Category Archives: politics and Civil Society

Catalonia and a Farce called Democracy

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Catalan flagsAs a former news junkie and politics geek I don’t seem to concern myself much with the news nowadays. I’m too busy deciding what my next destination is going to be, which hostel to stay at and where to set up my office for the day. I do scan the headlines of the British left-leaning ‘quality’ press, that flog us just as much bollocks as other outlets with whichever inclination or paymaster and I’m not quite sure why I actually bother. One recent news story I got rather worked up about is the faux-democratic shenanigans around Catalonia’s independence  referendum.

The faux- Democratic Diet

We folks in ‘western democracies’ are being force-fed so-called liberal democratic ideas and ideals pretty much from when we are able to read and write. We learn about the French Revolution, nationalism, the emancipation of the working classes and how political rule has transferred from the few to the many. Besides that we, the people, apparently rule ourselves, we also have so-called freedom of speech, freedom of press, the rule of law and all those other wonderful aspects a ‘free-society’ should have. Then we have the EU, which has been in the making since the 1950s. What started out as a small economic association grew out to a political union, in which the perceived rule of the many was transferred back to the rule of an unelected few. We get to freely move, study and work within the EU prison, which seems a bone juicy enough for most to pliantly accept the EU dictatorship, but I’m digressing slightly.

It must now be quite obvious, that not only when it comes to countries with brown and black people and plenty of natural resources, the so-called beacons of the free world turn a blind eye to non-democratic aspects and (in)action. Even in Europe, the will of the people can be forcefully denied if it’s not to the liking of the state. In the case of the Catalonia independence referendum, Spain might as well still be lingering in Franco- fascist- dictatorship times.

Democratic Terror State Spain

A bit less than a month ago, the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia held a referendum on its independence, which was approved by the Catalan parliament, yet declared illegal by the Spanish state with the argument that it was in breach of the Spanish constitution. The referendum was held nevertheless and voters were forcefully removed by the National police and the Guardia Civil. If this had happened in Russia or any other’shady’ state, this action would have been universally condemned. With a voter turnout of 43 per cent, 92 per cent of the votes were cast in favour of independence. Now you might think, that if less than half of the electorate could be bothered to vote, could one consider that a mandate? In the first place, many voters were forcefully prevented to cast their vote, so we don’t know what the turn out would have been if the brute that is the Spanish state would have allowed and actually encouraged a truly democratic process. In the second place, in American presidential elections, on average 25 per cent of registered voters- so not 25 per cent of all the people, not even 25 per cent of the electorate, but 25 per cent of the registered voters– get to decide via an electoral college who the country’s president is going to be. That is considered a free and fair democratic process. In the UK about 30 per cent of the votes decide, which party gets to rule the country. That too is considered a legit process in a liberal democracy.

Instead of declaring independence straight away, Catalonia has been dragging its feet and wanted to negotiate with a state that displays terrorist tendencies. Then, yesterday, the Spanish terror state dissolved the democratically elected Catalan parliament and calls new elections, with the argument of ‘restoring democracy’. Opposing the will of the people to restore people’s rule, is a case of double speak not even George Orwell could make up. A Facebook friend made the analogy of an abusive relationship; while Catalonia wants a divorce, the Spanish state uses violence and abuse to maintain the union and at the same time claims how much respect it has for the autonomous region. Meanwhile, leaders of the ‘free world’, US, UK and the EU super state, force-feeding ‘democracy’ abroad, have stated they won’t acknowledge the democratic will of the Catalan people. In case I was still hanging on with a pinky finger, I got off the fake-democracy band wagon for good.

Democracy is a farce. There is no such thing as people’s rule, only the appearance of it. Let the walls of prison dissolve.

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top image: dw.com
bottom image: sceptical scot.com
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Leon; Revolutionary Vibes and more colonial Shabbiness

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Signs of a Revolution, Leon

After spending a week in Granada I took a shuttle, which basically is a small van transporting tourists, to the city of Leon, which is another colonial town in Nicaragua. Lonely Planet describes it as an off-beat, political town and a more left-leaning and quirky rival to Granada. The distance between the two cities is no more than 120 kilometres, yet it took us half the day to reach our destination. Upon arrival, I was yet again underwhelmed, as Leon even looks shabbier than Granada. Despite it not being love at first, or even second, sight, I stayed in the city for more than a week and the place did start to grow on me.

 

Dutchies Galore

I was taken by surprise by how many Dutchies I met in town as both residents and traveller- tourists. In the almost three months I spent in southern and eastern Mexico, I could count the Dutchies I had come across on the fingers of one hand and wondered where they were all hiding. “In Nicaragua” might have been the answer, as on average I met a bit less than a handful of fellow and sister Lowlands People everyday. Norwegian travellers, in my experience a rather invisible travelling force, were also well presented in town. Like Granada, Leon has a shed load of churches to find salvation or refuge from the rain or heat and pleasant cafes and eateries to set up office.

Leon and its Place in History

The city was founded in 1525 about 33 km to the east of its current location. In 1620 the city was damaged by  earthquakes caused by seismic activity from nearby volcanos and the Spanish invaders, who lived in the city decided to relocate the settlement to its present location. The old city was slowly covered by ash and other volcanic sediment from several volcanic eruptions and was only discovered in the late 1960s.

Leon had been the capital of Nicaragua since the arrival of Spanish greedy bastards and remained  the capital when Nicaragua became an independent nation in 1839. In the first decade after independence the capital shifted between Leon and Granada with more conservative administrations favouring the latter and liberal rulers giving the preference to Leon.  As a compromise, neutral Managua was chosen as the capital of the young nation in 1852.

When I was growing up Nicaragua was synonymous with dictatorship, revolutions and civil war. Besides that, air travel and therefore travel outside Europe was considered terribly exotic and a rather distant dream for most and the only people, who would consider travelling to Nicaragua, were war journalists. Nowadays, tourists numbers in the country have been increasing year by year and for most travellers, the civil war is just a history lesson, if the awareness is there at all.  For decades Leon has been the epicentre of political left-winged activity and a fair amount of, mainly mature, travellers, are interested in the city, because of its prominent role in the revolution.  Because of its left-leaning inclination, Leon always had strong links to the Sandinista movement, that formed the main opposition to the Somoza dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s, which led to the toppling of the regime in 1979. If the revolution to overthrow the dictatorship wasn’t bloody enough, the Contra war, that followed, brought extended suffering to Nicaragua, claiming tens of thousands of lives. This Contra war was waged by Sandinistas and by US-sponsored right-winged opposition groups and made Nicaragua a major proxy war battleground during the Cold War.

Leon; the Verdict

Leon still carries its revolutionary colours with pride and the city has a museum dedicated to this turbulent episode in history. Besides political, the city is also very intellectual and is, as one can imagine, a major student town. Alongside the politics and the intellectualism, the city does literature quite well too, as it has been home to the country’s most well-known poets Rubén Dario, Salamón de Selva and Alfonso Cortéz, and still houses a great number of bookshops.

Although, as stated earlier, the city grew on me in the course of the days, despite a rich culture and plenty of good and very affordable eateries, I just wasn’t able to catch the vibe. Would I recommend visiting Leon? If you are interested in churches, Nicaraguan recent history and the revolution in particular, then yes, definitely; go. Would you like an urban base to visit the many volcanoes in the region and the nearby beaches, whether you go for the deserted beach of Salinas Grandes or the closer by playas las Peñitas and Poneloya, then yes, consider it. If you are expecting a ‘cool’ Latin city like Medellin or Panama City, which are both considerably bigger, or even Xela in Guatemala, which is more or less the same size, than just forget it. Although I will report on Panama City’s in a few weeks’ time, perhaps Central America is just not so much about cool ondas urbanas.

Fear, Loathing and James Bond Across the World

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Live and let dieAs I am spending my last few days in Xela, I am longing for some beach in-action at the Oaxacan coast in Mexico. Until then, I have to deal with yet more rain and fucked-up pavements and the world at large, and the UK in particular, involved in more scaremongering. And on top of that, yet another legend has passed on.

To Live and Let Die

A few days ago Manchester was hit by what is being sold to us as a terrorist attack. First of all, I am very sorry for anyone, who might have lost a loved one. Within 24 hours the perpetrator was known and apparently, the act was claimed by IS. I wonder if the perpetrator left his passport on the scene and I’m also quite keen to know who IS’ spokesperson is, informing the media that it was them causing the mayhem. Now the military is roaming the streets of the British Isles as a precaution against more terrorist attacks, yet based on what intelligence is unclear. Again, the alleged perpetrator was known to security services, yet those same services couldn’t prevent an attack. So we are being fed the same fear-mongering old bollocks stories until we willingly accept martial law or some sort of other rather unfree state of existence.

Bond; No More James Bond

Then the great Roger Moore, for many the one and only James Bond, has passed on at the age of 89. Sure, he has done some other stuff, but pretty much everyone associated Mr. Moore with James Bond and the actor didn’t mind one bit. I’ve always been a Bond fan, especially the 20th century Bond films, as you watch them like you are reading a comic book. There is this terribly suave and sophisticated man person, who happens to be a British secret agent, saving the world from the evilest forces. He is clever, indestructible, a saviour and a massive babe magnet, who never seems to get anyone pregnant or catch an STD. And then there are the exotic locations, the fight scenes and stunts; what is not to like. If it wasn’t for the escapism, there might be plenty not to like.  Bond, even the 21st century films, still hold on to the idea that Great Britain is an empire, that needs to wield its influence all over the world. Then there is this misplaced loyalty to this entity called the Crown; a ‘position’ that can only be filled by people from a certain bloodline and they can use and abuse the country and its resources in any way they see fit. So much for equality.

Need for Self- Super Heroism

Whether we are staunch republicans, fierce royalists are somewhat on the fence, we, the people, need to be very aware of who claims authority on what basis, especially in these times. There seems to be a desperate need for a boogie man, so states have an excuse to exert their power by culling civil liberties and display more police and military force. It’s very easy to sleep-walk into the abyss with the idea that the state will save and protect us. The biggest problem is, that the state is not there for our protection and James Bond won’t come and save us. The one and only James Bond, Roger Moore, passed on and besides that, he doesn’t really exist.

Guatemala; Kindness and State Terror

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QuetzalMy experience with the people of Guatemala, is that they are a very friendly and kind people. Despite Guatemala being located in Central America, I haven’t experienced it as very Latin as such. Many Guatemaltecos love to dance and typical Latin music genres like salsa are by no means unpopular. Yet, it is perhaps the stronger presence of indigenous cultures that gives the country a non- Latin vibe. Around 40 percent of the population are considered indigenous, the vast majority of which are of Mayan descent. This percentage might be even higher, as the majority of the population is a mix of indigenous people and folks of European descendants, but quite a few don’t acknowledge their indigenous heritage. About two percent of Guatemaltecos are of African descent and they are mainly located in the east of the country at the Caribbean coast.

The Issue with Guatemala

Like all Central American countries, Guatemala has suffered greatly under Spanish colonialism as well as, more recently, under American imperialism. The nastiest symptoms of this imperialism are explained with the more conventional term of the Guatemalan civil war as part of the Central American crisis. In the 1960 an awareness of and objection against great inequality started to grow in wider Central America and also in Guatemala. Democratic elections had brought leftist forces in power, but a military coup in 1954 instigated by the US government, brought about a military dictatorship and the military stayed in power until the mid 1990s. While the military was in power social injustice only increased in the form of great income inequality, non-existing labour regulations in favour of workers and a lack of freedom of expression. Any protest was forcefully put down by the government, backed by the United States, who saw the support of military regimes as a necessity for the protection of its huge corporate interests in Guatemala and the wider region. US corporations owned most of the farmable land, yet only used a fraction of it and deprived Guetemaltecos from the right to produce their own food and provide for themselves.

In the Name of State Terror

Both the rural and the urban poor organised themselves and especially the rural poor formed guerrilla groups, who fought the army. From the 1960s and especially in the 1980s the army fought bloody campaigns, not only against guerrilla groups, but mainly against civilians, both rural and urban and of all walks of life, of which the army might have had the slightest (phantom) idea that they were supporting any opposition groups. I object against the term civil war, as the conflict consisted of a fight of the military apparatus against the population. So in that sense it wasn’t a war between people, but an unfair fight between the state apparatus supported by the US government and a very tiny minority forming the Guatemalan elite, against the population. Around 200,000 Guatemaltecos died or disappeared during the decades of state terror, and with these number the term genocide is appropriate.

The official year that the campaign of state terror ended is 1996, when the UN negotiated a peace deal between the government and opposition groups. A truth commission was installed by the UN, that concluded that more than 90 percent of the violence during the campaign of Guatemalan state terror was conducted by the army and CIA-trained para military forces. Since the peace accords the country has known democratic election, economic growth and a successful anti-fraud campaign. The country still suffers great income inequality, with half of the population considered to live below the poverty line and domestic violence against women is widespread.

The Only Way is Up

Attitudes in the country seem to be rapidly changing especially in the cities. This is noticeable in small and bigger things. There are more women with short hair, which only three years ago seemed quite rare. There is a slightly bigger acceptance of gayness, despite still prevailing machismo and although I have been here less than two weeks, I haven’t been asked once whether I’m married and/ or have children. As Guatemala is mountainous and has many towns and villages that are fairly isolated, change might not take place as rapidly across the country. As I am an optimist, I’d like to say, after a tough recent history and a kind and willing population to make their community and country a fab nation; the only way is up.

A very insightful documentary about the conflict in Guatemala is the documentary When the Mountains Tremble, made in 1982 at the height of the campaign of state terror.

Activation of New Dark Fairy Life

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Home in Bukdinon, Mindanao

 

It’s that time of year again when many people in some sort of way celebrate new beginnings. Easter is for Christians the commemoration and celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, who they consider to be the son of God. Jews celebrate Pesach as the biblical belief, that the Jewish people had been released from slavery and left Egypt to form their own nation under leadership of Moses in the promised land. For neo-pagans, witches and practitioners of the dark arts, the vernal equinox or Ostara is one of the eight sabbaths of the Wheel of the Year, when one celebrates sexual union, fertility and conception.

New Dark Fairy Adventure

For the Dark Fairy, new life has been in the making for quite a while. I left the corporate prison and the Rock to lead a location-independent lifestyle after having had a delicious sample two years ago during my adventures in South America and I have longed for that lifestyle ever since. My first adventure in this new life consisted of a trip to the Philippines. This trip had been in the pipeline for several years. My dear friend Rick from Lowlands Country, who came to visit me several times during my London days and calls Soho his London home, is married to a Filipino. They have been going on a yearly basis for several years now, telling me that I should join them one day and that day had come.

Leaving on  Jet Plane

We flew to Manilla, the capital of the Philippines, via Doha with Qatar Airways, which was as much of a joy a long haul economy class flight can be and I’m a real fan. Rick had arranged cheap tickets, which meant a long stopover, which is actually not that bad on such a long trip. We arrived in Manilla in the evening going straight to our hotel located near the airport, as we were boarding a plane the next morning to the island of Mindanao. Mindanao is the second largest island of the Philippines archipelago, located in the very south of the country and the island where Rick’s Filipino husband, Louis was raised and where his family lives.

Mindanao: Land of Promise and Conflict

Parts of the island of Mindanao have been suffering from terrorist activities for many years and many countries advise against travel to the island. This was mainly noticeable by the lack of tourists and with our threesome being white, Filipino and black, it seemed like a special circus show had come to town. The island has a significant Muslim minority as the fast majority of Filipinos are Roman Catholic. According to conventional history Mindanao has been inhabited since the Neolithic age starting in 10,000 BC. Between 900 AD and the coming of Islam in 14th century, the island was subjected to significant Hindu and Buddhist influences. After the arrival of Islam, the region formed a large Sultanate, which has resisted Spanish rule until the late 19th century, unlike the rest of what was later to become the island nation of the Philippines. The island group, which had been under Spanish colonial rule from the 16th century until the Spanish- American war of 1898, became an American colony, as Spain’s ‘possessions’ became American after the Iberian country  had lost the war. The people of Mindanao resisted American rule and kept advocating autonomous governance after the Philippines gained ‘independence’ in 1946. The advocacy for a Muslim state independent from the Philippines has led to violent conflicts, which intensified and led to mass population displacement since the turn of the century.

Not much news comes from this region of the world, yet tragic events involving tourists and military and/ or guerrilla action, has led many governments to advise against travel to this region.

With the exception of heightened security around shopping malls, which I have seen in other areas of the Philippines and the lack of tourists as I mentioned previously, the area didn’t seem particularly dangerous to me and people were as kind and laid-back as anywhere else in the country.

image by Koen F Smit- Amor

To Box or Not to Box; That Shouldn’t be the Question

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mahershala-ali-moonlight-oscar-meme_twitterIt’s a new month and as I am having my last day in the office to embark on a travelling lifestyle and a location-independent working life, it’s all about new beginnings. I feel very excited and most ready to say goodbye to office life and be my own corporate pimp and to see fabulous places with fantastic people.

Oscars So Diverse, my Arse

Last Sunday was Oscars time again and seemingly a totally different affair compared to the last edition. Last year the Academy Awards were shrouded in ‘controversy’, as no person of colour was nominated for a golden statue of a naked guy and as a result, several actors and other film-people of colour, like Will Smith and Spike Lee, boycotted the event and the hashtag OscarsSoWhite, or something similar, was trending like mad. At that time I was arguing that perhaps people of colour and other ‘fringe people’, shouldn’t try so hard to get a piece of that overly corrupt pie of convention. Perhaps we should bake a new one with anyone who’d wish to join. It seems this year, the ‘Gods of Hollywood’ wanted to make up for the colourless travesty of last year and throw ‘us fringe people’ a massive bone consisting of no less than four Oscar winners of colour in the most important categories. We should rejoice! Yet, I ain’t celebrating. I haven’t seen any of the award-winning films, so I can’t say anything about that. However, many an Oscar-win is more a political affair, rather than being about pure art, entertainment or crafts(wo)manship. This year, the black folks were allowed a piece of the Oscar pie, just in case you thought Hollywood was racist or otherwise not terribly inclusive. The media made a big song and dance about the wrong ‘Best Picture’ Award being announced. Shock! Horror! In case you didn’t know PriceWaterhouseCoopers is sponsor of the Oscars, the firm issued an apology to gain some extra free publicity. Yes, do call me a cynic.

To Box or Not to Box

So, the question is; should we, folks of colour, really be happy with this Oscar acknowledgement? I am sure the Oscar winners are delighted, as they have joined a very exclusive club. It’s just, if you would like a different, more inclusive, less dog-eat-dog system, should you join the current structure and try to get on top or change it from within, or build a new one from ‘scratch’? Or could one even do both, to have eggs in both baskets?

Convention can be refractory. What the dominant system is offering, whether it is so-called liberal democracy, capitalism masked as corporatism, or creating money out of thin air and charging interest on it, can seem like it’s the only option available; far from ideal, but we have make do with it. We are often encouraged to ‘think outside the box’, but very few advise to get rid of the box all together. As I am in favour of developing a new system rather than attempting to fix a broken one, you could ask me; so, the Rosa Parks, Martin Luther Kings and Mahatma Gandhis of this world did it all wrong? Well, no. Especially these people, with their superior, non-violent approach, got what they wanted; either civil rights or an independent country, by non-complying with the system. And also, whichever decade you pick, the 20th century was a different time. There was much more obedience and trust in one’s superiours. Throughout the decades humanity has learned that this trust is not always justified. Then there is the world wide web and other technologies that have changed the world beyond recognition. Because it was okay and successful then, doesn’t mean we should do it now.

It’s not that I have all the answers and that is not the point. It’s not the point to let authority figures, of whichever kind, tell us what to do, how to think and what to feel about what. It’s about one’s own journey of discovery. So what do I do? I start with escaping the corporate prison and lead the lifestyle that suits me best. All the rest is to follow.

Back by dope Demand; Renegade with a New Cause

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Ow yes, it has been a while. Let’s call it literary hibernation. Not that there wasn’t anything to write about. Too many things happened, that shocked the world and too many shocking events occurred, most on this earthly plane remained ignorant about.

It has been a challenging autumn for the Dark Fairy, contemplating life while dealing with serious skin issues. I have interpreted this as a sign, that after years of KNOWING that  a true Dark Fairy Adventure lifestyle is the way forward, the Dark Fairy should now actually live and breathe it. The knowing and not doing can lead to friction and frustration and last autumn it hit me; I am to live that lifestyle to the full or die trying. So, I am fleeing the corporate prison once more. I am leaving the Rock and I am, yet again, to spread some Dark Fairy dust in more exotic parts of the world. There are a couple of weeks to go and I am as excited as a four-year old on the eve of her fifth birthday.

Don’t be Trumped

After what seems like dozens of celebrity deaths in the last year and a bit, that made many an 80s kid feel like there are really getting on, as all their childhood heroes seem to be passing on, we had quite some political earthquakes. After Brexit and the selection of the Trump presidency, anything seems possible and I’d place my bets on Marine Le Pen becoming the next president of France.

If you consider yourself a self-respecting leftie, an intellectual and/or a feminist, you are supposed to despise Trump by default and you wish to rally the whole world to join the anti-Trump movement. I suggest you don’t be fooled. As a former self-respecting leftie, self-proclaimed intellectual and feminist- it’s not that I changed my views, I just don’t want to deal with those labels and paradigms any longer- I am by no means a Trump fan. I just think that rallying against Trump is distracting is us from rallying against the real boogie man: the puppet master that controls the Trumps and the Hillaries and the Obamas and all the other bastards across the world. Obama, being sold to us as the ‘cool president’, is just as much of a bastard as the rest of them. Issuing more executive orders than any of his predecessors combined and being at war every single day of his 8 year presidency is no mean feat and terribly uncool. Not leaving just one, not two, no, no, not three, but four countries in failed-state mode; that’s Obama-cool for you.

Ditch the boxes

Which brings me to leftist militancy. I recently had a taste of it, dished out by a person I considered a homey for years, and let me tell you; the taste is vile. With leftist militants, I don’t mean the fake-anarchist, who go out rioting on Labour Day. I mean the boxed-in intellectuals with a statist’s mindset, advocating diversity until you disagree with them. Then they come down on you like ton of bricks and call you every uncool word under the sun. You have an issue with the transgender agenda being stuffed down your throat? You are a bigot and a bastard. You understand why people voted Brexit in the UK and Trump in the US? You are a populist and intellectually challenged. You are against mass migration as your government has no infrastructure in place to deal with said migration? You are a a xenophobe and a racist. If you claim that women can be their own worst enemy when it comes to fighting a -perhaps illusionary- patriarchy? you’re a sexist or a brain-washed twat.

We are being told it’s about the battle of the sexes and the struggle for the means of production. We have to fear the upcoming race war and the LBGTQ-XWZ gang is coming to get you if you wish to stick to conventional living.

If you don’t want to go for the ‘we-are-the-world’ theme, then at least realise, that your fellow and sister victims of the system are not your enemies. There are likely just as ‘pathetic’ as you and just that; another victim of the system. Maybe it’s high time we just all ditch that victimhood.

top image: http://loveislovelifestyle.blogspot.com.mt/2010/06/cause-imma-renegade.html