The following story is from Sunday’s (10/10/2010) broadcast Infowar of Aris Chatzistefanou, and is “a chance to blend John Malkovich with Rage Against the Machine on a tour to Peru, to follow the “Sendero Luminoso” (Shining Path), which do not lead to a Nobel Prize in Literature but (leads) to racial stigmas of racism. We will talk about the Peace Nobel Prize winners who come and go in prisons of our ‘allies’, from China to Israel.”
Aris Chatzistefanou, Tehran, ex-USA embassy, 2009
Let’s start like this.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the prize in literature for 2010 to Mario Vargas LIosa, but because we are not about a literary broadcasting to judge his works, we thought to judge his political work instead. The criteria used for the Nobel Literature is quite political. Otherwise, why give the Nobel Literature to Winston Churchill,… because to say smart political cues, while, officially, declaring the start of the Cold War may be important, but in no case makes you a great writer of 20th century.
Similar questions had caused the nomination of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn a former dissident of Soviet Union, but without this “identity”, his books would not have read nor his mother. As Greeks, we may like the Nobel Prize in Literature as it had been given to Odysseas Elytis and Giorgos Seferis as well, but the fact is that the institution showed some minor problems over the years. Who forgot to reward, a few giants, such as Marcel Proust, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Mark Twain, Jorge Luis Borges.
To be given the Nobel Prize in Literature does not mean that you are a leading writer and vice versa, but it does mean a lot for your political beliefs. Mario Vargas LIosa is a good opportunity to tell old stories about Latin America.
Mario Vargas LIosa began his career as a zealous supporter of Fidel’s Castro revolution, to end up an avid enthusiast of the economical doctrines of ‘80s and ‘90s. This is typical case of a Marxist scholar who became a neoliberal. It is about a particularly dangerous type of man, located in temperature climates, such as the Mediterranean. It is quite distinguished for its utter lack of moral barriers.
Few years ago, he was exalting as models of economical growth countries such as Ireland and Estonia, but Mr. LIosa’ s standards did not fare so well. The Celtic tiger of Ireland, is for approximately two years, on the verge of complete economic collapse. As for Estonia, the Baltic tiger, having followed the instructions of the I.M.F to the letter, its economy shrank by 14% within two years, while the unemployment reached 16%. The same applies to New Zealand, as well, whose economy stagnated and the unemployment soared. Three examples were presented by the Nobelist and all of them failed miserably, causing legitimate questions: “Mr. Vargas, since you are so good at literature, why this is confused with economics”.
The rhetorical question has been heard, so Vargas LIosa began dabbling in politics and anthropology.
In 2007, George Bush and Condoleezza Rice were on tour on Latin America and at each stop, riots and conflicts broke out between the citizens and the police. Trying to give an explanation to this situation, LIosa concluded as following: “I do not blame Washington’s policy, which is also accepted even in countries like Chile and Brazil, but I do blame the indigenous Andean who do not understand Democracy, whose majority is unable to join the democratic institution. Thus there is this disconnection”.
So, the problem is not that Washington has capsized and destabilized dozens of, democratically, elected governments in the region, but some Natives who are helpless to join the democratic institutions that Washington represents.
What is the problem?
It is not that Vargas LIosa resorted to rather racist theories to analyze the reality around him and had reiterated the very same ideas within his own country. But it is a story, which brings us back to the ‘80s in the heart of a civil war.
We are in 1983 when 8 journalists departed from Lima to the province Outsourakai, where there are complains about activities of paramilitary groups.
None of those journalists would return, in fact, they did into bags, sliced by daggers. A few years later, Vargas LIosa is head of a special committee of inquiry on the case, the verdict: “they were killed by the Natives”, a fact, “that demonstrates the fragility of Democracy in Latin America”. This finding may, in part, proven to be right. These journalists may actually be killed by the natives who had been at the centre of a civil war. A war carried out by the Peruvian army against the Maoist guerrillas, members of the organization “Sendero Luminoso” (The Shining Path) founded in late ‘60s as a secession from the Communist Party of Peru. Its founder was a former professor of philosophy, Abimael Guzman.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, the “Sendero Luminoso” will attempt to seize the power by force of arms, while according to reports it was estimated that it would be able to control up to 40% with the support of the rural population. The “Sendero Luminoso” will go down to history as the most insurgency in Latin America. Since the clashes with the army 70.000 people, at least, will lose their lives. But, what few people remind today is that along with the brutality of the rebels, there was an equally brutal violence on behalf of the army and some paramilitary groups, created by the government in Lima.
Foto from Wikipedia.org
Al Jazeera published photos of the crimes committed by the government forces, photos that Peruvian Governments tried to hide under “the carpet of history”. In 1985, two military patrol encircled Achoumarka village, claiming that the villagers were members of “Sendero Luminoso”. The soldiers separated women from men and executed 69 people among them pregnant women, elderly and 24 children.
Peru will dare to look at its past only in recent years, and among other things with movies like ‘Paloma de Papel’ a story through the eyes of a rebel. The West will keep her own image from the Civil War in Peru, but Hollywood will narrate the role of the organization “Sendero Luminoso”, with movies like Escape from LA, one of the many Carpenter’s junk films.
Luckily enough, few years later Jonh Malkovich in his directorial debut will have a more serious cinematic approach, with the film The Dancer Upstairs where he invests his music soundtrack with an old Bob Dylan rhythm: All along the Watchtower.
However, the reality in Latin America surpassed Hollywood. Abimael Guzman will be arrested by government forces in 1992, in a bit cinematic way. Secret agents will locate his apartment in Lima, where supposedly lived only a dance teacher. Authorities were alerted by the fact that the house produced more garbage than it should. The President of Peru in order to humiliate his prisoner, he put him into a cage and forced him to wear a striped uniform so as to remind the prisoners in American comics.
Picture from www.drweevil.org
At that moment of ultimate humiliation, the only international support came from the band Rage Against The Machine, who writes about him the song Bombtrack.
In The video, Rage Against The Machine displayed in a cage, similar to Guzman’s and talk about a revolutionary armed struggle to support a large proportion of the population as they say.
Rage Against The Machine will withdraw this video clip for several years, though. Perhaps, because Guzman proved less of the circumstances. Guzman was the leader of an organization that may have 23,000 members but he tried to run it from a luxury apartment in Lima. Today Guzman is sentenced to life imprisonment along with President Fujimori and his former intelligence chief of Peru, the two people that sent him to prison.
Whatever someone’s opinion is about the “Sendero Luminoso”, it was an integral part of the history of Latin America, something that ‘our’ Nobel laureate in our story, probably is trying to erase from his memory. Postmodern in his writings and rather reviewer to its historical approaches, Vargas LIosa continues to see only inferior indigenous. An easy way to turn the story of a revolution or a civil war, to a series of unrelated events and attribute everything to racial characteristics or personal vendettas with no ideological background ... and then to think that upon this story you can build national unity.
Other stories about other Nobel laureates: On the occasion of an imprisoned Nobel laureate we will talk about another imprisoned Nobel laureate. Let’s connect Paul McCartney with the Irish Republican Army and then make another stop in the Israeli prison to greet our guard (Aris Chatzistafanou was inside the fleet of Liberty, on Monday the 31st of May, when Special Forces of the Israeli army attacked the vessels by helicopters and boats using real fire and imprisoned the crew).
The Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo wins this year's Nobel Peace Prize while he is in Chinese prisons.
Of course, there is the view that if you get the Nobel Peace Prize a year after President Obama, who in two years has bombed four countries, better not to get it at all! But the question that will bother us in today is another one. What is better, being in prison in an authoritarian regime and to receive the Nobel Peace Prize or to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and then be put in jail in an authoritarian regime?
In the first case fits Xiaobo and China while the second one, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire recently jailed by Israel.
A story that we think we will catch from the beginning, during the tough years of the ‘70s in Northern Ireland.
Early ‘70s and Paul McCartney sings Give Ireland Back to the Irish. McCartney wrote a song condemning the British occupation and especially the incident of Bloody Sunday when British soldiers machine gun the crowd, killing 14 people.
The same incident for which U2 preferred to keep an equal distance with the politically despicable Sunday Bloody Sunday, rather hoping that this album will sell more and they were probably right!
A classic Bono pose..but..
For the record, John Lennon, in 1972 wrote a song titled 'Sunday Bloody Sunday, almost 10 years ago before U2 stole the title and that Bloody Sunday'' went like this:
“Is there anyone among you, who would blame it on the kids?” Lennon is wondering, “because not a soldier boy was bleeding when they nailed the coffin lids”.
The Songs of Lennon and McCartney for Northern Ireland expressed the climate which begun to create even in Britain, the struggle in favor of the residents of Northern Ireland for independence. And during those years there has been an incident that is going to change forever the history of a family.
It is August 10th 1976, in a district of Belfast, where fighters of the IRA are confronted with forces of the British army. As Mairead Corrigan Maguire said: “On August 10, 1976, one of my little sisters, Anne, was walking with her four children when fighting broke out between British soldiers and members of the IRA, British soldiers fired at head and killed a member of the IRA who tried to escape by car, the vehicle skidded of the road, fell on my sister and three of her children were killed”. Anne Maguire later committed suicide, unable to withstand the loss of her children. As a reaction, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire together with Betty Williams, an eyewitness of the incident founded the organization “Women for Peace'' which later became the “Community for Peace People”.
The same year, the Norwegian Committee will award Maguire along with Betty Williams, the Nobel Peace Prize, a relatively easy option, without much political cost, since Maguire didn’t take any political position neither for the British nor in favor of the residents of Northern Ireland. But the problem with the Nobel laureates is that sometimes they awarded for a specific reason and in the end they turned out to be something else.
Maguire soon proved that she would take position when circumstances require so, and she decided to support the Palestinian people towards Israeli occupation. Very soon, she started “suspect” friendships with masters like Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli scientist who in 1986 disclosed that his country (Israel) has weapons of mass destruction. If you don’t remember the story, members of the group Dream Academy will do so.
It is perhaps one of the most complete press-narration of Mordechai Vanunu story. He found evidence for the existence of underground nuclear laboratories teemed with Plutonium, enough to build a nuclear bomb, but no one questioned his statement. Mordechai took it to the press, with his picture printed as headlines on the newspapers. But his was exiled in a world of emptiness because he told the truth out loud. He had to elude in London due to threats upon his life. In London, he met a girl by the name Cindy on the streets of Soho. She seemed so sympathetic to him, they became couple and they flew, together, to Rome.”
But soon, Vanunu found out that Cindy was working for the Government of Israel. Agents of the Israeli government, attacked him, tied him and forced him inside a ship. He managed to write a message by his hands: “My name is Vanunu, kidnapped in Italy on 30th September 1986 in flight A504.''
When he appeared in Court, he wore a special helmet preventing him to speak and then they threw him in a 3x1 cell light open 24 hours a day with cameras to monitor every move, Vanunu had nowhere to hide, but did not give up. Mordechai Vanunu said Israel should not throw nuclear bomb and now continues to resist. He has spent 18 years in prison, 11 of which in isolation.
This is what you get if you reveal the nuclear program of a rogue state of the Middle East and you do not refer to Iran.
For the record, Vanunu has been proposed several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, but Committee rather gives it to people like Barack Obama or Henry Kissinger. However, the recognition he did not get from the Norwegian Committee, Vanunu got it from a Nobel laureate… Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and the truth is that if you friend reprehensible guys like Vanunu, you can get the downhill.
Once Maguire met him, she decided to devote the last years of her life defending the Palestinians, against Israeli occupation. Several times she compared the policy of the Israeli state with that of Nazi Germany. Maguire had also some ideas: along with VIPs from around the world, she began to read the report of the UN war crimes for the attack in Gaza in 2008.
Wanting to condemn U.S. and Europe indifference for the massacres of Palestinians, Maguire took a boat and sailed to the free but besieged Gaza. Maguire and the other journalists on board of the fleet of Liberty ended up in jail under threat of arms. From there, however, she managed to go live on Democracy Now news, where she described her adventure.
For the record, the initiative “A Boat for Gaza” held a Pan-Hellenic meeting in Athens which decided to sail again for surrounded Gaza, this time with the fleet of Liberty # 2 which set sail with ships from around the world. Last week, Maguire was led back to prison, as she wanted to visit Israel again, but was informed that she was unwanted.
The story fell into the small letters of the international press but not for the Israeli journalist Gideon Levi: “A Nobel laureate is back in our prisons and nobody cares, this is a case that could only happen in Israel, North Korea, Myanmar and Iran. The problem is that when it happens in Israel does not even provoke a bored yawn. Maguire is a victim of state terrorism and those who advocate non - violence, must come here to see what we do here in non-violent people. A woman awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is in detention, while only a few days ago we had pirates on a ship bound for Gaza, in which he was traveling one survivor of the Holocaust. This is the picture of Israel today”.
Stories that may be forgotten, may be not since there will always be artists in every corner of the World to remind us ... www.theatroedu.gr