Saturday, November 7, 2009

Write-up on John Gibler's 2/19/09 presentation

Write-up on John Gibler's presentation. Good write up, analysis.


John Gibler: Mexico Unconquered. Recorded 2/19/09

When I heard that John Gibler was coming to give a talk in Seattle, I knew that it was going to be magnificent. I wasn't disappointed. Mexico’s President told the Associated Press Thursday (2/26) that more than 1,000 people were killed due to narco-violence in that country so far this year (8 weeks) but insisted that Mexico is not a “failed state” because he hasn't ''lost any single part -- of Mexican territory'' [sic]. It can be argued as to whether or not Mexico is a failed state, but it is most certainly the foremost narco-state in the world rivaled only by Afghanistan (currently under US occupation) and Colombia the third largest recipient of US “aid”. This is all driven of course by the “war on drugs”. You would be surprised how many US client states can be classified as narco-states.

Goggle Narco-state and see what happens.

Isn't that strange given that the US is the world's leading purveyor of prohibition? -Maybe not. If the US were to take the profit out of illegal drugs by decriminalizing and moving toward a harm reduction policy as opposed to the current mass incarceration policy, the economies of many of its best client states would immediately collapse. This would likely take what's left of the US banking system with it and cause great damage to weapons manufacturers, the people warehousing industry, and just about every other big industry. This would also rob the Empire of it's best tool for internal repression as well as covert external repression since drugs have always been the best source for large amounts of untraceable cash. Clearly the endless drug war is as essential an element of empire as is endless war itself.

In fact just using the term “War on Drugs” may be a self defeating and unacceptable surrender of linguistic territory in the cognitive frame war. The invasion of Iraq was sold as a “War against Saddam”. Saddam is long gone but the illegal invasion and occupation that has killed over a million people still drags on and on. The Empire is unlikely to give up its hard fought new territory no matter what Obama says. Whatever the case may be, Saddam had very little to do with the actual reasons for the US intervention. The war was against the population of Iraq who stood in the way of the prerogatives of the US power structure. Calling drug prohibition policies a “War on Drugs” is a similar sort of ruse. If the aim was actually to stop drugs, US policymakers would have given up and tried something else decades ago. Drugs don’t go to prison, people [mostly poor and dark skinned ones] do. It is also their communities that are destabilized by gang and police violence that are a direct result of prohibition. These policies have the same effect in Mexico as they do here but the violence we are seeing in Mexico is the result of US drug prohibition policy writ large.

Mexico is also a brutal police state in the swash buckling tradition of US sponsored Latin American neo-colonial fascist regimes. It’s a neo-con Friedmanesque paradise with all the classic elements: massive disparity in wealth topped by a corrupt oligarchic elite maintained by a corrupt military trained and equipped by the US. This military/police apparatus exists not for protection from any external threat but for repression of the “have-nots”. It is rife with torture and massacres done by death squads who kill at night and patrol the streets in police uniform during the day.

Thanks to NAFTA –another neo-liberal wet dream come true, Mexico has the world's most exploited work force. It exports more of its labor than any other country. This is another clever neo-con ruse: First, they deliberately flood Mexico with cheap subsidized US corn emptying much of the rural area of its male population who are driven north to seek work. Next the US regime acting like they are trying to stop the migration pilfers the public trough building useless border walls and passing laws to criminalize the very same refugees that they themselves created. -Thereby robbing the migrants of any labor rights at all essentially making them slaves. This in turn drives down the price of labor in the US while their constituents (the haves and have mores) profit handsomely. There could be no clearer example of why John Gibler says that poverty creation is deliberate.

To accept notions like these is truly radical because they go far beyond basic myths and assumptions that even many who call themselves liberal are afraid to part with. But the subject of this talk is not about despair. It's about hope. It's about the valiant rebellions by poor campesinos, indigenous people, students, and teachers against the massive economic and paramilitary violence as they struggle to take back their commons and build democracy. And mostly, it's about the media: First, the corporate media in the US that systematically ignores and distorts the realities exposed in John’s book. Second, the Mexican corporate and state media that is its mirror image which systematically lies to the Mexican population about the rebellions. Third and more importantly, the independent media composed of courageous alternative media producers from Mexico, the US and all over the world who daily risked their lives to tell the real story.

John Gibler, a Global Exchange Media Fellow is one of these who has been living and writing from Mexico since 2006. This talk focuses largely on the Teacher Rebellion in Oaxaca of that same year. Seattle based documentary film producer Jill Freidberg, producer of This is What Democracy Looks Like was also on hand to share a clip from her international award winning documentary Un Poquito de Tanta Verdad (A Little Bit of So Much Truth) -Corrugated Films. Together they tell the story of the teacher’s strike which became a full blown rebellion and resulted in the take over of 14 radio stations and a TV station. I only wish that 10% of the US population had the courage and savvy of the poor campesinos of Oaxaca.

The full title of John Gibler’s book is: Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt . He has reported for Left Turn, In These Times, Znet, Z Magazine, New Politics, Common Dreams, Yes! Magazine, Colorlines and Democracy Now!.

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