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Paraguay: A History Lesson

By       Message Guglielmo Tell     Permalink
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Part 3: History, Politics and Economics

I have stated that the information developed in this article does not derive from American source materials. An article titled Paraguay: Crime Without Punishment appeared in The World: A Third World Guide, published during the 1990s by the Third World Institute, headquartered in Montevideo, Uruguay. Publication of the Guide has since ceased for financial reasons, and its articles are not available online. The Third World Institute's website is, and is available in English. A reference to the Guide and its content, "The Truth about Two-Thirds of Humanity," can be found at

The Third World Institute's Guide was apparently published in English, but you have to be very lucky to find a printed copy of it in a library in some big city. As for literature relating to Paraguay, I highly recommend the novel I, the Supreme, inspired by the figure of Dr. Francia, by Paraguayan writer Augusto Roa Bastos (1917-2005). It's a fat and fascinating novel, but it can be difficult to fully absorb without prior knowledge of the characters and issues at play.

The concept of history held by the American establishment is that the whole world is "transitioning" toward the American social model, which it assumes, without reservation, to be the "supreme" model. Nations that have tried the American model, but "failed" to bring it to realization, are simply dismissed as "losers."

The truth, however, is that Western elites have developed a technique for sabotaging other societies from within, so as to forever prevent them from effectively meeting the challenges of their own nationa l aspirations, politically or economically . The policy of Western elites is to divert the natural resources of each society holding them for the benefit of outside aggressors. The places where the resources are found become foreign property, and the local population is thrown out.  (Today, this pattern also plays out with Asian electronics factories and textile shops like those collapsing in Bangladesh. Those who get rich today may have a somewhat colored complexion, but all have a white soul.)

With such exploitation, society's own property structures and exchange patterns are smashed. These natural activities are replaced by the concentration of the country's productive resources (land, mines, and people with traditional skills that are applicable to some "modern" industries) in large private enterprises. To maximize their profits, the owners of such enterprises want them to be as large as possible, employing masses of accommodating slaves who are happy to work for miserable wages. Given the structure of their working environment, the workers can aspire to nothing more.

"Success" in such factories is determined almost entirely by the quantity of production, since quality can only be obtained from nature: from what has always grown naturally in the fields; from what has lain underground for ages; or, even today, from the traditional skills of the people.

Nevertheless, the Third World "feudal" capitalist is deemed a "success," or even a "freedom fighter," in the West, and is supplied with everything the West considers he needs to stay in power. He is equipped with colonial "education" books, media, weapons, and, of course, money . For the elites "democracy" is nothing but the maintenance of underdevelopment as a permanent condition. Third World countries are mortgaged in foreign currencies, so as to keep their economies perpetually bankrupt. The debts finance the Western consumerism of Third World elites, which replaces historically the creation of a national economic and financial potential. Whereas equal distribution of property would create an equal exchange pattern, the system of underdevelopment deprives local people of access to their country's own resources for their own development. Instead, the resources and raw products are exchanged for luxuries and weaponry from a foreign market. Thus, the elites become "successful" in preventing the local internal market from taking off. And when there is an exchange crisis, the internal market (which is always gasping for breath) is in effect strangled, since the purpose of "adjustments" is to "stabilize" foreign trade by selling more of the raw products for less. This concentrates profits from the raw products even further, which, in turn, creates the need for more loans.

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This is how underdevelopment basically works and how it is being perpetuated. The concept of leadership, as understood by the American (also Israeli and European) establishment, is to grab everybody's resources, the products of their labor, and, at the same time, cut off their incomes. Surplus value is expropriated from the people who produce it, the production of goods that satisfy basic needs is sacrificed to the purchase of luxuries and weapons, and the costs of the luxuries and weapons are defrayed first by higher prices on ordinary goods and then by higher taxes.

Since these actions replace the natural widespread diversification of production with little or no expropriation, the very existence of the elites--first foreign and now "global"-- becomes a "tax." In concentrating the entire world's resources and money into what is now a global surplus value, the elites will only invest in what they need. They will also do everything within their power to keep simple people from thinking that economic self-determination is any longer possible. China has heretofore never been much under American control, so, today, American elites have adopted another strategy: they are "underdeveloping" the U.S. through their production in China. This practice has proven to be a huge break-the-unions-and-expropriate-the-American-people business. Analysts like James Petras consider China a "capitalist" power, and China's own professors, such as Wang Hui, consider the events at Tiananmen Square not an unsavory manifestation of communism, but a brutal implantation of neoliberalism in China. [See "China Reflected," Asian Exchange, Vol.18, No. 2, 2002/Vol. 19 No.1, 2003: ARENA, Hong Kong, 2003. Other articles in this issue of the Exchange, and some Chinese movies, such as "Beijing's Bikes," show the decomposition of the country's social tissue.]

The foundation of the "traditional" underdevelopment mechanism consists of "islands" of foreign, or foreign-associated, properties that invade the whole country like a cancer. They commonly push local people into marginal quarters or the streets, but even such conditions may be preferable to jobs in land properties, mines or factories with wild expropriation rates. (Slaves are expropriated of 100% of the benefits they produce. American slavery was a capitalist enterprise from the beginning, and the property structure in Latin America did not change essentially for 500 years, as Andre Gunder Frank showed in the article "Development of Underdevelopment" and in his book Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America.) If slaves abandon the idea of their own inferiority, they have to come to see clearly whom it is they are messing with. People who try to determine for themselves what to do in their own country are erased first from the face of the earth, then from the news, and then from the history books, to whose pages they may later reappear in twisted form.  

"Surplus value" is an expression that's been banned ideologically, although it is actually a scientific concept. As a result of this concept's banning, famines are represented as "accidents," or as something "natural" that happens in the countries of "losers." They are never represented as weapons used in the gangster policy described in the words: "All for me, nothing for you; demand nothing for yourself, even in your own country; and also respect me and keep paying me tributes." In other words, what is banned is any discussion of the redistribution of surplus value and thus the direction (the income stratum or class direction) of the exchange; everything is to be blamed on the victims for offering resistance.

Nothing has changed since the time of the Triple Alliance War, or the American Indian wars. All wars are still the same thing. That's why the recounting of history in the American Encyclopedia is a "timeline" that registers only the "sophistication" of the "freedom" model. Those who stood in the way are viewed simply as "demagogues" or "dictators," who only made things worse. [Prove me wrong!]

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Such words, or others with similar negative meanings, are probably the only characterizations you would find in an American encyclopedia article on Latin American history about Dr. Francia or Francisco Solano Lopez. [Prove me wrong again!] The thinking is: If we got here, then history can't be wrong. No options. No reasons. [It's the saint's sense of superiority.]

Well, just now, Michel Chossudovsky has posted on his website an article on how the West provoked famines in Ethiopia: "America's GM Grain Surpluses: Sowing the Seeds of Famine in Ethiopia." You can also find a commendable collection of truths, about Rwandan genocide and much more, in the book Your Bag or Your Life. Finances Against the Peoples, by Eric Toussaint.

As for Paraguay, after the overthrow of the 35-year-long dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner in 1989, it became the last of the Latin American countries to "stabilize" its elections system. Soon after, the files of the "Condor" operation, "The Files of Death," were found right in Paraguay. [See Condor Operation: A Criminal Pact, by the Argentine reporter Stella Calloni.]

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A Russian sociologist residing in CUBA

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