martes, julio 20, 2021

Caracol Vs Liebre

Recientemente la lucha por conquistar el mercado de los vuelos turísticos al espacio ha producido nuevas tecnologías en un campo en donde los diseños se habían mantenido sin mayor alteración aparente. Por eso el título de esta nota, que conlleva una pregunta implícita ¿Quién es más rápido el caracol o la liebre? La respuesta no se hace esperar, por supuesto que la liebre (sinónimo para el sector privado) es mucho más rápida que el caracol (sinónimo para el sector público). En efecto, esta competencia entre empresarios privados para ser los primeros en viajar al espacio ha producido en pocos años un gran avance en el campo de los viajes espaciales, algo que avanzó lentamente por varias décadas cuando los esfuerzos estaban concentrados en agencias espaciales controladas por los gobiernos de sus países.


Los esfuerzos para viajar al espacio fueron en sus orígenes un duelo entre países con ideologías opuestas: la Unión Soviética y Estados Unidos, el progreso socialista de los mercados dirigidos vs. el progreso capitalista de libre mercado. De tal manera hoy en día el esfuerzo del gobierno americano está centrado en la NASA su agencia espacial, mientras que el esfuerzo ruso está concentrado en su agencia espacial conocida como Roscosmos. De tal modo, mientras la competencia era entre las agencias espaciales públicas de Estados Unidos y de la Unión Soviética, las tecnologías espaciales básicamente se mantuvieron estáticas por varias décadas, las cuales consistían de una nave espacial impulsada por varios cohetes que luego caían a la tierra cuando alcanzaban sus metas de altura o cuando se les agotaba el combustible.

Lo interesante se ha venido produciendo hace algunos años atrás, periodo en que varias empresas han venido desarrollando proyectos para volar al espacio con fines comerciales en especial de turismo espacial. Esto ha permitido desarrollar diferentes tecnologías de naves espaciales con un mínimo de desperdicio, donde la mayoría de los componentes pueden volverse a usar. A este impulso privado alguien lo calificó como el duelo entre millonarios por controlar el billonario mercado de los viajes turísticos espaciales.

En primer lugar, destaca el millonario británico Richard Branson propietario del grupo Virgin, quien realizó su sueño de volar al espacio el 11 de julio de 2021 en su nave Virgin Galactic usando una tecnología basada en diseños aeronáuticos donde la nave regresa a aterrizar en la tierra como un avión. En segundo lugar, está el americano Jeff Bezos, fundador de Amazon, que voló al espacio el 20 de julio de 2021 en su nave Blue Origin compuesta de una cápsula espacial impulsada en su primera etapa por un cohete que una vez cumplido con su meta de altura regresa para posarse suavemente en la tierra, permitiendo su reutilización. Una vez que la cápsula espacial regresa a la tierra aterriza suavemente mediante inmensos paracaídas y cohetes retro propulsores. Este vuelo no llevó pilotos sino todo estuvo basado en sistemas automatizados de cómputo.

Aquí está lo interesante, mientras los esfuerzos estuvieron dirigidos por funcionarios públicos y entidades públicas el desarrollo fue lento y gradual. Sin embargo, apenas el sector privado se metió a este campo se produjeron grandes saltos en relativamente corto tiempo no solamente en cuanto a tecnologías, sistemas, y diseños, sino que se redujeron considerablemente los costos de los vuelos. Esto viene a comprobar una vez más que los esfuerzos privados siempre son más eficientes que los públicos.

Ojalá que muchos gobiernos y funcionarios públicos pudieran aprender de esta lección: nunca el cambio tecnológico público ha sido ni será superior al progreso tecnológico privado. En efecto, la historia económica está llena de ejemplos de que las empresas públicas son menos eficientes que las privadas, que los burócratas convertidos en empresarios destruyen más que crean bienestar.

Ojalá que nuestro gobierno actual de la 4T pudiera repensar su enfoque de apoyo a los esfuerzos públicos en la economía y la tecnología. No es eficiente desarrollar proyectos con dineros públicos que puede desarrollar el sector privado. Basta citar algunos ejemplos, tales como construir un aeropuerto sin tomar en cuenta las opiniones de las compañías privadas de aviación y las empresas internacionales especializadas. Desarrollar un tren turístico sin considerar la opinión de las empresas privadas de turismo y los especialistas en el ramo. Crear una empresa estatal dependiente de Pemex para la distribución del gas LP, con el fin de aumentar la competencia y reducir el aumento de los precios del energético. Para empezar, en opinión de varios expertos, el aeropuerto está mal localizado, su construcción va resultar muy cara y su operación va a ser insegura. El tren turístico a su vez va a tener dificultades para cubrir sus costos y alcanzar beneficios económicos. La competencia entre entes privados y públicos nunca es pareja ni justa. La historia nos dice que las empresas públicas en los mercados de competencia desplazan a las privadas por tener subsidios abiertos o disfrazados.

Este enfoque equivocado del gobierno de la 4T en la economía y tecnología se puede resumir en las declaraciones de la directora del Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, CONACYT, María Elena Álvarez-Buyla quien se ha empeñado en “nacionalizar” a la ciencia, como si la ciencia pudiera tener una nacionalidad u otra. La directora quiere alejarse de la ciencia neoliberal y occidental, en favor de una ciencia dedicada al pueblo y al nacionalismo. Esto cuesta trabajo entender, pues el método científico por naturaleza tiene que ser objetivo y si no lo es pues simplemente no es ciencia sino ideología o demagogia. Los científicos son eso, científicos, no necesariamente tienen que ser fifís neoliberales ni los consentidos de sistemas corruptos. No todo el conocimiento que proviene de afuera es malo por ser extranjero, sino que tan solamente es conocimiento. Es infantil pensar que México no necesita del exterior, que solamente la ciencia desarrollada por mexicanos es la buena. La ciencia por naturaleza es un esfuerzo colaborativo, es un esfuerzo que avanza en conjunto y que jamás florece en aislamiento. El resultado final de la suma de los esfuerzos de científicos de diferentes nacionalidades es el de mejorar el bienestar para toda la sociedad independientemente del país.

Este rechazo al conocimiento científico es producto de la ignorancia y de nociones frívolas de patriotismo y nacionalismo. La directora, haciendo gala de ignorancia y estupidez, afirmó que la ida a la luna fue un esfuerzo inútil. La pregunta obligada, es ¿Cómo una directora encargada de promover el desarrollo científico y tecnológico de un país puede hacerse semejante aseveración? Las tecnologías y sistemas que se desarrollaron tales como los circuitos integrados permitieron el desarrollo de los celulares que la propia directora del Conacyt y el presidente de México utilizan regularmente para comunicarse entre ellos. Aparte, ese viaje inútil permitió el desarrollo de los sistemas de monitoreo biométrico sobre la salud de las personas.

Mientras la directora hace declaraciones manifestando su gran oscurantismo, está despidiendo a los verdaderos investigadores, recortando apoyos a los proyectos científicos y limitando las innovaciones. Los encargados en el gobierno de la 4T de la promoción a la investigación y el desarrollo científico y tecnológico están condenando a México vivir en el pasado y a los mexicanos tener poca imaginación.

A pesar que la historia económica ha comprobado sin lugar a duda que los empresarios privados son vastamente superiores a los públicos, y que la simple observación concluye que la liebre corre más rápido que el caracol, nuestro gobierno liderado por AMLO se empeña en lo contrario, seguramente porque tiene otros datos.

sábado, febrero 06, 2021

Reseña: La sombra del soldado por Sadio Garabini en América Nuestra

Esta novela basada en la conquista napoleónica de Egipto, los intentos de controlar el medio oriente, derrotar a la puerta otomana y bloquear a los británicos el paso a la India, se desarrolla a través de los ojos de un joven dragón de la caballería gala, Marius Poucel. 


La novela es de acción y aventuras en un contexto histórico de epopeya y de sueños de conquista. Hagan de cuenta que están leyendo una novela del capitán Alatriste, del ilustre escritor español Pérez Reverte, pero con las vivencias napoleónicas del misterioso Egipto, los peligrosos territorios sirios, persas y afganos, llegando hasta la exótica India. 

El destino africano mistificado por las leyendas orales, Marius viendo las aguas del Mediterráneo, y un viaje donde al fin podrá colmar sus ansias de aventura y su vida de épica. 

“La sombra del soldado”, del autor mexicano Luis Gutiérrez Santos-Poucel, es un fresco de los andares del mito napoleónico por África, Medio Oriente y la India, adentrado en las entrañas de la valentía de un joven soldado. El vértigo de las epopeyas y acciones es acompañado por las ilustraciones del artista gráfico Lex Revolter en un estilo encriptado entre las propias sombras y sentimientos de los personajes. 

Bajo la ultrajante grandeza de las Pirámides de Egipto y los exóticos misterios de la India, Luis Gutiérrez Poucel nos ofrece un relato apasionado acerca de la gloria humana que se mezcla entre la ficción la historia y los sueños de un joven aventurero. 

En América 2.1 nos complace reseñar y recomendar esta grata novela histórica. 

La obra se consigue en Amazon.

jueves, diciembre 17, 2020

La sombra del soldado, CdMx 9/12/2020 Ed. Gato Blanco

Les comunico con inmensa alegría que el 9 de diciembre fue el lanzamiento oficial en Amazon de mi novela de ficción histórica "La sombra del soldado". Una novela de la ambiciosa campaña napoleónica en Egipto, Medio Oriente y la India. Una proeza de imaginación y aventura. Si te gusta el estilo de las novelas del Capitán Alatriste, de Pérez Reverte, te garantizo que esta novela te va a fascinar.
1798, la Campaña Napoleónica en Egipto ha dado inicio. A bordo de uno de los navíos de la poderosa flota francesa, se encuentra Marius Poucel, un joven dragón rebosante de sueños de grandeza, proezas militares y de un poderoso linaje de guerreros y navegantes a sus espaldas. 

La narrativa tiene como escenarios históricos la increíble y epopéyica invasión napoleónica de Egipto y los enfrentamientos del ejército galo contra los mamelucos que dominaban a Egipto desde hacía varios siglos, así como la extraordinaria expedición de un grupo de cazadores de la caballería francesa que sale de Egipto cruzando los peligrosos e inestables territorios del medio oriente, de los persas y afganos hasta llegar a la India para asistir al sultán Tipu del reino de Mysore en su enfrentamiento contra las tropas británicas de la Compañía Británica de las Indias Orientales. 

El destino africano, mistificado por las leyendas orales, parece en el horizonte de las aguas del Mediterráneo que Marius tiene por delante, un objetivo que por fin podrá colmar sus ansias de aventuras y su vida de épica. 

Mucho más que una historia de acción, La sombra del soldado es un fresco de los andares del mito napoleónico por África, Medio Oriente y la India, adentrado en las entrañas de la valentía de un joven soldado. El vértigo de las epopeyas y acciones es acompañado por las ilustraciones de Lex Revolter, en un estilo encriptado entre las propias sombras y sentimientos de los personajes. 


Bajo la ultrajante grandeza de las Pirámides de Egipto y los exóticos misterios de la India, Luis Gutiérrez Poucel nos brinda un relato apasionado acerca de la gloria humana que se mezcla entre la ficción, la historia y los sueños de un joven aventurero. 

Ojala que ustedes amigos y colegas tengan la oportunidad de leerla y disfrutarla tanto como yo. ¡Pidan su ejemplar (de verdad es una edición de lujo) en Amazon: La sombra del soldado.

lunes, septiembre 21, 2020

The Shadow of the Soldier: The Sweetness of Revenge


By Luis Gutierrez Poucel and Marie-Louise Oosthuysen

It was a dismal night in October 1798. A thin, but persistent rain fell over Cairo. It was four o’clock ante meridiem, but Lieutenant Marius Poucel just could not sleep, despite feeling deeply tired. What the tajir (Egyptian merchant) of the rug store told him that previous afternoon, kept milling around in his mind. With a sigh, Marius abandoned all attempts at rest, lit the oil lamp next to his bed, and carried it over to the table where the detailed map of the Nile and part of the Red Sea lay stretched out. The tajir sold him the map together with some intelligence on the British army that Marius could not ignore.


Marius studied the map. On the western bank of the majestic Nile, the village of Quena was marked. Quena was located about 56 leagues as the crow flies from Cairo, in the direction of the Upper Nile. Opposite Quena, to the east and through the desert, Safaga kissed the Red Sea like a timid lover. According to the tajir, very close to Safaga, the British army hid warehouses filled with a multitude of Indian goods and various supplies. A regiment of about 100 soldiers guarded the compound under the command of a few officers and a soulless general of sinister fame.

“You French are not aware of the British presence,” Marius recalled the words of the tajir. Marius knew that Safaga was part of the Silk Road, which meant that this had to be a secret commercial and supply base. These warehouses had to belong to the East India Trading Company and were protected by a military fort.

Marius remembered the words of the tajir. “The English have been using this fort for more than a century. They keep invaluable merchandise, which is released little by little to regulate the price of various goods in Europe, always favoring the Company’s interests!”

A few weeks prior, a squadron of the British fleet landed outside Alexandria. They stealthily wounded and killed dozens of French soldiers, leaving a banner that said: “Le petit toad and French frogs out of the Levant!” Well, when Napoleon Bonaparte, “le petit caporal” as he was affectionately known to his men, heard of this, he threw a tantrum that rivaled that of a toddler. Napoleon suspected Nelson’s hand behind all this, and his eyes flashed with uncontrollable anger. Marius, ever the pragmatist, realized that the English were long gone and that anger would do little to remedy the situation.

Marius now realized that the English were not as long gone as he and his superiors had thought. The threat was real, not just an attempt at mockery. The Company’s red coats were hiding in plain sight! Using the channel of the Nile to approach the English base in Safaga, a surprise attack could be planned using his unit, the Exterminating Angels. The Exterminating Angels was the nickname given by the French soldiers to a stealth unit led by Marius to protect the column on the march from Alexandria to Cairo from attacks by the Mamluk gangs and Bedouin marauders.

Those thoughts, driven by the irresistible wind of his youth and love for adventure, rampaged through Marius’ mind when he noticed the breaking dawn. At six o’clock Marius collected his Arab mount and rushed off to the quarters of the Corsican. The white clouds sailed across the sky as swiftly as his mount carried him along the road. Once he reached his destination, he requested an audience with Napoleon through General Alexandre Dumas, the towering ebony aide to Bonaparte.


“This better be important Poucel, because our boss is in a hell of a mood,” grunted Dumas. “It may be worth your while to return later once his bile has subsided.”

“Is that one of my Exterminating Angels?” the Corsican yelled from within his quarters.

“Well then, he knows you’re here. Let me accompany you as he will surely want a second opinion regarding your information.” General Dumas walked through to the inner sanctum followed closely by Marius.

Napoleon, surrounded by several members of his staff, waved them over. “You have five minutes exactly Lieutenant, not a minute more!” Adding, “A position can be lost and then regained, but a minute lost is never regained!” He turned to general Dumas smiling mockingly. “This better be good. You know how I hate to be distracted by young men in search of fleeting glory.”

Marius nervously approached the table and spread out the map depicting Cairo, the Nile, the Red Sea, and the villages of Quena and Safaga. “I believe the English have a base in Safaga my General. I have a plan to attack them and avenge their treacherous attack on us in Alexandria.”

“Lieutenant Poucel, has the heat of the desert already cooked your tender brain?” the Corsican mocked.

Undeterred, Marius continued. “In Safaga, next to the Red Sea, there is a garrison of a hundred or so English troops who protect several warehouses filled with merchandise and supplies that come from the East.” He stopped to look at several of the officers in the eyes. “I estimate that we are talking about tons of silk and spices, a booty valued at about two million British pounds.”

Napoleon’s intense gaze followed him and the orbits of Dumas’ eyes widened. The room was palpably silent, as all eyes were fixed on Marius. Seconds of heavy silence dragged on feeling like hours.

“Why is this the first time that I hear about this English treasure?” asked the Corsican to the room, looking at each of his advisors individually. No one looked him in the eye except Marius. “Where did you get this information, Lieutenant?”


“The tajir of a rug shop in the bazaar. I saved his life from armed robbers a week ago,” answered Marius. “He has contacts all over the place and has known about these warehouses for several years. I suspect that he has sold many goods that were stolen from those warehouses in the past.”

“Mmm, an honest thief then, who owes you his life,” the Corsican remarked sarcastically.

“I do believe him, sir, for he hates the English with a passion,” Marius added.

“And I assume that he will want to share in the spoils of war once we have secured these warehouses,” Napoleon surmised.

“He is a businessman, after all, mon général,” answered Marius.

“Dumas, gather my informants and bring them to me immediately,” ordered Bonaparte. “We have to verify this information and start strategizing.”

Marius rolled up his map, saluted, and backed towards the exit. “Lieutenant Poucel, get some food and sleep. You look terrible, man!” Bonaparte admonished him.

Marius mounted his steed and rode back to his tent feeling lighter and almost giddy in anticipation of the impending mission. When he reached his tent, Zahir was waiting for him with his breakfast.


Zahir was a Mamluk warrior who was taken prisoner by Marius at the Battle of the Pyramids. Marius was impressed by his bravery, fighting skills, and aptitude for languages. However, according to Mamluk tradition, Zahir was forced to become the “slave” to the savior of his life. Little by little and then in giant leaps, he was conquered by the valor, skill, and honesty of Marius, and his friends Douglas, Jean Jacques, and Bastién of the Exterminating Angels. Douglas Tracht was an American journalist for the Kentuckee Gazette who joined Napoleon Bonaparte’s excursion to Egypt. Douglas was not only a writer but an adventurer and an expert with the American long rifle. Jean Jacques Dubois and Bastién Jugan de Saint-Malo were the childhood friends of Marius and together they fought the bullies on the streets of Marseilles. They all joined the French army together, seduced by the romanticism of fighting for France and the new republic amidst the cries of “liberté, égalité, fraternité”.

Marius cleaned his uniform, bathed, got dressed, and when he left his quarters Jean Jacques, Douglas, Bastién, and Zahir were waiting for him. Together they walked to the headquarters. They took a shortcut through a narrow ally and as they turned a corner, Lieutenant Renaud came towards them on his big black stallion. Renaud hated Marius and his friends for the special attention they received from Bonaparte and their rapid rise through the ranks when the Exterminating Angels unit was formed. Without warning, Renaud jerked the horse’s head towards them to trample them. They scrambled out of the way, missing the animal’s hooves by a hair’s breadth. Renaud’s shrill laugh and the horse’s clobbering hooves echoed down the alley.

“Bloody fool,” Douglas sucked under his breath.

“Not so much a fool as an arrogant arse,” Marius added. They all laughed nervously to release the tension and dusted off their uniforms.

The moment the four friends entered the great hall in the headquarters building, le petit caporal announced, “Lieutenant Poucel is planning an operation that will honor France and humiliate Albion! This is an important operation that will have to be executed with the utmost secrecy. He and his squad of hunters will leave for Jerusalem in a few short weeks.”

This speech was actually part of a great ruse conceived to deceive the British, or rather their spies.


“May I present Captain Popescu, a Greek gentleman who will serve as guide and transport in this operation.” Napoleon pointed to an olive-skinned man sitting in an armchair. Popescu bowed his head in recognition of the officers around him. His eyes rested on Marius for what seemed a long time.

Bonaparte had spoken privately to Popescu regarding Marius. “My friend, you and I have a long history which spans many years. I need you to help me hone the talents of this young lieutenant because I have big plans for him. Teach him to negotiate. He already has good instincts, self-discipline, fighting, and planning abilities which just need refining. He’s a good and fair leader and his men will follow him off a cliff. Teach him all you know! Lieutenant Poucel will bring me … the Republic … much glory!”

Later that night a small committee met in a backroom at the headquarters. Present were the Corsican, Dumas, five generals, thirteen officers of the general staff, Popescu, and Marius with his trusted cadre. Captain Popescu wore one of his war uniforms, with wide green trousers, red thigh-high leather boots, and a magnificent purple velvet coat. In his shoulder bag, he carried a long-barreled Indian carbine, at the waist a heavy scimitar with a solid gold hilt, and crossed in a sash, a krizz, a wavy, poisoned dagger, the favorite weapon of the Malay people.

Dumas cleared his throat and called the room to order. “This is the plan. God willing, we will take a great deal from the English, as well as a big scoop of their pride. With the help of Captain Popescu, we have eight feluccas with the necessary crews waiting for us on the Nile. Captain Popescu is not only familiar with the Nile, but also knows the neighborhoods in and around the Nile like the back of his hand.”

Dumas continued, “Lieutenant Poucel will be in charge of the operation. Captain Popescu will be his guide and translator. The men that Lieutenant Poucel will guide will include thirty of his men, twenty of Captain Popescu’s Malay warriors, and twenty infantrymen to support them. They will travel up the Nile to Quena, and from Quena to Safaga on camel. Then they will attack the enemy, raid their warehouses, and bring back the loot for France.

France will have the first pick of the bounty, followed by Captain Popescu and his men, and then the tajir. Captain Popescu has also arranged for a swarm of carrier pigeons located along the route that will be dispatched back to Cairo at regular intervals with news regarding the operation’s progress.”

Captain Popescu modified their hulls for greater speeds, to accommodate ten rowers each and bigger sails. The bows were also reinforced. Nothing traveled faster on the Nile and the regular feluccas were very slow by comparison. Hand grenades, bows and arrows, rifles, axes, and sabers were stored expertly in the hull. Marius resonated with Popescu’s anxiety.

Popescu’s first assistant was a gigantic Malay of about 25 years of age named Bisyu. Bisyu had an energetic physique, tanned skin, black fiery eyes, was adorned with gold earrings and had a no-nonsense air about him. He wore a long, thin scimitar and two authentic Damascus sabers, those famous blades forged in the distinguished city since ancient times. The sabers were embossed in a mottling pattern reminiscent of flowing water, tough, flexible, resistant to shattering, and an edge too sharp to even shave with.

They stowed away from Cairo under the cover of darkness and by daybreak, they were well on their way to Quena. Marius spent every moment he could between executing his duties as a leader to his men and lapping up all the knowledge he could learn from Captain Popescu. Whenever Marius spent time with the Greek, Zahir became his shadow for he only trusted Bisyu as far as he could throw him, and judging by his size, that was not very far!

Popescu had been the captain of a large merchant ship for years, traveling on commission for the East India Trading Company through the seas of China, India, Africa, Java, and Indonesia. He knew half a dozen dialects in addition to Greek, Portuguese, Arabic, Italian, English, and French. He was the son of an Athenian general and was taught since childhood by the best Athenian philosophers.

Marius asked him, “I see you use knives and swords of strange origin, yet no pistol. Why is that?”

“In Greece, the art of hand-to-hand combat has been lost. The bow and arrow have been abandoned for gunpowder which is so noisy and chaotic. The silence of death by a poisoned arrow is so much more poetic. My men are skilled at handling poisoned arrows without obstacle, from moving camels or feluccas, running on solid ground, or treading in water. My krizz dagger is a Malay with a curved wavy blade and cuts better than any comparable European weapon. I have several krizzes, I’ll give you two.” Popescu was impressed by the inquisitive mind of the tall, young lieutenant with the intimidating green eyes.


About ten days after leaving Cairo, Marius and Zahir became aware of being followed. Through several reconnaissance missions under the cover of obscurity, they determined that it was a band of twenty Bedouins with twenty-two camels under the command of Al-Mansur, nicknamed The Murderer of the Desert. Captain Popescu swept the horizon of the shore with his large Dutch telescope. Marius informed his inner cadre of their plan to neutralize the Bedouin. Jean Jacques enthusiastically exclaimed, “The men are growing fat and lazy! The derriere on Douglas would make a whore envious,” at which the American guffawed. “We need something to drive away the drowsiness of this trip,” to which all within earshot agreed.

“It’s not just Douglas’s arse that is growing fat and round. My men need to practice their skills before battling with those British dogs,” Popescu nodded and smiled. “The new moon will be upon us within two days, and that’s the best time to attack, especially in the desert.”

The next afternoon Marius watched Bisyu release a gray messenger pigeon to Cairo with the message, “The dolphin swims swiftly as the shark trails”. That night Marius and Popescu finalized their plan of attack over the evening meal. The plan was forged where ten of Marius’s team of Exterminating Angels and ten of Popescu’s Malay men would set a trap to deal with the Bedouins the following night.

“The new moon is upon us. We shall kill all the Bedouin rats, and bury them deep in the sand without their clothes or anything that can identify them. We have to save the camels for the next leg of our journey,” said Popescu. “I have one more request Lieutenant Poucel. I have a history with Al-Mansur, and I would like to settle my debt with that desert rat personally.”

Marius nodded in resignation.

The Exterminating Angels and their Malay brethren stole away into the night with Marius, Popescu, Douglas, and Jean Jacques in the vanguard. Once they reached the vicinity of the Bedouin camp, they subdivided into four groups and surrounded the Bedouins. They leopard-crawled over the sand from four different points to about fifty meters from the Bedouin bonfires. At this dark midnight hour, most of the Bedouins were asleep except for the four guards sitting, smoking, or moving between their guard posts. The guards were dealt with swiftly and silently by Popescu’s Malay archers. The rest of the troops swarmed into the camp, entering tents, slitting throats as fast and quietly as they could. Popescu and Marius ran for the bigger tent in the middle of the camp, Al-Mansur’s tent.


Marius grabbed the assistant who was sleeping at the entrance to Al Mansur’s tent and held him in a chokehold from behind with his hand over the man’s mouth and a dagger thrust onto his throat. Popescu put his krizz dagger to the throat of Al-Mansur and straddled his body to pin him down.

“Oh Mansuuuuuuri,” Popescu sing-songed as if talking to a toddler while nicking his throat with the tip of the curved blade. Al-Mansur’s eyes flew open and he struggled to free his arms from the vice grip of the Greek’s legs. “Stop struggling if you want to save your neck, fool!” Popescu susurrated in the Bedouin dialect of Arabic. “All this struggling causes my krizz to cut your delicate neck and now you’re bleeding like a pig, all over yourself! Tsk, tsk, tsk!” Popescu clicked his tongue.

The soldiers started straggling into the tent, confirming how many Bedouins they had killed. Marius handed his prisoner over to Bisyu. He gave the order for multiple deep holes to be dug in the sand under the direction of Bastién. He ordered Douglas, Jean Jacques, and two of the Exterminating Angels to review the contents of the tents for clues as to why the Bedouins were following them. Then he and Zahir set about the task of ransacking Al-Mansur’s tent in search of evidence. They found none. Bedouins, a nomadic tribe, did not sit around and record things. They did, however, find camel skin satchels heavy with Roman gold coins and also dozens of gold and silver Louis coins, French currency. This meant that this band of Bedouins had recently killed French soldiers.

Captain Popescu and Bisyu forced Al-Mansur and his assistant onto their knees and tied their hands behind their backs. “Why were you following us?” Popescu asked Al-Mansur. Silence. The big Malay roughed them up, knocking out one of Al-Mansur’s front teeth and cutting the eyebrow of the assistant. Silence. “Who sent you to follow us?” Popescu asked again. Mute. This continued for more than an hour but to no avail. The Bedouins were bleeding from all facial orifices. Complete reticence. Popescu shook his head at Marius to indicate the futility of their effort. Popescu knelt in front of Al-Mansur who sat in a heap on the floor. “For all the innocents you preyed upon!” he said when he plunged the dagger into his heart.

“We heard in the Al-Mu’ayyad Mosque in Cairo the whispers of your venture!” sobbed the assistant. “A tajir was looking for men to accompany him on a raid of the British warehouses in Safaga. Al-Mansur wanted to beat him to the loot.” Tears mixed with blood smeared down his swollen face.

Marius knelt down, looked into his swollen slitted eyes, and laid his hand tenderly on the Bedouin’s shoulder. “Merci …. shukraan”. Marius cursed himself. His trust had been misplaced. The tajir had imperiled him and his men. He would have to be dealt with upon his return.

Bisyu swiftly broke the neck of the Bedouin and gently laid him down on the floor.

The Bedouins were stripped of their clothing and weapons and dumped unceremoniously into the recently dug pits so that the shifting sands of the desert would not lay their bodies bare inadvertently. The soldiers packed up the Bedouin tents and belongings and strapped everything to the camels.

Al-Mansur and his marauding band of men had become whispers in the wind only, the memory of them washed away by the desert sand.

Under a canopy of sparkling stars, they returned to their flotilla anchored on the Nile. Marius felt a fleeting shadow of grief for the enduring child who lost a father, the surviving parent who lost a son, and the grieving wife who lost a husband this night. At the same time, he felt vindicated for the French lives lost to this marauding band of men. This was the easy part of their journey and the real danger, the real peril, still lay ahead of them.


Quena flourished on the western bank of the river Nile. The arrival of Popescu and his fleet of enhanced feluccas did not raise alarm among the Egyptian populace. By contrast, the concoction of French and Malay arriving on camels caused quite a stir among the suspicious Egyptians. The locals have never seen French men riding camels and, even though the French were not dressed as soldiers, they had a martial air about them. The English spies were immediately aware of the French presence in Quena and started following them everywhere.


Marius and Popescu’s people set about acquiring the provisions needed to reach El Quseir on the Red Sea. Zahir negotiated the purchase of fifty camels and hired a dozen Egyptian helpers. The British spies, having heard the French talk among themselves, learned that the French were traveling to meet with a French supply ship carrying needed arms and provisions lost by the French Army in the attack of the British in Alexandria. The British soon responded by assembling a British fleet to lay in wait on the Mediterranean Sea to ambush all French supply ships sailing for Alexandria. Merde, putain d’anglais!

Well, that was the story they were spreading to hide their real reason for crossing the desert towards the Red Sea and Safaga which lay north of El Quseir.

A dozen Malay were left in Quena to guard the feluccas and manage the repairs to their sails and the enhancements made before, as well as to replenish the stocks needed for the return to Cairo. The feluccas needed to be ready for a fast and speedy departure. They were going to be loaded to the hilt and needed to be able to travel faster than the other boats on the Nile. Speed was of the essence.

On the fifth day, four days after arriving in Quena to gather the provisions to travel to El Quseir, the French and Malay contingent set off on camel in a southeasterly direction. The British spies concluded that the French plan was to transfer the supplies from the French ship to the camels, bring them back to Quena, transfer the cargo to the feluccas, and transport it all to Alexandria. Nelson had the French running scared. They didn’t dare to get their ships close to Alexandria given the threat of being sunk or captured by the British navy patrols. No matter, thought the English, those supplies will never reach Alexandria. They will soon be in our hands. Stupid French frogs, they should have stayed in their stinking homeland.

A couple of hours into the march, after making sure they were not being followed, the French caravan turned northeasterly towards Safaga.

The march across the desert was uneventful and they made a good time. Once they reached the hills around Safaga, they set up camp away from prying eyes. Bisyu dispatched a courier pigeon to Cairo with the following note: “The crocodile swims near its prey.”


During their march, they went over the plan to take over the fort and capture the English East Indian Trading Company’s merchandise. In terms of numbers, the British garrison would have more men than Marius. The British were protected by walls and cannons. The only advantage Marius had was stealth and surprise. Planning with Popescu, Jean Jacques, Bastién, Zahir, and Douglas they soon came to the agreement that they needed more detailed information about the defenses and layout of the British fort.

Marius, Popescu, Jean Jacques, Zahir, and Douglas, disguised as desert nomads, wearing the clothes of the Bedouins they had exterminated days before, left their camp and rode towards Safaga. Their objective was to pinpoint the exact location of the fort, study the British movements and explore the terrain around the fort. Being careful not to be discovered, they cautiously observed the fort through their spyglasses. The fort had two gates. The western gate faced the desert and the eastern one faced the Red Sea. The fort was protected by thirteen cannons, four protecting the Eastern wall from attacks from the sea, while the remaining walls had three cannons each. There were four towers, each manned by a guard. The walkways of each wall were constantly guarded by two guards regularly making the rounds.

Their first impression left them somewhat demoralized regarding the success of their enterprise. The fort looked impregnable and well defended.

Exploring the eastern side of the fort, they found a disturbing situation that had not been taken into account. Two British naval ships were moored in front of the fort. That meant at least a hundred more defenders than anticipated. Therefore, the only avenue of attack was from the desert, the western gate. An attack from the eastern gate would be impossible as they would be giving their backs to the British cannons on the ships.

After another exploratory round, they headed back disillusioned and in silence to their encampment.

Marius couldn’t sleep, despite being exhausted from the march and the exploration of the fort. He had to find a way to take the fort and capture the Company’s merchandise. He couldn’t go back to Napoleon defeated.

Marius knew he had to rest, so he employed a trick taught to him by his father, Joseph Antoine Poucel, sailor and merchant ship captain. Joseph Antoine recognized the same symptoms of his own preoccupied, obsessive mind in his son and taught the young Marius the technique he learned many years before from a Hindu yogi. “Lie in bed on your back, and force yourself to breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. Breathe in, then relax your body from head to toe with each exhalation. If your mind wanders, focus on breathing out twice as long as the time you took to breathe in. As your mind and body relax, your obsession falls away and that gives your mind the time to bring the solution to you in your dreams.”

His fatigue finally caught up with him and he fell into a deep sleep that lasted no more than a couple of hours. Marius woke up just before dawn with the solution he sought the night before. That often happened to him, going to sleep with a problem and waking up with the solution. He got dressed and sent for Popescu, Jean Jacques, Bastién, Zahir, and Douglas to come to his tent and have breakfast with him. He laid down his plan. After a two-hour discussion, they had fine-tuned their plan of attack.


Marius sent Zahir, Bisyu, and four Egyptians familiar with the region to the fort disguised as weary traveling Egyptians. Zahir being a Mamluk, born and raised in Egypt, did not have any trouble passing as an Egyptian, the only one that was a little out of place was the big Malay Bisyu. However, in the Middle East, there were all kinds of races, skin tones, and eye colors. The Middle East was the crossroads of the north, south, east, and west. So Bisyu wouldn’t raise any suspicion among the British. Zahir and his group would beg for water and food, and given the unwritten rules of the desert, hospitality demanded to provide support, within reason, to travelers. Once inside the fort, they would observe and inform back.

Zahir and his Egyptian companions approached the fort from the south at dusk, taking in all of the surroundings during their advance. Previously, behind a little hill about 250 meters away from the fort, Douglas stationed himself with a Malay helper, providing support cover with his Kentuckee long rifle. Douglas was in for a long wait. He was the only man expert enough to hit a target with his long rifle at those distances.

As Zahir’s little group reached the western gate, the British guards facing them from the walkway above the gate asked them for their business. Zahir, in broken English, requested water and food since they were very tired, having been traveling for many days in the desert in the direction to Quena.

The British guards, after conferring with their superior, followed the hospitality rules of the desert and opened the gate, allowing the weary travelers to enter the compound. Once inside, Zahir and his companions dismounted their camels and led the animals to the water troughs.

The first stage of the plan had been set in motion.

Zahir, Bisyu, and the Egyptians started to gather the inside information required to take the fort. A British Corporal ordered food and drinking water for them as he led them to sit under a tree next to the soldiers’ mess hall.

As they waited for the food and drink, Zahir took a couple of gold coins out of the pouch he was carrying. These were the Roman coins from the Bedouin stash. He began to examine each of them against the light of the torches, one at a time. Zahir had his back to the British so he was “unaware” that the British corporal and two soldiers were walking towards them. The British noted the coins and hurried their steps in the direction of Zahir. The other Egyptians, noting the approach of the British, nervously tried to signal him of the soldiers’ approach. It was too late. The British had seen the gold coins. Zahir clumsily put the coins away and stood up, looking guiltily to the ground.

The British corporal demanded  Zahir to tell him what he had. Zahir and his Egyptian companions made a big show of mumbling without answering directly. The British Corporal knew that there was something valuable about those coins and he sent a message to his superior.

The meager food and water arrived, however, the British corporal sent it back to the dismay of the hungry and thirsty travelers. He then asked for a platter of succulent dates, olives, and fresh fruit. The corporal was an old hand in dealing with easterners. The Egyptians mouths were watering of hunger.

The soldier informed his lieutenant and captain, who was having tea with the officers from the British ships, about the Egyptian travelers and their gold coins. The commanding officer of the fort, general Duncan Wright, a mean, selfish person who not only despised Easterners with a passion but also despised his own men for being from the lower classes, especially the Irish, the Indians, and Somalis who formed part of his soldiers. Having seen the arrival of the soldier, he asked the captain what the commotion was about.


General Wright, smelling something valuable, stood up and told his captain in a pleasant commanding voice, “It is all right Captain, I need to stretch my legs. I will go and see what this is all about.” Actually, he was bored by the captains of the naval ships who could only talk about naval matters, a subject he had little interest in. They had no sense nor sensibility for the finer aspects of life, the upper echelons of class, nor did they look up at him as they indeed should.

The platter of delectable dates, olives, and fruits arrived at the same time as the general. Thus, the food had to wait until the general said his piece. Wright, with a thunderous authoritarian voice, commanded the Egyptians, “Show me the gold coins”.

Zahir acting guiltily and bowing to the floor denied having gold coins. The general raised his horsewhip and gave Zahir a mighty lash. Zahir cried in pain as he reached inside his galabia bringing out his pouch with the cold coins and gave them to the general.

“Where did you get these coins?” asked the general pleasantly, while the platter with the delicious food was brought closer to the Egyptians. “Look man, don’t make me waste my time, tell me where you found these coins and I promise you more delectable food and mead and don’t worry, it does not have alcohol, it is just honey wine. I know you chaps will love it.” The general smiled pleasantly while hitting his boot impatiently with his horsewhip.

The Egyptians whispered furiously among themselves, while constantly darting their eyes to the delicious food waiting just outside their reach. Then a larger platter with meats and goat cheeses arrived along with a big jug of mead. This was too much for the hungry and thirsty travelers.

Zahir told the general in his broken English and thick middle Eastern accent how they found the coins at some old Roman ruins three days travel to the south. They collected the coins scattered near the surface, fearful of digging for the buried coins, because of the curse that befell all tomb robbers. “For everybody knows, that he who violates a tomb, dies a death a hundred times more horrible than the buried being defiled”.

The general with an arrogant smile turned to his corporal and whispered, “These savages with their primitive superstitious beliefs are so boring and gullible.”

Turning to Zahir, he said, “Our English god protects us from all curses. We will dig for the treasure and give you a part of what we find.”

Zahir looked at him in awe and uttered in reverence, “Who is this god? Where is his temple? We need to make an offering to him!”

“No, no this is a British god and his temple is very far away from here. It is in on the other side of the world, in Great Britain,” snorted the general impatiently. What a waste of time being forced to converse with this uncouth foolish savage. He added in a final voice of command, “Tomorrow I will take two of your men to guide my soldiers to the Roman ruins where you found the coins. You and the rest of your companions will wait here for their return.”

He turned to walk away and realized that he still had the bag of coins. “I’ll hang on to these for safekeeping,” he smirked at Zahir. The soldiers gave the Egyptians their platters of food and the jug of mead. The weary travelers attacked their offerings with brave determination.

Marius’s plan was set in motion. It rested on the greed and need for self-importance of the cruel, aristocratic Duncan Wright. His vanity and paramountcy led him to underestimate the Mid-easterners. He would pay dearly for his arrogance.

Once they had eaten their fill and quenched their thirst, an Egyptian helper cleared away the platters and cups. A British soldier passed by and Zahir said in his broken English, “I go piss!” The soldier waved him over to the fort wall. As soon as the guards' backs were turned and no one was paying them any attention, Zahir threw a stone over the wall in the direction of were Douglas lay in wait. Douglas and his Malay companion heard the rock hit the ground. The Malay retrieved the rock and gave it to Douglas. The note around the rock told him that the hook had been swallowed.

Stage one of the plan was complete.

Early the next morning a dozen British soldiers, half a dozen local workers, and two of the Egyptian travelers left on camels heading south with enough provisions for ten days. Douglas sent his Malay companion back to camp to inform Marius and Popescu.

Marius’ plan was that during the midnight hours of the third day the travelers would sneak away and travel in a northwesterly direction back to Quena. The ruse was designed, not only to gather information about the fort and its defense but to also lower the number of defenders inside the fort.

Late in the afternoon of that same day, a group of Egyptian traders came to the British compound offering to sell six barrels of French wine. The Egyptian hawker addressed the British soldier on duty at the gate saying, “I can’t sell wine to my Egyptians and Arab customers, as many are forbidden to drink alcohol. The rest prefer mead, the sweet drink made of honey. The European wine is too sour for their taste. They call it ox piss. I will give you British a good price,” finished the hawker.

The British guard handed him a metal cup while saying, “Let me taste it.”

The hawker and his helpers struggled to break the seal on the vat of wine. “See how good this seal is? It’s tighter than a camel’s arse in a sandstorm,” said the hawker laughing.

Once the seal was broken, he poured wine up to the rim of the cup and handed it back. The guard took a tentative sip and as the wine swirled over his taste buds, his eyes widened at the realization of the magnificent quality of the wine. “Where did you get this?” asked the guard in wonder.

The hawker shrugged his shoulders and responded, “My cousin’s nephew saw it fall off the back of a camel.”

The guard laughed, finished the wine in one big gulp, and after rinsing the cup, he asked the hawker to fill it again. “The general would have to authorize the purchase so he should taste the wine,” said the guard to a soldier passing him the filled cup to take to their commanding officer.

The guard gave the cup of wine to his captain who approached the general informing him of the group of Egyptian traders who were selling six caskets of French wine. “Would you like to try it, general Wright?”

With a displeased and disdainful look on his face, the general took a little sip of the wine. The guard was right, as the wine hit the palate of the general, his demeanor changed to one of contentment. He took a bigger sip and allowed the liquid to imbibe his taste buds. “This is a bloody magnificent wine,” said the general standing up. General Wright walked towards the gate with a posse of aides armed with cups to taste the wine. As he tasted the wine once more, he said happily, “Bloody marvelous stuff,” all the while smacking his lips in satisfaction. “Those frogs really know how to make good wine”, commented one of the officers.


They haggled back and forth about the price while sipping the wine. The hawker kept pushing for a higher price, but the general knew that they were the last resort to sell the caskets of wine, so he stood firm. At last, the hawker relented with a tortured expression on his face and turned to his companions saying in Egyptian, “His mother mated with a scorpion!” All the Egyptians laughed merrily at the hawker’s remark. This didn’t sit well with general Duncan Wright. With cold eyes, he ordered his soldiers to unload the caskets of wine, and then he drove the hawker and his men away without paying. He ordered his guards to shoot them if they refused to leave. The hawker and his companions raised their arms to the sky, uttering lamentations. The hawker explained that his comment referred to the astuteness of the general’s negotiation abilities, it was not an insult.

All of this was to no avail, the general and his officers had already turned and were walking away, chuckling to themselves. The general instructed his aides to order the troops to carry three of the caskets to the officers’ mess and the remaining three to the soldiers’ mess hall. Supper was about to be served and all congregated around the barrels of wine with glee. The wine was like manna from heaven, an oasis in the desert, and it was flowing freely! Their inebriated spirits soared in song and laughter. That night they toasted the British victory in Alexandria and welcomed the two British naval ships to the fort. Everyone was singing the general’s praises and he was basking in their adulation.

Stage two of the plan had been successfully implemented and executed.

Night had fallen in the desert. Marius and his men waited in the nearby hills giving the wine time to do its work. Once the jolliness and singing fizzled out, the Malay archers ran towards the western wall with their makeshift screens to shield the cauldrons of red-hot coals from the guards at the fort. Once they were in position, Popescu gave them the go-ahead. Fire arrows started to rain down into the compound.

Douglas with his Kentuckee long rifle took out the guards in the northwestern and southwestern towers. Inside the fort, Zahir heard the dry coughs of the rifle. That was their signal. He and Bisyu moved carefully and without being seen by the guards or drunken soldiers towards the eastern towers. They took care of the tower guards quickly and opened the eastern gate.

Meanwhile, their two Egyptian companions sneaked their way towards the western gate which was unguarded and opened it.

However, a guard was able to sound the alarm by blowing his bugle. This caused a bunch of drunken soldiers to run in search of their arms.

The attack on the fort had begun. The Malay ran into the fort shooting their last fiery arrows. They were soon counterattacked by disorganized musket fire. The Malay switched to their poisoned arrows and shot them in quick succession towards the smoke made by the muskets, cruelly wounding the British musketeers.


The British soldiers were disoriented, disorganized, and shot at anything that moved, many of these targets their own men. The poisoned arrows were much more effective than the musket bullets because the wounded soldier would suffer paralysis, then intense pain, followed by death. That was the iconography of the unequal battle.

The Malay archers took care of the guards on the walkways, and then took control of the walkways of the four walls.

The attention of the British redcoats was fixed on the western side of the fort. Marius and his French Exterminating Angels came into the compound from the eastern gate, taking the disorganized British defenders by surprise. Before the battle began there were more than two hundred British soldiers in the fort, including the marines from the two ships moored on the Red Sea.

With the general and most of his officers drunk and out of commission, the British defenders were in complete disarray. As the Exterminating Angels arrived, they first shot their pistols and then attacked with their swords. The British were completely overcome, not knowing what to do. They were being attacked from the front and the rear, while also being shot down with arrows from the walkways on the walls. Little by little the Exterminating Angels surrounded the redcoats pushing them into a compact circle with little mobility in the center.

There were more than a hundred British casualties dead or injured and more and more falling by the second to the superior organization and skills of the French attackers. Several defenders threw their weapons to the ground, raising their hands in surrender, while others fought valiantly until decimated by Marius and Popescu’s warriors.

Marius shouted to Popescu, “The general, let’s get the general!” They found him in the officers’ mess hall surrounded by several of his officers and one of the ship captains. General Duncan Wright came out of his drunken stupor confused and not knowing what was happening. The Malay bound their hands together and led them to the center of the compound.

The officers on duty on the two ships in front of the fort had seen and listened to the commotion in the fort. They sent two rowboats with the remaining marines to help the fort’s garrison. The Exterminating Angels were lying in wait for them. As soon as the British marines disembarked onshore, the French soldiers appeared out of nowhere and after a quick skirmish captured the British. Marius and Jean Jacques arrived with other Exterminating Angels, changed their blue jackets for the redcoats of the recently captured marines. They boarded the boats and rowed back towards the unsuspecting British ships. As soon as the boats reached the ships, two other boats filled with Marius men were launched from the shore towards the ships.


As soon as the disguised French stepped onto the deck they pulled out their pistols and commanded the British to surrender. At first the British were startled by the surprising French appearance. Those valiant souls who tried to resist were overpowered mercilessly.

As the other two boats with the Exterminating Angels arrived, the crews of both ships had already capitulated.

About eighty prisoners sat in the great courtyard of the compound. English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Indians, and Somalis sat with naked torsos and barefoot, only in their breeches.

Marius’ little army of French and Malay warriors had taken the fort and two naval ships with little casualties, while the English had lost more than a hundred men. Marius had lost eight men, six of whom had been Popescu’s Malay who were hit by musket bullets.

Everything had happened so quickly that the general, officers, and captain of the ships were not sure who they were surrendering to. Little by little, it dawned on them that they had been beaten by a smaller force of Napoleon’s soldiers. The shock of this realization shamed them to their core.

The British soldiers without leadership succumbed to the better organization of the French and soon capitulated. The battle to take the fort lasted less than an hour.

Stage three was completed. The grand stratagem had worked well.

Marius along with Popescu, Zahir, and Douglas explored the compound guided by two British officers. Their first stop was the immense warehouses, finding tons of silk, boxes of silver and gold bars, precious stones, sacs of Indian spices, magnificent rugs, and wall paintings, and many valuable oriental goods. Zahir and Douglas were taking notes. Marius asked Zahir, who had been a merchant trader in Egypt before the French invasion, how much he estimated the value of the merchandise. Popescu answered before Zahir could say anything, “Lieutenant Poucel, I don’t know the exact value, but I can tell you that this is more than two million pounds!”

Zahir said, with the cool head of a merchant, “Given the dimensions of the warehouse and the goods that we have seen so far, I estimate that we are talking of about eight to ten million pounds.” Douglas was furiously taking notes. The Kentuckee Gazette would soon be spreading the news of the French capture of the East Indian Trading Company warehouses and the fort near Safaga.

Marius allowed himself to feel some relief. They had taken the fort with very few losses and had captured valuable merchandise, arms and animals. Napoleon’s army was soon going to have 20 more cannons, hundreds of pistols and muskets, and tonnes of ammunition. Quite a good catch and they had just started taking inventory of the fort. What else was yet to be found?


Popescu asked the two British officers to take them to the Company’s safe rooms, which was known as the company’s bank. After a brief silence, the British officers realized the futility of resisting, so they led the way to the main building and directly to the Company offices. One of the civilian employees opened the door to the safe room where, after a speedy inspection, they found 500,000 pounds in currency.

This British kept on surprising Marius. No wonder everybody said that the British East Trading Company was wealthier than the English Crown. Marius did not know whether that was true, but he was sure that the Company was richer than the Directory governing the French Republic.

The third stop was the dungeons. What they saw shocked them to their core. Even the toughened Popescu was horrified. In a small darkened room stinking of human suffering, feces, urine, and sweat were thirty jailed prisoners, a combination of Egyptians, Bedouins, and British soldiers. They were all semi-naked with blisters on their skin and bloody backs with the scars of lashes.

Marius ordered their immediate release. The British with shameful expressions obliged immediately. There were ten British soldiers, six of whom were Irish, a Welsh, a Somali, and two Indians. As an American, Douglas had a special affinity towards the Irish so he asked one of them what their crime was. Immediately, three of the Irish responded, “General Wright didn’t like the song we made in his honor.” Marius interrupted and asked, “He jailed you because you wrote a song ridiculing him? One of the Irish responded, “It was a very good song,” and the rest of the British prisoners laughed out loud.

The jailbirds were guided to the courtyard where they sat alongside their captors on the front left of the courtyard, about thirty meters away from general Wright and his officers.

The prisoners were being guarded by Popescu’s Malay warriors whose attention was focused on the British soldiers, ignoring the British jailed prisoners.

Marius and his companions tried to rest, while some of them kept the night watch. The captured defenders began to nod off and started to lay down on the ground. They were soon sleeping soundly after the exertions of the battle, the adrenaline of the hand-to-hand combat, and the excesses of their drinking. Some of the jailed prisoners began sneaking among the soldiers towards the front of the yard. The Malay guards paid little notice.

Dawn came rapidly, as it does in the desert. Marius, Zahir, and Popescu inspected the prisoners waking up in the courtyard. Their attention was caught by the prostrated figures of the general and some of his officers. Marius and Popescu wanted to interrogate the general so they approached him and when standing next to him, Marius called on him to stand up. The general and his officers did not move. Popescu kicked the general’s boots. No response. They rolled the bodies over and saw their garroted throats and glassy eyes. None of the surrounding live officers had heard or noticed anything amiss. Popescu interrogated his Malay guards and they didn’t have anything to report.

The jailed prisoners had gotten their revenge. This was a huge loss, as the general would have been a wealth of information. However, not everything was lost. Marius still had the company’s managers and accountants, as well as a ship captain. He turned to Popescu and asked him to select two officers to accompany him to Cairo alongside the company’s employees. Marius would take the ship captain and the rest of the Company’s civilian employees on the two captured ships. They would be properly interrogated by Napoleon’s intelligence machine.

Marius didn’t know who were the general’s murderers, and he did not have time to investigate. Speed was of the essence. He needed to organize the return to Cairo and the disposal of the British prisoners. Of course, he would need to destroy the fort upon his departure. He couldn’t leave it for the British to take back.

After talking to Popescu they decided to divide the loot, arms, and animals into two groups. One would be under the command of Popescu and travel on the camels to Quena, where it would be transferred to the feluccas and sail to Cairo. The second group would be under the command of Marius who would sail the two British ships with the heavier and bulkier part of the loot to Cairo by navigating around Africa into the Mediterranean and then disembark in Alexandria.

Taking command of the ships, navigating the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean, rounding The Cape of Good Hope into the Atlantic, sailing up Africa to enter the Mediterranean, and then dash towards Alexandria, was a bold and risky move. Some would even call it a foolish move. The British dominated the seas and had a presence in The Cape of Good Hope (also known as The Cape of Storms) where they would have to stop for provisions. The Mediterranean held a risk of its own. Marius asked Popescu, “What do you think our General Bonaparte would do? Burn the ships, or risk it and take them to join his navy in Egypt?” Popescu laughed and said, “Lieutenant, you already know the answer. The petit Corsican would risk it and take it all!” So, it was decided.

With the help of the British prisoners, they transferred the warehouse goods to the cargo holds of the ships. Once these were full, the remaining goods were packed and loaded onto the camels.

It was time to deal with the British prisoners. Marius addressed them. “You will be taken at least sixty leagues into the desert and then set free. You will have enough water and provisions for five days. We will also provide you with compasses, daggers, and sabers so you can defend yourselves from raiders and robbers. In five days, you should reach Safaga.”


To the thirty jailed prisoners he gave three choices. “You can be set free to do whatever you want. We will give you water, provisions, and arms so you can sustain and defend yourselves. You can also join the British prisoners who will be set free sixty leagues from Safaga. Or, you can join our Army.” The six Irish prisoners joined the French ranks without hesitation. The rest of them chose freedom. They would walk alongside Popescu’s caravan and then continue on the road to Safaga.

Zahir and Bisyu, with a dozen guards, guided the British prisoners south. As they rode into the desert, they could see the smoke coming from the burning fort. They were released in the middle of the desert. Zahir and his group returned rapidly on their horses to join Popescu and Marius. Bisyu bid farewell to Zahir and left with his Malay in search of Popescu on the way to Quena. Zahir went to the shore where a boat waited for him to be rowed to the ship commanded by Marius.

Marius and Jean Jacques grew up in Marseilles. They both had ample sea experience and were familiar with ships, having been born to families of merchant sailors. Therefore, Jean Jacques Dubois became the captain of one ship and Marius Poucel of the other. All of his Exterminating Angels accompanied them, alas few of them had sea experience, making it necessary to retain the British sailors to help them on their voyage to Alexandria. Another guest of Marius was the former captain of the ship who was an invaluable source of information to avoid other British ships.

Once in Safaga, Popescu launched five messenger pigeons towards Cairo. A couple of days later, one of Popescu’s men went to see general Alexandre Dumas and gave him the note the courier pigeon had brought. Alexandre Dumas took it and read, “Fivefold Paris above London. Two whales are coming.”

Alexandre Dumas clapped his immense black hands together, making a sonorous loud sound. He laughed with his whole body. “Mon Dieu Poucel, you did it!” Then caution prevailed, making him doubt the validity of the message. Could it be possible? Such an immense loot, five times larger than originally estimated plus two captured ships. Impossible! Yet he had the paper in his hands and Lieutenant Marius Poucel generally delivered. With a slap on his desk, he stood up and went in search of Napoleon.

Without announcing himself, he entered Napoleon’s office. They knew each other well and could read the other’s body language. Napoleon stood up and barked nervously, “Tell me everything. What is the news from Safaga?” But the devious Dumas stayed quiet with a face made of stone. Dumas was enjoying the moment. Napoleon went to him and snatched the note from his hand, glancing at it, blinked, and read it again.

Napoleon uttered a high pitched giggle. “Finally, a good blow to the perfidious Albion!”

Popescu arrived in Cairo without setbacks. He was received as a hero and rewarded handsomely for his services by Napoleon himself. Now, all that Napoleon and Dumas could do was to wait for the return of Captain Marius Poucel, because, if he survived, he would no longer be a Lieutenant.


As luck would have it, destiny rewarded the risk-takers. Marius’ voyage was uneventful, sailing with good winds on mostly empty seas. A couple of times they saw other British ships who did not bother them since they were flying the British and East India Company’s flags. If they were caught they would be hanged as spies. They also saw some Spanish and Portuguese ships. The scariest moment was when a British ship in the middle of the Mediterranean hailed them to parlay, but the British Captain under Marius’ instructions, signaled them back that they were under Nelson’s urgent business and did not have time. When at last they reached Alexandria a great weight was lifted from Marius’ shoulders. Breathing deeply he thanked his father for having shown him the business of seafaring.

At the French headquarters in Alexandria, they reported to general Jean-Baptiste Kléber who stood up after hearing Lieutenant Poucel’s report and embraced him in a congratulatory bear hug. He then sent a dispatch to general Dumas asking him whether he should leave his cargo in Alexandria or transport it to Cairo. Dumas’ answer arrived swiftly telling him that “Our general wants you to bring everything to Cairo!” He ended the dispatch with a personal note, “Well done little sailor man!”

Marius and Jean Jacques commandeered, with the blessing of general Kléber, enough wagons to carry the loot to Cairo. Upon their arrival, Marius and his Exterminating Angels were welcomed as heroes by Napoleon and his staff. When the clapping, felicitations, and cheers quieted down, Napoleon presented Lieutenant Marius Poucel with his promotion papers, saying, “Lieutenant Marius Poucel for your valiant services to the Republic and to the Army of the Orient, you hereby are promoted to the rank of Captain of the French Army.” The room exploded in cheers to France, Napoleon, and Captain Poucel.


Marius was humbled by the congratulatory reception. Only general Dumas, who had a soft spot for the young captain, reprimanded him with a serious ebony face, “How come you brought back so little loot? If it was up to me, I would have demoted you back to the rank of a soldier! Shame on you little sailor man!” All laughed at Dumas’ roasting of Marius and many of his superiors joined in the fun. He felt that Dumas’ humorous remark was the best thank you of them all.

The narrow streets of the bazaar in Cairo were dark and empty. The only sounds to be heard where rats scuttling over the cobblestones and through the drains. The tajir walked carefully towards his rug shop. He had been enraged for several days because Lieutenant Marius Poucel had not come to see him. He had heard that the young shit arrived in Cairo a week ago, after the successful completion of his mission, capturing the fort, taking the merchandise from the warehouses, and commandeering two British naval ships in the process. “How could he ignore me? Me, who provided him with the map of the fort and the necessary intelligence to take it. I deserve at least half of the profits!”

Distracted and furious he opened the locks to his rug store. He lit an oil lamp and walked into his crumpled office, where he lit another lamp. As he sat down behind a table full of papers, he noticed a shadow moving towards him through the gloom. Startled, he began to stand up when he heard the voice of the young soldier who had fended off the thieves and saved his life. His blood turned to ice when he heard, “You owe me your life you worthless sack of camel shit. I saved your life and you pay me back by double-crossing me!”

“Noooo…,” cried the tajir in a strident voice. “No, you’re wrong and confused. Let me explain. I am a loyal, truthful, honest man...!”

“You have imperiled the lives of my men, as well as my own,” continued Marius relentlessly. “You have endangered general Bonaparte’s mission! You filtered information about the mission to Bedouin robbers and all because you wanted a bigger share for yourself. That is not the way an honorable man pays back a debt of gratitude. I saved your life; I now claim it back.”

The tajir felt a prickle in his neck. It was the second time, and probably not the last, that Marius had used the krizz dagger that Popescu had given him.

Walking back through the deserted streets, Marius reflected on the sweetness felt by the French after taking revenge on the British for their attack in Alexandria, and Napoleon’s sweet revenge on Nelson by capturing two of his ships. However, his revenge on the tajir only left a whiff of bitterness in its wake.


Read more of the adventures of Marius Poucel in the novel La Sombra del Soldado by Luis Gutierrez Poucel, Editorial Gato Blanco, Mexico City, December 2020….

Post Script
The Sweetness of Revenge is a short story that serves as an introduction to the book La Sombra del Soldado (The Shadow of the Soldier) by the author Luis Gutierrez Poucel. The Spanish version of the book is available around the world on Amazon. This story was written in Spanish by Luis Gutierrez Poucel, then translated and edited by Marie-Louise Oosthuysen. La Sombra del Soldado will be translated into English at a later date.

References
Editorial Gato Blanco
www.editorialgatoblanco.com
Illustrator: Lex Revolter

martes, septiembre 15, 2020

El secuestro del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo

El sábado 12 de septiembre de 2020, la asamblea de gobernadores del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) en una sesión virtual eligieron, por primera vez en la historia del organismo, a un presidente no latinoamericano, rompiendo con la tradición, desde la creación en 1959 del BID, de elegir a un presidente proveniente de la región. El nombramiento de un estadounidense de origen cubano, no solamente rompe con el acuerdo de caballeros entre Estados Unidos y América Latina de que el director del BID tenía que ser latinoamericano, sino que rompe con el equilibrio de nombrar a un director americano en el Banco Mundial, a uno europeo para el Fondo Monetario Internacional y a un latinoamericano en el BID.



El mandato del nuevo presidente del BID, Mauricio Claver Carone comenzará el 1 de octubre de 2020 y durará cinco años con posibilidad de reelección. Claver Carone fungía como asesor de Donald Trump. Sus orígenes en la política estadounidense fueron los de ser lobista, apoyando las causas de los emigrados cubanos. Claver Carone fue el único candidato que quedaba en la contienda para presidente del banco. Las presiones del gobierno americano fueron tales que los candidatos latinoamericanos se retiraron de la contienda, como la exmandataria costarricense Laura Chinchilla a principios de mes y luego el argentino Gustavo Béliz días antes de la votación. Dieciséis países, representando el 31% del poder de voto del BID se abstuvieron de votar, entre ellos Argentina, Chile, México, Perú y Trinidad Tobago. Claver Carone es el quinto presidente del BID, presidencia que empezó con Felipe Herrera (1960-1971), Antonio Ortiz Mena (1971-1988), Enrique V. Iglesias (1988-2005) y Luis Alberto Moreno (2005-2020).

Te preguntarás, querido lector, por qué le dedico tanto tiempo y espacio a un tema como el de la dirección del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, habiendo tantos otros temas relevantes como la situación económica, las débiles perspectivas de crecimiento, la crisis y la realidad alternativa de nuestro presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador, el segundo informe de gobierno, la situación electoral en Estados Unidos y otros temas. La razón es que el BID es el organismo multilateral de desarrollo más importante para América Latina y el Caribe. El BID presta alrededor de 13,000 millones de dólares cada año y se espera que su importancia para la región en los próximos años crecerá, dada la recesión tan importante que América Latina está enfrentando. En efecto, el FMI está pronosticando una recesión cercana al -10% del PIB regional. También jugará un papel vital para la reconstrucción de Venezuela cuando haya cambio de gobierno en ese país.

El gobierno de Donald Trump busca fortalecer el posicionamiento estadounidense en América Latina y el Caribe, contrarrestando la influencia China. La mayoría de los países latinoamericanos mantienen una estrecha relación con Estados Unidos, pero la presencia e influencia china, junto con sus inversiones, cada vez son más importantes. Varios asesores de la Casa Blanca han subrayado la necesidad de que Estados Unidos mantenga su hegemonía en el hemisferio occidental, lo que implica jugar el papel de balanceador en América Latina, manteniendo su liderazgo. Si Estados Unidos mantiene influencias determinantes en varias partes del mundo, en especial en América Latina, esto le dará mayor poder de negociación para evitar el surgimiento o fortalecimiento de un país hegemónico regional. En efecto, después del éxito de Putin de mantener a Bashar al Asad en Siria, el más viejo aliado de Rusia en el Mediterráneo, permitir un mayor empoderamiento de China en América Latina le costaría credibilidad, prestigio e imagen a Estados Unidos, pero sobre todo le traería una derrota geopolítica de difícil aceptación.

La propuesta para presidente del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo de un ultra derechista cubano estadounidense es una demostración de fuerza de Trump. Claro, hay que reconocer que tal propuesta contó con el apoyo de importantes países latinoamericanos como Brasil y Colombia. Varios países latinoamericanos expresaron su desacuerdo: Argentina Chile, México y Costa Rica. Seis expresidentes hicieron una declaración conjunta a finales de agosto oponiéndose al candidato cubano-americano, tales como Fernando Enrique Cardoso (Brasil, 1995-2002), Ernesto Zedillo (México, 1994-2000), Felipe González (España, 1982-1996), Ricardo Lagos (Chile, 2000-2006), Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia, 2010-2018) y Julio María Sanguinetti (Uruguay, 1985-1990 y 1995-2000). En la declaración conjunta, los expresidentes acusaron a Donald Trump de imponer a su candidato, señalando que tal propuesta constituía una “agresión a la dignidad latinoamericana”.

La imposición de un ultraderechista a la dirección del BID no solamente contribuye a la incertidumbre regional, sino que añade un nuevo elemento a la explosiva mezcla de la gravísima crisis socioeconómica empeorada por la pandemia del Covid 19: la reducción de financiamiento internacional a programas de desarrollo en favor de proyectos e intereses de grupos políticos favorables a Estados Unidos.

Considerando que las consecuencias de la pandemia se reflejarán en gobiernos más intervencionistas con políticas más rígidas con la justificación de servir al bien mayor. Varias áreas libres van a experimentar una reducción en la libertad de sus acciones. Las políticas liberales y neoliberales van a experimentar mayor intervención gubernamental, sufriendo el principio liberal de que es positivo para la libertad y bienestar individual la reducción progresiva del gobierno.

La falta de apoyo financiero al desarrollo integral, beneficiando a grupos y proyectos populistas de derecha, junto con gobiernos más intervencionistas, contribuirá a aumentar el grado de incertidumbre, violencia y agresividad en conflictos políticos internos. La conjugación en los estados casi-fallidos de la pandemia y el sesgo de las fuentes de financiamiento hacia los grupos favorables a los intereses estadounidenses acrecentará el caos, el desorden y la reducción en la capacidad de gobernar, haciendo a los países de América Latina y el Caribe más inciertos, vulnerables y peligrosos. Qué pena que los gobiernos de América Latina y el Caribe no actuaron en defensa de los intereses de sus connacionales, sino apoyaron los intereses del presidente estadounidense que más mal ha tratado a los latinoamericanos.


sábado, agosto 15, 2020

Pauperización progresiva y peligro en México: pandemia, crisis económica y violencia

El año pasado, específicamente en julio de 2019 escribí un artículo titulado “México hundido y sin salvavidas”, concluyendo que: "No hay nada más peligroso para un país que un líder ignorante y autoritario, aquel que piensa que sabe y no quiere aprender, aquel que combina ignorancia, poder e iniciativa. Un barco no se hunde por el agua a su alrededor, sino por el agua que le entra. México bajo AMLO es como el hundimiento del Titanic, pero con los pasajeros aplaudiendo." Vivimos por tanto entre la soberbia y el narcisismo de un líder mesiánico y la incertidumbre de un mundo peligroso y en transición. En otras palabras, los mexicanos debemos prepararnos para lo peor, puesto que lo peor está todavía por venir.

Caray, qué manera tan deprimente de empezar un artículo, en especial en medio de un panorama alarmante con varias crisis simultáneas en cuanto a salud, economía e inseguridad. A lo mejor deberíamos hacer algo parecido a lo que hace nuestro presidente y sus colaboradores, declarando que todo está bien, que las curvas de la pandemia, la economía y la violencia se están aplanando, que ya hemos dejado atrás los picos. Empero, es difícil hacer semejantes afirmaciones si uno es serio y objetivo. Todavía no hemos llegado a lo peor de la situación, estamos viviendo una tormenta perfecta que sigue arreciando.

El mundo está prácticamente colapsado en términos sanitarios y económicos. En el caso de México, habría que añadir también en términos de inseguridad. A diferencia de otros países, nuestras curvas siguen empeorando. Pareciera que el gobierno de la 4T quiere confirmar las tesis de Murphy de que “lo pésimo aún puede empeorar”.


En efecto, a México, Brasil y Estados Unidos les está yendo igual de mal por la ausencia de liderazgos políticos efectivos con capacidad para el buen gobernar. AMLO, Bolsonaro y Trump se burlaron y menospreciaron la pandemia en sus inicios e, inclusive durante los momentos difíciles, se les podía ver en público sin cubrebocas ni guardar la sana distancia. Estos líderes han manifestado una obvia y creciente incapacidad para enfrentar los desafíos de las crisis sanitaria y económica. El liderazgo empieza por la conducta del líder, la gente imita el comportamiento de sus líderes, aprendiendo de su ejemplo. No tengo duda, que cuando se escriba la historia de estos tiempos, los liderazgos de Andrés Manuel López obrador, Jair Messias Bolsonaro y Donald Trump serán citados como ejemplos de lo que no se debería de hacer.

En cuanto a la pandemia, la situación parece no mejorar. En el mundo existen más de 21 millones de personas contagiadas por el coronavirus y más de 756.000 muertos, y aquí vale la pena citar la fuente, pues éstos datos están por encima de los reportados oficialmente (https://www.rtve.es/noticias/20200814/mapa-mundial-del-coronavirus/1998143.shtml). De tal manera, las respuestas de países como Francia, España e Italia, han sido duras, haciendo la sana distancia social, los cubrebocas y las cuarentenas obligatorias. En México, a pesar de que los voceros del gobierno de la 4T desde hace varios meses dicen que ya vamos de salida (optimismo que se extiende a la economía y a la inseguridad), la situación continúa agravándose, en efecto, es imposible tapar el sol con un dedo, lo peor aún está por venir.

Al día de hoy, México tiene más de 500,000 contagios y 55,000 muertos. México ocupa el tercer lugar con más fallecidos por el coronavirus. Inclusive en días recientes, México ocupó el primer lugar de defunciones por millón de habitantes. Las cifras de fallecimientos se acercan al doble del máximo estimado por el gobierno hace algunas semanas atrás. La tasa de letalidad es de 10.93 por ciento, mientras que la del mundo es tan sólo de 3.62 por ciento. Nadie sabe a ciencia cierta cuándo mejorarán las cifras.

El gobierno lidereado por AMLO no quiere asumir la responsabilidad de decisiones impopulares. De tal manera, México se diferencia de otros países por no hacer obligatorio el uso de cubrebocas, la cuarentena o imponer toque de queda, por no cerrar las fronteras aéreas, y ser uno de los países con menos pruebas de covid-19. Las únicas constantes del gobierno de la 4T son que se han mantenido el manejo de datos dudosos, las previsiones incumplidas y las cifras regularmente rebasadas.

El México actual desgraciadamente es sinónimo de decisiones gravemente erradas. Recientemente la Universidad John Hopkins informaba, tras un estudio, que cuando un país adopta medidas duras de precaución la epidemia llega pronto a una meseta, y los contagios y muertes disminuyen. Por el contrario, cuando se suavizan las medidas, el virus invariablemente crece y se multiplica.

En México, el Subsecretario de Prevención y Promoción de la Salud, Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, considera que las medidas mínimas de sana distancia y uso de cubrebocas no pueden ser obligatorias porque ello atentaría contra los derechos humanos de los individuos. Sin embargo, la pregunta clave es que hay con los derechos humanos de los que pueden ser contagiados por la falta de responsabilidad de unos cuantos. Los gobiernos tienen la obligación de proteger a sus ciudadanos en contra de quienes atentan contra su integridad física y moral. Los gobiernos actúan considerando el bien mayor, en ningún caso se justifica anteponer los derechos humanos de los criminales a los derechos humanos de las víctimas.

En cuanto a la economía, AMLO considera que, para febrero del año entrante, 2021, la economía estará en recuperación. Pero, hay que recordarle que un dato no hace tendencia. En efecto, gracias a las benditas remesas de nuestros conciudadanos se notó una ligera recuperación en los empleos en julio. Pero, todos los factores y causas del pésimo desempeño económico se mantienen y continúan empeorando.

A nivel mundial se espera que Producto Interno Bruto, el PIB, disminuya entre un 3 por ciento (FMI) a un 5.2 por ciento (Banco Mundial). Por países, España observó la mayor caída en su PIB, -18.5 por ciento durante el segundo trimestre del 2020 comparado con el trimestre anterior. En el mismo lapso, los PIB’s de Francia e Italia se contrajeron un 14 por ciento y un 12 por ciento respectivamente. Mientras que el cuarto de máquinas europeo, Alemania registró una caída histórica del 10.1 por ciento. El crecimiento de la economía de Estados Unidos se desplomó 9.5 por ciento. En Japón se prevé un decrecimiento del 11 por ciento. China ha sido la excepción, observando un modesto crecimiento de 3.2 por ciento, lo cual revirtió la disminución del 6.8 por ciento del primer trimestre de 2020.

La mayoría de los gobiernos han respondido brindando apoyos financieros y legales a las personas físicas y a las empresas productivas a fin de evitar que quiebren y cierren las puertas de su actividad económica, dejando sin trabajo a miles de empleados. Dichos apoyos responden a la filosofía de que es preferible apoyar a los entes productivos a que produzcan más manteniendo sus fuentes de trabajo que darles apoyos a los consumidores mediante programas asistenciales, pues el sector privado es más efectivo para distribuir el ingreso a través de empleos sustentables que el sector público a través de programas sociales que apoyan el consumo. El mantenimiento de la economía de las personas y las empresas a través del apoyo a la producción es más efectivo que la entrega del gobierno de montos de dinero a los necesitados.

En México el PIB registró una caída de 18.9 por ciento en el segundo trimestre del 2020 frente al mismo trimestre del 2019. Esta sido la mayor caída del Producto Interno Bruto desde que se tiene registro. Este escribiente espera que las caídas del PIB continuarán en el tercero y el cuarto trimestre del 2020 situándose entre el 10 al 20 por ciento. De tal manera, la tasa promedio de contracción del PIB para el 2020 será alrededor del 15 por ciento, algo jamás visto.

¿Consideras, querido lector, que soy pesimista? No, no creo que sea pesimista. En realidad, considero que soy objetivo. En el momento actual, cerca de 100,000 restaurantes han quebrado en lo que va del año y aun cuando se desconocen los números exactos, miles de empresas han cerrado sus puertas de manera permanente y otro tanto han cerrado sus puertas en espera de mejores condiciones. Sin embargo, se han perdido millones de fuentes de empleo. Se considera que 12 millones de personas actualmente están desempleadas. El Coneval anunció que este año más de 10 millones de personas engrosarán las filas de los pobres, sumándose a los ya existentes. Ante la falta de apoyos y estímulos para la actividad económica privada, la reactivación económica y la generación de empleos serán más lentas que lo necesario o deseado.

El gobierno de la 4T mantiene una política económica y social de austeridad, política que responde a otras circunstancias y prioridades diferentes a las actuales. En las condiciones de crisis sanitaria y de decrecimiento, lo que corresponde es gastar y estimular la actividad económica privada. Las políticas económicas del gobierno de AMLO, en tiempos de caídas en la producción e inversión, contribuyen a profundizar el daño económico y social de la falta de productividad y de empleos. No deja de sorprender que un gobierno considerado de izquierda sea el que más propicie la pauperización creciente de los trabajadores mexicanos.

Pero, no hay que confundirnos, la situación actual no solamente es producto de la crisis sanitaria. En realidad no íbamos tan bien, veníamos de una recesión del -0.1 por ciento en el 2019 por varias razones, entre las cuales destacan: la falta de confianza de los empresarios e inversionistas en el nuevo gobierno, por el cambio de reglas a la mitad del juego, por las cancelaciones absurdas de proyectos ya justificados y comenzados, y por la incapacidad para honrar compromisos adquiridos con inversionistas nacionales y extranjeros, por las maneras tan confusas, burlonas, irresponsables y contradictorias de responder a la crisis sanitaria, a pesar de haber tenido varios meses para prepararse.

En cuanto a la inseguridad, la violencia no ha decrecido como se ha visto en otros países con la pandemia. La violencia se ha mantenido e inclusive parece haber aumentado. De tal manera, conviene que nos preparemos para un invierno especialmente violento. La estrategia de abrazos, no balazos no han dado resultados y seguramente no los dará.

Los objetivos de contener la pandemia y estimular la economía, no son objetivos alternativos sino complementarios. La manera en cómo el gobierno actual está manejando la crisis sanitaria, la económica y la de inseguridad están contribuyendo a que las cosas no solamente sigan peor, sino que empeoren, confirmando la tesis de Murphy de que “si algo puede salir mal, saldrá mal”.

Ante este panorama desolador, que es lo que se puede hacer. La respuesta desgraciadamente es muy sencilla, y digo desgraciadamente porque seguramente este gobierno no la va llevar a cabo. El gobierno tiene que enfrentarse a la realidad, imponiendo medidas obligatorias en el campo de la pandemia de lo contrario el costo humano continuará creciendo. En el teatro, como en la política, no hay papeles secundarios, sino actuaciones equivocadas, correctas o débiles. Todo depende de la intensidad, profesionalismo y valentía de nuestros líderes para encarar los desafíos.

En el campo económico hay que usar las medidas que han adoptado la mayoría de países alrededor del mundo, mitigando los efectos negativos de la pandemia a las personas físicas y a las empresas a través de apoyos financieros y cambios legales. El fin de los apoyos financieros –como la reducción de impuestos, disminución de tasas de interés y agilización de trámites para producir, invertir y establecer nuevas empresas– es conseguir préstamos de manera rápida y barata, para que eventualmente, a través de los pagos de sueldos y salarios a lo largo de la cadena productiva, la economía se vaya recuperando. La intención de los cambios legales es evitar que tanto las personas físicas como las morales vayan a la quiebra.

Muchos analistas y líderes empresariales preocupados por las cuantiosas pérdidas económicas en México y la disminución del bienestar de los hogares mexicanos, han propuesto varias medidas, planes y estrategias para revitalizar la economía. Sin embargo, nadie puede convencer a nuestro mandatario que escuche a empresarios, expertos y/o científicos. Sus principios le impiden seguir los consejos de aquellos que considera enemigos del pueblo. AMLO considera que los empresarios se hicieron ricos por explotar a la gente, por lo que deben ser los responsables de salir adelante con sus propios recursos. AMLO estima que los expertos y científicos no han puesto sus conocimientos al servicio de las mayorías sino para enriquecerse, por lo que sus consejos son ignorados de entrada, especialmente si estudiaron en el extranjero. Nuestro mandatario sigue asignando recursos a proyectos faraónicos que no hacen sentido en el momento actual y continúa distrayendo a la opinión pública en su lucha contra molinos de viento. Los 55,000 fallecimientos por el coronavirus o las 60,000 víctimas de la violencia son menos importantes que las declaraciones del ex presidente de Pemex Emilio Lozoya Austin.

Así es mi querido lector, ojalá y me equivoque, pero creo que todavía falta lo peor por suceder y que vienen tragedias nunca antes vistas en nuestro país.