Category Archives: Latin American Stuff

Downloads for Garcia Marquez

My Mexican Friends Record An Album!

Yep, Hikuri, a Son Jarocho band I encountered on my travels back in the early 1990s are back! recording a whole new album in the US . Listen and be enthralled…

Dynamite and Coca Leaves

The Bolivian Revolution of 1952

 

Ah, Latin America! At once evocative and mysterious… a continent of secrets. Who knows what strange exotic jewels lie in this continental Eldorado?

 Well no-one in England will know anything about it for a start. Here we sit on our little island with the metaphorical Murdoch paper bag over our heads and very little knowledge of the outside world. Perhaps, you know, the BBC or someone could do a series on Latin America? Put in some history, politics, social and economic info, that sort of thing? After all when it comes to archeology, science or art they do whole series fronted by respected academics (Jim Al Khalili, Brian Cox etc.) Maybe they could do an in-depth one on 20th Century Latin America couldn’t they?

 

Jonathan Dimbleby: An Idiot Abroad

Well they can’t. What you get for your license money instead is a fucking know-nothing Dimbleby, bouncing around like pinball ball from cliché to cliché like the annoying little snot-monkey that he is. There’s Dimbleby dancing da-rumba-in-da-Cuba and over there he’s in Chile riding a horse. Ooh, he’s talking to real Latin Americans too. You know the ones, the ones that speak fucking English! So thanks, auntie beeb, thanks for fucking nothing.

 

But I digress. The purpose of this post is to celebrate, maybe bear witness would be more appropriate, the 60th anniversary of Bolivia’s national revolution. They call it ‘national’ because the political party and movement leading the charge, the MNR (Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario) saw itself as separate from full-fat Marxist ideology. The MNR, however, tried playing both sides against the middle. It had radical left-wing grass roots and a fairly relaxed attitude to capitalism within its leadership. In fact, some of the leaders of the MNR had strong links within the military high command (and versi vicey).

 

To cut a long story short, the annulment of the April 1952 elections by the military led to a revolt led by the workers in Bolivia’s tin mines. The three main tin mining conglomerates (Patiño, Araujo and Hochschild) also controlled the banking system and the media. Known as ‘La Rosca’ (the screw), they bled the country dry in Goldman Sachs style. Land ownership still followed the colonial model that meant agricultural workers endured feudal conditions of repression. 8% of landowners held 95% of land.

 

So the MNR called a revolt. The police in La Paz soon defected to their side and the mine workers circled the city with the supplies of dynamite sticks kept in the mines. Some armed battles were fought, but the young conscript soldiers were no match for the workers (many of which had fought themselves in the Chaco War of the 1930s). The army soon saw the game was up and changed sides and the MNR and the miners took control on April 9th 1952.

 

New president Victor Paz Estenssoro soon realised that he had no choice but to satisfy his radical support base (you know, the ordinary guys who did all the fighting). The tin mines were nationalized, land reform was instituted and universal adult suffrage introduced (previously there hadd been literacy and other qualifications). A central trades union congress (The COB) ruled jointly with the government. In addition, rural education was given priority for the first time.

 

The revolutionary period came to an end with the coup of 1964. Ultimately Bolivia remained a poor country with few resources. Economic problems, social divisions and the propensity for the army and factions of the political class to ‘do deals’ have always lead to coups. Hopefully Evo Morales (in many ways the heir to the ‘reluctant revolutionaries’ of 52) can do better.

James Goldsmith: Carpetbagger, scumbag and pillar of the establishment.

 

Anyway, paper bags back on your heads! You do know that James Goldsmith, founder of the anti-Europe Referendum Party married the heiress of the Patino tin mining conglomerate? A man who was relaxed about tin miners paid under a dollar a day and having to chew coca leaves to stave off hunger because they didn’t earn enough to eat. Still, all that Socialist EU health and safety… that’s the real enemy innit?

 

 

 

 

Comic Book Classics #23

 

MAFALDA 

 

Argentina’s (and Latin America’s) most popular cartoon strip of all time began its life as an advertising campaign for refrigerators. American manufacturer Mansfield commissioned the cartoonist Joaquin Salvador Lavado (Quino) to come up with a weekly strip to promote their goods in the press. One requirement they made on the artist was that the main character’s name should begin with the letter ‘M’.

 

Quino’s response was a strip inspired by Schulz’s ‘Peanuts’ (that lasted a lot longer than the Mansfield brand!), revolving around the the lives and travails of a gang of children. The difference between both strips, however, are perhaps more telling. Where Snoopy, Charlie Brown and his bunch live in a world formed by their own psychological foibles and devoid of clearly identified adults, Mafalda (1962-1973) lives in a world where the real world does impinge. And Mafalda herself despairs about the state of the modern world.

 

Mafalda is also a girl. A bad tempered, opinionated, backchatting idealist who hates soup and injustice with the same venom. Mafalda has a baby brother (Guille) and a father who works in an insurance office and a mother who (to her daughter’s dismay) stays at home to look after the kids. Her friends encapsulate various stock characters from the Buenos Aires middle class. Susanita is a typical bourgeois snob, Manolito is the son of Spanish (Galician) grocer, Libertad the child of leftist intellectuals and Felipe the son of an engineer. The last member of the gang, Miguelito, has Italian grandparents who are fans of Mussolini. These characters are, however, so well developed as individuals and the humour is so acute.

 

The strip commented on all manner of issues both domestic and foreign, from the popularity of the Beatles and hippy culture to the war in Viet Nam and social injustice at home. Quino’s portrayal of Argentina’s middle class is so telling that he has been described as ‘a sociologist who draws’. Sadly, the atmosphere for social criticism in Argentina became increasingly unpleasant as the 1950s and 60s wore on (Dictatorships predominated with only the short-lived democratic interludes of presidents Frondizi and Illia to break it up). Quino himself had to flee into exile in the 70s where cartoonists (including Enrique Brescia and Hector Oesterheld and their families) became the victims of military dictatorships. As Quino had said, if Mafalda had grown up, she would have been one of the disappeared.

 

But the main delight in reading a Mafalda strip is the strong vein of humour running through it. The kids are no mere cyphers but hold their own as little personalities and the world they create has been popular throughout the world. They are still incredibly popular in Europe, Latin America and parts of Asia where collections of the strips still sell well 40 years on. Truly one of the worlds most influential comic strips.

 

 

 

Comic Book Classics # 20

Rius – Cuba For Beginners

 

Eduardo Del Rio is a legendary Mexican cartoonist who has been publishing books, comics and press cartoons for over fifty years. His professional trajectory is unique in that he has concentrated his efforts on non-fiction works, specifically educational comic books. This tendency begins to manifest in the 1960s with his two seminal comic books Los Agachados (the stooped ones) and later, Los Supermachos (the super machos). Both these comic books are set in fictional Mexican villages and use stock characters to explain the political and economic reality of life. Apart from a political conscience-raising, he used these comic-books to promote vegetarianism, Buddhism, family planning and the joys of stamp collecting.

 

Rius is perhaps the first cartoonist to seriously consider the balance needed in order to make educational comics work, to include enough action, rounded characters and humour to draw in readers and keep them turning the pages. He is credited with helping to educate a whole generation of Mexicans as they followed the adventures of the laid-back electric-blanket wearing Indian Calzonzin and his tussles with the village PRI party boss, Don Perpetuo Del Rosal.

 

The context of Mexican political realities and a comic book industry that saw itself as a part of the entertainment industry, made Rius’s comics unique. As a trenchant critic of the government (from a radical left-wing position), he often faced official displeasure and harassment. At one point, he was even kidnapped by the Mexican secret police.

Cuba For Beginners (Cuba Para Principiantes) is an attempt to counter the anti-revolutionary propaganda that arose after the triumph of the Castro regime. Both the US and the Mexican media took a hostile view of the Revolution. Rius’s book does an excellent job of explaining the long view of Cuban history and the reasons why the Revolution occurred, the positive aspects of the regime change and to remind the Mexicans that they too had needed a Revolution to establish their sovereignty. The book became a best-seller, and together with another Rius book ‘Marxism For Beginners’ (a primer on Marxist theory), were translated into many languages and became international best-sellers.

 

And these two books also gave rise to the publishing phenomenon of For Beginners books. Naturally the world’s publishers simply ripped off the format (because international copyright law only applies to American comics. Funny that…). Today you can find these ‘For beginners’ type comics in bookshops all over the world. Rius, therefore, has had a major role to play in educational publishing. In style, nearly all these books ape the Rius formula. The images are complemented with cut-outs (like Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python cut and paste animations) and take an ingenue through the subject tackled in a step-by-step fashion, breaking off at least once per page for a joke. Rius avoids the over-worded talking-heads format of many of his less deft imitators, because, well, the guy’s a genius and most other ‘for beginners’ books are just cheap knock-offs.

The master himself, Eduardo delRio (Rius)

 Cuba For Beginners, however, remains a joy. Not only a great introduction to the Cuban Revolution but also Cuban history as a whole. Later (1990s) Rius published a further volume criticizing the Castro Revolution and how it had betrayed its own ideals.

 Rius still publishes uncompromising books that irritate the powers that be. His recent books have included critiques of Bullfighting, the Bible and an alternative history of Comic Books. Given his penchant for contrariness, his is a profoundly democratic standpoint.

 The best illustration of this was the decision by Rius and his fellow cartoonists to suspend the publishing of the satirical magazine, El Chamuco in the year 2000. The reason? The left-wing cartoonists decided that the fall of the PRI government in that year’s election (after over 60 years in power), required that some breathing-space be given to the new government to help smooth the transition to democracy. They did this even though the new president (Fox Quezada) was from the right-wing PAN party, and the fact that El Chamuco was, at the time, the most influential satire magazine in the country (the closure must have also cost them financially). Cartoonists have long memories and they remembered how the ‘free press’ had lambasted president Madero after the Revolution and how that criticism had contributed to justifying the Huertista coup d’etat. Probably the only episode in history where a part of the mass media has done something for the good of people other than themselves. Relax, Rupert, it would never happen here.

Si Se Puede

Over one million young people are unemployed in Britain today. An underestimate of the real figures, to be sure, that takes us back to the 1980s and the UK’s first draft of neoliberal hemlock, served up by an iron Lady with a wrecking ball for a heart. We weren’t the first. Other nations in other parts of the world had suffered their own Hayek/Friedman mauling in the 70s, but more about them later.

So, as we go back to the future, this time without a safety net of North Sea Oil, how the hell do we get out of this hole? First, we stop listening to those that did the damage; the deregulators, free market fundamentalists, morons that call the 1% at the top of society ‘wealth creators’. Wealth creators? Most of them inherited their money Most of the FTSE 500 company bosses have LOST share value and shed a shitload of jobs in the past ten years! Ha! Once we tune out of their lies, peddled in mass media almost incessantly, then we can start to think more clearly.

 

The economic crisis is nasty shit. Working people have seen their wages, health services and education being prized out of their grasp for 30 years. In exchange, they got the sop of easy debt. Well, I’m sure you know what happened next. That’s why we are where we are today. The solution is a simple one; to take our wealth back from the ‘wealth creators’ who have pissed up the world’s resources in an orgy of privatization, tax cuts, stupidity, vanity, self regard and ideological putrescence. Time for it to stop. So what do we do, fellahs? We talk to the experts.

That’s where the rest of the world comes in. And the rest of the world has been busy! The ‘Arab Spring’ has deposed the dictators of Tunisia, Egypt an Libya (almost), is making itself felt in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain and serious disturbances have been going on elsewhere too. Young people in Spain, fed up with 25% youth unemployment took to the streets of Madrid, there’s been civil disobedience in Greece (first target of the global loan sharks), France and other places. This is all very 1968, the time when a whole generation defined themselves through dissent. From the anti Viet-Nam war protesters in the US to the Prague Spring, the people took up against tyranny and faced the guns and tanks armed with face paint and hope. They learned a vital lesson back then, that when you fight power you’ll lose more battles than you win. But when you win, that changes the world.

So let me take you to Chile, where the students have been fighting the imposition of university tuition fees. The students have been protesting this move by a right-wing government for over six months. Their argument is that Chile is a rich country (and it is) it should be able to. Mexico, a much poorer nation manages to do so, so wealthy Chile should tax the rich to pay for education. A charismatic Communist student leader, Camila Vallejo (who the Grauniad helpfully pointed out was ‘young’ and ‘attractive’ – quality journalism that), has galvanized the movement and help draw widespread support for the free higher education campaign.

Let me share this little youtube video. It is sent by Mexican students from UNAM, one of about sixty free universities, to their Chilean counterparts. The first bit of the video is the students displaying the slogan “sí se puede” (Yes We Can) to send a message of support to the Chileans. Then, using black and white footage, they explain the story of the Tlatelolco massacre. Tlatelolco was one battle lost in ’68. The students wanted reform and democracy and went on a series of strikes and occupations. The government, worried that the protests would hamper the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, ended the protest with brutal repression, killing over 500 students in Tlatelolco square. The dictatorship won, they got their perfect games, but the seeds of rebellion had been planted, change could not be stopped.

So let me tip a hat and salute you, the rioters of Athens, the students of Santiago, the people who made the Arab spring, the women drivers in Saudi, the kettled children of London, the occupiers of Wall Street and all the others. Yours is a fine tradition, the best the human race has. If you win or if you lose, at least you tried. One day those ‘wealth creators’ will truly pay their way and we can build better, more equal societies. It feels like the world is laying a foundation stone for that in 2011. Good luck and Buena Suerte to you all.

The Son Huasteco

 There’s a bunch of Mexican folk styles that deserve to be better understood. They are not only the bearers of rural, indigenous and traditional cultures, but also feed in to the mainstream and off each other to form a rich and varied tradition. In addition they are styles that live to be played, for community and group enjoyment. Like a musical version of Facebook, they define and bring together communities. I’ve already given you a taste of the Veracruz style the Son Jarocho, now I will give you a rough sketch of its closest musical neighbour, the Son Huasteco.

Son Huasteco is party music played by groups made up of three musicians (known as Trios). The instruments these Trios employ are the Jarana (a small guitar), a huapanguera (a big guitar) and a violin. The violin plays the role that the harp does in the Son Jarocho, carrying the melody. Similarly, both styles use dancers to mark out rhythm. The wooden dance floor (Tarima) is arguably an additional instrument. Traditional zapateado dancers bang the floor with their boots and shoes in time with the rhythm – a phenomenon akin to tap dancing.

 

This style of music is found in the northern part of the state of Veracruz and Puebla, southern Tamaulipas and eastern San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo and Queretaro states. It is very much associated with indigenous peoples such as the Totonacs and bears a very characteristic stamp of indigenous styles. The use of falsetto vocals is one typical sign of this legacy. Here the traditional group Trio Reyixtla interpret the popular standard, ‘the short-sighted bee’.

 A lot of groups sing in indigenous languages, keeping alive the traditions of cultures in danger of being swamped by modernity. One of the most popular is the Xochipizahuatl which praises both the Virgin of Guadalupe (Mexico’s patron ‘Saint’) and the Aztec goddess Tonantzin. This song is performed at many traditional ceremonies including indigenous weddings. Here the group Los Hermanos Olivares perform a version in the Nahuatl language. A beautiful and affecting song.

Mainly, though, this music can be heard on the street, bars, parties and anywhere that musicians can get together…

 Son Huasteco has, like other styles, adapted to a changing world. During the Revolution various Huasteco songs were written that became popular throughout the country. El Soldado de Levita (which has been called Mexico’s Katyusha – Russia’s most popular Revolutionary song – by err, Russians) is perhaps the most popular. This particular version has been adapted for radio play and a general audience.

 And to finish, an idea of how this music still influences the pop and rock tradition. Take it away, Cafe Tacuba!

The Son Jarocho — Part 2

The story of Son Jarocho in the 20th century has been one of two contrasting visions that have moulded contemporary musicianship. The traditional form, performed in ranches, farms and parties –often accompanied by dancing a Zapateado (which involves stamping on the ground, like Spanish flamenco) – began to decline with industrialisation and the spread of more commercial forms of music.

In the 1940’s and 50’s Jarocho music was still popular in clubs and dance halls in Mexico City and elsewhere thanks to the patronage of a cadre of politicians from Veracruz who supported their local musicians and by migrants from the impoverished regions of the state to the capital. Even so, the Jarocho sound was having to compete with jazz, pop, Latin forms such as the mambo and even mariachi music. A bleak outlook indeed.

The first of these visions, that did a lot to rescue the music from impending oblivion was the Mexican film industry. Mexican films fixed the image of the Son Jarocho group: dressed in white trousers and shirts with a red handkerchief around the neck and a straw hat. One of the greatest exponents of Son Jarocho, Andrés Huesca participated in many of these films. In the 1948 Han Matado a Tongolele, Huesca substitutes the small Jarocho harp, that had to be played sitting down, with a larger harp (from Michoacán) that could be played standing up (as he did in the classic Alla en el Rancho Grande). The effect of this on Jarocho groups was to make them conform to the film stereotype. Jarocho bands soon adopted the white uniform and abandoned the local (smaller) Jarocho harp.

The demands of the film industry, radio coverage and other media influences was to radically change Son Jarocho and fix a stereotypical image of this music in the public mind. This was damaging in the long run as musicians abandoned their local styles and home-grown songs to accommodate the new repertoire and style demanded by the public. Sadly, a great deal of damage was done in this way and a lot of the branches of Jarocho music withered away, with many of the songs and local musical styles dying out.

Fortunately the second of these visions was to rescue this music at a grass roots level. An effort to preserve and rescue traditional styles of Mexican music began as early as the 1940s. Enthusiasts (like the musicologist Raul Helmer) began to seek out traditional musicians and record their songs on tape. These recordings form the basis of the ethno-musicology of Mexico and managed to capture some of the richness and the scope of Mexican popular music. Son Jarocho in particular now has a lively and growing number of enthusiasts and researchers, particularly since the radical Jaranero movement of the 1980s, that set out to first, record for posterity the music of local groups and musicians and second, to revive the performance of fandangos, the manufacture of traditional instruments, the dissemination of Jarocho styles, songs and history to new generations. Grupo Chucumite is doing just that, helping to spread the Son Jarocho message to the US.

 Alongside these two visions there has been a lively trend of experimentation with form and instrumentation. No folk music can survive in aspic. New musicians will add their own ideas and sensibilities into the mix. Son de Madera, for example, combines the use of a tambourine together with a traditional Requinto and introduces some Jazz-like improvisation.

Pop music followed the trail blazed by Ritchie Valens (and the folk-rock tradition) by trying to blend their musical styles. Cafe Tacuba, Ozomatlli and other Mexican groups explore their home-grown version of folk-rock. It is my hope that this tradition thrives and provides the world with a lot more great music. I’ll end this brief intro to Jarocho here. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

The Son Jarocho Story — Part 1

I’ve been wanting to post something about Mexican folk music for a while now, mainly because there is so much amazing stuff to listen to. Don’t worry, I’ll be focussing on tunes rather than lyrics, so all you need is your ears to come for a ride on this magic bus. First stop; Veracruz and the amazing sound of Son Jarocho.

 Veracruz is a big place (a state roughly the same size as Japan) that hugs the gulf coast of the Atlantic ocean. The southern half of Veracruz, the appropriately named Tierra Caliente (Hot Land) is the place to go to find Son Jarocho. In its purest form it lives in the many villages, ranches and haciendas of this region, particularly during local fiestas. It is a true folk music, tied to the lives of the local people. The valley of the Papaloapan river (the river of butterflies in the Nahuatl language), is credited as being the true home of the Jarocho sound.

 

Son Jarocho owes this sound to its traditional ensemble of string instruments. These instruments are local variations of Spanish and French colonial models introduced during colonial times, although black African rhythms and and indigenous music also play a vital part in the make-up of the Jarocho style.

 

The instruments are, however, largely European (stringed instruments were unknown in the Americas before the conquest). The most important of these are the Jarana (a small 8/10-stringed guitar, which is usually strummed), the Requinto (another small guitar, this time with four strings plucked by a wooden pick) and the Jarocho harp (small, portable, no pedals). These instruments give the Son Jarocho its characteristic “music box” type sound. As with many regional styles of music in Spanish America, it uses a 6/8 rhythm syncopated with 2/4 and 3/4 rhythms (known as a sesquialtera).

 Around this basic trio of instruments Son Jarocho has developed an astonishing number of variants. Most typically these involve the Mosquito (a much smaller and therefore higher pitched Jarana and the main form of percussion, a donkey’s jawbone.

 

 

 

Another element of the Jarocho style is that the vocals are shared between alternating singers. In some instances (or styles) there will be a main singer whose lyrics will be echoed by the other vocalists, while in other situations vocalists will alternate. At some parties, where more than band is present, each will play alternate choruses and sing insults at one another, rapper-style. But hey, enough rapping from me, already. Here’s another song for ya, showing a traditional song and arrangement.

 

And here’s another, showcasing the sound of the Jarocho harp.

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Son Jarocho is famous the world over for one particular song. Oddly La Bamba became an emblematic in the Son Jarocho repertoire due to political events. In 1946 the official candidate for the Mexican presidency, Miguel Alemán, native of Veracruz, chose it as his campaign song. When he won the election (as official candidates in Mexican elections often do), the song remained as a theme for his presidency, becoming one of Mexico’s most popular radio tunes. Eleven years later, a Mexican-American named Ricardo Valenzuela (Ritchie Valens) recorded a rock n roll version of La Bamba that made the song an international hit, reprised in the 1988 film La Bamba and the release of the version, performed by Los Lobos.

 

And thats your lot for part 1! Watch out for part 2, at a Floppybootstomp near you…

The Chocolate Box Of Shit

Lets talk history for a wee second. Fifty Years ago today, the world was faced with revolution, repressive dictatorships and a lot of the things that seem so unprecedented now (particularly with he world — including Libya, Qatar, Syria and the rest — being so calm and uneventful). It is perhaps of some use then, to take a fresh look at these through the filter of the past. It will, hopefully, help us not to make the same mistakes again.

 In 1961 two major events took place in the sunny old Caribbean. The first was the botched April invasion of Cuba by the United States. The next month, the dictator of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, was assassinated in a CIA-orchestrated plot (perhaps an attempt by the CIA to rescue their reputation after the Bay of Pigs?).

Dapper scumbag, Rafael Trujillo

To take the last event first, General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (1894-1961), aka ‘El Jefe‘, was a grade A bastard. His career took off during the US invasion of the Dom-Rep of 1916-24 – because they threatened to default on loans – Trujillo rose through the military ranks to become a general. In 1930, after a rebellion he failed to quash, he stood when new elections were called. After a fraudulent vote, he became president and outlawed all political parties apart from his own. A hurricane later that year was used as a pretext for imposing martial law, something he became increasingly partial to. His repressive policies and pro-US agenda made sure his regime was safe, allowing him to crush opposition, rig elections and for his family to steal everything that wasn’t nailed down. Then, as Shakespeare might have written it, hubris set in. Trujillo felt the need to try and earn the respect of his peers via international politics.

 A racist anti-Haitian policy culminated in the Parsley Massacre (c. 20,000 Haitians murdered), furthermore, in 1960 Trujillo attempted to assassinate Venezuelan president Romulo Betancourt with a car-bomb. That was possibly the last straw for his regime. Who did he think he was, assassinating foreign presidents? The USA? So Kennedy’s goons acted. In 1961, Trujillo was shot dead

 And perhaps that should serve as some sort of a happy ending, no? Horrible dictator dead? Well, perhaps. Problem is, that once a superpower starts messing with your body politic, it just can’t help itself… it has to keep going. Cue the coup against Juan Bosch in 1963 (for daring to suggest land reform) and a number of other interventions besides. The result? A venal, useless Dom-Rep political class forever bleating to Washington to support their own particular grouplet against so-called Communists/Terrorists etc. A mess, in other words. Will the same fate befall Libya once we dislodge Gadaffi? What if we fail to dislodge him? Well, glad you asked me that…

 

Because 1961 will forever be remembered for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. President Kennedy, symbol of a new, youthful America, decided to behave like an old, cold warrior and invade Cuba to thwart the Revolution. Obviously a believer in the Big Society, he got Cuban exiles to plan their own invasion themselves (no big government telling them what to do, woohoo!!) but promised to add some air support, training etc by the US military – just like we’re offering the Libyans. Two days after the invasion proper (April 17th), all the invaders were dead, captured or routed.

Prisoners being led away after Bay of Pigs fiasco

The Bay of Pigs episode boosted the Castro regime rather than undermined it. Che Guevara later wrote to the Organization of American States thanking Kennedy for the attack, as it had helped strengthen Communism in Cuba (Enough to drive anyone to Dallas in an open-topped car, I would have thought).

 So, what has any of this got to do with Libya or Afghanistan or Sierra Leone or any of a hundred places where shit is happening right now? Would not intervening cost more lives than piling in without a strategy as we are doing? Not sure I know to be honest, but here’s a rule of thumb for you; foreign policy is like a box of chocolates, and oil-producing chocolates leave a nasty taste in the mouth. If you possibly can, leave them in the fucking box.

 Adios

ian sneath

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