The Patrimony

In politics, everything is relatives

Tag: USA

Teh faceplant

by fpman

I am in such a rush to bring this photo (below) to the attention of The Patrimony’s followers I am not even going to correct the title above.

Obama_OvalOfficeThe faceplant – photo: Lawrence Jackson (source)

So this is a pic from the White House Flickr page (taken in June this year, published today). One source summarizes what we need to know about it thus:

“When a retiring Secret Service agent and his wife were invited to speak with Barack Obama in the Oval Office, the couple’s young son was offered the chance to go face-to-face with the world’s most powerful man. Instead …”

The context, provided to you straight from our Situation Room: US President Barack Obama has a history of popular photos with kids (see for example this story + photo combo, too). And the US Secret Service has a recent history of rather uncomfortable scandals.

Sometimes, if you add up one and one, it’s less than two – but may still be more than one. Call it the halo effect, if you’re the scientific type.

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Dino Bouterse: Bad apple in the Big Apple?

by fpman

The following story reads like the script for a double episode of a crime show. Its 100% similarity with actual persons and events is the responsibility of those involved.

In the prequel: father serves in the Dutch Army, then goes home to the former Dutch colony of by-then-independent Suriname (1975). Takes part in a bloody coup d’état called the Sergeants’ Coup (1980). Leads a military regime for eleven years, handpicking nominal rulers of the country. While in power as leader of the junta, he is accused of having personally ordered or condoned some dreadful things, including the execution of his political opponents and revolting villagers. He heavily restricts political freedoms and even closes down the University of Suriname. To top this all off, he is, in 1999, sentenced to eleven years in abstentia in the Netherlands for involvement in the cocaine trade. An international arrest warrant is issued for him but he manages to avoid getting caught, and is, in 2010, elected as President of his sovereign country of Suriname.

That is Dési Bouterse’s story. End of Part One – to be continued.

Father has a son, and in the awesome second part we see son Dino get involved in the drugs trade himself, busted eventually in Panama after he offers US DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agents, posing as Hezbollah operatives, assistance with setting up a training site for Hezbollah in Suriname, in return for $2 million. Even obtains a false Surinamese passport for one of the people who approach him, as eventually he himself admits in court in New York (two days ago).

DinoBouterseDino Bouterse, a former official of the Surinamese government as head of anti-terrorism, seemed to have an inclination to take “anti-terrorism” matters into his own hands (source of the photo, with context)

Father (and President) Dési, “shocked” to hear of his son’s arrest, now says “My son is responsible for his own actions.”

Dési_and_Dino_BouterseFather and son (photo: AP).

Curtains.

“La primera vez”: Mariela Castro’s pseudo-historic “No”

by fpman

Here at the Patrimony we are not subject to the Chinese government’s ongoing attempt to teach journalists “to learn Marxist news values,” and thus, in our ideologically underinformed state, we cannot quite decide if the following piece of news qualifies as revolutionary, counter-revolutionary, or neither of those, in terms of classical socialist doctrine.

The link goes to an article in Spanish, the greatest part of which you can read here in English.

In short: Mariela Castro, Raúl Castro’s daughter, and consequently Fidel Castro’s niece, has recently voted no on proposed labor legislation in the Cuban parliament, in la Asamblea del Poder Popular — the Assembly of People’s Power that is powered by people who say yes to everything twice a year. In case you were worried as to what this might mean for labor code modernization in Cuba, the legislation safely passed, in spite of this very noteworthy resistance. Mariela Castro’s “No” was a lonely No, not only on the given day but historically speaking, too. A first-time No in the assembly. And that is of course the revolutionary aspect of all of this. Or a counter-revolutionary aspect of this… Or… let’s try to understand this a little more.

Here’s a photo of Mariela, demanding release of the Miami Five as they are known in Cuba, from US President Barack Obama — and then here’s a bit of background on her, too.

MarielaCastroMariela Castro (photo: Javier Galeano, AP)

Even as Mariela has her list of demands for President Obama, she is known as the one member of the Castro family who openly says she would vote for him in US presidential elections. This is largely related to her views as an LGBT activist, and her way of supporting Obama’s stance on gay marriage. She is also the odd one out in the family having travelled to the US in the past to attend a conference of the Latin American Studies Association in San Francisco, in 2011. She is a scholar, after all, and she has published several articles in the Cuban journal Sexology and Society, as president of the Cuban National Centre for Sex Education.

In fact, the recent, historic “No” comes connected to Mariela’s activism. She voted the way she did because she was apparently concerned that the new labor law does not provide protection from discrimination to people who are HIV positive or have atypical gender identities.

Now ain’t that nice. However, if one goes all philosophical about this, there is more to the problematique of this parliamentary-familial mini-revolt to polemize about than an implicit clash of traditional and new leftist thinking and core values. Some observers claim that the new Cuban labor law to which the people’s power has given its seal of approval so eagerly, minus the one person in question who didn’t, is actually exposing private sector employees as a relatively weakly protected segment of the labor force. In a country where the private sector is growing.

Given that the one person who said “No” voted the way she did for reasons unrelated to this, yet framing her actions as a stance in favor of what by implication would be an “even more impeccable” labor law than the one presented as good enough for a socialist country, one gets the impression that this “No” is, well, a semi-tolerated, semi-sanctioned one — one that is meant to legitimize rather than de-legitimize.

And yet a first is a first. A case of organized spontaneity this may have been — it may still be followed by more actual spontaneity.