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.
_______

© 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.
_______

© 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.

Christmas Eve, 2020, in the City in the Sky

It dawns in this city nestled high in the middle range of the Colombian Andes, always beautiful in diverse ways, whether brightly lit in amber rays of light or covered in low lying clouds or drizzling amidst chilly breezes, but always a shade of spring.

Holidays and special days always seem melancholy and nostalgic for me. As always I miss my sons and friends back in my other homes, Ocala and Charleston and New York and Fort Lauderdale and Charlotte and Miami, but I’m grateful for my friends and family here in Manizales. Christmas Eve, once a day of delightful anticipation, no matter how poor we then were, now a day for memories and reflections. And gratitude for the life I’ve been privileged to live, regardless of how often I’ve wallowed in self-pity.

The world seems awful today but it almost always has, with evil (purportedly lesser) in charge, evil setting us against each other, dividing friends and families in fruitless fights over which party will abuse, deceive and steal from us least, driving us to expend energies better spent in savoring the delight of those around us, in helping each other cope, in creating a more equitable and happy world instead of expecting someone to hand it to us on a holiday platter.

It’s been decades since I was comforted by our holiday myths, times when I believed that the Prince of Peace would soften our hearts and open our eyes, and his rotund emissary would bring the gifts I’d been promised while sitting in his lap in a crowded and happy shopping center, bills be damned. But still, hope that goodness is tangible and real survives somehow, just out of reach, as if we were in a nightmare from which we could not yet escape but already knew it for a dream and were fairly sure we’d soon wake.

A few friends will gather here tonight, seven of us, sharing food and drink and memories and aspirations. This will be a quite Christmas in the midst of a pandemic that may or may not be as serious as described but which is serious enough to require us all to take care. I’ll be thinking of Billy and Alex and Edward. I’ll be wondering what magic Candice and Paula have cooked up. And I’ll be imagining the delight that Rosey and Melissa will be feeling as they look at wrapped presents under beautifully decorated trees with mature Salome looking on indulgently; my sons, their wives and my grandchildren.

I’ll be remembering old Christmases when I was the child and my mother and stepfather and brother and sister reveled in that special day in small apartments in Miami, or Queens, or with my grandmother and aunts here in Manizales. Old Christmases when I was the father with my sons and their mother in Fort Lauderdale and Hendersonville and Belleview and Ocala, when Santa’s deer sometimes left hoof prints on our roofs, and when, whether we had plenty (usually) or very little (once) we were as happy as it was possible to be because we were together.

I’ll be wondering what the memories I make today will taste like in some future far away.

I’ve shared so much love with so many people across the years, my family and friends, lovers with whom I’ve lost touch and lovers who’ve always remained nearby (at least spiritually), my classmates and former students at the old Eastern Military Academy and my class mates and ever growing chain of brothers at the Citadel. My colleagues and former students at the several universities in Manizales with whom I’ve been involved during the past thirteen years as well as the civic leaders, journalists and artists with whom I’ve developed strong bonds. I’ve had and am having a wonderful life, one that even Jimmy Stewart and Satchmo, somewhere on the other side of the veil with many others I’ve loved and treasured, might find enviable.

I miss my mother and grandmother and Aunt Carola, who left too early, at least for my tastes, and Pop and my Uncle Pacho who were the first to go. And those of my classmates and friends who have gone on to join them. I’ll be thinking of them today too, and reliving memories, the best of presents when one stops to think about it, gifts that really keep on giving. Christmas, 2020, a terrible year in too many ways until we stop and remember those closest to us, and then, it really is a special time of year.

Merry Christmas to all, or Saturnalia, or Yule, or Chanukah or Festivus or Solstice (winter or spring depending on where you find yourself). May peace finally find a home among us, and equity and justice and tolerance and respect, and may honor and honesty prosper someday soon, at long last.

And may the legends and myths with which we seek comfort bring us together rather than split us apart.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; 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.

Electoral Fraud, a Cynical Reality, Indeed, a Cynical Tradition We’ve Come to Accept

Today, all major media sources in the United States are discredited and rightfully so.  The current “extradition” hearings in the United Kingdom involving the world’s most authentic journalist, Julian Assange, makes that blaringly clear.  Indeed, one of the news sources I find most reliable because of the credentials of its authors, most of whom are western academics, is utterly disparaged as a mere tool for Russian interference in the internal affairs of others.  Still, the United States corporate media frequently comes through with stillborn seeds of truth that one can analyze and from which one can find useful ideas, concepts, issues and information.  Just not all that complete, contextualized or accurate, and certainly not fair and balanced.  One such article appeared today on the Fox New site, an article entitled “DOJ orders Pennsylvania county to change ballot practices after ‘troubling’ findings”.  Myriads of other articles from opposing news organizations such as CNN, MSNBC, the NYT, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, etc., are instead focused on the refusal of President Trump to acknowledge that the next election will be free of electoral fraud and that he will abide without protest with the published results, “turning over power peacefully”.  A strange redux of the same issue during the last election when Democrats all took the pledge and then have spent the next four years violating it.  But then, we, the electorate, are seemingly not all that bright, we are seemingly all too easy to manipulate, at least usually.

Electoral fraud is the central issue involved in the foregoing “news” stories and it comes in many flavors.  Electoral promises, platforms and related paraphernalia is one form of electoral fraud favored by both major parties.  Indeed, it seems to have become a tradition expected by the electorate.  We seem to plead for it: “fool us again, please, please, just say what we want to hear, tell us you love us and agree with us and that this time you really will solve the problems that plague us most, and that this time you really, really mean it!”  And the parties and their leaders and their candidates are happy to oblige, after all, they honestly and truly are the lesser evil.  And this time, the election really is existential.  And even if there are better candidates and better parties, they can’t win so “don’t waste your vote on them!”

Electoral fraud is and always has been a real issue, in the United States and elsewhere, and not just because of perpetually broken electoral promises.  The United States elections of 1876 (stolen through obvious fraud by the new oxymoronically named Grand “Old” Party) and the election of 1860 when the dead in Chicago, obeying their Mafia masters, stormed the polls to elect the flamboyant young Democrat, John F. Kennedy, are obvious examples.  But they are different only because the electoral theft was obvious.  Gerrymandering is a bipartisan tradition and after the 2016 elections, the Democratic Party argued in open court that its primary elections were not subject to restrictions designed to assure they would be fair, even if such restrictions had been promised.  Sorry Sanderistas, you lose and you will always lose!!!

For some reason, during the past decade, despite the obvious examples referenced above, not all involving ancient history, the corporate media has sought to minimize the problem.  Logic dictates that such effort is a deeply troubling symptom that electoral fraud on behalf of candidates the corporate media favors is a real probability.  In Colombia where I’ve lived during the past thirteen years and where I am active as a political intermediary among diverse political groups, the problem is endemic.  It occurs among officials charged with assuring that it does not occur in the National Electoral Council, and at the local level, through massive vote buying disguised as “charity” (e.g., gifts of baskets of groceries).  One of the most successful and hard to deal with schemes involves the use of pre-prepared ballots handed to targeted voters to cast into the ballot box, and then, to return with the unused ballot he or she was issued at the polling center, which, after receiving the agreed upon payment, is then filled out and distributed to other voters, a ballot exchange program hard to spot but easy to implement. 

Receipt of any kind of compensation in exchange for a promise to vote is electoral fraud and vote buying, even if in the form of charity such as is now being orchestrated in the United States where, in exchange for an implied promise to vote for certain candidates, outstanding penal fines will be paid.  That is electoral fraud no different than that engaged in in Colombia and elsewhere where desperately needed groceries and building materials are “exchanged” for an unused ballot.  This year, taking advantage of the fear instilled with respect to the Covid 19 pandemic, a plethora of free floating ballots will apparently become available through “vote by mail” programs.  Not the now traditional and well-regulated absentee ballot process but the one now already adopted in number of states where all voters receive ballots, by mail which they can then use by mailing them in, or elect to vote in person, or, perhaps, donate the ballots to worthy and sometimes profitable causes.  And like any good crop, harvesters are available to see the process through, harvesters as likely to be Republicans as Democrats as a 2018 Congressional election in North Carolina made clear.  Additionally of course, as the Fox news article referenced above makes clear, the good old fashioned, tried and true technique of “losing”, hiding and destroying unfavorable ballots remains popular, something almost certain to become more problematic with mail in ballots.  We are told that there is no evidence that electoral fraud is a real problem.  That is a blatant lie (as we all know but many will not admit), although it is true that the evidence of such fraud is, as with any crime by competent professionals, carefully obfuscated and denied.

In the United States, with electoral affairs regulated at the local level, adequate policing to prevent fraud is extremely difficult and reliance is based on the integrity of county clerks and state secretaries of state.  However, political polarization and desperation to attain and retain political control have attained levels unsustainable for even the verisimilitude of democracy. And it appears the problem will become worse in the upcoming elections.  If both candidates and voters lose faith in the legitimacy of elections, as has clearly been the case since 2016, even the illusion of democracy cannot survive, perhaps the case in which we find ourselves today.  Which is why the current President’s reticence to pre-accept the integrity of results so fraught with the potential for fraud among partisans willing to do anything to win is hardly unreasonable or indicia that he intends to “steal another election”.

Full disclosure requires that I admit that I have been an advocate for replacement of the de facto two party system with a true multiparty system, and to replace the consolidated monolithic corporate media behemoth with a decentralized media legally responsible when it disseminates false news.  I must also admit to not being so naïve as to believe that as new political parties attain power, they too will not be tempted to use corrupt means to retain power.  Only an active and informed electorate willing to vote in favor of what its members believe rather than against political boogeymen and boogeywomen, one that refuses to vote for evil, even if it is portrayed as lesser, can really implement and maintain functional democracy.  But democracy is a fragile thing reliant on a complex series of factors to function, chief among them: access to accurate and complete unbiased information; the absence of corruption; and, the acceptance of results contrary to our immediate expectations and desires. 

Unfortunately, today, in the United States, none of such factors exist, but then again, perhaps they never have.  As the Trojan seeress and princess Cassandra might have cried to us three thousand years ago: “something to think about.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; 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 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.