sábado, 23 de junio de 2018

Bento, karoshi, inemuri


Japón es un bello, extraño país. En más de un sentido nos anticipa tendencias futuras de las sociedades desarrolladas. Su curva demográfica va en descenso, crece la población anciana, bajan los matrimonios y la tasa de nacimientos está por el suelo. ¿Cómo solucionar el problema en un sistema típicamente capitalista de crecimiento infinito? Respuesta: trabajar a destajo, rozando lo inhumano, en un esquema donde cada segundo cuenta. Reproducimos hoy cuatro notas del New York Times sobre distintas situaciones relativas al trabajo en el Japón actual. Advertencia: lo que sigue es de contenido inapropiado para el empleado público latinoamericano promedio. La primera de las notas es de Yonette Joseph y Makiko Inoue: 



Título: He Left Work for 3 Minutes Before His Lunch Break. Now His Pay Is Docked

Texto: For the want of a bento box, a Japanese worker who habitually left his desk three minutes before his official lunch break has been docked half a day’s pay.

The transgression prompted four senior officials at the city waterworks department in Kobe to hold a news conference offering a public apology for the worker’s conduct.

It’s deeply regrettable that this misconduct took place. We’re sorry,” one bureau official said, as all four bowed deeply.

The unidentified 64-year-old employee was fined thousands of yen and reprimanded after an investigation found that he had left the office to order a bento box ahead of his lunch break on 26 occasions over a seven-month period, an official said.

The case caught the eye of social media users in a country known for its struggle with maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

It’s sheer madness. It’s crazy,” said one Twitter user.

Is this a bad joke? Does this mean we cannot even go to the bathroom?” said another.

Japan’s work culture can be brutally punishing, spawning cases like that of Miwa Sado, a young journalist at a public broadcaster who died of congestive heart failure after clocking 159 hours of overtime in one month. She was 31.

Employees consider napping in public — or in the office — a badge of honor. It telegraphs a sign of diligence and commitment: You are working yourself to the bone.

Public acknowledgment by officials and leaders of perceived wrongdoings is also expected in Japan, where rail conductors will beg forgiveness when a train is even a minute late, or early.

Such was the case November, when the Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company in Tokyo apologized on its website because a train left a station in Chiba, a suburban prefecture, 20 seconds early.

But the case of the waterworks employee calls into question the country’s efforts to address a rise in karoshi, or death from overwork. In a 2016 government report on karoshi, nearly a quarter of companies surveyed said some employees were working more than 80 hours of overtime a month.

Months later, Tadashi Ishii, the president of the advertising agency Dentsu, announced his resignation after an outcry over the 2015 death of Matsuri Takahashi, 24, an employee who had killed herself by jumping from the roof of an employee dormitory.

In May, the Lower House of Parliament passed a bill to improve working conditions, setting equal pay for equal work by prohibiting unfair treatment of non-regular workers. If approved, the bill would place a cap on overtime work, with penalties for violations: Annual overtime would be limited to 720 hours, with a monthly curb at fewer than 100 hours.

But critics argue that some of the provisions would worsen the problem of excessive working hours: The bill would exempt highly skilled and highly paid workers since their salaries would be based on results, not hours worked.

Residents whose loved ones had died or had killed themselves were in the chamber, holding photos of the deceased, as the voting took place, according to local news outlets. The bill was sent to the Upper House.

Gen Oka, who is in charge of personnel affairs of the waterworks bureau of Kobe City, said in an interview on Friday that the employee had “left his desk about three minutes or so between 11:30 a.m. and 11:40 a.m. 26 times between September 2017 and March 2018.”

The employee, who is in charge of inventory control, told his supervisors that he went to a nearby restaurant to order a bento lunch because he needed a “change of pace.” But, the official said, “ordering lunch should be done during his lunch break, between noon and 1 p.m.

The worker was caught when a senior colleague looked out his office window and spotted him walking to get food. Senior management calculated how much time he had spent away from his desk and docked him “thousands of yen as punishment,” Mr. Oka said, adding, “He said, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I will never do that again.’ ”

The official acknowledged that since making the announcement on June 15, the department had received some blowback, with people calling or writing on its website to complain. “We received about 50 or 60 such opinions,” he said.

But the department also got some support, he said, from people who said “we shouldn’t hire such a person who leaves the desk during working hours.

He defended the department’s decision, saying, “It is our obligation as public servants to devote ourselves to the work.

On Twitter, the waterworks employee’s punishment drew puzzlement and criticism.

Leaving the desk for three minutes to order bento is not O.K., while leaving for 15 minutes smoking is allowed? That’s strange. Kobe City should explain it,” one person wrote.

Honestly, who cares? This is an unprecedented apology news conference,” another social media user said, adding, “Is it much of a loss for the city that four managers hold a news conference like this?”

Another person said: “What about all the politicians who sleep in Parliament? They ought to be fired, then.”


***


La que sigue es de Makiko Inoue y Megan Specia. Habla de una chica, Miwa Sado (foto de arriba):


Título: Young Worker Clocked 159 Hours of Overtime in a Month. Then She Died

Subtítulo: The newsroom of the Japanese broadcaster NHK in 2012. Inspectors determined that the grueling work schedule of a young journalist who worked there led to her death in 2013.CreditKosuke Okhara for The New York Times

Texto: Miwa Sado, a young journalist for Japan’s state-run broadcaster, spent the summer of 2013 frantically covering two local elections in Tokyo.

Over the course of a month, she clocked 159 hours of overtime. She rarely took weekends off. She worked until midnight nearly every night. On her birthday, June 26, she emailed her parents, who thought she sounded weak.

Not quite a month later, just days after the second election, she died of congestive heart failure. She was 31.

The case — the latest high-profile example of karoshi, or “death from overwork” — came to light only after the broadcaster, NHK, announced it this week.

Karoshi became widely recognized as a phenomenon in the late 1980s, as stories of blue-collar employees keeling over at work appeared to expose a sinister side to Japan’s postwar economic miracle. Over the years, cases of karoshi have been reported among white-collar executives, automotive engineers and immigrant trainees.

In a 2016 government report on karoshi, nearly a quarter of companies surveyed said that some employees were working more than 80 hours of overtime a month. Months later, the president of the advertising agency Dentsu resigned after an outcry over the 2015 death of an employee, Matsuri Takahashi, 24, who jumped from the roof of an employee dormitory.

Like Ms. Takahashi, Ms. Sado was a young woman making her way in a blue-chip organization. Her employer is considered one of the most prestigious companies in Japan, a country where exhaustion is often seen as a sign of diligence.

A 2014 government investigation found that Ms. Sado’s death was a direct result of her work life.

She was under circumstances that she could not secure enough days off due to responsibilities that required her to stay up very late,” the labor office in the Shibuya section of Tokyo said in a statement to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. The office described her as being “in a state of accumulated fatigue and chronic sleep deprivation” at the time of her death.

The broadcaster said it had delayed revealing details about Ms. Sado’s death out of respect for her family and timed the release to coincide with planned workplace changes.

We decided to disclose her death to all of our employees and to the public to share the company’s resolve to prevent a recurrence and follow through with reforms,” NHK said.

Ryoichi Ueda, the president of NHK, said that Ms. Sado’s parents “hoped we would take utmost efforts so that another such case won’t happen again.”

But Ms. Sado’s parents criticized NHK’s response as inadequate. In a statement published by the Asahi Shimbun on Thursday, they said they feared that her death would be forgotten and “wondered if the company would keep hiding it, or why the union kept silent.”

Her parents also asked why the company had not limited their daughter’s working hours.

It is an abnormal work situation to work almost every day on Saturday and Sunday, working until late at night every day, so we cannot understand why such a situation was overlooked,” their statement said.

Although they did not immediately publicize their daughter’s death, they said that Ms. Takahashi’s case had spurred them to publicly discuss it.

They also criticized NHK for not disseminating news of their daughter’s death throughout the company. They said that other employees — even journalists who had reported on other cases of karoshi — did not know that one of their colleagues had died from the condition.

Karoshi, which has included the burden of entertaining clients or bosses in some industries, has long prompted calls for legislation.

The Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, in a white paper released last year on the prevention of karoshi, noted that the “undeniable problems in Japan’s work environment” were especially detrimental to regular employees under age 35.

National guidelines use a threshold of 100 hours of overtime in a month — or an average of 80 hours of monthly overtime in a six-month period — to determine whether a worker is at risk of physical or mental harm. Those guidelines were put forward by a government panel in April, but critics say that more is needed.

In February, the Japanese government and the Keidanren, Japan’s largest business group, introduced an effort dubbed “Premium Friday” that encouraged companies to allow workers to leave the office at 3 p.m. on the last Friday of the month.


***


Esta que sigue es By Bryant Rousseau; cuenta la simpática costumbre del "inemuri":


Título: Napping in Public? In Japan, That’s a Sign of Diligence

Subtítulo: Sleeping in public is especially prevalent on commuter trains, no matter how crowded, in Japan. It helps that the country has a very low crime rate

Texto: In most countries, sleeping on the job isn’t just frowned upon, it may get you fired.

But in Japan, napping in the office is common and culturally accepted. And in fact, it is often seen as a subtle sign of diligence: You must be working yourself to exhaustion.

The word for it is “inemuri.” It is often translated as “sleeping on duty,” but Brigitte Steger, a senior lecturer in Japanese studies at Downing College, Cambridge, who has written a book on the topic, says it would be more accurate to render it as “sleeping while present.”

That, she said, captures Japan’s approach to time, where it’s seen as possible to do multiple things simultaneously, if at a lower intensity. So you can get credit for attending that boring quarterly sales meeting while also dreaming of a beach vacation.

Inemuri is most prevalent among more senior employees in white-collar professions, Dr. Steger said. Junior employees tend to want to stay awake all day and be seen as energetic, and workers on assembly lines can’t just nod off.

Both sexes indulge in inemuri, but women are more likely to be criticized for it, especially if they sleep in a position that is considered unbecoming, Dr. Steger said.

Inemuri has been practiced in Japan for at least 1,000 years, and it is not restricted to the workplace. People may nap in department stores, cafes, restaurants or even a snug spot on a busy city sidewalk.

A 2015 study found that 39.5 percent of Japanese adults slept less than six hours a night.

Sleeping in public is especially prevalent on commuter trains, no matter how crowded; they often turn into de facto bedrooms. It helps that Japan has a very low crime rate.

It’s very unlikely, if you are sleeping on a train, that someone would try to rob you,” said Theodore C. Bestor, a professor of social anthropology at Harvard University.

Sleeping in social situations can even enhance your reputation. Dr. Steger recalled a group dinner at a restaurant where the male guest of a female colleague fell asleep at the table. The other guests complimented his “gentlemanly behavior” — that he chose to stay present and sleep, rather than excuse himself.

One reason public sleeping may be so common in Japan is that people get so little sleep at home. A 2015 government study found that 39.5 percent of Japanese adults slept less than six hours a night.

An unwritten rule of inemuri is to sleep compactly, without “violating spatial norms,” Professor Bestor said. “If you stretched out under the table in the office conference room, or took up several spaces on the train, or laid out on a park bench,” he said, that would draw reproach for being socially disruptive.

Dr. Steger pointed out that closed eyes may not always equal shut-eye: A person may close them just to build a sphere of privacy in a society with little of it.

That’s part of why Dr. Steger said she could imagine inemuri waning in Japan. These days, smartphones can transport people to their own private zones with their eyes wide open.


***



Por último, acá va una nota de Motoko Rich y Makiko Inoue:


Título: Japanese Train Leaves 20 Seconds Early. Cue the Abject Apologies

Subtítulo: It may have been the most profusely regretted 20 seconds in history.

TextoLiving up to Japan’s reputation for being precise as well as contrite, a train company in Tokyo delivered a formal apology on Tuesday because one of its trains left a station just 20 seconds early.

In a country where conductors will beg forgiveness when a train is even a minute late, the Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company posted an apology on its website Tuesday for “the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers” when the No. 5255 Tsukuba Express train left Minami-Nagareyama station in Chiba, a suburban prefecture east of Tokyo, at 9:44:20 a.m., instead of as scheduled at 9:44:40 a.m.

According to the statement, the train arrived at Minami-Nagareyama on time, at precisely 9:43:40 a.m. But when it came time to leave, the overeager crew closed the doors prematurely and pulled out of the station ahead of schedule. According to Metropolitan Intercity, no passengers missed the train or complained about the jump-start.

The effusive apology was in keeping with a culture where an ice cream company ran a television advertisement to express regret for raising the price of an ice cream bar by 10 yen last spring.

As the foreign news media began to cover the news Thursday, observers abroad expressed envy on Twitter at the trainspotting exactitude.

People overseas are half amazed and praised Japan but even Japanese would laugh at this,” a user with the handle @gaishi_black wrote on Twitter.

According to one article this month on the Gendai Business website, Tsukuba Express, which carries 130 million passengers a year, markets its “safety and high speed.” The article listed what it described as “concerning” incidents from earlier in the year, including two cases of trains stopping in the wrong position and an episode where customers were stuck in elevators at a station for 30 minutes.

Thursday’s microscopically early train passed with no apparent impact other than a few laughs on social media, unlike a deadly crash in 2005 that killed more than 100 passengers when the train driver began speeding to make up for a lost 90 seconds in the schedule.

viernes, 22 de junio de 2018

Mientras tanto, en Siria...


Anoche hubo un ataque sorpresivo de fuerzas estadounidenses sobre unidades sirias estacionadas en las cercanías de AlT Tanf, en extremo oriental de ese país (mapa de arriba). Recuérdese que las fuerzas estadounidenses están ilegalmente estacionadas allí, casi en la frontera con Irak, con el presumible objetivo de impedir la principal vía de comunicación terrestre entre Irán y Siria. Así lo contaba hoy el sitio web South Front: "Last night, the US-led coalition bombed positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) around the area of At Tanf in eastern Syria, according to pro-government sources. Two soldiers were reportedly killed. Pro-militant and pro-US sources claim that some unidentified force attacked a US patrol and the coalition responded. If all these claims are confirmed, this development will mark start of another round of escalation over the US-occupied area of At-Tanf." Suponemos el por qué de los movimientos. La nota que sigue es del sitio web Moon of Alabama:


Título: Syria - Damascus And Its Allies Prepare To Remove U.S. Forces From Al-Tanf

Texto: On June 8 we asked if the then ongoing ISIS attack on Albu Kamal was part of a U.S. plan:

There is sneaking suspicion that the U.S. directed the ongoing ISIS attack on Abu Kamal to gain control over the crossing and to disable road supplies from Iran through Iraq into Syria. 
...
The U.S. must be given no chance to use the ISIS pretext to take Abu Kamal. The Syrian government must rush to support its forces in the border city. It must immediately request that Iraqi forces cross the border from Al-Qaim and support the endangered Syrian troops.


Some reinforcement came in and Albu Kamal was soon back in Syrian government hands. The Syrian army also launched an operation to destroy ISIS positions in southeastern desert.

But U.S. interference in the east continued:

The Russian military is warning of a false-flag "chemical incident" in Deir Ezzor governorate. The Syrian Observatory reports that Islamic State remnants in the southeastern desert and in the Rukban camp, both under cover of the U.S. occupied zone around al-Tanf, prepare for a large attack on Syrian government forces. It claims that such an attack is an attempt to occupy the zone between al-Tanf and Albu Kamal at the Euphrates. Both operation would be planned diversions intended to draw Syrian forces away from Deraa and could provide excuses for U.S. intervention on the opposition side.

Late Sunday an airstrike destroyed a building in the Harri area near Albu Kamal directly on the Syrian-Iraqi border. The building was used as a headquarter for the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) who are securing the border in coordination with the Syrian army in the fight against the Islamic State. More than 20 fighters were killed and more than 10 were wounded. This may have been in preparation for the reportedly planned large ISIS attack.

Another serious incident followed last night when U.S. supported Maghawhir al-Thawra "rebels" (which include 'former' ISIS fighters) attacked Syrian government forces:

A Syrian army officer was killed in a U.S strike on a Syrian army outpost near a U.S. base close to the Iraqi-Syrian border, a commander in the regional alliance supporting President Bashar al-Assad told Reuters.

The Pentagon, said, however, that a U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group stationed in the Tanf garrison had engaged on Thursday evening an “unidentified hostile force” outside a “deconfliction zone” around the garrison, forcing it to retreat. It said there were no casualties on either side.

The Syrian Observatory claims that eight Syrian soldiers were killed in the attack. There is some footage of a desert chase with "technicals" that is supposed to be from these clashes. They took place in al-Halba, 70 kilometers northwest of al-Tanf and only 50 kilometers from Palmyra.

The U.S. sent "rebels" it trains at al-Tanf outside its self declared 55 kilometers deconfliction zone around Tanf to attack Syrian government forces. It supported them by air strikes. U.S. special forces are said to have taken part. This is likely the case as only U.S. special forces can call in such airstrikes.

It seems obvious that the U.S. is using ISIS, U.S. trained "Maghawhir al-Thawra" rebels, and its air power in another attempt to cut the land route between Syria and Iraq. It wants to use the upcoming Syrian campaign against al-Qaeda and ISIS in the southwest around Daraa to make a new move in the east.

But Syria and its allies will not allow that. They are building up their own forces in the east. As Elijah Magnier reported yesterday:

[D]uring my visit to the city of Palmyra and its surroundings, the presence of thousands of Russian troops is striking, indicating that Moscow is sending new infantry and special forces in very large numbers. This large presence has not been announced.

The Syrian army is also sending additional forces into the area and more Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units have arrived in the Al-Qaim/Albu-Kamal area.

Syria and its allies obviously decided to counter the U.S. move. Their operations at the Syrian-Iraqi border are coordinated by the common operation room in Baghdad.

Last night Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia again discussed the situation in the east and made their decision:

SURA @AlSuraEnglish - 23:47 UTC - 21 Jun 2018

#BREAKING - #Iraq, #Syria, #Russia and #Iran confirm new mission to secure the #Iraqi-#Syrian border from all terrorist groups. The mission was devised in the operations room in Iraq's capital, #Baghdad.

"All terrorist groups" include the Maghawhir al-Thawra "rebels" and their U.S. protectors at al-Tanf.

Meanwhile the Syrian army continues its preparations for the large attack around Daraa which might bring it in conflict with Israel.

The U.S. again issued a nonsensical warning against such an attack but with a significant change in its wording:

The statement, however, omitted a line in a past statement on the subject that said the U.S. would take “firm and appropriate measures” if Syria violated the de-escalation measure.

It has been confirmed that Iran will not be involved in the fight in Daraa (We had noted that three weeks ago.) Hizbullah special forces might take part in the areas near the Lebanese border. Jordan reinforced its position on its side of the border. It is unlikely to join any fight but it will want to keep fleeing "rebels" from entering the country.

The operation in the southwest around Daraa will proceed. The U.S. attempts to use the occasion to cut Syria from Iraq in the east will be prevented by the new Baghdad operations room mission. Its high time for the U.S. to give up on its nonsense schemes in the southeast. The humanitarian situation in the Rukban camp near the U.S. positions in al-Tanf is catastrophic and the civilians there want to come back under Syrian government control. The al-Tanf position is indefensible against any larger force. The U.S. forces there can still move out without a fight. If they do not leave voluntarily, force will be used to remove them.

miércoles, 20 de junio de 2018

El Imperio contra China


Las recientes sanciones comerciales de los EEUU a China no son sino un aspecto de una conflagración mayor en ciernes. El aspecto militar es más ominoso y se juega en el Pacífico. La nota que sigue es de Michael T. Klare para el sitio web TomDispatch:



Título: Girding for Confrontation - The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China

Texto: On May 30th, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced a momentous shift in American global strategic policy. From now on, he decreed, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), which oversees all U.S. military forces in Asia, will be called the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The name change, Mattis explained, reflects “the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans,” as well as Washington’s determination to remain the dominant power in both.   

What? You didn’t hear about this anywhere?  And even now, you’re not exactly blown away, right? Well, such a name change may not sound like much, but someday you may look back and realize that it couldn’t have been more consequential or ominous.  Think of it as a signal that the U.S. military is already setting the stage for an eventual confrontation with China.

If, until now, you hadn’t read about Mattis’s decision anywhere, I’m not surprised since the media gave it virtually no attention -- less certainly than would have been accorded the least significant tweet Donald Trump ever dispatched.  What coverage it did receive treated the name change as no more than a passing “symbolic” gesture, a Pentagon ploy to encourage India to join Japan, Australia, and other U.S. allies in America’s Pacific alliance system. “In Symbolic Nod to India, U.S. Pacific Command Changes Name” was the headline of a Reuters story on the subject and, to the extent that any attention was paid, it was typical.

That the media’s military analysts failed to notice anything more than symbolism in the deep-sixing of PACOM shouldn’t be surprising, given all the attention being paid to other major international developments -- the pyrotechnics of the Korean summit in Singapore, the insults traded at and after the G7 meeting in Canada, or the ominous gathering storm over Iran.  Add to this the poor grasp so many journalists have of the nature of the U.S. military’s strategic thinking.  Still, Mattis himself has not been shy about the geopolitical significance of linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans in such planning.  In fact, it represents a fundamental shift in U.S. military thinking with potentially far-reaching consequences.

Consider the backdrop to the name change: in recent months, the U.S. has stepped up its naval patrols in waters adjacent to Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea (as has China), raising the prospect of future clashes between the warships of the two countries. Such moves have been accompanied by ever more threatening language from the Department of Defense (DoD), indicating an intent to do nothing less than engage China militarily if that country’s build-up in the region continues.  “When it comes down to introducing what they have done in the South China Sea, there are consequences,” Mattis declared at the Shangri La Strategic Dialogue in Singapore on June 2nd.

As a preliminary indication of what he meant by this, Mattis promptly disinvited the Chinese from the world’s largest multinational naval exercise, the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), conducted annually under American auspices.  “But that’s a relatively small consequence,” he added ominously, “and I believe there are much larger consequences in the future.”  With that in mind, he soon announced that the Pentagon is planning to conduct “a steady drumbeat” of naval operations in waters abutting those Chinese-occupied islands, which should raise the heat between the two countries and could create the conditions for a miscalculation, a mistake, or even an accident at sea that might lead to far worse.

In addition to its plans to heighten naval tensions in seas adjacent to China, the Pentagon has been laboring to strengthen its military ties with U.S.-friendly states on China’s perimeter, all clearly part of a long-term drive to -- in Cold War fashion -- “contain” Chinese power in Asia.  On June 8th, for example, the DoD launched Malabar 2018, a joint Pacific Ocean naval exercise involving forces from India, Japan, and the United States.  Incorporating once neutral India into America’s anti-Chinese “Pacific” alliance system in this and other ways has, in fact, become a major twenty-first-century goal of the Pentagon, posing a significant new threat to China.

For decades, the principal objective of U.S. strategy in Asia had been to bolster key Pacific allies Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines, while containing Chinese power in adjacent waters, including the East and South China Seas.  However, in recent times, China has sought to spread its influence into Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region, in part by extolling its staggeringly ambitious “One Belt, One Road” trade and infrastructure initiative for the Eurasian continent and Africa.  That vast project is clearly meant both as a unique vehicle for cooperation and a way to tie much of Eurasia into a future China-centered economic and energy system.  Threatened by visions of such a future, American strategists have moved ever more decisively to constrain Chinese outreach in those very areas.  That, then, is the context for the sudden concerted drive by U.S. military strategists to link the Indian and Pacific Oceans and so encircle China with pro-American, anti-Chinese alliance systems. The name change on May 30th is a formal acknowledgement of an encirclement strategy that couldn’t, in the long run, be more dangerous.


Girding for War with China

To grasp the ramifications of such moves, some background on the former PACOM might be useful.  Originally known as the Far East Command, PACOM was established in 1947 and has been headquartered at U.S. bases near Honolulu, Hawaii, ever since.  As now constituted, its “area of responsibility” encompasses a mind-boggling expanse: all of East, South, and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans -- in other words, an area covering about 50% of the Earth’s surface and incorporating more than half of the global population.  Though the Pentagon divides the whole planet like a giant pie into a set of “unified commands,” none of them is larger than the newly expansive, newly named Indo-Pacific Command, with its 375,000 military and civilian personnel.

Before the Indian Ocean was explicitly incorporated into its fold, PACOM mainly focused on maintaining control of the western Pacific, especially in waters around a number of friendly island and peninsula states like Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.  Its force structure has largely been composed of air and naval squadrons, along with a large Marine Corps presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa.  Its most powerful combat unit is the U.S. Pacific Fleet -- like the area it now covers, the largest in the world.  It’s made up of the 3rd and 7th Fleets, which together have approximately 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 sailors, pilots, Marines, and civilians.

On a day-to-day basis, until recently, the biggest worry confronting the command was the possibility of a conflict with nuclear-armed North Korea.  During the late fall of 2017 and the winter of 2018, PACOM engaged in a continuing series of exercises designed to test its forces’ ability to overcome North Korean defenses and destroy its major military assets, including nuclear and missile facilities. These were undoubtedly intended, above all, as a warning to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un about what he could expect if he continued down the path of endless provocative missile and nuclear tests.  It seems that, at least for the time being, President Trump has suspended such drills as a result of his summit meeting with Kim.   

North Korea aside, the principal preoccupation of PACOM commanders has long been the rising power of China and how to contain it.  This was evident at the May 30th ceremony in Hawaii at which Mattis announced that expansive name change and presided over a change-of-command ceremony, in which outgoing commander, Admiral Harry Harris Jr., was replaced by Admiral Phil Davidson.  (Given the naval-centric nature of its mission, the command is almost invariably headed by an admiral.) 

While avoiding any direct mention of China in his opening remarks, Mattis left not a smidgeon of uncertainty that the command’s new name was a challenge and a call for the future mobilization of regional opposition across a vast stretch of the planet to China’s dreams and desires.  Other nations welcome U.S. support, he insisted, as they prefer an environment of “free, fair, and reciprocal trade not bound by any nation's predatory economics or threat of coercion, for the Indo-Pacific has many belts and many roads.”  No one could mistake the meaning of that.

Departing Admiral Harris was blunter still.  Although “North Korea remains our most immediate threat,” he declared, “China remains our biggest long-term challenge.”  He then offered a warning: without the stepped-up efforts of the U.S. and its allies to constrain Beijing, “China will realize its dream of hegemony in Asia.”  Yes, he admitted, it was still possible to cooperate with the Chinese on limited issues, but we should “stand ready to confront them when we must.”  (On May 18th, Admiral Harris was nominated by President Trump as the future U.S. ambassador to South Korea, which will place a former military man at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.)

Harris’s successor, Admiral Davidson, seems, if anything, even more determined to put confronting China atop the command’s agenda.  During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 17th, he repeatedly highlighted the threat posed by Chinese military activities in the South China Sea and promised to resist them vigorously. “Once [the South China Sea islands are] occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania,” he warned.  “The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] will be able to use these bases to challenge U.S. presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea claimants. In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

Is that, then, what Admiral Davidson sees in our future?  War with China in those waters?  His testimony made it crystal clear that his primary objective as head of the Indo-Pacific Command will be nothing less than training and equipping the forces under him for just such a future war, while enlisting the militaries of as many allies as possible in the Pentagon’s campaign to encircle that country.  “To prevent a situation where China is more likely to win a conflict,” he affirmed in his version of Pentagonese, “we must resource high-end capabilities in a timely fashion, preserve our network of allies and partners, and continue to recruit and train the best soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coastguardsmen in the world.”

Davidson’s first priority is to procure advanced weaponry and integrate it into the command’s force structure, ensuring that American combatants will always enjoy a technological advantage over their Chinese counterparts in any future confrontation.  Almost as important, he, like his predecessors, seeks to bolster America’s military ties with other members of the contain-China club.  This is where India comes in.  Like the United States, its leadership is deeply concerned with China’s expanding presence in the Indian Ocean region, including the opening of a future port/naval base in Gwadar, Pakistan, and another potential one on the island of Sri Lanka, both in the Indian Ocean.  Not surprisingly, given the periodic clashes between Chinese and Indian forces along their joint Himalayan borderlands and the permanent deployment of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has shown himself to be increasingly disposed to join Washington in military arrangements aimed at limiting China’s geopolitical reach.  “An enduring strategic partnership with India comports with U.S. goals and objectives in the Indo-Pacific,” Admiral Davidson said in his recent congressional testimony.  Once installed as commander, he continued, “I will maintain the positive momentum and trajectory of our burgeoning strategic partnership.”  His particular goal: to “increase maritime security cooperation.”

And so we arrive at the Indo-Pacific Command and a future shadowed by the potential for great power war.


The View from Beijing

The way the name change at PACOM was covered in the U.S., you would think it reflected, at most, a benign wish for greater economic connections between the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions, as well, perhaps, as a nod to America’s growing relationship with India.  Nowhere was there any hint that what might lie behind it was a hostile and potentially threatening new approach to China -- or that it could conceivably be perceived that way in Beijing.  But there can be no doubt that the Chinese view such moves, including recent provocative naval operations in the disputed Paracel Islands of the South China Sea, as significant perils.

When, in late May, the Pentagon dispatched two warships -- the USS Higgins, a destroyer, and the USS Antietam, a cruiser -- into the waters near one of those newly fortified islands, the Chinese responded by sending in some of their own warships while issuing a statement condemning the provocative American naval patrols.  The U.S. action, said a Chinese military spokesperson, “seriously violated China’s sovereignty [and] undermined strategic mutual trust.” Described by the Pentagon as “freedom of navigation operations” (FRONOPs), such patrols are set to be increased at the behest of Mattis.

Of course, the Chinese are hardly blameless in the escalating tensions in the region. They have continued to militarize South China Sea islands whose ownership is in dispute, despite a promise that Chinese President Xi Jinping made to President Obama in 2015 not to do so.  Some of those islands in the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, and other countries in the area and have been the subject of intensifying, often bitter disagreements among them about where rightful ownership really lies.  Beijing has simply claimed sovereignty over all of them and refuses to compromise on the issue.  By fortifying them -- which American military commanders see as a latent military threat to U.S. forces in the region -- Beijing has provoked a particularly fierce U.S. reaction, though these are obviously waters relatively close to China, but many thousands of miles from the continental United States.

From Beijing, the strategic outlook articulated by Secretary Mattis, as well as Admirals Harris and Davidson, is clearly viewed -- and not without reason -- as threatening and as evidence of Washington’s master plan to surround China, confine it, and prevent it from ever achieving the regional dominance its leaders believe is its due as the rising great power on the planet.  To the Chinese leadership, changing PACOM’s name to the Indo-Pacific Command will just be another signal of Washington’s determination to extend its unprecedented military presence westward from the Pacific around Southeast Asia into the Indian Ocean and so further restrain the attainment of what it sees as China’s legitimate destiny. 

However Chinese leaders end up responding to such strategic moves, one thing is certain: they will not view them with indifference.  On the contrary, as challenged great powers have always done, they will undoubtedly seek ways to counter America’s containment strategy by whatever means are at hand.  These may not initially be overtly military or even obvious, but in the long run they will certainly be vigorous and persistent.  They will include efforts to compete with Washington in pursuit of Asian allies -- as seen in Beijing’s fervent courtship of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines -- and to secure new basing arrangements abroad, possibly under the pretext, as in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, of establishing commercial shipping terminals.  All of this will only add new tensions to an already anxiety-inducing relationship with the United States.  As ever more warships from both countries patrol the region, the likelihood that accidents will occur, mistakes will be made, and future military clashes will result can only increase.

With the possibility of war with North Korea fading in the wake of the recent Singapore summit, one thing is guaranteed: the new U.S. Indo-Pacific Command will only devote itself ever more fervently to what is already its one overriding priority: preparing for a conflict with China.  Its commanders insist that they do not seek such a war, and believe that their preparations -- by demonstrating America’s strength and resolve -- will deter the Chinese from ever challenging American supremacy.  That, however, is a fantasy.  In reality, a strategy that calls for a “steady drumbeat” of naval operations aimed at intimidating China in waters near that country will create ever more possibilities, however unintended, of sparking the very conflagration that it is, at least theoretically, designed to prevent.

Right now, a Sino-American war sounds like the plotline of some half-baked dystopian novel.  Unfortunately, given the direction in which both countries (and their militaries) are heading, it could, in the relatively near future, become a grim reality.  

lunes, 18 de junio de 2018

Colombia: ganó Iván Duque


Ganó Duque nomás en Colombia. Muchos se preguntan si peligra el proceso de paz desarrollado por el gobierno que se va, encabezado por Juan Manuel Santos. Habrá que ver. Las tres notas que siguen son del diario Página/12:


Título: Colombia no gira a la izquierda

Epígrafe: Con el 53,95 por ciento de los votos, el candidato de derecha Iván Duque se impuso en la segunda vuelta colombiana y gobernará el país hasta 2022. El delfín del expresidente Álvaro Uribe derrotó al ex guerrillero Gustavo Petro, que se quedó con el 41,83 por ciento.

Texto: Iván Duque, un joven senador y ex economista del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) sin experiencia de gestión pública, se impuso en la segunda vuelta de la elección presidencial de Colombia con el 53,95 por ciento de los votos y será el sucesor de Juan Manuel Santos. El derrotado fue Gustavo Petro, un ex guerrillero que se desmovilizó en un acuerdo de paz en 1989 y que fue alcalde de Bogotá y senador nacional. El candidato de la izquierda se quedó con el 41,83 por ciento de los sufragios y el voto en blanco -que algunas encuesta pronosticaban en torno al 15 por ciento- fue de apenas 4,2 por ciento.

En una jornada electoral tranquila, el primero de los dos candidatos en votar fue Duque y lo hizo en un colegio en el norte de la capital, Bogotá. "Hoy vengo a ratificar un anhelo y es que Colombia pueda ser gobernada por una nueva generación que quiere gobernar con todos y para todos los colombianos, que quiere unir al país, que quiere pasar las páginas de la corrupción, de la politiquería y del clientelismo", aseguró el senador de 41 años.

Horas después, Petro se trasladó a la localidad capitalina de Puente Aranda y emitió su voto. "Creo que aquí está la confluencia de gente diferente que puede gobernar con honestidad a Colombia. Son vidas distintas, historias distintas consagradas a un mejor país. No me gusta ver a los pueblos uniformados con un solo color, me gustan multicolores", escribió poco después en su Twitter, acompañado de una foto con parte de su familia y algunos de los aliados que sumó en este último tramo de la campaña. 

Junto a Duque, que el 7 de agosto sucederá al presidente Juan Manuel Santos, se consagró Marta Lucía Ramírez, quien a los 63 años se convirtió en la primera mujer que llega a la Vicepresidencia en la historia de Colombia.

Durante la campaña electoral, el mandatario electo postuló ideas que lo colocan a la derecha de Santos. Entre otras, propuso modificar el acuerdo de paz firmado a fines de 2016 con las FARC, con el objeto de evitar que los miembros de la disuelta organización guerrillera accedan a cargos públicos antes de comparecer ante la justicia.

Asimismo, Duque se manifestó partidario de condicionar las negociaciones en curso para un acuerdo similar con el ELN a que este grupo guerrillero se avenga a cesar el fuego de manera unilateral y a concentrar a sus efectivos en una zona del país. El ganador del ballottage impulsa además la sustitución forzada de los cultivos ilícitos de hoja de coca, así como prohibir la posibilidad de que condenados por narcotráfico puedan ser beneficiados por amnistías.

Por otra parte, Duque alentó la unificación en uno solo de los seis tribunales superiores existentes (Corte Suprema, Corte Constitucional, Consejo de Estado, Consejo Superior de la Judicatura, Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz y Consejo Nacional Electoral), a fin de armonizar la jurisprudencia y simplificar el sistema de justicia. Al mismo tiempo, abogó por la imposición de cadena perpetua para menores de edad asesinos o violadores, así como el refuerzo material y el aumento de efectivos de las fuerzas armadas y policiales.

En materia económica, el presidente electo prometió simplificar el sistema tributario, reducir la carga impositiva a quienes generen empleo y no firmar nuevos tratados de libre comercio con otros países pero sí potenciar los que el país ya tiene vigentes.

"Llamé a Iván Duque para felicitarlo y desearle la mejor de las suertes; le ofrecí toda la colaboración del gobierno para hacer una transición ordenada y tranquila", dijo Santos en su cuenta de Twitter una hora y media después del cierre de las urnas.

Más temprano, en el momento de votar, el jefe del Estado reivindicó el acuerdo de paz que firmó con las FARC. "Quiero resaltar esa parte de estas elecciones, son elecciones trascendentales; en la última elección, en la primera vuelta, por primera vez un ex comandante de las FARC votó en democracia, ya sin armas, y como líder de un partido político", aseguró en referencia al número uno de la antigua guerrilla, Rodrigo Londoño, alias Timochenko.


***


La nota que sigue es de Katalina Vásquez Guzmán:


Título: La derecha que apuesta a la guerra ganó el ballottage

Epígrafe: Iván Duque venció por dos millones de votos al izquierdista Gustavo Petro. Una mayoría de colombianos no abraza el acuerdo de paz con las FARC y respalda la vía de la fuerza. “No voy a gobernar con odios”, aclaró Duque.

Texto: Iván Duque es el nuevo presidente de Colombia. Un niño rubio con campera de Cambridge se abraza sus padres y llora. Dicen que gracias a Dios Colombia se salvó de ser otra Venezuela. Junto a cientos estos “duquistas” se congregaron para esperar los resultados en un centro de eventos de Bogotá. Está cayendo la tarde y los resultados del ballottage son definitivos. El candidato del Centro Democrático, el favorito de las encuestas, obtuvo el 53,9% de los votos. Sufragaron 18 millones de colombianos en todos los rincones del país incluidos los indígenas de Murindó, un pueblo aislado por ríos, que nunca antes podían subirse a una barca para ejercer su derecho al voto porque las guerrillas lo impedían. 

Esta vez, en las presidenciales más tranquilas en esta vieja democracia, ni “elenos” ni “farianos” dispararon. La democracia demostró, sin embargo, que las mayorías de los colombianos no abrazan el acuerdo de paz que logró el fin de la guerra sino que respaldan la vía de la fuerza y reforma del tratado de paz propuesta por la derecha, que en cabeza de Duque logró más de 10 millones de votos. En su discurso de la victoria el delfín de Alvaro Uribe lo dejó claro: “La paz reclama correcciones para que las víctimas de la verdad sean el centro del proceso”. La izquierda, liderada por Gustavo Petro, obtuvo 8 millones. Y según el caribeño, no se trato de una pérdida. Con el 41,8% de los votos, el ex guerrillero se pronunció en su twitter cuando el conteo llegó al 99%. Dijo aceptar los resultados, felicitó a su rival y aseguró: ¿Cuál derrota? Ocho millones de colombianos y colombianas libres en pie. Aquí no hay derrota. Por ahora no seremos gobierno”. Ayer se selló la avanzada más alta de la izquierda en unas elecciones para primer mandatario en Colombia. Carlos Gaviria, del Polo Democrático, alcanzó 2.6 millones mientras el ex comandante del M19 Carlos Pizarro, que dejó las armas como Petro, llegó a 700 mil votos. 

En su discurso desde el Centro de Convenciones, donde sus seguidores vestían sombreros campesinos y prendas indígenas, Petro recordó lo que, según él, el pueblo colombiano cada vez soporta menos: la corrupción, el narcotráfico, la exclusión. Y se extendió en gratitudes para la gran coalición que reunió la Colombia Humana, entre ellos feministas, negros, indígenas, campesinos, jóvenes, pero sobretodo a los ciudadanos que no están afiliados a partido alguno y votaron por él con la esperanza de un cambio. También recordó que recibió el apoyo de grandes pensadores como Noam Chomsky y dijo que sus ochos millones de votos serán ocho millones de personas para defender el agua, la vida, la tierra, la paz, las mujeres. 

Pese a que su contrincante, un congresista con escasa experiencia en cargos públicos, le aventajó 2 millones de votos y con ello se coronó el Palacio de Nariño, Petro aseguró que, en todo caso, “la clase política tradicional de Colombia fue derrotada” y se mostró confiando en un triunfo en las próximas presidenciales que se celebrarán en cuatro años. Sin embargo, sus seguidos se mostraron preocupados por la suerte de la salida negociada al conflicto no solo por la firma ya lograda con las FARC, cuya implementación acumula diversos tropiezos y retos, sino por los diálogos con la guerrilla del Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN).

Una de sus congresistas, María Fernanda Cabal, le explicó a PáginaI12 que los acuerdos firmados no serán destruidos pero sí modificados. Cabal, famosa por referirse a Rusia aún como la Unión Soviética, le dijo a este diario que “el proceso de paz continúa pero se van a hacer las correcciones necesarias. No es posible un proceso de paz que premie bandidos cuando Colombia está llena de gente que necesita inversión social, necesita justicia y desarrollo”. Sin embargo, no se refirió a las inversiones y la justicia que demandan las víctimas de falsos positivos ordenados por el entonces presidente Uribe. Tampoco quiso hacer comentario sobre el mal ejemplo de las ejecuciones extrajudiciales, interceptaciones ilegales a la oposición, la prensa y defensores de derechos humanos en ese gobierno de derecha.

Ante la pregunta sobre qué mensaje le envía a las víctimas que están preocupadas por la llegada de Duque al poder, Cabal afirmó que “la mayoría de las víctimas de las FARC deben estar acá, el resto deben estar confundidas… Que uno no cambia un país dándole curules a violadores, y tenemos que ser un país generoso y equilibrado pero el mal ejemplo es cultivo de nuevas violencias”. 

Diana Lozada, de 25 años, estudiante bogotana, también presente en la sede del presidente electo, le dijo a PáginaI12 que confía en que Duque realizará un buen gobierno. “Es un tipo serio, inteligente”, dijo agregando “prefiero no comentar sobre eso” y “mejor no opino” cuando se le consultó por el respeto al acuerdo de paz para evitar que los ex guerrilleros de las FARC vuelvan a las armas y por los jóvenes humildes que fueron desaparecidos por el Ejército y luego asesinados, para ser pasados como farianos asesinados en combate durante el mandato de Uribe que duró 8 años y marcó las más graves violaciones a los derechos humanos. 

A su lado, la familia de ropas costosas y pieles blancas grita con la multitud cuando la pantalla principal anuncia el resultado por regiones. Mientras en Bogotá Petro fue el ganador, en Antioquia, la tierra de Uribe y Pablo Escobar, Duque logró el 73% de la votación con 856 mil votos. Entre tanto en zonas donde la guerra se vivió con mayor rigor, como Chocó, y las víctimas perdonaron como fue el caso de la Masacre de Bojayá, la propuesta de Petro obtuvo mayorías. Allí, Gustavo y Angela María Robledo, su fórmula vicepresidencial, ganaron el 59% del electoral. También en Atlántico la izquierda fue la ganadora. Sus seguidores celebraron, además de la histórica votación de la izquierda, que Petro obtuvo una curul al Senado por haber sido el segundo en los comicios presidenciales.  

No sé sabe aún si, como lo establece el Acuerdo de Paz firmado por el gobierno de Santos y las FARC, el nuevo senador compartirá curules con los senadores y representantes a la cámara del recién conformado partido político Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común (FARC). Aunque el acuerdo es constitucional y fue avalado por el Congreso, el gobierno de Iván Duque modificaría el apartado de participación política. Esta y otras muchas son las preocupaciones de los ex farianos que están regresando a la vida civil en medio de las dificultades de la reincorporación y el fracaso de aspectos fundamentales del acuerdo como la reforma agraria o la sustitución de cultivos de uso ilícitos. Las garantías de seguridad física y jurídica también están en vilo con el asesinato de ex combatientes que ya llega a los 50 desde la firma del Acuerdo, y la captura del congresista “Jesús Santrich” por orden de Estados Unidos por supuesta conspiración para enviar coca a ese país. 

Omar de Jesús Restrepo, alias “Olmedo Ruiz” –ex comandante de las FARC designado como futuro representante a la cámara por Antioquia–, le dijo a este diario que recibe el nuevo gobierno con preocupación. “La llegada de Duque a la presidencia significa un riesgo enorme para el proceso de paz”.

Según “Olmedo” que por más de 20 años estuvo en armas y es ahora un líder político que juró defender sus ideas en adelante solo con la palabra, el resultado de las elecciones de ayer es de “graves consecuencias”. Sin embargo, ve con esperanzas el hecho de que la votación de izquierda se haya superado a cifras históricas. “Esperamos que la fuerza política del petrismo y movimientos sociales democráticos puedan contrarrestar este resultado electoral. Los acuerdos de paz están blindados jurídica y constitucionalmente y respaldados unánimemente por la comunidad internacional, pero su implementación será más tortuosa y lenta”.

Su confianza también está depositada en la comunidad internacional, en Naciones Unidas y los países aliados que han apoyado y seguramente van a “seguir apoyándonos en el empeño de continuar con la implementación. Seguiremos defendiendo el acuerdo. Y trabajando por la paz de este país”.

“Algún día lograremos la paz política, la justicia social, la equidad de género, étnica y regional del país. Los 8 millones de votos de Petro nos dan esa esperanza”, aseguró el hombre preocupado pero confiado en el pueblo.

En una casa campesina, Amparo sí llora la derrota. Con dos hijos asesinados y desterrada de su finca, esperaba que Petro llegara al poder para volver al campo y encontrar la verdad sobre sus muchachos. Margarita, cuya hija fue desaparecida en una de las operaciones militares con apoyo de “Paras” (paramilitares) que Uribe ordenó en la Comuna 13 de Medellín, también siente la frustración del sueño que se escapa. “Muy triste pero igual en muchas partes de Colombia ganamos”, asegura la señora lamentando que Colombia sea un país sin memoria. “Seguiremos sumergidos en la corrupción, yo quería una Colombia distinta, otro cambio, pero bueno, seguiremos luchando para las próximas elecciones”.

Cuando entró la noche, el presidente electo habló al país “mirando hacia el futuro por el bien de todos los colombianos”. Junto a Marta Lucía Ramírez, primera vicepresidente mujer en Colombia, dijo que quiere ser “el presidente que le dé el mismo amor a los que votaron por mí y a los que no me votaron”, afirmó dejando en su discurso firmeza en que quiere unir al país y que el futuro es de todos los colombianos. 

“No voy a gobernar con odios. No reconozco enemigos en Colombia”, explicó. 


***


Esta última nota, de opinión, es del periodista Atilio A. Boron:


Título: Lento parto en Colombia

Texto: El resultado de la segunda vuelta en las elecciones presidenciales de Colombia sentenció la victoria del candidato de la derecha, Iván Duque, que obtuvo 10.362.080 de sufragios contra los 8.028.033 de su rival, Gustavo Petro, candidato de la coalición Colombia Humana. Amenazadas como nunca antes, las fuerzas del vetusto orden social colombiano se reagruparon y prevalecieron por una diferencia de unos doce puntos porcentuales. Terminado el recuento, el uribista se alzó con el 54 por ciento de los sufragios mientras que el ex alcalde de Bogotá cosechó un 42 por ciento. La tasa de participación electoral superó levemente el 51 por ciento, un dato promisorio ante el persistente ausentismo en las urnas de un país en donde el voto no es obligatorio. 

El título de esta nota refleja cabalmente lo que está sucediendo en Colombia. Si un significado tiene esta elección es que por primera vez en su historia se rompe el tradicional bipartidismo de la derecha, que se presentaba a elecciones enmascarada bajo diferentes fórmulas y personajes que en el fondo representaban a los intereses del establishment dominante. La irrupción de una candidatura de centroizquierda como la de Gustavo Petro es un auténtico y promisorio parteaguas en la historia colombiana, y no sería aventurado arriesgar que marca el comienzo del fin de una época. 

Un parto lento y difícil, doloroso como pocos, pero cuyo resultado más pronto que tarde será la construcción de una nueva hegemonía política que desplace a las fuerzas que, por dos siglos, ejercieron su dominación en ese país. Nunca antes una fuerza contestaría había emergido con esta enjundia, que la posiciona muy favorablemente con vistas a las próximas elecciones regionales de octubre del 2019 en donde Colombia Humana podría recuperar la alcaldía de Bogotá y conquistar la de Cali y preparar sus cuadros y su militancia para las elecciones presidenciales del 2022. Mientras tanto Iván Duque deberá librar una tremenda batalla para cumplir con lo que le prometiera a su jefe, Álvaro Uribe: avanzar sobre el Poder Judicial, poner fin a la justicia transicional diseñada en los Acuerdos de Paz y sobre todo evitar que el ex presidente, el verdadero poder detrás del trono, vaya a dar con sus huesos en la cárcel debido a las numerosas denuncias en su contra por su responsabilidad en crímenes de lesa humanidad -entre ellos la de los “falsos positivos”-y sus probados vínculos con el narco. 

En suma: algo nuevo ha comenzado a nacer en Colombia. Todavía el proceso no ha concluido pero los indicios son alentadores. Nadie soñaba hace apenas tres meses en ese país que una fuerza de centroizquierda con un ex guerrillero como candidato a presidente pudiera obtener más de ocho millones de votos. Sucedió y nada autoriza a pensar que el tramposo bipartidismo de la derecha podrá resucitar después de esta debacle; o que la euforia despertada en millones de colombianas y colombianas que con su militancia construyeron la más importante innovación política desde el asesinato de Jorge Eliecer Gaitán en 1948 se disolverá en el aire y todo volverá a ser como antes. No. Estamos seguros que no habrá marcha atrás en Colombia. A veces hay derrotas que anticipan futuras victorias. Como las que sufrió Salvador Allende en Chile en la elección de 1964; o Lula en Brasil en 1998. ¿Por qué descartar que algo semejante pudiera ocurrir en Colombia? Sólo tropieza quien camina, y el pueblo de Colombia se ha puesto en marcha. Tropezó, pero se levantará y más pronto que tarde parirá un nuevo país.

sábado, 16 de junio de 2018

El periodismo del Imperio


Los chicos del Hemisferio Norte todavía no lo entienden: el periodismo es un poder, el Cuarto Poder, y generalmente defiende sus negocios o los de sus mandantes (que no somos nosotros, ciertamente), no la verdad o los intereses nacionales. ¿Fue siempre así? Francamente no lo sabemos, pero hace tanto que las cosas son de este modo que ya no tiene sentido plantearse la pregunta. La nota que sigue habla del periodismo del Imperio; es de Raúl Ilargi Meijer para su sitio web The Automatic Earth


Título: See? Now You Did It!

Texto: This is something I’ve commented on many times. Like two months ago, when I wrote:

“As for Donald Trump, as much as we would like to engage in constructive criticism of the man and his government, we find we no longer can. The anti-Trump echo-chamber has turned so deafening that any intelligent debate about his policies is being drowned out amid the never ending flow of fake news and half truths and innuendo and empty smears that US media continue to spout. With a brief lull when the bombs fell on Syria.

Thank you, New York Times, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC. Thank you for killing the entire discussion, thank you for killing off journalism. There is a lot to say about Trump, much of it critical, but we can no longer open our mouths. Because we don’t want to be in the same camp as you. Life in the echo chamber has given us vertigo. We had to get out.”

Jim Kunstler thanked me for saying that. He very much feels the same way. Nothing has changed. They’re still at it, and we still can’t get a word in edgewise. I was thinking earlier today that the best the MSM can do to promote its own case is to praise Trump from time to time. Because that is the only way they could attract some ears and eyes from outside their echo chamber.

They won’t do it. Being negative about the US president makes them too much money. It leaves us with a situation in which the one half of America that reads and hears New York Times, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC has become fully isolated from the other half. Yes, this is risky. But this, too, will be blamed on Trump.

Meanwhile, border policies where children are forcefully separated form their parents need criticism and condemnation from all of the nation. But there is nobody left who can reach the entire nation. A year and a half of 24/7 unproven allegations about collusion with Russia has seen to that.

Therefore, when the Intercept wrote about a Human Rights Watch report last month in Obama’s Deportation Policy Was Even Worse Than We Thought , the MSM don’t cover it, because it doesn’t fit the narrative. But when Trump uses the same ICE machinery to scare potential immigrants away, it’s suddenly considered newsworthy.

Oh, and France uses the exact same scare tactics, going as far as ripping children’s soles from their shoes. We should all condemn these atrocities, and make them stop. But it’s not going to happen if you guys insist on making it an anti-Trump thing, because half the country won’t listen to any more of that.

Journalism and news media must be a force to unite a nation, not one that divides it simply because there’s -more- profit in that.

The neverending Trump innuendo reached another new high in the North Korea meeting, with the ‘media’ competing with each other to find yet another terrible mistake or intentional screw-up by the man who is President of all Americans (like it or not). A feeding frenzy on nothingburgers.

Trump was accused of hob-nobbing with dictators. Excuse me, but all US presidents have done that. He wasn’t being tough enough, he was giving far too much away with nothing in return. Well, that’s not how South Koreans see it, and this concerns them a whole lot more than a bunch of ‘reporters’ covering the beltway.

Truth is, Trump did a good job, everything went well, he put Kim Jong-un in a position where the latter will have to deliver on denuclearization, or face the -international- consequences. It is quite the achievement, but if you wake up every single morning looking for more bad things to say about someone, yes, chances are you miss the good things.

You’re also probably missing the Saudi, US-supported, attacks on Hodeidah, the port city that is Yemen’s last lifeline to the world, and the only chance millions of people have of escaping a famine not seen since the Middle Ages.

That is the kind of thing that should be on your front pages, and opening your news shows, not that North Korea happens to have a border with Russia nudge nudge wink wink, and Trump saluted some Korean general.

America needs real news and real journalism, and it needs it badly. Instead it has an increasingly divisive set of well-paid propagandists who break the country ever further apart. The OIG report that came out yesterday confirms this more and better than anything.

When the country’s own ‘intelligence’ conspires to influence the political process, while the media report on outside influence only, then yes, you have a problem. As I was writing earlier today, you have to wonder how many people will still be working at the FBI by the end of the year.

Something else I’ve said before: the only hope of survival the MSM have in the age of the interwebs is to be brutally honest and open. Real news and real journalism. Because simply spouting opinions is something they will be trumped on by the many many millions of people with social media accounts who already do that every day, anonymously, and for free.

The old media don’t stand a chance against that army. The only thing that can save them is the truth.