By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.One might think that under this title it would be appropriate to read something about the conflicts that affect relations between Trump, the narcissistic president of the United States, and the leadership of the political party that had him as its candidate for that high office.
The Republican Party has had the elephant as its electoral symbol since 1887 when a cartoonist drew it in response to the Democratic Party’s electoral symbol, the donkey.
The donkey had emerged in the 1828 elections as a Democratic symbol as an expression of mockery by his opponents of the stubbornness and lack of intelligence attributed to the then-Democratic presidential candidate, Andrew Jackson.
The insult was jocularly assimilated by the leaders of the Democratic Party who adopted the donkey as their electoral emblem, highlighting its capacity for work and its modesty. So the Republican elephant was born in response to the Democratic donkey invoking the mastodons for their memory, docility and submissiveness.
However, Donald Trump is not identified as a historic Republican or any other party member, since his political career has been characterized by repeated changes in party membership since he entered politics.
Trump sought the presidential nomination of the U.S. Reform Party in 2000. It was a populist formation of nationalist economic orientation founded in 1995 and ephemeral in existence. He withdrew before the voting began. He then considered running for high office as a Republican in the 2012 election, but eventually did not.
In June 2015, he officially announced his candidacy for the 2016 elections, and gradually became the favorite among the seventeen candidates in the Republican primaries. In May 2016, the last of his rivals suspended campaigning and in July he was nominated, with Mike Pence as his running mate, at the Republican Convention.
His campaign received unprecedented media coverage and international attention. Many of his statements in media interviews, on social networks and at campaign demonstrations were controversial. No few were considered false, but they were always widely disseminated.
He won the general election on November 8, 2016 against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and became president on January 20, 2017 at the age of 70, 7 months and 6 days, making him the oldest president to assume this position in his country. He is also the most affluent president, first without military service or political office before being elected and fifth in winning by the votes of the electoral college despite having lost the election by popular vote.
But, to return to the title of this commentary, it is curious that one of the many embarrassing situations Trump has been involved in stems from the accusations made against him for his support of elephant hunting in Africa.
Avaaz, a nongovernmental organization with more than 46 million members who protect nature and the ecosystem, which promotes actions aimed at protecting wildlife, has directly accused President Donald Trump of supporting elephant extermination actions in Africa.
A climax of this ruckus came when the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., mutilated an elephant during a hunt in Africa and appeared in the world’s press in a photo proudly depicting the white hunter with a smoking rifle next to the body of a large elephant. The president came to his aid and ordered the lifting of the ordinance prohibiting such “diversions” because of the danger they posed to this species in danger of extermination.
But this decision provoked justified outrage in the world. While it met the insistent demand of many wealthy American hunters thirsting for the morbid pleasure of killing harmless elephants in Africa in order to bring their ivory tusks to their mansions as trophies for the sake of human dignity and their role on the planet, nature and environmental protection organizations mobilized and succeeded, through massive global protest, in getting the United States to renounce such an offensive practice.
Following the general rejection of the measure, Trump tweeted that he would put this decision on the elephant hunt on “hold” but, earlier this year, in an interview, he assured us that the trophy ban act would not stand for long.
Obviously Avaaz’s protest has continued and the issue of the elephants remains on Trump’s agenda and with it the confrontation between the US president and the Republican party’s electoral symbol that supposedly sponsors him.
June 21, 2018.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
Who could separate Che’s image and ideas from the 1968 student explosion, known as the “French May”, which led to a strike of 9 million workers in France, the largest in the history of the workers’ movement, and spread to many other countries in the industrialized world?
The most repeated among the slogans and writings on the walls identified with the student movement that sought to revolutionize French society at the time was Che’s recommendation, synthesized in the phrase “Let’s be realistic: let’s do the impossible”.
The photographic image of Che, with his hair scrambled under his black beret adorned with a star, became famous in the demonstrations against imperialism and the authoritarian and repressive capitalist order, which crowded the streets of Paris, Berlin, Rome and other European cities 50 years ago.
The student protests that took place in many of the great cities of the planet against the U.S. war against Vietnam – which in March 1968 added to its crimes the atrocious My Lai massacre – echoed another of Che’s slogans, that of “creating two, three… many Vietnams”, proclaimed two years earlier from the place where he was already fighting outside Cuba.
For a good part of the intelligentsia and students of the European left, Cuba was an unorthodox, creative and original alternative to the bureaucratic “real socialism” of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact neighbors.
“For an intellectual, it is totally impossible not to be pro-Cuban,” said French intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre in an interview. “Fidel started from opposition to Batista and, through the very radicalization of his action, soon discovered that behind Batista was the strength of the army and behind him, the North American power. The logic of radicalization is relentless….” Sartre proclaimed: “Castroism has nothing to give us, except the example of its radicalization.
In January 1968, in front of hundreds of European intellectuals attending the Havana Cultural Congress, Fidel Castro harshly criticized the stagnation of revolutionary ideas in the socialist camp.
“Because there can be nothing more anti-Marxist than dogma, there can be nothing more anti-Marxist than the petrification of ideas. And there are ideas that are even wielded in the name of Marxism that look like real fossils. Marxism needs to develop, to come out of its stalemate, to interpret today’s realities with an objective and scientific sense, to behave as a revolutionary force and not as a pseudo-revolutionary church.
Upon their return to Europe, the intellectuals sent out vibrant testimony of their experiences in Cuba. They had a strong impact on the European leftist youth and extolled the revolutionary advances in Cuba, its cultural pluralism and the emphasis on moral stimuli to the detriment of material incentives, to create the “new man” Che Guevara dreamed.
Anyone can assume that the critical pronouncements so often made by Che Guevara about the need to overcome the immobility of Marxism-Leninism in the USSR and other countries of “real socialism” were not well-received in those nations. It could not have been pleasant in the official circles of the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe for Che to say in Algeria, at the Second Afro-Asian Seminar, that
“The socialist countries have a moral duty to liquidate their tacit complicity with the exploiting countries of the West and to set aside the supposed principle of reciprocal benefits in trade, because they force the underdeveloped countries to sell with the prices that the law of the value and the international relations of unequal exchange impose on the backward countries.”
In his closing speech to the Havana Cultural Congress in January 1968, before some of the intellectuals who would lead the events of May four months later, Fidel Castro said, in homage to his faithful companion in the struggle:
“Who were the ones who raised their name in Europe, who raised and exalted their example, who were the ones who mobilized, painted signs and organized events all over Europe? It was honest and sensitive men and women who had the attitude to assimilate, to understand, to admire, to do justice; to those who wonder why Che Guevara died, to those who are incapable of understanding, and who will never understand, why he died, nor will they ever be able to die as he died, nor be revolutionaries like him.”
June 18, 2018.