Some Observations and Reflections as we Once Again Head to the Polls in an Existential Election

I am not and never have been a supporter of former president Donald J. Trump but I’ve defended him against the myriad false and misleading accusations to which he’s been subjected.  I also recognize the current witch hunt against denominated “Election Deniers” for what it is.  That’s because as a dual United States Colombian citizen, I have the benefit of a somewhat broader historical perspective. 

For example, the events surrounding the 2020 federal elections that crystalized in the protests turned violent on January 6, 2020, as well as the ensuing government reaction have an analog in recent Colombian history.  Current Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, was, in his youth, part of an insurgency (unfortunately armed) against the theft of the 1972 presidential election in Colombia by a coalition of the two traditional parties, an insurgency known as the M-19, a movement that was not a communist conspiracy, as described by its detractors, but one whose goal was to protect both democracy and liberty.  The insurgency soon lost its focus and egregious acts against the innocent public resulted but eventually, a positive although very slow healing process ensued, culminating first in a new constitution, and eventually, in Colombia’s recent presidential elections where for the first time in its history, a progressive movement emerged victorious.

The United States is currently experiencing a similar crisis.  While it is probably impossible to determine that electoral fraud in 2020 was enough to impact the electoral results, there is little doubt that, as in every federal election in United States history, some fraud occurred, and that the electoral mechanisms introduced in 2020 purportedly due to necessities imposed by the apparent Covid 19 crisis (a crisis now deemed by many as artificial at best), mechanisms such as mass mailing of electoral ballots and acceptance of completed ballots through intermediaries, facilitated the process for vote harvesting and the buying and selling of electoral ballots.  At least some credible allegations of electoral fraud were raised but as in the case in Colombia in 1972, they were neither seriously investigated by responsible government agencies nor prosecuted, leading a large segment of the electorate to question the election’s legitimacy.  The refusal to investigate the allegations and instead, to investigate and in too many cases, to prosecute those who made them (either in judicial proceedings or through Congressional hearings designed to impact future elections) have led to the complete polarization of the United States electorate at levels threatening domestic tranquility.

Insurgencies are usually the result of justice blatantly denied leading to a loss of faith in all governing institutions deemed responsible for the repression of democracy and liberty (two very different things).  That sometimes, although fairly rarely, leads to popular reaction, something detractors refer to as “populism”.  Populism is neither a right wing nor a left wing phenomenon and examples in recent United States history include the ill-led Sanders revolution (which flopped) and the Tea Party revolution (which succeeded until it was stamped out).  It is thus a phenomenon which occurs when a significant segment in any given society rejects constitutional institutions designed to hamstring democracy and decide to really “throw the rascals out”, although all too frequently without having reflected on with whom or what they’ll be replaced. 

It may be that populism is the only thing that can save the world in which we find ourselves, today although hopefully (as is the current case in Colombia), with a well thought out and planned alternative ready for implementation.  The traditional parties in the United States are leading the world deeper and deeper into a dystopic disaster and need to be replaced. Not all options are viable and many are worse than the “disease” they need to eradicate (kind of like the Covid 19 vaccines seem to be), but some options are indeed viable and additional options can be crafted by men and women of good will who want to maximize debate while minimizing polarization, and to find common ground for solutions while acknowledging that, where consensus cannot be attained, in a democracy, there are things which are beyond the legitimate control of government.  That minds and hearts are not changed by ridicule, censorship and false narratives (at least not in the long term), but that long term solutions are desperately needed if our species is to survive.

While it is losing respect and influence everywhere, the United States is still powerful enough militarily and through control of mechanisms of international finance (with ill conceived, unfair and illegal economic sanctions) to create havoc almost everywhere.  Thus United States politics impacts people everywhere and its elections are of universal import.  Indeed, it would seem normal and justifiable for people all over the world to seek to impact the elections in a would-be hegemon (what after the 2016 elections was hypocritically referred to as foreign meddling), given that the results of such lections are likely to impact their own future, and even, their survival.  Once again, as seems to happen at least every other year, existential United States elections are again at play.  Once again, we are again about to go to the polls without viable options, but at least some fundamental things are clear:

  • One political party and the traditionalist remnants of the other are totally controlled by the state within the state many of us refer to as the Deep State (unelected bureaucrats, corporate news media, intelligence agencies, billionaire technocrats, etc.) and are dedicated to perpetual war in quest of worldwide political and economic dominance for the benefit of a tiny few, albeit claiming to merely be seeking racial and gender justice and recognition of human rights, purported rights they themselves violate constantly. 
  • The other is comprised of confused and angry populists who know in their hearts that the “system” is not their friend and who seek solutions mainly in what they mistakenly recall as a better past. 

Not great options, but the reality is that one party is willing to risk the survival of humanity, and the other is not.  A crude choice, … at least for now.  A third alternative is one being crafted by an interesting albeit imperfect stateswoman, a former United States Congresswoman who concurrently served as a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaiian National Guard but who abhors war.  However, she has neither a political party’s backing nor an organized political movement fielding candidates in the next election, although there are a few candidates she is supporting, without regard to their current political affiliations.  Her name is Tulsi Gabbard and she recently resigned as a member of the Democratic Party, recognizing it for what it was become.  It may be that her recommendations and endorsements are worth considering.

Most of us want very similar things.  A world without war.  Economic and personal security.  The ability to successfully raise and protect our families.  Access to real justice with respect to resolution of interpersonal and international conflicts.  Freedom to think and to express ourselves however we want free of censorship of any kind and free from those who insist that we think and believe as they do, even if we are wrong (it may well be that only by being free to make mistakes will we ever be able to be experienced enough to find correct solutions).  A world free of international organizations like NATO whose goal is to dominate others through military force, and to force conflict on societies whose people derive no benefits from the ensuing mayhem (e.g., the Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Palestine, etc.).  A country that spends its citizens’ hard earned money for education, healthcare, infrastructure and a social safety net rather than on foreign military bases and a bloated defense industry.  What seems clear is that the political party than now controls all political branches of government at the federal level and which has turned the federal bureaucracy into an Americanized version of the Gestapo is an unmitigated disaster in every respect and should be consigned to the dust heaps of history, and that were it possible, its leaders and elected officials should somehow be barred from ever again participating in political leadership, or indeed, leadership of any kind. 

This is not an endorsement of the GOP but rather a rejection of the Democratic Party and a plea for consideration of new alternative political options.  Your survival depends on the evolution of new viable alternatives and unfortunately we are no longer dealing with a long term solution but rather, with one which requires immediate action.

Please consider the foregoing when you go to the polls in a few weeks.  Please also consider sharing the foregoing observations.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen).  Until 2017 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 and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Refractions on a Day in Early Fall

Today dawned beautiful here in the city in the sky, nestled at the feet of the Cumanday in the central range of the Colombian Andes, although, as I have for the past few days, I awoke with trepidation, undefinable but perhaps due to world events and the horrible state of my adopted (and now somewhat abandoned) homeland to the North.  A land and a people I also love profoundly. 

Colombia seems embarked on a renaissance, a period of enlightenment and perhaps, even enlightened governance.  A great deal of its polarization has evaporated, almost overnight, a sign of hope to the world, which in its Northern Hemisphere, seems engulfed in hate, animosity and belligerent competition.

I live in both worlds though, and as in the case of apples, the bad negatively impacts the healthy.

So, despite the beautiful dawn, shadows of the dark clouds that blight the land where my sons, distant and silent, reside, impact even the brightest days in this renascent paradise.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen).  Until 2017 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 and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Absence of Systemic Faith in Democracy:

The Colombian and United States Experiences

Faith in democracy is at a nadir.  And with good reason.  Democracy today is at best dysfunctional, in large part, because of voter participatory apathy.  Perhaps it always has been.  

Widespread complaints? Absolutely.  But participation?  It’s subject to the same excuses an attractive woman makes to an undesirable suitor: “my hair, I need to wash it, … again; my period; my great aunt died again, … really”.  But systemic faith is something else.  It’s usually been reasonably strong, albeit deluded.  Perhaps we are just more aware today that electoral fraud of one kind or another is probable.  Gone are the days such as the fall of 1961 when Richard Nixon lost, because most of the dead in Chicago voted for his adversary, but declined to challenge the results for the good of the country, something the media and historians both studiously ignore, except perhaps, for good old Theodore White in his Making of a President series.  But if some of us are more aware nowadays, hypocrisy is still King.

In many parts of the world, a significant segment of the electorate does not believe in the reliability of their systems, either due to perceived ineptitude or, more frequently, a belief that it is manipulable and corrupt.  And for good reason, it all too frequently has been.  In the past though, there was a semblance of media objectivity that at least seemed to align it with vigilance over possible governmental improprieties.  That is no longer really the case.  Perhaps it never has been.  Especially in the United States and in the United Kingdom.  Actually, in much of the so called Western World.  The past two presidential elections in the United States are particularly instructive.

But first, a bit of good news, perhaps great news.  The Republic of Colombia just held presidential elections and despite a massive effort by the traditional elite, the corporate media, all traditional political parties and United States intelligence agencies, for the first time in Colombian history, an outsider won.  A Latin American trend continued.  For a while it seemed as though, the election might be “stolen, as has occurred on a number of occasions, especially during 1970.  The head of the electoral commission refused to permit an audit of the electoral software, as mandated by law, and the director of the national police warned that it would be out in force to deal with any post-election protests, an indicia that there might well be something about which to protest, but, despite such warning signs, the election went off without a hitch.  As in most of the world (except perhaps the United States), there are safeguards in place to minimize electoral fraud (given human nature, it can never really be eliminated): official, government issued identification including a photograph, fingerprint and signature is required to vote, with ballots issued at polling places directly to the voter, who must immediately complete them in a private booth, and then deposit them in a box in front of electoral witnesses representing the candidates.  Contrast that with the United States where, in too many states, ballots are mailed en mass, without required identification and returned by whoever wants to assume the task for deposit in unsupervised “boxes”.  That, my friends, is an electoral fraudster’s dream, but to approximately 40% of the voters in the United States, totally acceptable.  It should be.  It helps them magically morph into a majority should they decide that such sleight of hand is called for.  But if you dare to realize that, you are in big doo-doo.  That would make you a seditious, antidemocratic racist, or worse.  Seems strange to Colombians.  Actually, many all over the world refuse to believe that to be true, but, then again, the same can be said for many United States voters, even if they participate in elections under those strange parameters.

Anyway, now for a not-so-positive history lesson a bit to the north of Colombia’s borders. 

In 2016, despite an all-out media blitz and electoral shenanigans in favor of the pre-crowned favorite of the United States’ bureaucracy, especially the intelligence community, the financial community, the corporate media and of course, their masters, the billionaire class (popularly referred to collectively as the “deep state”), a blitz that steam rolled over the left’s popular favorite, Bernie Sanders, an irascible and improbable right wing anti-establishment populist won.  One who, of all things, had been induced to run as a straw candidate by his opponent’s husband.  The deep state was shocked but not immobilized.  A myth explaining the defeat was immediately concocted, paid for and set in motion: the election “had been stolen”, the loss was not legitimate, it would not be tolerated, the Russians were at fault and a resistance movement was immediately organized, set in place and mobilized!  A myth that the victorious GOP would eagerly bite into as they could always be counted on to fall in line behind anything anti-Russian (who knows why but that’s the way it is).  A putsch you might ask?  Of course, perhaps even a sort of “soft coup”.  Seditious you might ask?  Sure, but what the heck, a real democracy can absorb a bit of seditious shenanigans.  And anyway, when the corporate media’s on line, and all traditionalist politicians, regardless of party, and bureaucratic moles as well, … well, … can they all really be wrong?

The myth was taken seriously and investigated both in the Congress and by the Justice Department for three years at a huge expense in tax payer funds.  It succeeded in largely immobilizing what should have been the victorious candidate, but, after all, that was the point; delegitimizing him, delegitimizing the election.  Delegitimizing democracy.

At the conclusion of the investigations it became clear that it was a cynical scheme without any substance but with a whole lot of impact.  It facilitated a takeover of Congress in 2018 by the theretofore defeated Democratic Party, which then proceeded on two occasions to impeach the 2016 electoral victor in the name of, … wait for it, … “democracy”, and fellow deep state allies, especially in New York, launched a series of politically motivated criminal investigations designed to preclude Mr. Trump from being able to steam roll the deep state again. 

The predictable end result was a significant loss of faith in the electoral system which set the stage for a sort of political comeback for the deep state in 2020, with a huge amount of help from what now appears to have been a hyperbolically orchestrated response to a possible pandemic, which savaged the world economy but helped secure an electoral victory, even if, once again, the deep state party selected the least popular possible candidate.

In 2020, no chances were taken.  As in 2016, the corporate media engaged in a one sided blitzkrieg, first, against the populist candidates on the left, the collaborative Bernie Sanders, but even more so against a real left wing populist, an ideal candidate, a woman of color from an alternative religion and who was a military officer with experience in the Middle East but steadfastly antiwar, Tulsi Gabbard.   She was crushed through a conspiracy of silence which excluded her from most Democratic Party debates, even if it required a change of rules in mid stride, and then death by silence in the corporate media, which acted as though she was not in the race, notwithstanding polls or, internet search results.  But that was just the appetizer.

The heretofore described pro-electoral-fraud voting procedures were set in place in a number of critical states by Democratic Party governors, despite contrary constitutional requirements and over the objections of state legislatures charged with designing voting methodology.  It was done based on the claim of emergency dictatorial powers (in the sense that separation of powers was not respected) because of the “pandemic” which, in the name of democracy, apparently required facilitation of potential widespread electoral fraud, assuming that a sort of “honor system” would assure that absolutely no fraud would take place.  No ballots would be bought, sold or fabricated despite the lack of any safeguards because, well, that would not be honorable.  And the United States judiciary at all levels, federal, state and local agreed.  So obviously no fraud occurred, at least as far as the deep state and its followers were concerned.

Unfortunately, a large segment of the United States electorate refused to play along, and, having seen over the previous summer that rioting and arson and looting were appropriate vehicles for political protests, a few hundred zany kids (of all ages) turned a non-violent political protest in the nation’s capital (in front of the United States capitol, of all places), into a black-lives-matter like riot, but with very different consequences.  Strangely, the rioters seem to have been motivated and directed by embedded government agents charged with, well, who knows, purportedly monitoring to assure they would not riot.  One protester who invaded the nation’s Capitol, a place we all now know is reserved for politicians, was murdered by a police officer.  Apparently only black-lives-matter and she was only a non-black civil servant.  That police officer, unlike others charged with illegally slaying criminals in the act of resisting arrest during black-lives-matter protests, was deemed a hero.  Strange to some, but the corporate media and deep state made the difference stick, no explanation required.

While political dissidence, protest and resistance from November of 2016 through November of 2020 had been patriotism at its best, immediately following the 2020 presidential election, it became treason and sedition, and, instead of investigating allegations of electoral fraud and electoral meddling, as had been the case from 2017 through 2020, Congress instead, along with the Justice Department, decided it was essential to investigate the protesters rather than the alleged electoral fraud, protest now having become vile and evil rather than noble and courageous.

Amazingly enough, a huge segment of the population did not buy into the change in script, and refused to accept the results of what they honestly believed to have been a fraudulent election.  Videos of suitcases full of ballots surreptitiously introduced while polling places had been mysteriously cleared in Georgia seemed to have led them to believe that not all was as the deep state’s spokespersons assured them was the case, indeed, evidence of alleged electoral improprieties seemed omnipresent, but, legal and administrative actions seeking explanations were summarily rejected, thus, apparently, the refusal to investigate allegations of corruption was definitive proof that absolutely no electoral fraud had taken place.  So there!!!

Criticism of the 2016 presidential electoral results was characterized by the corporate media and Democratic Party as “patriotic, pro-democracy resistance but, … criticism of the electoral results four years later is anathema and actionable sedition and treason.  Go figure, … if you dare.  If you don’t mind being deemed a Big Liar.

Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin are both credited with having espoused the notion that, if a lie is big enough and repeated incessantly, in no uncertain terms, why, … it becomes the official truth.  The technique is popularly knows under the appellation of the Big Lie.  Interestingly, that tactic has long been favored by the corporate media in the United States and the United Kingdom.  After all, Freedom of the Press was established in the United States in two cases, several hundred years apart, the colonial Peter Zenger case in the eighteenth century, and the United States Supreme Court case of Sullivan versus the New York Times several centuries later.  In each case, the judiciary sanctioned and protected the right to calumny, to report false news, as essential to a functional democracy.  So, despite the irony, it ought not to be a surprise that the people who, whether they are right or wrong, firmly believe that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen”, including the deposed former president, are now accused vehemently, on a 24/7 basis, of being Big Liars, and televised, one sided Congressional hearings without any right to refutation, are being staged in prime time television, to assure the American people that any claims that the 2020 presidential elections might have been tainted by fraud or manipulation are just “Big Lies”.  I can sort of sense Hitler and Lenin chuckling, or perhaps guffawing.

Given the foregoing, one wonders what awaits the incoming administration of Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego, the populist victor of the June 19, 2022 Colombian presidential elections.  The United States deep state was subtly involved in backing Mr. Petro’s opponent, as was its Colombian variant, but, as in the United States in 2016, they were unsuccessful.  Now, they are angry and determined to make Mr. Petro and his populist followers pay.  Plans are already afoot to destroy the Colombian economy through foreign manipulation (think of what was done to Venezuela and Cuba and Nicaragua, etc.) and internal elite manipulation of the local stock market and currency exchanges.  And Colombia’s version of Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post, Jaime Gilinski Bacal’s Semana, is already spewing a permanent stream of calumnies and distortions.  Thus, given the United States’ experience since 2017, some of us in Colombia who support real democracy and liberty and equity and equality and justice and free elections are a bit concerned.

But fortunately for us, Colombia is not alone in Latin America, a continent which at long last seems to be waking from a long nightmare of United States abuse.  Many countries have selected leaders who demand respect for their sovereignty and express support of their sister states.  And Colombia’s declaration of independence may resound a bit in Brazil in the near future, leaving the United States virtually excluded from the region, except for its recently purchased president in Ecuador.  Mr. Petro is no Donald Trump, indeed, his opponent was a meld between the worst qualities of Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden.  The only political similarity between Messrs. Petro and Trump is that both are opposed to armed conflicts and foreign intervention (which is what probably led to the successful, anti-Trump coup).  Still, notwithstanding how brilliant, ethical and motivated Mr. Petro may be, it will be hard to resist the combined power of two deep states, unless of course, the Colombian people are less gullible and less manipulable than the voters in the United States. 

And that, only time will tell.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen).  Until 2017 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 and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

“Big Lies” in the State of Texas and the Republic of Colombia Contrasted on June 19, 2022

The “Big Lie” in the United States is really that refusal by the judiciary at any level to investigate apparently credible allegations of electoral fraud which will forever taint the results of 2020 as a result of which a large segment of the United States population may never again trust in the purported “sanctity of the United States electoral system, or in the purported democracy that supposedly permits the citizenry to select its leadership.  Yesterday, June 19, 2922, two apparently unrelated but vitally important events took place, one in the State of Texas and one in the Republic of Colombia with a direct impact on the concepts involved in functional, as opposed to dysfunctional, democracy.

In Texas, as indicated in an article in the right wing Epoch News by Gary Bai entitled “Texas GOP Passes Resolution Declaring Biden ‘Not Legitimately Elected’”, the Texas Republican Party, the largest in the nation, directly challenged the House of Representative’s orchestrated national reality show staged by its January 5 Committee.  Such challenge is not as negative a thing as the corporate media will portray, assuming it does not ignore it.  But much more meaningfully for the world, Colombia held presidential elections that may have altered its traditionally corrupt leadership, and they did so with required voter identification via national identification cards bearing the voters’ photographs, signatures and fingerprints, which in turn had to be recorded at physical polling places.  No ballots were mailed, whether requested or not, making them available for sale or “rental”.  All of them were issued at polling places in front of witnesses selected by the candidates and deposited there, not in scattered, unsupervised lock boxes, and if that can be done among the very poorest and most vulnerable Colombians, it can be done anywhere.  Certainly in the technologically advanced and much wealthier United States of America.

Not that Colombia did not experience an attempt by the corrupt corporate media to subvert the election with a flood of cynically malicious misinformation by Colombia’s own versions of Bezos (think Washington Post), Slim (think New York Times), Zuckerberg, et. al.  Colombia had the Gilinski billionaires’ owned news magazine Semana, the La Patria national newspaper, and the RCN and Caracol radio and television networks spewing away with distorted news, as well as Colombian’s own version of Watergate, presented as positive journalism rather than an illegal break-in, but they were not enough to change the outcome, although it was more narrow than it should have been. Colombians, at least, do not fall for the absurd Democratic Party mantra that “democracy” requires easy to circumvent electoral procedures.  “All votes count” ought not to include illegal ballots, or counterfeit ballots, or ballots bought and sold.

Even given all the safeguards inherent in Colombia’s electoral system, Colombians are not so naïve as to believe that the latest election was free of fraud.  Of course some people accepted bribes for their votes.  That happens everywhere, always, unfortunately.  But at least it is not facilitated and then, aggressively ignored with ludicrous claims that “there was no fraud at all” because evidence of fraud was studiously ignored and a campaign of intimidation waged against those who honestly feel they were defrauded.  Against those who, convinced that they were defrauded, dared to protest, and their protests ignored, dared to riot.  The latter is profoundly regrettable but still, understandable.  That is what tends to happen when justice is blatantly denied, whether to black lives matter activists or any other seriously concerned group.

No one will ever really know whether the Texas Republicans are right or not because the “deep state”, that informal conglomeration of government functionaries and purported journalists who do the bidding of the wealthy elites who rule us, regardless of electoral outcomes, will not permit us to know, which itself says a great deal with regard to probabilities.  But at least in the Republic of Colombia, democracy finally triumphed, at least for an instant. 

Not that the triumph will prove long lasting.  As the United States version of the “deep state” proved after the 2016 elections, it never sleeps and there is nothing it will not do to retain power.  But in Colombia the new government will at least do whatever it can to attain a real peace, both internally and abroad, and equity, and inclusion, and justice and the common welfare.

An example for us all.  Positive at last.  Perhaps it will last and maybe even spread.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen).  Until 2017 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 and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Thoughts As I Await the Dawn on an Apparently Critical Day in the History of Colombia, June 19, 2022

I can’t sleep.  It’s not yet 4:00 a.m. but I’ve been up for several hours as I await Colombia’s presidential elections.  On one side, camouflaged, sit Colombia’s traditional elites, the corrupt billionaire class owned media, the Colombian state and the United States intelligence community backing a version of the Simpson’s Mr. Burns, a man proud of having cheated the poor as the best way to increase his fortune, who promises to increase their work day to ten hours and reduce their lunch to half an hour, who proudly refused to ransom his daughter from who knows whom (the insurgency he accuses always proudly admits their kidnappings but have denied involvement), who has publicly proclaimed his admiration for Adolf Hitler, and who, despite being under serious investigation for numerous instances of corruption, predicates his campaign on, the battle against corruption and impunity.

Their candidate combines all the negative qualities of Donald Trump (his personality and tendency to boast), Joe Biden (his ineptitude and corruption, including a Hunter clone as a son), Brazil’s Jair Messias Bolsonaro and the Philippine’s Rodrigo Roa Duterte.  Perhaps even a trace of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.  To the extent the foregoing have positive qualities, he shares none and yet, the United States’ style corporate media’s total support and potential electoral fraud have made him a potential victor.

The conclusion that the foregoing has reinforced is that politics today is not about left versus right, but about deep state power, that combination of government functionaries and a corrupt news media in service to the billionaires who own them, against anyone who threatens their hold on power, whether from the right, as Donald Trump did in the United States, or from the left as Bernie Sanders pretended to do in the United States and Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego, a leftist populist in Colombia is seeking to do now.  But also that deep states are chameleons with no problem, despite blatantly obvious facts, in presenting themselves as the vehicles for change and the champions of the fight against themselves, i.e., the utterly corrupt traditional wielders of power.

It is hard to imagine two more different people that Donald Trump and Gustavo Petro, whether measured by temperament, background or policies, except that both advocate avoidance of armed conflicts and runaway defense spending, and both challenge the status quo, but the weapons used against each are virtually identical.  A 24/7 media campaign of distortions and outright lies designed to generate fear, loathing and hate; a vote for anyone but them philosophy, regardless of how horrible; and, a profound belief that you do not have to fool all of the electorate all of the time (paraphrasing Lincoln) but only enough of the electorate during election days.  Cynicism is the key, cynicism tied to gullibility.  And gullibility is not synonymous with lack of education or cognition, it works regardless of education or intellect.

As was true during the epoch of Gaius Julius Caesar two thousand and sixty years ago, the most evil among us describe themselves as the “boni” (the good), while those who seek to improve the lot of the vast majority are cast as evil.  Apparently, it is all too frequently true that the more things change, the more they stay the same, but “all too frequently” is not the same as “always”.  Much of Latin America has woken and smelled the roses, or at least the coffee, and corrupt regimes have been ousted, at least temporarily, in Honduras, Uruguay, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.  Brazil and Colombia may seek to join them.  The voters in Ecuador thought they had, only to have United States intelligence agencies stem the tide with bundles of cash.  As they so often do, everywhere, including in the good old USA.

So, in about twelve hours (it’s now 5:00 a.m.) we’ll see whether as it did in 1970, the Colombian deep state with United States assistance will succeed in stealing a presidential election, or whether too many Colombians refused to be intimidated into accepting large scale electoral fraud, much more difficult in Colombia than in the United States.  We require voter identification and ballot delivery only at monitored electoral sites, … But not impossible: Colombian electoral authorities have refused to abide by legal requirements that electoral participants be allowed to audit electoral software, a tactic copied from United States practices in 2020.

So, like many others in Colombia, both the wise and the deluded, I pass a sleepless night wondering what tomorrow will bring, what the next four years will bring.  Even if democracy prevails, as the United States saw during the period which started in 2016, deep states never sleep, and never surrender, and there is absolutely nothing they won’t do to stay in power. 

But where there’s life, there’s hope, and there’s still quite a bit of life left here.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen).  Until 2017 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 and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

An Ode to Old Shoes

I have a pair of very old shoes, now in pretty bad shape.  

When they were young and just out of the box they were striking, top of the line, perhaps dreaming of a life on board a yacht, or at least on some sort of vessel, sailing through exotic seas.  Perhaps the sea near their birth in the Charleston that I love so much.  Then, as the years rolled by, far from any ocean, they instead started archiving memories for me.  Memories of the family I once had and of the aspirations I had for us all; memories of the aspirations I had for our country, of the ones I had for our world.   Of the ones I had for me.

The years have passed and many people, many places, many things I’ve loved are gone.  Misplaced in some cases, perhaps wondering where I’ve vanished, beyond the veil in others.  I now live on another continent, the one that saw my birth, in a beautiful city near the sky where snowcapped peaks greet me on sunny mornings, high in the central range of the Colombian Andes.  A cycle seemingly renewed but now, again, seemingly awaiting a rebirth.  But there are so many people and places I miss, parts of my heart and soul sprinkled far away in time and space.  People and things gone long before their times.   But, … is there ever a right time for things we love to leave us, … or we them?

Those shoes are old and broken down now, but I still wear them, if only in lieu of slippers at home.  My sons are grown and drifted away.  The family in which I placed so much hope has turned to mist.  Almost as if it had all merely been a midsummer night’s dream.  My aspirations are much less than merely unfulfilled, apparently further from fruition than ever.  But still, they seem to be echoing in those old shoes that are beautiful to me still. 

Misplaced is very different than lost and hope still lingers there.  Hidden amidst bruised and battered old leather with wrinkles in the shape of the myriad memories and transitions they reflect.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen).  Until 2017 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 and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

A New Year’s Message on my Wife’s Birthday, December 31, 2021

Is it goodbye and good riddance for 2021? 

Perhaps.  Okay, definitely, but not for the ills that beset us in this tempestuous year.

Were the worst of us really in charge?  Are they still?  It seems that way but experiences teach us that it can get even worse, much worse.  Of course, it could also get better, but momentum does not seem to be in that direction, not in the United States, although in various parts of Latin America 2021 has been very positive, especially in Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Honduras. 

Europe seems putrid as does the Middle East and Africa continues mired in a European designed quagmire.  Antarctica seems to be shrinking and we may soon meet its bedrock after millions of years in hibernation.  The Arctic is shrinking as well, bad news for some but not for the Russians or Canadians who may see not only Northwest and Northeast sea passages thriving but also once frozen tundra become productive farmland. 

Now comes the century which, in the current millennia, will see the second most number of twos, 2022. 

What will it bring? 

Well, in large part that depends on how gullible and manipulable and uninformed we are, as it always does.  No doubt the worst among us (who control the Deep State and its corporate media and Democratic Party as well as traditionalist Republicans) will continue working 24/7 to maintain the status quo ante in many things, all bad, and to polarize us even more, and to keep us balanced on a razor’s edge of nuclear annihilation constantly baiting both the Bear and the Dragon.  Still, left wing populists trapped in the Democratic Party may escape their overseers as right wing populists have done since 2016, and maybe, akin to the Miracle on 34th Street, both may realize that populists of all ilks, acting in unison, can bring us back from the brink of destruction; that they have much more in common than the policies that separate them, all too often illusory and manufactured and maintained solely to keep them at bay, disorganized, ineffective, and, most importantly, safely out of the way.

2022, 2+0+2+2 = 6.  Interesting.  The year of the twos equal six.  Almost but not quite synergistic. 

Might it be the year when, answering the plaintive query in Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind”, written in ten minutes across the street from the Gaslight in 1962 almost sixty years ago we decide that the time to attain equity, justice and peace is now?

Blowing in the Wind”, listening to it carefully today might bet the best way to bring in 2022.  Perhaps, even singing along:

How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind!

Yes, and how many years must a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea?
And how many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind!

Yes, and how many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?
And how many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?
Yes, and how many deaths will it take ’til he knows that too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind!

The answers, my friends, are blowing in the wind, the answers are blowing in the wind!
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved (except, of course, for Bob Dylan’s lyrics).  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Oh We of Little Faith

This morning, RT News published an article concerning Protests throughout Europe against Covid 19 Vaccine Mandates and Caitlin Johnstone wrote an article addressing them that reflected my perspectives as well.  I am not personally against taking one of the related injections but realize most are not vaccines but RNA memory modifiers, a variant on the alteration of DNA which the medical profession has criticized as unethical when it comes to genetic modification.  Caitlin noted that if the vaccines were truly effective in preventing either the spread of the vaccine or the disease without a serious threat of side effects, mandates might be justified, but that not being the case, mandates were not defensible in this instance.  She has a point.  She did not touch on the related corruption, i.e., that the vaccines were developed using public financing but have been privatized and that the recipients of such largess, pharmaceuticals, are sharing it massively with the elected political leaders who are curtailing our liberty as a means of generating the illicit profits. 

In a radio interview yesterday on a local Colombian radio station I made those same points and when the interviewer, long time Colombian journalist Dario Sanín, observed that seemingly the public had no choice other than to obey or be sanctioned, and perhaps, pray, I responded that if voters took their political responsibilities (which I asserted were not mere rights) seriously, we would not be in this mess.  That if we voted in favor of who and what we believed rather than against manufactured bogeys, most of our problems would me much less serious and we would not be so polarized.  And I reminded him that as in the United States, Colombian elections were around the corner.

The world is in a sorry state I admitted, but the fault is not that of the putrid villains who lead us but of We the voters who elect them, permitting ourselves to be consistently manipulated, deceived and divided.  We the voters who refuse to accept that educated political participation is a duty rather than a right and that refusing to comply with such duty has serious consequences for us all; perhaps fatal consequences.  Certainly fatal consequences for our liberties and for the Common Welfare which the United States Constitution was purportedly promulgated to provide.

Oh We of little faith, …

In Ourselves. 

Unfortunately, as a collective, We deserve what We get.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Impressions on an Early September Dawn

Profoundly vacuous
            yet potentially full
            of inchoate possibilities,

sort of how one
            finds oneself
            at the moment of birth,

although perhaps
            not as confused
             and insecure. 

Impressions
            on a foggy early
            September dawn.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

On the Incoherent Magnocide in Haiti

An interesting article in RT News this morning may have resulted in a political epiphany (Haiti requested US troops & UN peacekeepers to secure ‘key infrastructure’ after president’s assassination – reports; July 10, 2021).  Whatever was “rotten in Denmark” has moved to Haiti.  Although truth is no longer relevant and hypocrisy is the rule in creative narration, the bastard child of corrupt pseudo-journalism, the current situation in Haiti takes the cake, and not in a good way, say, the suggestion of Marie Antoinette to the Parisian poor.

The President of Haiti, albeit not recently elected, Jovenel Moïse, who had just issued an order to replace Prime Minister Claude Joseph, was murdered by a group of Colombian mercenaries who were quickly captured.  The prime minister, who until that moment had been about to be replaced, immediately assumed presidential powers, while his would be replacement, Ariel Henry, impotently sought to call attention to the fact that political power should have devolved on him.  The United States quickly sided with Monsieur Joseph.

A question:  How often does a magnocide (a civil version of regicide) occur in the absence of a coup d’état and just how stupid were Colombian mercenaries to have participated in the absence of such a coup, or even of an unsuccessful putsch?  Follow the money, follow the power play, or follow the modus operendi.  Or follow all three.

Under the leadership of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and Israeli Mossad, veterans of Colombia’s decades’ old civil insurgency (or perhaps civil war) have been organized into mercenary units contracted to provide their “services” in diverse parts of the world, primarily the Middle East, at least until now.  They are, in essence, fodder to save money and avoid negative publicity in diverse illicit ventures orchestrated by their mentors.  Indeed, both the Central Intelligence Agency and Israeli Mossad have used surrogate mercenaries in Syria and Libya and Afghanistan and, well, all too many places, places where, if the clandestine activities were successful, we would hardly be in a position to identify.  Places perhaps like Bolivia and Ecuador and Brazil and Argentina and Chile and Peru, and, … Colombia.  There are many who believe that the infamous events of September 11, 2001 may have been among them as, not infrequently, the mercenaries used are not aware of who contracted them or who planned the missions they were charged with executing.  Money has not always been the motivating factor used by Machiavellian provocateurs.  While nothing is beyond the daring of the Central Intelligence Agency and its siblings and progeny in the United States intelligence community, the situation in Haiti seems a bit beyond their ken, a bit too artful, a bit too sophisticated, despite appearances; a bit too well orchestrated, not really blunt enough despite appearances.  Enter the masters, enter Mossad.

It would seem obvious that the mercenaries involved were not a suicide cult and thus, that they obviously thought they were the vanguard of a concurrent coup.  Instead, they were left holding the bag, the sacrificial scapegoats.  And the beneficiary, the hero of the day, soaked in crocodile tears, appealing to the world for justice and vindication for the heinous murder of the late United States backed Haitian dictator Jovenel Moïse (an illegitimate president embroiled in a nascent civil war, assuming civil war in Haiti is ever out of style)?   Hmm, why, lo and behold, the about to be sacked prime minister, Claude Joseph, now apparently firmly entrenched in power, backed by the United States, the United Nations, backed by the Colombian government and apparently by most if not all governments who have made pronouncements with respect to the odd situation.  And his would be replacement, Ariel Henry?  Bad luck or bad timing or both.  Nary a peep other than a formal claim to the post, largely ignored, and expressions of willingness to work things out.

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, patron saint of the Mossad, would be proud.

Of course, the foregoing is speculative, based only on a fairly decent knowledge of recent history and the use of deductive logic, but perhaps what gives it most credibility is the failure of the Western intelligence agencies-controlled media to be anything but baffled.

What do you suppose happened and why?  Do you really care?  Does it make a difference in your own life.  Was John Donne correct in supposing that “no man is an Island”?

Haiti is, or is at least part of an Island.

_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.