Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Patrick McDonnell picks up Simon Romero's slack


Patrick McDonnell of the Los Angeles Times has done what Simon Romero and nearly every other western journalist covering the Santa Cruz autonomy movement have so far been unwilling to do, name and discuss the role of the militant pro-autonomy group, the Santa Cruz Youth Union (UJC, their banner above). Not only that, but McDonnell wrote an entire piece just about them, "Young Bolivians fight for their regions". I gave McDonnell a hard time for his wanting article on Chuquisaca's new Prefect Sabina Cuellar, but he and the LATimes certainly deserve high praise for running the first story in major US daily on the UJC! (naturally, the piece has faults but that can wait)

Additionally, the story does not cower from the fierce and violent politics surrounding the UJC, stating "detractors label the union a neo-fascist gang of modern-day brownshirts whose adherents crack heads in the service of the eastern landlord elite." It is a big deal for the "F" word to be used by the US press, even if only from the mouths of "detractors". (There is this strange myth in the US that since we 'defeated' fascism in WWII it is impossible for anyone to be a fascist since, unless of course they have a swastika tattooed on their forehead, but at that point one is too idiotic to even be a fascist and is instead simply a "white supremacist"). So kudos LATimes editors for dealing with reality and letting the "F" word pass through the presses.

The article focuses on the sad story of UJC member Edson Abad Ruiz, a young man who did not listen to his mother, joining the militants in a raid on a roadblock at a pro-government town near the city of Santa Cruz, Tiquipaya, in which he suffered injuries latter resulting in his death.


So now his fellow unionistas have made him a "martyr". For what? Seriously. A martyr to what? Marinkovic's land estates? Ron Larsen's slavering? Ruben Costas' racism? "Santa Cruz"? Whose Santa Cruz? Is Tiquipaya and its residents not also apart of Santa Cruz? What a travesty.

Now, if I can move to some criticisms of the article.

The strangest part of the piece is its translation of UJC's name, the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista as "Juvenile Union of Santa Cruz". Why is "Juvenil" the only word not properly translated, as "Youth"? Is the actual name too close in resemblance to other "youth" groups in history? Honestly it is just weird.

While giving readers an honest look at the face of the UJC, the piece skirts directly addressing the question of their backers, that "oligarchy" detractors so speak of. Might readers not have found it informative that the UJC is formally connected to the elite Comite Pro Santa Cruz, old links going back to its establishment which have not just recently "sprung up". Also that the Comite Pro Santa Cruz is an unelected council of prominent regional business and political leaders, who claim to speak on behalf of Santa Cruz. Eventually, the press might find it necessary to drop the quotes on "oligarchy".

Finally, reading the article we are constantly reminded, beginning with the title, that the UJC is only one side of a violent conflict seemingly polarized between dueling political forces and local militias. But where is the other side? We heard of them, about them, but not from them. I imagine Tiquipaya residents have a different take on the UJC and this "ambush" they apparently pulled. No? But I guess all these loose ends are for tying up later.(?)

So now that the cat is out of the box, where is everyone else? Where are their takes on the UJC? Huh? Come on Simon Romero. Where you at New York Times, "paper of record"? Are you just going to let some jerks in the cultural wasteland of Los Angeles simply beat you to the scoop? What are you, the SFChronicle? I guess you're just a bunch of pussies. You heard me. What ya' got?

1 comment:

Bina said...

That "martyr" is the Horst Wessel of the UJC, no doubt about it.

And that said...BARF. Cheesiest martyr EVER.