By Eduardo Galeano. Writer, Uruguay
Translation. firstname.lastname@example.org volunteer translators (*)
Times of fear.
The world is living in a state of terror, terror in disguise: some say it comes from Saddam Hussein, now tired of being enemy number one, or from Osama bin Laden, professional fear merchant.
The real cause of this planetary panic is called the Market. This individual has nothing to do with your friendly local grocers where you’re used to picking your fruit and vegetables up. This is a faceless all-powerful all-present terrorist acting as god, and just like god, the Market thinks it’s eternal. Its many disciples cry, “the Market is nervous” and warn, “don’t upset the Market”.
The criminal record of this Market strikes fear into the hearts of many. It has spent its entire life robbing food, destroying jobs, holding countries hostage and starting wars.
To sell war, the Market spreads fear.
And fear spreads fear. The twin towers of New York collapse daily on our television screens. What happened to the anthrax scare? Not only was an official investigation launched finding little or nothing out about these mortal letters, but the military debt of the United States went up spectacularly. The amounts spent by this country on its war machine make chins drop. Barely one and a half months spending would allow the entire world to be fed, if we can trust the figures of the United Nations.
Every time the Market says go, the dangerometer jumps into the red zone and all suspicions become reality. Wars kill in the name of prevention and doubt, proof not needed. This time it’s Iraq’s turn, condemned once again. It’s a simple equation: Iraq contains the second largest reserve of petrol in the world, just what the Market needs for the fuel needs of a spendthrift consumer society.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the scariest of them all?
The world powers monopolise arms of massive destruction as their natural right. Whilst America was being conquered, whilst this global market was just emerging, small pox and influenza were killing far more local populations than swords or guns. The successful European invasion had a lot to thank for bacterium and viruses. Centuries later, these natural allies have become a means of destruction in the hands of world powers. A handful of countries control the world’s biological arsenal. Mere decades ago, the United States allowed Saddam Hussein to launch biological weapons against the Kurds. At the time Saddam Hussein was the pet of the Western world and the Kurds weren’t liked. These weapons were produced with ceps purchased from a company in Rockville, Maryland, U.S.A.
In military terms, as in any terms, the Market calls for liberalisation, but not for everybody. Supply remains in the hands of a mere few, in the name of global security. Saddam Hussein scares people. The world is scared. A great threat planes: Iraq could use bacteriological weapons or, much more serious, he may have nuclear weapons. The human race cannot allow this danger to exist, claims the President of the only country in the world to have used nuclear weapons on civilians. Was it Iraq that killed the elderly, women and children in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Just take a look at the new millennium: populations wonder whether they will eat tomorrow or if they will have a roof over their heads, how will they survive if they fall ill or have an accident? Populations ask if they will still have a job tomorrow, if they will have to work twice today’s hours or if their pension will be destroyed by the foibles of the stock market or the gremlins in inflation? Town dwellers fear attacks either tomorrow or at the street corner, will their homes be robbed or their throats cut? Country dwellers hope to keep their land another day and fishermen are not sure whether they will find uncontaminated rivers and seas tomorrow. Individuals and countries don’t know how they will pay their debts multiplied by profiteers tomorrow.
Is all this the work of Al Qaeda?
The economy makes assassinations that don’t appear in the newspapers: 12 children die of hunger every minute. In the terrorist organisation of the world, protected by military power, a thousand million people suffer from chronic hunger and six hundred million people are overweight. Strong economy, low standard of living: Ecuador and El Salvador have adopted the dollar as their national currency, but their populations are fleeing. Never has so much poverty and emigration been seen in these countries. The sale of human meat abroad creates disturbance, sadness and divides. In 2001, the people of Ecuador obliged to seek work elsewhere sent more money back home than the amount of exports in bananas, shrimp, tuna, coffee and cacao.
Uruguay and Argentina are excluding their young men. Emigrants, grandchildren of immigrants, turn their backs on destroyed families and memories that hurt “Doctor, my soul hurts”: which hospital has the cure please? En Argentina, a television show allows watchers to win a top prize: a job. The waiting lists are eternal. The program chooses candidates and the public votes. The candidate spilling enough tears to make the public cry wins. Sony Pictures is selling the successful program throughout the world.
Which job? Whatever. How much? you’ll see.
The desperation of those looking for work and the fear of losing the job you have forces people to accept the unacceptable. Throughout the world the “WalMart model” exists. The number one company in the United States forbids Unions and expects overtime without expecting to pay for it. The Market exports the lucrative system. The worse the state of the national economy, the easier it is to turn labour rights into dust. Other rights fly out the window on the way to top it off. The seeds of chaos bear order as fruit. Poverty and boredom spread delinquency, leading to panic and providing a breeding ground for the worst. Argentine soldiers, which are well up on crime, are being asked to combat crime: come and save us from delinquency cries out Carlos Menem, civil servant on the Market, who knows a lot about delinquency due to extensive experience as President.
Low costs, high profits, no control: a tanker carrying oil splits in half spilling a deadly black mass into the sea aiming straight for the coast of Galicia and beyond.
The most profitable commerce in the world leads to fortune and “natural” disasters. The toxic gases produced by petrol are the main cause of climate change and the hole in the ozone. This hole is roughly the size of the United States. In Ethiopia and other African countries drought has let to millions of people suffering from the worst famine in the last twenty years whilst Germany and other countries in Europe have been hit by the worst floods in the last fifty years. Petrol also causes wars. Poor Iraq.
Brecha , Uruguay , December 2002.
Grano de Arena 171
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