Exuberant Master of Magic Realism

“What is left, instead, after Chávez? A gaping hole for the millions of Venezuelans and other Latin Americans, mostly poor, who viewed him as a hero and a patron, someone who “cared” for them in a way that no political leader in Latin America in recent memory ever had. For them, now, there will be a despair and an anxiety that there really will be no one else like him to come along, not with as big a heart and as radical a spirit, for the foreseeable future. And they are probably right.”
Jon Lee Anderson, a postscript for Hugo Chavez: 

(via newyorker)

“The physical agility and unexpected “fakes” lauded by Brazilian commentators were descended directly from manifestations within popular music and folklore, whether the sway of the hips originating in carnival, the sinuous steps samba brought into being, or the dodges and feints that came from capoeira. In this way, the legitimacy of soccer in Brazilian culture supported itself on an already established element of national identity: astuteness and improvisation. Music gave soccer what modernist intellectuals had detected in it in the 1920s: namely, the criteria and the sources of brasilidade. The link between music and sports, however, was not an isolated fact restricted to Brazil. Anthropologist Eduardo P. Archetti, in his recent book Masculinities: Football, Polo and the Tango in Argentina (1999), shows that an analogous process of nationalization of foreign sports by way of music occurred in other Latin American countries. In Cuba, baseball, imported from the United States, was incorporated into the discourse of nationality through its adaptation to the typical Cuban music style: salsa. In Argentina, national identity was linked to soccer through an association with the tango.”
Bernardo Borges Buarque de Hollanda, In Praise of Improvisation in Brazilian Soccer: Modernism, Popular Music, and a Brasilidade of Sports

Those who are already practicing “state building” in Iraq and have distinguished themselves in corruption and pervasive violence, but need further training from American experts or regional counterparts? And what is exactly meant by “external state building?” The language in the press release and the code words (military training, strategic and regional cooperation… etc) are reminiscent of the discourse and practices of the notorious School of the Americas (SOA). The sixty thousand alumni of the SOA went on to terrorize and massacre civilian populations in their countries and have included eleven military dictators from Noriega (Panama), Galtieri and Viola (Argentina), Alvarado (Peru), to Suarez (Bolivia) and others who became “some of the worst human rights abusers in Latin American history.”

sinan antoon on the baghdad campus of the school of the americas

The informal intersections of Latin Americans across the region pressure changes in government policies and drive Latin America’s integration. Assisted by increased travel options, relaxed visa restrictions, and better communication technologies more and more citizens have made the decision to move within the region. Strengthening ties between countries through community networks, Latin America’s people are and will be just as important for regional integration as the formal treaties their governments create.

The biggest recent immigration news is that Asia surpassed Latin America as the main source of immigration to the U.S.  While the recent Supreme Court case about SB1070 or Obama’s de facto DREAM Act memo are important, the changing demography of immigration will have wider ranging long term impact.

This type of change has happened before.  By the end of the 1960s, Latin America displaced Europe as the main source of immigrants.  The increase in permanent Hispanic immigration to the United States back then was due to multiple factors, some of which are now repeating for Asian immigrants.

Macro forces continue to have an impact on the global influence of cities. Political power is rotating back from West to East, and with economic drivers having shifted from agrarian to industrial to information-based, more people live in cities than in rural areas. While New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo still rank among today’s top cities, it appears that Beijing and Shanghai may become significant rivals in the next 10 to 20 years.

interesting that latin america’s top global cities are buenos aires (22), sao paulo (33), mexico city (34), and bogota (55), while in the middle east dubai (29), istanbul (37), tel aviv (46), and cairo (50) lead the way.

beirut, along with cairo, are described as examples of emerging ‘geopolitical urban vectors that are becoming a sort of infrastructure for the global economy, which is increasingly not about state-to-state transactions, but rather about urban axes that bring together key cities. These cities rearticulate what the Middle East means as a region. Beirut has long and well established politico-economic networks worldwide; Cairo has the multitudes and a history of empire.’  


Corina’s Story

We spent four days in a tunnel once.

During the war, the Sandinistas used underground tunnels to get from one house to another. It was a good way to trick Somoza’s men and escape.

At one point they were bombing Esteli. The military was all over the city. They would radio each other before bombing raids. They called them “dropping candy.”

Twenty of us had to stay in a small tunnel for four days during a period of very heavy bombing. I was the only one that would go out in the street to see what was happening.

How did we eat? We didn’t eat, it’s that simple. We had one bucket for piss and that was it.

The war was terrible, but it felt good to fight for something we believed in.

I was a nurse through most of the revolution. We went out in the mountains and gave aid to guerrillas in their camps. After the war I was a teacher in Esteli. We won the war and our main goals were to educate the poor and help farmers.

But we weren’t allowed to do that.

Señor Reagan started the Contra War after Somoza fell. He armed Somoza’s former military men, trained them in Honduras, and there were always battles near the border.

It was a very hard time.

The U.S. put an embargo on us, just like the one in Cuba, and they didn’t stop it until the FSLN lost power in 1990.

Now we’re back in power. We have Daniel. He’s not so great, but we don’t have a better choice. He’s the least evil of our choices. Who else am I going to vote for? The Reds?

I’m Sandinista.

It’s been hard ever since the revolution. We’re in a transitional faze. I guess it’s normal.

But the worst part, the absolute worst part about everything I’ve experienced in my life is how the U.S. always gets involved in our lives. They never leave us alone. They want to control the world and here, in poor little Central America, they really show it.

It’s like we’re their children.

La Soñada - Miraflor, Nicaragua

© Diego Cupolo 2011