Danger

By Eduardo Galeano

Power feeds on fear. Without the demons it creates, it would lose
its sources of justification, impunity and fortune. Its satans -- Bin
Laden, Saddam Hussein or the next ones to appear -- work, in fact,
like hens with golden eggs: they lay fear. What best to send them?
Hangmen to execute them or doctors to care for them?
Fear distracts and draws away attention. If not for the services it
lends, the evident would be left as evidence: in reality power looks
at the mirror and frightens us by telling us what it sees there.
Danger, danger, cries the dangerous.
Patriotism is a privilege of the rulers. When they enforce their
rules, do they reduce terrorism at all? By way of example, are the
Palestinians, forced out of their own country into desperate acts of
suicide or the attacks of the national resistance against foreign
forces that occupy Iraq terrorist acts and nothing more?

The upside-down world names everything in reverse. Masked power
denies common sense.
If this weren't the case, is there a shadow of doubt that the
present government of Israel practices
terrorism, state terrorism, and spreads madness? The more that
government devours more and more land and inflicts more humiliation
on the Palestinian people, the more criminal responses it generates.
And those attacks, which kill innocent people, serve as a pretext to
kill more innocent people and to commit greater atrocities.
If there is any common sense left in the world it would be
incredible that Ariel Sharon could do what he does with absolute
impunity, and as if it were a normal thing: invade and besiege
foreign territory; raise a wall that dwarfs that of the Berlin Wall
of sad memory so as to shield what he has stolen; publicly announce
that he will assassinate Yasser Arafat, a head of state,
democratically elected by his people; and bomb Syria with the full
knowledge that the United States would veto, as always, any United
Nations Security Council condemnation.
It so happens that in this world nations and peoples have values
estimated at the Stock Exchange and their value depends on the
geography of power.
How many innocent people were blown to pieces in this last war in
Iraq? The victors haven't had time to count their victims, civilians
who existed and no longer exist, because they have been busy looking
for weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist nor exist.
And so there are no official figures. The most serious unofficial
estimates, however, have put the number at no less than seven
thousand seven hundred civilian deaths, many of those children, women
and the elderly. How much are these lives worth? In proportion to the
population, the number of slaughtered Iraqis would be the equivalent
of ninety four thousand North Americans. What would have happened if
the invading country were the invaded? The North American victims of
such a butchery would continue being the perpetual theme of the mass
media. The Iraqi victims, on the other hand, are worth nothing but
silence.
It's well known that theft was the only motive for this treacherous,
premeditated slaughter. But the serial killers continue saying that
they did what they did in self defense, and they're neither repentant
nor prisoners. Crime pays: from the summits of power they threaten the
world with new campaigns, lying of dangers, inventing enemies and
sowing panic.
President Bush loves to cite the Apocalypse, but it would be more
practical if he cited the news, which is more current and says more
or less the same thing.
That hair-raising biblical text, a prophecy told in times past, was
rather exaggerated and mistaken in the way of numbers but it should
be acknowledged that the news of today looks a lot like it. The
Apocalypse said, "Beside the great Euphrates a third of mankind was
killed by fire, smoke and sulphur." And it also said, " A third part
of the earth was burned up, a third part of the trees were burned,
all green grass was burned up. A third part of the creatures of the
sea perished. Many people died from the waters of the river which had
turned bitter."
The author, Saint John, or whoever he was, attributed these
catastrophes to divine wrath. He had never heard anything about smart
bombs nor carbon dioxide nor acid rain nor chemical pesticides nor
radioactive waste. Nor could he imagine a consumer society or the
technology of devastation that would be more terrible than the anger
of God.
Bombs against people, bombs against nature. And the bombs of money?
What would this model of world enemy against the world be without the
financial wars?
In more than a half century of existence the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund have exterminated a quantity of persons
infinitely greater than all the terrorist organizations that have
ever been or now are in the world. These two organizations have
contributed, in a powerful way, to making the world the way it is.
Now this world, which boils with indignation, frightens its authors.
"The World Bank, apostle of privatization, suffers a crisis of
faith," The Wall Street Journal comments. In a recent report, the
Bank discovers that the privatization of public services, which its
functionaries have imposed, and continue to impose, upon the weaker
countries, isn't exactly manna from heaven, especially for those poor
abandoned to their fates. Alarmed by the consequences of their acts,
the Bank says that now the poor will have to be consulted and they
"will have to supervise private investments," although they don't say
exactly how this little task should be realized. And the poor also
worry the IMF, which has spent its life strangling them: "It's
crucial to diminish social equalities," concludes the director of the
Fund, Horst Kohler, after pondering the issue.
The poor don't know how to express their gratitude for such
nobility.
These organizations who exercise a financial dictatorship on the
democratic order, have no democrats within them; in the Fund five
countries decide everything; in the Bank, seven. The others have no
clout.
Nor is the commercial dictatorship democratic. In the World Trade
Organization there is never a vote, although the vote is foreseen in
the statutes. The colonial organization of the planet would run a
risk if the poor countries, comprising the overwhelming majority,
could vote. They are invited to the banquet -- to be eaten.
National dignity is an unprofitable activity condemned to disappear,
like public property, in the underdeveloped world. But when the
dignities gather together, it's another story. This happened in
CancĂșn recently in the meeting of the WTO: the disparaged, disdained
nations united in a common front for the first time after so many
years of isolation and fear. And the meeting, called, as usual, so
that the majority might exercise its right to obey, failed.
It's happening everywhere: It turns out that power is not as
powerful as it says it is.
(translation by Clifton Ross)