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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Remember the bad old times in Panama when beer taste just like… well, let’s just say water.
The beer still doesn’t taste too much, but the percentage has clearly improved. Until a few years ago it was not possible to find a beer with over 3.5% alcohol in it. this has changed now and 5% beer is actually available. Yee-haah!

Okay, though, the Cervezeria Baru of Panama still doesn’t know much about beer brewing in my opinion, but this is definitely a great improvement. Long gone are the days we used to spend at the beach, chugging one beer after the other, still faintly hoping to get drunk. Now, we actually do manage! No more just using the beer for chasers after Ron Abuelo (which, by the way, is also not very good compared to Central American Standards: When I say “standard” you say “Flor de Caña“…). Anyways, Panama has never been my favorite drinking land. It is definitely not my favorite smoking land. What’s with these fascist laws man? I mean, being healthier all right, but why the hell would you not allow smoking outdoors? We’ve even been to a bar at the beach, that had a little straw-roofed shelter with a table. No sire, you could not smoke under there. What’s with that? Well, they still take the law kind of easy in Bocas del Toro, but not in Panama City, no sir! You can get your ass fined off.

Well anyways, I was talking about the beer, but now I drifted off I guess. Instead of complaining about non-smoking laws I should be happy that the Cervezas “Panama” and “Balboa” finally managed to get the percentage of booze into them they should.

Salud!

I am wondering for a while now.  There is this book by Naomi Klein where she describes how various places in the world have been screwed over by neoliberal businessmen and banks, allied to various western governments (mainly the US of course…).  The book is called “The Shock Doctrine“. It is well researched and well written and it gives an interesting insight in how the capitalist system managed to perpetuate itself, despite some problems innate to the system (that problem being, mainly, that it does not work for everybody, but only for a small caste of rich and richer). Starting with Pinochet’s counter-revolution against Allende in Chile, she describes how Friedmanite doctrines of economics have been imposed by an unholy alliance of Pinochet’s henchmen and Friedman and his fascist followers. (Let me just add, at this point, that Milton Friedman stinks, may that greedy bastard rot in hell for all national economies he and his disciples managed to fuck up.) However, using the state of “shock” Friedmanite economists managed to enforce privatizations, prohibition or at least hindrance of labor unions in exchange for credits (from the World Bank and the IMF (which are both also surprisingly fascist organizations). This is just to say the least. Anyone that has ever been to Latin America can still feel the aftertaste of decades of American and Western imperialism. Of course, not to mention the centuries of slavery and imperialism before. But that was before Latin Americans even began to get organised on a larger scale (in the old times, pretty much until the days of Simon Bolivar, the only ones to get organised were large land owners of European descent who did just about fine). When self-preserving initiatives finally began and Latin America tried to trade among their own nations and build a foundation that would be more independent of the Western World, the Western World did not dig that. Least of all the US and the CIA. Which is why they began installing random dictators in countries from Guatemala down to Argentina.

This is just to give you a brief outline. There’s no point in reciting the entire book. I suggest you go and buy it. The only problem is: it is not available in Latin America.

Okay, okay I over-dramatized it. It is available, but only after long struggles and at the crazy-ass price of almost 100$.  It seems that the only version of the book is being edited in Spain as a hardback edition. I have found no bookstore in Nicaragua or Costa Rica that could even order it for me (I’m sure I would find one in Costa Rica if I tried harder but what the…). So it seems that after centuries of exploitation, after being screwed over plenty again in the 20th century by restricting free education and information, all is still not well in Latin America. For example there seems to be no publisher in all of Latin America willing or able to publish one book that has a particularly interesting perspective to offer for the continent’s history. I hope this will change soon. Maybe I’m just too stupid to find the book. But even if… it worked out fine for all my stupid friends in Europe to get the book, why should it be any more difficult here in Central America?

I’m glad for all hints pointing me the way to an affordable Spanish edition of the “Shock Doctrine”! Thanks