dissabte, de setembre 29, 2007

Ten inconvenient truths about Serbia

B92 Inside Viewpoint


19 August 2007 William Montgomery

1. The overwhelming majority of Serbian people have a totally different perception of events in the region over the past twenty years than the rest of the world. While this same "disease" is prevalent everywhere in the former Yugoslavia, it has remained stronger - and a more important factor - in Serbia than almost anywhere else.
It is rare to find any Serb, for example, who does not totally blame the Kosovo Albanians for all the troubles there. The same is true for the overall breakup of the former Yugoslavia, whereby all the responsibility lies elsewhere.
2. The widespread strength of this emotion discourages any politician or political party from saying or doing anything, which runs counter to it. Virtually none of the governments, which have come to power since the fall of Milošević, has really worked systematically at uprooting nationalism and looking more realistically at the past. The end result has been to lock into place, even for new generations, a vision of Serbia as an innocent victim of malevolent outside forces and bearing no responsibility for the ills, which have befallen it. This in turn has permitted extreme nationalist parties such as the Radicals and Socialists first to survive the overthrow of Milošević and now to thrive.
3. The West viewed the downfall of Milošević as repudiation by the Serbian people of the actions he and his government took during the decade of the 1990s. In fact, that was not principally the case. Even though Milošević had significant political opposition throughout his career from ordinary people who opposed his policies and openly demonstrated against them, he lost the election of Sept 2000 because the Serbian people were tired of their dire economic position and saw DOS (the Democratic Opposition of Serbia) as the way to obtain Western assistance and support. This misunderstanding of the basic cause of his defeat had significant consequences, as our policies and requests of the new Serbian government were based on the false premise that the Serbian people had repudiated nationalism. A classic example was a list of about six suggested actions, which the U.S. administration prepared and delivered to the new Serbian government in the immediate aftermath of Milošević's downfall. From the U.S. perspective, each suggestion was logical, easy to do, and would demonstrate Serbia's commitment to democratic change. But each one of the items in fact was a landmine in the Serbian political landscape (such as freeing all the Albanian "political prisoners.") We couldn't understand why the new Government was delaying action on our suggestions and they in turn could not understand how we could be asking them to take such difficult measures exactly when they were trying to consolidate their power.
4. While both Slovenia and Croatia had significant opportunities for growth and advancement following the break-up of Yugoslavia (due to tourism and a historical background more conducive to Western democratic processes and market economies), the fact is that if Serbia would have played its cards correctly, it could have remained the most dominant country in the region. It had the bulk of the military weaponry and officer corps, control of a respected international airline with a long tradition of service, significant Western support and sympathy, by far the largest population and land area of all the Republics, and significant influence, through its Diaspora, in most other Republics. If a peaceful transition had taken place, Serbia, Slovenia, and Croatia would all now be in the European Union. Serbia had every potential to become the "hub" of this region. Instead it is still fighting to return to the per capita GNP, which it enjoyed prior to the breakup.
5. The parties making up the current coalition government continue to see each other as the real "enemies" and not the parties of the Radicals and Socialists. They spend far more time plotting how to make each other look bad than in combating the real threat to their political future. To this very day, even in light of incontrovertible evidence in elections, polls, and any other measure of public opinion that the strength and popularity of the Radicals and Socialists continues to rise to dangerous levels, no party openly confronts their extremist policies and the damage that they are doing to Serbia's international image.
6. The percentage of Serbs that have actually ever visited Kosovo or even want to do so is much smaller than one would imagine. Most Serbs are focused on their severe economic problems and are just trying to keep their heads above water. It is a trap, however, to believe (as too many American officials seem to do), that this means Kosovo is not really important to them. It has been ingrained in generations of Serbs that Kosovo is the cradle of the Serbian civilization. But even more than that, it is now being seen as a concrete example of how the International Community ignores international law to suit its own purposes and demonstrates its prejudice against Serbia and overall hypocrisy. It is precisely this ongoing drama which is preventing Serbia from coming to terms with its past. In fact, it is helping to ratify all the outstanding prejudices and extremist views of the nationalists.
7. Serbia remains a country of great contrasts. At the present time, Belgrade is the most dynamic city in the entire region. Moreover, the privatization, which took place in Serbia, has been the most successful perhaps in all of the countries undergoing democratic transition. While like everywhere, the quality of individual government Ministers has varied widely, Serbia has had more than its share of outstanding ones. The annual economic growth rate is impressive. At the same time, large parts of the country (Šumadija, southern Serbia for example) have seen almost none of the benefits of this growth and are locked in a perilous economic situation. There is a growing gap between a large body of relatively impoverished people (including pensioners, unemployed and people in the economically-depressed regions) and a smaller percentage of people who are economically well off. Corruption is also blatant and debilitating at almost all levels.
8. Advocates of the use of economic sanctions on a country might well point to Milošević's downfall and claim that economic sanctions were a significant factor in bringing it about. Most democrats in Serbia would claim exactly the opposite, that sanctions actually helped Milošević to stay in power. What is certain is that the sanctions did catastrophic damage to the social fabric of Serbia; to the healthcare system; and to the educational system. To this day, none of the three have recovered and the people of Serbia are suffering greatly as a result. This is also a significant factor in the popularity of the Radicals and Socialists.
9. There is a familiar saying used for years during the Balkan Wars "Why should I be a minority in your country when you could be one in mine?" It is an interesting fact that on the one hand, Serbs have demonstrated time and time again a fierce resistance to becoming minorities anywhere (Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo all being good examples). At the same time, Serbia itself is extremely multi-ethnic and multi-religious. The contrast is striking. The only explanation I have is that the minorities in Serbia have accepted that they have very limited political power or influence and the Serbs, as a people, find that extremely difficult to do.
10. Recent efforts by the West to bring significant political and economic benefits to Serbia are in one way, long overdue. Most should have come immediately after the downfall of Milošević. The conditionality imposed instead made it far harder for democratic governments to function and contributed to the resurgence of nationalism. However, the West should be aware that absolutely nothing that is being done now would ease the Serbian posture towards Kosovo. Moreover, these steps are viewed with a certain degree of cynicism. At the same time, the Serbian government needs to understand that EU membership remains uncertain and far away at best. There really will be no shortcuts to that process, regardless of what some EU politicians may claim.

divendres, de setembre 28, 2007


Me rehusaba a creerlo pero está sucediendo. Los están matando y en masa. Aparte de casi nada ¿qué podemos hacer? Recen, se los ruego. Parece ser lo único que queda para defender a los birmanos.

dijous, de setembre 27, 2007

Half and half

I'm half asleep, half awake, half in all. My latest professional engagements, combined with my student obligations have turned me lately into a zombee. Over the last two days I've had to prepare two difficult lectures, and tomorrow and Saturday come an extra two. I'm falling asleep big time. And I have to attend class today as well. I'm finding it difficult to cope with it all. But anyway, it's not like I have another choice. In a more positive note, it's not that I'm falling apart and that's it. I may start giving lectures on no less than the turbo folk phenomenom, which really could motivate me to get my act together and enjoy. It's only a project, but if it becomes a reality, I'd be deliriously happy. I'd even invite the folks down at the exYu embassies to see if they come, it'd be very interesting. I think I will not turn up for rehearsal today at the choir. I'm not attending the Saturday recital, anyway, and the rest will surely do me good.

divendres, de setembre 21, 2007

Charla interesante

Manca d'entusiasme

Porto una mandra, que no sé pas com evitar-la. A més a més m'acaba d'arribar una sensació de por, depressió i nostàlgia força gran. Després de tres setmanes, les meves vacances arriben al seu acabament, i sento com si volgués morir-me. Dilluns proper haig de tornar a la feina, sense gaires ganes de tornar-hi, a més de què tot hi està súperembolicat. Sembla que la cap està sota molta presió, i no ho porta bé, i caldria dir-ne, que també reflexa les seves inseguritats, i per a fer tot encara pitjor, està embaraçada i li ha afectat les hormones, molt i molt. Torno a veure'm incapaç d'acabar el que començo, i m'alarma que ja no m'importi gaire. Podria ficar-me en un problema ben gros, i jo tan campant. Què serà el que em manca?, ¿caràcter?, o què collons. Bueno, ja vorem què passa amb mi. Tant de bo que no passi a majors. Mestrantant, un vídeo.

divendres, de setembre 14, 2007

In September

My natural state of being is just as usual. That is, my mind is dispersed, jumping from place to place, from idea or dream to whatever occupies me. As always, I'm on the edge of my deadlines and struggling to finish whatever it is that I've started. As usual, I have a million and a half projects ahead of me, yet, none seems to be all too captivating. I have the texts from work which I have to finish, yet, for many reasons, I'm almost uncapable of doing, or wanting to do it. I'm in a state of sloth most of the times, and then I can be up for hours. I follow erratic eating schedules, which I'm told is less than optimal. My natural state of being is just as usual then.

dimarts, de setembre 04, 2007

L'angelet que ja no hi és

L'ambient al centre budiste està malament, un dels nostres mitres, en Paris, va morir ahir, després d'alguns dies d'haver-se'l diagnosticat mort cerebral. Una veritable tragèdia. Sempre que mor una persona joveneta, com ell, als 21 anys el sentiment de pèrdua i manca d'enteniment és encara més gran. Els membres de l'Ordre aquí, al menys els dos que el coneixien millor, Vs. i Up. han reaccionat amb incredulitat, i esclar, molta pena. Per a nosaltres els budistes, o més ben dit, per a la tradició budista, la mort és un dels temes favorits i sobre el que més hauríem de reflexionar. Clar, el tema és difícil, no només per què podem reflexionar-ne vol dir que podem no sentir emocions fortes quan un dels nostres se'n va. Up. solia dir que en Paris era "un angelet", quina mala sort que hagi mort tan jovenet. Suposo que aquesta és l'ocasió més adequada per a apropar-nos a una reflexió més forta o comunitària sobre la mort. I també caldrà apuntalar alguns membres de la Sangha, que ha estat una setmana plena de dolor. Que estiguis bé, Paris, que siguis molt feliç.

dilluns, de setembre 03, 2007

10 Requisitos para ser un joven chilango independiente

Me lo mandaron x mail, está weno... hahaha

10 requisitos para ser un joven chilango independiente
1. Usar ropa de diseñadores mexicanos independientes.
2. Tener amigos que sean jóvenes cineastas mexicanos independientes.
3. Vivir en un departamento en la zona Condesa-Roma-Escandón-San Miguel Chapultepec.
4. Escuchar música editada por disqueras mexicanas independientes.
5. Leer revistas mexicanas independientes de arte, diseño, literatura or such (punto extra si escribes para alguna).
6. Decorar tu departamento con objetos construidos por diseñadores mexicanos independientes.
7. Formar parte de un colectivo mexicano independiente de... ¡lo que sea!
8. Ir a todas las inauguraciones de todas las expos de artistas mexicanos independientes (en galerías mexicanas independientes, por supuesto).
9. Beber café en pequeñas cafeterías mexicanas independientes (o en Starbucks, que es casi lo mismo).
10. Hacer el súper en alguna tienda de grupo Wal Mart.


Mi reina, mi niña, mi vida, mi mamacita, mi bombón, mi delirio. Cumple ya 13 añitos. Está un poquito achacosa, pero, ay, que pechocha que está....

diumenge, de setembre 02, 2007

El temps avança... massa

Ja hi som, al setembre. L'any se'n va més ràpidament del que mai hagués pensat. Ha estat un any, diguem-ne, interessant. Ara mateix estic a dos dies de començar les meves vacances, les primeres des de l'octubre passat. Malauradament em trobo sense gaires diners per a fer allò que voldria, o sigui, viatjar i conèixer i una miqueta més del món. Suposo que d'aquí a dos dies me n'aniré a la Mixteca Alta a fer recerca i tot el rotllo, tot i que de debò no estic particularment feliç de fer dit viatge. A la feina està tot embolicat, no acabo de fer les coses que caldria, a més a més de què no són pas les coses que voldria fer. A saber, em va fer molta il.lusió fa uns mesos començar la meva primera curaduria al museu, i és clar, la vaig fer com creia que estaria millor, i la cap fins i tot la va aprovar com era, però, un parell de mesos després, ja no és pas del gust ni de la meva cap, ni de la cap major, o sigui, estic fotut, es va haver de canviar pràcticament tot, i no me'n queda cap remei més que callar. En silenci he manifestat la meva insatisfacció, però es nota que ja no faig la coses amb gaire esma. És com si el meu projecte personal ha estat modificat massa per interessos més enllà dels assumptes estrictament acadèmics o curatorials. Suposo que l'única cosa que puc fer és portar a terme els projectes i després buscar nous horitzons.