"Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are Free to Drink Martinis And Watch The Sun Rise . . ."
-- Bob Dylan, Hurricane
It was the height of poetic irony that President Bush should be meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at the White House on Saturday (Sep. 20) as he made a public plea to shift at least $700 billion from honest taxpayers to bailout financial giants from the debt crisis they had created. This was appropriate in light of the fact that Uribe, a huge recipient of U.S. government largesse in the form of massive military aid, represents the extremes which unfettered capitalism will go to elevate the concerns of the rich over the poor.
In Uribe's Colombia, union leaders and peasant leaders, advocates of the poor (including Catholic priests), and indigenous and Afro-Colombian representatives are murdered with almost total impunity in the interest of preserving the dominance of domestic and multinational capital. They are killed both by the Colombian military itself and by right-wing death squads that work hand-in-glove with the Colombian military to carry out atrocities against those who would speak out against the unfettered accumulation of wealth and land.
Showing its approval for these atrocities and for the policies behind them, the U.S. continues to give the Colombian military -- which has already carried out around 1,000 extra-judicial killings during Uribe's first 5-years in office and which has the worst human rights record in the Hemisphere -- more money (over $4 billion so far) than any other country in the region. Meanwhile, Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists, with 474 unionists killed since President Uribe took office.
Though I'm not sure he was fully conscious of it, Bush, by hosting Uribe as he made his plea, was pointing to the future which Americans can look forward to as more and more wealth is transferred from everyday citizens to the rich, 1% of whom (according to the Congressional Budget Office) already own 57% of the nation's wealth.
That is, Bush, utilizing Uribe as a prop, was pointing to a not-so-distant future in which the U.S. will look more like a Third World country - where there are a handful or rich in a sea of poor who have no social protections and scant political power, and where police power is used with ever greater frequency and brutality to govern these poor. Already, the U.S. has the largest incarcerated population in the world -- 2.3 million -- which constitutes 25% of all imprisoned people in the world. These numbers, of mostly petty criminals, will swell as the really big criminals remain at large and receive government handouts.
That Bush, with apparent bi-partisan support, is about to transfer nearly $1 billion of taxpayer monies to the rich is mind-blowing, especially in light of the fact that this transfer of wealth follows the major tax cuts which Bush has already given to the rich and as it follows the billions of dollars (possibly $3 trillion when all is said and done) transferred to the military-industrial complex as a consequence of the Iraq war. In short, this is the greatest fleecing of a people in history. That there is no outcry by the people, no protests in the street, no riots, no revolutionary outbreaks, is a testament to how totally democratic sentiment in this country has been quelled. And, Bush, with his friend, the right-wing thug, waiting in the wings, made it clear on September 20 what fate might soon await those who would dare to so protest.
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