The Summer of the Patriarch
By: Héctor Abad Faciolince
IN LATIN AMERICA, but for a pair of exceptions, we have renounced the gradual progress of liberal democracy and have chosen the illusion of the Providential Man and the prodigal son.
Amongst our neighboring lands is the belief that miraculously, at dawn, we can emerge from poverty and isolation with Indian or mestizo dictators; here we believe that thanks to our great white leader we can reach the end of the scourge of insecurity and guerilla savagery. In seven years, although he has tamed the brutality of the FARC and curtailed kidnappings, the guerillas have not been eliminated, and the lewd paramilitary groups have enjoyed a resurgence along with the organic manure of their narco-trafiking, forming gangs that impose their will with blood in the marginalized neighborhoods and amongst the rural poor. But he presents himself as The Savior and the people (the divine voice) believe it still.
We will see in 12 years how the leader Uribe succeeds with the FARC, but perhaps they will need not four more years, but eight, or perhaps 16 or 20 (or maybe 40 or 50 like Fidel or Franco). Why don’t we just prepare, once and for all, a constitutional reform that permits us to have a Peron, our own Porfirio, to govern until 2030? Or until there is a soldier for every coca plant and half the country's budget is sucked up by the pot-bellied army.
And so we will grown old watching him thrive among his powerful clique of the old and new rich. We will continue to fatten the feudal lords of sugar; we will watch the highway and waste lobbyists grow more chubby; the gifts of palm oil and flowers increase; some rich banks will continue to exploit us; urban land speculators will have too much money; weapons contractors will continue to vomit money out of their ears; the houses of the neo-cons will come to occupy and even greater portion of their lands; the cities will explode with poverty, insecurity and the displaced people from the countryside.
And while the country is being sacked by this mafia or contractors and exploiters, we will pass our lives discussing new reforms for the Constitution to enable our Leader to continue to satisfy his incommensurable ego, his lack of humor, his appetite for dominance, his tyrannical tirades, his smug and devious ways of presenting himself as a well-mannered dictator.
The Patriarch walks through the country and through the world on the reigns of his secretary; the Patriarch mounts his horse with the reins in his left hand and a red flag in his right; the Patriarch shouts to his children not to engage in excessive pleasures and not to enrich themselves anymore than they ought to; the Patriarch insults the press and accuses the opposition of complicity with the guerillas; the Patriarch never yields; the Patriarch is uncompromising and does not extend any humanitarian gesture to those who have been abducted for 13 years; the Patriarch uses his rough hands to tame and dominate his colts; the Patriarch, assisted by the enormous ears of DAS, hears all, searches all, knows all, rewards all, punishes all.
We are far from the autumn of the Patriarch, farther still from his winter. Already we have passed his happy spring, but the summer continues long, hot and dry. And here we will be watching him scream, here we will be watching him scold us from dawn until the dark of night; here he will play on our ears, every 20th of July, speaking of country, putting his hand on his chest against his still heart. Here will be the Patriarch, acclaimed by the State of the Opinion of the People. And this shameful country will be crawling forward, with its bloody anger, with its thugs running loose, with its Congress of disgust, with its military operetta, with its erratic courts, with its gringos immune from everything; with its ministers with no character ( or old clones of the Patriarch who failed to win re-election with both hands tied behind their backs), with its neighborhoods burning, with its rivers flowing with cadavers, with beggars in the streets, with its bullfighters and horseback riders hysterical with joy and the absolute impotence of those who have only the word.
Héctor Abad Faciolince
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621