Incapable of recalling its origins, the present paints the future as a repetition of itself; tomorrow is just another name for today. The unequal organization of the world, which beggars the human condition, is part of eternity, and injustice is a fact of life we have no choice but to accept. Take the environment: "Each inhabitant of the North consumes ten times as much energy, nineteen times as much aluminum, fourteen times as much paper, and thirteen times as much iron and steel as someone in the South. Of course, this is a truism that remains too subtle for the American masses, like the notion that wrecking nature is not just an accidental side effect of these industries but central to their interdependent existences. Advertisement: Galeano makes a similar point about international peacekeeping initiatives and the arms trade: Statistics compiled by the International Institute of Strategic Studies show the largest weapons dealers to be the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia. China figures on the list as well, a few places back.

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Eduardo Galeano. Photo by Marcelo Isarrualde. Courtesy of Susan Bergholz Literary Agency. Nervous to be interviewing a man whose audacious thinking dazzles like fireworks, I went to meet the Uruguayan author at the hotel where he was staying during his recent visit to Manhattan. He offered me a cup of coffee, lit a thin, long, dark French cigarette, and made himself comfortable on the couch of his suite.

Then disaster struck. I could not get the new digital tape recorder I had brought with me to work, though the day before I had repeatedly tested the machine in my apartment. A gallant Galeano decided to try to figure out the contraption. Before we knew it an hour had flown by. This time I brought an ancient tape recorder that only required pushing a button and talking into the microphone.

Once I had deviated from my script there was no turning back. Ninety minutes later when I ran out of tape and Galeano finished talking, I had not asked him any of the questions I had prepared.

I was so caught up in the razzle-dazzle of his free associations, and the ravening quality of his probing mind, that I felt as if I had been riding in a high-speed vehicle over which I had no control. Bush is now the president of the United States.

What does it say about the American people—that they prefer him because he is anti-intellectual and they resent Al Gore because he is too, as they say, intelligent? When you read or hear the speeches, or the debates on TV, they sound almost the same.

On the issue of foreign policy during the second debate, both of them, Bush and Gore, agreed with the invasion of Granada, the invasion of Panama, the bombing of Iraq, and the bombing of Yugoslavia. In any event, the image of Bush is that he will apply a stronger domestic policy in terms of security, and security has been the obsession of the world in these last years—the increment of crime and violence in the streets.

During the war in the former Yugoslavia a group of psychiatrists here in the US recommended that parents teach their children to distinguish between fictitious violence and real violence. At that same moment in time, they were bombing Serbia and I thought, if there is anyone capable of distinguishing between fiction and reality in relation to violence, then that person is a magician.

It seems to me that violence only generates more violence. And this impunity has to do with what occurs in the world today, a world where power is concentrated in very few hands. It also has to do with a culture of violence that is being imposed upon all four cardinal points of the globe. I get chills when I hear that both of them agreed it was acceptable to destroy Granada or bomb the poorest neighborhood in Panama City, killing thousands of innocent people.

When England or Spain or the Romans dominated the world, it was the same attitude—impose the imperialist vision by force. And violence can be exercised in more invisible ways than before. And the economic ministers come flocking to Washington to beg for absolution for every measure taken.

One asks, how do these universal government organisms function? Are they invisible dictatorships on a worldwide scale?

The IMF is run by five countries, the World Bank is a little more democratic, run by seven countries, the United Nations is run by the five countries with veto power in the Security Council.

I was in Peru recently and I saw its effects, people with access to dollars live very well, and the rest of the population, 99 percent of Peruvians, who do not have access to dollars and live using the local money, the sol, have been reduced practically to slavery in order to survive.

This contradiction does not have a solution within the limits of the system, because the difference between the haves and the have-nots is growing and growing, manifesting on a worldwide scale. The numbers of the international organisms are quite clear—these numbers are compiled by those who run the world—but sometimes they reveal the truth.

In , the difference between the haves and the have-nots was 30 times, now it is 90 times. In 40 years, the difference has tripled. The gap goes on growing and growing. Social contradictions are better expressed nowadays in the news about street crimes than in the political pages of the newspapers.

I think this is the tragic daily testimony of social injustice inside each country, but it is also an expression of the very unfair organization of the world.

Do you think the bomb is about to explode? The social situation is like a ticking time bomb. And how does it help, the International Monetary Fund? The IMF technocrats have prohibited subsidies to the national production of rice.

The result is that Haitians eat North American rice and the Haitian rice farmers are ruined. People leave Haiti in those fragile little boats, and many of them die in the Caribbean Sea, like what happened a few months ago with 60 Haitian immigrants—all of them rice farmers who never arrived in Florida. The statistical connection between the rise in employment and the fall in crime is not a personal feat of the mayor.

In Latin America, the mythology of the heavy-handed government implies a certain nostalgia for military dictatorships. Democracy implies an internal system of corrections, a government with a social conscience, sufficient open space to allow for a free exchange of ideas.

In Colombia, we have a democracy only in name, and that applies to the majority of Latin American countries. Do you think democracy is really what third world countries need? And why is the United States obsessed with imposing democracy? From the point of view of the United States, countries are democratic if they buy arms from the States. Drawings by Eduardo Galeano. The same thing happens with the worst dictatorships of all times, Sukarno in Indonesia, who experts say killed a million people.

He was also a golden child of the North American government. Not to mention Latin America, of course. Look at what happened with Pinochet. Pinochet was applauded here in the States as the savior of Chile, the producer of the Chilean miracle—even the editorials in the New York Times gave thanks to him, because Chile was no longer a banana republic.

They should be the first advocates of the cause. Instead they oppose it. How is it possible to talk about democracy when they are protecting the dictators, and when they are the center of a system of power that is antidemocratic in its essential relations with the rest of the world? Why deny countries the right to self-determination, not only through military intervention, but also through new forms of hegemony, using the high international technocracy to act as pirates in a cybernetic age?

Politicians say one thing and do another, obligated by the international structure of power dominating them. The good news is we no longer owe a cent, the bad news is we have 24 hours to leave the country. In little Uruguay more than double the percentage of people participate in elections than here.

And why do candidates here depend on fortunes given to them by large corporations? Only two percent of the North American population contributes those huge amounts and those two percent are the ones who decide. The rest of the world, beyond this country is like a black hole, a threatening zone. How many people know where Guatemala is on the map? In Guatemala, , people have been killed by military dictatorships financed, organized and supported by Washington DC.

We should be careful about the so-called globalization. But the world contains other sources of energy. This is real richness: so many worlds within the world, so many worlds the world contains! Sources of energy and hope. We are not doomed to a way of life that obliges you to choose between dying of hunger and dying of boredom.

And the system of power is moved by two very efficient engines: fear and greed. It works. Look, when I wrote Open Veins in the s, there was universal unanimity in the belief that poverty was the result of social injustice. That was common sense, preached by the Left. Yes, there is social injustice and it is the cause of poverty. Thirty years later, ideas have changed radically: now poverty is considered the fruit of inefficiency, and if you are poor, it is because you deserve to be poor, because you are inefficient.

In Colombia, my country, they are now talking a little bit about diversity, but it has always been, above all, a reactionary society. Even intelligent people are openly racist, anti-Semitic, classist, and they believe poverty is a kind of contagious disease. In the United States, on the other hand, a change is evident.

But whenever I visit Latin America the powerful and intellectual class is still racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic. Racism, elitism, sexism, and homophobia are not, unfortunately, a sad privilege of Latin America.

You find these marks everywhere. In addition to discussing diversity, we can put it into practice, beginning with the recuperation of solidarity. To me, solidarity is horizontal while charity is vertical. Solidarity is practiced among equals, born from mutual respect; charity is practiced from above to those below—and this is important to underline, because charity is practiced every day and solidarity is discredited.

In the United States, where there is so much prosperity, people think that everything is okay and that it will stay that way. Where do you think this devaluation of utopic thinking is going to take us? There is a story of utopia that to me is very revealing—it happened in your country, Colombia, which has been suffering from violence for many years. After lecturing at the University in Cartagena de Indias with Fernando Birri, a film director, one of the students asked Fernando the reason for utopia.

The reason we believe in utopia is because it makes us walk. I remember Antonio Machado, the great Spanish poet. But there are additional pains that come from a worldwide system of power which spreads hunger, violence, fear, and solitude. Reading the official reports of the World Bank and the United Nations, you realize that using the money wasted on buying arms during 12 days would be enough to give food, schools, and medical attention to all the poor children in the world.

Just 12 days. A movement of Indians, of blacks, homosexuals, women, all minorities.


"Upside Down" by Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano. Photo by Marcelo Isarrualde. Courtesy of Susan Bergholz Literary Agency. Nervous to be interviewing a man whose audacious thinking dazzles like fireworks, I went to meet the Uruguayan author at the hotel where he was staying during his recent visit to Manhattan. He offered me a cup of coffee, lit a thin, long, dark French cigarette, and made himself comfortable on the couch of his suite. Then disaster struck.



Form[ edit ] In Upside Down, Galeano makes a set of rhetorical and visual choices that expose the intentions of his book. Beginning with the title, Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World, Galeano uses the term " primer " to convey the educational goals of the book. Later on he uses the term " practicum " to reinforce such goals. Furthermore, small drawings, such as the one seen to the left, occupy the pages of this text.

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