The immediate reaction to the terror attack in Oslo on the part of the Norwegian government has been to say that they will react with “more democracy.” This apparently is to mean that a stronger distinction should be made between those who have “extreme views” and those who actually take to arms (Ap). The idea is that the current setup may have led to Breivik keeping his views to himself and fanatic groups on the internet, while the media has avoided printing such views.
For us who have been involved in civil disobedience actions and alike, this sounds promising, and every Norwegian leftist I have communicated with in the past week has been rather happy that the official response has been so different than that of the Bush-government after the terror-attacks on September 11th 2001.
As many will have noticed, hardly any updated ever get posted here. I will turn my thesis in on September 1st, and will be examined some months after that. I will consider whether to restart my blog after I am through with that process, which may take another year or so to completely finish.
The smoke from the annual sugar cane burning contains gases that are everything but healthy for those living around.
We interview the local headmaster of a school. And interestingly, he tells us that the burning of the cane is not the worst thing of living around the sugar cane fields.
We picked up a group of workers at a tobacco farm in Estelí, Nicaragua and gave them a ride. One of the three was a nine year old girl. And the owners of the farm are, to our knowledge, Cuban-Americans residing in Miami, Florida.
The three explained to us that the father of the family was making 7.50 USD/week, and therefore had no choice but to send his daughters to work. The nine year old is working eight hours a day, six days a week, earning 50 US cents an hour. She does not have time to go to school.
Both of these have been taken with a regular handy cam, so the sound quality is marginal. But both have been subtitled. You may have to enable that manually in the lower right hand corner of the video.
This is a campaign I started a little over a month ago. And yes, I happened to take the initiative, but the fact that the name wasn’t very well chosen was something many people had been thinking about before. Basically, it’s this Danish company that’s taking over a piece of property that had belonged to the army previously and builds a Danish school on it for 70 million Euros, and everybody gets all excited about how great they are. The problem is just that the company doing it is the shipping giant MAERSK and it’s named after their founder Arnold Peter Møller, who died in the 1960s. Now this guy and this company happen to have a history on earning their money on wars (selling arms to the Nazis and earning high profits on services to the Pentagon in connection with the Iraq war) and using union busting tactics against their workers.
Just in terms of numbers If they were to pay the same tax percentages for their oil exploration in Denmark to the Danish government as private companies have to pay to the Norwegian government, that would amount to 6 Billion Euros more in tax income from today until 2045. But the queen, and the Danish minister of education thank them so much for giving 70 million!
When I first wrote this, I wasn’t aware of several points that appear in the final version. That is because the first ten people signing it had a say in the contents of it, and several of them added things I didn’t have a clue of.
The reaction in the borderland has been like it would be anywhere in Soviet Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall: the newspaper Flensborg Avis refused to print it with the argument that the fond paying for the school had been “giving a lot of money to Southern Schleswig in the last couple of years”. Other people employed by the Danish institutions either were told that they could not sign such a thing or they were afraid of signing it due to past reaction from the system. The text was allegedly also spread in the intranet of the teachers down there. One guy went as far as calling me six times on my Nicaraguan cell phone and some 20-30 people sent me hate mails of various kinds. A reporter from Flensborg Avis went on and on in Facebook forums, trying to find some or other problem with the text. Unfortunately for him, he just revealed thereby that his investigative skills weren’t all that developed.
When former minister of education of East Germany, Margot Honecker, received a medal for her help here in Nicaragua in the literacy campaign in the 1980s as part of the celebrations of the revolution on July 19th, I tried everything I could to get an interview with her. I also got through to all the officials and the spokespeople of president and ministry. Unfortunately though, in the end she declined.
Nevertheless, my search for possible questions cause enough stir around my friends in Germany that I was contacted in connection with this group trying to find their old class mates from a cadre school in East Germany. The Nicaraguans who had participated had for security reasons not used their real names and had never talked about where they where from.
Hey everybody. It’s not like I’m not experiencing anything. I’ve been studying in London, went to Belfast and interviewed representatives of opposing but leftist/socialist parties, I went all across the States from Portland, OR to Miami, FL, stopping by in Berkley/Oakland, CA, Douglas/Tucson, AZ and NOLA (all by land) while meeting tons of people. And I’ve started fieldwork here in Nicaragua where I meet and talk to everything from open source software students (explaining to them all about LAMP) to hardline Sandinistas involved in land occupations, backpackers of all types and intellectual elites.
I started writing a number of texts, but I just can’t get myself to finish anything to be published. Maybe I’ll do sometime in the future, but don’t count on it. I don’t really think I’m obligated to tell anyone why, but it’s just how it happens to be. If nothing else, it was getting boring having a constant deadline waiting for me just around the corner.
If you really want to know what I’m doing, it’s probably best to send me an email or contact me on Facebook (email: j.wilm (a) gold.ac.uk), and I’m sure I’ll tell you something or other, depending on who you are.
PS: If you are from Denmark/Norway (or feel close to those countries), check out the national campaign websites for these countries to get their soldiers home from Afghanistan that I’ve created recently: Norway & Denmark.
So, you haven’t heard from me in a while. Well, the past three weeks I have been studying Spanish at the Xinabajul Spanish school in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Although Huehuetenango is really untouristy (and full of traffic), I really saw no point in describing experiences that probably are 100% alike of those all other language students in Guatemala have.
Nevertheless, besides camping in Mexico city and studying Spanish here, I have also been helping to get the latest version of the Norwegian social anthropological yearly journal Betwixt and Between edited, written, layouted and printed. I don’t know if articles I have been editing are representative of the entire collection (220 pages in total), but at least as far as what I’ve seen, the articles tend to be of a more activist nature in that it’s not just all about describing things using the most advanced version of the Bourdieu-analysis-toolkit, but rather it is to actually try to point at some real problems/issues out there. (Un)fortunately, almost all the articles this year are written in Norwegian (one in Swedish) and few in English. While I understand the point of writing articles for those who do not know English (or any other language of size, however not in order to just keep Norwegian around as a museum type artifact), the problem is of course that writing an article in Norwegian severely hinders the spreading of the knowledge gathered specifically for the article.
I had promised to give some news updates here as to what is happening at the AMLO camp in Mexico City. Unfortunately, the organizers have decided that from now on, all news have to go through the PRD office and no person at the camp is allowed to speak to any kind of media directly. At least one interview that I had planned can therefore not be conducted, at least not currently. In general though, I can say that at this time the camp is growing. It has been more than 40 days of camping now, and so a lot of people had to go home and several tents were only manned sparely during the time that I have been here. However today, the first buses with people attending the conference next weekend have arrived. In contrast to those who have been here up until now, these seem to be more traditional party activists. The last few days it has been my experience that many are actually here because they do not actually have any other home. Several of them have also asked me as to what chances there are for them to obtain political asylum somewhere in Scandinavia, once “all this is over,” because they fear repressions under president Calderon (PAN) and many “don’t like Anglos [people from USA, Canada, UK].” Another group that is present, although to a small degree, is people at student age, who have been able to take off for some time. I will be back with further updates, and I hope that the news ban will be lifted soon.
So this is it. My third stay in Douglas is over. Tonight I will be taking the bus to Chihuahua where I will hopefully arrive by tomorrow morning. And I am leaving alone. I am really not sure about where I am going other than that I am going south for now at least.
Last night I spent with Robert, the son of the librarian who comes to town every once in a while and otherwise lives in Tucson. I tried to update him on recent events and rumors on what I had heard and witnessed in Douglas over the last two and a half weeks, and that was when I once again realized the enormous relative size of conspiracies here in town. I am quite sure that I have been involved or witnessed more of those during two and a half weeks of Douglas compared to 1.5 years previously in Oslo. But Robert charged me with maybe not really understanding what is going on: “well, I just can’t imagine that you know these people here very well… you have been here like six months, and then been back twice over the past two years?” Well, true enough. According to all rules of probability, it is highly unlikely that I have much of a clue what is going on here….