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Apocrypha for the Apocalypse — Sunday Readings: 19 October 2008

19 October 2008

It’s all Greek to me…
As I explained in my book (ahem…):

Gringo is not a pejorative at all and dates back to medieval Spain. It is a corruption of griego – Greek. During the Spanish Reconquista – the war between the Christian northerners and the Islamic Moors – Byzantine Christians, many of whom settled in Spain after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, were generically referred to as grecos – Greeks, and were allies of the Western, Christian Spaniards (the most Spanish of all Spanish artists, El Greco, was born Doménicos Theotokópoulos. He could have easily been known to us as El Gringo). Gringos are outsiders, foreigners who may have some odd customs and practices (in Chile, a gringo is a Portuguese-speaking Brazilian), but they are not necessarily invasores – invaders – as United States citizens are sometimes called.

A gringo — in the original sense of the word — Steppenwolf — writes about Mexico, Latin America and other appalling aspects of our world at Διαλείψεις & Παρεμβολές.

Strangers in a strange land

Jeremy Schwartz (Cox News Service) on returning migrant teenagers:

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mich. – After nearly seven years in the United States, 16-year-old Edgar Gutiérrez was back in a hometown he hardly recognized.

He returned to relatives he couldn’t remember. Kids thought he was stuck up because he had lived in the United States. Teachers scolded him when he pronounced his name with an American accent. Edgar grew up in these mountains of Central Mexico, but now he felt like a stranger….

There goes the neighborhood…

Dropped in (Malcolm and Jillian) on “ex-pat bars”:

Many fellow Americans and Canadians living here in Yucatan have mentioned to me that they would never set foot in a dining establishment which self-identifies as an “expat hangout.” In general, expatriates here seem to be of one of two minds: Either fully embrace all that is Mexican, and dislike anything that is American or Canadian, or try to turn this little corner of Mexico into Little Miami, or at the very least, Little Scranton.

Hungry yet?

Michael Pollen, on what will be a critical issue in the United States (and Mexico):

… federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close.

The response may be “top down” — from Agriculture Secretaries and Presidents, but as April Howard discovers in Paraguay  (Upside Down World) the solution may come from the bottom up:

In Paraguay, where 1 percent of the population owns 77 percent of all arable land, corrupt agrarian reform and the booming soybean industry is leading the country towards an industrial agricultural export model that leaves no room for small food producers. While many Paraguayan campesino [small farmer] families have moved into urban peripheries, tenacious farmers have fought not only for their right to land, but also to redefine and recreate the agricultural model based on cooperative, organic and people-friendly alternatives. As newly elected President Fernando Lugo moves to make good on campaign promises, the proposals of Paraguayan farming movements already point the way to sustainable change….

We didn’t do it…

Speaking of peasant economies, monoculture and absentee landlords, Frank Nowakowski reports (The News) that Toluca is off the hook as the culprit in the Irish potato famine.  The blight came from Peru, but the blame for the disaster still rests with Old Blighty:

To find the origin of Phytophthora infestans, the organism that caused the famine, Jean Beagle Ristaino, professor of plant pathology at North Carolina State University, led a team that examined genetic sequences of nearly 100 pathogen samples from South America, Central America, North America and Europe.

In particular they looked at both the nuclear and cellular powerhouses known as mitochondria.

These “gene genealogies,” published in the Proceedings of the National éademy of Sciences, squarely point the finger at an Andean origin for the disease that devastated potato crops in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and northern continental Europe in the 1840s.

“Miami is today a madhouse and Bush has turned into a ghost.”

Well known Caribbean and inter-American political analyst Fidel Castro writes on his blog:

President Bush deemed his presence unnecessary at that meeting of Finance ministers. He will meet with them on Saturday. Where was he on Friday October 10? No less than in Miami. He was attending a fundraising for Florida Republican candidates. Actually, with a 24 percent approval rate he is the head of State with the least support in the entire history of the United States. He was meeting with business people and ringleaders of the Cuban scum in Miami. There he was, driven by his maniac anti-Cuban obsession, at the end of his gloomy two terms as leader of the empire. He could not even count on the support of the Cuban-American National Foundation set up by Reagan as part of his crusade against Cuba.

For purely demagogical reasons, that organization had publicly asked him to provisionally lift the ban on sending direct assistance to relatives and others affected by the devastating hurricanes which hit our people. Raul Martinez, a former mayor of Hialeah and a rival of Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, had criticized the current policy of the man who was elected President by fraudulent means with less national votes than his adversary, due to Florida’s weight in the electoral vote count, when he failed to have a majority even there.

Working for the Yankee Dollar…

Comrade Fidel hasn’t weighed in on this, but from the looks of this Lonely Planet video, the Latin American workers aren’t exactly the ones benefiting from this global industry:

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ο Λύκος της Στέππας permalink
    20 October 2008 2:44 pm

    Thanks for the introduction to your readers, señor, although I’m afraid it will be very Greek to them too. Keep up the good work.

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