Recent article: Irwandi Yusuf was a separatist rebel until the Tsunami hit in December 2004, taking 170,000 lives in Indonesia's Aceh ("Achay") province, and shocking the two sides into seeking peace. Mr. Irwandi, now the elected governor of Aceh, is still a rebel in that he is fighting corruption, something not many politicians in Indonesia (or anywhere else) bother to do. He is unpretentious, drives his own car, and gets along well with regular folks. Click here for article.
Recent article: India: Thousands of farmers commit suicide each year as crops fail and debts close in -- over 17,000 in 2003, the last year for which records are available. Government farm aid has stopped for most farmers, while American and European crops, enjoying tens of billions of dollars a year in home-based subsidies, undercut prices. ($18 billion U.S. alone.) Biotech advances raise costs of seed and fertilizer, which farmers cannot reject in favor of old methods if they are to compete, but the higher costs lead to more debt and financial ruin when a crop fails. Article, click here.
Democracy and Free Enterprise in the Third World
During the Cold War the third world consisted of dictatorships controlled either by the Soviets or the U.S. and Europe. With the end of the Cold War democracy is an option in Africa, Latin America and Asia. (Click here for this sites discussion of the Cold War.) But democracy is not happening, not even in places that we call democracies, like India, Egypt, and Mexico, because the rich and international corporations have a lock on the system in terms of what businesses succeed as well as what lawmakers decide, so there is not free enterprise and the economy cannot thrive. The rich avoid taxes and the middle class, taxed to the hilt and crushed by the racketeering rich, cannot emerge. Corruption rules at all levels, the police are outright criminals as well as corrupt. There usually not freedom of speech ans press (India and Pakistan are among exceptions, in Mexico the government permits it but not the narcotrafficantes) and courageous politicians and activists and journalists are routinely killed by those in power. Elections, even though the elections may sometimes be fair and genuinely competitive, do not change this nightmare, and do not constitute democracy except in a very narrow, meaningless way. In these elections different parties compete for votes to run a dictatorship of the rich and military.
And all the while debt owed to rich countries and the World Bank, who issue loans that go down the toilet of corruption and have rarely helped poor and working people, uses up large portions of national resources in payments on that debt. Corporate business has moved in to profit off cheap labor, in league with the local elite. The World Bank is now imposing conditions to stem corruption, as with the oil line in Chad, but this is a recent development, and it is the opposite of their general history -- not to say they haven't done some good things along the way. The World Bank used to say they had no political motivations in giving out loans, but that has always been a pure lie. Giving money to corrupt governments to, for instance, build roads that serve the rich plantation owners, is a political event.
Below are articles about people who are fighting to make democracy happen around the world. We also want to also remember people like and Colosio in Mexico, Djindjic in Serbia, Chico Mendez in Brazil and others who have been assassinated because they fought for political justice.
Democracy in the world: advocates taking on the corrupt establishments.
Below: Click on footprint to go to article
|Digna Ochoa was killed for her work advancing just causes in Mexico. Ex-president Fox, showing clearly that he had no interest in criminal justice, went along with the absurd claim of the courts that Ochoa committed suicide.|
|Motivated Nigerian bureaucrat Dorothy Akunyili takes on manufacturers of fake pharmaceutical drugs, at the risk of her life. She is credited with bringing down the percentage of counterfeit drugs from 70% to 35% in three years.|
|Indian activist Sayeed Hameed seeks to give a voice to groups representing workers and the poor before the Planning Commission, which now consults with big business interests. She has advocated for peace with Pakistan, for the rights of Muslims in India and women's rights.|
More articles: Click on name in blue for article
Lahib Naoman, Iraq....Excerpt: ...(article from June '03)..... Ms. Naoman's journey to this dusty room on a quiet street of tidy homes in Baghdad began more than 20 years ago with her decision to practice law in a country devoid of justice. She then chose to defend a man who faced the harshest of punishments for allegedly committing the pettiest of crimes, stealing a videocassette recorder belonging to Saddam Hussein's son Uday. When silence and submission were the currency of Iraqi life, Ms. Naoman dared to speak her mind. For her persistence, Ms. Naoman, now 48, spent 17 years in and out of Baghdad's prisons and psychiatric hospitals.
Ngugi wa Thiongo, Kenya............ Excerpt: ...... On Wednesday night, while Mr. Ngugi was resting in a Nairobi apartment between speaking engagements, four robbers barged in and brutalized him, his wife and a friend. The attackers raped his wife and stole cash and jewelry as well as Mr. Ngugi's laptop computer. One of the intruders burned Mr. Ngugi's face repeatedly with a cigarette. So brazen was the attack, some Kenyans have speculated it might have been carried out by former enemies.
Georgi Satarov, Russia ....Excerpt:....Not long after Boris N. Yeltsin chose him as an adviser, Georgi A. Satarov decided to conduct an experiment. He invited top officials from Russia's police force, its Federal Security Service, and prosecutor's office to the Kremlin. Then he proposed that the officials plant bribe-givers in their ranks. The idea was to identify sources of corruption in government. It was based on the F.B.I's Abscam campaign of the 1970's that entrapped members of Congress who took bribes from agents posing as Arab businessmen. The Russian officials ''didn't like it at all,'' said Mr. Satarov, his eyes creasing with a smile. ''From the tone of their voices and the expression on their faces, you could tell they didn't want to do it.''
Irina Khakamada Russia ......Excerpt: ......."First, this is a society based on lies,'' she said when she announced her candidacy last month. ''Second, it is a society in which democracy is no more than a formal procedure. Third, it is a society that is based on total secrecy. And most importantly -- and something that everyone is already aware of -- it is a society based on fear.'' ..........Mr. Putin has made lap dogs out of the courts, the Parliament and the broadcast media, she said in the interview. In Russia today, ''Everything depends on his mood.''
Judge Kudeshinka, Russia ......Excerpt: ............ As a judge, she spent the 1980s in Siberia where she once sentenced a woman to five years in jail for illegally selling carpets. Four years ago, Ms. Kudeshkina, who is married to a former KGB official, landed a plum promotion to the Moscow city court system. ......But last year, Ms. Kudeshinka was yanked off a high-profile case after refusing to follow orders from her boss that she says would have given government prosecutors an unfair advantage. When she complained about the incident -- and spoke openly about it during a controversial run for political office -- Ms. Kudeshkina was fired.
Liu Di, China......Exerpt: ...........She wrote an [online] essay defending a man jailed because of political postings on his Web site. She defended another intellectual singled out by the government for organizing a reading association and for posting political essays online. She wrote a critical attack on an advocate of nationalism and began dabbling in satire and parody at the government's expense. In one posting, she called for the organization of a new political party in which anyone could join and everyone could be chairman. She said it was a spoof. But by September 2002, college administrators issued a warning. ''They said the postings I published on the Web went too far,'' she said. ''Some of the stuff I thought was written in a joking manner. But they thought it was too far.'' .......Terrified, she said, she scaled back on her online writing. But two months later, administrators ordered her to the campus police station, where officers took her to a Beijing prison. She was put in a cell with three other women, including a convicted murderer. Even today, she says she does not know which of her essays led to her arrest.
Pan Yue, China.....Excerpt............If he is blunt in identifying the problems, he sounds almost radical in offering a solution: China must change the way it is developing to prevent an environmental crisis and a depletion of natural resources. Environmental protection must become a national priority. And, for good measure, public participation must be encouraged -- the sort of language that in China usually means more democracy.
Guo Guoting, China......Excerpt.......For his efforts to defend a friend and principle, Mr. Guo has recently been driven from the law, deprived of a livelihood after most of his paying clientele was scared away, but not before adding his name to a long and growing roll of accidental activists, people driven to do something in their own immediate spheres by the intolerable injustices they encounter in everyday life. One of those is the dispossession of the powerless, which has long been the dirty little secret behind much of China's extraordinary urban development. Local authorities have been able to condemn buildings and clear land without so much as a hearing, and distribute the land to developers in murky, no-bid sweetheart deals. In Shanghai, a fantasyland of skyscrapers today in a city where tall buildings scarcely existed only 15 years ago, these stories have a particularly breathtaking quality to them. In some instances, residents of old properties in choice areas of the city have been summoned to the police station only to return and find their houses demolished.