'A modern day journey through the wild western Balkans'

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bosanska budalastina

So tell me, who’s crazy here – the entire world, or the entity governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina? The EU members have just agreed on the most important environmental document ever signed by the European Union – to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by the year 2020. This binding target signed by European Union leaders agrees to use renewable energies, such as wind and solar power – an idea that both governments here and their big energy lobbies have laughed at.

Tony Blair stated this agreement was a major step in putting the EU in a leadership position on climate change. Bosnia and Herzegovina, it seems, wants to be the new leader in producing the highest possible amounts of carbon gas whilst all our neighbours go in the exact opposite direction. He also confirmed that all 27 nations agreed to a target on the use of bio-fuels – another idea that neither this government nor its powerful energy know much about.

This is further proof of Bosnia’s misguided energy policy. We have based our plans on research and technology of the early 1980’s, without paying much attention at all to what ALL of global experts keep saying: hydroelectric dams create vast amounts of carbon gases and very much contribute to global warming! This fact has fallen on deaf ears here. So why would our government want to add to the global climate problem? Why would they want to endanger the future of our children with their old-school plans? I can think of no other answer other than greed, incompetence, selfishness. Someone is going to get a nice piece of pie and doesn’t give a rat’s ass if that means adding to the world’s climate problems – or just on a small scale, seriously effecting the micro-climates that have given us some of Europe’s cleanest drinking water and richest bio-diversity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the new commitment to renewable energies would ‘inject a new quality into the energy and climate policy of the European Union.’ So why has Europe decided to turn its head to the out-of-date and destructive energy policies it once promoted? Simply because the moral and economic obligation to do so is so overwhelmingly convincing that no government who claimed to truly represent its people could do otherwise. The European Union has not made this decision, however, purely based on moral obligations. It understands well the severe economic costs of environmental clean-up and the possibility of irreversible damage if we continue to destroy the environment at the current pace. Simply put – the money made now from a hydroelectric dam (that will feed the pockets of our corrupt political elite) will cost more in the long run due to erosion, loss of bio-diversity, contamination of clean drinking water, public health consequences and the dramatic costs of carbon gases being emitted into our atmosphere.

This milestone agreement will be ‘the most ambitious package ever agreed by any institution or any group of countries in the world on energy, security, and climate protection,’ according to EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, still struggling to implement and justify its 25 year old energy ‘plan’, will no doubt continue on its path of blind destruction. The only question is, will the people and the European Union continue to allow it?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Heavenly Humitas

so my friends...my sacred continent has seen many changes. we remain, however, by and large politically liberal and socially conservative. Here en Chile mis companeros have elected a socialist presidente yet the largest growing area in Santiago is Las Condes where Citibank, Nestle, Coca Cola and los imperialismos continue to exploit and hold monopolies over the masses. Skyscrapers and chic cafe's are popping up everywhere where as in the barrios and pueblos many don't have the basic essentials. They still make great humitas though!!!

Chile is different from other south american nations. It most resembles my homeland Argentina, with a large European population. But the indigenous peoples, namely the Mapuche, have suffered and continue to suffer tremendously. Plans for the Pascua Llama gold mine in the north will destroy more of their ancestral lands...and for their sacrifice they will get new roads, new schools, bad water, bad air, and a loss of what they hold most sacred - pacha mama.

But its not all bad. Chile has many National Parks and a large part of Patagonia and the Altiplano in el norte are protected. Santiago...already passing the 6 million mark is over a 1/3 of the population of Chile. At least we concentrate the misery and leave this beautiful Andes nation to breathe a bit - with the exception, of course, to the many mineral mines throughout the north.

The Chilenos are still a friendly people, sparking my fond memories of them when i traveled as a student all over the continent. I am retracing my steps a bit and will be heading to Arica soon and then to the Altiplano and over to Peru to visit Arequipa and Cusco where the sacred valley of the Incas is.

Still, Chile must deal with its past and heal its rifts with its own people and its neighbours. The north is still a bitter issue for both Bolivianos and Peruanos...both lost the entire north at the end of the 19th century to Chile. Los gringos, as always, were largely responsible in instigating the Pacific Wars over a century ago. Perhaps the worst of it is that the new borders split the Andean nation in many pieces, breaking family and tribal ties. This area is inhabited mostly by the Cechua and Aymara peoples.

I have tried to learn to accept things as they are. And to an extent i have succeeded. But i, as do many, still believe in the revolution. I hope mi hermano in Venezeula will realise and has learned from our mistakes. The socialist revolution must remain organic...and for it to flourish we must embrace the opposition and prove it is not the socialism of post WWII but a new vision of equality and fairness. I fear his zest for control. And control only feeds the fire to rebel, as it did with us in the 1960's. Commandante Chavez, chill the fuck mi out amigo. Let the people decide - and don't let your ego get out of control that your vision becomes greater than the global one.

Hasta la victoria siempre companeros!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

there's no place like home

companeros....estoy muy contento hoy...i have returned to the sacred continent. we arrived in santiago de chile this morning, here to reunite with my hermanos y hermanas in revolution. it has been many decades since i have returned to the andes...and i must say, there's no place like home. many things have changed...but the most important is the great awakening. the awakening from within of the true power of this continent and its people. soon, inshallah, we shall have a latino -americano economic block. One that will care for our poor and indigenous peoples and respect our ancestral lands. The journey home begins here...and time will tell where i am led next. hasta la victoria siempre companeros.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

White Indian

I met a young Bosnian man during my first months of the conflict here in 1993. He had been processed through the concentration camp at Trnoplje near the town of Prijedor. He was a teenager - just on the borderline age whether or not he would be released or sentenced to the dreadful fate of so many others from that region. We quickly became friends. He was convinced the war would never end. That i had no idea what 'his people', meaning yugoslavs, were like. Naive and ever optimistic, i laughed that off - half to reassure him it would soon be over, half believing it actually might.

At some point and time i made him a bet that i wouldn't cut my hair until the war was over. He readily shook hands with me.

After med school in Argentina I had more of a preppy, clean look. When i left for Mexico I let my hair go for the first time. By the time we liberated Cuba I had a bushy set of hair on my head. Then in Castro's government i kept the beard but my hair was fairly short. It wasn't until i returned to Bolivia that i let my hair down again. The 'last' pictures of me i had fairly long hair, but nothing to brag about. Comrade Tito took me in like a brother, and his doctors performed miracles to change to my looks. I kept the hair short until I met my friend in western Herzegovina.

Not too long after my bet with my new found friend the refugee camp was attacked and ethnically cleansed. I went from seeing and working with him every day to him disappearing into thin air. He was gone. And all i have left of him was the bet we made. So i honoured it. I grew my hair back like the days of revolution. And when the war finally ended I shaved it off. When i did so, however, i realised how fond i was of long hair. Feeling like a white indian i liked the natural sensation of my long hair. The past ten years i let it grow and grow. An old man like me sporting a long blonde (thanks to Tito) ponytail.

Well, times change. Things evolve. Revolutions come and go. I shaved my head the other night. It's been a decade since i felt my scalp like this. Since i felt the cool breeze on my head and the top of my ears. It feels good to let go. Although i continue to habitually grab for ponytail as if i've lost a limb, the new look feels good. Hairy to baldy.

I only wish I could share a photo with some of my companeros that i haven't seen in a long time. But you know they are still looking for me hermanos and hermanas. The revolution we fought is long gone, but certainly not dead. It has returned in different forms and big brother is afraid. A scared dog bites. I don't want to get bitten. So imagine me from my preppy days long gone dear friends, minus the faggy penny loafers and polo shirts.

Hasta la victoria siempre

Friday, November 10, 2006

Defeated Dugout

I know that everyone is talking about it...at least stateside, about the grand elections that thumped that wanker ultra-capitalist monkey of a president. Granted, he still sits in his throne, but it must be getting a little warm in the seat of his pants just thinking about what is ahead of him.

If the Democrats have any balls - and hopefully the Democratic women can bring more of those to the table then the men have - then we may not only see the departure of Hilter's baby boy (Rummy) but maybe also of the cocky, arrogant and most undiplomatic Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. Wouldn't that be grand companeros!? A quick departure of Mr. Bolton back to where he belongs, in the defeated dugout of the Republican criminal clan. It feels so good to vent.

I know the democrats really aren't that much better. But just knowing the Ms. Pelosi might have a say so in the lower house. Just thinking that Joseph Biden, America's most seasoned foreign policy senator might have a word in American foreign policy makes us - across all the seas and continents of pacha mama, sigh with relief.

It wasn't only a good day for democrats, it was a good day for the world. It sent a MUCH needed message that there is still hope for your once great nation yankee brothers and sisters. You elected your first Muslim congressman, bismillah. You elected the first Indepedent Socialist, bravo comrade. And we have the first woman speaker of the house, bless you sister. You sent a message that democracy can change things....now lets see if its for the better.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

But it's so nice...

It's true, I am treehugger. And it's true too, that i fear global climate change is going to fuck us royally. BUT, i must say that i have enjoyed this October more than i have any other that comes to mind. Why, you might ask? Well companeros, the weather here has been pure magic. As autumn sets in the leaves have turned to a phenomenal array of inspiring colours...yet the daytime temperatures remain in the high teens and 20's (Celcius that is).

I was in Herzegovina for the weekend in the town of Trebinje. This gorgeous town is the southernmost settlement in BiH. It's sandwiched between Croatia and Montenegro near the cities of Dubrovnik and Herceg Novi. Yesterday the temperature was 28!!! It was so blissful.

I visited quaint stone-home villages that produce some of the finest wine and cheese i have ever had the pleasure to experience. It's all organic of course...and made in the very same way as the early Slav settlers did over a millenia ago. Or is it millenium?

So I had a brilliant late October jaunt through southern Herzegovina. Succulent wines and mouth watering cheeses. Short sleeve shirts...sun glasses....outdoor cafe's. Perfect. Or is it? Although it's good for me now (and i mean really good)....is it really good for us in the long run?

Global warming is not only going to 'cost us' trillions, but is already turning some parts of the planet into inhabitable wastelands. Selfishly, I live in a place that is blessed with an abundance of water, forests and rich soil. I know others are not so fortunate. But it's so nice to be this warm. So I go back to sunning myself in the late October heatwave. Hasta la pacha mama siempre companeros!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hooligans, Assholes, & Shitheads

I've said many times how much i admire and enjoy the wonderful companeros I have discovered here on the Balkan peninsula. It must be said, however, that there is an equal - if not larger- population of utter assholes that roam this natural wonderland.

I know many brothers and sisters from Serbia, great rainbow warriors. I don't know how they cope with the extreme right that dominates Serbia. Just a small example of the type of racism and violence that is so prevalent in Serbian society; this week alone there were two major incidents at football matches. One where the team from Novi Pazar (a part of Sandzak with a large Muslim population) played against RAD. The RAD fans went bezerk, screaming 'noz, zica, srebrenica!' which amounts to 'knifes, wires, Srebrenica' -- expressing their pride and joy of the genocide committed by the Serbs at Srebrenica. They then went on to attack the police - par for the course I guess.

The other incident involved another Serbian team that happens to have a player from Africa on their squad. A large group of opposing fans appeared, decked out in Ku Klux Klan outfits with confederate flags and all. I think backward ass southerners from the sticks of Mississippi would be embarrassed to do that in the 21st century. Not Serbian hooligans though. Not even in the slightest bit.

The most disturbing thing about that for me is that there is no outcry. There is no reaction. So i ask myself, is this accepted in Serbian society? Have the hooligans become our role models or are we just so scared and apathetic that just 'do our own thing?'

Now to Bosnia -- man, do we pack 'em full with shitheads here. Our new and beloved president, Mr. Haris Silajdzic, who praised the citizens for their maturity for democracy in the last elections, has just pulled the biggest scam in post-war Bosnian history.

Together with his good buddy Safet Orucevic, a former poker machine vendor - have signed a deal worth close to a billion euros to practice their democracy on Bosnians. They aere going to build 6 major hydro electric dams on Bosnia and Herzegovina's most beautiful waterways. What's the crime you ask? Well besides damming up the most precious and abundant natural resource the country has....it was all done in total secrecy. No strategy. No transparency. No environmental impact assessment. No public debates. NO DEMOCRACY.

And the beauty of it all is that it is now becoming apparent that they have been strategizing and planning this for many years. The former Minister of the Environment, Ramiz Mehmedagic, left his post as minister to become general director of Intrade. This company had a profit of 200 euros last year. Guess what, Intrade got the concessions to build two hydroelectric dams on the Neretva River. And guess what else, he comes from Dr. Silajdzic's party. So does the Minister of Energy - who pushed this agreement through without anyone knowing about it.

And we, who try to promote sustainable development and protect BiH's environment - are the criminals who want to make 'Indians' out of Bosnians and Herzegovinians. It is they, with thier monopolistic and ultra-capitalistic ideals that want to make monkeys and paupers out of us.

But fear not companeros...we shall rise. We shall rise. And pray that we overcome the asshole syndrome that grips the balkan peninsula. Smrt Facizam, Sloboda naroda! Death to fascism, freedom to the people!