Nukes, Hamburgers and Fear
|Domitila Barrios de Chungara, long-time Bolivian social activist, feminist, and mine union leader whose 1978 hunger strike is credited with bringing down the dictatorship and changing the course of Bolivian history|
By Eduardo Galeano
Memory of Fire: Century of the Wind
1970: Santiago de Chile
Landscape after Elections
In a display of unpardonabley bad conduct, the Chilean people elect Salvador Allende president. Another president, of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, offers a million dollars to whoever can put an end to this disgrace, while the president of the US earmarks ten million for the affair. Richard Nixon instructs the CIA to prevent Allende from sitting in the presidential chair; or, should he sit, to see that the chair doesn't stay under him long.
General Rene Schneider, head of the army, rejects the call for a coup d 'etat and is struck down in an ambush: "Those bullets were for me," says Allende.
Loans from the World Bank and all other official and private banks are suspended, except those for the military. The price of copper plummets.
From Washington, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger explains: "I don't see why we should have to stand by and let a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people."
1978: La Paz
"What is the main enemy? The military dictatorship? The Bolivian bourgeoisie? Imperialism? No companeros. I want to tell you just this: Our main enemy is fear. We have it inside us."
This is what Domitila said at the Catavi tin mine, and then she came to the capital with four other women and more than twenty kids. On Christmas Day they started their hunger strike. No one believed in them. Some thought it a ridiculous joke: "So five women are going to overthrow the dictatorship?"
The priest Luis Espinal is the first to join them. In no time there are fifteen hundred people starving themselves all over Bolivia. The five women, accustomed to hunger since they were born, call water chicken or turkey and salt pork chop, and feed on laughter. Meanwhile the hunger strikers multiply - three thousand, ten thousand - until the Bolivians who have stopped eating and working can no longer be counted, and twenty-three days after the start of the hunger strike the people invade the streets, and now nothing can be done to stop them.
The five women have overthrown the military dictatorship.
We Are All Hostages
Nicaragua and other insolent countries still act as if unaware that history has been ordered not to budge, under pain of total destruction of the world.
"We will not tolerate..." warns President Reagan.
Above the clouds hover the nuclear bombers. Farther up, the military satellites. Beneath the earth and below the sea, the missiles. The Earth rotates because the great powers permit it to do so. A plutonium bomb the size of an orange would suffice to explode the entire planet, and a good-size discharge of radiation could turn it into a desert populated by cockroaches.
President Reagan says Saint Luke (14:31) advises increasing military funding to confront the Communist hordes. The economy is militarized; weapons shoot money to buy weapons to shoot money. They manufacture arms, hamburgers, and fear. There is no better business than the sale of fear. The president announces, jubilantly, the militarization of the stars.