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El Espectador, Colombia

Invoking the Big Bad Wolf


By Carlos Granés

The obsession of the American right is the purity of their white, Protestant culture; the obsession of the Latin American left is the dignity of their pueblos, which they see as suffering an irreparable injury whenever trade, agreements or cultural exchange occur with the enemy.

Translated By Reva Dhingra

10 January 2013

Edited by Lydia Dallett


Colombia - El Espectador - Original Article (Spanish)

Samuel P. Huntington took up many of these themes in his classic, “The Clash of Civilizations,” a book in which he predicted a world fractured by identities and cultures, doomed to tension under special interests. The most immediate threat for the United States, according to him, was us: the Latinos, who, with our high birth rate, our lax Catholicism and our language, threaten to fragment the country into two civilizations.

Latin Americans are alone in wholeheartedly denouncing this alarmism as a vicious type of U.S. politics. We easily see what is behind this dirty populism, which desperately stirs up the basest passions. Yet what we are unable to agree upon is denouncing the same practice when it is deployed as a strategy by local politicians. Latin America has also been fed, with the same electoral ends, fear of the Empire. The belligerent anti-imperialists behave in the same manner as their antithesis in the north to capture followers. They act as if history had become stuck in the Cold War — years in which the United States effectively committed every type of atrocity in Latin America — and that any reconciliation between the two parts of the continent would result in a violation of sovereignty or exploitation.

It could be flattering to believe that the world’s greatest power could be ruffled because of us, but the truth is that, at least since 2001, the United States does not look to the south. With the exception of drug trafficking, the attention of our northern neighbor is focused on the Middle East, China and Russia. To think that Obama loses sleep planning strategies for invading Cuba or obtaining Venezuelan oil is, frankly, ridiculous.

Nevertheless, the litany of external threat continues to be effective. It is effective there, where they expel young Latinos who are still children to get votes in southern states; and it is effective here, where populist leaders feed hate and nationalism and place the blame for all problems on the white people. The obsession of the American right is the purity of their white, Protestant culture; the obsession of the Latin American left is the dignity of their pueblos, which they see as suffering an irreparable injury whenever trade, agreements or cultural exchange occur with the enemy. The solution for both sides is isolation and lack of communication, if not confrontation. This, of course, leads nowhere.

America ceases to be the Mecca of immigration that captures the talents of the whole world to invigorate their laboratories, industries and universities; we are left with the autocrat in power, listening to him tell, yet again, the terrible and lengthy story of the Big Bad Wolf.



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