Systemic corruption and elections in the "new style"
Systemic corruption and elections in the "new style"
The recent electoral processes in Latin America and specifically in Ecuador cannot be understood in isolation from external determining factors, like those stemming from the invisible instances of international financial capital, the so called Washington Consensus or the hemispheric policy of the White House, by means of which governments are rendered inadmissible that fail to cooperate with coporate globalization ("radical populism" if one wants ot use the new terminology of the Pentagon). The attitude in question includes a variant of the imperial discourse rooted in the fight aganst communism that reigned during the Cold War. What are we talking about?
Preventive war, preventive fraud.
In an interview published under the title "Washington: the world's principal terrorist government" (1998), Noam Chomsky explains the change in the following terms : "It does not matter to the United States whether a country has a formal democracy or some other regime. What it cares about is that it subordinates itself to its system of world domination. The fundamental principle is: Will a country allow itself to be robbed? Will it permit foreign corporations to invest and exploit at will? If it does so, it can have any political system it pleases : be it fascist, communist, whatever it wants...But if a country begins to use its resouces for its own population, then it must be destroyed."
After 9-11 and confronted by the resurgence of Latin American nationalism with the consolidation of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, the emergence of anti-neoliberal governments, especially in the Southern Cone, the defeat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas and the energy of alternative forms of integration like the Bolivarian Alternative for America (ALBA) and the People's Trade Treaties (TPP), the global establishment has decided to introduce a theoretical/practical corollary to the Bush Jr. doctrine on "the international crusade against terrorism". That corollary is none other than preventive fraud, operated out in favour of clientelist politicians.
The pioneer Mexican experience
One of Mexico's characteristics is to anticipate continental processes. Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, ex-rector of Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM), in a newspaper article entitled "This is not democracy" explains the recent presidential win of PAN candidate President Calderon and of the transnationalized Mexican oligarchy over his PRD rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador based on reasoning like the following " The 2006 elections are not "elections of State" like earlier ones, rather they are the new type of elections of the emerging transnational World State,which counts among its nodes or collaborative subordinate associates numerous States and regimes of the imperial centre and its periphery. All the world's States and political regimes since 1972-1980 (the time of Pinochet, Reagan and Thatcher) find themselves in the process of operational deconstruction and reconstruction. The final objective of the new way or model of domination and accumulation is to achieve something that combines the operational with the dialectical and practical and what the new "experts" call "governance". By "governance" they mean the art of building States, governments and functional elections for the emerging transnational State, which is composed of the military-business complexes they create to ensure their domination." (1)
According to numerous accusations, something similar happened in Peru where the venal "social democrat" Alan Garcia managed to win with the blatant support of the World Power and its system of propaganda, against the nationalist Ollanta Humala. Panama may have been the object of the same instrumentality in relation to the referendum on the widening of the canal. And it is what may have been tried in Nicaragua to block the victory of Sandinista Daniel Ortega.
Ecuador : two candidates, two projects
With the backdrop of the abject administration of Alfredo Palacio and the exhaustion of neoliberalism, barely concealed by high oil prices and familiy remittances from emigrant workers, the presidential first round vote on October 15th included 13 candidates representing the complete imaginable political spectrum. Already on the eve of the vote, opinion polls put Left-nationalist Rafael Correa (Alianza Pais-PSE) as the big favourite of the election card trick, followed by "centrist" Leon Roldos (Red-ID) and by the openly oligarchical neoliberal candidates Cynthia Viteri (PSC) and Alvaro Noboa (PRIAN).
Correa, an academic who confronted local and transnational "vulture" capitalism at the start of the Palacio government managed to catapult himself as a winner thanks to his acuity in recovering a mandate for defence of sovereignty and the clamour for a refounding of the country that emerged as much from the "Outlaw" days of April 2005 that deposed the traitor Lucio Gutierrez as from the battlehardened mobilizations of the Confederation of Ecuadoran Indigenous Associations (CONAIE) against the Free Trade Treaty and foreign oil companies, especially Occidental Petroleum (Oxy). His platform - detailed in our study "Episodes to remember" (2) - is based on three vectors that do not work for corporate globalization: a) dismantling the Washington Consensus model, b) using a national and democratic economic strategy based on recovering natural resources and c) incorporating Ecuador into Bolivarian-style integration schemes like ALBA or TPP. Never mind a position favouring a negotiated solution to the Colombian civil war and revoking the lease of the Manta military base to the Pentagon's Southern Command.
The spread of Correa's programme under the emblematic slogans of "The Country Returns!" and "Passion for our Country!" caused an awakening of "Outlaw" nationalism and meant broad multi-class support from all regions of the country and even from among "overseas ecuadorans".
Alvaro Noboa, heir to the biggest fortune ever accumulated in the country (3) turned out to be the other candidate through to the second round and was even declared the offical winner of the 2006 election - thanks to the fraud we will analyse later.
For the contest that concerns us, "Alvarito" projected himself - just as George W. Bush did in his moment - as "God's messenger" and built a platform with proposals that, beyond the theoretical elements based on market fundamentalism and open-ness, left open to view the ingredients of maximalist neoliberalism and "colonial fascism" in the tradition of dictators like Somoza, Trujillo, and "Papa Doc" Duvalier with his Ton-Ton Macoutes.
Some of his proposals should he come to power are the following a) to provide legal and military guarantees for corporate capital, b) to foment "governance" through absolute control of all the functions of the State, c) to lower taxes to attract foreign and local investment, d) to finish off the process of labour flexibilization ("flexploitation"), e) to auction off public resources and privatize Petroecuador and the Ecuadoran Social Security Institute, f) to faithfully pay foreign and local creditors and increase foreign indebtedness, g) to reactivate Free Trade Treaty negotiations with the United States (postponed indefinitely since the steamroller win for the Democrats), h) to guarantee the presence of North American soldiers and mercenaries in the Manta base after 2009, i) to break off diplomatic relations with Cuba and Venezuela, j) to involve the army directly in the age-old armed conflict between the Colombian oligarchy and the FARC.
Apart from his operetta messianism, Noboa's populism has been sweetened with assistentialist offers (increasing poverty payments, unexamined housing programmes, increasing health services, microcredits, etc.), offers that are seasoned with uninhibited female dancers. Everything to convince the citizenry - especially the "poorletariat" - that the plutocracy also has a bit of heart and promotes that art abeit in its kitsch variant. Noboa's social demagoguery yielded fruit by capitalizing on the desperation of a good proportion of the people shipwrecked by neoliberal globalization groaning across the length and breadth of the country's geography.
Likewise, the banana magnate reaped significant electoral credit in part as much from the open support of Alvaro Uribe - leader of the northern narco-democracy - who, in retalitation for Correa's refusal to call the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) "terrorists", issued muffled threats of invading Ecuador, accusing it without any proof at all of harbouring Raul Reyes one of the guerrilla leaders, and in part from the dirty campaign waged against the Alianza Pais candidate whome he smears as "communist" forgetting that in 1998 during his first attempt to get into the President's Carondelet residence the multimillionaire chose as his campaign partner Alfredo Castillo Bujasse, one of the main theroreticians of Marxist-Leninism in this part of the world.
However, most concretely, Noboa Porton's participation in the second round of voting on Novermber 26th is due to the great electors of the international and local establishment. What could that mean?
For the first round of the 2006 elections - which includes elections for parliamentary deputies and councillors as well as for the President and Vice-President - two kinds of fraud were set in motion: a) the media version b) the native traditional version.
Fraud Mexican style
This was carried out - according to analyst Alejandro Moreano - in two phases: the first around the exit polls by the CEDATOS and Informe Confidencial companies which gave Alvaro Noboa the lead; secondly, with the manipulation of the rapid count organized in the first place to count up voting information favourable to Noboa in a proportion greater than the polls taken at the voting stations; and thirdly, temporarily suspending the information. The same analyst wrote "The following day the Supreme Electoral Tribunal that had briskly contracted the Brazilian company E-Vote, terminated that company's contract not with the aim of punishing it but so as to end the "count" with the most favourable data possible for Noboa. E-Vote's "inefficiency" was fabricated so as to suspend the voting information. To what end? So as to create the image, for the purposes of the second round, of a triumphant Noboa and a defeated Correa. A crafty psychological manipulation." (4).
The media manipulation - as one might have expected - was approved by the delegation of the Organization of American States, whose chief Rafael Biesa, systematically attacked the Alianza Pais candidate for the duration of his stay in the country and with the diplomatic complaisance of the President's office.
More recent information corroborates the existence of an imperial plan against the democratic majority of Ecuadorans. In a newspaper article entitled "Chile: pawn of Bush's subversion against Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales", Heinz Dieterich notes, "Washington's new startegy to destroy Chavez and Morales attacks on three fronts: 1. breaking relations between Venezuela and Bolivia, especially energy and military relations; 2. replacing Nestor Kirchner's government (trans. in Argentina) with a neoliberal, oligarchical govenrnent, and 3. perpetrating fraud in Ecuador during the second round of voting...." (5) Crystal clear.
It would work like this: ballot stuffing, tampering with electoral documentation and faking the results in the count centre. Mechanisms to which one has to add suborning voters by means of gifts and cash payments - especially among the large groups of indigenous and impoverished people
The journalist Jorge Vivanco angrily condemned these perverse methods of criminal representative democracy in his editorial "Cynical and corrupt" on the Supereme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) run by Social Christian Xavier Cazar (one of "Corleone" Febres Cordero's men). Among what he says, "In this electoral process it was proved as never before that as well as being cynical the system is corrupt to its core. The TSE structure, divvied out among the party-ocracy, not only fulfilled its role in fronting for the system but also proved itself cunning and greedy in the management of its multi-millions contracts.........During the electoral campaign, with the complacency of official bodies and the paralysis of collective moral conscience one arrived at the incredible extreme of political corruption making citizen's votes a business commodity. Something bought from campaign stumps, in the streets, in crowds or on doorsteps...........The power of money has never been so publicly offensive to a people nor so degrading to the system. The Presidency is being bought after having had it already in the pocket of Congress, thereby running the risk of handing over political power to the plutocrat with most opulence."
What can be done faced with institutional kidnapping and disgrace perpetrated by the worldwide lumpen-grand-bourgoeisie and native political-business mafias?
The popular intuition is : for great ills, great remedies.
RenÃ© BÃ¡ez is a recipient of Ecuador's National Economics Prize and is a member of the International Writers Association.
3. The PRIAN caudillo's manual of bribery and blood can be found in Eduardo Tamayo's study called "Multimillonario a la compra de la Presidencia" - www.alainet.org/active/14434.
4. â€œLa estrategia del fraudeâ€, TintajÃ special edition of October 2006
6. "Expreso", November 5th 2006
Translation CopyLeft by Tortilla con Sal