Sunday, November 09, 2008

republish: 20 july 2002

Between January 2002 and November 2005, I blogged in simple html markup on my homepage. In November 2005 I finally switched to blogger when I thought that their design sense had caught up with their technical sense (I´d always seen a site´s design as integral to its message, and in the early blogging days, the blogging templates were just plain ugly.) Anyway, I´d compiled all those old posts into one document recently, and will, from time to time, republish some of them here I think. In those days (a mere six years ago, but a lifetime ago it feels) my blog postings were ordered by date, and had no titles. The posting below refers largely to Spain, but also makes reference to the then situation in Zimbabwe.
What strikes me about the posting is the sheer absence of hyperlinks (This (dodgy memory aside) I can only ascribe to that there was a time when access to the Spanish newspaper had been gated, so maybe hyperlinking then made no sense.) I´ve added in the links this time.
[Searching the Prisacom archives online (parent company of the El País) there is a surfeit of articles dated 19 July 2002, a number of them published in the El País of that day/date. Below I´ve linked to the article that seems the most likely source I had referred to then.]
The reference to Madrid is of my stay there in 2000.


The Battle for Parsley Island. Spain vs. Morocco. Never knew 'perejil' = 'parsley'. I guess this would indicate that I never needed to order in parsley whilst in Madrid. One piece I read about this 'battle' quoted Jorge Luis Borges, saying that it was like two bald men fighting over a comb. I've read an opinion piece ayer in El Pais which claims that Spain is just as 'in the wrong' as Morocco. Kudos to the Spanish press.

This makes me think of anti-immigration sentiment which is on the rise, more pointedly in Western Europe, but I suppose elsewhere also. For instance, I recall the scare-mongering which took place at about the time when SA finally decided to raise an opinion about the goings-on in Zimbabwe. It was soon after the elections there earlier this year. SA made a dimplomatic about-turn and felt the need to assist. Before it was "we respect their sovereignty and cannot intervene", whilst so many were reportedly being hounded and intimidated, not to mention the violent land appropriations, and the constitution being tampered with by their President. And then finally, to save face it seems, we (as in SA) felt the need to assist, saying that 'the elections were over, we respect the result and to move forward we must assist our neighbour'. After all, food security is an issue for Southern Africa due to drought. Suddenly we must assist since 'if we don't they'll be knocking on our doorstep' (Pallo Jordan's words at an address at the University). Once upon a time it was the 'rooi gevaar'(communist threat), and the 'swart gevaar' (pan-Africanist threat), now it's the 'drought gevaar'...

Ah, lest I forget. Carlos Fuentes wrote a very good opinion piece in the El Pais of 12 July titled 'Migraciones impunes y castigadas' (Punished and unpunished migrations). He makes the point, highlighting various historic events between 1503 and 2002, that many societies have evolved to what they are today due to the mass migration of people. People who travelled without visas and work permits. For instance: Western Europe owes its development due to the exploitation of Latin America. He quotes a contemporary Spanish economist, Alonso de Carranza, who claims that 75% of the treasure brought to Spain in 1629 was re-dispersed in Protestant Europe. Fuentes adds that the exploitation of (Latin) America led to the decadent power of Spain and the rise of capitalism in Europe. All without visas and work permits.

I translate some more:

Massachusetts, 1620. English Puritans without visas nor work permits, establish New England. From there anglosaxon America expands from the Atlantic to the Pacific, wresting land from the Indians, importing African slaves and annexing half the Mexican territory.

Pennsylvania, 1753. The Humanist and scientist Benjamin Franklin, future chief protagonist of US Independence, complains bitterly about the immigration of Germans to Pennsylvania. "They will create..." says Franklin, "...great disorder among us...They will never learn English, which will mean that we will always require interpreters. They will surpass us in number... so much so that we will not be able to preserve our language and even our government will be under threat." Fuentes goes on to mention the colonization of India by Clive in 1757, Algeria in 1830 (Start of colonization of Africa (in earnest) by Europe), New York in 1910 (17 million Europeans immigrated to the USA between 1880 and 1910, among these Irish fleeing the potato famine), Europe in 1963 (700 000 Spanish, mostly male farm labourers, migrate across the Pyrennees. Sending their earnings back to Spain they boost the Spanish economy, preparing it for a modern post-Franco era), California 1994 (California produces 1/3 of the agricultural riches in the USA, and 3/4 of the latter is derived from Mexican migrant labour.), etc. The main points of Fuentes' article being that this mix of cultures occurred without visas and work permits, and that eventually the riches of the developed nations is in large part dependent on migrant labour. Now, in Western Europe it seems there is great fear and loathing due to the migrant workers who run from the Southern hemisphere to the North. But as Fuentes illustrates so well, the mass migration of people has always occurred, with the concomitant fear and loathing, but that this is how cultures evolve, and have evolved.

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