In this pandemic, as rarely seen in history, the contempt of capital for human life has never been so clear. The obsession of the vast majority of tycoons with not shutting down business no matter how much damage this may inflict on workers’ health is something to behold. The same applies to health workers, who are often at serious risk because they lack appropriate protective equipment. Capitalism, in the neoliberal stage, has reached such extremes of exploitation, plundering, marginalization and merciless aggression against the sources of life reproduction that it necessarily has to increase the historical insensitivity of its money masters to human values.

This attitude of the elites, including some intellectuals, has driven them to an irrational rejection, a visceral hatred, to the measures of isolation and healthy distance taken by the few national governments that have decided to protect their populations in time. The fury even extends to state and municipal governments in the United States, which, although they did not act in time, later adopted energetic contingency plans to stop the spread of the virus and cure their governed. This is the case of New York, which has become the world epicenter of the pandemic, where popular pressure and perhaps his sensitivity had pushed Governor Andrew Cuomo to face the demands for relaxation made by Donald Trump, moved by his electoral disarray and pressured by the large business conglomerates to open up the country’s economy as soon as possible against the warnings and, despite the anguish, of a majority of epidemiologists.

A terrible example is that of the meat industry, whose packing plants Trump ordered to resume work on Tuesday. They had been gradually closing their doors due to pressure from the union and local authorities as outbreaks of Covid-19 emerged among their workers, many of them Latinos. According to the union, resolutely opposed to Trump’s order, more than 6,000 workers in the industry are infected or suspected of infection and 20 have died. The order from the tenant of the White House evoked that cynical slogan on the doorstep of Auschwitz: “work makes you free,” which seems to inspire his actions to sweep the entire country with the measures that could save tens of thousands of lives when the virus continues to spread and his government has not been able to ensure a reasonable application of PCR tests and antibodies to its population, which, however, does facilitate Cuba and Venezuela, which are blockaded.

In the midst of such a decisive debate between the rights of the free market and those of human beings, such as that posed by the pandemic, one would have expected an unashamed action by the writer Mario Vargas Llosa, a worshipper of neoliberalism, when he saw that it was unviable. Thus, Don Mario publishes a libel that tries to disqualify the good behavior of the governments of Argentina, Mexico and Spain in the face of the pandemic. But not content with that, he carries the same tired lies and slanders as always, against the “dictatorships” of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. His text is endorsed by some intellectuals who long ago put their pens and brains at the service of U.S. imperialism and a group of businessmen favored by the privatization and fiscal privileges of the neoliberal governments. They state that “instead of some understandable restrictions to freedom, ‘in several countries, there is a confinement with minimum exceptions, the impossibility to work and produce, and the manipulation of information’”. This is the tragedy that torments the signatories: the impossibility of “working and producing”. They had been ranting beforehand about the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, when explaining the measures of confinement and distancing that he would adopt, he said: “if the dilemma is the economy or life, I choose life”.

Vargas Llosa is either an outright hypocrite or the years of carrying his laurels prevent him from seeing reality. How is it possible that this gentleman defender of democracy and human rights does not see the anti-Lula coup d’état in Brazil, nor the merciless repression of Piñera, who is now trying to postpone the constitutional plebiscite.

A supposed defender of the free market, he has never demanded from Washington that Cuba and Venezuela be able to exercise it in the world too. Don Mario has long suffered from schizophrenia. In Tiempos Recios, published almost at the same time as the coup d’état against Evo Morales, he censors the CIA coup d’état in Guatemala against President Arbenz. Is that the same Vargas Llosa who immediately afterward comes out to support the same measure of force in Bolivia to overthrow the constitutional president? Yes, unfortunately. A great writer but a very bad man. I’ll take Alberto Fernandez. I choose life. Vargas Llosa looks more and more like Trump.

Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau