As the World Spirals Back Towards Incoherence and Disaster Three Shopping Days before Christmas

Guillermo Calvo Mahé and Diana Marcela Cardenas Garcia, December 21, 2018

Evil Santa

Church of Halloween, Evil Santa Claus – Kerem Beyit


A view of the world on December 21, 2018,
as perceived from a city in the sky, high in the central range of the Colombian Andes.”

In Colombia, peace was almost attained during 2017, one could smell if not yet taste it, the impossible proven only improbable, or so it seemed until Colombia too fell victim to the vicious continent-wide neoliberal counterattack; the presidential elections of 2018, a study in successful political skulduggery, deception and manipulation, the power of the dark again ascendant.

On December 20, 2018, Eric Draitser published an article in Counter Punch entitled “Killing Fields of Colombia and Brazil” detailing the human and ecological disasters in which the newly installed right wing governments in those two countries are currently engaged.  It is depressing reading which highlights the dichotomy between the anti-Trump hysteria orchestrated by United States mainstream media and neoliberal realities being largely ignored.  In Brazil and Colombia, as in Yemen, the Sudan, Libya and Syria, murder and mayhem are real, not the orchestrated hyperbole touted in the current United States pseudo civil war where everyone and everything is a tool used to attain political dominance (consequences be damned).  Not that identity politics and its hate filled progeny are not wreaking havoc in the purported land of the free and home of the brave (as long as the brave are other people’s children and spouses and parents), a country where hypocrisy and incoherence have become a way of life, where purported liberals have become advocates for perpetual war[1] and toreadors playing with nuclear annihilation; it’s just that while the focus there is turned inward in a strange meld of navel meditation and chronic political masturbation, so much of the world is really burning; just the way those orchestrating the hoped for overthrow of everything Trump like it: the terrible twins, neoliberalism and neoconservatism ascendant.  In Latin America, progressive democratic socialist experiments in Argentina, Paraguay and Honduras have been crushed (and not by Mr. Trump), attempts to destabilize Nicaragua are, as usual, under way, and the Bolivarian experiment in Venezuela has been derailed through United States imposed economic sanctions coupled with opposition economic sabotage, starving the population into submission, while in Colombia and Brazil, the good old death squads are back in charge.

In Colombia, the predictions with respect to corruption, political repression and destruction of the peace process expressed by the coalition of alternative political parties united under the banner of Colombia Humana have proven worse than accurate, becoming almost instantaneous realities.  Assassination of opposition politicians and civic leaders has skyrocketed and Colombia Humana, which came in a dangerously close second in the last elections, has been denied the right to future political participation, disenfranchising eight million voters.  The irony would be fascinating if it weren’t so sad, the current administration won warning that if Colombia Humana’s candidate Gustavo Petro were elected, Colombia would become a new Venezuela with political repression the norm.  The continent wide Odebrecht scandal that is being addressed in neighboring states is not only being ignored but a person implicated in the scandal has been installed as the country’s attorney general[2] and, as in the case of Brazil, the country’s popular left wing leader is being subjected to clearly false accusations of corruption as well as to administrative actions designed to prevent him from running for president in 2022, not because of corruption but because he lowered the price of public transit while mayor of Bogota.  Impunity reigns and the Constitutional and Supreme Courts as well as the Council of State and National Electoral Council have all become instruments of the political repression they were created to avoid.  All of the foregoing presage a likely return to the insurgencies that plagued Colombia during most of its modern history, although the FARC, the former insurgent movement that has become formalized as a political party, has shown remarkable forbearance and restraint as the government revokes and unravels the commitments of the Colombian State reflected in the internationally guaranteed peace accords entered into during the past two years, accords with which the FARC are fully compliant.

Colombia has almost instantaneously transformed from a promising democracy into a de facto dictatorship controlled by a coalition of traditional parties but in fact led by former president and now senator, Alvaro Uribe Velez (currently under investigation by the International Penal court for crimes against humanity and under investigations likely to be quashed in Colombia for corruption, mass murder and collaboration with the illicit drug trade). He sought to remain in power after the Constitutional Court denied his bid for a third term in 2008 by naming a stand in, Juan Manuel Santos, his erstwhile secretary of defense, but Mr. Santos almost immediately proved too independent, especially when he sought and successfully concluded an end to Colombia’s sixty year old civil war.  Mr. Santos was promptly declared anathema and a traitor to Mr. Uribe.  Mr. Uribe appears to have learned his lesson all too well, installing a much more pliable puppet (the childish, fun loving aspiring entertainer, Ivan Duque) as the candidate of all the traditional political parties in this year’s elections (the “coalition of the corrupt” as it was described by opponents since all of Colombia’s past allegations of corruption was attributable to one or more of its members), and through a filthy campaign of distortions, bribery and outright lies, terrified an electoral majority into placing him in power (a dangling modifier, hard to tell whether it refers to Duque or Uribe, I know, but it’s a dangling situation); power Uribe is now never likely to voluntarily relinquish.

The whole world seems to be coming unglued.  Western military interventions in the Middle East sponsored by the Clinton – Obama administration in the United States at the request of Israel have created a refugee wave swamping the purportedly democratic invaders and generating a right wing populist reaction all too reminiscent of the fascist 1920’s, a phenomenon never really studied and thus never learned from as the victors in the ironically named “War to End All Wars” were not anxious to have their own incoherent roles objectively investigated lest it be shown that they were in fact the villains.  Furthermore, Obama – Clinton intervention overthrowing democratically elected governments in Honduras and the Ukraine have, in the former case, generated a refugee tsunami north and in the latter, a renewal of a cold war with Russia with all too much heat on all too many fringes.  Somehow, of course, it’s all Donald Trump’s fault, and of course, the Russians.  And the European Union is coming unglued in large part because of German imposed austerity measures depriving millions in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy of adequate economic prospects, “investors uber alles having become the European Union’s motto, a motif that Emanuel Macron sought to duplicate in France, with somewhat unexpected results.[3]

Shadows of the summer of 1914 eerily echo in the air, but this time everywhere.  The quackery of the evil Saul of Tarsus concerning the end of times seems a bit too close for comfort, John the Beloved Disciple’s visions of holocaust, a bit too close to prescient, and from ancient Troy, Cassandra’s cries still blow against the wind.

But there are only three more shopping days till Christmas so we need to get our priorities straight.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé and Diana Marcela Cardenas Garcia; Manizales, 2018; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen).  Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at and much of his writing is available through his blog at  Diana Marcela Cardenas Garcia is a Colombian social communicator and journalist who collaborates with Dr. Calvo on diverse civic, social and political projects.

[1] Today’s faux liberal fury involves President Trump’s “treasonous” decision to withdraw all United States troops from Syria and half of its troops from Afghanistan, see Noack, Rick (2018).  “Syria and Afghanistan are losing U.S. troops but ‘Fort Trump’ talks are going well, Poland says”; The Washington Post, December 21, 2018.

[2] See, e.g., Gallego Suárez, Samuel Augusto (2018).  “Colombia: la sombra de Odebrecht recae en el Fiscal General”, Latin American Post, November 21, 2018.  For more detailed background on the Odebrecht affair, see Watts, Jonathan (2017).  “Operation Car Wash: Is this the biggest corruption scandal in history?The Guardian, June 1, 2017.

[3] See, e.g., Author unknown (2018).  “France fuel protests: Who are the ‘gilets jaunes’ (yellow vests)?”; BBC News, December 6, 2018.

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