El show de Cho (I
nuevamente, y de no ser por el altísimo número de víctimas del 17 de abril de
2007 en Virginia Tech, quizás la matanza ni siquiera hubiera llamado la
atención internacional. Tal vez ésta hubiera pasado inadvertida como tantas
calamidades que se pierden en el diluvio desinformativo de los medios
electrónicos. La regularidad con que suceden crímenes de esta naturaleza en eu,
ha logrado en buena medida desensibilizar al público, el cual ahora los consume
como si fueran una especie de epidemia, inevitable y tristemente familiar.
Además, ¿cómo pasar por alto que la matanza del campus de Blacksburg, Virginia,
casi coincidió con el octavo aniversario de la masacre escolar de Columbine,
que hasta entonces detentaba el récord de muertos?
El show de Cho
(II DE III)
No han sido pocos
quienes han pensado que el director coreano de cine Chan-wook Park, autor de
cintas de culto, como la trilogía de la venganza: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
(2002), Oldboy (2003) y Sympathy for Lady Vengance (2005) tuvo alguna
influencia en los actos criminales del 17 de abril pasado de Cho Seung-Hui, el
multihomicida de Virginia Tech. La analogía se ha hecho debido al origen
nacional de ambos y a la aparente fascinación de los dos por el tema de la
venganza. El trabajo de Park es brutal y en cierta forma celebratorio de la
violencia, pero se necesita mucha imaginación para asumir que sus delirantes y
tortuosos melodramones mortíferos puedan ser usados como guía del crimen, o
puedan considerarse como filmes creados para inspirar a aspirantes a criminal.
También se ha querido vincular la masacre de Cho con los juegos de video
hiperviolentos (y de paso Corea es actualmente una de las potencias mundiales
en el mundo competitivo de los video juegos), especialmente con aquellos que
siguen el modelo de Grand Theft Auto (ahora conocidos como gtas), los cuales
ofrecen al jugador el punto de vista de alguien que debe de matar al mayor
número de victimas. A las pocas horas de la carnicería, varios medios
(particularmente Fox News) declararon que Cho era muy aficionado al juego
Counterstrike, en el cual el jugador, en primera persona, participa en
enfrentamientos entre terroristas y policías. Esta afirmación demostró ser
falsa cuando sus compañeros declararon que nunca lo vieron jugar, además de que
entre sus posesiones no se encontró juego alguno.
Bajo la Lupa
Declive de las
trasnacionales petroleras privadas
En el marco del
muy exitoso segundo seminario de Economía Mundial del Instituto de
Investigaciones Económicas (IIEc) de la UNAM, nos tocó el honor de participar
con la ponencia El nuevo orden petrolero mundial. Los organizadores del IIEc se
lucieron al haber invitado a dos súper-pesos pesados: Paul Brenner, director
del Centro de Teoría Social e Historia Comparativa de la UCLA, y Giovanni
Arrighi, uno de los más sólidos pensadores del mundo (ahora en la Universidad
Johns Hopkins), quien, en la misma frecuencia que Bajo la Lupa (16-05-07),
sepultó al caduco decálogo neoliberal del Consenso de Washington y le dio vuelo
al nuevo Consenso de Pekín que ilustra en su nuevo libro Adam Smith en Pekín.
estatizó el correo prusiano, Federico Engels acuñó tempranamente el término de
capitalismo de Estado. El papel, incluso mayoritario, de éste en la economía
(lo que no es el caso ni en China ni en Vietnam ni en Venezuela, países en que
el sector privado pesa más que el estatal) no es, por lo tanto, indicio de
cambio de régimen social, sino simplemente de la existencia de una política
social y de un sector que la aplica, pero en el marco del funcionamiento
capitalista. En cuanto a la prioridad político-económica que se otorgue al
mercado interno y a la industrialización nacional para satisfacer las
necesidades de la población (en vez de a las exportaciones para conseguir
divisas, del pago de la deuda externa o al lucro de las empresas) es sin duda
indispensable para la preparación de condiciones propicias para la transición
al socialismo. También lo son el desarrollo al máximo de la educación, la
investigación científica, la defensa del ambiente, la sanidad y la cultura (que
no pueden depender de si son o no lucrativas). Pero todas estas políticas no
son por sí mismas socialistas ya que pueden también formar parte del arsenal
político de un capitalismo de Estado distribucionista y democrático.
schools dividing on race lines
Nicholas Watt, political editor
Sunday May 27, 2007
A remarkable picture of how Britain is ‘sleepwalking’
towards US-style segregation of schools along racial lines is highlighted today
by government figures that reveal many towns are developing schools that are
overwhelmingly white, Asian or black.
Racism lite masks reality on the streets
Don’t let the outrage over the Channel 4 show lull you into
believing it was an aberration. Discrimination is still horribly endemic in our
Sunday May 27, 2007
British film-makers ask: what is the hidden cost of your £2
Two billion cups are sold daily in a £40bn global industry,
but now a controversial documentary showing the plight of growers asks whether
there is such a thing as ethical coffee. David Smith reports
Sunday May 27, 2007
government trying to seize new Michael Moore film, says producer
Harvey Weinstein fires latest shot in battle over healthcare
Charlotte Higgins in Cannes
Saturday May 19,
Senate Democrats Say Bush Ignored Spy Agencies’ Prewar
Warnings of Iraq
By SCOTT SHANE
Published: May 26,
Victim of Climate Change, a Town Seeks a Lifeline
— The sturdy little Cessnas land whenever the fog lifts, delivering children’s
bicycles, boxes of bullets, outboard motors and cans of dried oats. And then,
with a rumble down a gravel strip, the planes are gone, the outside world
recedes and this subarctic outpost steels itself once again to face the
frontier of climate change.
on Greenhouse Gas Cuts
By HELENE COOPER and ANDREW C. REVKIN
Published: May 26,
May 25 — The United States has rejected Germany’s
proposal for deep long-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, setting the stage
for a battle that will pit President Bush against his European allies at next month’s
meeting of the world’s richest countries.
Apple’s Lesson for Sony’s Stores: Just Connect
RETAIL is supposed to be hard. Apple has made it seem
ridiculously easy. And yet it must be harder than it appears, or why hasn’t the
Windows side of the personal computer business figured it out?
Bill Clinton talked to The Times’s Andrew C. Revkin after
announcing his new plan to fight global climate change at the Large Cities
Climate Summit in New York.
Why the US
is losing its war on cocaine
has spent billions battling the drug industry in Bolivia,
Colombia and Peru.
And the result? Production as high as ever, street prices at a low, and the
governments of the region in open revolt. Hugh O’Shaughnessy reports from La
Published: 27 May 2007
The immensely costly "war on
drugs" in Latin America is slowly collapsing like a
Zeppelin with a puncture. The long-forecast failure for strategies which
involve police and military in forcibly suppressing narcotics – first decreed
by President Richard Nixon decades ago – is now pitifully evident in Bolivia,
one of the poorest countries of the Western hemisphere.
The estimated $25bn (£13bn) that Washington
has spent trying to control narcotics over the past 15 years in Latin
America seems to have been wasted.
In 2005, according to UN guesses
– and, amid merciless political spinning of what few facts there are- Colombia,
Peru and Bolivia,
the main producers of cocaine, had the capacity to produce 910 metric tons a
year. As more productive strains of coca bushes appear, production has been
increasing. Unsurprisingly, the price of cocaine on US streets has tumbled,
according to the White House drug tzar John Walters, to $135 (£70) a gram, a
fraction of the $600 a gram it was fetching in 1981. The purity of cocaine has
gone from 60 per cent in mid-2003 to more than 70 per cent last October. Like
the conflict in Iraq,
the US’s other
great war is now being visibly lost.
Here, indigent Bolivian President
Evo Morales, once a poverty-stricken llama herder and itinerant trumpet player,
is resisting pressure from the Bush government to eradicate coca bushes by fire
The Bolivian leader is no lover
of cocaine and his policies are summed up in the slogan "no to drugs, no
to cocaine". More than 5,000 hectares of coca bushes were destroyed last
year by growers voluntarily. "We did it without violating human
rights", says Morales.
But he refuses to ban the
consumption of coca leaves, which country people regard as gifts from heaven:
the indigenous peoples have been chewing them for thousands of years as an aid
to survival at 14,000 feet in the perishingly bleak highlands of the Andes
which surround this city.
Their teeth are sometimes
discoloured but otherwise they have come to little harm. Morales has no
hesitation in saying that his refusal to allow foreigners to dictate Bolivia’s
policy on what Bolivians call Mama Coca has been one of the secrets of his
political success. "The sacred coca leaf meant that we poor people are in
government today," he proclaims.
Morales’ stand was backed up here
earlier this month when Jean Ziegler, the influential former Swiss
parliamentarian, now the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, announced
that promoting the cultivation and consumption of coca "doesn’t go against
international treaties to fight drug trafficking and organised crime."
But the determination of Morales,
the leader of a poor country of nine million people, is only a tiny part of Latin
America’s rejection of the "war on drugs". In a Venezuela
enriched by high prices for its oil exports, President Hugo Chavez, himself a
political and financial supporter of Morales and ally of Fidel Castro, is
placing strict controls on his country’s co-operation with the US Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA). The democratically elected Chavez sees the
DEA as an arm of a government which was involved with the right-wing coup
d’état in 2002, which toppled him briefly.
He sees it as devoted as much to Washington’s
political and military strategies in Latin America as to
the battle against narcotics. The plain-speaking Chavez, who has called
President Bush "a devil", has accused the DEA of spying.
Pedro Carreno, Chavez’s justice
minister, has said that Venezuela
would not allow the DEA to mount anti-drug operations on its territory. Chavez
has also forbidden overflights by US government aircraft. Carreno suggested
that instead of Plan Colombia,
"should apply a Plan Washington, New York, or Miami,
so that they fly over their own air space, and take care of their coast and
border because 85 per cent of the drugs that are produced in Latin
America go to the United States."
Now a third Latin American
leader, the newly elected President Rafael Correa of Ecuador,
has announced that his country will ignore US instructions in the "war on
drugs". He has announced that he will no longer allow US forces to occupy
a large base at the Pacific port of Manta,
which was leased to them by a previous government and which the Pentagon says
is used for aircraft monitoring cocaine shipments between Peru
Many small farmers in Ecuador
along the border with Colombia
have seen their crops and livestock ruined and their own health affected by the
spraying of poisons, such as glyphosate, by Colombian and US pilots in a so far
vain attempt to destroy coca bushes in Colombia.
The pesticides have drifted over the international border spraying Ecuadorean
Last week, Professor Paul Hunt of
the UN Special Rapporteur on Health, speaking in Ecuador
said: "There is credible, reliable evidence that the aerial spraying of
glyphosate along the Colombia-Ecuador border damages the health of people
living in Ecuador.
There is also reliable evidence that the aerial spraying damages their mental
health. Military helicopters sometimes accompany the aerial spraying and the
entire experience can be terrifying, especially for children. "
If this continues the Ecuadoreans
have threatened to shoot the offending aircraft down.
But it is in the Colombian capital
city, Bogota, that the "war on
drugs" is seriously falling apart. Colombia’s
president, Alvaro Uribe, is in deep political trouble as his opponents dig up
unsavoury evidence of his past. He was for years seen as the strongest ally of
the US and Britain in South America – he has been received several times at the
White House and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office paid him a substantial
bursary in 1998 for two years’ study at St Antony’s College, Oxford before he
was elected president in 2002. As a model recruit into the "war on
drugs" his country has received $5.4bn under the so-called Plan Colombia
from Washington for drug control, more US foreign aid than any other country
except Israel and Egypt.
is estimated to be producing nearly 800 tons of cocaine every year and it has
been an open secret for years that senior politicians and the armed forces are
deeply mixed up in drug dealing and the right-wing death squads – coyly
referred to as "paramilitaries" are also involved in the trade.
In February, Uribe had to sack
his foreign minister Maria Consuelo Araujo because of her family connections
with the death squads and the drug trade. Uribe is becoming something of a
pariah and his support is falling away, even in Washington.
Senator Al Gore withdrew from a conference on climate change in Latin
America to avoid being photographed with him because of
allegations linking Uribe and government members to death squads and drug
dealing. Gore called the claims deeply troubling. In 2001, some senior politicians
signed the so-called Pact of Ralito, which bound them to well-known drug
smugglers with names such as Jorge 40, Don Berna, Salvatore Mancuso and Diego
Vecino. Other accusations against Uribe include one by an opposition senator
that death squads used farms belonging to Uribe’s family to carry out meetings
and killings in the 1990s.
Earlier this month, the Vice
President, Francisco Santos announced that "more than 40 members of
congress" could go to prison because of their links to drugs and death
squads. More than a dozen senators, congressmen and political insiders have
been arrested. This month, two police generals were sacked.
The truth is also emerging about
the Colombian army, beloved of the US
government but widely hated by many Colombians for its closeness to the death
squads. Senator Patrick Leahy ordered a temporary freeze on tens of millions of
dollars of US military aid after the Colombian army commander, General Mario
Montoya, was found to be deeply involved with the death squads.
Leahy condemned the waste of US
money in Colombia:
"When Plan Colombia
began, we were told it would cut by half the amount of cocaine in five years.
Six years and $5bn later, it has not had any measurable effect on the amount of
cocaine entering our country."
Big business is also caught up in
drug dealing. In March, Chiquita Brands International, a US
banana multinational, was fined $25m by the US
Justice Department for having funded the AUC, the principal Colombian death
squad which is closely linked to international drug-smuggling. The collapse of
the "war on drugs" in Latin America is of a
piece with Tony Blair’s failure to control drugs in the UK
by police action and imprisonment. Britain’s
drug use rates are among the highest in Europe and there
are 327,000 problem drug users. The failure to stem the supply of heroin is
illustrated by the fall in price of a gram, from £70 in 2000 to £54 in 2005.
The annual number of drug offenders jailed more than doubled between 1994 and
2005 and the average length of their sentences went up. The courts handed out
nearly three times as much prison time in 2004 as they did 10 years earlier.
Last month, an inquiry for the UK
Drug Policy Commission said: "The research suggests that the greatest
reductions in drug-related harm have come from investment in treatment and harm
reduction. However, the bulk of expenditure on drug policy in the UK
is still devoted to the enforcement of drug laws".
as in Latin America, drugs clearly can’t be controlled
by armies and police forces.
Hugh O’Shaughnessy is the author
with Sue Branford of ‘Chemical Warfare in Colombia:
the Costs of Coca Fumigation’
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