|The President of the United States Is More the President of My Country Than the President of My Country: The Eighth Newsletter (2019).|
Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.
As the United States and its allies put pressure on Venezuela, a poem by the Salvadoran radical Roque Dalton (1935-1975) clarifies the structure of politics in Latin America. Dalton came from one of Latin America’s smallest countries, El Salvador, which he used to call the little finger (pulgarcito). A deeply compassionate poet, Dalton was also a militant of the People’s Revolutionary Army, whose internal struggles claimed his short life. El Salvador, like so many other Latin American states, struggles to carve out its sovereignty from the tentacles of US power. That hideous Monroe Doctrine (1823) seemed to give the US the presumption that it has power over the entire hemisphere; ‘our backyard’ being the colloquial phrase. People like Dalton fought to end that assumption. They wanted their countries to be governed by and for their own people – an elementary part of the idea of democracy. It has been a hard struggle.
Dalton wrote a powerful poem – OAS – named for the Organisation of American States (founded in 1948). It is a poem that acidly catalogues how democracy is a farce in Latin America. It is from the poem that we get the title of our newsletter this week.
The president of my country
for the time being is Colonel Fidel Sanchez Hernandez
but General Somoza, president of Nicaragua
is also the president of my country.
And General Stroessner, president of Paraguay,
is also kind of the president of my country, though not as
much as the president of Honduras,
General Lopez Arellano, but more so than the president of Haiti,
And the president of the United States is more the president of my country
Than is the president of my country,
The one whose name, as I said,
is Colonel Fidel Sanchez Hernandez, for the time being.