La Teatrista

guerillera de la cultura

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My trips of trips

Just a rhyme just a riff
shakey fingers needing company
needing face needing
lips and eyes and a whole other human next to me
here while I sing such sad verses
thinking only deafly thinking
I am only

A Shower later
a bowl later and memories flood in
pictures of forgotten people
a flood
a gate
like a fierce daymare
when I thought of the comfort of a simple
dolls dress in my fingers a laughter
sad girl
sad girl
everything is so still so still
no breeze to make the leaves shimmy
but an empty box
I find no other way than this
pure hussy bone way
seems like a fine shade I built around me
I do silly things I do
sad things
I can do great things too
sometimes nothing
oh sad girl oh sad girl
you fell hard you fell down you fell small
I can't go down.
But I found me
deep down I remember sad me
the me I that didn't want to
the me that couldn't want to
see anything but sad bliss
like the wounds that feel yummy and warm
with its dull stab
the sad drain
keys are keeping me company
these I just found, never knew or maybe
just forgot about.
I can't find someone I know
on this clock that is ticking
and ticking and ticking inside
along with a song in my mind
some pieces
like never before

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Theater Day Message

The theater moves, illuminates, disquiets, disturbs, lifts the spirit, reveals, provokes and violates conventions. It is a conversation shared with society. It is not its creators who speak through the theater but, rather the society of the epoch.
Que viva el teatro!

-Victor Hugo Rascon-Banda

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Watching a Spanish news show today with my Momma, I watched this brutal footage of a woman, eight months pregnant being dragged through Honduran Streets half naked, bloodied and beaten for break-in and theft. The police finally intervened right before the townspeople were about to lynch her. The two other accomplices got away.

I've seen other footage similar. People tired of the crime and unresponsive police, take matters into their own hands and brutally beat offenders.

My Mom said, "They burn rapists alive". What is the right balance between punishment and humanity? Our Justice system seems to cause serious damage in a subtle ways as well, one) by fostering Career criminals, two) by creating such a bureaucratic money guzzler. In taking these examples, its seems by we cutting criminals off, instead of slapping hands, we would be in a much safer world. For those sorry few who ended up being scape goats served as sacrifices for the community's standard, how do we deal with that? Is violence a lesson? Stoning a pregant woman for stealing is very horrific, but I am certain anyone witnessing it would probably not a make that mistake. The neighborhood stood up for its values. Responsiblity was taken, brutally, by the tribe. Where do we draw the line? Our system does a similar job, its just uses gloves and paper.

Punishment interesting debate

American Diplomacy

Found this fascinating article. It really gives a clear overview of the situation. It made me think of US Policy as a the Wal-Mart corp. It reminded me of that Apocolyse vision in the bible I learned as kid, being a Jehova's Wittness: a lamb with the voice of a dragon. American values are just tools...just like organized religion.

Monitoring Political, Economic and Diplomatic Issues Affecting the Western

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

An Opinion Piece by COHA Director Larry Birns:

Latin America - The Path Away from U.S. Domination

Washington rumbles with suppressed outrage over Latin America's latest
demonstrations of its sovereignty - Bolivia's nationalization of its oil and
natural gas reserves. At the same time, newly inaugurated president Evo
Morales is a prime candidate to join Washington's pantheon of Latin American
bad boys, presently dominated by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. Meanwhile,
the region's new populist leadership, also known as the "Pink Tide," extends
its colors across South America ready to leap to much of the rest of Latin
America. The "pink tide," consists of left-leaning South American
governments seeking a third way to register their political legitimation to
their citizens as well as to register their autonomy regarding such foreign
policy issues as Iraq.

Meanwhile, Washington's lame regional policy has spurred disbelief even
among the hemisphere's most ardent pro-U.S. governments. Some specialists
maintain that while the region's oncoming economic enfranchisement can be
understood from a number of perspectives, perhaps the most forthcoming
analysis places the roots of the new movement in the bedding soil of an
egregiously failed Washington regional policy.

Throughout the Cold War's gestation, Democratic as well as Republican
presidents have not hesitated to call for U.S. intervention in Latin America
however persistently malignant these events have turned out to be, ranging
from coup-making in Guatemala and Chile, to the fostering of civil wars in
Central America, most of these intrusions later proved to be irrelevant, or
at least insufficient to protect genuine, even narrowly defined, U.S
national interests. Most of all, they proved to be counter-productive or
destructive. As a result, much of the region has become estranged from
Washington's leadership, a legacy now apparent in the difficulties currently
being encountered by U.S. policymakers. No wonder that in polls undertaken
throughout Latin America regarding the Iraq war, and in the strategy of the
Bush administration, an average of 85% of respondents have said no to U.S.

Post Soviet Latin America
The demise of the Soviet Union in 1990 allowed the illusion to be born of a
new non-ideological hemispheric alignment almost exclusively based on trade,
and not, unfortunately, on a reworked and broadened confidence-building
relationship between the U.S. and the rest of the Americas that reflected at
least a passing interest in issues pertaining to social justice and the
expansion and exercisable option.

Throughout the years, Washington's policy towards the region has been fueled
by a paroxysm of odium aimed at Havana. In Washington's eye, Castro, who is
always with such kindred legions as Venezuela's Chávez and now Bolivia's
Morales, poses a lethal threat to Washington's Latin American cosmography.
Under the Bush White House, the relative closeness of its ties with any
given nation became a function of the latter's relations with Castro Cuba.
Meanwhile, non-ideological programs, such as maintaining the drug war at a
satisfactory level and the White House's almost obsessive interest in
privatization and trade, were prioritized first by the Clinton
administration and then by the Bush White House.

In affected areas of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, already functioning
anti-drug strategies prompted a series of U.S. initiatives during this
period which ended up in failure as a result of ill-conceived crop
fumigation and interdiction processes that led to widespread environmental
damage along with illness and disease among locally exposed populations. The
particular rights of indigenous communities along with the compromising of
national sovereignty were among the casualties of these U.S-led efforts.
During this epoch, the Pentagon authored a growing pattern of collaboration,
mainly with the Colombian military, but also with the armed forces of
Ecuador, Peru, and Paraguay. These collaborations, as a result of burdensome
military budgets and other ill-started priorities, often ended with the
wholesale destruction of traditional agricultural practices and distortion
of local economies.

Finding its own way
The policy of replacing meaningful socially-directed aid to the region with
increased emphasis on the drug war, as well as stepped up trade in upscale
consumables and other luxury items, usually involved no more than 5% of the
populace. Only too late did a number of governments discover that their
often flawed economic liberalization policies, encouraged by Washington
conservative think tanks and other proponents of the Washington Consensus,
not only failed to ameliorate profound social and economic structural
lesions, but also predictably contributed to tensions between the haves and
the have-nots, both here and abroad. For Latin America, this meant
disenchantment with the status quo, along with adding further stress to ties
between the north and the south.

For its part, upon taking office, the Bush administration immediately picked
up where the previous administration had left off but also embedded hard
ideological tenets into U.S. hemispheric policy that Clinton had tended to
neglect. This was the period that saw the rise of such hard core ideologies
and the prominence afforded to such doughty Cold Warriors as Otto Reich and
his protégé Roger Noriega, after the former, due to his extremism, was
unable to secure a confirmation vote from the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee to be Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America. The Bush
administration's Latin Americanists now saw the region uniquely through a
prism molded by its anti-Havana passions. The administrations Cold War
paradigm had the hemisphere divided into a Zoroastrian world of absolute
darkness and light. On one hand, favored right-wing governments like El
Salvador's and Chile's, which had pragmatically allied itself with
Washington, in contrast Venezuela and Bolivia, whose leftist politics found
themselves out in the cold.

The Contradiction of U.S. Policy
The decision by Bush to submit U.S.-Latin American relations to an outdated
and small- minded game plan, which featured a preemptive and expansionist
foreign policy accompanied by an increasingly dysfunctional anti-drug
policy, has already pushed strained inter-American ties almost beyond the
breaking point. In spite of the economic weight and influence of the U.S
market, Latin America's growing discontent over the failures of the U.S. to
make its market entirely accessible to Latin American products accompanied
by the trade advantages enjoyed by U.S. subsidized crops and products, set
the stage for an increasingly snarling relationship between North and South.

The failure to introduce reforms that would accelerate real, inclusive
growth, was compounded by a series of egregious foreign policy missteps by
the Bush administration. Examples of these range from orchestrating the
ouster of constitutionally-elected President Aristide in Haiti, to helping
finance the abortive anti-Chávez coup of April 2002, to attempting to
blackmail Central American and Caribbean countries to join the "Coalition of
the Willing" in Iraq, and to supporting favored conservative presidential
candidates throughout the area. The latter action cynically caricaturing its
profound concern for "free and fair" elections as it threatened the
suspension of various forms of aid if the "wrong" kind of "democrat" was
elected to office. Also, there was the Reich-Noriega bullying of government
leaders and local politicians who didn't take the "right" position on such
issues as the embargo against Cuba, the election of the OAS
secretary-general, and trade.

The ferment generated by Washington's increasingly malign neglect of the
region gave rise to what began to be known as a "Pink Tide" movement that
sweeps across South America. But despite the tendency of Washington
right-wingers and other species of conservative think tanks, like Freedom
House, to demonize this political trend, the Pink Tide was a natural
reaction to pressing trade, security, and social justice issues of paramount
concern for the region, even though such concerns seemed to have dropped off
Washington's agenda. The Bush administration, now led by the State
Department's Secretary Rice and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, had no problem
accusing these left leaning governments, led by Hugo Chávez, of being
threats to the U.S. national interest and of being destabilizing factors to
other Latin American countries, even though they could never quite identify
the source of that threat. In fact, the reforms enacted by these pink new
populist left-leaning leaders turned out to be far more reminiscent of New
Deal reformation than any mythic reemergence of a grand neo-Stalinist era.
The strength mainly stemmed from the rejection by a new wave of enlightened
Latin American leaders of the faux democratization which was being offered
by various U.S.-backed governments as a miracle cure for the maladies of
underdevelopment, but which upon the next dawn, turned out to be only pure
snake oil.

New Players
The recent re-awakening of the indigenous population of regional
civilizations has started to profoundly reshape Latin America's political
landscape. As this new awareness peaked, indigenous communities began to
retroactively say "no" to presidential candidates who, once in office,
reneged on their glib commitments and proceeded to repudiate campaign
pledges to their Aymara and Quechua-speaking altiplano constituents. They
then countered these acts of treachery by ousting leaders in Ecuador,
Argentina and Bolivia after the presidents had revealed themselves to be
anything but bona fide servants of the people. This process ran
conterminously with the increasing political involvement of those indigenous
groups, who, with an increasingly powerful voice, began rejecting neoliberal
reforms with roadblocks and other rejectionist public manifestations. As
Latin American populations were spurning traditional politicians and their
dusty programs, different actors emerged to capture the discontent by
offering new solutions. These were most visible in 1998 with Hugo Chávez's
victory in Venezuela, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's 2002 triumph in Brazil and
in Evo Morales' defining victory in Bolivia last March. While the May 28
triumph in Colombia of Álvaro Uribe, Washington's favored South American
leader, produced great joy at the State Department, it had to be
disheartened by the strong showing by left-leaning candidate Carlos Gaviria.
Even with Uribe's big vote, Washington is still a bit disenchanted by his
strong sense of nationalism and his querulous reaction to any display of
U.S. sentiments of mastery over Colombia's public policy, the war against
drugs or Uribe's desire to maintain close business-like ties with Chávez.

But just as it appeared that this pink tide was spreading to Argentina,
Uruguay and Bolivia and had gained credence and political voltage in Peru,
Ecuador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and some of the
Caribbean islands, two developments could be discerned: first that Chávez
had come to be seen by huge numbers as being the movement's spiritual
leader, as well as its sage, just as the staccato-like peppering of the
political scene by Chávez's ADS-like interventions in other countries
weakened thereby their already only loosely common front. Chávez is
sometimes belied by what his critics see as his buffoonish outbursts and
raffish personality, and could well be seen as perhaps the most dynamic
leader in the region today - though is power is more with the streets than
the diplomats of other Pink Tide countries.

A Hero for the Poor
As both a committed democrat, (having been confirmed by popular vote three
times; twice in national elections and once more in a recall referendum) and
seen by the majority of Venezuela and much of the rest of Latin American
chambers, as an inspired social activist, Chávez appears to embody the
region's greatest hope for the future and the growing despair over his
irrepressible style. His myriad social programs, ranging from medical
services for the nation's poor through an innovative oil exchange
arrangement with Cuba, to a meaningful land reform and educational project,
to a broad pattern of disconnected oil sales to many neighboring countries
as well as directly to deprived neighborhoods within countries, have given
luster to his revolutionary credentials. In exchange, he has not asked for
tribute, but merely called upon other leaders to do what is best for their
own countries. Chávez has also been the region's chief proponent of
increased integration in the case of social justice, as well as promoting
discounted oil for the Caribbean islands with strained economies, and poor
neighborhoods in Boston and the Bronx, while spearheading the effort to
construct a gas pipeline running between Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina,
with an extension to Bolivia. In spite of the State Department's most
benighted efforts to caricature him as a human right's abuser, a bully and
an anti-democrat, Chávez has demonstrated that he has an incontestable
record for transparency and for obeying the law far more clinically than
much of the leadership of his middle class detractors within Venezuela or
Washington's hypocritical salvos who helped to finance a coup to oust him in

A New Model Dares to Emerge
Furthermore, Chávez and now Morales may, if they politically survive,
represent a historic development in Latin America. As long as they survive,
they are the first democratically elected leaders espousing a mixed economy
containing socialist values that the region has witnessed since Salvador
Allende came to power in Chile in 1970. Clearly up to this point, due to
open market competition and the denigration of a mixed economy featuring a
vigorous role for the public sector, a sense of civic responsibility has not
been available for the average Latin American. The UN has stated that the
region has the highest level of concentrated wealth in the world. The result
is that the process produces few "winners" and a plethora of "losers"
throughout the region.

The values shared by Chávez and now Morales are not without their
detractors: The Venezuelan President is meeting the same portion of
Washington-backed subterfuge that eventually led to the coups that overthrew
Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, and Allende in 1973. The Bush administration
has employed a range of strategies against its Venezuelan nemesis as part of
an intensifying campaign to ridicule, pillory, and perhaps eventually
arrange for the demise of his government. Themes ranging from Washington
providing strategic funding to nominally, if heavily compromised,
"democratic" bodies such as Súmate, to allegedly encouraging acts of
espionage and attempts to foment anti-Chávez unrest within the Venezuelan
military, are almost daily events. All sense of proportionality has now fled
the scene in Washington, when Chávez expels a U.S. embassy military attaché
(a relatively junior officer) for trafficking documents with Venezuela
military personnel, and the U.S. retaliates by expelling the second in
command at the Venezuela embassy in Washington. It's as if in return for
Chávez launching a rhetorical gonzo jab against President Bush - his beloved
"Mr. Danger"- the "Decider" readies the B 3's to bomb Caracas. Meanwhile, in
its totally discredited annual certification reports regarding drug
trafficking, human trafficking, human rights abuses and a respect for
religious freedom and the war against terrorism, the administration
shamelessly manipulates data in order to come forth with preordained
findings, with Venezuela being the target of choice for such protesting.

The Advantages of a Full Leader
Chávez, of course, has had the sort of leverage that Allende grievously
lacked: with oil at over $70 a barrel, the Venezuelan leader is not only
flush with petrodollars but ready and able to fund revolutionary domestic
and regional projects. He holds the additional trump card of an increasingly
important strategic resource that has yet to be exploited on a major scale
the heavy crude yielded from the Orinoco's tar sands. Furthermore, with a
widening slate of regional allies, theoretically including venues like
Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Bolivia, with several other potential
candidates in the wings and Mercosur as his bride, Chávez, theoretically has
the geopolitical heft to stand up to U.S. machinations. At the same time,
the already fragmenting loose knit Pink Tide alliance is suffering from some
important viperous tendencies, including Chávez's lamentable habit of self
destructively intervening in the local affairs of other Latin American

Standing up to Washington is a theme that has gained widespread currency
elsewhere in South America, as part of a leitmotif of the pink tide
movement, which in reality may be more apparent than real. The resounding
defeat of both U.S.-backed candidates in the OAS Secretary-General race a
number of months ago, indicated that the region was no longer willing to
docilely follow the diktats coming from the north. Additionally, Brazil's
decision around the same time to deny the U.S. even token observer status at
the Arab-Latin American Summit in Brasilia represented a momentous, if
symbolic, shift in U.S.-Latin American relations - something like the dog
being ready to bite the hand of its owner.

A Rush of New Development
As one of the more dynamic aspects of a fast moving scenario, Evo Morales in
Bolivia has emerged as a particularly plucky figure, unwilling to allow his
country's traditional bended knee posture to the U.S to continue
unchallenged. He insists that while wanting to have a good relationship with
the U.S., it must be not one based on "submission." Underscoring this escape
from the "Latin American ghetto," Morales' travels after winning the
presidency, included quick visits to Caracas, Europe, South Africa, Brazil
and China, but conspicuously left out Washington, suggesting that the
emperor's ring no longer needed to be kissed. The trip also highlighted
another phenomenon of the pink tide, which is an increasing propensity to
turn towards multilateral ties with non-traditional partners in order to
achieve diversification. Trade between South America and the EU is
quickening as the region seeks to construct new economic and political ties
around the world, and as Washington becomes an increasingly problematic
partner. Nascent bodies such as the Ibero-American Summit and the IBSA
(India-Brazil-South Africa) South-South alliance seek to integrate Latin
America into a world that looks and acts more like them, and as a way to
escape the imperial ukases, traditionally emitted from the State Department.

The forward, if fitful, motion of the pink tide has the potential to
profoundly reshape the internal politics of Latin America and grant the
region a new and enhanced place in the global pecking order. For Washington,
which has been wholly unable to constructively engage this movement and
still clings to the disabling vision of a wholly U.S.-dominated "back yard,"
sustained more by manipulation than by collective regional interests, the
pink tide, whatever its centrifugal tensions, presents a serious diplomatic
dilemma. Rumsfeld almost divisively indicates that the Pink Tide could be
dealt with by a series of U.S mini military bases (FOLS) or "lilly pads"
throughout the region, along with a beefed up and entirely complaisant Latin
American military establishment. If the White House continues to return to a
now poisoned well to draw from its legacy of past arrogant initiatives that
have helped create the disastrous conditions that have so frayed bonds of
the current distressed relationship, the rest of the hemisphere can be
excused for becoming increasingly alienated from a diplomatic hegemon which
has so lost its way that it risks finding itself pushed aside, as an
outdated and rather useless relic.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Director Larry Birns

May 30, 2006

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