While millions of eyes – including this reporter’s – devour the colourful incidents of the circus staged by the Qatari dynastic monarchy in collusion with FIFA, other events, perhaps much more relevant to the lives of the people, continue to take place in these football-loving lands.

By Javier Tolcachier

Thus, while on the screens, qualifiers and bitterness follow one after the other, in the territory littered with open rectangles with improvised arches, hunger, misery and suffering continue to defeat the majorities, stubborn in spite of everything to survive on a sloping pitch until the final whistle blows.

Worse still, in hidden dressing rooms reserved only for the opulent and insensitive minorities, counter-strikes are being plotted against the need of the excluded to balance their life options.

The counter-coups

As on countless previous occasions, every time a government acts to reduce blatant injustices or to increase the sovereign capacity of its people, the dominant power – foreign and local – adjusts its sights to overturn it, outlawing, sending into exile or physically eliminating its leaders and cadres in between.

The same minorities of yesteryear, in alliance with the same extra-territorial colonialisms, now use in some countries only slightly more subtle methods to achieve their inhuman ends. Co-opting the judicial or legislative branches of the state with the omnipresent collaboration of the hegemonic media at their service, always ready to denigrate whoever pays less or threatens their monopoly, is today the preferred script for expelling the transforming virus. In an apparently more secondary role, the brute force of generals allegedly attached to the “constitutional order” is also required to endorse the measure.

Elsewhere, where revolutionary momentum achieves more rapid and root-and-branch transformations to alter social conditions, the tactic is isolation, blockade, moral condemnation and the application of unilateral coercive measures – called in imperialist punitive jargon “sanctions” – whose purpose is to prevent these revolutions from acting as models to be replicated and at the same time to suffocate their populations by attempting internal revolt against their governments.

Thus, as the popular clamour for decent living conditions in various parts of the Americas becomes manifest, virulent reactions from the elites appear coincidentally as a backlash.

The most recent chapter in this saga of a repeated script has taken place in Peru. In the former capital of the viceroyalty and of the Lima Group (created by Washington to try to corner the Bolivarian revolution and undermine regional integration), the electoral victory of a teacher and trade unionist from the countryside was violated, under the pretext that he was seeking the irregular dissolution of parliament.

The historical irony is striking: while the discourse of the real coup, to justify the overthrow of Castillo, spreads the shadow of Alberto Fujimori’s self-coup of 1992, it was precisely the bloc allied to Keiko, his daughter and successor, which from minute zero denied his electoral defeat and placed all possible obstacles in the way of the legitimate government, trying to remove him from office three times in the space of a year and a half.

The similarity with what happened in Honduras (2009), Paraguay (2012) and Brazil (2016) with the overthrow of Manuel Zelaya, Fernando Lugo and Dilma Rousseff with puerile arguments and the same actors is overwhelming.

The same is true of the judicial persecution, with the judgement against the Argentinean vice-president and main reference point of the popular space, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, having been handed down without any proof whatsoever. The identical cases of the now elected president Lula da Silva, vilified and imprisoned by the press and a judge and prosecutor for hire, and former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, who, had he not left the country like other prominent figures in his government, would have suffered the fate of his former vice-president Jorge Glas, imprisoned for five years to pave the way for the re-entry of neoliberalism in Ecuador, are well within our memory.

In Brazil, once the result that returned Lula to the presidency was known, bolsonarismo tried to emulate Trumpist denialism once again, with the baroque variant of going to pray to the barracks to ask for military intervention.

Nor does the right’s anti-democratic subversion in Bolivia rest. As in the constituent process that culminated in the re-foundation of the country into a Plurinational State or the disregard of the electoral results that led to the coup of 2019, the dominant Santa Cruz lodges staged a new attempt to shock the country, this time with the excuse of the dates of the national census.

Meanwhile in Chile, after the elusive result in the exit plebiscite that was to ratify the new constitutional text to leave behind the Pinochet legacy, the emboldened right-wingers intend, as was predictable, to reduce the drafting of a new constitution to cosmetic modifications by introducing their parliamentarians as protagonists of a new mixed convention.

This panorama shows warning signs that will undoubtedly not go unnoticed by the progressive governments of Gustavo Petro, Xiomara Castro and López Obrador, governments that are bravely treading the rugged path of non-violent pacification and the attempt to bring about social improvements for their violent populations.

Red card for the system

It is not necessary to review the same moves many times to understand the anti-popular strategy of the conservative sectors. The historical truth is blunt in this respect.

The political right, representative of the established power and the geopolitical interests of the United States in Latin America and the Caribbean, does not and will not respect any rule if it paves the way for changes in the capitalist scheme of suffocation and depredation.

The same is true for the so-called empire, today challenged by the emerging multilateralism.

As has already been expressed on many occasions, it is naïve to think of the viability of a democratic and sovereign political system, a government of the demos, within the framework of an increasingly concentrated and transnational plutocratic economic system.

Similarly, it is absurd to believe that social debate can be broad and that people can have all the information they need to make free choices, given that the media are owned by a few conglomerates and that the digital space is intervened by corporations at the service of the status quo.

Analysed in greater profundity, it is not only the influence of unscrupulous merchants that sustains the system, but also the inertia of stagnant values and schemes in its interior, which prevents the emergence of a new world, of all and for all.

The system is clearly showing its failure today, leaving most of humanity out in the cold. Hollow phrases and conventional hypocritical discourse tend to be replaced today by the regressive shrieks of the ultra-right, which is emerging as a new catastrophic manoeuvre of capital. What is exposed is the irreversible deterioration of formal democracy, pointing to the deepening towards a multidimensional real democracy as a necessary light on the political horizon. It is necessary for the people to recover, as on other occasions in history, the sovereignty that has been taken away from them.

As the wise men of this sport, which British imperialism introduced in Latin America so that the workers of its meatpacking plants, railways, mines and estates could have some recreation, advise, we the people must take back control of the ball.