From Takis Michas
Here are some of my latest news and reflections :
Next week I am departing from the neoliberal anarchy of the city of Medellin (Colombia) to seek shelter in the cosy womb of the paternalistic authoritarianism of Cuenca (Ecuador).Had I stayed longer here I would loose the permanent residency which the regime in Ecuador has honored me with.
Medellin posits a devalued currency(peso) ,impressive growth, dynamism ,innovation and a fantastic climate(eternal Spring)-alongside with armed gangs ,drug trafficking and pollution. Cuenca on the other hand posits a hard currency(dollar) , socialist stagnation, Catholic martyrdom and the mystic of the Andes -alongside with culture, history and an excellent health service and public cleaning system(much superior to Juncker's Greece but that is not saying much).
Intellectually Colombia is much more interesting-the division of cities/countryside into areas controlled by armed gangs and at the same time the explosive growth and innovation that the country experiences challenge the widely held belief that economic development presupposes the "rule of law " and "sound institutions"-at least not in a centralized form.. At the same time Colombia is a living reminder of the Hobbesian dictum that where the State retreats ,what appears in its place is neither the market(as many neoliberals would hope ) nor eternal love(as the anarchists would insist) but "ministates "(armed protection rackets) ready to fill the power vacuum. The late philosopher Rober Nozick would love Colombia!
Unemployment in hard currency socialist Ecuador has reached the unprecedented levels of 8%-9%.In Colombia all statistics would be wrong because they do not cover the people employed in the two most crucial industries of the country:
The cultivation marketing and selling of cocaine(Columbia is the biggest producer in the world) and the people employed in the various illegal protection rackets. If those sectors are taken into account I expect that unemployment would hover around 2%.
In Cuenca every youngster aspires to become a civil servant while in Medellin an enterpreneur-but before you get carried away with neoliberal enthusiasm let me remind you that the most profitable line of "enterpreneurship" today in Colombia-especially for the uneducated youth- relates to the two sectors I mentioned above:¨cocaine and protection rackets.And by the way don't for a moment believe the nonsense that emanates from the State Department namely that the poor peasants are being "forced" by "evil" druglords to cultivate coke.They do it on their own free will since they make in a month from coke what they would make in a lifetime, if they cultivated any other "respectable" crop!
What continues to impress me in Latin America is the tremendous "soft power" exerted by the United States.The dream of every youngster is to travel to New York or Los Angeles-Berlin or even Madrid don't compute.Many taxi drivers have asked me in all earnestness whether in Greece the official language is English! All new fashion and trends emanate from the US-which however is also undergoing change as the Hispanic element becomes more pronounced.How lucky they are! .Blessed be the country that has as its vision chaotic New York and not bureaucratic Brussels!
Another thing which impresses me is the resilience of the people here.In Colombia for example they had for the last 40 years a devastating civil war(now happily coming to an end) which has costed 300000 dead and 6 million internally displaced people( a number bigger than .Syria or Iraq.).In Ecuador only this past year they had a devastating plunge in income (from the fall in the price of petrol) ,a horrid earthquake which destroyed many coastal cities and eruption of volcanos.
Yet nowhere in these two countries which I know does one hear the self-pitying and complaining one hears in Greece whose self-made problems are nowhere near the disasters and problems which the above two countries face
Your comments as always will be greatly appreciated