Saturday, July 29, 2023

How To Stand up to a Dictator

Maria Ressa won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Peace alongside of Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov 

A little speculation on why Filipinos have elected what might be called despots.  Law and order is sought when poverty breeds crime.  Ferdinand Marcos developed a good idea to develop the Philippine's economy and that was to send Filipinos to work on contract to other nations.  That assured a steady stream of income to families back home.  This led to a common practice of many Filipinos getting educated for jobs outside.  This benefited the rest of the world and me personally.  Check

Marcos was able to take advantage and managed to drain a lot of the new wealth to his family.  Freedom for the average Filipino was restricted, but eventually after many years they were forced from office.  A few elections later Rodrigo Duterte got elected on a very strong anti crime agenda that involved very strong action against drug dealers and also drug addicts.  This met with a lot of general approval.  Surprisingly he decided to retire from seeking political office, but advocating for his daughter  Sarah and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.  The Marcos family history was somehow overlooked and their son got elected.  

How does Maria Ressa fit into all this?  At a young age her parents had split, but her mother kidnapped her to the United States where she was adopted by her mother's new husband which led to gaining an American citizenship.  She was educated in the United States and did very well in school.  A visit to the Philippines led to a love of her native country.  Maria got involved with journalism and aligned herself with democratic forces.  Her talent helped her rise to having editorial power.  

She wrote about corruption and restrictions on freedom and naturally attracted opposition. She spent a lot of time in courts and had travel restrictions imposed on her.  Other newspapers were hampered even more, but Maria had achieved some international fame and perhaps more important gained the support to Amal Clooney who gave her legal advice.

Another force democratic movements have to deal with is social media.  Facebook has been a very useful tool, but it is one example of how our "freedom" is being steered. Maria at one time admired Mark Zukerberg, but came to realize the profit motive propelled Facebook to work with right wing groups, although trying to present a democratic conscience.  Maria sees social media as key component for political attitudes. 

With American citizenship Maria always had the option of moving back to America, but she decided she was more needed in the Philippines.  Even after sharing the Nobel Peace Prize she finds herself living under restricted circumstances, but still able to voice her opinions.  Her advice on standing up to dictators is to embrace democratic values and to develop a team for support.

I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to Maria Ressa, but I am glad the Nobel Prize Committee in Norway did the world a favor by bringing increased awareness to those who are fighting for democracy.

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