'A modern day journey through the wild western Balkans'

Monday, March 27, 2006

Pass the cheese please

Hola companeros i dobar dan. I have been accused, on many occasions, of being a Eurofag sympathiser- those comments almost exclusively coming from the most wonderful los estados unidos; land of the free and home of the brave. Now, that automatically implies many things. Homosexual tendencies of almost a half a billion people? That an entire continent couldn't possibly contend with the greatest of the 300 million, largely obese population of the United States? That anyone embracing the principles of true multi-ethnicity of this ever growing melting pot is a fucking fag?

Well, we know how the gringos get when it comes to the Old World. We still use crank up planes and don't have indoor plumbing.

But I do have to say one thing, this Eurovision thing is a total farce. Eurovision is a horrendously cheesy musical contest between European countries and Israel. Why Israel, not sure, but that's not the issue here. Most Europeans, the classy, chic, cultured and beyond for some reason loose all rationality when it comes to this pitiful excuse for entertainment. The music in no way represents the best tunes coming out of Europe and, in the most awkward of ways, embraces the American way of tacky extravaganza's.

So the music sucks. Each country has a right to vote for any other country except for their own. I have been able to sporadically sit through a few sessions of this nightmare. And what i found appauled me. The few good quality instrumental and vocal songs were no where on the voting scale. Instead, local patriotism takes over and each region tends to vote for each other. Its gone to the extent that i have read interviews with country winners who, before the contest even begins, are encouraging neighbouring countries to vote for them! Disgusting really. The voting always looks a little something like this - Denmark votes for, guess who? Sweden and Norway. Czech Republic votes for? Yes, Slovakia and Poland. And Austria? Yup, you're getting the hang of it now -- Germany and Switzerland. It is pure cheese, I promise you.

So why am i bringing this up in the midst of the revolution you ask? Well, its another great balkan tragic comedy and its not the film Karaula. Serbia and Montenegro have almost always qualified for the eurovision contest. To be honest, they have usually had pretty good songs too. Now that the wars are all over though, they have no one to beat up upon except themselves. With an indepedence referendum on the table due to be cast the day after Eurovision on May 21, Eurovision for Serbia and Montenegro has become a new battleground. Yes, it even infultrates cheesy music contests.

So the scam goes a little like this. Serbia and Montenegro each have the same amount of votes on the jury panel. Before the finale, Montenegro chose its finalists as did Serbia proper. Then they meet for the grand finale to see who goes to Athens. Each country has six votes each. Montenegrins, in fine Balkan fashion, decided to give the Serbs a little taste of pre referendum snubbing. The Montenegrin jury gave zero points to any of the contestants from Serbia whilst Serbia, behaving uncharacteristically normal, gave a fair amount of points to the Montenegrin contestants. So the best band by far, The Flamingo's, who could have quite possibly taken the gold in Athens, came in second next to No Name from Montenegro. The proverbial cheese then hit the proverbial fan. The live emission was cut mid airing after the audience opposed the obvious political moves of the Montenegrin jury. Fights ensued, and it broke out in mayhem and became a national dilemma. Yes, over a stupid song. That's how deep all this stuff runs people. To the fucking bone.

So all this mayhem basically resulted in yet another split between the Orthodox brothers and sisters of Serbia and Montenegro. Media took sides. Political parties took sides. What it really comes down to is, legally, Montenegro wins. Morally, they lose. So who goes to Athens. Well, no one. Its been chucked out altogether and now Serbia and Montenegro forfeit the opportunity to participate in Eurovision for the next three years. Its sad, pitiful even.

This, unfortunately, is just how blurred Serbia and Montenegro's vision of Europe actually is. There is yet a maturely developed sense of constructive dialogue, ethics, compromise and trust that has brought the EU to where it is today. Will they lay to rest the ancient hachett of mistrust and backstabbing or move towards an imperfect, yet principled, European Union. Our brothers and sisters in both Serbia and Montenegro are struggling with rotten top layer of scum and corruption. But they have proved once they can overcome...and we shall help them overcome yet again. Another bowl of cheese anyone? Hasta la victoria!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Spring is here

My dear companeros. Spring has arrived in the heartland of the Central Dinaric Alps. And with the melting snows and light rains comes a torrent of anger from pacha mama. Floods are occurring countrywide, thanks to our trusted forestry industry hacking everything in sight - and not in sight - down. But have no fear, for we are initiating an independent environmental task force to rid the country of its ludicrous forestry people. The revolution here is gaining ground, and we have identified sympathizers within the government fortresses. May there always be dissent amongst the political elite. The backstabbers never have enough knives here - but its sort of a welcome automated way to clean house. Spring cleaning is much needed. Get the trimmers out.

Che may be called to Pakistan to help our brothers and sisters begin rebuilding after last years quake. But that in no way effects the revolution. In fact, it will only spread it. I will keep you posted should i be called to serve. Don't tell my mom though, she'll have a heart attack. Just dealing with my resurrection after Bolivia was hard enough for the poor woman, i don't want to put her through more hell. Let her think I'm a postman in Travnik, its better for everyone.

Spring revolution fever has hit Belarus today - as our young take the streets as did the orange revolutionaries in Kiev last year. Thailand too is having a wave of massive protests to oust the president who's family just made a cool, tax free 1.9 billion by selling the telecommunications company to a Singapore state run company. Papua, Ecuador, France...the beat goes on. Unfortunately, my friends in los estados unidos still sit high on their capitalist thrones -- thinking they can't be touched. But the revolution is as much about bringing down capitalist America as it is to rid each country of its puppet elite and return the resources to the people. Beware gringos, your days may be numbered.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The cure or the disease

It's a question that, i gather, we should all ask. Are we part of the cure or part of the disease? As a new age revolutionary one has to wonder if the two can ever be separated and, if they can, how? The great bigringcircus philosopher, Juancho, once told me that if we look at things around us - how much can we actually change? Where does it end? The war, the suffering, the greed, the hunger. Its a heavy load for any conscientious soul to say the least. But he wisely reminded me - if there is something we can do, then we need to ask what that something is. If we can't, we really need to be asking ourselves why not? So how far does our responsibility go? My guess is as far as your imagination will let you. That's the revolution, the evolution of our minds to manifest not an ideal world, but one that is based on our needs. One that is aware that we have similar needs, and that there is more than enough to fulfill those needs. Ending want and embracing our needs.

Bosnian farmers have picketed for over 250 days against 'free trade' policies that kill local economies and benefit larger multi-nationals.

Comrades in Britian have declared a war on want. That is their revolution.

The Aymara and Quechua companeros in Bolivia cause is focused on water privatisation -- water is a basic human need and not a commodity.

Our Papuan brothers and sisters are fighting against poverty and exploitation of their mountain of gold.

Desparate low caste families in India are struggling just to feed their children.

Angry French students are protesting biased labour policies for youth.

These are all direct results of the greed and wants of others. When is it enough? Where do we draw the line on the power we give our governments and these corporate giants who run our lives? Many of us are saying basta, many more of us need to.

Me....I'm here still trying to figure it all out. If i go with my gut, then it tells me we need to reconnect. Pacha Mama will lead the way and the indigenous peoples are our key to preserving the knowledge that will lead to the transformation of a sustainable and more harmonious world.

What, my friends, is your revolution all about? And if you don't have one, why the fuck not?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Talkin about a revolution

I see now that anti-revolutionists have infultrated my blog. And although i prefer not to call it paranoia, i have my suspicions about new visitors who have 'stumbled' upon my rhetoric. This leaves me no choice but start my very own counter-propoganda campaign - sort of like we did in Santa Clara before the gringos jankees apparently 'got a hold' of me. Just as they claim to have captured Saddam, they claim to have slain me in southern Bolivia -- and now even have a Che Trail following my 'last' battle. I was thinking that i could partly fund the revolution with tourism royalties now that Evo Morales is El Presidente. Maybe i can cash in from the gringos trekking my 'last days' with my boliviano companeros. But that's not the point here. We're talking about a revolution, right?

My new little part of world has seen its share of revolutionaries. Comrade Tito, of course, would be the most famous of the moviementos socialistas. But there were really so many more and even greater ones that ole Josip Broz. There was 'Valter' from Sarajevo. Milan Djilas from Montenegro, for example, will go down in some history books as a traitor but he was everything but that. Just as i had serious issues with Fidel in Cuba, so did Milan with the way things were evolving within our revolution. Some were forgetting the people part, Milan and I couldn't let that happen. Valter never did. He drove the fascist Germans mad. Milan got the boot. I took off to fight the good fight in Bolivia. Old age got Milan, and everyone thinks the CIA got me. Think again imperialistas.

So why did i choose the western Balkans as my new playground. Quite simple really. Just as the bastardos de los Estados Unidos chose South & Central America as their experimental grounds in the 60's, 70's and 80's, the 90's to today has shifted towards this wonderful swath of land that connects east and west. It is no coincidence that it is here the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has chosen to redraw the world maps. It is, of course, of vital economic and military significance to control this part of the world. And that is exactly what they are doing. Piece by piece, country by country. The only thing we haven't figured out yet here is solidarity, too many sell-outs and conspiracy theories. I see it all as being quite transparent, with their goals and objectives flat out on the table. We, on the other hand - the squabbling southern Slavs that we are - don't know if we're coming or going and our loyalties go as far as our wallets.

That's why i, and many other hermanos and hermanas, are here. You see, we're talking about a revolution. Hasta la victoria siempre!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Top o' the mornin to ya

Yes, it's the 17th.... court day and st. paddy's day. Well fans, rejoice and be glad. Paint the rivers green and get the pints in your face. The court case was....cancelled. Yup, the suer (sewer) postponed the final hearing until the 14th of April. He must have known that this was my lucky day, the luck of the Irish surely would have been behind me. I prayed to the sacred heart, to Jesus, Mary and Joseph and a united 32 county Republic of Eire and all i got was an unenthusiastic phone call from my lawyer. That's grand eh? Just fucking grand.

Maybe 'tis the luck of the Irish. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Maybe the man and his machine are squirming in their pants, wondering how to get themselves out of this self-made mess.

Rest assured, i shall not take this lightly. We shall fight on as the republicans always have, and i don't mean the right wing evangelists of the grand ole US of A. We are gathering the troops for a criminal case. If justice has no soul in this court system, then we shall seek other means to achieve our goals. So by golly, beware. The rivers will be running green. Our day will come.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Who dunnit?

i knew this was coming. I could see it from a million miles away (or 1,562,500 kilometres). Here come the 'who done it' conspiracy theories from every tom, dick and harry in the balkans and beyond. It's the talk of the town, in every cafe, factory and office building in southeast Europe. The theories range from serious probabilities to fairy tales of the grandest kind. Everyone wants to believe one of them.

There are two mainstream conspiracies, each one entirely dependent on what side of the fence you sit on. There is the Serb theory and the rest of the former Yugoslavia theory. So it goes. Listen.

Many Serbs, including most of the mainstream newspapers in both Serbia and Republika Srpska, believe he was intentionally murdered by the 'international community' and/or the Hague War Crimes Tribunal (in the eyes of most Serbs they are one in the same). Mr. Presidents legal advisor conveniently produced a letter to the Russian foreign minister apparently written just days before his death that Slobo was concerned that 'they' were trying to poison him. Hmmm, smell anything yet?

By then the headlines were already reading 'Murdered in the Hague' and 'They killed him.' They has still not been identified by police, but the all points bulletin for they has, nonetheless, been issued via interpol.

Just for a little background check for you folks out of the Den Haag loop. Slobo has been on trial for some time, or should i now say was on trial for several years. The trial was stopped fourteen times due to his poor health. Fair enough. I must say though, he was a magician at dragging it out and making an utter circus out of the Hague and its procedures. As the Hague noose tightened, meaning that his trial was nearing an end, Slobo - like Slobo - came up with a great plan. 'I'm too sick to stand trial right now, i must go to Russia for treatment.' And then it all started. His brother went wheeling and dealing in Moscow to get guarantees that Slobo would be returned after being treated. After quite a long hand of wheelin and a dealin' a deal was struck, at least between Slobo's brother, the Russian government and Mr. Milosevic himself. Now they just needed permission from mom and dad -- the International War Crimes Tribunal. Well, you know how the story goes. What kind of treatment can Slobo get in Moscow that he can't get the Holland. Exactly the point, you probably can't compare it. So he was rejected. This is about when the story gets interesting...listen:

Several weeks before his death a drug was found in Mr. Presidents system that wasn't supposed to be there. I'm not a pharmacist, and prefer medicinal herbs myself, so i won't pretend to know anything about it - i'll tell you what the media has told me. It was a drug that started with an r and ended with in. This drug is apparently used for TB of all things, and not at all for his condition, which was strictly a blood pressure and heart one. Now, according to Dutch doctors, this drug can offset or negate the affects of the drugs used to lower his blood pressure. Maybe this was his plan. To offset his own blood pressure medicine so they would allow him to Moscow. Call me crazy, but the man is a wizard at creating distraction and chaos. Whenever the opportunity arose whilst in power in Serbia, he created chaos to avoid taking the bullet.

I think this time he missed the boat. Or maybe not. Maybe he figured that he could get to Moscow, hell, worth a try anyway. If i am refused, well shit, i'm not going to stand in front of the world and be the first president of any country on earth to be convicted for genocide. I will give no one the pleasure of seeing that. Mom and Dad killed themselves, why can't I?

Then you have the factor that Bosnia and Herzegovina is seeking reparations from Serbia and Montenegro for war damages. BiH has a very good case, and Slobodan Milosevic getting convicted of genocide would almost certainly seal the deal -- resulting in ten of billions in reparations which would kill Serbia. So that theory is now in play -- that the Serbs actually wanted him dead.

Then comes the theory that the Hague simply didn't have what it took to make the indictment stick. These rumours, mostly prevalent amongst the Serbs, have a large portion of the population convinced that it was the international community (or they, same thing) who killed him intentionally in order not to be embarrassed and show the innocense of the Serbs in the Balkan Wars of the 1990's. Granted, I think the Kosovo case against them was rather weak, as was the Croatian case. The Bosnian case, however, would have got him in the end.

So who done it is the question...and everybody is convinced that somebody killed him. Doctors have said, with Serbian and Russian doctors present at the autopsy, that he died of heart failure (doesn't everyone in the end?) and a seemingly natural one. The Russian doctor did comment that he had a treatable condition -- which again fueled the fire in Serbia. But if he was taking medication to offset his blood pressure medicaments, then of course he was getting treatment and someone was intentionally fighting against that treatment.

The theories continue to whirl and swirl through every living room in the former Yugoslavia. His funeral has finally been arranged for Pozarevac in Serbia, without a state ceremony in the capital. In fact, he was -- well his followers and family - rejected of the opportunity to have an open casket in the parliament building in Belgrade. He, instead, is being shown in the Revolution Museum, which has infuriated the Director of the museum. She claims it destroys the integrity of this cultural institution. So maybe the Serbs are fed up with ole Slobo, and only hundreds have come to pay respects and not the hundreds of thousands that fully supported him less than a decade ago.

The bottom line is, however, is that Slobodan Milosevic is dead. He didn't get a verdict on his trial which all sides agree is a tragedy. It is an end of one life, and possibly the end of long chapter for Serbia. Move on or stay in the trench of denial...regardless the former Yugoslavia has one big case of the 'who dunnits.'

Saturday, March 11, 2006

RIP Mr. President

Well, being thateveryone is talking about it, i guess i might as well and join the crowd. So i'm sure you've all heard, Slobodan Milosevic is dead. Yup, he's gone. Everyone dies. He was no exception to that rule. The so-called 'butcher of the balkans' is now on every major western network headline. We hear the predictable, that he was the author of the break-up of Yugoslavia and used extreme and violent means to do so. There's something new for the Balkans, huh? Or for the world for that matter.

Milosevic was an unbelievably clever individual. Whereas dippy-doo Radovan and his big balkan hairdew repulses me, i've always been fascinated by the intensity and occassional insanity of Slobo. Mladic has his god-complex, Radovan just simply has a big head (literally and figuratively speaking) but Slobo is work of art that at times makes you laugh, even cry, and then you walk away somewhat indifferently. He never had barbarious words like Karadzic, he never showed the butcher side like Mladic and Arkan. He was too clever for that. He tricked his own people, he tricked the world, hell - i even think he tricked himself into believing he was the last gatekeeper of a multi-ethnic Yugoslavia.

He's a man i always wanted to have a coffee with, not out of admiration for his leadership skills but more for his uncanny ability to tell wonderful lies....that everyone and their mother believes. I've never heard someone more convincing. I chuckle when i see him on trial at the Hague. Its like his three ring circus, and as long as he feels he's in control the man can not only bring a horse to water - but he can also make it drink. He dooped an entire nation, just as GW did with his Iraq war propoganda machine. The difference is though, most Serbs hold strong to the illusion that they were the victims, whereas at least some Americans have come around to see that GW and his white house mafia were and still are lying through their teeth, about almost everything. America and Serbia have a lot more in common than they both care to admit.

So the west will go on talking about the mad man of the balkans. The victims in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo will certainly be sorry that he never recieved the justice they believed he deserved. And the Serbs, well, you know, like most Serbs - they're going to play victim yet again. I can hear the comments streaming over the hill from Republika Radovan and Belgrade. 'He was a great Serb.' ' He wasn't the monster the propogandist west made him out to be.' 'It was all a set-up from the CIA.' The Hague killed him because they knew they couldn't get a guilty verdict on him.' But we shouldn't underestimate the Serbs. After all, it was they who ousted him with the long, sustained 'otpor' (resistance) movement in Belgrade. And it will again be the Serbs who will have to close this chapter in their history without making a martyr out a man who certainly doesn't deserve to be one.

This is a great opportunity for Serbia to move ahead, close a chapter in their bleak recent history book and sort out the house. My guess is, though, that they have for so long been in the practice of playing the victim that they will continue with their outlandish conspiracy theories, hiding war criminals, and not in any, way, shape or form acknowledge that it was them who went to war with not one, but four of their closest neighbours. Watch out Montenegro!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

PCB Encounters

Today i was asked to give an interview for a NTV Hayat. What they wanted was my opinion -- not because i'm an expert, but simply because i have this thing about injustice...and i've never quite learned to keep my big mouth shut. So when the shit hits the proverbial fan...i feel some strange moral duty to tell everyone about it. That's probably why i am being sued for slander. St. Paddy's day is just a week away, i can hardly wait.

So what balkan adventure is this about today you ask? It goes a little something like this. About two weeks ago there was a massive leak from a hydroelectric transformer in the Jablanica HE plant. Jablanica HE is located on the Neretva River, the famous turquoise coloured waterway that flows under the Old Bridge in Mostar. It turns out that 18 tonnes of gookety gook made its way into the majestic waters that feed the crystal clear Adriatic Sea just a mere 35 kilometres away. In fine Bosnian fashion -- we had no way to react to the ecological catastrophe that could in essence destroy this waterway and the Delta in Croatia. We have no rapid reaction force, we have no equipment to respond to such spills, we have no contingency plans. We basically just say, 'jebi ga, sta mi mozemo.' In layman's terms, 'fuck it, what can we do?'

Luckily someone had the sense to call Croatia, who immediately sent a clean-up team to try and contain the spill. And after several days, rumours had it that they had managed to do so. Then more rumours started to circulate and some started talking. Talking about what no one but ecologists and environmentalists talk about in private over 'what if' coffee sessions. We had no way of proving our suspicions and certainly no ears to listen to our concerns. Well, it seems like the what if has been confirmed.

The European Union banned the use of PCB for use in electric transformers in the mid eighties. By the mid nineties that had prohibited its use and shortly after eliminated from use in Europe. They also passed a treaty making it illegal to transport or sell it to non-EU countries. The French, famous for their sales and dumping of hazardous waste onto third world countries apparently sold a large shipment of transformer oil made with PCB to BiH in the late 1990's. Elektroprivreda BiH, the Bosnian electric company, denies this. PCB has been found in the transformer oil and the director of this ambitious Enron like company made a public statement that PCB is legal in Europe until 2010. Rubbish -- its first ban came in 1978 and total prohibition was implemented by 1999.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, of course, has no capacity of its own to verify the quantity of PCB in the leaked oil. PCB, by the way, is extremely cancerogenic and is extremely fluid, henceforth harder to contain in the event of a spill. The Neretva is the source of drinking water for, say, 250,000 people. Its also home to a large number of fish farms that sell fresh trout to numerous European neighbours. The electric company, quite possibly the strongest lobby in the country and completely immune to Bosnian law and regulations has outright denied the use of PCB's...and has now backtracked to say that there was only small quantities found.

Funny enough, this same director went to Slovenia today to sign a concession agreement for 23 mini-dams to be built on Bosnia and Herzegovina's richest resource -- fresh, potable water. Guess who is doing the PCB analysis? You got it, the Slovenians. How convenient. More test results are expected today -- i wonder what they may say?

So my beef is basically the complete lack of 1. transparency and 2. the simple fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in Europe not to have any mechanism in place for an indepedent, multi-disciplinary task force that can react to such catastrophes. Even environmental impact assessments, by Bosnian law, must be carried out by the company investing in the development program - be it a forestry road or a hydroelectric dam. That's fucking absurd, a direct conflict of interest and downright irresponsible. And that's exactly the point, this government will at any cost avoid taking responsibility for anything. They love to play pass the hot potato game, which frequently lands in the lap of the international community.

Bosnia and Herzegovina claims to have a European vision. It claims to aspire to EU membership. It claims it is a partner that embraces what is perhaps the most progressive constitution on earth. It claims to live by the principles of rule of law and transparent governance. What this government is, and the big business that supports it, is a brutal medieval theifdom that embraces none of those principles - who ignores the very core of what Europe stands for; multi-ethnicity, tolerance, and justice. The Bosnian Enron will most certainly get away with this, just as they have with every other illegal move they have made in post Dayton Bosnia.

So we are gearing up for the Balkan Environmental Wars...our time has come, we have heard the call. Hasta la victoria siempre.