PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN by Tariq Ali
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The Pirates of the Caribbean identified by Tariq Ali in his slender volume titled the same are Evo Morales of Bolivia, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and of course, Fidel Castro, the “Old Man,” of Cuba.
These three men and the movements they lead, according to Ali, constitute an axis of hope for the poor people of Latin America against the predations of neo-liberalism. Through a Bolivarian revolution of the hemispheric South, this alliance of hope has a chance to close and heal the economic and political wounds that Eduardo Galeano has so aptly described in the Open Veins of Latin America (Monthly Review Press, 1997).
The impetus of the movement in the South — the desire for democracy and the need for the redistribution of wealth — is being monitored closely in the epicenters of power and privilege in the North. The disinformation/propaganda machines of the empire are running 24/7, but fortunately, the imperial military juggernaut is currently preoccupied with the oil war in the Middle East.
What chance do the pirates have? Are they living on borrowed time? Will they be targeted as soon as the U.S. can marshal its forces? These are central questions of the pending North-South conflict that Ali addresses, and his voice needs to be heard.
Fortunately for us, his voice can be also heard in another medium. Alternative Radio recorded Ali reading and discussing Pirates of the Caribbean in Boulder, Colorado during March 2007 and offers CDs, MP3s, and transcripts of the program (at www.alternativeradio.org). Ali’s sonorous voice, gravely serious, but finely tempered by wit and humor, reinforces the message of the book and provides an almost perfect marriage of sound and sense.
Both the book and the CD include other voices. We hear Evo Morales‘s “Power to the People” speech to the In Defense of Humanity Forum in Mexico City in 2003 and the voice of Hugo Chávez addressing the United Nations in 2005. We also hear the bitter lyrics of Bolivian poet Jamie Saenz that capture the dreadful sentiments of hopelessness induced by global poverty.
In labeling the leaders from the South as pirates, Ali refers to a definition from 1724 in which pirates were referred to as “marine heroes, the scourge of tyrants and avarice, and brave asserters of Liberty.” In the introduction to his book, Ali expresses the hope that “We Are All Pirates” will become a regular chant on global justice marches.
Reading his book and listening to Ali speak might convince you to add your voice to the rising chorus.
Richard D. Vogel is a political reporter who monitors the effects of globalization on working people and their communities. Other works include: “The NAFTA Corridors: Offshoring U.S. Transportation Jobs to Mexico”; “Transient Servitude: The U.S. Guest Worker Program for Exploiting Mexican and Central American Workers“; and “The Fight of Our Lives: The War of Attrition against U.S. Labor.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.