Move along, please. Nothing to see here

By Bernard Bolze

Not all the inhabitants of this planet are on the same playing field;there is fair weather for some and lousy times for others.

Africa: Isabel dos Santos is the number one billionaire (in dollars) in Africa. This ‘princess’, barely 40 years old, is the daughter of Angola’s president José Eduardo Dos Santos and is considered to be the wealthiest and most powerful woman in Africa. In Angola, 70% of the population lives below the poverty line - and here’s another observation: there is violence toward prisoners and impunity for prison guards.

Europe: The inhabitants of Saint Tropez in the south of France have given a nickname to the area known as Le Domaine des Parcs: the ‘CAC 20’ ,as in ’Fortune 250’, is an ironic reference to the stock exchange’s CAC 40.This is because half of the wealthiest French and international individuals are domiciled there. ’In the past ten years, the price of a luxury villa has gone from a few million to a few hundred million Euros.’ - a cynical observation. Prisoners will not have a vote in the 2017 legislative elections. The non-profit organization Robin des Lois (Robin Hood of Laws) deplores the ’dismaying political decision’ and calls on the new administration to allow detainees the right to vote, which is a tradition of ’civic virtue’.

South America: The Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega, a supporter of the Bolivarian regime throughout her career, was dismissed on August 5 by the new constituent assembly after officially opposing the government. She accused Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro of being ’implicated in the international corruption scandal involving Brazil’s Odebrecht group’ (kickbacksto politicians and political parties by the Odebrecht construction conglomerate in exchange for more than $300 billion in public works projects)- appalling? On Wednesday August 16, authorities reported that at least 37 people were killed during a mutiny at a prison in the south Venezuelan state of Amazonas.

North America: From 2001 to 2017, the United States Department of Defense spent nearly $841 billion on the war in Afghanistan; this figure includes the budget request for 2018.

The 33 year-old CEO of Facebook saw his income rise by $11.4 billion in 2017. In the US “because they could not post bail, 450,000 people are waiting in jail for a trial date. Forty percent of arrested African-Americans are unable to pay even the lowest amounts set for bail.”

Asia: The Philippines have become the number one producer of nickel on the planet; the exploitation of nickel is destructive to the environment. When the Philippine Minister of Environment and Natural Resources ordered the closure of 22 mines, President Rodrigo Duterte immediately replaced her with a retired army general. Friends of the President, who are in the lucrative mining business, are openly jubilant at the dismissal of the former Minister of Environment. The Philippine government carries out thousands of extrajudicial executions; Amnesty International has denounced these as crimes against humanity. It is a war on the poor, rather than a war on drugs and Amnesty International describes the situation as “an economy of murder.” The police are paid for every confrontation, in cash and in secret, with a price for each individual involved. They receive bonuses not for arrests, but for killings.

Excessive wealth, poverty, corruption, impunity: these terms, so often repeated, become trivial and the ingredients which feed the most horrendous violence are still with us. Prison is the ultimate in marking one’s territory; but sharing the wealth is no utopia. Move along, please… it’s business as usual…?


Bernard Bolze

Published on 19 September 2017.
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