Common sense, servitude and duplicity

Mémoires du correspondant : Les campagnes de la Maison Blanche

Good news came at last on Saturday. The news spread around the world, even to Kathmandu. There, surrounded by the Himalayan mountains, the Prime Minister of Nepal congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Sunday. Khadga Prasad Oli had no qualms about admitting the reality and nothing prevented him from announcing his willingness to work together to strengthen bilateral relations. They call it diplomacy. Governments usually concern themselves with their foreign policy and their strategic partners as it is devastating for any country when the ruler governs the state's foreign policy with little vision and makes his provincialism the strategy for dealing with the world, unless instead of governing he is dedicated to campaigning permanently and considers that going against common sense can pay off more with his voters and supporters. Anything is possible. 

Biden, who spoke to Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau; to France's president, Emmanuel Macron; to the United Kingdom's prime minister, Boris Johnson, among others, asked to speak to Mexico's president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but Mexican diplomacy let him know that the head of state is not yet ready. "Biden does not expect Putin to congratulate him, but he does expect support from his neighbour," commented Jorge Castañeda, Mexico's former foreign minister, in the analysis and opinion programme conducted by Leo Zuckermann. Castañeda noted that not recognising Biden's victory was a personal matter for López Obrador, who chose first to remain silent for several hours, and later, when he spoke to the country, he did so to position himself in favour of Trump. There is no way of presenting that speech as a success considering Mexico's neighbourhood with the United States and the strategic relationship between the two countries. Nonsense is now a habitual style of exercising power and a way of governing on AMLO's part. Note the career of "The Tropical Messiah" and what his "destructive government" has been. Watch his morning appearances to understand the consequences of the personalisation of domestic and foreign policy or, rather, to show that foreign policy is subordinate to domestic policy, as well as to the personal history and even the traumas of Mexico's president.

"Trump and López Obrador's political strategies have been identical [...] The media around the world already include him in the short list of autocrats in which he would never want to be [...] Who advises the president? I doubt very much that Ebrard [the chancellor] would agree [...] And what does Ambassador Martha Bárcena think? Her clarification of Mexico's position to interlocutors was contradictory, inflammatory and ignorant [...] Bárcena is part of AMLO's non- nepotistic government (her husband is the uncle of the non- first lady). Both of them beat the Ebrard Chancellery under the table, without any polish, because that is the position they desire. It is said that she drove the president away for his shameful and untimely visit to the White House, and that she was behind his degrading speech [...] We are exhibiting our diplomatic ineptitude and making a monumental fool of ourselves," criticised columnist Jorge Suárez-Vélez. AMLO "knows that Trump's defeat is his defeat, not only because the implicit or formal pact is falling apart. Nor only because he backed Trump. Above all because the outcome of the United States shows that the barbarities one says and does in power do count; that elections do serve; that everything is reversible in politics; and when you lose a friend, you lose one [...] The US electorate has shown that defeating demagogues, with all the power of the state at their service, is feasible," Castañeda said.  

"López Obrador seems to be affected by some mutation of the Stockholm syndrome, to the extent that he refuses to recognise the Democratic candidate's victory until all the legal problems have been solved, placing him among those who support the claims of electoral fraud," stressed Carlos Malamud, a researcher at the Spanish think tank Elcano Royal Institute, pointing out that Jair Bolsonaro and López Obrador have been Trump's main allies in Latin America and are precisely the populist leaders of the region who refuse to recognise Biden. According to Julio Patán, in his usual unfiltered view of Mexico's political reality, "nothing equals President López Obrador's refusal" to congratulate Biden: "Almost a way of accusing Democrats of fraud, certainly, and above all of anchoring national policy to our president's obsessions". It so happens that AMLO and "his faithful", progressives and people with a background in the left, gave themselves up, to the surprise of many, to the Trump cause: "Left and ultra-right united, they will never be defeated," the Mexican journalist concluded (scathingly). And, just in case, Marine Le Pen corroborated Patan. The most representative policy of the ultra-right in France "does not recognize at all" the victory of Joe Biden. "What a shame it is to read about longstanding journalism, thought and even leftist activism in Mexico defending Donald Trump, a man who represents the exact opposite of the progressive agenda. What drives them? Where does this affinity take root?" "I suggest to Trump apologists in Mexico a moment of introspection. Trump has been the most anti-Mexican president in modern history. He has plunged millions of Mexican families in the United States into anguish. He has based the bilateral relationship on coercion. Don't regret his defeat", questioned León Krauze, among many other voices of Mexican intellectuals and journalists who do not believe in the López Obrador nonsense, that of the president and his followers.

Recuerdos de una vida como corresponsal

The Mexican government reveals a servile behaviour driven by Trump's coercion and the fear of AMLO, the standard-bearer of the humble - let the humble be understood (expression with religious overtones) from the conceptual elaboration of the Italian theorist and historian Loris Zanatta who points to the skilful use of the humble as a factory of power -. Beyond this discourse imbued with religious elements and the exercise of pastoral power, the standard-bearer of the humble in Mexico needs servants who are servile to power. Of course, the concepts matter: servitude accounts for the condition of the servant, the slave of a master or the person completely submissive to someone or something or given to his service. Servility refers to the condition of the servile, relative to the servants and the servants. Another meaning of the RAE expresses that the slave "in a crawling way submits totally to someone's authority". The Argentine historian and writer Luis Alberto Romero told me, when I raised some concerns with him in 2019, "... that which you call servility and above all double speak [perceived by him and his father] in Mexico [...] where one could never know what the person who said yes or no was thinking (and even the "always" did not convince us much). In Colombia I didn't notice it at all. But these are only impressions. I don't know if you have read José Luis Romero's book 'Latinoamérica, las ciudades y las ideas' (1976). It's very good, a classic, and also full of ideas of this sort".

Let's move on to Colombia, a country of "doctors". A doctor is someone who holds or exercises some form of power or authority regardless of his or her training and/or capacity and merit to hold a position. In this country one can see behaviours and orientations with relative but evident degrees of servility and servitude, to which other traits are added: a certain amount of pleasing (performance/surrender, reverent courtesy, submission) and a certain amount of duplicity (cunning or malice in the way one acts, implying the opposite of what one feels) or the very popular and well-known "indigenous malice". All this, of course, is not recent, it is part of our identity, of our culture by force of habit and custom. These traits in Colombia appear blurred and are perceived with greater intensity in other Andean countries (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia) or in Mexico and the Central American countries, as I was able to extract from the dialogue on this subject with some academics and journalists in 2019. Well, Dr Francisco Santos, Colombia's ambassador to the United States, together with other members of former President Álvaro Uribe's party -the governing party, no less- promoted, encouraged or worked in favour of Donald Trump's re-election. That is right, they intervened in the US electoral process and, in the face of unacceptable interference, the US Embassy in Colombia had to issue a statement, days before the elections, asking for interference in the electoral process to be avoided and recalling that the success of the bilateral relationship between the two countries for many years has been based on bipartisan support, and therefore urged "all Colombian politicians [to] avoid involvement in the US elections".  

Segunda ola de COVID-19 en Europa

On Thursday, November 5, the trend on Twitter (Colombia) was "#LAMECULOS" (toady in english), an adjective that serves to refer to or describe, of course, a person who is "flattering and servile", says the RAE. Why was this expression trending topic unpleasant? Because a Colombian journalist - duly aligned in favour of Donald Trump - who was covering the election from Washington insinuated that "in an act of chivalry" Biden should accept or recognise Trump's victory in order to avoid exacerbating political tension and social tension in the United States. It seems that no one, not even Biden, paid much attention to such an uplifting recommendation. On Saturday, unlike the Mexican government, the Colombian government moved quickly and changed lanes as soon as it heard of or confirmed Biden's victory. We were saved by duplicity! President Iván Duque, who, incidentally, is better at spending his afternoons on his daily television programme-López Obrador prefers mornings-celebrated the election result: "We congratulate Joe Biden, the new president of the United States, and Kamala Harris, the first woman vice-president of the United States. We wish them every success in their term of office. We will work together to strengthen the common agenda on trade, environment, security and fighting transnational crime". Ambassador Francisco Santos did the same and said: "I congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. We will continue to work enthusiastically for our common agenda, as we have always done. Together, we look to the future with optimism. Former President Uribe took the opportunity to give the future US Administration some guidelines or instructions on foreign policy. Meanwhile, analysts, politicians, citizens and even former President Juan Manuel Santos considered that a change was needed at the embassy in Washington to restore bilateral relations with the United States after Ambassador Francisco Santos contacted a Pentagon contractor "to help Trump" and even raised with him "the possibility of President Duque travelling to the United States, which in the end did not happen". Servility, servitude and duplicity.  

Recuerdos de una vida como corresponsal

The Havana dictatorship admitted on Sunday that it was indeed "the people of the United States" who "have chosen a new course". Caradurismo - an attitude typical of those who act shamelessly and without embarrassment - made in Cuba. Indeed, "the people of the United States" have chosen "a new direction". Such are the things about democracy which, by the way, Cuba has not known for more than six decades. The analyses, criticisms, opinions and concerns raised by various analysts-Jorge Castañeda, David Rieff, Andrés Oppenheimer, among others-about the reasonable doubts raised by the Democratic Party among Cubans and Venezuelans who oppose their countries' dictatorships are more than justified. Andres Oppenheimer added, with respect to Biden's defeat in Florida, that the negative impact of the absurd statements made by Donald Trump, who accused him of being " a socialist", was underestimated. Did Cuban Americans settle accounts with the Democrats in Florida? Oppenheimer believes that if the Democrats want to win Florida in 2024, they will have to seek more Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American votes. Researcher Carlos Malamud raised questions in this regard, some of which were: "What will Biden's position be with Juan Guaidó? And, with regard to the relationship with Cuba: "Will he return in January 2017? "Which measures applied by Trump will be cancelled with new presidential orders and which will not? "Will it be possible to restore confidence with Díaz-Canel? The increasing repression by the Castro regime following the normalisation of relations between Cuba and the United States under the administration of Barack Obama should not be forgotten. Supporters of the Havana regime, however, have expressed their wish for Cuba and the United States to return to the Obama era. It remains to be seen what foreign policy strategy the president-elect, Joe Biden, will adopt for the island. Trump, the outgoing president, continues to agitate, shout and scream "fraud". Until when?