The Ladies in White

Cuban police have arrested dozens of opposition activists, a week ahead of a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.Most of those detained are members of the protest group Ladies in White, who are demanding the release of political prisoners.Many were stopped as t…

Cuban police have arrested dozens of opposition activists, a week ahead of a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Most of those detained are members of the protest group Ladies in White, who are demanding the release of political prisoners.

Many were stopped as they staged their silent weekly protest march along an avenue in the capital, Havana.

The group says the country’s Communist authorities have increased pressure on them in recent days.

The government says they are paid by the US to undermine Cuba’s revolution.

The Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) usually attend Mass together and then stage a protest march outside calling for the release of all political prisoners.
Leader seized

A group spokeswoman said that 19 of its members had been detained on Saturday evening while trying to stage a march in central Havana. Three have since been released without charge.

On Sunday morning, police detained another 36 members of the group – including leader Bertha Soler – as they made their way to attend Mass together in Havana.

After the church service, 22 women and two men were arrested as they marched to the city centre, trying to go beyond a route that has recently been tolerated by the authorities.

Chawanmushi

Ingredients for Chawanmushi
(serves 2)

– Egg Mixture –
1 Large Egg
170ml Water (0.719 u.s. cup)
1/2 tsp Granulated Bonito Dashi
1/2 tsp Sake
1/2 tsp Usukuchi Soy Sauce (saltier and lighter in color than koikuchi)
1/4 tsp Salt

– Fillings –
50g Chick…

Ingredients for Chawanmushi
(serves 2)

– Egg Mixture –
1 Large Egg
170ml Water (0.719 u.s. cup)
1/2 tsp Granulated Bonito Dashi
1/2 tsp Sake
1/2 tsp Usukuchi Soy Sauce (saltier and lighter in color than koikuchi)
1/4 tsp Salt

– Fillings –
50g Chicken Meat (1.76oz)
2 Shrimps
2 Shiitake Mushrooms
4 slices of Kamaboko – fish minced and steamed
4 Ginnan – Ginkgo Seeds
Mitsuba – Japanese Wild Parsley
Sake & Usukuchi Soy Sauce for Seasoning

* A lid wrapped with kitchen towel prevents water drops from falling into the cups.

About Music
Frederic Chopin – Valse in D-flat major “Minute Waltz” – Op. 64 No. 1
Play by Muriel Nguyen Xuan, recording by Stephane Magnenat

Shark Fin Soup

Published: 09 August, 2012, 17:42
Reuters / Pichi Chuang

Endangered shark species are being used in Chinese restaurants across the United States, according to a one-of-a-kind DNA-based study. Concerns are also high that the prohibited practice of “finning” is rife.

The Pew Environment Group, working with the Discovery Channel, has made a stunning discovery coming from 14 cities.

Overall 33 different species of sharks were discovered through the investigation, including scalloped hammerhead sharks, classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The $100-150 per bowl meals also included school sharks, smooth hammerheads and spiny dogfish, all listed as vulnerable to extinction.

To unravel the content of the soup, shark-attack survivors have volunteered to visit Asian restaurants throughout the US and order a fin soup that was not always on the menu.

“Even if it’s on an online menu, sometimes when you go, they will not serve it. And even when it’s not on a menu, if you asked, they might serve it anyway. It’s tricky to know how many restaurants really are serving it,” Debbie Salamone, a Pew spokeswoman, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Sharks detected in samples are in trouble in the wild, with some being unable to recover their numbers for years.

The DNA analysis by Stony Brook and the Pritzker Laboratory at Chicago’s Field Museum had to extract the DNA samples from the fins, which at first were frozen for shipment, dried and bleached at the restaurant, before being boiled into a meal. Yet the team’s DNA data from samples and were successful in identifying a specific species in almost all cases.

“This is further proof that shark fin soup here in the United States, not just in Asia, is contributing to the global decline in sharks,” Liz Karan from the Pew Environment Group told the AFP.

“Sharks must be protected from over-fishing,” she added. “And any international trade in these vulnerable and endangered species must be tightly regulated.”

About one-third of the 450 species of sharks are on a brink of extinction. Up to 73 million sharks are killed around the world every year to end up catering to the delicate palates of shark soup lovers according to Ecology Letter Magazine.

“Sharks aren’t like other fish,” said Jill Hepp, director of Pew’s Global Shark Conservation campaign. “They can go years between reproducing. When they do reproduce, they have just two or three pups.”

Meanwhile, wildlife conservationists have heavily criticized the practice of finning, which threatens their population in open waters.

“The sharks are usually still alive when they are thrown back into the water. It’s often a very slow and painful death. No animal should suffer that way,” Iris Ho, wildlife campaigns manager for the International Humane Society, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Finning means the removal of shark fins, while the rest of the body is generally thrown back into the water. Most of the fish are still alive once dumped back into the ocean die of suffocation because they are unable to move freely.

The practice has increased over the past decade, driven by the demand for shark fin soup and traditional remedies in Asia. The global fin trade is estimated to be between US$540 million to $1.2 billion, according to Marine Resource Economics magazine.

Hong Kong handles up to 80 per cent of the world trade in shark fins, according to IUCN Shark Specialist Group estimates.

Finning and dumping shark bodies into the water is prohibited in US waters and a number of other countries. In practice, however, fishermen take the sharks back to port before cutting off their fins, which are sold for more than $600 a kilo. In an effort to curb poaching, a number of states, including California, have banned shark fin sales.


Gordon Ramsay from his special “Shark Bait”, he tries Shark Fin Soup in Taiwan! This is a must see clip! We donate a portion of all app sales to help saving our oceans and stoping this kind of abuse. You can help, donate here,

https://my.seashepherd.org/NetCommunity/SSLPage.aspx?pid=412

Published: 09 August, 2012, 17:42
Reuters / Pichi Chuang

Endangered shark species are being used in Chinese restaurants across the United States, according to a one-of-a-kind DNA-based study. Concerns are also high that the prohibited practice of “finning” is rife.

The Pew Environment Group, working with the Discovery Channel, has made a stunning discovery coming from 14 cities.

Overall 33 different species of sharks were discovered through the investigation, including scalloped hammerhead sharks, classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The $100-150 per bowl meals also included school sharks, smooth hammerheads and spiny dogfish, all listed as vulnerable to extinction.

To unravel the content of the soup, shark-attack survivors have volunteered to visit Asian restaurants throughout the US and order a fin soup that was not always on the menu.

“Even if it’s on an online menu, sometimes when you go, they will not serve it. And even when it’s not on a menu, if you asked, they might serve it anyway. It’s tricky to know how many restaurants really are serving it,” Debbie Salamone, a Pew spokeswoman, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Sharks detected in samples are in trouble in the wild, with some being unable to recover their numbers for years.

The DNA analysis by Stony Brook and the Pritzker Laboratory at Chicago’s Field Museum had to extract the DNA samples from the fins, which at first were frozen for shipment, dried and bleached at the restaurant, before being boiled into a meal. Yet the team’s DNA data from samples and were successful in identifying a specific species in almost all cases.

“This is further proof that shark fin soup here in the United States, not just in Asia, is contributing to the global decline in sharks,” Liz Karan from the Pew Environment Group told the AFP.

“Sharks must be protected from over-fishing,” she added. “And any international trade in these vulnerable and endangered species must be tightly regulated.”

About one-third of the 450 species of sharks are on a brink of extinction. Up to 73 million sharks are killed around the world every year to end up catering to the delicate palates of shark soup lovers according to Ecology Letter Magazine.

“Sharks aren’t like other fish,” said Jill Hepp, director of Pew’s Global Shark Conservation campaign. “They can go years between reproducing. When they do reproduce, they have just two or three pups.”

Meanwhile, wildlife conservationists have heavily criticized the practice of finning, which threatens their population in open waters.

“The sharks are usually still alive when they are thrown back into the water. It’s often a very slow and painful death. No animal should suffer that way,” Iris Ho, wildlife campaigns manager for the International Humane Society, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Finning means the removal of shark fins, while the rest of the body is generally thrown back into the water. Most of the fish are still alive once dumped back into the ocean die of suffocation because they are unable to move freely.

The practice has increased over the past decade, driven by the demand for shark fin soup and traditional remedies in Asia. The global fin trade is estimated to be between US$540 million to $1.2 billion, according to Marine Resource Economics magazine.

Hong Kong handles up to 80 per cent of the world trade in shark fins, according to IUCN Shark Specialist Group estimates.

Finning and dumping shark bodies into the water is prohibited in US waters and a number of other countries. In practice, however, fishermen take the sharks back to port before cutting off their fins, which are sold for more than $600 a kilo. In an effort to curb poaching, a number of states, including California, have banned shark fin sales.


Gordon Ramsay from his special “Shark Bait”, he tries Shark Fin Soup in Taiwan! This is a must see clip! We donate a portion of all app sales to help saving our oceans and stoping this kind of abuse. You can help, donate here,

https://my.seashepherd.org/NetCommunity/SSLPage.aspx?pid=412

Iraq was a bottomless pit of money for grabs

Budget Cuts?? Hell, We’ve Lost More Money Than That.July 31, 2011 By Krell Here is a picture showing the size of a billion dollars in 100 dollar bills, relative to a person. Those smaller stacks in front of the huge pallets of bills are 100…

Budget Cuts?? Hell, We’ve Lost More Money Than That.

Here is a picture showing the size of a billion dollars in 100 dollar bills, relative to a person. Those smaller stacks in front of the huge pallets of bills are 1000 dollars and 1 million dollars, again in 100 dollar bills.



During the earlier part of the Iraq war, seems the operation was “cash strapped” so to speak because they needed some money to throw around. But this is not the kind of cash strapped that you or I could just go the ATM machine a couple of times for. This was SERIOUS CASH STRAPPED.

So the U.S. government decided to send off some money to Iraq in some military cargo planes. Pallets and pallets of 100 dollar bills loaded up into c-130 Hercules transport planes. Now I don’t know if everyone has seen the size of a C-130 plane but it is HUGE! They put tanks and helicopters in these things, no problem.

The amount of cash sent over? Around 12 billion dollars in 100 dollar bills, 361 tons of 100 dollar bills for a total of 21 loaded C-130 planes of cash. The largest transfer of cash in the history of the United States by far!

Do you want to know something crazier? They don’t know where most of it went.

Poof… gone… disappeared. As Rep. Waxman asked in 2007:

“Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone?”

12 Billion dollars! 

Let’s add up some numbers to show just how large 12 billion dollars can be.

How about we use the new deficit reduction bill and add up all the cuts to various agencies. I mean… it was so important to get these cuts in that the government basically shut down from doing anything else for weeks.
List of some cuts in the  Continuing Resolution Discretionary Budget Bill

THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

The Department of Labor is set to lose $870 million for the rest of the fiscal year from job training and creation programs,community college curriculum for dislocated workers and a fund that aims to prepare workers for new green jobs.

THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

The Women, Infants and Children program – which provides food and infant formula to low-income families- would receive $504 million less than it did last year.

THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

The National Science Foundation would take a cut of $53 million which means it would fund 134 fewer grants to outside researchers than it did in fiscal year 2010. That cut would translate to a loss of NSF support for 1,500 researchers and support personal.

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

The resolution would cut $942 million from the funds enacted in fiscal 2010 for the Community Development Fund, which includes block grants designed to help rehabilitate housing and invest in primarily low-income neighborhoods.

THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Ha Ha… made you look. You don’t think any cuts are going to come from here did you? The Defense Department would be allocated $513 billion, a $5 billion increase from 2010 levels.
Okay, what does that add up to? WHAT? We’re only 2.37 billion and that’s only 4 C-130 transport planes worth. We still got lots more to equal those 20 planes.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

$148 million would be cut from programs to help juveniles avoid the criminal justice system

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

The measure would cut about 15 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency budget, decimating a program that provides money to states to reduce water pollution for a total of 1.35 billion dollars

THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

The Department of the Interior could soon be prohibited from enforcing rules that protect animals such as wolves. Also a program that helps recover endangered species was slashed by $25 million, a 31 percent cut. And a wildlife grant that helps states manage at-risk species before they become endangered would be sliced by $28 million, also a 31 percent cut. Total of 53 million.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Cuts of $16.5 million from programs developing technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants and $6.3 million from nuclear energy programs. Apparently those “Carbon Emission Free” nuclear plants take priority over…carbon emissions.
So that brings the total of the amount of cuts to 3.92 billion dollars. But still not even close to that Iraq cash flotilla of 12 billion

THE SECURITIES & EXCHANGE COMMISSION

This well oiled machine is not going to receive any cuts at all. The Securities and Exchange Commission would receive a 7 percent increase in its budget or 1.185 billion to the agency, an increase of $74 million above the 2010 levels.

What could they possibly need more money for? Certainly not for audit forms or criminal investigations. Keep up the good work, you eagle eyed guardians of the wealthy.


U.S. Iraq inspector general report that concluded this week that $6.6 billion in shrink-wrapped cash the U.S. government previously feared had gone missing in the chaotic early days of the Iraq occupation has in fact been safely accounted for.
“The mystery of $6 billion that seemed to go missing in the early days of the Iraq war has been resolved, according to a new report,” CNN national security producer Charles Keyes reported Wednesday. “New evidence shows most of that money, $6.6 billion, did not go astray in that chaotic period, but ended up where it was supposed to be, under the control of the Iraqi government, according to a report from the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction or SIGIR.”
Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, had previously testified that as much as $6.6 billion of the $10 billion the United States shipped to Iraq had disappeared due to “weaknesses in [the Department of Defense’s] financial and management controls,” Keyes wrote, citing the bureaucratese from a previous SIGIR report.

The cash had in part been drawn from Iraq’s own international assets, accrued during the pre-war, UN-run Oil for Food program. It was flown to Iraq in the wake of the U.S. 2003 invasion; the idea was that it would help pay for the Iraq reconstruction and development efforts under the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led occupation outfit that dissolved in 2004. The original idea was to store most of the money in accounts in the Central Bank of Iraq; U.S. occupation authorities also apparently stored a few hundred million in a vault at one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces they used as their headquarters for various cash needs.
After the Coalition Provision Authority dissolved in 2004, however, it wasn’t clear where the funds had gone, the previous SIGIR report said. But apparently, the money was properly transferred to accounts held at the Central Bank of Iraq, the new SIGIR report found.

“But the inspector general’s new report says almost all the $6.6 billion was properly handed over to Iraq and its Central Bank,” Keyes writes. “‘SIGIR was able to account for the unexpected [Development Fund of Iraq] funds remaining in DFI accounts when the [Coalition Provisional Authority] dissolved in June 2004,’ the new report says. ‘Sufficient evidence exists showing that almost all of the remaining $6.6 billion remaining was transferred to actual and legal [Central Bank of Iraq] control.'”

This is not to say that the mystery of all the billions and billions the U.S. spent in Iraq has been entirely resolved. The SIGIR report says that inspectors are still trying to piece together the fate of some of the few hundred million that U.S. officials stowed at one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces.

“While the bulk of the money was transferred to the Central Bank of Iraq, $217 million remained in a vault in a former presidential palace and was held by the U.S. Defense Department and most was doled out for a variety of projects and payrolls, the report says,” Keyes reported. A February 2008 SIGIR audit found that $24.45 million of the $217 million stored at the palace vault remained, and was later turned over to Iraq.

The next SIGIR report on DoD spending on contracting projects in Iraq is expected in January 2012–after the formal withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from the country.

190,000 weapons ‘missing in Iraq’

The US military cannot account for 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to the Iraqi security forces, an official US report says.The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the Pentagon cannot track about 30% of the weapons distributed in Iraq over the past three years.
The Pentagon did not dispute the figures, but said it was reviewing arms deliveries procedures.
About $19.2bn has been spent by the US since 2003 on Iraqi security forces.
GAO, the investigative arm of the US Congress, said at least $2.8bn of this money was used to buy and deliver weapons and other equipment.
Correspondents say it is now feared many of the weapons are being used against US forces on the ground in Iraq.
Discrepancies
The GAO said weapons distribution was haphazard and rushed and failed to follow established procedures, particularly from 2004 to 2005.
MISSING IN IRAQ
AK-47 rifles: 110,000
Pistols: 80,000
Body armour pieces: 135,000
Helmets: 115,000
During this period, security training was led by Gen David Petraeus, who now commands all US forces in Iraq.
The GAO reached the estimate – 111,000 missing AK-47s and 80,000 missing pistols – by comparing the property records of the Multi-National Security Transition Command for Iraq against records maintained by Gen Petraeus of the arms and equipment he ordered.
Deputy Assistant Defence Secretary Mark Kimmitt told AFP the Pentagon was “reviewing policies and procedures to ensure US-funded equipment reaches the intended Iraqi security forces under the Iraq program”.
Weapons delay
The report comes as a political battle rages in Washington over the progress of the war in Iraq.
Gen Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are scheduled to report to Congress by mid-September on the success of efforts to halt sectarian violence and return Iraq to viable self-governance.
Meanwhile, at the end of July, the US Defence Department admitted that the US-led coalition in Iraq had failed to deliver nearly two-thirds of the equipment it promised to Iraq’s army.
The Pentagon said only 14.5m of the nearly 40m items of equipment ordered by the Iraqi army had been provided.
The US military commander in charge of training in Iraq has asked for help in speeding up the transfer of equipment.
Iraq’s ambassador to the US said the delays were hindering the fighting capacity of its armed forces.

http://www.trueworldhistory.info/ | A documentary on the privatisation of the Iraq war and the problems such policies have led to not least of all the creation of the militrary industrial complex. 

¿ES LA LECHE ANIMAL ADECUADA PARA EL CONSUMO HUMANO?

La leche animal y sus derivados –nata, natillas, yogures, helados, batidos, etc.- se encuentran actualmente entre los alimentos de mayor consumo del mundo. Se alaban sus propiedades nutritivas, lo ricos que son y lo imprescindibles que resultan para mantener los huesos sanos merced a su riqueza en proteínas, vitaminas y minerales, especialmente el calcio. Pero, ¿es eso verdad o más bien se trata de productos no precisamente saludables que causan muy diversas patologías?

El ser humano es único en la naturaleza por múltiples razones destacando entre ellas el hecho de que se trata del único mamífero que ingiere leche procedente de otro animal pasado el periodo de lactancia. Y lo hace a pesar de saberse que la leche que produce cada mamífero es específica para su especie y que la naturaleza la ha hecho idónea para las necesidades de su cría y no para las de otra. Es más, la madre Naturaleza previó que los mamíferos –es decir, los animales que maman- obtengan la leche directamente de las mamas de sus madres sin contacto con agente externo alguno ya que se trata de una sustancia que se altera y contamina con gran facilidad. Los humanos, sin embargo, en el convencimiento de que es sano seguir tomándola siendo ya adultos hemos alterado hasta las leyes de la naturaleza para poder mantenerla en condiciones adecuadas de consumo. Y, sin embargo, son muchas las evidencias que indican que tan preciado líquido está detrás de muchas de las dolencias que hoy nos aquejan.

Obviamente la composición de cada leche varía en función del animal, de la raza, del alimento que haya recibido, de su edad, del periodo de lactancia, de la época del año y del sistema de ordeño, entre otras variables. Y si bien su principal componente es el agua su presunto interés nutritivo radica en que además contiene grasas (ácidos grasos saturados y colesterol), proteínas (caseína, lactoalbúminas y lactoglobulinas), hidratos de carbono (lactosa, fundamentalmente), vitaminas (cantidades moderadas de A, D y del grupo B) y minerales (fósforo, calcio, zinc y magnesio). Las proporciones dependen ya del tratamiento que se haya dado a la materia prima por lo que no contiene la misma grasa la “leche entera” que la “leche descremada” (vea el recuadro que se adjunta al respecto). Ahora bien, ¿es realmente saludable ingerir leche y productos lácteos? Porque no sólo son muchos los investigadores que discrepan de esa opinión sino que hay cada vez más estudios que cuestionan esa aseveración.

EL PROBLEMA DEL CALCIO

La razón fundamental por la que los nutricionistas occidentales –no así los orientales- recomiendan tomar leche y sus derivados es porque la consideran muy nutritiva y especialmente rica en calcio agregando que la ingesta periódica de ese mineral es imprescindible para mantener la salud, sobre todo la de los huesos. Y en ese convencimiento muchas personas beben cantidades importantes de ella al punto de que algunas -es el caso de millones de norteamericanos- prácticamente la toman en lugar de agua. Sin embargo es precisamente en Estados Unidos, el mayor consumidor mundial de leche, donde más incidencia de osteoporosis hay entre su población. ¿Alguien puede explicar razonadamente tan singular paradoja?
Lógicamente no puede extrañar que cada vez más expertos alcen su voz abiertamente afirmando que la leche y sus derivados no sólo no son alimentos adecuados para el ser humano sino que ni siquiera constituyen una buena fuente de calcio porque una cosa es la cantidad de ese mineral presente en ella y otra muy distinta su biodisponibilidad. Además está por ver si la necesidad de él que precisa el organismo es la que publicitan las empresas lácteas.
Resultan ilustrativos a ese respecto los resultados del estudio que con 78.000 mujeres de entre 34 y 59 años llevaron a cabo durante 12 años varios profesores de la Universidad de Harvard en Estados Unidos y que fue publicado en el American Journal of Public Health en 1997. Porque sus conclusiones desmienten la tesis de que un mayor consumo de leche u otras fuentes alimenticias de calcio por mujeres adultas las proteja de fracturas propias de la osteoporosis como son las de cadera o antebrazo.

También es interesante recordar el Proyecto Cornell Oxford-China de Nutrición, Salud y Medio Ambiente que se inició en 1983 con un estudio pormenorizado de los hábitos cotidianos de 6.500 habitantes de 65 provincias dispersas de la China rural ya que constituye una de las investigaciones más rigurosas y concluyentes efectuadas en materia de salud. Y ese trabajo demostró -entre otras cosas- que la leche animal desmineraliza a los adultos. Es decir, se comprobó que las mujeres que no tomaban leche de vaca y su único alimento eran el arroz, los vegetales, la soja y sus derivados no padecían osteoporosis. Y que, sin embargo, si dejaban esa dieta e introducían la leche de vaca sus niveles de calcio bajaban y aumentaba la incidencia de esa patología.

Gracias a las investigaciones llevadas a cabo por el doctor John McDougall -médico nutricionista del St Helena Hospital de Napa (California, Estados Unidos)- sabemos también que la mujeres de la etnia bantú no toman leche pero sí calcio procedente de fuentes vegetales y, sin embargo, a pesar de que tienen una media de 10 hijos y los amamantan durante largos periodos no padecen osteoporosis.

Otro ejemplo de la relación entre leche y osteoporosis lo constituye el trabajo del doctor William Ellis, ex presidente de la Academia Americana de Osteopatía Aplicada, quien estableció que las personas que toman de 3 a 5 vasos de leche diarios presentan los niveles más bajos de calcio en sangre. Agregando que tomar mucha leche implica ingerir grandes cantidades de proteínas lácteas y éstas producen un exceso de acidez que el organismo intenta compensar mediante la liberación de minerales alcalinos.

En esa misma línea se expresa un estudio publicado en el American Journal of Clinical Nutrition que afirma que el exceso de proteínas de la leche es uno de los factores más importantes en el avance de la osteoporosis. En dicho estudio -publicado ya en 1983- se demostraba que hasta la edad de 65 años las mujeres que no toman leche y son vegetarianas tienen un 18% de pérdida de hueso mientras las omnívoras padecen una pérdida ósea del 35%.

Y estudios más recientes muestran que con una ingesta de 75 gramos diarios de proteína láctea se pierde más calcio en la orina del que se absorbe a través de la dieta.

A todo esto hay que añadir que la relación calcio/fósforo de la leche de vaca no es adecuada para el ser humano pues su contenido es demasiado elevado en fósforo y por eso su ingesta acidifica el organismo. Con las numerosas implicaciones negativas para la salud que ello implica.

LA OPINIÓN DE JEAN SEIGNALET

Como por otra parte ya publicó Discovery DSALUD en los números 78 y 79 también el finado doctor Jean Seignalet -hematólogo, inmunólogo, biólogo,catedrático de Medicina de la Universidad de Montpellier durante muchos años y autor de más de doscientas publicaciones en prestigiosas revistas médicas- denunció en su obra La Alimentación, la 3ª Medicinaque muchas patologías y la proliferación actual de otras se debe básicamente a cinco razones: el consumo de cereales domésticos, la ingesta de leche animal y sus derivados, la cocción de los alimentos, el refino de los aceites y la contaminación alimenticia con la consiguiente carencia de vitaminas y minerales. Afirmando en lo que a la leche se refiere lo siguiente: “Muchas personas piensan que prescindir de la leche puede provocarles pérdida de calcio y problemas como la osteoporosis pues la televisión, la prensa y la mayoría de los médicos repiten que la solidez de los huesos depende de su cantidad de calcio y sólo el consumo diario de productos derivados de la leche puede aportarles en cantidad suficiente ese precioso calcio. Sin embargo, yo digo firmemente que NO. El peligro de la falta de calcio es una ilusión. Es cierto que la leche de vaca es rica en calcio pero una vez en el tubo digestivo humano la inmensa mayoría del mismo es precipitado en forma de fosfato de calcio y expulsado a través de las heces fecales. Sólo una pequeña parte es absorbida. El calcio asimilable es aportado en cantidad más que suficiente por los vegetales: hortalizas, legumbres secas, verduras, carnes crudas y frutos secos y frescos. Además el calcio es un mineral muy abundante en el suelo donde es recuperado por las raíces de las plantas. En definitiva, eliminar de la alimentación la leche animal no provoca carencia de calcio. Al contrario, el régimen hipotóxico -desprovisto de derivados de la leche- acompañado de magnesio y silicio bloquea 70 veces de cada 100 la evolución de la osteoporosis e incluso permite a veces recuperar parte del terreno perdido”.

LA CASEÍNA DE LA LECHE

Mencionábamos al describir la composición de la leche que una de sus proteínas principales es la caseína. Pues bien, se sabe que el niño lactante asimila completamente las caseínas de la leche materna… pero no las de la leche de vaca. Tales proteínas sólo se digieren parcialmente por el efecto neutralizador de la leche sobre la acidez gástrica, indispensable para su ruptura.

¿Y qué efectos provoca esa sustancia viscosa que es la caseína animal en nuestro organismo? Pues hay que decir que en algunas personas se adhiere a los folículos linfáticos del intestino impidiendo la absorción de otros nutrientes (de hecho la caseína se utiliza como pegamento para papel, madera, etc.). Además su hidrolización parcial tiene otras consecuencias. Por ejemplo, desembarazarse de sus residuos metabólicos supone un gasto energético suplementario para el organismo y puede provocar problemas inmunológicos. Así, en personas que presentan deficiencias de inmunoglobulinas IgA esta proteína pasa al torrente sanguíneo y genera gran variedad de reacciones autoinmunes (las mencionaremos más adelante al hablar de las enfermedades relacionadas con el consumo de leche). Y si tenemos en cuenta -como se recoge en un informe del Memorial Kettering Hospital de Nueva York (Estados Unidos)- que la deficiencia de antígenos IgA es uno de los problemas más comunes en cuanto a deficiencias inmunitarias el problema pasa a tener dimensiones mucho más preocupantes.

LAS GRASAS DE LA LECHE

La leche humana contiene 45 gramos de lípidos por litro de los que el 55% son ácidos grasos poliinsaturados y un 45% saturados. Y tiene, sobre todo, un elevado contenido en ácido linoleico, precursor de prostaglandinas y leucotrienos antiinflamatorios. En cambio la leche de vaca -la más consumida- contiene un 70% de ácidos grasos saturados y un 30% de poliinsaturados. Una estructura que favorece la formación de prostaglandinas y leucotrienos inflamatorios. Además ese 30% de poliinsaturados pierde sus propiedades cuando por efecto del calor -entre 40 y 45 Cº- se desnaturalizan y ya no pueden ser precursores de sustancias antiinflamatorias. Por lo que la leche tratada para poder ser consumida es ¡una sustancia 100% inflamatoria!

Por otra parte la pasteurización y la homogeneización provocan que las grasas saturadas atraviesen las paredes intestinales en forma de pequeñas partículas no digeridas lo que inexorablemente aumenta los niveles de colesterol y grasas saturadas en sangre. Además el contenido en colesterol de la leche es superior al de otros alimentos famosos por ser ricos en ese elemento. De hecho algunos países ya han retirado la leche de la lista de alimentos fundamentales para la dieta porque se ha observado que los niños que acostumbran a tomar varios vasos de leche al día tienen sus arterias en peores condiciones que los que no la toman. Una información que, curiosamente, no parece haber llegado a Estados Unidos pues según su Departamento de Agriculturacasi el 40% de la comida diaria que ingieren los norteamericanos consiste en leche y/o productos lácteos. Lo cual significa que un estadounidense medio toma diariamente sólo con los productos lácteos 161 miligramos de colesterol. Y eso es tanto como ingerir ¡53 lonchas de tocino al día! Y luego se extrañan de que la cuarta parte de la población norteamericana sea obesa o padezca sobrepeso.

Añadiremos finalmente un dato importante que aporta el ya mencionado doctor John McDougall: en el afán por aumentar sus ventas la industria lechera relaciona el contenido de grasa de la leche… con el peso. Lo que le permite decir que la de vaca contiene “sólo” un 2% de grasa por cada 100 gramos. Y, claro, dicho así parece que estemos hablando de un producto bajo en grasa. Sin embargo debemos entender que el 87% de la leche es agua por lo que si descartamos ésta el porcentaje real de grasa sobre la sustancia sólida es mucho mayor. ¡Y no hablemos ya de la leche condensada!

LA CARGA HORMONAL

Conviene saber también que la leche contiene aproximadamente 59 tipos diferentes de hormonas -pituitarias, esteroideas, adrenales, sexuales, etc.- siendo las más importantes las hormonas del crecimiento cuya acción, unidas a la riqueza proteica de la leche de vaca, hacen posible el rápido crecimiento de los terneros de forma que en breve plazo llegan a doblar su peso. Y es evidente que los humanos no tenemos precisamente esa necesidad. Además niveles elevados de esa hormona, unidos a otros tóxicos, se consideran hoy causa de la aparición de diversas enfermedades degenerativas.

Hay que añadir a ese respecto que resulta kafkiano tener que reseñar que ya en 1994 la Food and Drug Administration (FDA) –es decir, la agencia del medicamento norteamericana- aprobó que la compañía Monsanto usara la Hormona Recombinante de Crecimiento Bovino (rBGH) -también conocida como bovine somatotropin o rbST- para aumentar la producción de leche en las vacas entre un 10 y un 25%. Porque según se publicó en The Ecologist en 1998 “el uso de rBGH incrementa los niveles de otra hormona proteica –el factor de crecimiento 1 tipo insulina (IGF-1)- en la leche de las vacas. Y dado que el IGF-1 es activo en los humanos –causando que las células se dividan- algunos científicos piensan que una ingesta de leche tratada con altos niveles de rBGH podría dar paso a la división y crecimiento incontrolados de células en los humanos. En otras palabras: cáncer”. De hecho son tantos los peligros potenciales de esa hormona que su uso está prohibido actualmente en Canadá y la Unión Europea así como en otros países.

La profesora Jane Plant, sobre cuya ilustrativa experiencia personal hablamos en el recuadro adjunto y que es autora del libro Your life in your hands (Tu vida en tus manos), explica en él que el IGF-1 es además especialmente activo durante la pubertad y el embarazo. En el caso de las niñas púberes -explica- esta hormona estimula el tejido de la mama para que crezca. Y durante el embarazo ensancha los tejidos mamarios y los conductos de la leche materna para favorecer la lactancia. Agregando con rotundidad: “Niveles altos de esta hormona incrementan hasta tres veces el riesgo de padecer cáncer de mama o de próstata por parte de quienes consumen tanto la leche como la carne de las vacas lecheras. Y en contra de la afirmación de que la pasteurización la destruye entiendo que la caseína evita que eso ocurra y que la homogeneización facilita que la IGF-1 alcance el torrente sanguíneo. Asimismo, los propios estrógenos que se añaden a la leche bovina son otro de los factores que estimulan la expresión nociva de esta hormona y que, indirectamente, acaban provocando la aparición de tumores”.

TÓXICOS EN LA LECHE

Debemos añadir que la leche puede además estar contaminada por productos químicos, hormonas, antibióticos, pesticidas, pus procedente de las mastitis -tan frecuentes en la vacas ordeñadas permanentemente-, virus, bacterias, priones… Sin olvidar que hoy se “enriquece” tanto la leche como los productos lácteos con aditivos, vitaminas y minerales sintéticos, semillas, plantas, frutas, proteínas, ácidos grasos… En algunos casos, por cierto, con grasa de animales distintos. Con lo que uno puede estar ingiriendo leche de vaca enriquecida con grasa de cerdo… sin saberlo.

¿Y cuáles son las sustancias tóxicas que con más frecuencia puede uno encontrarse en un vaso de leche de vaca, la más consumida? Pues son éstas:

Metales y plásticos. El equipo utilizado en la explotación ganadera para obtener, conducir o almacenar la leche puede contaminarla. De hecho se ha llegado a detectar en ella hierro, cobre, plomo, cadmio, zinc, etc., o sus aleaciones. Lo que puede provocar una actividad catalítica nefasta sobre las reacciones de oxidación que se producen en ella.

Detergentes y desinfectantes. Hablamos de formol, ácido bórico, ácido benzoico, sales alcalinas, bicromato potásico, etc., sustancias que se emplean en la limpieza y desinfección del material que se pone en contacto con la leche. Su uso está justificado ya que el agua por sí sola es incapaz de arrastrar los restos de materia orgánica y destruir las bacteriasque contaminan las instalaciones y que pueden pasar a la leche.

Pesticidas y fertilizantes. En la comida que se da a las vacas se pueden encontrar compuestos químicos con los que se ha procurado tanto el incremento de las cosechas como su mejor conservación. En este grupo se incluyen acaricidas, nematicidas, fungicidas, rodenticidas y herbicidas. Compuestos químicos -DDT, dieldrin, lindano, metoxiclor, malation, aldrín, etc.- que pueden ocasionar cáncer.

Micotoxinas. Procedentes del alimento que se da a las vacas cuando éste está contaminado pormohos, muy especialmente por el aspergillus flavus.

Antibióticos y otros fármacos. Actualmente se emplean de forma habitual en el tratamiento y prevención de las enfermedades infecciosas y parasitarias de las vacas pero pueden pasar a laleche contaminándola. Un problema que se agrava al saber que el uso excesivo y continuado de estos fármacos en animales ha acabado provocando que determinadas cepas de gérmenes patógenos se hayan hecho resistentes y al pasar a los humanos éstos encuentren dificultades para superar la enfermedad con antibióticos. Por eso es peligroso el consumo de leche extraída de vacas así tratadas. Ya en 1976 el diario Daily Herd Management publicaba que “la mayoría de las fábricas [de leche]usan cerca de 60 clases de tratamientos químicos [antibióticos] para tratar la hinchazón de pezón después de cada ordeñada y para reducir la propagación de mastitis (inflamación de ubres)en sus rebaños. Hay evidencia de que algunas de esas zambullidas químicas dejan residuos en la leche que pueden ser peligrosos para los humanos”. Diez años después todo seguía igual y el prestigioso The New York Timesafirmaba que “los residuos de antibióticos en la leche están causando reacciones alérgicas en algunas personas debido a tratamientos rutinarios para prevenir la hinchazón de los pezones de las vacas y programas de infusión en las fábricas lecheras.”

-Contaminación radioactiva. Es otro de los problemas que preocupan en la actualidady si bien los residuos producidos por el uso específico de la energía nuclear no ocasionan problemas más que en raras ocasiones es necesario prestar atención.

-Dioxinas. Estos derivados del cloro merecen atención especial. Además de estar relacionados con el cáncer de pulmón y los linfomas la exposición a las dioxinas se ha relacionado con la diabetes, los problemas de desarrollo del niño y diversos desarreglos del sistema inmune.

ENFERMEDADES RELACIONADAS CON EL CONSUMO DE LECHE

Ante todo lo expuesto son cada vez más las voces que alertan de la posible relación –más o menos directa- entre el consumo de leche y las dolencias que se relacionan a continuación:

-Anemia ferropénica. El doctor Frank Oski -director del Departamento de Pediatría de la Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad de Johns Hopkins (Estados Unidos)- asevera en su libro Don’t Drink Your Milk! (¡No bebas tu leche!) que en su país entre el 15 y el 20% de los niños menores de 2 años sufren anemia por deficiencia de hierro y que la mitad del resto de las anemias que se producen en Estados Unidos están relacionadas con el consumo de leche y sus derivados por los pequeños sangrados gastrointestinales que la leche puede provocar.

-Artritis Reumatoidea y Osteoartritis. Está constatado que los complejos antígeno-anticuerpo generados por la leche se depositan a veces en las articulaciones provocando su inflamación y entumecimiento. Estudios realizados en la Universidad de Florida (Estados Unidos) confirman que los síntomas se agravan en pacientes con Artritis Reumatoidea que consumen leche. Por otro lado, en un artículo publicado en la revista Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology se afirmaba que en personas afectadas de esa patología que dejaron de ingerir lácteos y tomaron sólo agua, té verde, frutas y zumos vegetales entre 7 y 10 días la inflamación y el dolor disminuyeron significativamente. Agregando que cuando alguno volvía a una dieta lacto-ovo-vegetariana los síntomas reaparecían. Por su parte, un grupo de investigadores israelíes demostró en 1985 -por primera vez- que la leche puede inducir también la artritis reumatoidea juvenil. La asociación de la leche con la artritis reumatoidea del adulto ya se había establecido anteriormente pero no se había hallado ninguna asociación con la juvenil hasta el hallazgo de esos científicos.

-Asma. Se sabe que la leche puede estimular la producción excesiva de moco en las vías respiratorias y que la alergia a la leche es causa de asma. Además está completamente demostrado que los niños con exceso de moco y dificultades respiratorias a los que se les retira la leche de vaca mejoran de forma sorprendente.

-Autismo. Investigadores italianos descubrieron que los síntomas neurológicos de los pacientes autistas empeoran cuando consumen leche y trigo. Se cree que los péptidos de la leche pudieran tener un efecto tóxico en el sistema nervioso central al interferir con los neurotransmisores. En sus investigaciones los doctores de la Universidad de Roma notaron una mejoría marcada en la conducta de esos enfermos tras dejar de ingerirla ocho semanas. En su sangre había altos niveles de anticuerpos contra la caseína, la lactoalbúmina y la betalactoglobulina.

-Cáncer de estómago. Investigadores del Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica de Morelos (México) encontraron un aumento significativo del riesgo de contraer cáncer de estómago en pacientes que consumían productos lácteos. En los que además consumían carne el riesgo se triplicaba.

-Cáncer de mama.La leche está considerada por muchos expertos causa directa de este “tipo” de cáncer. Si a ello añadimos la influencia que tiene la hormona insulínica las probabilidades de sufrirlo aumentan considerablemente en las grandes consumidoras de leche (Discovery DSALUD publicará el mes que viene un artículo sobre este importante asunto que tanto preocupa a las mujeres).

-Cáncer de ovarios. La galactosa -uno de los azúcares de la leche- se ha relacionado también con el cáncer de ovarios. Algunos investigadores consideran que las mujeres que beben más de un vaso de leche entera al día tienen tres veces más probabilidades de contraer cáncer de ovarios que las que no lo ingieren.

-Cáncer de páncreas. Investigadores de la Universidad de Harvard (Estados Unidos) afirman que existe una relación “positiva y fuerte” entre el cáncer del páncreas y el consumo de leche, huevos y carne.

-Cáncer de próstata. Un estudio presentado hace más de veinte años en una reunión de la American Association of Cancer Research en San Francisco y publicado en Oncology News ya revelaba, según el doctor Chan -epidemiólogo de la Universidad de Harvard-, que el consumo de mucha leche y sus derivados está asociado con un incremento del riesgo de cáncer de próstata en los hombres. Explicando que ello se puede deber a que el alto contenido de calcio de la leche hace disminuir la cantidad de vitamina D del cuerpo, encargada de proteger del cáncer de próstata a pesar de que la propia leche la contiene.

Epidemiólogos italianos del Aviano Cancer Center calcularon ese aumento del riesgo y establecieron que es 1,2 veces mayor entre quienes beben de 1 a 2 vasos de leche diaria que entre los que no la consumen. Sin embargo, si se toman dos o más vasos de leche al día el nivel de riesgo de padecer ese cáncer aumenta a 5.
Otro estudio -realizado por el mismo equipo de investigadores de la Universidad de Harvard- descubrió que los hombres que consumen grandes cantidades de leche y/o lácteos tienen un 70% de riesgo de contraer cáncer de próstata. Opinión que comparte un grupo de científicos noruegos de la Universidad de Oslo quienes afirman que consumir leche es un riesgo para contraer cáncer de próstata. Añadiendo que, sorprendentemente, el consumo de leche desnatada está asociado con un mayor incremento que la leche entera.

Cáncer de pulmón. Investigadores holandeses concluyeron en 1989 que las personas que toman tres o más vasos de leche diaria tienen dos veces más probabilidad de desarrollar cáncer de pulmón que los que no la toman. Y que, sin embargo -contra lo que afirman sus colegas noruegos- las personas que toman esa misma cantidad pero de leche desnatada parecen estar más protegidas. También se coligió enel Roswell Park Memorial Institute de Nueva York que entre las personas que beben tres o más vasos de leche entera al día aumenta el riesgo de desarrollar cáncer de pulmón en un 200% (comparado con aquellos que nunca la toman). Además se ha documentado que existe relación directa entre la hormona somatotropina y el cáncer de pulmón, y entre éste y las dioxinas que contaminan la leche.

Cáncer de testículos. Investigadores británicos descubrieron que también hay relación entre el cáncer testicular y el consumo de leche. El riesgo encontrado fue 7,19 veces mayor que en la población general y aumenta en un 1,39 por cada cuarto de leche adicional que se consume.

Cataratas. Hay una creciente evidencia de la relación entre el consumo de leche y las cataratas. Según diversos estudios científicos las poblaciones humanas que consumen grandes cantidades de productos lácteos tienen mayor incidencia de cataratas que aquellos que los evitan. Este defecto se ha relacionado con la lactosa y la galactosa. Siendo la relación más evidente entre la mujeres que entre los hombres. El tipo más frecuentemente es la catarata cortical.

Colitis ulcerosa. También el consumo de leche se ha asociado a esta dolencia.

Colon irritable. Hay diversos estudios que vinculan igualmente la ingesta de leche con el desarrollo de esta patología.

Diabetes Mellitus Tipo I. Diferentes investigaciones demuestran que los lactantes alimentados con leche de vaca presentan un mayor riesgo de padecer diabetes insulinodependiente -conocida como diabetes tipo I- ya desde su niñez. Un estudio publicado en la Revista de Medicina de Nueva Inglaterra identifica la leche como “elemento responsable o factor desencadenante en algunas personas genéticamente sensibles” . Los médicos que realizaron la investigación descubrieron que los diabéticos analizados tenían unos niveles de anticuerpos más altos de lo normal que reaccionaban con una proteína de la leche llamada suero de albúmina bovina atacándola como invasora y destruyéndola. Pero resulta que -¡fatal coincidencia!- una sección de esa proteína es casi idéntica a una proteína de la superficie de las células productoras de insulina por lo cual, según afirman, las defensas de las personas sensibles a ella terminan atacando a sus propias células causando así su autodestrucción. Por lo que coligen que eliminar la leche y sus derivados de la dieta infantil podría disminuir drásticamente la incidencia de este tipo de diabetes.

Dolores abdominales sin intolerancia a la lactosa. Existe una estrecha correlación -no discutida- entre la indigestión que causa la lactosa, la intolerancia a la lactosa y la intolerancia a la leche.

Enfermedad de Crohn. El doctor John Hermon-Taylor -director del Departamento de Cirugía de la Escuela de Medicina del Hospital St. George (Gran Bretaña)- afirma tras estudiar la enfermedad de Crohn durante 20 años que la Paratuberculosis -una subespecie del Mycobacterium Avium- está indudablemente asociada a esa patología. Y que ese microorganismo se transmite fundamentalmente a través de la leche porque la pasteurización no la destruye. En un estudio realizado entre 1990 y 1994 sobre envases para leche se encontró con que el 7% estaba contaminado con laParatuberculosis.

Enfermedades coronarias. Numerosos investigadores relacionan algunos componentes de la leche –el colesterol, las grasas, su alto contenido en calcio, la presencia de xantina oxidasa, etc.- con este tipo de dolencias. En el caso de la enzima bovina xantina oxidasa se sabe que sólo causa problemas cuando la leche es homogeneizada y que su daño se centra en los vasos sanguíneos. La posible explicación está en que esta enzima atravesaría intacta las paredes intestinales, se trasladaría a través de la sangre y destruiría el masmógeno, uno de los componentes de las membranas de las células que forman el tejido cardiaco. Uno de esos investigadores es el doctor Kurt Oster, jefe del servicio de Cardiología del Hospital Park City en Bridgeport (Estados Unidos). Durante un periodo de casi cuatro años Oster estudió a 75 pacientes que sufrían angina de pecho y arteriosclerosis. Pues bien, se eliminó la leche de sus dietas y se les dio ácido fólico y vitamina C -ambas combaten la xantina oxidasa- y en todos los casos el dolor disminuyó. Es más, a ese respecto el doctor Kurt Esselbacher -miembro de la Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad de Harvard- afirma sin tapujos: “La leche homogenizada, debido al contenido de xantina oxidasa, es una de las mayores causas de enfermedades coronarias en Estados Unidos”.

Hay también estudios realizados en Rusia según los cuales quienes beben tres o más vasos de leche al día tienen 1,7 más probabilidades de padecer enfermedades isquémicas cardíacas que quienes no la consumen. Igualmente se sabe que el consumo habitual de productos lácteos aumenta el colesterol malo (LDL) sin afectar al bueno (HDL) por lo que ya en sí mismos constituyen un factor de riesgo. Y debemos añadir que el consumo de proteínas lácteas parece tener relación directa con la mortalidad coronaria ya que se ha comprobado que los anticuerpos creados contra la caseína activan el sistema plaquetario estimulando la trombogénesis. Además se las relaciona con la inflamación de las paredes de las arterias favoreciendo así el proceso arteriosclerótico.

En cuanto al calcio de la leche cabe decir que parece existir relación entre el endurecimiento de las arterias y el excesivo contenido de este mineral en sangre.

Añadiremos que la leche desnatada se ha asociado con enfermedades coronarias no isquémicas en hombres mayores de 45 años y en mujeres mayores de 75. Se cree que las proteínas de la leche contribuyen a la formación de la homocisteina. Para muchos la conjunción de este tipo de leche, la lactosa, el calcio y la homocisteína podría ser responsable de la calcificación de las arterias.

Esclerosis múltiple. Científicosde la Universidad de Michigan (Estados Unidos) están llevando a cabo en la actualidad extensos estudios acerca de los factores asociados con la esclerosis múltiple y si bien hasta ahora sólo han obtenido conclusiones parciales han podido establecer relación entre la esclerosis múltiple y un excesivo consumo de leche.

Estreñimiento. La leche es causa conocida de estreñimiento en niños y ancianos. Su eliminación de la dieta y un mayor consumo de vegetales y fibra suele resolver ese problema. Asimismo, tanto el estreñimiento crónico como las lesiones perianales se han asociado con una clara intolerancia a la leche de vaca.

Fatiga crónica. Según un estudio realizado con niños en Rochester (Nueva York) en 1991 beber leche aumenta 44,3 veces el riesgo de padecer esta enfermedad.

Fístulas y fisuras anales.Podría deberse al parecer a la alergia a una proteína de la leche de cabra.

Incontinencia urinaria. Muchos niños que mojan las sábanas ya crecidos dejan de hacerlo en cuanto eliminan de su dieta la leche, los productos que la contienen y los derivados lácteos.

Intolerancia a la lactosa. Para poder ser utilizada por nuestro organismo este azúcar de la leche debe ser previamente hidrolizado y eso se consigue gracias a una enzima llamada lactasa que va desapareciendo lentamente cuando comienzan a salirnos los dientes. Parece que en la raza blanca la lactasa permanece durante más tiempo que en la raza negra. Algo que podría deberse a la relación existente entre la melanina y la lactasa. Las personas que viven en lugares fríos tendrían por eso la piel más blanca a fin de aprovechar al máximo las radiaciones solares y sintetizar vitamina D para fijar el calcio.

Se ha observado también que en la mayoría de las personas que no producen lactasa o lo hacen a niveles muy bajos la lactosa no hidrolizada pasa al intestino donde es atacada por las bacterias y las consecuencias son fermentaciones, meteorismo, cólicos, diarreas, etc. Todo lo cual provoca la irritación de las paredes del intestino e incluso microheridas con pérdida de sangre. Y si esas pequeñas hemorragias se producen de forma continuada acaban provocando deficiencias de hierro.

Además la lactosa puede provocar otros trastornos no menos graves ya que es responsable de la asimilación de metales pesados como el cadmio, el mercurio y el hierro así como de otras sustancias tóxicas.

Linfomas. Un estudio realizado en la Universidad de Bergen (Noruega) durante año y medio con casi 16.000 pacientes observó que las personas que consumen dos vasos de leche al día presentan un riesgo 3,4 veces mayor de padecer linfomas que los que beben menos. El mecanismo por el cual eso se produce todavía no está claro a pesar de que se sabe que la leche de vaca puede transmitir el virus de la leucemia bovina. Este mismo estudio encontró una asociación, aunque débil, entre el consumo de leche y el cáncer de riñones y de los órganos reproductivos femeninos.

Otro mecanismo por el cual se pueden contraer linfomas es a través de leche contaminada con dioxinas. En un artículo publicado en el periódico norteamericano The Washington Post se afirmaba que las personas que consumen grandes cantidades de grasa -como carne y productos lácteos son 10 veces más propensas a contraer cáncer, especialmente de pulmón.

Migraña. Se ha comprobado experimentalmente que cuando se suprime la leche de la dieta de pacientes afectos de migraña se reducen significativamente sus síntomas.

-Oídos, garganta y sinusitis. En 1994 la revista Natural Health publicaba una serie de hallazgos que relacionan a la leche con el aumento de las infecciones de los oídos y la garganta. Los estudios demostraron que las amígdalas y las adenoides reducían su tamaño cuando se limitaba el consumo de leche.

Reacciones alérgicas.La alergia a las proteínas de la leche de vaca se ha definido como “cualquier reacción adversa mediada por los mecanismos inmunológicos a una o más de las proteínas de la leche (caseína, alfa lacto-albúmina, betalactoglobulina)”. Actualmente muchos estudios médicos reconocen la relación entre la leche y las reacciones alérgicas estableciéndose su prevalencia entre un 2 y un 5% de la población mundial. La reacción alérgica puede ser inmediata -es decir, en menos de 45 minutos- o tardía -presentándose horas o días más tarde.

Sangrado gastrointestinal. El sangrado gastrointestinal secundario a la intolerancia a las proteínas de la leche de vaca en niños ha sido adecuadamente documentado. Tan serio es el sangrado que se le coloca como una de las causas más comunes de anemia en niños.

Síndrome de mala absorción. Investigadores de la Universidad de Helsinki (Finlandia) han comprobado la relación entre las proteínas de la leche y el daño a la mucosa intestinal. Este daño es el responsable del síndrome de mala absorción que se caracteriza por diarreas crónicas, vómitos y retardo del crecimiento.

Trastornos del sueño. Estudios realizados en la Universidad Free de Bruselas entre los años 1986 y 1988 confirmaron la relación entre el consumo de leche y los trastornos del sueño en los niños. Éste y otros estudios han hallado relación entre la alergia a la leche y los problemas para dormir. Todos los síntomas mejoraban cuando se excluía la leche de la dieta y empeoraban cuando era reintroducida. El tiempo promedio para notar la mejoría era de cinco semanas. La agitación que manifestaban esos niños también mejoró.

Úlceras pépticas.En el pasado se aconsejaba tomar leche a las personas que padecían problemas estomacales, en especial en caso de úlceras. En la actualidad esa práctica se desaconseja por considerarse peligrosa y porque se sabe que la leche y sus derivados agravan todos los síntomas. El alivio temporal que sentían esos pacientes se podía deber simplemente al hecho de que normalmente la leche se tomaba fría y era la temperatura del líquido lo que hacía mejorar la situación transitoriamente.

-Otras reacciones provocadas por la leche. Además de las expuestas existen otras situaciones y dolencias que se relacionan con la ingesta de leche. Por ejemplo la acidosis láctica severa asociada a la alergia a la leche de vaca, el aumento del riesgo de preeclampsia en mujeres sensibles, la dificultad de aprendizaje en niños o algunos casos de infertilidad femenina.Por último es importante señalar que las madres que toman leche de vaca durante el período de la lactancia exponen a sus hijos a los riesgos asociados a este alimento.

José Ramón Llorente
PD: el autor de este texto es presidente de la Sociedad Española de Nutrición Ortomolecular y los estudios que se citan en el artículo están perfectamente documentados y si no se mencionan es por razones de espacio y debido a su carácter divulgativo y no académico.

Problemas que puede provocar la preparación de la leche y así poder ser consumida tiempo después de ser extraída

La naturaleza previó que la leche -humana o animal- sirviera para alimentar a las crías directamente, en el momento y sin intervención mecánica, física o química. Sin embargo, la decisión del ser humano de seguir ingiriendo leche tras el periodo natural de lactancia le llevó a ordeñar a los animales domésticos y, con el tiempo, a buscar métodos que permitieran conservarla largo tiempo en condiciones lo más higiénicas y saludables posibles. Búsqueda que desembocó en los sistemas actuales. Hablemos pues de ellos.

-La homogeneización. Se trata de un proceso mecánico mediante el cual se reduce el tamaño de las partículas de grasa de la leche evitando que la crema se concentre en la superficie. Y para que ese tamaño sea homogéneo se dispara el chorro de la leche a presión contra una plancha de acero a una temperatura de entre 50 y 60º C. Se consigue así una leche más blanca que luego se mantiene líquida en el envase. El inconveniente es que con ello también se rompen gran parte de las estructuras lipídicas y proteicas por lo que si esa leche se expone a luz artificial durante varias horas se convierte en una sustancia no apta para el consumo. Además, según algunos expertos al disminuir en diez veces el tamaño de las partículas de grasa este procedimiento puede incrementar el riesgo de padecer ataques al corazón en quienes consumen grandes cantidades. La posible explicación está en la enzima bovina xantina-oxidasa que atravesaría intacta las paredes intestinales y, utilizando la sangre como vehículo, destruiría el masmógeno, un componente de las membranas celulares del tejido cardiaco.

-Pasteurización. Consiste en la aplicación de altas temperaturas durante un tiempo determinado. Con este método se destruye la mayor parte de los microorganismos que pueden alterar la leche pero no todas las esporas (formas de resistencia de los microorganismos). A través de la pasteurización se obtiene la “leche fresca del día” –así se comercializa- que se mantiene en condiciones adecuadas sólo durante 2 o 3 días. Existen dos tipos de pasteurización: la pasteurización alta -que tiene una duración de 15 segundos a una temperatura de 72º C- y la pasteurización baja -que dura 30 minutos a 65º C-. Posteriormente la leche es sometida a un enfriamiento rápido pero si este último tratamiento no se realiza de forma correcta se corre el riesgo de que germinen las esporas que hayan sobrevivido al tratamiento térmico. Además con este método se produce la coagulación de las proteínas, se eliminan las bacterias propias de la leche que servirían posteriormente para la elaboración de quesos y se pierde el 5% de las vitaminas B1 y B6, el 10% de la B12 y el 25% de la vitamina C.

-Esterilización. Se trata de un proceso que combina altas temperaturas en un tiempo bastante largo. Así se asegura la ausencia de gérmenes patógenos y toxinas y el producto se mantiene en buenas condiciones durante más tiempo. Sin embargo con este proceso se pierden las vitaminas B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, A, C y D así como algunos aminoácidos esenciales.

-UHT. Hablamos de leche que ha sido tratada a temperaturas muy altas en un tiempo muy corto. El problema es que las alteraciones bioquímicas que sufren las proteínas con este tratamiento son muy importantes.

Tipos de leche de vaca

-Leche entera.Presenta el mayor contenido en grasa láctea. Su aportación calórica y de colesterol es muy elevada: un vaso de leche aporta 7,2 gramos de grasa y unas 123 calorías. De ahí que el impacto de esta sustancia sobre el sistema cardiovascular sea muy significativo.-Leche descremada.Tiene menos calorías que la leche entera. En función de la cantidad de grasa se la llamará desnatada (<0.18%) o semidesnatada (0.5-2%). Tiene un sabor más suave y su valor nutritivo disminuye.

-Leche condensada. Es leche entera a la que se le retira aproximadamente un 60% de su contenido acuoso y se le añade un 40% de su peso en azúcar impidiendo así en buena medida la proliferación de bacterias aunque cabría cuestionar las consecuencias para la salud de tan alta cantidad de azúcar.

-Leche en polvo.Se consigue calentando la leche líquida hasta que pierde aproximadamente el 60% del agua que contiene. En el proceso se pierden ente un 25 y un 50% de las vitaminas hidrosolubles (vitamina C y complejo B).

En cuanto a los quesos las materias primas utilizadas pueden ser muy diversas así como los procedimientos de elaboración y las variedades pero todos tienen un denominador común: necesitan la coagulación de la caseína por medio del cuajo. Y lo que no todos los vegetarianos saben es que el cuajo se elabora con mucosa desecada de la cuarta cavidad estomacal de los rumiantes y, en ocasiones, del cerdo. Por lo que al tomarlo se está ingiriendo un derivado animal.

Una historia real

La historia de la profesora Jane Plant, geoquímica y jefa científica del British Geological Survey -una prestigiosa institución pública británica que se dedica a la investigación en materia de Geología-, puede constituir un significativo ejemplo para muchas mujeres ya que ha sobrevivido a 5 tumores mamarios y a las prácticas médicas convencionales para tratar su cáncer. Y lo ha hecho, según afirma ella misma, de una forma muy sencilla: eliminando todos los lácteos de su dieta.
Su historia es parecida a la de otras muchas mujeres. Sintió el mismo pánico cuando le diagnosticaron cáncer de mama y confiada en el buen saber y hacer de los oncólogos se sometió a una mastectomía y a la irradiación de sus ovarios porque le dijeron que así se provocaba la menopausia, se suprimía la producción de estrógenos y se podría curar el cáncer. Pero todo resultó falso. De hecho el cáncer se le reprodujo hasta 4 veces.

“Sufrí la amputación de una mama, me sometieron a radioterapia y a una quimioterapia muy dolorosa. Me vieron los especialistas más eminentes de mi país pero en mi fuero interno estaba segura de que me estaba enfrentando a la muerte. Y estuve a punto de tirar la toalla”,cuenta la profesora Plant en su libro Your life in your hands (Tu vida en tus manos) en el que relata su propia experiencia y explica cómo llegó a la idea que ha salvado su vida: “A raíz de un viaje de mi marido a China -cuenta en su obra- empecé a pensar en que mi enfermedad era virtualmente inexistente en dicho país. De hecho sólo una de cada 10.000 mujeres muere de cáncer de mama en China mientras que sólo en el Reino Unido las cifras oficiales hablan de una de cada 12. Entonces mi marido –que también es científico- y yo misma empezamos a investigar sobre la forma de vida y alimentación de los orientales hasta que llegamos a la idea que me salvó la vida: las mujeres chinas no enfermaban de cáncer de mama ni los hombres desarrollaban tumores prostáticos porque son incapaces de tolerar la leche y, por tanto, no la toman. Es más, supimos que los chinos son incapaces de comprender la preocupación occidental por tomar leche de vaca. Ellos nunca la utilizan ¡y menos para amamantar a sus bebés! Y si te paras a pensarlo no puede ser una simple casualidad que más del 70% de la población mundial sea incapaz de digerir la lactosa. Hoy lo que creo es que la naturaleza intenta avisarnos a tiempo de que estamos comiendo un alimento equivocado”.

Cuando Jane Plant se planteó todo esto se estaba tratando con quimioterapia su quinto tumor mamario. Y fue entonces cuando decidió suprimir por completo la ingesta de lácteos, incluidos todos los alimentos que contienen algo de leche: sopas, galletas, pasteles, margarinas, etc. ¿Y qué sucedió? “En sólo unos días –recoge en su libro- el tumor empezó a encogerse. Dos semanas después de mi segunda sesión de quimioterapia y una semana después de haber suprimido la leche y sus derivados el tumor empezó a picarme. Luego se ablandó y comenzó a menguar. Unas seis semanas después había desaparecido. De hecho mi oncólogo del Charing Cross Hospital de Londres no pudo reprimir exclamar un maravillado ‘¡No lo encuentro!’ cuando examinó la zona donde había estado el bulto. Por lo visto no esperaba que alguien con un cáncer tan avanzado –ya había invadido mi sistema linfático- pudiera sobrevivir”. Afortunadamente aquel oncólogo logró superar su escepticismo inicial y en la actualidad recomienda una dieta sin lácteos a sus pacientes.

Convencida de que dejar de tomar lácteos era lo que le había salvado la vida Jane Plant decidió plasmar sus conocimientos y su experiencia en el libro antes mencionado. Y de inmediato más de 60 mujeres aquejadas de cáncer de mama se pusieron en contacto con ella para pedirle consejo. Sus tumores también desaparecieron.

“Aunque no fue fácil aceptar que una sustancia tan ‘natural’como la leche pudiera tener tales repercusiones para la salud -explica Plant- ahora no me cabe duda de que la relación entre los productos lácteos y el cáncer de mama es similar a la que existe entre el tabaco y el cáncer de pulmón. Pero no sólo eso porque, por ejemplo, ya en 1989 el doctor Daniel Cramer -de la Universidad de Harvard- determinó que estos productos están implicados en la aparición del cáncer de ovarios. Y los datos sobre el cáncer de próstata conducen a conclusiones similares. La propia Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) afirma que el número de hombres que padecen este cáncer en China es de 0,5 por cada 10.000 mientras que en el Reino Unido la cifra es 70 veces mayor. La clave está pues, sin duda, en el consumo de lácteos”.

Para la profesora Plant la leche de vaca es un gran alimento…¡pero sólo para los terneros! Y afirma convencida que la naturaleza no la ha destinado a ser consumida por ninguna otra especie. “De hecho estoy convencida –concluye- de que salvé mi vida por dejar de consumir leche de vaca. Sólo deseo que mi experiencia puede servir a más mujeres y hombres que, sin saberlo, pueden estar enfermos a causa de los lácteos que consumen”.

En su libro, además de detalles de su propia experiencia e interesantes datos sobre sus investigaciones acerca de los efectos de la leche de vaca sobre nuestra salud, se recogen una serie de recomendaciones nutricionales que se resumen en alimentarse básicamente de leche de soja, té de hierbas, semillas de sésamo, tofu, nueces, pescado, huevos, carne magra (no ternera picada, que puede ser vaca lechera), mucha fruta y verduras frescas.

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Enfermedades del Corazón

Enfermedades de los huesos

Enfermedades de la sangre

Enfermedades de las vías respiratorias

Enfermedades endocrinas

Enfermedades de la piel

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Enfermedades de la Vías Digestivas

Enfermedades Neurológicas

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    La leche animal y sus derivados –nata, natillas, yogures, helados, batidos, etc.- se encuentran actualmente entre los alimentos de mayor consumo del mundo. Se alaban sus propiedades nutritivas, lo ricos que son y lo imprescindibles que resultan para mantener los huesos sanos merced a su riqueza en proteínas, vitaminas y minerales, especialmente el calcio. Pero, ¿es eso verdad o más bien se trata de productos no precisamente saludables que causan muy diversas patologías?

    El ser humano es único en la naturaleza por múltiples razones destacando entre ellas el hecho de que se trata del único mamífero que ingiere leche procedente de otro animal pasado el periodo de lactancia. Y lo hace a pesar de saberse que la leche que produce cada mamífero es específica para su especie y que la naturaleza la ha hecho idónea para las necesidades de su cría y no para las de otra. Es más, la madre Naturaleza previó que los mamíferos –es decir, los animales que maman- obtengan la leche directamente de las mamas de sus madres sin contacto con agente externo alguno ya que se trata de una sustancia que se altera y contamina con gran facilidad. Los humanos, sin embargo, en el convencimiento de que es sano seguir tomándola siendo ya adultos hemos alterado hasta las leyes de la naturaleza para poder mantenerla en condiciones adecuadas de consumo. Y, sin embargo, son muchas las evidencias que indican que tan preciado líquido está detrás de muchas de las dolencias que hoy nos aquejan.

    Obviamente la composición de cada leche varía en función del animal, de la raza, del alimento que haya recibido, de su edad, del periodo de lactancia, de la época del año y del sistema de ordeño, entre otras variables. Y si bien su principal componente es el agua su presunto interés nutritivo radica en que además contiene grasas (ácidos grasos saturados y colesterol), proteínas (caseína, lactoalbúminas y lactoglobulinas), hidratos de carbono (lactosa, fundamentalmente), vitaminas (cantidades moderadas de A, D y del grupo B) y minerales (fósforo, calcio, zinc y magnesio). Las proporciones dependen ya del tratamiento que se haya dado a la materia prima por lo que no contiene la misma grasa la “leche entera” que la “leche descremada” (vea el recuadro que se adjunta al respecto). Ahora bien, ¿es realmente saludable ingerir leche y productos lácteos? Porque no sólo son muchos los investigadores que discrepan de esa opinión sino que hay cada vez más estudios que cuestionan esa aseveración.

    EL PROBLEMA DEL CALCIO

    La razón fundamental por la que los nutricionistas occidentales –no así los orientales- recomiendan tomar leche y sus derivados es porque la consideran muy nutritiva y especialmente rica en calcio agregando que la ingesta periódica de ese mineral es imprescindible para mantener la salud, sobre todo la de los huesos. Y en ese convencimiento muchas personas beben cantidades importantes de ella al punto de que algunas -es el caso de millones de norteamericanos- prácticamente la toman en lugar de agua. Sin embargo es precisamente en Estados Unidos, el mayor consumidor mundial de leche, donde más incidencia de osteoporosis hay entre su población. ¿Alguien puede explicar razonadamente tan singular paradoja?
    Lógicamente no puede extrañar que cada vez más expertos alcen su voz abiertamente afirmando que la leche y sus derivados no sólo no son alimentos adecuados para el ser humano sino que ni siquiera constituyen una buena fuente de calcio porque una cosa es la cantidad de ese mineral presente en ella y otra muy distinta su biodisponibilidad. Además está por ver si la necesidad de él que precisa el organismo es la que publicitan las empresas lácteas.
    Resultan ilustrativos a ese respecto los resultados del estudio que con 78.000 mujeres de entre 34 y 59 años llevaron a cabo durante 12 años varios profesores de la Universidad de Harvard en Estados Unidos y que fue publicado en el American Journal of Public Health en 1997. Porque sus conclusiones desmienten la tesis de que un mayor consumo de leche u otras fuentes alimenticias de calcio por mujeres adultas las proteja de fracturas propias de la osteoporosis como son las de cadera o antebrazo.

    También es interesante recordar el Proyecto Cornell Oxford-China de Nutrición, Salud y Medio Ambiente que se inició en 1983 con un estudio pormenorizado de los hábitos cotidianos de 6.500 habitantes de 65 provincias dispersas de la China rural ya que constituye una de las investigaciones más rigurosas y concluyentes efectuadas en materia de salud. Y ese trabajo demostró -entre otras cosas- que la leche animal desmineraliza a los adultos. Es decir, se comprobó que las mujeres que no tomaban leche de vaca y su único alimento eran el arroz, los vegetales, la soja y sus derivados no padecían osteoporosis. Y que, sin embargo, si dejaban esa dieta e introducían la leche de vaca sus niveles de calcio bajaban y aumentaba la incidencia de esa patología.

    Gracias a las investigaciones llevadas a cabo por el doctor John McDougall -médico nutricionista del St Helena Hospital de Napa (California, Estados Unidos)- sabemos también que la mujeres de la etnia bantú no toman leche pero sí calcio procedente de fuentes vegetales y, sin embargo, a pesar de que tienen una media de 10 hijos y los amamantan durante largos periodos no padecen osteoporosis.

    Otro ejemplo de la relación entre leche y osteoporosis lo constituye el trabajo del doctor William Ellis, ex presidente de la Academia Americana de Osteopatía Aplicada, quien estableció que las personas que toman de 3 a 5 vasos de leche diarios presentan los niveles más bajos de calcio en sangre. Agregando que tomar mucha leche implica ingerir grandes cantidades de proteínas lácteas y éstas producen un exceso de acidez que el organismo intenta compensar mediante la liberación de minerales alcalinos.

    En esa misma línea se expresa un estudio publicado en el American Journal of Clinical Nutrition que afirma que el exceso de proteínas de la leche es uno de los factores más importantes en el avance de la osteoporosis. En dicho estudio -publicado ya en 1983- se demostraba que hasta la edad de 65 años las mujeres que no toman leche y son vegetarianas tienen un 18% de pérdida de hueso mientras las omnívoras padecen una pérdida ósea del 35%.

    Y estudios más recientes muestran que con una ingesta de 75 gramos diarios de proteína láctea se pierde más calcio en la orina del que se absorbe a través de la dieta.

    A todo esto hay que añadir que la relación calcio/fósforo de la leche de vaca no es adecuada para el ser humano pues su contenido es demasiado elevado en fósforo y por eso su ingesta acidifica el organismo. Con las numerosas implicaciones negativas para la salud que ello implica.

    LA OPINIÓN DE JEAN SEIGNALET

    Como por otra parte ya publicó Discovery DSALUD en los números 78 y 79 también el finado doctor Jean Seignalet -hematólogo, inmunólogo, biólogo,catedrático de Medicina de la Universidad de Montpellier durante muchos años y autor de más de doscientas publicaciones en prestigiosas revistas médicas- denunció en su obra La Alimentación, la 3ª Medicinaque muchas patologías y la proliferación actual de otras se debe básicamente a cinco razones: el consumo de cereales domésticos, la ingesta de leche animal y sus derivados, la cocción de los alimentos, el refino de los aceites y la contaminación alimenticia con la consiguiente carencia de vitaminas y minerales. Afirmando en lo que a la leche se refiere lo siguiente: “Muchas personas piensan que prescindir de la leche puede provocarles pérdida de calcio y problemas como la osteoporosis pues la televisión, la prensa y la mayoría de los médicos repiten que la solidez de los huesos depende de su cantidad de calcio y sólo el consumo diario de productos derivados de la leche puede aportarles en cantidad suficiente ese precioso calcio. Sin embargo, yo digo firmemente que NO. El peligro de la falta de calcio es una ilusión. Es cierto que la leche de vaca es rica en calcio pero una vez en el tubo digestivo humano la inmensa mayoría del mismo es precipitado en forma de fosfato de calcio y expulsado a través de las heces fecales. Sólo una pequeña parte es absorbida. El calcio asimilable es aportado en cantidad más que suficiente por los vegetales: hortalizas, legumbres secas, verduras, carnes crudas y frutos secos y frescos. Además el calcio es un mineral muy abundante en el suelo donde es recuperado por las raíces de las plantas. En definitiva, eliminar de la alimentación la leche animal no provoca carencia de calcio. Al contrario, el régimen hipotóxico -desprovisto de derivados de la leche- acompañado de magnesio y silicio bloquea 70 veces de cada 100 la evolución de la osteoporosis e incluso permite a veces recuperar parte del terreno perdido”.

    LA CASEÍNA DE LA LECHE

    Mencionábamos al describir la composición de la leche que una de sus proteínas principales es la caseína. Pues bien, se sabe que el niño lactante asimila completamente las caseínas de la leche materna… pero no las de la leche de vaca. Tales proteínas sólo se digieren parcialmente por el efecto neutralizador de la leche sobre la acidez gástrica, indispensable para su ruptura.

    ¿Y qué efectos provoca esa sustancia viscosa que es la caseína animal en nuestro organismo? Pues hay que decir que en algunas personas se adhiere a los folículos linfáticos del intestino impidiendo la absorción de otros nutrientes (de hecho la caseína se utiliza como pegamento para papel, madera, etc.). Además su hidrolización parcial tiene otras consecuencias. Por ejemplo, desembarazarse de sus residuos metabólicos supone un gasto energético suplementario para el organismo y puede provocar problemas inmunológicos. Así, en personas que presentan deficiencias de inmunoglobulinas IgA esta proteína pasa al torrente sanguíneo y genera gran variedad de reacciones autoinmunes (las mencionaremos más adelante al hablar de las enfermedades relacionadas con el consumo de leche). Y si tenemos en cuenta -como se recoge en un informe del Memorial Kettering Hospital de Nueva York (Estados Unidos)- que la deficiencia de antígenos IgA es uno de los problemas más comunes en cuanto a deficiencias inmunitarias el problema pasa a tener dimensiones mucho más preocupantes.

    LAS GRASAS DE LA LECHE

    La leche humana contiene 45 gramos de lípidos por litro de los que el 55% son ácidos grasos poliinsaturados y un 45% saturados. Y tiene, sobre todo, un elevado contenido en ácido linoleico, precursor de prostaglandinas y leucotrienos antiinflamatorios. En cambio la leche de vaca -la más consumida- contiene un 70% de ácidos grasos saturados y un 30% de poliinsaturados. Una estructura que favorece la formación de prostaglandinas y leucotrienos inflamatorios. Además ese 30% de poliinsaturados pierde sus propiedades cuando por efecto del calor -entre 40 y 45 Cº- se desnaturalizan y ya no pueden ser precursores de sustancias antiinflamatorias. Por lo que la leche tratada para poder ser consumida es ¡una sustancia 100% inflamatoria!

    Por otra parte la pasteurización y la homogeneización provocan que las grasas saturadas atraviesen las paredes intestinales en forma de pequeñas partículas no digeridas lo que inexorablemente aumenta los niveles de colesterol y grasas saturadas en sangre. Además el contenido en colesterol de la leche es superior al de otros alimentos famosos por ser ricos en ese elemento. De hecho algunos países ya han retirado la leche de la lista de alimentos fundamentales para la dieta porque se ha observado que los niños que acostumbran a tomar varios vasos de leche al día tienen sus arterias en peores condiciones que los que no la toman. Una información que, curiosamente, no parece haber llegado a Estados Unidos pues según su Departamento de Agriculturacasi el 40% de la comida diaria que ingieren los norteamericanos consiste en leche y/o productos lácteos. Lo cual significa que un estadounidense medio toma diariamente sólo con los productos lácteos 161 miligramos de colesterol. Y eso es tanto como ingerir ¡53 lonchas de tocino al día! Y luego se extrañan de que la cuarta parte de la población norteamericana sea obesa o padezca sobrepeso.

    Añadiremos finalmente un dato importante que aporta el ya mencionado doctor John McDougall: en el afán por aumentar sus ventas la industria lechera relaciona el contenido de grasa de la leche… con el peso. Lo que le permite decir que la de vaca contiene “sólo” un 2% de grasa por cada 100 gramos. Y, claro, dicho así parece que estemos hablando de un producto bajo en grasa. Sin embargo debemos entender que el 87% de la leche es agua por lo que si descartamos ésta el porcentaje real de grasa sobre la sustancia sólida es mucho mayor. ¡Y no hablemos ya de la leche condensada!

    LA CARGA HORMONAL

    Conviene saber también que la leche contiene aproximadamente 59 tipos diferentes de hormonas -pituitarias, esteroideas, adrenales, sexuales, etc.- siendo las más importantes las hormonas del crecimiento cuya acción, unidas a la riqueza proteica de la leche de vaca, hacen posible el rápido crecimiento de los terneros de forma que en breve plazo llegan a doblar su peso. Y es evidente que los humanos no tenemos precisamente esa necesidad. Además niveles elevados de esa hormona, unidos a otros tóxicos, se consideran hoy causa de la aparición de diversas enfermedades degenerativas.

    Hay que añadir a ese respecto que resulta kafkiano tener que reseñar que ya en 1994 la Food and Drug Administration (FDA) –es decir, la agencia del medicamento norteamericana- aprobó que la compañía Monsanto usara la Hormona Recombinante de Crecimiento Bovino (rBGH) -también conocida como bovine somatotropin o rbST- para aumentar la producción de leche en las vacas entre un 10 y un 25%. Porque según se publicó en The Ecologist en 1998 “el uso de rBGH incrementa los niveles de otra hormona proteica –el factor de crecimiento 1 tipo insulina (IGF-1)- en la leche de las vacas. Y dado que el IGF-1 es activo en los humanos –causando que las células se dividan- algunos científicos piensan que una ingesta de leche tratada con altos niveles de rBGH podría dar paso a la división y crecimiento incontrolados de células en los humanos. En otras palabras: cáncer”. De hecho son tantos los peligros potenciales de esa hormona que su uso está prohibido actualmente en Canadá y la Unión Europea así como en otros países.

    La profesora Jane Plant, sobre cuya ilustrativa experiencia personal hablamos en el recuadro adjunto y que es autora del libro Your life in your hands (Tu vida en tus manos), explica en él que el IGF-1 es además especialmente activo durante la pubertad y el embarazo. En el caso de las niñas púberes -explica- esta hormona estimula el tejido de la mama para que crezca. Y durante el embarazo ensancha los tejidos mamarios y los conductos de la leche materna para favorecer la lactancia. Agregando con rotundidad: “Niveles altos de esta hormona incrementan hasta tres veces el riesgo de padecer cáncer de mama o de próstata por parte de quienes consumen tanto la leche como la carne de las vacas lecheras. Y en contra de la afirmación de que la pasteurización la destruye entiendo que la caseína evita que eso ocurra y que la homogeneización facilita que la IGF-1 alcance el torrente sanguíneo. Asimismo, los propios estrógenos que se añaden a la leche bovina son otro de los factores que estimulan la expresión nociva de esta hormona y que, indirectamente, acaban provocando la aparición de tumores”.

    TÓXICOS EN LA LECHE

    Debemos añadir que la leche puede además estar contaminada por productos químicos, hormonas, antibióticos, pesticidas, pus procedente de las mastitis -tan frecuentes en la vacas ordeñadas permanentemente-, virus, bacterias, priones… Sin olvidar que hoy se “enriquece” tanto la leche como los productos lácteos con aditivos, vitaminas y minerales sintéticos, semillas, plantas, frutas, proteínas, ácidos grasos… En algunos casos, por cierto, con grasa de animales distintos. Con lo que uno puede estar ingiriendo leche de vaca enriquecida con grasa de cerdo… sin saberlo.

    ¿Y cuáles son las sustancias tóxicas que con más frecuencia puede uno encontrarse en un vaso de leche de vaca, la más consumida? Pues son éstas:

    Metales y plásticos. El equipo utilizado en la explotación ganadera para obtener, conducir o almacenar la leche puede contaminarla. De hecho se ha llegado a detectar en ella hierro, cobre, plomo, cadmio, zinc, etc., o sus aleaciones. Lo que puede provocar una actividad catalítica nefasta sobre las reacciones de oxidación que se producen en ella.

    Detergentes y desinfectantes. Hablamos de formol, ácido bórico, ácido benzoico, sales alcalinas, bicromato potásico, etc., sustancias que se emplean en la limpieza y desinfección del material que se pone en contacto con la leche. Su uso está justificado ya que el agua por sí sola es incapaz de arrastrar los restos de materia orgánica y destruir las bacteriasque contaminan las instalaciones y que pueden pasar a la leche.

    Pesticidas y fertilizantes. En la comida que se da a las vacas se pueden encontrar compuestos químicos con los que se ha procurado tanto el incremento de las cosechas como su mejor conservación. En este grupo se incluyen acaricidas, nematicidas, fungicidas, rodenticidas y herbicidas. Compuestos químicos -DDT, dieldrin, lindano, metoxiclor, malation, aldrín, etc.- que pueden ocasionar cáncer.

    Micotoxinas. Procedentes del alimento que se da a las vacas cuando éste está contaminado pormohos, muy especialmente por el aspergillus flavus.

    Antibióticos y otros fármacos. Actualmente se emplean de forma habitual en el tratamiento y prevención de las enfermedades infecciosas y parasitarias de las vacas pero pueden pasar a laleche contaminándola. Un problema que se agrava al saber que el uso excesivo y continuado de estos fármacos en animales ha acabado provocando que determinadas cepas de gérmenes patógenos se hayan hecho resistentes y al pasar a los humanos éstos encuentren dificultades para superar la enfermedad con antibióticos. Por eso es peligroso el consumo de leche extraída de vacas así tratadas. Ya en 1976 el diario Daily Herd Management publicaba que “la mayoría de las fábricas [de leche]usan cerca de 60 clases de tratamientos químicos [antibióticos] para tratar la hinchazón de pezón después de cada ordeñada y para reducir la propagación de mastitis (inflamación de ubres)en sus rebaños. Hay evidencia de que algunas de esas zambullidas químicas dejan residuos en la leche que pueden ser peligrosos para los humanos”. Diez años después todo seguía igual y el prestigioso The New York Timesafirmaba que “los residuos de antibióticos en la leche están causando reacciones alérgicas en algunas personas debido a tratamientos rutinarios para prevenir la hinchazón de los pezones de las vacas y programas de infusión en las fábricas lecheras.”

    -Contaminación radioactiva. Es otro de los problemas que preocupan en la actualidady si bien los residuos producidos por el uso específico de la energía nuclear no ocasionan problemas más que en raras ocasiones es necesario prestar atención.

    -Dioxinas. Estos derivados del cloro merecen atención especial. Además de estar relacionados con el cáncer de pulmón y los linfomas la exposición a las dioxinas se ha relacionado con la diabetes, los problemas de desarrollo del niño y diversos desarreglos del sistema inmune.

    ENFERMEDADES RELACIONADAS CON EL CONSUMO DE LECHE

    Ante todo lo expuesto son cada vez más las voces que alertan de la posible relación –más o menos directa- entre el consumo de leche y las dolencias que se relacionan a continuación:

    -Anemia ferropénica. El doctor Frank Oski -director del Departamento de Pediatría de la Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad de Johns Hopkins (Estados Unidos)- asevera en su libro Don’t Drink Your Milk! (¡No bebas tu leche!) que en su país entre el 15 y el 20% de los niños menores de 2 años sufren anemia por deficiencia de hierro y que la mitad del resto de las anemias que se producen en Estados Unidos están relacionadas con el consumo de leche y sus derivados por los pequeños sangrados gastrointestinales que la leche puede provocar.

    -Artritis Reumatoidea y Osteoartritis. Está constatado que los complejos antígeno-anticuerpo generados por la leche se depositan a veces en las articulaciones provocando su inflamación y entumecimiento. Estudios realizados en la Universidad de Florida (Estados Unidos) confirman que los síntomas se agravan en pacientes con Artritis Reumatoidea que consumen leche. Por otro lado, en un artículo publicado en la revista Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology se afirmaba que en personas afectadas de esa patología que dejaron de ingerir lácteos y tomaron sólo agua, té verde, frutas y zumos vegetales entre 7 y 10 días la inflamación y el dolor disminuyeron significativamente. Agregando que cuando alguno volvía a una dieta lacto-ovo-vegetariana los síntomas reaparecían. Por su parte, un grupo de investigadores israelíes demostró en 1985 -por primera vez- que la leche puede inducir también la artritis reumatoidea juvenil. La asociación de la leche con la artritis reumatoidea del adulto ya se había establecido anteriormente pero no se había hallado ninguna asociación con la juvenil hasta el hallazgo de esos científicos.

    -Asma. Se sabe que la leche puede estimular la producción excesiva de moco en las vías respiratorias y que la alergia a la leche es causa de asma. Además está completamente demostrado que los niños con exceso de moco y dificultades respiratorias a los que se les retira la leche de vaca mejoran de forma sorprendente.

    -Autismo. Investigadores italianos descubrieron que los síntomas neurológicos de los pacientes autistas empeoran cuando consumen leche y trigo. Se cree que los péptidos de la leche pudieran tener un efecto tóxico en el sistema nervioso central al interferir con los neurotransmisores. En sus investigaciones los doctores de la Universidad de Roma notaron una mejoría marcada en la conducta de esos enfermos tras dejar de ingerirla ocho semanas. En su sangre había altos niveles de anticuerpos contra la caseína, la lactoalbúmina y la betalactoglobulina.

    -Cáncer de estómago. Investigadores del Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica de Morelos (México) encontraron un aumento significativo del riesgo de contraer cáncer de estómago en pacientes que consumían productos lácteos. En los que además consumían carne el riesgo se triplicaba.

    -Cáncer de mama.La leche está considerada por muchos expertos causa directa de este “tipo” de cáncer. Si a ello añadimos la influencia que tiene la hormona insulínica las probabilidades de sufrirlo aumentan considerablemente en las grandes consumidoras de leche (Discovery DSALUD publicará el mes que viene un artículo sobre este importante asunto que tanto preocupa a las mujeres).

    -Cáncer de ovarios. La galactosa -uno de los azúcares de la leche- se ha relacionado también con el cáncer de ovarios. Algunos investigadores consideran que las mujeres que beben más de un vaso de leche entera al día tienen tres veces más probabilidades de contraer cáncer de ovarios que las que no lo ingieren.

    -Cáncer de páncreas. Investigadores de la Universidad de Harvard (Estados Unidos) afirman que existe una relación “positiva y fuerte” entre el cáncer del páncreas y el consumo de leche, huevos y carne.

    -Cáncer de próstata. Un estudio presentado hace más de veinte años en una reunión de la American Association of Cancer Research en San Francisco y publicado en Oncology News ya revelaba, según el doctor Chan -epidemiólogo de la Universidad de Harvard-, que el consumo de mucha leche y sus derivados está asociado con un incremento del riesgo de cáncer de próstata en los hombres. Explicando que ello se puede deber a que el alto contenido de calcio de la leche hace disminuir la cantidad de vitamina D del cuerpo, encargada de proteger del cáncer de próstata a pesar de que la propia leche la contiene.

    Epidemiólogos italianos del Aviano Cancer Center calcularon ese aumento del riesgo y establecieron que es 1,2 veces mayor entre quienes beben de 1 a 2 vasos de leche diaria que entre los que no la consumen. Sin embargo, si se toman dos o más vasos de leche al día el nivel de riesgo de padecer ese cáncer aumenta a 5.
    Otro estudio -realizado por el mismo equipo de investigadores de la Universidad de Harvard- descubrió que los hombres que consumen grandes cantidades de leche y/o lácteos tienen un 70% de riesgo de contraer cáncer de próstata. Opinión que comparte un grupo de científicos noruegos de la Universidad de Oslo quienes afirman que consumir leche es un riesgo para contraer cáncer de próstata. Añadiendo que, sorprendentemente, el consumo de leche desnatada está asociado con un mayor incremento que la leche entera.

    Cáncer de pulmón. Investigadores holandeses concluyeron en 1989 que las personas que toman tres o más vasos de leche diaria tienen dos veces más probabilidad de desarrollar cáncer de pulmón que los que no la toman. Y que, sin embargo -contra lo que afirman sus colegas noruegos- las personas que toman esa misma cantidad pero de leche desnatada parecen estar más protegidas. También se coligió enel Roswell Park Memorial Institute de Nueva York que entre las personas que beben tres o más vasos de leche entera al día aumenta el riesgo de desarrollar cáncer de pulmón en un 200% (comparado con aquellos que nunca la toman). Además se ha documentado que existe relación directa entre la hormona somatotropina y el cáncer de pulmón, y entre éste y las dioxinas que contaminan la leche.

    Cáncer de testículos. Investigadores británicos descubrieron que también hay relación entre el cáncer testicular y el consumo de leche. El riesgo encontrado fue 7,19 veces mayor que en la población general y aumenta en un 1,39 por cada cuarto de leche adicional que se consume.

    Cataratas. Hay una creciente evidencia de la relación entre el consumo de leche y las cataratas. Según diversos estudios científicos las poblaciones humanas que consumen grandes cantidades de productos lácteos tienen mayor incidencia de cataratas que aquellos que los evitan. Este defecto se ha relacionado con la lactosa y la galactosa. Siendo la relación más evidente entre la mujeres que entre los hombres. El tipo más frecuentemente es la catarata cortical.

    Colitis ulcerosa. También el consumo de leche se ha asociado a esta dolencia.

    Colon irritable. Hay diversos estudios que vinculan igualmente la ingesta de leche con el desarrollo de esta patología.

    Diabetes Mellitus Tipo I. Diferentes investigaciones demuestran que los lactantes alimentados con leche de vaca presentan un mayor riesgo de padecer diabetes insulinodependiente -conocida como diabetes tipo I- ya desde su niñez. Un estudio publicado en la Revista de Medicina de Nueva Inglaterra identifica la leche como “elemento responsable o factor desencadenante en algunas personas genéticamente sensibles” . Los médicos que realizaron la investigación descubrieron que los diabéticos analizados tenían unos niveles de anticuerpos más altos de lo normal que reaccionaban con una proteína de la leche llamada suero de albúmina bovina atacándola como invasora y destruyéndola. Pero resulta que -¡fatal coincidencia!- una sección de esa proteína es casi idéntica a una proteína de la superficie de las células productoras de insulina por lo cual, según afirman, las defensas de las personas sensibles a ella terminan atacando a sus propias células causando así su autodestrucción. Por lo que coligen que eliminar la leche y sus derivados de la dieta infantil podría disminuir drásticamente la incidencia de este tipo de diabetes.

    Dolores abdominales sin intolerancia a la lactosa. Existe una estrecha correlación -no discutida- entre la indigestión que causa la lactosa, la intolerancia a la lactosa y la intolerancia a la leche.

    Enfermedad de Crohn. El doctor John Hermon-Taylor -director del Departamento de Cirugía de la Escuela de Medicina del Hospital St. George (Gran Bretaña)- afirma tras estudiar la enfermedad de Crohn durante 20 años que la Paratuberculosis -una subespecie del Mycobacterium Avium- está indudablemente asociada a esa patología. Y que ese microorganismo se transmite fundamentalmente a través de la leche porque la pasteurización no la destruye. En un estudio realizado entre 1990 y 1994 sobre envases para leche se encontró con que el 7% estaba contaminado con laParatuberculosis.

    Enfermedades coronarias. Numerosos investigadores relacionan algunos componentes de la leche –el colesterol, las grasas, su alto contenido en calcio, la presencia de xantina oxidasa, etc.- con este tipo de dolencias. En el caso de la enzima bovina xantina oxidasa se sabe que sólo causa problemas cuando la leche es homogeneizada y que su daño se centra en los vasos sanguíneos. La posible explicación está en que esta enzima atravesaría intacta las paredes intestinales, se trasladaría a través de la sangre y destruiría el masmógeno, uno de los componentes de las membranas de las células que forman el tejido cardiaco. Uno de esos investigadores es el doctor Kurt Oster, jefe del servicio de Cardiología del Hospital Park City en Bridgeport (Estados Unidos). Durante un periodo de casi cuatro años Oster estudió a 75 pacientes que sufrían angina de pecho y arteriosclerosis. Pues bien, se eliminó la leche de sus dietas y se les dio ácido fólico y vitamina C -ambas combaten la xantina oxidasa- y en todos los casos el dolor disminuyó. Es más, a ese respecto el doctor Kurt Esselbacher -miembro de la Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad de Harvard- afirma sin tapujos: “La leche homogenizada, debido al contenido de xantina oxidasa, es una de las mayores causas de enfermedades coronarias en Estados Unidos”.

    Hay también estudios realizados en Rusia según los cuales quienes beben tres o más vasos de leche al día tienen 1,7 más probabilidades de padecer enfermedades isquémicas cardíacas que quienes no la consumen. Igualmente se sabe que el consumo habitual de productos lácteos aumenta el colesterol malo (LDL) sin afectar al bueno (HDL) por lo que ya en sí mismos constituyen un factor de riesgo. Y debemos añadir que el consumo de proteínas lácteas parece tener relación directa con la mortalidad coronaria ya que se ha comprobado que los anticuerpos creados contra la caseína activan el sistema plaquetario estimulando la trombogénesis. Además se las relaciona con la inflamación de las paredes de las arterias favoreciendo así el proceso arteriosclerótico.

    En cuanto al calcio de la leche cabe decir que parece existir relación entre el endurecimiento de las arterias y el excesivo contenido de este mineral en sangre.

    Añadiremos que la leche desnatada se ha asociado con enfermedades coronarias no isquémicas en hombres mayores de 45 años y en mujeres mayores de 75. Se cree que las proteínas de la leche contribuyen a la formación de la homocisteina. Para muchos la conjunción de este tipo de leche, la lactosa, el calcio y la homocisteína podría ser responsable de la calcificación de las arterias.

    Esclerosis múltiple. Científicosde la Universidad de Michigan (Estados Unidos) están llevando a cabo en la actualidad extensos estudios acerca de los factores asociados con la esclerosis múltiple y si bien hasta ahora sólo han obtenido conclusiones parciales han podido establecer relación entre la esclerosis múltiple y un excesivo consumo de leche.

    Estreñimiento. La leche es causa conocida de estreñimiento en niños y ancianos. Su eliminación de la dieta y un mayor consumo de vegetales y fibra suele resolver ese problema. Asimismo, tanto el estreñimiento crónico como las lesiones perianales se han asociado con una clara intolerancia a la leche de vaca.

    Fatiga crónica. Según un estudio realizado con niños en Rochester (Nueva York) en 1991 beber leche aumenta 44,3 veces el riesgo de padecer esta enfermedad.

    Fístulas y fisuras anales.Podría deberse al parecer a la alergia a una proteína de la leche de cabra.

    Incontinencia urinaria. Muchos niños que mojan las sábanas ya crecidos dejan de hacerlo en cuanto eliminan de su dieta la leche, los productos que la contienen y los derivados lácteos.

    Intolerancia a la lactosa. Para poder ser utilizada por nuestro organismo este azúcar de la leche debe ser previamente hidrolizado y eso se consigue gracias a una enzima llamada lactasa que va desapareciendo lentamente cuando comienzan a salirnos los dientes. Parece que en la raza blanca la lactasa permanece durante más tiempo que en la raza negra. Algo que podría deberse a la relación existente entre la melanina y la lactasa. Las personas que viven en lugares fríos tendrían por eso la piel más blanca a fin de aprovechar al máximo las radiaciones solares y sintetizar vitamina D para fijar el calcio.

    Se ha observado también que en la mayoría de las personas que no producen lactasa o lo hacen a niveles muy bajos la lactosa no hidrolizada pasa al intestino donde es atacada por las bacterias y las consecuencias son fermentaciones, meteorismo, cólicos, diarreas, etc. Todo lo cual provoca la irritación de las paredes del intestino e incluso microheridas con pérdida de sangre. Y si esas pequeñas hemorragias se producen de forma continuada acaban provocando deficiencias de hierro.

    Además la lactosa puede provocar otros trastornos no menos graves ya que es responsable de la asimilación de metales pesados como el cadmio, el mercurio y el hierro así como de otras sustancias tóxicas.

    Linfomas. Un estudio realizado en la Universidad de Bergen (Noruega) durante año y medio con casi 16.000 pacientes observó que las personas que consumen dos vasos de leche al día presentan un riesgo 3,4 veces mayor de padecer linfomas que los que beben menos. El mecanismo por el cual eso se produce todavía no está claro a pesar de que se sabe que la leche de vaca puede transmitir el virus de la leucemia bovina. Este mismo estudio encontró una asociación, aunque débil, entre el consumo de leche y el cáncer de riñones y de los órganos reproductivos femeninos.

    Otro mecanismo por el cual se pueden contraer linfomas es a través de leche contaminada con dioxinas. En un artículo publicado en el periódico norteamericano The Washington Post se afirmaba que las personas que consumen grandes cantidades de grasa -como carne y productos lácteos son 10 veces más propensas a contraer cáncer, especialmente de pulmón.

    Migraña. Se ha comprobado experimentalmente que cuando se suprime la leche de la dieta de pacientes afectos de migraña se reducen significativamente sus síntomas.

    -Oídos, garganta y sinusitis. En 1994 la revista Natural Health publicaba una serie de hallazgos que relacionan a la leche con el aumento de las infecciones de los oídos y la garganta. Los estudios demostraron que las amígdalas y las adenoides reducían su tamaño cuando se limitaba el consumo de leche.

    Reacciones alérgicas.La alergia a las proteínas de la leche de vaca se ha definido como “cualquier reacción adversa mediada por los mecanismos inmunológicos a una o más de las proteínas de la leche (caseína, alfa lacto-albúmina, betalactoglobulina)”. Actualmente muchos estudios médicos reconocen la relación entre la leche y las reacciones alérgicas estableciéndose su prevalencia entre un 2 y un 5% de la población mundial. La reacción alérgica puede ser inmediata -es decir, en menos de 45 minutos- o tardía -presentándose horas o días más tarde.

    Sangrado gastrointestinal. El sangrado gastrointestinal secundario a la intolerancia a las proteínas de la leche de vaca en niños ha sido adecuadamente documentado. Tan serio es el sangrado que se le coloca como una de las causas más comunes de anemia en niños.

    Síndrome de mala absorción. Investigadores de la Universidad de Helsinki (Finlandia) han comprobado la relación entre las proteínas de la leche y el daño a la mucosa intestinal. Este daño es el responsable del síndrome de mala absorción que se caracteriza por diarreas crónicas, vómitos y retardo del crecimiento.

    Trastornos del sueño. Estudios realizados en la Universidad Free de Bruselas entre los años 1986 y 1988 confirmaron la relación entre el consumo de leche y los trastornos del sueño en los niños. Éste y otros estudios han hallado relación entre la alergia a la leche y los problemas para dormir. Todos los síntomas mejoraban cuando se excluía la leche de la dieta y empeoraban cuando era reintroducida. El tiempo promedio para notar la mejoría era de cinco semanas. La agitación que manifestaban esos niños también mejoró.

    Úlceras pépticas.En el pasado se aconsejaba tomar leche a las personas que padecían problemas estomacales, en especial en caso de úlceras. En la actualidad esa práctica se desaconseja por considerarse peligrosa y porque se sabe que la leche y sus derivados agravan todos los síntomas. El alivio temporal que sentían esos pacientes se podía deber simplemente al hecho de que normalmente la leche se tomaba fría y era la temperatura del líquido lo que hacía mejorar la situación transitoriamente.

    -Otras reacciones provocadas por la leche. Además de las expuestas existen otras situaciones y dolencias que se relacionan con la ingesta de leche. Por ejemplo la acidosis láctica severa asociada a la alergia a la leche de vaca, el aumento del riesgo de preeclampsia en mujeres sensibles, la dificultad de aprendizaje en niños o algunos casos de infertilidad femenina.Por último es importante señalar que las madres que toman leche de vaca durante el período de la lactancia exponen a sus hijos a los riesgos asociados a este alimento.

    José Ramón Llorente
    PD: el autor de este texto es presidente de la Sociedad Española de Nutrición Ortomolecular y los estudios que se citan en el artículo están perfectamente documentados y si no se mencionan es por razones de espacio y debido a su carácter divulgativo y no académico.

    Problemas que puede provocar la preparación de la leche y así poder ser consumida tiempo después de ser extraída

    La naturaleza previó que la leche -humana o animal- sirviera para alimentar a las crías directamente, en el momento y sin intervención mecánica, física o química. Sin embargo, la decisión del ser humano de seguir ingiriendo leche tras el periodo natural de lactancia le llevó a ordeñar a los animales domésticos y, con el tiempo, a buscar métodos que permitieran conservarla largo tiempo en condiciones lo más higiénicas y saludables posibles. Búsqueda que desembocó en los sistemas actuales. Hablemos pues de ellos.

    -La homogeneización. Se trata de un proceso mecánico mediante el cual se reduce el tamaño de las partículas de grasa de la leche evitando que la crema se concentre en la superficie. Y para que ese tamaño sea homogéneo se dispara el chorro de la leche a presión contra una plancha de acero a una temperatura de entre 50 y 60º C. Se consigue así una leche más blanca que luego se mantiene líquida en el envase. El inconveniente es que con ello también se rompen gran parte de las estructuras lipídicas y proteicas por lo que si esa leche se expone a luz artificial durante varias horas se convierte en una sustancia no apta para el consumo. Además, según algunos expertos al disminuir en diez veces el tamaño de las partículas de grasa este procedimiento puede incrementar el riesgo de padecer ataques al corazón en quienes consumen grandes cantidades. La posible explicación está en la enzima bovina xantina-oxidasa que atravesaría intacta las paredes intestinales y, utilizando la sangre como vehículo, destruiría el masmógeno, un componente de las membranas celulares del tejido cardiaco.

    -Pasteurización. Consiste en la aplicación de altas temperaturas durante un tiempo determinado. Con este método se destruye la mayor parte de los microorganismos que pueden alterar la leche pero no todas las esporas (formas de resistencia de los microorganismos). A través de la pasteurización se obtiene la “leche fresca del día” –así se comercializa- que se mantiene en condiciones adecuadas sólo durante 2 o 3 días. Existen dos tipos de pasteurización: la pasteurización alta -que tiene una duración de 15 segundos a una temperatura de 72º C- y la pasteurización baja -que dura 30 minutos a 65º C-. Posteriormente la leche es sometida a un enfriamiento rápido pero si este último tratamiento no se realiza de forma correcta se corre el riesgo de que germinen las esporas que hayan sobrevivido al tratamiento térmico. Además con este método se produce la coagulación de las proteínas, se eliminan las bacterias propias de la leche que servirían posteriormente para la elaboración de quesos y se pierde el 5% de las vitaminas B1 y B6, el 10% de la B12 y el 25% de la vitamina C.

    -Esterilización. Se trata de un proceso que combina altas temperaturas en un tiempo bastante largo. Así se asegura la ausencia de gérmenes patógenos y toxinas y el producto se mantiene en buenas condiciones durante más tiempo. Sin embargo con este proceso se pierden las vitaminas B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, A, C y D así como algunos aminoácidos esenciales.

    -UHT. Hablamos de leche que ha sido tratada a temperaturas muy altas en un tiempo muy corto. El problema es que las alteraciones bioquímicas que sufren las proteínas con este tratamiento son muy importantes.

    Tipos de leche de vaca

    -Leche entera.Presenta el mayor contenido en grasa láctea. Su aportación calórica y de colesterol es muy elevada: un vaso de leche aporta 7,2 gramos de grasa y unas 123 calorías. De ahí que el impacto de esta sustancia sobre el sistema cardiovascular sea muy significativo.-Leche descremada.Tiene menos calorías que la leche entera. En función de la cantidad de grasa se la llamará desnatada (<0.18%) o semidesnatada (0.5-2%). Tiene un sabor más suave y su valor nutritivo disminuye.

    -Leche condensada. Es leche entera a la que se le retira aproximadamente un 60% de su contenido acuoso y se le añade un 40% de su peso en azúcar impidiendo así en buena medida la proliferación de bacterias aunque cabría cuestionar las consecuencias para la salud de tan alta cantidad de azúcar.

    -Leche en polvo.Se consigue calentando la leche líquida hasta que pierde aproximadamente el 60% del agua que contiene. En el proceso se pierden ente un 25 y un 50% de las vitaminas hidrosolubles (vitamina C y complejo B).

    En cuanto a los quesos las materias primas utilizadas pueden ser muy diversas así como los procedimientos de elaboración y las variedades pero todos tienen un denominador común: necesitan la coagulación de la caseína por medio del cuajo. Y lo que no todos los vegetarianos saben es que el cuajo se elabora con mucosa desecada de la cuarta cavidad estomacal de los rumiantes y, en ocasiones, del cerdo. Por lo que al tomarlo se está ingiriendo un derivado animal.

    Una historia real

    La historia de la profesora Jane Plant, geoquímica y jefa científica del British Geological Survey -una prestigiosa institución pública británica que se dedica a la investigación en materia de Geología-, puede constituir un significativo ejemplo para muchas mujeres ya que ha sobrevivido a 5 tumores mamarios y a las prácticas médicas convencionales para tratar su cáncer. Y lo ha hecho, según afirma ella misma, de una forma muy sencilla: eliminando todos los lácteos de su dieta.
    Su historia es parecida a la de otras muchas mujeres. Sintió el mismo pánico cuando le diagnosticaron cáncer de mama y confiada en el buen saber y hacer de los oncólogos se sometió a una mastectomía y a la irradiación de sus ovarios porque le dijeron que así se provocaba la menopausia, se suprimía la producción de estrógenos y se podría curar el cáncer. Pero todo resultó falso. De hecho el cáncer se le reprodujo hasta 4 veces.

    “Sufrí la amputación de una mama, me sometieron a radioterapia y a una quimioterapia muy dolorosa. Me vieron los especialistas más eminentes de mi país pero en mi fuero interno estaba segura de que me estaba enfrentando a la muerte. Y estuve a punto de tirar la toalla”,cuenta la profesora Plant en su libro Your life in your hands (Tu vida en tus manos) en el que relata su propia experiencia y explica cómo llegó a la idea que ha salvado su vida: “A raíz de un viaje de mi marido a China -cuenta en su obra- empecé a pensar en que mi enfermedad era virtualmente inexistente en dicho país. De hecho sólo una de cada 10.000 mujeres muere de cáncer de mama en China mientras que sólo en el Reino Unido las cifras oficiales hablan de una de cada 12. Entonces mi marido –que también es científico- y yo misma empezamos a investigar sobre la forma de vida y alimentación de los orientales hasta que llegamos a la idea que me salvó la vida: las mujeres chinas no enfermaban de cáncer de mama ni los hombres desarrollaban tumores prostáticos porque son incapaces de tolerar la leche y, por tanto, no la toman. Es más, supimos que los chinos son incapaces de comprender la preocupación occidental por tomar leche de vaca. Ellos nunca la utilizan ¡y menos para amamantar a sus bebés! Y si te paras a pensarlo no puede ser una simple casualidad que más del 70% de la población mundial sea incapaz de digerir la lactosa. Hoy lo que creo es que la naturaleza intenta avisarnos a tiempo de que estamos comiendo un alimento equivocado”.

    Cuando Jane Plant se planteó todo esto se estaba tratando con quimioterapia su quinto tumor mamario. Y fue entonces cuando decidió suprimir por completo la ingesta de lácteos, incluidos todos los alimentos que contienen algo de leche: sopas, galletas, pasteles, margarinas, etc. ¿Y qué sucedió? “En sólo unos días –recoge en su libro- el tumor empezó a encogerse. Dos semanas después de mi segunda sesión de quimioterapia y una semana después de haber suprimido la leche y sus derivados el tumor empezó a picarme. Luego se ablandó y comenzó a menguar. Unas seis semanas después había desaparecido. De hecho mi oncólogo del Charing Cross Hospital de Londres no pudo reprimir exclamar un maravillado ‘¡No lo encuentro!’ cuando examinó la zona donde había estado el bulto. Por lo visto no esperaba que alguien con un cáncer tan avanzado –ya había invadido mi sistema linfático- pudiera sobrevivir”. Afortunadamente aquel oncólogo logró superar su escepticismo inicial y en la actualidad recomienda una dieta sin lácteos a sus pacientes.

    Convencida de que dejar de tomar lácteos era lo que le había salvado la vida Jane Plant decidió plasmar sus conocimientos y su experiencia en el libro antes mencionado. Y de inmediato más de 60 mujeres aquejadas de cáncer de mama se pusieron en contacto con ella para pedirle consejo. Sus tumores también desaparecieron.

    “Aunque no fue fácil aceptar que una sustancia tan ‘natural’como la leche pudiera tener tales repercusiones para la salud -explica Plant- ahora no me cabe duda de que la relación entre los productos lácteos y el cáncer de mama es similar a la que existe entre el tabaco y el cáncer de pulmón. Pero no sólo eso porque, por ejemplo, ya en 1989 el doctor Daniel Cramer -de la Universidad de Harvard- determinó que estos productos están implicados en la aparición del cáncer de ovarios. Y los datos sobre el cáncer de próstata conducen a conclusiones similares. La propia Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) afirma que el número de hombres que padecen este cáncer en China es de 0,5 por cada 10.000 mientras que en el Reino Unido la cifra es 70 veces mayor. La clave está pues, sin duda, en el consumo de lácteos”.

    Para la profesora Plant la leche de vaca es un gran alimento…¡pero sólo para los terneros! Y afirma convencida que la naturaleza no la ha destinado a ser consumida por ninguna otra especie. “De hecho estoy convencida –concluye- de que salvé mi vida por dejar de consumir leche de vaca. Sólo deseo que mi experiencia puede servir a más mujeres y hombres que, sin saberlo, pueden estar enfermos a causa de los lácteos que consumen”.

    En su libro, además de detalles de su propia experiencia e interesantes datos sobre sus investigaciones acerca de los efectos de la leche de vaca sobre nuestra salud, se recogen una serie de recomendaciones nutricionales que se resumen en alimentarse básicamente de leche de soja, té de hierbas, semillas de sésamo, tofu, nueces, pescado, huevos, carne magra (no ternera picada, que puede ser vaca lechera), mucha fruta y verduras frescas.

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    Democracy, Equality, and Redistribution

    Democracy, Equality, and Redistribution

    Adam Przeworski
    Department of Politics
    New York University
    October 31, 2007

    1 Introduction

    Democratic citizens are not equal but only anonymous, indistinguishable by any traits they may possess. Democracy only places a veil over distinctions that exist in society. Even the one sense in which equality that can be said to characterize democracy equality before the law is derivative from anonymity: the law has to treat all citizens equally because they are
    indistinguishable.

    This norm of anonymity was circumvented in most early representative systems by an elaborate intellectual construction that justified… restrictions of suffrage. The argument held that the role of representatives is to promote the good of all, yet the intellectual capacity to recognize the common good and the moral qualities necessary to pursue it are not universal. These traits can be recognized by using some indicators, such as wealth, age, and gender.

    Hence, relying on such indicators to restrict suffrage does not violate democratic norms. The logic of the argument is unimpeachable, but it is easy to suspect that it rationalized interests. This is the way it was perceived by those excluded, poor males and women, as they fought for political rights.

    Yet even if political rights are universal, to ignore distinctions is to not to obliterate them. Democracy was a political revolution, but not an economic one. Should we be surprised that democracy turned out to be compatible with economic inequality? From its inception, representative institutions were haunted by the specter of the poor using their political rights to redistribute property. Should we be surprised that democracy did not undermine property, that the democratic revolution was never completed by being extended to the economic realm?

    These three themes are developed below.

    2 Aristocracy and Democracy

    How did democracy reappear on the historical horizon and what did it mean to its proponents and opponents?

    Since the emergence of modern democracy is the topic of Palmer’s (1959, 1964) monumental treatise, no more than a brief summary is necessary.

    Palmer’s main point is that democracy was not a revolution against an existing system but a reaction against the increasing power of aristocracy. It was aristocracy that undermined monarchy; democracy outflanked it following in its footsteps. Palmer argues that (1) By the early eighteenth century, the aristocratic system of government was institutionalized in assemblies of
    various forms, the participation in which was reserved to legally qualified… groups (constituted bodies) that always included hereditary nobility but in different places (countries, regions, principalities, cantons, city republics) also clergy, selected categories of burgers, and in Sweden even peasants. In all cases these bodies were politically dominated by hereditary nobility. (2) In the course of the century, these estate-based bodies increased their political influence. (3) At the same time, access to nobility, however it was de…nied in different places, became increasingly closed: nobility turned into
    aristocracy. (4) The resulting aristocratic system suffered from several tensions, of which one was between birth and competence. (5) Politically crucial conflict was due to the exclusion from privilege of those who possessed all the qualifi…cations to participate wealth, talent, bearing except for birth. (6) Democracy emerged as a demand for access to these bodies, not as a movement against monarchy.

    Hence, by the end of the eighteenth century, democracy was a slogan directed against legal recognition of inherited distinctions of social status.

    Democrats were those who agitated against aristocrats or aristocracy.. As Dunn (2003: 10) observes, democracy was a reaction, above all, not to monarchy, let alone tyranny, but to another relatively concrete social category, initially all too well entrenched, but no longer plausibly aligned with social, economic, or even political or military, functions the nobility or aristocracy…. Democrat was a label in and for political combat; and what that combat was directed against was aristocrats, or at the very least aristocracy.”2 Thus, in 1794 a young Englishman described himself as being of that odious class of men called democrats because he disapproved of hereditary distinctions and privileged orders of every species (Palmer 1964: 22).

    Could any further proof be required of the republican complexion of this system, wrote Madison in The Federalist # 39, the most decisive might be found in its absolute prohibition of titles of nobility. In France, the Constituent Assembly decided that aristocratic privilege was in conflict with the very principle of popular sovereignty (Fontana 1993: 119). The Batavian (Dutch) Republic established in 1796 required voters to swear an oath to the belief that all hereditary offices and dignities were illegal (Palmer 1964: 195). In Chile, General O’Higgins, the …first Director of the State, abolished
    in 1818 all outward and visible signs of aristocracy (Collier and Sater 1006: 42).

    Here is a puzzle. While democrats fought against aristocracy, either as a system of government (the original meaning of the word) or as a legal status (nobility), this struggle did not have to result in abolishing other distinctions. One distinction could have been replaced by another. The flagrant case is the Polish Constitution of 3 May 1791, which was directed against
    aristocrats de…fined as large landowners, magnates, under the slogan of equality for the gentry at large (szlachta, which constituted about 10 percent of the population), while preserving a legal distinction of the latter. More generally, social traits that could serve as basis for legal distinctions were many: property owners and laborers, burgers and peasants, inhabitants of different localities, clergy and army, whites and blacks. Yet democrats turned against other distinctions. All the privileges, Sieyes (1979 [1788]: 3) declared, are thus by the nature of things unjust, despicable and contradictory to the supreme goal of all political society. From aristocracy, the enemy became any kind of particularity (Rosanvallon 2004: 37 and throughout). Thus, in far away Brazil, the four mulattoes who were hanged and quartered after the failure of the Citade da Bahia Republicana in 1798 were accused of desiring the imaginary advantages of a Democratic Republic in which all should be equal … without difference of color or condition(Palmer 1964: 513). The French Revolution emancipated Protestants and Jews and freed slaves, not only Catholic peasants.

    Rosanvallon (2004: 121) claims that The imperative of equality, required to make everyone a subject of law and a full citizen, implies in effect considering men stripped of their particularistic determinants. All their differences and all their distinctions should be placed at a distance…. Yet where did the imperative of equality come from? Thinking in the rational choice terms of modern political science, one would suspect that democrats instrumentally turned against other social distinctions just to mobilize the masses against aristocracy: to gain support against aristocracy. Finer (1934: 85), for example, accuses Montesquieu of deliberately juxtaposing the Citizen to all the powers that be, either the King or the aristocracy: it was a convenient, a striking and useful antithesis; nothing could be better calculated to win the support of every man. There are facts that support this hypothesis: Tadeusz Kosciuszko in Poland made vague promises to peasants to induce them join the anti-Russian insurrection in 1794; the members of the French Convention flagrantly played up to the gallery …filled by the ordinary people of Paris; Simon Bolivar made interracial appeals to recruit for the war against Spain.

    Yet it is also easy to believe that democrats truly believed that all men are equal, as the Declaration of Independence declared or that men are born equal, as the Declaration of the Rights of Man would have it. The idea of innate equality certainly preceded the actual political conflicts. It could be found already in Locke’s Second Treatise (1690) as the principle that equal Right that every Man hath, to his Natural Freedom, without being subjected to the Will or Authority of any other Man. We do not have a theory of action in which people are moved by logic, in which they do things because they cannot tolerate logical contradictions. Yet if one is willing to accept that people can be moved by ideas, democrats would have turned against other distinctions by the sheer logic of their ideology: Aristocrats are not distinct because all men are born equal; because all men are born equal, they cannot be treated differently. Abolishing other distinctions would then be a logical
    outcome of the struggle against aristocracy.

    The fact is that democrats turned against all distinctions. The only attribute of democratic subjects is that they have none as such. The democratic citizen is simply without qualities.6 Not equal, not homogeneous, just anonymous. Even the one sense in which equality does apply as a democratic norm, namely, before the law, is just a consequence of the principle that democratic citizens cannot be distinguished in any way. As Rousseau (1964: 129) said, the sovereign [the people united] knows only the body of the nation and does not distinguish any of those who compose it. Since citizens are indistinguishable, there is nothing by which law could possibly distinguish them. The democratic citizen is simply an individual outside society. One can say an aristocrat, a wealthy person, and male, but not an aristocratic citizen, a wealthy citizen, or a male citizen. As Sieyes (1979: 183) put it, On doit concevoir les nations sur terre comme
    des individues hors de lien social.

    3 Democracy and Equality

    In spite of its egalitarian pedigree, I am about to argue, there is no sense in which equality could or does characterize democracy. One should not let oneself be trapped by words, Pasquino (1998: 149-150) warns, the society
    without qualities
    is not a society of equals; it is simply a society in which privileges do not have a juridical-institutional status or recognition.
    In a scathing critique of bourgeois rights, Marx (1844: no page) characterized
    this duality as follows:

    The state abolishes, in its own way, distinctions of birth, social rank, education, occupation, when it declares that birth, social rank, education, occupation, are non-political distinctions, when it proclaims, without regard to these distinctions, that every member of the nation is an equal participant in national sovereignty…. Nevertheless the state allows private property, education, occupation to act in their way -i.e., as private property, as education, as occupation, and to exert the influence of their special nature.

    Why then political emancipation is not a form of human emancipation, as Marx would have put it? Speci…cally, in what ways is the veil over distinctions compatible with various kinds of inequality?

    Consider the different meanings in which equalityappeared in democratic ideology. Why are or would be people equal? They could be because God or nature made them so, because society makes them so, or because the law makes them so. Equality can be innate or generated by spontaneous social transformations, but it can also be instituted by law or by the use of laws.

    Democratic equality may thus be a reflection of equality pre-existing elsewhere or it may be imposed by laws.

    To return to the Declarations one last time, the point of departure of democrats was innate equality of human beings. Democratic equality is but a reflection of a pre-existing, natural, equality. Yet the implications of a pre-existing equality are indeterminate. As Schmitt (1993: 364) observed, From the fact that all men are men it is not possible to deduce anything specifi…c either about morality or about religion or about politics or about economics.

    Even if people were born equal, they may distinguish themselves by their merits and their merits may be recognized by others. More, to maintain order, some people must at each moment exercise authority over others. As Kelsen (1988 [1929]: 17) put it, From the idea that we are all equal, ideally equal, one can deduce that no one should command another. But experience
    teaches that if we want to remain equal in reality, it is necessary on the contrary that we let ourselves be commanded.

    Moreover, even if all human beings are born only as such, society generates differences among them. Indeed, if their parents are unequal, they become unequal at the moment they are born. To make them equal again, a recourse to laws is necessary. Montesquieu (1995: 261) would thus observe that In the state of nature, men are born equal but they do not know how to remain so. Society makes them lose equality and they do not return to be equal other than by laws.

    Yet must society make people unequal? Rosanvallon (1995: 149) documents that when the term democracy came into widespread usage in France after 1814, it connoted modern egalitarian society, not the political regimes associated with the classical Greek or Roman republics, what Tocqueville would refer to as equality of conditions. The tendency toward social equality was inevitable. Taking a theme of Marquis d’Argenson (1764), Tocqueville (1961, vol I: 41) observed that The gradual development of equality of conditions … is universal, it is durable, it escapes human intervention every day;
    every event, like every man, furthers its development.
    J.S. Mill noted the same in 1859: There is confessedly a strong tendency in the modern world towards a democratic constitution of society, accompanied or not by popular political institutions. Note that while Tocqueville saw political equality in the United States as a natural consequence of the equality of conditions, for Mill the fact of social equality did not have unique political consequences.

    Whether modern societies must become more equal is a complex question.

    What matters here is that not everyone was willing to rely on the spontaneous evolution of society to generate political equality. Robespierre thought that Equality of wealth is a chimera. (Palmer 1964: 109). Madison (Federalist #10) listed all kinds of social differences and gradations, assuming they were there to stay. Most democrats believed against Tocqueville that citizenship creates equality, rather than equals become citizens. Pasquino (1998: 109) summarizes this belief: Citizens are not simply equal before the law, in the sense in which the law does not recognize either special rights or privileges,
    but they become equal by the grace of law and by law itself.

    Democrats adhered to what Beitz (1989: 4) calls a simple conception of political equality, namely, the requirement that democratic institutions should provide citizens with equal procedural opportunities to influence political decisions (or, more briefly, with equal power over outcomes). Criticizing this notion, he points out that equality of the abstract leverage that procedures provide to each participant does not imply equality of the actual influence over the outcomes: the latter depends also on the distribution of the preferences and of the enabling resources. This disjunction between formal and effective political equality was a central concern in the United States and continues to be debated today. The social palliative to this divergence between formal and real influence is pluralism. The political answer, at least for Madison, was large districts.

    As Mill would remark several decades later, without decent wages and universal reading, no government of public opinion is possible. Education was one instrument that would equip people to exercise their citizenship rights. Several early constitutions (of the Italian republics between 1796 and 1799, the Cádiz Constitutions of 1812) established systems of universal and free, although not compulsory, education. In the meantime, most solved the problem by restricting political rights to those who were in condition to exercise them. Yet when suffrage became universal and democracy found roots in
    poorer countries, the problem reappeared with a vengeance: masses of people acquired equal procedural opportunities without enjoying the conditions necessary to exploit them. Citizenship without the conditions to exercise it is a monster that haunts contemporary democracies. The absence of the effective capacity to exercise formal political rights remains at the heart of
    criticisms of the really existing democracy. To return to Marx, can people be politically equal if they are socially unequal?

    But political equality is vulnerable not just to social inequality but also to speci…fically political distinctions. Democracy, according to Schmitt (1993: 372), is the identity of the dominating and the dominated, of the government and the governed, of he who commands and he who obeys. But the issue is whether the very faculty of governing does not create a distinction, a
    political class. Political aristocracy was seen as much of a danger as social aristocracy. The Anti-Federalists feared that if the rulers were other than the ruled, Corruption and tyranny would be rampant as they have always been when those who exercised power felt little connection with the people.

    This would be true, moreover, for elected representatives, as well as for kings and nobles and bishops… (Ketcham 1986: 18). Hence, democrats were preoccupied with duration of terms, as short as six months in New Jersey at one time, term limits, restrictions on representatives to determine their own salaries, and censuring procedures.

    Yet these are palliatives. The distinction between the representatives and the represented is inherent in the representative system: parliaments seat representatives, not the people. And the very method of choosing representatives through elections, rather than by lot, is based on the belief that all people are not equally quali…fied to rule. Elections, Manin (1997) argues, are based on the assumption that the qualities necessary to govern are not universally shared and that people want to be governed by their betters. These qualities need not be associated with distinctions of birth, so that elections are not aristocratic in the eighteenth century sense. But elections are a method for selecting one’s betters and, as Manin amply documents, they are and were seen as a way of recognizing a natural aristocracy of talent, reason, or whatever else voters would see as the index of the ability to govern.

    Moreover, to be represented people must be organized and organization demands a permanent apparatus, a salaried bureaucracy, a propaganda machine. Hence, Michels (1962: 270) bemoaned, some militants become parliamentarians, party bureaucrats, newspaper editors, managers of the party’s insurance companies, directors of the party’s funeral parlors, and even Parteibudiger party bar keepers. As a disillusioned French communist would write many years later, The working class is lost in administering
    its imaginary bastions. Comrades disguised as notables occupy themselves with municipal garbage dumps and school cafeterias. Or are these notables disguised as comrades? I no longer know(Konopnicki 1979: 53).

    To summarize, the idea that political equality reflects some pre-existing state, either of nature or society, is untenable on both logical and empirical grounds. Logically, equality pre-existing in other realms does not imply political equality.

    Empirically, even if all human beings were born equal, they become unequal in society, and even if societies experienced an inevitable tendency toward equality, the existing inequalities were and are sufficient to call for political remedies. In turn, political equality instituted by law is effectively undermined by social inequality. Political equality is equality in the eyes of a third party, the state, but not in the direct relation between any two persons. In no meaning then is equality the correct way to characterize democracy. If the founders used the languages of equality, it was to justify something else, better described as anonymity, generality, or oblivion to social distinctions.

    4 Do Suffrage Restrictions Violate Democratic Ideology?

    Yet there is one fact that appears to undermine anonymity: restrictions of suffrage. Indeed, the French Declaration qualified… its recognition of equality in the sentence that immediately followed: Men are born equal and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good. While some early constitutions made male suffrage nearly universal, during most of the nineteenth century the right to vote and the right to be elected was con…fined to adult men who owned property, earned some amount of income, or paid some amount of taxes.

    The prevalence of suffrage censitaire may appear to contradict the norm of suppressing all distinctions in society and to be incompatible with the principle of political equality. Yet, even if the arguments were convoluted, franchise restrictions were not portrayed as such by their proponents.

    Consider …first the justi…cation by Montesquieu (1995: 155), who starts from the principle that All inequality under democracy should be derived from the nature of democracy and from the very principle of democracy. His example is that people who must continually work to live are not prepared for public office or would neglect their functions. As barristers of Paris put
    it on the eve of the Revolution, Whatever respect one might wish to show for the rights of humanity in general, there is no denying the existence of a class of men who, by virtue of their education and the type of work to which their poverty had condemned them, is … incapable at the moment of participating fully in public affairs(cited in Crook 1996: 13). In such cases, Montesquieu goes on, equality among citizens can be lifted in a democracy for the good of democracy. But it is only apparent equality which is lifted…. The generic argument, to be found in slightly different versions, is that: (1) Representation is acting in the best interest of all. (2) To determine the best interest of all one needs reason. (3) Reason has sociological determinants: not having to work for a living (disinterest), or not being employed or otherwise dependent on others (independence). As a Chilean statesman put it in 1865, to exercise political rights it is necessary to have the intelligence to recognize the truth and the good, the will to want it, and the freedom to execute it. (A speech by Senador Abdón Cifuentes, cited in Maza Valenzuela 1995: 153). In turn, the claim that only apparent equality is being violated was built in three steps: (1) Acting in the best common interest considers everyone equally, so that everyone is equally represented. (2) The only quality that is being distinguished is the capacity to recognize the common good. (3) No one is barred from acquiring this quality, so that suffrage is potentially open to all.

    The last two points are crucial. Legal distinctions of social status are valid only as indicators of the ability to govern and there are no barriers of any kind to prevent people from acquiring this ability and being relevantly indicated.

    The Polish Constitution of 3 May 1791 illuminates the distinction between the democratic regime censitaire and non-democratic regime of legal distinctions. The Constitution asserts in Paragraph VI that deputies to the local parliaments … should be considered as representatives of the entire nation(italics in the original). Yet to become a deputy to the local parliaments (sejmiki, which, in turn elect deputies to the national legislature, the sejm) one had to be a member of a legally de…fined group, the gentry (szlachta). In turn, only members of the hereditary gentry could own land entitling to political rights. Hence, this was not a regime censitaire in the sense defi…ned above: (1) it barred access to politics to everyone who was not a member of a legally recognized group, the landed gentry, and (2) it barred access to the landed gentry.

    In fact, the Polish justi…cation for privileging gentry was not reason but
    Respect for the memory of our forefathers as founders of free government….
    (Article II). Simon Bolivar used the same principle in 1819 when he offered positions of hereditary senators to the liberators of Venezuela, … to whom the Republic owns its existence(1969: 109). His celebrated speech, known
    as the Discurso de Angostura, merits attention because its combination of appeals to reason with an acceptance of inequality became the hallmark of anti-democratic postures in Spanish America. Bolivar observed that most people do not know their true interests and went on to argue that Everything cannot be left to the adventure of elections: the People errs easily…. His solution was the institution of a hereditary Senate: future Senators Would learn the arts, sciences, and letters which adorn the spirit of a public man; from infancy would know to what Providence destined them…. And he had the gumption to claim that The creation of a hereditary Senate would in no way violate political equality.

    Restrictions of political rights based on religion were also couched in a universalistic language, but the appeal was not to reason but to common values. From Rousseau and Kant to J.S. Mill, everyone believed that a polity can function only if it is based on common interests, norms, or values. In Latin America (indeed, also in the Spanish Constitution of 1812), the cement
    holding societies together was to be Catholicism: of the 103 Latin American constitutions studied by Loveman (1993: 371), 83 proclaimed Catholicism as the official religion and 55 prohibited worship of other religions. While many arguments for restricting political rights to Catholics were openly directed against the principle of popular sovereignty it is not for people to change what God willed quite a few were pragmatic. For example, the Mexican thinker Lucas Alamán maintained in 1853 that Catholic religion deserves support by the state, even if we do not consider it as divine, because it constitutes the only common tie that connects all Mexicans, when all others are broken(cited after Gargarella 2005: 93, who provides other examples).

    Restrictions on female suffrage present the most difficult issue. While early proponents of female suffrage observed that reason is not distributed along gender lines after all, some rulers had been queens (Sieyes according to Pasquino 1998: 71) the main argument against giving the right to vote to women was that, like children, they were not independent, had no will of their own. Women were already represented by the males in their households and their interests were to be represented through a tutelary, rather than an electoral, connection. Thus the justifying criterion was dependence, not sex.

    Indeed, when a study in England in the 1880s discovered that almost one half of adult women lived in households in which there was no adult male, this justi…fication collapsed, and only pure prejudice retarded extending suffrage to women.

    Yet why were women not independent in the same way as some men were? If women could not own property, they were legally barred from qualifying for suffrage, so this would violate the democratic ideology. But where they could and did own property in their own name, why would property ownership not be a sufficient indicator? Condorcet (1986 [1788]: 293), who defended property qualifi…cations, thought it should be: The reason for which it is believed that they [women] should be excluded from public function, reasons that albeit are easy to destroy, cannot be a motive for depriving them of a right which would be so simple to exercise [voting], and which men have not because of their sex, but because of their quality of being reasonable and sensible, which they have in common with women. And Chilean suffragettes claimed that Wives and mothers, widows and daughters, we all have time and money to devote to the happiness of Chile. (An article in El Eco, 3 August 1865, cited in Maza Valenzuela 1995: 156).

    Since this is an issue about which it is easy to fall into anachronisms, let me process it through an example. Suppose that it is in the best interest of each and all people to evacuate a coastal town if a hurricane is impending and not to evacuate it if the danger is remote. A correct decision is good for everyone: all men, women, and children. The correct decision can be
    reached only by people who can interpret weather forecasts. This excludes children, so that the decision should be made by parents in the best interest of children. I suspect that with some quibbles about where to draw the age line most people today would accept this reasoning: all contemporary democratic constitutions do. But why should only men participate in making
    this decision? If the reason is that women are barred from taking meteorology courses in school, then we are back to the 1791 Poland. But suppose they do take such courses. Now the argument must be that even if they had the same capacity to exercise reason, women would always follow the views of their male protectors, independently of their own opinions. This is then
    another sociological assumption, in addition to those that tied reason to property, income, or education.

    Now, Schumpeter (1942: 244) argued that if any distinction is accepted, then the principle of making such distinctions must be as well: The salient point is that, given appropriate views on those and similar subjects, disquali…cations on ground of economic status, religion and sex will enter into the same class with disquali…cations which all of us consider compatible with
    democracy.
    Yet each distinction is based on a speci…c assumption for example, that 12-year olds are not prepared to vote tying it to the capacity to exercise reason. Obviously, today we would and do reject most such assumptions, although not those based on age or legally certi…fied sanity. Moreover, as we will see below, some such assumptions were driven by
    only thinly veiled self-interest. But if these assumptions are accepted, then restrictions of suffrage do not violate the principles of democracy.

    To put it abstractly, theories of representation differed in whether they took as the input the actual or ideal preferences, the latter being restricted by some normative requirements, such as they be other-regarding, consider
    common good, etc. As Montesquieu (1995: 325; italics supplied) would say, political liberty does not consist of doing what one wants… liberty cannot be other but to be able to do what one ought to want and not to be obliged to do what one ought not want. Obviously, this distinction disappears if people naturally hold such ideal preferences. If they do not, the burden is placed on institutions, either to promote such preferences by educating citizens a common theme from Montesquieu to Mill or to treat such preferences in some privileged manner, by restricting su¤rage or weighting votes. As Beitz (1989: 35) observes, the latter solution defended by Mill is not unfair if those without such ideal preferences or without the conditions to develop
    such preferences are willing to accept it. Moreover, while inegalitarian, such a system can be justifi…ed in universalistic terms if everyone can acquire such preferences or the conditions to acquire them.

    Yet whatever one thinks of this logic, the …final outcome was that birth was replaced by wealth, aristocracy by oligarchy. Still only a select few were to rule in the best interest of all. The society was to be divided into the rich, the few, the rulers and the poor, the many, the ruled: which a Connecticut representative, Samuel Dana, thought was quite proper (Dunn S. 2004: 23).

    The drafter of the French Constitution of 1795, Boissy d’Anglas, declared that We must be ruled by the best… a country governed by property-owners is within the social order, that which is dominated by non-property owners is in a state of nature (cited in Crook 1996: 46). The consensus in mid-nineteenth century Colombia was that We want enlightened democracy, a democracy in which intelligence and property direct the destinies of the people; we do not want a barbarian democracy in which the proletarianism and ignorance drown the seeds of happiness and bring the society to confusion and disorder(Gutiérrez Sanin 2003: 185). The right to make laws belongs to the most intelligent, to the aristocracy of knowledge, created by nature, a Peruvian constitutionalist, Bartolomé Herrera, declared in 1846 (Sobrevilla 2002: 196); the Peruvian theorist José María Pando maintained that a perpetual aristocracy … is an imperative necessity; the Chilean
    Andrés Bello wanted rulers to constitute a body of wise men (un cuerpo de sabios)”; while the Spanish conservative thinker Donoso Cortés juxtaposed the sovereignty of the wise to sovereignty of the people (Gargarella 2005: 120). Still by 1867, Walter Bagehot (1963 [1867]: 277) would warn that It must be remembered that a political combination of the lower classes, as such and for their own objects, is an evil of the first magnitude; that a permanent combination of them would
    make them (now that many of them have the su¤rage) supreme in the country; and that their supremacy, in the state they now
    are, means the supremacy of ignorance over instruction and of numbers over knowledge.

    It was perhaps not a full circle but a circle it was. And it left a legacy that gave rise to conflicts which in many countries lasted over a hundred years.

    These new distinctions were soon perceived as evidence that democracy did not ful…lfil its own ideals. Neither the poor nor women thought that their best interests were being represented by propertied men. They would struggle for suffrage, and suffrage was a dangerous weapon.

    5 Democracy and Property

    In a society that is unequal, political equality, if it is effective, opens the possibility that the majority would by law equalize property or the bene…fits of its use. This is a central theme in the history of democracy, as alive and controversial today as it was at the inception of representative government.

    Since, as distinct from liberty or happiness, property, the kind of property that can be used to generate incomes, always was and continues to be held by a minority, the right to protect property would have to hurl itself against the interest of majorities. Hence, a tension between democracy and property was predictable, and it was predicted.

    To sketch the history of this tension, one must begin with the Levellers, who are identi…fied by Wootton (1993: 71) as the …first democrats who think in terms, not of participatory self government within a city-state, but of representative government within a nation-state. While they persistently and vehemently denied it, Levellers were feared by their opponents as wanting
    to make everyone equal by redistributing land:15 in Harrington’s (1977: 460) words, By levelling, they who use the word seem to understand: when a people rising invades the lands and estates of the richer sort, and divides them equally among themselves. Some among them those calling themselves True Levellers or Diggers did set a commune on common land.

    The demand for economic equality appeared during the French Revolution in Babeuf’s Plebeian Manifesto of 1795. Until then, while the revolutionary government confi…scated the lands of the Church and of the emigrant nobility, those were not redistributed to peasants but sold to rich commoners (Fontana 1993: 122). Babeuf did not want to equalize property, but to abolish it: we do not propose to divide up property, since no equal division would ever last. We propose to abolish private property altogether. Claiming that stomachs are equal, Babeuf wanted every man to place his product in a common pool
    and receive from it an equal share. Hence, no one could take advantage of greater wealth or ability. He motivated his communist program by a moral principle, le bonheur commun, which must lead to the communauté, comfort for all, education for all, equality, liberty and happiness for all. (All citations are from Palmer 1964: 240-241.)

    The demand for economic equality by the Babeuvists was derived from moral principles. Babeuf claimed that both legal and economic equality were only the natural outcome of the Enlightenment and both within the spirit of the French Revolution. Why should the fact or the postulate that all men are born equal justify political equality but not economic one? Why should
    reasons be treated as equal but stomachs not? If logic does not dictate this distinction, one can suspect that only interests did. Even if the ultimate value is to be free from domination by another, the right to Natural Freedom, without being subjected to the Will or Authority of any other Man, does not economic compulsion to sell one’s services to another bind as much as the political subjugation to the command of another? Rousseau (1964: 154), at least, thought that no Citizen should be so opulent as to be able to buy another, and none so poor as to be constrained to sell himself.

    But one can also think not on moral but on purely logical grounds that democracy, via legal equality, must lead to economic equality. Indeed, at some moment, legal and economic equality became connected by a syllogism: Universal suffrage, combined with majority rule, grants political power to the majority. And since the majority is always poor,16 it will con…fiscate
    the riches. The syllogism was perhaps …first enunciated by Henry Ireton in the franchise debate at Putney in 1647: “It [universal male suffrage] may come to destroy property thus. You may have such men chosen, or at least the major part of them, as have no local or permanent interest. Why may not these men vote against all property?” (In Sharp 1998: 113-4). It was echoed
    by a French conservative polemicist, J. Mallet du Pan, who insisted in 1796 that legal equality must lead to equality of wealth: Do you wish a republic of equals amid the inequalities which the public services, inheritances, marriage, industry and commerce have introduced into society? You will have to overthrow property(cited by Palmer 1964: 230).

    Note that, contrary to frequent misquoting, of which I am guilty as well, Madison (Federalist #10) thought that this consequence applied to direct, but not to representative democracies. Having identifi…ed a pure Democracy as a system of direct rule, Madison continues that such Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been
    found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths
    (italics supplied). Yet A Republic, by which I mean a Government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Still, he seems to have been less sanguine some decades later: the danger to the holders of property can not be disguised, if they are undefended against a majority without property. Bodies of men are not less swayed by interest than individuals…. Hence, the
    liability of the rights of property….
    (Note written at some time between 1821 and 1829, in Ketcham 1986: 152).

    Once coined, this syllogism has dominated the fears and the hopes attached to democracy ever since. Conservatives agreed with socialists that democracy, speci…fically universal suffrage, must undermine property. The self-serving nature of the convoluted arguments for restricting suffrage to the propertied became apparent. The Scottish philosopher James Mackintosh predicted in 1818 that if the laborious classes gain franchise, a permanent animosity between opinion and property must be the consequence (Cited in Collini, Winch and Burrow, 1983: 98). David Ricardo was prepared to extend suffrage only to that part of them which cannot be supposed to have an interest in overturning the right to property (In Collini, Winch and
    Burrow, 1983: 107). Thomas Macaulay in the 1842 speech on the Chartists pictured the danger presented by universal suffrage in the following terms:
    The essence of the Charter is universal suffrage. If you withhold that, it matters not very much what else you grant. If you
    grant that, it matters not at all what else you withhold. If you grant that, the country is lost…. My …rm conviction is that, in our country, universal suffrage is incompatible, not only with this or that form of government, and with everything for the sake of which government exists; that it is incompatible with property and that it is consequently incompatible with civilization. (1900: 263)

    Eight years later, from the other extreme of the political spectrum, Karl Marx expressed the same conviction that private property and universal suffrage are incompatible:

    The classes whose social slavery the constitution is to perpetuate, proletariat, peasantry, petty bourgeoisie, it puts in possession of political power through universal suffrage. And from the class whose old social power it sanctions, the bourgeoisie, it withdraws the political guarantees of this power. It forces the political rule of the bourgeoisie into democratic conditions, which at every moment jeopardize the very foundations of bourgeois society. From the ones it demands that they should not go forward from political to social emancipation; from the others they should not go back from social to political restoration. (1952: 62).

    According to Marx, democracy inevitably unchains the class struggle:
    The poor use democracy to expropriate the riches; the rich are threatened and subvert democracy, by abdicating political power to the permanently organized armed forces. The combination of democracy and capitalism is thus an inherently unstable form of organization of society, only the political form of revolution of bourgeois society and not its conservative form of life (1934: 18), only a spasmodic, exceptional state of things … impossible as
    the normal form of society
    (1971: 198).

    The fundamental contradiction of the Republican constitution identifi…ed by Marx would not materialize either if property ownership would expand spontaneously or if the dispossessed for some reasons abstained from using their political rights to con…scate property. On the other hand, Maier (1993: 127) notes, if the observer feared that social levelling would con-
    tinue toward proletarianization, then the advance of democracy must appear an alarming trend. For this would suggest … that all democracy must in effect tend towards social democracy. That is, the advent of popular government and expanded electorate would ineluctably lead to programmes for further social equalization and redistribution on wealth.
    Indeed, the idea
    that democracy in the political realm must logically lead to social and economic equality became the cornerstone of Social Democracy. For Jean Jaures (1971: 71), The triumph of socialism will not be a break with the French Revolution but the ful…lfilment of the French Revolution in new economic conditions. Eduard Bernstein (1961) saw in socialism simply democracy brought to its logical conclusion. As Beitz (1989: xvi) observed, historically a main goal of democratic movements has been to seek redress in the political sphere for the effects of inequalities in the economy and society.
    Socialists entered into elections with ultimate goals. The Hague Congress of the First International proclaimed that the organization of the proletariat into a political party is necessary to insure the victory of social revolution and its ultimate goal the abolition of classes.The …first Swedish socialist program specifi…ed that Social Democracy differs from other parties in that it aspires to completely transform the economic organization of the bourgeois society and bring about the social liberation of the working class….(Tingsten 1973: 118-9). Even the most reformist among socialists, Alexandre Millerand, admonished that whoever does not admit the necessary and progressive replacement of capitalist property by social property is not a socialist. (Cited in Ensor 1908: 51). Yet on the road to these ultimate goals, socialists saw numerous measures that would reduce social and economic inequalities. The Parti Socialiste Français, led by Jean Jaures, proclaimed at its Tour Congress of 1902 that The Socialist Party, rejecting the policy of all or nothing, has a program of reforms whose realization it pursues forthwith, and listed …fifty-four specifi…c measures (Ensor 1908: 345¤).

    Swedish Social Democrats in 1897 demanded direct taxation, development of state and municipal productive activities, public credit, legislation concerning work conditions, old age, sickness, and accident insurance, as well as purely political rights (Tingsten 1973: 119-20).

    The question that haunted social democrats was whether, as Hjalmar Branting posed it in 1886, the upper class [would] respect popular will even if it demanded the abolition of its privileges (cited in Tingsten 1973: 361). Were there limits to popular sovereignty, as exercised by electoral majorities? Would revolution not be necessary, as August Bebel feared in 1905, as a purely defensive measure, designed to safeguard the exercise of power legitimately acquired through the ballot? (cited in Schorske 1955: 43).

    Yet there is a prior question which they did not consider. Can any political arrangement generate economic equality? Can equality be established by laws, even if the upper class would concede to the abolition of its privileges?

    Or is some extent of economic inequality inevitable even if everyone would want to abolish it? Did egalitarian democrats fail or did they accomplish all that was within the reach?

    6 By What Should We Be Surprised?

    According to Dunn (2003: 22), democracy surprisingly turned from a revolutionary project into a conservative one Where the political force of the idea of democracy came from in this new epoch was its combination of formal social equality with a practical order founded on the protection and reproduction of an increasingly dynamic system of economic inequality….

    No one at all in 1750 either did or could have seen democracy as a natural name or an apt institutional form for the effective
    protection of productive wealth. But today we know better. In the teeth of ex ante perceived probability, that is exactly what
    representative democracy has in the long run proved.

    Should we share his surprise?

    My argument has been that the sin was original. While, as Dunn (2005) emphasizes, in the second part of the eighteenth century democracy was a revolutionary idea, the revolution it offered was strictly political. Morally based arguments for redistribution or abolishment of property were marginal and ephemeral. In my reading, in its inception democracy was a project
    simply blind to economic inequality, regardless how revolutionary it may have been politically. Moreover, by restricting suffrage, democracies replaced aristocracy by oligarchy.

    Hence, I do not think that the surprise can be dated to 1750. In turn, viewed from the perspective of 1850, the coexistence of democracy with unequal distribution of property is hard to fathom. The syllogism according to which the poor would use their majority status to expropriate the rich was after all almost universally accepted. And it still makes logical sense today.

    Just consider the favorite toy of political economists, the median voter model (Meltzer and Richards 1981): Each individual is characterized by an endowment of labor or capital and all individuals can be ranked from the poorest to the richest. Individuals vote on the rate of tax to be imposed on incomes generated by supplying these endowments to production. The revenues generated by this tax are either equally distributed to all individuals or spent to provide equally valued public goods, so that the tax rate uniquely determines the extent of redistribution. Once the tax rate is decided, individuals
    maximize utility by deciding in a decentralized way how much of their endowments to supply. The median voter theorem asserts that there exists a unique majority rule equilibrium, this equilibrium is the choice of the voter with the median preference, and the voter with the median preference is the one with median income. And when the distribution of incomes is right-skewed, that is, if the median income is lower than the mean, as it is in all countries for which data exist, majority rule equilibrium is associated with a high degree of equality of post-…sc (tax and transfer) incomes, tempered only by the deadweight losses of redistribution. Moreover, the demand for social and economic equality persists. While elites see democracy in institutional terms, mass publics, at least in Eastern Europe and Latin America, conceive of it in terms of social and economic equality. In Chile, 59 percent of respondents expected that democracy would attenuate social inequalities (Alaminos 1991), while in Eastern Europe the proportion associating democracy with social equality ranged from 61 percent in Czechoslovakia to 88 percent in Bulgaria (Bruszt and Simon 1991). People do expect that democracy would breed social and economic equality. Hence,
    the coexistence of democracy and inequality continues to be tense.

    Yet income distribution appears to be amazingly stable over time. The strongest evidence, albeit for a relatively short period, comes from Li, Squire, and Zou (1997), who report that about 90 percent of total variance in the Gini coefficients is explained by the variation across countries, while few countries show any time trends. Longer time-series show that while income distribution became somewhat more equal in some democratic countries, redistribution was quite limited. These assertion are not contradictory: the main reason for equalization was that wars and major economic crises destroyed large fortunes and they could not be accumulated again because of progressive income tax. Earned incomes show almost no variation during the twentieth century. (For long-term dynamics of income distribution, see Piketty 2003 on France, Piketty and Saez 2003 on the United States, Saez and Veall 2003 on Canada, Banerjee and Piketty 2003 on India, Dell 2003 on Germany, and Atkinson 2002 on the United Kingdom.) It appears that there are no countries which equalized market incomes without some kind of cataclysm.

    The cataclysms come in two kinds: (1) destruction of large property as a result of foreign occupation (Japanese in Korea, Soviet in Eastern Europe), revolution (Soviet Union), or war (France according to Piketty 2000), or (2) massive emigration of the poor (Norway, Sweden).

    Since the issue is burning, explanations abound. Most assert that for a variety of reasons those without property, even if they constitute a vast majority in all known societies, either do not want to or cannot use their political rights to equalize property, incomes, or even opportunities. For reasons of space, I can only list the explanations of why the poor would not want to redistribute: (1) false consciousness due to a lack of understanding of the distinction between productive and non-productive property, (2) ideological domination due to the ownership of the media by the propertied, (3) difficulty of the poor to coordinate when they have some non-economic heterogeneous tastes, such as religion or race, (4) expectations that the poor would become rich, (5) the fact that taxes are palpable, while public spending is amorphous.

    I am not taken by the idea that in general the poor would not want to lead better lives at the expense of the rich, but several arguments to the e¤ect that political rights are ineffective against private property make eminent sense.

    Wealth holders enjoy disproportionate political influence, which they use to successfully defend themselves from redistribution (Benabou 2000).21 Nominally equal political rights do not seem to be enough to bar the privileged access of the rich to politics. Put differently, oblivion to economic differences is not sufficient to protect politics from the influence of money.

    Yet this entire way of thinking confronts an awkward fact that many governments were elected with the support of the poor, wanted to equalize incomes, and tried to do so. Hence, to the extent to which they failed, it must have been for reasons other than not wanting or not trying. Here are some possible reasons:

    (1) Redistributing productive property or even incomes is costly to the poor. Confronting the perspective of losing their property or not being able to enjoy its fruits, property owners save and invest less, thus reducing future wealth and future income of everyone. As Machiavelli observed, everybody is eager to acquire such things and to obtain property, provided that he be convinced that he will enjoy it when it has been acquired (Discourses on Livy. II.2, cited after Holmes 2003). Prospects of redistribution reduce investment. This structural dependence on capital (Przeworski and Wallerstein 1988) imposes a limit on redistribution even on those governments that want to equalize incomes. Hence, while some democratic governments do correct distributions of income generated by the unequal ownership of assets, equalizing assets ends up being a cataclysmic event, occurring only under exceptional circumstances.
    (2) What are the assets that can be equalized in modern societies? Note that when the idea of equal property …rst appeared productive assets meant land. Land is relatively easy to redistribute. It is enough to take it from some and give it to others. Hence, agrarian reforms were frequent in history of the world: according to data collected by Thomas (2005), there were at
    least 175 land reforms entailing redistribution between 1946 and 2000 alone. But today the distribution of land plays a relatively minor role in generating income inequality. In turn, other assets resist such a simple operation. Communists redistributed industrial capital by turning it into the hands of the state and announcing that the uninvested pro…ts would be equally distributed to households. This solution engendered several negative consequences that need not be discussed. Alternatively, one could redistribute titles to property in the form of shares. But this form of redistribution has problems
    of its own.22 Finally, one could, and many countries did, equalize human capital by investing in education. But people exposed to the same educational system acquire very di¤erent income earning capacities as a function of their social and economic background. Moreover, since people are born with different talents and since the use of these talents is socially bene…ficial,
    we would want to educate talented people more. In sum, redistributing productive assets seems to be di¢ cult for purely technological, not just political or economic, reasons.
    (3) Asking How laws establish equality in a democracy? the title of Chapter 5 of Book 5 Montesquieu takes as the point of departure equality of land. Then he goes on, If, when the legislator makes such a division, he does not give laws to maintain it, he only makes a passing constitution; inequality will enter from the side the laws do not defend, and the republic
    will be lost.
    Therefore, although real equality would be the soul of the state, it is so difficult to establish that an extreme rigor in this respect is not always convenient. It is sufficient, he continues, to reduce differences to some point, after which, it is for particular laws to equalize, to put it this way, the inequalities, by the charges they impose on the rich and the relief they accord to the poor. (1995: 151-5)

    Remember that Babeuf believed that redistribution of property would not solve the problem of inequality, “since no equal division would ever last.

    Suppose productive assets had been equalized. But individuals have different and unobservable abilities to transform productive assets into incomes.

    Moreover, they are subject to vicissitudes of luck. Assume that particular individuals (or projects they undertake) are subject to slightly different rates of return: some lose at the rate of -0.02 and some gain at the rate 0.02. After 25 years, the individual who generates a 2 percent return will be 2.7 times wealthier than the individual who loses 2 percent per year, and after 50 years (say from the age of 18 to 68) this multiple will be 7.4. Hence, even if productive assets were to be equalize, inequality would creep back in. (The classical statement of this argument is by Pareto 1897, investigated recently by Mookherjee and Ray 2003 as well as Benhabib and Bisin 2007).

    7 Judging Democracy

    Analyzing the Thatcher era, Dunn (2000: 147) observes that “the state at this point is more plausibly seen as a structure through which the minimally participant citizen body (those prepared to take the trouble to vote) select from the meagre options presented to them those they hope will best serve their several interests. In that selection, the meagreness of the range of options is always important and sometimes absolutely decisive.” The issue is to what extent these choices are tightly circumscribed because the logic of electoral competition pushes political parties to o¤er and pursue similar policies and to what extent there is just little else they could do. The question is important because it affects our political judgment of democracy (On political judgment, see Dunn 2000 and the Introduction to this volume). Suppose that economic inequality could be diminished below the levels prevailing in developed democracies without reducing future incomes and that it is not being
    diminished only because of the institutional features of democracy, however one thinks about them. Obviously, judging this trade-o¤ would depend on other values we would have to give up opting for equality. But there is no such trade-off.

    Some degree of economic inequality is just inevitable. Democracy is impotent against it, but so is every other conceivable political arrangement.

    Think of Brazil: during the past two centuries it was a royal colony, an independent monarchy, an oligarchical republic, a populist military dictatorship, democracy with a weak presidency, a right-wing military dictatorship, and democracy with a strong presidency. Yet, to the best of our knowledge, income distribution did not budge. Even the communists, who were out to
    uravnit everything, and who did equalize assets in the form of public ownership, had to tolerate the inequality arising from different talents and motivations. Indeed, it turns out that the average household/individual income inequality is almost exactly the same in democracies and in non-democracies at each level of per capita income.

    The quest for equality in the economic and social realm has been perpetual in democracies. The original blinders that modern representative institutions placed on economic and social standing of citizens could not effectively cover the glaring inequality of their life conditions. At least since Babeuf, not to speak of Marx, limiting equality to the political realm always seemed “illogical.” Moreover, if the right always feared that effective political equality would threaten property, the left knew that equality limited to the political realm cannot be sustained in the face of economic and social inequalities.

    “Extending democracy from the political to the social realm” was not just a call for social justice but for making democracy effective in the political realm itself. But this quest may have its limits and the knowledge of these limits is essential to judge democracy.

    This is not to say that all democracies are the same. I am not arguing in support of Pareto’s “law,” according to which income distribution remains the same whatever the institutional framework and in spite of progressive taxation. Among contemporary democracies, the ratio incomes of the top to the bottom quintile, which is perhaps the most intuitive measure of inequality, ranges from about 33 in Brazil to less than 6 in Finland, Belgium, Spain, and South Korea. Hence, we can compare and judge the choices parties offer to voters, as well as policies of particular governments. Moreover, since conflicts over distribution of opportunities, employment, and consumption are the bread and butter of democratic politics, we must be vigilant. But even
    the best governments operate under limits not of their making. The ratio of 6 is still very large: it means that in a country with per capita income of $15,000 (about average for these countries in 2002, counted in 1995 PPP dollars), a member of the top quintile would have the income of $27,000, while a member of the bottom quintile $4,500. Most survey respondents in Spain and South Korea see such inequality as excessive. Yet perhaps this is just the extent to which any political system can equalize assets or incomes.

    My point, thus, is that perhaps Dunn, and we all, put too much burden on democracy.

    8 References

    Aguilar Rivera, José Antonio.
    Alaminos, Antonio. 1991. Chile: transición politica y sociedad. Madrid:
    Centro de Investigaciones Sociologicas.
    Atkinson, A.B. 2002. Top Incomes in the United Kingdom over the Twentieth Century. Unpublished.
    Banerjee, Abhijit and Thomas Piketty. 2003. Top Indian Incomes, 1922-2000. Unpublished.
    Bagehot, Walter. 1963. The English Constitution. Ithaca, NY: Cornell
    University Press.
    Beitz, Charles R. 1989. Political Equality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    Bénabou, Roland. 2000. Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract. American Economic Review 90: 96-129.
    Benhabib, Jess, and Alberto Bisin. 2007. “The distribution of wealth: Intergenerational transmission and redistribute policies.”Working paper, Department of Economics, New York University.
    Bernstein, Eduard. 1961. Evolutionary Socialism. New York: Schocken.

    Bolivar, Simon. 1969. Escritos politicos. Edited by Graciela Soriano,
    Madrid: Alianza Editorial.
    Bruszt, László, and János Simon. 1991. Political Culture, Political and Economical Orientations in Central and Eastern Europe during the Transition to Democracy. Manuscript. Budapest: Erasmus Foundation for Democracy.
    Burda, Andrzej. 1990. Charakterystyka postanowie´n konstytucji PRLz 1952r. In Konstytucje Polski: Studja monogra…czne zdziejów polskiego
    konstytucjonalizmu. Warszawa: Pa´nstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. Vol. 2, Pages 344-376.
    Collier, Simon and William F. Sater. 1996. A History of Chile, 1808-1994. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Collini, Stefan, Donald Winch and John Burrow. 1983. That Noble Science of Politic

    Democracy, Equality, and Redistribution

    Adam Przeworski
    Department of Politics
    New York University
    October 31, 2007

    1 Introduction

    Democratic citizens are not equal but only anonymous, indistinguishable by any traits they may possess. Democracy only places a veil over distinctions that exist in society. Even the one sense in which equality that can be said to characterize democracy equality before the law is derivative from anonymity: the law has to treat all citizens equally because they are
    indistinguishable.

    This norm of anonymity was circumvented in most early representative systems by an elaborate intellectual construction that justified? restrictions of suffrage. The argument held that the role of representatives is to promote the good of all, yet the intellectual capacity to recognize the common good and the moral qualities necessary to pursue it are not universal. These traits can be recognized by using some indicators, such as wealth, age, and gender.

    Hence, relying on such indicators to restrict suffrage does not violate democratic norms. The logic of the argument is unimpeachable, but it is easy to suspect that it rationalized interests. This is the way it was perceived by those excluded, poor males and women, as they fought for political rights.

    Yet even if political rights are universal, to ignore distinctions is to not to obliterate them. Democracy was a political revolution, but not an economic one. Should we be surprised that democracy turned out to be compatible with economic inequality? From its inception, representative institutions were haunted by the specter of the poor using their political rights to redistribute property. Should we be surprised that democracy did not undermine property, that the democratic revolution was never completed by being extended to the economic realm?

    These three themes are developed below.

    2 Aristocracy and Democracy

    How did democracy reappear on the historical horizon and what did it mean to its proponents and opponents?

    Since the emergence of modern democracy is the topic of Palmer’s (1959, 1964) monumental treatise, no more than a brief summary is necessary.

    Palmer’s main point is that democracy was not a revolution against an existing system but a reaction against the increasing power of aristocracy. It was aristocracy that undermined monarchy; democracy outflanked it following in its footsteps. Palmer argues that (1) By the early eighteenth century, the aristocratic system of government was institutionalized in assemblies of
    various forms, the participation in which was reserved to legally qualified? groups (constituted bodies) that always included hereditary nobility but in different places (countries, regions, principalities, cantons, city republics) also clergy, selected categories of burgers, and in Sweden even peasants. In all cases these bodies were politically dominated by hereditary nobility. (2) In the course of the century, these estate-based bodies increased their political influence. (3) At the same time, access to nobility, however it was de?nied in different places, became increasingly closed: nobility turned into
    aristocracy. (4) The resulting aristocratic system suffered from several tensions, of which one was between birth and competence. (5) Politically crucial conflict was due to the exclusion from privilege of those who possessed all the qualifi?cations to participate wealth, talent, bearing except for birth. (6) Democracy emerged as a demand for access to these bodies, not as a movement against monarchy.

    Hence, by the end of the eighteenth century, democracy was a slogan directed against legal recognition of inherited distinctions of social status.

    Democrats were those who agitated against aristocrats or aristocracy.. As Dunn (2003: 10) observes, democracy was a reaction, above all, not to monarchy, let alone tyranny, but to another relatively concrete social category, initially all too well entrenched, but no longer plausibly aligned with social, economic, or even political or military, functions the nobility or aristocracy…. Democrat was a label in and for political combat; and what that combat was directed against was aristocrats, or at the very least aristocracy.?2 Thus, in 1794 a young Englishman described himself as being of that odious class of men called democrats because he disapproved of hereditary distinctions and privileged orders of every species (Palmer 1964: 22).

    Could any further proof be required of the republican complexion of this system, wrote Madison in The Federalist # 39, the most decisive might be found in its absolute prohibition of titles of nobility. In France, the Constituent Assembly decided that aristocratic privilege was in conflict with the very principle of popular sovereignty (Fontana 1993: 119). The Batavian (Dutch) Republic established in 1796 required voters to swear an oath to the belief that all hereditary offices and dignities were illegal (Palmer 1964: 195). In Chile, General O’Higgins, the ?first Director of the State, abolished
    in 1818 all outward and visible signs of aristocracy (Collier and Sater 1006: 42).

    Here is a puzzle. While democrats fought against aristocracy, either as a system of government (the original meaning of the word) or as a legal status (nobility), this struggle did not have to result in abolishing other distinctions. One distinction could have been replaced by another. The flagrant case is the Polish Constitution of 3 May 1791, which was directed against
    aristocrats de?fined as large landowners, magnates, under the slogan of equality for the gentry at large (szlachta, which constituted about 10 percent of the population), while preserving a legal distinction of the latter. More generally, social traits that could serve as basis for legal distinctions were many: property owners and laborers, burgers and peasants, inhabitants of different localities, clergy and army, whites and blacks. Yet democrats turned against other distinctions. All the privileges, Sieyes (1979 [1788]: 3) declared, are thus by the nature of things unjust, despicable and contradictory to the supreme goal of all political society. From aristocracy, the enemy became any kind of particularity (Rosanvallon 2004: 37 and throughout). Thus, in far away Brazil, the four mulattoes who were hanged and quartered after the failure of the Citade da Bahia Republicana in 1798 were accused of desiring the imaginary advantages of a Democratic Republic in which all should be equal … without difference of color or condition(Palmer 1964: 513). The French Revolution emancipated Protestants and Jews and freed slaves, not only Catholic peasants.

    Rosanvallon (2004: 121) claims that The imperative of equality, required to make everyone a subject of law and a full citizen, implies in effect considering men stripped of their particularistic determinants. All their differences and all their distinctions should be placed at a distance…. Yet where did the imperative of equality come from? Thinking in the rational choice terms of modern political science, one would suspect that democrats instrumentally turned against other social distinctions just to mobilize the masses against aristocracy: to gain support against aristocracy. Finer (1934: 85), for example, accuses Montesquieu of deliberately juxtaposing the Citizen to all the powers that be, either the King or the aristocracy: it was a convenient, a striking and useful antithesis; nothing could be better calculated to win the support of every man. There are facts that support this hypothesis: Tadeusz Kosciuszko in Poland made vague promises to peasants to induce them join the anti-Russian insurrection in 1794; the members of the French Convention flagrantly played up to the gallery ?filled by the ordinary people of Paris; Simon Bolivar made interracial appeals to recruit for the war against Spain.

    Yet it is also easy to believe that democrats truly believed that all men are equal, as the Declaration of Independence declared or that men are born equal, as the Declaration of the Rights of Man would have it. The idea of innate equality certainly preceded the actual political conflicts. It could be found already in Locke’s Second Treatise (1690) as the principle that equal Right that every Man hath, to his Natural Freedom, without being subjected to the Will or Authority of any other Man. We do not have a theory of action in which people are moved by logic, in which they do things because they cannot tolerate logical contradictions. Yet if one is willing to accept that people can be moved by ideas, democrats would have turned against other distinctions by the sheer logic of their ideology: Aristocrats are not distinct because all men are born equal; because all men are born equal, they cannot be treated differently. Abolishing other distinctions would then be a logical
    outcome of the struggle against aristocracy.

    The fact is that democrats turned against all distinctions. The only attribute of democratic subjects is that they have none as such. The democratic citizen is simply without qualities.6 Not equal, not homogeneous, just anonymous. Even the one sense in which equality does apply as a democratic norm, namely, before the law, is just a consequence of the principle that democratic citizens cannot be distinguished in any way. As Rousseau (1964: 129) said, the sovereign [the people united] knows only the body of the nation and does not distinguish any of those who compose it. Since citizens are indistinguishable, there is nothing by which law could possibly distinguish them. The democratic citizen is simply an individual outside society. One can say an aristocrat, a wealthy person, and male, but not an aristocratic citizen, a wealthy citizen, or a male citizen. As Sieyes (1979: 183) put it, On doit concevoir les nations sur terre comme
    des individues hors de lien social.

    3 Democracy and Equality

    In spite of its egalitarian pedigree, I am about to argue, there is no sense in which equality could or does characterize democracy. One should not let oneself be trapped by words, Pasquino (1998: 149-150) warns, the society
    without qualities
    is not a society of equals; it is simply a society in which privileges do not have a juridical-institutional status or recognition.
    In a scathing critique of bourgeois rights, Marx (1844: no page) characterized
    this duality as follows:

    The state abolishes, in its own way, distinctions of birth, social rank, education, occupation, when it declares that birth, social rank, education, occupation, are non-political distinctions, when it proclaims, without regard to these distinctions, that every member of the nation is an equal participant in national sovereignty…. Nevertheless the state allows private property, education, occupation to act in their way -i.e., as private property, as education, as occupation, and to exert the influence of their special nature.

    Why then political emancipation is not a form of human emancipation, as Marx would have put it? Speci?cally, in what ways is the veil over distinctions compatible with various kinds of inequality?

    Consider the different meanings in which equalityappeared in democratic ideology. Why are or would be people equal? They could be because God or nature made them so, because society makes them so, or because the law makes them so. Equality can be innate or generated by spontaneous social transformations, but it can also be instituted by law or by the use of laws.

    Democratic equality may thus be a reflection of equality pre-existing elsewhere or it may be imposed by laws.

    To return to the Declarations one last time, the point of departure of democrats was innate equality of human beings. Democratic equality is but a reflection of a pre-existing, natural, equality. Yet the implications of a pre-existing equality are indeterminate. As Schmitt (1993: 364) observed, From the fact that all men are men it is not possible to deduce anything specifi?c either about morality or about religion or about politics or about economics.

    Even if people were born equal, they may distinguish themselves by their merits and their merits may be recognized by others. More, to maintain order, some people must at each moment exercise authority over others. As Kelsen (1988 [1929]: 17) put it, From the idea that we are all equal, ideally equal, one can deduce that no one should command another. But experience
    teaches that if we want to remain equal in reality, it is necessary on the contrary that we let ourselves be commanded.

    Moreover, even if all human beings are born only as such, society generates differences among them. Indeed, if their parents are unequal, they become unequal at the moment they are born. To make them equal again, a recourse to laws is necessary. Montesquieu (1995: 261) would thus observe that In the state of nature, men are born equal but they do not know how to remain so. Society makes them lose equality and they do not return to be equal other than by laws.

    Yet must society make people unequal? Rosanvallon (1995: 149) documents that when the term democracy came into widespread usage in France after 1814, it connoted modern egalitarian society, not the political regimes associated with the classical Greek or Roman republics, what Tocqueville would refer to as equality of conditions. The tendency toward social equality was inevitable. Taking a theme of Marquis d’Argenson (1764), Tocqueville (1961, vol I: 41) observed that The gradual development of equality of conditions … is universal, it is durable, it escapes human intervention every day;
    every event, like every man, furthers its development.
    J.S. Mill noted the same in 1859: There is confessedly a strong tendency in the modern world towards a democratic constitution of society, accompanied or not by popular political institutions. Note that while Tocqueville saw political equality in the United States as a natural consequence of the equality of conditions, for Mill the fact of social equality did not have unique political consequences.

    Whether modern societies must become more equal is a complex question.

    What matters here is that not everyone was willing to rely on the spontaneous evolution of society to generate political equality. Robespierre thought that Equality of wealth is a chimera. (Palmer 1964: 109). Madison (Federalist #10) listed all kinds of social differences and gradations, assuming they were there to stay. Most democrats believed against Tocqueville that citizenship creates equality, rather than equals become citizens. Pasquino (1998: 109) summarizes this belief: Citizens are not simply equal before the law, in the sense in which the law does not recognize either special rights or privileges,
    but they become equal by the grace of law and by law itself.

    Democrats adhered to what Beitz (1989: 4) calls a simple conception of political equality, namely, the requirement that democratic institutions should provide citizens with equal procedural opportunities to influence political decisions (or, more briefly, with equal power over outcomes). Criticizing this notion, he points out that equality of the abstract leverage that procedures provide to each participant does not imply equality of the actual influence over the outcomes: the latter depends also on the distribution of the preferences and of the enabling resources. This disjunction between formal and effective political equality was a central concern in the United States and continues to be debated today. The social palliative to this divergence between formal and real influence is pluralism. The political answer, at least for Madison, was large districts.

    As Mill would remark several decades later, without decent wages and universal reading, no government of public opinion is possible. Education was one instrument that would equip people to exercise their citizenship rights. Several early constitutions (of the Italian republics between 1796 and 1799, the Cádiz Constitutions of 1812) established systems of universal and free, although not compulsory, education. In the meantime, most solved the problem by restricting political rights to those who were in condition to exercise them. Yet when suffrage became universal and democracy found roots in
    poorer countries, the problem reappeared with a vengeance: masses of people acquired equal procedural opportunities without enjoying the conditions necessary to exploit them. Citizenship without the conditions to exercise it is a monster that haunts contemporary democracies. The absence of the effective capacity to exercise formal political rights remains at the heart of
    criticisms of the really existing democracy. To return to Marx, can people be politically equal if they are socially unequal?

    But political equality is vulnerable not just to social inequality but also to speci?fically political distinctions. Democracy, according to Schmitt (1993: 372), is the identity of the dominating and the dominated, of the government and the governed, of he who commands and he who obeys. But the issue is whether the very faculty of governing does not create a distinction, a
    political class. Political aristocracy was seen as much of a danger as social aristocracy. The Anti-Federalists feared that if the rulers were other than the ruled, Corruption and tyranny would be rampant as they have always been when those who exercised power felt little connection with the people.

    This would be true, moreover, for elected representatives, as well as for kings and nobles and bishops… (Ketcham 1986: 18). Hence, democrats were preoccupied with duration of terms, as short as six months in New Jersey at one time, term limits, restrictions on representatives to determine their own salaries, and censuring procedures.

    Yet these are palliatives. The distinction between the representatives and the represented is inherent in the representative system: parliaments seat representatives, not the people. And the very method of choosing representatives through elections, rather than by lot, is based on the belief that all people are not equally quali?fied to rule. Elections, Manin (1997) argues, are based on the assumption that the qualities necessary to govern are not universally shared and that people want to be governed by their betters. These qualities need not be associated with distinctions of birth, so that elections are not aristocratic in the eighteenth century sense. But elections are a method for selecting one’s betters and, as Manin amply documents, they are and were seen as a way of recognizing a natural aristocracy of talent, reason, or whatever else voters would see as the index of the ability to govern.

    Moreover, to be represented people must be organized and organization demands a permanent apparatus, a salaried bureaucracy, a propaganda machine. Hence, Michels (1962: 270) bemoaned, some militants become parliamentarians, party bureaucrats, newspaper editors, managers of the party’s insurance companies, directors of the party’s funeral parlors, and even Parteibudiger party bar keepers. As a disillusioned French communist would write many years later, The working class is lost in administering
    its imaginary bastions. Comrades disguised as notables occupy themselves with municipal garbage dumps and school cafeterias. Or are these notables disguised as comrades? I no longer know(Konopnicki 1979: 53).

    To summarize, the idea that political equality reflects some pre-existing state, either of nature or society, is untenable on both logical and empirical grounds. Logically, equality pre-existing in other realms does not imply political equality.

    Empirically, even if all human beings were born equal, they become unequal in society, and even if societies experienced an inevitable tendency toward equality, the existing inequalities were and are sufficient to call for political remedies. In turn, political equality instituted by law is effectively undermined by social inequality. Political equality is equality in the eyes of a third party, the state, but not in the direct relation between any two persons. In no meaning then is equality the correct way to characterize democracy. If the founders used the languages of equality, it was to justify something else, better described as anonymity, generality, or oblivion to social distinctions.

    4 Do Suffrage Restrictions Violate Democratic Ideology?

    Yet there is one fact that appears to undermine anonymity: restrictions of suffrage. Indeed, the French Declaration qualified? its recognition of equality in the sentence that immediately followed: Men are born equal and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good. While some early constitutions made male suffrage nearly universal, during most of the nineteenth century the right to vote and the right to be elected was con?fined to adult men who owned property, earned some amount of income, or paid some amount of taxes.

    The prevalence of suffrage censitaire may appear to contradict the norm of suppressing all distinctions in society and to be incompatible with the principle of political equality. Yet, even if the arguments were convoluted, franchise restrictions were not portrayed as such by their proponents.

    Consider ?first the justi?cation by Montesquieu (1995: 155), who starts from the principle that All inequality under democracy should be derived from the nature of democracy and from the very principle of democracy. His example is that people who must continually work to live are not prepared for public office or would neglect their functions. As barristers of Paris put
    it on the eve of the Revolution, Whatever respect one might wish to show for the rights of humanity in general, there is no denying the existence of a class of men who, by virtue of their education and the type of work to which their poverty had condemned them, is … incapable at the moment of participating fully in public affairs(cited in Crook 1996: 13). In such cases, Montesquieu goes on, equality among citizens can be lifted in a democracy for the good of democracy. But it is only apparent equality which is lifted…. The generic argument, to be found in slightly different versions, is that: (1) Representation is acting in the best interest of all. (2) To determine the best interest of all one needs reason. (3) Reason has sociological determinants: not having to work for a living (disinterest), or not being employed or otherwise dependent on others (independence). As a Chilean statesman put it in 1865, to exercise political rights it is necessary to have the intelligence to recognize the truth and the good, the will to want it, and the freedom to execute it. (A speech by Senador Abdón Cifuentes, cited in Maza Valenzuela 1995: 153). In turn, the claim that only apparent equality is being violated was built in three steps: (1) Acting in the best common interest considers everyone equally, so that everyone is equally represented. (2) The only quality that is being distinguished is the capacity to recognize the common good. (3) No one is barred from acquiring this quality, so that suffrage is potentially open to all.

    The last two points are crucial. Legal distinctions of social status are valid only as indicators of the ability to govern and there are no barriers of any kind to prevent people from acquiring this ability and being relevantly indicated.

    The Polish Constitution of 3 May 1791 illuminates the distinction between the democratic regime censitaire and non-democratic regime of legal distinctions. The Constitution asserts in Paragraph VI that deputies to the local parliaments … should be considered as representatives of the entire nation(italics in the original). Yet to become a deputy to the local parliaments (sejmiki, which, in turn elect deputies to the national legislature, the sejm) one had to be a member of a legally de?fined group, the gentry (szlachta). In turn, only members of the hereditary gentry could own land entitling to political rights. Hence, this was not a regime censitaire in the sense defi?ned above: (1) it barred access to politics to everyone who was not a member of a legally recognized group, the landed gentry, and (2) it barred access to the landed gentry.

    In fact, the Polish justi?cation for privileging gentry was not reason but
    Respect for the memory of our forefathers as founders of free government….
    (Article II). Simon Bolivar used the same principle in 1819 when he offered positions of hereditary senators to the liberators of Venezuela, … to whom the Republic owns its existence(1969: 109). His celebrated speech, known
    as the Discurso de Angostura, merits attention because its combination of appeals to reason with an acceptance of inequality became the hallmark of anti-democratic postures in Spanish America. Bolivar observed that most people do not know their true interests and went on to argue that Everything cannot be left to the adventure of elections: the People errs easily…. His solution was the institution of a hereditary Senate: future Senators Would learn the arts, sciences, and letters which adorn the spirit of a public man; from infancy would know to what Providence destined them…. And he had the gumption to claim that The creation of a hereditary Senate would in no way violate political equality.

    Restrictions of political rights based on religion were also couched in a universalistic language, but the appeal was not to reason but to common values. From Rousseau and Kant to J.S. Mill, everyone believed that a polity can function only if it is based on common interests, norms, or values. In Latin America (indeed, also in the Spanish Constitution of 1812), the cement
    holding societies together was to be Catholicism: of the 103 Latin American constitutions studied by Loveman (1993: 371), 83 proclaimed Catholicism as the official religion and 55 prohibited worship of other religions. While many arguments for restricting political rights to Catholics were openly directed against the principle of popular sovereignty it is not for people to change what God willed quite a few were pragmatic. For example, the Mexican thinker Lucas Alamán maintained in 1853 that Catholic religion deserves support by the state, even if we do not consider it as divine, because it constitutes the only common tie that connects all Mexicans, when all others are broken(cited after Gargarella 2005: 93, who provides other examples).

    Restrictions on female suffrage present the most difficult issue. While early proponents of female suffrage observed that reason is not distributed along gender lines after all, some rulers had been queens (Sieyes according to Pasquino 1998: 71) the main argument against giving the right to vote to women was that, like children, they were not independent, had no will of their own. Women were already represented by the males in their households and their interests were to be represented through a tutelary, rather than an electoral, connection. Thus the justifying criterion was dependence, not sex.

    Indeed, when a study in England in the 1880s discovered that almost one half of adult women lived in households in which there was no adult male, this justi?fication collapsed, and only pure prejudice retarded extending suffrage to women.

    Yet why were women not independent in the same way as some men were? If women could not own property, they were legally barred from qualifying for suffrage, so this would violate the democratic ideology. But where they could and did own property in their own name, why would property ownership not be a sufficient indicator? Condorcet (1986 [1788]: 293), who defended property qualifi?cations, thought it should be: The reason for which it is believed that they [women] should be excluded from public function, reasons that albeit are easy to destroy, cannot be a motive for depriving them of a right which would be so simple to exercise [voting], and which men have not because of their sex, but because of their quality of being reasonable and sensible, which they have in common with women. And Chilean suffragettes claimed that Wives and mothers, widows and daughters, we all have time and money to devote to the happiness of Chile. (An article in El Eco, 3 August 1865, cited in Maza Valenzuela 1995: 156).

    Since this is an issue about which it is easy to fall into anachronisms, let me process it through an example. Suppose that it is in the best interest of each and all people to evacuate a coastal town if a hurricane is impending and not to evacuate it if the danger is remote. A correct decision is good for everyone: all men, women, and children. The correct decision can be
    reached only by people who can interpret weather forecasts. This excludes children, so that the decision should be made by parents in the best interest of children. I suspect that with some quibbles about where to draw the age line most people today would accept this reasoning: all contemporary democratic constitutions do. But why should only men participate in making
    this decision? If the reason is that women are barred from taking meteorology courses in school, then we are back to the 1791 Poland. But suppose they do take such courses. Now the argument must be that even if they had the same capacity to exercise reason, women would always follow the views of their male protectors, independently of their own opinions. This is then
    another sociological assumption, in addition to those that tied reason to property, income, or education.

    Now, Schumpeter (1942: 244) argued that if any distinction is accepted, then the principle of making such distinctions must be as well: The salient point is that, given appropriate views on those and similar subjects, disquali?cations on ground of economic status, religion and sex will enter into the same class with disquali?cations which all of us consider compatible with
    democracy.
    Yet each distinction is based on a speci?c assumption for example, that 12-year olds are not prepared to vote tying it to the capacity to exercise reason. Obviously, today we would and do reject most such assumptions, although not those based on age or legally certi?fied sanity. Moreover, as we will see below, some such assumptions were driven by
    only thinly veiled self-interest. But if these assumptions are accepted, then restrictions of suffrage do not violate the principles of democracy.

    To put it abstractly, theories of representation differed in whether they took as the input the actual or ideal preferences, the latter being restricted by some normative requirements, such as they be other-regarding, consider
    common good, etc. As Montesquieu (1995: 325; italics supplied) would say, political liberty does not consist of doing what one wants… liberty cannot be other but to be able to do what one ought to want and not to be obliged to do what one ought not want. Obviously, this distinction disappears if people naturally hold such ideal preferences. If they do not, the burden is placed on institutions, either to promote such preferences by educating citizens a common theme from Montesquieu to Mill or to treat such preferences in some privileged manner, by restricting su¤rage or weighting votes. As Beitz (1989: 35) observes, the latter solution defended by Mill is not unfair if those without such ideal preferences or without the conditions to develop
    such preferences are willing to accept it. Moreover, while inegalitarian, such a system can be justifi?ed in universalistic terms if everyone can acquire such preferences or the conditions to acquire them.

    Yet whatever one thinks of this logic, the ?final outcome was that birth was replaced by wealth, aristocracy by oligarchy. Still only a select few were to rule in the best interest of all. The society was to be divided into the rich, the few, the rulers and the poor, the many, the ruled: which a Connecticut representative, Samuel Dana, thought was quite proper (Dunn S. 2004: 23).

    The drafter of the French Constitution of 1795, Boissy d’Anglas, declared that We must be ruled by the best… a country governed by property-owners is within the social order, that which is dominated by non-property owners is in a state of nature (cited in Crook 1996: 46). The consensus in mid-nineteenth century Colombia was that We want enlightened democracy, a democracy in which intelligence and property direct the destinies of the people; we do not want a barbarian democracy in which the proletarianism and ignorance drown the seeds of happiness and bring the society to confusion and disorder(Gutiérrez Sanin 2003: 185). The right to make laws belongs to the most intelligent, to the aristocracy of knowledge, created by nature, a Peruvian constitutionalist, Bartolomé Herrera, declared in 1846 (Sobrevilla 2002: 196); the Peruvian theorist José María Pando maintained that a perpetual aristocracy … is an imperative necessity; the Chilean
    Andrés Bello wanted rulers to constitute a body of wise men (un cuerpo de sabios)?; while the Spanish conservative thinker Donoso Cortés juxtaposed the sovereignty of the wise to sovereignty of the people (Gargarella 2005: 120). Still by 1867, Walter Bagehot (1963 [1867]: 277) would warn that It must be remembered that a political combination of the lower classes, as such and for their own objects, is an evil of the first magnitude; that a permanent combination of them would
    make them (now that many of them have the su¤rage) supreme in the country; and that their supremacy, in the state they now
    are, means the supremacy of ignorance over instruction and of numbers over knowledge.

    It was perhaps not a full circle but a circle it was. And it left a legacy that gave rise to conflicts which in many countries lasted over a hundred years.

    These new distinctions were soon perceived as evidence that democracy did not ful?lfil its own ideals. Neither the poor nor women thought that their best interests were being represented by propertied men. They would struggle for suffrage, and suffrage was a dangerous weapon.

    5 Democracy and Property

    In a society that is unequal, political equality, if it is effective, opens the possibility that the majority would by law equalize property or the bene?fits of its use. This is a central theme in the history of democracy, as alive and controversial today as it was at the inception of representative government.

    Since, as distinct from liberty or happiness, property, the kind of property that can be used to generate incomes, always was and continues to be held by a minority, the right to protect property would have to hurl itself against the interest of majorities. Hence, a tension between democracy and property was predictable, and it was predicted.

    To sketch the history of this tension, one must begin with the Levellers, who are identi?fied by Wootton (1993: 71) as the ?first democrats who think in terms, not of participatory self government within a city-state, but of representative government within a nation-state. While they persistently and vehemently denied it, Levellers were feared by their opponents as wanting
    to make everyone equal by redistributing land:15 in Harrington’s (1977: 460) words, By levelling, they who use the word seem to understand: when a people rising invades the lands and estates of the richer sort, and divides them equally among themselves. Some among them those calling themselves True Levellers or Diggers did set a commune on common land.

    The demand for economic equality appeared during the French Revolution in Babeuf’s Plebeian Manifesto of 1795. Until then, while the revolutionary government confi?scated the lands of the Church and of the emigrant nobility, those were not redistributed to peasants but sold to rich commoners (Fontana 1993: 122). Babeuf did not want to equalize property, but to abolish it: we do not propose to divide up property, since no equal division would ever last. We propose to abolish private property altogether. Claiming that stomachs are equal, Babeuf wanted every man to place his product in a common pool
    and receive from it an equal share. Hence, no one could take advantage of greater wealth or ability. He motivated his communist program by a moral principle, le bonheur commun, which must lead to the communauté, comfort for all, education for all, equality, liberty and happiness for all. (All citations are from Palmer 1964: 240-241.)

    The demand for economic equality by the Babeuvists was derived from moral principles. Babeuf claimed that both legal and economic equality were only the natural outcome of the Enlightenment and both within the spirit of the French Revolution. Why should the fact or the postulate that all men are born equal justify political equality but not economic one? Why should
    reasons be treated as equal but stomachs not? If logic does not dictate this distinction, one can suspect that only interests did. Even if the ultimate value is to be free from domination by another, the right to Natural Freedom, without being subjected to the Will or Authority of any other Man, does not economic compulsion to sell one’s services to another bind as much as the political subjugation to the command of another? Rousseau (1964: 154), at least, thought that no Citizen should be so opulent as to be able to buy another, and none so poor as to be constrained to sell himself.

    But one can also think not on moral but on purely logical grounds that democracy, via legal equality, must lead to economic equality. Indeed, at some moment, legal and economic equality became connected by a syllogism: Universal suffrage, combined with majority rule, grants political power to the majority. And since the majority is always poor,16 it will con?fiscate
    the riches. The syllogism was perhaps ?first enunciated by Henry Ireton in the franchise debate at Putney in 1647: “It [universal male suffrage] may come to destroy property thus. You may have such men chosen, or at least the major part of them, as have no local or permanent interest. Why may not these men vote against all property?” (In Sharp 1998: 113-4). It was echoed
    by a French conservative polemicist, J. Mallet du Pan, who insisted in 1796 that legal equality must lead to equality of wealth: Do you wish a republic of equals amid the inequalities which the public services, inheritances, marriage, industry and commerce have introduced into society? You will have to overthrow property(cited by Palmer 1964: 230).

    Note that, contrary to frequent misquoting, of which I am guilty as well, Madison (Federalist #10) thought that this consequence applied to direct, but not to representative democracies. Having identifi?ed a pure Democracy as a system of direct rule, Madison continues that such Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been
    found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths
    (italics supplied). Yet A Republic, by which I mean a Government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Still, he seems to have been less sanguine some decades later: the danger to the holders of property can not be disguised, if they are undefended against a majority without property. Bodies of men are not less swayed by interest than individuals…. Hence, the
    liability of the rights of property….
    (Note written at some time between 1821 and 1829, in Ketcham 1986: 152).

    Once coined, this syllogism has dominated the fears and the hopes attached to democracy ever since. Conservatives agreed with socialists that democracy, speci?fically universal suffrage, must undermine property. The self-serving nature of the convoluted arguments for restricting suffrage to the propertied became apparent. The Scottish philosopher James Mackintosh predicted in 1818 that if the laborious classes gain franchise, a permanent animosity between opinion and property must be the consequence (Cited in Collini, Winch and Burrow, 1983: 98). David Ricardo was prepared to extend suffrage only to that part of them which cannot be supposed to have an interest in overturning the right to property (In Collini, Winch and
    Burrow, 1983: 107). Thomas Macaulay in the 1842 speech on the Chartists pictured the danger presented by universal suffrage in the following terms:
    The essence of the Charter is universal suffrage. If you withhold that, it matters not very much what else you grant. If you
    grant that, it matters not at all what else you withhold. If you grant that, the country is lost…. My ?rm conviction is that, in our country, universal suffrage is incompatible, not only with this or that form of government, and with everything for the sake of which government exists; that it is incompatible with property and that it is consequently incompatible with civilization. (1900: 263)

    Eight years later, from the other extreme of the political spectrum, Karl Marx expressed the same conviction that private property and universal suffrage are incompatible:

    The classes whose social slavery the constitution is to perpetuate, proletariat, peasantry, petty bourgeoisie, it puts in possession of political power through universal suffrage. And from the class whose old social power it sanctions, the bourgeoisie, it withdraws the political guarantees of this power. It forces the political rule of the bourgeoisie into democratic conditions, which at every moment jeopardize the very foundations of bourgeois society. From the ones it demands that they should not go forward from political to social emancipation; from the others they should not go back from social to political restoration. (1952: 62).

    According to Marx, democracy inevitably unchains the class struggle:
    The poor use democracy to expropriate the riches; the rich are threatened and subvert democracy, by abdicating political power to the permanently organized armed forces. The combination of democracy and capitalism is thus an inherently unstable form of organization of society, only the political form of revolution of bourgeois society and not its conservative form of life (1934: 18), only a spasmodic, exceptional state of things … impossible as
    the normal form of society
    (1971: 198).

    The fundamental contradiction of the Republican constitution identifi?ed by Marx would not materialize either if property ownership would expand spontaneously or if the dispossessed for some reasons abstained from using their political rights to con?scate property. On the other hand, Maier (1993: 127) notes, if the observer feared that social levelling would con-
    tinue toward proletarianization, then the advance of democracy must appear an alarming trend. For this would suggest … that all democracy must in effect tend towards social democracy. That is, the advent of popular government and expanded electorate would ineluctably lead to programmes for further social equalization and redistribution on wealth.
    Indeed, the idea
    that democracy in the political realm must logically lead to social and economic equality became the cornerstone of Social Democracy. For Jean Jaures (1971: 71), The triumph of socialism will not be a break with the French Revolution but the ful?lfilment of the French Revolution in new economic conditions. Eduard Bernstein (1961) saw in socialism simply democracy brought to its logical conclusion. As Beitz (1989: xvi) observed, historically a main goal of democratic movements has been to seek redress in the political sphere for the effects of inequalities in the economy and society.
    Socialists entered into elections with ultimate goals. The Hague Congress of the First International proclaimed that the organization of the proletariat into a political party is necessary to insure the victory of social revolution and its ultimate goal the abolition of classes.The ?first Swedish socialist program specifi?ed that Social Democracy differs from other parties in that it aspires to completely transform the economic organization of the bourgeois society and bring about the social liberation of the working class….(Tingsten 1973: 118-9). Even the most reformist among socialists, Alexandre Millerand, admonished that whoever does not admit the necessary and progressive replacement of capitalist property by social property is not a socialist. (Cited in Ensor 1908: 51). Yet on the road to these ultimate goals, socialists saw numerous measures that would reduce social and economic inequalities. The Parti Socialiste Français, led by Jean Jaures, proclaimed at its Tour Congress of 1902 that The Socialist Party, rejecting the policy of all or nothing, has a program of reforms whose realization it pursues forthwith, and listed ?fifty-four specifi?c measures (Ensor 1908: 345¤).

    Swedish Social Democrats in 1897 demanded direct taxation, development of state and municipal productive activities, public credit, legislation concerning work conditions, old age, sickness, and accident insurance, as well as purely political rights (Tingsten 1973: 119-20).

    The question that haunted social democrats was whether, as Hjalmar Branting posed it in 1886, the upper class [would] respect popular will even if it demanded the abolition of its privileges (cited in Tingsten 1973: 361). Were there limits to popular sovereignty, as exercised by electoral majorities? Would revolution not be necessary, as August Bebel feared in 1905, as a purely defensive measure, designed to safeguard the exercise of power legitimately acquired through the ballot? (cited in Schorske 1955: 43).

    Yet there is a prior question which they did not consider. Can any political arrangement generate economic equality? Can equality be established by laws, even if the upper class would concede to the abolition of its privileges?

    Or is some extent of economic inequality inevitable even if everyone would want to abolish it? Did egalitarian democrats fail or did they accomplish all that was within the reach?

    6 By What Should We Be Surprised?

    According to Dunn (2003: 22), democracy surprisingly turned from a revolutionary project into a conservative one Where the political force of the idea of democracy came from in this new epoch was its combination of formal social equality with a practical order founded on the protection and reproduction of an increasingly dynamic system of economic inequality….

    No one at all in 1750 either did or could have seen democracy as a natural name or an apt institutional form for the effective
    protection of productive wealth. But today we know better. In the teeth of ex ante perceived probability, that is exactly what
    representative democracy has in the long run proved.

    Should we share his surprise?

    My argument has been that the sin was original. While, as Dunn (2005) emphasizes, in the second part of the eighteenth century democracy was a revolutionary idea, the revolution it offered was strictly political. Morally based arguments for redistribution or abolishment of property were marginal and ephemeral. In my reading, in its inception democracy was a project
    simply blind to economic inequality, regardless how revolutionary it may have been politically. Moreover, by restricting suffrage, democracies replaced aristocracy by oligarchy.

    Hence, I do not think that the surprise can be dated to 1750. In turn, viewed from the perspective of 1850, the coexistence of democracy with unequal distribution of property is hard to fathom. The syllogism according to which the poor would use their majority status to expropriate the rich was after all almost universally accepted. And it still makes logical sense today.

    Just consider the favorite toy of political economists, the median voter model (Meltzer and Richards 1981): Each individual is characterized by an endowment of labor or capital and all individuals can be ranked from the poorest to the richest. Individuals vote on the rate of tax to be imposed on incomes generated by supplying these endowments to production. The revenues generated by this tax are either equally distributed to all individuals or spent to provide equally valued public goods, so that the tax rate uniquely determines the extent of redistribution. Once the tax rate is decided, individuals
    maximize utility by deciding in a decentralized way how much of their endowments to supply. The median voter theorem asserts that there exists a unique majority rule equilibrium, this equilibrium is the choice of the voter with the median preference, and the voter with the median preference is the one with median income. And when the distribution of incomes is right-skewed, that is, if the median income is lower than the mean, as it is in all countries for which data exist, majority rule equilibrium is associated with a high degree of equality of post-?sc (tax and transfer) incomes, tempered only by the deadweight losses of redistribution. Moreover, the demand for social and economic equality persists. While elites see democracy in institutional terms, mass publics, at least in Eastern Europe and Latin America, conceive of it in terms of social and economic equality. In Chile, 59 percent of respondents expected that democracy would attenuate social inequalities (Alaminos 1991), while in Eastern Europe the proportion associating democracy with social equality ranged from 61 percent in Czechoslovakia to 88 percent in Bulgaria (Bruszt and Simon 1991). People do expect that democracy would breed social and economic equality. Hence,
    the coexistence of democracy and inequality continues to be tense.

    Yet income distribution appears to be amazingly stable over time. The strongest evidence, albeit for a relatively short period, comes from Li, Squire, and Zou (1997), who report that about 90 percent of total variance in the Gini coefficients is explained by the variation across countries, while few countries show any time trends. Longer time-series show that while income distribution became somewhat more equal in some democratic countries, redistribution was quite limited. These assertion are not contradictory: the main reason for equalization was that wars and major economic crises destroyed large fortunes and they could not be accumulated again because of progressive income tax. Earned incomes show almost no variation during the twentieth century. (For long-term dynamics of income distribution, see Piketty 2003 on France, Piketty and Saez 2003 on the United States, Saez and Veall 2003 on Canada, Banerjee and Piketty 2003 on India, Dell 2003 on Germany, and Atkinson 2002 on the United Kingdom.) It appears that there are no countries which equalized market incomes without some kind of cataclysm.

    The cataclysms come in two kinds: (1) destruction of large property as a result of foreign occupation (Japanese in Korea, Soviet in Eastern Europe), revolution (Soviet Union), or war (France according to Piketty 2000), or (2) massive emigration of the poor (Norway, Sweden).

    Since the issue is burning, explanations abound. Most assert that for a variety of reasons those without property, even if they constitute a vast majority in all known societies, either do not want to or cannot use their political rights to equalize property, incomes, or even opportunities. For reasons of space, I can only list the explanations of why the poor would not want to redistribute: (1) false consciousness due to a lack of understanding of the distinction between productive and non-productive property, (2) ideological domination due to the ownership of the media by the propertied, (3) difficulty of the poor to coordinate when they have some non-economic heterogeneous tastes, such as religion or race, (4) expectations that the poor would become rich, (5) the fact that taxes are palpable, while public spending is amorphous.

    I am not taken by the idea that in general the poor would not want to lead better lives at the expense of the rich, but several arguments to the e¤ect that political rights are ineffective against private property make eminent sense.

    Wealth holders enjoy disproportionate political influence, which they use to successfully defend themselves from redistribution (Benabou 2000).21 Nominally equal political rights do not seem to be enough to bar the privileged access of the rich to politics. Put differently, oblivion to economic differences is not sufficient to protect politics from the influence of money.

    Yet this entire way of thinking confronts an awkward fact that many governments were elected with the support of the poor, wanted to equalize incomes, and tried to do so. Hence, to the extent to which they failed, it must have been for reasons other than not wanting or not trying. Here are some possible reasons:

    (1) Redistributing productive property or even incomes is costly to the poor. Confronting the perspective of losing their property or not being able to enjoy its fruits, property owners save and invest less, thus reducing future wealth and future income of everyone. As Machiavelli observed, everybody is eager to acquire such things and to obtain property, provided that he be convinced that he will enjoy it when it has been acquired (Discourses on Livy. II.2, cited after Holmes 2003). Prospects of redistribution reduce investment. This structural dependence on capital (Przeworski and Wallerstein 1988) imposes a limit on redistribution even on those governments that want to equalize incomes. Hence, while some democratic governments do correct distributions of income generated by the unequal ownership of assets, equalizing assets ends up being a cataclysmic event, occurring only under exceptional circumstances.
    (2) What are the assets that can be equalized in modern societies? Note that when the idea of equal property ?rst appeared productive assets meant land. Land is relatively easy to redistribute. It is enough to take it from some and give it to others. Hence, agrarian reforms were frequent in history of the world: according to data collected by Thomas (2005), there were at
    least 175 land reforms entailing redistribution between 1946 and 2000 alone. But today the distribution of land plays a relatively minor role in generating income inequality. In turn, other assets resist such a simple operation. Communists redistributed industrial capital by turning it into the hands of the state and announcing that the uninvested pro?ts would be equally distributed to households. This solution engendered several negative consequences that need not be discussed. Alternatively, one could redistribute titles to property in the form of shares. But this form of redistribution has problems
    of its own.22 Finally, one could, and many countries did, equalize human capital by investing in education. But people exposed to the same educational system acquire very di¤erent income earning capacities as a function of their social and economic background. Moreover, since people are born with different talents and since the use of these talents is socially bene?ficial,
    we would want to educate talented people more. In sum, redistributing productive assets seems to be di¢ cult for purely technological, not just political or economic, reasons.
    (3) Asking How laws establish equality in a democracy? the title of Chapter 5 of Book 5 Montesquieu takes as the point of departure equality of land. Then he goes on, If, when the legislator makes such a division, he does not give laws to maintain it, he only makes a passing constitution; inequality will enter from the side the laws do not defend, and the republic
    will be lost.
    Therefore, although real equality would be the soul of the state, it is so difficult to establish that an extreme rigor in this respect is not always convenient. It is sufficient, he continues, to reduce differences to some point, after which, it is for particular laws to equalize, to put it this way, the inequalities, by the charges they impose on the rich and the relief they accord to the poor. (1995: 151-5)

    Remember that Babeuf believed that redistribution of property would not solve the problem of inequality, “since no equal division would ever last.

    Suppose productive assets had been equalized. But individuals have different and unobservable abilities to transform productive assets into incomes.

    Moreover, they are subject to vicissitudes of luck. Assume that particular individuals (or projects they undertake) are subject to slightly different rates of return: some lose at the rate of -0.02 and some gain at the rate 0.02. After 25 years, the individual who generates a 2 percent return will be 2.7 times wealthier than the individual who loses 2 percent per year, and after 50 years (say from the age of 18 to 68) this multiple will be 7.4. Hence, even if productive assets were to be equalize, inequality would creep back in. (The classical statement of this argument is by Pareto 1897, investigated recently by Mookherjee and Ray 2003 as well as Benhabib and Bisin 2007).

    7 Judging Democracy

    Analyzing the Thatcher era, Dunn (2000: 147) observes that “the state at this point is more plausibly seen as a structure through which the minimally participant citizen body (those prepared to take the trouble to vote) select from the meagre options presented to them those they hope will best serve their several interests. In that selection, the meagreness of the range of options is always important and sometimes absolutely decisive.” The issue is to what extent these choices are tightly circumscribed because the logic of electoral competition pushes political parties to o¤er and pursue similar policies and to what extent there is just little else they could do. The question is important because it affects our political judgment of democracy (On political judgment, see Dunn 2000 and the Introduction to this volume). Suppose that economic inequality could be diminished below the levels prevailing in developed democracies without reducing future incomes and that it is not being
    diminished only because of the institutional features of democracy, however one thinks about them. Obviously, judging this trade-o¤ would depend on other values we would have to give up opting for equality. But there is no such trade-off.

    Some degree of economic inequality is just inevitable. Democracy is impotent against it, but so is every other conceivable political arrangement.

    Think of Brazil: during the past two centuries it was a royal colony, an independent monarchy, an oligarchical republic, a populist military dictatorship, democracy with a weak presidency, a right-wing military dictatorship, and democracy with a strong presidency. Yet, to the best of our knowledge, income distribution did not budge. Even the communists, who were out to
    uravnit everything, and who did equalize assets in the form of public ownership, had to tolerate the inequality arising from different talents and motivations. Indeed, it turns out that the average household/individual income inequality is almost exactly the same in democracies and in non-democracies at each level of per capita income.

    The quest for equality in the economic and social realm has been perpetual in democracies. The original blinders that modern representative institutions placed on economic and social standing of citizens could not effectively cover the glaring inequality of their life conditions. At least since Babeuf, not to speak of Marx, limiting equality to the political realm always seemed “illogical.” Moreover, if the right always feared that effective political equality would threaten property, the left knew that equality limited to the political realm cannot be sustained in the face of economic and social inequalities.

    “Extending democracy from the political to the social realm” was not just a call for social justice but for making democracy effective in the political realm itself. But this quest may have its limits and the knowledge of these limits is essential to judge democracy.

    This is not to say that all democracies are the same. I am not arguing in support of Pareto’s “law,” according to which income distribution remains the same whatever the institutional framework and in spite of progressive taxation. Among contemporary democracies, the ratio incomes of the top to the bottom quintile, which is perhaps the most intuitive measure of inequality, ranges from about 33 in Brazil to less than 6 in Finland, Belgium, Spain, and South Korea. Hence, we can compare and judge the choices parties offer to voters, as well as policies of particular governments. Moreover, since conflicts over distribution of opportunities, employment, and consumption are the bread and butter of democratic politics, we must be vigilant. But even
    the best governments operate under limits not of their making. The ratio of 6 is still very large: it means that in a country with per capita income of $15,000 (about average for these countries in 2002, counted in 1995 PPP dollars), a member of the top quintile would have the income of $27,000, while a member of the bottom quintile $4,500. Most survey respondents in Spain and South Korea see such inequality as excessive. Yet perhaps this is just the extent to which any political system can equalize assets or incomes.

    My point, thus, is that perhaps Dunn, and we all, put too much burden on democracy.

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    Loveman, Brian. 1993. The Constitution of Tyranny: Regimes of Excep-
    tion in Spanish America. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press.
    Macaulay, Thomas B. 1900. Complete Writings, vol. 17. Boston and
    New York: Houghton-Mi­ in.
    Madison, James. 1982 [1788]. The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamil-
    ton, James Madison and John Jay. Edited by Gary Wills. New York: Ban-
    tam Books.
    Maier, Charles. 1975. Recasting Bourgeois Europe. Princeton: Princeton
    University Press.
    Manin, Bernard. 1997. The Principles of Representative Government.
    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Marx, Karl. 1844. On the Jewish Question. http://csf.colorado.edu/psn/marx/Archive/1844-
    JQ
    Marx, Karl. 1952 [1851]. Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850.
    Moscow: Progess Publishers.
    Marx, Karl. 1934 [18xx]. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.
    Moscow: Progress Publishers.
    Marx, Karl. 1971. Writings on the Paris Commune. Edited by H.Draper.
    New York: International Publishers.
    May, Kenneth O. 1952. ?A Set of Independent Necessary and Su¢ cient
    Conditions for Simple Majority Decision.? Econometrica 20: 680-684.
    Maza Valenzuela, Erika. 1995. ?Catolicismo, Anticlericalismo y la Ex-
    tensión del Sufragio a la Mujer en Chile.? Estudios Politicos 58: 137-197.

    Meltzer, Allan G and Scott F. Richards. 1981. ?A Rational Theory of
    the Size of Government.? Journal of Political Economy 89: 914-927.
    Michels, Roberto. 1962. Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the
    Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracies. New York: Collier Books.
    Mill, John Stuart. 1991 [1857]. Considerations on Representative Gov-
    ernment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Mill, John Stuart. 1989 [1859]. On Liberty and Other Writings. Edited
    by Stefan Colini. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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    Mookherjee, Dilip, and Debraj Ray, 2003. “Persistent Inequality.” Review
    of Economic Studies 70: 369-393.
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    critique. Paris: Gallimard.
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    Challenge. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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    Struggle. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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    F. Rouge.
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    Shapiro and Russell Hardin (eds.), Political Order. Nomos XXXVIII. New
    York: New York University Press. Pages 19-41.
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    ?Gouvernement des Modernes?.? Revue Française de Science Politique 27:
    214-229.
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    France. Paris: Editions Odile Jacob.
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    United States, 1913-1998.? Quarterly Journal of Economics 118: 1-39.
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    Zapperi. Genève: Droz.
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    Coop, Jean Hampton, and John E. Roemer (eds.), The Idea of Democracy.
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    communist camarads

    A Russian joke goes like this:

    Two old communist camarads are sitting in a park talking to each other.
    – You know Dimitri, everything they told us about communism was a lie.
    – Well, yes… But that’s NOT the problem.
    – what’s the problem?
    – The problem is that everything they told us about capitalism is true

    A Russian joke goes like this:

    Two old communist camarads are sitting in a park talking to each other.
    – You know Dimitri, everything they told us about communism was a lie.
    – Well, yes… But that’s NOT the problem.
    – what’s the problem?
    – The problem is that everything they told us about capitalism is true

    Second Amendment to the Constitution

    “To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”

    (Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights.)

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

    (Second Amendment to the Constitution.)


    Wisconsin, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Newtown. By the time you read this column, there may well be a new locale to add to the list. Such is the state of enabled and murderous mayhem in the United States.

    Gun advocates say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The truth, though, is that people with guns kill people, often very efficiently, as we saw so clearly and so often this summer. And while the right to bear arms might be written into the Constitution, we cannot keep pretending that this right is somehow without limit, even as we place reasonable limits on arguably more valuable rights like the freedom of speech and due process.

    Illinois’ last-in-the-nation prohibition on carrying concealed weapons has been struck down. The mass killings at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday will likely renew a serious national debate about an assault weapons ban and the Second Amendment.

    Reports from Newtown, Conn., indicate that multiple shots were fired by a man who was dressed in assault gear, who had three weapons. This is a case of random mental derangement. Arming every teacher in every school is more a risk of than a safety against this.

    The shooting comes right after another man opened fire inside an Oregon mall on Tuesday in an incident that left three people dead. The gun used the shooting, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, jammed during the attack, and it was a stolen weapon.

    Since April, there have been mass killings in Oakland, Calif. (7 dead), Aurora, Colo. (12 dead), Oak Creek, Wis. (6 dead), Minneapolis (5 dead), Brookfield, Wis. (3 dead), Portland, Ore. (2 dead) and Newtown, Conn. (27 dead).

    Talk of renewing the national Federal Assault Weapons ban, which expired in 2004, was being debated after the Clackamas Town Center shooting, and there will be more discussion about asking Congress to pass a stricter ban, with no time limit.

    But the path of the any Assault Weapons ban becoming a reality faces several major obstructions.

    First, gun ownership is at the core of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which grants citizens the rights to bear arms.

    When the original Federal Assault Weapons ban was passed in 1994, gun rights groups decided not to pursue a challenge through the court system. An August 2012 analysis from Politico shows that given the recent history of assault weapon court cases, there is a strong indication that the NRA would pursue a Second Amendment challenge up to the Supreme Court—if a national law were passed again. And based on a 2008 Supreme Court decision, the fate of a Federal Assault Weapons case in front of the court could be problematic.

    The decision in District of Columbia v. Heller found that while citizens had the right to keep guns for self-defense, the court also agreed with an older ruling that “finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

    That ruling was restricted to people who lived in federal enclaves.

    A subsequent ruling in 2010 that reinforced the right of gun ownership and that it extended to states and towns. But for any challenge to take place to a national gun law, Congress would have to pass a new law first.

    Guns are tools, tools of death. Their function is to kill. All animals must kill to survive, and many must kill sentient beings. Among mammals many species kill their own kind. The cuddly hamster will kill its cage mate during its sleep and eat out its brain for breakfast. Apes, not only human, carry out organized attacks into other clans. From this perspective there is nothing special about humans killing each other for whatever circumstance.

    However man is supposed to be above instinct and there is a claim of morality and rationality.  Nevertheless, through history the morality of killing has proven to be intractable. Despite the fact that many moral systems purport to ban killing, there are always ifs and buts, and even strict pacifist systems like Janism agree that violence in self-defense can be justified, and they agree that a soldier who kills enemies in combat is performing a legitimate duty. Some Christians sects, like the Mennonites, teach that because Jesus taught his followers to love everyone, killing, even in war, is not a Christian response. Yet Christians kill under socially acceptable conditions even with praise and encouragement  from their Church.  Love toward oneself (myself, my mate, my children, my home, my country, my church, my …) remains a fundamental principle of morality.  It boils down to the right of the strong, Justice.

    Nonetheless, The right to kill in self defense or whatever redeeming circumstance might occur is not the issue here. The question is the social convenience of unlimited availability of weapons for all individuals. Even to second amendment zealots is evident that unlimited availability of weapons is not desirable and they pose  something different, fuzzier, harder to define or implement. A qualification in the line of …individuals like I, using catch phrases like law-abiding citizens.

    Let’s consider then a different question: Social stability increase or decreases with the availability of firearms? If we look at examples of social unrest, like the riots in L.A., things would have been a lot worst if more weapons were available to the general population. The riots took on tones of interracial conflict, blacks raiding commercial districts of stores owned by Asians. The Asians used small guns and hunting rifles and shotguns to repel the mob. What would happen if the battle hardened drug gangs of the black neighborhoods had taken the challenge and attacked with machine guns? This did not happen because the gangs were afraid of the government not just of the store owners. Therefore, the ability of Government to keep the upper hand in the application of force is an important factor in social stability. The primary function of Government is to guarantee the Social Contract. The freedom to engage in seditious activities and Social peace do not mix.

    militiaGun Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.  A violent bomb just waiting to go off.  It sounds like sedition.  In fact, there is a track of domestic right wing terrorism.

    sub_16299

    The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed.

    In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
    Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
    They see themselves as free, armed men  that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box. It sound like fools playing with fire. The problem is that we all will get burned. Guns for peace is like condoms for virginity. The safety of all of us depends on social stability and the availability of guns undermines the social fabric.
    image0077

    I will point out that there is a recurring ploy of invoking the safety and well being of children, regardless of relevance, for emotional impact and to gain the moral high ground. Even cases where children are the victims of gun violence are used as argument for the need of more weapons. This, in itself, is a symptom that the social convenience of unlimited gun availability has weak support. The objection to unlimited availability is not an attack on the right of self defense per se, but rather a claim that this might not be the best strategy to uphold the Social Contract.

    outlook

    There is a trade off between social stability and the convenience, freedom, and safety of the individual.

    secondamendment

    The argument of guns for self defense makes an implicit assumption of asymmetrical force.  The scenarios depicted by gun advocates and those actually carried out in practice assume a tactical advantage and often an unarmed attack.  However in a world with unlimited gun availability the major treat is also from armed groups. Furthermore, since they know you are armed and willing to kill the stakes are higher. In terms of Game Theory, this is known as the prisoner’s dilemma. If I am the guy with the gun I am king of the mountain, if my neighbor is the man, I am at his mercy, if we both have guns, we better be in good terms, and we are both at high risk of dying of a shotgun. If neither has guns there is no risk of gun violence but none is in position to control the other. However small the probability of a gun being used in a serious injury or death, -accident, suicide, homicide, massacre-, is bigger than zero and multiplied by 85 million produces thousands of deaths a year.

    During the 1990s the New York City Police Department (NYPD) adopted CompStatbroken windows policing and other strategies in a major effort to reduce crime. The city’s dramatic drop in crime has been attributed by criminologists to policing tactics, the end of the crack epidemic and – controversially – the legalization of abortion approximately 18 years previous. Most of the crime remaining occurs in poor areas, which tend to be outlying. There is a correlation between poverty and crime. Not that rich people do not like the easy way but they have other more effective choices and they take your money without going into your house. So if street crime is your worry, it is more effective to fight against poverty than spend resources on guns.  Fighting against poverty does not mean charity, but uprooting the causes.

    Homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15–24 years, the third leading cause for persons aged 25–34 years, and the fourth for persons aged 1–14 years. Similarly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 25–34 years and the third leading cause for persons aged 10–24 years. Homicide and suicide are leading causes of death because of drugs and weapons are just tools.

    Every year just over 30,000 people die in the US from gunshot wounds. Every two years more US citizens are killed by gunshot wounds than were lost in the entire Vietnam war.

    With a population of 310 million about 2,573,000 people die in the US each year. Of which 30,000 die of Gun Shot – so if you live in the US you have over a 1 % chance that you will die of Gun Shot wound.

    America’s gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America’s.

    But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

    Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.

    The Japanese and American ways of thinking about crime, privacy, and police powers are so different — and Japan is such a generally peaceful country — that it’s functionally impossible to fully isolate and compare the two gun control regiments. It’s not much easier to balance the costs and benefits of Japan’s unusual approach, which helps keep its murder rate at the second-lowest in the world, though at the cost of restrictions that Kopel calls a “police state,” a worrying suggestion that it hands the government too much power over its citizens. After all, the U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn’t have a monopoly on force. Though it’s worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America’s 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring.

    “To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”

    (Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights.)

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

    (Second Amendment to the Constitution.)


    Wisconsin, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Newtown. By the time you read this column, there may well be a new locale to add to the list. Such is the state of enabled and murderous mayhem in the United States.

    Gun advocates say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The truth, though, is that people with guns kill people, often very efficiently, as we saw so clearly and so often this summer. And while the right to bear arms might be written into the Constitution, we cannot keep pretending that this right is somehow without limit, even as we place reasonable limits on arguably more valuable rights like the freedom of speech and due process.

    Illinois’ last-in-the-nation prohibition on carrying concealed weapons has been struck down. The mass killings at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday will likely renew a serious national debate about an assault weapons ban and the Second Amendment.

    Reports from Newtown, Conn., indicate that multiple shots were fired by a man who was dressed in assault gear, who had three weapons. This is a case of random mental derangement. Arming every teacher in every school is more a risk of than a safety against this.

    The shooting comes right after another man opened fire inside an Oregon mall on Tuesday in an incident that left three people dead. The gun used the shooting, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, jammed during the attack, and it was a stolen weapon.

    Since April, there have been mass killings in Oakland, Calif. (7 dead), Aurora, Colo. (12 dead), Oak Creek, Wis. (6 dead), Minneapolis (5 dead), Brookfield, Wis. (3 dead), Portland, Ore. (2 dead) and Newtown, Conn. (27 dead).

    Talk of renewing the national Federal Assault Weapons ban, which expired in 2004, was being debated after the Clackamas Town Center shooting, and there will be more discussion about asking Congress to pass a stricter ban, with no time limit.

    But the path of the any Assault Weapons ban becoming a reality faces several major obstructions.

    First, gun ownership is at the core of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which grants citizens the rights to bear arms.

    When the original Federal Assault Weapons ban was passed in 1994, gun rights groups decided not to pursue a challenge through the court system. An August 2012 analysis from Politico shows that given the recent history of assault weapon court cases, there is a strong indication that the NRA would pursue a Second Amendment challenge up to the Supreme Court—if a national law were passed again. And based on a 2008 Supreme Court decision, the fate of a Federal Assault Weapons case in front of the court could be problematic.

    The decision in District of Columbia v. Heller found that while citizens had the right to keep guns for self-defense, the court also agreed with an older ruling that “finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

    That ruling was restricted to people who lived in federal enclaves.

    A subsequent ruling in 2010 that reinforced the right of gun ownership and that it extended to states and towns. But for any challenge to take place to a national gun law, Congress would have to pass a new law first.

    Guns are tools, tools of death. Their function is to kill. All animals must kill to survive, and many must kill sentient beings. Among mammals many species kill their own kind. The cuddly hamster will kill its cage mate during its sleep and eat out its brain for breakfast. Apes, not only human, carry out organized attacks into other clans. From this perspective there is nothing special about humans killing each other for whatever circumstance.

    However man is supposed to be above instinct and there is a claim of morality and rationality.  Nevertheless, through history the morality of killing has proven to be intractable. Despite the fact that many moral systems purport to ban killing, there are always ifs and buts, and even strict pacifist systems like Janism agree that violence in self-defense can be justified, and they agree that a soldier who kills enemies in combat is performing a legitimate duty. Some Christians sects, like the Mennonites, teach that because Jesus taught his followers to love everyone, killing, even in war, is not a Christian response. Yet Christians kill under socially acceptable conditions even with praise and encouragement  from their Church.  Love toward oneself (myself, my mate, my children, my home, my country, my church, my …) remains a fundamental principle of morality.  It boils down to the right of the strong, Justice.

    Nonetheless, The right to kill in self defense or whatever redeeming circumstance might occur is not the issue here. The question is the social convenience of unlimited availability of weapons for all individuals. Even to second amendment zealots is evident that unlimited availability of weapons is not desirable and they pose  something different, fuzzier, harder to define or implement. A qualification in the line of …individuals like I, using catch phrases like law-abiding citizens.

    Let’s consider then a different question: Social stability increase or decreases with the availability of firearms? If we look at examples of social unrest, like the riots in L.A., things would have been a lot worst if more weapons were available to the general population. The riots took on tones of interracial conflict, blacks raiding commercial districts of stores owned by Asians. The Asians used small guns and hunting rifles and shotguns to repel the mob. What would happen if the battle hardened drug gangs of the black neighborhoods had taken the challenge and attacked with machine guns? This did not happen because the gangs were afraid of the government not just of the store owners. Therefore, the ability of Government to keep the upper hand in the application of force is an important factor in social stability. The primary function of Government is to guarantee the Social Contract. The freedom to engage in seditious activities and Social peace do not mix.

    militiaGun Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.  A violent bomb just waiting to go off.  It sounds like sedition.  In fact, there is a track of domestic right wing terrorism.

    sub_16299

    The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed.

    In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
    Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
    They see themselves as free, armed men  that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box. It sound like fools playing with fire. The problem is that we all will get burned. Guns for peace is like condoms for virginity. The safety of all of us depends on social stability and the availability of guns undermines the social fabric.
    image0077

    I will point out that there is a recurring ploy of invoking the safety and well being of children, regardless of relevance, for emotional impact and to gain the moral high ground. Even cases where children are the victims of gun violence are used as argument for the need of more weapons. This, in itself, is a symptom that the social convenience of unlimited gun availability has weak support. The objection to unlimited availability is not an attack on the right of self defense per se, but rather a claim that this might not be the best strategy to uphold the Social Contract.

    outlook

    There is a trade off between social stability and the convenience, freedom, and safety of the individual.

    secondamendment

    The argument of guns for self defense makes an implicit assumption of asymmetrical force.  The scenarios depicted by gun advocates and those actually carried out in practice assume a tactical advantage and often an unarmed attack.  However in a world with unlimited gun availability the major treat is also from armed groups. Furthermore, since they know you are armed and willing to kill the stakes are higher. In terms of Game Theory, this is known as the prisoner’s dilemma. If I am the guy with the gun I am king of the mountain, if my neighbor is the man, I am at his mercy, if we both have guns, we better be in good terms, and we are both at high risk of dying of a shotgun. If neither has guns there is no risk of gun violence but none is in position to control the other. However small the probability of a gun being used in a serious injury or death, -accident, suicide, homicide, massacre-, is bigger than zero and multiplied by 85 million produces thousands of deaths a year.

    During the 1990s the New York City Police Department (NYPD) adopted CompStatbroken windows policing and other strategies in a major effort to reduce crime. The city’s dramatic drop in crime has been attributed by criminologists to policing tactics, the end of the crack epidemic and – controversially – the legalization of abortion approximately 18 years previous. Most of the crime remaining occurs in poor areas, which tend to be outlying. There is a correlation between poverty and crime. Not that rich people do not like the easy way but they have other more effective choices and they take your money without going into your house. So if street crime is your worry, it is more effective to fight against poverty than spend resources on guns.  Fighting against poverty does not mean charity, but uprooting the causes.

    Homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15–24 years, the third leading cause for persons aged 25–34 years, and the fourth for persons aged 1–14 years. Similarly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 25–34 years and the third leading cause for persons aged 10–24 years. Homicide and suicide are leading causes of death because of drugs and weapons are just tools.

    Every year just over 30,000 people die in the US from gunshot wounds. Every two years more US citizens are killed by gunshot wounds than were lost in the entire Vietnam war.

    With a population of 310 million about 2,573,000 people die in the US each year. Of which 30,000 die of Gun Shot – so if you live in the US you have over a 1 % chance that you will die of Gun Shot wound.

    America’s gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America’s.

    But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

    Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.

    The Japanese and American ways of thinking about crime, privacy, and police powers are so different — and Japan is such a generally peaceful country — that it’s functionally impossible to fully isolate and compare the two gun control regiments. It’s not much easier to balance the costs and benefits of Japan’s unusual approach, which helps keep its murder rate at the second-lowest in the world, though at the cost of restrictions that Kopel calls a “police state,” a worrying suggestion that it hands the government too much power over its citizens. After all, the U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn’t have a monopoly on force. Though it’s worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America’s 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring.

    the Mexican Dirty War

    January 16, 2008by Daniel HopsickerTwo American-registered drug planes busted  in Mexico carrying four and 5.5 tons of cocaine are just the “tip of the iceberg”  in a blockbuster aviation deal which sold 50 American-regist…

    January 16, 2008
    by Daniel Hopsicker
    Two American-registered drug planes busted  in Mexico carrying four and 5.5 tons of cocaine are just the “tip of the iceberg”  in a blockbuster aviation deal which sold 50 American-registered aircraft to the Sinaloa Cartel, the MadCowMorningNews has learned.
    According to an indictment released over the holidays by Mexico’s Atty.General, Pedro Alfonso Alatorre, already indicted as the cartel’s chief financier, purchased the DC9 (N900SA) airliner, the Gulfstream II business jet (N987SA), and 48 other planes not yet identified for Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel with laundered drug money, using a company he controls which owns currency exchanges at major airports in Mexico.
    Now we know who bought the airplanes. The trickier question is: who sold them?  The answer, normally, would be, “Their local counterparts in international organized crime.”
    But these aren’t normal circumstances. Why? Because the U.S. doesn’t even have any Drug Lords. Ask anybody at the DEA. Apparently, we don’t even bother to field a team.

    Elusive seldom-photographed American Drug Lords

    News of a 50-plane fleet of drug smuggling aircraft being sold to a Mexican Cartel by mysteriously unnamed American owners confirms rumors of a mushrooming scandal, one which may eventually implicate top officials in the U.S., Mexico, and Colombia. 
    The reason was left unspoken in the Mexican Atty. General’s statement,  because it lies on the American side of the equation, in the identity of the sellers of the planes…  
    The DC9 and the Gulfstream II, the two American jets now known to be part of a 50-plane sale, share interlocking ownership. The stock of two corporations which owned the planes was used in the massive recent Adnan Khashoggi-led stock fraud.
    Khashoggi, currently a fugitive from justice in the case, engineered the biggest brokerage bankruptcy in America since the Great Depression, costing investors and taxpayers over $300 million.
    With gas prices over $3 a gallon, you wouldn’t think the Saudi billionaire needed the money. So, what did ‘they’ do with the money? 
     

    Upcoming Presidential elections, perhaps?

    The operation was manned by “retired” CIA and military intelligence personnel, had close ties to major Bush backers and the national Republican Party, (Sen. Mel Martinez, until recently the Chairman of the GOP, flew free on Skyway’s Cocaine One DC9 during the crucial final two weeks of his campaign in Florida for the Senate.)
    And with seeming impunity the operationengaged in multi-ton load drug trafficking, as well asmassive financial fraud.
    What began as a minor scandal without fanfare in April of 2006 with the bust of an American-registered DC-9 airliner carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula gathered momentum when a Gulfstream business jet flying out of the same airport was busted in the Yucatan 18 months later carrying 4 tons of cocaine. 
    The level of citizen outrage increased with the crash-landing of the second American plane. With the news that the number of American planes sold to Mexican drug traffickers was not just one or two planes—but 50—the scandal is now threatening to mushroom into something much larger.

    Kingpin Airlines welcomes you aboard

    The brazen fleet-sized sale of American planes to Mexican drug traffickers has huge implications. 
    “The extraordinary similarity,” to use the phrase used by Mexican newspaper Por Esto, between the DC9 airliner and the Gulfstream II…
    The American owners of the drug planes have suffered no adverse consequences whatsoever to date.
    If you own an airliner or business jet discovered hauling pure cocaine into the U.S., literally by the ton,  authorities are sympathetic. They know the hazards unauthorized charter flights pose to innocent business owners, and the confusion that can result when you’ve inadvertently purchased an airplane from someone known to be involved with international organized crime.

    “Our Story Thus Far”

    As this amazing information begins to sink inthat owning a drug plane may have little downside and be a terrific hedge against coming hard timesa brief recap of “Our Story Thus Far” may be in order.
    Two American-registered airplanes with clear ties to the U.S. Government—a DC9 airliner (N900SA) painted to resemble an airplane from the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, and a Gulfstream business jet (N987SA) formerly used by the CIA for renditions—were busted in Mexico 18 months apart carrying multi-ton loads of cocaine . 
    Both planes flew from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport to Mexico, then on to Colombia, where they loaded the cocaine, before being caught on their return journey to (supposedly) Fort Lauderdale,  stopping to refuel on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.  
    Just before both plane’s ill-fated final flights, the “ownership” papers were  shuffled around like peas being moved underneath shells on a card table in a billion dollar game of three-card monte by people known as “aircraft brokers.

    Bush Rangers, cardboard-thin cutouts

    However, the MadCowMorningNewslearned from an FAA official that neither of the two “aircraft brokers”  bought or sold any other planes during the entire year.
    They aren’t really “aircraft brokers.” Aircraft brokers buy and sell planes. 
    They’re “cut-outs,” a spy trade term for the layers of insulation relied on to provide plausible deniability.  They play a critical role in the cover story, shielding the plane’s true owners from scrutiny.  
    Both busted airplanes give every indication of having been involved in a “protected” drug trafficking operation. Imagine the surprise and shock back in the Home Office.  No wonder the cover story is, in many places, exceedingly thin.
    A shameless plug:
    Almost two weeks before the Mexico’s Atty. General’s announcement in early November that both planes had been used in the same drug smuggling operation,  readers of the MadCowMorningNews already knew of connections between the two downed American drug planes, and their interlocking ownership.

    The “W” Connection

    Stephen Adams, a secretive Midwestern media baron and Republican fund-raiser, owned the Gulfstream II at the same time he was personally purchasing one million dollars of billboard advertising for George W. Bush during the 2000 Presidential Campaign. 
    Adams was also in business, in two separate companies, with Michael Farkas, the man who founded SkyWay Aircraft, which owned the DC9. Both men control companies used in Adnan Khashoggi’s $300 million stock fraud rip-off.   
    The multi-ton drug busts, as well as the numerous murders already surrounding the case,  are part of a continuing “Mexican stand-off”between rival Mexican drug cartels allied with dueling factions contesting Mexico’s unsettled political landscape.
    The contest has so far resulted in more than 2500 murders in Mexico last year.  Mexico’s internecine drug war is a hotter theater of operations than Iraq. 

    Bank robbers for Equal Justice Under Law

    When a bank robber steals a few thousand dollars before holing up with a hostage, does the FBI take more than eighteen months before divulging the name of the suspect?
    Certain cases involving politically-connected Americans suspected of involvement in drug smuggling, through ownership of drug smuggling aircraft,  seem to be being treated, not as crimes, but as urgent matters of national security.  
    But the American owners of the two airplanes busted in Mexico do not look like innocent victims of mean and nasty Mexican drug traffickers, but their  American counterparts... the elusive and almost never-photographedAmerican Drug Lords.
    The Gulfstream, for example, picked up its multi-load of cocaine at the international airport in Rio Negro, just outside of Medellin. Although the city became famous as Pablo Escobar’s hometown, today Medellin is known for being current Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s home turf…
    So it wasn’t FARC dope.
    And there is no way the shipment can be blamed on the guerrillas, which may yet prove inconvenient if—after all the pieces are fitted into the puzzle—government-to-government drug connections are visible between the U.S. and Colombian governments.  

    An official issue get-out-of-jail-free card

    The first plane to go down was a DC9 airliner (N900SA) which left Colombia carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine
    The DC9’s owner regularly engaged in illegal, and as yet unpunished, activity, as if he had an official issue get-out-of-jail-free card.
    One example: Forgetting legal niceties–like “don’t sell a plane you don’t own, dude”– the DC9 was passed from “Skyway Aircraft” to a company controlled by a company insider, “Royal Sons LLC.
    But the real owner of the plane at the time was the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa. And they weren’t even told of the sale.
    Maybe it helped their legal cause that Skyway’s Chairman, Glenn Kovar, had been a U.S. Forest Service employee who boasted of long-standing ties to the CIA.
    And several of the firm’s top executives, including its President, have backgrounds in U.S. military intelligence.  That probably didn’t hurt either.

    Paint your car like a police car! Comes with own siren!

    Skyway’s DC9 was painted with the distinctive blue-and-white with gold trim used by  official U.S. Government planes, and an official-looking U.S. Seal, featuring the familiar Federal eagle clutching an olive brand, had been painted alongside the door. 
    If you look closely, however,  the legend wrapping around the outer edge of the Seal says “SkyWay Aircraft: Protection of America’s Skies.” 
    Still, most who saw the DC9 sitting on the apron of the St-Petersburg Clearwater International Airport figured the aircraft belonged to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.
    The DC9 was clearly impersonating an aircraft from the Dept of Homeland Security. Yet it sat unmolested by authorities at the St Pete-Clearwater Intl’ Airport, parked less than a hundred yards from the US Coast Guard’s major Caribbean Basin Air Facility.
    Skyway’s SUV’s, by contrast, were painted with a bogus U.S. Government Seal were pulled over by local police, and ordered to remove the seals.
     

    Pretty lucky? Or pretty well-connected?

    Another intriguing fact is that several years ago Skyway’s listed address in plane ads was a hanger at Huffman Aviation at the Venice Fl. Airport.  Huffman trained both pilots who took down the World Trade Center, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, to fly.
    The Gulfstream II (N987SA) 
    The biggest clue to date to the true identity of the individuals or organization operating behind the scenes is in the name of the dummy front company which was the last registered owner of the Gulfstream business jet that crash-landed with 4 tons of cocaine may lie in the firm’s initials.
    Donna Blue Aircraft”  is “DBA,” for “doing business as,” the kind of clever nomenclature “the boys” are fond of.
    When we visited the company’s listed address, it was in an empty office suite with a blank sign out front.

    What This is Really All About

    Mankind’s knowledge about who owns large commercial and business jets which get busted carrying narcotics appears severely limited for several reasons.
    1. It is completely governed, like the movement of subatomic quarks, byHeisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, with one teensy change.
    2. Ownership Uncertainty fluctuates with the level of influence the plane’s owner is able to exert. 
    3. Prospects are especially poor of ever identifying the owners of planes associated with national Republican figures.
    The whole business, suggested a story from the Associated Press, ratherquickly moves beyond the realm of human ken.
    “How the U.S.-registered Gulfstream ended up in the hands of suspected drug traffickers remains a mystery,” the AP reported.
    And not by accident, either. 


    On April 23, two patrol cars were ambushed by armed gunman in downtown Ciudad Juarez. In the ensuing firefight, seven policemen were killed as well as a 17-year old boy who was caught in the crossfire. All of the assailants escaped uninjured fleeing the crime-scene in three SUVs. The bold attack was executed in broad daylight in one of the busiest areas of the city. According to the Associated Press:

    “Hours after the attack, a painted message directed to top federal police commanders and claiming responsibility for the attack appeared on a wall in downtown Ciudad Juarez. It was apparently signed by La Linea gang, the enforcement arm of the Juarez drug cartel. The Juarez cartel has been locked in a bloody turf battle with the Sinaloa cartel, led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

    “This will happen to you … for being with El Chapo Guzman and to all the dirtbags who support him. Sincerely, La Linea,” the message read.” (“7 Mexican police officers killed in Ciudad Juarez”, Olivia Torres, AP)

    The massacre in downtown Juarez is just the latest incident in Mexico’s bloody drug war. Between 5 to 6 more people will be killed on Saturday, and on every day thereafter with no end in sight. It’s a war that cannot be won, but that hasn’t stopped the Mexican government from sticking to its basic game-plan.

    The experts and politicians disagree about the origins of the violence in Juarez, but no one disputes that 23,000 people have been killed since 2006 in a largely futile military operation initiated by Mexican president Felipe Calderon. Whether the killing is the result of the ongoing turf-war between the rival drug cartels or not, is irrelevant. The present policy is failing and needs to be changed. The militarization of the war on drugs has been a colossal disaster which has accelerated the pace of social disintegration. Mexico is quickly becoming a failed state, and Washington’s deeply-flawed Merida Initiative, which provides $1.4 billion in aid to the Calderon administration to intensify military operations, is largely to blame.

    The surge in narcotics trafficking and drug addiction go hand-in-hand with destructive free trade policies which have fueled their growth. NAFTA, in particular, has triggered a massive migration of people who have been pushed off the land because they couldn’t compete with heavily-subsidized agricultural products from the US. Many of these people drifted north to towns like Juarez which became a manufacturing hub in the 1990s. But Juarez’s fortunes took a turn for the worse a few years later when competition from the Far East grew fiercer. Now most of the plants and factories have been boarded up and the work has been outsourced to China where subsistence wages are the norm. Naturally, young men have turned to the cartels as the only visible means of employment and upward mobility. That means that free trade has not only had a ruinous effect on the economy, but has also created an inexhaustible pool of recruits for the drug trade.

    Washington’s Merida Initiative–which provides $1.4 billion in aid to the Calderon administration to intensify military operations–has only made matters worse. The public’s demand for jobs, security and social programs, has been answered with check-points, crackdowns and state repression. The response from Washington hasn’t been much better. Obama hasn’t veered from the policies of the prior administration. He is as committed to a military solution as his predecessor, George W. Bush.

    But the need for change is urgent. Mexico is unraveling and, as the oil wells run dry, the prospect of a failed state run by drug kingpins and paramilitaries on US’s southern border becomes more and more probable. The drug war is merely a symptom of deeper social problems; widespread political corruption, grinding poverty, soaring unemployment, and the erosion of confidence in public institutions. But these issues are brushed aside, so the government can pursue its one-size-fits-all military strategy without second-guessing or remorse. Meanwhile, the country continues to fall apart.

    THE CLASHING CARTELS

    The big cartels are engaged in a ferocious battle for the drug corridors around Juarez. The Sinaloa, Gulf and La Familia cartels have formed an alliance against the upstart Los Zetas gang. Critics allege that the Calderon administration has close ties with the Sinaloa cartel and refuses to arrest its members. Here’s an excerpt from an Al Jazeera video which points to collusion between Sinaloa and the government.

    “The US Treasury identifies at least 20 front companies that are laundering drug money for the Sinaloa cartel…There are allegations that the Mexican government is “favoring” the cartel. According to Diego Enrique Osorno, investigative journalist and author of the “The Sinaloa Cartel”:

    “There are no important detentions of Sinaloa cartel members. But the government is hunting down adversary groups, new players in the world of drug trafficking.”

    International Security Expert, Edgardo Buscaglia, says that “of over 50,000 drug related arrests, only a very small percentage have been Sinaloa cartel members, and no cartel leaders. Dating back to 2003, law enforcement data shows objectively that the government has been hitting the weakest organized crime groups in Mexico, but they have not been hitting the main crime group, the Sinaloa Federation, that’s responsible for 45% of the drug trade in this country.” (Al Jazeera)

    There’s no way to verify whether the Calderon administration is in bed with the Sinaloa cartel, but Al Jazeera’s report is pretty damning. A similar report appeared in the Los Angeles Times which revealed that the government had diverted funds that were earmarked for struggling farmers (who’d been hurt by NAFTA) “to the families of notorious drug traffickers and several senior government officials, including the agriculture minister.” Here’s an excerpt from the Los Angeles Times:

    “According to several academic studies, as much as 80% of the money went to just 20% of the registered farmers…Among the most eyebrow-raising recipients were three siblings of billionaire drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, head of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, and the brother of Guzman’s onetime partner, Arturo Beltran Leyva”. (“Mexico farm subsidies are going astray”, Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times)

    There’s no doubt that if the LA Times knows about the circular flow of state money to drug traffickers, than the Obama administration knows too. So why does the administration persist with the same policy and continue to support the people they pretend to be fighting?

    In forty years, US drug policy has never changed. The same “hunt them down, bust them, and lock them up” philosophy continues to this day. That’s why many critics believe that the drug war is really about control, not eradication. It’s a matter of who’s in line to rake in the profits; small-time pushers who run their own operations or politically-connected kingfish who have agents in the banks, the intelligence agencies, the military and the government. Currently, in Juarez, the small fries’ are getting wiped out while the big-players are getting stronger. In a year or so, the Sinaloa cartel will control the streets, the drug corridors, and the border. The violence will die down and the government will proclaim “victory”, but the flow of drugs into the US will increase while the situation for ordinary Mexicans will continue to deteriorate.

    Here’s a clip from an article in the Independent by veteran journalist Hugh O’Shaughnessy:

    “The outlawing and criminalizing of drugs and consequent surge in prices has produced a bonanza for producers everywhere, from Kabul to Bogota, but, at the Mexican border, where an estimated $39,000m in narcotics enter the rich US market every year, a veritable tsunami of cash has been created. The narcotraficantes, or drug dealers, can buy the murder of many, and the loyalty of nearly everyone. They can acquire whatever weapons they need from the free market in firearms north of the border and bring them into Mexico with appropriate payment to any official who holds his hand out.” (“The US-Mexico border: where the drugs war has soaked the ground blood red”, Hugh O’Shaughnessy The Independent)

    It’s no coincidence that Kabul and Bogota are the the de facto capitals of the drug universe. US political support is strong in both places, as is the involvement of US intelligence agencies. But does that suggest that the CIA is at work in Mexico, too? Or, to put it differently: Why is the US supporting a client that appears to be allied to the most powerful drug cartel in Mexico? That’s the question.

    THE CHECKERED HISTORY OF THE CIA

    In August 1996, investigative journalist Gary Webb released the first installment of Dark Alliance in the San Jose Mercury exposing the CIA’s involvement in the drug trade. The article blew the lid off the murky dealings of the agency’s covert operations. Webb’s words are as riveting today as they were when they first appeared 14 years ago:

    “For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a Mercury News investigation has found.

    This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia’s cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the “crack” capital of the world. The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America

    and provided the cash and connections needed for L.A.’s gangs to buy automatic weapons.

    It is one of the most bizarre alliances in modern history: the union of a U.S.-backed army attempting to overthrow a revolutionary socialist government and the Uzi-toting “gangstas” of Compton and South-Central Los Angeles.” (“America’s ‘crack’ plague has roots in Nicaragua war”, Gary Webb, San Jose Mercury News)

    Counterpunch editor Alexander Cockburn has also done extensive research on the CIA/drug connection. Here’s an excerpt from an article titled “The Government’s Dirty Little Secrets”, which ran in the Los Angeles Times.

    “CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz finally conceded to a U.S. congressional committee that the agency had worked with drug traffickers and had obtained a waiver from the Justice Department in 1982 (the beginning of the Contra funding crisis) allowing it not to report drug trafficking by agency contractors. Was the lethal arsenal deployed at Roodeplaat assembled with the advice from the CIA and other U.S. agencies? There were certainly close contacts over the years. It was a CIA tip that led the South African secret police to arrest Nelson Mandela.” (The Government’s Dirty Little Secrets, Los Angeles Times, commentary, 1998)

    And then there’s this from independent journalist Zafar Bangash:

    “The CIA, as Cockburn and (Jeffrey) St Clair reveal, had been in this business right from the beginning. In fact, even before it came into existence, its predecessors, the OSS and the Office of Naval Intelligence, were involved with criminals. One such criminal was Lucky Luciano, the most notorious gangster and drug trafficker in America in the forties.”

    The CIA’s involvement in drug trafficking closely dovetails America’s adventures overseas – from Indo-China in the sixties to Afghanistan in the eighties….As Alfred McCoy states in his book: Politics of Heroin: CIA complicity in the Global Drug Trade, beginning with CIA raids from Burma into China in the early fifties, the agency found that ‘ruthless drug lords made effective anti-communists.” (“CIA peddles drugs while US Media act as cheerleaders”, Zafar Bangash, Muslimedia, January 16-31, 1999)

    And, this from author William Blum:

    “ClA-supported Mujahedeen rebels … engaged heavily in drug trafficking while fighting against the Soviet-supported government,” writes historian William Blum. “The Agency’s principal client was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the leading druglords and a leading heroin refiner. CIA-supplied trucks and mules, which had carried arms into Afghanistan, were used to transport opium to laboratories along the Afghan/Pakistan border. The output provided up to one half of the heroin used annually in the United States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe….”

    And, this from Portland Independent Media:

    “Before 1980, Afghanistan produced 0% of the world’s opium. But then the CIA moved in, and by 1986 they were producing 40% of the world’s heroin supply. By 1999, they were churning out 3,200 TONS of heroin a year–nearly 80% of the total market supply. But then something unexpected happened. The Taliban rose to power, and by 2000 they had destroyed nearly all of the opium fields. Production dropped from 3,000+ tons to only 185 tons, a 94% reduction! This drop in revenue hurt not only the CIA’s Black Budget projects, but also the free-flow of laundered money in and out of the Controller’s banks.” (Portland Independent Media)

    The evidence of CIA involvement in the drug trade is vast, documented and compelling. Still, does that mean that there is some nefarious 3-way connection between the Sinaloa Cartel, the Calderon administration and the CIA? Isn’t it more likely that US policymakers are simply stuck in an ideological rut and are unable to break free from the culture of militarism that has swallowed Washington whole? Author John Ross answers these questions and more in a speech he delivered at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. in April 2009. Here’s an excerpt:

    “What does Washington want from Mexico? On the security side, the U.S. seeks total control of Mexico’s security apparatus. With the creation of NORTHCOM (Northern Command) designed to protect the U.S. landmass from terrorist attack, Mexico is designated North America’s southern security perimeter and U.S. military aircraft now has carte blanche to penetrate Mexican airspace. Moreover, the North American Security and Prosperity Agreement (ASPAN in its Mexican initials) seeks to integrate the security apparatuses of the three NAFTA nations under Washington’s command. Now the Merida Initiative signed by Bush II and Calderon in early 2007 allows for the emplacement of armed U.S. security agents – the FBI, the DEA, the CIA, and ICE – on Mexican soil and contractors like the former Blackwater cannot be far behind. Wars are fought for juicy government contracts and $1.3 billion in Merida moneys are going directly to U.S. defense contractors – forget about the Mexican middleman.

    On the energy side, the designated target is, of course, the privatization of PEMEX, Mexico’s nationalized oil industry, with a particular eye out for risk contracts on deep sea drilling in the Gulf of Mexico utilizing technology only the EXXONs of this world possess.” (John Ross, “The Big Scam : How and Why Washington Hooked Mexico on the Drug War)

    The drug war is the mask behind which the real policy is concealed. The United States is using all the implements in its national security toolbox to integrate Mexico into a North America Uberstate, a hemispheric free trade zone that removes sovereign obstacles to corporate looting and guarantees rich rewards for defense contractors. As Ross notes, all of the usual suspects are involved, including the FBI and CIA. That means the killing in Juarez will continue until Washington’s objectives are achieved.

    Mike Whitney is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Mike Whitney



    Richard Cain, Mexico City, Bill K. Harvey and Staff D

    « on: July 19, 2011, 06:45:44 PM »

    “Arguments for exclusivity go only so far. The better question is how explain the Kurt Vonnegut Cat’s Cradle line turned to song:

    Nice, nice, very nice
    so many people in the same device”

    ~Phil Dragoo

    The Mexican Security Police, known as the Dirección Federal de Seguridad, or DFS was a government security agency created in 1947 during the presidency of Miguel Alemán. Organizationally part of the Secretaria de Gobernación, the DFS was assigned the official duty of preserving the internal stability of Mexico against all forms subversion and terrorist threats. Following a drug scandal that concluded with criminal prosecution of its top executives, the DFS was abolished, with operational elements restructured and merged into the Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional (CISEN) in 1985.

    Professor Peter Dale Scott has written that the DFS was in part a CIA creation, and “the CIA’s closest government allies were for years in the DFS.” DFS badges, “handed out to top-level Mexican drug-traffickers, have been labelled by DEA agents a virtual ‘license to traffic.'” Scott says that “The Guadalajara Cartel, Mexico’s most powerful drug-trafficking network in the early 1980s, prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the DFS, under its chief Miguel Nassar (or Nazar) Haro, a CIA asset.

    What is relevant to our interests is the fact that the DFS, in addition to being deeply involved with illicit drug related organized crime, and a corrupt tool of enforcement for the state, staffed and monitored the CIA’s Mexico City telephone intercept program LI/ENVOY, the source of the infamous “Oswald” tapes which were transcribed by husband and wife team, Boris and Anna Tarasoff.

    http://www.history-matters.com/essays/frameup/MoreMexicoMysteries/MoreMexicoMysteries_2.htm

    What this means is that the LI/ENVOY operation which produced the original reports (subsequently transcribed) of an Oswald speaking with Soviet and Cuban diplomatic officers was not only technically insecure, it was manned, apparently, by Mexican State Police whose activities were well documented as being open to manipulation by criminal elements.

    Which leads to…

    Richard Cain

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Cain

    http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKcainR.ht

    Richard Cain (alias Scalzetti) can properly be described as a notorious Chicago mob figure, a veteran who served in the US Army stationed in both Japan and the Virgin Islands, an allegedly crooked Security Officer for UPS, an allegedly corrupt Chicago Police Department detective and employee of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, a lie-detector operator, a Spanish speaking associate of pro-Batista, anti-Castro Cubans, a close personal friend of Chicago mob boss, Sam Giancana (at whose request was allegedly brought into the CIA’s Castro assassination plans), a business operator (Accurate Detective Laboratories), a recruiter for Spanish speaking volunteers sent to South Florida and Central American CIA training camps specializing in guerrilla warfare/commando tactics, an FBI informant, an electronic surveillance expert who specialized in telephone tapping, and, among many other things including being shot in the mouth at point blank range with a shotgun on 20 Dec., 1973, the person identified in official CIA files as having visited the CIA’s Mexico City Station in April of ’62, at which time “he stated he had an investigative agency in Mexico…for the purpose of training Mexican government agents in police methods, in investigative techniques, and in the use of the lie detector.”

    During the period of 1950 – 52, Cain had tapped the telephones of Cuban revolutionary leaders on behalf of the US supported Batista regime. In 1960 he was approached to install phone taps on behalf of former Cuban President (and exiled resident of Mexico), Carlos Prio. The Chicago Tribune reported that the CIA had engaged Cain in 1960 because of his Havana mob contacts, and also to wiretap the Czech embassy in Havana.

    It seems plausible that “technical assistance” referred to in official CIA reports confirming that the CIA Mexico City Station provided support to the DFS on the LI/ENVOY operation was in the form of a man who was deeply and personally connected with Sam Giancana, Giancana’s anti-Castro CIA intrigues, and the Chicago underworld milieu of Jack Ruby.

    A detailed examination of Richard Cain suggests that from 1960 through ’63, he was close to, or possibly deep inside, the connection between the CIA and the Mafia’s recruitment to assassinate Fidel Castro. An HSCA report presents credible arguments that Cain was not only involved (by Giancana) in the plots against Castro, but that he himself may have been the “assassin-to-be” mentioned by his boss, Giancana, on 18 Oct., 1960.

    Which leads to…

    Bill K. Harvey and Staff D

    The most sensitive and restricted operation by the CIA against Castro was run out of CIA’s Staff D (FI/D), headed by William King Harvey. Officially, Staff D was “a small Agency component responsible for communications intercepts.” Quoted from Inspectors General Report, 37. In fact and in practice, the very stringent restrictions on clearances for COMINT (communications intelligence) made FI/D especially well suited to house sensitive operations that CIA officials (such as Agent In Charge, Harvey) wished to conceal from the rest of the Agency. The most notorious of these projects was ZR/RIFLE, Harvey’s program for “Executive Action Capability.”

    FI/D was responsible for the LI/ENVOY program in Mexico City. LI/ENVOY reports were filed regularly from Mexico City Station to Harvey at CIA HQS. It is important to know that Ann Goodpasture, Mexico City Station officer responsible for bringing DFS intercept product into the station and who supplied mistaken and misleading identification of Oswald as being “age 35 and balding,” was an FI/D employee.

    Harvey’s Staff D controlled the CIA-Mafia assassination plots, and it controlled the LI/ENVOY intercept intake inside the Mexico City Station. If Richard Cain trained and possibly supervised the recruitment of Mexican (DFS) monitors, the CIA-DFS LI/ENVOY collaboration represents a pre-assassination matrix connecting three possible conspirators in operations which would be seen post-assassination to have very great significance in the implication of Lee Harvey Oswald.

    This is a model of an ultra-secretive compartment of CIA, elements of the Mafia already associated with the CIA in their Castro assassination plots, and the infiltration of an officially recognized Mexican agency which would have been thought to have acted in the service of the CIA in its reporting of electronic listening posts, working with each other in ways not apparent to any who would have been uninvolved.

    For us to truly recognize what this may mean in terms relevant to the hypothesis that LHO was set up to take the blame for an act he did not commit, it’s essential that we fully understand that all of the above should not result in a rush to judgement that these elements at work through the actions and associations of Richard Cain, Sam Giancana, Ann Goodpasture, and Bill K. Harvey represent proof of their collaboration on the incrimination of Oswald as part of a sinister plot to kill President Kennedy.

    While exploring the possibility that the incrimination of Oswald was piggy-backed upon authorized counterintelligence operations which employed these resources and was possibly directed by these authorities, we raise more questions than we answer. I’m hopeful that even a modest introduction such as this will be encouragement — especially to those of you whose minds seem to have already been made up — to continue the search for new answers.

    My thanks to Phil Dragoo whose contributions here should be required reading for all.

    |


    The Mexican Drug War is an ongoing armed conflict between rival drug cartels fighting each other for regional control, and Mexican government forces. The government’s principal goal has been to put down the drug-related violence that was raging between different drug cartels before any military intervention was made.[27] In addition, the Mexican government has claimed that their primary focus is on dismantling the powerful drug cartels, rather than on drug trafficking prevention, which is left to U.S. functionaries.[28][29][30]
    Although Mexican drug cartels, or drug trafficking organizations, have existed for several decades, they have become more powerful since the demise of Colombia‘s Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s. Mexican drug cartels now dominate the wholesale illicit drug market by controlling 90% of the drugs that enter the United States.[31][32] Arrests of key cartel leaders, particularly in the Tijuana and Gulf cartels, have led to increasing drug violence as cartels fight for control of the trafficking routes into the United States.[33][34][35]
    Analysts estimate that wholesale earnings from illicit drug sales range from $13.6 billion[31] to $49.4 billion annually.[31][36][37]


    Some sources say that the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been involved in several drug trafficking operations. Some of these reports claim that congressional evidence indicates that the CIA worked with groups which it knew were involved in drug trafficking, so that these groups would provide them with useful intelligence and material support, in exchange for allowing their criminal activities to continue,[1] and impeding or preventing their arrest, indictment, and imprisonment by U.S. law enforcement agencies.[2]

    According to Peter Dale Scott, the Dirección Federal de Seguridad was in part a CIA creation, and “the CIA’s closest government allies were for years in the DFS”. DFS badges, “handed out to top-level Mexican drug-traffickers, have been labelled by DEA agents a virtual ‘license to traffic.'”[21] Scott says that “The Guadalajara Cartel, Mexico’s most powerful drug-trafficking network in the early 1980s, prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the DFS, under its chief Miguel Nazar Haro, a CIA asset.”[21]
    Vicente Zambada Niebla, the son of Ismael Zambada García one of the top druglords in Mexico, claimed after his arrest to his attorneys that he and other top Sinaloa cartel members had received immunity by U.S. agents and a virtual licence to smuggle cocaine over the United States border, in exchange for intelligence about rival cartels engaged in the Mexican Drug War.[22][23]

    The Dirección Federal de Seguridad (Federal Security Directorate, DFS) was a Mexican intelligence agency. Created in 1947 under Miguel Alemán Valdés with “the duty of preserving the internal stability of Mexico against all forms subversion and terrorist threats”,[1] it was merged into the Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional (CISEN) in 1985.
    According to Peter Dale Scott, the DFS was in part a CIA creation, and “the CIA’s closest government allies were for years in the DFS”. DFS badges, “handed out to top-level Mexican drug-traffickers, have been labelled by DEA agents a virtual ‘license to traffic.'”[2] Scott says that “The Guadalajara Cartel, Mexico’s most powerful drug-trafficking network in the early 1980s, prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the DFS, under its chief Miguel Nazar Haro, a CIA asset.”[2]


    1. ^ Dirección Federal de Seguridad (Mexico) Security Reports, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin,Dirección Federal de Seguridad (Mexico) Security Reports, 1970-1977
    2. ^ a b Peter Dale Scott (2000), Washington and the politics of drugs, Variant, 2(11)

    Mexican Miguel Nazar Haro was protected by the CIA

    By Víctor Hugo Michel (Mexico City) and Dora Irene Rivera (Monterrey)

    EDITED TRANSLATION OF A FEBRUARY 23, 2004, PIECE FROM MILENIO, MEXICO CITY

    Miguel Nassar Haro* (aka Nazar Haro; or Nasar Haro), Mexico’s ex-director of the Federal Security Directorate (DFS), received help from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the U.S. Justice Department to avoid incarceration in the U.S. when he was under investigation for participating in a car theft ring, revealed Peter K. Nuñez, the former U.S. Attorney in charge of the case in San Diego, California.

    In an interview with Milenio, Nuñez said that when he tried to arrest and prosecute Nassar Haro in the early 1980s, the “intelligence agencies” in Washington began to meddle in the case and they even pressured him not to pursue the investigations.

    “It was a very complicated circumstance. We [in San Diego] had spent considerable time trying to charge him, and the Justice Department in Washington and some of the U.S. intelligence agencies did not want us to go ahead,” Nuñez said.

    Asked if he believes the CIA got involved to influence the escape of Nassar Haro from the U.S. — after (he) spent a few hours in a San Diego jail, Nuñez dryly responded “yes.”

    The CIA considered Nassar Haro, according to different reports, “the most important source in Mexico and Central America” for the U.S. espionage services.

    From the beginning of the call, upon hearing the reporter’s nationality, Nuñez guessed the subject of the interview. “You want to talk about Miguel Nassar Haro,” he anticipated. “Let me tell you: I am not surprised that he has been arrested in Mexico.”

    Nuñez, a favorite of Ronald Reagan who was famous for having detained the ex-director of the DFS for a few hours in a San Diego jail, affirmed that he and his team of attorneys had gathered “sufficient information” to link Nassar Haro with car theft in Southern California.

    (Reporter:) How was the connection between Nassar Haro and this gang of car thieves discovered, was it through an informant?

    (Nuñez:) In part, yes. Many people had already been arrested, and many of them had cooperated with the U.S. government. And among other things, they revealed the role of Nassar Haro in the case.

    (The reporter continued with several questions about extradition, then and now. In a concluding comment Nuñez said that) the arrest warrants against Miguel Nassar Haro, for car theft in California, “are still open and they have not expired.” As such, “an eventual extradition request” cannot be dismissed.

    Nuñez said, that according to the U.S. justice (system), two decades after being indicted in a federal court for his alleged participation in an organization dedicated to stealing vehicles in San Diego Nassar Haro is still a “fugitive.”

    “The statute of limitations would not apply because Nassar Haro had already been processed,” said the ex-U.S. Attorney who was the prosecutor in the case that culminated with the Mexican agent fleeing to Tijuana, from the U.S., after he paid his bail.

    Nuñez explained, that in spite of the more than 22 years that have passed, the crimes committed in the U.S. are not yet resolved. “Arrest warrants do not expire,” he said. “He paid his bail but he never returned to face the charges.”

    Nuñez said that even without a U.S. extradition proceeding, the Mexican justice (system) could try Nassar Haro for crimes committed in the U.S., according to Article 4 of the Federal Penal Code of Mexico. Article 4 states that crimes committed abroad by a Mexican will be punishable in Mexico, in accordance with federal laws, if the accused is in the country and (if the accused) has yet to be tried abroad.

    Nuñez revealed, that as a result of what happened with Nassar Haro, there were political damages in Washington — mostly from friction caused by the involvement of intelligence agencies and the Justice Department in a case that took place on the other side of the country, in California.

    According to memory, there was a leak in Washington about the investigations of the U.S. Attorney in San Diego. “Someone leaked the information and made it public, that we were considering the indictment of Nassar Haro,” he recalled. “That was not authorized.”

    The leak, that put the name of Nassar Haro in the headlines of the main newspapers in the U.S., brought down a Justice Department official, Bill Kennedy, who the Reagan administration blamed for revealing the “sensitive information.”

    “Nassar Haro then came to the U.S., to file suit against the newspapers for printing his name. It was not the best choice he ever made. While he was here we charged and arrested him,” Nuñez said, remembering the moment the ex-director of the DFS was taken into custody.
    __________

    * Miguel Nazar Haro was recently detained, in Mexico, on an arrest warrant issued by a Monterrey, Nuevo León, judge. The ex-director of the infamous DFS, a now defunct domestic intelligence and security agency, is charged with authorizing the 1975 kidnapping of a youthful leftist — one of Mexico’s “disappeared” who were never to be heard from again. MexiData.info
    __________

    — MexiData.info translation


    The Guadalajara Cartel (Spanish: Cártel de Guadalajara) was a Mexican drug cartel which was formed in the 1980s by Rafael Caro Quintero, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo in order to ship heroin and marijuana to the United States. Among the first of the Mexican drug trafficking groups to work with the Colombian cocaine mafias, the Guadalajara cartel prospered from the cocaine trade.

    After the arrest of Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Félix Gallardo kept a low profile and in 1987 he moved with his familyGuadalajara city. Félix Gallardo (“The Godfather”) then decided to divide up the trade he controlled as it would be more efficient and less likely to be brought down in one law enforcement swoop.[1]In a way, he was privatizing the Mexican drug business while sending it back underground, to be run by bosses who were less well known or not yet known by the DEA. Félix Gallardo convened the nation’s top drug narcos at a house in the resort of Acapulco where he designated the plazas or territories. The Tijuana route would go to the Arellano Felix brothers. The Ciudad Juárez routewould go to the Carrillo Fuentes family. Miguel Caro Quintero would run the Sonora corridor. The control of the Matamoros, Tamaulipas corridor – then becoming the Gulf Cartel– would be left undisturbed to Juan García Abrego. Meanwhile, Joaquín Guzmán Loera and Ismael Zambada García would take over Pacific coast operations, becoming the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzmán and Zambada brought veteran Héctor Luis Palma Salazar back into the fold. Félix Gallardo still planned to oversee national operations, he had the contacts so he was still the top man, but he would no longer control all details of the business; he was arrested on April 8, 1989.[2]
    According to Peter Dale Scott, the Guadalajara Cartel, Mexico’s most powerful drug-trafficking network in the early 1980s, prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the Dirección Federal de Seguridad, under its chief Miguel Nazar Haro, a CIA asset.”[3]


    Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (born January 8, 1946) is a convicted Mexican drug lord known as “El Padrino” (Spanish: “The Godfather”) who in the 1980s formed the Guadalajara Cartel and became the first drug czar in Mexico to control all illegal drug traffic in Mexico and the corridors along the Mexico-U.S.A. border


    The Mexican Drug War is an ongoing armed conflict between rival drug cartels fighting each other for regional control, and Mexican government forces. The government’s principal goal has been to put down the drug-related violence that was raging between different drug cartels before any military intervention was made.[27] In addition, the Mexican government has claimed that their primary focus is on dismantling the powerful drug cartels, rather than on drug trafficking prevention, which is left to U.S. functionaries.[28][29][30]
    Although Mexican drug cartels, or drug trafficking organizations, have existed for several decades, they have become more powerful since the demise of Colombia‘s Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s. Mexican drug cartels now dominate the wholesale illicit drug market by controlling 90% of the drugs that enter the United States.[31][32] Arrests of key cartel leaders, particularly in the Tijuana and Gulf cartels, have led to increasing drug violence as cartels fight for control of the trafficking routes into the United States.[33][34][35]
    Analysts estimate that wholesale earnings from illicit drug sales range from $13.6 billion[31] to $49.4 billion annually.


    The timeline of the most relevant events in the Mexican Drug War

    Although violence between drug cartels had been occurring for three decades, the Mexican government held a generally passive stance regarding cartel violence through the 1980s and early 2000s. That changed on December 11, 2006, when the newly elected President Felipe Calderón sent 6,500 Mexican Army soldiers to the state of Michoacán to end drug violence there. This action is regarded as the first major retaliation made against the cartel violence, and is generally viewed as the starting point of the Mexican Drug War between the government and the drug cartels.[1] As time passed, Calderón continued to escalate his anti-drug campaign, in which there are now about 45,000 troops involved along with state and federal police forces.


    Arturo Guzmán Decena, a.k.a. Z-1 (January 13, 1976 ? November 21, 2002) was a Mexican Army soldier who defected to become a mercenary and commander of the mercenary gang called Los Zetas at the service of Osiel Cárdenas Guillen, the Gulf Cartel‘s drug lord.[1] Los Zetas are considered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as the most technologically advanced, sophisticated and violent drug cartel in Mexico


    A federal judge in Chicago refused Thursday to dismiss charges against a reputed Mexican drug kingpin who claimed he was working as an informant for the government.  Vicente Zambada-Niebla failed to provide evidence to rebut the government’s contention that he was never granted immunity from prosecution on drug-trafficking charges, U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo found.
    Zambada-Niebla is the highest-ranking reputed member of the Sinaloa cartel in U.S. custody in a case being tried in Chicago against members of the drug-trafficking organization which authorities say is headed by Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, described by the U.S. Treasury Department as the “world’s most powerful drug trafficker.”
    Castillo’s written ruling offers a glimpse into the secret workings of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico.
    According to the judge’s ruling, Sinaloa cartel lawyer Humberto Loya-Castro was a confidant to Guzman and right-hand man Ismael Zambada-Garcia, who is Zambada-Niebla’s father.
    After Loya-Castro was charged in a narcotics case in California in 1995, he started providing information to DEA agents about Mexican drug trafficking. The case against Loya-Castro was dismissed in 2008 at the request of prosecutors.
    In 2008, he proposed a meeting between his DEA contact and Zambada-Niebla. On March 17, 2009, they met with DEA agents at a hotel in Mexico City. Hours later, Zambada-Niebla was arrested by Mexican officials.
    Prosecutors say Loya-Castro brought Zambada-Niebla to meet DEA agents at the hotel against the agents’ instructions.
    “According to the government, [Zambada-Niebla] conveyed his interest and willingness to cooperate with the U.S. government, but the DEA agents told him they ‘were not authorized to meet with him, much less have substantive discussions with him,’ ” the judge wrote.
    Zambada-Niebla argued that Loya-Castro had negotiated an immunity deal for him; that he provided information to Loya-Castro about rival cartels that was then passed on to the U.S. government; and that he traveled to Mexico City at great risk to himself for the meeting with DEA agents because he was assured he had immunity from prosecution.
    The judge said Zambada-Niebla didn’t present enough evidence to refute the government’s position that he was never granted immunity.
    Last year, Zambada-Niebla was moved from the federal lockup in Chicago to a prison in Michigan after complaining about conditions in the Chicago lockup. Federal authorities were concerned he was an escape risk and potential assassination target.
    In an unrelated drug-trafficking case in Chicago last year, a defendant testified that he met Zambada-Niebla in the federal lockup here and that Zambada-Niebla sought information to have two co-defendants killed. Those defendants — Chicago natives Pedro and Margarito Flores — are cooperating with prosecutors in the case against Zambada-Niebla, court records show.
    Guzman and Zambada-Niebla’s father remain fugitives in the case
    For Backstory Information read my Borderland Beat Post….Paz, Chivis   link here


    The son of a heavy hitter in a powerful Mexican drug trafficking organization has filed explosive legal pleadings in federal court in Chicago accusing the US government of cutting a deal with the the “Sinaloa Cartel” that gave its leadership “carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago and the rest of the United States.”
    The source of that allegation is Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, one of the purported top leaders of the Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization — a major Mexican-based importer of weapons and exporter of drugs.
    The top capo of the Sinaloa drug organization, named after the Pacific Coast Mexican state where it is based, is Joaquin Guzman Loera (El Chapo) — who escaped from a maximum security prison in Mexico in 2001, only days before he was slated to be extradited to the United States. Chapo has since gone on to build one of the most powerful drug “cartels” in Mexico. With the death of Osama Bin Laden in May, Chapo (a Spanish nickname meaning “shorty”) jumped to the top of the FBI’s “Most Wanted” persons list. He also made Forbes Magazine’s 2010 list of “The World’s Most Powerful People.”


    Drug War Zone : Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of el Paso and Juárez
    Campbell, Howard
    Pages: 337
    Publisher: University of Texas Press
    Location: Austin, TX, USA
    Date Published: 10/2009
    Language: en


     http://fromthewilderness.com/free/ciadrugs/W_plane.html

    (CBS News)
    WASHINGTON – Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief.
    He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico?
    “Yes ma’am,” Dodson told CBS News. “The agency was.”
    An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson’s job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen.
    Investigators call the tactic letting guns “walk.” In this case, walking into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the United States.

    [Blowback] 

    Stephen Downing, a retired deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, responds to The Times’ Oct. 5 Op-Ed article, “Prohibition’s real lessons for drug policy.” If you would like to respond to a recent Times article, editorial or Op-Ed in our Blowback forum, here are our FAQs and submission policy.

    Drug prohibitionists like former White House drug czar staffer Kevin A. Sabet seem to be in a panic over Ken Burns’ PBS documentary broadcast “Prohibition” because of its clear and convincing parallel to today’s equally disastrous war on drugs. The earlier experiment lasted less than 14 years, but today’s failed prohibition was declared by President Nixon 40 years ago and has cost our country more than $1 trillion  in cash and much more in immeasurable social harm. As a student of history and a retired deputy chief of police with the Los Angeles Police Department, I can attest that the damage that came from the prohibition of alcohol pales in comparison to the harm wrought by drug prohibition. In the last 40 years drug money has fueled the growth of violent street gangs in Los Angeles, from two (Bloods and Crips) with a membership of less than 50 people before the drug war to 20,000 gangs with a membership of about 1 million across the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Justice. These gangs serve as the distributors, collection agents and enforcers for the Mexican cartels that the Justice Department says occupy more than 1,000 U.S. cities.

    Sabet, a former advisor to the White House drug policy advisor, ignores these prohibition-created harms, making no mention of the nearly 50,000 people killed in Mexico over the last five years as cartels have battled it out to control drug routes, territories and enforce collections. When one cartel leader is arrested or killed, it makes no impact on the drug trade and only serves to create more violence, as lower-level traffickers fight for the newly open top spot. U.S. law enforcement officials report that as much as 70% of cartel profits come from marijuana alone.  There’s no question that ending today’s prohibition on drugs — starting with marijuana — would do more to hurt the cartels than any level of law enforcement skill or dedication ever can. Worse than being ineffective, though, the war on drugs creates dangerous distractions for police officers who would rather focus on improving public safety. For example, the LAPD announced this week that it will take 150 police officers off the streets to accommodate the state’s shuffling of prisoners to the county level. The state must do this to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s order to cut our drug-war-induced overcrowded prison population by 30,000 — and our state has already laid off thousands of teachers thanks in part to funding diverted to building more prisons and hiring more guards. This follows on the heels of another reallocation of police resources in Los Angeles when the LAPD and the L.A. Sheriff’s Department woke up to a three-year backlog of rape kits. Police labs have only a finite amount of resources, and drug testing often takes priority over other cases that demand attention. Detectives (and victims) waiting for lab results related to rape and other serious crimes stood in line for months while tests for custody-related possession of pot and other drugs took precedence. There’s no doubt that the violence, the growth of cartels and gangs, the overpopulation of our prisons and the squandering of our police resources would not occur if we eliminated illegal drug profits and implemented a non-criminal approach to regulating drugs. We did this once with alcohol, and there’s no reason we can’t do it with other drugs today. 
    — Stephen Downing http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2011/10/end-drug-prohibition-most-commented.html

    Prohibition is not the solution
    I am totally against the Drug Prohibition Regime and can’t wait to see it thrown away into the dustbin of history greatest inequities humankind has inflicted on itself. I would have thought that any rational, responsible and caring individual could see that drug abuse and its profoundly disruptive consequences calls for enlightened policies where education, health and regulation would play central roles; that it calls for policies where no room is left for the Victorian values Prohibitionists seem so keen on: abstinence or punishment.
    One can only assume that something deeply ideological, prejudicial or irrational prevents people from understanding that the problem is prohibition, and not the drugs themselves; that no matter what drug one is considering, prohibition is not the solution … far from it. If anything, what decades of pursuing and enforcing the prohibition regime and its dastardly offshoot, the so-called War on Drugs, have taught us is that it can only make things worse! […]
    –GartValenc
    The government’s hypocrisy 
    It is a stretch to assume that the social and health problems associated with alcohol abuse can in any way be compared to those caused by the use of cannabis.  Alcohol destroys the internal organs of abusers.  Marijuana has no known long-term effects.  Alcohol is highly addictive.  Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal.  Cannabis is less addictive than caffeine and withdrawal, at worst, amounts to a few restless nights and a few days of low appetite.  Alcohol is the fuel of all kinds of violence.  Marijuana users tend to be quiet and communal.
    What is amazing to me is that our government supports and collects taxes on the two deadliest drugs in our society, alcohol and tobacco, but wants to send people to jail for making the much more rational choice to use marijuana recreationally instead.
     herbalmagick
    What would Thomas Jefferson do?
    The cruelest irony of this issue is that many far right goons, the so called champions of getting the government out of our lives and expanding freedom, have always been the biggest advocates of this outdated, morally wrong,  government intrusion into our lives and denying us our “right to happiness”, which Thomas Jefferson, the hard drug alcohol drinker, so correctly protected us with.  George Washington gave his troops rum every day to keep them happy.
    shndlr
    My life, my decision
    The overriding question that the Mr Sabet clearly misses is this: Should the government be in the business of telling responsible adults what they can and cannot ingest? Many of us say “no” to that, while many folks who call themselves conservative and say they want less government in their lives nonetheless accept that nanny-state role. What I believe government should do is offer factual education regarding what drugs of all kinds can do to people, regulate the purity of drugs, continue to punish irresponsible behavior that endangers innocent people (such as driving under the influence, etc), and then trust the rest of us grown ups to enjoy life responsibly in whatever way we choose.
    –Username99
    Nothing will change
    This article is a laugher for many reasons:
    1. Part of the human condition is to seek mood-altering substances, aka get “buzzed.” Been going on for about 100,000 years or so, live with it.
    2. In spite of all the laws that prohibit it, Americans continue to pursue an artificial high, regardless of the consequences. Laws DO NOT have a deterrent effect on consumption.
    3. The cost of drug laws on society has been astounding.  We have incarcerated generations of minorities, forced the status of “convicted felon” on hundreds of thousands of people with the attendant impact on society – with no impact on drug consumption.
    4. The war on drugs has been an epic failure in every measurable category except one: a growth industry for the criminal justice system.
    5. The public is already saturated with the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol.  A change of legalization will not change consumption patterns that much.  Those inclined to use will continue to, those that do not want the risk will refuse.
    6. The odds of getting busted for drug possession, unless you are a minority in a gang neighborhood, is virtually non-existent.  Therefore, in practical terms, it’s already available on demand.
    7. The impact of alcohol and tobacco dwarfs the impact of drugs, legal or not.  We lose over 400,000 to nicotine addiction, and another 50,000 or so to booze EVERY YEAR.
    Secret: nothing will change.
    –zgonina1

    killing for peace is like fucking for virginity A group of masked men are threatening Mexico’s powerful (and notorious) Zetas drug cartel on the Internet. The Mexican site Blog del Narco posted this video of the group, that appears well-armed and says it’s committed to fighting against the Zetas cartel. Videos with a similar message and style have been posted earlier this year. While no group has formally taken credit for the videos, they are thought to be the work of the Sinaloa-based group called the “Mata Zetas,” or “Zeta Killers.” In their videos they call themselves “anonymous warriors” speaking for the people of Mexico. Authorities say they are investigating the video threats and the Mexican government has condemned vigilante justice. The Mata Zetas claim to adhere to a moral code that prevents them from engaging in kidnappings or extortion—tactics often used by drug cartels, particularly the Zetas. While the Mata Zetas claim to respect law enforcement, they admit they are working beyond the reach of the law to eliminate organised crime. “Armed forces should be aware that our only objective is to get rid of the Zeta cartel,” they said in one recent video. Despite such overtures, Mexican authorities are speculating the group may be responsible for dumping 35 bodies in the middle of rush-hour traffic in Veracruz last week. The murders, which appear to have involved torture, were initially blamed on the Zetas cartel until authorities identified the victims, including 12 women and two minors, as Zetas-affiliated. The bodies were dumped near a building where some of Mexico’s top prosecutors were convening, and the gesture was apparently intended to goad lawyers into pursuing cases more aggressively against drug cartels and narco leaders. The Mata Zetas then issued a sort of apology for their tactics, saying “[i]f society, Mexican populace, and federal authorities feel offended by what we’ve done, on behalf of the group, we apologize. Our intention was to let Veracruz know that this social scourge is not invincible.” Mexico’s drug trade currently represents a multi-billion dollar industry (some estimates claim the total economy of the illicit drug trade in Mexico alone is approaching $50 billion annually), and the reach of drug gangs has been rapidly expanding in recent years, according to U.S. Department of Justice reports.

    http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/mexican-group-takes-drug-cartels

    (CBS News)
    WASHINGTON – Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief.
    He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico?
    “Yes ma’am,” Dodson told CBS News. “The agency was.”
    An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson’s job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen.
    Investigators call the tactic letting guns “walk.” In this case, walking into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the United States.

      legal pleadings in federal court in Chicago accusing the US government of cutting a deal with the the “Sinaloa Cartel” that gave its leadership “carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago and the rest of the United States.” The source of that allegation is Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, one of the purported top leaders of the Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization.  Joaquin Guzman Loera (El Chapo) — who escaped from a maximum security prison in Mexico in 2001, only days before he was slated to be extradited to the United States.  With the death of Osama Bin Laden in May, Chapo  jumped to the top of the FBI’s “Most Wanted” persons list. Zambada Niebla, himself a key player in the Sinaloa organization, was arrested in Mexico City in March 2009 and in February 2010 extradited to the United States to stand trial on narco-trafficking-related charges. The indictment pending against Zambada Niebla claims he served as the “logistical coordinator” for the “cartel,” helping to oversee an operation that imported into the US “multi-ton quantities of cocaine … using various means, including but not limited to, Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, private aircraft … buses, rail cars, tractor-trailers, and automobiles.” Zambada Niebla also claims to be an asset of the US government. His allegation was laid out originally in a two-page court pleading filed in late March with the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. The latest allegations being advanced by Zambada Niebla, who is now being held in solitary confinement in a jail cell in Chicago, are laid out in motions filed late this week in federal court. Those pleadings spell out the supposed cooperative relationship between the US Department of Justice and its various agencies, including DEA and the FBI, and the leaders of the “Sinaloa Cartel” — including Zambada Niebla. That alleged relationship was cultivated through a Mexican attorney, Humberto Loya Castro, whom Zambada Niebla claims is a Sinaloa Cartel member and “a close confidante of Joaquin Guzman Loera (Chapo).” From Zambada Niebla’s court pleadings, filed on July 29: [Humberto] Loya was indicted along with Chapo and Mayo [Zambada Niebla’s father] in 1995 in the Southern District of California and charged with participation in a massive narcotics trafficking conspiracy (Case No. 95CR0973). That case was dismissed on the prosecution’s own motion in 2008 after Loya became an informant for the United States government and had provided information for a period of over ten years. Sometime prior to 2004 [when George W. Bush was president], and continuing through the time period covered in the indictment, the United States government entered into an agreement with Loya and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, including Mayo and Chapo. Under that agreement, the Sinaloa Cartel, through Loya, was to provide information accumulated by Mayo, Chapo, and others, against rival Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations to the United States government. In return, the United States government agreed to dismiss the prosecution of the pending case against Loya, not to interfere with his drug trafficking activities and those of the Sinaloa Cartel, to not actively prosecute him, Chapo, Mayo, and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, and to not apprehend them. The protection extended to the Sinaloa leadership, according to the court filings, included being “informed by agents of the DEA through Loya that United States government agents and/or Mexican authorities were conducting investigations near the home territories of cartel leaders so that the cartel leaders could take appropriate actions to evade investigators.” In addition, the pleadings allege, the US government agreed not to “share any of the information they had about the Sinaloa Cartel and/or the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel with the Mexican government in order to better assure that they would not be apprehended and so that their operations would not be interfered with.” More from the July 29 pleadings: Zambada Niebla was a party to the agreement between the United States government and the Sinaloa Cartel and provided information to the United States government through Loya pursuant to the agreement. … Loya arranged for Mr. Zambada Niebla to meet with United States government agents at the Sheraton Hotel in Mexico City in March [17th] of 2009 [after the Obama administration took power] for the purpose of introducing Mr. Zambada Niebla to the agents and for the purpose of his continuing to provide information to the DEA and the United States government personally, rather than through Loya. Loya’s federal case had been dismissed in 2008 [while Bush was still in the White House] and the DEA representative told Mr. Loya-Castro that they wanted to establish a more personal relationship with Mr. Zambada Niebla so that they could deal with him directly under the agreement. Mr. Zambada Niebla believed that under the prior agreement, any activities of the Sinaloa Cartel, including the kind described in the indictment, were covered by the agreement, and that he was immune from arrest or prosecution. Zambada Niebla claims, in the court pleadings, that he attended the meeting in March 2009 at the hotel in Mexico City as scheduled, with Loya present, and while there, even though he was then under indictment in the US, was told by US federal agents that he would not be arrested and that arrangements had been made “at the highest levels of the United States government” to assure his immunity from prosecution in exchange for his cooperation in providing information on rival narco-trafficking groups. However, Zambada Niebla contends he was double-crossed, despite the assurance of the US agents. He alleges in his pleadings that government agents “were satisfied with the information he had provided to them” at the meeting at the Sheraton Hotel on March 17, 2009, and that “arrangements would be made to meet with him again.” “Mr. Zambada Niebla then left the meeting,” the court pleadings assert. “Approximately five hours after the [hotel] meeting, Mr. Zambada-Niebla was arrested by Mexican authorities.”
    Fast, Furious and the House of Death
    Zambada Niebla’s pleadings also reference the controversial U.S Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) weapons-trafficking interdiction program Fast and Furious — an operation, now the subject of Congressional hearings, that allegedly allowed some 2,000 guns to be smuggled across the US/Mexican border under ATF’s watch. Zambada Niebla contends that Fast and Furious is yet another example of the US government’s complicity in the carnage of the drug war. From Zambada Niebla’s pleadings: The United States government considered the arrangements with the Sinaloa Cartel an acceptable price to pay, because the principal objective was the destruction and dismantling of rival cartels by using the assistance of the Sinaloa Cartel — without regard for the fact that tons of illicit drugs continued to be smuggled into Chicago and other parts of the United States and consumption continued virtually unabated. Essentially, the theory of the United States government in waging its “war on drugs” has been and continues to be that the “end justifies the means” and that it is more important to receive information about rival drug cartels’ activities from the Sinaloa Cartel in return for being allowed to continue their criminal activities, including and not limited to their smuggling of tons of illegal narcotics into the United States. This is confirmed by recent disclosures by the Congressional Committee’s investigation of the latest Department of Justice, DEA, FBI, and ATF’s “war on drugs” operation known as “Fast & Furious.” As a result of Operation Fast and Furious, the pleadings assert, about “three thousand people” in Mexico were killed, “including law enforcement officers in the sate of Sinaloa, Mexico, headquarters of the Sinaloa Cartel.” Among those receiving weapons through the ATF operation, the pleadings continue, were DEA and FBI informants working for drug organizations, including the leadership of those groups. “The evidence seems to indicate that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons, but that tax payers’ dollars in the form of informant payments, may have financed those engaging in such activities,” the pleadings allege. “… It is clear that some of the weapons were deliberately allowed by the FBI and other government representatives to end up in the hands of the Sinaloa Cartel and that among the people killed by those weapons were law enforcement officers. “… Mr. Zambada Niebla believes that the documentation that he requests [from the US government] will confirm that the weapons received by Sinaloa Cartel members and its leaders in Operation ‘Fast & Furious’ were provided under the agreement entered into between the United States government and [Chapo Guzman confidante] Mr. Loya Castro on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel that is the subject of his [Zambada Niebla’s] defense [regarding] public authority.” The Zambada Niebla pleadings even reference the infamous House of Death case, so named by Narco News, which has published an exhaustive series of investigative stories on the mass-murder case dating back to 2004. From the pleadings: Mr. Zambada Niebla also requests … that the United States government produce material relating to the … “House of Death” murders, which took place in Juarez, Mexico, and were committed by United States government informants. As confirmed in the Joint Assessment Report [JAT] prepared by government authorities investigating those murders, agents of the United States government had prior knowledge that murders were going to be committed by their informants but did not take any measures to either inform the Mexican government or the intended victims, because government representatives determined it was moreimportant to protect the identity of their informants. The informants were assisting the United States government in the investigations of major drug traffickers and the government determined that the killings of over a hundred Mexican citizens was an acceptable price to pay for enabling them to continue their narcotics investigations. The Great Pretense Unmasked In its response to Zambada Niebla’s claim that he was working under “public authority” as an informant or confidential source, US federal prosecutors don’t claim outright that he was not a US government asset. They argue, instead, only that “the government denies that defendant [Zambada Niebla] exercised public authority when he committed the serious crimes charged in the indictment.” In other words, even if Zambada Niebla was offered some type of deal in exchange for his cooperation, that deal did not extend to the specific acts he is accused of in the indictment against him. Federal prosecutors also ask that the court order Zambada Niebla to produce, prior to trial, “evidence that a specific American official or officials with actual or apparent authority expressly authorized [him] to import multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin into the United States, as charged in the indictment, or expressly assured [him] that these acts were not criminal, and that [he] reasonably relied on these communications.” Narco News spoke with several former DEA and FBI agents about Zambada Niebla’s contention that he worked, in essence, as an informant for the US government. Not one of those former agents, who asked that their names not be revealed, considered it out of the realm of possibility that Zambada Niebla might have cut a deal with the US government. In fact, one former DEA agent said that by making such a claim, Zambada Niebla was essentially putting his life in jeopardy by outing himself as an informant, an extreme move that would seem to indicate that at least he believes he had a deal in place. But, in the end, all of the former federal agents agree that unless Zambada Niebla has proof of his allegations that passes legal muster, he has little chance of prevailing — and at least one of those former agents said prosecutors would not likely have challenged him to produce such proof if they did not have a high degree of confidence that it does not exist. A former FBI agent explained it this way: The U. S. Attorney General Guidelines for Informants requires that there be a written document called an “otherwise criminal activities memo” signed by both parties. This document spells out exactly what the informant is authorized to do and tells him that he may be prosecuted for any other illegal activities. This should be provided to the defense in discovery; however, it does not always happen. Some attorneys are not aware of this and do not ask for it in discovery and the government does not willingly give it up. I suspect that the government did not provide this document to the defense and that is why they are demanding that he provide proof of his status. … It would be very easy to prove what he was authorized to do by having the memo. [So] this may be a case of where the memo was never done…. The former DEA agent, who has extensive overseas experience, added: My instincts say he was an informant. It’s [Zambada Niebla’s pleadings are] an effort to “scare” or “frighten” the government to dismiss or reduce charges. Posturing, as it were. But there is a substantial risk for him. It’s pretty much a last ditch effort. Were it otherwise, the defendant would not want to be exposed as having cooperated with the government agents. However, he will have an enormous challenge proving his allegations. … An agent [or US government agency would approve such a cooperative relationship with a narco-trafficker] … so the agent can snag a higher-level trafficker and garner the resulting awards, commendations and promotions. Sometimes, there is outright bribery or gifts of value. It’s a win for the criminal informant because he may earn more money from trafficking and at the same time receive cash payments from the government for arrests he orchestrates. And that isn’t all: the informant’s own fear of arrest is reduced and he has a unique opportunity to effectively destroy his unwanted competition or archenemies. And yet another DEA agent points out that “there is such an animal called an Attorney General-exempt operation, where the Attorney General of the United States [in the Zambada Niebla case, which allegedly dates back to at least 2004, it would have been the Bush administration’s Attorney General] could authorize that laws be violated [by an informant to advance a case].” “This is usually done in money laundering investigations, however,” the DEA source said. The other possibility, the former DEA agent adds, is that Zambada Niebla was tricked on an even deeper level, and was, in fact, not dealing with US law enforcement agencies, but rather a CIA intelligence operation. “This would not be the first time CIA has used an informant and led them to believe it was an FBI, ICE or DEA operation,” the DEA source said. If that is the case, the former DEA agent adds, Zambada Niebla’s case is sunk, since even if documents and other evidence exist to prove his allegations of US government complicity, that evidence would almost certainly be deep-sixed under claims of national security that would be invoked by that very same US government.

    war against drugs in Central America

    The Mexican Army crackdown has driven some cartels to seek a safer location for their operations across the border in Guatemala, attracted by corruption, weak policing and its position on the overland smuggling route.[208][209] The smugglers …

    The Mexican Army crackdown has driven some cartels to seek a safer location for their operations across the border in Guatemala, attracted by corruption, weak policing and its position on the overland smuggling route.[208][209] The smugglers pick up drugs from small planes that land at private airstrips hidden in the Guatemalan jungle. The cargo is then moved up through Mexico to the U.S. border. Guatemala has also arrested dozens of drug suspects and torched huge cannabis and poppy fields, but is struggling. The U.S. government has sent speedboats and night-vision goggles under a regional drug aid package, but much more is needed. In February 2009, Los Zetas threatened to kill the President of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom.[210] On March 1, 2010, 
    Guatemala’s chief of national police and the country’s top anti-drugs official have been arrested over alleged links to drug trafficking.[209] A report from the Brookings Institution[211] warns that, without proactive, timely efforts, the violence will spread throughout the Central American region.[212]
    According to the United States government, Los Zetas control 75% of Guatemala through violence, political corruption and infiltration in the country’s institutions.[213] Sources mentioned that Los Zetas gained ground in Guatemala after they killed several high-profile members and the supreme leader of Los Leones, an organized crime group from Guatemala.


    According to recent reports, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) participated in a drug raid with Honduran police that left at least four civilians dead.  Honduran news sources report that two of those killed were pregnant women. The U.S. has yet to issue a statement regarding this atrocity.

    Please click here to join us in demanding a prompt response, including an investigation and prosecution of those responsible for these murders.

    The U.S. has steadily increased its focus on Honduras in the “war against drugs.” As we have seen in Mexico and Colombia, civilians too often get caught in the crossfire. Leading Honduran human rights organization COFADEH states:  “From the perspective of human rights organizations, this reality is unacceptable and reprehensible.”

    The U.S. DEA regularly sends special units abroad in the “war against drugs.” According to reports, on May 11th U.S. DEA agents were accompanying Honduran police in an attempt to capture drug traffickers along the Patuca River in La Moskitia.

    During the raid, a helicopter carrying U.S. and Honduran agents opened fire on a boat of civilians, killing Emerson Martínez, Chalo Brock Wood, Candelaria Tratt Nelson, Juana Banegas and the women’s unborn children.

    Thank you for taking your time to raise attention to this important issue.

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