Katha Pollitt

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.
Maria Montessori

I’ve written before of my admiration of Katha Pollitt’s writing.  I’m stealing outright from her today.  In her year-end 2013 column for The Nation, she wrote:

[In 2013] Other countries proved how far behind the curve we [the United States] are when it comes to women’s political representation. Michelle Bachelet was elected president of Chile for the second time, defeating Evelyn Matthei, who amazingly happened to be the daughter of a general who worked at the military academy where Bachelet’s father was tortured to death under Pinochet. Angela Merkel won a third term as German chancellor and nominated as her defense minister Ursula von der Leyen, former labor and social affairs minister and mother of seven. Park Geun-hye became the first woman president of South Korea. (Sadly, Australian President Julia Gillard, who electrified the world with a speech about misogyny in politics, was ousted from Labor Party leadership by sexist Kevin Rudd, who then lost the election to even more sexist Liberal Tony Abbott.) And guess which is the only country in the world with a female-majority Parliament? Rwanda, where almost 64 percent of MPs are women.

I’ve written elsewhere of the strides Latin countries (Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Chile) have made in the area of trans rights.  Here are two photos showing how the Latin world has changed politically – a 1970s portrait of the presidents/military dictators of Argentina, Chile, Brazil (left) and the presidents of those same countries in 2014 (right).  Currently, Costa Rica also has a female president.

Violeta Parra (Chile), La Carta



Me mandaron una carta,
por el correo temprano,
y en esa carta me dicen,
que cayó preso mi hermano,
y sin lastima con grillos,
por la calle lo arrastraron,si.
They sent me a letter,
by the early mail,
and in this letter they tell me,
that my brother fell prisoner
And without pity even for the crickets,
They dragged him through the streets, yes.
La carta dice el motivo
que ha cometido Roberto
haber apoyado el paro
que ya se había resuelto
si acaso esto es un motivo
presa también voy sargento, si.
The letter says the reason,
that Roberto was committed,
Is that he supported the strike,
After it had been resolved,
If case this is the reason,
Then I, too, am the sergeant’s prey, yes.
Yo que me encuentro tan lejos
esperando una noticia
me viene a decir la carta
que en mi patria no hay justicia
los hambrientos piden pan
plomo les da la milicia, si.
I am so far away,
waiting for news,
And the letter tells me,
that in my country there is no justice,
The hungry ask for bread,
The militia gives them lead, yes.
De esta manera pomposa,
quieren conservar su asiento,
los de abanicos y de frac,
sin tener merecimiento,
van y vienen de la iglesia,
y olvidan los mandamientos, si.
From this pompous manner,
They want to keep their seat,
Their fans, their tuxedos
This without merit,
The come and go to church,
Forgetting the commandments, yes.
Habrase visto insolencia
barbárie y alevosía
de presentar el trabuco
y matar a sangre fría
a quien defensa no tiene
con las dos manos vacía, si
I’ve never seen insolence,
barbarism and treachery,
Using rifles
to kill the defenseless in cold blood,
their hands empty, yes
La carta que ha recebido,
me pide contestación,
yo pido que se propague,
por toda la población,
que León es un sanguinário,
en toda generación, si.
The letter that I’ve received,
asks for my reply,
I ask that the whole population,
Spread word that the
Lion is bloodthirsty
in all its generations, Yes.
Por suerte tengo guitarra,
para llorar mí dolor,
también tengo nueve hermanos,
fuera del que se engrilló,
todos son comunistas,
con el favor de mí Diós, si.
Luckily I have my guitar
to weep my pain away,
I also have nine brothers,
beyond that the one imprisoned,
All of them are Communist,
With God’s grace.

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