Cave-birth, Susiya Hebron. ES/EN (Hebron, Palestina, cave, poema Federico García Lorca)

Video showing the Palestinian hebronite, Nasser Nawaja, taking his son to see the cave where his mother gave birth to him in the ancient Hebron city of Sushiya. (click on CC, close captioning for English)

(Here an article in the New York Times about the Israeli court ruling to demolish the Palestinian village outside Sushiya, where the old city’s former inhabitants live:

poema Cueva, del Poema del Cante Jondo por Federico García Lorca
poem “Cave” by Federico García Lorca, with English translation by Arturo Desimone.


De la cueva salen

largos sollozos.

(Lo cárdeno

sobre lo rojo.)

El gitano evoca

países remotos.

(Torres altas y hombres


En la voz entrecortada

van sus ojos.

(Lo negro

sobre lo rojo.)

Y la cueva encalada

tiembla en el oro.

(Lo blanco

sobre lo rojo.)



Out from cave-mouth

taper the lengths of scream.

(The opal laid out upon

the red. )

with every howl deep-sung, the gitano evokes

distant countries.

(High towers, and men of hidden ways.)

Into the broken seams of his voice

his eyes cast themselves.

(the black,

laid out upon the red.)

And the lime-washed, bleached cave

now dost tremble into gold!

(that which is white

laid out upon that which is red.)



Español (English below)

Este video demuestra un árabe de Hebron, el señor Nawaja, en los territorios palestinos, guiando a su hijo por las ruinas antiguas de la ciudad de Susiya.

Aquí el padre regresa a la cueva donde su madre le dio nacer, esta vez para mostrar la cueva de nacimiento a su hijo.

Esto trae a memoria las casas construidas en cuevas por el pueblo gitano en el sur de España, como en otras partes del mediterráneo donde el fenómeno del troglodita (o sea, el costumbre de construir casas dentro de cuevas y habitar los) se practicaba hacia recientemente, o hasta se sigue practicando ( como en el sur de Francia, donde ya no se hace, en Pays D’Oc, y probablemente lo hacen aún en la región sureña del sur de Italia)

Este fenómeno, muy autóctona al mediterráneo, de los ritos de los cultos al misterio es una tema cual fascino muchos poetas, también el poeta y dramaturgo Federico García Lorca. Aquí he puesto su poema Cueva, junto a una traducción en inglés mía.

Susiya es donde vivían generaciones de su familia antes del destierro en los años 1970 por el ejército israelí, cual les obligó de abandonar el sitio de ruinas. Los torres y construcciones de Susiya se construyeron en la antigüedad, posiblemente por los tribus hebreos de Hebron (quienes, muy probablemente, figuraron entre los ancestros de los tribus palestinos de Hebron. Según el historiador israelí Shlomo Sand y historiadores a quienes el refiere en sus obras, los palestinos tienen mas probabilidad de tener descendencia genética de los antiguos hebreos y de otros pueblos quienes pasaron por Palestina o quienes invadieron la pequeña región, algunos hasta hablan de antepasados de los ejércitos de cruzados medievales quienes se pelearon hasta su derrota con el ejercito de Salahadinne.).

Los palestinos de Susiya tuvieron que habitar en campos en las afueras de lo que se denominó sitio arqueológico preservado por autoridades israelíes. Hoy en día los lugareños árabes de las afueras de Susiya viven otra vez bajo la amenaza de destierro, por ejército, por un juez israelí y por israelíes del movimiento religioso-militante de los colonos ”settlers” quienes intentan de conquistar nuevas partes de los territorios ocupados, viviendo afuera del existente Israel para evadir la ley y atacar a palestinos.


(in English)

This is a film footage on the information page of “Jewish Voice for Peace” about Nasser Nawaja, a Palestinian from Hebron, who returns to the cave where his mother gave birth to him, this time bringing his six year old son along to guide him through the ruins.

The film brought to mind the dwelling-caves that exist, for example, in Andalucía in the South of Spain where gitano, Spanish gypsy families lived, as they do in other parts of the mediterranean. The poet Federico García Lorca was fascinated by the caves of his home-city of Granada, of the many poems he devoted to the gypsies here is Cueva, Cave, from Poema del Cante Jondo, Poem of the Deep Song, my translation of this poem into English below.

The Arab inhabitants of the area of Susiya, since they were expelled by the Israeli army in the 1970s have inhabited encampments at the outskirts of the ruins. Today, perhaps unsurprisingly, they are being threatened with yet another eviction by a senile judge and by the violence of settler activists who are accompanied always by the army as their villages on the outskirts of their former home, Khirbet Sushiya, is threatened with demolition. For more information see this article,_%22they_demolish_and_we_rebuild%22/  (The US government, the actual cornerstone and mother of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, recently stated that Israel must not demolish the village in the occupied territories. Even if there is less activist momentum regarding the case of Susiya, I thought the film of the father and son in the cave of birth to be extraordinary, and it brings to mind how cultures consist of transferred and enacted myths, enacted dreams, such as a woman giving birth inside a cave.)



(Cueva, Cave by Federico García Lorca, from Poema del Cante Jondo, Poem of the Deep Song,

translation to English by Arturo Desimone summer 2015.

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Theoretical Notes on Democracy and Terrorism

Notes on Democracy and Terrorism

(I am re-publishing these notes as they give the theoretical framework to argue why, for example, the Euro-group response to the Greek Syriza’s victory this year have much in common with the recent attacks in Turkey and Tunisia by right wing Islamist groups in terms of their objectives, and shared doctrines as to the public sphere.-Arturo)

The terrorist act is not as it is commonly presented, a mere manifestation of hatred by a purely anti-democratic movement or society towards the democratic and ‘secular’, modern society.

Rather, terrorist assailment is tactically more of an acknowledging catastrophic gesture, a recognition of a more potent and destructive weapon: that of the tumultuous democratic will, a ”volonté generale of the democratic populace that is unpredictable, irrational, and easily manipulated by the vast propaganda campaigns of its recognized political parties. That is to say, the volonté generale is presumed to be always irrational, unpredictable, malleable.

That  presumption is often written off in dramatic or theological terms as ”human nature” (as if describing a riddle of the ancient Greek theater) Yet it is a doctrine integral to the political practice of liberals as well as of terrorists, advocated by the advisors and image-makers of Kennedy and Obama, as well as the consultants of right wing religious militias and commercial advertising agencies.* (The current status of political and social sciences as ”sciences”is arguably also inherent to such determinism, the doctrine of political wills and movements of peoples as being necessarily blind, fearful, always irrational forces to be manipulated by technical engineering, where political science blends with the public relations theory used in advertising.)

The terrorist group is not so much anti-democracy, as it is a foreign party (representing foreign attitudes and interests) or an unrecognized local party. Despite its foreigness, its illegality or its apparent incongruity with liberal democracy, it nonetheless strives to participate in the local scenery of political campaigns. The party making use of terrorist stratagem introduces itself along a short cut, the most spectacular entrance it can possibly secure for itself, by engineering a sudden act of destruction and shock, barbarity. By definition it is a master of media sensation. Such media sensation is apparent in Da’esh and the Salafi onslaughts in the mediterranean. Isis killed Turkish students of a youth wing of a socialist party in one onslaught just after the new post-Erdogan government was announced; similar bombings have been carried out of late in Tunisia. These aim to subvert democracies yet also have Salafi representatives within politics in Europe and in Arab and Middle Eastern countries.

The use of media can also be seen Marine Lepen’s Front National, which uses the scandal-monger as well as directly enlisting comedians, similarly in the Dutch Freedom Party and other right wing anti-liberal movements which sport direct participation in democracy despite often announcing their disbelief in democracy and their support for nativist youth gangs.

Political and electoral organizations, no less during ”times of peace” make use of fear, adrenaline, impulsivity, and the irrational as part of the democratic process. And trauma is perhaps the centre-piece of nearly every extreme national movement that can either try to establish certain forms of (ethnocentric or national) democracy where it previously did not exist, or which eliminates democracy after entering power democratically, only to subvert the constitutional order with majoritarianism as soon as it accomplishes this.

Terrorism is a useful tactic when democracy is reduced to the vision of official intellectuals who have seen democratic functioning as a machine-like process of the powerful elected parties requesting the public’s seal of approval after decisions have been made in deliberations that entirely excluded the general public. The seal of approval for new missiles, new wars of intervention, retribution, the elimination of rights and freedoms, and foreign conquest are easily found in the after-dusk of the terrorist party’s theatrical manifestation.

In the time of ”participation” and ”participatory” politics, occurring in 21st century, Western countries have in many cases already seen the erosion of democratic constitutional order (the liberal order, whose features included such amenities as the Independent Judiciary that cannot be coerced by state or police organs such as, say, the Department of Immigrations. Such dependence of the judiciary signals the total emptiness and violation of democratic order, at least according to the romantic theories about democracy existing before the neoliberal and austerity wilderness of recent years) 

In the discourses of participation and consensus politics, exuding from the economic far right and the cultural political left, there is a pretension of having abolished the elitist vision of democracy, that of merely requesting the public’s seal of approval once polices have been pre-determined in the enclosures and corridors of the palace and of the central offices. Participation pretends to directly involve constituencies, in more brutal snags with direct confrontation and sensation, the massive expressions of hatred are justified as ”emancipation” or ”democratic” 

In fact ‘participation’ usually means that the democratic participation, at its barest and most unthinking, is vastly multiplied so that the public is invited to constantly voice opinions and provide a constant flurry of the seals-of- approval. Perhaps this can be most easily exemplified in the mundane use of the ”like” function for political statements on social media, with facebook and twitter as a political ”ratings” census and a public speaking apparatus constantly monitoring the degrees democratic volition. A continuous stream of seals of approval are gathered for politics that are either incomprehensible or are authoritarian while packaged and sold as populist. Such call to ”participation” is actually a form of increased pacification of the public, as once achieved by television advertising when the ratings system was still a privately maintained experiment, less accurate and not yet interactive and public.

Similarly, terrorism and the periodic terrorist attack fulfill a role that can no longer be fulfilled by television (the leftist film-maker Pier Paolo Pasolini noted how the Italian people’s capacity for cultural and political engagement was far more deeply corroded by television than by the years of Mussolini.) In a time that is too tumultuous for Tv, and when use of television for pacifying an audience has been subsumed by social networks and apps, sporadic high-intensity terrorism or constant ”low-fidelity” terrorism enter into play as ‘democracy management’. Terrorism, if worthy of its name, of course instills fear, leading people to consume in order to calm themselves, or to withdraw bank savings and to sell properties before their worth plummets on the market, and (as is well-documented elsewhere) leads to the popular welcoming of securitization policies. Perhaps the revolution will not be televised, but the counterrevolution by all means is televised in order to be effective (see for example how the Chilean and Argentinean coups d’etat of the 1970s, or the much more recent and arguably mimetic Egyptian military coup of 2013 used the entertainment spectacle, slick productions and television. The video mega-productions of Da’esh or I.S. also logically come to mind under the slogan ”the counter-revolution televised”)  

The democratic society after the terrorist act, has a symptom of a ”hyper-republicanism” and bureaucratization, in that a characteristic of republican society—the census, which in the United States since the 1950s is accompanied by the television ratings system, inherent to political life or its paralysis—is constantly being taken, with the semi-conscious participation of the public that registers its habits, comings and goings and existence throughout the day in its usage of the internet and phones and in the physical movement through endlessly surveilled areas. Emotions of hatred or disaffection are taken and expressed in matter-of-fact, statistical tongues, not unlike the “Stimmungs-berichte” or ”Mood-measurement” broadcasts of the Nazi Third Reich.

 ”Level-of-satisfactions” or ”quality of life” surveys become inescapable, and one participates in surveys against any free choice or will. The survey, though seemingly placid and legal, is inherent to surveillance, by more than a mere etymological word-play. Such new attitudes and realities, having to do with hysteria and estrangement—the survey, the constant petition for the seal of approval in progressive packaging—is what arises as companion and consequence of the after-dusk of a terrorist group’s manifestation by violence.

Discussions on terrorism and on Islamic extremism usually forego Hindu terrorism or narco-terror ism, or for that matter, state terrorism and the imperial armies that target civilian populations are not typically included though they have a similar effect on the political social fabric of the attacked society. More importantly they forego economy, focussing instead on a political structure or on the morbid logistics of militarization, while ignoring economic aspects. Yet the terrorist group’s manifestation of will is a response to economic liberalism in the stage of abstract speculations capitalism: in the system of speculations capital, there is enormous importance placed by economists on the emotion fear as driving impulse, as well heavy investment in apparatuses put in place by the investors, the government and capitalists so as to keep fear at a constant or predictable level, while inhibiting excessive, irrational panic and scandal. This is because a certain level of fear maintains the habits of civilians putting their savings in the banks and not withdrawing them at once in a drastic motion. Panic or the hysteria caused by a false rumor can lead to mass behavior among particularly the middle class of removing savings. This concern of speculations capitalism for the intimidated middle class is because the middle class are, in ”human numbers”, more populous and bigger than the investors, and the professional business investors are more cool-headed and rational, cold-blooded than the amateur investors, therefore less likely to act in panicking droves that instigate major economic break-downs in the speculations society.

Panic is given a great economic significance, securing crises that allow the highest levels of business as well as the security regimes of governments to expand effortlessly.

It is inevitable that terrorism finds its place and attraction to a society where the speculations economy is completely determined by adrenaline and panic among the middle classes and aspiring petit-bourgeoisie.

*If the democratic will seems to be lending towards more rational decision making in its politics, then the society can quickly come under assault. Examples of these are: the Tunisian consolidation of democracy, which saw direct political assassinations of leftist party leaders and attacks on the Bardo Museum in 2013-14.

To consider the argument of the pro-Palestinian left of Israel’s state terror, it is exampled in the direct attack by the Israeli state against the occupied territories  in response to a democratic election in which the Hamas party resulted as the winner once the votes were counted in Ramallah in 2006. This reignited in the more recent airstrikes and ground invasion of Gaza, just before the previously-at-war Hamas party and the Fatah were beginning to consolidate a Unity Government.

Latin American history abounds with examples of democratic elections meeting with direct state terror: the election of Salvador Allende in Chile or of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala led to immediate hostilities and coup d’etat towards consolidating regimes of state terror. In recent times, economics and debt warfare have replaced some of the military measures taken by European countries: then there is the decisive, direct strangulation of Greece by the Euro-group of Germany and the Netherlands in collective punishment towards Greeks for having elected Syriza.

Link to  Notes on the Seemingly anti-democratic apparatus called terrorism

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thoughtscript The party will continue ad nauseam, but not ad perpetuum (for nothing is)

Fame is only interesting as a weapon If and Because

1) it cuts through the dress-straps of women and their beguiling pretenses, and their fictions, the little thread at which they hover, throw and withdraw the bed-bait of sex, the burning-ether dice on which the gamblers’  eyes attach by the magnetic pin in the iris that only a man transports, doubly devout in his irises, both named after a beguiling or revealing female Egyptian.
2/ It is a more effective and satisfying revenge towards defendants /enemies who figure highly among the respected and the respectable. The weapon of revenge, fame, is a more respectable revenge against the respectable (of any, either sex or of any of of three thousand proud hermaphroditisms) than pushing them down a staircase, for example, could e’er prove to be.
(It would prove to be an error, as would later be lighted, legally, and an error not be burned away like ether and a match eat the evidence.
Even if by closing one’s dog-eyes to the consecutive decades in prison made the executive effect blank, none of the threat of prison and its suppositories administered in the lavatory, still it is not the top vendetta.)
3) It is Power, one of the only kinds of power a thinking person can have while still being poor and a poor wretch.
The other sort of such Power, (the letters of the word drip in any alephbetic system-script) that one can have while being very poor, is born from the barrel of a gun–but that sort of power can and will end the poverty of the very poor robber, either by success or death, guaranteed.
Power IS economy, even if Fama comes with small checks smelling of biscuits in the fanta-smelling mouths of rich men and rich women, who held a dripping wet biscuit in their mouths as they worked the pen to sign a miserable cheque.
Power can also be best identified, by unto where it leads. Usually this should not be the morgue or its precincts, rather,
Power leads unto
A) The courtrooms.
B) The bedrooms.
(these two are opposites. The courtrooms are always wet and the bedrooms dry themselves like deserts in the inter-morning and inter-valvula. The courtrooms are diabolical power invoking heaven. The bedroom if ecstatic is infernal but mediocre men will invoke heaven vocally)
C) the envy of the journalist, who is more romantic than the writer or poet. The journalist, if any good, envies the writer because he knows he is inferior.
The journalist must envy the writer like a street dog envies a wolf or a large fox who enjoys much sexual success. The wolf does not need to be romantic, what is left to romanticize? The street dog can romanticize the prairie dog, the comedian-hysteric hyena, the jackal who got the keys in his mouth to the other world and the only, first and last courthouse and paradise. Paradise, which is a house consisting only of infinite fragrant bedrooms, all with open doors and windows to a mountain garden-yard, where the jackals sit, look at the curtains with their mouths open, their tongues have the shape of long old keys to ancient pogrom-demolished homes.
If that is not the case, or if it be the opposite–as is the case in our times–it means the devil and the dogs have won.
The journalist surveils like a hungering ferret who stole a gondola and is chased by the police. The journalist races hungering, dog-tongue in the breeze, lunges after the romance he believes in, wants, lacks. No matter how scrupulously dressed, despite his accolades and his cold logical cologne spritzed unto ammonia, the most vulgar of artist-writers (if they have talent, and even if they don’t have the talent but only a persona) (persona, a Roman hat-trick, stolen and copycatted from the Persians, formerly a Persian turban-trick) must make the journalist goad with the envious precious evil, evil from the raccoon tail folded up in their journalist pants

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Always very true and good satire from the Scarriet blog.

Originally posted on Scarriet:

She doesn’t trust men anymore.

One she loved, a long time ago now,

Left her, pregnant, crying on the floor.

You may read about that, in her murky workshop poetry with elaborate metaphor,

But she doesn’t like to talk about that anymore.

She tried a final time with one who couldn’t make decisions

And hated herself for finding him a bore,

Her caustic moments towards him imitating the very guy’s demeanor who left her crying on the floor.

So now, thoroughly self-loathing, you can probably guess what she’s like.

Happy. Pretty. Published. Lots of friends. Don’t feel bad, really, that she told you to take a hike.

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from a series of poems for Greek revolution

Soldier for the daughter Aphrodite

(prayer against Hypnos)

I have heard the critiques of the envious and stupid of Hypnos against her, Aphrodite,
the ciphered clerks spoke against the cipherless,
who swallowed some beer, constituent of pride,
the old clerics now have no orison, nothing to say,
they bite their beards. *Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison, kyrie ele-eiso-on*
In megalophantasies
I am an anarchist general who will put down the rebellions, the slitherers
kill the rebels who are against her,
Aphrodite, fill my rifle
saddle an elephant
with missiles, poems engraved like on a hungry soul-rock–
I hope she is not another demagogue,
like Ishtar, or Hera,
or Orcan, Modernity, or all the others
of megalophantasies, fed on shadows and Greek fire on bride
The towering clerks on a pillage are drunk of the mercury stolen from the wind-broken compasses of the island Hypnos, they sucked it out
like grease from a quail bone on Christmas Day.
I am weary of thinking critically,
am filled with hatred and courage and want to fight
Murder the envious who sentenced Medusa to rock
I prefer stupidity before caution
Aphrodite may your light
not divide from the glory of your Cycladic body–
I have been a butcher,
So you will walk upon the feathers of thieves
and not on the dirt road
during the day of the devolution,
the last cash-withdrawal sought in the mount Pallas Athena.
I will seek to proof the ceilings against their
mercurial compassion,
with the tar sediment I scraped out from wings
to un-shroud you from filth, cigarette pocks
and throat-hocks of spit they cast upon you
before they hurtled you over the miracle bridge,
near Larissa Station,
like you were some cardboard to be recycled into Peace and Justice.

–((Arturo Desimone 2012, Athens)

*(the poem was published in an alternative revision among poems in the 2015 winter issue of Knot magazine,!arturo-desimone/cop9 )

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A response to the Boston Review article “Political Hatred In Argentina”

bai-lan-do(photo: campaign-raising by Buenos Aires mayor and presidential candidate of the A+ party, the opposition to the FPV party of Cristina Kirchner.)

Below is an article I wrote in March 2014, responding to that year’s feature in the Boston Review, an interview given by the Buenos Aires-based journalist Uki Goñi to a young American expat in Buenos Aires, Jessica Sequeria (who writes for the Argentina Independent and the Buenos Aires Review) The BR Review article I am responding to can be seen through this link:

The deliberate falsehoods and ideological orientation of the interview (in which Goñi presents baseless claims of how infant mortality and illiteracy have been on the increase, among other inventions he presents without citing sources) convinced me to send my letter to the Boston Review, their editors only recently responded. Bear in mind this article was written before the election-campaign bids were announced in Argentina and before the eruption of “Nismania” surrounding the district attorney Nisman’s killing and the various conspiracy theories about Iran and Argentina that milled the Argentine and international attention for some time, as the Nisman controversy and Nismania became the Argentine opposition’s echo of the ‘je suis charlie” spectacle in Europe.

Articles I wrote about Argentina before this one was The Widow Fears A Coup, appearing in Open Democracy, 

Open Letter to the Boston Review

By Arturo Desimone

In February 2014 an interview and profile-feature under the headline “Political Hatred in Argentina” appeared in The Boston Review Magazine of Ideas. The reporter Jessica Sequeira interviewed Irish journalist Uki Goñi on his expertise on Argentina not long after his sensational piece “Peso Panic and rocketing prices shake Argentina’s Queen Cristina’‘ was digitally voted top article of the month in the Guardian UK. Goñi’s public identity knows two vastly different apparitions according to the political language he uses.

Unfortunately it seems that in the Guardian and in British newspapers he sounds as a jingoist who fits the Cameron-era well, as his exposés of Argentina with faulty information have a devoted audience in the UK and among Falkland Islanders. His article on ”peso panic” depicts an Argentinian woman screaming desperately in the streets because she has to brave the Buenos Aires summer heatwave with a broken air-conditioner and no fridge.

He transforms into a more rigorous scholar, however when writing in Argentine periodicals, for example when excavating the history of Perón’s acceptance of postwar Nazi immigration or confronting the Argentine Catholic Church. His work appears in national newspapers such as Clarín and Página 12 (the latter publication is of the left-leaning populist establishment, also featuring translations of prominent European leftists like Robert Fisk, Julian Assange and John Pilger).

While denouncing V.S. Naipaul’s travel journalism on Argentina, Goñi at once seems to echo the views expressed in Naipaul’s propagandistic work The Return of Eva Perón. The book was written strategically at the time it would serve British and American support of the 1970’s junta, the junta’s eradication of the democratic framework of Argentina and the disappearance of young intellectuals and artists all in the name of ”anti-communism” and ”anti-Peronism.”


The February interview of Goñi by a young Harvard graduate and expat to Argentina, leaps from the Perón era to the junta without ever mentioning that the dictatorship justified itself as an anti-Peronist and anti-communist regime. The current government’s quest for vindication for the crimes of the ”anti-Peronist” regime of the 70s is one of many reasons why, in the 21st century, the middle class establishment of Buenos Aires has ardently supported a right wing technocrat mayor, Macri, against the federal government. To have an opposition mayor of the capital city is impossible in the authoritarian country described in the Daily Mail and the Guardian. Goñi’s political line has been foremost that of the Argentine opposition rallying behind the parties of Macri and Massa, vocally defended by pundits on Clarin-tv.

Mauricio Macri is the mayor of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, elected on his bid of promising to impose technocracy and an end to politics, he called himself ”the entrepreneur” or the ”impresario”.

Macri’s slogans, that Argentina is a country that ”must be administrated, not governed” is perhaps an echo of the anti-politics of Francist Spanish intellectuals whose idea was to end the political vibrancy and polarization of Spain by imposing a system run by technicians.

As in Spanish and Chilean technocracy, the goal of Argentinean opposition technocrats is founded on amnesia. There has been little amnesia in Argentina of late, and much forceful remembering of the harrowing years of the junta and El Proceso (”The Process”is the name given by Argentinian generals like Videla to the process of reconstructing Argentina, by smashing and eliminating its intellectuals and artists, and restructuring the economy to prepare for the eventual rule of mass privatization).Goñi in the BR interview oddly strikes a parallel with “today’s responsible Germany,” pretending that unlike the German society, the Argentinians are still not talking about The Process years, despite the fact that the right wing in Argentina complains about the constant memorialization of junta-era atrocities.

The mayor Macri often appears on municipal television of Buenos Aires with florid, New-Age-like statements about ”healing wounds” ”time to move on”. Such an urge to forgiveness and amnesty, ”against bitterness” is ironic during a time when the Armenian community of Buenos Aires (the third largest Armenian community in the world) is doing the centennial commemoration of the Armenian genocide, and when the Jewish community in Buenos Aires (the third largest Jewish community in the world) still has a holocaust memory, despite that Argentinian Jews also provide much of the Latin American critique of the state of Israel.

The Buenos Aires middle class culture is known for ardently following the publications and television shows of the Clarín media group, which thrives on an amnesiac pattern of mentioning any casualty of crime as  desaparecido–one example was the media frenzy surrounding a missing girl, Angeles Rawson, which dominated screens of the Clarín media group’s channels several times every hour on a daily basis, becoming a form of haunting pornography while ignoring other happenings in the Argentine underbelly.

Clarín’s journalism has strived throughout the years of the Kirchner presidencies, to foster the illusion that violent crime rates in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America supposedly only began after the election of populists in the 21st century. The typical criminological piece in Clarín is forensic, it begins with the indignation of a victim of robbery or assault, then lists in bold text what items were stolen, and ends with the typical statement into the microphone, the criminals are not being put in jail.1 Despite that Clarín has presented itself as an opponent or critic of populism and of hyper-presidentialism, Clarin has become the main oracle of a form of ”penal populism”: a populism mostly successful amongst the Buenos Aires and Cordoba middle class, trying to convince recruits in other straits, racking a popular sentiment of vigilanteism and of seeing magical solutions in technocracy. Technocracy in the form offered by the A+ part of Mauricio Macri (currently running for the presidency in the upcoming elections) will allow the citizens to have a permanent vacation from the excitement of political processes and arguments called democracy. Political life must instead be approached as if by pampered janitors and superintendents with a small frame of working hours, on occasion adjusting or polishing one of the machines that maintain the socio-political order and rule of law. With Macrismo, the methodology of Macri who said he modeled himself after New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the presence of police in the city center has quadrupled, quieting crime and keeping it in the slums on the outskirts where a ”shoot first” policy is practiced by the ruthless and fearsome Bonarense police.

A note from the interviewer explains that Clarín is being censored by the government. This is Jessica Sequeira’s misleading reference to the ‘media law” which is an economic ruling still before the Supreme court: if effective, it will restrict the size of a media conglomerate, on the argument that a media monopoly like Clarin’s (much in the style of Rupert Murdoch’s conglomerate) if too big becomes anti-democratic.

The media law, which Sequeira carelessly calls ”censorship” would not be able control any of the content of Clarin’s publications, as it only restricts the legal entity of the corporation regardless of its ideology.

But Clarín one of the largest media monopolies in Latin America was challenged by the new laws on media conglomerates not only because of its being a monopoly or its success at enthralling a population with the forensic details of crime news. The Kirchner government arose during an era when official consumerist amnesia regarding the 1970s dictatorship lost its legitimacy after the corruption and Amnesty of the Menem period of the 1990s.

Clarín’s role during the 1970s was to serve as a propaganda outlet for the generals. Pagina 12, the most ardent critic of Clarín, is known today as the most pro-government of Argentine newspapers. The proposed “media law” recently approved in the Supreme Court after it was proposed by politicians of Frente de La Victoria (the Peronist ruling party of the Kirchners, ”Front for Victory”) attempts to break away at a nation-wide media monopoly and to reverse the corporate mergers that went to form the anatomy of media giants, a process that would have been welcome against the abuses by the Murdoch group in Australia and in the United States, particularly during Fox’s small war with Obama. The ley de medios challenge to media-monopoly was on grounds of business and cash-flow, rather than on content or journalism.

Because of the Clarín group’s support for the dictatorship of the 70s reporting exclusively in the favor of the junta and the economic interests of the rural landowners, there was interest in a preventive measure against a media monopoly assuming the same power.

Authoritarian censorship seems non-existent in a country where the major opposition pundit, Jorge Lanata, has prime time for his daily talk show on national television.

Argentina, sadly has the Western democratic societies’ conventional form of censorship, as Umberto Eco defined it during his lectures to an Argentinean audience in Mar De Plata: there is a less traditional censorship that works not by imposing silence, but by manufacturing a vast amount of noise that cannot be filtered and a surplus of information, with no way to find the contrast or quality in the noise-flood. Mass-replicating the same noises and information, until the drone becomes inescapable is more effective than assigning a ministry of information: dissenting views are drowned out while the illusion of unlimited extraverted freedom and consumption is maintained.

According to Diego Gorgal, lecturer at the Catholic university of Buenos Aires, the spiraling crime rates began even before the financial crisis of 2001 during the era of former president Carlos Menem: “The qualitative transformation came hand-in-hand with new conditions in the labour market, the dismantling of the welfare system and, moreover, the development of an informal and, in most cases, criminal economy that took advantage of a retreating state,”  pointing to Government statistics showing that crime rose 286 per cent between 1992 and 1995.2 It was during the 90s that violent assaults and highwaymen made entry into the outskirts of Buenos Aires nearly impossible for people from the inner city; cars would often be stopped by gangs of young men with machine guns, the drivers in a strange territory needed to pay tribute to gun-men.

Goñi falsely presents himself as having been central to the attempts to rescue Argentinians from the disappearances by the junta, as if he and other staff of The Buenos Aires Herald were the lone voices criticizing the regime. In fact many were criticizing the regime. The disappearances targeted the best of Argentinian journalists, intellectuals, poets and artists. The memoir Dirty Secrets, Dirty War: The Exile of Robert J Cox by his son David Cox, shows how Argentinian journalists throughout the country were targeted by the regime for writing in Argentinian newspapers about these occurrences. Thankfully the Herald profited from its unique position as the dictatorship was afraid to go after a newspaper representing the Anglo-American community, which had ties to business and diplomacy. Crucial support for the generals’ atrocities flowed from the United States and from the Argentinian rural oligarchs who depended on American and European business.

The disappearance and murder by the state of a young Norwegian university student, Dagmar Hagelin when she was on exchange in Argentina, led to her father Ragner and the Norwegian media exposing the generals amidst international furor.

The persecution of Herald journalists, especially in the case European nationals like Goñi (who in the Boston Review interview quite preposterously claims that he had no passport during the first 27 years of his life spent traveling between the UK and the United States) was less viable for the regime.

Goñi is dismissive of most other intellectuals in Argentina, not mentioning any of the intellectual, literary or artistic giants of a country who were either murdered or made into traumatized survivors of then-secret prisons and concentration camps like the ESMA. There is only some slight effort to please the fashions of consumer-feminism, an ode to ”the courage of women” and mothers and the rational cowardice of macho Argentine men. His attempt to reclaim the events of the 1970’s persecutions from its victims strikes a chord of surprise with his usual Anglo-audience who responded in the abundant comments under the article, most of them supportive of his claims against the current government while clamoring against his ”romanticism” about the disappeared, insisting that the dirty war was somehow a match between equal parties–as if the generals and state terror helplessly trying to repress the dangerous subversives or establish peace during a civil war–towing the propaganda line of the dictatorship and of the groups supportive of Videla who died in 2013.

The detail of 1970s junta history that Goñi fixates upon, is that of the government confiscating refrigerators. The recurring phantom-refrigerator is a macabre echo of his jingoist note in the Guardian, where a traumatized Argentine woman screams hysterically in the street that she cannot afford air-conditioning or a fridge. Such a picture implies the vision that Goñi seems to share with Naipaul, as the latter British Caribbean author, his far superior to Goñi in writing counterrevolutionary-prose, described a caricatural Argentina where people are sheepishly murdered, without any intellectual luminaries, without any history or achievements, where crisis means a housewife screaming in the street about being unable to afford an air-conditioner.

At some point Goñi agrees with the interviewer. Elaborating on the subject of Nazis who came to Argentina after WWII, he says “some of them were very intelligent guys, not all them…this Belgian Nazi wrote in his diary ‘Argentines are fascists who don’t obey orders’. That’s like the best definition I can find…We may look and act like Swedes, but we’re the most corrupt country on earth” Goñi’s analysis is always that of looking at Argentina from the UK. Though there is a deeply embedded history of fascism in Argentina, the outlaw culture and disobedience of rules in Argentina is one that Goñi attributes exclusively to the history of a Nazi presence in the country.

peron nazi(Time magazine compensates for its 1930’s cover of Hitler as “Time Man of the Year”)

Nowhere does the interview mention other origins, such as how the majority of Italian, Spanish and Jewish immigrants arriving in the late 19th century, (including my grandparents) were anarchists.

The Belgian nazi’s admiration for Argentines, cited by Goñi, then might also parallel Mussolini’s judgment of Italian anarchist culture in his competitive statement made famous by Pasolini, “We fascists are the only true anarchists” which was how Mussolini justified his apparently treasonous switch from anarcho-syndicalism to fascism.

Goñi’s reduction of the work of all Argentine historians echoes Fordism, ‘History is Bunk’, unless written and authorized by him: “Here historians are just as corrupt as journalists, and not very serious about the methods they use to research history; they’re not very good with footnotes and stuff. Argentine historians use the French style to write about something. You know, you lock yourself in your apartment with a bottle of wine and lots of coffee and you think about a subject and then you write whatever your opinion is about the subject. But you don’t actually do any research or get your hands dirty anywhere, except maybe with coffee if it spills.”

The BR could have interviewed Horacio Verbitsky, a journalist who probably had more to say about the murdered priest Carlos Mujica. (Verbitsky, a former prisoner of the regime, today is known for a leftist criticism of the Kirchner government in Pagina 12. He is today concerned with an exposure of the prison system and the ghettoes of Buenos Aires.)

In the Argentinian newspaper Pagina 12 there was recently an interview with the grand-daughter of the exiled poet and militant Juan Gelman. She was a kidnapped baby born to a family to which she had been callously reallocated. The poet died in January 2014, meeting a state funeral and four days of rare silence in the streets of Buenos Aires for his commemoration.3

*(The poet Juan Gelman reunited with his grand-daughter, daughter of his missing son, she was one of the stolen infants.)

*(The poet Juan Gelman reunited with his grand-daughter, daughter of his missing son, she was one of the stolen infants.)

Daniel Molina, a journalist and art critic who was a torture victim and prisoner during the junta years in 2013 did not hesitate to also denounce the homophobia and machismo among his comrades of the Marxist left guerillas, as he spoke out in his essay ”I began to die around the age of nine” in the Clarín newspaper. This kind of vibrant and changing society is completely dismissed by most foreign press coverage on Argentina and its ”authoritarianism” which is in fact the rebirth of politics in the then-asleep country that once granted an unbearable ”Amnesty” to the war criminals and tortures of the disappeared.

The crime called amnesty was possibly an echo, a farcical repetition of the refuge Peronism once granted to German Nazi party members on the run—the repetition of such history is farce rather than tragedy, because it was the amnesty towards Nazi criminals that allowed their influence and pedagogical relationship with the generals of the 1970s. Unfortunately with the Goñi-Sequeira feature, it seems Boston Review proliferates the habits of the foreign press despite a far less superficial treatment in BR articles about Syriza in Greece or the young socialist movement in Spain—perhaps these countries being closer to Europe has redeemed them from sensational exposé in the journal that titles itself “The magazine of ideas.”

Goñi comes with wild, invented figures, perhaps beginning to resemble the Argentine historian who never practices self-aware writing unless the coffee drips on the page: he invents sky-rocketing infant mortality rates, rising illiteracy rates and children graduating school without learning to read; and one-sidedly paints how the rising indigenous movements are all in opposition to Kirchnerism without any further nuance.

The current Argentinian government draws fire and criticism from the center-right precisely because universal affordable healthcare and state medical coverage are guaranteed, not only for all citizens: immigrants can freely access the hospitals of the country. Is this perhaps what Goñi means with ”a definite decay in public health” he has seen since the 1970s? University education is for free in Argentina and the UBA is renown for its high level, attracting foreign students from throughout the Americas.

The open-doors immigration policy is a radical shift from the more xenophobic 90s of the Menem era, whose consumerism and anti-immigrant rhetoric attempted an experiment perhaps more resembling French Sarkozy-style politics in Argentina, a reign that collapsed with the peso in the major economic crash of 2001. Despite the severity of the current economic crisis that exploded in 2011 and the rampant crime rate, Argentinians remember a far worse crisis and an identical amount of violent crime under a previous government that was anti-populist, pro-American neoliberalism and catered to the most reactionary tendencies of the Buenos Aires middle class in its often racist suspicion of Bolivian, Andean and Paraguayan immigration. The country has gone from Sarkozy-style xenophobia and consumerism in the 1990s to an open doors immigration policy with free healthcare, all during an economic crisis in Argentina that is far worse than what in Europe has justified a xenophobic zeal for deportations and the revival of anti-semitic parties. The current government despite its many flaws, scandals and disappointing aspects seems admirable in trying to build the welfare-state project in Argentina for the first time in our country’s history, during an era when in Europe a far minor crisis has justified the elimination of Europe’s post-war achievements in state-craft. The fall of amnesty for 70s war criminals is as significant to the region as the fall of the Berlin wall.

(the original article is longer, shortened here for blog format)

3(In next-door Chile, preferable to Goñi and Seqeuira and the first South American state to qualify for a US visa-waiver program, not the victims but the actual coup d’etat is celebrated by some constituencies in preparation for the Independence Day of a few weeks later.)

4  Link to World Bank Development Indicator, the figures on Argentina refute Goñi’s claims about rising illiteracy and infant mortality rates:

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Carta a la embajada de la República Dominicana en los Países Bajos

S.E. Guillermo Piña Contreras

Embajada de la República Dominicana ante el Reino de los Países Bajos

Raamweg 21-22

2596 HL

La Haya

A Su Excelencia Guillermo Piña Contreras, Embajador de la República Dominicana en los Países Bajos,

Le escribo para expresar mi horror y mi condena ante las deportaciones forzadas por el estado dominicano hacia sus ciudadanos dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana.

Fui informado de deportaciones forzadas en la comunidad de Solares de Milton en Barahona. Se ha denunciado que agentes del ejército están encañonando, deteniendo y obligando a inmigrantes y dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana a subir a vehículos, para luego ser abandonados a su suerte en la frontera con Haití.

El Gobierno dominicano ha demostrado una clara ausencia de voluntad política para resolver esta crisis humanitaria que viven miles de inmigrantes haitianos de tercera y segunda generación, y de dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana, quienes actualmente tienen un futuro incierto, clasificados de ‘residentes’ o ‘apátridas’, sin ciudadanía legal, se les priva de acceso a la educación, atención médica y trabajo digno, entre otros derechos humanos.

Durante muchos años, República Dominicana ha negado a las personas dominicanas de ascendencia haitiana el acceso a sus documentos de identidad.

El gobierno actual esta usando el criterio de la fecha 1929: fecha que concluyó una historia dolorosa entre los países Haiti y República Dominicana, armando el camino hacia el masacre de 1937. Las matanzas, administradas por oficiales de Rafael Trujillo, empezó con ahuyentar a los haitianos, como esta haciendo el gobierno de Danilo Medina hoy.

La nostalgia para el Trujillismo es un peligro que también puede afectar a los dominicanos. Los reportajes de esta política daña a muchos dominicanos quienes ya están suficientemente estigmatizados y vulnerables cuando intentan a viajar por países con duras políticas de migración.

Una democracia debería representar a todos sus ciudadanos, en vez de unir mayorías con violencia en contra de minorías.

Las memorias de hostilidades entre sus países es herida cual se mantiene abierta con violencia jurídica y con la política trujillista. La política de deportar sus propios ciudadanos a base de sus ancestros y sus apellidos de origen haitiano, podría desestabilizar cualquier orden democrático en la República Dominicana, abatiendo con los frágiles pilares constitucionales de una democracia jóven.

Hay suficientes ejemplos de países quienes usaron la manipulación de memoria histórica de tragedias nacionales en el siglo XX: aquellos lograron hacer revivir tensiones étnicas, un ejemplo reciente europeo serían los sucesos en las regiones yugoslavas.

Usted, siendo un escritor reconocido y altamente estimado en el Caribe hispano, también podría ser fácilmente afectado por el anti-intelectualismo como política del estado dominicano actual.

Sus colegas, escritores haitianos como Edgewick Danticat recientemente han aparecido en el New York Times y otros medios en los EEUU revelando al público extranjero los sucesos en República Dominicana. En 2013, su colega Mario Vargas Llosa, novelista peruano conocido en la isla por sus lazos con su público dominicano, comentaba en diario El País sobre la violencia jurídica y estatal en la República Dominicana hacia los dominicanos de orígenes haitianos. Esto llevó a su nuevo estado de Persona Non Grata dado por el gobierno.

Justamente el 2013 fue el año cuando esta situación alcanzó un punto crítico cuando, en septiembre de ese año, el Tribunal Constitucional del país dictó una indignante sentencia que, de la noche a la mañana, privó a decenas de miles de personas de su nacionalidad dominicana. Estas personas se convirtieron en apátridas, sin nacionalidad.

Las consecuencias del rehusar la documentación para los dominicanos de orígenes haitianas, llevan resultados dramáticos para su vida diaria, y también para el disfrute de sus derechos humanos fundamentales: la negación de sus documentos les imposibilita el trabajar en el sector formal, acceder a educación superior o contraer matrimonio. Estas personas se encuentran con obstáculos a la hora de recibir atención médica adecuada o viajar. Viven en los márgenes de la sociedad dominicana.

Las deportaciones de ciudadanos a base de su etnia, contiene la implicación de repetir las leyes raciales en Europa de los años 1930, la política de expulsión esta vez se ejerce ”paulatinamente” (o sea, burocráticamente) como lo describió el ministro de policía José Ramón Fadul.

Si este fenómeno se reaparece en el Caribe del siglo XXI, se establece como señal de la destrucción de estas sociedades, posiblemente por las políticas y economías neoliberales cuales intentan de usar como escudo las lemas del patriotismo y del nacionalismo. El neoliberalismo hace el uso de una memoria histórica manipulada, solo para ocultar su tendencia hacia vender los institutos, inversiones y derechos públicos de sus países.

Los dominicanos, como muchos antillanos del Caribe incluyendo los provenientes de Aruba (isla de mi nacimiento) viven en una diáspora mundial. En muchos países los dominicanos tienen que enfrentar autoridades quienes les discriminan y quienes les intentan deportar por el mero hecho de viajar. (Afortunadamente, hay excepciones, por ejemplo en la república Argentina donde en los años mas recientes, las comunidades dominicanas pueden vivir sin temer la certeza de deportación, a pesar de que la vida de un inmigrante dentro de América no es fácil.)

Que una nación como la República Dominicana, cuyos ciudadanos han conocido esta historia de exilios políticos, aún pueden intentar de perseguir, expropiar y expulsar sus propios ciudadanos, nietos de inmigrantes quienes ingresaron a un país vecino hace 86 años atrás, es una tragedia desarrollándose en el Caribe. Esta tragedia aún puede ser detenida antes que se hace una historia como el ejemplo la de la nación balcánica de Yugoslavia en los años 1990.

La nostalgia oficialista del gobierno de Danilo Medina hacia políticas dictatoriales, esta reviviendo el despotismo trujillista en el Caribe, coincidiendo con el fenómeno en Honduras de un golpe militar con régimen policiaca, entre otros estados usando tácticas inhumanas fragmentando las democracias jovenes y frágiles del Caribe y de Latinoamérica en nuestro tiempo.

Siendo que usted representa una nación Caribeña en Europa, le ruego que se dirige al presidente S. E. Danilo Medina de la República Dominicana, fuertemente advirtiendo y exigiendo que ya no se implementa leyes de deportación hacia ciudadanos propios.

Con alto aprecio a su excelencia,

-Arturo Desimone, escritor arubiano, nacido en Aruba, descendiente de inmigrantes y exilios políticos, actualmente residiendo en Holanda.

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