[Marxism] Al carajo: a sea change?

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Fri Nov 4 23:44:50 MST 2005

Hugo Chávez was in fine form this morning at the football (soccer)
stadium counter-rally in Mar del Plata, quoting Rosa Luxembourg,
preaching socialism for the XXIst Century and generally kicking the ass
of the ruling class while a mile away the other heads of state of the
hemisphere (minus one little island whose leader wasn't invited cause
even now after four and a half decades the mere thought of his beard
makes the Yankees wet their pants) were trying to come up with a plan to
upstage Chavez's coup: at the stadium he had Maradonna seated at his
right hand. 

And what a crowd! A gigantic ghosted version of Korda's famous image of
Che over the flags of all the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean
sewn together in anti-imperialist solidarity, giant banners with Sandino
and Bolivar and Martí and a sea of placards with Evita's image. And an
indigenous leader --it may have been Evo Morales, but I'm not sure--
telling a reporter as he marched, "we demand the right to
plurinationality." They want their rights as indigenous people, as
Bolivians, AND as Latin Americans recognized and respected. 

On the podium, the man who has replaced Fidel Castro as "Bush's nemesis
in Latin America" in Lucía Newman's scripts, the leader of the
Bolivarian Revolution, President Hugo Chavez.

His best line: "ALCA, Al ca, ¡al carajo!"

ALCA is the Area de Libre Comercio de América, the Spanish name for the
Free (for the imperialists!) Trade Area of the Americas. "Al carajo"
means go to hell, but "carajo" is considered a Very, Very Bad Word ...
the kind of thing that would get you fined & banned to satellite radio
if it were in English (thank God that all the FCC commissioners are
monolingual morons).

A friend in a Spanish language TV newsroom told me of a heated debate
about airing the sound bite, which had initially been ruled beyond the
pale, a decision reversed late in the day when the head of the operation
realized how silly they would look not airing what is probably the most
memorable line in the decade-long debate over the FTAA.

The next best moment of the day for me was the commentary from CNN's
answer to Fox News and Attila the Hun, Lou Dobbs, making a brief
departure from his immigrant-bashing tirades to fume about what *idiots*
Bush's handlers in the White House were proving to be by sending him to
Argentina with nothing to offer, not even an empty gesture, thus making
sure that even in the "American" (Unitedstaesian) media the protests
against Bush would dominate the coverage.

Puppy Blitzer (he may be many things, but a Wolf he's not) linked the
flames of burning banks in Mar del Plata from the anti-Bush protests to
the president's political fortunes going down in flames at home. The
latest polls show shrub's approval ratings in the mid-30's, numbers not
seen since Herblock was drawing cartoons of the white house as a garbage
can while Sam Ervin chaired Watergate hearings.

Not that anything like that threatens Bush. I was listening to the Al
Franken show on "Air America" going to work. It was coming live from San
Diego where his guest was a Democrat who claims she's "running" for
Congress next year. Crawling with her head bowed would be a more
accurate description.

Lobbed the kind of softball the ex-comedian pitches, she gave her
position on Iraq, which was to demand --"demand," mind you!-- that Bush
explain his objectives for the war so the American people can know what
it will take for the troops to begin coming home. How about "hell
freezing over," if the Bushites  --or the "opposition"-- have anything
to say about it.

And you thought John ("I actually voted for the $80 million before I
voted against it") Kerry was the ultra-feeble force. To find the
political courage of the up-and-coming crop of Democrat politicos,
you're not going to need a magnifying glass. You're going to need an
electron microscope.

Franken, whose on-air performance is entirely unimpeded by any
measurable trace of intelligence, was quick to second her, to the effect
that Bush has been lying to us about the war and that's why we demand
... the truth!

>From Bush!!! 

I kid you not.

And speaking of kids, a family story from earlier in the week. Tuesday
night my ex calls seeing if I can take off Wednesday. My
11-year-old-son, it turns out, had gotten a hold of a leaflet for
November 2, and it said to walk out to protest the war, so that's what
he was planning to do. Except, of course, he knows he's a little too
young to be out on his own without a parent or responsible adult, so he
was trying to line up the necessary accompaniment for when he left

Pretty soon she puts him on the phone. "Well, Luke, who else is walking
out with you," I asked. He didn't know, but he didn't think anyone else
had seen the leaflet. So we had a good discussion about individual
witness and mass action. He'd seen the bourgeois press coverage on Rosa
Parks's lone individual stance and how it had changed everything and he
figured, why not him. Not for himself, mind you, but because everything
sure needs changing, just like in Rosa Parks's day.

Well, it might not work, I told him. For one thing, the folks at a
Quaker school were unlikely to have him arrested... and for another,
because Rosa Parks really wasn't alone, the NAACP, and the unions and
the communists and socialists had been organizing for many years... if
there hadn't been a whole movement behind her, it would have been an
empty gesture. People like Bush and Clinton and the reporters aren't
going to tell you that, of course, because it might give people ideas
about what to do today.

So I told him that if he hadn't yet had a chance to organize others at
his school, probably it would be better to use November 2 and the
following days when news of the walkout would be about to talk to other
students and even the teachers, and organize for the next event, which
is December 1, the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks's defiance of Jim
Crow. And we came up with a little plan. 

The one thing he rejected was to try to include the Head of School. "A
walkout with the authorities ... how lame is that!" he remonstrated. I
didn't realize he knew how to use words like "the authorities" in that
sort of way, nor that he realized it was important to draw certain
lines. He explained that this person was OK, but because he had to
answer to a bunch of parents and the board, he'd try to turn the walkout
into something like a reflection on the importance of peace instead of a
protest. Luke, he wants a protest. He insists on it.

Thinking about Luke, he was eight when he went to his first antiwar
demonstration, before the invasion. He had wanted to do it, people at
the school had been pushing it, the AFSC and the local Friends Meeting
were very involved and all for it. So I took him. On the way there we
were talking about it and he said "Bush, somebody should just shoot
him." OK, he was a little ultraleft but his heart was basically in the
right place. 

For me, in my 50's, Iraq as an overriding issue has lasted three years.
But I remember what Vietnam had been like for me. It had always been
there, there was no "before" in my political consciousness. There's a
wonderful sci-fi book that I remember reading decades ago, just after
the Vietnam War ended, and thinking that it really captured what Vietnam
felt like to me. It was called, I think, the Forever War. 

I mention this because I have been very much struck in the past few days
about the news of the number of high school students (and some even
younger) who walked out. I don't know what happened at the universities,
maybe not much, but the number of reports of HS & MS students in hot
water for the walkout tells me there's something in the air. This is
*their* "forever war," and they want it to stop. 

What has this got to do with Mar del Plata? Everything, I hope, for Arab
youth have the Paris suburbs also in flames, and IED explosions in Iraq
are at an all-time high. 

I sense a sea change.

Maybe not, but my friend told me that when the sound bite of Chavez
saying ALCA go to hell, there was whooping in the newsroom. 

So here's hoping.


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