Home Blog Page 176

Naureckas, The huge media blind spot on terrorism

Jo Cox
Jo Cox, a British Labour Party MP slain by a fascist constituent with US ultra-right ties.

Corporate media aren’t interested in reporting on the violent far right

by Jim Naureckas

Shortly before the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote, the shocking murder of Jo Cox — a member of parliament and a vocal Remain supporter — exposed the racist roots of elements in the victorious Leave campaign.

That much you may have heard.

What you might not have heard about were the suspect’s ties to a neo-Nazi organization based here in the United States. Accused shooter Thomas Mair, The Washington Post reported, “was a longtime supporter of the National Alliance, a once-prominent white supremacist group.”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Post explained, “Mair bought a manual from the organization that included instructions on how to build a pistol.” Cox, it adds, “was shot by a weapon that witnesses described as either homemade or antique.”

The National Alliance was founded in 1974 by William Pierce. The group was a reorganization of the National Youth Alliance, which was itself an outgrowth of an organization that supported the 1968 presidential campaign of segregationist George Wallace.

Pierce turned the group, in the words of the SPLC, into “the most dangerous and best organized neo-Nazi formation in America.”

While head of the National Alliance, Pierce published The Turner Diaries, a novel that gleefully imagines a guerrilla race war and the mass murder of Jews, gays, and interracial couples. A chapter that depicts the bombing of an FBI building helped inspire Timothy McVeig’’s 1995 bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people.

When he was arrested, McVeigh had photocopied pages of the novel with him in his car. And phone records revealed that McVeigh had called a National Alliance number seven times the day before the bombing.

In the days after, feverish speculation abounded that the attack might’ve been the work of international Islamic terrorists. Yet once it became clear that domestic right-wing extremists were responsible, journalists seemed to lose interest. Few spent any time examining the National Alliance connection.

Yet the group turned up in another more recent terrorism story, when Kevin Harpham planted a bomb filled with shrapnel and rat poison at the 2011 Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane. Harpham, a one-time National Alliance member, is currently serving a 32-year prison sentence for the attempted bombing.

If you don’t remember this story, that’s probably because it got very little coverage. It was mentioned only three times on the nightly news in the 10 weeks that followed.

By comparison, the much less sophisticated “Times Square bomb,” which failed to go off a year earlier, got 49 mentions in the same time frame. It’s a classic example of how the US corporate media treat acts of political violence by Muslims as inherently more newsworthy than others.

In fact, some corporate media outlets have allowed their personalities to promote the National Alliance directly. Bob Grant, a popular and influential radio talk show host who broadcast on WABC in New York — the flagship of the ABC radio network — frequently let callers promote the group on his show, saying he didn’t “have any problem” with it.

Grant was eventually fired by Disney, which was then WABC’s owner, for gloating over the death of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who was African-American. But even then, his connection to the neo-Nazi National Alliance didn’t become an issue.

This lack of curiosity about the influence of the violent far right is a long tradition in US corporate media. Even the murder of Jo Cox, a member of parliament campaigning in a closely watched vote, seems unlikely to change that.

Jim Naureckas is the editor of FAIR.org, where an earlier version of this op-ed appeared. Distributed by OtherWords.org.


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.





Overseas Vote

School of the Americas Watch, End US security aid to Honduras

SOAW on Capitol Hill, protesting against a US-backed regime that has killed dozens of journalists, more than 100 environmentalists, many indigenous leaders and scores of opposition activists.

After seven years of terror in Honduras…

by the School of the Americas Watch

Tuesday, June 28th marked seven years since the US-backed military coup in Honduras. It’s been nearly four months since Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her home for the powerful organizing she carried out with COPINH to protect Indigenous territories. And two weeks ago, HR5474, the “Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act,” was introduced in the US House of Representatives.

TAKE ACTION TODAY! Ask your member of Congress to support HR5474, which calls for an immediate suspension of US security assistance to Honduras “until such time as human rights violations by Honduran security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Click on: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/727/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19923

a deadly embarrassment


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.





Overseas Vote

Harrington, Critique of a critical story that the local establishment ignores

This story has been widely distributed via the social media, but the rabiblano press has pretty much ignored it. From the online edition of The New York Times.

About the article in The New York Times

by Kevin Harrington-Shelton

[Editor’s note: See http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/22/world/americas/panama-canal.html ]

Disappointing sensational twist, to what has effectively exposed the local media trust’s complicity in the expansion project from its onset.

Yet unwarranted insinuations of malfeasance by the younger Mr. Jorge Quijano (contradicted thereinafter) hardly qualify as “all the news that’s fit to print.” I have long been at odds with the elder Mr. Quijano on official matters, but there is no call for such guilt by association. Researching the parliamentary record on this very point would have avoided much embarrassment.

Regrettably, (too) many in local media fail to acknowledge deficiencies in the rule of law as the root of many of our problems.

Example. The 2006 legislation enabling the expansion established an obligation for the elder Mr. Quijano (and former Administrator Alberto Alemán, on his watch), plus Canal Affairs Minister Roberto Roy, to testify on the Assembly floor every six months. This has not been discharged even once in the intervening decade! Attorney General Ana Belfon dismissed my complaint, that such blatant non-compliance warranted prosecution.

Neither did the legislative branch ever attempt enforcement of the transparency clause it enacted.

Had this transparency been discharged as prescribed in extant law, much of this morass would have been avoided. One is minded of Jeremy Bentham (Poor Laws): “The more strictly we are watched, the better we behave.”


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.





Overseas Vote

Forecast: extreme displacement of tropical wildlife


Researchers forecast extreme displacement of tropical
wildlife even under moderate warming scenarios

by Mike GaworeckiMongabay

The tropics are the warmest part of planet Earth, but as global temperatures rise, simply “staying put” and enduring additional warming may be extremely harmful to many tropical species and societies, researchers are warning.

Surface temperatures are nearly uniform near the equator, which means that species trying to migrate in order to find temperatures they are adapted to would have to travel extreme distances, even under relatively mild warming scenarios at the low end of current projections.

Researchers Solomon Hsiang of University of California, Berkeley and Adam Sobel of Columbia write in a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports that “in order to preserve their annual mean temperatures, tropical populations would have to travel distances greater than 1000 km [about 620 miles] over less than a century if global mean temperature rises by 2°C over the same period.”

The nearly 200 countries that negotiated the Paris Climate Agreement last December have agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Calculations by climate scientists have found that Earth could reach that threshold as soon as 2036 if we don’t sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The rapid evacuation of the tropics that could occur under such a scenario would cause migrant species to concentrate in the margins of tropical zones and in the subtropics, potentially leading to population densities increasing 300 percent or more in those areas, which would have consequences not just for ecosystems but for human wellbeing, as well, especially in contexts where alternatives to geographic displacement are limited.

“If populations were actually to concentrate this quickly in what are already exceptionally arid environments, we would expect there to be many adverse consequences in both natural and human systems, such as an accelerated transmission of infectious diseases or conflict over scarce resources,” Hsiang and Sobel write in the study.

The researchers found that 12.5 percent of the global human population would have to migrate more than 1,000 kilometers to stay in the temperature range they’re accustomed to —  and the majority of those people currently live in the tropics. Just under 34 percent of the population would have to migrate more than 500 km.

“Imagining the tremendous cost of actually undertaking such massive spatial reorganization of the global population helps illustrate the potential importance of the dynamics we highlight here, although in the context of humans there are likely many local adaptations that are preferred to these displacements,” the researchers add.

Of course, not all populations can pick up and move as easily as humans — coral reefs and mature forests, for instance. It’s not clear at all that they can manage to move quickly enough to beat the heat.

“If maintaining their present environmental temperature is a critical adaptation to anthropogenic climate change, some tropical populations may have to migrate at unprecedented speeds over extreme distances in order to cope with relatively optimistic warming projections, given current emissions trajectories,” according to the study.


  • Hsiang, S. M., & Sobel, A. H. (2016). Potentially Extreme Population Displacement and Concentration in the Tropics Under Non-Extreme Warming. Scientific Reports, 6, 25697. doi:10.1038/srep25697


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.





Overseas Vote

Editorials, Canal nonsense; and Today’s US voting rights realities

President Varela poses with the security crew during the new locks festivities. Photo by the Presidencia.

George Washington didn’t cut down the cherry tree
and Hernán Cortés did not explore Panama

The consensus here is hope that the canal expansion, now that it is up and running, works well. Is there anyone in Panama who hopes for its failure? But do expect that, despite the successful first few days of operation, some adjustments will have to be made. The onset of strong dry season winds is likely to be a key test and it may be that new locks just can’t be used when the wind blows with such force that big ships stacked high with containers act like huge sails.

At the new locks’ inauguration the hype by the ACP, the politicians and those rabiblanco media that reaped fortunes in a government financed “yes” campaign back in 2006 was, however, in many cases insufferable. Consider:

  • The ineptitude of President Varela’s speechwriters, who most probably were not Panamanian and were writing for one of the most poorly educated electorates on the planet. So was it Hernán Cortés, the Spaniard who defeated the Aztecs in Mexico, who gazed out over the Pacific from the Darien? Any Panamanian who didn’t flunk grade school history would know that it was Vasco Núñez de Balboa.

  • Presidential speeches that downplayed the role of the United States in building the original canal and gave priority to Arnulfo Arias, who had little to do with Panama gaining control over or expanding the canal, over General Omar Torrijos, whose dictatorship’s main positive accomplishment was the canal treaties.

  • All this hype from many interested quarters about this remarkable democratic mandate in the 2006 canal expansion referendum, which was an infamous campaign that included illegal public financing for one side only, illegal government suppression of the pitiful efforts of the other side, outrageous deceptions in the ACP’s presentations to the electorate and elaborate steps to reduce participation on the day of the election. It’s important that the abuses should be remembered because they were in many ways a template for the criminal abuses of the 2014 Martinelista campaign in which even greater sums of public money were used to try to effect the proxy re-election of a thug administration.

  • The complete lack of acknowledgment of serious corruption in the canal expansion, including conflicts of interest that saw the award of the locks contract on a lowball bid to a consortium that included a company owned by the family of and formerly run by the canal administrator at the time, and gave a contract for deficient Spanish tugs to a company represented by the son of the current canal administrator.

  • Failure to mention several major costs required to complete the expansion — the new bridge over the Atlantic entrance and the ferry service in the meantime, the change in the metro area’s main water intake to Madden Lake instead of Gatun Lake, the dredging to deepen the ship waiting areas outside of the canal’s entrances, the project for a new bridge to replace the Bridge of the Americas at the top of the list — that ought to be part of any true price tag.

  • A continuing ACP and government information control game wherein a Panama City protest about the Barro Blanco dam project scheduled for the day before the inauguration was suppressed and information about an injury-causing canal waters collision between two vessels on the day of the ceremonies was misrepresented by the ACP.

The new locks are up and running. Let’s make the best possible use of them. But spare this nation the revisionist history.


Debbie had to step aside, but what’s
needed is a new Voting Rights Act

Debbie Wasserman Schultz retains her title as chair of the Democratic National Committee, but pending the election of a successor she has turned over the duties of that office to labor leader and Clinton loyalist Brandon Davis. The living symbol of a sordid set of political tricks to rig the primary process, Debbie would be an obstacle to the unity of a party split right down the middle. She faces a hotly contested August 2 primary to retain her seat in Congress.

Now comes a general election campaign in which vote suppression tactics will come into play against Hillary Clinton to a greater extent than similar measures helped her on her way to the nomination. In the primary campaign the voter registration tampering, the bogus caucus vote counts, the pro-Sanders districts that “ran out of ballots,” the measures to prevent university students from voting, the reduction in voting venues with little notice and by suspicious criteria and so on were mainly directed against younger voters. Now the arbitrary application of voter ID laws, changes in voting places, voter registration tampering, intimidation, fraudulent vote counts and so on will be applied in a more traditional manner, by jurisdictions controlled by white racists to suppress African-American and Hispanic voting in order to boost the chances of Donald Trump. The stuff that was pulled in the Democratic primary process has alienated many of the younger volunteers who traditionally have done the legwork of voter registration and other measures to circumvent vote suppression against black and Latino communities. Hillary has to win those young activists to her side and it can’t be done with notoriously cynical and petty manipulators of Debbie’s sort injected into the process.

One of the low moments in the Democratic primaries came in Arizona, with the lowest of the low coming from Republicans rather than Hillary people. That was Maricopa County’s “budget cutting” decision to shut down most of the voting sites in Mexican-American neighborhoods, something that would not have been allowed before the US Supreme Court gutted a provision that required jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to get prior federal approval for any such changes.

That hole carved out in the Voting Rights Act by Republican appointees on the high court needs to be patched. But this year’s year’s primaries featured ugly attacks on voting rights that were in many cases based on age, affiliation with universities or residence in areas where the favored candidate was likely to lose. The old Voting Rights Act was about racial discrimination and it does need to be restored and strengthened on that count. However, American democracy also needs voting rights legislation that protects other groups from discrimination, makes tampering with voter registration rolls a federal crime and affords greater protection against the manipulation of electronic voting systems. That needs to be an issue in the fall campaign, and a new generation of civil rights leaders needs to be in place to assert it.


Bear in mind…


The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
Dorothy Parker


It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.
David Brin


When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
Hunter S. Thompson


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.





Overseas Vote

What Democrats are saying

Panama’s Democrats will be at this year’s Pride March, as we have been for the past several years. The parade gathers starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 2 at the corner of Via España and Via Argentina.

Democrats Abroad Panama to
pick a new board on July 23

Democrats Abroad Panama will elect its seven-member Board on July 23 from 2-3 PM at the Balboa Union Church, Calle Enrique Linares, Panama City, Panama. Nominations from the floor will be accepted.

If you wish to join the Board, become a member, vote, or just volunteer to help, contact Phil Edmonston at lemonaid@earthlink.net. Members can vote for the Board through Skype at lemonaidcars1 or Michelle Brion.

Volunteers are welcome to assist in voter registration or help to produce debates with Republicans Abroad if they don’t chicken out again as in 2012.

We aren’t big on speechifying. We believe an educated electorate is key to an honest and progressive government.

Bernie Sanders on the Democrats’ draft platform

~ ~

Florida has some hotly contested Democratic primaries on August 2




~ ~

If you are a US citizen, you have
the right to vote from abroad


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.





Overseas Vote

para votar

The thing about bug season…

Jimi Hendrix's ride
Acclimating to life in rural Panama often includes a greater appreciation of insects that come with the rains. Photo by Eric Jackson.


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.


donate 2FB_2


Overseas Vote

¿Wappin? The mix you don’t get on radio here

Elijah Emanuel — who brings us bilingual reggae from San Diego.

Hey — where’s the corporate playlist?

The National – Fake Empire

Imagine Dragons – Demons

Monchy y Alexandra – Dos Locos

Mad Professor live @ Scheune Dresden 2015

Peter Gabriel & Sinead O’Connor – Don’t Give Up

Bob Marley – Get Up Stand Up

Shakira – Try Everything

Natalia Lafourcade – Nunca Es Suficiente

Jefferson Airplane – Somebody to Love

Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite – I Ride At Dawn

Aswad ‎- Warrior Charge

Elijah Emanuel – Luchador

Valerie Wellington – Bad Avenue

Big Mama Thornton – Ball And Chain

Cultura Profética – Festival de Viña del Mar 2015


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web.


little donor button



Overseas Vote

Spanish PayPal button

para votar

Peace agreement among Colombians ~ Acuerdo de paz entre colombianos

Videos in Spanish, story in English ~ Videos en español, cuenta en inglés

The war is over

Colombian government and FARC rebel group agree to a peace agreement ending the decades-long armed conflict

by Larry Birns and Peter Bolton — Council on Hemispheric Affairs

On Wednesday, June 22, spokespersons from both the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced that after years of peace talks they have finally reached a conclusive agreement that will lead to a complete bilateral ceasefire. The historic announcement marks the end of the half-century-long civil war that has claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced millions across the country’s rural areas.

President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri (known by the alias Timochenko) shook hands at a ceremony in Havana, where the talks have been held since they began in 2013. Cuban President Rául Castro presided over the event and stood by as Timochenko, the Marxist rebel group’s most senior leader, reached out his hand to President Santos, a former defense minister during the Uribe administration and member of the conservative Party of the U. Also in attendance was Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, whose country played a key role in encouraging the FARC to enter negotiations, as well as UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon and the leaders of several other Latin American and Caribbean nations.

Santos spoke in jubilant terms about bringing the protracted and bloody conflict to an end, noting that for many Colombians, war is all they know. He said: “Colombia got used to living in conflict. We don’t have even the slightest memories of what it means to live in peace.” Timochenko, holding back tears in an emotional statement, said: “May this be the last day of war.”

According to a joint communique, the two delegations reached a mutual position on safety guarantees for demobilized guerrillas and a program for reintegration into civilian life. The FARC’s leadership is said to have issued an order to “silence all rifles,” which will be followed by a decommissioning process in which all arms will be surrendered and put out of use. The Colombian government will immediately end operations against the FARC in exchange for an agreement to disarm 180 days after the signing of a final peace deal.

Ivan Cepeda, a congressman from the left-wing Alternative Democratic Pole who was an early advocate of dialogue, emphasized that the outcome was not just the result of the efforts of the Colombian government, but also many sectors from across Colombian society including social movements, unions, and human rights organizations. Amongst these groups is Marcha Patriotica, a popular movement coalition of over 2,000 grassroots organizations that organized the historic march for peace in April 2013, in which hundreds of thousands of Colombians descended on the county’s capital city Bogotá to demonstrate in support of peace.

Cepeda also paid tribute to the role of the international community and solidarity with the process from across the world. He noted that in addition to hosting the talks in its capital city, Cuba had along with Norway served as guarantor of the peace talks, while Venezuela and Chile had worked in an accompaniment role.

The talks have been going on since 2013 and deadlines have been extended on several occasions. A final deal in which all of the finalized agreements will be codified together in one document is expected in the coming months. Once signed, the agreement will be put to a referendum in which the Colombian public will have the opportunity to accept or reject its terms.

After a long period of equivocation on the part of the United States, the dialogue belatedly received US endorsement from Secretary of State John Kerry when he met with representatives of both negotiating teams during a visit to Cuba earlier this year. Representatives from the United States were in attendance along with diplomats from several European nations.

To be sure, the talks have been controversial from the outset. Opponents to dialogue from the political right have argued that negotiating with the FARC, whom they consider to be “terrorists,” has been a dangerous and immoral surrender to violent insurrection. Former President Álvaro Uribe, whose administration engaged in an aggressive counter-offensive against the FARC and other leftist insurgent groups, has been a particularly outspoken opponent of dialogue, even launching a signature drive denouncing the peace talks as promoting “impunity” for the FARC. Uribe’s preferred candidate in the 2014 presidential election, Óscar Iván Zuluaga, promised throughout the campaign to discard the peace talks in favor of a return to all-out counter-insurgency, with the hope to defeat the FARC militarily and force a surrender on less agreeable terms. Santos defeated Zaluaga in what was widely seen as a public referendum on the continuation of the dialogue.

On the other side of the political spectrum, fears have been voiced that a disarmament of the FARC might leave its demobilized members defenseless against right-wing violence. Such concerns are based in large part on the FARC’s experience from the previous attempt at peace in the late 1980s and early 1990s in which several thousands of members of the Unión Patriótica were murdered. The political party, which was made up partially of FARC members but also leftist intellectuals, was formed to provide the radical left a route into electoral politics after the finalization of a peace deal and formal end to hostilities. Indeed, one of the major areas of contention in the current round of talks has been an agreement regarding a path into peaceful politics for the FARC.

But Santos has struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone, arguing for the importance of democracy and the inclusion of all perspectives. Though maintaining that the FARC will always be his sworn enemy, he said that battles would in future be fought through political debate rather than through violence. He said: “Now that we have agreed peace, as head of state and as a Colombian, I will argue, with equal determination their right to express and to continue their political struggle by legal means, even if we never agree. That is the essence of democracy to which we welcome.”

COHA’s view

Santos was the primary example of a war monger as Minister of Defense in the Uribe government and one of the most predictable and flagrant human rights violators. His aggressive anti-guerrilla policies included the 2008 incursion into Ecuadorian territory that led to the deaths of over twenty militants and sparked the 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis. However, with his actions throughout the process, he has shown himself to be a peacemaker of considerable caliber.

Despite the growing pressure for him to further engross Colombia as the main US ally in South America, he has persisted to present himself as a Latin Americanist and not a US pawn in the region. The way that he has come out in favor of the peace agreement will no doubt be looked back on as one of the major events in Colombian history. Though it is perhaps wise to wait for the referendum by the public, COHA sees Santos as a potential nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership throughout the talks.

For the guerrillas, there is terrible risk that they are taking, especially in terms of how the Union Patriotica genocide decimated some of their leading figures and forced them to retreat back into the jungle. Their decision to take a leap into the unknown by laying down their weapons has been brave and commendable.

Just as the Santos government has a responsibility to move toward demilitarization of the countryside, the FARC too will have to adapt to a culture of non-violence and come to terms with its past. With the strength of the Marcha Patriotica and other social movements, there is a strong base for a resurgent left in Colombia to participate in the political process through peaceful and democratic channels.

Though there is much to celebrate, there is also much work still ahead. All parties now need to focus on building institutions that will foster peace and greater democracy for Colombia’s future.


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.


little donor button




University of Panama to vote on June 29 – English story with Spanish videos

Si puede soportarlo, este canal de YouTube tiene entrevistas con los seis candidatos a rector, cada una un poco menos de una hora de duración. ~ If you can stand it, this YouTube channel has interviews with all six candidates for rector of the University of Panama, each of them just under an hour long.

A scandal-tainted University
of Panama votes on June 29

by Eric Jackson

On June 29 the University of Panama — including all of its branches — goes to the polls to elect a new rector, deans and vice deans in each department and the heads of the regional university centers. The outgoing rector and some of his entourage are the subjects of at least six different criminal investigations by the prosecutors of the Public Ministry, with other complaints winding their ways through the Comptroller General’s office. These include probes of large and valuable tracts of university land essentially given away to people with political connections, at least $3.5 million missing from the university’s treasury without explanation over the past few years, a “private foundation” into which university funds were poured for years without accountability, “innovation centers” (CIDETEs) whose purchases the administration refuses to explain, an employee on leave of absence after police arrested him for allegedly smuggling drugs using a university vehicle, people getting degrees without having done the class time and work to earn them — and the audits have only gone back three or four years of rector Gustavo García de Paredes’s 24-year reign at the university.

Although he is not a candidate, the self-proclaimed “Rector Magnifico” has been handing out raises and bonuses as if trying to buy votes. For which, if any, of the six candidates for rector García de Paredes would like to tip the scales is not a matter of public knowledge. It may be presumed that physics professor and former Sciences Faculty dean Eduardo Flores, who ran for rector five years ago, would not be favored by the man who beat him. But an open endorsement of a favored successor would be something like the kiss of death.

The last time Flores clobbered García de Paredes in the student vote, did better than expected among the faculty and was trounced by the non-academic employees who owe their jobs to the rector. That added up to a Flores win in total raw votes, but when the heavier weight to faculty and staff choices was calculated, a rout in favor of García de Paredes.

The student body is almost entirely different from five years ago, but the body of university employees is by and large the product of a political patronage machine that has been in power for a generation. However, if such employees might be expected to be obsequious yes-people, maybe not when prosecutors and auditors are nosing around and asking questions. Can the fix be in under such conditions?

In a way it already is. Many of the faculty and staff have received extra pay for consulting or other services — often of questionable value to the university — and have become reliant on that income. None of the six candidates for rector — Flores, Argentina Yin, Justo Medrano, Dorindo Cortez, Nicolás Jerome and Gilberto Boutin — are talking about eliminating sinecures. They are all talking about various Rs: reform, renewal, rehabilitation or renovation (but not revolution). Flores is promising that nobody will lose his or her job. No candidate is mentioning the CIDETEs or any moves to set aside the land transactions. Inflated salaries are a taboo subject. Accountability for what has gone on is off the agenda. Everything is in prospective terms, as if a generation of scandal had never happened. The result is petty bickering about things like who would have a right to retire and then double dip atop a pension with an administrator’s salary. As law professor Miguel Antonio Bernal put it, “the current UP campaign is like this: prudish, hypocritical, vulgar, anarchic, dirty and biased. Out of it will come a new rector and new or re-elected deans and regional center directors.” Flores, playing to people who voted decisively against him five years ago, is content to make the argument that the university must make mostly unspecified changes if it is to survive as an institution. It’s as if there is a general consensus that things can’t go on as they have, but that everyone who believes it thinks that his or her particular gravy train can and must keep running on time.

Is García de Paredes whispering to people about the covert anointment of a successor? It could be. But some of his recent ploys would seem to have undermined the credibility of such a thing. Yes, he did send out a tiny band of student sycophants to block the street and do battle with the riot squad in order to demonstrate displeasure with the investigations. All it showed was that he doesn’t have actual campus radicals on his bandwagon like he once did, and that, old apparatchik of the dictatorship that he is, his ties with the forces of repression aren’t so good anymore. He offered the law school’s most internationally famous graduate, entertainer and former Tourism Minister Rubén Blades, an honorary doctorate — and Blades turned him down, at least pending a less scandalous new university administration taking office.

Is García de Paredes’s patronage machine like Gorbachev’s Communists, or the last Aztecs? Perhaps. They don’t want to go, but they probably can’t stay under the same terms. An era does seem to be ending, albeit with an apologetic whimper.


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.


little donor button