This morning, while searching on the internet for an oatmeal recipe to make my children for breakfast (experts say it's good for their bones), right after the first options I came across a video called Narco Crops (Narco Cultivos, in the original Spanish), by Azucena Sánchez and Maria Degand. It is quite a beautiful little film, fresh to the point of bordering on the type of visual poetry that reminds one of certain scenes from Tarkovski's Stalker or, more obliquely, of Peter Greenaway's Water Wrackets. The content of the video consists of a map of Mexico drawn on the bottom of what appears to be a teflon-coated container, with the silhouette well outlined in white on a dark background.
The other day, I posted on my Instagram account a picture of my daughter in a bikini, standing on a swing in the garden. A few hours later, the image was deleted from my profile. It seems that the folks at Instagram considered the content of the image, which simply showed the innocence of a child happily playing on a swing on a sunny summer afternoon, to be offensive or inappropriate. Recently, a friend of mine who works for the Spanish Cannabis seed bank, Buddha Seeds, was telling me how Facebook had censored a contest he had organized on social media because apparently it went against their policies or “community standards.”
Africa has been presented to us for decades as the continent of hunger, tribal wars, lions and elephants in the savannah, diamonds and explorers. These are all small categories that try to simplify a vast territory that contains 54 countries, around a thousand million inhabitants and exceeds the 30 million square kilometers, more or less 60 times the size of Spain. Africa, after the economic meltdown in the beginnings of this century, is living a slow but unstoppable transformation thanks to neoliberal globalization. What was once a big container of slave workforce and raw material during the early stages of capitalism is now becoming an emerging market for investors and companies who can reach new potential consumers and spaces to “develop”.
The title I chose for this article might seem somewhat harsh - like busting a door down - but while it may be unpleasantly true, it's necessary just the same. No possible effort should be spared at this point to alert the public to how they are being lied to and used -- in the worst meaning of the word -- as "cash cows" to be milked of their money.
The deterioration of rights in Latin America, particularly with regard to drug use, but also of civil rights in general, is a result of the triumph of right-wing politicians in the region. Recent setbacks should make us reflect on the cultural and legal gains of the past few decades that will begin to erode with the imposition of criminalization and repression.
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