrying and, quite frankly, inconceivable in a country with as solid a democratic tradition as Colombia.</p> <p>It should be noted that some candidates are making proposals which threaten head-on the constitutional order in this country – proposals aimed at centralizing power with, for example, mechanisms such as a newly-created "super-court of justice", reducing the number of seats in Congress and ignoring decisions taken by legitimately elected governors.</p> <p>What is paradoxical is that these are the candidates that are doing well in the opinion polls. I confess that I find it hard to understand how this is possible, but in the same way as I have never underestimated the ability of Colombians to overcome adversity, I do not underestimate their wisdom when going to the polls. Some analyses indicate that the election results are decided in the last two weeks and I firmly believe that there could be a big surprise on May 27.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/sandra-borda/presidential-elections-in-colombia-polarisation-or-deterioration-of-p">Presidential elections in Colombia: polarisation or deterioration of the political conversation?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/omar-rinc-n/generation-narcissist-outraged-and-disappointed-with-democracy">Generation narcissist in Colombia: outraged and disappointed with democracy </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/jer-nimo-r-os-sierra/colombian-legislative-elections-and-looking-towards-president">Colombian legislative elections and the presidential race</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Colombia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Colombia Conflict Democracy and government Elecciones 2018 Humberto de la Calle DemocraciaAbierta Wed, 23 May 2018 08:44:14 +0000 DemocraciaAbierta and Humberto de la Calle 118016 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Crece (otra vez) la milicia en Rio de Janeiro https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/ana-paula-pellegrino-dandara-tinoco-renata-giannini-robert-muggah/crece-otra-vez-l <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Inicialmente, las milicias aseguraron territorio, garantizaron la ley y el orden, y lograron cierta legitimidad.&nbsp;Pero se han convertido en bandas criminales despiadadas, que compiten con las de narcotraficantes. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ana-paula-pellegrino-dandara-tinoco-renata-giannini-robert-muggah/rio-de-janeiros-militia-on-rise-ag">English</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-29477763_0_0_0_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-29477763_0_0_0_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rio de Janeiro. Mike Egerton/PA Wire/PA Images. Todos os derechos reservados.</span></span></span></p><p>A mediados de mayo de 2008, un periodista, un fotógrafo y un conductor fueron secuestrados y torturados en&nbsp;Batán,&nbsp;una&nbsp;<em>favela</em>&nbsp;&nbsp;en la zona oeste de Rio de Janeiro.&nbsp;</p> <p>Cuando se publicó la noticia del incidente, inflamó a la nación entera y causó conmoción en todo el mundo.&nbsp;El equipo estaba armando un reportaje sobre la poco conocida milicia de la ciudad: los autoproclamados vigilantes, que mandaban sobre las comunidades pobres a punta de pistola.&nbsp;A diferencia de las famosas bandas de narcotraficantes, la milicia incluía a ex soldados, policías, bomberos y guardias de prisiones.</p> <p>Avancemos rápido hasta el presente, y la milicia vuelve a ocupar los titulares.&nbsp;Esta vez son los principales sospechosos del <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/eduarda-fontes/with-marielles-killing-in-rio-dream-break-into-pieces">asesinato selectivo de Marielle&nbsp;Franco</a>, concejala negra de la ciudad y de su conductor, Anderson Gomes.&nbsp;Marielle&nbsp;había sido consejera&nbsp;del congresista del mismo estado de Río&nbsp;&nbsp;- Marcelo&nbsp;Freixo, que es ahora el líder del partido izquierdista PSOL – que investigó a la milicia hace una década.&nbsp;Sin embargo, y a pesar de sus heroicos esfuerzos para frenar el poder de los gánsteres de Río, la&nbsp;milicia es&nbsp;hoy más fuerte que nunca.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">La milicia restringió inicialmente sus actividades a la expulsión de los gánsteres y a defender del narcotráfico a los barrios pobres.</p><p>Existen ciertas dudas sobre cuándo o dónde surgieron los primeros grupos de milicias.&nbsp;Algunos&nbsp;<a href="https://br.boell.org/sites/default/files/no_sapatinho_lav_hbs1_1.pdf">analistas creen que la&nbsp;milicia se&nbsp;fundó por primera vez en la década de 1990 por parte de la policía militar que vivía en comunidades plagadas de pandillas</a>.&nbsp;La milicia fue noticia por primera vez&nbsp;<a href="http://memoria.oglobo.globo.com/jornalismo/reportagens/as-miliacutecias-chegam-para-assustar-9152202">a principios de 2000,&nbsp;</a>cuando los medios sacaron a la luz una serie de historias sobre sus&nbsp;actividades&nbsp;ilegales, que&nbsp;incluían cobrar a empresas y ciudadanos por "servicios de seguridad".&nbsp;A diferencia de los grupos de limpieza social y exterminio, que ya existieron en Brasil durante décadas, la milicia restringió inicialmente sus actividades a la expulsión de los gánsteres y a defender del narcotráfico a los barrios pobres.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>La milicia nunca trabajó gratis.&nbsp;Financiaron sus&nbsp;actividades cotidianas mediante el cobro obligado de un impuesto de seguridad en las áreas bajo su control, que requieren contribuciones mensuales de empresas y residentes locales.&nbsp;Al principio, la mayoría de los locales aplaudieron el ascenso de la milicia facilitándoles, en algunos casos, recursos voluntariamente.&nbsp;Con el tiempo, a medida que surgieron las tácticas despiadadas de estos grupos, el ánimo favorable del público se agrió.&nbsp;César Maia, alcalde de la ciudad entre 2001 y 2008, los describió como "un mal menor".&nbsp;A medida que la milicia crecía, Maia declaró que eventualmente ésta podría regresar y morder la mano que les da de comer.</p> <p>La milicia extendió su poder e influencia de manera gradual.&nbsp;Lo hicieron mediante la diversificación silenciosa de sus fuentes de ingresos.&nbsp;No solo extendieron las extorsiones a toda clase de negocios, sino que también comenzaron a cobrar tarifas por dar acceso a televisión pirateada, servicios de electricidad, agua y conexiones a Internet.&nbsp;Algunos grupos también recaudaron aranceles sobre los servicios de transporte informal, expulsaron a vecinos para liberar terreno para agentes inmobiliarios, y facilitaron el acceso a programas de vivienda pública, como&nbsp;<em>Minha</em><em>&nbsp;</em><em>Casa</em><em>&nbsp;Minha</em><em>&nbsp;</em><em>Vida</em>.&nbsp;Con el tiempo, los grupos de milicias también comenzaron a infiltrarse en la política municipal, obteniendo incluso votos a punta de pistola.</p> <p>La milicia fue también objeto de estudio minucioso por parte de académicos locales.&nbsp;Ignacio Cano, investigador de UERJ,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nepp-dh.ufrj.br/relatorio_milicia.pdf">los define</a>&nbsp;como grupos armados irregulares, formados por agentes de la ley, motivados principalmente por la&nbsp;búsqueda de rentas.&nbsp;Aseguraron territorio, garantizaron la ley y el orden, y lograron cierta legitimidad.&nbsp;Otra estudiosa, Michele&nbsp;Misse, de la&nbsp;UFRJ, ofreció una descripción similar, calificándolos&nbsp;<a href="https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=es&amp;prev=_t&amp;sl=en&amp;tl=es&amp;u=https://oglobo.globo.com/rio/artigo-situacao-atual-das-milicias-22528773">redes de tipo mafioso que extorsionan a los ciudadanos bajo el pretexto de ofrecerles protección, explotando bienes políticos extraídos del monopolio estatal de la fuerza.</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Con la protección de políticos bien situados, la milicia se extendió como un reguero de pólvora.&nbsp;Inicialmente se dirigieron a los barrios de&nbsp;Itanhangá, Jacarepaguá&nbsp;y Campo Grande, pero se expandieron rápidamente a través de la región metropolitana y del estado de Río.&nbsp;Hoy, alrededor de&nbsp;<a href="https://g1.globo.com/rj/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/franquia-do-crime-2-milhoes-de-pessoas-no-rj-estao-em-areas-sob-influencia-de-milicias.ghtml">dos millones de personas viven en áreas bajo influencia de las milicias en 11 municipios a través del área metropolitana de Río de Janeiro</a>.&nbsp;Las denuncias a la milicia superaron a las de bandas de traficantes de drogas en número de llamadas a la línea directa&nbsp;<em>Disque</em><em>&nbsp;</em><em>Denúncia</em>,&nbsp;<a href="//localhost/ttps/::theintercept.com:2018:04:05:milicia-controle-rio-de-janeiro:">contabilizando 6.475 llamadas, el- 65% - del total de llamadas anónimas</a> entre 2016 y 2017.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">La suerte de las milicias empezó a cambiar en mayo de 2008. Pronto se equipararon con las mismas facciones y mafias del narcotráfico que afirmaban estar combatiendo.</p> <p>La suerte de las milicias empezó a cambiar en mayo de 2008. Las milicias, otrora celebradas como guardianas del orden público, pronto se equipararon con las mismas facciones y mafias del narcotráfico que afirmaban estar combatiendo.&nbsp;Una Comisión Parlamentaria de Investigación, o CPI, reveló el alcance de sus actividades criminales.&nbsp;En un movimiento sin precedentes, unos 220 milicianos y políticos y empresarios asociados fueron acusados, y se emitieron recomendaciones para desmantelar el control de la milicia sobre las comunidades que dominaban.&nbsp;Sin embargo, como suele suceder en el caso en Brasil, pocas de&nbsp;<a href="http://piaui.folha.uol.com.br/lupa/2018/05/05/milicias-10-anos-vans/">las recomendaciones del IPC llegaron a implementarse alguna vez.&nbsp;</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Las medidas antimilitaristas se han centrado casi exclusivamente en actividades policiales, incluida la detención y el enjuiciamiento del liderazgo de decenas de grupos ilegales de Río.&nbsp;De acuerdo con el secretario de estado de seguridad pública, al menos&nbsp;<a href="http://sao-paulo.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,presos-por-integrar-milicia-no-rio-sao-transferidos,70002260161">1.387 personas conectadas a la milicia han sido arrestadas desde 2006</a>, incluidas&nbsp;<a href="https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=es&amp;prev=_t&amp;sl=en&amp;tl=es&amp;u=https://g1.globo.com/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/natalino-e-jerominho-condenados-por-integrar-milicia-trocam-presidio-federal-por-bangu-no-rio.ghtml">Jerominho&nbsp;y&nbsp;Natalino</a>, dos líderes especialmente destacados.&nbsp;Algunos de estos arrestos son producto de investigaciones y operaciones dirigidas por&nbsp;<a href="https://oglobo.globo.com/rio/draco-faz-operacao-contra-milicia-chefiada-por-pm-22487463">DRACO, una unidad de investigación del crimen organizado</a>, y&nbsp;<a href="https://veja.abril.com.br/politica/a-milicia-quer-dinheiro-e-droga-da-dinheiro/">GAECO, el grupo especial contra el crimen organizado de la Fiscalía estatal</a>.</p> <p>Algunos de estos esfuerzos contra las milicias han sido criticados por ser potencialmente peligrosos e incluso contraproducentes.&nbsp;Tomemos el caso de la reciente&nbsp;<a href="https://oglobo.globo.com/rio/operacao-contra-milicia-prende-149-suspeitos-apreende-32-armas-quatro-homens-foram-mortos-22567939">operación de abril de 2018,&nbsp;</a>que resultó en el arresto de 159 presuntos milicianos que asistían a una fiesta en Santa Cruz, en la zona oeste de Río de Janeiro.&nbsp;Más que&nbsp;40 oficiales de policías estuvieron involucrados en la redada nocturno.&nbsp;Pero no solo se escapó el líder de la milicia, si no que al menos 138 de los sospechosos fueron liberados&nbsp;durante los días siguientes &nbsp;debido a la falta de pruebas contra ellos. Ni las redadas policiales periódicas, ni los esfuerzos policiales comunitarios a gran escala (como las unidades de policía de pacificación) han frenado el avance de la milicia.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Hay indicios de que el problema de las milicias podría empeorar.&nbsp;</p> <p>Hay indicios de que el problema de las milicias podría empeorar.&nbsp;Los líderes de la milicia que fueron declarados culpables en 2008 han cumplido ya su tiempo de condena y ahora están siendo&nbsp;<a href="https://theintercept.com/2018/05/03/criador-de-milicia-sai-da-cadeia/">liberados de prisión</a>.&nbsp;Algunos de ellos regresan a organizaciones criminales, que hoy son más fuertes que antes política y económicamente.&nbsp;Lejos de reducir su tamaño, desde 2010 la milicia se ha expandido desde&nbsp;<a href="https://oglobo.globo.com/rio/em-oito-anos-numero-de-areas-controladas-por-grupos-paramilitares-dobrou-22574503">41 a más de 88 comunidades</a>. También hay señales de una renovada simpatía por parte de la comunidad hacia ciertos grupos de milicias, especialmente a medida que se desploma la confianza del público en la fuerza policial militar y civil del estado.&nbsp;El sector de seguridad pública de Río de Janeiro está en caída libre: su&nbsp;presupuesto -&nbsp;descontando la nómina -&nbsp;<a href="https://oglobo.globo.com/rio/estado-do-rio-reduz-investimento-em-seguranca-quase-zero-22478837">&nbsp;se ha reducido a casi cero en los últimos diez años</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Aunque en el pasado se opusieron firmemente a las bandas de narcotraficantes, la&nbsp;milicia&nbsp;también&nbsp;se&nbsp;ha metido en el negocio de las drogas.</p> <p>La milicia también parece estar aprendiendo algunas lecciones.&nbsp;La mayoría de los líderes evitan buscar cargos políticos y mantienen un perfil más bajo.&nbsp;Dicho esto,&nbsp;continúan&nbsp;<a href="https://brasil.elpais.com/brasil/2018/05/14/politica/1526325604_449819.html">influenciando la orientación política</a>.&nbsp; Algunos grupos de milicias, por ejemplo, están promoviendo la elección de sus candidatos preferidos.&nbsp;Existe un animado mercado para la obtención del voto en áreas bajo control de la milicia.&nbsp;Con frecuencia, se cobra un peaje a los políticos por hacer campaña en áreas bajo control de la milicia.&nbsp;Y mientras la policía se concentra en contener a las distintas bandas de traficantes de drogas como&nbsp;Comando&nbsp;Vermelho, Amigos dos Amigos y&nbsp;Terceiro&nbsp;Comando&nbsp;Puro, la milicia continúa expandiendo su influencia.</p> <p>Aunque en el pasado se opusieron firmemente a las bandas de narcotraficantes, la&nbsp;milicia&nbsp;también&nbsp;se&nbsp;ha metido en el negocio de las drogas.&nbsp;Atraídos por la expectativa de beneficios exorbitantes, algunos<a href="https://oglobo.globo.com/rio/traficantes-passam-atuar-na-linha-de-frente-de-milicias-22337750">&nbsp;<em>milicianos</em></a>&nbsp;<a href="https://oglobo.globo.com/rio/traficantes-passam-atuar-na-linha-de-frente-de-milicias-22337750">y bandas de narcotraficantes trabajan en sociedad</a>, incluida la venta y el transporte de narcóticos.&nbsp;En 2015, la policía estatal descubrió un cargamento de drogas con el logotipo de una gran banda criminal, al lado de un logotipo utilizado por la milicia más grande.&nbsp;No es sorprendente que también hayan surgido tensiones entre&nbsp;<a href="http://extra.globo.com/casos-de-policia/rio-tem-15-guerras-de-quadrilhas-rivais-em-21-bairros-da-cidade-81-dias-das-olimpiadas-19312324.html">facciones criminales y grupos de milicias</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;sobre el control de los barrios de&nbsp;Praça&nbsp;Seca,&nbsp;Jordão,&nbsp;Carobinha, Morro do 18 y&nbsp;Fubá&nbsp;– todos ellos involucrados en la venta minorista de cocaína.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Pero para contener la expansión de la milicia, el enfoque punitivo no está funcionando.&nbsp;Si bien el fortalecimiento de las capacidades de las entidades policiales como DRACO y GAECO es esencial, un enfoque más eficaz implicaría concentrarse en el origen del poder económico de las milicias. Trabajando en asociación con la policía federal, los fiscales y la inteligencia, las fuerzas del orden público deben seguir la pista del dinero, achicando el potencial de la milicia para sacar provecho de los servicios públicos pirateados, el crimen organizado, la&nbsp;extorsión&nbsp;y, por supuesto, el tráfico de drogas.&nbsp;Esto requerirá trabajar en colaboración con los proveedores de servicios públicos, &nbsp;los operadores de cable y telecomunicaciones - para ajustar los esfuerzos de regulación e inspección - y, por supuesto, con las asociaciones de la sociedad civil.</p> <p>Las autoridades locales, si quieren reducir el poder predatorio de la milicia, deberán redoblar también los esfuerzos para recuperar y controlar el territorio.&nbsp;Esto significa proporcionar servicios básicos a barrios marginados, actualmente bajo el control de la milicia.&nbsp;Restaurar la cohesión social en comunidades traumatizadas por la violencia y generar confianza en el gobierno es una condición sine qua non para disminuir el poder de los grupos de milicianos.&nbsp;Esto tomará tiempo.&nbsp;También requerirá un plan lúcido con objetivos realistas.&nbsp;Y, lo más importante: requerirá una estrategia que vaya más allá de la represión.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>CRONOLOGIA DE LA MILICIA</strong></h3> <p>Década de 1990 - Nacen grupos de milicias.</p> <p>2005 -&nbsp;<a href="http://memoria.oglobo.globo.com/jornalismo/reportagens/as-miliacutecias-chegam-para-assustar-9152202">Medios de comunicación</a> detectan&nbsp;milicias en la Zona Oeste de Río de Janeiro.</p> <p>2006 - En diciembre, una&nbsp;<a href="http://g1.globo.com/Noticias/Rio/0,,AA1402535-5606,00.html">serie de ataques&nbsp;</a>contra las unidades policiales y los autobuses en Río fueron ejecutados por bandas de narcotraficantes, en represalia contra la milicia.</p> <p>2007 -&nbsp;<a href="https://extra.globo.com/casos-de-policia/relembre-caso-do-assassinato-do-inspetor-felix-tostes-615324.html">Félix dos Santos&nbsp;Tostes&nbsp;</a>es asesinado&nbsp;en el transcurso de una pelea sobre Rio das&nbsp;Pedras,&nbsp;y son arrestados los concejales&nbsp;Josinaldo&nbsp;Francisco da Cruz (Nadinho) y&nbsp;<a href="https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=es&amp;prev=_t&amp;sl=en&amp;tl=es&amp;u=https://extra.globo.com/noticias/rio/vereador-jerominho-preso-em-operacao-da-policia-civil-na-zona-oeste-635251.html">Jerônimo</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=es&amp;prev=_t&amp;sl=en&amp;tl=es&amp;u=https://extra.globo.com/noticias/rio/vereador-jerominho-preso-em-operacao-da-policia-civil-na-zona-oeste-635251.html">Guimarães</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=es&amp;prev=_t&amp;sl=en&amp;tl=es&amp;u=https://extra.globo.com/noticias/rio/vereador-jerominho-preso-em-operacao-da-policia-civil-na-zona-oeste-635251.html">Filho</a>&nbsp;(Jerominho).</p> <p>2008 - En mayo, un equipo de&nbsp;<a href="https://extra.globo.com/noticias/rio/jornalistas-sao-torturados-por-milicianos-no-rio-equipe-de-dia-foi-espancada-por-7-horas-na-zona-oeste-519747.html">"O&nbsp;Dia" fue secuestrado&nbsp;</a>y torturados por miembros de la milicia en&nbsp;Batán, llevando a la Asamblea Legislativa de Río de Janeiro a crear&nbsp;<a href="https://noticias.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2008/11/14/ult5772u1546.jhtm">una Comisión de Investigación Parlamentaria (CPI)</a>&nbsp;para investigar milicias.</p> <p>2009 - En mayo, tras de siete meses de fuga, Ricardo da Cruz Teixeira, alias&nbsp;<a href="https://oglobo.globo.com/rio/batman-apelido-de-heroi-ficha-de-vilao-2793126">Batman</a>, es arrestado.&nbsp;En junio,&nbsp;<a href="https://extra.globo.com/noticias/rio/ex-vereador-nadinho-de-rio-das-pedras-assassinado-em-condominio-da-barra-298259.html">Nadinho,&nbsp;de Rio das Pedras,&nbsp;es asesinado</a>.</p> <p>2010 - La Fiscalía del Estado crea&nbsp;<a href="https://veja.abril.com.br/politica/a-milicia-quer-dinheiro-e-droga-da-dinheiro/">GAECO, un grupo especial contra el crimen organizado</a> para enjuiciar e investigar crímenes relacionados con milicias&nbsp;.</p><p>2012 - En septiembre, el gobierno federal sanciona<a href="http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_Ato2011-2014/2012/Lei/L12720.htm">&nbsp;una ley</a>&nbsp;prohibiendo las actividades de la milicia.&nbsp;En las elecciones de ese año, <a href="https://oglobo.globo.com/brasil/eleitores-tiram-forca-de-milicianos-na-politica-do-rio-de-janeiro-6326931">los milicianos pierden el poder político.</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>2013 - El ex agente de la policía militar&nbsp;<a href="https://odia.ig.com.br/_conteudo/noticia/rio-de-janeiro/2013-07-27/toni-angelo-e-baleado-e-preso-em-campo-grande.html">Toni&nbsp;Ângelo&nbsp;Souza&nbsp;Aguiar</a>, uno de los&nbsp;líderes&nbsp;de la milicia "Liga&nbsp;da&nbsp;Justiça", es arrestado.</p> <p>2014 - El ex agente de la policía militar&nbsp;<a href="http://g1.globo.com/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/2014/08/policia-prende-suspeito-de-chefiar-maior-milicia-da-zona-oeste-do-rio.html">Marcos José de Lima Gomes</a>, alias&nbsp;Gão, es arrestado.&nbsp;Medios de comunicación publican reportajes donde se ve a&nbsp;<em>milicianos</em>&nbsp;&nbsp;y narcotraficantes&nbsp;<a href="http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2015/10/1695178-novo-chefe-faz-alianca-inedita-de-milicia-com-trafico-de-drogas-no-rio.shtml">trabajando juntos.</a></p> <p>2015&nbsp;-&nbsp; En&nbsp;agosto, un grupo de trabajo dirigido por la policía civil y militar lleva a cabo una&nbsp;<a href="http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2015/08/1668740-policia-do-rio-combate-milicia-em-39-condominios-minha-casa-minha-vida.shtml">operación para&nbsp; acabar con&nbsp; las actividades de la milicia en el programa federal de vivienda "&nbsp;Minha&nbsp;Casa,&nbsp;Minha&nbsp;Vida"</a>, en la Zona Oeste de Rio.</p><p>2016 – Se registran al menos&nbsp;<a href="https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/eleicoes-2016/2016/09/1810543-na-baixada-fluminense-14-candidatos-e-politicos-foram-mortos-desde-2015.shtml">seis casos de políticos y candidatos&nbsp;</a>cuyos asesinatos están relacionados con las milicias.</p> <p>2017 - En abril, Carlos&nbsp;Alexandre&nbsp;da Silva Braga (<a href="https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=es&amp;prev=_t&amp;sl=en&amp;tl=es&amp;u=https://veja.abril.com.br/brasil/policia-mata-o-homem-que-uniu-milicia-e-trafico-no-rio/">Carlinhos</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://veja.abril.com.br/brasil/policia-mata-o-homem-que-uniu-milicia-e-trafico-no-rio/">Três&nbsp;Pontes), presunto líder del&nbsp;acercamiento&nbsp;de la milicia "&nbsp;Liga&nbsp;da&nbsp;Justiça&nbsp;" a las bandas de narcotraficantes</a>, es asesinado por agentes de policía.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/breno-bringel/marielle-franco-y-el-futuro-de-brasil-esperanza-o-barbarie">Marielle Franco y el futuro de Brasil: esperanza o barbarie </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/ch-gardiner/brasil-militariza-la-guerra-contra-el-crimen">Brasil militariza la guerra contra el crimen</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/robert-mugga/la-guerra-santa-de-los-narcotraficantes-evang-licos-en-brasil">Narcotraficantes evangélicos llevan la &quot;guerra santa&quot; a Brasil</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/dr-carolina-samp/violencia-en-brasil-la-vinsibilizaci-n-de-las-organizaciones-crim">El motor de la violencia en Brasil </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Río de Janeiro </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta DemocraciaAbierta Río de Janeiro Brazil Conflict Democracy and government Equality Dandara Tinoco Robert Muggah 

 Renata Giannini Ana Paula Pellegrino Tue, 22 May 2018 10:40:27 +0000 Ana Paula Pellegrino, Dandara Tinoco, Renata Giannini and Robert Muggah 

 117999 at https://www.opendemocracy.net When the name Yazid is neither good nor bad https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/omar-kaddour/when-name-yazid-is-neither-good-nor-bad <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Syrians lack a common history and will continue to do so as long as the oral history of each group remains different from the one presented in slogans of national dissimulation. <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/omar-kaddour/yazid-syria-sectarianism">العربية</a></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p lang="en-US"><strong><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/ copy_3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/ copy_3.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em>[This article by Omar Kaddour is part of a special series focused on Oral Culture and Identity in Syria. It is the outcome of an ongoing partnership between <a href="http://syriauntold.com/en">SyriaUntold</a> and openDemocracy's North Africa West Asia in a bid to untangle the roots of sectarian, ethnic and other divides in Syria.]</strong></p><p>Our neighbor who lived closest to us in Homs was Christian. In Damascus, our neighbors were a combination of outsiders and locals. In Afrin, most of our neighbors were evidently Kurds. What I am trying to say is, as a child, I led a nomadic life.&nbsp;</p><p lang="en-US">Although I moved around, I never really noticed these differences, and they seemed normal to me. During one of our moves, we happened to have a Shiite neighbor who would approach me nicely and call me Ali every time she saw me. I would correct her, but she would make the same mistake again. I understood, much later, that she was avoiding saying my name!&nbsp;</p><p>After long years of university friendships, I also discovered, by coincidence, that one of our friends in the group was a member of the Alawite community [the secretive minority Shiite sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.] That meant nothing to me at the time. My university friends came from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds—Ismaili [Shiites], Kurds, villagers and city-dwellers.</p><p>Sectarian talk in the sense that I discovered later in life was not common in my social environments. Even so, things were not always that pure and simple. When I was in high school, our football coach gathered us—Arab students—and asked us to watch our peers, monitor who was absent to celebrate Nowruz [Kurdish New Year] and give him their names. After he left the hall, we all agreed not to oblige because his order was insulting to us and to our peers who were celebrating their holiday.&nbsp;</p><p>During the same period, a Kurdish classmate angered me, because during mathematics class, she looked at me “as I was unusually silent,” and she said in Kurdish, “Why is our tongue-tied friend so quiet?” Our classmates laughed, and I was furious despite her subsequent apology. I was somewhat appeased when I remembered that Arabs called non-Arabs&nbsp;<em>ajamis</em>(foreign mumblers) in the past, to indicate they have trouble speaking properly.</p><h3><strong>Major influences</strong></h3><p>My own sense of culture, developed by reading religiously from an early age, was to a large extent the product of Western texts translated into Arabic. Sectarian issues and stories were consequently alien to me. I was a stranger to the world of religions that drives people to differentiate between sects and persuades them that their set of beliefs are correct relative to those of others. It was certainly a “rosy” world view and did not reflect the realities I came to comprehend later.&nbsp;</p><p lang="en-US">At university, I spent almost two years reading about religion and mythology to bridge the social and cultural gap that I felt. I wanted to be familiar with my social environment, which was predominantly Sunni. One cannot understand a sect within Islam without knowing the other main ones and the history of enmity between them.&nbsp;</p><p lang="en-US">I read books by Husayn Muruwwa and Mahdi Amel as well as one of Adonis’ iconic texts, ‘The Static and the Dynamic: A Research into the Creative and the Imitative of Arabs.’ At the time, a wave of authors revisiting inherited ideas emerged, and their works culminated with the books of Moroccan philosopher Mohammed Abed al-Jabri, an expert in Islamic thought best known for his work ‘A critique of the Arab Mind.’ To them, we can add Tayyeb Tizini who wrote ‘From Heritage to Revolution.’ Most of these authors, with the exception of Adonis, were leftists. They shared a critical perspective of Sunni Islam, given that it was the historically prevalent power, but they did not spare the other sects that had ruled in the region. &nbsp;</p><p>This thought-wave shaped me to some extent. My friend, the poet Abdul Latif Khattab, drew me deeper into the readings and fanned my interest in them. During one of our discussion sessions, he argued that Haydar Haydar, the Syrian novelist, was sectarian and so was his novel, ‘Walimah li A'ashab al-Bahr’ (A Banquet for Seaweeds), which made a splash when it was released. Abdul Latif claimed that Haydar intentionally picked the name&nbsp;<em>Yazid</em>for the evil antagonist in the book [in reference to Yazid ibn Mu’awiya, the second caliph of the Umayyad Muslim dynasty], while the loved protagonist was called “Mahdi Jawad” [in apparent reference to Imam Mahdi, a religious leader who, Shiites believe, vanished 1,100 years and will return in the future to defeat evil in the world].</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Ethnic and sectarian alignments tarnished the cultural and political landscape more than simple everyday life</p><p>I defended Haydar at the time and argued that one’s upbringing might leave such residues lingering their unconscious mind without their awareness, like seeing the name Yazid or Omar as the ultimate evil. Therefore, one must be more careful to avoid blunders like the one of our Shiite neighbor who repeatedly insisted on calling me Ali! [The name Ali is particularly popular among Shiite Muslims for historical reasons relating to the split between Sunni and Shi’a Islam]</p><p>What I mean to say is that ethnic and sectarian alignments tarnished the cultural and political landscape more than simple everyday life, although these divisions did surface in deliberately twisted due to various dynamics relating to repression. This duality—the contrast between the values that people pretend to embrace versus what they actually think, vestiges of the past suppressed due to government pressure and self-censorship—has created a state of collective schizophrenia.&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>Personal experiences</strong></h3><p>One of my relatives had an Ismaili business partner and friend. When he and his friend were crossing Syrian regime checkpoints, the soldier verifying their papers wondered what an Alawite and an Ismaili could possibly have in common. When they were telling me the story in 2012, I thought the question was normal, and I noted the deep-rooted enmity between Alawites and Ismailis dating back to the days of Sheikh Saleh al-Ali [a prominent Syrian Alawite leader who commanded the Syrian Revolt of 1919 against the French].</p><p>It was then that my relative from [the northwestern city of] Masyaf remembered the painful incident when Ali attacked his hometown, besieged its citizens and tortured them. Textbooks and modern television series portray Ali as a hero who fought colonialism. Ismailis saw a completely different side of Ali. The counter-story claims that Ali clashed with the French because they tried to deter his aggression against Ismailis, as the French government was authorized to implement the law. His revolution was not driven by national motives initially.&nbsp;</p><p>In the summer of 2012, I myself underwent a significant experience. My wife, our friend and I were headed to the Latakia City from Slinfah [a mountainous resort in the Alawite heartland]. Asaad’s forces had seized Al-Haffah [a district within Latakia Governorate], forcibly displacing its inhabitants. At the first checkpoint, as soon as the soldier who was standing took my identity card from the window of the car, he handed it to his superior and reached out to search me while I was still in the car. Meanwhile, the officer in charge at the checkpoint held the identity card and said, in a local accent, “Omar! From Aleppo! What are you doing here?”&nbsp;</p><p>Luckily, the driver whom we did not know answered quickly, saying he drove us from the farm of brigadier general “So-and-so,” who is famous in that region. The officer in charge asked immediately, “What are you doing at the brigadier general’s place? Do you work for him?” I said that I was visiting him. Of course, I did not know the aforementioned brigadier general, and the officer’s face looked confused and unconvinced. How could a person called Omar [a name typically given to Sunni Muslims for historic and religious reasons] be a guest at the brigadier general’s place while he should be a worker or servant on his farm?</p><p>After that incident, rather because of it, I got a fake identity card under the name Ammar that showed [the Mediterranean city of] Tartus [where Alawites are believed to be in the majority] as the place of registration [origin]. None of Assad’s thugs would suspect a guy from Tartus to be wanted by the intelligence! This fake ID is the only souvenir left of my Syrian papers.&nbsp;</p><p>On a direct political level, a perceptive observer of the Syrian partisan experience could easily see the sectarian and regionalist fault-lines cutting across the country. For a long time, the Nasserist current was described as a reflection of Sunni Arabism, as opposed to the Baathist Arabism that represented minorities.&nbsp;</p><p>One inevitably remembers the word “Ads” that was used as an acronym to refer to the minority alliance seeking to expel Sunnis from the Baath party and from key positions in the army. [In Arabic, Ads mean lentils, which are cheap. The word was used to degrade Alawites, Druzes and Smaoulis/Ismailis].</p><p lang="en-US">Even though the Muslim Brotherhood was the only party openly professing a sectarian ideology, the remaining parties in general also had an ethnic, sectarian or regionalist character. Despite their slogans, leftist claims or alleged secularism, the bottom line is that they were marred by fanaticism on grounds that are not more important than ideology but that certainly have a bigger impact.&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>The state of stereotyping</strong></h3><p class="mag-quote-right">The claws of stereotyping can be seen in the public sector</p><p>Mutual stereotyping between different societies and regions is undoubtedly present in varying degrees among the people of the world. But, what sets us Syrians apart from others is that our stereotyping is not limited to social boundaries, neither does it disappear with the passage of time. Stereotyping here is a project of the government, or the state. It is a project of silent wars and the recently declared ones now waged in the open. &nbsp;</p><p>The claws of stereotyping can be seen in the public sector. It is among the most influential factors, if not to say the most influential of all. This does not mean that Syrians are obsessed with sectarianism day and night. Yet one cannot deny that they were deprived of democratic practices that would have guaranteed their individuality with time and that would have helped them make peace with the past—once that page had been turned.</p><p>The truth is that, contrary to the patriotic slogans, Syrians lack a common history and will continue to do so as long as the oral history of each group remains different from the one presented in slogans of national dissimulation. A comprehensive history that incorporates and acknowledges all the differences between them has not been produced and therefore cannot be laid to rest in peace, as should be the case. And since the problem is not the result of insufficient knowledge of the other, mingling and mixing with the various others will not resolve this issue. On the contrary, the fissures are based on sufficient knowledge, awareness and design.&nbsp;</p><p>In societies that have leapt forward in the democratic experience, stereotyping of any sort is considered a cultural crime, even though no explicit legal text criminalizes it. However, before attaining this level of individualism, these communities were mocking themselves and their stereotypes. When we break free from the hegemony of the others and begin mocking our ideas about them and mocking ourselves rather than mocking them, we can say then that we have buried the hatchet. Our cultural and political history can only be buried when it becomes a&nbsp;subject hanging between a story and a joke.&nbsp;</p><p lang="en-US">When that day comes, there will be no military or intelligence checkpoint to denounce the presence of a person called Omar in a coastal city or cast him as the servant of an officer. And only then a new novelist might then write about a person called&nbsp;<em>Yazid</em>, who is neither good nor evil, but a regular person like any of us who has virtuous and vices.</p><p lang="en-US"><strong>Translated by Pascale Menassa</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-dibo/oral-culture-and-identity-in-syria-dossier">Oral culture and identity in Syria - Dossier</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/omar-kaddour/yazid-syria-sectarianism">عندما لا يكون يزيد شريراً أو خيّراً</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hammoud-hammoud/on-duality-of-laicism-and-dictatorship-and-rise-of-political-">On the duality of laicism and dictatorship and the rise of political Islam</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/muhammad-amir-nasher-naam/for-secular-interpretation-of-prophethood">For a secular interpretation of prophethood</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Conflict Syria and sectarianism Through Syrian eyes Omar Kaddour Tue, 22 May 2018 08:00:01 +0000 Omar Kaddour 117982 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Lib-pop politics: Italy’s new government is more neoliberal than populist https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/mario-pianta/lib-pop-politics-italy-s-new-government-is-more-neoliberal-than-popu <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The fear is that populism, Italian style, has achieved power. But<em> </em>neoliberal policies rule more than ever, tinged with populism, opening the way to Lega’s far-right, racist (and neoliberal) politics.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35969344.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35969344.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>April, 2018 in Rome. Matteo Salvini, League Party secretary, during a second round of consultations of political parties for the formation of the new government at the Quirinal Palace. Giuseppe Ciccia/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A new Italian government is in the making, with an unprecedented alliance between the Five Stars Movement (33% of votes in the March 2018 elections; 36% of seats in the House of Deputies) and the Lega (17% of votes; 20% of seats). The view that ‘populist barbarians have conquered Rome’ is a gross misunderstanding. Lega has already governed for nine years in Berlusconi governments supporting every neoliberal policy that has favoured finance, business and the European integration they now criticise. </p> <p>The Five Stars are ready to compromise on everything with anyone – Washington, Brussels, business, finance, the military – for their turn in power, knowing that their large support is at best temporary. The result – rhetoric aside – is that pro-rich neoliberal policies dominate the new government agenda, tinted with a shade of populism, offering modest pro-poor and harsh anti-immigrant action. <em>Lib-pop politics</em> is how we might describe Italy’s new political experiment. <span class="mag-quote-center">The Five Stars are ready to compromise on everything with anyone...&nbsp; knowing that their large support is at best temporary.</span></p> <h2><strong>Lega’s rising political hegemony</strong></h2> <p>The clear political winner is Lega’s leader, Matteo Salvini, who has turned the Northern ‘separatist’ Lega Nord into a nationwide nationalist, reactionary party, mirroring France’s Front National. He quadrupled Lega’s votes (in 2013 they were 4%); in Northern counties of Lombardy and Veneto Lega reaching 33 to 38% of the votes, with the centre-right coalition well over 50% (an <a href="https://www.socialeurope.eu/fear-loathing-poverty-italy-2018-elections">analysis</a> <a href="https://www.socialeurope.eu/fear-loathing-poverty-italy-2018-elections">of the election results is here</a>). He ran in a centre-right coalition where he emerged as the clear leader, with the Lega obtaining more votes than Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (14%) and the post-fascists of Fratelli d’Italia stuck on 4%.</p> <p>He managed to obtain from his coalition partners a green light for the government alliance with the Five Stars, thus keeping together – in spite of squabbles – a coalition that last March had procured 37% of votes and is close to obtaining in any future election an overall majority of seats (within reach if they obtain about 42% of votes under current electoral rules). His centre-right allies promised mild opposition and parliamentary support for the (many) policies they will like. Salvini is in the unique position of leading from the extreme right a broad centre-right coalition that includes moderates and élite groups; in no other major European country does such an alliance exist. <span class="mag-quote-center">Salvini is in the unique position of leading from the extreme right a broad centre-right coalition that includes moderates and élite groups.</span></p> <p>The political momentum for Salvini grew with the elections in two regions held in April 2018. Lega won in the north-eastern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia with the centre-right coalition getting 63% of votes, Lega alone obtaining 35% and providing the President of the Region, while the Five Stars slipped to 7%. </p> <p>In the small Southern Molise region, the centre-right coalition won with a Forza Italia candidate on 49% of votes (Lega had 8%), while the Five Stars list obtained 32%. Current polls reflect this trend of a growing Lega and a stable Five Stars consensus; when Five Stars support weakens – as happened in the peripheries of Rome and Turin, run by weak Five Stars mayors – Salvini is set to grab a large part of their disappointed voters. Thus, the political outlook suggests Salvini as a likely winner of a real majority for the centre-right whenever new elections take place, giving him the upper hand in talks for the new government – the alternatives being an early vote in autumn or in May 2019 when they could be held together with the European elections. </p> <p>Finally, Lega’s hegemonic power is marked also by its ability to combine power and protest; it was in power throughout all Berlusconi’s governments, but is not perceived as responsible for the current crisis. At the same time, Lega capitalises on widespread protests with its rhetorical challenge to European rules, harsh treatment of migrants and anti-tax, anti-bureaucracy agenda.</p> <h2><strong>Five Stars’ disorientation</strong></h2> <p>Among the Five Stars of the movement founded by Beppe Grillo, no ‘pole star’ for its political project has been found; the only priority now is to claim power, regardless of type of alliance and programme. </p> <p>Anti-corruption and bottom-up democracy remain little more than background noise; 94% of Five Star supporters approved the government programme in one afternoon’s electronic voting; top-down decisions on policy priorities far from the Five Stars’ traditional demands have not been challenged by the grassroots; only a left-wing prospective labour minister, Pasquale Tridico, resigned after the programme was announced. </p> <p>The difficult search for a Prime Minister different from the Five Stars leader Luigi Di Maio reflected the political fragility of a top-down model preventing the emergence of a broader political leadership.</p> <p>The fundamental weakness of the Five Stars is in their very post-ideological posture. With the political ‘caste’ as their main enemy, and the illusion of moving beyond the left-right divide, they have yet to learn how to use political power to deal with contrasting class interests, and how their policies may sustain or destroy their electoral consensus. <span class="mag-quote-center">Five Stars have yet to learn how to use political power to deal with contrasting class interests, and how their policies may sustain or destroy their electoral consensus.</span></p> <p>In contrast, the Lega has strengthened its right-wing ideological roots, providing identities and a worldview for its voters. No surprise then that many working class and poorer Italians, after welcoming the anti-establishment nature of the Five Stars, are now ending up as Lega voters. </p> <h2><strong>The government programme</strong></h2> <p>The asymmetry between a Lega with clear priorities – in terms of class and nation – and a Five Stars with its only concern to strike a deal, has produced a government programme that includes some general concerns of the Five Stars – on legality and minimum income - and most practical measures designed by the Lega - on taxes and migrants. </p> <p>Demands for renegotiating European treaties and restoring national sovereignty in some areas are enough to open up a rhetorical confrontation with Brussels – and much attention from the media. But they have little concrete content.</p> <p>The most important specific policy that will be introduced by the new government is the Italian version of the ‘flat tax’; firms and individuals will pay either 15 or 20% of income taxes, as opposed to the current 43% for the top income bracket. </p> <p>It is clearly stated that no wealth tax will be introduced (Italy has often been criticized by the EU for having cancelled real estate taxes on home-owners). Tax controls on Italy’s large number of small firms and self-employed will be scaled down, basically legalising tax evasion for a large number of right-wing, medium and high-income voters. <span class="mag-quote-center">Tax controls on Italy’s large number of small firms and self-employed will be scaled down, basically legalising tax evasion for a large number of right-wing, medium and high-income voters. </span></p> <p>For financial firms and banks no control or limit on their activities will be introduced. This will make Italy a neoliberal business paradise, competing with Ireland in the race to the bottom of business taxes in Europe, offering some room for the survival of Italy’s small businesses dramatically hit by a decade of crisis. </p> <p>In this way, the transfer of income to the richest 20% of Italians will be huge, with the very rich benefiting the most. Berlusconi would have never been able with his past majorities to introduce such a pro-rich agenda.</p> <p>Such measures are the easiest to implement, as they simply scale back state redistribution, leaving unequal outcomes of market processes untouched. More difficult is the implementation of the only ‘pro-poor’ measure long championed by the Five Stars: the so-called ‘citizen income’. In the programme this is reduced to an income support of €780 a month for a maximum of two years for unemployed Italians (no residents with foreign citizenship will obtain it) ready to accept any job offer; no figure for potential recipients or funding for implementing it is mentioned. <span class="mag-quote-center">Berlusconi would have never been able with his past majorities to introduce such a pro-rich agenda.</span></p> <p>But the darkest success of the Lega in the government programme is the chapter on migrants, envisaging a stop to the flows of refugees, changes in European rules on asylum and free movement, and proposing the repatriation of the 500,000 immigrants with irregular status now present in Italy. </p> <p>Combined with harsh measures on law and order, this policy caters to the ‘fear effect’ that is behind the growth of Lega’s support. In parallel the rise of the Five Stars was based on a ‘poverty effect’ – especially in the South (see <a href="https://www.socialeurope.eu/fear-loathing-poverty-italy-2018-elections">here</a>). The tragedy is that the poorest Italians have overwhelmingly voted for two political forces that are now creating the most pro-rich, pro-business government in Italy’s history. Even worse, <em>Lib-pop politics</em> could be just the starter for an outright far-right political future. </p> <p><em>This article was&nbsp;<a href="https://www.socialeurope.eu/lib-pop-politics-why-italys-new-government-is-more-neoliberal-than-populist">originally published&nbsp;</a>on Social Europe on May 21, 2018. The <a href="http://sbilanciamoci.info/lib-pop-un-governo-piu-neoliberale-populista/">Italian version is here</a>.</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Italy </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Italy Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Economics International politics Mario Pianta Mon, 21 May 2018 19:38:19 +0000 Mario Pianta 117988 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Oral culture and identity in Syria - Dossier https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-dibo/oral-culture-and-identity-in-syria-dossier <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What are the origins of sectarian consciousness in Syria? Did it appear from nothing or was it always dormant and waiting to erupt? <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/mohammad-dibo/sectarianism-syria-popular-culture">العربية</a></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/flat طائفية copy_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/flat طائفية copy_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><strong>[This article by Mohammad Dibo introduces a special series focused on&nbsp;Oral Culture and Identity in Syria. It is the outcome of an ongoing partnership between <a href="http://syriauntold.com/en/">Syria Untold</a> and openDemocracy's North Africa West Asia]</strong></p><p>Countless and complex questions are being raised by the issue of open sectarianism ripping across the Arab Mashreq, maybe even the entire Middle East. We are faced with a tremendous resurgence of religious, sectarian, doctrinal, and ethnic currents that have overwhelmed the political and military landscape not only in Syria but also beyond. Political discourses are now replete with sectarian language and terminologies which had, up until two decades ago, and perhaps even less than that, been considered too retrograde to be posed seriously. They are now presented as an inescapable reality and, as such, many are proposing consociational solutions premised on “hair of the dog” logic.</p><p>Undoubtedly, the question of sectarianism has been extensively studied, analyzed and researched from both intellectual and political perspectives, and we have seen over the past seven years so many studies and books on that question. Yet ambiguity continues to prevail and reality still surprises us, day after day, with instances of wild violence, unapologetic expressions and unrestrained actions that bring us back to square one. We are confronted by the same question time and time again: Where did all this sectarianism come from? Where was this sectarian consciousness hiding? Was it really hiding, or it is rather the “Arab mind” that had covered it up in favor of dreams and fantasies about a forthcoming future borne on the wings of modernity and progress?</p><p>Furthermore, it was not only the sectarian question that has risen from the ashes of the war in Syria. In addition, the (supra)national question has been also renewed in “passeistic” manners that seek nation-building in narrow ideological forms, though the nation-state ideal of modernity has long been outdated. When nationalism is not combined with democracy, along with the whole set of modernity (citizenship, human rights, alternation of power, etc.,) the former becomes a mere instrument of arbitrary rule. This has been the case in many countries still governed by this model, and Ba’athist Syria serves as one of the most unsavoury examples.</p><p>Ethnic consciousness, nevertheless, has had a widespread presence among many communities, including the Kurds and the Arabs. Instead of building bridges and searching for new horizons or ways of co-existence that have humanity – before citizenship – at their core, hate is being reciprocally declared and fueled between ethnic groups. This, too, raises questions about the origin and background of such types of consciousness. Were they born overnight, or had they been nestled somewhere, waiting for the right moment to explode in our faces?</p><p>In addition to sectarianism and ethnicity, there is tribalism, regionalism (the coast and the interior) and rural-urban tensions (Ghouta and Damascus).</p><p class="mag-quote-center">How do different Syrian groups gossip about one another?</p><p>All of this gives shapes to the following question: Is there an “awareness” of these issues; a consciousness absorbed from the family and the community; an oral, unwritten consciousness instilled in the subconscious since early childhood? Is it that individuals grow up torn between two types of consciousness? One received from the immediate communal milieu and the other from school, university and life. Do they express and experience the former within their spheres of comfort familiarity, and wear the mask of the latter in front of strangers? If that is the case, how are the two types of consciousness manifested throughout the trajectory of an individual? How do they express themselves? And how do people reconcile between the two, especially given their contradictory nature: one clinging to the past and its myths, the other clinging to more modern expressions? Which one prevails over the other, and why, when a choice has to be made?</p><p>In an attempt to answer these questions, we launch this series, open in its first stage to writings conveying, clearly and transparently, this latent collective consciousness. How do different Syrian groups (sects, ethnicities, regions, tribes) gossip about one another? By way of example, how do the Alawites speak of the Sunnis, the Druze and the Christians in the exclusivity of their own private spheres? Likewise, how the Sunnis speak of the Alawites, the Druze and the Christians within theirs? And how do each of these religious communities talk about their respective others? The same question can be asked with regards to ethnic and tribal groups, as well as rural and urban population segments.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">This form of writing requires transparency, clarity and integrity</p><p>This form of writing requires transparency, clarity and integrity. It can only be carried out by those who believe in its use and significance. Moreover, it requires dissociating oneself from sects, ethnic groups, and tribes, and to even dissatisfy them in favor of humanity. Therefore, this series welcomes whoever shares that belief, and finds themselves willing to open up and break the taboo, to search inside themselves and ourselves, in order to expose that “consciousness” with which we were raised and which significantly shaped our worldview. It is an attempt to try and question ourselves: Has this consciousness played a role in what has been happening in Syria? Has any of what we have taken in from our early milieus – that we thought was behind us – provided the basis for our actions and attitudes towards what is happening in Syria? Have we sought to take refuge in our tribes and sects and communities?</p><p>In the second stage of this series, these testimonies will be placed before specialized researchers who will review this body of work from an intellectual and analytical point of view. They will attempt to find the link between these testimonies and what has happened in Syria and the region at large, assuming that such a link exists--for we do not wish to prejudice the conclusions these researchers and specialists will arrive at based on these testimonies and others. Finally, this series will explore the role (positive or negative) played by this oral culture in constructing, or obstructing, the building of a new Syrian identity after the end of the conflict.</p><p><strong>Translated by Yaaser Azzayyaat</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/omar-kaddour/when-name-yazid-is-neither-good-nor-bad">When the name Yazid is neither good nor bad</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/mohammad-dibo/sectarianism-syria-popular-culture">الثقافة الشفوية والهوية في سورية - ملف</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hammoud-hammoud/on-duality-of-laicism-and-dictatorship-and-rise-of-political-">On the duality of laicism and dictatorship and the rise of political Islam</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/muhammad-amir-nasher-naam/for-secular-interpretation-of-prophethood">For a secular interpretation of prophethood</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/syrian-cultural-policies-in-turkey-marginalization-continues-part-i">Syrian cultural work in Turkey: the marginalization continues – Part I</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Syria and sectarianism Through Syrian eyes Mohammad Dibo Mon, 21 May 2018 17:08:47 +0000 Mohammad Dibo 117976 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Presidential elections in Colombia: polarisation or deterioration of the political conversation? https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/sandra-borda/presidential-elections-in-colombia-polarisation-or-deterioration-of-p <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Political polarisation consists of the amplification of divergence and consequently displacement towards extreme ideological positions. When this intensifies, the centre becomes more narrow, but this is not happening in Colombia. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/sandra-borda/presidenciales-en-colombia-polarizaci-n-o-deterioro-de-la-conversaci-">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Bandera_de_Colombia_2014-09-20_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Bandera_de_Colombia_2014-09-20_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="332" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Colombian Flag. Source: Wikimedia Commons. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="blockquote-new">This article is part of the series "Ellections in Colombia 2018: depolarization and disinformation", developed in partnership with <a href="http://nuso.org">Nueva Sociedad </a>Magazine and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.</p><p>Political polarisation is a phenomenon that implies the amplification of divergent political attitudes and the consequent displacement of these attitudes towards the ideological extremes.</p><p>In a scenario of this nature, the voices of the centre or those with moderated views lose their visibility, power and influence. </p><p>Occasionally, and when the political parties are strong, this division can manifest itself as a reinforcement of the extremist sectors within political parties and/or as an increase in the ideological distance that exists between them. </p><p>This is evident in the case of the US where the so called “middle Republicans” and the “middle Democrats” have been distancing themselves at great speed during the past decade.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class="mag-quote-center">Many suggest that Colombian politics had never been so hostile in its use of political discourse.</span></p><p>Colombia will choose a new president this year and the electoral process has put the discussion over polarisation on the table. </p><p>Many suggest that Colombian politics had never been so hostile in its use of political discourse and that political platforms and ideological positions had never been so distanced. “We are a country that is profoundly polarised” is a phrase that has been uttered many times throughout political discussions.</p> <p>But is Colombia really politically polarised? How much of this supposed “new” polarisation is not what it appears to be? How much of what is perceived as pure “social media scandal” and full-on discourse is true polarisation? Is a lot of what is happening during the current elections more a process of diversification and pluralisation of voices rather than polarisation?</p> <p>First, it must be said that it is impossible to respond to these questions with conclusiveness because in Colombia there are no strict variable measurements that come close to the phenomenon of polarisation as it has been defined in this text. </p><p>There are surveys, such as the Barometer of the Americas, that measures political attitudes of the Colombian population and even though they may reach some conclusions regarding polarisation, they are not designed to measure this concept.</p> <p>Additionally, in the case of the barometer, there are only results available until 2016 and it would be impossible to make a generalisation regarding the state of polarisation today with this data. </p><p>Finally, yet another factor that complicates the measuring of polarisation is the profound political party crisis in Colombia, which makes it hard to view polarisation as a product of party activity (contrary to what is happening in the US for example).&nbsp;</p> <p>In fact, at the beginning of the electoral race, 11 candidates put themselves forward with the backing of signatures [1] and only two did so with the backing of their political parties, implying that if there is polarisation, it is possible that this is down to political and ideological division that does not necessarily overlap with political party divisions. This further complicates the task of identifying and measuring the phenomenon.&nbsp;</p> <p>The result of this lack of diagnosis is the feeling that intuition can dictate to us if there is a degree of polarisation, but we do not know how much nor how new it really is, nor across what boundaries it operates: are we dealing with a polarisation between liberals and conservatives? Or a classic division between left and right? Or is it a combination of both?&nbsp;</p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">16.5% of the Colombian population define themselves as left-leaning, but are against marriage between couples of the same sex.</span></p> <p>In the case of the left-right division, the panorama is slightly clearer thanks to one of the questions of the Barometer of the Americas that consulted Colombians over where they sit on a scale of 1 (extreme left) and 10 (extreme right). Historic evolution provides the following results:&nbsp;</p> <p>Those who identify as left-leaning have increased in numbers, and those who identify as right-leaning have decreased. Additionally, those who identify with the centre have increased although this has been small. </p><p>The definition of polarisation proposed at the beginning of this text suggests that when polarisation intensifies, the centre becomes reduced and this has not happened in Colombia, at least up until 2016. Only from this data can it be suggested that polarisation is not quite what it seems. </p> <p>Another interesting observation from the Barometer is that the left-right spectrum does not appear to correspond to social issues or issues of principle that go beyond purely political matters. For example, 16.5% of the Colombian population define themselves as left-leaning, but are against marriage between couples of the same sex. </p><p>Something similar occurs with issues such as euthanasia, drug consumption and divorce. Thus, the amount of Colombians who identify with the left may have increased, however that does not imply a greater level of polarisation inasmuch as political differences are still concentrated in concrete issues and do not overlap with social issues as such.</p> <p>That said, it is possible to speculate that this phenomenon owes itself to the arrival of political figures from the Democratic Centre’s campaign (right-wing political party led by ex-president Álvaro Uribe and whose candidate for the presidential race is Iván Duque) with a strong religious stance like Viviane Morales (representative of the Evangelical church) and ex-prosecutor Alejandro Ordoñez (subscriber to one of the most conservative branches of Catholicism). </p><p>But, it is still early to know whether this increased religious component among the right will produce increased levels of polarisation.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, we know very little about any other kind of division out with what is considered as polarisation. It is difficult to know if we are dealing with a disagreement between liberals and conservatives in a broad sense. </p><p>In Colombia, the traditional parties were the Liberals and the Conservatives and this can generate confusion and noise when those who conduct surveys opt for asking people whether they consider themselves as politically “liberal” or “conservative”, as this has little to do with these parties today. Thus, it is not often you will find surveys that investigate this type of affiliation.</p> <p>Another indicator which could give an indication regarding the intensification of polarisation in Colombia is the growth in antipathy towards the contenders, or in other words, the measure in which unfavourable opinions have grown towards others from the other side of the political spectrum. </p><p>Although I am unaware of any attempt to measure this indicator through surveys, I believe the dynamics of the Colombian political conversation would suggest that it is in this arena in which political polarisation is most evident.&nbsp;</p> <p>Dangerously enough, mentions of the political contenders also refer to the dynamics of the armed conflict of Colombia: on one hand, the right is classified as the “paramilitaries” and on the other, the left is classified as the “guerrilla”. For the right, the centre is tepid and indecisive, and for the left, it is seen as a closeted right-wing movement.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The right is classified as the “paramilitaries” and the left is classified as the “guerrilla”. For the right, the centre is tepid and indecisive, and for the left, it is seen as a closeted right-wing movement.&nbsp;</p> <p>In such a political context, it is hardly difficult to explain the problems the centre candidates (Sergio Fajardo and Humberto de la Calle) have been having in constructing and spreading a concrete and consistent message, and in consolidating themselves as the favourites in the current electoral race.</p> <p>While there is another part of this conversation that is far from the previously described extreme postures, the impression I have is that this tends to become suffocated among the shouts and the accusations from one side and another.</p><p> In other words, the debate that takes place between politicians, analysts and even citizens active on social networks tends to oscillate easily between the extremes. For these very reasons, the spectrum of discussion of the political centre is probably where political polarisation is most felt. </p> <p>We must also ask ourselves if it is the individuals (politicians and their supporters) of the extremes that make a bigger effort for their voices to be heard. In the same vein, we must also ask ourselves if the centre is not smaller or less powerful, but simply less vocal. </p><p>Once again, there is little information regarding this issue but a quick look at behaviour on social networking platforms in Colombia would corroborate this thesis that the sensation of a polarised discussion has increased, even though the final electoral results may indicate something entirely different.</p> <p>It would also be interesting to observe in what measure these so called “ideological silos” have grown and become generalised. In other words, in what measure de facto segregation is occurring, that then leads Colombians to isolate themselves in particular spaces where only the same political opinions are shared. </p><p>This indicator attempts to measure partially that we are tolerant to the opinions of others depending on the level with which we chose to surround ourselves with those who think the differently. </p><p>Inasmuch as there are not yet clusters of coherent and broad issues beyond the two ends of the political spectrum, it is possible that these ideological silos have not yet been consolidated in Colombia with the same strength that they have been in the US.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">It is possible that these ideological silos have not yet been consolidated in Colombia with the same strength that they have been in the US.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Possible explanations</h2> <p>Thus, if we suppose that in spite of the shortage of data regarding political attitudes we can trust intuition that results from following political debate and affirms we find ourselves before an atypical and polarised campaign, the obvious question would be: What has provoked this change? Why do find ourselves in such a scenario today?&nbsp;</p> <p>I will take the risk of elaborating various hypotheses for such discussion, two of which are intimately connected to the recent peace process that culminated in the end of the armed conflict between the FARC and the Colombian state.</p> <p>The first argument is that the peace process produced a counterintuitive effect: instead of uniting Colombian society around a common objective, it served only to profoundly divide in an almost irreconcilable way. </p><p>The most eloquent manifestation of this division is the result of the 2017 referendum that asked Colombians after the Havana negotiations had ended if they supported the final agreement to terminate the conflict and construct a firm and lasting peace. The turnout was 37.43%, and 49.78% voted yes while 50.21% voted no.</p> <p>In effect, since 2012 (year in which the negotiations began) and until today, the political discussion has been monopolised by this topic and by the divisions that it generates. Even the candidates for the current presidential elections can be differentiated mostly by their level of support or their questioning of the peace agreements.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Since 2012 and until today, the political discussion has been monopolised by the peace process and by the divisions that it generates.&nbsp;</p> <p>My second argument suggests that we may be confusing polarisation with a phenomenon that appears similar but is also very different. I suggest that the end of the war with the FARC, a revolutionary Marxist guerrilla, opened up the political space for the left that had been politically locked away in the past and has now increased the political ideological spectrum within which Colombian electoral politics functions. </p> <p>One of the strategies of the traditional political classes to marginalise and crush social movements and the left was to systematically suggest that they had links to the armed guerrilla movements. </p><p>This did not just put the left at constant risk whilst forcing them to quietly militate, but it also delegitimised it before the Colombian public. This facilitated Colombian electoral politics as a centre and right-wing domain, in which electoral competency was restricted and deep-rooted differences were seldom exposed.</p> <p>The current electoral race broke up the centre-right consensus that dominated the country with one swift blow and has ranked left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro as the second favourite in most surveys up until this point. The left, in a short space of time, went from the minority to the mainstream. &nbsp;</p><p>This has implied a transformation of the political debate and has forced the traditional political classes to deal with new issues with substantial dissent. To put it in other words, the discourse nowadays is more diverse, the ideological continuum has been increased and it has incorporated positions that had been less visible in past electoral campaigns. </p><p>The reaction of the traditional politicians before such a change, whilst they adapt, may be more visceral and less proactive (after all, they do not underestimate the “threat” that the left can win) and this could be the cause of a more belligerent and at times violent political discussion.</p> <p>Political positions therefore appear more distanced from one another but that may be a result of the diversification and pluralisation of the Colombian political system. If this is the case, this can only be good news and what Colombians today understand as polarisation could be a mere mirage.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is more like we are before a process of consolidation and strengthening of our democracy, a perfectly predictable effect upon ending an armed conflict.&nbsp;</p> <p>To finish, two additional factors must be considered: to start with, in Colombia, the social agenda is increasingly merging with the political agenda. Issues such as LGBTI rights, women’s rights (such as abortion), drug consumption etc., tend to be discussed more. </p><p>When faced with such a scenario, the conservative consensus that surrounds these issues has begun to break down. It is possible in this context that these issues are settling in clusters alongside political issues, thus feeding into future polarisation. </p><p>Here, intermediate or moderated political perspectives are difficult to design, going against the centre and reducing its strength.&nbsp;</p> <p>Secondly, social networks are not the cause of political polarisation, but they certainly facilitate it. And in Colombia, this condition is accentuated because media outlets that seek to balance social networks and contribute to civilised and fair political debate are scarce. </p><p>On occasions, the low level of credibility of national media outlets has led them to reproduce the battles fought on social networks to increase their ratings.&nbsp;</p> <p>If we add to all this the fact that extreme political discourse is easier to present than that of the centre, and that it provokes emotions that electorally influence people, we have been led into a context in which political conversation fails to abide by the basic rules of courtesy. </p><p>The big question is whether the undesirable conditions of the Colombian electoral discussion equate to an unusual strengthening of polarisation and of how substantive differences that are drowning out moderate and pragmatic voices are managed. </p><p>The question remains unanswered to this day because the clues as to why are only as numerous as the incomplete information at our disposal. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>___________&nbsp;</p> <p>[1] According to Law 130 of 1994, groups of citizens can apply to run in the presidential elections if they can receive signatures equivalent to at least 20% of the result of dividing the electoral potential by the number of seats of the respective constituency. In no case will more than 50,000 signatures be demanded. In 2005, this threshold was modified in the light of the presidential elections and a minimum number of signatures equivalent to 3% of the total of all valid votes cast from the previous election was put in place.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/omar-rinc-n/generation-narcissist-outraged-and-disappointed-with-democracy">Generation narcissist in Colombia: outraged and disappointed with democracy </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/jer-nimo-r-os-sierra/colombian-legislative-elections-and-looking-towards-president">Colombian legislative elections and the presidential race</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jose-manuel-barreto/colombia%E2%80%99s-elections-corruption-or-legality">Colombia&#039;s elections: corruption or legality?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Colombia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Colombia Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Elecciones 2018 Sandra Borda Mon, 21 May 2018 13:13:31 +0000 Sandra Borda 117973 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Zionism: the history of a contested word https://www.opendemocracy.net/jonathan-shamir/zionism-history-of-contested-word <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>These polarising terms should be shelved, and taken out only when we are discussing political philosophy, which most of the time, we are not.<strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"></span></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Birnbaum_Nathan.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Birnbaum_Nathan.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nathan Birbaum,(1864 - 1937) Austrian writer, Jewish thinker and nationalist. Wikicommons/ Zionist Archive. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>‘Objectivity has ceased to be a goal not only of popular writing on the subject but also of scholarship, and the line between intellectual engagement and political activism hardly exists today’ </em></p> <p><em>– Michael Stanislawski, Zionism: A Very Short Introduction, p.1 </em></p> <p>Written in German in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Theodor Herzl’s <em>Der Judenstaat</em> (The Jewish State) (1896) is widely considered Zionism’s founding document. It was in the same country, six years earlier, that the term was coined by Nathan Birnbaum, the founder of the first Jewish student association in Vienna, <em>Kadimah</em>. </p> <p>The philosophy was barely fledged before it evoked an impassioned backlash from the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform, where Reform Judaism was essentially founded, and the anti-Zionist Bundists in Russia, who, along with many other Jews, believed Zionism jeopardised the prospects of integration into their host nations. </p> <p>This controversy has not ceased since. Jewish anti-Zionism has a diverse history, ranging from Satmar Hasidim, who perceived secular Zionism as an abomination and a forced pre-emption of redemption before God’s will, to many Iraqi Jews, who understood growing resentment in their own country as a response to Zionism. But anti-Zionism is not simply confined to Jewish infighting – it is now a staple of leftist thinking and movements. <span class="mag-quote-center">But anti-Zionism is not simply confined to Jewish infighting – it is now a staple of leftist thinking and movements.</span></p> <p>Anti-Zionism is a negative ideology, and is therefore contingent on the definition of its positive counterpart. The word Zionism, however, is so ambiguous and varied in its meaning and so imbued with emotion, so firmly tied to identity, that invoking it stifles any productive conversation.&nbsp;</p> <p>Could you expect a Holocaust survivor who found succour in Israel to disavow Zionism entirely? Could you expect a Palestinian expelled from their home and prevented from ever entering it again to be anything but an anti-Zionist? </p> <p>To move forward, we need to abandon these terms when it comes to discussing Israel-Palestine.</p> <h2><strong>Ideology in flux</strong></h2> <p>Zionism consists of many heterogeneous variants and has changed so dramatically over time that what was once considered Zionism is now considered anti-Zionism. </p> <p>In the early nineteenth century, the dominant strand of Zionism was Labour Zionism, which sought the redemption of the Jewish people through a renewed connection with the land and the subsequent creation of a socialist haven. At the time, secular bi-nationalism was an acceptable and even mainstream Zionist belief, and there were even several visions for the realisation of this model, spanning from a joint Jewish-Arab commonwealth, to the division of Mandate Palestine into cantons. Mapam, who were the second biggest Zionist party before 1948, believed in a binational solution. <span class="mag-quote-center">Mapam, who were the second biggest Zionist party before 1948, believed in a binational solution. </span></p> <p>Yet today, one of the main proponents of this model, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), are, by their own definition and that of Israel, perhaps the most prominent anti-Zionist organisation around. &nbsp;The State of Israel considers their goals and intentions so utterly anathema that they have a blacklist of groups who are active with BDS and their members are banned from entering the country.</p> <p>For some, Zionism means the right to Jewish self-determination, a national liberation movement, but for others, it conjures violent dispossession and continued policies of occupation and colonisation. It is, of course, both, born out of a unique set of historical circumstances. </p> <p>Yet there are also several positions in between, with no paucity of subscribers. On one side, you have liberal Zionism, which some take to be a paradox, and others consider a marriage of pro-Palestinian activism to their vision of a more just Jewish Israel. On the other extreme, you have a religious Zionism and neo-Zionism that uses Judaism to justify uncompromising expansionist nationalism. Like most philosophies, there was and is a war (in many cases, literally) for its definition.</p> <p>J Street, an American liberal Zionist organisation, who ‘believe that the Jewish people have the right to a national home of their own’, were at the forefront of the (failed) battle to stop the demolition of Susya, a Palestinian village in Area C, gathering over 12,000 signatures. It was up against a government and the settler movement it supports, who are rigorous adherents to Neo-Zionism, which considers itself the true heir to the pioneering spirit that underpinned the foundation of the State of Israel in the first place. This was just one of many examples of two groups fighting completely opposing causes in the name of Zionism. <span class="mag-quote-center">This was just one of many examples of two groups fighting completely opposing causes in the name of Zionism.</span></p> <p>Though Zionism is often qualified with an appended adjective, it seems be changing as a catch-all term too. A joint 2015 <a href="http://yachad.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/British-Jewish-Attitudes-Towards-Israel-Yachad-Ipsos-Mori-Nov-2015.pdf">Yachad-Ipsos Mori</a> survey found that while 90% of Jews in the UK believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, just 59% would identify themselves as Zionists, down from 72% in 2010. In the past, these two items would have been synonymous. The survey goes on to observe that ‘people who are critical of Israel’s current policies should not describe themselves as Zionists even if they are fully supportive of Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state’ and that ‘this apparently rapid change in the use of the term merits further examination.’ It is no longer clear in the Jewish community whether the term Zionism means support for Israel’s government, or simply a belief in its right to exist; the anxieties surrounding this definition seem to have encouraged many to drop this association altogether. </p> <p>But with the settlement enterprise ineluctably entrenched in the Palestinian OPT, and Israel shifting further to the right, can a voice of diaspora protest, alongside near indifference within Israel itself, claim to act as a representative voice for their hijacked Zionism? In other words, has the battle for the soul of Zionism already ended? <strong></strong></p> <h2><strong>To what extent can you disentangle an ideology from its practical realisation?</strong></h2> <p>Many claim that the bona fide resurgence of anti-Semitism, notably in France, where <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/28/world/europe/mireille-knoll-murder-holocaust.html">a Holocaust survivor was brutally murdered just last month</a> and from&nbsp;where there has been a mass exodus of Jews, Zionism, in the form of a national home and haven for the Jewish people, is as relevant as ever. </p> <p>Yet in the fiftieth year of its short seventy-year history, the occupation, which has surely been a turning point in public opinion on Israel (and therefore Zionism), cannot be interpreted as a temporary malaise, but a fundamental feature of Israel as a state, bound up in all the human rights abuses this includes.</p> <p>The separation of ideology and its political manifestation seems practicable for many proponents of communism, who detach ideology from the atrocities of its realisation which have transpired on almost every occasion. The brutality of Stalin and Mao, it is claimed, are a perversion of this vision. Can Zionism attempt to redeem itself through abstraction?</p> <p>Certainly, liberal Zionists believe it can. Israel’s Declaration of Independence espoused certain values of&nbsp;‘complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex’ and ‘guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture’. The modern state of Israel, according to them, is a deviation from this founding vision, and it must be saved – for the sake of both Israelis and Palestinians.</p> <p>But if Zionism derives much of its validity from the historical circumstances of Jewish persecution, and the language employed by its proponents is not only one of ‘rights’, but ‘needs’, then it seems wilfully selective to de-historicise Zionism. Reification, however, renders Zionism untenable by introducing the indigenous Palestinian population into the equation. As Ari Shavit argued in his best-selling book <em>My Promised Land</em> when discussing the expulsion of Palestinians from the town of Lydda, the action and legacy of expulsion is something that <em>every</em> Zionist must reckon with – it is inextricable from the ideology that produced it. <span class="mag-quote-center">As Ari Shavit argued… the action and legacy of expulsion is something that <em>every</em> Zionist must reckon with – it is inextricable from the ideology that produced it.</span></p> <p>There is a glaring blind spot to the Zionist invocation of ‘need’ when it comes to the right of return: the Palestinian population who were expelled in 1948 and their descendants often would’ve benefited from such succour. </p> <p>In Syria, where the Palestinian population numbers at around half a million, most Palestinians have been caught up in the bloody civil war. Chris Gunness, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), claimed that 95% of the 438,000 Palestinians are in ‘critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance’. The humanitarian ‘need’ in this situation pales in comparison to the brutal shelling of Yarmouk by regime forces. Today, just hundreds of Palestinians remain in what was one of the biggest diaspora communities of Palestinians in the world.</p> <p>Just before and during the Gulf War, 400,000 Palestinians fled Kuwait for several reasons, all of which were rooted in this existential category of ‘need’. Even in times of peace, the situations of Palestinians – denied citizenship and therefore basic amenities, living in refugee camps, and often subject to political (and frequently racialised) violence – highlights the inherent contradiction of managing a state on ethnic lines: can you have a Jewish and democratic state, which, as part of its national logic, denies the right of return to the indigenous population, but extends the right of return to Jews who often aren’t in need? </p> <p>That doesn’t mean that they never will be, and sometimes they certainly are, but these contradictions at the heart of Zionism must be unpacked. It certainly seems unreasonable to abstract Zionism in order to avoid confronting such questions. </p> <h2><strong>Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism</strong></h2> <p>This discussion has implications for ongoing debates today. The flaring (and ostensibly contradictory) arguments that ‘anti-Zionism constitutes anti-Semitism’ or that ‘anti-Zionism is being deliberately conflated with anti-Semitism to stifle criticism of Israel’ are both true and absurd in equal measure; they required more precise terminology to test their validity.</p> <p>If we cannot grant Zionism a distinction from its practical manifestation, then anti-Zionism must be subjected to the same scrutiny. Efraim Perlmutter’s <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/efraim-perlmutter/israeli-zionist-response-to-mary-davis-and-jonathan-rosenhead">openDemocracy article</a> argued that article 20 of the PLO charter is anti-Semitic:</p> <p><em>‘The Balfour Declaration,&nbsp;the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.’</em></p> <p>Do the cultural and religious ties of Jewish people give them a right to the land? No, but that doesn’t excuse a denial of the existence of those ties and their importance to Jewish identity. Indeed, Israel was the homeland of the Jewish people at several intervals in history. The exclusive negation of national rights for Jews <em>is</em> anti-Semitic, especially in a world where nation states still construct and legitimate our identity and that such a state already exists. </p><p>The exclusive negation of national rights for Jews is often construed as anti-Semitic – and it certainly <em>can </em>be – especially in a world where nation states still construct and legitimate our identity and where such a state already exists, and where Israel itself is often singled out for interrogation of its legitimacy. Yet this position ignores the historical contingency of national rights; it presupposes that all national rights were allocated justly, and did not simply emerge from circumstance. It just so happens that Jewish national aspirations today are built on the ruins of another people, and the absence of a resolution to this conflict, at least partially, explains such negation. </p> <p>However, what Perlmutter failed to mention was that this article, along with many others which were deemed inconsistent with the principles of Oslo Accords, was repealed in 1998. Indeed, the Oslo Accords have established a framework by which the right of Jewish national self-determination does not inherently contradict the same right for Palestinians. ( This doesn’t mean that the PLO are immune from anti-Semitism; we just need to look as far as earlier this month to <a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-condemns-anti-semitism-after-uproar-over-speech/">Abbas’s comments</a> apportioning blame for the Holocaust to the ‘social function’ of Jews.) In fact, a two-state solution, which accommodates the national rights of both Israelis and Palestinians separately, remains the preference of both parties in uniquely adverse conditions.</p> <p>Hamas, who are the predominant self-proclaimed anti-Zionist actor within Palestine, still call for the destruction of the State of Israel. Although they too have altered their charter, their foundational charter, which calls for the killing of Jews based on a fundamentalist understanding of religion in article 7, and refers to one of the most infamous anti-Semitic forgeries, <em>The Protocols of the Elders of Zion</em>,<em> </em>in article 32, goes beyond anything conjured up by the PLO. It is dubious to what extent their new charter, which does not nullify their 1988 charter, changes the substance of this violent anti-Semitism, and it has yet to recognise Israel as a legitimate entity. </p> <p>Returning to the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Perlmutter is right to identify that ‘the real problem is that anti-Semitism has become an integral part of Palestinian and Arab nationalism. Therefore the real question becomes how does one support the Palestinian cause without being infected with Palestinian anti-Semitism.’</p> <p>In fact, this problem runs deeper than Palestinian nationalism. Although Zionism certainly exacerbated anti-Semitism in the Middle East, it predates the establishment of the State of Israel, and was also abetted and enforced by colonial politics and culture. The infamous relationship between the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Nazism is a fertile example of this combination in play: his alliance with the Nazis was a statement against the interference of Britain and France in the region, as well as the role of Israel, as was the case in Iraq, but this did not inoculate him from anti-Semitism. </p> <p>In the Middle East, anti-Semitism is commonplace, and this also has ramifications in the UK. A poll conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) in September 2017 found that Muslims disproportionately held anti-Semitic attitudes, though it made a concerted and careful distinction between holding an anti-Semitic belief and <em>being </em>anti-Semitic. The poll found that 55% of Muslims held anti-Semitic attitudes, as opposed to 30% of the general population, while 27% of the Muslims surveyed believed that “Jews get rich at the expense of others”, compared with the national average of 12%. &nbsp;</p> <p>The centrality of anti-imperialism to leftist discourses and movements today, especially those tied to identity politics, can generate such ludicrous claims from people as intelligent as Judith Butler that ‘Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive […] are part of a global Left’. The anti-Semitism of these groups is therefore downplayed or ignored, and they (and their anti-Semitic, homophobic, and sexist beliefs and violent actions) are given credence and legitimacy in progressive circles. If anti-Semitism is a part of pro-Palestinian movements (in the same way that Islamophobia is also associated with certain forms of Zionism), that doesn’t prohibit involvement with these movements; it simply means there must be a robust and assiduous effort to distinguish support for Palestinian rights from many of their representatives. </p> <p>Somewhat differently, anti-Zionism can provide a convenient excuse and space to express anti-Semitism. While the line between the two beliefs can be abundantly clear, Israel today is often incorporated into an older and deeper scourge of anti-Semitism. The 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, which marked a notable shift in the stigmatisation of Zionism, was notoriously rife with unequivocal classical anti-Semitic literature, such as people handing out <em>The Protocols of the Elders of Zion </em>and leaflets of Hitler, entitled ‘What if I had won?’ Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that ‘there was horrible antisemitism present – particularly in some of the NGO discussions. A number of people said they’ve never been so hurt or so harassed or been so blatantly faced with an antisemitism.’ </p> <p>Yet the claim that anti-Zionism is being conflated with anti-Semitism is also true. Despite the self-evident connection which many Jews have to Israel, its government has deliberately attempted to conflate Jews with Israel, calling for migration to their true home whenever a crisis strikes. As such, after the synagogue shooting in Copenhagen in 2015, Netanyahu proclaimed that ‘Israel is the home of every Jew&nbsp;... Israel awaits you with open arms’. There are consequently incredibly close ties between organisations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Israeli Foreign Ministry (MFA) <em>because</em> anti-Semitism legitimates the State of Israel. <span class="mag-quote-center">Israel’s government has deliberately attempted to conflate Jews with Israel, calling for migration to their true home whenever a crisis strikes.</span></p> <p>Indeed, the MFA, alongside the covert Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the only ministry which you incidentally cannot find further information about via the Israeli government website, has made a concerted financial, strategic and even legal effort, under the conceptual framework of ‘new anti-Semitism’, to attack BDS as anti-Semitic. Events such as the Global Forum for Combatting Antisemitism<strong> </strong>seem to be more about challenging BDS than anything else. </p> <p>This is not to say that the BDS Movement, the main non-violent embodiment of anti-Zionism, is devoid of problems: it has not been firm enough in opposing anti-Semitism within its ranks, and in fact, has often indulged in grotesque anti-Semitism. Just look at the <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-when-progressives-defend-nazi-salutes-and-hezbollah-flags-1.5465380">violent anti-Semitism</a> of the BDS Movement at the University of Witwatersrand. The movement is also deliberately vague about its aims. Some of the staunchest defenders of Palestinian rights, such as Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky, have therefore criticised the movement for demanding the right of return, which would mean an end to the Jewish character of the State of Israel. </p> <p>However, it is the biggest non-violent movement in support of Palestinian rights, and to deny it breathing space is therefore to invalidate Palestinian non-violence. If Palestinians have a right to protest (which they clearly do) and if violence should rightfully be condemned, then there at least should be an engagement with BDS as a movement. </p> <p>In previous debates on the subject on openDemocacy, Mary Davis was right to <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/mary-davis/reply-to-jonathan-rosenhead-is-zionist-rude-word">identify that certain types of boycotts fail to distinguish between civil society and the government</a> and therefore constitute a sort of collective punishment. The Israeli government is taking bolder steps to blur the boundaries between Israel and the West Bank, ignoring EU recommendations to distinguish settlement goods from those produced in the main body of Israel. </p> <p>More significantly, a new law recently bypassed the Knesset which required each piece of new legislation to include a clause about implementation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, an abandonment of any pretence that the occupation is temporary. </p> <p>Netanyahu is spearheading a campaign to make a distinction between Israel-proper and the OPT, and therefore a distinction between complicity and non-complicity, increasingly difficult. He is polarising the debate further by making it impossible for those who support targeted boycotts of settlement goods or companies directly involved in the occupation.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Conclusion</strong></h2> <p>A broad church of competing movements which have changed over time, all of which are construed and misconstrued many times over, a unique set of historical circumstances in which liberation w<em>as </em>colonisation, and the weaponisation of Zionism/anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism for diverging political interests means it is almost impossible to conduct a debate on these terms.</p> <p>An Israeli professor told me that he was gently encouraged by Palestinian groups to preface his contributions to public discussions by identifying himself as an ‘anti-Zionist’, almost as a prerequisite to be given a platform, while, in an attempted overture to the Jewish community amidst Corbyn’s refusal to celebrate the Balfour Centenary, the Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told the Jewish community that Jeremy is a ‘Zionist’. </p> <p>These badges are ultimately meaningless, and often hinder discussion about methods and solidarity between those attempting to address the most critical situations in the conflict: the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the occupation of and settlement on the West Bank.</p> <p>For so many, identification as a Zionist is a red line: the person in question is immediately considered racist. Yet so many of these so-called Zionists are at the forefront of the fight for justice for Palestinians. Similarly, anti-Zionism is also loaded with nasty connotations of anti-Semitism. These polarising terms should therefore be shelved, and taken out only when we are discussing political philosophy, which most of the time, we are not. It is too charged, and too ambiguous, to lead to any productive dialogue.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mary-davis/reply-to-jonathan-rosenhead-is-zionist-rude-word">Reply to Jonathan Rosenhead: ‘Is Zionist a rude word?’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/efraim-perlmutter/israeli-zionist-response-to-mary-davis-and-jonathan-rosenhead">One Israeli Zionist response to Mary Davis and Jonathan Rosenhead</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/gilbert-achcar/zionism-anti-semitism-and-balfour-declaration">Zionism, anti-semitism, and the Balfour Declaration</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia uk EU United States Israel Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Middle East Jonathan Shamir Mon, 21 May 2018 08:18:44 +0000 Jonathan Shamir 117969 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Heritage peacebuilding in Iraq https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/mehiyar-kathem/heritage-peacebuilding-in-iraq <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After years of funding being pumped to Iraq’s NGO sector based on US military needs, local civil society is rebuilding itself based on Iraqi priorities, not least of which is heritage.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-29525850.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-29525850.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The ruins of the ancient city of Babylon in Iraq. Picture by Noe Falk Nielsen/NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>What Iraq is experiencing today is perhaps unprecedented in its recent history. An active, vibrant civil society, and an increasingly concerned citizenry are attempting to reclaim Iraq’s history from the long-term effects of dictatorship, occupation and sectarian politics that have characterised Iraq’s recent past. Iraq’s rich heritage has been one of the least researched areas that has undergone significant transformation since 2003. After the recent defeat of the Islamic State, the next stage for Iraq is to rebuild what has either been badly damaged or destroyed. From 2003 till today, Iraq’s national heritage has been neglected, causing major damage to this world-renowned heritage. Iraq now stands at an important crossroads. Focusing on rebuilding efforts and on heritage peace-building, providing support to domestic organisations, heritage practitioners and universities to rebuild their cultural institutions, could be one of the surest ways to help Iraq’s war to peace transition.&nbsp;</p> <p>Heritage peace-building can simply be defined as international and domestic interventions to create and support the foundations for Iraq’s national reconciliation, founded on its culturally rich past. In Iraq, and as the people of Iraq understand it, heritage is not merely the protection of tangible property but its embeddedness in new notions of Iraqi identity and being that are currently being negotiated by a large swathe of society. The international community should be cognizant of these social transformations currently taking place in the country, positioning its efforts to sustainably support the country’s local efforts to rebuild its heritage and country.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Iraq’s national heritage has been deliberately subdued as it was considered to act as a counterforce to ethno-nationalist politics</p> <p>From the founding of the Iraqi state and up to 2003, Iraq’s pre-Islamic heritage has been one of the defining characteristics of its national identity. With the creation of a sectarian political system after 2003, Iraq’s national heritage has been deliberately subdued as it was considered to act as a counterforce to ethno-nationalist politics and the concomitant growth of sectarian forms of heritage, namely revolving around mosques but also many other religious sites. A source for a common bond and identity for all Iraqis, national heritage can play a central role in reconciliation between Iraq’s many cultural groups. Instead, over the past few years what we have seen is its neglect and the growth of sectional identities that have increasingly polarised Iraqi society and created major social tensions. Heritage peace-building, based on Iraq’s rich cultural history, could be a central way to mend relations and build necessary inter-community trust.&nbsp;</p> <p>Since 2003 major international funding to Iraq, especially to its domestic NGO sector, have either focused on liberal notions of civil society development and democracy promotion or based on US occupation priorities. After the withdrawal of the US military in 2011, Iraq’s civil society grew weaker, now without much funding, many NGOs collapsed. International funding to Iraq’s domestic NGOs were crafted as contractor and service – delivery organisations. Sustainability was short-sighted in most of these funding streams, as their objectives were tied to external donor priorities. One important insight and pattern in these funding streams was that they dismissed actually existing civil society and worked instead on creating new things that mimicked or reflected donors own notions of what Iraq should look like. Their long-term effects whilst having offered funding and training to Iraqi NGO leaders have largely been unsustainable. Heritage peace-building, for it to be effective, has to learn the painful and hard lessons of civil society peace-building of the past few years.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, many years since the NGO bonanza of the US surge of 2006 and 2007 and other funding streams that pumped hundreds of millions to Iraq’s NGO sector, civil society is rebuilding itself based on Iraqi priorities, not least of which is heritage. Across Iraq today, youth and heritage groups are being established as a form of local civil society development. From Mosul to Basra, civil society heritage organisations, concerned with safeguarding Iraq’s tangible and intangible heritage, arguably Iraq’s most important asset, are being established as a way to connect not only with their history but with their existing social environment. Heritage organisations, in this sense, are civil society organisations concerned with the country’s transition based on existing forms of culture.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>One important, flagship initiative in this regard is the work of Iraqi artist Rashad Selim, who through his Safina Projects organisation, is attempting to revive Iraq’s ancient maritime and textiles heritage, building through his crafts, arts and recreations of such things as the Ark of Noah and disappeared Iraqi boats as a product of Iraqi culture. Such projects do more for the present than the past as they focus on continuity rather than merely protection and safeguarding.&nbsp;</p> <p>International heritage peace-building efforts, based on reviving Iraq’s rich cultural past, should be at the forefront of rebuilding the country. At the forefront of these efforts has been UNESCO in Iraq, which successfully negotiated with the UAE Government a $50m rebuilding of the destroyed al Nuri mosque complex in Mosul. Such efforts not only create hope and necessary jobs for Iraq’s heritage sector but act as cultural bridges between Iraq and its neighbours.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Sustainable forms of heritage peace-building start at a local level</p> <p>Saudi Arabia’s initiative to build one of the world’s largest stadiums in Iraq, with design themes based on Babylon, is another example of cultural diplomacy and heritage peace-building. Such efforts will have a lasting impact on Iraq’s relationship with its neighbours and help pave the way in building closer economic and political ties. The UK is also leading in heritage peace-building. The Nahrein Network, a government funded University College London based project, is working to create greater local intellectual ownership of cultural heritage through support to Iraqi universities and researchers. The four-year project supports Iraq’s researchers and NGOs working to build research capacity with a view on the sustainable development of cultural heritage in the country&nbsp; through a grants and scholarships scheme. Working with Iraqi researchers and cultural institutions the Nahrein Network is the first project of its kind to support Iraqis in their negotiation of the local discourse on heritage at a critical moment in the country’s development and transition.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sustainable forms of heritage peace-building start at a local level. In contrast to substantial funding to Iraq’s NGO sector to work on things related to democracy promotion or US security concerns, little has been expended to support heritage and cultural organisations in Iraq. Today, many cultural groups are being established, in the absence of foreign support, to rebuild Iraq. One such organisation is a youth oriented cultural group called Elu, which recently organised a celebration of Iraqi culture and history in partnership with the Ministry of Culture in the Abbasid Palace, in central Baghdad.&nbsp;</p> <p>Such organisations, if provided sufficient domestic and international support, including from Iraq’s private sector, could be the bedrock of a new Iraq. Sustainability here lies not only in terms of funding and such things as outputs, but on attempts to reshape Iraq’s discourse on heritage as pertaining to historical continuity, however negotiated, and the production of life in its various cultural manifestations. In this spirit, Iraq’s cultural and heritage organisations are working on defining heritage not only as the ‘thing to be protected’ but are actively negotiating their own history as a source of life’s continuity. It is through culture that Iraqis attempt to define themselves and those around them, and it is a central way people connect to their living environment. Indeed, heritage in this sense should be considered as the cultural and aspirational embodiment of life.&nbsp;</p> <p>International heritage peace-building initiatives could possibly include supporting the Iraqi government to establish a cultural fund, to protect, safeguard and potentially make its increasingly dilapidated and badly maintained cultural sites available for the public. As of yet, efforts to support Iraq’s heritage are piecemeal, disparate and not of the scale commensurate with the needs that Iraq requires. With international support, perhaps from UNESCO and international donors, guided by Iraqi expertise, a cultural fund open to applications for the rehabilitation of cultural sites and support to heritage could be a major source of support for Iraq’s newly emerging cultural and heritage groups working on rebuilding cultural institutions.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Rebuilding Iraq will necessarily require the rehabilitation of Iraq’s cultural sites</p> <p>The fund could be comprised of assistance to tangible and intangible cultural heritage and work to build a critical mass of activity to positively influence institutions of the Iraqi state.&nbsp;&nbsp;Working with civil society to influence notions of cultural heritage sustainability in the state is one important way to affect long-term change in safeguarding Iraq’s important cultural heritage. Such efforts can positively contribute to ensuring that cultural heritage sustainability becomes a key part of the very fabric of the Iraqi state. A cultural fund could be managed by both Iraqi and non-Iraqi experts, making use of a shared funding pool, to reinvigorate Iraqi heritage and the common ties shared by all Iraqis.&nbsp;</p> <p>With elections approaching in May 2018, any future government should seriously consider establishing such a cultural programme as government institutions alone today cannot manage the scale of destruction wrought on Iraqi heritage over the past three decades.</p> <p>Rebuilding Iraq will necessarily require the rehabilitation of Iraq’s cultural sites and mending the immense damage war and conflict has done to Iraq’s immaterial culture life. Positioning international resources in this regard, supporting local heritage activities, particularly those spearheaded by Iraqi civil society and Iraq’s increasingly active universities, will be one effective and sustainable way support can be delivered to the country. Supporting Iraq’s heritage rehabilitation will go a long way in building an Iraq based on its rich cultural history and an increasingly active civil society attempting to overcome the legacies of isolation and conflict of the recent past.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/darius-kamali/iraq-and-syria-of-memory-and-maps">Iraq and Syria: of memory and maps</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anoush-ehteshami-amjed-rasheed-juline-beaujouan/crisis-of-state-in-arab-regio">The crisis of the state in the Arab region and the rise of the Islamic State</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/shatha-al-juburi/how-2003-us-led-invasion-changed-iraq-forever">How the 2003 US-led invasion changed Iraq forever</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mieczys-aw-p-boduszy-ski-christopher-k-lamont/challenges-of-building-shared-i">The challenges of building a shared Iraqi identity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rijin-sahakian/what-we-are-fighting-for">What we are fighting for</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iraq Civil society Conflict Culture heritage peace war Mehiyar Kathem Fri, 18 May 2018 11:09:31 +0000 Mehiyar Kathem 117916 at https://www.opendemocracy.net En Paraguay, los pueblos indígenas tienen los ojos puestos en el Congreso https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/laurence-blair/en-paraguay-los-pueblos-ind-genas-tienen-los-ojos-puestos-en-el-con <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Paraguay está saltándose el derecho nacional e internacional - y anda rezagado en relación a sus vecinos- al no garantizar representación política a los descendientes de su población precolombina. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/laurence-blair/paraguay-s-indigenous-peoples-set-their-sights-on-congress">English</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/MIP.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/MIP.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gerónimo Alaya durante su campaña electoral. Fuente: Facebook (Movimiento Indígena Plurinacional). Dominio Publico.</span></span></span></p><p>El 22 de abril, Mario Abdo Benítez, conocido como Marito, del conservador Partido Colorado (que ha gobernado el país durante 66 de los últimos 70 años), ganó las elecciones presidenciales en Paraguay por un estrecho margen. </p><p>Es hijo del que fuera secretario privado del dictador Alfredo Stroessner y cofundador (junto con el nieto del dictador) del Movimiento Paz y Progreso. Según él, Stroessner hizo mucho por el país, aunque dice que no comparte su historial en materia de derechos humanos.</p> <p>En vísperas de las elecciones de este mes de abril, la plaza frente al Congreso en Asunción estaba ocupada por chabolas hechas de tablas de madera y lonas alquitranadas. Sus ocupantes, varias docenas de familias indígenas Ava Guaraní que habían huido de sus hogares en Itakyry, al este del país, por la presencia de hombres armados a sueldo, según ellos, de agricultores de soja brasileños.</p> <p>"En estos momentos, no nos fiamos de nada ni de nadie&nbsp;», decía Hugo Ramírez, uno de ellos, mientras los niños de la comunidad jugaban en el suelo allí cerca. "El gobierno y los principales candidatos son todos corruptos".&nbsp;</p> <p>Los conquistadores españoles navegaron río arriba a hasta este país sin salida al mar hace 500 años y se establecieron en él usando la violencia contra los moradores y también a través de matrimonios mixtos. </p><p>Hoy, aproximadamente ocho de cada diez de los siete millones de habitantes de Paraguay hablan guaraní - para muchos, es su primer idioma y en conversación suelen mezclar alegremente sus vocales cambiantes con el español.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">En Paraguay se da una violación del derecho nacional e internacional - y un retraso en relación a sus países vecinos - al no garantizarse la representación política de los descendientes de su población precolombina.</p> <p>Pero esta acusada herencia mestiza no se ha traducido en respeto hacia los pueblos indígenas que todavía quedan en Paraguay – a saber: unas 120.000 personas, alrededor del 2% de la población, de 19 etnias distintas. "Viven en un estado precario", afirma Oscar Ayala Amarilla, jefe de la ONG de derechos humanos Codehupy y ex funcionario de asuntos indígenas. </p><p>Casi el 80% viven en la pobreza. Muchos carecen de títulos de propiedad de sus tierras y no tienen acceso a hospitales, escuelas y agua potable. Y la deforestación amenaza con extinguir el modo de vida de las familias ayoreo, en aislamiento voluntario en el Chaco.&nbsp;</p> <p>Oscar Ayala añade que en Paraguay se da una violación del derecho nacional e internacional - y un retraso en relación a sus países vecinos - al no garantizarse la representación política de los descendientes de su población precolombina. </p><p>Países como Bolivia y Colombia han dispuesto que las comunidades indígenas tengan escaños reservados en sus cámaras legislativas para garantizar que se escuche su voz. En Paraguay, sin embargo, "ninguna persona indígena se ha sentado nunca en el Congreso".</p> <p>Gerónimo Ayala tiene 37 años y se propone cambiar todo esto. Pertenece al pueblo Mbyá Guaraní, lidera el Movimiento Plurinacional Indígena de Paraguay (MPIP), de reciente formación, y fue cabeza de lista para el Senado en las elecciones del pasado 22 de abril. "Los pueblos indígenas deben estar dentro de las estructuras políticas", dice. "Esta es la clave, este es el secreto".</p> <p>Activista desde siempre y arquitecto cualificado, su discurso es articulado y a la vez directo. Considera que el MPIP, que presentaba candidatos a nivel nacional y local, tiene que construir alianzas para ejercer presión y que el Estado cumpla y dé a los pueblos indígenas "lo que es de ley".&nbsp;</p> <p>"No nos identificamos con ninguna ideología", decía en campaña. "Lo que necesitamos es trabajar en armonía. Tenemos que lograr obtener el voto de cada senador".&nbsp;</p> <p>El MPIP reúne a 12 pueblos distintos y presentaba candidatos no indígenas en sus listas. Defiende la necesidad de un gasto más transparente en salud y educación y el retorno de las tierras ancestrales. Quiere conseguir endurecer y hacer cumplir las leyes de deforestación, ya que "a medida que avanzan los grandes cultivos, se está perdiendo el pulmón verde de Paraguay".</p> <p>El MPIP aspira también a poner a los paraguayos cara a cara con sus compatriotas desconocidos. "Aquí somos 19 pueblos indígenas distintos, 19 idiomas diferentes. Los Maká, los Aché, los Ayoreo, los Maskoy, los Nivaclé, los Angaités, Sanapanás, Pueblo Qom, Paí ... Pero aquí la gente ni siquiera quiere hablar en guaraní. Prefieren hablar en francés o en inglés. ("No tengo nada en contra del inglés", bromea. "Intenté aprender, pero nunca terminé el curso").</p> <p>Durante la campaña no tenía inconveniente en reconocer que los pueblos indígenas de Paraguay tienen todo el derecho a no darle su apoyo y que algunos vean más beneficioso a cotro plazo alinearse con los partidos tradicionales. </p><p>Por otra parte, Ayala era muy consciente de los riesgos que implicaría de tener un solo senador – que es a lo máximo que aspiraba el MPIP en estas elecciones - en una cámara que es conocida por su disfuncionalidad y corrupción. "Sabemos con quién nos enfrentamos allí", decía.&nbsp;</p> <p>"El gran reto para Ayala será tener que navegar en un sistema político muy complejo sin comprometer sus promesas políticas", aseguraba Claudia Pompa, analista política. "Es algo totalmente inaudito hasta la fecha en Paraguay".&nbsp;</p> <p>"Es por eso que vamos a crear un consejo nacional de pueblos indígenas, para que nos acompañen y nos impidan perder esta visión", prometió Ayala.</p><p> <iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" height="259" width="460" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMPIP.oficial%2Fvideos%2F982626908565658%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560"></iframe></p> <h3><strong>Una lucha cuesta arriba</strong></h3> <p>Esta vez, sin embargo, los esfuerzos de la campaña autofinanciada del MPIP – tuvieron que recaudar fondos organizando barbacoas y no dispusieron de suficientes recursos para contratar ni una sola valla publicitaria - no consiguieron llevarles al Congreso.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">A pesar de las desventajas, Ayala y el MPIP obtuvieron más de 25.000 votos en todo el país, superando a políticos de carrera y asegurándose la mitad de los votos necesarios para obtener un escaño en el Senado.</p> <p>El MPIP, junto con Alianza, la principal coalición opositora, y otras formaciones más pequeñas, denunció irregularidades generalizadas en el recuento de votos. El tribunal electoral de Paraguay respondió que era responsabilidad de los partidos apostar observadores en cada uno de los 21.000 colegios electorales del país para vigilar los intentos de fraude. </p><p>Pero el presidente saliente, Horacio Cartes, vetó en noviembre la propuesta de que las mesas electorales almacenaran las boletas después del recuento en lugar de destruirlas, lo que habría permitido comprobar las acusaciones de fraude.</p> <p>Y sin embargo, a pesar de las desventajas, Ayala y el MPIP obtuvieron más de 25.000 votos en todo el país, superando a políticos de carrera y asegurándose la mitad de los votos necesarios para obtener un escaño en el Senado. </p><p>Sobre esta base, y con más difusión y más tiempo de preparación, el MPIP espera romper el techo electoral en 2023. Según Ayala, el movimiento está ya logrando restaurar la fe en las comunidades indígenas y forzar a que los partidos tradicionales ofrezcan mayor espacio a&nbsp; candidatos indígenas e incluyan medidas políticas específicas en sus programas.&nbsp;</p> <p>Si el movimiento indígena autónomo logra superar los obstáculos para llegar a sentarse en el Congreso, "será un fenómeno que nadie podía haber imaginado", afirma con entusiasmo Ayala.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/sebasti-n-ortega/en-argentina-hay-1500-comunidades-originarias-en-peligro">¿Cuántas comunidades originarias peligran en Argentina?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/beverly-goldberg/las-luchas-por-una-voz-ind-gena-femenina-en-am-rica-latina">Las luchas por una voz indígena femenina en América Latina </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/sisa-pacari-bacacela-g/t-pac-amaru-vive">Túpac Amaru dijo: volveré y seré millones</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Paraguay </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta DemocraciaAbierta Paraguay Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Indigenous People Laurence Blair Wed, 16 May 2018 14:03:11 +0000 Laurence Blair 117875 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Paraguay’s indigenous peoples set their sights on Congress https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/laurence-blair/paraguay-s-indigenous-peoples-set-their-sights-on-congress <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Paraguay is in breach of domestic and international law – and lags behind its neighbours – in guaranteeing that the descendants of its pre-Columbian population have political representation. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/laurence-blair/en-paraguay-los-pueblos-ind-genas-tienen-los-ojos-puestos-en-el-con">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/MIP_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/MIP_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gerónimo Alaya on the campaign trail. Source: Facebook (Movimiento Indígena Plurinacional). Public Domain.</span></span></span></p><p>On April 22, Mario Abdo Benítez, known as Marito, from the Conservative Colorado Party (which has ruled the country 66 out of the last 70 years), won the presidential elections in Paraguay by a narrow margin. </p><p>He is the son of the late dictator Alfredo Stroessner’s private secretary and the co-founder (with the dictator’s grandson) of the Peace and Progress Movement. According to him, Stroessner did much for the country, although he says that he does not defend his human rights record.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Paraguay is in breach of domestic and international law – and lags behind its neighbours – in guaranteeing that the descendants of its pre-Columbian population have political representation.</p> <p>On the eve of the elections this April, the square outside Congress in Asunción was covered with clapboard shacks and tarpaulins. Among them were several dozen indigenous Ava Guaraní families – forced to flee their homes in Itakyry, eastern Paraguay, by gunmen they claim were hired by Brazilian soybean farmers.</p> <p>“Right now we don’t have faith in anything”, said Hugo Ramírez, as the community’s children played in the dirt nearby. “The government, the main candidates are all corrupt.”</p> <p>Conquistadors sailed upriver to this landlocked South American country 500 years ago, establishing themselves among the local peoples through violence and – unusually – intermarriage. Today, roughly eight in ten of Paraguay’s seven million people speak Guaraní, many as their first language, and blend its shifting vowels with Spanish in informal conversation.</p> <p>But this pronounced mestizo heritage has rarely translated into respect for Paraguay’s remaining indigenous peoples – some 120.000 people, or around 2% of the population, spread across 19 distinct ethnicities. </p><p>“They live in a precarious state,” says Oscar Ayala Amarilla, head of human rights NGO Codehupy and a former indigenous affairs official. Almost 80% are in poverty. Many lack title to their land and access to hospitals, schools and drinking water. Deforestation threatens to extinguish the way of life of Ayoreo families in voluntary isolation in the Chaco.</p> <p>Oscar Ayala adds that Paraguay is also in breach of domestic and international law – and lags behind its neighbours – in guaranteeing that the descendants of its pre-Columbian population have political representation. </p><p>Countries like Bolivia and Colombia have created dedicated seats for their indigenous communities to ensure their voices are heard. But in Paraguay, he says, “an indigenous person has never sat in Congress”.</p> <p>Gerónimo Ayala, 37, plans to change all this. A member of the Mbyá Guaraní people, he leads the newly-formed Plurinational Indigenous Movement of Paraguay (MPIP) and headed up its senate ticket in Paraguay’s elections on April 22. “Indigenous people need to be within the political structure”, he argues. “This is the key, this is the secret.”</p> <p>A lifelong activist and a qualified architect, Ayala is direct and articulate when it comes to policies. The MPIP, fielding candidates at national and local level, aimed at building alliances after the elections to pressure the State to comply with the law and “give indigenous peoples their due”.</p> <p>“We don’t identify with any ideology”, he said. “What we need is to work in harmony. We have to work to get the vote of every senator.”</p> <p>The MPIP brings together 12 peoples – and included non-indigenous candidates on its roster. It pushes for more transparent spending on health and education, and for the return of ancestral land. It wants to work to tighten up and enforce lax deforestation laws, because “as the major crops advance, the green lung of Paraguay is being lost.”</p> <p>The MPIP also hopes to bring Paraguayans face-to-face with their unfamiliar compatriots. “Here we are 19 different indigenous peoples, 19 different languages. </p><p>The Maká, the Aché, the Ayoreo, the Maskoy, the Nivaclé, the Angaités, Sanapanás, Pueblo Qom, Paí… But here people don’t even want to speak in Guaraní. They’d rather speak in French or English. (“I don’t have anything against English,” Ayala jokes. “I tried to learn but never finished the course.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Paraguay’s indigenous peoples are within their rights not to support him, he explained during the campaign. </p><p>Some see more immediate benefits in aligning themselves with Paraguay’s traditional parties. And Ayala was conscious of the risks of having one senator alone – all the MPIP hoped to achieve at these elections – in a chamber notorious for its dysfunction and corruption. “We know who we’ll be faced with in there,” he said.</p> <p>“The serious challenge for Ayala will be the ability to navigate a very complex political system without compromising his political promises”, said Claudia Pompa, a political analyst. “It is something that until now has been sadly unheard of in Paraguay.”</p> <p>“That’s why we’re going to create a national council of indigenous peoples, to accompany us and keep us from losing this vision”, Ayala promised.</p><p> <iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" height="259" width="460" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMPIP.oficial%2Fvideos%2F982626908565658%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560"></iframe></p> <p><strong>An uphill struggle</strong></p> <p>This time, though, the MPIP’s self-funded efforts – they were forced to raise money from barbecues, and did not have enough money to hire a single billboard – were not enough to propel them into Congress.</p> <p>The MPIP reported – in common with the main opposition coalition, Alianza, and other smaller parties – widespread irregularities in the counting of votes. </p><p>Paraguay’s electoral court insisted that it was the responsibility of parties to field observers on every single one of some 21.000 polling stations nationwide to monitor for attempted fraud by their rivals. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">Despite these disadvantages, Ayala and the MPIP secured over 25.000 votes nationwide – outstripping career politicians and securing around half the amount needed for a senate seat.</p><p>But back in November, the outgoing president, Horacio Cartes, vetoed proposals for polling stations to store ballots after totals have been added up, rather than discarding them – something which would have made verifying fraud allegations possible.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet despite these disadvantages, Ayala and the MPIP secured over 25.000 votes nationwide – outstripping career politicians and securing around half the amount needed for a senate seat. The MPIP hopes, with greater publicity and a longer run-up, to break through the electoral ceiling in 2023. </p><p>And the movement is already restoring faith among indigenous communities, Ayala reports, and prompting the traditional parties to offer greater space to indigenous candidates and policies within their platforms.&nbsp;</p><p> If the autonomous indigenous movement can overcome the obstacles to sit in Congress, “it will be a phenomenon that no-one could have ever imagined”, Ayala enthuses.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/beverly-goldberg/fight-for-indigenous-female-voice-in-latin-america">The fight for an indigenous female voice in Latin America</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/sebasti-n-ortega/native-communities-in-danger-in-argentina">How many native communities are in danger in Argentina?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/sisa-pacari-bacacela-g/t-pac-amaru-said-i-ll-be-back-and-there-will-be-millions-of">Túpac Amaru said: “I’ll be back and there will be millions of us&quot;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Paraguay </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Paraguay Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality International politics Elecciones 2018 Laurence Blair Wed, 16 May 2018 13:08:53 +0000 Laurence Blair 117877 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Seventy years of Palestinian resistance since the establishment of the State of Israel https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/yara-hawari/seventy-years-of-palestinian-resistance-since-establishment-of-st <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This month marks not only 70 years since the establishment of Israel and the Palestinian Nakba, but 70 years of ongoing Palestinian resistance.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p lang="en-GB"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-36495214_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-36495214_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Wounded protester evacuated in Gaza. Since the beginning of the protests on March 30 more than 90 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli snipers, and over 10 000 thousand more have been injured. Picture by Khaled Omar/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip has reminded the world of Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian struggle for rights. Since March 30, Palestinians in Gaza have engaged in peaceful, grassroots mass protests at the Israeli military fence that imprisons them, calling for an end to the dire conditions in the Strip as well as for the right to return to the land from which they were expelled 70 years ago this month – what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe. The protestors are literally placing their bodies on the line risking being shot by Israeli snipers. Before the US embassy move today, more than 40 Palestinians had been shot dead by Israeli snipers, and thousands had been seriously injured. Today saw the bloodiest day, with over 52 Palestinians killed at the demonstrations and again thousands injured. The brutal cost that Palestinians in Gaza are paying is because of their resistance to Israel- a resistance that began over seven decades ago.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p lang="en-GB">In 1948, the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) saw the state of Israel established, 750,000 Palestinians forced into exile, and over 500 Palestinian villages and towns destroyed. Palestinian society was torn apart and Palestinians were geographically fragmented. Yet not only did the Palestinian people survive, they also demonstrated remarkable resistance to the attempt to erase them through&nbsp;<em>sumud</em>&nbsp;(steadfastness), collective action, and defiance. The Great March of Return is the latest manifestation of this legacy.&nbsp;</p><p>In the first few years after 1948, thousands of Palestinian refugees attempted to return to their homes, only to be shot by the Israeli military along the new borders. The Israeli state called them “infiltrators” and&nbsp;passed the Prevention of Infiltration Law to legislate its practice of preventing them from returning.&nbsp;Meanwhile, Israel placed the 150,000 Palestinians who managed to stay within the borders of the new state – the Palestinian citizens of Israel – under a severe military regime and politically repressed them.&nbsp;</p><p>Under this atmosphere the Palestinian citizens of Israel survived and even developed their own spaces of political, social, and cultural agency. In 1958, for example, a group established the&nbsp;Al Ard Movement,&nbsp;whose platform&nbsp;connected the struggles of all Palestinian people, no matter their geographic location, whilst also developing a pan-Arab tone. It called for a secular and democratic state in Palestine, as well as the right of return for the refugees. Israel frequently arrested its members and placed them under surveillance, and shut down its publishing operations. The movement was banned in 1964. &nbsp;</p><p lang="en-GB">Although Al Ard had a short existence, it paved the way for other Palestinian politics inside Israel, such as the movement known as Abnaa al Balad, which is still active today. Abnaa al Balad grew out of the student movement and also initially presented a mandate for the development of a Palestinian democratic and secular state. The movement was at its height in the 1970s and gained further momentum after the event known as Land Day.&nbsp;</p><p>Land Day took place in 1976 following the Israeli government’s announcement that it would appropriate huge swathes of Palestinian land in the Galilee, in northern Israel. Palestinian citizens organised a&nbsp;mass collective action in resistance not only to the theft of the land but also to overall settler colonial policies of erasure. Protests in solidarity took place in other areas of Israel as well as the West Bank. Israeli authorities placed six villages in the Galilee under curfew, and met protestors there with serious violence: In addition to six killed, hundreds were injured.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Palestinian resistance doesn’t only take place in the occupied territories or in Israel proper</p><p>A decade later, Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel joined together during the First Intifada. The uprising, which lasted from the late 1980s until the Oslo Accords of 1993, was the result of years of grassroots organising that built the foundation for political mobilisation. Palestinian left-wing factions took the lead during the 1970s, including by establishing popular committees, women’s committees, workers’ unions, student organisations, and volunteer groups. These groups took inspiration from other Third World anti-imperial struggles and were run in a decentralised, democratic, and collective fashion. Important to this struggle was the establishment of a self-reliant economy; as such, the movement explored economic models based on cooperatives that would not be subservient to the occupation and would serve the national and social Palestinian agenda. These models laid the foundation for current initiatives that aim to build economic resistance, such as&nbsp;<a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/06/mushroom-farm-palestine-ends-israel-monopoly-160615072201940.html"><span>Amoro</span></a>, Palestine’s first mushroom farm.&nbsp;</p><p lang="en-GB">Palestinian resistance doesn’t only take place in the occupied territories or in Israel proper. Palestinians in Yarmouk camp in Syria – home to over 25,000 Palestinian refugees in the 1970s and 80s – engaged in left-wing ideas of liberation and resistance, such as Marxist theories of revolution, during the time of the First Intifada. Many organised within the camp despite the dangers of doing so under the Hafez al Assad regime. Yarmouk was also home to youth organisations that would often rally in response to events in Palestine. Since the Syrian civil war, many of the refugees have fled the camp as it has suffered an ISIS invasion as well as siege and in the last weeks a severe bombing campaign that left the camp mostly destroyed by the current Assad regime.&nbsp;</p><p lang="en-GB">A more recent act of resistance occurred in the summer of 2017, when Israeli authorities installed security cameras, turnstiles, and electric metal detectors at the Haram al-Sharif compound following an attack on Israeli soldiers by three Palestinian citizens of Israel. In response, the Islamic Waqf (trust) called for mass civil disobedience. Thousands of Palestinians from Jerusalem and around the country responded to the call, abstaining from entering the compound to protest Israel’s attempt to further control the space. Instead, they prayed in&nbsp;nearby<strong>&nbsp;</strong>streets and checkpoints. Israel met them with brute force, killing three Palestinians and injuring hundreds. Nonetheless, the perseverance of the protesters and their clear, tangible goal led to Israeli capitulation: The electronic metal detectors were removed.&nbsp;</p><p lang="en-GB">This month thus marks not only 70 years since the establishment of Israel and the Palestinian Nakba, but 70 years of ongoing Palestinian resistance – only a fraction of which is outlined above. This discourse of resistance and survival must be the focal point of the Nakba narrative. It emphasizes that the settler colonial project has not succeeded in Palestine and that the indigenous Palestinians have long fought for their rights to and existence on the land.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/omar-talab-Bertie-Wnek/in-palestine-self-dehumanisation-against-disregard-of-human-value">In Palestine: self-dehumanisation against the disregard of human value</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/haidar-eid/on-70thanniversary-of-nakba-reflections-of-palestinian-refugee">On the 70th anniversary of the Nakba: reflections of a Palestinian refugee</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/gaza-s-great-march-of-return-is-international-rallying-call">Gaza’s “Great March of Return”: an international rallying call for peace and justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/isabella-bellezza-smull/from-land-day-to-70th-anniversary-of-nakba-palestinia">From Land Day to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, Palestinians have plenty to protest</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/neil-serougi/health-catastrophe-in-gaza-our-double-standards-are-killing-pale">The health catastrophe in Gaza: our double standards are killing Palestinians</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Conflict Democracy and government International politics occupation nakba Israel Gaza Yara Hawari Tue, 15 May 2018 06:00:00 +0000 Yara Hawari 117889 at https://www.opendemocracy.net In Palestine: self-dehumanisation against the disregard of human value https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/omar-talab-Bertie-Wnek/in-palestine-self-dehumanisation-against-disregard-of-human-value <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While the US was opening its new embassy in Jerusalem, dozens of Palestinians were being shot dead in Gaza by the Israeli army.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-36318651.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-36318651.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Palestinians demonstrating in Gaza were shot by Israeli snipers bringing the death toll since March 30 to over 90. Picture by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/PA images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>On the sixth week of the ‘Great March of Return’ in Gaza, Palestinian <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mobWJFfV3I">protestors dressed as Na’vi</a> from James Cameron’s&nbsp;box office hit&nbsp;<em>Avatar</em>&nbsp;in an attempt to draw wider recognition to their plight. </p><p>This is not the first time Palestinians have turned to morphing into these fictional characters; in 2010 protesters adopted the same iconic characterisation in Bil’in when resisting the effects of the occupation wall. Palestinians then and now are right in recognising the parallels between the plight of the fictional Na’vi characters and their own experiences; both are victims of industrial militarism, predatory colonial capitalism and foreign occupation. </p><p>Although Mark Fisher is also right to recognise the Na’vi as a primitivist cliché, consisting of an amalgamation of typical indigenous features, coupled with their experience of suffering the historically recurring tale of forced eviction and mass slaughter synonymous with colonial history, the parallel maintains relevance not just for those unfamiliar with the Palestinian story, but even more so for those who attempt understanding its current phase.&nbsp;</p><p>This act of creative resistance attempts to exploit the power of universally understood images in a globalised world to stimulate interest and explicate suffering in what is considered a notoriously complex conflict.</p><p>The tragedy of having to employ fictionalised representations of suffering to communicate actual, real-world oppression is a grave and serious one. That a metonymic portrayal of dispossession has more of a chance of undoing an international indifference than the dispossession itself seems to elucidate an incredible amount, not just about the Israel/Palestine conflict, but about our society and ourselves more generally.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The multi-billion pound image of a blue-skinned alien possesses more potential for stimulating global interest and concern than the image of suffering brown-skinned Palestinians.&nbsp;</p><p>Edward Said stressed ‘humanism is the only resistance we have’ but Gazans, having been blockaded by land, air and sea since 2007, with 50% of the population under&nbsp;the age of&nbsp;18, have collectively felt the failure of the humanist ideal. For them the truth is simple: the multi-billion pound image of a blue-skinned alien possesses more potential for stimulating global interest and concern than the image of suffering brown-skinned Palestinians.&nbsp;</p><p>For Palestinians to speculate that potential images of these fictional characters depicted in the media could inspire more supranational solidarity among the global public than the stories and images of their real human suffering shows a self-awareness of a tragic reality.&nbsp;</p><p>Only an occupation so overdue solution could produce such a response. When civilians willingly risk death to walk peacefully along their restrictive boundary, the avenues for imaginative protest are clearly restricted. This is what ultimately leads to the willingness to dehumanise oneself in appeal to fans of a film. At the time the most expensive ever made, the 3D spectacle Avatar showcases the power of modern technology fueled by immense concentrations capital, in stark contrast to Gaza where clean water is scarce and electricity turned off for days at a time.&nbsp;</p><p>It brings the Palestinian resistance into a post-human phase where material human value is lost in media transmission, perhaps it was never even there, but is retained (or created out of nothing like a simulacra) by packaging it into un-distortable symbol transcending human prejudice.&nbsp;</p><p>It represents an attempt to reach out to the foreign public, as opposed to the&nbsp;intransigent global political class, who have been unwilling to demand Israeli forces to end the onslaught of demonstrators in the Gaza strip, having killed&nbsp;at least 56 since the start of the protests. Whilst Boris Johnson stated he was ‘appalled’ by the violence, it once again fell on the opposition, led by Jeremy Corbyn, to demand the government call for an independent international inquiry through the UN, and to review UK arms sales to Israel, which have increased ten-fold to $445 million since the onslaught in 2014, including the sale of sniper rifles.&nbsp;</p><p>In spite of the troubling implications of the Palestinians resorting to their own dehumanisation in order to affect sympathy, they are right to acknowledge the potential liberation power of popular public support. However uniformly a media agenda is represented to its citizens, as long as we live under a parliamentary system the public still has the power to press for the importance of a topic. If the insistence is powerful enough, politicians are forced to confront and react to this insistence to achieve public support. We are our politics as much as we may not like to think it.&nbsp;</p><p>Rather than force the oppressed into the humiliation of self-dehumanisation to appeal to our own disregard of human value, if we want to see peace we can re-humanise Palestinians by re-conceptualising all human suffering as our own. We can and we must.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/haidar-eid/on-70thanniversary-of-nakba-reflections-of-palestinian-refugee">On the 70th anniversary of the Nakba: reflections of a Palestinian refugee</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinians-in-gaza-fighting-for-life-struggling-for-rights">The Palestinians in Gaza: fighting for life, struggling for rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/gaza-s-great-march-of-return-is-international-rallying-call">Gaza’s “Great March of Return”: an international rallying call for peace and justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/isabella-bellezza-smull/from-land-day-to-70th-anniversary-of-nakba-palestinia">From Land Day to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, Palestinians have plenty to protest</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/neil-serougi/health-catastrophe-in-gaza-our-double-standards-are-killing-pale">The health catastrophe in Gaza: our double standards are killing Palestinians</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/lorenz-naegeli/eu-and-right-to-education-in-west-bank">The EU and the right to education in the West Bank</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Conflict Equality occupation Israel Gaza protest Bertie Wnek Omar Talab Mon, 14 May 2018 14:14:02 +0000 Omar Talab and Bertie Wnek 117873 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ¿Un pacto global para retornar migrantes? https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/camila-barretto-maia-diego-morales-raisa-ortiz-cetra/un-pacto-global-para-retornar <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Defender los compromisos de regularización no significa otorgar permisos a todas las personas con estatus irregular, sino promover el desarrollo de procedimientos y criterios más objetivos, claros, accesibles y asequibles. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/camila-barretto-maia-diego-morales-and-ra-sa-ortiz-cetra/global-compact-to-return-migrants">English</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-32439017_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-32439017_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="322" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Temiendo la deportación de Trump, migrantes haitianos se dirigen a Canadá utilizando un cruce irregular con la esperanza de encontrar residencia en Canadá. Agosto de 2017. TNS / SIPA / Press Association. Todos los derechos reservados.</span></span></span></p><p>Al iniciarse la cuarta ronda de negociaciones, de un total de seis, destaca la falta de consenso entre los Estados sobre el sentido fundamental del Pacto Global para las Migraciones. En su versión actual, el texto de este acuerdo inédito posicionaría el retorno (o devolución) de las personas a sus países de origen como la respuesta principal a la migración irregular.</p> <p>Hoy, <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/HR-PUB-14-1_sp.pdf">entre un 15% y un 20% de los migrantes en el mundo están en situación irregular</a> –número probablemente inferior a la realidad Estas cifras se refieren en amplia mayoría a personas que ingresaron al país de manera regular (como turistas, estudiantes, trabajadores, etc.) y que se volvieron irregulares. Solamente una minoría cruza la frontera de manera clandestina. Esta situación incrementa la vulnerabilidad de las y los migrantes, la segregación, la xenofobia y la violencia. Cómo responder a esta realidad en los países de destino es una de las cuestiones más controvertidas en las negociaciones del Pacto Global. Es un desafío para los países del norte, pero también lo es para los países del sur, que concentran gran parte de la migración global.</p> <h3><strong>Promover la migración segura, ordenada y regular</strong></h3> <p>Según la <a href="http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/71/1&amp;referer=/english/&amp;Lang=S">Declaración de Nueva York</a> de 2016, el Pacto debe promover la migración segura, ordenada y regular. Alrededor de estos conceptos se ha instalado una evidente tensión. Una visión los vincula a la promoción de una migración más digna, lo que implica definir estrategias para que aquellas personas que migran en una constante situación de riesgo lo puedan hacer de manera segura y regular. Para eso se necesitan<a href="https://www.cels.org.ar/web/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/CELSPactoGlobal.pdf"> objetivos y compromisos concretos </a>con políticas como la ampliación de canales regulares y la regularización migratoria, que tienen impactos positivos para los migrantes y la sociedad de destino y aumentan las capacidades de gestión del Estado. </p> <p>Otra perspectiva defiende, bajo el argumento de que el Pacto “estaría incentivando a la migración irregular”, la imposibilidad de asumir compromisos sobre la regularización. Estudios contestan la idea muy difundida de que la regularización provoca un aumento de los flujos migratorios. Esto no sucedió en países en los que la regularización fue adoptada como política. En el caso de la Argentina, entre 2004 y el primer semestre de 2015 se resolvieron cerca de 2 millones de trámites de radicación, pero la población migrante se mantuvo entre el 4,5 y el 5 por ciento de la población nacional, cifra incluso inferior a las décadas anteriores. </p> <p>A la vez, desde la primera ronda de negociaciones algunas delegaciones estatales han solicitado reiteradamente que el texto precise las “diferencias” entre las obligaciones y derechos relativos a los migrantes regulares e irregulares y a los migrantes y refugiados. Esta forma de estructurar el debate oculta un hecho fundamental para entender lo que está en juego: la pertenencia de una persona a cualquiera de estas categorías depende de decisiones del Estado. </p><p>Por un lado, es el Estado el que tiene el deber de reconocer el estatus de refugiado a las personas abarcadas por las convenciones internacionales y regionales. </p><p>Por otro, en todos los demás casos, ejerce su poder discrecional de otorgar permisos de ingreso y residencia o extender o transformar estos permisos en su territorio, creando criterios y procedimientos para ello. En otras palabras, no existe <a href="https://www.cels.org.ar/web/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/regularizacion-migratoria.pdf">migración regular</a> si el Estado no genera las condiciones para que las y los migrantes accedan a los permisos para ingresar y/o permanecer. </p> <h3><strong>El “borrador uno” y las respuestas a la irregularidad migratoria</strong></h3> <p>El <a href="https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/sites/default/files/180326_draft_rev1_final.pdf"><em>borrador uno </em>del Pacto</a> tiene el mérito de preservar fortalezas del borrador inicial (conocido como el <a href="https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/sites/default/files/180205_gcm_zero_draft_final.pdf"><em>borrador cero</em></a>) y de presentar avances puntuales, como el mantenimiento del objetivo de ampliación del acceso a canales regulares (objetivo 5) –aunque de manera algo ambigua al vincularlos a las ‘necesidades del mercado de trabajo’–, y el acceso equitativo de las y los migrantes a los servicios sociales esenciales para el ejercicio de sus derechos humanos (objetivo 15). </p> <p>A grandes rasgos, además de estas dos líneas de acción, las políticas migratorias prevén otros dos mecanismos para abordar la migración irregular: </p> <ul><li>La regularización migratoria de personas en situación irregular que se encuentren en el territorio.</li><li>El retorno al país de origen.</li></ul> <p>Sin embargo, en el <em>borrador uno</em>, difundido el 26 de marzo, desaparece toda mención a la regularización migratoria. La posibilidad de establecer criterios y procedimientos para regularizar a quienes ya se encuentren en el territorio, que en el <em>borrador cero </em>aparecía solamente en una acción del objetivo 16, ya no figura en ningún lugar del texto. Esta omisión es grave. Sin un permiso legal de residencia y los correspondientes documentos, los migrantes seguirán contando con una especie de subciudadanía, en particular en la medida en que quedan sujetos a varias formas de explotación. </p> <p>El objetivo sobre retorno (objetivo 21) a su vez se ha consolidado como una prioridad política de los países europeos, que buscan resolver lo que consideran “trabas” para ejecutar estos procedimientos y devolver a los migrantes sobre todo al continente africano. Enfocado en la priorización del llamado “retorno voluntario”, el objetivo 21 pasa a prever la “obligación de los Estados de readmitir a sus propios nacionales”. </p> <p>Los borradores del Pacto hasta la fecha han omitido todo compromiso con criterios mínimos para no proceder a la repatriación, deportación o expulsión. Estas medidas han sido históricamente usadas como respuesta a la migración irregular y tienen un fuerte impacto negativo sobre la vida de las personas. Para remediar esta situación, las políticas migratorias han avanzado en procedimientos para prevenir violaciones de derechos, ya sea en función de los riesgos existentes en el país de origen del migrante, o en función de los derechos en juego en el país de residencia por el tiempo de permanencia efectiva en el país, los lazos familiares o la pertenencia a grupos en situación de vulnerabilidad. </p> <h3><strong>¿Un acuerdo para retornar? </strong></h3> <p>Un acuerdo sobre el retorno ‘sin trabas’, que no establezca ningún compromiso con la regularización migratoria, consolidaría una línea de acción global en la que el retorno o devolución aparece no como respuesta excepcional o complementaria sino como la apuesta principal respecto de la migración irregular. Este abordaje ignora que se trata de procedimientos caros y complejos de implementar, que difícilmente abarcarían a la mayoría de los migrantes. </p> <p>Defender compromisos sobre regularización no significa acordar el otorgamiento de permisos a todas las personas en situación irregular, sino promover el desarrollo de procedimientos y criterios de regularización más objetivos, claros, accesibles y asequibles, acordes con la realidad de los migrantes y con los objetivos de los Estados. Esto es fundamental para eliminar las trabas burocráticas que impiden a las personas estar en situación regular e insertarse de manera integral y digna en la sociedad, así como para promover el trabajo formal y permitir al Estado conocer a todos sus habitantes y gobernar para ellos. &nbsp;</p> <p>Respecto del Pacto Global, el mantenimiento de un texto que ignore la regularización migratoria implicaría una apuesta política regresiva, que amplía el margen para que se multipliquen las violaciones de derechos contra las personas migrantes y desconoce las expectativas y necesidades de la sociedad.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/pia-oberoi/c-mo-cumplir-la-promesa-de-un-pacto-global-para-las-migraciones-con-dir">Cómo cumplir la promesa de un Pacto Global para las Migraciones con directrices más eficaces en la protección de los derechos humanos</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/camila-barretto-maia-diego-morales-raisa-ortiz-cetra/pacto-global-para-las-migraci">Pacto Global para las Migraciones: abandonar la hipocresía y escuchar al Sur</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta DemocraciaAbierta Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Equality International politics Raisa Ortiz Cetra Diego Morales Camila Barretto Maia Mon, 14 May 2018 13:10:13 +0000 Camila Barretto Maia, Diego Morales and Raisa Ortiz Cetra 117878 at https://www.opendemocracy.net We are the unheard voices https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/raquel-rosenberg/we-are-unheard-voices <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Invited to participate on a panel organized by Nestlé, on the eve of the 8<sup>th</sup> World Water Council meeting, they shut down my voice, and I was censored. This is my story. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/raquel-rosenberg/somos-las-voces-no-escuchadas">Español,</a> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/raquel-rosenberg/somos-as-vozes-n-o-ouvidas">Português</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/raquelrosenberg.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/raquelrosenberg.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ripped banner during the final plenary session of the 8th World Water Council. Brasilia, 23 March, 2018. Photo: Igor Viera, Engajamundo.</span></span></span></p><p>Ever since environmental journalist <a href="http://envolverde.cartacapital.com.br/jornalista-e-colaborador-da-envolverde-savio-de-tarso-morre-em-sp/">Sávio de Tarso</a>, my father, was murdered (in January of this year), I hadn’t been able to write a mere line that wasn’t about him. I was incapable of posting on social media.</p> <p>Perhaps because it’s impossible not to avoid a state of speechlessness when faced with such an absurd injustice. Perhaps because he inspired me and taught me to write. Perhaps because the reaction of some affected by the tragedy has been to let it out; mine apparently, has been to collect myself, to thank the ones closest to me for their affection. But in any case, this story has been carved into my very interior.</p> <p>When I accepted the invitation of Ashoka to be at the same table as the CEO of Nestlé, Mark Schneider, at a private event prior to the 8th meeting of the World Water Council celebrated in Brasilia in March 2018, the first thing I thought to do was carry out a militant act that evidenced at least a few of the many contradictions of this multinational giant.</p> <p>But, after several conversations with my social justice partners from <a href="http://www.engajamundo.org/o-engajamundo/">Engajamundo</a> and with other outsiders, understanding that we can’t always show people on that level the way in which we see the profound transformations that are so necessary in the world today, and of course inspired by my father who always insisted upon dialogue with businesses as a way to achieve our objectives, I decided to act differently.</p> <p>I forced myself to leave my comfort zone and write a speech that would open minds and reach the hearts of the 150 privileged individuals that would be invited to that event. </p><p>When a great friend of my father appeared with small puppet theatre piece that the two had created together during their university years, I became overwhelmed with emotions upon reading the poem about water that the piece represented.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">It wasn’t until the morning of the event when she herself informed me that I could no longer speak, that the audience wasn’t adequate for my “type of speech” and that Nestlé needed to shield their CEO.</p> <p>Suddenly, I knew how to start my speech and to gain the comfort I needed before such an uncomfortable space in which I was going to find myself. I was inspired by Vandana Shiva to speak about paradigm changes and to relate social inequality to a lack of access to basic resources such as water <a href="http://www.engajamundo.org/o-engajamundo/">(read the full text here).</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>When the representative of Ashoka Switzerland asked me to send her the speech in advance so that she could “align it with what would be said at the table”, since there would also be other speakers, I didn’t doubt her, trusting in the years of collaboration I accumulated working with Ashoka Brasil, where I’m currently recognised as a fellow.</p> <p>Despite showing her discomfort and having proposed modifying certain aspects of the final text, it wasn’t until the morning of the event when she herself informed me that I could no longer speak, that the audience wasn’t adequate for my “type of speech” and that Nestlé needed to shield their CEO as he was new and nobody knew how he would react. </p><p>I couldn’t believe what was happening, in an environment as attuned as Brazil and only two days after <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/breno-bringel/marielle-franco-y-el-futuro-de-brasil-esperanza-o-barbarie">the murder of Marielle</a>. I attended the event from the audience, dumbfounded at the superficial nature of the content, with the certainty that my speech would have clashed with the others.</p><p>The only person that remained standing during the whole event to denounce the lack of young people in a debate about the younger generations was Izabella Teixeira, the ex-environmental minister, the same that delivered a ‘deadpan trophy’ during the militant act we organised during the COP21 in Paris.</p> <p>Even so, I participated in the exclusive VIP diner for speakers of the event, and it was there when I discovered, in a conversation that appeared initially unimportant, that the moderator of the table, Rob Cameron, Executive Director at SustainAbility – and the kind of sexist you can smell from far away – had also read my speech.</p> <p>Who else had read it? Who else had decided that my speech wasn’t “aligned with the table”? To this day I still don’t know with complete certainty. During the verbal clash we had with the dreaded CEO, we only had time to comment that I should have been the one on the panel with him, and in response to his question as to why I wasn’t there, I smiled and said “well.. it seemed like I was going to say some things that you’re not so used to hearing!”</p> <p>Regarding this question, one of the officers for Nestlé Brazil made her concerns over what happened clear from the very moment she asked me about the content of my speech in a meeting the week after, during which she confirmed that she didn’t know where the censorship came from or why it occurred.</p> <p>Ashamed, the Ashoka Brazil team, who in their majority were not present in Brasilia, apologised immediately, giving me excuses in every way possible, and reflecting on how these kinds of situations impact the structures of large organisations, inasmuch as they reconsider many of their principles.</p><p> The representative of Ashoka Switzerland also apologised to me, and said that it wouldn’t have made a difference confronting anyone that made up the powerful structure that was behind that veto.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">They don’t want to admit that they’re shutting down young women in the very few spaces open to us in this system. It’s censorship of their censorship.</p> <p>And it was then that I learnt a profound lesson: the value of courage. Institutions, the government, businesses – are all made up of people. They're not black boxes completely dark and closed off from humanity. And in the same way that in organisations there are people that commit errors, the representatives of the government on the other side admit their mistakes only when they come to light.</p> <p>Within businesses the process isn’t all that different, and it’s necessary to (and here I’m listening to the voice of my father speaking to me) guide them towards the right path in order for them to realise their errors, and so they have the courage to resolve them. </p> <p>But on the other hand, the realisation of the absurdity that is the world we live in, in a profoundly interconnected system, was very real when I saw that environmental journalist Hannah Carol Amaral couldn’t publish the material in any traditional media outlet.</p><p> They don’t want to admit that they’re shutting down young women in the very few spaces open to us in this system. It’s censorship of their censorship: the frustration and impotence that drowns us.</p> <p>More than ever, life has showed me that change needs to incorporate an all-encompassing vision. One week later, the banner that we displayed at the final plenary session at the World Water Council meeting read: “We are the unheard voices”.</p> <p>The system can try to shut us down, but one way or another, it will have to listen. Thank you all for not letting this story die out. Thank you to my father for being alive, through my words and my attitudes.</p> <p>This text refers to: <a href="https://envolverde.cartacapital.com.br/ambientalista-fo-censurada-no-forum-mundial-da-agua-em-painel-com-nestle/">http://envolverde.cartacapital.com.br/ambientalista-fo-censurada-no-forum-mundial-da-agua-em-painel-com-nestle/&nbsp;</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/raquel-rosenberg-francesc-badia-i-dalmases/what-brazil-takes-to-un-is-not-what-it-">&quot;Youth is going to be part of the solution, in Brazil, and everywhere in the world&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/raquel-rosenberg/brazil-revolution-is-proportional-to-size-of-crisis">Brazil: the revolution is proportional to the size of the crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/breno-bringel/marielle-franco-and-brazils-future-hope-or-barbarity">Marielle Franco and Brazil&#039;s future: hope or barbarity</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Brazil Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Raquel Rosenberg Mon, 14 May 2018 08:53:18 +0000 Raquel Rosenberg 117871 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A Global Compact to return migrants? https://www.opendemocracy.net/camila-barretto-maia-diego-morales-and-ra-sa-ortiz-cetra/global-compact-to-return-migrants <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Defending commitments on regularization doesn’t mean providing permits to all people with irregular status, but instead promoting the development of more objective, clear, accessible and affordable procedures and criteria. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/camila-barretto-maia-diego-morales-raisa-ortiz-cetra/un-pacto-global-para-retornar">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32439017.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32439017.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="322" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fearing Trump deportation, Haitians head to Canada using an irregular crossing near the Champlain-St. Bernard de Lacolle border in hopes of finding residency in Canada. August, 2017. TNS/SIPA/Press Association.All rights reserved.</span></span></span>As the fourth of six rounds of negotiations begins, there is a stark lack of consensus among states regarding the fundamental meaning of the Global Compact for Migration. In its current version, the text of this unprecedented agreement would prioritize returning people to their countries of origin as the main response to irregular migration. </p> <p>Today, it is estimated that <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/HR-PUB-14-1_en.pdf">between 15% and 20% of migrants in the world</a> have an irregular status – and this figure is probably far below reality. These statistics refer overwhelmingly to people who have entered the country with a regular status (as tourists, students, workers, etc.) and lost that status later. Only a minority cross the border in clandestine conditions. This situation increases the vulnerability of migrants, segregation, xenophobia and violence. </p> <p>How to respond to this reality in countries of destination is one of the most controversial issues in the Global Compact negotiations. It is a challenge for the countries of the Global North, but also for those of the South, where much global migration is concentrated.</p> <h2><strong>To promote safe, orderly and regular migration </strong></h2> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/71/1&amp;referer=/english/&amp;Lang=E">New York Declaration</a> of 2016, the Global Compact must promote safe, orderly and regular migration. </p> <p>An evident tension has arisen around these concepts. One perspective links them to the promotion of more dignified migration, which entails defining strategies to ensure that people who now migrate in situations of constant risk can do so safely and with regular status. This requires <a href="https://www.cels.org.ar/web/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/CELSGlobalCompact.pdf">objectives and concrete commitments</a> to policies such as the enhancement of regular pathways and migratory regularization, which have positive effects for migrants and the society of destination, and increase the state’s administrative capacities.</p> <p>Another perspective asserts the impossibility of assuming commitments regarding regularization, arguing that the Global Compact “would be incentivizing irregular migration.” Studies challenge the widespread notion that regularization prompts an increase in migration flows. This did not happen in countries where regularization was adopted as policy. In the case of Argentina, between 2004 and the first half of 2015, nearly 2 million residency applications were resolved, but the migrant population held steady at between 4.5 and 5 percent of the national population, a figure even lower than in previous decades.</p> <p>At the same time, since the first round of negotiations on the Compact, some state delegations have repeatedly requested that the text specify the “differences” between obligations and rights in relation to regular and irregular migrants, and migrants and refugees. <span class="mag-quote-center">Since the first round of negotiations on the Compact, some state delegations have repeatedly requested that the text specify the “differences” between obligations and rights in relation to regular and irregular migrants, and migrants and refugees.</span></p> <h2><strong>Them and Us – </strong><strong>responses to migratory irregularity </strong></h2> <p>Structuring the debate this way conceals a fundamental fact when it comes to understanding what is at stake: a person’s inclusion in any of these categories depends on decisions made by the state. </p> <p>It is the state that must recognize the refugee status of people covered under international and regional conventions. In all other cases, the state exercises its discretionary power to grant entry permits and residency, and to extend or transform these permits in its territory, establishing criteria and procedures for that purpose. In other words, <a href="https://www.cels.org.ar/web/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/migratory-regularization.pdf">regular migration</a> does not exist if the state does not generate the conditions for migrants to gain access to the permits required to enter and/or remain in the country.</p> <p>The <a href="https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/sites/default/files/180326_draft_rev1_final.pdf">revised first draft</a> of the Global Compact has the merit of preserving some of the strengths of the initial draft (known as <a href="https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/sites/default/files/180205_gcm_zero_draft_final.pdf">zero draft</a>) and of presenting specific advances, such as keeping the commitment to enhance access to pathways for regular migration (Objective 5) – albeit in a somewhat ambiguous manner since it links them to “labor market needs”– and to ensure that migrants have equal access to social services that are essential to exercising their human rights (Objective 15).</p> <p>In broad terms, in addition to these two lines of action, migratory policies contemplate two other mechanisms for addressing irregular migration: </p> <ul><li>*&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The migratory regularization of persons with irregular status currently in the territory. </li><li>*&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Their return to the country of origin.</li></ul> <p>However, the revised first draft (<em>Draft Rev 1)</em>, published on March 26, makes no mention of migratory regularization. The possibility of establishing criteria and procedures for regularizing the status of people already present in a country’s territory, referred to in just one action contained in Objective 16 of the <em>zero draft</em>, no longer appears anywhere in the text. </p> <p>This is a serious omission. Without a legal residency permit and the corresponding documentation, migrants will continue to be treated as second-class citizens, particularly to the extent that they are subject to various forms of exploitation.</p> <p>The objective on return (Objective 21) has, at the same time, been consolidated as a political priority for European countries that seek to remove what they consider obstacles in the way of executing these procedures and returning migrants, particularly to the African continent. Focused on the prioritization of “voluntary return,” Objective 21 provides for the “obligation of States to readmit their own nationals.” </p> <h2><strong>European priority to return migrants</strong></h2> <p>So far the drafts of the Global Compact have omitted any commitment to specifying the grounds on which repatriation, deportation or expulsion cannot proceed. These measures have historically been used in response to irregular migration and have had a hugely negative impact on people’s lives. </p> <p>To remedy this, migratory policies have incorporated procedures for preventing rights violations, whether due to the risks present in a migrant’s country of origin, or the rights at stake in the country of residence due to his/her length of stay, family ties or membership in groups in vulnerable situations.</p> <p>An agreement centered on returning people to their countries of origin “without obstacles”, and which establishes no commitment to migratory regularization, would consolidate a global line of action that positions this policy not as an exceptional or complementary response to irregular migration but rather as the primary focus. </p> <p>This approach ignores the fact that return procedures are expensive, difficult to implement and unlikely to cover the majority of migrants.</p> <p>Defending commitments on regularization does not mean agreeing to provide permits to all people with irregular status, but instead promoting the development of more objective, clear, accessible and affordable procedures and criteria for regularization, in line with migrants’ reality and state objectives. <span class="mag-quote-center">This is fundamental to eliminating the bureaucratic obstacles that keep people from gaining regular status and achieving a full and dignified integration in society.</span></p> <p>This is fundamental to eliminating the bureaucratic obstacles that keep people from gaining regular status and achieving a full and dignified integration in society, as well as to promoting formal employment and allowing the state to learn about all its inhabitants and govern for them.</p> <p>With regard to the Global Compact, maintaining wording that overlooks migratory regularization would represent a political rollback that gives more leeway to increased rights violations against migrant persons and disregards the expectations and needs of society.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 18.15.25.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 18.15.25.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="697" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>See the <a href="https://www.cels.org.ar/web/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/CELSGlobalCompact.pdf">Global Compact on Migration: Recommendations for a compact with a rights-based approach.</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>See <a href="https://www.cels.org.ar/web/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/migratory-regularization.pdf">Migratory regularization: it benefits everyone</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/camilla-barretto-maia-diego-morales-raisa-ortiz-cetra/global-compact-for-migration-stop-hypocrisy-an">Global Compact for Migration: stop the hypocrisy and listen to the Global South</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Civil society Conflict International politics Raisa Ortiz Cetra Diego Morales Camila Barretto Maia Mon, 14 May 2018 07:22:16 +0000 Camila Barretto Maia, Diego Morales and Raisa Ortiz Cetra 117854 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On the 70th anniversary of the Nakba: reflections of a Palestinian refugee https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/haidar-eid/on-70thanniversary-of-nakba-reflections-of-palestinian-refugee <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Like any settler-colonial power, Zionism views native Palestinians as an ‘other’ to be fought against and erased.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="western"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-36238622.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-36238622.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Palestinian boy protesting near the border with Israel, in eastern Gaza City, 27 April 2018. Picture by Momen Faiz/NurPhoto/Sipa US/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>This year marks the 70th&nbsp;anniversary of the&nbsp;<em>Nakba</em>, the process of ethnic cleansing carried out by Zionist militias in Palestine which led to the displacement and dispossession of more than 750 000 Palestinians, including my own family.&nbsp;</p><p class="western">I will not only confine my deliberations to abstract concepts and theories, but will evoke the reality as we experience and understand it on the ground in Gaza and in the diaspora. We Palestinians are fully aware of the fact that we are the victims of an historic issue that has impacted the lives of many, and has polarised the discourse on international peace and security.&nbsp;</p><p class="western">But what we have learned from the history of state making is that it is not easy to maintain a state that is founded and based upon a historical injustice and the denial of universal freedoms. The history of states is littered with examples of people using all sorts of means of resistance in defense of their universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. We Palestinians are deprived of both! Hence our decades-long multifaceted resistance: armed struggle, popular resistance, BDS…etc</p><p class="western">Eight years ago, I wrote a piece in which I quoted Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It does not, however, say “with the exception of Palestinians.” But we, 12 million Palestinians, know very well that we are the exception to that rule. Whether we are Palestinian citizens of Israel, West Bankers &amp; Gazans, or Diasporic refugees, we are not allowed to expect to have the same rights as those of “all human beings.”</p><p class="western">Any attempt to understand the rationale behind what is essentially a case of blatant violation of fundamental human rights is faced with accusations of anti-Semitism, a weapon used to silence voices calling for justice in the Middle East.&nbsp;</p><p class="western">I am convinced that the possibility of having a just peace is today far from realization because of the hermetic medieval siege imposed on more than 2 million already impoverished people in Gaza, and the slicing of the already sliced West Bank. The impossibility of realizing the national dream of one third of the Palestinian people has brought forward the embarrassing question about the rights of the remaining two thirds, namely the dispossessed refugees living in miserable camps in other countries and the second-class citizens of the state of Israel.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">What is the Palestinian cause if not the right of return of the refugees?</p><p class="western">We never tire of asking the question raised by the&nbsp;<em>Nakba&nbsp;</em>generation, the generation that was supposed to die, while we are supposed to forget: What is the Palestinian cause if not the right of return of the refugees, those inside and outside Palestine? Can genuine peace be achieved without resolving this?&nbsp;</p><p class="western">We live in a world that promotes democratic systems of government. It is supposed to be a system that brings about political stability within a state, guarantees equality of citizenship and individual freedoms. Nevertheless, the basic tenet of this system of majority rule are tested in multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies.&nbsp;</p><p class="western">There is an inherent contradiction between advocating democracy as a universal idea, while defining the State of Israel in mono-ethnic terms. This approach has only resulted in the relegation of Palestinians residing within the state of Israel to the status of second class citizens. This undermines,&nbsp;<em>inter alia</em>, the very principle of equal citizenship which is at the core of a democratic system of government.</p><p class="western">Zionism, is based on the idea of separation, rejection of difference, and ethno-religious supremacy; it is based on a dogma&nbsp;that proclaims that Jews all over the world constitute one nation. In Zionist consciousness, we, native Palestinians, exactly like Native Americans, became a surplus population that must be gotten rid of.&nbsp;</p><p class="western">Those who remain would be considered a minority without political and national rights. We, native Palestinians, were viewed by hegemonic Zionism as an obstacle to realizing the Zionist dream by our mere existence and presence. This might explain the continuing ethnic cleansing in the West Bank, and the incremental genocide taking place in Gaza.</p><p class="western">Like any settler-colonial power, Zionism views native Palestinians as an ‘other’ (<em>goy)&nbsp;</em>to be fought against. The Palestinian resistance, peaceful or otherwise, is thus viewed as ‘criminal violence,’ ‘illegitimate,’ ‘terrorism’...etc.&nbsp;</p><p class="western">The realization of the Zionist dream has meant redemption for some Jews, at the expense of the native Palestinians who were dispossessed, and relegated to what Fredric Jameson, in another context calls, 'the political unconscious'. Thus, from the Palestinian perspective, the crystallization of the Zionist dream has meant dispossession and&nbsp;<em>Ghurba (</em>exile).&nbsp;</p><p class="western">Zionism wanted us to be forgotten forever in the ‘political unconscious.’ However, massacres, humiliation, dispossession, defeat, expropriation, invasion, denial of existence, and now a medieval, hermetic siege... etc, have not led to our ‘disappearance’. We have been robbed of our land, deprived of our identity and history; even our future has been stolen. The Zionist response to these atrocities is that the Palestinians should not have existed in the first place. We must remain invisible!</p><p class="western">Israel’s “independence” has meant a disaster for the Palestinians who have become the victims of the victims. The goal of Zionism has always been to make us invisible, faceless and voiceless refugees from nowhere, removed from the world’s active consciousness. We had ‘no history,’ ‘no consciousness,’ ‘no culture’ and thus no story to tell. We, Palestinians are ‘native aliens’, who became foreigners by the misfortune of being born to non-Jewish mothers.&nbsp;</p><p class="western">It is always frustrating that so many activists have no clue about the basics of the Palestinian question. I am always surprised to find myself explaining how, contrary to what has been central in modern liberal thinking; the idea of the citizen in Israel is totally missing. Israel is a state where citizenship and nationality are two separate, independent concepts. In other words, Israel is not the state of its citizens, but the state of the Jewish people. Moreover, Israel does not have a constitution. Further, since Judaism is a religion and since it is the basis of the existence of a “modern State,” why can Islam, Christianity or Hinduism not be so?&nbsp;</p><p class="western">Many of us think that the only solution to bring this horror, caused by a settler-colonial project implanted in the heart of the Arab World, to an end is only through democratic means by de-Zionizing the state of Israel and transforming it into a state for all of its citizens regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or gender. There are 7 million refugees waiting for that moment, and 2 million of them have already started their long march to freedom along the Gaza eastern and northern fences separating them from the towns and villages from which they were forcefully expelled in 1948. Alas, my parents are not among those marchers, but I am.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinians-in-gaza-fighting-for-life-struggling-for-rights">The Palestinians in Gaza: fighting for life, struggling for rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/gaza-s-great-march-of-return-is-international-rallying-call">Gaza’s “Great March of Return”: an international rallying call for peace and justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/isabella-bellezza-smull/from-land-day-to-70th-anniversary-of-nakba-palestinia">From Land Day to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, Palestinians have plenty to protest</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/neil-serougi/health-catastrophe-in-gaza-our-double-standards-are-killing-pale">The health catastrophe in Gaza: our double standards are killing Palestinians</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/how-britain-s-recognition-of-israel-violated-its-colonial-mandate-over-palest">How Britain’s recognition of Israel violated its colonial “mandate” over Palestine</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item even"> Israel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Israel Palestine Conflict nakba occupation Haidar Eid Mon, 14 May 2018 06:00:00 +0000 Haidar Eid 117822 at https://www.opendemocracy.net La narcoviolencia en Fortaleza, Brasil: los huérfanos olvidados https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/marcia-feitosa/la-narcoviolencia-en-fortaleza-los-hu-rfanos-olvidados <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Decenas de niñxs vagan por las calles de Fortaleza. Están solxs, sin oportunidades, sin ayuda del Estado. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/marcia-feitosa/drug-violence-in-fortaleza-forgotten-orphans">English</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/ilustra-01_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/ilustra-01_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="409" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fuente: Cosecha Roja. Todos los derechos reservados.</span></span></span></p><p>Pedazos arrancados, vidas mutiladas, padres amputados de niños incapaces de entender lo que buscan solos en las calles. En el caso de las víctimas de las pérdidas, dependiendo de las caridades y conviviendo con la nostalgia de vidas encerradas bajo la justificación de la “guerra del tráfico”, buscan una forma de sobrevivir.</p><p>¿Cómo explicar a un niño que además de su padre, otras cinco mil personas fueron víctimas de ejecuciones, sólo el año pasado, en Ceará? No hay que decir. No hay nada que conforte la nostalgia de una vida que podría haber sido.</p> <p>Esparcidos en esquinas y con ojos de hambre, los huérfanos dejados por la guerra trabada entre las facciones en Fortaleza, sufren sin asistencia, sin tutores, sin que nadie haya pensado en ellos. No saben si van a comer hoy, si estarán vivos mañana. No saben a quién recurrir. Solos de semáforo en semáforo en la ciudad que les sacó todas las oportunidades.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Algunos niños ya vienen al mundo predestinados a ser encadenados a la&nbsp;cadena de sus propios padres. Presxs de las circunstancias.&nbsp;</p> <p>Al niño descalzo en la puerta de una cafetería de una red de comida rápida, instalada en la Avenida Santos Dumont, se le impide de entrar por la seguridad privada, aunque haya garantizado que tiene dinero&nbsp;para pagar&nbsp;su comida. </p><p>Al oír el argumento de que “si lo dejamos entrar, después&nbsp;puede volver a pedir e incomodar a los clientes”, a los 11 años él ya sabe que no lo quieren. Parece bicho: no puede llegar demasiado cerca, no es parte de los escogidos.</p> <p>Después de alguna insistencia, entra. Come un sándwich con apenas algunas dentadas apresuradas. Después, revela: “Tía, lo que más quería era ir a un dentista porque casi no puedo dormir con dolor de diente. </p><p>Cuando llego al puesto solo, la mujer manda que me vaya y llamar a mi madre. La otra cosa que más quería eran unas zapatillas porque descalzo no consigo llegar a tiempo cuando la señal está verde y pido monedas en coches. El asfalto es muy caliente “.</p> <p>Un dentista y unas zapatillas son los mayores deseos del niño que ni siquiera tiene documento. Oficialmente, no existe. Nunca fue a la escuela, vivió en diversos barrios. Después de que su padre fue asesinado, en junio de 2017, pasó a vivir con su hermano de 16 años. La madre necesitó ser internada, tras seguidas crisis de abstinencia. </p><p>“La madre parecía una loca. El padre traía piedra para ella. Después de que murió, no tenía más. Ella golpeaba a la gente. Un día llegó un hombre de la iglesia y la llevó al hospital. No sé dónde está”.</p> <p>La niña, que por la cantidad de dedos que muestra dice tener siete años, pide dinero frente a un restaurante en la Aldeota. Existe, pero es invisible. </p><p>Tiene documento, va a la escuela, quiere ser médica en una comunidad del barrio donde es mendiga, vive con una tía y sabe que su madre está presa,&nbsp;pero su mano extendida no es nada en medio de los perfumes refinados y los zapatos brillantes notados siempre que alguien pasa por ella. Muchos no miran a aquella pequeña persona que repite como máquina: “Hey, me da un real”.</p> <p>Sí, si dependiera de las oraciones será así. Sentada en el suelo, con dificultades para levantar, una anciana dice con las manos&nbsp;juntas y mirando a edificios lujosos: “Si Dios quiere, hija mía, va a ser doctora”.</p> <h3>Vientre Libre</h3> <p>El 28 de septiembre de 1871 fue determinado por la ‘Ley del Vientre Libre’ que toda niña hija de esclava, nacida a partir de esa fecha, sería libre. Pasados 147 años, cambiando las esclavitud, algunos niños ya vienen al mundo predestinados a ser encadenados a la&nbsp;cadena de sus propios padres. Presxs de las circunstancias.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Mataron a mi marido. Traté de sacar al niño. Abortar, ¿sabes? Pero no funcionó. Ahora me siento culpable, porque el médico dijo que va a nacer con parálisis.</p> <p>Embarazada de siete meses, una mujer de 23 años sostiene a otro niño de dos años por el brazo, en una de las esquinas más concurridas del área considerada noble de Fortaleza. </p><p>“Mataron a mi marido. Traté de sacar al niño. Abortar, ¿sabes? Pero no funcionó. Ahora me siento culpable, porque el médico dijo que va a nacer con parálisis. No sé lo que voy a hacer de la vida. ¿Qué futuro puedo dar a esos niños? “, afirmó entre lágrimas, mientras recibía monedas de la ventana entreabierta de un coche, en el que el conductor bajó el cristal sólo lo suficiente para pasar la mano.</p> <p>Igualmente sin salida está la mujer de 26 años, recién llegada a la casa de un familiar, en el barrio Quintino Cunha. Con tres hijos de ocho, cinco y tres años, huyó de la comunidad donde vivía, después de que el compañero fue asesinado.</p><p> “Me mandaron salir de la casa. Salí con la ropa del cuerpo y algunas cosas de los niños. El tipo que me expulsó entregó el arma a mi hijo de cinco años y mandó disparar. El pobre no podía con el revólver, y aún tuvo que oír que no arrojaba porque era un flojo igual al padre. Sólo sabe lo que es correr con miedo de la muerte y del hambre quien pasa ”</p> <p>Sin querer mucha conversación, a los 13 años el niño aborda los coches y los peatones, en la Rua Padre Antônio Tomas. El padre fue asesinado&nbsp; y él se mudó con su madre a la casa de la abuela. La vida lo hizo adulto, cambió sus sueños y deshizo voluntades.&nbsp;</p> <p>Objetivo, como los días le han enseñado a ser, finaliza: “¿Y ahí, tía? ¿Va a darme dinero o no? Sino me libera que voy a pedir a la otra persona “.</p> <p>En la puerta de una agencia bancaria, una anciana sentada en el suelo con un niño en el regazo y dando instrucciones a un niño de ocho años, se desdobla para colocar comida en la mesa para los cinco nietos que viven con ella. </p><p>“Los tres primeros que llegaron fueron los de mi hija. Ella estaba involucrada y mató, porque estaba debiendo. Después mataron a mi hijo. Trajo a los hijos de ellos para que se queden conmigo. Pasé la vida lavando y pasando ropa para los demás, cuando pensé que iba a tener tranquilidad, aparecen cinco niños para cuidar. Sólo tengo miedo de morir y dejarlos por ahí”.</p> <p>El niño consuela a la abuela. Dice que ella no va a morir, porque ella es fuerte y grande. Al revés con el primo los horarios de pedir dinero en la calle e ir a la escuela, no reclama. </p><p>“Cuando vivía con la madre tenía comida todos los días y yo no salía para pedir, pero ella golpeaba mucho. A veces todavía me dolía y ella ya golpeaba de nuevo. Con la vuela sólo se pide pedir, pero ella es buena.&nbsp;</p> <p>La abuela confirma: “No hay otra manera. No tengo de dónde sacar dinero para comprar comida para ese tanto de gente “. Ella, que ya abrió de los remedios que no se donan en los puestos de salud, afirma querer para los nietos un destino diferente de los hijos. </p><p>“Nunca pensé que mi vida terminara así. “Peleé tanto y cuando pienso en lo que estoy viviendo, me veo como al principio: sin nada, con un montón de niños y sin tener qué hacer para mejorar la situación”.</p><p>___</p><p class="blockquote-new">Publicamos este artículo en el marco de nuestra alianza con Cosecha Roja . El original puede leer&nbsp;<a href="http://cosecharoja.org/los-huerfanos-olvidados-de-la-violencia-narco-en-fortaleza/">aquí</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/ch-gardiner/brasil-militariza-la-guerra-contra-el-crimen">Brasil militariza la guerra contra el crimen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/s-rgio-costa-francesc-badia-i-dalmases/la-desigualdad-persistente-el-controvertido">Desigualdad persistente: el controvertido legado de la Marea Rosa en América Latina</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/robert-mugga/la-guerra-santa-de-los-narcotraficantes-evang-licos-en-brasil">Narcotraficantes evangélicos llevan la &quot;guerra santa&quot; a Brasil</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Fortaleza </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta DemocraciaAbierta Fortaleza Brazil Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Marcia Feitosa Sun, 13 May 2018 18:56:48 +0000 Marcia Feitosa 117849 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Drug violence in Fortaleza, Brazil: the forgotten orphans https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/marcia-feitosa/drug-violence-in-fortaleza-forgotten-orphans <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Dozens of children roam the streets of Fortaleza. They are alone, they have no opportunities, and receive no assistance from the state. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/marcia-feitosa/la-narcoviolencia-en-fortaleza-los-hu-rfanos-olvidados">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/ilustra-01.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/ilustra-01.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="409" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Source: Cosecha Roja. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Torn apart, mutilated, amputated parents of children unable to understand exactly what they are searching for alone in the streets. In the case of the victims, depending on the charity available they search for a means to survive, nostalgic for a time when they were locked inside due to the so called war against drugs.</p><p>How do you explain to a child that 5000 more people were victims of executions in the last year alone in the state of Ceará alongside their father? There is simply no way. There is nothing comforting about nostalgia from a life that could have been.</p> <p>Scattered around the streets and with eyes of hunger, the orphan victims of the war between different factions in Fortaleza suffer without assistance, without guidance, without anyone thinking of them. </p><p>They do not know if they are going to eat today, if they will be alive tomorrow. They do not know who to turn to. All alone from traffic light to traffic light in a city that robbed them of their opportunities.</p> <p>A barefoot child in the doorway of a café of a fast food chain on Avenida Santos Dumont is prevented from entering by the private security guards, even though he guaranteed he had enough money to pay for his food. </p><p>Upon hearing the argument of “if we let you in you might ask for money or make the customers uncomfortable again”, at 11 years of age he already knows they do not want him. He cannot get too close, he is not one of the chosen ones.&nbsp;</p> <p>After some insistence, he enters. He eats a sandwich in only a few pressured bites. Later he reveals “All I wanted right now was to go to see a dentist cause I can’t sleep from tooth-ache. When I get there, the woman sends me away and tells me to call my mum. Another thing I really wanted was a pair of shoes because barefoot I can’t get on the road in time to ask for money from cars when the light’s green, the asphalt is really hot.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Some children still come into this world destined to a life in chains, the chains of their own parents. Slaves of their circumstances.</p> <p>A dentist and some shoes are the wishes of a child who does not even have documentation. Officially, he does not exist. He never went to school, he lived in various neighbourhoods. After his father was killed in June 2017, he went to live with his 16-year-old brother. </p><p>The mother had to be hospitalised after various relapses. “The mother seemed crazy, the father brought her drugs. After he died, she had no more. She even hit people. One day a man from church arrived and took her to the hospital, I don’t know where she is.”</p> <p>A young girl claims to be 7 years old according to the fingers she shows when asked. She asks for money outside a restaurant in Aldeota. She exists, but is invisible. </p><p>She has documents, goes to school, wants to be a doctor in a community of the neighbourhood in which she is a beggar, she lives with an aunt and she knows that her mother is in jail, but her extended hand seems unnoticeable alongside the refined perfume and shiny shoes that pass her by every day. </p><p>Most do not even glance at that tiny person that repeats like a machine “Hey, could you give me a dollar”. If it was dependent on prayers then they surely would. Sat on the floor, an elderly woman with her hands clasped watching carefully over the luxurious tower blocks says: “If god wills it my child, you will be a doctor”.</p> <h3>Free Womb</h3> <p>The 28th of September of 1871 was determined by the ‘Law of the Free Womb’ which claimed every female child of a slave born after that date would be free. 147 years later, some children still come into this world destined to a life in chains, the chains of their own parents. Slaves of their circumstances.</p> <p>7 months pregnant, a woman of 23 years old is holding a two year old in her arms on the corner of one of the busiest streets of Fortaleza.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">They killed my husband. I tried to get the child out. Have an abortion you know? But it didn’t work. Now I feel guilty, because the doctor says it’ll be born paralysed.&nbsp;</p><p>“They killed my husband. I tried to get the child out. Have an abortion you know? But it didn’t work. Now I feel guilty, because the doctor says it’ll be born paralysed. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. What kind of future can I give these children?” She declared whilst tears poured down her face and she received money from the open window of a car, a window open only enough to hand her the money and no more.</p> <p>Also with no way out is a woman of 26 years of age, recently arrived at the home of a relative in the neighbourhood of Quintino Cunha. </p><p>With three sons of 8, 5 and 3, she ran from the community in which she had been living after her partner was murdered. “They told me to leave my home. I left with the clothes on my back and some things for the children. The guy that threw me out gave a gun to my 5 year old son and told him to shoot. The poor kid couldn’t use it, and was told it was cause he was weak like his dad. He only knows what it’s like to run for his life and to feel hungry”.</p> <p>Without wanting to converse much, at 13 years old the child approaches cars on the Rua Padre Antonio Tomas. His father was murdered and he moved in with his mother to his grandmother’s house. Life made him an adult, it changed his dreams and his desires.</p> <p>In the doorway of a finance agency, an elderly lady sits on the floor with a child in her lap and whilst she gives instructions to the 8 year old, she bends down to place food on the table for the 5 grandchildren that live with her. </p><p>“The first three that arrived were my daughter’s. She brought the two children here so they could stay with me. I spent my life cleaning and pressing clothes for others, and just when I thought I was free, 5 children in need appear. I’m just scared of dying and leaving them alone.”</p> <p>The child consoles the grandmother. She says she won’t die because she is big and strong. Contrary to her cousin she does not complain about having to beg for money and go to school.</p> <p>“When I was living with mum I had food every day and didn’t go out to beg, but she hit me a lot. Sometimes it still hurts and she would hit again. With my grandma she only asks for me to beg but she’s good.”</p><p> The grandmother confirms: “There’s no other way. I have no way of getting money to buy food for so many people”. She says she wants her grandchildren to have a better life than her children. “I never thought my life would end like this. I fought so much and when I think about what I’m living I see myself at the beginning: without anything, with loads of kids and without a way to improve the situation”. &nbsp;</p><p>___</p><p class="blockquote-new">This article is being published in the framework of our partnership with Cosecha Roja. The original can be read&nbsp;<a href="http://cosecharoja.org/los-huerfanos-olvidados-de-la-violencia-narco-en-fortaleza/">here</a>.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/ch-gardiner/brazil-militarization-of-war-on-crime">Brazil militarizes its war on crime</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/s-rgio-costa-francesc-badia-i-dalmases/persistent-inequality-disputing-legacy-of-pink-tide-in-latin-">Persistent inequality: disputing the legacy of the pink tide in Latin America</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/robert-muggah/holy-war-of-evangelical-gang-leaders-in-brazil">How evangelical gang leaders are bringing a Holy War to Brazil</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Fortaleza </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Fortaleza Brazil Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Marcia Feitosa Sun, 13 May 2018 18:30:45 +0000 Marcia Feitosa 117847 at https://www.opendemocracy.net There is established US legal precedent on water torture https://www.opendemocracy.net/dan-plesch/there-is-established-us-legal-precedent-on-water-torture <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Does CIA nominee Gina Haspel agree with US convictions of Japanese for water torture?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36409927.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36409927.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>WASHINGTON, May 9, 2018. Gina Haspel, nominee for Director of Central Intelligence Agency, is sworn in to testify at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill. Ting Shen/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Gina Haspel’s nomination to be Director of the CIA has focused attention once more on the US’s use of torture, since her Commander in Chief, Donald Trump has lauded waterboarding (near-death by drowning/suffocation) and she is alleged to have supervised such activities against Al Qaeda suspects at an airbase in Thailand. </p> <p>Her nomination further shows the political widening of the Atlantic as the EU is preparing its <a href="http://www.eurojust.europa.eu/Practitioners/Genocide-Network/Pages/2016_05_23_EU-Day-Against-Impunity.aspx">annual day to end impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.</a> Both events can be enriched by a fuller awareness of the prosecution of these crimes in the 1940s.</p> <p>She is reported to have reassured Senators that she will not permit such interrogation techniques if appointed, and is prepared to accept recent US legislation that outlaws waterboarding and the US Military manual that does not authorise it. </p> <p>Nevertheless, there will be those, likely the President, who will wish to resume this and other tortures.&nbsp; So it is instructive to remind ourselves of US legal practice and political activism at the end of world war two. Three precedents from this era should add to the issues that the Senate Judiciary should raise with Ms Haspell this week. They provide evidence, if any might be needed, that banning&nbsp; and maltreatment of prisoners is not some form of modern political correctness.</p> <p>The <a href="http://werle.rewi.hu-berlin.de/tokio.pdf">International Military Tribunal for the Far East</a> found the Japanese leadership guilty amongst other matters of the systematic use of water torture. Many US military Tribunals convicted lower ranked Japanese of this crime and other tortures. And Senator Joseph McCarthy trumpeted that the honour of the US military was besmirched by interrogation practices including mock trials, beatings and poor diet inflicted on Nazi SS troopers by US war crimes prosecutors.</p> <p>“Among these tortures were the water treatment, burning, electric shocks, the knee spread, suspension, kneeling on sharp instruments and flogging.” &nbsp;“The so-called ‘water treatment’ was commonly applied. The victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach until he lost consciousness. Pressure was then applied, sometimes by jumping upon his abdomen to force the water out. The usual practice was to revive the victim and successively repeat the process.” The judges at Tokyo were unanimous in their decision and it is noteworthy that ‘water treatment’, what we now call ‘water boarding’, was first on the list of tortures they described in their judgement.&nbsp; </p> <p>Rank and file Americans who were subjected to water treatment found justice meted out to their Japanese captors by US military tribunals. For example in 1946 a US military tribunal sentenced Isamu Ishihara to life imprisonment for a variety of tortures including water treatment. Among his victims were Sergeants Minnick, Schick, Stowe, Stowers, Dr Foley of the US Navy and a US civilian Bernie Bergman. The evidence given was revoltingly graphic. The original charges and the trial reports were processed through the <a href="http://www.unwcc.org/unwcc-archives/">operational documents of the United Nations War Crimes Commission</a>. Trial reports processed in this way in the 1940s were found to have legal authority today by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.</p> <p>If Senators require even further support for the idea that torture and maltreatment of prisoners is un-American then they need look no further than to the views of one of their most well-known forbears and an apparent role model for President Trump.</p> <p>Senator <a href="https://aeon.co/ideas/the-malmedy-trial-how-the-truth-trumped-fake-torture-stories">Joseph McCarthy alleged</a> that it was unacceptable for US Army war crimes prosecutors and guards to use any physical violence or psychological techniques such as mock trials during the interrogation of the accused. Such behaviour he argued sullied the name of the United States and called into question the validity of convictions. He had come to the vocal defence of Nazi SS troopers who had demonstrably machine gunned defenceless US soldiers who had surrendered during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium in 1944. The SS men had been convicted by a US tribunal in 1946, but by 1949 McCarthy was bent on <a href="http://www.unwcc.org/chapters/">liberating the Nazis.</a> </p> <p>As Gina Haspel comes before the Senate it may be of some public interest to know whether she supports the high standard demanded by Senator McCarthy for the treatment of prisoners; where it was right to convict Japanese prison camp guards of the crime of water treatment and whether the Tokyo judgement against those who were in authority over the practice were justly convicted.</p> <p>If Haspel is confirmed as CIA Director despite sufficient prima facie evidence of her involvement in torture perhaps she will be open to arrest when she visits the European Union. The <a href="http://www.unwcc.org/chapters/">records of the 1940s</a> in US and Allied Courts and in the advisory opinion of the UN War Crimes Commission all provide strong support for the idea that commanders have responsibility for the actions of their subordinates. </p> <p>The EU day of action against international crimes is one more step against the tide of brazen impunity. It can benefit from realising that our predecessors in the 1940s created a system that indicted 36,000 people as war criminals – not only the 24 we often think of at Nuremburg – and that these charges resulted in over 10,000 convictions.&nbsp; Our <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/dan-plesch/human-rights-after-hitler-and-essential-role-of-global-popular">full appreciation</a> of that legacy was denied us by the success of McCarthyism when the processes were smeared and the records sealed for seventy years.&nbsp; But we need them now more than ever.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> EU United States Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Dan Plesch Fri, 11 May 2018 19:10:52 +0000 Dan Plesch 117841 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Understanding the rise of Orban: a lesson for western democracies in crisis https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/david-dorosz/understanding-rise-of-orban-lesson-for-western-democracies-in-crisis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Capitalism without oversight has the inherent possibility to destroy democracy – no matter how long it has been functioning in a given country. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35768664.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35768664.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"Hungary comes first with us." Victor Orban electoral campaign poster in Miskolc, Hungary, March 2018. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>The last couple of years have seen a worrisome trend of rising illiberalism across democratic societies. President Trump’s victory, the Brexit vote, emerging right-wing forces in Germany – these are all examples that the liberal democratic consensus is in serious crisis. </p> <p>The case of Hungary, whose fall into illiberalism starting in 2010, preceding all others, offers key lessons to understanding the causes of this crisis. After gradually coming to terms with the nature of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s regime, the international community has once again been shocked by the results of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/anthony-barnett/orb-n-get-lost-to-tulipy-cunt-hungary-threatens-european-union-photo-essay-from-buda">the Hungarian elections in April</a>. However, most observers seem to utterly miss the angle that makes the story of Hungary's last decades a case-study with international implications. <span class="mag-quote-center">Most observers utterly miss the angle that makes the story of Hungary's last decades a case-study with international implications.</span></p> <p>Viktor Orban’s electoral victories did not happen in a vacuum – they were direct consequences of the disillusionment that most Hungarians felt after 20 years of democracy. In the wake of the fall of communism, the early 1990s made Hungary the poster child for the post-communist transition: free-market capitalism backed by democratic institutions was swiftly adopted, and after a sluggish start, the economy experienced stable growth. </p> <p>All this change was led by urban, technocratic elites, who as ardent followers of the neoliberal orthodoxy, promised people that Hungary would catch-up with the west in 15 years. As good students of the then dominant deregulation theory they focused all their energy on creating a textbook neoliberal wonderland: austerity measures, privatization, deregulation, and courtship of multinational corporations ruled the land. As a result, the country consistently ranked high in international rankings. So what went wrong, what made people turn to a rising autocrat? <span class="mag-quote-center">As a result, the country consistently ranked high in international rankings. So what went wrong, what made people turn to a rising autocrat?</span></p> <p>In fact, not far under this enthusiastic surface a different story entirely had been developing. While on a superficial level Hungary looked like a fairytale of a free-market transition, the social conditions of the majority of the population entered a spiralling decline. </p> <p>As unchecked privatization and deregulation gave all the fruits of growth to multinational corporations and their small upper-middle class workforce, austerity measures took a heavy toll on the education and health-care systems. Accordingly, social mobility froze, and millions found their dreams for a better life crushed. The biggest victims of these trends were working-class and small town communities. Forsaken by the triumphant public discussions, these people’s everyday reality was steadily rising mortality rates, crumbling hospitals, and schools, structural unemployment, and status anxiety. </p> <p>Meanwhile, the ruling liberal elites seemed to be living in a bubble – they arrogantly denied even the existence of these severe social problems and viewed struggling communities as groups of backward Joe Six-Packs. No wonder that further strained by the global recession, voters wanted radical change. Enter Viktor Orban, whose illiberalism brought total state capture and wealth accumulation in favor of his inner circles. <span class="mag-quote-center">Meanwhile, the ruling liberal elites seemed to be living in a bubble – they… viewed struggling communities as groups of backward Joe Six-Packs.</span></p> <p>So an illiberal turn has the following ingredients: </p> <p>– neoliberal deregulation led by a technocratic elite living in a bubble of detachment; </p> <p>– masses left behind in their struggle and despair putting all their hopes in a rising strongman;</p> <p>– hatred for the distant and ignorant elites and their cultural norms. </p> <p>In the light of President’s Trump rise to power, this may sound profoundly familiar. My personal experiences confirm this: in 2016, just days before the presidential elections, I spent some days in the small working-class towns of Southern Iowa. The stories I heard from locals strongly echoed the ones I heard several times in the Hungarian countryside. Popular resentment rooted in economic anxiety, and strengthened by a hatred for the distant and ignorant elites and their cultural norms, are all symptoms that could be observed in such different countries as the US and Hungary. Thus, while democratic traditions and a healthy middle class may provide shields against undemocratic turns, they are unable to halt the threat if social cohesion is severely undermined as has happened in the US and other western countries. Neoliberal practices open the door to undemocratic forces.</p> <p>Because the best environment for the rise of illiberalism is unchecked, deregulated capitalism, the final objective of neoliberalism. By ruining the social fabric and postwar consensus of modern western societies, neoliberal practices open the door to undemocratic forces. Hence, capitalism without oversight has the inherent possibility to destroy democracy – no matter how long it has been functioning in a given country. </p> <p>So the lesson is clear: unless we create socially and economically inclusive societies, our freedoms will always be exposed to the attacks of extremist strongmen. In the last eight years, my country has been learning this lesson the hard way. I hope that her example will help others avoid a similar fate.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Populism, Trump, and the future of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/anthony-barnett/orb-n-get-lost-to-tulipy-cunt-hungary-threatens-european-union-photo-essay-from-buda">Hungary threatens the European Union – a photo essay from Budapest</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/gabor-scheiring/hungary-s-regime-is-proof-that-capitalism-can-be-deeply-authorita">Hungary’s regime is proof that capitalism can be deeply authoritarian</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Hungary Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics International politics David Dorosz Fri, 11 May 2018 17:08:42 +0000 David Dorosz 117838 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The illiberal tandem vs Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/maria-sk-ra/illiberal-tandem-vs-europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It’s not only the language and resetting of the agenda that the ruling parties of Hungary and Poland have in common. However, they do not mirror each other either.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34935892.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34935892.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A float caricaturing 'Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary and the leader of PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski' in the Rosenmontag carnival procession Duesseldorf,Germany, February 2018. Photo: Ina Fassbender/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Poland and Hungary tend to be paired up when discussing the political crisis of the European Union (EU). The reason is the emergence of so-called “illiberal democracies” in these eastern member states, which do not comply with some of the founding values of the EU. Viktor Orbán seized power in Hungary in 2010, and he’s just won the elections for the third term. In Poland, the Law and Justice party (PiS) has taken over after winning parliamentary elections in late 2015. Shortly after, in the Krynica Forum in October 2016 both party leaders, Jarosław Kaczyński and Viktor Orbán, announced they would <a href="mailto:https://www.ft.com/content/e825f7f4-74a3-11e6-bf48-b372cdb1043a">stand together for “cultural counter-revolution” and renewal of the post-Brexit EU.</a> So, how long will it last?</p> <h2><strong>Hand</strong><strong> </strong><strong>in</strong><strong> </strong><strong>hand</strong></h2> <p>Poland and Hungary are two independent states, with individual historical paths and nuanced political systems. Nevertheless, the ways in which Orbán and Kaczyński plotted their strategies to seize and keep power are alike. </p> <p>There are striking analogies in political communication applied by Fidesz and PiS. Their rhetoric embarks strongly on “anticommunism”, stressing the need for erasing communist leftovers and calling on the remaining post-communist establishment to finalise the transition. History is often thematised and reframed in current political debates. </p> <p>This process of awakening national pride goes hand in hand with euro-sceptic slogans, highlighting the cultural distance of the left-liberal West to Eastern Europe. Here, the Brussels-based dictate of European bureaucracy is invoked. The fight for economic independence and Christian values, especially in times of massive immigration to Europe, is its own moral imperative. </p> <p>In this context, the practical dimension of political mass-communication needs mentioning. <a href="https://budapestbeacon.com/hungary-decides-not-the-un-billboards-blanket-hungary/">Both in Hungary</a> as well as <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-08/poland-starts-ad-campaign-to-back-court-overhaul-disputed-in-eu">in Poland</a>, country-wide billboard campaigns have been orchestrated, explicitly explaining the rationales behind governmental decisions, e.g. on not accepting refugees (Hungary) or reforming the judiciary (Poland).</p> <h2><strong>National re-branding together</strong></h2> <p>Hungarian inspiration is also visible in the latest “rebranding” of the PiS government. Prime minister Beata Szydło was a literary embodiment of the “conservative counter-revolution”: fiercely attacking previous elites, rushing through far-reaching reforms, openly confronting the EU. </p> <p>After that phase, the “revolutionary cabinet” was replaced with that of Mateusz Morawiecki, a well-educated, soft-spoken ex-banker, however still of a conservative mindset, stressing national and Christian values, and promoting the “Polish” perspective. Morawiecki simultaneously comes across as open for dialogue with Europe and pro-business, with a focus on regaining Poland’s national economic assets. This is a blatant attempt to follow the Orbán-model in the competition to win the hearts of the middle class.</p> <h2><strong>Copycats</strong></h2> <p>It’s not only the language and resetting of the agenda that Fidesz and PiS share. Shortly after taking over power, a fundamental reorganisation of the judiciary was one of the first decisions of the Fidesz government: systemic reforms and institutional changes affected the Supreme Court/Kúria and the <a href="https://www.helsinki.hu/en/hungarys-government-has-taken-control-of-the-constitutional-court/">Constitutional Court</a>. The National Office for the Judiciary was established. </p> <p>Developments in Hungary culminated in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights <a href="https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/app/conversion/pdf?library=ECHR&amp;id=003-5416083-6778858&amp;filename=Grand%20Chamber%20judgment%20Baka%20v.%20Hungary%20-%20premature%20termination%20of%20the%20President%20of%20the%20Hungarian%20Supreme%20Court%27s%20mandate">ruling that the country violated the rights of András Baka</a>, the former President of the Hungarian Supreme Court. In Poland, judicial reforms started with fusing the offices of Attorney General and Minister of Justice, then followed with organisational and administrative changes in the functioning of the Constitutional Court, National Council of the Judiciary, and the Supreme Court. </p> <p>These steps were heavily criticised in 2016 by the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-AD(2017)031-e">Council of Europe's&nbsp;Venice Commission</a>; then the European Parliament passed a resolution declaring concerns about the paralysis of the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland. <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42420150">In December 2017, the European Commission decided to initiate Article 7.1 against Poland</a>, taking action to protect the rule of law in Europe.</p> <h2><strong>Civil society, media and electoral law</strong></h2> <p>Another example: manoeuvres around organised civil society, were embodied not only in the demonising of George Soros. Both in Hungary and in Poland, the credibility of organisations (co-)founded by foreign donations was publicly questioned. <a href="https://www.liberties.eu/en/news/new-governmental-attack-against-civil-society-in-hungary/14374">In Hungary, according to the proposed new law package on NGOs</a>, the organisations working with migrants will have to undergo national security screening, under the threat of a penalty fine. In Poland, the National Freedom Institute was launched, a central body responsible for coordinating dialogue between the government and the civil society. <a href="http://krytykapolityczna.pl/kraj/narodowy-instytut-wolnosci-czy-jest-sie-czego-bac/">Some organisations worry that it has not been equipped with high enough standards in grant-making procedures</a>, posing a threat to the sustainability of the independent third sector. </p> <p>Other analogies are to be seen in the changing media landscape. Both Kaczyński and Orbán understand the significance of mainstreaming their narratives and language into the public discourse through mass media, whether by <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/special-reports/assault-press-freedom-poland">taking control over public broadcasters (Poland)</a> or <a href="http://hungarianfreepress.com/2017/01/03/fidesz-dominance-of-hungarys-rural-media-depicted-on-a-map/">local press (Hungary)</a>. </p> <p>Next, some actions around electoral law introduced in Hungary, <a href="https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/hungarys_elections_free_but_not_fair">like redrawing constituency boundaries known as “gerrymandering”</a>, were also discussed in Poland. A common modus operandi is therefore clearly visible in the actions of these freshly elected authorities.</p> <h2><strong>Same</strong><strong>, </strong><strong>but</strong><strong> </strong><strong>different</strong></h2> <p>Although there are many similarities to be found between Hungary in Poland, it is not justified to present these countries as mirror cases. It is often forgotten that despite pulling all strings, Jarosław Kaczyński, the PiS party leader, is just an ordinary member of parliament, abstaining from taking any public offices. On the contrary, Viktor Orbán has held the PM position unchanged since 2010. This also tells us a lot about the leadership style of both gentlemen as well as about the structure of their parties: the hierarchical, commanding style of a single authority in PiS differs from the court united around Viktor Orbán. </p> <p>Here, another distinction: Orbán’s Hungary is more and more often referred to as an <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/ecf6fb4e-d900-11e7-a039-c64b1c09b482">“oligarch state</a>” or <a href="https://www.transparency.org/news/pressrelease/20110308_hungary_institutions">“state capture”</a>, where close personal links overlap with lucrative investments and public contracts. A certain coterie benefits from it in monetary terms. Meanwhile, Kaczyński operates in a more disciplined way. In the early 1990s, in times of massive privatisation, the predecessors of today’s PiS party were handed over to a previously state-owned publishing house, together with the accompanying estates in Warsaw. Today, these assets are said to be a reliable and unconditional backup for the party, a collective wealth serving the cause, not individual profits.</p> <p>Fidesz and PiS are conservative in their mindset and therefore stand for traditional values. However, the Hungarian government seems to be more relaxed on minority rights. Unlike in Poland, same-sex partnerships have remained recognized in Hungary since 2009. No amendments around reproductive rights have been put in place either. Ever since PiS has taken over, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/11/polish-mps-reject-liberalised-abortion-laws-but-back-new-restrictions">Polish women regularly face the risk of restricting abortion laws</a>. After all, it is not by accident that at the European level, Fidesz is affiliated with the European People’s Party (EPP), centre-right Christian-democrats, whereas PiS has joined the European Conservatives and Reformists, the Euro-sceptic right-wing of the European Parliament.</p> <p>Last but not least: Russia. Poland’s approach to its big neighbour has been overshadowed not only by the past but also by the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Polish_Air_Force_Tu-154_crash">Smoleńsk aircrash</a> in 2010, which cost the lives of 96 top ranking passengers, including the former President, Lech Kaczyński. In 2018 Putin’s Russia is still perceived as a danger, whether in the economic sense (e.g. <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/a8128350-6844-11e6-a0b1-d87a9fea034f">by exercising embargo on Polish agricultural products</a>) or in the military one, due to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. By contrast, the pragmatism of Orbán is reflected in Hungary seeking infrastructure partnership and building bridges with Russia. <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paks_Nuclear_Power_Plant#Expansion">Paks nuclear power plant</a> is the flagship investment for that matter and a tangible example of Orbán’s pragmatism. </p> <h2><strong>Future</strong><strong> prospects </strong><strong>of</strong><strong> </strong><strong>the</strong><strong> </strong><strong>illiberal</strong><strong> </strong><strong>revolution</strong><strong>?</strong></h2> <p>The ideological stimulus of PiS is different from Orbán’s goal-oriented tactics and relative flexibility. He knew when to take a step back when <a href="https://dailynewshungary.com/orbans-cabinet-submits-amendment-higher-education-law/">the EU Commission and EPP critically addressed the amendment to Hungary’s higher education law</a>, whereas the collision course chosen by Beata Szydło pushed Poland into the ominous Article 7 procedure. </p> <p>At the same time, in the confrontation of the European Commission and Poland, Orbán explicitly stated that <a href="http://www.pap.pl/en/news/news,1221941,hungarian-pm-defence-of-poland-is-in-hungarys-interest.html">"Hungary will be there and form an insurmountable roadblock"</a> against sanctioning the Polish government for introducing reforms contradicting the European understanding of the rule of law. His firm position is a kind of self-insurance in case the EU would one day turn against Hungary. After all, as demonstrated above, the means and measures implemented in both countries are similar. </p> <p>Jarosław Kaczyński, usually not very keen on travelling, lately made his way to Budapest to manifest his support for the Hungarian ally shortly before elections. In his address after the successful vote, Orbán expressed his gratitude to the Polish leaders. And so, the illiberal affair in East-Central Europe continues. Nevertheless, its future depends now on the performance of the Polish partners in the parliamentary election in 2019. There, the results should not be taken for granted.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-newright/article_358.jsp">The &quot;real&quot; Viktor Orbán</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/karl-pfeifer/orban-regime-takes-horthy-s-hungary-as-example">The Orban regime takes Horthy’s Hungary as an example</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rob-sharp/creeping-cull-of-cultural-diversity-in-orban-hungary">The creeping cull of cultural diversity in Orbán&#039;s Hungary </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/anthony-barnett/orb-n-get-lost-to-tulipy-cunt-hungary-threatens-european-union-photo-essay-from-buda">Hungary threatens the European Union – a photo essay from Budapest</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/adam-chmielewski/unsympathetic-people-and-overwhelming-success-of-polands-exclusi">Unsympathetic people: the overwhelming success of Poland&#039;s exclusionary agenda</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/nanor-kebranian/poland-s-holocaust-law-redefines-hate-speech">Poland’s ‘holocaust law’ redefines hate speech</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/nils-mui-nieks/poland-s-duty-to-preserve-judicial-independence">Poland has a duty to preserve judicial independence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/poland_s_generational_shift">Poland’s generational shift </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item even"> Poland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Poland Hungary Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Maria Skóra Fri, 11 May 2018 13:53:15 +0000 Maria Skóra 117835 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The tragic death of Peruvian indigenous healer Olivia Arévalo https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/sebasti-n-ortega-jhonny-valle-ayuque/tragic-death-of-indigenous-healer-olivia-ar-v <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Leader of the Shipibo-konibo community, Olivia Arévalo Lomas, was 81 years old when she was shot in the chest and murdered. The principal suspect, Canadian Paul Woodroffe, died a few hours later. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/sebasti-n-ortega-jhonny-valle-ayuque/la-tragica-muerte-de-curandera-ind-gena-olivi">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/guardiana_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/guardiana_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="329" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Olivia Arévalo Lomas, Source: Cosecha Roja. All Rights Reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>The leader, practitioner of traditional medicine and defender of the Peruvian Amazon, Olivia Arévalo Lomas, of Shipibo-konibo ethnicity, was 81 years old when she was murdered last Thursday by two 380 calibre shots to the chest. </p><p>The main suspect, Canadian Paul Woodroffe died shortly after: a group of community members dragged him through the streets and beat him to death.</p> <p>Olivia was a known shaman of Victoria Gracia, an intercultural settlement in the district of Yarinacocha. “Her death is an aggression against the entire Shipibo community. </p><p>She was the living memory of her people” explained Juan Carlos Ruíz Molleda, coordinator of the department of indigenous communities and constitutional litigation of the NGO Institute of Legal Defence.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The day that they murdered Olivia, another woman from the Shipibo community, Magdalena Flores Agustín, received an anonymous envelope at her home. Inside there were two bullets and a letter directed to her and her husband.</p><p>It was not only members of her own Shipibo community, a village of more than 35,000 people that inhabit the amazon rainforest of Peru that turned to the guardian. She also attended to dozens of tourists who sailed for more than 15 hours down the river Ucayali to cure themselves of illnesses and to treat addictions.</p> <p>“She was a grandmother who worked with medicinal plants”, Wilder Muñoz Díaz told Cosecha Roja, a traditional Shipibo doctor from a nearby community that shared healing ceremonies with Olivia. “It was very painful for us finding about her death”, he added.</p> <p>Despite the main leads regarding the crime having discarded the possibility it might have been a political crime, indigenous communities have remained on alert.</p><p> The murder of the Amazonian guardian occurred in a context of territorial conflict between the Shipibo community and companies that desire to take over their land to cultivate palm oil.</p> <p>The exploitation of the Peruvian amazon “affects the subsistence” of every community within the region explains Ruíz Molleda. They contaminate rivers where people wash themselves and fish, and they destroy the land in which the animals they hunt live. </p><p>In the past few years, around 6000 hectares of rainforest were deforested by companies who were operating illegally.</p> <p>“The communities don’t want to sell their lands and that’s when hitmen start appearing”, according to Ruíz Molleda. In 2013 Mauro Pío Peña, historic leader of the Ashaninka community, was murdered by two hitmen. </p><p>The following year, Edwin Chota Valera, Leoncio Quintisima Meléndez, Francisco Pinedo Ramírez and Jorge Ríos Pérez, leaders from the Ashaninka community, were also murdered.</p> <p>The suspicions point to wood extraction entrepreneurs that illegally exploit the amazon rainforest and drug traffickers who had threatened them. In 2015, other leaders and members of the Shipibo community of Santa Clara de Uchunya were threatened.</p> <p>The day that they murdered Olivia, another woman from the Shipibo community, Magdalena Flores Agustín, received an anonymous envelope at her home. Inside there were two bullets and a letter directed to her and her husband: “you have 48 hours to leave here. One bullet for each of you”. </p><p>The investigators of the crime are following two leads: according to the first version, on the 19th of April the Canadian Woodroffe arrived at Olivia’s house by motorbike. When she left to go to the shops he shot her twice in the chest.</p><p> Two days later the police found the body of the Canadian buried on their terrain. They arrived there after discovering a video on social media in which several men can be seen lynching Woodroffe.&nbsp;</p> <p>The investigators suspect that the neighbours of the leader caught him when he tried to escape and they dragged him with a rope around his neck whilst they beat him. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Justice of Ucayali ordered the capture of the two men who appear in the video.&nbsp;</p> <p>“What happened with the supposed suspect of the murder of Olivia Arévalo is not indigenous justice and it has nothing to do with it” explained Ruíz Molleda. </p><p>The Peruvian constitution establishes that the authorities within indigenous and rural communities may carry out justice in their own territory according to their customs. “But always with respect for human rights”, explained the lawyer of the NGO Legal Defence.&nbsp;</p><p> The Shipibo Konibo Xetebo Council (Coshicox), the highest authority within the Shipibo – Konibo – Xetebo community, condemned the crime and declared that justice is compatible with indigenous culture.</p><p> The Federation of Native Communities of Ucayali and Alfluentes (Feconau) also asked the state to provide guarantees to other indigenous leaders that receive death threats and harassment.&nbsp;</p><p>______</p><p><span>This article was published in the framework of our partnership with Cosecha Roja . The original can be read</span><a href="http://cosecharoja.org/que-hay-detras-del-crimen-de-la-guardiana-de-la-amazonia-peruana/">&nbsp;here.</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/robert-soutar/year-after-berta-c-ceres-murder-protecting-planet-is-just-as-deadly">A year after Berta Cáceres’ murder, protecting the planet is just as deadly</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/sebasti-n-ortega/santiago-maldonado-truth-about-what-happened-in-morgue">Santiago Maldonado: the truth about what happened in the morgue</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peru </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Peru Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality International politics Jhonny Valle Ayuque Sebastián Ortega Fri, 11 May 2018 13:35:18 +0000 Sebastián Ortega and Jhonny Valle Ayuque 117772 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The eyes of Iran and its children: ordinary lives, Iranian sanctions and Donald Trump’s rejection of the nuclear deal https://www.opendemocracy.net/sara-takafori/eyes-of-iran-and-its-children-ordinary-lives-iranian-sanctions-and-donald-trump-s-reje <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On Tuesday night before the announcement, one ex-blogger wrote on Telegram how it seemed that Iran was engaged in early preparations for another New Year – everyone super alert.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Children_of_Iran_کودکان_در_ایران_04.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Children_of_Iran_کودکان_در_ایران_04.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Children of Iran, December 2017. Wikicommons/ Mostafameraji. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>On Tuesday night, I was on the plane coming back from giving a talk, when Donald Trump announced his rejection of the Iran nuclear deal. </p> <p>The subject of the talk, ironically, was the economic sanctions and the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/07/iran-santions-suffering">ordinary suffering</a> of Iranians. With a few exceptions, which sadly did not lead to more persistent and lasting attention, mainstream and western media accounts of economic sanctions have presented the nuclear dispute with Iran in a narrow and exclusionary framework which has focused on questions of the level of uranium enrichment, and the constant question mark posed over Iran’s compliance. </p> <p>Meanwhile whilst the technicalities are hotly debated, the pain and predicament of the bodies of ordinary Iranians bearing the weight of sanctions seems to have been either ignored and side-lined, or even worse, deemed <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/opinion/sunday/kristof-pinched-and-griping-in-iran.html">as the necessity which facilitates optimal success</a>. </p> <h2><strong>Life under sanctions</strong></h2> <p>During the last four years doing research on the politics of Iran’s social media as they related to life under the US-led sanctions, I often came across highly emotionally charged accounts where people would attempt to describe their lives as a way of documenting and lending legitimacy to their frustrations, despair and anger directed towards the imposers of the sanctions – not only those so often referred to in Iran as ‘the westerners’<span>,</span> but also the mostly conservative elements within the Iranian governing regime who wanted to pursue the nuclear program. &nbsp;</p> <p>The following is a Facebook comment posted in February 2015, a few months before the deal was struck. It is in the form of an informal letter addressed to Javad Zarif, as though the writer is drawing on a personal relationship in order to highlight a matter of great urgency:&nbsp; </p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;‘In what language do I need to say you that we don’t want nuclear energy? At what expense do we have nuclear power? At the expense of a sick child in his dad’s arms, dying because of not having enough money for drugs? At the expense of poverty and prostitution among the youth? At the expense of children sleeping with empty stomachs? At the expense of fathers losing their jobs? Really, at what expense? If we open our eyes [we see] economic sanctions have affected us, in fact affected us immensely. Really, people don’t deserve to live like this. […] You please do whatever you can with your own hands to lift the sanctions quickly. The eyes of Iran and its children are on you.’ </p></blockquote> <h2><strong>The spectators of suffering<a href="#_ftn1"><strong>[1]</strong></a></strong></h2> <p>I’ll be situating this in relation to what Iranians commonly feel to be a western lack of recognition of their suffering lives, what they refer to as their ‘despairing’ life and ‘broken backs’, a Farsi expression invoking the misery of existence. So, it was not a total surprise when I found myself agitated for the entire duration of the flight, for we had taken off just before the US president announced his decision on the fate of the nuclear deal.&nbsp; </p> <p>We had barely landed when, with a mixture of joy and distress, I heard the captain’s voice announcing that comforting phrase: ‘you may wish now to switch your phones on’. I checked my Telegram and Twitter for all the bad news updates even before I grabbed my hand luggage. I learned not only that the US would be <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/world/middleeast/trump-iran-nuclear-deal.html?emc=edit_na_20180508&amp;nl=breaking-news&amp;nlid=78959063ing-news&amp;ref=headline">abandoning</a> the long-sought agreement, but that it would also ensure the reimposition of the sanctions on Iran which had been lifted or postponed. </p> <p>And I was only one of millions sharing their distress: the Iranian social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Telegram – the two latter amongst the most popular Farsi online platforms – were already accumulating the intensity of what everyone was feeling and thinking about the possible consequences of Trump’s speech. </p> <p>On my Telegram platform, people had already started constructing and mediating satire and jokes, and also capturing feelings of vulnerability, frustration, fear and anger. Telegram is amongst the most popular social media applications for the ordinary Iranian public, yet <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/18/iran-prepares-to-block-messaging-app-telegram">the most controversial and provocative</a> one under the ruling class’s eagle eyes (it doesn’t take much time to figure out there isn’t a happy marriage between the Iranian public and the conservative governing regimes). </p> <p>One of my regular reads is an ex-blogger who had left off blogging – ‘weblogistan’ is now a graveyard of dead sites – to try her luck on Telegram. She has been writing about everyday life and has over three thousand subscribers. That night she wrote how it seemed that Iran was engaged in early preparations for another New Year – everyone super alert, sitting and waiting excitedly to hear the fireworks. Her daughters, already in bed, were waiting for Trump’s decision; the youngest one, poking her head out from under the duvet, sleepily asked: ‘is he in or out?’.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Far away from her, I was barely able to sit on my seat during the flight, desperate to hear whether Trump was ripping up so many hearts and hopes. It is true that since 2015, and the sheer euphoria over the final nuclear deal between Iran and the ‘5+1’ global powers, ordinary people’s lives have not gone back to ‘normal’. Nevertheless, the hope persists in the public, the hope for an eventual sanctions-free future.&nbsp; </p> <p>The prospect of a nuclear deal had been the subject of everyday household talk in Iran – something we would talk about over dinner, or at parties, weddings and funeral gatherings. After 2010’s Comprehensive Sanctions Act (CISADA), when sanctions began to seriously bite into ordinary lives, the prospect of an agreement seemed unbelievable, or at least not on the cards any time soon. When Barack Obama announced the deal, taking pride and joy in what he called at the time <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/world/middleeast/obama-strongly-defends-iran-nuclear-deal.html">‘our best bet’</a>, it was not only perceived as a victory for the then US president and his European counterparts; it was caressed by ordinary Iranians as the hope they longed for. </p> <h2><strong>‘Broken backs’</strong></h2> <p>Since the 1979 revolution, which resulted in the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Iran has been under various types of sanctions, but the intensified sanctions on Iran effectively began in 2006 and reached their climax in 2010.&nbsp; In response to allegations concerning Iran’s attempts to develop a nuclear weapons capacity, the UN Security Council imposed additional sanctions, which were binding upon all member states.&nbsp; Meanwhile, the US continued unilaterally expanding its punitive measures. The US also threatened punitive measures against any countries trading with Iran – an act which was criticized even by US allies as extra-territorial interference. &nbsp;Joy Gordon points out that the set of sanctions called (CISADA) or the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/10/18/the-human-costs-of-the-iran-sanctions/">were the severest measures against Iran, with strong similarities to the disastrous sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s</a>. &nbsp;As Erica Moret, a senior researcher at the Institute of International and Development Studies and chair of the Geneva International Sanctions Network explains, economic sanctions <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09662839.2014.893427">went well beyond the authorized</a> sanctions by the UN Security Council resolutions, and have had broad, indiscriminate effects on economic and social life in Iran, in particular on the availability of medicine and cost of imported goods.&nbsp; They also affected Iran’s energy sector, and not only the cost but the safety of transportation: plane crashes were frequent, given that Iran wasn’t allowed to obtain spare parts for its aircraft.</p> <h2><strong>In or out?</strong></h2> <p>As I write this, I give myself a break to chat on Facebook with a long-time friend of mine in Iran. The conversation starts with him saying ‘hey, every minute I feel more and more disgusted by what is happening. The worst thing is to take away the hope from people, and this is something which, by an amazing stroke of luck, both “the inside” and “the outside” are generous enough to do for us’. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I felt his bitter sarcasm in my heart. He did not even need to explain what he meant by the terms ‘inside’ and ‘outside’: we both knew them from all the discussions that had publicly emerged on social media, first on Facebook and latterly, when the star of Facebook began to fade, on Twitter and Telegram. </p> <p>Last night, I spent hours navigating what was being said. These terms had yet again returned, surfacing in online discussions around the unlikely proximity of hardliners and conservatives in Iran to hardliners in the United States, given that all of them had been hostile to the deal from the moment it was signed. </p> <p>The success of Dr Hassan Rouhani’s presidential campaign in 2013 in mobilising people was precisely due to his invocation of a hope that the economic sanctions would come to an end, and with that the promise that a better life will emerge; Hassan Rouhani was able to generate this hope by granting the Iranian public an acknowledgement and recognition of their pain and suffering, long denied both by &nbsp;western countries, but also by Iranian conservatives. Let’s remember Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s famous statement that the sanctions did not have any effect on ordinary people: they were ‘a torn piece of paper’! </p> <h2><strong>Risks?</strong></h2> <p>So I write now to highlight the importance of bringing the vulnerability of bodies in pain and the precariousness of lives – children suffering shortages of medicine, people with chronic disease, the bitterness of people not being able to provide for their families – back into a political sphere currently alive with discussions on Iran’s nuclear programme and sanctions.&nbsp; </p> <p>Yet again, in that part of the political sphere which gets the spotlight – especially in the European Union countries – attention is wholly occupied with analyses, ideas, and hypotheses about the future of trade with Iran, and the ‘risks’ – to people or business? – of reducing engagement. This is why I am a social media enthusiast – for its role in bringing to the surface those fragments of everyday lives which do not always cohere outside it, for bitterly angry people who do not watch what they say, who do not mind at all that what they say does not count within the so called ‘real’ political sphere, with its traditional or ‘legacy’ media.&nbsp; </p> <p>Believe me, compared with the scale of destruction and interruption of ordinary life wrought by the economic sanctions over the years, I now consider as banal my occasional – though traumatising – arrests by the infamous morality police in Tehran for not wearing my scarf ‘properly’. This, if you like, was part of an everyday mundane practice of resistance and not that disruptive – at least then I could hold onto a job, in between getting notices to attend the police station. </p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> The phrase is borrowed from the title of the book <em>The Spectatorship of Suffering</em> (2006) by Lilie Chouliaraki. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/target-tehran">Target Tehran</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/mary-fitzgerald/trump-s-folly-with-iran-means-europe-must-show-what-it-stands-for">Trump’s folly with Iran means Europe must show what it stands for</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/kourosh-ziabari/iran-deal-when-american-and-iranian-conservatives-are-on-same">The &quot;Iran deal&quot;: when American and Iranian conservatives are on the same side</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Iran Civil society Conflict International politics Internet Sara Tafakori Fri, 11 May 2018 10:17:48 +0000 Sara Tafakori 117830 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Silence and din define Indian journalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/openIndia/l-k-sharma/silence-and-din-define-indian-journalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ravish Kumar has recorded the Republic of Fear for posterity. These are the heroes of World Press Freedom Day.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 20.24.48.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 20.24.48.png" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot: Prime Time with Ravish Kumar, May 9, 2018, NDTV. YouTube.</span></span></span>In India today, one cannot talk of science, history or politics without a reference to mythology. Godmen and astrologers make their daily pronouncements on the TV channels. So, how does one report the emergence of an independent journalist in a sea of embedded media. One attributes it to the divine intervening to reform His degraded profession! </p> <p>Sorry, this outrageous statement was designed to make you read this piece on Ravish Kumar, a TV anchor from India. In order to be read or heard today, one has to shout and shock. In the confrontation-loving high-decibel society, the one who shouts the loudest wins. <span class="mag-quote-center">In order to be read or heard today, one has to SHOUT and SHOCK.</span></p> <p>Most newspaper readers have got addicted to hyperbole and rhetoric and the TV viewers to screaming anchors. Journalism promotes vitiated public discourse and falls victim to it. “On the other hand,” is a phrase banished from journalism. Fair journalists are hunted and silenced. Those of the other kind are bought and deployed to make maniac noises in favour of the ruling establishment and against its critics.</p> <p>A sober beginning to this article would not have worked. &nbsp;“Indian journalism in crisis” would strike no new note since this is not typical of India alone. America’s President is told every day that free press is essential for sustaining democracy.</p> <h2><strong>Dark spots</strong></h2> <p>The theme of this World Press Freedom Day on May 3 was “Keeping Power in Check: Media Justice and the Rule of Law”. One heard stirring calls on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists. Many depressing headlines marked the occasion. One from India said: “Bastar journalist charged with sedition for sharing cartoon lampooning the government.” With seven complaints registered against reporters in one month, the police of the Chattisgarh state are notorious for acting against journalists. Old headlines of journalists murdered featured in opinion pieces.</p> <p>The threats to press freedom even by the so-called democratic governments were discussed. Some references came up to the internal threat from within the profession. Veteran journalist Thalif Deen recalled that once a Malaysian politician, asked about the leading newspapers in his country, shot back: “We have only misleading newspapers”.</p> <p>Reports about the dark spots carried references to fake news, enforced disappearances of journalists, authoritarian governments tightening grip on press freedom, getting away with murder in Slovakia, pre-election tension threatening free speech in Brazil, Azerbaijan blocking news websites, Kenyan journalists feeling heat, and to internet freedom rapidly degrading in Southeast Asia.</p> <h2><strong>Hostile environment</strong></h2> <p>There is a hostile environment in India in which Ravish Kumar and other independent journalists work. They are attacked by the devotees of the Modi Government. Ravish Kumar’s fans keep alerting him and wishing for his safety and security. Ravish Kumar works for a Hindi TV channel. Thanks to the translation of one of his books in English many more citizens can understand the dangers to democracy that he warns against in his Hindi programmes.</p> <p><em>The Free Voice: Ravish Kumar on Democracy, Culture and the Nation </em>is a more searing document than a Free Press Inquiry Commission Report. Of course, it is more interesting to read. The author recalls that within a few months in 2017, journalists were forced to gather twice to condemn violence against colleagues. In a sequel to this book, he will have to say, “our speeches made no difference as threats and violence against journalists continued or even increased”.</p> <p>The chapter headings give a flavour of Ravish Kumar’s short book: The Robo-Public and the Building of a New Democracy. The National Project for Instilling Fear. Wherever a Mob Gathers is Hitler’s Germany. <span class="mag-quote-center">The Robo-Public and the Building of a New Democracy. The National Project for Instilling Fear. Wherever a Mob Gathers is Hitler’s Germany. </span></p> <p>The book covers an area wider than just press freedom. Ravish Kumar refers to the wars for religious pride. He writes about the ongoing battles against what some radical Hindus call ‘Love Jihad’. “Every other day a handful of goons go on a rampage because a girl of one faith chooses to marry a boy of another faith.” </p> <p>Internal threats to press freedom are not new. In many democratic countries, including India, advertisers and media owners diminished it. Some of the organisations fighting for press freedom during the cold war era never dealt with this internal threat. The state was their only target and change of regime their goal.</p> <p>A western media mogul inspired his Indian counterparts to transform journalism into a profit-making ‘infotainment’ business. The media feeds the readers and viewers with what they supposedly want. The owners dumped the editors who thought the readers should be given what is good for them and for society! What the newspaper readers really want remains a controversial topic. The readers’ appetite can be whetted by titillating stories and images. If a tabloid prints a naked woman’s photo, its rival has to flash two women. It is said that readers of a British tabloid do not care who ruled the country as long as they see the photos of porn stars every morning! <span class="mag-quote-center">What the newspaper readers really want remains a controversial topic.</span></p> <p>Most TV anchors can be called the children of a former TV star, an American of Irish origin, who gained mass popularity for his extreme right-wing views and for his ability to silence his studio guests with insults. His pernicious influence afflicted a host of Indian TV journalists. </p> <h2><strong>Badge of honour</strong></h2> <p>Ravish Kumar seeks to counter such trends night after night, challenging his Hindi TV viewers to change to another channel if the issues of unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and sick hospitals and under-funded state schools do not interest them and if they are obsessed with the Hindu-Muslim debates engineered by the vote-grabbing politicians.</p> <p>His selection of topics can bore the viewer looking for titillation. The disclosure that so many schools have neither teachers nor buildings and so many officially electrified villages turn dark at night may interest some concerned citizens. But most others want to know whether Rekha was seen with A or with B at last night’s Bollywood bash. So, Ravish Kumar’s news and discussion agenda drags his channel down in the ratings competition and affects its balance sheet. However, his channel wears it as a badge of honour and Ravish Kumar gets an honourable mention in select circles of media critics and enlightened TV watchers.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 20.18.28.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 20.18.28.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot: Ravish Kumar's Speech On Fake News Order At Press Club Of India, April 2018. YouTube.</span></span></span>He refrains from using the formula to win the ratings war. Apart from politics, he covers education and health extensively, highlights public grievances, failures of the administration and hypocrisy of politicians. He does this effectively, gently and with a literary flair. Irony and satire mark his coverage at a time when many other journalists either lack this talent or dare not use it lest an intolerant government is offended. Ravish Kumar seeks to give voice to the powerless. He cajoles the powerful to hear the voices from the margins. </p><p>Such journalistic conduct was taken for granted once but “old-fashioned” journalism has gone out of fashion. Ravish Kumar is conscious of his profession’s failures and indulges in self-criticism. He distilled his disappointment in a memorable programme titled “TV stricken with TB”. That night, black screen was all that there was to see. A powerful commentary made up for the loss of picture. The surprised viewers were told that the black TV screen was not due to a technical problem but was designed to make a point! </p> <h2><strong>Unleashing the Rottweilers</strong></h2> <p>The risks that Ravish Kumar takes by practicing developmental journalism pale into insignificance when compared to the risk to his life and limbs that he takes by criticising the Modi Government. He is spared no threats, abuses and insults. And these are not just via the social media. He has been chased and his live interviews interrupted by bikers. After one such incident, he telecast a programme recreating the scene through computer graphics and images of menacing shadowy figures. It seemed like a thriller film clip.</p> <p>Many others like Ravish Kumar face similar problems. The women journalists refusing to be embedded anger the ruling party activists even more. A minister calls them “presstitutes”. Not many fellow journalists protest. Some because they have been won over by the ruling establishment flaunting its power to punish and reward. <span class="mag-quote-center">The women journalists refusing to be embedded anger the ruling party activists even more.</span></p> <p>Ravish Kumar and his ilk work in a hostile environment. Dealing with independent journalists has been outsourced since official measures to curb press freedom attract too much frontal criticism. This kind of threat is new for India. It once went through a much darker but brief period when the state suppressed press freedom and arrested some dissenting journalists. That was when the Indira Gandhi Government declared Emergency and suspended the civil rights. Then the suppression of press freedom was blatant and was there for all to see. These days “crowds” deal directly with the critics of the government which may signal to the police force to look the other way. <span class="mag-quote-center">Dealing with independent journalists has been outsourced.</span></p> <p>This method is subtle and insidious and invites less criticism. When the state suppresses press freedom, it becomes an identifiable target for the NGOs and brave newspaper editors. The BJP-ruled Government of Rajasthan tried to curb press freedom through an official order but had to retreat in the face of powerful protests. </p> <p>A safer strategy is to unleash state-sponsored or state-inspired Rottweilers against a few targeted journalists. Dissenters and critics can be silenced as easily by threats of physical and psychological violence delivered by goons personally or through social media, as by a local police inspector knocking at the door at midnight. </p> <h2><strong>Debate abandoned</strong></h2> <p>Once goons terrorise, discretion trumps bravery. Self-censorship attracts little attention and the government achieves its objective without getting blamed. This has become common in democracies where unconstitutional conduct against suspected terrorists is outsourced by the governments.</p> <p>Reporting rising sectarian violence makes independent journalists more vulnerable. When the accused persons belong to a political outfit, the party activists attack the reporters. Ravish Kumar writes: “Today, the number of people who spread hatred by highlighting this reason or that or by exploiting various inequalities has increased exponentially.” He talks about the erosion of liberty and dignity, the undermining of the Constitution and democracy and the collapse of institutions.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 19.50.43.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 19.50.43.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot: Ravish Kumar Acceptance Speech 'Journalist of the Year', 2016. You Tube.</span></span></span>The author scrutinises the Government’s mal-intention and society’s response. It is a field report on the spurt in intolerance, hate and sectarianism. It is about an emerging dictatorial order underpinned by mobocracy and populist politics spreading like wildfire in this post-fact era. The tradition of debate and dialogue has been abandoned. To be a critic of the ruling establishment is to be the enemy of the nation. <span class="mag-quote-center">To be a critic of the ruling establishment is to be the enemy of the nation.</span></p> <p>Ravish Kumar records the proliferation of programmed Indians who can see only one face (that of the Prime Minister). “They are programmed to dismiss not only contrary opinion, but also discussion. They listen to nothing, they read nothing. Those who behold a different sight are enemies and traitors – in the context of India, they would be anti-Modi, anti-Hindu, anti-national.”</p> <h2><strong>Robo-public</strong></h2> <p>He continues: “Fake news first falsified news and journalism and it is now turning the citizens fake. The Robo-public is a fake public. A fake public makes a fake Republic, a fake political consciousness, a fake democracy.”</p> <p>Ravish Kumar begins the book narrating his own encounter with fear that affects all those who speak out. He describes the deadly feeling while handling a report about the sudden death of a judge dealing with a case featuring allegations against a powerful politician who went on to become the President of the ruling party. Ravish Kumar chose to speak out. <span class="mag-quote-center">Ravish Kumar chose to speak out.</span></p> <p>Some honest police officers or independent judges protecting the powerless must have been gripped by a similar fear during their careers, but Ravish Kumar recalls his experience with a literary flair. So, his introduction to the book becomes a moving and frightening document. </p> <p>He breaks the shuddering silence surrounding that sensitive news story. He delivers the sensitive report on NDTV concluding with the words: “Now whatever will be, will be”. The closing sentence, he says, was “for my viewers, and also for myself”. Having done the programme, he finds release from the fear that had held him in its suffocating grip for two days.</p> <p>This independent journalist says he makes the journey from fear to courage every day. “My days start with the trolls’ abuses and threats and end with the thought that I should be careful for the sake of my job.”</p> <h2><strong>Republic of Fear</strong></h2> <p>The recent transformation of the nation into a Republic of Fear has been observed by all but only a few like Ravish Kumar have recorded it for posterity that will inherit an officially revised history of the nation, its religions, and its leaders. </p> <p>The author says: Post 2014, the political winds began to change course. Criticism of the government began to be equated with criticism of the nation. A factory called the IT Cell was set up and many varieties of fear were manufactured inside its basement. </p> <p>The trolls of the IT Cell mounted fierce attacks on anyone who dared to ask questions. They were called many things, from anti-nation, anti-religion to even pimps of the opposition media…. Even serving ministers began to attack reporters. The IT Cell (of the ruling party) rapidly transformed media into lapdog media. He notes that many anchors and journalists crept into the laps of power and began to sing praises of Prime Minister Modi.</p> <p>Ravish Kumar refers to the IT Cell running the WhatsApp university that specialises in teaching fake and poisonous history. He quotes politicians threatening to kill critics or announcing rewards for their heads.</p> <p>The threats to the freedom of the press, like the violation of human rights, used to cause greater concern in international fora and the western capitals during the cold war. These days the “international community” is not shocked by the murder of journalists in India or the threats to the freedom of the press. It is different if such incidents take place in a country that refuses to be a “strategic ally” or that has neither oil nor market to offer. <span class="mag-quote-center">It is different if such incidents take place in a country that refuses to be a “strategic ally” or that has neither oil nor market to offer. </span></p> <p>The recent Commonwealth summit in London did not take much notice of these issues. The Commonwealth Journalists Association and the Commonwealth Human Rights initiative tried in vain to sensitise the leaders to such problems in the member-nations. The activists should try and slip the reprint of the chapter “Speaking Out” into the pack of agenda papers of the summiteers at every forum! Ravish Kumar’s prose may move some of them.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openindia/l-k-sharma/queen-rules-commonwealth">The Queen rules the Commonwealth!</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openindia/l-k-sharma/cut-throat-competition-distorts-democracy-in-india"> Cut-throat competition distorts democracy in India</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openindia/l-k-sharma/remotely-controlled-weapons-hit-democracy-killing-from-distance">Remotely-controlled weapons hit democracy: killing from a distance</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> openIndia openIndia India Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics L K Sharma Thu, 10 May 2018 19:45:27 +0000 L K Sharma 117809 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "Big Brother": the art of subversion https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/big-brother-art-of-subversion <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Art achieves its highest purpose when it questions the structures of power in a society. A goal that "Big Brother", a satirical show in Egypt, achieves.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/27540521_1832105710179890_7237444260955938874_n_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Big Brother. Mada Masr"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/27540521_1832105710179890_7237444260955938874_n_0.jpg" alt="Big Brother. Mada Masr" title="Big Brother. Mada Masr" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Big Brother. Mada Masr</span></span></span>On one of the many evenings when my Egyptian compatriots and I gather to watch sports, play PlayStation, and of course discuss politics, a close friend introduced me to a new satirical show on YouTube called “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0A8nmCi_1E&amp;list=PL2b4XFUJwARHx3XQJ9TH_4zzOoaQuf7vZ">Big Brother</a>”. This show is produced by Mada Masr, one of the few truly independent news outlets in Egypt.</p> <p>Even though I am not a qualified critic, I was incredibly impressed by the short video clips and felt compelled to write and highlight the possible impact these videos as well as other forms of subversive art have on the ever-tightening grip of the Sisi regime. This is one of the few true forms of revolutionary art I have seen since the eruption of the mass protests in 2011. <strong><span></span></strong></p> <p>The show revolves around the character of “Big Brother”, an anti-revolutionary man who analyses problems facing Egypt and offers solutions from a pro-regime perspective in a satirical manner. He provides a powerful critique of the regime using its own language and narrative.&nbsp;</p> <p>The brilliance of the character is in his physical appearance, the language he uses and his physical gestures. The appearance of the character is that of the rural elite, one of the primary social groups supporting the regime. Big Brother has a moustache, is always carrying prayer beads, and walks around with his mobile phone.</p> <p>The language he uses is obscene; he starts all the shows cursing at the audience, and the dialogue is filled with sexual and aggressive annotations. In essence, sharing the contempt the regime displays to the masses. The camera angle is low, allowing him to tower over the audience as he moves and gestures angrily imposing his authority.</p> <p>This is combined with a brilliant set design, which has many symbols and hidden messages of subversion and resistance. For example, in the background one can see the eagle that occupies a prominent position on Egypt’s flag and is a potent symbol of the military regime that has ruled Egypt since 1952. However, directly next to it, we can see a picture of Mubarak with what appears to be clown make up on. </p> <p>Next to this picture, one can see a toy with two balls that became known as the “<a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/11/8/sisis-balls-egypt-cracks-down-on-popular-childrens-toy">Sisi testicles</a>”. This toy was considered to be subversive enough to merit its confiscation from a number of street vendors as well as their arrest. One can also see the portrait of Mohamed Salah, a prolific footballer, who the regime has and probably still is attempting to co-opt.</p> <p>In addition to the character of Big Brother, there is the character of the “Brown citizen”, to whom Big Brother directs his tirades and advice. This citizen fits the stereotype of your typical lower middle-class Egyptian who has been indoctrinated by years of autocracy into apathy and despair, and who accepts the ideology of the ruling elite as his own, without questioning. In other words, he becomes an obedient member of the repressed masses who also repress others.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>In terms of content and topic, Big Brother offers a number of innovative solutions and views on the issues facing the Egyptian polity. One of my favourite episodes discusses the arts and television series that portray the struggles of middle class Egyptian women. </p> <p>Big Brother offers unique insight into the role art and mass media play as tools for control, distraction and mass ideological indoctrination, as well as the close connection between the security apparatus and the cinema and entertainment industry. </p> <p>He also highlights the fear the Egyptian middle class have of any forms of realistic art that portrays the actual practices of Egyptians and the reality of life, such as sexual practices and domestic violence.</p> <p>Big Brother offers an innovative solution to the problem of realistic art, which is removing dialogue and replacing it with Quran. If the artist were to object, he would subject himself to public backlash and accusations of blasphemy, since he dared to remove the holy word of God from his art. </p> <p>An age-old technique of using religious symbols to justify the repression of freedom of expression and thought. Big Brother, intelligently, exposes this process of decentralized repression where the citizenry themselves participate in stifling their fellow citizens.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Another memorable episode was “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJJ66ZrO4xY">The Beginning of the End</a>”, where Big Brother attempts to tackle the thorny issue of the presidential elections. The innovative solution he comes up with is for judgment day to occur, thus creating a distraction for the masses. But this strategy fails because the masses yearn for a strong leader who will provide deliverance from the horrors of judgment day. This is combined with a tirade against the people, as they should be grateful that their current leaders have agreed to rule them. </p> <p>Once again, Big Brother exposes the inner workings of autocracy and how apocalyptic language is used to justify its existence, using fear of social disintegration as a way to justify its existence and to garner support. &nbsp;</p> <p>Finally comes an episode where Big Brother tackles the complex issue of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L41IDHj0c54">minoritie</a>s in the broadest sense to include those that have different life styles or points of views. Big Brother highlights the function minorities play in autocratic regimes, where they allow members of the already repressed majority a sense of superiority and relief, since their level of repression is lower, comparatively speaking. </p> <p>As such, Big Brother comes up with the innovative solution of creating a new category of minority, simply called “minority”. This category creates a sense of confusion within the ranks of the majority and increases their sense of superiority to the new minorities, which results in the majority then feeling oppressed, and a sense of despair seeps into their entire psyche. In essence, all Egyptians then become a minority.</p> <p>To be fair, this is not a real critique, it is a rather a chance for me to say thank you to the staff of Mada Masr and Big Brother, who in spite of an unprecedented wave of repression remain a bastion of resistance, covering and producing material that is of both artistic and journalistic value. </p> <p>One only needs to remember that Mada Masr remains <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/25/egypt-blocks-access-news-websites-al-jazeera-mada-masr-press-freedom">blocked</a> in Egypt since May 2017.&nbsp; It is also an acknowledgement that even though I felt alone, in reality, I am not. Resistance continues through any and all means necessary, and artists like the team behind Big Brother as well as musicians and bands like Cairokee are at its forefront. </p> <p>Art achieves its highest purpose, in my opinion, when it questions the structures of power, oppression and control in society. A goal that Big Bother, among others achieve. </p><p> On a side note, the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HApFNsQ_Asc&amp;list=PL2b4XFUJwARHPwzThsif51_d0o9vsQAFj">second season</a> just started and I am looking forward to the renewed wisdom of Big Brother!</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/m-b/satire-as-tool-of-resistance-in-egypt">Satire as a tool of resistance in Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ahmed-magdy-youssef/one-satirist-exposes-egypts-lopsided-media-viewpoint">One satirist exposes Egypt&#039;s lopsided media viewpoint</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/power-and-divine-case-of-egypt">Power and the divine: self-repression in Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/tentacles-of-autocratic-regimes-case-of-egypt">The tentacles of autocratic regimes: the case of Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sarah-el-sheikh/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%86%D8%B5%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%81%D9%82%D9%88%D8%AF-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%85%D8%B5%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%A1">العنصر المفقود في مصر: الشعور بالانتماء</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/egypt-escape-from-reality">Egypt, an escape from reality</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas Satire artistic activism media Social innovation Revolution Mid-East Forum Chronicles of the Arab revolt Maged Mandour Thu, 10 May 2018 18:53:47 +0000 Maged Mandour 117749 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The family-party-state nexus in Nicaragua https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/trevor-evans/family-party-state-nexus-in-nicaragua <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The recent demonstrations are the expression of deep dissatisfaction with the Ortega family regime. But in the absence of any serious political opposition, it is unclear what the alternative might be. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/trevor-evans/el-nexo-familia-partido-estado-en-nicaragua">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/NICARAGUA 1_2_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/NICARAGUA 1_2_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, in the middle, embraces the Venezuelan leader Diosdado Cabello under the watchful eye of the First Lady Rosario Murillo during a celebration of the Sandinista Revolution in Managua, July 2013</span></span></span></p><p class="blockquote-new">This article forms part of the series "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/s-rgio-costa-francesc-badia-i-dalmases/la-desigualdad-persistente-el-controvertido">Persistent inequality: the controversial legacy of the pink tide in Latin America</a>" produced in partnership with the Institute of Latin American Studies of the Institute of Sociology of the Freie Universität Berlin</p><p>In 1979 a popular uprising led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) overthrew the US-backed Somoza-family dictatorship which had ruled Nicaragua since the 1930s, and in 1984 the Sandinistas and their presidential candidate, Daniel Ortega, decisively won the country’s first free elections in decades. </p><p>The Sandinistas introduced a major programme of land redistribution and a significant expansion of public health care and education services. </p><p>However, initial gains were undermined under the impact of an armed opposition (“the contra”) organised and promoted by the US, a collapse of international raw material prices in the early 1980s, and Sandinista policy errors, including an over-ambitious programme of large-scale investments. </p> <p>In 1990, a war weary population voted for a broad coalition led by Violeta Chamorro, the widow of a distinguished journalist murdered on Somoza’s orders. </p><p>Chamorro’s government pursued a policy of national reconciliation but, in order to obtain much needed finance, was required to adopt exceptionally austere economic policies by the International Monetary Fund. </p><p>Following a resumption of economic growth in the mid-1990s, elections in 1996 were won by a right-wing populist, Arnoldo Alemán, who was subsequently convicted to 10 years’ jail for corruption, and Alemán was followed in 2001 by his former vice-President, Enrique Bolaños, a fiercely anti-Sandinista business leader. </p> <p>Following the Sandinista’s electoral defeat in 1990, many activists left the party as a result of dissatisfaction with Ortega’s leadership and the lack of internal party democracy. </p><p>Some formed the small breakaway Movement for Sandinista Renovation (MRS), while others became involved in local development projects and in building an independent women’s movement. </p><p>In 2006, however, the fractious liberal and conservative parties were unable to agree on a joint candidate for the presidential elections and this made it possible for Ortega, who had stood at every election since the 1980s, to win with a minority of the vote.</p> <p>Despite a constitutional prohibition on consecutive terms in office, the electoral commission allowed Ortega to stand again for the presidency in 2011, and he was elected for a further term. </p><p>The Sandinista-dominated National Assembly subsequently voted on a constitutional change allowing consecutive terms, and in 2016 Ortega stood for the presidency yet again, this time with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice-presidential candidate. </p><p>Shortly before the election, the main opposition candidates were disenfranchised, leaving Ortega and Murillo with a sure victory. </p> <p>Since resuming the presidency in 2007, Ortega has governed on the basis of a close alliance with Nicaragua’s business groups. COSEP, the main private business organisation which had a highly conflictual relation with the Sandinista government in the 1980s, has enjoyed very close relations with the current government. </p><p>The American Chamber of Commerce, which includes the major US companies in the country, has also worked closely with the government, although after a heavily contested election in early 2018 the head of Cargill’s Nicaraguan subsidiary became president after campaigning for a more independent path. </p> <p>Ortega himself makes relatively few public appearances and there are unofficial reports that he is in poor health. Murillo, who was already playing an important role in coordinating the work of different government ministries, has come to play an increasing role in managing the day to day government of the country. </p><p>Virtually all ministerial announcements are now made by Murillo, usually during a regular mid-day radio broadcast, and the mayors of the FSLN-controlled municipalities are required to attend regular meetings with her in Managua. </p> <h2><strong>Strong economic growth but rising inequality</strong></h2> <p>Nicaragua, with a population of 6.2 million in 2017, has the second lowest per capital income in the Americas. Its economy has grown strongly in recent years, although output fell in 2009 as a result of the deep recession in the US and other major markets. </p><p>Between 2010 and 2017 economic growth averaged just under 5% a year, the third highest in Latin America after Panama and the Dominican Republic. </p> <p>The economy remains dependent on primary commodity exports, the most important of which are coffee, beef, gold and sugar. In addition, there has been a significant growth of production in export-processing zones since the 1990s, primarily involving textile products and, more recently, the assembly of electrical harnesses for cars produced in Mexico. </p><p>However, there is still a large sector of subsistence farmers, particularly in the more mountainous areas in the north of the country, and a very large commercial sector in the towns, much of it based on informal labour. </p> <p>Nicaragua’s export revenue increased strongly up to 2014, although since then growth has slowed down due to weaker world prices. In 2017 exports of goods amounted to 4.1 billion dollars, but imports were considerably larger: 6.6 billion dollars. </p><p>Deficit has been partly covered by family remittances, which have increased considerably in recent years. Because of the employment situation in Nicaragua, many families have at least one member who has gone abroad to look for a job, principally to the United States or neighbouring Costa Rica. In 2017, remittances amounted to 1.4 billion dollars. </p> <p>Nicaragua has also received substantial foreign direct investment in recent years, attracted by the low wage levels and relative security compared with neighbouring Honduras and El Salvador. </p><p>Net direct investment amounted to 816 million dollars in 2017, principally in manufacturing, telecommunications, commerce and energy. Its biggest source in 2016 was Panama (22%), followed by the United States (13%) and Mexico (12%).</p> <p>Until recently, Nicaragua benefitted from oil provided on very favourable terms by Venezuela. This was organised through a company called Alba de Nicaragua SA, or Albanisa, 51% of which is owned by Venezuela’s state oil company, and 49% by Nicaragua’s Petronic. </p><p>Under the terms of the deal with Venezuela, Nicaragua was supposed to pay half the cost of the imported oil; the other half was a long-term low-interest credit which provided Albanisa and a web of subsidiaries with funds to invest in a wide range of projects in Nicaragua. </p><p>Between 2008 and 2014 Nicaragua is estimated to have benefited from some 3.5 billion dollars in this way but, controversially, this major source of external finance was not registered in the government’s official figures. </p> <p>As the economic situation in Venezuela deteriorated, the supply of oil declined and none was received in Nicaragua in 2017. There were plans for Venezuela to build a major new refinery in the country, but these have been scrapped. Nicaragua has since has had to purchase oil in the international market and social expenditures have been cut. </p><p>At the same time, Nicaragua – strongly pressured by the International Monetary Fund &nbsp;– &nbsp;has begun to include the amounts owed to Venezuela in the country’s official debt figures.</p> <p>In 2013, Nicaragua’s parliament granted Wang Jin, a Chinese investor, a 100-year concession to build and run an inter-oceanic canal through Nicaragua, a mega project which could accommodate even larger ships than the Panama Canal, and which was viewed as a means of fast-tracking the country’s economic development. </p><p>The 50-billion-dollar project was strongly opposed by environmentalists and gave rise to a significant opposition movement among peasants whose land was targeted for compulsorily purchase and whose demonstrations were harshly restricted by the police. </p><p>Work on the canal has been delayed amidst reports that Wang Jin suffered big losses at the Chinese stock market when it crashed in 2015-16. From being a centre-piece of the government’s development plans, the canal was not even mentioned by Ortega in his address at the start of the new presidential term in 2017. It now seems unlikely that it will ever get built.</p> <p>In recent years there has been considerable investment in communications and infrastructure. This is particularly noticeable in the condition of many roads: the main ones are being widened and resurfaced, while the network of all-weather roads in rural areas is being steadily expanded. </p><p>There has also been a notable expansion in access to electricity, especially in rural areas. According to official figures, coverage increased from around 70% of households in 2010 to 94% in 2017. The state-owned distribution company was privatised in 2000, but sold again in 2014 to a company which is registered in Spain, but is widely believed to be linked to the government. </p> <p>The supply of water has remained in the public sector and here too investments have been made to expand its reach. But while some 90% of households have now access to drinking water in urban areas, the figure is just over 30% in rural areas. </p><p>There is a programme for building low income housing, but housing construction has been declining since 2015. According to the Association of Housebuilders, around half of the new homes built in 2017 were for low income households, but this amounted to a mere 2.500 units. </p><p>Investment in public spaces, however, has provided citizens with many play grounds and seating, and widely-used free internet access in many city squares.</p> <p>Sustained economic growth has led to a rise in the number of people working. The official unemployment rate fell to a low of 3.5% for men and 3.8% for women in 2017, but this is a rather misleading picture, since workers without a formal job have little options other than taking up some sort of informal employment. Even according to official figures, informal employment accounted for 42% of the workforce in 2017. </p> <p>The number of people who are formally employed and enrolled in the social security system has increased, from 534.881 in 2010 to 914.196 in 2017. It provides workers with a pension on retirement, but membership growth has slowed down, and coverage is very uneven. &nbsp;</p><p>While some 75% of workers employed in the electricity and water supply are insured, the figure is only around 45% for workers in manufacturing industry and under 10% in agriculture. In any case, the social security system is seriously under-funded and, as the IMF has repeatedly warned, it will face a crunch and place a further financial demand on the central government in 2019. </p> <p>The employment situation has contributed to poor peasants in central regions of the country pressing towards the Caribbean in search of land to farm, a process exacerbated by the growth of large scale investments in capitalist agriculture which have displaced many small farmers. </p><p>This migration of ladino farmers has led to serious confrontations, some resulting in fatalities, with members of indigenous groups who, under the Nicaraguan constitution, are guaranteed exclusive rights to farm the land in Nicaragua’s autonomous Caribbean regions.</p> <p>The limited employment opportunities in Nicaragua explain why so many workers seek work in other countries. Many of these migrant workers are unskilled, but skilled workers, including university graduates, have also been forced to emigrate. </p><p>It is estimated that some 20% of the population lives abroad. The remittances which they send back to their families in Nicaragua have played a decisive role in maintaining living standards in the country.</p> <p>On returning to office in 2007, the Ortega government launched an anti-poverty programme entitled Zero Hunger. This provided the poorest households with some basic agricultural support and, crucially, zinc sheets which enabled them to waterproof the roofs of their shacks. </p><p>However, as the financial resources from Venezuela have declined, the Zero Hunger programme has been wound down, and subsidised electricity prices for low income households and for pensioners, which were also financed with Venezuelan resources, are to be phased out between 2018 and 2022.</p><p> According to independent annual surveys carried out between 2009 and 2015, the proportion of the population living in poverty registered some decline, from 44.7 to 39.0%, and those in extreme poverty from 9.7 to 7.6%. Poverty is highest in rural areas, but it has also registered the largest decline. </p> <p>After resuming the presidency in 2007, the Ortega government raised the official minimum wage significantly. However, for the great majority of workers, wage rises lagged behind inflation and it is only since 2010 that real wages have begun to rise. </p><p>According to official figures, between 2010 and 2017 real wages for workers in formal employment increased by about 10% when converted into dollars, or just over 1% a year. By 2017, the average wage was equal to around 340 dollars a month. </p><p>In the financial sector and the mines, the figure was somewhat higher, at just over 500 dollars a month, but in the manufacturing sector the average was just 230 dollars, while the average for agricultural workers was a mere 130 dollars. For the government, low wage costs have clearly been an important part of its strategy for attracting foreign investment.</p> <p>Nicaragua also has a prosperous commercial middle class and a very wealthy upper class. According to CEPAL figures, the top 10% receives some 33% of the national income and, together with the next 10%, almost 50% of the national income. </p><p>This group includes traditional land-owning families, many of which have also branched out into commerce or industry; it also includes newly rich traders who have profited from the boom in commerce.</p><p>According to the CEPAL report, while inequality declined slightly in the period from 2002 to 2008, as in virtually the whole of Latin America, Nicaragua was the only country where inequality increased between 2008 and 2014 (more recent figures are not available for Nicaragua). </p><p>According to an Oxfam study published in 2016, there were 210 multi-millionaires in Nicaragua, each with net assets of over 30 million dollars. </p><p>Nicaragua’s wealthiest businessman, Carlos Pellas, is estimated to have accumulated a fortune of 2.4 billion dollars, one of the largest in Central America, but some Sandinista leaders have also acquired wealth more recently, albeit on a lesser scale.</p> <h2><strong>The beginning of the end?</strong></h2> <p>The Nicaraguan government faced a difficult economic outlook for 2018, with the threat a US initiated limit on its access to international financial institutions, together with the need to adjust to the end of financial support from Venezuela. </p><p>In the face of these challenges, growth projections for 2018 and 2019 were reduced by both the International Monetary Fund and the Nicaraguan central bank. Then, in April 2018, Ortega was confronted with the most serious political challenge to his rule since returning to office in 2007.</p> <p>The government announced that, in order to address the Social Security System’s large deficit, pensions would be cut by 5% and pension contributions would be increased for both workers and employers. </p><p>A demonstration in Managua by pensioners against the reduction in their pensions was supported by students from the public universities, but the student demonstrators were confronted by riot police and members of the Sandinista youth organisation. </p><p>Over the next three days the scale of the street confrontations increased, spreading to several other cities, and resulting in the death of over 40 people and many more injured. </p> <p>After four days, Daniel Ortega appeared on television, flanked by his wife and the chiefs of the police and the army, and decried what he described as the manipulation of innocent students by political opponents with ulterior motives. </p><p>But his failure to condemn the deaths led to yet further criticism, and in a second broadcast on the same day he announced that the pension reforms would be cancelled and that the government would enter a dialogue with the country’s business organisation on how to reform the pension system. </p><p>The business organisations, which until then had enjoyed close relations with the government, said they would not enter negotiations until police violence against demonstrators ended, and supported calls for a major peaceful demonstration the following day. They also insisted that any negotiations should include all sectors of Nicaraguan society.</p><p> On Monday, April 23, tens of thousands joined a peaceful march in Managua and there were large demonstrations in many other cities. The authorities did not intervene and the demonstrations remained peaceful. </p><p>But the demands of the demonstrators had by now gone beyond the issue of mere pension reform and broadened to include expressions of deep dissatisfaction with the Ortega family regime. In the absence of any serious political opposition, however, it was not clear what the alternative might be.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/cirilo-antonio-otero/nicaragua-as-pawn-in-global-geopolitics">Nicaragua as a pawn in global geopolitics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/john-perry/us-senate-launches-attack-on-nicaragua-poverty-programmes">US Senate launches attack on Nicaragua poverty programmes</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/luciana-t-llez-ch-vez/human-rights-vs-authoritarianism-in-nicaragua">Human rights vs. authoritarianism in Nicaragua</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nicaragua </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Nicaragua Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas Trevor Evans Thu, 10 May 2018 09:14:30 +0000 Trevor Evans 117788 at https://www.opendemocracy.net El nexo familia-partido-estado en Nicaragua https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/trevor-evans/el-nexo-familia-partido-estado-en-nicaragua <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Las recientes manifestaciones son expresión de un profundo rechazo del régimen de la familia Ortega. Pero a falta de una oposición política seria, está por ver cuál podría ser la alternativa. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/trevor-evans/family-party-state-nexus-in-nicaragua">English</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/NICARAGUA 1_2_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/NICARAGUA 1_2_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>El Presidente de Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, en el centro, abraza al dirigente venezolano Diosdado Cabello ante la mirada de la primera dama, Rosario Murillo, durante una celebración de la Revolución Sandinista en Managua, Julio 2013 (PA/Esteban Felix)</span></span></span></p><p class="blockquote-new">Este artículo forma parte de la serie "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/s-rgio-costa-francesc-badia-i-dalmases/la-desigualdad-persistente-el-controvertido">Desigualdad persistente: el controvertido legado de la marea rosa en América Latina"</a>&nbsp;producida en alianza con el Instituto de Estudios Latinoamericanos del Instituto de Sociología de la Freie Universität Berlin.</p><p>En 1979, un levantamiento popular liderado por el Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) derrocó a la dictadura de la familia Somoza, respaldada por Estados Unidos, que había gobernado Nicaragua desde la década de 1930.</p><p>En 1984, los sandinistas y su candidato presidencial, Daniel Ortega, ganaron con claridad las primeras elecciones libres en décadas. Los sandinistas implementaron un importante programa de redistribución de las tierras y de ampliación de los servicios públicos de salud y educación. </p><p>Sin embargo, el impacto de estas medidas se vio socavado por el envite de una oposición armada ("la contra") organizada y promovida por Estados Unidos, el colapso de los precios internacionales de las materias primas a principios de los años ochenta y errores políticos del gobierno, como querer llevar a cabo un programa demasiado ambicioso de inversiones a gran escala.</p> <p>En 1990, una población cansada de la guerra votó a favor de una amplia coalición encabezada por Violeta Chamorro, viuda de un distinguido periodista asesinado por orden de Somoza. </p><p>El gobierno de Chamorro intentó una política de reconciliación nacional, pero se vio obligado a adoptar medidas económicas excepcionalmente austeras para conseguir financiación del Fondo Monetario Internacional. </p><p>Tras la reanudación del crecimiento económico a mediados de la década de 1990, Arnoldo Alemán, un populista de derecha, ganó las elecciones de 1996 y fue posteriormente condenado a 10 años de cárcel por corrupción. </p><p>A Alemán le siguió en 2001 su antiguo vicepresidente, Enrique Bolaños, un líder empresarial antisandinista acérrimo.</p> <p>Tras la derrota electoral de 1990, muchos militantes sandinistas abandonaron el partido en desacuerdo con el liderazgo de Ortega y la falta de democracia interna del partido. Algunos se integraron en una nueva formación política, el Movimiento para la Renovación Sandinista (MRS), mientras que otros se involucraron en proyectos de desarrollo local y en organizar un movimiento de mujeres independiente.</p><p> En 2006, sin embargo, los partidos liberal y conservador fueron incapaces de ponerse de acuerdo sobre un candidato conjunto a las elecciones presidenciales y esto le permitió a Ortega, que se había presentado a todas las elecciones desde los años 80, alzarse con la victoria con una minoría del voto popular.</p> <p>A pesar de la prohibición constitucional que prohibía los mandatos consecutivos, la comisión electoral permitió a Ortega volver a postularse para la presidencia en 2011 y fue elegido para un nuevo mandato.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Desde que asumió la presidencia en 2007, Ortega ha gobernado en estrecha alianza con los grupos empresariales de Nicaragua. </p><p>Posteriormente, la Asamblea Nacional dominada por los sandinistas aprobó un cambio de la constitución anulando la prohibición de mandatos consecutivos, de modo que en 2016 Ortega volvió a presentarse, esta vez con su esposa, Rosario Murillo, como candidata a la vicepresidencia. </p><p>Poco antes de las elecciones, los principales candidatos de la oposición fueron inhabilitados, lo que allanó el terreno para una victoria segura de Ortega y Murillo.</p> <p>Desde que asumió la presidencia en 2007, Ortega ha gobernado en estrecha alianza con los grupos empresariales de Nicaragua. El Consejo Superior de la Empresa Privada en Nicaragua (COSEP), la principal organización empresarial cuya relación con el gobierno sandinista en la década de 1980 fue muy coinflictivas, ha mantenido relaciones muy estrechas con el actual gobierno. </p><p>La Cámara de Comercio Americana, que reúne a las principales compañías estadounidenses que operan en el país, ha trabajado también estrechamente con el gobierno, aunque tras unas elecciones internas muy disputadas a principios de 2018, el jefe de la filial nicaragüense de Cargill fue elegido presidente tras hacer campaña por un rumbo más independiente.</p> <p>Las apariciones públicas de Ortega son escasas y se dice extraoficialmente que goza de poca salud. Murillo, que ya desempeñaba un papel importante coordinando los distintos ministerios, ha ido asumiendo un rol cada vez más preponderante en la gestión del día a día del gobierno. </p><p>Prácticamente todos los anuncios ministeriales los hace Murillo, la mayoría de ellos durante una transmisión de radio de mediodía, y los alcaldes de los municipios controlados por el FSLN deben asistir a reuniones periódicas con ella en Managua.</p> <h2>Fuerte crecimiento económico pero desigualdad creciente</h2> <p>Nicaragua, cuya población en 2017 era de 6.2 millones de habitantes, es el penúltimo país de América Latina en ingresos por cápita. </p><p>Su economía ha crecido mucho en los últimos años, aunque la producción disminuyó en 2009 a resultas de la recesión en Estados Unidos y otros mercados importantes. </p><p>Entre 2010 y 2017, el crecimiento económico anual medio fue de poco menos del 5%, el tercero más elevado en América Latina, por detrás de Panamá y la República Dominicana.</p> <p>La economía sigue dependiendo de las exportaciones de materias primas y productos agrícolas - los más importantes: café, carne de vacuno, oro y azúcar. </p><p>Ha habido además un crecimiento significativo de la producción en las zonas de procesamiento de exportaciones a partir de la década de 1990, principalmente en cuanto a productos textiles y, más recientemente, sistemas eléctricos para automóviles producidos en México. </p><p>Sin embargo, todavía existe un sector muy importante de agricultura de subsistencia, particularmente en las áreas más montañosas del norte del país, y un sector comercial pujante en las ciudades, que emplea en gran parte mano de obra informal.</p> <p>Los ingresos de exportación de Nicaragua aumentaron poderosamente hasta 2014, aunque desde entonces su crecimiento se ha desacelerado debido a la debilidad de los precios mundiales. </p><p>En 2017 las exportaciones ascendieron a 4.100 millones de dólares, pero las importaciones fueron considerablemente superiores: 6.600 millones de dólares. El déficit lo han cubierto en parte las remesas del exterior, que han aumentado considerablemente en los últimos años. </p><p>Debido a la situación del empleo en Nicaragua, muchas familias tienen al menos a un miembro desplazado por razones de trabajo al extranjero, principalmente a Estados Unidos o a la vecina Costa Rica. En 2017, las remesas de familiares ascendieron a 1.400 millones de dólares.</p> <p>Nicaragua ha recibido también importantes inversiones extranjeras directas en los últimos años, atraídas por los bajos niveles de salarios y la seguridad relativa del país en comparación con la vecina Honduras y El Salvador. </p><p>La inversión directa neta ascendió a 816 millones de dólares en 2017, principalmente en manufacturas, telecomunicaciones, comercio y energía. Su procedencia en 2016 fue principalmente Panamá (22%), seguida de Estados Unidos (13%) y México (12%).</p> <p>Hasta hace poco, Nicaragua se beneficiaba del suministro de petróleo venezolano, en condiciones muy favorables. El suministro se canalizaba a través de una empresa, Alba de Nicaragua SA, o Albanisa, cuya propiedad, en un 51%, es de la compañía petrolera estatal de Venezuela y el 49% de la nicaragüense Petronic. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">Hasta hace poco, Nicaragua se beneficiaba del suministro de petróleo venezolano, en condiciones muy favorables.</p><p>Según los términos del acuerdo con Venezuela, Nicaragua debía pagar la mitad del coste del petróleo importado y la otra mitad correspondía a un crédito a largo plazo, a bajo interés, con el que Albanisa y una red de empresas subsidiarias disponían de fondos para invertir en una amplia gama de proyectos en Nicaragua. </p><p>Entre 2008 y 2014, se estima que Nicaragua obtuvo unos 3.500 millones de dólares por esta vía, aunque, sorprendentemente, esta importante fuente de financiamiento externo no quedaba registrada en las cuentas oficiales del gobierno.</p> <p>Al irse deteriorando la situación económica en Venezuela, el suministro de petróleo fue disminuyendo hasta el punto que en 2017 Nicaragua dejó de recibirlo. </p><p>El proyecto de que Venezuela financiase la construcción de una gran refinería también ha quedado en nada. Nicaragua se ha visto obligada pues a comprar petróleo en el mercado internacional y, en consecuencia, se han recortado los gastos sociales. </p><p>Al mismo tiempo, debido a las fuertes presiones del Fondo Monetario Internacional, Nicaragua ha empezado a incluir en sus cuentas oficiales el importe de su deuda con Venezuela.</p> <p>En 2013, el parlamento nicaragüense otorgó al inversor chino Wang Jin una concesión de 100 años para construir y operar un canal interoceánico a través de Nicaragua. Se trataba de un megaproyecto que podría ofrecer servicio a naves de dimensiones incluso mayores que el Canal de Panamá y que se consideraba como un medio estratégico para acelerar el desarrollo económico del país. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">La construcción de un nuevo canal pasó de ser la pieza central de los planes de desarrollo del gobierno a ni siquiera mencionarse en el discurso inaugural de Ortega al iniciar su nuevo mandato presidencial en 2017.</p><p>Este proyecto, cuyo coste estimado era de 50.000 millones de dólares, se topó con la oposición frontal de los defensores medioambientales y dio lugar a un importante movimiento de la población campesina afectada por las expropiaciones de tierras, cuyas manifestaciones fueron duramente reprimidas por la policía. </p><p>Las obras del canal se fueron retrasando en medio de rumores y noticias de que Wang Jin había sufrido cuantiosas pérdidas en bolsa coincidiendo con la caída del mercado bursátil chino en 2015-16. </p><p>El canal pasó de ser la pieza central de los planes de desarrollo del gobierno a ni siquiera mencionarse en el discurso inaugural de Ortega al iniciar su nuevo mandato presidencial en 2017. En estos momentos, parece poco probable que llegue a construirse algún día.</p> <p>En los últimos años, se ha invertido en comunicaciones e infraestructuras. Esto se percibe especialmente observando el estado de muchas carreteras: las principales se están ampliando y repavimentando, mientras que la red de carreteras en áreas rurales está en ampliación constante. </p><p>Ha habido también una expansión notable del acceso a la electricidad, especialmente en las zonas rurales. Según cifras oficiales, la cobertura pasó de cerca del 70% de los hogares en 2010 al 94% en 2017. </p><p>La empresa de distribución eléctrica estatal, que se privatizó en 2000, fue vendida de nuevo en 2014 a una compañía que aunque registrada en España, se cree que está vinculada al gobierno.</p> <p>El suministro de agua se ha mantenido en el sector público y también aquí se han llevado a cabo inversiones para ampliar su alcance. Pero mientras que en las áreas urbanas el 90% de los hogares tiene acceso a agua potable, el porcentaje es de poco más del 30% en las zonas rurales. </p><p>Existe también un programa de construcción de viviendas para personas de bajos ingresos, pero la construcción de viviendas ha disminuido desde 2015. Según la Asociación de Constructores de Viviendas, cerca de la mitad de las viviendas que se construyeron en 2017 iban destinadas a familias de bajos ingresos, pero totalizaban tan solo 2.500 unidades. </p><p>La inversión en espacios públicos, en cambio, ha conseguido que los ciudadanos dispongan de muchos parques y terrenos de juego y el acceso gratuito a Internet es ampliamente utilizado en muchas plazas de la ciudad.</p> <p>El crecimiento económico sostenido ha conllevado un aumento del empleo. La tasa oficial de desempleo cayó a un mínimo de 3.5% para los hombres y 3.8% para las mujeres en 2017, pero se trata de una cifra un tanto engañosa, ya que aquellos que no están trabajando en la economía formal tienen pocas opciones fuera de la economía informal – y la economía informal emplea, incluso según cifras oficiales de 2017, el 42% de la fuerza de trabajo.</p> <p>El número de personas empleadas e inscritas en el sistema de seguridad social ha aumentado, pasando de 534.881 en 2010 a 914.196 en 2017. La seguridad social proporciona a los trabajadores una pensión al jubilarse, pero la cobertura es muy desigual. </p><p>Mientras que alrededor del 75% de los trabajadores empleados en el suministro de electricidad y agua están asegurados, la cifra es de solo 45% en el caso de los trabajadores de la industria manufacturera y del 10% en la agricultura. </p><p>En cualquier caso, el sistema de financiación de la seguridad social es precario y, como ha advertido ya el FMI en repetidas ocasiones, se enfrentará a una crisis que supondrá una mayor demanda financiera para el gobierno en 2019.</p> <p>La situación del empleo ha contribuido a que los campesinos pobres de las regiones centrales del país emigren hacia el Caribe en busca de tierras de cultivo. </p><p>Este proceso se ha visto agravado por el aumento de inversiones a gran escala en la agricultura industrial que ha provocado el desplazamiento de muchos pequeños agricultores. </p><p>Esta migración de agricultores ladinos ha llevado a enfrentamientos, algunos de los cuales han resultado en muertes, con miembros de grupos indígenas que, según la Constitución nicaragüense, tienen garantizados derechos exclusivos de cultivo en las regiones autónomas del Caribe.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Se estima que alrededor de un 20% de la población vive en el extranjero. Las remesas que envían a sus familias en Nicaragua son decisivas para mantener los niveles de vida en el país.</p><p>Las oportunidades de empleo limitadas son la razón por la que tantos nicaragüenses buscan trabajo en otros países. Muchos de ellos son trabajadores no calificados, pero también los trabajadores calificados, entre ellos los graduados universitarios, se ven obligados a emigrar. </p><p>Se estima que alrededor de un 20% de la población vive en el extranjero. Las remesas que envían a sus familias en Nicaragua son decisivas para mantener los niveles de vida en el país.</p> <p>Al retomar el poder en 2007, el gobierno de Ortega lanzó un programa contra la pobreza titulado Hambre Cero. Este programa proporciona a los hogares más pobres ayuda agrícola básica y algo crucial: láminas de zinc que les permiten impermeabilizar el techo de sus chozas. </p><p>Sin embargo, al disminuir los recursos financieros procedentes de Venezuela, el programa se ha reducido proporcionalmente y los subsidios del precio de la electricidad para hogares de bajos ingresos y pensionistas, que también se financiaban con recursos venezolanos, quedarán eliminados entre 2018 y 2022. </p><p>Según encuestas independientes llevadas a cabo anualmente entre 2009 y 2015, la proporción de la población que vive en situación de pobreza ha disminuido, pasando del 44.7% al 39%, y también la que se encuentra en pobreza extrema, que ha pasado del 9.7% al 7.6%. La pobreza es más elevada en las áreas rurales, pero allí es también donde más ha disminuido.</p> <p>Tras asumir de nuevo la presidencia en 2007, el gobierno de Ortega elevó significativamente el salario mínimo. Sin embargo, para la gran mayoría de los trabajadores, los aumentos salariales van a la zaga de la inflación y solo a partir de 2010 han empezado a subir los salarios reales. </p><p>Según cifras oficiales, entre 2010 y 2017 los salarios reales de los trabajadores con empleo formal aumentaron aproximadamente un 10%, o sea poco más de un 1% anual. En 2017, el salario medio se situaba alrededor de 340 dólares al mes. </p><p>En el sector financiero y en el minero era algo mayor, poco más de 500 dólares al mes, pero en el sector manufacturero el promedio era de solo 230 dólares, y el salario medio de los trabajadores agrícolas, apenas 130 dólares. Para el gobierno, los bajos costos salariales han supuesto una baza estratégica importante para atraer inversión extranjera.</p> <p>Nicaragua cuenta también con una clase media comercial próspera y una clase alta muy rica. Según cifras de la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe de Naciones Unidas (CEPAL), el 10% de la población en la cúspide de la pirámide de ingresos recibe alrededor del 33% de la renta nacional y, junto con el siguiente 10%, casi el 50% de dicha renta. </p><p>En este grupo están las tradicionales familias terratenientes, muchas de las cuales diversifican hoy sus activos en el sector del comercio y la industria, e incluye también a los que se han enriquecido más recientemente gracias al boom del comercio. </p><p>Según el informe de la CEPAL, mientras que la desigualdad en Nicaragua disminuyó levemente en el período de 2002 a 2008 - como en prácticamente toda América Latina -, Nicaragua fue el único país donde la desigualdad aumentó entre 2008 y 2014 (no se disponen de cifras más recientes). </p><p>Según un estudio de Oxfam publicado en 2016, en Nicaragua había 210 multimillonarios, cada uno con activos netos de más de 30 millones de dólares. </p><p>Se calcula que el empresario más rico de Nicaragua, Carlos Pellas, cuenta con una fortuna de 2.400 millones de dólares, una de las mayores de Centroamérica. Algunos líderes sandinistas también han acumulado riqueza más recientemente, aunque en menor escala.</p> <h2>¿El principio del fin?</h2> <p>El gobierno nicaragüense se enfrenta a una difícil perspectiva económica para 2018, con la amenaza de Estados Unidos de limitar su acceso a las instituciones financieras internacionales y la necesidad de adaptarse al fin del apoyo financiero de Venezuela. </p><p>Estos desafíos han provocado que tanto el Fondo Monetario Internacional como el banco central nicaragüense hayan reducido las proyecciones de crecimiento para 2018 y 2019. Luego, en el mes de abril de este año, Ortega se ha topado con el mayor desafío político desde que regresó a la presidencia en 2007.</p> <p>El gobierno anunció una reducción de las pensiones de un 5% y un aumento de las cotizaciones de trabajadores y empresas para abordar el gran déficit del sistema de seguridad social. </p><p>Una manifestación de pensionistas en Managua para protestar contra el recorte de las pensiones recibió el apoyo de los estudiantes de las universidades públicas que fueron reprimidos por la policía antidisturbios y miembros de la organización juvenil sandinista.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Al cuarto día de protestas, &nbsp;Daniel Ortega apareció en televisión flanqueado por su esposa y los jefes de la policía y el ejército y denunció manipulación de estudiantes inocentes por parte de opositores políticos.</p><p>Durante los siguientes tres días, la magnitud de los enfrentamientos callejeros, que se extendieron a otras ciudades, fue en aumento, causando la muerte de más de 40 personas y un número muy superior de personas heridas.</p> <p>Al cuarto día, Daniel Ortega apareció en televisión flanqueado por su esposa y los jefes de la policía y el ejército y denunció lo que describió como manipulación de estudiantes inocentes por parte de opositores políticos con intenciones ulteriores. </p><p>Pero cometió el error de no condenar las muertes, lo que encendió nuevas protestas. En una segunda intervención televisada ese mismo día, Ortega anunció que la reforma de las pensiones quedaba cancelada y que el gobierno entablaría un diálogo con las organizaciones empresariales del país sobre cómo reformar el sistema de pensiones. </p><p>Pero las organizaciones empresariales, que hasta entonces habían mantenido una estrecha relación con el gobierno, manifestaron que no entrarían en negociaciones hasta que cesara la violencia policial contra los manifestantes y apoyaron el llamamiento a una gran manifestación pacífica para el día siguiente. </p><p>Insistieron también en que cualquier negociación debería incluir a todos los sectores de la sociedad nicaragüense.</p><p> El lunes 23 de abril, decenas de miles de personas participaron en una marcha pacífica en Managua y hubo grandes manifestaciones en muchas otras ciudades del país. Las autoridades no intervinieron y las manifestaciones se desarrollaron sin incidentes. </p><p>Pero las demandas de los manifestantes ya iban más allá del tema de la reforma de las pensiones: se habían convertido en la expresión de un profundo rechazo hacia el régimen de la familia Ortega. Sin embargo, a falta de una oposición política digna de este nombre, quedaría por ver cuál podría ser la alternativa.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/cirilo-antonio-otero/preocupaci-n-por-nicaragua">Preocupación por Nicaragua</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/oscar-ren-vargas/giro-pol-tico-en-nicaragua">Protesta, resistencia y giro político en Nicaragua</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/luciana-t-llez-ch-vez/autoritarismo-vs-derechos-humanos-en-nicaragua">Autoritarismo vs. derechos humanos en Nicaragua</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/cirilo-antonio-otero/nicaragua-como-pe-n-en-la-geopol-tica-mundial">Nicaragua como peón en la geopolítica mundial</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nicaragua </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta DemocraciaAbierta Nicaragua Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality International politics Trevor Evans Wed, 09 May 2018 23:12:09 +0000 Trevor Evans 117785 at https://www.opendemocracy.net La trágica muerte de curandera indígena Olivia Arévalo en el Perú https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/sebasti-n-ortega-jhonny-valle-ayuque/la-tragica-muerte-de-curandera-ind-gena-olivi <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>La lideresa de la etnia shipibo-konibo Olivia Arévalo Lomas tenía 81 años cuando fue asesinada de dos balazos calibre .380 en el pecho. El principal sospechoso, el canadiense Sebastián Paul Woodroffe murió pocas horas después. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/sebasti-n-ortega-jhonny-valle-ayuque/tragic-death-of-indigenous-healer-olivia-ar-v">English</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/guardiana.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/guardiana.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="329" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Olivia Arévalo Lomas, Fuente: Cosecha Roja. Todos los derechos reservados. </span></span></span></p><p class="blockquote-new">Este artículo fue originalmente publicado en Cosecha Roja y se puede leer&nbsp;<a href="http://cosecharoja.org/que-hay-detras-del-crimen-de-la-guardiana-de-la-amazonia-peruana/">aquí</a></p><p>La lideresa de la etnia shipibo-konibo Olivia Arévalo Lomas, defensora de la Amazonía peruana, guardiana de la medicina tradicional y de los cantos sagrados (Íkaros) tenía 81 años. El jueves pasado fue asesinada de dos balazos calibre .380 en el pecho. </p><p>El principal sospechoso, el canadiense Sebastián Paul Woodroffe murió a las pocas horas: un grupo de personas de la comunidad lo arrastró por la calle y lo mató a golpes.</p> <p>&nbsp;Olivia era una reconocida chamana de Victoria Gracia, un asentamiento intercultural del distrito de Yarinacocha. “Su muerte es una agresión a todo el pueblo shipibo. </p><p>Ella era la memoria viva de la comunidad”, explicó Juan Carlos Ruíz Molleda, coordinador del Área de Litigio Constitucional y Pueblos Indígenas de la ONG Instituto de Defensa Legal.&nbsp;</p> <p>Hasta la casa de la guardiana de la Amazonía llegaban no sólo integrantes de la comunidad shipibo-konibo, un pueblo de más de 35 mil personas que habitan la selva amazónica del Perú. </p><p>También atendía a decenas de turistas que navegaban más de 15 horas a través del río Ucayali para curarse enfermedades y tratar adicciones.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Era una abuela que trabajaba con plantas medicinales”, contó a <strong>Cosecha Roja</strong> Wilder Muñoz Díaz, médico tradicional shipibo de una comunidad cercana, que compartió ceremonias curativas con Olivia. “Fue muy doloroso para todos enterarnos de su muerte”, agregó.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">El día que asesinaron a Olivia, otra mujer de la comunidad shipibo-konibo, Magdalena Flores Agustín, recibió en su casa un sobre anónimo. Adentro había dos balas y una carta dirigida a ella y su esposo.</span></p> <p>A pesar de que las principales hipótesis descartan que se trate de un crimen político las comunidades indígenas se mantienen en estado de alerta. El asesinato de la guardiana de de la Amazonía se da en un contexto de conflicto territorial entre las comunidades shipibo y las empresas que pretenden apoderarse de las tierras para la siembra y explotación de la palma aceitera.</p> <p>La explotación de la amazonía peruana “afecta la subsistencia” de todas las comunidades de la región, explicó Ruíz Molleda. Contaminan los ríos donde las personas se bañan, pescan y destruyen las tierras que habitan los animales que cazan. En los últimos años alrededor de seis mil hectáreas de selva en tierras originarias fueron deforestadas por empresas que operan de manera ilegal.</p> <p>“Las comunidades no quieren vender sus tierras y ahí es donde aparecen los sicarios”, contó Ruíz Molleda. En 2013 Mauro Pío Peña, líder histórico del pueblo indígena ashaninka, fue asesinado por dos sicarios.</p><p>Al año siguiente fueron asesinados Edwin Chota Valera, Leoncio Quintisima Meléndez, Francisco Pinedo Ramírez y Jorge Ríos Pérez, líderes de la comunidad asháninka de Saweto.&nbsp;</p> <p>Las sospechas apuntaron empresarios madereros que explotan ilegalmente la selva amazónica y narcotraficantes que los tenían amenazados. En 2015 fueron amenazados otros líderes y miembros de la comunidad shipibo-konibo de Santa Clara de Uchunya.</p> <p>El día que asesinaron a Olivia, otra mujer de la comunidad shipibo-konibo, Magdalena Flores Agustín, recibió en su casa un sobre anónimo. Adentro había dos balas y una carta dirigida a ella y su esposo: “Tienen 48 horas para que se larguen. Una bala para cada uno de ustedes”.</p> <p>Los investigadores del crimen de la defensora de la Amazonía peruana siguen dos hipótesis. Según la primera versión el jueves 19 de abril el canadiense Woodroffe llegó hasta la casa de Olivia en moto. Cuando la mujer salía a hacer las compras le disparó dos veces en el pecho.</p> <p>Dos días después la Policía Nacional encontró el cuerpo del canadiense enterrado en un terreno. Llegaron hasta el lugar después de que se difundiera en las redes sociales un video en el que se ve a varios hombres linchando a <strong>Woodroffe.</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>Los investigadores sospechan que los vecinos de la lideresa lo atraparon cuando intentaba escapar y lo arrastraron con una soga en el cuello mientras le pegaban. </p><p>Ayer la Corte Superior de Justicia de Ucayali ordenó la captura de dos hombres que aparecerían en el video.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Lo que ha ocurrido con el presunto autor del asesinato de Olivia Arévalo no es justicia indígena y nada tiene que ver con ella”, <a href="https://www.servindi.org/actualidad-opinion/22/04/2018/el-linchamiento-es-justicia-indigena">explicó Ruiz Molleda</a>. </p><p>La Constitución peruana establece que las autoridades de las comunidades campesinas y nativas pueden impartir justicia dentro de su territorio de acuerdo a sus costumbres. “Pero siempre con pleno respeto de los derechos humanos”, explicó el abogado de la ONG Instituto de Defensa Legal.&nbsp;</p> <p>El Consejo Shipibo Konibo Xetebo (Coshicox), organización máxima del pueblo indígena Shipibo – Konibo – Xetebo, condenó el crimen y reclamó que la Justicia tenga “rostro indígena”. </p><p>La Federación de Comunidades Nativas de Ucayali y Afluentes (Feconau) también reclamaron al Estado que “brinde garantías” a otros líderes indígenas que hoy “enfrentan amenazas de muerte, hostigamientos”.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/saskia-fischer/lof-cushamen-y-la-desaparici-n-de-santiago-maldonado">Lof Cushamen y la desaparición de Santiago Maldonado</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/sebasti-n-ortega/santiago-maldonado-la-verdad-de-lo-que-pas-en-la-morgue">Santiago Maldonado: la verdad de lo que pasó en la morgue</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/robert-soutar/un-o-despu-s-del-asesinato-de-berta-c-ceres-proteger-el-planeta-sigu"> Berta Cáceres: proteger el planeta sigue siendo una actividad mortal</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peru </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta DemocraciaAbierta Peru Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality International politics Indigenous People Jhonny Valle Ayuque Sebastián Ortega Wed, 09 May 2018 13:17:27 +0000 Sebastián Ortega and Jhonny Valle Ayuque 117770 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump’s folly with Iran means Europe must show what it stands for https://www.opendemocracy.net/mary-fitzgerald/trump-s-folly-with-iran-means-europe-must-show-what-it-stands-for <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A collapse of the Iran nuclear agreement could spark catastrophic, global conflict. Time for Europeans to close the gap between words and action.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/PA-36391214_460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/PA-36391214_460.jpg" alt="United States President Donald J. Trump makes a statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran " title="" width="460" height="342" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"Criminal folly with global implications" Image: Martin H. Simon/CNP/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>In 2003, as United States troops arrived “at the gates of Baghdad”, openDemocracy’s prescient columnist Paul Rogers <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1127.jsp">predicted a 30 years’ war</a>. He warned that “the US’s current global ambitions guarantee bitter and prolonged conflict in the Middle East and beyond”. Along with Rogers, the late Fred Halliday&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/globalization/again_3267.jsp">emphasised that Iran</a> was bound to be the strategic victor of the United States’ conquest of Iraq. </p> <p class="mag-quote-right">For Trump to abandon rather than build on the deal is a criminal folly with global implications</p> <p>At least our writers expected the war to be fought and ended in the Middle East. President Donald Trump’s catastrophic decision, announced yesterday, to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal makes their predictions not nearly pessimistic enough. Trump means the opposite of what he says: he claims he is blocking an Iranian road to war, but in fact he and his allies in Israel are sparking a new, potentially global, round of conflict. </p> <p>Using remote-control murder by drone as his shield, President Barack Obama attempted to limit the United States’ Iraq defeat and to rebuild the global alliance that had supported his country when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Obama’s expansion of drone warfare to achieve this end was a cynical calculation. It had devastating consequences for some of the world’s most powerless people and has set a dangerous precedent. But Obama had one outstanding success: the 2015 Iran deal. Washington brought Russia, China and the European Union together to oblige Iran to relinquish its nuclear weapons programme, in an unprecedented, practical and enforced worldwide agreement. </p> <p>For Trump to abandon rather than build on the deal is a criminal folly with global implications. The least of it is that the United States will be seen in the Middle East as a patsy for Israeli-inspired regime change and inhumane expansion into Palestinian territories. Washington is already becoming increasingly isolated in this respect: this is what lies behind the vow of its United Nations ambassador, <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/20/politics/nikki-haley-taking-names-on-jerusalem/index.html">Nikki Haley, to “take names”</a> of countries that vote in favour of a motion criticising the United States’ decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. </p> <h2 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 6pt;">Provoking China</h2> <p>But beyond the Middle East the situation is graver still. Last week the United States demanded <a href="http://xqdoc.imedao.com/16329fa0c8b2da913fc9058b.pdf">a new trade relationship</a> with China. The provocation is vividly summarised by Martin Wolf in the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/dd2af6b0-4fc1-11e8-9471-a083af05aea7"><em>Financial Times</em></a>, who concludes, “No great sovereign power could accept such a humiliation. For China, it would be a modern version of the ‘unequal treaties’ of the 19th century.” </p> <p>As if an all-out trade war with Beijing were not enough, Trump has announced there will be far-reaching sanctions on those who continue to do business with Iran. The European Union has vowed a “united approach” in opposition to this, and Germany, France and Britain have issued a statement <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/may/08/europe-denounces-trumps-us-withdrawal-from-iran-nuclear-deal?CMP=twt_gu">reaffirming their commitment to the Iran deal</a>, which they see as essential to preventing nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. A destruction of the international economic system, even without the likely economic crash, could follow from a stand-off between the United States, China and the European Union as oil prices rise. That’s before an open conflict across the Middle East that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to relish. If those already fighting the proxy war that has devastated Syria attack each other directly, it could close the Straits of Hormuz, throttling the world supply of oil whatever the price.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">The president will have consulted with Rupert Murdoch before making his final call</p> <p>When Trump amplified his rhetoric against North Korea he prevailed on China to force it to the negotiating table. No such way out seems likely now with respect to Iran. His folly is possibly unsurpassed by any previous United States president. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/mehrdad-khonsari/europe-must-honour-its-commitments-and-protect-nuclear-deal">Mehrdad Konsari, a former Iranian diplomat</a>, writing for openDemocracy’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia">North Africa West Asia project</a> just a few days ago, noted the irony of “the rise of ‘Iran Hawks’ in the US… when ideological radicals are but a minority in Iran’s ruling establishment with very little public support”. Trump’s threats to renege on the deal have been, he added, a “god-sent gift for reviving the fortunes of Iranian hard-liners”.</p> <h2 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 6pt;">Dreamers of the left</h2><p>The results will be felt far beyond Iran. Every act of unilateral, international aggression, such as the one the United States has just perpetrated, has immense domestic consequences. This is something the Trump team perhaps understands well, and the president will have consulted with Rupert Murdoch and other United States oligarchs skilled at public manipulation before making his final call. With few exceptions, across the United States and Britain, the democratic and liberal centre and left have been largely paralysed since the surprise of Brexit and the election of Trump, hoping that these horrors will somehow be foiled by impeachment or a parliamentary vote, as if they are nightmares from which their countries can awake if they try hard enough. In fact, it is the opponents of Trump and Brexit who have been dreaming rather than getting to grips with reality, as the political philosopher <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Michael Sandel has argued</a> in a powerful lecture which we are publishing today. </p> <p>As Trump demonstrates, the hard right prefers to up the stakes rather than embrace a more moderate approach, which the president’s allies and some advisors pressed him towards. This means we have to prepare ourselves for worse to come. The first popular test will be the upcoming midterm elections in the United States, when voters might well drum out Republican candidates. But international confrontation is always used to rally people to the flag and legitimate the suppression of opposition. Trump will bring the war home. </p> <h2 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 6pt;">What Europe can do</h2> <p>And yet Trump’s leap into the unknown provides an opportunity for the divided continent of Europe to find common ground and to play a constructive role in the world. Progressive democrats in Europe are mired in problems on their own doorstep: Brexit is less of a threat than Hungary’s slide into xenophobic autocracy (read Anthony Barnett’s <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/anthony-barnett/orb-n-get-lost-to-tulipy-cunt-hungary-threatens-european-union-photo-essay-from-buda">recent dispatch from Budapest</a>), historic victories for the far right in Austria, and Poland’s rapid de-democratisation, all swelled by a surge in anti-immigrant and racist propaganda. There is certainly a risk, compounded by Brexit, that Britain will buckle on the Iran deal in an attempt to curry favour with the Trump regime; the free-trade-at-all-cost, buccaneering Atlanticists who hold sway over the weak government of Prime Minister Theresa May will push in that direction.</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">Remember, too, the hypocrisy on view in dealings with Saudi Arabia</p> <p>However, Britain is still scarred by its last experience of following a United States president who promised a crusade of good against evil; the French president, Emmanuel Macron, despite warm personal relations with Trump, has described the United States’ <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/25/macron-goes-against-trump-on-paris-climate-deal-and-iran-nuclear-accord">flip-flopping on international agreements as “insane”</a>; and the continued commitment of Russia and China to the Iran deal offers European leaders an opportunity to follow a different path, both in style and substance. </p><p>It will require bravery and vision, given the United States’ economic muscle. Europe badly needs to reassert a shared narrative, but the gap between the words and actions of Europe’s so-called leaders can be wide indeed: witness their anodyne press releases about ‘shared values’, while cutting cynical deals with Turkey in order to keep out the migrant “swarms” – to use the racist language of a former British prime minister, David Cameron. Remember, too, the hypocrisy on view – particularly from Britain – in dealings with Saudi Arabia, another regime which exports regional chaos and abuses citizens at home. It was remarkable that the British press seemed to swallow and parrot wholesale the official narrative of last year’s Saudi ‘anti-corruption’ purge by the new ‘reforming’ Crown Prince, as if allowing women to drive could counterbalance the direction of a brutal war in Yemen and countless other human rights outrages.</p> <p>But standing up to Trump, a bully who represents the very antithesis of what it <i>should </i>mean to be European right now, might just help to start closing the gap between words and action in Europe. An epochal fight for democracy, liberty and human rights for all, of every race, gender and religion, is under way. It is time for all who can to stand together, demonstrating the wisdom, solidarity and imagination that Trump’s toxic, polarising project lacks. There is no margin for error.</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Conflict International politics north america europe american power & the world Mary Fitzgerald Wed, 09 May 2018 10:59:48 +0000 Mary Fitzgerald 117766 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Populism, Trump, and the future of democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The most popular political philosopher of his generation makes an invaluable contribution to openDemocracy's debate on liberal responsiblity worldwide for the rise of the hard right. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36391201.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36391201.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>President Trump announces US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, May 8, 2018. CNP/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>These are dangerous times for democracy. Russia, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, and other places that once offered democratic hope are now, in varying degrees, falling into authoritarianism. Democracy is also in trouble in sturdier places.</p> <p>In the United States, Donald Trump poses the greatest threat to the American constitutional order since Richard Nixon. And yet, despite the floundering first year and a half of Trump’s presidency, the opposition has yet to find its voice. </p> <p>One might think that Trump’s inflammatory tweets, erratic behavior, and persistent disregard for democratic norms would offer the opposition an easy target. But it has not worked out this way. For those who would mount a politics of resistance, the outrage Trump provokes has been less energizing than paralyzing.</p> <p>There are two reasons for the opposition’s paralysis. One is the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. The hope that Mueller’s findings will lead to the impeachment of Trump is wishful thinking that distracts Democrats from asking hard questions about why voters have rejected them at both the federal and state level. <span class="mag-quote-center">The hope that Mueller’s findings will lead to the impeachment of Trump… distracts Democrats from asking hard questions about why voters have rejected them at both the federal and state level.</span></p><p>A second source of paralysis lies in the chaos Trump creates. His steady stream of provocations has a disorienting effect on critics, who struggle to discriminate between the more consequential affronts to democracy and passing distractions. </p><p>The Italian writer Italo Calvino once wrote, “I spent the first twenty years of my life with Mussolini’s face always in view.”&nbsp; Trump too is always in view, thanks partly to his tweets and partly to the insatiable appetite of television news to cover his every outrageous antic.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>An economy of outrage</strong></h2><p>Moral outrage can be politically energizing, but only if it is channeled and guided by political judgment. What the opposition to Trump needs now is an <em>economy of outrage</em>, disciplined by the priorities of an affirmative political project.&nbsp; </p> <p>What might such a project look like?&nbsp; To answer this question, we must begin by facing up to the complacencies of establishment political thinking that opened the way to Trump in the US and to right-wing populism in Britain and Europe.&nbsp; </p> <p>The hard reality is that Donald Trump was elected by tapping a wellspring of anxieties, frustrations, and legitimate grievances to which the mainstream parties have no compelling answer.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>This means that, for those worried about Trump, and about populism, it is not enough to mobilize a politics of protest and resistance; it is also necessary to engage in a politics of persuasion. Such a politics must begin by understanding the discontent that is roiling politics in the US and in democracies around the world. <span class="mag-quote-center">It is not enough to mobilize a politics of protest and resistance; it is also necessary to engage in a politics of persuasion.</span></p> <h2><strong>The failure of technocratic liberalism</strong></h2><p>Like the triumph of Brexit in the UK, the election of Trump was an angry verdict on decades of rising inequality and a version of globalization that benefits those at the top but leaves ordinary people feeling disempowered.&nbsp; It was also a rebuke for a technocratic approach to politics that is tone deaf to the resentments of people who feel the economy and the culture have left them behind.</p> <p>Some denounce the upsurge of populism as little more than a racist, xenophobic reaction against immigrants and multiculturalism.&nbsp; Others see it mainly in economic terms, as a protest against the job losses brought about by global trade and new technologies. </p> <p>But it is a mistake to see only the bigotry in populist protest, or to view it only as an economic complaint. To do so misses the fact that the upheavals we are witnessing are a political response to a political failure of historic proportions. <span class="mag-quote-center">The upheavals we are witnessing are a political response to a political failure of historic proportions. </span></p> <p>The right wing populism ascendant today is a symptom of the failure of progressive politics. The Democratic Party has become a party of a technocratic liberalism more congenial to the professional classes than to the blue collar and middle class voters who once constituted its base. A similar predicament afflicted Britain’s Labour Party and led, following its defeat in the last general election, to the surprising election of anti-establishment figure Jeremy Corbyn as party leader. </p> <p>The roots of the predicament go back to the 1980s. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher had argued that government was the problem and that markets were the solution. When they passed from the political scene, the center-left politicians who succeeded them – Bill Clinton in the US, Tony Blair in Britain, Gerhard Schroeder in Germany – moderated but consolidated the market faith. They softened the harsh edges of unfettered markets, but did not challenge the central premise of the Reagan-Thatcher era – that market mechanisms are the primary instruments for achieving the public good. In line with this faith, they embraced a market-driven version of globalization and welcomed the growing financialization of the economy.</p> <p>In the 1990s, the Clinton administration joined with Republicans in promoting global trade agreements and deregulating the financial industry.&nbsp;&nbsp; The benefits of these policies flowed mostly to those at the top, but Democrats did little to address the deepening inequality and the growing power of money in politics. Having strayed from its traditional mission of taming capitalism and holding economic power to democratic account, liberalism lost its capacity to inspire. <span class="mag-quote-center">Having strayed from its traditional mission of taming capitalism and holding economic power to democratic account, liberalism lost its capacity to inspire.</span></p> <p>All that seemed to change when Barack Obama appeared on the political scene. In his 2008 presidential campaign, he offered a stirring alternative to the managerial, technocratic language that had come to characterize liberal public discourse. He showed that progressive politics could speak a language of moral and spiritual purpose. </p> <p>But the moral energy and civic idealism he inspired as a candidate did not carry over into his presidency. Assuming office in the midst of the financial crisis, he appointed economic advisors who had promoted financial deregulation during the Clinton years. With their encouragement, he bailed out the banks on terms that did not hold them to account for the behavior that led to the crisis and offered little help for ordinary citizens who had lost their homes.</p> <p>His moral voice muted, Obama placated rather than articulated the seething public anger toward Wall Street. Lingering anger over the bailout cast a shadow over the Obama presidency and would ultimately fuel a mood of populist protest that reached across the political spectrum –&nbsp;on the left, the Occupy movement and the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, on the right, the Tea Party movement and the election of Trump. <span class="mag-quote-center">His moral voice muted, Obama placated rather than articulated the seething public anger toward Wall Street.</span></p> <p>The populist uprising in the US, Britain, and Europe is a backlash against elites of the mainstream parties, but its most conspicuous causalities have been liberal and center-left political parties – the Democratic Party in the US, the Labour Party in Britain, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany, whose share of the vote reached a historic low in the last Federal election, Italy’s Democratic Party, whose vote share dropped to less than 20 per cent, and the Socialist Party in France, whose presidential nominee won only six per cent of the vote in the first round of last year’s election. </p> <h2>Rethinking progressive politics</h2><p>Before they can hope to win back public support, progressive parties must rethink their mission and purpose. To do so, they should learn from the populist protest that has displaced them – not by replicating its xenophobia and strident nationalism, but by taking seriously the legitimate grievances with which these ugly sentiments are entangled. Such rethinking should begin with the recognition that these grievances are not only economic but also moral and cultural; they are not only about wages and jobs but also about social esteem. </p> <p>Here are four themes that progressive parties need to grapple with if they hope to address the anger and resentments that roil politics today: income inequality; meritocratic hubris; the dignity of work; patriotism and national community:</p> <p><strong><em>Income inequality</em></strong>:&nbsp; The standard response to inequality is to call for greater equality of opportunity – retraining workers whose jobs have disappeared due to globalization and technology; improving access to higher education; removing barriers of race, ethnicity, and gender. It is summed up in the slogan that those who work hard and play by the rules should be able to rise as far as their talents will take them.</p> <p>But this slogan now rings hollow. In today’s economy, it is not easy to rise.&nbsp; This is a special problem for the US, which prides itself on upward mobility.&nbsp; Americans have traditionally worried less than Europeans about inequality, believing that, whatever one’s starting point in life, it is possible, with hard work, to rise from rags to riches. But today, this belief is in doubt.&nbsp; Americans born to poor parents tend to stay poor as adults. Of those born in the bottom fifth of the income scale, 43 per cent will remain there, and only four per cent will make it to the top fifth. It is easier to rise from poverty in Canada, Germany, Sweden, and other European countries than it is in the US. </p> <p>This may explain why the rhetoric of opportunity fails to inspire as it once did. Progressives should reconsider the assumption that mobility can compensate for inequality. They should reckon directly with inequalities of power and wealth, rather than rest content with the project of helping people scramble up a ladder whose rungs grow further and further apart.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p><strong><em>Meritocratic hubris</em></strong>:&nbsp; But the problem runs deeper. The relentless emphasis on creating a fair meritocracy, in which social positions reflect effort and talent, has a corrosive effect on the way we interpret our success (or the lack of it). The notion that the system rewards talent and hard work encourages the winners to consider their success their own doing, a measure of their virtue –&nbsp;and to look down upon those less fortunate than themselves. </p> <p>Those who lose out may complain that the system is rigged, that the winners have cheated and manipulated their way to the top. Or they may harbor the demoralizing thought that their failure is their own doing, that they simply lack the talent and drive to succeed.&nbsp; </p> <p>When these sentiments coexist, as invariably they do, they make for a volatile brew of anger and resentment against elites that fuels populist protest. Though himself a billionaire, Donald Trump understands and exploits this resentment. Unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who spoke constantly of “opportunity,” Trump scarcely mentions the word.&nbsp; Instead, he offers blunt talk of winners and losers.</p> <p>Liberals and progressives have so valorized a college degree – both as an avenue for advancement and as the basis for social esteem – that they have difficulty understanding the hubris a meritocracy can generate, and the harsh judgment it imposes on those who have not gone to college.&nbsp; Such attitudes are at the heart of the populist backlash and Trump’s victory.&nbsp; </p> <p>One of the deepest political divides in American politics today is between those with and those without a college degree. To heal this divide, Democrats need to understand the attitudes toward merit and work it reflects.</p> <p><strong><em>The dignity of work</em></strong>:&nbsp; The loss of jobs to technology and outsourcing has coincided with a sense that society accords less respect to the kind of work the working class does. As economic activity has shifted from making things to managing money, as society has lavished outsized rewards on hedge fund managers and Wall Street bankers, the esteem accorded work in the traditional sense has become fragile and uncertain.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>New technologies may further erode the dignity of work. Some Silicon Valley visionaries anticipate a time when robots and artificial intelligence will render many of today’s jobs obsolete. To ease the way for such a future, they propose paying everyone a basic income. What was once justified as a safety net for all citizens is now offered as a way to soften the transition to a world without work. Whether such a world is a prospect to welcome or to resist is a question that will be central to politics in the coming years. To think it through, political parties will have to grapple with the meaning of work and its place in a good life.</p> <p><strong><em>Patriotism and national community</em></strong>:&nbsp; Free trade agreements and immigration are the most potent flashpoints of populist fury. On one level, these are economic issues. Opponents argue that free trade agreements and immigration threaten local jobs and wages, while proponents reply that they help the economy in the long run. But the passion these issues evoke suggests something more is at stake.</p> <p>Workers who believe their country cares more for cheap goods and cheap labor than for the job prospects of its own people feel betrayed. This sense of betrayal often finds ugly, intolerant expression – a hatred of immigrants, a strident nationalism that vilifies Muslims and other “outsiders,” a rhetoric of “taking back our country.”</p> <p>Liberals reply by condemning the hateful rhetoric and insisting on the virtues of mutual respect and multicultural understanding. But this principled response, valid though it is, fails to address an important set of questions implicit in the populist complaint. What is the moral significance, if any, of national borders? Do we owe more to our fellow citizens than we owe citizens of other countries? In a global age, should we cultivate national identities or aspire to a cosmopolitan ethic of universal human concern?</p> <p>These questions may seem daunting, a far cry from the small things we discuss in politics these days.&nbsp; But the populist uprising highlights the need to rejuvenate democratic public discourse, to address the big questions people care about, including moral and cultural questions.</p><h2><strong>Revitalizing public discourse</strong></h2> <p>Any attempt to address such questions, to reimagine the terms of democratic public discourse, faces a powerful obstacle.&nbsp; It requires that we rethink a central premise of contemporary liberalism.&nbsp; It requires that we question the idea that the way to a tolerant society is to avoid engaging in substantive moral argument in politics.</p> <p>This principle of avoidance – this insistence that citizens leave their moral and spiritual convictions outside when they enter the public square – is a powerful temptation. It <em>seems</em> to avoid the danger that the majority may impose its values on the minority. It <em>seems</em> to prevent the possibility that a morally overheated politics will lead to wars of religion. It <em>seems</em> to offer a secure basis for mutual respect. </p><p>But this strategy of avoidance, this insistence on liberal neutrality, is a mistake. It ill-equips us to address the moral and cultural issues that animate the populist revolt. For how is it possible to discuss the meaning of work and its role in a good life without debating competing conceptions of the good life? How is it possible to think through the proper relation of national and global identities without asking about the virtues such identities express, and the claims they make upon us?</p> <p>Liberal neutrality flattens questions of meaning, identity, and purpose into questions of fairness. It therefore misses the anger and resentment that animate the populist revolt; it lacks the moral and rhetorical and sympathetic resources to understand the cultural estrangement, even humiliation, that many working class and middle class voters feel; and it ignores the meritocratic hubris of elites. <span class="mag-quote-center">Donald Trump is keenly alive to the politics of humiliation.</span></p> <p>Donald Trump is keenly alive to the politics of humiliation. From the standpoint of economic fairness, his populism is fake, a kind of plutocratic populism. His health plan would have cut health care for many of his working class supporters to fund massive tax cuts for the wealthy. But to focus solely on this hypocrisy misses the point.&nbsp; </p> <p>When he withdrew the US from the Paris climate change agreement, Trump argued, implausibly, that he was doing so to protect American jobs.&nbsp; But the real point of his decision, its political rationale, was contained in this seemingly stray remark: “We don’t want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore.”</p> <p>Liberating the US from the supposed burdens of the climate change agreement was not really about jobs or about global warming. It was, in Trump’s political imagination, about averting humiliation. This resonates with Trump voters, even those who care about climate change.</p> <p>For those left behind by three decades of market-driven globalization, the problem is not only wage stagnation and the loss of jobs; it is also the loss of social esteem. It is not only about unfairness; it is also about humiliation. <span class="mag-quote-center">It is not only about unfairness; it is also about humiliation.</span></p> <p>Mainstream liberal and social democratic politicians miss this dimension of politics.&nbsp; They think the problem with globalization is simply a matter of distributive justice; those who have gained from global trade, new technologies, and the financialization of the economy have not adequately compensated those who have lost out.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>But this misunderstands the populist complaint. It also reflects a defect in the public philosophy of contemporary liberalism. Many liberals distinguish between <em>neo-liberalism</em> (or laissez-faire, free market thinking) and the liberalism that finds expression in what philosophers call “liberal public reason.” The first is an economic doctrine, whereas the second is a principle of political morality that insists government should be neutral toward competing conceptions of the good life.</p> <p>Notwithstanding this distinction, there is a philosophical affinity between the neo-liberal faith in market reasoning and the principle of liberal neutrality. Market reasoning is appealing because it seems to offer a way to resolve contested public questions without engaging in contentious debates about how goods are properly valued. When two people make a deal, they decide for themselves what value to place on the goods they exchange.</p> <p>Similarly, liberal neutrality is appealing because it seems to offer a way of defining and justifying rights without presupposing any particular conception of the good. But the neutrality is spurious in both cases.&nbsp; Markets are not morally neutral instruments for defining the common good. And liberal public reason is not a morally neutral way of arriving at principles of justice. <span class="mag-quote-center">Markets are not morally neutral instruments for defining the common good. And liberal public reason is not a morally neutral way of arriving at principles of justice.</span></p> <p>Conducting our public discourse as if it were possible to outsource moral judgment to markets, or to procedures of liberal public reason, has created an empty, impoverished public discourse, a vacuum of public meaning.&nbsp;&nbsp; Such empty public spaces are invariably filled by narrow, intolerant, authoritarian alternatives – whether in the form of religious fundamentalism or strident nationalism.&nbsp; </p> <p>That is what we are witnessing today.&nbsp; Three decades of market-driven globalization and technocratic liberalism have hollowed out democratic public discourse, disempowered ordinary citizens, and prompted a populist backlash that seeks to cloth the naked public square with an intolerant, vengeful nationalism.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>A vacuum of public meaning</strong></h2> <p>To reinvigorate democratic politics, we need to find our way to a morally more robust public discourse, one that honors pluralism by <em>engaging</em> with our moral disagreements, rather than <em>avoiding</em> them.</p> <p>Disentangling the intolerant aspects of populist protest from its legitimate grievances is no easy matter. But it is important to try. Understanding these grievances and creating a politics that can respond to them is the most pressing political challenge of our time. </p><p><em>This lecture draws upon material from my articles “Lessons from the Populist Revolt,” <a href="https://www.project-syndicate.org">Project Syndicate </a>and 'Populism, Liberalism, and Democracy,”'</em> Philosophy and Social Criticism<em> </em>(2018)<em>. It was given at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna <a href="http://www.iwm.at/events/event/is-democracy-in-peril/">last month</a>.</em></p><p><em>See also <a href="https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/videos/what-money-cant-buy">What Money Can't Buy </a>– the new video series promoting public debate about the moral and civic limits of market reasoning, from the Institute for New Economic Thinking.</em></p><h2><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/jon-cruddas-response-to-michael-sandel" target="_blank">Read a response to Michael Sandel from the Labour MP Jon Cruddas</a></strong></h2><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/videos/what-money-cant-buy">What Money Can't Buy </a>is the new video series (entirely free) promoting public debate about the moral and civic limits of market reasoning, from the Institute for New Economic Thinking.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/edmund-fawcett/hard-right-and-its-threats-to-democratic-liberalism">The hard right and its threats to democratic liberalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/to-beat-hard-right-we-ll-need-to-change-too-response-to-edmund-fawcett">To beat the hard right we’ll need to change too – a response to Edmund Fawcett</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jan-zielonka/how-to-contain-hard-right">How to contain the hard right</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/i-am-not-liberal-but-if-i-have-to-get-into-bed-with-them-i-will">Why I am not a Liberal and how we need to fight bin Trump and Brexit</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Russia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item even"> Poland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Poland Hungary Turkey Russia EU United States Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Michael J. Sandel Wed, 09 May 2018 09:18:23 +0000 Michael J. Sandel 117761 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women in politics in Latin America, from the Pink Tide to the turn to the Right https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/ver-nica-engler/women-in-politics-in-latin-america-from-pink-tide-to-turn-to-right <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Until recently, there was a significant presence of women in the political frontline in Latin America. The current turn to the Right seems to produce the opposite. Or does it? <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/ver-nica-engler/las-mujeres-en-la-pol-tica-latinoamericana-de-la-marea-rosa-al-gir">Español</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Dilma_Rousseff_e_Cristina_Kirchner_em_2015_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Dilma_Rousseff_e_Cristina_Kirchner_em_2015_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="315" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>48th Conference of Mercosur Heads of State and associated states. President Dilma Rousseff receives the president of Argentina Cristina Kirchner. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved</span></span></span></p><p class="blockquote-new"><em>This article is being published as part of the partnership between Nueva Sociedad and democraciaAbierta. You can read the original&nbsp;</em><em><strong><a href="http://nuso.org/articulo/la-actualidad-de-las-mujeres-en-la-politica-latinoamericana/">here.</a></strong></em></p> <p>Towards the end of the last century, a change of course in Latin American politics was interpreted and described by many as a "turn to the Left". It was a process which scholars came to call the Pink Tide, characterized by the democratic coming to power of progressive governments in most countries in the region. </p><p>Broadly, it was a break with the 1990’s Washington Consensus – which had implied a mix of market-opening and privatizating measures, inspired and promoted by the United States. But the Pink Tide brought with it an absolute novelty: women presidents - the <em>presidentas</em>. Now that the tide has turned, the falling water level is revealing a shortage of women in high political posts.</p> <p>Does the current turn to the Right actually imply less female presence in the political frontline? Or are we going to witness now a rise of right-wing women leaders in Latin American politics?</p><p class="mag-quote-center">In 2014, Latin America ranked high in the world’s female leader index, with&nbsp;<em>presidentas</em>&nbsp;Dilma Rouseff (Brazil), Cristina Fernández (Argentina), Michelle Bachelet (Chile) and Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica).</p> <p>In 2014, Latin America ranked high in the world’s female leader index, with <em>presidentas</em> Dilma Rouseff (Brazil), Cristina Fernández (Argentina), Michelle Bachelet (Chile) and Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica) and prime ministers Portia Simpson (Jamaica) and Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Trinidad and Tobago). This was – and still is - an unparalleled record. </p><p>Today, there are no women presidents in sight and the number of women in cabinet posts has clearly diminished.</p> <p>However, there are some indications that a number of strong women leaders are emerging. For example María Eugenia Vidal, governor of the province of Buenos Aires (Argentina), from Mauricio Macri’s Let’s Change alliance, and Marta Lucía Ramírez, from the Colombian Conservative Party, Álvaro Uribe’s presidential ticket partner.</p> <p>In Latin America, male dominance of political power throughout history accounts for the expectations societies have had regarding presidential leadership. </p><p>For several decades after women won the recognition of their right to participate in electoral politics at all levels, the presidency remained the one political post filled exclusively by men. Even though women began to occupy legislative positions at sub-national and national level shortly after achieving full voting rights in the 1940s and 1950s, it was not until the 1990s that a woman won a presidential election.</p> <p>But are we to think that the progressive ideals of the Pink Tide are responsible for the success of the women who won the presidency of their countries during the first decade of this century? </p><p>In <em>Latin America's Presidentas: Overcoming Challenges</em> - a recently published article included in <em>Gender and Representation in Latin America</em>, edited by Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer -, American political scientists Catherine Reyes-Housholder and Gwynn Thomas recognize that the growing experience of women in politics and the existence of political contexts more favourable to their political representation operate as necessary conditions for their electoral victories. </p><p>This is evidenced by the fact that none of the presidential candidates – both the winning ones and those who did not win - was a newcomer. On the contrary, they had been building their political careers for years.</p> <p>At this stage, though, it is quite clear that the coming to power of women does not necessarily ensure a gender perspective - that is, the will to change an unequal order. However, the presence of women as presidents, legislators and ministers, allows, at least, a new set of possibilities.</p> <p>The Pink Tide <em>presidentas</em>, with due nuances in each case, made a small but significant difference in the appointments to cabinet posts. In Argentina, women headed 25% of the ministries during Cristina Fernández’s mandate, a figure that has now gone down to less than 10% - only two – with Mauricio Macri. </p><p>Nor is the current Buenos Aires provincial cabinet under governor María Eugenia Vidal - a likely presidential candidate for 2019 - in a better shape in terms of equality: out of twenty members, only one is a woman.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">After the institutional coup against Dilma Rousseff, President Michel Temer formed a cabinet composed entirely of men.&nbsp;</p> <p>The case of Brazil is even more symptomatic. After the institutional coup against Dilma Rousseff, President Michel Temer formed a cabinet composed entirely of men. And the recent assassination of councilwoman Marielle Franco (from the Socialism and Freedom Party), a feminist leader and a social leader of the <em>favelas</em>, is a clear example of the danger that women who question the established order in the region face.</p> <p>Is there a relation between the end of the <em>presidentas</em>’<em> </em>mandates and the turn to the Right which is currently taking place in several Latin American countries? </p><p>Feminist historian Dora Barrancos, senior researcher and member of the Board of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) in Argentina, says it bluntly: "There is, for sure, a close relation between the end of these mandates and the advance of the Right, which had already been showing its obfuscation, particularly regarding the income redistribution measures. </p><p>The policy measures of the governments which were inclined to resolving inequality and social exclusion were harassed by the concentrated economic groups."</p> <p>During the Pink Tide, Michele Bachelet’s government was the most advanced one regarding the inclusion of a government agenda with a gender perspective. During her second term, she pushed a series of electoral reforms which included Chile's first gender quota by law. </p><p>In addition, Bachelet introduced legislation to liberalize the up to then total prohibition of abortion. Reyes-Housholder and Thomas state that no other president (woman or man) equals Bachelet's legislative success in promoting gender equality, which was a central element of her presidential agenda. </p><p>They highlight the fact that Bachelet successfully mobilized a supporting core of women behind a "pro-woman" platform. She also managed to attract "elite feminists" and skillfully managed to use her power to promote meaningful change in favour of women.</p> <p>In Argentina, President Mauricio Macri recently decided to create a women's cabinet headed by Vice President Gabriela Michetti. This cabinet includes his two women ministers - Carolina Stanley (Social Development) and Patricia Bullrich (Security) – and the head of the National Institute for Women, Fabiana Tuñez. </p><p>The first meeting of this cabinet took place within the framework of a social and political agenda focused on several gender issues, such as the decriminalization of abortion, the extension of paternity leave, and wage equality between women and men - in addition to gender violence and its most serious consequence, feminicide, which has motivated massive protest movements in the country, such as <em>Ni una una menos</em>.</p> <p>So, could the Right capitalize on the historical struggles of the women's movement, such as legal abortion, which now seems to have been co-opted into the government agenda in Argentina? </p><p>"Yes, of course it can", says feminist sociologist María Alicia Gutiérrez, who is a professor and researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires and a member of the National Campaign for the Right to Free and Secure Legal Abortion. "This situation is not new. During Carlos Menem’s Peronist government, amidst the brutal implementation of neoliberal structural adjustment measures, privatization and rights reform, a quota law was passed and so was a bill on shared parental authority, among other measures. But laws condition the possibilities of advancing other demands, and so it is not clear that right-wing governments, with a program of social cuts, would be willing to do it".</p> <p>Historically, women in Latin America have participated in politics to a lesser extent than men, but in <em>The impact of Presidentas on political activity</em>, Catherine Reyes-Housholder and Leslie Schwindt-Bayer show that the presence of a female president is correlated with greater participation of women in the campaign, more female voter intention and greater attendance at meetings by women. </p><p>The authors say that some evidence suggests that the presence of women presidents is associated with an increase in the support of both men and women for female political leadership, which in turn can lead to greater female political participation.</p> <p>It is possible to think that we are witnessing a return of male dominance of political power in Latin America. However, some promising trends indicate that women are competing more than before. Today, there are more women with experience in politics who can contest power in the public arena.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/s-rgio-costa-francesc-badia-i-dalmases/persistent-inequality-disputing-legacy-of-pink-tide-in-latin-">Persistent inequality: disputing the legacy of the pink tide in Latin America</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/cerosetenta/being-female-and-journalist-in-latin-america-women-open-up-and-recount">Being female and a journalist in Latin America</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/laura-carlsen/how-women-are-building-feminist-human-security-in-americas">How women are building feminist human security in the Americas </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics feminism Latin America Verónica Engler Tue, 08 May 2018 11:49:08 +0000 Verónica Engler 117739 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Las mujeres en la política latinoamericana, de la Marea Rosa al giro a la derecha https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/ver-nica-engler/las-mujeres-en-la-pol-tica-latinoamericana-de-la-marea-rosa-al-gir <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hasta hace poco, América Latina contaba con una importante presencia de mujeres en primera línea política. ¿El actual giro a la derecha implica una menor presencia femenina en altos cargos políticos? <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/ver-nica-engler/women-in-politics-in-latin-america-from-pink-tide-to-turn-to-right">English</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Dilma_Rousseff_e_Cristina_Kirchner_em_2015.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Dilma_Rousseff_e_Cristina_Kirchner_em_2015.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="315" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>48ª Cúpula de Jefes de Estado del Mercosur y estados asociados. La presidenta Dilma Rousseff recibe a la presidenta de Argentina Cristina Kirchner. Fuente: Wikimedia Commons. Algunos derechos reservados</span></span></span></p><p><span class="blockquote-new"><em>Este artículo se publica en el marco de nuestra alianza editorial con Nueva&nbsp;Sociedad. Lea el original&nbsp;</em><em><a href="http://nuso.org/articulo/la-actualidad-de-las-mujeres-en-la-politica-latinoamericana/"><strong>aquí&nbsp;</strong></a></em></span> </p> <p>Hacia fines del siglo pasado, comenzó en América Latina un cambio de rumbo que fue interpretado y calificado por muchos como un “giro a la izquierda”. Se trató de ese proceso que entre los estudiosos y las estudiosas se dio a conocer como la Marea Rosa y que se caracterizó por un ascenso democrático de gobiernos progresistas en la mayoría de los países de la región. </p><p>En líneas muy generales, de lo que se trataba era de una ruptura con el Consenso de Washington - de comienzos de la década de 1990 -, que implicó un&nbsp;<em>mix</em>&nbsp;entre apertura de mercados y privatizaciones, impulsado por Estados Unidos. Esta Marea Rosa trajo a muchas de nuestras costas una absoluta novedad: presidentes mujeres o, mejor dicho, presidentas. </p><p>Ahora que estas aguas venturosas parecen haberse retirado, la resaca ha dejado una carestía de mujeres al frente de las presidencias.</p> <p>¿El actual giro a la derecha implica una menor presencia femenina en altos cargos políticos? ¿O es que puede darse también un ascenso de las líderes de derecha en la política latinoamericana?</p><p class="mag-quote-center">En 2014 América Latina ostentaba uno de los más altos niveles de primeras mandatarias femeninas a nivel mundial, con las presidentas Dilma Rouseff (Brasil), Cristina Fernández (Argentina), Michelle Bachelet (Chile) y Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica).</p> <p>En 2014 América Latina ostentaba uno de los más altos niveles de primeras mandatarias femeninas a nivel mundial, con las presidentas Dilma Rouseff (Brasil), Cristina Fernández (Argentina), Michelle Bachelet (Chile) y Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica). A ellas se sumaban Portia Simpson (Jamaica) y Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Trinidad y Tobago), como primeras ministras de sus países. </p><p>Fue un récord inigualable. Hoy no hay presidentas a la vista y claramente el número de mujeres en los gabinetes ministeriales ha descendido. Sin embargo, parecen surgir otros liderazgos fuertes. </p><p>Son los casos de Maria Eugenia Vidal, gobernadora de la provincia de Buenos Aires (Argentina) por la alianza Cambiemos que lidera el presidente Mauricio Macri, y el de Marta Lucía Ramírez, del Partido Conservador Colombiano, como compañera de fórmula presidencial de Álvaro Uribe.</p> <p>Históricamente, el dominio masculino del poder político forjó las expectativas de la sociedad en torno al liderazgo presidencial. Incluso después de que las mujeres pudieron participar legalmente en todos los niveles de la política electoral, la presidencia se mantuvo durante décadas como un cargo político exclusivamente ocupado por hombres. </p><p>Aunque las mujeres comenzaron a ganar cargos legislativos a nivel sub-nacional y nacional poco después de lograr los derechos de sufragio completo en las décadas de 1940 y 1950, no fue hasta los años noventa que una mujer ganó democráticamente una elección presidencial.</p> <p>Pero ¿son los ideales progresistas de la Marea Rosa&nbsp;los que explican el éxito de las mujeres que ganaron la presidencia de sus países durante la primera década de este siglo? </p><p>En&nbsp;<em>Latin America’s Presidentas: Overcoming Challenges</em>, un artículo de reciente publicación - incluido en el libro&nbsp;<em>Gender and Representation in Latin America</em>, editado por Leslie A. Schwindt- Bayer -, las politólogas estadounidenses Catherine Reyes-Housholder y Gwynn Thomas reconocen que la creciente experiencia política de las mujeres y los contextos políticos más propicios para su representación política parecen funcionar como condiciones necesarias para sus recientes victorias. Prueba de ello es que ninguna de las candidatas presidenciales - las que ganaron y también las otras - era una recién llegada. Por el contrario, habían construido durante años sus carreras políticas.</p> <p>A esta altura del recorrido, está más que claro que la llegada de las mujeres a instancias de poder no garantiza una perspectiva de género - es decir, la voluntad de cambiar un orden desigual. Pero, así y todo, la presencia de mujeres como presidentas, legisladoras y ministras, habilita, al menos, otro horizonte de posibilidades.</p> <p>Las presidentas de la Marea Rosa, con los matices de cada caso, parecen haber hecho una diferencia pequeña pero significativa a la hora de nombrar a los y las responsables de los ministerios. </p><p>En Argentina, el gabinete nacional pasó de estar compuesto por un 25% de ministras durante la presidencia de Cristina Fernández, a menos de un 10% - con dos ministras - en el gobierno de Mauricio Macri. Tampoco el actual gabinete provincial de María Eugenia Vidal - una de las posibles presidenciables para 2019 en Argentina - está en mejores condiciones de equidad: de veinte integrantes, solo una es mujer.</p> <p>El caso de Brasil es aún más sintomático. Luego del golpe institucional sufrido por Dilma Rousseff, el presidente Michel Temer conformó un gabinete integrado totalmente por hombres.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Luego del golpe institucional sufrido por Dilma Rousseff, el presidente Michel Temer conformó un gabinete integrado totalmente por hombres.</p><p>El reciente asesinato de la concejala Marielle Franco (del Partido Socialismo y Libertad), líder feminista y dirigente social de las favelas, expone claramente el peligro al que pueden llegar a enfrentarse las mujeres que cuestionan el orden establecido en la región.</p> <p>¿Puede haber alguna relación entre el fin de los mandatos de las presidentas y el giro a la derecha que se está produciendo en varios países de América latina? </p><p>“Desde luego que hay una estrecha relación entre el fin de esos mandatos y el avance de las derechas en nuestros países, que ya venían mostrando su ofuscación especialmente por las medidas de redistribución de la renta”, afirma de manera contundente la historiadora feminista Dora Barrancos, investigadora principal e integrante del Directorio del Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) de la Argentina. “Las políticas encaradas por los gobiernos inclinados a resolver la desigualdad y la exclusión fueron hostigadas por los grupos económicos concentrados”.</p> <p>Si de lo que se trata es de la inclusión de una agenda de gobierno con perspectiva de género, durante el periodo de la Marea Rosa, la que más avanzada en la cuestión parece haber estado es Michelle Bachelet. </p><p>Durante su segundo mandato, la ex mandataria aprobó una serie de reformas electorales que incluyeron la primera legislación de cuotas de Chile. Además, introdujo una legislación para liberalizar la prohibición total del aborto. Reyes-Housholder y Thomas afirman en su texto que ningún otro presidente (mujer u hombre) iguala los éxitos legislativos de Bachelet en la promoción de la igualdad de género ni ha hecho que ésta sea un elemento central de su agenda presidencial. </p><p>Las autoras resaltan que Bachelet movilizó con éxito un núcleo de mujeres detrás de una plataforma “pro mujer”. Bachelet logró articular también a las “feministas de élite”&nbsp;y demostró la capacidad de usar su poder para promover un cambio significativo en favor de las mujeres.</p> <p>En la Argentina, el presidente Mauricio Macri decidió recientemente la conformación de un gabinete ampliado de mujeres encabezado por la vicepresidente de la Nación, Gabriela Michetti. El gabinete está integrado, además, por sus dos únicas ministras - Carolina Stanley (de Desarrollo Social) y Patricia Bullrich (de Seguridad). </p><p>A ellas se suma la titular del Instituto Nacional de la Mujer, Fabiana Tuñez. La primera reunión de este gabinete se dio en el marco de una agenda social y política con varios temas de género en el centro de la escena, tales como la despenalización del aborto, la ampliación de licencias por paternidad y la equidad salarial entre mujeres y varones. Además de movimientos masivos como Ni una menos, de protesta contra la violencia hacia las mujeres y su consecuencia más grave y visible, el feminicidio.</p> <p>Entonces, ¿los sectores de derecha podrían capitalizar luchas históricas del movimiento de mujeres, como es el caso del derecho al aborto legal, que ahora parece tener espacio en la agenda gubernamental de Argentina? “Sí, claro que pueden”, responde enfática la socióloga feminista María Alicia Gutiérrez, docente e investigadora de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad de Buenos Aires e integrante de la Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal Seguro y Gratuito. “Esta situación no es algo nuevo. </p><p>Durante el gobierno peronista de Carlos Menem, en medio de la aplicación brutal de un modelo neoliberal de ajuste estructural, privatización y reformas de derechos, se legisló sobre ley de cuotas y patria potestad compartida, entre otras. Pero las leyes son una condición de posibilidad para avanzar en otras demandas de implementación, y no es tan fácil que gobiernos de derecha, con un programa de recortes sociales, quieran hacerlo”.</p> <p>Históricamente, las mujeres en América Latina han participado en política menos que los hombres, pero en una investigación publicada en 2016 -<em>The impact of Presidentas on political activity</em>- Catherine Reyes-Housholder y su colega Leslie Schwindt-Bayer, revelan que la presencia de una mujer presidenta se correlaciona con una mayor participación de campaña, intención de voto y asistencia a reuniones locales entre mujeres. </p><p>Dicen las autoras que algunas evidencias sugieren que la presencia de presidentas se asocia con aumentos en el apoyo de hombres y mujeres al liderazgo político femenino, lo que a su vez puede conducir a una mayor participación política femenina.</p> <p>Es posible pensar que se está produciendo un retorno del dominio de poder masculino en América Latina. Sin embargo, hay tendencias promisorias que indican que las mujeres están compitiendo más. Hoy hay más mujeres con experiencia en la política para disputar el poder en la arena pública.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/s-rgio-costa-francesc-badia-i-dalmases/la-desigualdad-persistente-el-controvertido">Desigualdad persistente: el controvertido legado de la Marea Rosa en América Latina</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/erika-guevara-mariano-schuster/las-luchas-feministas-y-la-reacci-n-conservadora-en">Luchas feministas progresistas y reacción conservadora en Latinoamérica</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/cerosetenta/ser-mujer-y-periodista-en-am-rica-latina-mujeres-comparten-sus-experie">Ser mujer y periodista en América Latina</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta DemocraciaAbierta Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics América Latina feminism Verónica Engler Tue, 08 May 2018 11:40:04 +0000 Verónica Engler 117738 at https://www.opendemocracy.net الثقافة الشفوية والهوية في سورية - ملف https://www.opendemocracy.net/mohammad-dibo/sectarianism-syria-popular-culture <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="direction-rtl">ما هي خلفيات الوعي الطائفي، فهل ولد بين ليلة وضحاها أم أنه كان راقدا بيننا ينتظر اللحظة المناسبة للانفجار في وجهنا؟ &nbsp;<strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-dibo/oral-culture-and-identity-in-syria-dossier">English</a></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/flat طائفية copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/flat طائفية copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>(</strong><strong>ينشر هذا المقال ضمن ملف يتناول الثقافة الشفوية في سورية، بالتعاون والشراكة مع موقع <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/ar/">حكاية ما انحكت</a></strong><strong>)</strong></p><p dir="rtl">أسئلة كثيرة ومتشعبة باتت تطرحها المسألة الطائفية المفتوحة على امتداد المشرق العربي، وربما الشرق الأوسط كاملا، فنحن أمام انبعاث هائل للديني و<a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/ar/category/syria-writesar/%D9%85%D9%84%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AA/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%A9-ar/">الطائفي</a>&nbsp;والمذهبي و<a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/ar/category/syria-writesar/%D9%85%D9%84%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AA/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7/">القومي</a>&nbsp;الذي بات يحتل كامل مساحة السياسة والحرب في سورية وغيرها، إذ بات الخطاب السياسي حافلا بالكثير من المفردات والتعابير الطائفية، التي كان الحديث بها قبل عقدين من الزمن، وربما أقل، يعتبر نوعا من النكوص والتخلف، فيما يقدّم اليوم باعتباره واقعا لا يمكن النفاذ من براثنه، وعليه يقترح البعض، بناء على ذلك، حلولا طائفية، وفق مبدأ&nbsp;"وداوها بالتي كانت هي"الداء".</p><p dir="rtl">لا شك أنّ المسألة الطائفية قد أشبعت درسا وتحليلا وبحثا على الصعيد الفكري والسياسي، إذ قرأنا خلال السنوات السبع التي مرت وقبلها أيضا، الكثير من الأبحاث والدراسات والكتب التي تختص بالمسألة.ولكن رغم ذلك، نجد أنفسنا أمام عدم وضوح تجاه المسألة الطائفية، إذ يفاجئنا الواقع يوما بعد يوم، بعنف وتعبيرات وتصرفات تعيدنا إلى نقطة البداية، الأمر الذي يضعنا وجها لوجه أمام نفس السؤال:من أين أتت تلك الطائفية كلها؟ أين كان يختبأ هذا الوعي الطائفي؟ وهل حقا كان مختبئا أم أن&nbsp;"العقل العربي"المأخوذ بالحداثة والتقدم تغاضى عنه لصالح أحلامه وتخيلاته عن المستقبل القادم على أجنحة التقدم والحداثة؟</p><p dir="rtl">أيضا، لم تكن المسألة الطائفية هي وحدها التي&nbsp;<a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/ar/category/syria-writesar/%D9%85%D9%84%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AA/%D8%A3%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%88%D9%84%D8%BA%D8%A7%D8%AA/">انبعثت من رماد</a>&nbsp;ما يحدث في سورية فقط، بل هناك المسألة القومية التي تجددت بصيغ ماضوية تسعى إلى تطبيق الدولة القومية بصيغتها العصبوية الضيقة بعد أن تجاوز عصرنا مسألة الدولة القومية باعتبارها عنوانا للحداثة، إذ إن عدم اقتران القومية بالديمقراطية ومنظومة الحداثة كاملة&nbsp;(المواطنة، حقوق الإنسان، تداول السلطة...)يجعل من الأولى أداة للعسف مجددا كما رأينا في تطبيقاتها في دول كثيرة لازالت محكومة بهذا النموذج، وقد تكون سورية&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aljazeera.net/knowledgegate/opinions/2014/8/26/%D8%A3%D9%8A-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AB-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">البعثية</a>&nbsp;أحد نماذجها الأكثر ركاكة.&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl"><span class="mag-quote-right">من أين أتت تلك الطائفية كلها؟ أين كان يختبأ هذا الوعي الطائفي؟</span>&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">ولكن مع ذلك، نجد لهذا الوعي القومي حضورا واسعا عند عدد من الأطياف الكردية والعربية وأقوام أخرى، أقوام تتبادل الكراهية المعلنة فيما بينها بدلا من السعي إلى مد الجسور والبحث عن أفق جديد أو صيغة للعيش تجعل من الإنسان قبل المواطن جوهرها الأهم، الأمر الذي يطرح علينا أسئلة عن خلفيات هذا الوعي القومي أيضا، فهل ولد بين ليلة وضحاها أم أنه كان راقدا بيننا ينتظر اللحظة المناسبة للانفجار في وجهنا؟</p><p dir="rtl">إلى جانب الطائفي والقومي، هناك العشائري والمناطقي&nbsp;(حوران والشام، الساحل والداخل) إضافة إلى صراع الريف والمدينة&nbsp;(الغوطة ودمشق).</p><p dir="rtl">ما سبق، يطرح علينا سؤال:هل هناك وعي ما لتلك المسائل، وعي ما يتشربه المرء من البيئة التي يعيش بها من الأهل ومسقط الرأس، وعي شفوي غير مكتوب يُغرس في العقل الباطن منذ الطفولة، بحيث ينمو الفرد السوري وغيره أيضا، بين وعيين، الوعي الذي يتشربه من بيئته والوعي الذي يأخذه من المدرسة والجامعة والحياة، بحيث يعبّر ويتعامل مع الأول ضمن نطاق مشيمته التي يشعر بها بالأمان، فيما يعبّر عن الثانية أمام الغرباء والآخرين؟ وإذا كان الأمر كذلك، كيف يتعايش الوعيان معا عبر مسار الفرد منا؟ وكيف يعبّران عن أنفسهما؟ وكيف يوفق حاملهما بينهما، خاصة إننا إزاء وعيين متناقضين، الأول يتشبث بالماضي وخرافاته والثاني يتشبث بالحداثة ومفرداتها، ولمن تكون الغلبة حين يكون المرء مضطرا للاختيار بينهما؟ ولم يختار أحدهما دون الآخر؟</p><p class="mag-quote-left" dir="rtl">نحن هنا إزاء كتابة تتطلب الشفافية والوضوح والصدق&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">لمحاولة الإجابة عمّا سبق من أسئلة، نفتح هذا الملف في مرحلة أولى، لكتابات تعبّر بوضوح وشفافية عن هذا الوعي الكامن في المجتمع، عن حديث الفئات السورية&nbsp;(طوائف، أقوام، مناطق، عشائر..) عن بعضها البعض، أي كيف يتحدث العلويون عن السنة والدروز والمسيحيين داخل نطاق المشيمة العلوية، وكيف يتحدث السنة عن العلويين والدروز والمسيحيين ضمن نطاق مشيمتهم، وأيضا كيف يتحدث الأخيرين عن غيرهم؟ ونفس الأمر فيما يخص الأقوام والعشائر وأهل الريف والمدينة.</p><p dir="rtl">نحن هنا إزاء كتابة تتطلب الشفافية والوضوح والصدق، كتابة لا يمكن أن يقوم بها إلا من كان مؤمنا بجدواها وأهميتها، كتابة تتطلب الانسلاخ من الطائفة والقوم والعشيرة وإغضابهما لصالح الإنسان.وعليه فإن الملف مفتوح لكل من يؤمن بذلك، ويجد القدرة في نفسه على البوح واختراق المحظور، بحثا في داخله ودواخلنا، لفضح هذا&nbsp;"الوعي" الذي تربينا عليه وشكل جزءا من وعينا، كمحاولة لمحاكمة أنفسنا ومساءلتها: هل لعب هذا الوعي دورا فيما يحدث؟ هل شكّل ما أخذناه من بيئاتنا الأولى وكنا نظن أننا تجاوزناه، الأسس الأولى لتصرفاتنا ومواقفنا تجاه ما يحدث في سورية، فاحتمينا بالقبيلة والطائفة وغيرها؟</p><p dir="rtl">في المرحلة الثانية من هذا الملف، سيتم وضع هذه الشهادات أمام باحثين مختصين لقراءة هذه الشهادات والتعليق عليها من زاوية فكرية وبحثية، لمحاولة إيجاد رابط بينها وبين ما حدث ويحدث في سورية والإقليم، هذا إن كان يوجد رابط ما، لأننا لا نريد أن نصادر النتيجة التي سيقدمها لنا لاحقا هؤلاء الباحثين والمختصين، بناءا على تلك الشهادات وغيرها.إضافة إلى محاولة معرفة دور هذه الثقافة الشفوية (إيجابا أو سلبا) في بناء، أو عرقلة بناء، هوية سورية جديدة بعد انتهاء الصراع.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/omar-kaddour/yazid-syria-sectarianism">عندما لا يكون يزيد شريراً أو خيّراً</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a 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</div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Through Syrian eyes Arabic language محمد ديبو Tue, 08 May 2018 11:00:00 +0000 محمد ديبو 117725 at https://www.opendemocracy.net