issue 226 - December 1991
Dictionary of the
New World Order
Five hundred years of colonialism continues to
haunt the world, bringing an endless stream of victors and victims.
And, as Latin American author Eduardo Galeano discovered,
it will take more than a change of vocabulary to change the system.
APARTHEID: System originating in South Africa, designed to prevent blacks from invading their own country. Democratically applied by the New Order to the poor of the world, irrespective of' colour.
COLD WAR: Now over, new enemies needed. Anyone interested should contact the Pentagon, Washington DC or their local police station.
CONSUMER SOCIETY: Vast container containing nothing. An invention of high scientific value, capable of suppressing real needs by profitably imposing artificial ones.
COSTS, CALCULATION OF: The estimated minimum cost of a US presidential campaign is $40 million. In the southern countries, the cost of manufacturing a president is considerably reduced by the absence of taxes and the cheapness of labour.
CREATIVITY: An increasingly rare crime.
CULTURE, UNIVERSAL: Television.
EXCHANGE: A mechanism which allows poor countries to pay when they buy and also when they sell.
FLAG, OF THE NEW ORDER: Piece of cloth containing so many stars there is no longer room for the stripes. Japan and Germany are studying alternative designs.
FOREIGN DEBT: Debt contracted at birth by every Third World citizen to finance the club to beat them with.
GOVERNMENT: An institution specializing in the spread of poverty, which regularly meets with its counterparts to celebrate the results of its actions. The most recent Regional Conference on Poverty, which brought together the governments of Latin America, revealed that they had already succeeded in condemning to poverty 62 per cent of that region's population.
HISTORY: On October 12th, 1992 the New World Order celebrates its 500th birthday.
IDEOLOGIES, DEATH OF: An expression confirming the definitive extinction of all troublesome ideas, and of ideas in general.
IMPUNITY: A legal reward given for terrorist actions, when they are carried out by the State.
LIFE, AMERICAN WAY OF: A lifestyle typical of the United States, where it is rarely practised.
MAP OF THE WORLD: A sea with two shores: to the north, few with plenty; to the south, plenty with little. The East, which has managed to stop being the East, wants to become the North, but at the gates of Paradise is a notice saying 'No Vacancies'.
MARKET: Place where the price of people and other goods is fixed.
MONETARY FREEDOM: A traditional Biblical reference to King Herod let loose at a children's party.
NATURE: A nearly extinct phenomena of which archaeologists have located certain vestiges.
NINJA TURTLES: Violent little creatures who fight Evil, aided by a magic potion called - like the dollar - green stuff.
POISON: A substance which currently pervades the air, the water, the sea and the soul.
POWER: The relationship of the North to the South. Also refers to the activities of those in the South who live, spend, and think as if they were from the North.
PRIVATIZATION: A transaction whereby the property of the Argentine state becomes the property of the Spanish state. Other examples (e.g. the property of the Canadian state becomes the property of the US state) may be substituted depending on circumstances.
TELEVISION: Dictatorship of the Single Image in force in all countries (see above, Universal culture). Bestows the freedom to watch the same images and listen to the same words. Unlike the extinct Dictatorship of the Single Party, the Dictatorship of the Single Image works for the happiness of humankind and the development of its intelligence.
TRADE, FREEDOM OF: Stupefying drug; banned in the rich countries and paradoxically sold by the rich countries to the poor countries.
WAR: Punishment meted out to southern countries when they attempt to increase their export prices. (Latest example: attack on Iraq which produced 150,000 'collateral losses', commonly known as human victims.)
WEALTH: A commodity which, according the rich, doesn't bring happiness though according to the poor, it brings something quite closely resembling it.
WORLD: According to those in charge, still a dangerous place. (Example: George Bush in his annual message to Congress, 1991 - 'Despite the disappearance of the Soviet threat, the world continues to be a dangerous place.')
Eduardo Galeano is a Uruguayan writer and author of Memories of Fire, a three-part history of the Americas.
The sword and the cross
The Aymara and Quechua people who live on the Peruvian altiplano are loyal Catholics: worshippers throng to local churches on most Christian holidays. But according to Peruvian anthropologist, Rodrigo Montoya: 'They are also fervent believers in the gods of the hills, mountains and water'.
It is not uncommon, for example, to find a Catholic priest blessing a campesino's maize and potatoes and later to see the same farmer offering food and drink to the Pachamama, the earth god, or Apu, the god of the hills.
Peru's Indian people are loyal to Apu and other gods of farming because they depend on them for a good harvest. But they are loyal to the Catholic saints too - for other reasons. 'An indigenous family wouldn't pray to Apu to help their child get into university,' says Montoya. 'They would ask the Virgin Mary.'
Indigenous people were able to maintain their religions while accepting Christianity because the two faiths exist on different levels. 'The Christian God is ethereal, it cannot be touched,' says Montoya. 'But the Quechua gods have human qualities; they eat, drink and sleep like everyone else. They have very specific roles which is why they have survived the conquest.'
Many priests didn't understand the Quechua culture and were tricked into believing the Indians were praying to the Christian God. In Quechua, for example, the word mamacha means mother. When indigenous people prayed using the word mamacha, the Catholic priests immediately thought that the people were praying to the Virgin Mary when they were more often praying to the earth god, Pachamama.
Nonetheless, Indian religion has been under attack in Peru for nearly 500 years. The first Indian bishop of the Peruvian Methodist Church, Pablo Mamani Mamani, says: 'The Spanish tried hard to destroy Inca culture and religion. The Church was not interested in anything but our gold and our land. For nearly 300 years the Catholic Church did nothing to help indigenous people. What's worse, they worked hand-in-hand with the conquerors who killed millions of people.'
A Catholic priest was put in charge of administering most Andean villages if a Spaniard could not be found. This allowed many priests and their congregations to acquire both wealth and power; the Church confiscated land from indigenous people and forced them to work the fields without pay.
When the Spanish began to lose power in the early 19th century and Latin American countries were on the verge of independence, church officials asked that land taken illegally from indigenous communities be turned over to the Church. Consequently when the country gained independence in 1824 the Catholic Church became the largest land-owner in Peru.
Today, in Lima, the Church owns most of the worst slums in the down-town area and large tracts of land in the poor barrios that ring the city. In Pamplona Alta barrio, priests from one Catholic order recently built a wall around their property to prevent poor peasants from the countryside invading. The Dominican Fathers, who own most of the slum housing behind the presidential palace, recently raised rents to $35 a month (The minimum wage in Peru is $54 a month.)
'For nearly 500 years the churches have worked with governments to preserve the position of the white dominant class,' says Reverend Enrique Minaya, Secretary General of the Evangelical Church of Peru. 'The Columbus Quincentennial is a time to reflect on the meaning of the Gospel.'
Peruvian liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez echoes Minaya. He stresses that we must honestly accept what the 'discovery' of the Americas meant for indigenous people.
'We must avoid the tendencies of those who want to hide the immense destruction of indigenous people, their cultures and their ties to the earth,' says Gutierrez.
'The 500th anniversary must not become an invitation to turn back the clock of history. Our examination of the past must not be motivated by nostalgia, but by hope.'
Lucien Chavin works for Latinamerica Press in Lima.