Wednesday, September 13, 2006

From some airport (Paris as it turns out)

Thus I left Vienna for my next mystery destination. Traveling through Europe is an increasing ordeal (or am I getting too old for this?) It seems that the high price of Europe has left Asian tourists undeterred (LatAm tourists are dwindling, at least percentage wise it seems). If to this you add the increasing numbers of Chinese, you can imagine that having to switch planes through the Paris airports has long ceased to be a fun activity. In fact, even the food looked better in Vienna or Frankfurt though the Rhubarb tart I had was out of this world.

And speaking of China. To entertain these long hours of boredom in so many airports I finally started reading a book I bought a couple of months ago: “Cuentos Chinos” (1) by Andres Oppenheimer, the noted Miami LatAm journalist. Although the schedule has allowed me to make it barely through the first quarter in a week, it is definitely a must read for those of you who can get your hands on it. It does have a cleansing approach to current world trends and clichés, merciless against Chavez among other things. Andres O. never bought Chavez Chinese Tales, and today he has even less reasons to buy the bolibanana revolution.

His chapter on China is something to behold, in particular in the light of Chavez recent much ballyhooed trip to China. I would not qualify Andres of visionary but the words he wrote a few months ago are all but completely verified a far as Venezuela is concerned. In short, there is nothing honest in the “rapprochement” between Venezuela and China (or China and LatAm for that matter). The same neo-colonial system is maintained except that instead of selling raw goods to the US they are now selling it to China without any more LatAm industrialization than with the US. In fact, the little bit that would come from the China deals is stuff that would allow China to export through LatAm to the US in case the US restricts Chinese direct imports some day.

But it gets worse: the “alliance” offered by China to LatAm is way more than a Trojan horse. In facts it reeks of unholyness. Indeed, what China wants is less Human rights criticism of its policies at the UN and of course Latin America is already obliging. China wants to promote the one party state model in a capitalist system whereas LatAm, or at least some of it, do not mind caudillos with or without capitalism. Indeed Chavez should be in hog heaven with China. And all is happening: China is building Venezuelan railroads, digging oil wells, in short becoming the next exploiter of Venezuelan natural resources. Chavez could not be more happier if he could get around to control all media and political activity the way Beijing does, and I am sure that Beijing will oblige as much as it can. The only catch here is how will Chavez convince Venezuelans to work 12 hours day and live at the factory for the paychecks of a Chinese workers…

But there is only so much reading one can do in an airport. Thus I went for a long walk and bookstore hunting. One can never fail to be impressed by the richness of European newsstands. There are magazines for EVERYTHING, and usually several offerings on the subject. In a small one I counted 3 magazines dedicated to classical music, 5 to history, 3 to biking (and some to moto motocross and all terrain stuff), etc, etc… There were even three gay magazines prominently displayed, one a very glossy production on gay traveling for the boys in France (note, I did not see a Lesbian magazine but I am pretty sure I missed it). I mean, even US magazine stands pale in comparison. Vienna stands were equally stuffed but since it was in German I could not assess.

Then off to my waiting area where as usual I found for free on a table the latest Le Monde and Le Figaro issues. Le Figaro had as a title the opening of the non aligned conference in Havana, noting that none of the Castro’s boys were at the inauguration. I fail to be impressed by that piece of news since my first reaction was: “How come Le Figaro cares about a pseudo non aligned gathering? Isn’t it everyone pro or against the US?” But let’s not dwell in this pleasant archaism: while having a San Pellegrino water I read further to find out that the expected stars of the non aligned nations summit where expected to be Iran, Syria and Venezuela, in that order in Le Figaro. I will pass on the possible wish for alphabetical ordering in Cartesian French journalists but I will insist of the lack of political acumen for Le Figaro journalist not to question the non aligned definition when it is difficult to find three more aligned presidents as this threesome from hell. But I suppose it was a slow news week end in Paris.

And thus I stop this note as finally after hours of wait they are opening the gate for my next destination. Note: wireless is rare and awfully expensive in Paris airport. Who knows when I will be able to post this note.

1) Tall tales? In Latin America “cuentos chinos” (Chinese tales) means that the tale is not even worth of gossip status, that it is just a work of true fiction.

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