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The Empire and the Fleet

by PATRICK IRELAN

The empire is sailing south to inspect the colonies. No one in the north knows what may have happened down there. Agents from the empire have not reported on their efforts to remove Santa Cruz from Bolivia and Zulia from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The U.S. Fourth Fleet will soon be lifted from the waters of Manila Bay and towed to Newport News. The fleet will then head south, leaving the stench of dollars wherever it goes.

The children of the Andes, none older than seven, will run down the mountains and throw thousands of magic laptops into the Gulf of Mexico, where the Gulf Stream will carry them north to meet the Yankee fleet. Interpol will count and validate the computers.

Colombian soldiers have again lost the maps showing the location of their country’s borders. First they stumbled into Ecuador, now into Venezuela. Little children, none older than seven, ran away from the soldiers.

The Fourth Fleet will pick up President Uribe and the other members of his family at the prison door. All must return by sundown. No little children will go near them.

The crew of one of the empire’s airplanes lost its maps and found itself in Venezuelan airspace above the waters of the Caribbean. The plane was on a “counter-narcotics mission,” an unnamed U.S. “defense official” told the AP on condition of, etc. They found no narcotics floating in the waters of the Caribbean.

The people at the New York Times are getting hysterical again. The headline writer says, “Venezuelan Leader Seizes Greater Economic Power.”

Simon Romero writes about “new accusations that Mr. Chávez is more interested in consolidating power than in fixing Venezuela’s problems.”

I call Simon and talk to him on condition of anonymity. “The cement companies don’t make enough cement to build houses for the poor people,” I say. “The sugar plantations hardly use half their land, and the peasants have no land at all. And the dairy companies produce too much yogurt and not enough milk for the children.”

Simon means well, but he’s young. He pays no attention to me.

What will the Fourth Fleet do after they pull it all the way from the Philippines to Newport News? What weapons of mass destruction will it carry when it sails south?

Will the fleet aim its missiles at the barrios as the empire did in Panama? Will the bombs land in Caracas as they did in Falluja? Is the new Pinochet waiting to bring hunger and death to the children of Venezuela?

PATRICK IRELAN is a retired high-school teacher. He is the author of A Firefly in the Night (Ice Cube Press) and Central Standard: A Time, a Place, a Family (University of Iowa Press). You can contact him at pwirelan43@yahoo.com.

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