The desert cities – III

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By GILBERTO LOPES*

The thread of the same infamy: I will not resign…!

The air was thin. It's hard to remember if it was sunny, if it was cloudy... in memory, it's as if everything condensed in an instant when you couldn't even breathe. Then, in a serene voice, his words were heard: “this is the last opportunity I have to address you. The air force bombed the radio towers Portals e Corporation. My words do not have bitterness, but disappointment. Be they moral punishment for those who betrayed the oath they swore: Chilean soldiers, titular commanders-in-chief; self-appointed Admiral Merino; plus Mr. Mendoza – a lowly general who only yesterday manifested his fidelity and loyalty to the government – ​​has also been appointed general director of the Carabineros. Faced with these facts, I can only say to the workers: I will not resign…!” “Foreign capital, imperialism, united with reaction, created the climate for the armed forces to break with their tradition, which General Schneider taught them and which Commander Araya reaffirmed, victims of the same social sectors that today will be in their homes waiting to regain power with someone else's hand to continue defending its benefits and privileges”. “- Workers of my homeland, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this gray and bitter moment in which betrayal intends to impose itself!”

It was September 11th and the ball of yarn was unraveling, with which the same infamy would be woven years later. Criminals and victims. “How could the world have evolved, how different would it be, if the military had not overthrown Allende three years later, if other nations had been able to adopt this model of a non-violent revolution to satisfy their own yearnings for liberation and equality?”, asked the writer Ariel Dorfman a few days ago, remembering those other days. “The destabilization of Chile, the assassination of the hope with which we danced in the streets of Santiago half a century ago” – which the United States fiercely promoted to later support the regime of terror that supplanted it, Dorfman said – “has had particularly perverse consequences. ”. With Dorfman, I then shared that experience. “The death of Chilean democracy – symbolized by the death of Salvador Allende in La Moneda Palace on September 11, 1973 – not only gave rise to a lethal tyranny, but also turned the country into a ruthless laboratory, in which the formulas of neoliberal capitalism that would soon prevail at the global level”.

the age of disorder

Predictions abound. But there is a recent one, a study presented last week, prepared by four specialists from the Deutsche Bank. Its predictions for the coming years are an analysis for investors of the long-term return on assets (Long-term asset return study 2020). The “Second era of globalization” (1980-2020) ends and the “Age of disorder” begins, they say. A new era characterized by structural changes that will affect everything from the value of assets, to the political order or our way of everyday life. The second era of globalization comes to an end, characterized by the greatest growth in the value of shares in history. It will be very difficult, in an era of disorder, to maintain this performance, especially in real terms. Accelerated, but not caused by Covid-19, this new era threatens the high prices of some assets and will be characterized by an increase in debt, both for companies and nations.

In the era of globalization, wages have grown little, subcontracting and informalization have taken place thanks to the growth of the labor market, with the incorporation of workers from Eastern Europe and China. Families' debts grew. Inequality has grown and will worsen until there is a violent reaction to reverse it. The report refers to other topics, including tensions between the United States and China. A clash of cultures looms as we see China on its way to becoming the world's leading economy. Europe, in decline, will face a “decisive decade” in which its possibilities of successfully facing the challenges are diminished. Added to this are climate change, the technological revolution and a generation gap, a challenge for young people who entered the job market in the last decade.

A scenario that, in any case, the report does not consider catastrophic. The reversal of globalization – said analyst Vicente Nieves, in the Spanish magazine The Economist – “is one of the drivers of the new era that begins. Even though this new era has been termed the era of disorder, the document insists that 'not all disorder is bad'”. With optimistic hope, the report indicates that many changes "will allow to produce a kind of cleanup or turnaround that will reverse pernicious trends such as inequality of income and wealth."

Covid

Covid-19 doesn't stop. We are already on our way to 30 million cases in the world and one million deaths. And the pandemic does not give in, with the United States breaking the barrier of 200 dead. Almost one hundred thousand new daily cases in India, which surpassed Brazil and now follows (still far) behind the United States as the countries with the most sick people. The three of them share more than half of the cases worldwide. In Latin America, Peru leads the number of deaths per million inhabitants, with 925 (in fact, it is the highest figure in the world, surpassed only by that of the microstate of San Marino, located in Italy, with just over 35 inhabitants) . Among the ten countries with the most deaths per million inhabitants in the world, were also, this week and with similar numbers, Chile (624), Bolivia (623), Brazil (617) and Ecuador (614). Then comes the United States, with 598. With the celebration of the country's festivities in Chile, whose independence day is September 18 –, specialists warn of the danger of a resurgence of contagions. The pandemic is “fragile”. The use of ICU beds reached 78% last week, reversing a downward trend in cases that had been occurring in the country. The number of cases in Argentina is also growing, which, in the last week, exceeded eleven thousand daily.

The news is also not optimistic in Europe. WHO informs of new records of daily cases. In the past week, it was possible to read: records of infected in France, with about 9.500 daily cases, while the number rises across Europe. In England, the number of cases doubles every eight days. The country will face a harsh winter, warned commentators at the daily The Guardian. After the promotion of commercial activities in the summer and the return of workers to their offices, the government seems to be losing control of the pandemic and has reinforced quarantine measures in the most affected areas. But it's not just in England. Israel reinstated the quarantine. Portugal registers the highest number of daily cases since April, more than 600, after falling to less than 1.140. The same is true in the Netherlands. Things are not going in a good way, warn the health authorities, after registering XNUMX cases in one day, last week.

an infinite sadness

In Brazil, with more than 130 deaths, the date of independence was celebrated on September 7th. Former president Lula said: “– An infinite sadness squeezes my heart. Brazil is experiencing one of the worst moments in its history. This is an unprecedented health, social, economic and environmental crisis, handed over to an insensitive, irresponsible and incompetent government, which trivializes death,” he said. But it is not just about the coronavirus and a pandemic that – as he recalled – kills in Brazil, above all, “the poor, black and vulnerable people that the State has abandoned”. It is about the situation of the country, its place in the world and the role played by the Bolsonaro government. “It is no coincidence that I decided to speak on September 7, Brazil's independence day,” said Lula, who accused the government of subordinating Brazil to the United States “in a humiliating manner”, of subjecting Brazilian military personnel and diplomats “to embarrassing situations ”, of involving the country “in military adventures against our neighbors… to respond to North American economic and strategic-military interests”, in allusion to what was Brasília's policy in relation to Venezuela. Lula also criticized the sale of public institutions “at a low price”, including banks, the oil company Petrobras or the aeronautical company Embraer. In its madness to privatize – he added – the government intends to sell “the largest power generation company in Latin America, Eletrobrás, a giant with 164 power plants, responsible for almost 40% of the energy consumed in Brazil”.

Not just in Brazil

A battle over energy that is not only taking place in Brazil, but also – and fiercely – in Europe. In this era of disorder, a new victim was Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, a key figure in a debate over the fate of the gas pipeline Nord Stream2, which will allow Russia to double its current gas supply to Europe, reaching 110 billion cubic meters. contrary to Nord Stream 1 – in which, in addition to the Russian Gazprom, European companies such as the German Eon and the French Engie participate –, Gazprom is the sole owner of the Nord Stream 2. The United States is committed to preventing a project that has just over 100 km to reach its destination from becoming a reality. In Germany, the pressure intensified, after Russia was accused of having poisoned Navalny, without the strange case having been clarified so far. Despite the fact that Russia allowed a private plane to take him to Germany, where he is being treated, voices are growing that discuss the usefulness of the project and use the case to argue about the inconvenience of increasing European dependence - and especially Germany - on the Russian gas.

in eastern europe

In a time of “European decay”, as the analysis of the Deutsche Bank, other battles also take place in central and eastern Europe, approaching the Russian border. One of them refers to the construction of a 1,2 gigawatt reactor at the Dukovany nuclear plant, in the Czech Republic, a work estimated at seven billion dollars, recalled journalist Tim Goslin in the latest issue of the magazine. Foreign Policy. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited the country in August, warned the Czechs that allowing Russian and Chinese companies to bid would "endanger their freedom and sovereignty". It is not the only powerhouse where Washington's interests in this country point. There is also Temelin, where plans are being made to build two new units and whose bidding is being disputed by the Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom and the US company Westinghouse. Decisions that go far beyond the economic aspect and that depend, in the Czech Republic, on political disputes between Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who does not have a majority in parliament, and President Milos Zeman.

Among the renewed tensions is the dispute over the government of Belarus, where thousands of people took to the streets to protest last month's election results. Similar to those that, in 2013, ended the government of Viktor Yanukovych in neighboring Ukraine and unleashed an armed conflict in the country that has not yet ended. Two countries bordering Russia, whose interests are not alien to the results of these confrontations.

Enquanto or The Guardian if it asked – hopefully – if the Belarusian demonstrators could overthrow “the last dictator in Europe”, the BBC showed, in an article by Cristina J. Orgaz, “how the state-owned economy of Belarus works, the last planned one in Europe”. As a whole – he says – state-owned companies account for 50% of the country's GDP, with a system of aid that extends throughout its economy, “making Belarus an established welfare state in Eastern Europe”. Health and education are free and “the percentage of people living below the poverty line has dropped, in 18 years, from 41,9% to 5,6% in 2018, according to data from the World Bank. This is one of the lowest rates in Europe. Unemployment among its 10 million inhabitants is low and those who visit its cities “say that they are clean and orderly”.

Another fight in Europe

Another struggle is taking place in Europe: that of Julian Assange, against the extradition request presented by the United States to Great Britain, where he has been detained, under strict conditions, since he was forced to leave the Ecuadorian embassy, ​​where he had taken refuge during the government of Rafael Correa. This is not a request for extradition for having revealed the horrors of the US wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, but – according to the US legal representative – for publishing the names of informants who worked for the US, which could endanger their lives.

With the government in London allied with Washington, with which it hopes to sign a generous free trade agreement, once the – increasingly difficult – Brexit negotiations are concluded, Assange's possibilities seem to be reduced. Neither his country, Australia – where, last week, the government protested the expulsion of two of its journalists from China –, was concerned about the fate of Assange, whose trial will continue this week.

The Struggle in America

Last Saturday's election of Mauricio Claver-Carone as president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) put an end to the institution's tradition of being led by a Latin American and its vice-president having always been an American. Even though its current president, the Colombian Luis Alberto Moreno, was born in the United States, as Claver-Carone himself recalled. It is likely that Trump nominated Claver-Carone for the presidency because he was previously passed over for vice president, Mexican economist Jacques Rogozinski recalled to the BBC. The name already caused resistance among several members of the bank, to which the United States contributes the largest amount of resources.

Washington rejected proposals from several countries in the region to postpone the election, and Claver-Carone's candidacy soon gained support from countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, despite Argentina presenting a candidate who, in the end, withdrew. According to The New York Times, the United States offered the vice-presidency of the bank to Brazil. Claver-Carone received 23 out of 28 votes from rulers of countries in the region. But 16 nations abstained, including Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and European countries, which represents an abstention of 31,23%. White House security adviser, recognized for his far-right positions in relation to the region, particularly aggressive against Cuba, Claver-Carone ran for office offering greater resources for the bank, which finances important infrastructure works and projects in Latin America.

violence in colombia

In Colombia, the death of lawyer Javier Ordoñez at the hands of the police unleashed the anger of citizens who, last week, destroyed a third of the 156 Commands of Immediate Attention (CAI), police units installed in Bogotá in 1987, when the city was a of the most dangerous in the world. Fourteen people died until last Saturday at the hands of the police, who responded to the protests with firearms, shooting at demonstrators. “Not even during the 2019 National Strike, in which four people died, did the protests unleash so much violence. Not even during this wave of protests, which included cases of police abuse, was the response from the authorities so violent,” said the BBC's Colombia correspondent, Daniel Pardo.

Gilberto Lopes is a journalist, PhD in Society and Cultural Studies from the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves

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