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  • Archive for the 'Latin America' Category

    Who Needs Infrastructure? (II)

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 16th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Commenters on the earlier post having raised several good points, I decided to write a follow-up rather than attempt to provide individual responses.

    I should first say something general about technological advance and prediction horizons. Due to the immense effects of nanomachinery, as hazardous as near-future speculation may be, it becomes extraordinarily difficult more than about 20 years out. What interests me in this context is what can be done with “bulk technology” before the transition to nanotech, and how many of the developments forecast by Drexler et al may occur relatively gradually and in unlikely places, rather than swiftly and obviously emanating from North America or some other high-technology region. Jim notes the potential of the combination of desktop fabricators and satellite links. I believe that few people on Earth will see more change in the next generation than young Haitians.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment, International Affairs, Latin America, North America, Personal Narrative, Tech, USA | 7 Comments »

    Who Needs Infrastructure?

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 13th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Last month I went to Haiti to help out with an IT project in Petit-Goâve, a medium-sized town about seventy kilometers west-southwest of Port-au-Prince, on the northern shore of the Tiburon Peninsula, opposite Île de la Gonâve on the Canal de Sud. The project’s objective is to create, or rather restore, a computer lab at “College” Harry Brakeman (actually a primary and secondary school, hereafter “CHB”), and provide greatly improved internet access, via wireless links, at five sites (including CHB) in Petit-Goâve owned by L’Eglise Methodiste d’Haiti (EMH). The epicenter of one of the larger aftershocks of the January 2010 earthquake was directly beneath Petit-Goâve.

    Numerous ongoing projects for the EMH throughout Haiti are being funded by United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and staffed by United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM), but my personal involvement is not occurring as a result of direct involvement with any of those organizations. I have for many years been attending an informal Friday lunch group that for the past decade or so has included Clif Guy, who is the CIO of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, generally known as “COR” throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, in which it is by several measures the largest single church – big enough to have its own IT department (larger than most church staffs altogether) and a CIO.

    In mid-January I returned from a solitary and somewhat monastic sojourn in New Mexico and the trans-Pecos region of Texas to 1) get back to work at Sprint; 2) bury my just-deceased 18-year-old cat; and 3) talk to Clif about opportunities in Haiti, which he had mentioned several times over the previous year. Two months of frantic preparation later, which included among many other tasks the filling out of a “Mission Trip Notification of Death” to specify the disposition of my corpse, I was landing at Toussaint Louverture International Airport.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment, History, International Affairs, Latin America, North America, Personal Narrative, Religion, Tech, Transportation, USA | 8 Comments »

    Gene Sharp

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 21st February 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit, with thanks to Lex for the nudge ]

    I was impressed by him in London in the early sixties.

    Okay, I was young and impressionable. But others have noticed him more recently, too: Hugo Chavez accused him of being a conspirator with the CIA, and the Iranians thought he, George Soros and John McCain were in cahoots.

    gene-sharp.jpg

    Gene Sharp has been in the news quite a bit recently [1, 2, 3, 4], because he pretty literally wrote the book on non-violent resistance.

    The young leaders of the Egyptian revolt that toppled Mubarak studied tactics with members of the Serbian Otpor youth resistance who topped Milosevic, Otpor studied tactics in the writings of Gene Sharp, specifically his 90-page pamphlet From Dictatorship to Democracy [download as .pdf]. Sharp wrote that handbook for use in Burma, where it was apparently translated at the request of Aung San Suu Kyi — who once cautioned her readers that that phrase they kept hearing wasn’t “jeans shirt”, it was “Gene Sharp”.

    And before that, he’d penned his masterful 900-page, three-volume work, The Politics of Nonviolent Action

    I told you he was impressive.

    Recommended reading:

    From Dictatorship to Democracy is now available in Amharic, Arabic, Azeri, Belarusian, Burmese, Chin (Burma), Jing-paw (Burma), Karen (Burma), Mon (Burma), Chinese (Simplified Mandarin), Chinese (Traditional Mandarin), English, Farsi, French, Indonesian, Khmer (Cambodia), Kyrgyz, Pashto, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Tibetan, Tigrigna, and Vietnamese.

    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, International Affairs, Latin America, Middle East, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Political Philosophy, Society | 5 Comments »

    Coal, Rails, and Ships

    Posted by David Foster on 15th February 2011 (All posts by )

    …may not be the most glamorous segments of the world economy. But, in a very real sense, they underlie everything else.

    Colombia, in partnership with China, is looking at a potential land-bridge railroad which could serve as an alternative to the Panama Canal. Ships arriving at a coastal terminus would offload their cargoes to the railroad, which would carry them 137 miles overland, and the process would be reversed at the other end.

    The benefits of this “dry canal” for Atlantic-to-Pacific connection, and vice-versa, seem a bit questionable given the costs and delays of offloading and onloading containers and other freight–unless, of course, the Panama Canal reaches an extreme state of congestion and/or the canal fees are substantially increased. It appears, however, that one major motivating factor behind the project has to do with COAL. Columbia has substantial quantities of high-quality and easily-worked coal near the Caribbean end of the proposed route.

    “Progressives” and establishment liberals have praised China’s progress in “green technology,” suggesting that the future energy supply for that country will come from solar, wind, and helpful leprechauns turning cranks while being supervised by wise unicorns. But if China’s leadership is serious about investing in a project like the Colombian land-bridge, then it’s pretty clear that they see a long-term future for coal as an energy source–clean or otherwise.

    And I doubt it has escaped their attention that achieving/maintaining low electricity prices establishes a powerful competitive advantage in a whole range of manufacturing industries.

    (link via Commonsense & Wonder)

    Posted in China, Energy & Power Generation, Latin America, Transportation, USA | 14 Comments »

    Worse Than I Thought

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st December 2010 (All posts by )

    For a long time I assumed Obama was a communist. How else to explain his support for the Honduran Chavista Manuel Zelaya? Ideological sympathy on Obama’s part seemed the simplest explanation.

    However, documents from WikiLeaks suggest an even worse possibility, namely that the whole sorry affair was driven by incompetence at a level that’s astonishing even by the low standards of the Obama administration. Were they really so eager to appease Chavez? That’s crazy even if Obama is personally sympathetic to Chavez. It was easily predictable that Chavez would pocket any concessions and go for more and that’s what happened. And now an emboldened Chavez appears to have invited Iran to install ballistic missiles in Venezuela, and we do nothing. We are cruising toward another Cuban Missile Crisis but with weaker leadership on our side, adversaries who are less stable than the Soviets were, and erstwhile allies scared off by our fecklessness. How much trouble might have been prevented if we had taken a firm line in support of the elected Honduran government and warned Chavez to stay out?

    If we’re lucky Obama will be out of office before the inevitable crisis occurs.

    UPDATE: Jed Babbin on The Coming Venezuela Missile Crisis:

    That crisis will consume much international attention next year, though a more important spread of Middle Eastern conflict to the Americas – the partnership between Iran and Venezuela – will likely be ignored until it is too late to resolve by any means short of war.

    Posted in Americas, Iran, Latin America, Leftism, National Security, Obama, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    Religions of the Chaos Lords

    Posted by Zenpundit on 30th May 2010 (All posts by )

    Pamela L. Bunker and Dr. Robert J. Bunker at SWJ Blog

    The Spiritual Significance of ¿Plata O Plomo?

    Conventional wisdom holds that narco gang and drug cartel violence in Mexico is primarily secular in nature. This viewpoint has been recently challenged by the activities of the La Familia cartel and some Los Zetas, Gulfo, and other cartel adherents of the cult of Santa Muerte (Saint Death) by means of religious tenets of ‘divine justice’ and instances of tortured victims and ritual human sacrifice offered up to a dark deity, respectively. Severed heads thrown onto a disco floor in Michoacan in 2005 and burnt skull imprints in a clearing in a ranch in the Yucatán Peninsula in 2008 only serve to highlight the number of such incidents which have now taken place. Whereas the infamous ‘black cauldron’ incident in Matamoros in 1989, where American college student Mark Kilroy’s brain was found in a ritual nganga belonging to a local narco gang, was the rare exception, such spiritual-like activities have now become far more frequent.

    These activities only serve to further elaborate concerns amongst scholars, including Sullivan, Elkus, Brands, Manwaring, and the authors, over societal warfare breaking out across the Americas. This warfare- manifesting itself in ‘criminal insurgencies’ derived from groups of gang, cartel, and mercenary networks- promotes new forms of state organization drawn from criminally based social and political norms and behaviors. These include a value system derived from illicit narcotics use, killing for sport and pleasure, human trafficking and slavery, dysfunctional perspectives on women and family life, and a habitual orientation to violence and total disregard for modern civil society and democratic freedoms. This harkens back to Peter’s thoughts concerning the emergence of a ‘new warrior class’ and, before that, van Creveld’s ‘non-trinitarian warfare’ projections.

    Cultural evolution in action, accelerated by extreme violence. More on the cult of Santa Muerte here ( hat tip to HistoryGuy99)

    Cross-posted at Zenpundit.com

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Human Behavior, Latin America, North America, Religion, Society, War and Peace | 9 Comments »

    Containing Mexico

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 5th April 2010 (All posts by )

    tehag comments on Alas! Poor Mexico. So Far From God, So Close to Chaos:

    Containment worked for the Soviet Union. Do you think it will work for Mexico?

    I figure that’s worth a post.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Immigration, Latin America, Law Enforcement, National Security, Urban Issues | 4 Comments »

    Escalation

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 4th April 2010 (All posts by )

    Zenpundit has a post up about how gunmen employed by one of the drug cartels in northern Mexico have demanded that an entire town empty out. They want the people gone, or else they will start killing.

    Zen thinks this is the start of the end for Mexico, and sees a potential flood of refugees from our neighbor to the south.

    To anyone interested in the subject, thought you might appreciate the news that the cartels are now attacking Mexican army bases.

    A last and hopeless act of desperation by criminals who are on the ropes, or a canny move to test the security of their greatest foes?

    We shall see.

    (Hat tip to Scott, who snarks like mad when he says “Man, this never would have happened without American gun shows.”)

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Latin America, Law Enforcement | 7 Comments »

    The End of Mexico?

    Posted by Zenpundit on 3rd April 2010 (All posts by )

    An ineffective or inappropriate state response will make this tactic go viral:

    ….Last week, at least 30 Mexicans from the town of El Porvenir walked to the border crossing post at Fort Hancock, Texas, and asked for political asylum. Ordinarily, their claim would be denied as groundless, and they would be turned back. Instead, they were taken to El Paso, where they expect to have their cases heard.

    No one doubts that they have a strong claim. Their town on the Mexican side of the border is under siege by one or more drug cartels battling for control of the key border crossing. According to Mike Doyle, the chief deputy sheriff of Hudspeth County, Texas, one of the cartels has ordered all residents of the town of 10,000 to abandon the city within the next month.

    “They came in and put up a sign in the plaza telling everyone to leave or pay with their own blood,” Doyle said. Since then there has been a steady stream of El Porvenir residents seeking safety on the American side of the border, both legally and illegally. Among them are the 30 who are seeking political asylum.

    In recent days the situation in the impoverished, dusty border town has grown worse. According to Jose Franco, the superintendent of schools in Fort Hancock, the cartels have threatened to execute children in school unless parents pay 5000 pesos in protection money.

    And on Wednesday night, according to Doyle, several houses in El Porvenir were set on fire, and there were reports of cars loaded with furniture leaving the town.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Latin America, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Predictions, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 95 Comments »

    “The People 48%, The Reactionaries 52%”

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th November 2009 (All posts by )

    I don’t remember the exact words but this was the essence of a headline in a Chilean leftist newspaper after an Allende referendum was defeated by the voters (as reported, IIRC, by Robert Moss in Chile’s Marxist Experiment).

    The aroma of similar attitudes wafts from an AP report that has the headline, “Honduras vote to sideline president, enshrine coup”. Hey, nobody’s calling anybody reactionary here, but if you talk about a “coup” it’s usually an indication that you’re unsympathetic to the people who did it. Never mind that the president was kicked out by his own legislature and courts, following their country’s written constitution, after he flagrantly broke the law. Like global-warming hysterics, and lawyers for obviously guilty defendants, Zelaya’s supporters don’t have the facts on their side and so keep repeating unsupported assertions that are meant to shift the frame of debate in the direction of their narrative.

    Meanwhile, the Brazilian government, sensing weakness, is trying to push Obama around. This is the same Brazilian government that just received the great democrat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a widely publicized state visit. But Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, a democracy and a steadfast US ally, is a threat to world peace.

    Posted in International Affairs, Latin America, Leftism, Media, Rhetoric | 6 Comments »

    Dissing Free Speech

    Posted by David Foster on 6th November 2009 (All posts by )

    Here’s Obama’s “media diversity czar,” Mark Lloyd:

    It should be clear by now that my focus here is not freedom of speech or the press. This freedom is all too often an exaggeration. At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies.

    [T]he purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance.

    (from his 2006 book)

    Mr Lloyd has had some very positive things to say about Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez and his approach to the media:

    In Venezuela, with Chavez, is really an incredible revolution – a democratic revolution. To begin to put in place things that are going to have an impact on the people of Venezuela.

    The property owners and the folks who then controlled the media in Venezuela rebelled – worked, frankly, with folks here in the U.S. government – worked to oust him. But he came back with another revolution, and then Chavez began to take very seriously the media in his country.

    More here about what this “taking very seriously” is doing to destroy media independence in Venezuela.

    (link via Ms Ellison)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Latin America, Media, Politics | 16 Comments »

    Norman Borlaug, 1914-2009

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 13th September 2009 (All posts by )

    Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, I hear that Norman Borlaug has passed; NYT obit.

    In the face of caviling from scarcity-mentality “environmentalists,” he saved a billion lives. Requiescat in pace.

    Posted in Bioethics, Environment, India, Latin America, Obits | 5 Comments »

    A Question for the Obama Administration

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th July 2009 (All posts by )

    Why is our government supporting the guy in the middle?

    Castro, Zelaya, Chavez

    (via Fausta)

    Also, a suggestion for the Republicans: Run ads, in English and Spanish, asking this question and using this photo.

    Something is wrong when the USA allies itself with communist dictators and against democrats.

    Posted in Americas, International Affairs, Latin America, Leftism, Politics | 8 Comments »

    Obama and the Dictators

    Posted by David Foster on 30th April 2009 (All posts by )

    Daniel Henninger:

    In New York this week, I asked a former Eastern European dissident who spent time in prison under the Communists: “If you were sitting in a cell in Cuba, Iran or Syria and saw this photo of a smiling American president shaking hands with a smiling Hugo Chávez, what would you think?”

    He said: “I would think that I was losing ground.”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Cuba, Israel, Judaism, Latin America, Politics | 19 Comments »

    A Mexican Standoff with Reality

    Posted by Zenpundit on 29th March 2009 (All posts by )

    WASHINGTON, DC – Flanked by the embattled President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon and the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, a weary looking President Barack Obama used a press conference to angrily denounce as “Alarmist and inflammatory” a recent report issued by the conservative Heritage Foundation that declared the massive chain of UN administered Mexican Refugee camps in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas as “a bottomless well for narco-insurgency” and “a threat to the territorial integrity of the United States”. The camps, home to at least 2.5 million Mexican nationals, are dominated by the “Zetas Confederales”, a loose and ultraviolent umbrella militia aligned with the feuding Mexican drug cartels that now control upwards of 80 % of Mexico.

    President Obama’s political fortunes have been reeling recently in the wake of high profile incidents that include the kidnapping of his Special Envoy for Transborder Issues, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, and the car bombing assassination of popular California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that killed 353 people in Sacramento last month. Both events have been tied directly to factions of Zetas “hardliners” who operate with impunity on both sides of the US-Mexican border. President Obama used the conference to point to the “clear and hold” COIN strategy that has recently restored order and even a degree of tourism to Las Vegas, once the scene of bloody street battles between Zetas, local street gangs and right-wing American paramilitary groups, as a sign of the success for his administration. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill remain skeptical and say that it is likely that President Obama will face a primary challenge next year from Senator Jim Webb (D- Va), a former Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, who called the president’s COIN strategy “The right course of action” but ” Two years too late”….

    That fictional scenario above is offered as a thought experiment.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, International Affairs, Latin America, Law Enforcement, Military Affairs, National Security, North America, Politics, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 12 Comments »

    Havana’s Deco Ruins

    Posted by Jonathan on 4th May 2008 (All posts by )

    Cuba is such a tragedy – a prosperous and basically decent society, wrecked. The old buildings are like ancient ruins that provide hints of the accomplishment and promise that used to be.


    (via Babalu)

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Cuba, Latin America, Urban Issues, Video | 3 Comments »

    The Real Chicago Boys

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st March 2008 (All posts by )

    From City Journal:

    “Pinochet had no clue about economics,” Lüders recalls, “and our country was in a desperate situation.” But when Pinochet asked Friedman, who had helped mold Chicago’s economics department, to provide solutions for hyperinflation, the great economist proposed just the right cure: monetary control. Harshly criticized in the U.S. for his “collaboration” with the dictator, Friedman responded by asking whether he should have let the patient—the Chilean economy—die instead.
     
    Lüders admits that he and his fellow academics relished the chance to devise a new economic model on a blackboard and observe the results. At first, those results weren’t much to brag about. In the early 1980s, external shocks, capital flight, declining prices for copper (the main Chilean export at the time), and excessive trust in the market’s self-correcting mechanisms caused many glitches—and a severe recession.
     
    Beginning in 1985, however, the more pragmatic Hernán Büchi, who served as finance minister under Pinochet, helped correct the errors through tighter control of capital flows into and out of the country. Though he holds a degree from Harvard, Büchi is still deemed a Chicago boy in a land where that city’s name has become a generic term for free-market economists. “The economic solutions we provided for Chile had nothing extraordinary about them,” Lüders says. “We privatized the companies, which had been nationalized by the Socialist Allende regime. We stabilized the currency. We opened the borders to trade. The strong Chilean tradition of entrepreneurship took over from there.”

    (Thanks to Val Dorta for the link.)

    Posted in Economics & Finance, History, Latin America, Political Philosophy | Comments Off on The Real Chicago Boys

    Lacking Perspective

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 19th June 2007 (All posts by )

    Things are pretty grim. Armed gunmen are getting bolder. Agents of the duly elected government are at risk, with many of them being assassinated in front of their families. Police officers are specifically targeted, often being kidnapped so they can be tortured to death. The message is simple: Join the side of law and order and you will be killed. The favorite method of execution is to behead the victim, a tactic favored by terrorists.

    Sounds like the most overwrought prose from a journalist describing the situation in Iraq, or maybe the Palestinian Territories. But I’m talking about the drug war being waged in Mexico at this very moment. The Washington Post article behind that last link states that 600 people have died this year.

    I doubt very highly that either their figures or analysis of the situation is accurate. I have reason to believe that things are much worse. StrategyPage.com states that over 1,200 people have been killed this year. What is most alarming is that the drug gangs are actively recruiting regular Mexican Army deserters, men that have had training in combat, weapon use, and who are able to plan and carry out complex operations.

    There are a few questions about this situation that need to be asked. The most important is: How did the drug gangs manage to become so powerful that they are able to take over whole towns, defy the Federal government, and assassinate important officials?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Immigration, International Affairs, Latin America, Law Enforcement, National Security | 3 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 4th June 2007 (All posts by )

    In turn, very few Cubans left their country for good before 1959. Sure, there were some who emigrated to the United States, but compared to the masses [immigrating] from Europe it was a very small group per capita.
     
    If you’ve stuck with me thus far, what comes next should be obvious. Simply put, after castro and his bandits took over in 1959, the boats and airplanes changed directions. They began leaving instead of arriving in Cuba. Estimates place the Cuban-American emigration to the United States at over a million. From a population of 6 million in 1959, that’s staggering. This doesn’t count the many Cubans who emigrated elsewhere in Latin America, as well as to Europe and even Australia. A country of immigrants became a country better known for its human export. A country which boasted sugar among its exports now spits out its own flesh and blood.

    Robert

    Posted in Cuba, History, Latin America, Leftism, Quotations, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    The ‘Return of the Latin American Idiot’

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 23rd May 2007 (All posts by )

    Alvaro Vargas Llosa writes at the website of The Independent Institute:

    Ten years ago, Colombian writer Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Cuban writer Carlos Alberto Montaner, and I wrote Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot, a book criticizing opinion and political leaders who clung to ill-conceived political myths despite evidence to the contrary. The “Idiot” species, we suggested, bore responsibility for Latin America’s underdevelopment. Its beliefs—revolution, economic nationalism, hatred of the United States, faith in the government as an agent of social justice, a passion for strongman rule over the rule of law—derived, in our opinion, from an inferiority complex. In the late 1990s, it seemed as if the Idiot were finally retreating. But the retreat was short lived. Today, the species is back in force in the form of populist heads of state who are reenacting the failed policies of the past, opinion leaders from around the world who are lending new credence to them, and supporters who are giving new life to ideas that seemed extinct.

    The Idiot’s worldview, in turn, finds an echo among distinguished intellectuals in Europe and the United States. These pontificators assuage their troubled consciences by espousing exotic causes in developing nations. Their opinions attract fans among First-World youngsters for whom globalization phobia provides the perfect opportunity to find spiritual satisfaction in the populist jeremiad of the Latin American Idiot against the wicked West.

    Read the whole thing, the article is well worth the time. Llosa describes the various species of predatory socialists who rule some key countries in South America and goes on to argue that there currently is a major conflict between pro-Western forces and those who would like to keep it on its present course. The negative influence of European and American intellectuals could well make it impossible to overcome the ‘Latin American Idiot’ and so finally get over economic stagnation and the subsequent, widespread lack of trust in democratic institutions.

    The article also is very timely, the (mostly) European variety of economic and ideological idiot is currently preparing to protest the upcoming G8 Summit.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Latin America, Leftism | 3 Comments »

    Pan’s Labyrinth — Nominee for 2007 Oscar – Best Foreign Film

    Posted by James McCormick on 20th February 2007 (All posts by )

    Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno: 2006)

    Foreign-language fantasies, after due diligence at IMDB.com, usually end up having their premiere on my DVD player but a friend was so enthusiastic and persistent about seeing this Oscar-nominated film (Art Direction, Cinematography, Makeup, Foreign Language Film, Music [Score], Original Screenplay) while it was still in the theatres that I was convinced to watch it on the big screen. Mexican writer/director Guillermo del Toro has created a work that is beautifully filmed, with great computer-generated images (CGI), and excellent acting. Surprisingly, however, within moments of the film’s start, I found myself thinking more of Claudio Veliz’s comments on Anglo and Hispanic culture in The New World of the Gothic Fox: Culture and Economy in English and Spanish America.

    (see this Google Video for Dr. Veliz’s talk on “The Optional Descent of the English-Speaking World” at the Anglosphere Institute last October.)

    In the English-speaking world, fairy tales are more often thought of as children’s stories … filled with drama that appeals to child and parent alike, granted … but not meant to relentlessly catalogue the horrors of life. Pan’s Labyrinth, as far as I can tell, is more an adult fairy tale of a Hispanosphere variety. Redemption, in this world, comes in denying your enemies their deepest needs. Satisfaction comes in another world entirely. As noted, my exposure to the intellectual underpinnings of this approach to life comes from Veliz and his comments about the Caliban/Ariel contrast between Anglo and Hispanic culture. To a lesser extent, my exposure to the realities of Hispanosphere life come from reading from Lawrence Harrison and Hernando De Soto. I may be off-base in seeing the origins of Pan’s Labyrinth in Latin American surrealist literary culture but I don’t think I’m mistaken in seeing it coming from a very different place than Anglosphere fantasies.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Film, Latin America, Political Philosophy | 9 Comments »

    “Calderon, a model for the Latin American Right”

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th January 2007 (All posts by )

    Over on the Chicago Boyz Forum, Joseangel has posted this interesting note on an apparent opportunity for the Right in Latin American politics.

    Posted in Latin America | 1 Comment »

    Origins of Mexican Anti-Americanism

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st January 2007 (All posts by )

    Commenter Joseangel left an extremely informative comment in response to this post. I am reposting his comment in its entirety below, because I think it deserves its own post. It also relates to earlier posts (here, and especially here) here on Pinochet and his fight against socialist government in Chile.

    (I have added Web links and corrected a few minor spelling errors.)

    Comment on Frank Discussion of Diversity by joseangel


    January 21, 2007


    ElGaboGringo Says:
    January 8th, 2007 at 8:05 pm


    “Your second point – Are the Chinese a low or high-trust culture? The Vietnamese? I thought these were low-trust cultures, but they encourage assimilation of their youth. In my opinion, the biggest danger in current immigration isn’t societal trust, it’s anti-americanism. Mexicans (at least not the class that migrates here) are not pro-USA. They are pro-Mexico and unanimously think the USA got one over with TX/CA and that we are only rich now because illegals do all the work. If you didn’t speak Spanish, you probably wouldn’t experience this first hand, but I assure you it is the case. Combine the mexican anti-americanism with that of the left’s, throw in some “diversity” and we have a political trainwreck in the making.”


    While it is true there is anti-Americanism in Mexico, it is not generalized to the whole country. In North Mexico the majority of the people do not hold the same anti-American feelings that some people in central Mexico do, although they might hold ignorant or misguided geopolitical views that resemble anti-Americanism, I cannot consider them as essentially anti-Americans.


    In my opinion, Anti-Americanism in Mexico occurs mostly in Mexico City and for reasons other than territorial losses to the USA or even past interventions. One important reason being the fact that thousands of socialist Spaniards opposed to Franco’s regime and persecuted by his government found asylum in Mexico, these Spaniard immigrants were profoundly anti-American, professing a hate towards America, the likes of what we see today in Muslim fundamentalist, because of North American support for Franco and the cold war also.


    These Spaniard refugees blended very well into the already Spanish rooted population of Mexico City who saw with anger how the Franco regime committed crimes and abuses in Spain, these refugees had a lot of political influence, they read Marx and Engels, and firmly believed in Communism, then they found jobs in Newspapers, Television, Universities and other institutions of Mexico, including government institutions sometimes (link).


    Many of them got into movie making and helped create the Mexican movie industry, which reached its splendor in the sixties, a decade and half after their arrival. The Spanish immigration to Mexico did not stop but until the early 70s when Spain became a democracy and their economy begun to grow. But they brought their hatred towards the United States with them and spread it in Mexico City and of course it found a fertile soil in leftist movements in the city.


    When Pinochet took power, many Chilean intellectuals arrived to Mexico and continued writing from here also, repeating the same process of anti Americanization, although Mexico also suffered from a dictatorial one party regime, it was considered a soft dictatorship, as opposed to the military regimes in Argentina, Chile and other south American countries. We also received many immigrants from Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay, where military dictatorships committed crimes and were, wrongly perhaps, linked to USA interests. All these immigrants came carrying a heavy bag of anti Americanism and normally settled in Mexico City.


    Then there was the Cuban revolution, which also inspired many anti American feelings in the region, and Mexicans could not be denied from this important regional events. Castro became a hero in Mexico City and was received as one whenever he visited. The anti American seeds could not have a greater soil to grow.


    All of these socialist and anti American influences flourished during the 50s and 60’s and by the 80’s, there were already several communist and socialist political parties and organizations in Mexico City and Central Mexico. They joined and created what today is the PRD.


    But in North Mexico, the PAN a center right and catholic party and pro American had been advancing and fighting against the one party dictatorship for decades before the PRD was even created and they had made great democratic gains in Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and several other northern states.


    In 2006, PAN won the most seats in Congress and the Senate, with 207 congressmen, followed by PRD with only 126 representatives. PAN has also won the last two presidential elections, the latest one very tight and controversial.


    What this tells you is that Mexico can be hardly described as an anti American society. If only, we can say there are many who are and many other who are not.


    Yes it is true that we have some hate spreaders in our society, La Jornada and Proceso are newspapers and magazines profoundly socialist and anti American but they are read in Mexico City, and are far from being the most read newspapers, which in Mexico City are El Universal, Reforma, and Milenio, the last two newspapers belong to corporations from north Mexico but actually dominate the newspaper industry in all Mexico and the most widely read by Mexicans in general, they are not anti American and tend to be very fair in the way they treat our relationship with the United States.


    The problem is many Americans come to Mexico City and get to think it is the same all over the country, but I assure you it is not.


    To end my point I would like to add that while there are some Chicano organizations that have repeatedly stated their radical ideas of returning CA/TX to Mexico, these are considered ridiculous in Mexico and have absolutely no ties just like the Black Panthers and the Black Nation ideas had no correspondence in Africa, the same occurs with these Chicano radical movements, they originated there and belong to a process of problems of immigrants in adapting to a new country.


    Mexicans don’t even talk about those issues. It is history and our history books describe these states as part of the United States of America, holding no ridiculous claim whatsoever upon them.


    For the most part, having many relatives in the USA who already proudly consider themselves Americans and having nephews and nieces participating in the armed forces of that great country, I cannot but reject the notion that Mexicans hold on to their national flags and state, but why would they? If my country did not give my brother or sister the opportunity to work and to live in dignity, why would I deny them their right to love and to adhere to great nation that has PROVIDED as our country hasn’t?

    UPDATE: Joseangel provides additional information in the comments.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Latin America, Leftism, USA | 14 Comments »

    Hating Pinochet

    Posted by Shannon Love on 16th December 2006 (All posts by )

    The Spanish Inquisition is the one event or institution of 16th-Century Europe that everyone today knows of even if they know of nothing else of that era. Most people believe that we remember the Spanish Inquisition 400 years later because it represented a particularly brutal event in world history.

    Most people are wrong.

    Prior to circa 1800, every culture or society used torture as both a means of investigation and punishment for all types of crimes, whether civil, political or religious. As a rule, however, only members of the powerless and poor classes actually got tortured. Most cultures held the idea of torturing members of the upper classes to be almost unthinkable. The Spanish Inquisition broke this rule. The Spanish Inquisition had next to nothing to do with religion. Its true purpose was to destroy the political enemies of the Spanish crown and to confiscate or extort wealth. To that end, it tortured the noble and the wealthy and thereby shocked the conscious of Europe. Had the Spanish Inquisition stuck to torturing the poor and common like the Inquisition in other regions, we would not remember it today.

    The Spanish Inquisition burned itself into the collective conscious of the world not due to its use of torture but due to the value that the culture of the day placed on the class of the people tortured. Even though most religions believed all human life to be of the same value, few put that belief into practice. Most people viscerally believed that some groups of people were morally exempt from facing torture. Elitism ruled the cultures of the time.

    So what does it say about our culture today that some of us place a much higher value on the lives of some groups of people than they do on others?

    One can hardly find an individual more passionately hated by the Left than the recently deceased Augusto Pinochet of Chile. Leftists say that they justifiably single out Pinochet for special opprobrium due to the uniquely vile nature of his actions. After all, he overthrew a democratically elected government, killed 3,000 people and tortured thousands more.

    Yet, this explanation rings false. When you see an angry mob take after a petty thief while ignoring the blood soaked serial killer standing next to him, you know immediately that something other than outrage at the degree of the crime drives the mob. Pinochet was a minor villain by any measure. Why then did the mob hound him until his death while ignoring others with far more blood on their hands?

    Pinochet did kill and torture but not to such a degree as to earn a special place in history. Sad to say, but by any objective measure Pinochet ranks far down on the list of murderous 3rd-world leaders of the post-WWII era. He wouldn’t even make it into the top 100 killers. Across the border, in Argentina, the military junta killed over 20,000 in the same era and the generals in Brazil 2 or 3 times that many, but few people today remember them at all. Even more damning, the same people who condemn Pinochet actively applaud people far more brutal. Castro murdered 13,000 Cubans, tens of thousands of Africans and nearly triggered a nuclear war, yet leftists still literally give him standing ovations in forums all around the world. Yassir Arafat’s war crimes were very, very public and very unambiguous yet no one threatened to arrest him when he traveled to Europe for medical care.

    Looking back with 30 years’ hindsight we can perhaps forgive the leftists of the time for buying into the myth of Allende’s regime. Uncritical adulation of socialist states was part of the zeitgeist of the era. The degree of bloodshed in other, similar countries wasn’t yet widely known, so Pinochet might have stood out at the time. But that doesn’t explain why Pinochet still today occupies a special place of hatred in the minds of many leftists.

    I think Pinochet stands out in the history of the 20th Century for the same reason that the Spanish Inquisition stood out in 16th: Pinochet killed those perceived to belong to a protected class. Unlike other right-wing dictators (and their opposites on the Left), Pinochet didn’t kill people largely at random or by quota just to spread terror. He targeted those believed to be part of the extreme-leftist leadership. He cut the head off the snake. Unfortunately for his place in history, that group included several hundred foreigners, mostly from western Europe.

    Many Marxists from around the world flocked to Allende’s Chile so they could play at being revolutionaries. They tended to be the most politically radical. They didn’t want to muck about with bourgeois baggage like democracy and the rule of law. They gravitated towards those factions within Allende’s coalition which advocated immediate, violent revolution. When Pinochet decided to wipe out the radical leadership, foreigners were disproportionately represented in the body count.

    Until that time, 1st-world Marxist intellectuals expected to be able to travel anywhere and do or say anything and be able to skate away scot-free. They thought of themselves not only as intellectually superior human beings but also as individuals endowed with a moral authority that made their persons inviolable. Most 3rd-world governments of all political persuasions just shipped off troublesome 1st-world foreigners, regardless of their complicity in any violence or subversion. Pinochet broke that rule.

    Leftists reacted with outrage. Pinochet had not murdered nameless members of the “masses.” He had killed members of the new nobility, people just like the leftist intellectuals of Europe, and in many cases people they knew personally. To this day, virtually every news story on Pinochet contains a first-hand account from some 1st-world citizen who was either imprisoned himself or lost someone close to him. Like the upper classes of 16th-Century Europe, who saw themselves in the victims of the Spanish Inquisition, modern leftist intellectuals saw themselves in Pinochet’s victims. 1st-world leftists single Pinochet out for special venom because they believe he attacked them personally. It doesn’t matter that other rulers of other political persuasions killed far more; Pinochet killed members of the protected class.

    In the end, Pinochet becomes a mirror that reflects the Left’s own dark heart. Leftists always portray themselves as altruistic, only concerned with the fates of the least powerful among us. Pinochet revealed their narcissism to the world. While he showed them to be no worse than the rest of us, he also showed them to be no better.

    Perhaps on some level they understand that and hate him even more.

    Discuss this post at the Chicago Boyz Forum.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Christianity, Latin America, Politics | 17 Comments »

    The Allende Myth, by Vladimir Dorta

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th December 2006 (All posts by )

    My friend Val Dorta originally published this outstanding historical essay on his blog in 2003. With the death of Augusto Pinochet, much attention is again being given to the Allende period, the military coup and the dictatorship that followed. I wanted to link again to Val’s essay but, unfortunately, his blog is no longer online. However, Val has graciously allowed me to republish his essay here, and I am honored to do so. – Jonathan

    UPDATE: Google’s cached version of Val’s original post, with comments. (Thanks to the commenter who provided this link.)

    UPDATE 2 (12/28/2014): The Google-cached version has disappeared from the Web, but Val’s original post is available via archive.org here.

    ——–

    The Allende Myth

    Vladimir Dorta

    07/21/2003

    The failed and tragic attempt by Salvador Allende and the Popular Unity at creating socialism in Chile in 1970-1973 has become a myth for the world left, presented as the possibility of a peaceful and democratic transition to socialism that was destroyed only because the almighty CIA acted as master puppeteer of the Chilean reaction. The myth reinforces itself; while the Cold War context is never mentioned, neither is the fact that the CIA’s workings are well documented whereas the Cuban and Soviet interventions are still mostly unknown. The Allende myth may be good for keeping the socialist faith alive, but it evidently contradicts the historical facts.

    While Augusto Pinochet’s brutal post-coup repression and terrorism cannot be justified, it is essential to explain what led him and the Chilean armed forces to the fateful coup d’état, outside of the fantasy that had him bursting onto the democratic Chilean political scene on September 11, 1973 with readymade CIA orders to stop a beautiful, pacific and liberating socialist dream. For I have no doubts that if the Chilean Marxist experiment had ended in civil war, as it appeared to most observers at the time, it would have been an even greater tragedy or, had it ended as the totalitarian society it pointed to, it would have lasted much longer and would have brought Chileans much more suffering than Pinochet’s ugly but temporary dictatorship.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Book Notes, Civil Society, Cuba, History, Latin America, Leftism | 11 Comments »