From his usual table at Café Brasilero downtown, leaving the cold weather of southern winter outside its large window, Eduardo Galeano insists that “the grandeur of humanity lies in small things, quotidian things, done every day, what’s done by the nameless without knowing that they are doing it.”
So, his answers mingle with episodes from his latest book Los hijos de los días, whose 366 true stories, one for each day of the year, contain more truth than risk premiums. The European crisis is being managed by political leaders using the rhetoric of the people’s sacrifice.
It’s the same as the rhetoric of officials ordering army recruits to die, with less smell of gunpowder, but no less violent. This is a systematic plan on a global level to cast two centuries of workers’ conquests into a dustbin, to make humanity go backward in the name of national recovery.
This is a world organized to specialize in the extermination of fellow human beings. And then they proceed to condemn the violence of the poor, the violence of those dying of hunger. The opposite violence is applauded and awarded medals.
Is “austerity” being presented as the only solution?
For whom? The bankers who had caused this disaster were and remain the chief bank robbers, rewarded with millions of euros in compensation. . . This is a very false and violent world. Austerity is an old rhetoric in Latin America. We are watching a stage play that premiered here and that we know already. We know it all: the formulas, the magic recipes, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank. . .
Do you consider the impoverishing of people to be greater violence?
If there were a true war on terrorism, rather than one used as a pretext for other goals, we would plaster wanted posters all over the world: “Wanted: Kidnappers of Countries, Exterminators of Wage Workers, Killers of Jobs, Traffickers in Fear.” They are the most dangerous for they condemn you to paralysis. This is a world that domesticates you so that you won’t trust your neighbor, so that you’ll see threat and never promise. There’s someone out there who will harm you, so you have to protect yourself. That’s how the military industry is justified, to use a poetic name given to the criminal industry. That’s a clearest example of violence.
Now, turning to Latin American politics: Mexicans are still protesting in the streets against the official results of the elections. . . . The difference in votes wasn’t so great and perhaps it may be difficult to demonstrate that there was fraud. Nevertheless, there was another fraud, a deeper and subtler fraud, which does the greatest damage to democracy: the fraud committed by the politicians who during the campaigns promise the complete opposite of what they will do once in power. That’s how they undermine the new generations’ faith in democracy.
Regarding the ousting of Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, is it possible to speak of a coup d’état if it was based on the laws of the country?
Of course, what happened in Paraguay is a coup d’état, plain and simple. They struck a coup against the government of the “progressive priest” not for what he had done but for what he might do. He hadn’t done anything big; but he had proposed an agrarian reform in a country whose degree of concentration of power of land ownership is the highest in all Latin America, and consequently whose inequality is the most unjust; and he had also taken some stances, demonstrating national dignity, against some all-powerful transnational corporations like Monsanto and prohibited the entry of some transgenic seeds. . .
It was a preventive coup d’état, done just in case, not because of what he is but because of what he may do one day.
Do you find it astonishing that these situations continue to happen?
The world today is quite astonishing. Most European countries, which seemed as if they had been vaccinated against coups d’état, are now governed by technocrats, handpicked by Goldman Sachs and other big financial corporations, for whom no one has voted. Even language reflects that: countries, which are supposed to be sovereign and independent, have to do their homework as if they were children prone to misbehavior, and technocrats are the teachers who come to pull your ears.