Lumumba and other leaders that couldn’t be

“The new Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, whom U.S. officials already believed was a dangerous, pro-Communist radical, turned to the Soviet Union for political support and military assistance, confirming the worst fears of U.S. policymakers. In August 1960, the U.S. Government launched a covert political program in the Congo lasting almost 7 years, initially aimed at eliminating Lumumba from power and replacing him with a more moderate, pro-Western leader”

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, VOLUME XXIII, CONGO, 1960–1968, Editorial note 2

This quote belongs to an official document released by the US Department of State, which recognizes that the US government launched an operation to replace Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected president of Congo, just because he had different ideas and was not supportive of the West. There are two ideas that I extract from this document: First, this is the proof that the United States has run operations to replace leaders ― sometimes through assassination ― just because they defended different ideas. Patrice Lumumba in Congo and Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran are just two examples. But what is shocking is to see that these operations were done at the same time that ideas of freedom were preached. The Cold War is gone, but still the US has intervened in some countries, such as Irak, claiming that their purpose was to free their population. I’m not saying that this is exactly the case of Congo, but I think that in the light of these operations that occurred in the past, maybe we should think again what is the real objective of the interventions that occur in the present. What are the real causes why United States and other nations want to intervene in certain countries? And more importantly, why these and not others?

The second one, and maybe more interesting, is that these documents help explain part of the current situation of Africa today. Lumumba was in office for 60 days. What would have happened if that period was longer? What would have happened if the United Nations had sent more help to control the unstable situation and prevented the coup? What would have happened if Belgium and the US were not supporting the rebels that performed this coup? The answers to these questions are not certain, but the fact is that a democratically elected leader was killed and substituted by a military that imposed an authoritarian regime with the support of western powers.  Many experts agree that many African countries haven’t escaped poverty because of corruption, mistaken policies and a great number of civil wars. However, we should think again who should be blamed for them. Maybe the characteristics of this continent make development more difficult, but it is also true that the role of other nations has been underestimated. These nations, in my opinion, have acted like the bully that keeps the other kid’s head under water, preventing him to breath. The one struggling could be stronger, fight back and get out of the water but, who is to blame for the kid not breathing? The one who is pushing down, or the one who cannot escape?

But Congo is not the only country in which we will always wonder what would have happened if there hadn’t been a coup supported by western powers. The case of Allende in Chile, the whole Condor Operation or even the Cuban blockage are examples of projects that were dismantled because it was not in the interest of other nations.

Odious Debt

“High levels of public debt have been a burden for impoverished countries for a long time. Economists agree that public goods and services – such as health care, roads, power grids or ports- are critical for activating an impoverished economy. In many of them this is not possible because the government is carrying the load of a huge debt, and the limited tax revenue is used almost entirely to service this debt. This is one of the components of the so-called “poverty trap”: When poverty is extreme, individuals don’t have the ability to save –all income is used for survival – and, therefore, there is no economic growth. Once nations are able to escape it, it is said that they step into the development ladder, in which is possible for it to grow and improve in a more independent way. Many development economists have theorized that policies of debt cancellation towards poor, heavily indebted countries have the potential to jumpstart growth in these nations. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization dominated by wealthier countries, has opposed these policies. In this debate, however, is important to keep an old but often ignored concept in mind: odious (or illegitimate) debt”.

You can read the rest of my article for WUPR issue 20.1 “New Horizons” here (page 10)

Patriotas de pulsera rojigüalda

“Iberdrola responde a la reforma eléctrica llevándose la inversión de España”, El País, 19 de febrero de 2014.

Ignacio Galán, presidente de Iberdrola: “En estos momentos somos más británicos, estadounidenses y mexicanos que españoles”.

Esto va para todos aquellos que aún dicen que las empresas del Ibex 35 son “empresas españolas” y que por eso debemos apoyarlas (véase el caso de expropiacion de YPF). Empresas que tributan en paraísos fiscales, que invierten la mayor parte de su capital en el extranjero y que pertenecen, seguramente en su mayor parte también, a extranjeros.

¿Son estas las grandes empresas españolas que supuestamente debemos defender en el extranjero?. Pues qué queréis que os diga,yo creo que debemos defender a las que se lo merecen, a las que nos aportan algo, pero no a compañías evasoras de impuestos e inversoras en otros países, empresas cuya única nacionalidad es el dinero.

“En estos momentos somos más británicos, estadounidenses y mexicanos que españoles”. Sinceramente creo que esta es simplemente la constatación de lo que parece desde fuera, y que es aplicable a muchas grandes compañías “españolas”.

Como bien diría Pablo Iglesias, en España lo que tenemos son “patriotas de pulsera rojigüalda”.

Salir de la crisis sí, pero ¿para quién?

Según la troika somos “campeones de las reformas”. Pero ¿reformas para qué?

Yo siempre dije que con este gobierno “saldríamos de la crisis” antes o después. Simplemente por el paso del tiempo o por el efecto de las reformas, pero que saldríamos muy mal parados. “Saldremos de la crisis” porque habrá crecimiento económico (crecimiento del PIB), reducción de la deuda,más exportaciones… pero, ¿dice eso algo del nivel de vida de la población? Yo lo que creo es que un país no puede sólo pensar en crecer, sino también en repartir justamente. ¿Qué sentido tiene crecer si los salarios están en caída libre y aumenta la desigualdad? ¿Que sentido tiene crecer si la riqueza se acumula en manos de unos pocos?

Basta con teclear en Google “desigualdad en España” para enterarse que el nuestro es uno de los países más desiguales de Europa, sino el que más. Aquí, por ejemplo, datos del Eurostat sobre el índice de Gini en España en los últimos años (niveles más altos indican mayor desigualdad).

No todo vale. No tiene sentido salir de la recesión a costa de empobrecer a la mayoría de la población, a costa de convertirnos en la mano de obra barata del resto del mundo. La China de Europa, si queréis. “Están aumentando las exportaciones porque hemos aumentado la productividad”, es decir, “Han caído los salarios – costes – y por tanto vendemos más barato y por eso exportamos más”.

Y esto a la vez que se reduce drásticamente la inversión en investigación, una inversión de futuro muy importante y que suele dar buenos resultados. La inversión que hace que en vez de fabricar lo que otros diseñan lo diseñes tú, lo cuál todos sabemos que es bastante más beneficioso. Así que nada, por este camino volveremos a ser, o seguiremos siendo, los que fabrican las cosas que diseñan otros. En el símil con una empresa nosotros seríamos el currito que se lleva un salario mientras otros se llevan los grandes beneficios empresariales.

Vigo County

Descubrir que hay un sitio a 2 horas de St. Louis que se llama Vigo County (Condado de Vigo) y dos minutos después encontrarme que no tiene ninguna relación con mi ciudad. Aún así es una coincidencia demasiado grande, seguiré investigando. Deseadme suerte.

Para los curiosos, fue fundada por un tal Francis Vigo, un comerciante de pieles italiano que, entre otras cosas, estuvo alistado en el ejército español.

—————————————————————————————————-

Find out that there is a place 2 hours away from St. Louis called Vigo County and two minutes later find that it has no relation with my home town. Anyway, it’s a huge coincidence, so I’m still investigating. Wish me luck.

For curious people, it was founded by a guy named Francis Vigo, an Italian fur trader that, among other things, was enrolled in the Spanish army.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigo_County,_Indiana

Halves and Quarters

I’m a man of halves and quarters.

When I have to position with respect to two extremes, I’m usually in the middle, at halfway or, at most, one quarter away from it. I don’t know if I’m not a passionate man or maybe I haven’t found my extreme yet, but the fact is that I’m a man of halves and quarters. I think that only a few people consider this a virtue, but Aristotle did, and they say that that guy was really smart. It’s always good to have smart guys supporting your thoughts.

Utopia

—What’s the purpose of utopia?

—Utopia lies at the horizon.When I draw nearer by two steps, it retreats two steps. If I proceed ten steps forward, it swiftly slips ten steps ahead. No matter how far I go, I can never reach it. What, then, is the purpose of utopia? It is to cause us to walk.